Sony's A7 Woes, the time has come to stop the Rot


Was the product rushed? What about the light leak issue? Was the promised firmware update released to address more issues with the camera?

I can't help but feel that the product was rushed to market without proper testing. I know Sony well, having worked with them in the past on several cameras, they seem to like to gloss over some of their weaknesses time and again. Their chief problem is that they want to catch the buying wave of consumers.

The A7 series is no different. A full frame interchangeable camera that is not entirely a DSLR, and yet, gives the impression of having a full frame quality imaging is probably the best snake oil they have sold to the masses so far.

I did a little research on the dynamic range capability of the camera. This is measured by and all you have to do is select the suitable camera for comparison so I don't use any crafty methods to debunk any myths.

If you look at the above chart, the A7r performs very poorly in dynamic range charts. Compare that with the Nikon D600 in auto mode, you can see the difference. I have also taken the liberty to compare two other popular cameras, the OMD-EM5 from Olympus and the Fujifilm Xpro1. The Xpro1 doesn't have a auto mode so I have selected a ISO 200 setting. Dollar for dollar, you can't beat the Olympus OMD EM5 in dynamic range capability.

What Dynamic Range doesn't offer you

Dynamic range charts tell the sensitivity of the sensor in capturing light in both the highlights and shadow areas withint a picture, it does not tell the deal with issues such as  noise reduction algorithms or color accuracy.

I care much for high ISO as I rarely ever shoot above ISO1600, having ISO 6400 is useful if you are a professional but I don't have such a requirement on my day to day shooting.

Even in low light, I prefer to use a tripod for the camera and shoot at a slower ISO. I don't shoot dance or music concerts very often, and for that I have no need for a high ISO and even higher shutter speed to stop motion.

The dynamic range chart tells a clear picture that the Sony A7r is not a good camera to use in high contrast scenes even in DRO mode, and you probably have to use HDR capture to get more out of your images, need to carry a tripod for a three frame capture.

Do you need another camera?

I am of the opinion that you should have two different cameras to cater to all your shooting needs. The casual shooter only needs an iPhone to get good results in daylight, and the second camera should address the weaknesses of the iPhone in everyday use, like poor dynamic range, poor shutter speed response and poor noise handling, and poor low light response.

Say you have a good iPhone/Nokia Lumia 1020 for your everyday use and want something more. Then your best choice is to consider your shooting requirement, ask yourself this:-

How often do you shoot in low light?
Do you shoot action subjects?

These are the only two question that is pertinent. Fast AF and shutter speed is probably the key to your action requirement, while in low light, you need to handle  such shooting with a combination of low light capability and high ISO capture.

What does Sony Needs to Do?

Address their weak points, namely poor high ISO handling and dynamic range. Their noise reduction algorithm stinks, and DRO was something they were bragging about when I worked with them on the A700 Resource Portal. It sounded very futuristic then but today, as you can see form the poor dyanmic range results, it has taken a severe beating.

Sony cannot rely on their mass market brand name alone to sell cameras. I still do believe they are able to come out with innovative products but the performance issues often associated with it leaves a very bad aftertaste on the consumers who have bought into them.

A product must be sold on its strengths and not price points alone. A full frame camera like the A7r looks tempting at that price but the performance of the camera is less than desirable. The rush to put more pixels into megapixels must stop. Consumers will get tired of the same sales pitch and turn to their smartphone cameras instead, when this happens, Sony Alpha Cameras are doomed.