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Apr 232017
 

LET’S TALK: My Sony A9 Shooting Experience and why it is not just a sports camera! (Video)

Hey guys! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! The Sony A9 fever is still in effect, though it has died down a bit from last week. Pre orders are now open at Amazon (HERE) or B&H Photo (HERE). Only a month until it ships and so many are excited to get their camera. Since I have shot with it for a full day, I wanted to make a follow-up video to my last one with my thoughts on shooting it, the speed, the quality and all things about this new A9. I can not share any images until later in the week, but at that time I will show a few shots from the 1st time ever in life I shot any sports or really fast action. So while my images are “meh”, the camera was flat out amazing. But watch the video below for my detailed thoughts on using this new Sony beast.

I also get into why this is so much more than a sports camera. I did not call it my “Desert Island Camera” for its sports abilities! Enjoy your Sunday and I will have more during the week. Also, a note. I am traveling from AZ to IL to OH and through PA for 10 days or so via road trip with Debby in about a week. So during that time the updates will be slower here, but I will have fun updates from the road at my YouTube HERE. I have some new stuff I am testing that is top-secret, and will be putting it all to the test on my trip!

And now, the video…

You can pre order the A9 below at my recommended Sony dealers whose I trust:

B&H Photo A9 Page

Amazon A9 Page

Apr 142017
 

Sony Gaining Steam. Takes #2 Spot for the FULL FRAME Market

Whoa! Sony is doing it, and just as I predicted long ago. They are creeping up in the full frame market, and now sit at the #2 spot for all out sales in the interchangeable lens segment (for full frame). Thanks to the A7 series, Sony has kept full frame alive basically and they show no signs of slowing. I feel if this new model comes sometime this year, (rumored A9 pro) they may jump to #1 by next year. Sony is KILLING it and for good reason. If you want to know why I think they are going to be #1 soon, be sure to see this.  But who is #1? I would think Canon holds that spot with their 5D series being so popular for photo and video duties but does that mean Nikon slipped to #3?

BTW, SONY ALWAYS WINS, lol. 

PRESS RELEASE BELOW FROM SONY

SAN DIEGO, April 14, 2017 – Sony Electronics – a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has announced today that their continued growth has vaulted them into the #2 overall position in the U.S. full-frame interchangeable lens camera market. (see footnote 1)

Sony’s interchangeable lens cameras and lenses have seen record sales in 2017, in particular within the U.S. full-frame camera market, where they have experienced double-digit growth (+23%) (see footnote 2) compared to the same period last year. The popularity of key models including α7R II and α7S II has been paramount to this success.

Additionally, Sony’s rapid growth has helped to drive growth of the overall full-frame interchangeable lens camera market compared to the same period last year. Without Sony’s contributions, the full-frame market would be facing a slight decline. (see footnote 3)

“Our commitment to the industry is stronger than ever,” said Neal Manowitz, VP of Digital Imaging at Sony North America. “We are always listening to our customers, combining their feedback with our intense passion for innovation to deliver products, services and support like no other.”

(1) The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan- Feb 2017

(2) The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016- Jan/Feb 2017

(3) The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016- Jan/Feb 2017

Nov 012016
 

kathi

My Favorite Photos with my Sony A6300 and A7

by Dave Fason

My whole life I have always loved photography. The only issue is I never thought I could do it! Lurking forums, blogs and websites like Steve’s I kept up with the times but never pulled the trigger. Once I started my own business I needed to purchase a camera and a good friend pointed me to the Sony line. I purchased a used Sony NEX-5N, Sigma 30mm and Nikon 50mm with adaptor to learn manual shooting. Using the Sigma for most of my product and then using the Nikon 50mm for personal use to get used to shutter speeds, ISO, exposure, focusing, etc. This was such a great way to learn what works and what does not. Thousands of dud photos but I figured out what not to do.

Fast forward a year and cameras are like cell phones. New hardware, new firmware and advancements each year. With the advancements in cameras it often makes it hard not becoming a gear head. A good friend who is a professional photographer kept me grounded and I picked up a Sony A7 and the Zeiss 35 2.8. It was love at first sight! The camera did everything I wanted a more and really excelled my photography. I grabbed a used 75mm Voigtlander to use for manual shooting and still to this day is one of my favorites lens.

