The Sony A7 – Photos & Video at 35mm

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Zealand with the Sony A7 – Pictures and Videos

by Peter Lok

I got into travel photography with the Olympus EP3 and 12mm 2.0. The urge for bigger sensor came last year and the Canon 6D was the logical choice but my main grouse was the size. I still remember staring at it in the counter for sometime thinking if I should get the RX1 instead. But I didn’t want to be restricted to one lens so bought the 6D and went to Iceland. It was a trusty little giant and though it was great to use, I needed something smaller. Then came the Sony A7. I got hooked after reading Steve’s review and duly sold my 6D system and bought the A7 with 35mm 2.8. A week later came the cheap Tokina 24mm 2.8 and decent Contax Zeiss 85mm 2.8. Another week later they were on a flight with us to New Zealand’s South Island for the Christmas holidays.

During our 2 weeks in Middle Earth, the A7 survived a mini torture test, from rainy and glacier conditions at Mount Cook, to waterfall splashes at Milford Sound, to the wind and dust of Wanaka. The battery life is known to be bad but surprisingly the 2 batteries worked well for me, even with the wife leaving it on for Wifi transfer to her phone while I drove. The legacy 24mm and 85mm worked like a charm and the zoom focus (I configured in C1) along with focus peaking makes focusing a really fun affair with the A7. More so when you shoot video. Of course you have the usual drawback like lens flare and CA but I can live with that. After playing the manual game, the 35mm makes shooting deceptively easy, and the best shots are from this little workhorse. Too bad the 55mm 1.8 didn’t make it in time for this trip, but it’s now firmly in place on the A7.

For videos, the A7 tilt-screen and LCD/viewfinder live-view work brilliantly and I’m glad I made the switch (focusing on the 6D live view can be annoying). Probably the only thing I miss about the 6D, is the 60 fps video mode. Yes one can switch to 60p on the PAL 50p version but I cannot live with the annoying pop-up. The video link below is filmed at 1080/50p, along with some GoPro shots, and edited in FCPX at 25p.

Watch the video of our Dec NZ trip here…

…and you can compare it to the Canon 6D performance during the Sep Iceland trip

filmed at 1080/60p edited at 24p (shot mainly with 24-105mm 4.0 lens).

For photos, the A7 is (in my opinion) much sharper than 6D but loses out on high ISO. Overall the A7 worked really well during the trip and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Please check out the videos above and photos below and I am happy to answer questions in the comments area.

Thank you.

Peter Lok

Rippon Vineyard – Tokina 24mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, color adjustments

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Wanaka Haven – 35mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, HDR adjustment (from JPG below)

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Original OOC JPEG

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Mount Cook – Carl Zeiss 35mm 2.8 – RAW, 3 brackets HDR

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Tasman Glacier – 35mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, VSCO

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Milford Sound – 35mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, auto-adjustments

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Wanaka – 35mm 2.8 – RAW, HDR

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Treble Cone – 35mm 2.8 – RAW, auto-adjustments

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Lake Pukaki – JPG frame from video, VSCO

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Akaroa Jetty – Contax Zeiss 85mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, B&W

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Geraldine – Contax Zeiss 85mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, VSCO

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Hawea Flats – 35mm 2.8 – OOC JPG, VSCO (Inspired by follow me series)

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78 Comments

  1. I just got back from all those places last week. I live in NZ and go down about once a year, every year I still get amazed.

    Great photos though I can’t say I’m liking the VSCO and HDR look.

  2. Hi man, would you please tell me which len to go with 24mm or sony 35mm as i am more in landscape, thanks

  3. I really liked those videos you put together. The music, the shots, the pacing were all spot on. Well done! I feel like I need to purchase something to create my own master pieces but I already have what I need except a plane flight to New Zealand…

  4. Terrific videos. Well done. Nice editing. You understand the impact of proper cutting. Using Cinematic Orchestra and M83 music is spot on – I am bigs fans of both.

