Switch to Sony A7r in 2022. Cheap full frame cameras that I use every day.


Sony A7R and A7RII

This post isn't sponsored. I do not want to motivate you to buy new cameras. I would rather suggest choosing a more sustainable way and using the resources of the camera not upgrading it without any reason. If you have an old cropped DSLR it could be a good reason to upgrade though.


Here is the list of things that will follow in the article:


Why is it better to switch to full frame


If you wanted to switch to full frame, you probably wanted to switch to sony A7R in 2022. Yes everyone has that camera nowadays. But I think it's ok! A camera is just a tool, right? You might wonder, isn't it too late to buy Sony A7R or Sony A7RII? I would say it's not too late at all and here's why.

The importance of a bigger sensor is, of course, not only in the light sensitivity. Bigger sensors give you pictures with fewer distortions and make them look more appealing and natural.

I took a few shots on cropped cameras since then and noticed that the colours are dirtier and the shadows look worse overall. Since I haven't used cropped cameras for a while I forgot how big the difference is. So now I think I would never return to using cropped sensor cameras. Although they improved a lot and now have a bigger dynamic range.

Lifestyle photo of a  photographer taking a picture and the result of the photoshoot
A shot of me on an old cropped camera on the left, my shot on sony A7R II on the right

The only exclusion would be Ricoh GRIIIx - my favourite camera now and it has an APS-C sensor. I have a review of Ricoh GRIIIx in another blog post.


More about A7R I in 2022

  • It has a full frame sensor

  • 36 megapixels

  • continuous shooting 4fps

  • I mostly used ISO up to 2500 otherwise the quality got worse

  • Shutter lifetime 250.000

A few years ago I decided to buy my first full frame - Sony A7R.

Right now it's probably the best among the cheapest full-frame cameras with a very good dynamic range. Its dynamic range is bigger than on the newer A7RII.

If you'd like to learn more about exposure and dynamic range, I have a blog post about it.

So when I switched to Sony A7R, I sold all of my canon lenses and got a 24-70 f4 lens. I worked with that setup for a long time. Right now I woud be able to work with that camera. I can not say that this camera is outdated. It's old but the quality is good.

Weight

It served me perfectly. With the weight of 465g, I thought that it was a combination I could take everywhere with me. It's really light, especially after DSLRs But actually it's not pocketable and you still have to take a backpack.

Shutter

Many people don't like the sound of the shutter on this camera and probably I would agree with that but it's not really an important disadvantage. Someone might wonder, will the camera serve for long if it's old and has only 250.000 shots to take. I would not worry about it because within about 2 years I took only 30.000 shots.

Viewfinder

You might also find it uncomfortable that on mirrorless cameras you can't see what you're shooting for about half a second at the time when you take a shot. Aside from that, I found the electric viewfinder better since you can see literally all the info there. it's like a small screen but hidden inside the viewfinder.

Lenses and focusing

I would not recommend getting a cheap adapter to use the lenses you have for another camera. I got an inexpensive one and autofocus was so slow that I used manual focus until I got a native lens for Sony. The camera itself still focuses relatively slow. So it might not be the best for wildlife photography for example. But if you don't need really fast autofocus and shooting speed, this camera will be great for you.


Price of this camera nowadays: 350-600€

I don't know if there's a cheaper way to switch to a proper full frame nowadays.

I bought 3 used cameras from eBay so far and never had any problems with them. If you check everything properly, you can buy a camera like this for relatively cheap and save quite a lot. Of course, the cameras for 350€ might be not in the best condition but ones for 450€ should be fine. I bought mine 4 years ago for 600£


Examples of shots on Sony A7R


A young woman lying on high grass

Portrait of a young woman running in a field

Portrait of a young man on a car parking

Two people standing in a dark tunnel at night

More about Sony A7R II

  • Same sensor as on A7R

  • 42 megapixels

  • continuous shooting 5fps

  • I mostly use the silent shooting mode

  • has a built-in stabilization

  • Shutter lifetime 500.000

  • Weight 625g

If you're ready to spend a bit more - here's a newer version, Sony A7R II. A year and a half ago, I bought a Sony A7RII solely because I needed a second camera. I instantly noticed that this camera is newer and has more in it. It became slightly heavier but it's still a few hundred gramms less than DSLRs.

