Monday, May 26, 2014

The Sigma SA-7 - A cleanly designed 35mm SLR

I saw one of these cameras recently, and it piqued my interest.  What's a camera guy do?  Head over to eBay and see what is there.  I bought a clean, like-new SA-7 with the two kit lenses (28-80, 70-300mm) for $60. The camera arrived quickly, and it didn't take me long to figure out the controls.   Like a lot of photographers, I questioned why anyone would buy a camera with a lens mount that was restricted to Sigma lenses.   However, I can see where this camera would appeal to someone that wanted an SLR with a good feature set at a reasonable price. Some people can go a long way with just two AF zoom lenses.  One thing I found while doing a little online searching is that there are M42-SA mount adapters, making the SA-7 easily capable of using my M42 lenses and metering with them.  So, I have one of those ordered for the price of $10.
 About the camera body - The SA-7 is a lightweight 35mm SLR with easily accessed controls, and has PSAM modes, and in manual, the shutter speeds range from B - 4sec - 1/2000 sec. and X is 1/90 sec.  It will use DX codes to set the film speed (25-5000), or the ISO setting can be dialed in manually for a range of 6-6400.   It features a typical TTL phase detection system for the AF, and an AF working range of EV-1 to EV+18.  The camera takes two CR-2 batteries.
The pentamirror gives a 92% field of view, and there is a diopter adjustment on the eyepiece. Metering is TTL 8-segment, average metering, and center area metering. +/- exposure compensation is 3 stops in 1/2 stop increments.  Auto bracketing in 1/2 stop increments; AE lock, Self-timer in 2 or 10 sec delays, built-in flash, mirror-lockup, multiple exposure, and remote control (IR remote) functions.  In short, this camera has mas more features than say, a Nikon N80.  Mirror-lockup and DOF preview is a nice feature, too.

So, I have to wonder -- what if this camera had a Nikon F-mount or a Canon EF mount? I suspect there are licensing issues, but it probably would have sold well.  The camera body is no more plasticky than an EOS Rebel or a Nikon N80, and is has a nice feel to it.  The only downside is that it requires SA-mount lenses for AF.  Some people may be perfectly content with the lens selection, and I should add that since Sigma has been making DSLRs, many of those lenses will fit the SA-7 (and SA-9).
Huron Camera in Dexter has several new in box SA-7 kits, and of course, one can go the ebay route and pick these up quite cheaply.  If you are looking for something that is AF, shoots film, and is full-featured and are not committed to a camera brand, the SA-7 might just be the right fit for you.
All the images that follow were shot on Fujicolor 400 film.

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