  5. Peter, some lovely work – both photographs and video. It makes me longing for New Zealand – been there for 3 weeks back in 2009 and would go back any day. Thank you for bringing back all those nice memories.

  6. Both really good and enjoyable videos Peter, I preferred the iceland video but thats more to do with the content and music more so than image quality, I didn’t notice any real difference. Looks like a lot of contemplation was done on that trip. Also like the last photo you have posted just would have loved to have seen a bit of her face looking back at you. I have a Nikon D600 and a Sony A7 both really capable cameras but I just love taking images with the sony more. I always have an urge to pick it up and shoot. Im not one for taking videos but felt inspired to do so from watching yours. Good Stuff

  7. I just finally got a chance to watch the video. Your sense of the environment and how we interact with it in your shots is awe-inspiring. Absolutely awesome.

  8. Agree with you Mike.There are people that don´t want to see the diference in size between the two cameras…or simply they don´t care carrying a much bigger and heavy camera all day to obtain similar results in the pictures. For me I will take the A7 over the 6D any day…

  9. he surely could but would need to rent a donkey to carry around the heavy 6D mirror box + housing 😉

    • The A7 is just under 2 lbs with the zoom lens. The 6D is just over 5 lbs with the 24-105 lens.

      You need a donkey to carry 5 lbs?

      Mirrorless systems are great, but try to keep things in the realm of reality.

      • It’s probably a youth trauma, induced by being forced by an overbearing parent to carry stuff beyond his feeble frame’s capabilities.
        To all those using zoom lenses: why? One thing is sure, for every shot you take, you’re carrying far too much bulk and weight.
        Try going out with one or two primes; 24 and 50, or 35 and 85? It’ll give you a whole new perspective, and it’s easier on your neck and shoulders.

      • I don’t know where you get 5lb from for a 6D and 24-105. Mine weighs 3lb 6oz, including battery and strap.

        • Will people stop clogging my e-mail with comments about the weight/size of Cannon dslrs. This section is about the new A7. Many of us are interested in learning rather than proving we are right about trivial irrelevant facts.

  10. Hi

    surprisingly I like the OOC jpgs more the the RAW ones – DP Review as JamesDennis Kelley commented regarded them as poor but here they have a “film like” expression. That would be very important for me as I do not shoot RAW (life is too short…) The Zeiss 35/2.8 would be the lense to start with for me. The cheapest and lightest FF – it’s a Sony!

    The lst photo is my favorite: framing, DOF, colors – that’s my taste!

    Is the Sony realy the one that can do it almost all? (light, small, high IQ, decent AF, etc) In addition to the 35 mm I would neede a AF zoom – any suggestions?

    Nice photos, I should go to NZ once!
    BR
    Heiner

  11. Great pictures and that video was amazing. Great work!!! I’m still on the fence with buying another Sony, they just don’t support their cameras as well as Fuji and Olympus in terms of firmware upgrades and lenses etc. But that camera is doing amazing work, great job again.

  12. It seems unfair that New Zealand is so beautiful 😉 Your HDR images of the dining room table and window are gorgeous! Very well done. !!

  13. I don’t understand why anybody would use a lot of money to buy a “perfect” camera and then – by HDR processing, VSCO and other stuff – make their images look like something coming from Instagram. I’m not saying the images are bad in any way, I just don’t understand the need for a really expensive camera of they are not looking for an accurate reproduction of the stuff. But really; I’m NOT saying these are not very nice images 🙂

    • Here we go again. Since when has “accurate reproduction” had anything to do with making something beautiful? Do you see in Tri-X B&W? or Velvia? Many thousands of acclaimed photos shot have been on film (and digital) and not a single one of them are accurate representations of the moment.

      • Read my post. He is not into accurate stuff, so we did he want a really expensive camera? Only thing that makes a camera really expensive is to what level of accuracy it will deliver – or am I wrong? 🙂

  14. I am not a video person but I must say you have done a lovely job and synched the frames with the excellent soundtrack. Very refreshing and soothing indeed!!

