Sony A7r and glass

by Dirk Moeller

I finally decided on a new camera. It took some time.

For a couple of days I entertained the idea of a Nikon D800, maybe even the D800e variant with the lowpass filter removed. But then I took some kitchen scales and started to weigh my setup to see how much difference there is. 

Turns out, it is quite a lot. Size is another factor, it is quite huge compared to a Leica M. 

So it was back to my initial idea of the Sony A7r.

There were three things people didn't like about it and which made me start to think about other cameras in the first place:

  • loud clunky shutter that potentially produces shake
  • horrible menus 
  • lack of glass

While the first two points were easily checked in a store (yes, it IS a loud shutter and no, I don't find the menu horrible, but then I am not used to so many functions, either), I wasn't sure whether the somewhat limited choice of full frame glass by Sony/Zeiss would come back and bite me in the behind at some point.

The most important part was that I wanted a standard zoom lens. Nothing fancy, but something to walk around and cover a bit of focal range. The Zeiss 24-70/F4 was my choice on the Sony and the more I read about the lens and looked at the photos it took, the less I liked it. 

A price of 1,200 Euros for a mediocre F4 lens seemed preposterous. I started to look for alternatives. I wanted to use M glass on it anyway, but there is no M-Zoom.

True, but there are zoom lenses for the Leica R.

The Leica R series was the SLR line of Leica cameras. There is no current model and people were waiting for a new model for years. The latest M features live-view and that was Leica's idea of using SLR-glass on a M. 

This meant that there is used glass available. A day of research and I was back on track. The idea was to get an R-Zoom and an adapter for the camera. Ok, this would be manual focus, but that's what I do with the M-lenses anyway and I want good/better quality for that huge sensor.

Turns out that you can get a Leica R 35-70/F3.5 in A quality and a Leica R 24/F2.8 prime lens, also A quality, for 1,020 Euro. Put the adapter on top and you are basically in the same price range of the mediocre Zeiss zoom. The only downside: it's manual focus.

I still like it though.

Leitz Vario Elmar R 1:3.5/35-70 at 35 mm

Leitz Vario Elmar R 1:3.5/35-70 at 35 mm

Leitz Vario Elmar R 1:3.5/35-70 at 70 mm

Leitz Vario Elmar R 1:3.5/35-70 at 70 mm

The dog kept it's afternoon snooze, so the shutter can't be that loud, can it? 

Leica Elmarit R 1:2.8/24 into the sun (upper left corner)

Leica Elmarit R 1:2.8/24 into the sun (upper left corner)

The corners of the 24 are soft, but that was to be expected, they appear sharper than the Zeiss lens at 24 though. All the above shots are uncorrected and straight from RAW. 

I already love the way I shoot with the Sony A7r, here are some shots when I took it for a test spin this afternoon with the Leica M Elmarit M 1:2.8/28.

Leica Elmarit M 1:2.8/28

Leica Elmarit M 1:2.8/28

Leica Elmarit M 1:2.8/28

Leica Elmarit M 1:2.8/28

I really look forward to use this camera a lot more. The dynamic range alone is staggering.