Give it a couple of years and I wanted a smaller APC-S or Micro 4/3 for everyday carry. I decided to stay with the Sony family only due to having gear for it. I picked up a used A6300 and 16-70 Zeiss lens and am simply blown away with what I can now do. I could not create the exact same DOF as my A7 but still impressive.

I am novice but absolutely love photography. I think so many people get discouraged seeing incredible photos online, Instagram or Tumblr and say ” I can’t do that! “. I say you can and get out there and try! I hope this post inspires others like myself. I know I was because of this website!

Current gear :
Sony A7
Sony A6300
Zeiss 16-70mm
Zeiss 35mm FE
Sony 28mm FE
Voigtlander 75mm 1.8 w/ Close Focus Adaptor

Some of my favorite photos

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davewindow

desert

fall

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felixcarvingsidedark

felixworkingbehind

fisherbait

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horse3

july4night

kathi

wedding

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Jul 222016
 

New Rokinon 50 1.4 For Sony E Mount Announced

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.09.41 AM

There is certainly NO shortage of 50mm lenses that can be used on the Sony A7 FE system. We have TONS of old vintage lenses from Leica, Voigtlander, Canon and Nikon that we can mount. We have Sony’s own native 50’s like the 50 1.8, 50 1.4 and 55 1.8. We have DSLR lenses we can use on the E System like Canon’s 50 1.2 L or Nikons 50 1.4. There is a 50mm flavor for anyone when it comes to using the Sony mirrorless and now we have another full frame fast 50, this time from Rokinon. This autofocus lens looks good, but how will it perform? At less than half the cost of the new Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4 and less than the Zeiss 55 1.8, it will be interesting to see how this one does, as there is always room for less expense with more quality. ;)

I’ll review this lens when I can get a hold of one, but to see more check out the link to B&H photo here. 

Jul 182016
 

The secret to shooting a SMALL camera kit! Sony & Leica. 

by William Yianni Binks

Hey everyone! Steve was nice enough to post a passionate project of mine about my grandmother and her ongoing Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. The main part of the article was how I was working with minimal gear most of the time (35mm Leica summicron V5 and Sony A7s camera)

I wanted to send in this new article, as it’s something I’m also passionate about SMALL KIT shooting!! I feel I have found a secret kit for daily street photography that is unobtrusive that can quickly be transformed (With use of a new M auto focus adapter) for corporate shoots all the way to carrying around HALF the size for club photography!

stevehuffheader_leica

Last year on assignment for a big client of mine, CHC Helicopter, in Vancouver, BC and a large golf fundraiser along with Dreamline films I brought along my Sony A7s and only two small prime lenses. Those two lenses were the 35mm Leica Summicon and 75mm Leica Summicron. Along with these two small manual focus lenses was my ONA bag, which fits this kit perfectly.

The point of this article is that you can shoot an event with LESS, and I found I engaged with the people MORE. Less is more? ;)

I see a lot of people shooting events with zoom lens canons, running around sweating and then throwing out 85% of the images. I took a different approach. I engaged with everyone first, with my small Sony a7s and leica lens around my neck. At the CHC helicopter family corporate event, I actually ended up just taking the tour of the helicopter assembly plant as if I was almost just another guest. If, and when I saw a moment, I took out my camera and shot a few photos. Near the end I took some group photos and then had an hour to myself to walk around and take some interesting minimal factory type photos. I took the day in three stages, something I feel this small under the radar kit worked perfectly for, with no holdbacks. Under the radar candid’s, high quality group photos and then slow and steady promo shots for their factory. All while using the best glass I’ve ever used! NO HOLDS BARRED!

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For the golf event, I simply had a golf cart and went and hung out with everyone. I would take my camera out, take a few photos and then get to know some of the groups to get a few fun photos the client wanted. I found that by the time I knew some of the groups they would yell over to me and set up the photo’s themselves! Something I never would have gotten gunning around with a 70-8000mm lens (In production somewhere I’m sure!) ha-ha. In fact, the company I was shooting for put me on the project because of my outgoing nature anyways, so having this kit that wasn’t obtrusive and made people act differently along with having more face time was perfect. The client loved the photos and raved about having us out, perfect for everyone!

