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The Sony Alpha 7R on the microscope with the tried and tested LM digital adapters

The Sony Alpha 7R mirrorless full frame camera is an exceptional product. Sony successfully met the challenge of packing state-of-the-art sensor technology into an ultra-compact camera body. 

Sony Alpha 7R

The system cameras available on the market so far only feature a relatively small sensor – in most cases an APS-C sensor. The special feature of system cameras is that they do not have a mirror or prism for diverting the light from the lens into a viewfinder. This has the advantage that the camera body can be kept very small. Therefore, mirrorless cameras are an excellent choice for mobile use.

As already mentioned, the body of the Sony Alpha 7R is extremely small and light – without lens, it weighs a mere 407 grams. It has a full frame sensor with 36.8 megapixels and even features a foldable screen. The display itself is very good.

ISO sensitivity can be adjusted automatically from 100 to 25,600 and manually from 50 to 25,600. The colour depth is 42 bits.

The Sony Alpha 7R not only has an HDMI port which can be used to feed a Live View image to an external monitor, but also offers wireless connectivity via WLAN/WiFi. The USB recharging option to replenish the built-in battery is another handy feature.

 

The power saving mode can be set to a maximum of 30 minutes, which is very short for some applications, for example presentations or discussions. 

Another exciting feature of the Sony Alpha 7R is the crop adjustment for APS-C lenses, which makes it possible to correct vignetting effects. The cropping function is a stopgap solution to remove the peripheral darkening in images captured with incompatible lenses. In crop mode, only part of the sensor is used.

Using the Sony Alpha 7R on the microscope is a very special field of application. The camera’s largest plus point – its small size – only plays a secondary role in stationary use on the microscope. In microscopy, the ergonomics of the camera when it is attached to the microscope, and of course image quality, are much more important. Generally, manual operation of the camera is avoided as much as possible in microscopy applications, in order to reduce the risk of vibrations. For this reason, the possibility of fully controlling the camera via PC or Mac is a key priority. Remote control from a PC not only increases the workflow, but also enables a considerably better image quality.

With our LM digital adapters, the Sony Alpha 7R can be used both on the photo tube and on the eyepiece tube.

Sony provides a remote control software that can be downloaded for free. This is very helpful, as it allows remote control of the camera via PC or Mac. Although the software only offers very basic functionality, it can be used to trigger the camera shutter and for automatic storage on the computer. However, a few important functions are lacking, such as the Live View display on the computer and focusing with the magnification function. This is a shame, as these functions have long been part of the remote control software provided by Sony’s competitors (Canon, Nikon and Olympus).

Sony Remote Control

This means that the camera can only be controlled via the display or an external monitor. Focussing with the magnification function only works with the C1 button and zoom via the control dial. 

For stationary use in the laboratory or photo studio, this is somewhat inadequate. We would like to see + and - buttons, or better still an update for the remote control software.

Conclusion:

With its top-notch sensor in an extremely small body, the Sony Alpha 7R is clearly focused on convenient mobile use. For stationary applications, such as the specialised area of microphotography, this comes with a few disadvantages. The camera body has very little room for important buttons such as + and - zoom for the Live View images. This would not be a problem if Sony offered a good remote control software for full camera control via PC or Mac. The Sony Alpha 7R is well suited for occasional use on the microscope. However, if you are planning to produce photographic documentation on a regular basis, we recommend choosing a different model. 

01.10.2015

 


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