  15. Very good shots of New Zealand with the Sony. I have the 6D though I haven’t used it much yet. I’m impressed with the video made with it in Iceland.

    I think I’ll keep mine.

    Oh, good HDR work! For all those “I hate all HDR” folks out there.

    Looks like you have a nice travel companion … Respectfully noted.

    • Thanks Thomas. The 6D is a great camera in many ways. At the wrecked plane location I had underestimated the wind conditions and went ahead with the timer on tripod (full height). It crashed like the DC3 behind me and I thought **** game over. Miraculously both body and 24-105 survived. The solid body took the hit on the side (on sandy gravel) and left no marks, and just some light scuff marks on the L lens barrel. That’s how well built the canon is. Enjoy.

  16. Looks great Peter.
    I have a 7D and a 6D, they are pretty heavy, I will change to change to the Sony a7, just waiting for the lenses as I need auto focus.
    Love your images and video, I live in Australia so I think its time to visit the South island.

    Mark

  17. Peter, you wrote:

    Yes one can switch to 60p on the PAL 50p version but I cannot live with the annoying pop-up.

    What are you referring to, here (the pop-up, I mean)?

    Cheers and some love images there.

    KL

  18. Beautiful video of a beautiful country- correction the most beautiful country in the world. Thanks for sharing this.

  19. Hi,
    Really nice work. I wasa all set to trade up from my Nex 6, which I use with classic Zeiss Contax lenses, until I read DP Review-review which slammed the A7 for poor jpeg processing and rampant posterization issues.
    Do you have any thoughts on this. Thanks
    Jim

    • Hi Jim, I have no issues with the jpeg processing. The A7 is an affordable move to FF and I’m pretty sure you will love the Zeiss without the crop.

  20. Really nice photos. Question about the Mount Cook 3 shot HDR pic. Did you take three shots and then have them combined in post prod, or is it a setting on the camera to do that?
    The result is gorgeous.

    Best regards
    Huss

  21. Beautiful photos. I truly wanted this camera to work out for me. I tried two different copies but both showed the magenta bullseye rings when shot in low light against a white or off white background. That would not be acceptable to me in a $200 camera let alone a $2k camera. I have seen others comment on this issue elsewhere, and I really hope to come back to this camera again if the issue can be sorted out.

  22. I thought the video was a bit blurry…I think the GoPro gave the best video…but the still images are just awesome…always admired your work Peter…Loved the series you did for The Weather Channel here in the states

  23. A W S O M E I will share your NZ video with my Kiwi girlfriend, I predict tears. It’s not so nice here in London.

    Great work ALL of it!

  24. Universal beast with big sensor to take everywhere. That’s why this is simply the best digital camera – ever

    Very nice pictures!

    • Do you seriously mean he couldn’t have made these with his previous acquisition, the 6D? Get real.

      • Being a Canon shooter, who just bought an A7R, and previously bought an RX1…I’d say there is some truth to that. Especially with the interior shot. The 6D falls apart when you REALLY push the shadows. Red/Green banding abound. The Sony’s just stay clean =)

      • Having previously owned a 6D, I must say there’s a considerable difference in bulks. This is like commenting on a laptop review that your desktop computer can do the same thing. Yes it can, but it’s not as convenient.

        Great photos and videos by the way! Really inspiring. I like the colors in the NZ video more than in the Iceland video.

        • Thanks Mike. Agree on the bulk especially the lens. NZ was taken in middle of summer and Iceland in autumn with lots of cloudy skies and ferocious winds – loved it.

          • Hi man, would you please tell me which len to go with 24mm or sony 35mm as i am more in landscape, or do i have any other choice, thanks

      • ;-). It always amazes (and amuses) me how some people praise their current gear, the latest and greatest, as if now, finally, they are able to produce those great images they had in them, bursting to get out, and that the sorry crap they previously had prevented them from producing.

        It could be my failing eyesight (wel, it’s actually allright), but the only major difference I see between an interesting image and a non-interesting one is the eye of the photographer.

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