Full-frame Sony Alpha

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Sony had bought Minolta in 2005 and proposed digital SLRs, first with classic mirror then in 2010 with semi-transparent mirror.
From 2010, Sony introduces a new E-mount for its APS-C mirrorless cameras. In October 2013, Sony offered its first mirror-less hybrid camera with full-frame sensor and FE interchangeable lenses that keep the same E-mount frame.
In October 2013, Sony introduces a new E-mount and its first mirror-less hybrid camera with full-frame sensor and interchangeable lenses.
Sony creates a new market with two photo models (A7 and A7R), full-frame of 24 and 36 million pixels. This market is in fact a replacement/substitution market for the declining market for DSLRs.

The commercial strategy of Sony is different from those of other manufacturers that when they release a new camera, remove its predecessor, Sony uses a more original method of continuing to sell simultaneously several generations of cameras. Sony regularly introduces new versions of its cameras but continues to offer pre-sale models at a lower price, which allows the creation over time of a wide range of cameras from the oldest to the newest, the latter having the most complete features.


Sony A7R IV

Sony A7 R IV

Sony A7R top

The shape of the Sony A7 also plays an important role. While coming from the Nex 7, it is built with a prism on the roof and commands identical to those of digital reflex with mirror chamber and optical premium. It would have been more convenient to have an electronic viewfinder on the left of the camera and adjustable as on some "compact" digital experts.
Placing the A7's electronic viewfinder in the form of a prism allows the consumer to immediately identify this camera as a DSLR, that it is not, and as a direct competitor of Nikon, Canon and other Pentax.
Sony could have created a RX1 electronic viewfinder and interchangeable lens but the Sony A7 was to stand out from Nex and other digital compact.
The shape of DSLR is a hallmark of SLRs, and Panasonic S1, Nikon Z6 and Z7 have understood, they made, a few years later, the same choice as Sony.


Hasselblad Lusso

Hasselblad Lusso

The Sony A7 was not only the first full-frame hybrid, 24 x 36 mm, but it has the originality of allowing through its Wi-Fi chip not only to control the camera from a tablet or a smartphone but also to connect to the Sony Entertainment Network and download some applications to improve the functionality of the camera. Some of them are free, some others not. These applications allow to realize multiple exposures, to correct the optics defaults, to export the photos towards Flickr. Sony did not develop the Sony Entertainment Network nor open to outside developers the ability to create applications. This feature was probably not expected by the buyer of this type of camera: If you like pure Photography, you are not necessary a geek.

The Sony A7R may be found under the Hasselblad name. As the Hasselblad Stellar was a clone of Sony RX100, the Hasselblad Lusso is an Alpha 7R with a luxurious finish: a precious wood grip, stones on some parts, and a specific finish. The rest is identical to the first version of the Sony A7R with its 36 Mpx.

Alpha's family.

Alpha's family

The Sony Alpha are full-frame mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses. The Alpha 7 are available in the versatile A7 body, high definition A7R body and video oriented A7S. They are complemented by the Sony A9 and A1 as well as by a compact A7C body.

Sony Alpha 7

Sony A7 Mark IV

Sony A7 Mark IV

passive heat dissipation of the Sony A7 Mark IV

passive heat dissipation of the Sony A7 Mark IV

The Sony Alpha 7 (A7), introduced in 2103, is the first interchangeable lens compact camera equipped with a 35mm format. Compact, it replaces the NEX-7 and remains the most versatile model and the bestseller of the range. In 2013 and 2014, the Sony A7's are the only full-frame hybrids on the market. It has a 24.2 megapixel sensor.
The Sony A7 mark II brings in 2014 a backlit sensor, stabilization on 5 axes.
The Sony A7 mark III brings in 2017 a better autonomy and a design inspired by the A9.
The Sony A7 mark IV adds in 2021 a 33 Mpx full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor and a Bionz XR dual-processor, an “hybrid” autofocus (phase correlation and contrast detection) with 759 AF points covering 94% of the sensor area, a native ISO range of ISO 100 to 204,800, a 4K video at 60 fps in Super 35 mm, a swivel screen mounted on a ball joint, a burst mode at 10 fps. The Sony A7 IV is priced at $ 2,799 body only (November 2021).

Sony Alpha 7R

The Sony Alpha 7R (A7R), launched in 2103 is as compact as the A7 but features a 36.4 megapixel low-pass filterless sensor with a burst at 5 fps.
The Sony A7R mark II brings in 2015 a full-size backlit sensor without 42.4 megapixel low-pass filter, a high sensitivity at ISO 102,400 and 4K video, the autofocus is phase correlated and counts 399 points against 177 for the A7R, the stabilization on 5 axes.
The Sony A7R mark III brings in 2017 a better autonomy and a design inspired by the A9. The Sony A7R Mark IV of 2019 features a full-size 61 million pixel backlit sensor, a pixel shift mode, an AF with 567 points phase detection, a burst mode at 10fps.

