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Sony A7r review part II small flash and more

During the workshop this weekend with small flash I also used the Sony A7r.
This will be a shorter review than the last one by the way.

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For the flash control I used the Phottix Odin system which appears to be working just fine on the A7r.
There was an occasional misfire but from all the shots we took during the workshop this only happened three times and resulted in a highly overexposed image, I think this will be ironed out in the final version of the camera, if it’s a fault of the camera, even it it won’t be solved it’s not really a problem seeing that it only happened three times, but if you experience it you at least know you’re not alone.

 

During the small flash workshop it’s not particularly bright in the studio, but the autofocus of the A7r worked like a charm, it locked on reasonably fast, the only time it had real problems when I tried to focus on the red material you see in the sample shots. Changing the spot to large solved this problem. (I’m using the smallest spot normally).

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One of the things that people will like about the A7r is the way you can set your focus point, of course there are the normal settings like zone, wide and center, but you can also change the spot size from large to medium and small in the zone mode, this can be incredibly handy when you need to really focus on THAT point (like I love to do when shooting models). The spread of the focus points is an incredible upgrade from the A99 where I always found the points to be way too much towards to the center, with the A7r they are almost spread out over the whole sensor. I still have to check out how this works during street photography and tracking subjects but I have high hopes for this.

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The shots you see in this blog post were all done with one Sony strobe and a Rogue flash bender, expect the shots with the red material which were shot with the same Sony strobe but now shot through a translucent reflector.

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What I really like about the files from the A7r is the quality of the “pixels” now let me explain.
A lot of RAW images are fine but as soon as you start pushing the pixels around they will often break down, this can be because of dynamic range, noise or simply because….. you fill in the blanks. Medium format files are in my experience always rock solid, as long as you don’t lift too much shadows they can be pushed around like crazy without “breaking”. The A7r files are very close, due to the lack of the AA filter the images are incredibly sharp, and I really mean incredibly sharp, there is detail there that you will never see on a normal DSLR, however you have to realize that your choice of glass get’s incredibly important, if you use mediocre glass you will get very mediocre results, however if you use top quality glass…. well there is without a doubt a big wow effect to put it mildly.

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As explained in the previous blog post I’m not easily impressed with megapixels, but what I do really like is the fact that I can push the A7r files in the shadows much further than I could ever push the Medium format files, shooting at ISO200 and still getting detail back from pitch black without adding too much noise is just plain handy, you can’t always light 100% perfectly and sometimes you just need to pull detail back from the dark so to say and it’s very comforting to know your camera files will allow that.

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High ISO performance is very nice, the noise pattern is pleasing and in the RAW developing stage you can remove most of the chroma noise to a point that it’s not drawing too much attention any more. Of course shooting ISO25600 is not something you should do on a daily, or even weekly basis, but it’s always nice to get the shot this way instead of missing the shot. The following two shots were done very quickly in between sessions and are shot on ISO25600.

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You do have to realize that when you zoom in there is a lot of noise on these files, however do also remember that you’re shooting a 36MP camera, in other words, when you zoom in to 100% it’s in fact like you’re watching a billboard up close, and let’s be honest you don’t do that in real life. I will try some prints of the 25600 files and see how the noise is in print and report back on that later.

Overall I’m still very impressed with the camera.
Handling and image quality is awesome and I honestly can’t wait to see how the camera response on the street. So there will be more in the coming days, keep following the blog.
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  • KyuMin Shim

    Wow… awesome shots and thanks for sharing your experience. Very tempted and already in my country sony korea started sell them via online (they will ship mid november tho) and can’t wait to see reviews. Btw, you did use more than one flash, right? Just curious. Thanks!

  • uhoh7

    please shoot some non-native glass and post samples 🙂

    • I would love to shoot some M42 or Leica R glass on it but because it’s a sample unit (that has to go back) I’m not buying convertor rings for it.