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The next step to making life even easier, as many would say- ok that’s a great small kit, but for events I would lose shots focusing! And that is true! At the time of this though, there wasn’t one piece of kit I feel that changed the game for the Sony A series- the new auto focus adapter for M lenses! Due to the large size of auto focus lenses, especially those, which have stabilization (which the new Sony’s have in body anyways!) there’s hardly an argument anymore against M and Sony kits for everything. I plan on getting the auto focus adapter soon once I research the models more. Yes, there are Sony prime lenses now in most configurations, but most of them are still large- and pull by wire.

This kit gives you the connection with your camera and manual focus Leica lenses, and in an instant with an adapter- a small and deadly kit. I feel this is what the A7 series was supposed to be at launch, but subsequently got bloated down by the need for such high-resolution lenses no one really needs (99%). This option brings it back to the unobtrusive, configurable camera you just can’t have with DSLRS. I’m using it for travel, professional photography events, and club photography and then rigging it up like a cinema camera for short films and commercials and shooting Slog 4K. It’s such a well rounder!

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If this seems like it would work for you and your style- look into it! I mention what I’m doing to photography friends and many have followed and love it.

As of those events listed above and photographed in this article, I’ve since added a 24-70 F4 Zeiss lens to the kit. Its small, fits in the ONA bag perfectly with my other lenses, and gives me something for more hectic times to cover all edges. Then, when I want some shallower DOF shots and creative control, I swap to a prime lens and take my time.

Many people complain about the new Sony E mount full frame lenses (myself included) but with the auto focus adapter now and stunning M lenses out there (Zeiss and Voigtlander included) I feel we can in fact once again have a small kit configurable to shoot ANYTHING!!

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For club photographers-

I’ve been shooting with a 21mm Voigtlander M lens which is TINY, and a Nissin i40 flash which is half the size of other flash systems and incredibly powerful. I feel bad when I see someone chugging around a massive camera body and bulging prime lens in a sweaty club.

So there you go, a kit less than half the size of a DSLR (or even many Sony lenses which are getting back to DSLR size, and front heavy and annoying to shoot with all day).

PS. If you have the a7 or a7r (mark 1 or 2) the 1.5x crop mode also is VERY useful and still allows PLENTY of resolution, especially for events where you’re usually compressing files. This in turn can make a 35 and 75 (or 90mm) kit effectively, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 130ish mm) all in two tiny lenses!

If you’d like to see the original post on my site with more photo’s that can be found HERE:

http://blackcasemedia.wix.com/wbinks#!corporate-event-photography/c1noh

As well as my Facebook group HERE for my photography and cinematography, Black Case Media:

https://www.facebook.com/blackcasemedia/

(I’m currently residing in London, UK. If anyone wants to collaborate or shoot sometime, as I’m relatively new to the city, let me know!)

Thanks again Steve for the reviews and I hope your readers find this perhaps a problem solver in having a small kit that can be used for just about anything! (Except fast action sports)

Cheers, and I hope you all the best time photographing your lives,

Sincerely,

William Yianni Binks

Jul 082016
 

TML

Thailand with M glass and the Sony A7rII

By Guillaume Dutilh

Travel photography has always been a compromise between quality, bulk, weight and inconspicuousness. Being a minimalist at heart, putting together a travel friendly photo system that would deliver on all these points was a fun challenge to tackle. I used to shoot Nikon full-frame bodies paired with Nikon’s top glass and while the quality was there, the combos quickly became too heavy and cumbersome to carry around. That’s when I decided to switch to the A7 system. But as Sony would release new lenses, I’d fall back into the trap and buy them! I quickly realized that I was facing the same issues as with the Nikon gear: my kit was getting too heavy and bulky again!

