Tuesday Trends: DSLR vs Mirrorless…Is The DSLR About To Go Extinct?

The “trend” we will be looking at today is the topic of the Digital SLR (DSLR) versus Mirrorless cameras and the prevailing thought that the DSLR may be going into extinction soon.

I read the same articles and watch the same videos as you guys do and I saw that this topic was trending on YouTube for a couple of weeks.

Funny thing, I had thought of doing an article about this some time back as part of my “Tuesday Trends” series but I hesitated to post the video because I thought people might not find it relevant. It’s actually a topic of debate that’s been going back for several years!

I’m guessing what might have reignited this debate was this article on Petapixel in which Ricoh marketing general manager Hikorki Sugahara decided to buck the trend and stated that “mirrorless is a newcomer” and seems to imply that because of this people are flocking to these new systems but he predicts that the same people will return to the Digital SLR in 1-2 years. It’s an interesting article of which you can read in full here:

Ricoh Thinks Mirrorless Shooters Will Switch Back to DSLRs in 1-2 Years

I have my own views on this which I will share with you here, but first let’s look at what each system is.

WHAT IS A DSLR?

As mentioned above, a DSLR is a “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The word “reflex” basically means it has an optical system of mirror, ground glass, prism, and eyepiece to form an image.

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA?

A Mirrorless camera is just that. It does not make use of a mirror between the lens and sensor. There is no mirror to move up and down. Some models may use mirrors elsewhere such as for the viewfinder but the important thing for “mirrorless” cameras is that there is no mirror between the lens and sensor.

The image is transferred electronically to the rear LCD. Higher end mirrorless cameras sometimes also have an EVF or electronic viewfinder.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s the accompanying video I made for this article. While the written article you are reading contains more information, the video makes up for it with raw grit and candid humor ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t want it to go on so long, but I guess I yak too much! Anyway, in this video I introduce some new “videography techniques” if you can call it that lol ๐Ÿ™‚

I will attempt to refine these production techniques in future videos. Remember folks, this is all for your entertainment!

DSLR PROS & CONS

The DSLR has been taking a beating recently by the “experts” and mirrorless proponents but still has a lot of things that make it highly desirable.

First off, it is the last link to actual film SLR cameras. Despite the “film vs digital” thing, a Digital SLR is in many ways an extension of the film SLR in the digital realm,

The most obvious link is the optical viewfinder. While DSLR’s may have sensors and other electronic elements, the good old optical viewfinder is built upon the same concept and engineering as your good old fashioned film cameras SLRS.

Before I start drifting off, let me just put the pros and cons into a more easy to follow numerical scheme:

DSLR PROS:

  1. Optical Viewfinder The view from a large, high quality optical viewfinder is still hard to beat, especially if focusing in daylight. “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!” as the song once said ๐Ÿ˜Š
  2. If the LCD ever fails, and sometimes it does, a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can still function for picture taking. A mirrorless camera with a broken EVF or LCD will be completely useless.
  3. Usually fast shot to shot times, less lag.
  4. Battery life is better on the newer DSLR cameras because it does not need to continually supply the LCD or EVF with power.
  5. Very fast AF possible.
  6. Focus Peaking may be available, depending on model, via Live View
  7. There are a ton of native lenses available for the DSLR and for potentially lower prices if buying used.
  8. A large DLSR balances better with long and/or heavy lenses
  9. This is subjective, but many people report that the DSLR feels more solid or better built than their mirrorless counterparts.
  10. Superb video options available on today’s DSLRs
  11. Choice of APS-C and Full-Frame options
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Nothing compares to using a true optical viewfinder especially outdoors!

DSLR CONS:

  1. DSLRs are often large, heavy, and bulky
  2. Lenses are often larger than the equivalent mirrorless lenses
  3. Many older DSLR lenses were optimized for film cameras, not digital sensors.
  4. The Optical Viewfinder cannot support focus peaking
  5. Contrary to what I’ve read, I find it harder to focus manual lenses at night or low light through the optical viewfinder.
  6. Focus confirmation chips not as accurate as focus peaking with fast lenses
  7. Limited ability to adapt lenses due to mirror being in the light path between lens and sensor
  8. Not inconspicuous or stealthy
  9. Potential shakiness at low shutter speeds due to mirror slap.
  10. You look old and unhip with a DSLR!

