I popped into the local London Camera Exchange (in Lincoln) today. I have a very good rapport with the sales staff there (particularly Lee). I was greeted with the question “What do you want to try first? The Nikon V1 or the Sony A77 and 16-50mm lens?”. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been greeted with a question and it’s one of the reasons why I try and do most of my photographic purchasing from the shop.
It was fitted with the diminutive 10-30mm lens (FOV 35mm equivalent of 27mm to 81mm). I have to say that the first thing that struck me was the weight and size of the camera, the body-lens combination had the Goldilocks feeling of being just right. Not too heavy and at the same time not too light. The overall feeling of the camera eschewed a quality feel too.
The screen on the back of the camera was bright and colourful, it was responsive as where the controls and the focusing of the camera was very fast. The viewfinder on the camera whilst very nice was a little small but miles better then the VF1 on my GF1. The only disappointment were the lack of controls; the exposure mode selector for instance was buried in the menus. But to be fair I usually have the mode set to Aperture Priority or Program (when you haven’t got time to think about the settings).
Whilst the body of the camera was not too dissimilar to a GF1, the lenses are teeny-tiny :).
I also had a go with the 30-110mm lens (35mm FOV equivalent of 81mm to 297mm), whilst slighty larger than the 10-30mm it was also small and the picture coming from the screen was very nice. What I liked about both lenses is that they collapse to a very small size and have a locking-button so that during transport they take up very little room.
I recommend that you try the camera, you might be surprised. LCE was selling a 2-lens kit (with free Nikon accessory pack) for £979.00
Second, I had a go with the Sony A77 camera, this was the second time that I had a go but the first time with the 16-50mm lens:
As before the camera feels very nice, I wasn’t too sure of the weight the first time I used the camera (it was bordering on too light), but with this lens the weighting is very nice. The EVF finder is fantastic you wouldn’t know it wasn’t optical unless you weren’t told. I played with the 10FPS setting and this is a lovely sound. I like the controls, they are intuitive and all they are all in the right location and quick to hand. Nikon and Canon could certainly learn a thing or two from how Sony approached some of the design decisions. The only thing of concern was that the power-on-to-first-shot times were a bit poor as there was a definite delay in the camera being ready to shoot when first switched on – I have heard that there is a firmware fix on its way to rectify this.
The lens was very nice and had just enough resistance when zooming or focusing manually. This is a killer combination.
Just for fun, we also played with the A77 and its Battery Grip (VG-C77AM who comes up with these names?), this was huge and apart from the tripod locking screw/wheel is much better designed than the Canon/Nikon equivalents:
Whilst you remove the battery and the grip has a “stalk” that goes into the battery chamber like the Canon grips, you leave the door attached (hanging down) as there is a hole for this in the grip – Nice! All of the controls are replicated on the grip for portrait orientation. and the grip is one of the most comfortable ones I have ever experienced! One nice feature was that the viewfinder information rotated when using the camera in portrait mode.
I have to say if they made Arca-Swiss plates for the A77 with or without the grip I would have find it hard not to purchase the A77 with this lens. The camera and lens were priced at £1669.00, the grip was another £279.00
I heartily recommend a visit to the Lincoln LCE if you are in the area as they are very nice and accommodating.