Sony Alpha A7R review

Superb image quality from this revolutionary CSC

Sony A7R
The Sony A7R has the same body design of the standard A7 but features a 36 million pixel sensor

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Sony is keen to portray itself as a genuine contender in the imaging market. Currently, it is doing this through innovation and experimentation, of which the A7R is a prime example.

What we have here is the world's smallest and lightest full-frame interchangeable lens camera - an extremely exciting development, especially for the compact system camera market. It's fair to say that traditional DSLR manufacturers may be starting to get worried, especially given the price points at which the A7 and A7R are available.

Image quality is top class, especially in terms of detail. Colours are beautifully vibrant, while the scope to customise colour output in camera is very much appreciated.

It's clear that Sony has thought about how enthusiast and professional photographers like to work and the amount of button customisation available is wonderful. It's great being able to make the camera work exactly as you want to, or the way you think is most sensible.

Final shot

While the camera is small, it's still chunky enough to sit nicely in your hand, with a grip on the side making it comfortable to hold for long periods of time – always a bonus.

It's great to have a tilting screen too, something which currently only Sony offers for full-frame cameras. It helps when shooting at awkward angles, or if there's a lot of glare. The EVF is also excellent. Although it can't compete particularly well with an optical finder in some dark or high contrast situations, the rest of the time it's better in many ways – being able to quickly assess whether you've nailed a shot is particularly useful.

That's not to say that this camera isn't without its flaws. The battery life is poor, and if you're looking to spend a day with this camera, it simply won't last that long. I'd recommend investing in two additional batteries if you want to use it all day – thankfully the batteries are small and pocketable.

It also remains baffling that Sony doesn't include a touchscreen on a camera like this. While the enthusiast/pro photographer might not be bothered by such technology, the fact that Sony has access to this in spades makes it more of a glaring omission, especially when you consider how fiddly it is to change the autofocus point.

We liked

Image quality from the A7R is, quite simply, superb. That's by far and away the best thing about this camera, and we're excited to see how the system develops from here on. With the addition of more lenses and more accessories, it should become an attractive system to get on board with.

We disliked

It has to be the battery power - you will be forced to buy another battery. It would be nice if Sony could include a spare in the box, especially as you're already shelling out a significant chunk of change for a camera like this.

Final Verdict

Both the Sony A7 and the A7R are fantastic innovations. But for now, the system isn't quite complete enough. Although image quality is fantastic, it feels as if there are a few kinks that need to be ironed out, most importantly improved battery life, and hopefully the introduction of a touchscreen for the next iteration of the camera. With only one proprietary lens available for the R model at the moment, it's a little limiting. But compatibility with other lenses via optional mounts makes it extremely intriguing for users considering moving to Sony from other brands.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.