“Roar!” 2019. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. DSLR’s can shoot fast and offers tons of options for native lenses at more affordable prices on the used market. For example, Canon’s new 85mm f/1.2 RF for their R Mirrorless cost $2699 new. The 85mm f/1.2L in EOS mount versions I & II can be found on the used market from $1000-1500 respectively.

Ok, next up is mirrorless…

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS PROS & CONS

Mirrorless cameras have a lot of virtues and benefits but they also have their shortcomings. Here are some pros and cons for mirrorless:

MIRRORLESS PROS:

  1. Smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalent cameras.
  2. The easier it is to carry, the more likely you will take it with you and use it.
  3. Image Stabilization in body more common in mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.
  4. Lenses are also smaller and often lighter, but still of high quality.
  5. Very fast AF possible, but usually with higher end models.
  6. Focus peaking. Very useful with manual focus lenses
  7. Easier to focus at night or in low light due to LCD or EVF “gain” which makes for a brighter image in the viewfinder or on the LCD.
  8. The ability to use many more legacy lenses through the use of adapters. The absence of a reflex mirror in the light path makes this possible.
  9. Potentially less vibration at low shutter speeds due to no mirror slap.
  10. Superb video options available.
  11. Choice of APS-C or Full-Frame or even smaller 1″ sensors.
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r above are incredibly popular for use with adapted legacy glass.

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7r, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Rangefinder “Dream” lens. Focus peaking and the EVF on the mirrorless A7r made it much easier to achieve sharp focus with fast lenses. In fact, I find it invaluable for this purpose.

MIRRORLESS CONS:

  1. May feel too light and flimsy, depending on model.
  2. EVF may still feel like looking at a computer screen vs the DSLR optical viewfinder.
  3. Lag time. I find both my Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Sony A7r to have slow startup times and sometimes a lag after a shot is taken. This might be due to the “refresh” of the screens but it could make a difference between getting the shot and losing the shot.
  4. Potentially shorter battery life as battery is needed for everything.
  5. Native lenses, while growing, is still limited compared to DSLR lenses thus less native options, but plenty of alternative options if you’re willing to use adapters.
  6. Does not balance as well with larger lenses.
  7. Because of the small size, controls can feel cramped and ergonomics can suffer.
  8. You look like a modern day camera geek with a mirrorless camera! ๐Ÿ™‚

CONCLUSION

Wow, that was a mouthful! And more than I ever wanted to write! I even missed on one of the main points I wanted to make and that is…

If we do not see a Canon 1DX Mark III or Nikon D6 for the Olympics or even in a couple of years, then it is very possible that the big badass PRO DSLR bodies will go extinct. But I still think the DSLR will survive in the from of the “little” cameras such as the Canon Rebel series, Nikon D35xx series, and maybe even the mid-tier 7D or D7000 bodies.

Personally I say, have one of each! Now you might say something like “That’s too rich for my blood,” to which I would say come on now, you know photography is an expensive hobby but with the options you have these days, especially on the used market, you could easily have a good quality DSLRย andย mirrorless for under $500. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest folks.

DSLR or Mirrorless? Life is short, have both! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic so if you have one, feel free to leave a comment! Happy shooting folks! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

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Sunday Shooter: Sony A7r & 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon Samples

Somebody asked me the other day if I still shoot digital and I said of course Daddy! I always take both a film camera and a digital camera with me almost everywhere I go!

If youโ€™ll note most reviewers in my age bracket who grew up on film and were young enough to appreciate digital when it came out, we have no problem shooting both. Itโ€™s mostly the hipster kids who shoot film exclusively even though they were not around during the film era. Kinda funny I think! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Below are some examples from the original Sony A7r 36mp and the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon in Contax RF mount. Please forgive the funky colors in some of these shots I just posted them as is for you to check out. The only ones I processed were the black and whites.

“Cold Cold World” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF.

The Sony A7r was my last major digital purchase. I use it to test vintage lenses. For the past couple of months itโ€™s been the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon.

All I can say is what I’ve told you guys before…the 35mm f/2.8 of any make is such a boring lens that I’d never consider buying one, except for the Zeiss Biogon of course!

