I think I accidentally stumbled onto a clue as to the direction we’re headed in motion picture cameras. It comes, once again, from the digital still world. Full-frame, format-agnostic sensors. Comfortable with B4, Super16, Super35, Anamorphic, Full frame and many other lenses and aspect ratios. The first hint of this was Leica’s new M camera, with CMOS sensor, live view, and accessory EVF.
Little was lost in translation here in Tokyo. At Sony Gallery in Ginza, I tested the new α7R and α7 full-frame mirror-less cameras. They were shown at PhotoPlus in New York a couple of weeks ago, but the implications didn’t hit me until I was handed a camera and WiFi tracker (lest I wander off too far) and encouraged to roam Sony’s demo area to take stills and video. Image quality was remarkable. The built-in OLED viewfinder is great.
Sony’s new α7 and α7R digital cameras are full-frame, 24 x 36mm, interchangeable lens cameras. They use the familiar Sony E mount — the same as the FS700 and NEX, which are APS-C size — but now the E mount covers full frame. (A full frame Sony E-mount consumer video camcorder was shown last year at Photokina.)
The α7R has a 36.4 megapixel CMOS sensor and no optical low pass filter. The α7 has a 24.3 megapixel CMOS sensor with a faster autofocus and an OLPF.
Both cameras have a really sharp, bright 2.4 million pixel OLED electronic viewfinder. We’re getting close to the point where EVF is almost as good as optical mirror reflex viewing. The benefit of mirror-less electronic viewing is the chance for reduced flange focal depth. Without a mirror, you can position the rear element of the lens closer to the image plane. This means the lens can be lighter and smaller.
Both cameras record impressive full HD AVCHD 1920 x 1080 60p video.
New Sony and ZEISS α Lenses
There are 5 new full-frame E-mount lenses designed for the α7R and α7 cameras: mid-range zoom lenses from Sony and Carl Zeiss, Zeiss Sonnar T* primes and a G Lens zoom.