Simplicity of Approach


As you’re probably aware, the Sony a7R was recently released as the smallest and lightest full-frame camera with a resolution range rivaling that of medium format cameras such as the Hasselblad H2D and H3D.

Click here to view my Sony A7R with Canon EF Lenses Field Notes page

The decision to jump to the a7R was quite an easy one actually, even though I’ve never owned a Sony camera product. For me personally the Canon 6D is quite possibly the best SLR on the market for landscape photography:

  • Ultralight
  • Very small
  • Amazing full-frame image quality
  • EF lenses

When the Sony a7R was released the following really got my attention:

So I immediately bought one with an EF adapter to use my existing Canon lenses, which I quite like. There’s some downsides, which I’ll get into in my upcoming Sony a7R hands-on review, however my real drive for the purchase was the ultralight factor, size and image quality, which the verdict is still out on wether or not it actually does perform better than the latest line of Canon CMOS sensors.

Simplicity of Approach

The truth is that I don’t have affinity with any particular brand, I just use what I think is best for my particular use case. I used to be quite the opposite in fact, and I used to swear by my Nikon D2X and Nikon lenses. Until I read Camera and Lens: The Creative Approach by Ansel Adams:

Ansel Adams Camera and Lens The Creative Approach Sony a7R

On the first page of the introduction to the book Ansel Adams outlines something profound – move away from the marketing and branding of the photography industry and focus instead on the creative potential. Interesting how this was written in 1969, however it’s probably more relevant today than when it was written!

My reason for buying the a7R is also one of simplicity. Take a look below at how the top of the camera has been redesigned:

Canon 6D vs Sony a7R size top weight

Keep in mind that the size here is probably not exactly to scale, and I’ll be taking quite a few images of these two cameras side-by-side. Instead focus on the button layout and the simplicity of top-case design. I really love how Sony has reimagined the control layout, with an emphasis on classic industrial design cues.

I bought the a7R from B&H, should get it this Friday. Will post 20GB or so of test images on Monday.

What do you think about the Sony a7R? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!


28 Comments on “Simplicity of Approach

  1. I got mine about three weeks ago. Also got the metabones III for my Canon lens. All of this is fine and works great but the metabones and big heavy Canon lenses defeat part of the purpose of a small camera.
    I have mostly been using a 40 year old (I bought new) Nikkor 35mm f2 with inexpensive adapter. This is a really nice package and the lens is sharp as a tack.

    • Hey Mike,

      Nice! Just out of curiosity what’s the inexpensive adapter you got for the Nikon lenses? Sounds like fun :)


      • RainbowImaging Nikon lens to Sony E Mount NEX NEX-3 NEX-5 Camera Adapter
        This one has a tripod mount on it. Simple, inexpensive and does the job.

  2. Hi Graham, I´m very interested in your comparison of the Sony A7r with the Canon 6d. Here are some points I am curious about:

    – How is the corner performance of the Canon wide angle lenses with the Sony? Color shifts anywhere?
    – What about colors and workflow in pp? Do you have to work more in post to tweak the files to your liking or are the files so good that you don´t have to do much work?
    – How is the image quality in general in comparison with the Canon 6d? Do you see significant improvements (in print?)? The dynamic range should be better, so does that change the way you shoot? (no more filters?)
    – Do you like the camera and how it handles, functions and feels?

    Thank you for your stunning work – I really do like your images and blog!


  3. For portrait work and landscapes I have NO doubt the A7R is a wonderful tool and good answer to those that wish to lighten their load with ultimate file quality. However keeping in mind the lens investment for those who don’t have a commitment to any other format will be substantial. Each lens in the Sony line will run at or upwards of $1000+. Great for a paid professional, not so great for the guy who has a fixed budget in mind. I’m sure it will be a asset to your work however Graham.

    • Hey Lee,

      I agree! Not to mention there’s only 5 lenses announced (some not shopping) designed specifically for the A7/R.

      I’m not switching lenses actually, I’ll be using Canon lenses with an adapter, so it remains to be seen if they can perform at the same level as on Canon SLRS! :)


  4. Sony make very good sensors absolutely no question. The glass is the issue with their system not up to Nikon or Canon in terms of optical quality and range. I know your going to use adaptors but in my experiance they are always a compromise. Ive not used the Canon 6d as long as you but I totally agree its an ideal landscape camera for full frame and already at 20.2MP stretches lens ability. The 36MP of the Sony A7R is only part of the image process I dont know how good its Bionz processor is compared to the Canon what I do know is we can chase MP forever but optics not sensors will be the limiting factor.

    • Hey Jeff,

      Couldn’t agree more on the topic of adapters. Because I’m not willing to change lens lines, this may be the ultimate factor.

      What I find nice about the SONY to EF adapter is that it has no optics, it just moves the focal plane distance up. This is an advantage over most adapters which have glass, thereby reducing optic quality down to the adapter quality.

      So without an additional glass element in the light path it should be interesting to see the real world test results!


  5. I’m a 74 year old amateur who has loved photography my entire life and all the toys (gear) it has produced over the years.
    I’ve owned Nikon, Leica, Rolleiflex, Canon, & Panasonic cameras. I recently purchased a 6d & love it!. I bought the Panasonic
    camera because it was smaller than my 5d II & didn’t like it because it wasn’t comfortable to use. I actually liked the larger feel.
    For me, smaller is not always better. In my film days, I too studied Ansel Adams & took night courses at Rice University to
    learn how to develop and print b/w and color prints.
    I’m also an avid golfer and golf equipment nut. The golf companies come out with new equipment every year with the marketing
    hype of helping the average golfer lower his scores which they generally don’t.