Besides It’s the only decent normal/wide angle I can get for the Contax RF and fairly cheap. But optically, I’m not sure it’s any more exciting than any other 35mm f/2.8 lens ๐Ÿ™‚

“JuJu 13” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. Some of you who remember me from the photo forums might remember this kid. It’s my nephew JuJu! And he’s no longer a baby, he’s 13! ๐Ÿ™‚

“Wheels Up” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. A good dude raises a toast ๐Ÿ™‚

“Brave Bull” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. Something about alcohol knocked “Brave Bull” out ๐Ÿ™‚

“Razor’s Edge” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. You need to get pretty close to induce some bokeh out of the Biogon but the bokeh is fairly neutral and though not full of character, it’s not distracting either at least to my eyes.

“Funky Town” 2018. Sony A7r with Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon Contax RF mount. The kids said “Papa, take me to Funky Town!” ๐Ÿ™‚

This is not my final verdict on the lens by any means. I still need to see how it does on film. This is an old lens that was made for film.

As for the A7r I donโ€™t see myself upgrading to any of the latest and greatest. They can try to sell me all the #bs about why the newer models are better but honestly my only complaint about the old A7r is poor performance with ultra wide lenses which I donโ€™t use much on this camera. And I’ve yet to get a native AF lens for the camera.

Otherwise this camera gets the job done! Whatโ€™s your Sunday shooter? Happy Sunday good peeps! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ท๐Ÿ˜˜โœŒ๐Ÿป

Photo Of The Day: โ€œCold Cold Worldโ€ Part II Sony A7r & Contax 35mm f/2.8 Biogon

In anticipation or celebration of the complex snow storm that’s hitting the Northeast here’s a shot from my latest test lens. According to the weather report, it’s going to be much colder than this in the next couple days!

It’s the 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon. No it’s not one of the new modern day iterations. It’s the old lens made for the Contax rangefinder cameras.

The Sony A7r was one of my last major purchases when it came to modern day digital cameras. I bought it in 2014. I mainly use it to test out vintage lenses. It gives me an idea what I might expect when I use the lenses on film bodies.

As I said many times here, I’ve always found the 35mm f/2.8 a rather “boring” lens in the sense that a 35mm f/2 is much more interesting to me. There were so many generic 35mm f/2.8 lenses back in the film era that I’m convinced it’s not that hard for a decent optical manufacturer to build a good one and thus it shouldn’t be expensive.

That’s why, as I explained in my Contax T2 video, even the 38mm f/2.8 on the T2 is quite a general lens which was only made special due to the Zeiss design and T* coatings. However, for the old Contax rangefinder this is about as wide as I’m going to get without spending a fortune so it completes my set for the Contax RF, ie, 35mm/50mm/135mm ๐Ÿ˜Š

There’s more to this lens and its history, including several different versions of the same lens and compatibility issues with some Contax bodies, of which I’ll get to in a future posting.

For now what I will say is that it’s a very good lens, surprisingly good on the A7r. A bit boring on digital which tells me it’ll be GREAT on the Contax film bodies I’m currently shooting it with!

Till next time, stay safe and have a great day!

Recent (And Not So Recent) Images

Once in a while I like to upload photos, if only to remind myself that I love the art of photography as much as the gear. Though it might not seem like it, I do really love photography as much as I do the gear! ๐Ÿ˜€

Just like most of you, I don’t just take photos for reviews or posting. I take photos FOR LIFE! I document life first, then if I can use some of the photos in a review, why not?

The vast majority of the photos I take on a daily basis just doesn’t make it in. Oh friend! Why bore you with my life? ๐Ÿ˜Š I want to know about YOUR life, Brothers and Sisters ๐Ÿ˜˜

So these are some shots taken recently, and some not so recently. Nothing artistic. Just random shots. Sometimes, it’s a snap, sometimes it’s a test. Sometimes it’s deliberate. Sometimes it’s by luck or chance. Like I said, ya never know. I’m sure this is the way it is for most of us photographers, us mere mortals ๐Ÿ˜Š

One thing that I’m sure is that most of these images have not been posted on these pages. I try to include technical info and tidbits for you camera nerds out there cause that’s how I would like it too ๐Ÿ˜Š

I also find it interesting to see what camera and lenses I was using then as opposed to what I am using now. It’s a way of seeing how one’s tastes may or may not have changed. Sometimes I find there’s not a lot of changes!

I think theses images may give you a glimpse as to what I am pondering on doing articles and reviews on. At the same time, you may see why I’m flustered deciding what to publishย ๐Ÿ˜ซ

Not to sweat it though. Most of you regular readers know by now that this is how I roll. Sometimes it comes in waves. Then I need a mental break haha! I can’t do it daily man, I just can’t.

