PhotoPlus Expo 2013: News Shooter looks at the full-frame Sony Alpha 7 camera from Chuck Fadely on Vimeo.
The following text has been written by SAR reader William (from www.lightzoneproject.org) who attended the PDNshow in New York. I think it’s the best descripttion I read about the new Sony “product confidence”. It’s a must read!
“My impressions: The A7 and A7r are really fine looking cameras, overcoming my initial problems with the pentaprism (I was hoping for more of an NEX 7 look/rangefinder look). Very solid in the hand, and also “right-sized” for everyone but those with really large hands. Very solid feel, and basically very good ergonomics. Yes, someone commented somewhere that the shutter release button is a bit awkward being right on top of the camera—but we should remember that this is how slr’s and rangefinders were (and still are) for decades. All the wheels worked great and the special function buttons are also very good. Of course the lens selection at the show was very limited—as was the battery power! Everyone was checking these cameras out. While I was at the booth several times I let people try my Voigtlander 35 f2.5 from my NEX 7 on the cameras (which looked great BTW through the viewfinder), and the Sony people to my surprise were actively talking about 3rd party lens options, adapters, legacy glass from other makes, etc. By actively I mean encouraging it—and not just at the booths one-on-one, but in their mini-theater presentations, too. More on this “attitude” in a moment. There were quite a few people invested in other makes coming into the Sony booth and looking very admiringly at the A7 and A7r. And as far as I’m concerned that viewfinder is a winner—very clear and the magnification worked well. The menu system looked great to me—much more like my beloved A850 (but of course more in it). I wish they had had the battery grip, too bad. Of course the camera has wifi and will be able to be controlled by phone/tablet app, but I asked about the lack of a port for a cabled release. I was told there is a release coming, and that it will use the multi-port.
I also looked at the RX10. Very, very nice camera. Great finish, solid and tight. Neither compact nor big. I am amazed that someone has come out with as fine a superzoom as this—to me it has always been a junk category. Definitely a winner travel camera.
Some general things about Sony’s show presence: Canon had the largest booth by far, but there were a lot of printers in there and video, and a fancy stage. After that Sony’s booth looked like the next biggest, with 2 smaller stages. Not many people were looking at the video stuff. Nikon’s booth seemed smaller than Sony’s, and although closer to the entrance, seemed less central to the show. It was also not very crowded when I was there. Oly and Fuji had nice booths, and both had decent traffic. Panny and Samsung had decent booths and decent traffic, and Leica had its typically elegant booth—NYC is a good market for them I bet. No Ricoh-Pentax that I saw. Lot’s of people at the Zeiss booth asking about E-mounts.
So, about that “attitude” I spoke of earlier. 2 years ago at the show I remember handling the NEX 7 with the reps at the booth, and while enthusiastic, they didn’t seem all that well prepared for the enthusiasm and close questioning by us, the public. At times they seemed a little befuddled and surprised. That was less true last year, but still a little true. But last year it was clear to me that there was growing pride in what they were doing, and the guys working the RX1 counter were clearly very proud—all smiles all day long. If you have never worked a trade show(I have), you should know that they are exhausting affairs. It’s hard to fake your enthusiasm after the first day. For many reps they are just a PITA. So the internal “Sony pride” was very obvious to me last year and even a bit the year before. This year? These guys know they’re hot. They are like a winning sports team, full of confidence. Loads of enthusiasm, engagement, and this year they were far better prepared for the press of interested people and could answer questions better. I had quick discussions with 2 Sony people who are farther up the food chain: Drew Temple, Product Information, Digital Imaging (out of San Diego), and John Bruehl, Vice President, Specialty Retailers, Digital Imaging division. I specifically button-holed them about Sony’s minimum purchase requirements, which I have been told by 2 different pro shops I do business with prevent these businesses from getting involved with Sony. They are just too high—smaller stores cannot carry that much inventory speculatively. One of these shops is my local pro shop, and the owner whom I’ve known since the ’80’s has told me he’d love to have a few of these more specialized Sony products—the RX100, RX100II, RX1, RX10 ,NEX 6 & 7, and now the A7 and A7r, but he has no demand as of yet for the rest of the Sony line (he’s a Nikon-Canon-Leica camera specialist, with the Fuji line thrown in for good measure). This is a store that also supplies a full range of film supplies plus the entire Epson Pro line, as well as most of the major accessory lines and several of the pro lighting lines. The other store is a niche retailer that is a Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander dealer—clearly a place that would be interested in the top of Sony’s mirrorless lineup. So I specifically pressed these 2 Sony guys about this, and to please consider making some changes, even temporary ones to let these smaller shops get some traction in order to build up demand. Drew was very forthright, and suggested I go ahead and email him after the show and that he would bring it to the the meeting table, although he promised no changes and said this gets into strategic territory. Yet he spoke to me, not a brush off at all. John was even more willing to speak to me, even though he was clearly very busy—he took more than 10 minutes of his time to talk to me. While he initially disagreed with what I was trying to get across, and explained that SONY has very good MSRP, MAP, and RPM policies (Nikon and Canon do not, according to my sources, favoring B&H, Adorama, but especially Amazon), plus a way for retailers to get smaller quantities through a distributor, on the other hand he was listening, and asked me to email him and triangulate with my friend here in my home town with the pro shop–whom he knew. He seemed open to thinking about this and bringing it up in meetings with “the guys from Japan”. But here is what is most interesting for us who read SAR: He said he has been in sales a long time, and what he always asks is “what are we doing wrong?” He said this startled the Japanese, who asked him why he would do such a thing. Because, he replied, you cannot assume you are doing everything right. Now those “guys from Japan” have heard this, and are beginning to take it to heart—they now want to know, actively, “what can we do better?”. They are listening harder now. I think it shows.
co-founder and webmaster(or minor) for the open-source LightZone Project
Specs and Preorders in US and Canada:
Dedicated Sony announcement page at Amazon US (Click here).
Sony A7r body at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS. TheCameraStore Canada.
Sony A7 body at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS. TheCameraStore Canada.
Sony A7 with 28-70mm kit lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS. TheCameraStore Canada.
Sony RX10 at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
Zeiss 24-70mm at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
Zeiss 35mm at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
Zeiss 55mm at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
70-200mm A-mount at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
Sony A-Mount to E-Mount Lens Adapter at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto.
Sony A to E adapter with mirror at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto.
A7/A7r leather case at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
A7/A7r vertical grip at Amazon, BHphoto, SonystoreUS.
Sony W Series Battery Charger at Amazon, BHphoto.
Sony FA-CS1M Off-Camera Shoe at BHphoto.
Semi-Hard LCD Screen Protector for A7-A7r at Amazon, BHphoto.
Specs and Preorders in Europe:
Sony A7r body at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, CH, AT, SE, FI, NO, PT, WexUK, WexDE.
Sony A7 body at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, CH, AT, SE, FI, NO, PT, WexUK, WexDE, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon FR.
Sony A7 with 28-70mm kit Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, CH, AT, SE, FI, NO, PT, WexUK, WexDE, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon FR.
Sony RX10 at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, CH, AT, SE, FI, NO, PT, WexUK, WexDE.
Zeiss 35mm at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, CH, AT, SE, FI, NO, PT,
Zeiss 55mm at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, CH, AT, SE, FI, NO, PT
Zeiss 24-70mm at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, NL, BE, SE, PT
A7r at Digitalrev.
A7 at Digitalrev, Amazon Cina.
A7 with 28-70mm lens at Digitalrev.