    The point of all this for me who loves photography and golf’s ever-changing equipment equally is this:

    It ain’t the tomahawk, it’s the indian.

    I love your work and the sharing of your knowledge – it’s a great gift for this old photog who loves this hobby!

    Phil Moore
    Little Elm, Texas

    • Thanks Phil! : )

      I agree with you regarding the marketing of new equipment. I think it’s nowhere better said than on the same page of the first introduction by Ansel Adams:

      “New devices, systems, equipment and materials applicable to all aspects of the process have supplanted those which were considered effective decades ago. The fundamental principles of optics and densitometry remain unchanged.

      Our present-day problem is to function as simply as possible, to adapt to new connects and procedures and to understand the performance of new equipment and materials.”

      And then on page 39, he connects this idea with:

      “As time goes on, the photographer should refine – or at least alter – his equipment to meet his changing requirements. Rare is the photographer who will periodically clean out the deadwood or who will employ new techniques or equipment to attain some bright new approach to “seeing.” Photographers are creatures of habit and fixations!

      Three basic requirements should always be considered: quality, function and durability. There is a great illusion among photographers that creative work depends upon equipment. On the contrary, equipment is something to be selected for a specific purpose.”

  6. Looks great! Can’t wait to see your test images.

  7. I’m really interested to find out how it works with Canon glass. I’ve read that it may not perform well at the edges of ultra wides like Canon’s 17-40, because of the basic design. The only thing I can think would cause a prob is the short distance to the sensor, and surely an adaptor can compensate for that.

    • Hey Blake,

      I too am really interested in that. The focal plane is shorter than most cameras and the EF adapters move that up to the same distance as a Canon body, so in theory it should be good.

      Only tests will tell! :)


  8. I have been contemplating the same thing…look forward to hearing more.

  9. Everybody wants smaller and lighter but our hands don’t get smaller and for a good grip one needs size and weight.

    All these wannabe retro cameras are great with primes but defeat the purpose when attaching a behemoth f2.8 zoom. I really don’t care about brands too much but in the digital age the brand with the best IQ wins and that’s why Canon is still above the crowed.

    I stopped buying Sony products long time ago. I won’t even buy Sony batteries. Sony invents and manufacture many internal components for other companies but I don’t trust there long-time commitment to consumers and there customer support!

    $2000+ for a smaller camera? I prefer to spend that money to fly to some exotic place to take great pictures with my 6D. -)

    • Hey Micha,

      I’m with you on not having any adherence to brands etc. I really think the performance benefit – if there is any – is very small. But IF there is a marked increase in image quality AND it’s small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, to me that wins.

      We shall see! :)


  10. After a loyal Canon for past 20 yrs, I’m totally disappointed with Canon after they came out the 5D Mk3 and seems they have no answer to the D800. In order to keep my 5 L lens, Sony a7r is the answer to me.

    • Hey Paul,

      It would seem as though megapixels are not a factor of image quality after all! In which case the 5D3 and the D800E would be nearly equal.

      But the verdict is out on wether or not the A7R does have better image quality than the latest Canon CMOS sensors. I’ll be taking quite a few test images here shortly which will hopefully shed some light on this.


    • Why are you disappointed with the 5D3? the 5D2 has been a breakthrough machine for years and still in use by many pros. I personally use the 6D and think it’s sensor is one of the best for a fraction of the cost of a D800 or 5D3. Hold the Sony with one of your big L lenses and let us know when your index finger and thumb get numb. -)

      • Hey Micha,

        I tend to agree on the merits of the 5D3, but it’s different for everyone.

        As for holding the Sony a7R, the weight is held by your left hand holding the lens, not your shooting hand as is normal for DSLRs : )


  11. Hey Graham:

    I’m waiting the availability of the 27-70 Zeiss zoom for the Sony a7R to buy an all around easy to carry, light and terribly powerfull operative camera that is the 7R with a zoom designed for the camera.
    I have three L Canon zooms and really thinking to use them with the 7R but I think about two handicaps.
    The first is that the Canon zooms are heavy in general, probably much more the zooms that Sony is going to produce in the near future. Really they will not have the opening as big as Canon’s but good enough for landscape photography and much lighter as it happens with the respective camera bodies.
    The second is if my Canon L zooms will resolve the 36 MP of the 7R sensor and take advantage against the normal 20-24 MP sensors of Canon camera bodies.

    Kind regards.
    José L. Ramírez

    • The resolving power of the L lenses is within spec of a 36MP resolution range! Thats the good news.

      I’m with you on the Sony lenses, and I’m hopeful they can release wide angles in the future.

      One of the awesome things about the A7R is that the focal plane is close to the sensor, so adapters are just adjusting the focal plane of the lens further out, so nearly every lens could be compatible with it, many without glass elements in the light path of the adapters.


  12. I stumbled upon your blog. I am enjoying it so far. I own a Canon 6D …and if I decide to purchase another camera it will be a Sony A7 or A7R. Interesting that you have both! I am NOT a professional photographer, but an enthusiast. And, am always trying to learn more. I believe Sony is releasing a “new” version soon (July 2014.) But, from the little I’ve read it seems more focused on video.