      In Essence most people will use EF or A mount lenses on it I guess. For me the A mount is very important because I have a wide selection of that glass and those lenses works fine.

  • Michael O

    You mentioned using quality glass, what lenses did you use?

    • At the moment I tested the 35mm EF Sony/Zeiss lens, Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 (A mount), Sony 70-200 f2.8 (A mount).

  • Rocco

    Great review. I have a nex-6 and Im really interested on this. I realized the x-sync of the A7 is 1/250, a pity the A7r is not the same. Would have been great for outside shots. What do you think about that? Im really torn up there. Ultimate IQ vs flexibility (and a very acceptable IQ still).
    Also, I see you are using the ODIN trigger with an adapter. I think there where rumors of a version with the new sony hot shoe. Do you know anything about that. Also, you have to use old minolta hot shoe flashes, right? OR do you have an adapter for the new flashes too?
    thanks.

    • 1/160 to 1/250 is around 2/3 stop nothing to be really exciting about, it get’s interesting when you can sync up to 1/800-1/1600 but for that you will need a different camera or leaf shutter lenses.

      For me the difference of 2/3 stop is not enough, I love the fact there is no AA filter in the A7r which gives it that “3D” look, or at least I think that’s the reason, on MF I found the 3D look at first, later also on the FujiFilm series cameras.

      • Rocco

        What about the ODIN Triggers? I would like to buy a sony flash, but it will be the new hot shoe. As you said, you use the ODIN with this camera (and the A99 as I read on other posts) with an adapter. But the flashes, are old minolta shoe flashes? Or you also have an adapter for the new flashes? The coolest thing would be to have the transmitter for new socket, and receptors for both, so you can mix old and new shoe flahes.
        thanks for your info and your site!

        • Curtis

          Rocco: I have an adapter plate for my NEX7 so I can mount at standard shoe on the camera. I use my Flex TT5’s with the NEX 7 in trigger only mode. The adapter works flawlessly. SO, I would be good either way with the old shoe mount or the more standard shoe mount. Are you saying the ODIN has the OLD minolta mount? I am sure there would be an adapter for that way too and I can’t imagine since Sony is going with the more standard flash plates that they wouldn’t have a version for that or an adapter for that as well.

          • I use adapters indeed, but they are small and the Odins are light so in real life you hardly notice them, they are always on there so I don’t remove them.

        • I would love to see that indeed, now I use convertors on the camera and strobes (because I use the new Sony strobes).
          It’s not ideal but in real life it does work.

      • Curtis

        With the Odin trigger system, can you not do a hyper sync up to 1/8000th of a second? That would eliminate the need to have a leaf shutter.

        • There is no system that can hyper sync at 1/8000.
          Unless you’re cutting the strobe and that would mean loosing LOADS of light, don’t believe everything you read 😀

          Hypersync works best on slow strobes with let’s say a flash duration of max 1/1000 of a second, if you calculate the rise of the strobe you would in this case loose app 80% of it’s power.

        • Duh

          Curtis. No need for a wireless trigger system.

          With the d800, just pop up the on camera flash and set it to 1/128 power and cover it.

          This will turn on HSS timming if you go over 1/250th. Then connect to a studio strobe that has a relatively long flash duration like an Elinchrom 3000 pack. With that I obtain sync all the way to 1/8000th. There is some power loss, but with a 3000 pack it’s not much of a problem. With a power range of 188 to 3000 this is what you can get with a beauty dish
          covering head to toe.

          With the S-Head 1/1,600th has an aperture range from f3.5 to F16

          With the S-Head 1/8,000th has an aperture range from f1.4 to F8

          • Curtis

            There is no pop up flash on the a7r, but I imagine if you use a sony flash on top that it would do the same. I use wireless in daylight where the sun may overpower the on camera strobe. thx for the info.

      • EeroM

        I think it might be the missing AA filter that adds the 3D look, my new D7100 has it removed and think it has the same look as MF shots I have. Still need to do more shoots to make sure.

