A Stroll Through Taipei With The Sony A7
Consider this a casual review of the first generation Sony A7.
It's not so much about the specs as is it about the experience and the reasoning. If you need a travel camera that isn't expensive but still very impressive with quality and ease of portability, this is worth considering. If you don't care and you're just here for the photos, just skip to the bottom.
I've stopped considering myself a photographer since I became a full time retoucher many years ago. Fortunately, I still had my Canon 5D at the time that became my travel camera. It still works perfectly fine but it started showing its age with time.
When I receive files from clients, I get the luxury of seeing how every camera and lens combination performs. I get to play with each file to see the limitations of each and what can or cannot be done in post.
In comparison, I could tell the color depth of my camera started lacking the magic I wanted, and the dynamic range was barely there. I just didn't care about processing my photos anymore. If I had to pull detail out of the shadows, I would say a prayer and summon the Gods in hopes to get a glimmer of detail without any ugly noise. Also, anything above ISO 400 was not that great, and the resolution wasn't holding up for cropping anymore. The size and weight of the camera was just making me want to shoot less because of the extra heft I had to carry with me to my destination. And in comparison to some of the photos I was just getting with my iPhone, technology started creeping up!
I started seeing images from the Sony A7 and I was impressed. After seeing sample files, I really loved the dynamic range, color and resolution that came out of that full frame sensor. The size of the body was great and I liked knowing what the file was going to look like prior to taking the shot with the live feedback from the electronic viewfinder and live-view on the back of the camera.
Also, since the camera has focus peaking (link), I now manual focus and it's very fast to do so. It tells me what's in focus. So now the "half-shutter" becomes an exposure lock. It's a very different workflow but it's very enjoyable. I ended up getting a cheap adapter that allows me to use my older Canon-mount lenses. I ended up picking up the camera for about $850. So yes, you could get the A72 or the other variants, but it is extra and I wanted for something under $1k.
For the price, it was the best option. I also love how it has such little noise on ISO above 2000. So I wasn't scared to shoot in any light. I would mostly keep it at f/4 at 1/160 or so and keep it at auto ISO. I would adjust it for specific situations but this way, it became really easy to shoot at the settings I liked and not constantly adjust everything. I decided to keep my old Tamron 28-75 2.8 to see how it did before upgrading and took the setup with me to Taipei where I was going for some work. During my downtime, I took the full frame goodness with me to test it out! Turns out, the lens still works great and it has the range and sharpness I am happy with for what I am using it for. If I wanted auto focus, I'd just go Sony.
The camera performed very well and I had no complaints. The battery life was shorter than an SLR but I just carried one more battery with me and it lasted all day for me. The size allowed me to take it hiking without issues of feeling too heavy, and I got the full range of the zoom that really paid off. I definitely learned that a prime isn't enough for me on trips as I'm too lazy to keep on changing lenses.
On the processing side, here is an idea of how great the dynamic range is. This is not what I would do on purpose, but it's good to know should I need to rescue details (which I did on many shots).
We went through night markets, climbed up mountains, saw sunsets, and went to eat lots of food. Here are some of the photos from the trip!