Sony A7: Goodbye, it was almost nice knowing you
At long last I have just sold the Sony a7 camera which I acquired nearly three years ago. At the time the Sony a7 was the "in" camera and friend Roger in the UK, whose opinion and expertise I respect, had just bought one and he was very enthusiastic about it — and as far as I know he still is.
Now over the years I've owned a few cameras and I've always bonded with them. I loved my original Leica, the Olympus OM2 and all the film Leicas — they were gorgeous. I was never so keen on the big clunky Canon EOS SLRs but they were great tools. I did handle a few Sony a7s before I took the plunge but as soon as I unpacked the purchased camera I knew something was amiss. It just did not feel right. It felt like a lump of plastic electronics — not a camera. The haptics were all wrong. But it got worse when I came to use it. The menu system is a total nightmare, as are the controls. Knobs and buttons everywhere and the knobs did not have a nice mechanical feel when used. To put it bluntly I hated it but I thought that I have it so I will persevere.
The camera came with the Sony kit zoom lens which, like most kit zooms, is nothing special. At the time Sony's selection of a7 lenses was pretty thin so I bought some adapters and used several very good legacy lenses which I had in my cupboard. Using these was not much fun. All the forums and fan sites carry on about the joys of using legacy lenses but for the most part they are a pain. I did not have a problem with IQ using the legacy lenses. I just found the whole process of using manual lenses on what is an automatic platform tedious. The best IQ came from the set of Zeiss Contax G series lenses I owned but the adapters for these are clunky and do not give a smooth interface. Maybe the joys of manual focusing and manual aperture selection are still appealing to many but for me it was simply a faff.
It was not all bad news as I did get some good action photos and shots of my grandchildren with it. But it was hard work. After a few months I put the a7 up on eBay but got only silly offers. So it stayed on the shelf, unloved and largely unused. A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was silly leaving it there: The batteries would go off and cameras do not improve through lack of use. So this time I put it on Gumtree. There were quite a few a7s on offer on the local Gumtree and most were the higher resolution later models. It was a crowded market but in the end I took a fair offer and the Sony has gone. Thank goodness. A lesson learnt.
I have only myself to blame. I had this gut feeling that I just wasn't going to like the camera but then I thought "look at the enthusiastic reviews — this is the way forward". I should have gone with my instinct. I got back 57% of my original outlay on the camera, accessories and some additional batteries and a remote charger so it was quite an expensive lesson. But given how many there are on offer I count myself fortunate to have achieved this figure.
Now apart from the film Hasselblad, which is another issue, I am back to being 100% Leica and it is going to stay that way going forward. You can only have one Sony a7 in your life.