Definitely got some more interesting stuff to profile for you all, and also on YouTube too. Oh yes, don’t think your “Brother from another lover” has forgotten about YouTube!

I really don’t mind starting out slow there because I don’t want to upload videos just for the heck of it. Just like here on the blog, I realize what you post may be on for a long time so let’s make it count!

Anyway I thank you all for having a look! Appreciate your patience and support over the years. I think you guys are the best readers anywhere. And those of you who also blog are some of the most prolific bloggers around! I certainly can’t do what you do, but thanks for the inspiration! Have yourselves a great weekend!

“Night Buddy” 2018. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor. My late night buddy! Try writing an article with this one hanging around. At least tonight, she’s quiet…somewhat ๐Ÿ™‚

“Noon” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor. Be forewarned friend. For when the clock strikes “Noon” your heart may be broken ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually yes, her name really is Noon! Thanks for being a good and patient model, appreciate you!

“American Girl” 2018. Sony A7r (original) with Mamiya 55mm f/1.4 lens. This is a crop from a larger image. I was just testing this lens when I saw Baby sitting there, lazy and then the spirit of the late great Tom Petty hit me and I heard him sing…”She is…an American girl” ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a great lens by the way!

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“Vogue” 2011. Bronica RF645, 65mm f/4 Zenzanon lens on T-Max 400. Every time I look back on a shot from my time with the Bronica RF, I miss it!

“Text” 2017. Agfa Ambiflex, 55mm f/2 Solagon. Kentmere 400 film. Talk about great lenses, wait till I tell you about this one! ๐Ÿ™‚

“Sunglass” 2015. Leica M4-P, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M, Tri-X 400. This was actually a night shot near Times Square. Considering that, the sharpness and clarity is pretty good I think. Can never go wrong with a Summicron lens! ย You can see the smoke or vape coming out of the man’s nostrils ๐Ÿ™‚

“Purple Rain” 2012. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp. “An ocean of violets in bloom” as the Purple One once said! The original GRD remains one of my favorites ๐Ÿ™‚

“Smoke ‘n Java” 2007. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp. The brutal art of coffee and smoke. Over ten years later and the GRD is still on rotation in my camera bag these days!

“Baloon Man” 2006. Nikon D70s, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. Cebu, Philippines. In my opinion, the Nikon D70s was one of the best cameras of its era, capable of crisp detail and rich colors. I plan to write an article on this Nikon gem.

“Baby It’s You” 2017. Sony A7r with Canon 35mm f/2 SSC. New York City. Though the focus may be slightly soft in this image, the vintage Canon 35mm f/2 SSC is a great lens capable of sharp images. And if you’re reading Camera Legend, then you know this isn’t just ANY Canon 35mm f/2 lens! Of course, it’s the one with the concave front element and radioactive thorium ๐Ÿ™‚

“Chase” 2017. Sony A7r with Canon 35mm f/2 SSC lens. The original image was dark due to underexposure. Lift the darkness in post processing and the A7r shows its legendary dynamic range. Four years later, the original 36mp A7r still delivers the goods!

“Feed Me” 2011. Contax T3, T-Max 400 film in HC110 developer. The T3 is an amazing camera! I’m sure you wouldn’t mind another review, now would you? ๐Ÿ™‚

“Times Square” 2017. Sony A7r with Canon 35mm f/2 SSC lens. The Baby don’t care if it’s Times Square or home. She naps when nature calls ๐Ÿ™‚

“Buenas Noches” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS. Yes that means…Good night! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Autumn Surprise 2015

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“Autumn Surprise” 2015. Sony A7R, CV 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical. I used to love using 90-105mm lenses for shots like this. Now I like using wide and getting in close. For a larger and better view, please click on the photo.

Every year since 2008, I’ve been photographing my elder daughter in a personal series of fall portraits that I like to call “Autumn Surprise.”

I’ve used the photos to document her growth with the yearly change of seasons. It’s quite heart-warming to see how quickly she has grown. Time flies too fast for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, that seven year record was broken with the introduction of her baby sister into this series.

Just as fun for me is to see the gear I was using then and what I am using now. I plan to post the whole series in another post.

If you live in an area of the world that has fall foliage and you have children, this is a good weekend to pull out your Camera Legend cameras and catch those kids in the Autumn Leaves!




 

The Sony A7R: Is It The Ultimate?

