Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sony A7 - First Impression, Part V

Using Manual Focus Lenses on the A7

The Sony A7 is perfect for using manual focus lenses, due to its very short lens flange.  Practically all lenses ever made for photography can be used on it, and the full frame sensor just makes this even more sweet.

In general, the A7 works well with manual focus lenses. Not only because the A7 provides focus peaking, which is one of the best implementation I have used, the A7 has one of the best electronic viewfinders. I can't tell much difference between the one in the NEX-6 and the A7; both are excellent, especially great for manually focusing the lenses.

In some ways, I prefer how the NEX-6 works. One button press and the view is magnified. Simple and no fuss, which makes the process of manually focusing easy. On the A7, however, when I press the magnify button to enlarge the focus point, it would first show the rectangle of where the area to be magnified, pressing the button again will magnify the area, the same way the Olympus E-M5 works, which leads me to suspect that the A7 might be in some ways influenced by the OM-D models. This slows me down and I wish there is a way to override this.

I already mentioned the playback magnify button previously and I would say it again. This button is in the wrong location. It's one of the most used buttons and it should be located within easy reach of the right thumb.

Overall, I like using manual focusing lenses on the A7, especially legacy full frame lenses.

Red Kenworth half hiding - Sony A7 & Leitz Hektor 135mm f4.5.


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  2. I agree, exact same reason why I got it.
    Two main problems for me the EVF being not quite good enough to tell critical focus (it is no better than a standard focusing screen on a DSLR) and that leads to the other, I need to use magnification which is slow (but still way better than not having it).
    I might even prefer the NEX5N for this purpose even though there is less stability and daytime visibility it is just more intuitive to touch-magnify, focus and half-press to verify framing quickly and fire. The menu button and some other things are just easier to access despite having less controls.
    Couple of other small issues like the lousy-feeling and slightly awkwardly placed shutter button (with a soft button it is now a bit better) and some other functions could be assigned to the buttons and controls if there are so many of them (for instance, I would like to change the ISO with one of the upper dials in A mode, lower dial is in the way and easy to turn, but otherwise it is slow to change) but Sony does not care much with firmware updates, they just leave it out until the next generation.

    On the plus side, the viewfinder and mount placement does enable acceptable balance even with heavier lenses (or a battery grip can be added as well), that makes it versatile and the sensor is truly state of the art.

    1. Yes. I almost always need to magnify the focus area to check for critical focus. That's why it's such a pain that I need to push the magnify button twice to activate it. Also the shutter button is way too sensitive. Very slight touch would reset the magnified view.