A Thai makes lucky charm bracelets – Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar

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Thais maneuvering their longtail boat in front of Koh Tao’s smoggy sunset – Leica 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar

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I recently had the opportunity to travel to Thailand for three weeks. It was a backpacking trip and I committed to embracing that lightweight aspect of traveling, even if it meant leaving some of the photo gear home. I’d pack all my belongings in a 33L backpack and all my photography gear in a very small messenger style shoulder bag. To keep the kit minimal yet versatile, I chose all M-mount rangefinder lenses and I did my best to keep the total cost as affordable as possible (for M-mount lenses that is)! Being a scuba diver too, I packed a GoPro, RX100III and underwater housing in the backpack, but in hindsight wish I hadn’t. For the purpose of this article, I’ll ignore the underwater gear and just consider it just wasted space and weight added to my pack.

Feeding rescued elephants at Elephant Nature Park – Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5

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Buddhist statue in Chiang Mai – Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar

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Everything I packed fit in a carry-on sized backpack and camera bag. I won’t lie, I was pretty proud of the achievement! Here is the photo kit I ended up with for Thailand:

  • Sony A7rII
  • Voigtländer Close-Focus Adapter
  • Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 II Heliar
  • Voigtländer 21mm f/4 Color-Skopar
  • Leica 40mm f/2 Summicron
  • Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar
  • Leica 90mm f/4 Macro-Elmar
  • Leica 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar

Batteries, memory cards, filters, tools, tiny tripod, small flash, remote, white balance card, small air rocket, cloth, Peak Design strap, pen, lens-pen

It was a little tight but everything listed above fit in a cheap and tiny water-resistant Bestek messenger shoulder camera bag.

The entire travel photo kit!

Thailand Photo Kit

I already owned the 15mm and 40mm lenses before this trip. I even had a tiny Leica 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit but sold it and splurged on the Macro version because it’s slightly better and collapsible. One of the main reasons I picked the 21mm, 40mm, 90mm and 135mm is because they all use the same 39mm filter thread, greatly simplifying filters. I also splurged on the 50mm because I’ve always wanted to play with that lens.

Standing Buddha in Bangkok – Leica 90mm f/4 Macro-Elmar

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Tourist traps outside of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai – Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar

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Let me tell you, exploring Thailand with such a small kit was an eye-opening blast. I can’t imagine myself traveling any other way, it’s just not worth it. Here is a brief write-up of my impressions about each lens paired on the A7rII.

Voigtländer Close-Focus Adapter: this guy is a no brainer for mounting M-mount glass on the A7 system (or any E-mount for that matter). It’s very well made and allows for much closer focusing distances than with standard adapters. I was hoping I’d receive the new Techart autofocus adapter for the trip but it didn’t make it in time. That being said, I’ve played a little with the Teacart since and while it works ok (only tried it on the 50mm), it searches a bit, is loud and bulkier. It also gets in the way of the L-Plate I use on the camera, making it almost impossible to use a tripod with an Arca-like plate. But, when it’s not searching for it, it does nail the focus nicely. After playing with it though, I realized I didn’t miss it.

Thai Tourist helper – Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar

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Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 II Heliar: This one was a little weird. For whatever reason, 15mm ended up being either too wide or not wide enough for what I was shooting. Maybe I’m not very good with super-wides but I just couldn’t find the right framing with it so it didn’t make it out of the bag very often. I might sound like an extremist minimalist but the 52mm filter diameter was a little too big for my taste! Corner performance isn’t the best out there but is still acceptable. Vignetting is probably more of an issue than smearing, but not that much of deal breaker either. I still love the lens for its small size and acceptable image quality. I also own the new Voigtländer E-mount 15mm and while it does perform better, it is significantly larger and has an even larger filter thread. For these reasons, I’m still unsure of which one to get rid of!

Koh Tao secluded beach – Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 Heliar

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Voigtländer 21mm f/4 Color-Skopar: Awesome little lens! Sure the corners aren’t 100% perfect but they are still pretty darn good. The 39mm filter threads and microscopic size make this lens a winner in my book. It pairs beautifully with the A7 system making for an extremely compact and discrete system.

