Sony's latest cameras are the first to seriously challenge the DSLR as the pro photographer's tool of choice.
Mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras are nothing new on their own, but what makes Sony's latest devices special is that they're the first such cameras to boast a full-frame image sensor, meaning that they really are just as good as a pro-grade full DSLR yet are much lighter and compact.
Also known as micro four thirds or hybrid cameras, "mirrorless" cameras offer many of the benefits and features of a full digital SLR camera in a smaller package. But because they're smaller, they use smaller, inferior image sensors and lenses. Until now that is.
And those full-frame sensors are huge. The a7R boasts a 36.4 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor and its less powerful counterpart, the a7 model, offers a 24.3 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor and an innovative fast Hybrid AF system to make up for some of the shortfall.
Both cameras also feature 3-inch tilting rear screens and wi-fi and NFC compatibility for simplifying image transfer and sharing and thanks to a magnesium alloy casing are moisture and dust resistant. And, in a nod to the growing ubiquity of smartphones and digital effects, both cameras are compatible with Sony's suite of image effects and editing apps for adding filters and making adjustments on the fly.
When the cameras launch in December, they will do so alongside a range of five lenses but they are also backwards compatible with Sony's existing E-mount lenses. What's more, thanks to an adaptor, they also work with Sony's range of full DSLR lenses too.
However, all of this innovation comes at a rather large cost. The a7R will cost $2300 for the body alone while the a7 will be offered with a 28-70mm F3.5 - F5.6 full-frame lens for $2000. It will also be offered as a body-only for about $1700.