Sony A7 & A7r Electronic First Curtain Shutter Tests

I’ve never in the 13 year’s I’ve been shooting photography seen a camera get as much scrutiny as the Sony A7 & A7r. And they are extreme. Laughable. 

I’ve seen people test how loud the shutter is, complaining about it. When it’s totally average. The same as a 7Dmkii and not even as loud as a 1Dx. 

I’ve seen people put it through some extreme light leak tests. ISO 52cazillion with a 30 second shutter while shining a flashlight all around every inch of it. When so many cameras including my 5Dmkii fail miserable under the same tests. 

And now this one. The electronic first curtain shutter vibration test. For those that don’t know what this is, the EFCS option is only available on the Sony A7, not the A7r. It is a setting that only flips the shutter in one direction. Click, instead of Click Click.

Advantages Of A EFCS Shutter

-Less audible shutter noise.

-Less lag between trigger and shutter actuation.

-Less overall camera vibration from the inertia of the shutter. 

Disadvantages Of A EFCS Shutter

-Exposure issues with some 3rd party lenses.

It has to do with shutter lag being required so the iris can close down properly during an exposure.

-Uneven wear on the shutter which can eventually cause mechanical issues after the camera has aged.

-Often more sensor noise because images often end up under exposed because of the iris issue.

-Often issues with high speed motion on high speed shutters.

The pros sort of out weigh the cons in many situations. 

EFCS With The Sony A7 & A7r

Photographer Jim Kasson has done a great test testing the vibration caused by the shutter on the Sony A7 and A7r to see if there was in improvement when EFCS is turned on. Which is currently only an option on the Sony A7. 

The test he did uses MTS30 and MTS50 charts which measures the objective resolution, or IQ of the image.

Turns out, there is a significant difference EFCS on vs off with the 55mm Zeiss lens, but only at some shutter speeds. Mainly around 1/100s.

At 1/100th of a second the IQ of the Sony A7r drops down to about the same level as the A7 when EFCS is turned on. 

However, with the 55mm lens there is almost no difference on the Sony A7 between EFCS turned on or off.

EFCS With Longer Lenses On The Sony A7

Jim later tested just the Sony A7 with both EFCS turned on and off, to see if there was a difference on a longer lens. So he used the Nikon 180mm with the novaflex adapter.

Turns out, there was a big difference across the board, but it seemed to occur at random shutter speeds. I imagine this phenomena only happens when mounted to a tripod.

But I know with all of my cameras, even with the Canon 5Dmkii, if I so much as sneeze near the thing with a long lens mounted while on a tripod, the image will turn out soft. 

I highly recommend looking at all of Jim’s EFCS tests on his blog here. And he also has a very awesome and very unique style of photography. 

Sony A7 & A7r Electronic First Curtain Shutter Test Conclusions

The most important take away from these tests is, don’t go out and by a Sony A7 over the A7r because of the “EFCS on” option. Even with shutter shock, the overall IQ of the Sony A7r is still far superior than a A7 in most cases. However, if you own an A7, and you’re not shooting high speed action with third party lenses, you might want to keep it turned on. You’ll have a more stable IQ across the board, especially with longer lenses.

Now, I have seen some photographer do similar tests and they have found that mounting more weight to the base of your camera solves the shutter shock issue completely. Makes sense because that camera is light.

I’ve yet to see any evidence or tests done to see if this “Shutter Shock” effects over all IQ when shooting handheld photography. My guess is that it wouldn’t. 

Now can we stop worrying about the little shit and stop picking on the Sony A7 & A7r already? Jesus, it’s really a great camera, stop trying to find dumb reasons to hate it. I imagine a melting point test will be next with all the Volcano shooters out there.


    Leave a Comment