A blind elephant at the Elephant Nature Park – Voigtländer 21mm f/4 Color-Skopar

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Leica 40mm f/2 Summicron: I owned this lens before Sony came out with the A7 system. It doesn’t have the most pleasing bokeh and is not the sharpest lens on the A7rII but I still love it for it’s mini size and 39mm filter threads (I’m sure you are picking up the pattern here). I wanted a lens between 21mm and 50mm that would have corners more usable then the Zeiss 50mm, which I why I packed this one. It’s about the same size as the 21mm, so small misplacing it on the bag is almost a consideration! In the end though, I didn’t shoot it that much.

The back side of Maya Bay in Ko Phi Phi – Leica 40mm f/2 Summicron

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Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar: This lens is just pure joy to shoot with. It was never designed to be sharp in the corners and therefore won’t be, even at f/8. If you know that going in and are OK with it, it’ll reward you with beautiful captures and a unique look in a very small package. I actually like the pop, colors and contrast of this lens better when it’s shot wide open than when it’s stopped down, even when shooting a distant subject. The 3D effect is intense and bokeh of course is creamy. Ironically though, the out-of-focus corners are somewhat sharper than the out-of-focus center. The only drawback I can think of is the 46mm filter threads. It is now the main lens attached to my A7rII.

Frighteningly realistic wax statue of a Monk – Zeiss 50mm f/2 Sonnar

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Leica 90mm f/4 Macro-Elmar: Stellar performer, nothing bad to report here. I picked it because of it’s super small size, especially collapsed, and 39mm filter threads. Paired with the Voigtländer close-focus adapter, it gets decently close but I’m not sure I’d praise its macro ability just yet. I used to have the Sony E-mount 90mm f/2.8 macro, so it’s tough to compare the macro performance of the Leica to the excellent Sony lens (that I ironically sold because I didn’t find myself shooting much macro, and it was huge). More testing needs to be done with the Leica close-focus adapter (I didn’t carry it on the trip). Maybe even some extension rings? Did I just say I didn’t shoot macro much?

One of the many colorful crabs in Thailand – Leica 90mm f/4 Macro-Elmar (and flash)

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Leica 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar: Another stellar performer. It’s about as small as it gets for a lens in that focal range but it is heavy (505gr) and a little too long to fit nicely in the bag I chose. It performs great though, and of course has the beloved 39mm filter diameter.

Lonely Thai long tail boat in the sunset in Koh Tao – Leica 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar

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I came back from the trip with loads of photos and a desire to minimize the rig even more! The 40mm and 50mm are too close and I shouldn’t have packed both after all, which I suspected might happen. I didn’t need as much corner sharpness in the 50mm focal range after all. I also preferred using the 21mm over the 15mm. I really enjoyed shooting the 135mm, but it’s just so large and heavy compared with the others lenses that I think I would’ve been fine with the 90mm only.

Thai boxing in Chiang Mai – Leica 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar

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James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay – Leica 40mm f/2 Summicron

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Shooting for three weeks with this ensemble was way more fun than I expected. The drawbacks that come with using rangefinder glass on the Sony A7 system (corner performance for some lenses, challenging manual focus for others) were quickly eclipsed by the size advantage, build and image quality, unique look and by the feeling you get manipulating such nice optics. As a matter of fact, it was such an enjoyable experience that most of my native E-mount lenses are now going up for sale! Having to switch between primes and shooting in manual focus greatly improved the percentage of “keepers” I came back with.

Fire dancers on Ko Phi Phi – Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar

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A Thai fisherman works his line in Phang Nga Bay – Leica 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar

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Ever since I returned, I’ve been using the same bag but the only lenses you’ll find in it are the 21mm, 50mm and 90mm and it’s been great. I’m wondering if one of the 28mm or 35mm M-mount would be a good addition to this kit, especially for more landscape and street photography. But honestly, I haven’t felt a dire need for it and I can’t really afford the 28mm or 35mm I want! Maybe some of your readers have recommendations in that range. The only different set up I’d be interested in testing is traveling with the two Leica Tri-Elmar, though I have no idea how they perform on the A7rII sensor and if I can’t afford a 28mm Summicron, I certainly can’t afford the Tri-Elmar. Or maybe it’s time to sell even more lenses?

