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Small Camera – Big Pictures

The Sony A7R in use in the landscape

Andrew Nadolski

Andrew Nadolski

Andrew Nadolski is a professional designer and photographer based in Exeter. His series 'The End of the Land' has been exhibited in museums and art galleries across England and has been published as a book by Headon House.



Not since the details first leaked of the Nikon D800 has there been a camera that has generated this much pre-release ‘web’ debate, speculation and hyperbole. Expectations from the diminutive Sony A7R (and A7) are high, possibly too high. Would it be a ‘Leica killer’, could it establish Sony as a contender to join the ‘top table’ of manufacturers and sit alongside Canon and Nikon? The simple answers are (a) unlikely and (b) possibly.

With some commentators whipping themselves into a pre-release frenzy could reality ever live up to this much hype. Much is being quite rightly written about the tiny size of this camera and certainly judged by today’s full frame models it is small. Some writers even wondering if it might be too small to hand hold. A quick comparison to the size that 35mm film cameras (admittedly manual wind on models) used to be makes you realise that Sony have in fact managed to make a camera the same size that cameras were 30 or so years ago. A slightly worse for wear Pentax ME Super I keep on the shelf above my monitor puts things into perspective a little.

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w small is small? The A7R alongside a Pentax ME Super

I don’t mean this to take anything away from Sony - what they have achieved in packing what could really be considered medium format quality into a compact body is a feat of engineering excellence. I don’t think there is another manufacturer who could have achieved this and it does highlight just how cumbersome and bloated full frame 35mm cameras have become. An excellent example of this is the new Nikon DF, a camera that has truly earned the ‘fugly’ crown. Sony have brought us a camera that is ultra modern yet in looks and feel harks back to how cameras used to be. What Nikon have done with the Duff (as I shall now call it) is to try and sell us nostalgia by sticking some extra analogue looking bits on a D600. It certainly looks like a camera that has found where the pies were hidden and is definitely the ugly sister to Sony’s Cinderella (excuse the seasonal panto reference). Maybe Nikon should learn a bit about not over hyping a product that really isn’t that special.

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A7R with Nikon 50mm f1.4 G series lens. 3 seconds at approximately f16



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