Why cameras are important! by Rudiger Wolf

Why cameras are important!

By Rudiger Wolf

Steve,

Your site really does provide inspiration. After the A7s review, I decided to try the low light monster. I had hefted the A7 before, and it just did not feel/sound quite right. The A7s arrived just before our annual family pilgrimage to Lake Tahoe. We try to enjoy family time together at Lake Tahoe every summer. This time it would be especially fun, because the grandkids are getting old enough to enjoy the festivities (2 and 5 years old). Many years ago, I read an article wondering why some professional photographers use the best cameras and lenses on their clients, and then use lower quality gear for pictures of their families… pictures that could bless the lives of family members for generations to come, long after the value of client pictures are gone. I took that lesson to heart, and use the best equipment I can on my own family. Here then, are a few pictures of our recent trip to Lake Tahoe, using the A7s and Zeiss 24-70.

Ok, well not quite always that camera and lens combination. In this case, it was the A7s with Leica 21mm f3.4. Shot at ISO 3,200, F3.4, 20 sec.

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This is my 5 year old grand-daughter. She woke up early one morning. I was already working on the images from the previous day. The light streaming through the glass doors looked like it might offer some interesting images. She is an absolute sweetheart, and agreed to model for our photo shoot. I used the A7s and Leica glass, but ultimately, this is one of my favorite shots. Leica M240 with 90mm at f3.4, 1/30 sec at ISO 800. The colors on the A7s just did not match up as well.

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There is no intention of a fake out here. The A7s is an impressive instrument. I did have the chance to use the A7s exactly as I imagined it. Auto ISO, shutter speed fast enough to capture the active grandkids, Zeiss zoom lens for auto focus and flexibility. It all came together with a series of shots in a pretty dark room and my two grandsons…cousins. Sony A7s, Zeiss 24-70, 1/125 sec, f4.0, ISO 12,800! This one will last a lifetime! Where is the grain? Awesome.

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Obviously, we also watched the fireworks. I had tried to get them from the boat before with my D800e. Don’t get me wrong, I love that camera. Like any camera, it has limitations. Again, the A7s showed it’s capability. This was shot with Zeiss 24-70 at 1/125 sec, f4.0 at ISO 51,200! Just a fantastic camera for low light.

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Did I mention my grand kids? They loved the show! Sony A7s, Zeiss 24-70 at 1/40 sec, f4.0, ISO 12,800.

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To wrap this up… Thanks for the recommendation on the Sony A7s. It has enabled me to capture images I will treasure for a long time. My kids and their kids will see these, and remember the great times we have had together as a family. I can think of no loftier goal than to invoke those memories and feeling of joy and love together as a family.

Rudy

digitalwolftracks.smugmug.com
Rudiger Wolf

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23 Comments

  1. curious why the D800e ‘has it’s limitations’, I own a Canon 5Dmk III and have considered hiring a D800 and a lens for a weekend just to see what it’s like and curious of any limitations

  2. Hmmm. have am M240 and some special glass as well as a 6D and some great Canon lenses.. TS and great zooms. the A7s would complete the kit with a tool for every occasion.

    BTW I am in love with available light, especially for family candids. So this may be The Answer. imagine this with a .95 Noct… take a picture of a black cat in a coal bin at night…!

  3. I love your pics and I love to philosophise about photography. I think, no offence, that you are wrong about the camera. The glass, I can agree with: the better the glass, the better the picture. As for the camera, the A7s or any other digital camera, if you are considerting posterity and offspring in the centuries to come, will disappoint. You should stick to or revert back to film! I just watched ‘Side by side’, a documentary about film (in the movie scene) versus digital shooting, and the conclusion is that for now, no digital camera can beat a film camera. Also, when preserving film and images for posterity, the general consensus is that current digital formats will be unusable (unreadable or file degraded) in let’s say 2 centuries, while film/pellicule or glass plates, and even prints, can preserve the image much better and longer, if stored correctly, and are ‘readable’ directly. That’s the reason why archives around the world are transfering digital movies and photographs to film! Here is a doc about it: https://vimeo.com/88764962

    • Looks like I am going to need to look at archiving technologies. I appreciate the advice. Thank-you!