Sony Alpha 7S

Sony A7S III

Sony A7S III

The Sony A7S (A7S), is a video-oriented version, introduced in 2014, able of shooting in 4K at 24/25/30 fps with a 12.2 megapixel sensor for better fluidity, a larger dynamic range (15.3 EV9), better digital noise management and sensitivity can reach 409,600 ISO.
The Sony A7S mark II brings in 2°13 an 5-axis stabilization and autofocus from 25 detection points to 169.
The Sony A7S mark III brings in 2020 a 12.1 Megapixel backlit sensor, an AF with 759 phase detection points and 425 contrast points, a sensitivity from 40 to 409,600 ISO, 4K video sequences at 120 p, with a crop factor of 1.1, or Full HD video mode in 240p, a fully articulated rear screen and an Oled viewfinder with 9.44 million dots and a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

Sony Alpha 9

Sony A9 II

Sony A9 II

The Sony A9 (A9), presented in 2107, is equipped with a full-size, backlit sensor offering a definition of 24.2 million pixels. Its CMOS "stacked" technology integrates a buffer. It can take 20 images of 24 MP per second and is stabilized on 5 axes. It has a high sensitivity to 204 600 ISO. The unit offers 4K / UHD video at 30 fps or Full HD at 60 fps. This is the professional version of the Sony A7 a fully built magnesium alloy case and a mechanical shutter for 500,000 cycles.

The 2019 Sony A9 mark II has a similar design of the A7 mark IV with the enlarged handle, the joystick on the back and the AF-On button but features on the upper left cover, a double barrel of access to focus modes and various shooting functions. The upgrades of the A9 mark II primarily concern professional photographers with immediate data transmission enhancements: support for FTPS files (SSL or TLS protocols) to better secure transfers in Ethernet 1000BASE-T and Wifi; improved remote shooting performance in connected mode via the Remote Camera Tool application (reduction of trigger times and display in LiveView); increased and more stable Wifi transfer speed with 5 GHz bandwidth in addition to 2.4 GHz; Support for all IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards. In addition, it will be possible to record information vocally through a voice memo function. And to transfer this data at the same time as the files to which they correspond in FTP. Or convert them to text in the form of IPTC metadata with the Transfer & Tagging add-on application. The A9 mark II is proposed to $ 4500 body only (October 2019).

Other Sony Alpha cameras

Sony A7 C

2020 Sony A7 C

In 2020, Sony launches the Sony A7 C (A7C), a camera derived from the Sony A7 III. It is a new full-frame mirrorless camera with a compact design close to the Sony A6600, a 20% gain in size due to the removal of the viewfinder protrusion of the other A7s.
This camera has a unibody magnesium alloy construction and resistance to dust and moisture. It is built around the 24.2 Mpx backlit Full-frame sensor, It has a BionZ processor, allows a 10 fps burst, 4K 30p video on 8 bits. It has a 3-inch 921,000-dot ball-head articulating touchscreen, 693-point phase-detection Autofocus that covers 93% of the frame, a 2.36 million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder with magnification 0.59x and weighs 509 g.
It is equipped with a new compact and lightweight FE 28-60mm f / 4-5.6 retractable zoom lens.

The 7AC is available in silver or black for $1,799 or $2,099 as a kit with the FE 28-60 mm (September 2020).

Sony Alpha 1

2021 Sony A1

On January 26, 2021, Sony launches the Sony Alpha 1. Its ambition: to be the best SLR camera, quite simply. Outclassing the Canon R5, it has an impressive technical sheet:
A 50.1 megapixel 24x36 BSI sensor even allowing 200 Mpx shots thanks to the Pixel Shift function, an in-body image stabilization system rated at 5.5EV, a lossless Raw compression, a burst without blackout at 30 fps, a speed up to 1/32,000 s, flash sync at 1/400 s, 8K video with 30 minute recording, an electronic viewfinder of 9.44 million pixels with 0.90x magnification, dual storage slots compatible with CFexpress Type A or SD UHS-II cards .
Everything is powered by two Bionz XR processors.

The Nikon D6 and the Canon 1DxIII keep for them a high sensitivity with their 20 megapixel sensor. But the Sony Alpha 1, offered at the same price of $ 6 500 and does not leave them with many advantages. We have undoubtedly reached the limit of the possibilities of mirror chamber SLRs.

The Alpha 1 is available in black for $6,500 (March 2021).

pierre j.

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Created August 18th 2019, updated October 22tht 2021.
© Pierre J.