Matthias Nehlsen

Software, Data and Stuff

Sony A7

I like photography, in particular when using my selection of classic, manual focus Leica and Zeiss prime lenses. I really loved taking photos with my old Leica SLR. Now this is a beautiful camera:


But beautiful and fun to use doesn’t make up for one minor, yet missing feature. Have you spotted it above? That was not a typo; the D of DSLR is indeed missing. While I do intend to use my Leica with film again at some point, I just don’t seem to get around doing so. And then there’s the lab situation. A mere ten years ago, there were a couple of good to great professional photo labs around. The kind where you talk to the persons who develop your film and print your photos and ask them to just pull out a little bit of magenta and add a little yellow like they did last week. Or you’d do an experiment together, with different filter settings to work out what looks best. Those days are gone and most of those labs are out of business. Before digital, they were serving the professional market. As the advertising and media capital of Germany, Hamburg is home to lots of professional photographers in the Hamburg and most of them, of course, now have an all-digital workflow.

Don’t get me wrong, I love digital photography. I previously used a Canon 5D, with a couple of Canon and third-party lenses. And while all that works alright, I am just not excited about the equipment. You see, feel, and touch plastic and I don’t like how the photos turn out. Instead, I like fast prime lenses.

If only there were a way to keep using these old and great lenses, ideally on a camera with a full-frame (24*36mm) digital sensor. I tried using the lenses with an adapter in front the Canon 5D, but the results were usually gruesome because it was next to impossible to focus properly. I installed a different focusing screen with a microprism ring, but while the same technology worked nicely with the Leica, the 5D would not let enough light through to the focusing screen, rendering the microprism useless.

So for a while I had the lenses just lying around until I heard about the Sony A7, a compact full-frame camera with live on-screen view and a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF):

With plenty of adapters for different lens mounts available, I had to give this camera a try. It won’t be the last camera I ever buy, but it is a huge improvement over my previous digital photography experience. Let’s look at a few results next.


I like having a minimal depth of field. You won’t achieve that with anything smaller than full frame and a fast prime lense, as the depth-of-field increases with smaller sensors as well as with slower lenses / higher f-number.