The Sony a7 and a7R
The Unofficial Quintessential Guide
Brian Matsumoto and Carol F. Roulland
Rocky Nook has gained a hard-earned reputation for publishing excellent digital camera how-to guides. And this new one does not disappoint.
The Sony a7 and a7R: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide is aimed at both professional photographers and newcomers who recently have acquired, or are still considering, various elements of the Sony a7 and a7R digital photography and video system, including camera bodies, lenses and accessories.
The authors, who both have extensive photography experience, praise the a7 and a7R as “a breakthrough camera design…the lightest, least expensive, full-frame interchangeable lens cameras available to professional and amateur photographers” at the time their book was written.
The a7/a7R system has some innovations, including, for example, “a completely electronic viewfinder” that provides “immediate feedback on errors in white balance, focus, and exposure.” You also can use the viewfinder to “preview the image with additional artistic elements, such as saturated vivid colors, or muted colors and subtle shades, to decide how to create the proper ambience for the scene.” You also can preview the image in black-and-white.
But Matsumoto and Roulland offer a caution, as well. The a7 and a7R cameras are not well-suited for “taking action shots with a rapid-fire burst capability.” They recommend some of the “heavier digital SLRs,” instead. The a7 and a7R, they contend, are “eminently suitable for those photographers who are interested in taking pictures at a more deliberate rate, who are concerned about critical composition, and whose aim is to take landscapes close-ups, portraits, or scientific photographs.”
Their 11-chapter, 362-page book wisely includes a chapter titled the “Basics of Digital Photography” near the front of the book, so users new to the a7 and a7R series–particularly those moving up from simple point-and-shoot cameras can learn to how to set their cameras on Intelligent Auto mode or Superior Auto mode and take good pictures while they are becoming familiar with menus, options and features. (Superior Auto mode “is able to fine-tune the camera settings to create a better-quality image,” the two authors point out.)
Like many other of today’s digital cameras, the a7 and a7R offer “scores of menu commands and options, which can discourage even the most experienced user” if time and care are not taken to learn the ones you will use most often.
Matsumoto’s and Roulland’s excellent how-to book begins with chapters on “Getting Started” and learning the basics of photography, including f/stops, ISO numbers and some essential settings when shooting pictures or video.
The remaining chapters cover:
- Managing Your Images
- Automatic Settings
- Taking Control of the Camera
- Manual Control
- Additional Features
- Working with the Camera’s Wireless Functions
- Accessory Lenses
- Flash Photography
- Making Movies
Two appendices also are included. Appendix A covers menu commands. Appendix B focuses on error messages and warning messages and how to resolve them.
A caution is offered for those who may use the a7R with telescopes, long telescopic lenses, or microscopes. “In comparison to the a7, movement of the a7R’s mechanical shutter can generate significant vibration which can blur the image.” However, Matsumoto and Roulland also offer some tips to minimize the vibration’s effects.
If you have or are considering this new Sony camera system, The Sony a7 and a7R: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide packs a lot more clear and useful information than you will find in the official user manuals.
The book is richly illustrated, and it provides clear, step-by-step procedures and recommendations for every feature. You’ll need and want it in your library and in your camera case.
— Si Dunn