Reader Eric C writes:
Well, I've had the A7r for a few days now - there's a lot to be excited about - but ultimately, I think it's going back.
It is definitely an amazing 1st generation product and is so good that I'm reluctant to make any further investments in Nikon bodies or glass until I see what each brand has coming up next.
My biggest personal issues with the Sony are:
1. Despite being interested in its small form factor, it's almost too small: I can't tell if my hands are cramping because of the camera's small size or what's going on?!
2. The interface is definitely not intuitive enough. Perhaps I'm too accustomed to Nikon's layout/controls/menus - or maybe it's the reason Apple has been kicking Sony's butt for a decade - Steve Jobs' Rule #1: the interface should be simple/elegant enough that there is no instruction manual required (apparently, Sony just figured no manual was required, but skipped the part about a great UI). Or maybe it's the smaller body and all the buttons/controls are just packed in and it feels crowded. Not sure yet, but it feels mentally uncomfortable.
3. I'm getting serious noise on anything above ISO 3200 and noticeable noise starting around ISO 1600. On the D800, I hardly noticed any until somewhere around ISO 3200 and could use ISO 800 like it was ISO 100.
4. AF and continuous shooting speed - the camera is not really usable on subjects that are moving faster than a slow walk
5. Battery life
If Nikon could just deliver a D800E with the EVF and LCD from the A7r (along with the related features: focus-magnification, focus-peaking and in-viewfinder histogram), they'd probably be able to save their ship. I think a lot of the excitement for the A7r (and there certainly seems to be a ton of it) results from everyone's ability to use their manual-focus lenses to a greater degree because of the magnification/peaking.
You've also raised a ton of great points - I share your enthusiasm for the IQ of the 2 prime lenses that Zeiss made for this body/sensor thus far. But, hopefully Sony is also listening to your concerns regarding shutter vibration, lossy compression, et al.
Great work this year - I'm glad I subscribed (next year, I'll do the package instead of adding 1 every month as I dug deeper!)
DIGLLOYD: Every photographer has personal priorities. I see the A7R as a compact 36-megapixel “digital back” with no AA filter and very high image quality that lightens my load. A seminal achievement in that sense. I do not expect to use it to shoot sports or anything fast moving. The blackout time alone is awful.
My hands fit it fine (and much more comfortably than the Nikon Df!).
The interface is indeed a mess and worse, conflating the concepts of settings with actions (a very confusing for of anti-usability), and lacks key features to avoid the mess, though I offer some suggestions.
High ISO can be very good, and there can be conditions which provoke noise, but I suspect that most users underexpose by a stop or two without checking for user error on exposure.
Autofocus is generally good, but blackout time is horrific and not even in the same league as a DSLR. Battery life I’ve addressed in my review as to how to save power. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible, and a few spare batteries can fix that.