Sony Guts: A Look Inside the First Generation Sony A7R

Alright…here it comes. I took my first generation Sony A7R apart to replace a worn out back panel. I know, right? A little bit of a risk? A little bit of challenge? You bet. Just look at my baby…. Shown with my beautiful and fully manual Rokinon 14mm F2.8 workhorse.


It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Or so my mother always told me…maybe she was right. Who knows. Before this turns into a group therapy session I wanted to share with you a little bit about what’s on the inside of a camera, in this case my trust Sony A7R MK1, and why what’s on the inside is so incredible. First, the backstory of why I decided to deconstruct(almost) my main camera body.


Working on your own camera carries with it risks of permanent damage. When in doubt, always trust your precious camera’s life to a trained professional!

…that being said…the reason I chose to open up my Sony A7R was to replace the back plate. Over the course of four years my camera has been with me everywhere and subjected to some harsh conditions. The bottom of the back plate where it meets the battery gate was badly worn and some of the hard rubber had already torn off. Honestly, my camera is in extremely good shape to have endured so much tough love from me. Furthermore, all that adventuring had left the camera a little less than tidy…who am I kidding…my camera was filthy. So when I removed the back plate I also intended to give the old girl a nice gentle cleaning.

To begin, I removed a number of alarmingly small screws….

TIIIIIIIIIINY screws….. Note a few of the EVF components in the background

These are small but not what I considered to be “crazy” small. Nevertheless, I made sure each one was accounted for and had plenty of room as to not vanish. A few of the screws were even smaller than the others so I separated them from their friends to maintain the status quo. The viewfinder cup and the diopter housing also had to be removed to facilitate taking off the back plate. There is also a hidden screw located at the base of the battery well that you can’t forget about! Once all the screws were liberated the entire back plate was easily lifted from the camera.

Jesus. So that’s why cameras cost so much….

You can see the battery gate open and the SD card slot exposed at the right. Just look at all that circuitry! The small round spots are where the buttons of the back plate contact the camera engage their respective functions. It’s amazing how the engineers bottle all of that into this small of a package. Keep in mind this is the very FIRST A7R camera from Sony. I can’t imagine the additional components thrown in for the A7RII and A7RIII which have beefed up AF capability and electronic shooting modes.

It’s like CERN in there….

Here’s the viewfinder and like I said, it’s slightly unclean to say the least….

Can you even see out of that thing?

As with virtually all mirrorless camera systems the A7R sports an electronic viewfinder(EVF) that receives it’s signal directly from the image sensor. This means there are no bulky mirror and prism arrays which are found in SLR and DSLR cameras. This is one of the reasons mirrorless camera systems are so amazingly compact. Also notice here is the infrared sensor for the EVF. It’s that little black box just above the EVF glass…it even has it’s very own baby circuit board.

After I swabbed everything down(these little swabs are awesome) it was time to piece it all back together without having any leftover parts. Something that I found interesting was the video button that was actually free floating and attached with no screws.

The video button just hanging there waving at me.

The video button fits to the camera body with a slot and post joint and it seats down loosely to the camera body. Make sure the button doesn’t become unseated while the back plate is being fitted to the camera!

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into some of the internal workings of a first generation Sony A7R! Keep in mind this was a relatively straightforward job that didn’t risk disturbing the image senor and some of he more sensitive parts located deeper within the camera. All these incredible hidden workings are just a slice of the larger whole. The fact that this camera seems so delicate yet has endured being frozen, desert heat, rain, snow, salt water and sand, while NEVER failing is absolute amazing. The A7R MK1 might not be the youngest girl at the ball these days but it is still a marvel of modern photographic engineering.

This post first appeared over at my other website, Mirrorless Connection. Anything purchased through one the article links provides me with a tiny commission from Amazon  🙂 All support is greatly appreciated! 

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