Sony A7 Review

5.0
December 5, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Sony A7 produced images of outstanding quality during the review period. The Sony A7 has an extensive and very usable ISO range of 50-25,600. ISO 50-1600 is noise-free, whilst ISO 3200 and 6400 produce more than acceptable results, and even ISO 12,800 and 25,600 are OK for emergency use. The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, though, as they're much noisier at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

The 24 megapixel images are a little soft straight out of the camera using the default creative style and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and the Bulb mode offering lots of scope for creative night photography.

The effective Dynamic Range Optimizer function extracts more detail from the shadow and highlight areas in an image, without introducing any unwanted noise or other artifacts. The High Dynamic Range mode combines two shots taken at different exposures to produce one image with greater dynamic range than a single image would produce. It only works for JPEGs and for still subjects, but does produce some very effective results. Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is still a joy to use. The various Picture Effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the Creative Styles provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images.

Noise

There are 10 ISO settings available on the Sony A7. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and RAW formats:

JPEG RAW

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The Sony A7 has 3 different image quality settings available, with Extra Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

24M Extra Fine (12.4Mb) (100% Crop) 24M Fine (6.31Mb) (100% Crop)
   
24M Standard (4.31Mb) (100% Crop) 24M RAW (23.9Mb) (100% Crop)

Night

The Sony A7's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there's also a Bulb mode for even longer exposures, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds at ISO 100.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light. There are 5 different levels and an Auto option.

Off

Auto
   
Level 1 Level 2
   
Level 3 Level 4
   
Level 5  
 

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image. There are 6 different EV settings and an Auto option.

Off

Auto
   
1EV 2EV
   
3EV 4EV
   
5EV 6EV

Creative Styles

There are 13 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images.

Standard

Vivid

   

Neutral

Clear

   

Deep

Light

   

Portrait

Landscape

   

Sunset

Night Scene

   

Autumn Leaves

Black & White

   

Sepia

 
 

Picture Effects

The Sony A7 offers a range of thirteen creative Picture Effects.

Off

Toy Camera

   

Pop Color

Posterization

   

Retro Photo

Soft High-key

   

Partial Color (Red)

High Contrast Mono

   

Soft Focus

HDR Painting

   

Rich-tone Mono

Miniature

Sweep Panorama Mode

The Sony A7 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects. The main catch is that the resulting image is of fairly low resolution.

Standard
 
Wide

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