  • Alex Benison

    Very interesting an compelling shots. I am super interested in the A7r and I will most likely get one to augment my current 5DmkIII. I’m really curious what the AEB capabilities are on the A7r. I can’t seem to make heads or tails of the specs on the sony site. In the past Sony has had very poor AEB, but I’m wondering if that has changed on this camera. Any info would be amazing. I’ll continue to check the blog for future reviews as well, nice work.

  • Curtis

    It would be nice if Pocket Wizard would make a sony version of their flex tt sytem!

    • Curtis

      the Odin system looks like it does the same thing as the flex, is that correct?

      • Almost but now with a display and no Hypersync that’s about it.

  • rico Sacto

    HOT HOT HOT

  • Pingback: A7r vs Medium format vs RX1R vs D800E. And more new tests by Frank Doorhof and Lesnumeriques. | sonyalpharumors()

  • Freeride

    Hello Frank, I also have the Sony 7R for Betatesting . Do you know if the Tethered shooting option is a standalone option with DNG , as I use Capture One more? And can I already convert the RAWs in a software ? Just Any? As I’m not so used to Sony Equipment until now and got the camera yesterday:-)) Manual can be downloaded from Sony Asia from today:-)) Will post some pictures in the next weeks on my new blog under news. Cheers Andy

    • Tethering now works under Lightroom but only for the JPEGs (raw are shows as blanks) and there is some problem with the last image coming in, but they are working on it. Capture One has no support for any Sony so I don’t think they will support the A7(r) for RAW they probably will of course.

      At the moment only Iridient supports the files (but let me know if you find another one, I love to experiment).

  • Freeride

    So for HSS I have to use the ODIN flash units ?

  • Kunamiya

    I would like to ask , A7r without the AA filter , do they produce moire and False color ? will they affected your shooting ? or maybe is that a minus point for fashion photogaher ?

    • Yes just as MF. However up until now it saw it in 3-4 shots and I’ve shot a lot. That’s about equal to a 33-40mp MF back. It’s solved easily on set by choosing a different angle or in Lightroom/photoshop.

  • Duh

    What’s up with the goofy makeup?

    • It’s called “having some fun. And some will like it some won’t” 😉

  • LD Way

    You commented about the matching quality lenses with the A7r. However, you never mention which lenses you used for this shoot. Given that all brands of lenses can be used it is helpful to know which lenses work well with the camera. I have been looking to see how the A-mount lenses work with this camera – especially the Zeiss/ZA lenses. Can you speak to this? Thank you!

    • Hi,
      I always leave my Exif in tact so you can easily see what I’m using 😀

  • Vincent

    I asked phottix and they said since the A7R is not a DSLR, HSS works but only up to 1/1600sec. Can anyone verify this?

    • Patrick

      It’s hit and miss for HSS on the A7R with the Phottix Odin and HVL-F60M. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I can usually get it to work @ 1/1250th second and auto ISO but I can’t count on it. Normal TTL shooting at 1/160th and lower is fine. I just went through a support ticket with them and provided examples. Phottix said to bring it to Sony’s attention but I responded they should provide a firmware update, especially since they have for Canon and NIkon versions of the Odin. It’s been a frustrating ordeal testing this and I’m trying to get the word out there is a problem with HSS using the ODIN on the A7R, especially since HSS works just fine if the flash is mounted directly on the camera.

      • Make sure the Sony strobe is NOT aiming upwards, so please click it back to the standard 45 degree position.
        Sony strobes don’t support HSS as soon as the strobe is aiming away from the standard position, absolutely ridiculous but it’s not the Odins fault.

  • Bons Raeg

    For me the ‘three dimensional look’ comes from the extra detail the 36mp sensor without AA filter delivers. The Sony a7r delivers astounding image quality and it’s the finest camera I have ever used. I had a D800 for a while, but in use I found it cumbersome. Too heavy and too large.