Megapixels

There are even more megapixels but most probably you won't need that. The newest Sony A7RIV has 61mp but if you're not using it for huge format posters - you will never need it. When exporting photos I usually compress them to 14-18mp since I don't need these huge files on my laptop. The number of megapixels is mostly needed to crop the images and still have good quality. That can be very handy sometimes when I do a shot on the go and then need to fix composition.

Focusing speed

This camera shoots and focuses faster which is quite important for many types of photography. It says that it has a hybrid system with 399 focus points. And still, this system doesn't focus as fast as DSLRs. But for portrait, event and fine art photography it's been all right.

Silent shooting mode

One more nice feature - it has silent shooting mode. It's so cool that the camera actually doesn't make any sounds. I don't like bringing attention to myself when taking pictures. Also, you can use the camera for years without spending the mechanical shutter resources. As far as I understood, the shutter only opens before starting shooting in silent mode and closes when switching off the camera or the mode. So the number of images taken in one session is regarded as one. Unless you need to shoot high-speed series or very fast-moving objects, you won't need the usual shutter.

Video

It's a nice perk is that this camera shoots videos in 4K. Sometimes I shoot videos and It's nice to have that option even if you don't have plans to do videography.

Dynamic range

The downside is that the dynamic range of this camera is smaller than on A7R. Probably the reason is that the camera has more features and the trade-off is dynamic range.


Price of this camera nowadays: 800-1000€

Maybe this is already not a very budget-friendly choice but it's an investment into a camera that will serve you for a long time.


Examples of shots on Sony A7R II


Musician playing on a flute

Two studio portraits of a young woman

two head shot portraits of young man and a woman

closeup portrait of a man preparing to a wedding

To be honest the quality of the shots differs not very strongly but there are some important features in Sony A7R II that help me a lot to take some great shots.


My lenses for Sony A7R II in 2022

Since I talk about these cameras as a way to switch to full frame having a low budget, I will mention the inexpensive lenses that I use. Lately, Samyang started making lenses for Sony E-mount and there are a lot of great options now.


My lenses are:

  • Sony 24-70 f4 - that is available on eBay for ~ 400€. Focuses fast but it's not super sharp and f4 is not the best. Sony 24-70 f2.8 lens is definitely better but costs mostly over 1000€. Samyang 24-70 f2.8 is about 800€

  • Sony 50m f1.8 is about 120-180€ and is sharp but focuses slowly and not every time in the right place. I do not recommend this lens. I want to replace this one.

  • Samyang 18mm f2.8 costs 300-400€. Focuses fast and it's quite sharp but I use it only for real-estate photoshoots, you won't need so wide lenses in 90% of the cases. Remember if you're using a cropped camera - 18mm on a full frame is like 11.25 on yours.

  • The lens I heard good things about is Sigma 30mm f1.4. It's quite cheap, the price ranges ~240-330. Although I didn't use it myself. I'm very tempted but maybe 30mm is a bit too wide for me.

  • What I would suggest is getting a prime lens. Prime lenses are the best for learning photography. In the post about prime lenses, I describe more in detail what lens to choose. But the best options would be 35mm or 50mm.

Do you need to upgrade to a newer camera than Sony A7RII?


I don't find any reason to buy anything newer than A7RII because this camera will serve me for a long time and the newer versions only have some extra features that don't affect the main output - photos. Of course, they make it more and more convenient to take great shots. But they cost quite a lot and I would not use all of the features in these cameras. If you do portrait and fine art photography like I do, these cameras will work for you. If you do wildlife or sports photography where gear is more important, you will not search for cheap cameras.


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