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“The Dream” 2015. The Sony A7R, when introduced in 2013, represented the pinnacle in digital camera technology. Seen here with the Canon 50mm f/0.95, it is a “Dream” combo for me. I played around with some “Pop Art” type settings for this shot ๐Ÿ™‚

The Sony A7R is a 36.4 megapixel mirrorless digital camera introduced (along with the 24mp A7) by Sony in 2013.

Now think about it…a mirrorless camera with a whopping 36.4 megapixels on a full-frame sensor. You might call the A7R an instant Camera Legend!

Note: With the exception of the first two photos, I have included some larger than usual photos especially for this camera. You may have to double click on the photos to see them at their intended sizes.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

While the camera looks like a miniature DSLR, it is indeed NOT a single lens reflex. Instead, it is a mirrorless camera that does not rely on a reflex mirror as in traditional SLR cameras.

You have the option of using the back LCD, as in all digital cameras, or the built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF has a resolution of 2.4 megapixels and is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The camera is small, but feels good in the hand. Solid, light but with a nice heft to it. The right hand grip feels comfy and secure to me, but might not for someone with larger hands.

When I first handled the camera at the PhotoPlus show in NYC in 2013, my impression wasย that the camera looked and felt a lot like my Olympus OM-D EM-5, only stronger and not as light as the OM-D. I would say it is like the EM-5 ‘grown up’ ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Pucker Up” 2014. Sony A7R, Voightlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical, first version. Lipstick, ear-rings, kids jewelry…growing up way too fast! ๐Ÿ™‚

It is not the prettiest camera in the world, but not the ugliest either. It feels like a ‘machine’ or a computer with a camera that Sony put together, in essence that’s what it is, but I kinda like that. And this machine is made for image making.ย It is not here to win any beauty contests, it is here to work. And it is an excellent worker.

CONTROLS AND FEATURES

The controls are well laid out with the mode dial, on/off dial, and exposure compensation wheel at the top. The inclusion of the “Fn” or function button on the back makes it easier to access key features such as ISO, drive mode, flash, focus, etc, etc. This is certainly a lot better than some of the lower end NEX cameras I have used where you have to use the scrolling virtual menu to access these features.

The menus are typical Sony and any NEX user will be familiar with most of it. You can customize this camera to do a lot of things, but I suggest you read the manual to have it do what you want.

As mentioned earlier, the EVF is wonderful, amazing really. I was always an old-school optical viewfinder guy, but the EVF on the A7R hasย won me over. Combined with the focus peaking, I have been able to get sharp shots in situations where it would almost be impossible. It’s that good.

There’s a lot more features to this camera than I care to write about. All I can say is that you can do almost anything you want with it ๐Ÿ™‚

AUTOFOCUS

I can’t say much about the AF because I have mainly used manual legacy glass, i.e., Leica M, Olympus OM, Nikkors, etc, with this camera.

I did use a kit lens from the cheap Sony A3000 on the A7R and it focused fast and sure. Note that if using AF lenses from the APS-C NEX series, the A7R automatically switches to its 1.5x crop mode at a still respectable 15.4 megapixel resolution.

The two AF primes most users rave about when using the A7R/A7 series are the Sony made Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 FE and the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 FE Sonnar lenses. I have yet to really desire these, due to the lack of funds, and my simply having no problems getting sharp shots with my legacy glass. One day I hope to get around to one of these fine AF Zeiss lenses, and the 55mm f/1.8 is the one I’d get first.

MANUAL FOCUS

As mentioned, I have been using the A7R almost exclusively with legacy glass. This is the best camera I have used for this purpose.

I set the focus peaking to red, mid level, and just focus away. Focus peaking allows for the camera to highlight (in red, yellow, or white) the edges of your subject when the camera determines that you’re in the focus zone. Sometimes, you may have situations where you can’t really get a good ‘peaking’ but the EVF is clear enough where I can make the focus most of the time.

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“Twilight” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens” at wide open, ISO 800. Please click on the photo for a much larger and better view.

Focus peaking is easy to use and aย veryย effective tool for using manual focus lenses on your camera. As mentioned earlier, the implementation on the A7R is one of the best I have used. It makes you wonder how we took all those nice photos on film SLR’s all those years without it ๐Ÿ™‚

Don’t get me wrong. You’d probably still get a better hit rate with the autofocus 55mm f/1.5 FE, for example, but I’ll be darned if don’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to see how well I could focus my old lenses.

DO I NEED 36 MEGAPIXELS?

