Mirrorless fun

At the back end of last year I decided to dip my toes in the mirrorless world – not with any intention of abandoning all the Nikon gear I’ve bought over the years, but more to get an idea of the mirrorless experience. 

I’d heard and read many good things about the Sony A7 range, right from the very first full frame model they launched back in 2013.  The original A7 is still available today and at a very reasonable price, so I decided give it a whirl.  Despite being seven years old, the A7 has a perfectly respectable spec if all you want is a serviceable full frame stills camera. It might not have some of the advanced features a demanding photographer might want but all I wanted was something to get to know what it was like working with a mirrorless camera.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Sony A7 full frame camera

The Sony A7 is a great camera – light, easy to use and with excellent optics. Sure, the low light performance isn’t anywhere near my Nikon D750 but that’s not why I bought it. Whilst I’d heard bad things about the menu system, this didn’t really bother me to be honest.

So, after getting acquainted with the camera, one of the first things I thought I’d try was using it with some of my old Pentax lenses. I still had some old glass left around from the days before digital, when I’d shoot with Pentax gear. 

I bought a simple Gobe adaptor and dug out a couple of old lenses – a trusty Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.7 prime and a Tokina SD 70-210mm lens. Initial results with the Tokina were uninspiring, but the 50mm proved to be far more fruitful.

Sony A7 camera with Pentax 50mm lens attached

The 50mm SMC was the standard lens fitted to most Pentax cameras during the 70s and 80s and has a solid reputation. Like most prime lenses it is very sharp.

Used with the A7 and Gobe adaptor, operation is completely manual.  so I set up focus peaking in the EVF and monitor to help with focusing. 

The lens gave some excellent results, although wide open at f/1.7 it was a little soft. However, stopping down to f/2 and beyond produced some very sharp images.

It should be remembered that when using a basic adaptor like the Gobe, no metadata is recorded from the lens.

Unedited shot at f/4.0 1/500th ISO 100. Click for full sized image.
Unedited JPG file shot at f/4.0 1/2500th ISO 100. Click for full sized image.

As well as these outdoor shots I’ve also tried taking the camera and lens on a couple of stage shoots and it performed very well.

I’m not going to go in to any detailed analysis of the performance of the Pentax + Sony combo (if that’s what you’re in to try this). The exercise was simply to see what could be achieved and how the combination handled.

My pro kit will continue to be my Nikon D750 and associated lenses and I’m in no hurry to migrate to a new system, especially given the investment I’ve made in Nikon and the cost and logistics of moving.