Sony finally hits the big leagues…sort of.

As the saying goes, “the Third time’s the charm,” so it goes with Sony and their latest iteration of full-frame mirrorless cameras. I own the original Sony A7R, the follow-up, the A7R2, and now the A7R3. The original camera was groundbreaking. It was the first time a large sensor was jammed into a small form factor, and the sensor was top notch being found in Nikon’s superb D800 series of cameras. But the A7R suffered from three serious flaws, shutter vibration was significant at certain shutter speeds(never mind what pundits say elsewhere, it is a problem), battery life was miserable, and the camera was slow at everything.
The A7R2 was a nice upgrade, and Sony addressed several of the early problems, but they didn’t upgrade the battery, and I always worried about battery life(sometimes only a couple hundred images).
Last year Sony introduced the A9, their first camera that challenged the big boys, Canon and Nikon in the high-end sport/action camera realm. They fixed several operational issues such as poor battery life that plagued the A7 series, and the autofocus speed and accuracy are now top-notch.
With the A7R3 and now, the recently released A73, have the upgraded battery and “battery anxiety” is no more. The top three bodies, A9, A7R3 and A73 all share the same battery, top notch autofocus, and sensor performance.
For sports and action camera we have the A9, the A7R3 is an “all-rounder” as it can do action and high-resolution work, and the new A73 fills in the bottom end as a great lower cost alternative that gives up little. The A73 is priced aggressively, and I’d argue it’s the best full frame body available in its class(compared to the likes of Canon 6Dmark2, Nikon D750 and I think, an even better choice than the Canon 5Dmark4).
So why the qualifier in the blog title? Despite the excellent camera selection and performance, there’s one area where Sony is missing the boat, and that’s in lenses. Or I should say, in long lenses. They’ve nailed the shorter ranges with excellent optics, but they have not filled out the long end at all. They have a superb 100-400 that performs well even with a 1.4x teleconverter, but that’s not good enough for serious sports and wildlife work.
When Sony introduced the superb A9, with top autofocus, they aimed it squarely at the Canon 1Dx2 and Nikon D5. But someone forgot that the camera needed something to go on the front of it for sports shooters to use it with,  and a 100-400 f5.6 doesn’t cut it for action in dimly lit stadiums. Sony has said a 400mmf2.8 lens is in the works and slated for release later this year, but it should have been introduced at the same time as the A9. Releasing it eighteen months later is just dumb and takes away a lot of the spin that the A9 generated.
The other category of shooter that’s been ignored with the dearth of long lenses are the wildlife shooters. A 400mmf2.8 is excellent, but it’s a big, heavy lens with a price to match.
There goes the advantage of beautiful small bodies!
Why not produce a 500mm or 600mm f5.6 lens? Lenses with a one stop slower aperture are far cheaper and simpler to build, losing one f-stop is not significant with the excellent high ISO performance of their cameras, and the weight and size savings compliments the small cameras.
The important photography show known as Photokina occurs this fall, and you can bet Canon and Nikon will come to the show with mirrorless options. Sony has had a nice run to get the cameras right before they show up to spoil their party, but lenses lock people into a camera system and they are missing a lot of what the sport and wildlife shooter needs. Cameras come and go, but glass sticks around.
Sony’s like the villagers kicking the sleeping dragon, eventually it wakes up and you need to be ready on all fronts.

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