This is probably one of the main questions people have when deciding whether or not to buy the A7R. For some, it is the reason to stay away. For others, it’s reason enough to sway them to give in to their G.A.S. “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been using this camera for almost a year, got it last May, 2014. Here’s my take on this…

Probably 99% of the time, 99% of us won’tย needย 36 megapixels. We get the A7R because we WANT it. There I said it ๐Ÿ™‚

Back in 2004 and 2005, when we had 5 megapixel and 8 megapixel cameras ruling the digital camera world, I obsessively printed up 13×19 and 20×30 prints from cameras like the Nikon D1X and Canon EOS 20D and the results looked great. Even a 13×19 from a 4mp D2H looked pretty awesome.

It may seem silly now, but you have to remember in 2004 and 2005, this digital stuff was still a relatively new game. With each increase in megapixels, we were ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ and going bonkers with the latest and greatest. Today, 20+ megapixels don’t even make eyes blink anymore. Maybe some realized that after 10 megapixels, it was “good enough.”

So since printing billboards with an A7R is no problem, anything printed smaller will be a piece of cake for this camera.

Initially I did not intend to get the A7R, partially due to its price and partially because I didn’t need 36 megapixels for what I do. I do mostly street and portraits. I’ve done weddings and had a few shots published in a magazine, but professional photography is not my thing. Like many of you, photography is my passion and I prefer to keep it that way.

Anyway, I ended up with the A7R about half a year into its introduction because I was able to get one brand new through a friend for $500 less than the store prices. I can’t resist a bargain, so the savings were enough to push me over. Of course, I had to get rid of some cherished items to come up with the cash ๐Ÿ™‚

Besides saving $500,ย I thought the A7R would be the ultimate solution for my legacy lenses. And indeed, the A7R has really turned out to be that camera.

Here’s the best excuse you need for wanting those 36.4 megapixels: If you come across that once in a lifetime shot, and assuming you actuallyย getย the shot, you will have the peace of mind in knowing you took it with your best camera. Simple as that. If in that dream world, MOMA wanted an exhibition print of your shot, they can have it with the A7R, again assuming you got the shot. Worst case (and more likely for me) scenario, you have some beautiful large prints in your home ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Quadpods” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical, ISO 100. Check the image below for a 100% crop of this image.

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A 100% crop of the image above. The A7R provided excellent resolution with the classic Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens, but also reveals some chromatic aberration from this classic aspherical lens as well. You’d probably never spot it on prints up to 13×19 and even if you did, would it be a problem? ๐Ÿ™‚

PERFORMANCE

The A7R has really impressed me with its results. When the Nikon D800/D800E came out in 2012, I read so many things about how 36 megapixels would require “super” photo techniques, tripods, the best lenses or otherwise you’d end up with blurry useless shots. Ten years ago, they said the same thing about ten megapixels so I took that with a grain of salt.

While it is true that if you used those “super” photo techniques, you could get the best out of the A7R, it is NOT necessary to get consistent sharp results out of the A7R. They may not always be “tack” sharp, but unless you’re shooting landscape exhibits or advertising campaigns, it should be sharp enough.

I do a lot of night and low light shots. I’ve always kept the camera in Auto ISO and it’s one of the few cameras that really does the job at this setting. I only adjust manual ISO if I specifically want ISO 100-400 or anything above ISO 800. With fast lenses and in low light, the A7R tended to choose the lowest ISO values it could get away with, thus providing better quality images with these lenses.

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“STOMP” 2015. Sony A7R, Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical, first version at ISO 320. I actually shot this out of a moving car, pre-focused and a little off on the focus plus car movement, but I still like it. Driving by shooting can yield interesting results, but I do not endorse it ๐Ÿ™‚

I generally turn off the noise reduction on my cameras, but with the A7R I keep the noise reduction at its “Normal” default and it does a nice job with ISO’s as high as 6400 providing a good balance between detail and noise. I only use RAW on this camera if there is difficult lighting or if I have the camera on a tripod. Otherwise, the “Fine” or “Extra Fine” jpegs are good enough for me.

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“Lobster Box” 2015. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95, ISO 100. As mentioned in the article, the Sony A7R in Auto ISO mode chooses the lowest ISO values possible with fast lenses in low light to provide better image quality.