A paddle-boarding couple enjoys the warmth of the setting sun in Koh Tao – Leica 90mm f/4 Macro-Elmar

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Kabu broke her ankle in an illegal logging accident. Since she couldn’t pull logs anymore, her owners started using her as a trek elephant to carry tourists 10hrs per day. Elephant Nature Park purchased her from her abusers and gave her a loving home outside of Chiang Mai. – Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar

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Thank you Steve for allowing me to contribute to the great photographic resource you’ve created. I hope this article helps some of your photographer readers looking for alternative shooting on Sony A7 bodies. If you like my photography style, consider following my Instagram account and visiting my website: PhotoXplorer.

Take care,

Guillaume Dutilh
PhotoXplorer
http://photoxplorer.com
http://instagram.com/photoxplorer

Dec 222015
 

A Maltese mirrorless wedding with Sony

by Franklin Balzan

Hi there! First of all let me say that I am extremely happy to finally contribute to this blog! I am Franklin, an engineer with a passion for photography from the small island of Malta. Since the start of my interest in photography, in the last couple of years I have been shooting with mirrorless cameras. I was intrigued by the Sony Mirrorless realm… maybe due to their lighter and smaller than the equivalent DSLRs, I first purchased a Nex 5, then a Nex 6 and finally the a6000 before I upgraded to fullframe. Its been quite a journey…

The Gear

My current setup is as follows:

Bodies:

A7s + JB Hand Grip
A7ii + JB Hand Grip

I cannot stress how much the JB handgrip improves the handling of the camera. I have also a Meike vertical grip, however the JB grip is just better – lighter, takes less space and adds a vintage look to the camera!

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Lenses:

  • Sony 35 f1.4
  • Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8
  • Sony 16-35

These are the main lenses I am currently using for my work at the moment. I also owned the Sony 24-70z for a while but I did not find it sharp and fast enough and have therefore decided to sell it off.

Lighting:

I am currently using two Nissin di700 together with their air controller which can wirelessly trigger them.

Other

  • Optech sholder strap
  • Think Tank mirrorless camera bag
  • Lowepro Flipside 300

I find this setup to be flawless for portraits and acceptable for wedding photography, even though in a fast paced wedding the autofocus sometimes struggles to keep up – nothing which can’t be worked around with a bit of tempo. The IQ is however flawless and I have made a decision to use the two bodies both with prime lenses attached, giving me different views during a wedding or a shootout, mostly shooting in a wide open fashion.

Pre-wedding shootout:

I had already met this sweet couple some months back for their engagement photoshoot at the St. Lucija Chinese Garden. For this shootout, I used my a6000 camera and a sparkle of imagination!

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Wedding day

On the 6th of November I had the opportunity to shot Alex and Veronica’s wedding – a simple yet elegant wedding. The wedding day started with the makeup artist arriving at the Bride’s house in Birzebbugia. In Malta, The gorgeous November day, coupled with the sea view available from the house’s balcony, refreshed the bride and her family. As the preparations were underway, the air was filled with excitement… and soon the time arrived for the limousine to take away the bride.

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​Veronica and Alex married in the Tal-Herba Chapel located in Birkirkara and then followed up the wedding with a private function at a restaurant in Valletta. The location’s choice, while simple and elegant, provided also with an opportunity to use the bar for a quick shootout. The wedding was relatively slow-paced, so I had no problem with the autofocus.

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More of my work can be seen on www.fbalzan.com. I look forward to your comments.

Nov 242015
 

sony

From Canon to Fuji Sony. An A7RII User Review

by Ben Jacobsen – See more: http://www.benjacobsenphoto.com/ and his flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/benjacobsen

 

The Sony switch… As most of you know I’m a long time canon shooter that made the mirrorless switch to fuji last year. The majority of my photography business is based around shooting architecture with a UWA zoom. My switch to fuji happened as soon as their 10-24mm was available (as well as their XT1 promising fast AF). I shot with a complete fuji setup last year for weddings, architecture and landscape work as well as for my personal images. While I was happy with my switch away from canon (I wasn’t using my DSLR for anything but paid work because of it’s size) I wasn’t quite happy with the AF speed and files quality I was getting. They were good enough but I wasn’t 100% satisfied. Then last year at photo expo in NYC I stumbled into the Sony booth and saw their brand new 16-35mm f/4. This lens paired with an a7r was practically the same size as my XT1 and 10-24mm but it had a full frame 36mp sensor… Then I walked over to their dark room focus torture test and saw how well the a7s could focus in ridiculously low light and I was sold…