    • this is of course because development and achieving algorithms will not advance in 2 centuries so we had better plan for the same old same old… Good Grief…

  4. Love the shot of the Milky Way. Could you provide more specifics of the shot? Like what part of Lake Tahoe and the time?

    • Lance, I shot that on July 24 at 11:49pm. We were staying at a cabin in Incline Village (North Shore of Lake Tahoe). Lights are from the cabin just below us. For Milky Way shots, I use the Photographer’s Ephemeris, Sky Safari and Google Earth to help me plan the shot. All three are useful in their own right, and amazing when you combine them.

  5. That last one on the boat is one you couldn’t have captured at any other time in history. I marvel at the age we live in. I can hardly think physics will allow much better performance.

  6. For the fireworks you shot at 1/40 sec, f4.0, ISO 12,800. I recently too shot fireworks with my 12.9Mp Canon 5D Mk1 and my settings were 1/20 sec, f4.0, ISO 1600 and -2EV. Actually an equivalent setting. I don’t understand the need for such a high ISO as at night you should dial in quite a bit of negative EV to compensate for the camera trying to meter the scene lighter than it is. In my case it saved me 2 stops so I could shoot at a lower ISO.

    • The labeling must be a bit unclear. The fireworks was shot at 1/125, f/4.0, ISO 51200. I wanted to mostly stop the action, hence the 1/125th. This was taken on a rocking boat, so shutter speed was my primary concern. Zeiss max is f/40. Let the camera decide on the ISO. Had not considered using exposure compensation. I would like to learn more about how that technique would improve the exposure. I thought the camera did a terrific job of metering the scene without the exposure compensation.

      The shot of the grandkids was taken at 1/40th. Logic is that they were rocking with the boat, so relative motion was less than when compared to the fireworks. Hope that helps.

    • You read it wrong. He shot the fireworks at 1/125 handheld and with little Noise and sharp as a tack. He shot his grandkids watching them at 1/40th. If I was shooting fireworks with your settings half of the shots would have been blurry. Especially with my kids around. That’s the difference.

      Rudigar, Great shots btw! Love good low light shooting. I have the A7 and I think it performs just great for me, even in low light. I shoot with fast vintage glass and love it. Im saving for that that someday a “A8” will come out that has the big MP shots with the all the great things they learned in the A7S! 😀

      • Yes, not used to titles or captions being ABOVE an image. Excellent high ISO performance! My shots were all sharp but I AM pretty steady. Also I am limited by the max ISO 1600 (3200 hi mode) on the 5DMK1! I understand why he would choose 1/125th but at night you would normally dial in minus EV as standard practice. I do agree the camera did meter is well but I bet the water refection didn’t look that bright. You can see my shots here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbm/

        • Ive been putting them above the images for 6 years 😉 Always like being different. Besides, should we not read about what we are going to look at before we look at it?

  7. Hi Rudiger, thanks for the post. It is a useful follow up to Steve’s review for those of us trying to decide if we want to try this camera.

    I’m curious whether you process personal pics like this from raw, or if ooc jpegs from the a7s suffice? Is the difference you saw with the colors from the shot with your M due to white balance or something else?

    • Yeah, I’m curious about the colours too, as I seem to remember Steve saying that the colours on the A7s were really nice and quite neutral compared with previous Sonys.

      • I shot a very similar image with both the Leica and the A7s using the 90mm Summicron at ISO 800. White Balance was on auto for each. The Leica image looks much more realistic. A7S image is a little too blueish/grey with that lens.

    • You should definitely find someone who can host you at Tahoe! Just a wonderful location any time of year.

  8. Great photos and insight.

    I can’t say I take a lot of photos in low light, but if I knew I was going to, the A7S definitely seems like the camera to get right now to never worry about not being able to capture the moments which many other cameras may struggle to produce in the same quality.

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