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“Flying High” 2015. Sony A7R, Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical, first version at ISO 100. First day out in the park and swinging higher than I’d ever seen ๐Ÿ™‚

Many of my legacy lenses cannot out resolve the A7R sensor. Even many modern lenses cannot out resolve the 36mp sensor. However, don’t let that dissuade you. Even my vintage Canon “Dream Lens” 50mm f/0.95, a lens known for its soft ‘dreamy’ quality wide open, is surprisingly nearly as sharp as a modern 50mm when stopped down to f/5.6 or so.

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“Bundle Up” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens” at ISO 1000. Shot at around f/1.4 and processed to minimize the well known aberrations that have endeared this lens to its owners. Please click on the photo for a much larger and better view.

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“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95. Please click on the photo to see the details of the 100% crop inset. The crop is from the zipper of the jacket on Baby Z’s left side. At first it might seem ‘standard’ fare for a 50mm lens until you realize this is the Canon “Dream Lens” often thought of as soft. As you can see, it kept up amazing well with the A7R’s 36.4 megapixel sensor, better than I thought!

Just because you’re not using all those 36.4 megapixels doesn’t mean its wasted. You still get the benefit of being able to crop small sections of the files and still get usable pictures. And of course, you can print larger.

Wide lenses, such as my Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar, do not work well on the A7R resulting in vignetting and color cast around the edges and blotchy spots. You could probably use correction software to fix these issues, although I haven’t tried.

The A7R sensor (same Sony sensor as in the Nikon D800/D800e) is also well known for its superb dynamic range. I can pull out great shadow detail in underexposed images and rarely ever get blown highlights with this camera.

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“Lifehouse” 2014. Sony A7R, Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar M mount, ISO 100. Note the vignetting and color cast around the edges. Please click on the photo for a much larger and better view. Not pretty (except the couple, of course!), but it can be corrected to some degree with software. Or you can be happy and look at those issues as a “Natural Instagram” ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Baby Beach” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 at wide open, ISO 100.

For the A7R, I generally stay in the 28mm range for wide angle where it works just fine.

The camera also does 1080P Full HD video though as mentioned in other articles, I’m not a video guy. My home videos from the A7R look nice though ๐Ÿ™‚

BOTTOM LINE

I love this camera! It’s as simple as that. It has become my go to camera if I think I’m going to be shooting something worthwhile. It’s fantastic at low ISO’s and excellent at high ISO settings.

If I were doing it all over again today, for the same money, I’d probably get the A7II with its 5 axis stabilizer, but I haven’t really needed image stabilization because I equalize the A7R’s lack of IS by using fast lenses.

If shopping for the A7R, the price for new as of today (B&H) is $1898, and I’ve seen them sell used for as low as $1200 which is a screamin’ deal.

The A7R is a wonderful and very versatile camera, capable of opening up a whole new world of photographic fun and exploration for you. As mentioned earlier, the Sony A7R became an instant Camera Legend the moment it was introduced.

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“A New Zay” 2015. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens.” It is indeed a new day with Baby Zay and the Sony A7R in the house! ๐Ÿ™‚

Is it the “Ultimate?” Well, let’s say it didn’t stop me from wanting other cameras. It did however fill me with the thought that I didn’tย needย other cameras, I just want them because I love cameras! Anyway, this is not a camera I would use for events where fast AF and rapid fire is needed. It is kind of overkill for street work, which is what I love. However, at its best you can’t deny the image quality of the Sony A7R. It is among the best, and it is a Camera Legend standing high above its mirrorless peers.

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PROS:ย 36.4 Megapixels (you want it!); Possible Medium Format look in 35mm digital package; Superb EVF; Superb dynamic range; Excellent focus peaking for manual lenses; No AA filter for potentially sharper images; Lightweight, but sturdy; Great colors; Usable high ISO performance; Makes fantastic large prints

CONS:ย 36.4 Megapixels (you don’t really need it); The need for bigger memory cards, more processing power from your computer; Color cast and other issues with wide angle manual focus lenses; No AA filter, potential moire; Limited AF lens lineup;ย Battery life; Feels like it might be a bit fragile for long term durability, only time will tell I guess.

My first choice if buying an A7R today would be to check the competitive prices at Amazon through their affiliates. You can find some very competitive prices from the link below. I’d also recommend Adorama and B&H, never had a problem with either of these camera super stores. Buying from these dealers through these links helps to support this blog and helps me add to its content. It will cost you nothing and you’d be buying from the very best dealers. Thanks for your time reading this article and thanks for your support.

Amazon’s list of competitive stores selling the Sony A7R.