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I got home and ordered an a7 thinking it’d be the best all around camera for me. I’d been more than happy with my 5DIII’s 24mp so it seemed like the best compromise with better AF over the a7r and more resolution than the a7s. When it arrived I noticed a flaw in the sensor and AA filter design that caused it to have what I call “green ghost flares” where the flare from a light source gets this very weird green flare. This is NOT lens flare and it is a huge issue for me with architectural images. So I tried the a7r next… and LOVED it’s sensor (and w/o an AA filter the green flare was gone) but it’s AF was far too slow to shoot people with for me. Next was the a7s which was great, crazy high ISOs, good enough AF and no ghost flares. But before a week was up with it the a7II was announced and I was hoping they’d fixed the green/ghost flare issue so I preordered it and waited… It came and is/was a GREAT camera. Middle of the road MP, great DR, good enough ISOs, and the best AF to date (the a7rii beats it but came out later). The reworked sensor and AA filter fixed the ghost flare issue. I was happy. Then the a7rII was announced and I knew that the combination of the best AF in the series in combination with the best sensor would be the best fit for me. Not only does the a7rII have the most MP but somehow it’s ISOs are cleaner up high -vs- the a7II. I’ve had it since August 6th (3 months, 7,517 shots taken) and I’m here to share my thoughts!

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That Sensor!

Let me start off by saying that I’m thrilled with the sensor in the a7rII and it’s AF has done nothing but impress me so far! While I’ve always said I don’t need more resolution -vs- what my canon or fuji have provided in the past, it does make for some GORGEOUS prints! I have a 32″x48″ canvas from the a7rII in my house and the added detail is noticeable if you look for it. You also get dynamic range that the canon couldn’t dream of touching and it’s ahead of the fuji as well. I’ve had some architectural shoots where I’ve bracketed a shot thinking I’d need to HDR it and in post I can +99 the shadows and blacks of the shot with the best detail in the highlights and get basically the same look! Sure there’s some noise in the shadows when you do this but it’s just insane as a former canon shooter that you can do this without seeing crazy patterned noise. Now the ISOs are also very good. I shoot up to 12,800 without a concern. There’s luminance noise at that point and you lose some of the pop from the colors but there’s zero chroma noise at all! On top of all that without an AA filter there’s no green or ghost flare issues with the a7rII.

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Now this can’t be a proper a7rII review without at least mentioning compression of the raw files! Personally I haven’t had a problem with the 14-bit compressed files we’ve had since the beginning. I know you have to shoot with the camera in single shot mode, no bulb, no long exposure noise reduction and no high ISO noise reduction to get true 14-bit files. This is how I shoot my landscapes. Sony has now released an uncompressed option that’s basically putting the 14-bits into a 16-bit file which means the files go from ~45mb to ~90mb… It’s up to you if you need it. I’m using 14-bit compressed for landscape and architectural work and then 12-bit for weddings. I don’t need the extra depth there and the files are smaller and faster to process in 12. I use either silent shooting mode or either L or H FPS modes to “force” the camera into 12-bit mode as needed.

Auto Focus

The auto focus on the a7rII is amazing. I know a lot of guys will say that it can’t keep up with a pro series DSLR but at this point it really makes me wonder. I’m not saying it’ll track a subject that’s moving quickly at 11fps because the body can only shoot 5fps. What I am saying is that in just about any light I’ve had very little problems with the AF with this camera and I’m coming home with much fewer out of focus shots. Even -vs- my old 5DIII! I remember shooting wedding receptions with my 5DIII (once we’d given up on ambient light and gone all flash) where I’d switch to my 16-35mm 2.8 only because it focused a lot quicker in low light -vs- my primes. With the sony I can shoot with my 25mm f/2, 55mm 1.8 or 85mm 1.8 and they all lock on and stay locked on during low light reception shots with little to no lag at all. I’ve been VERY impressed! I’m coming home from weddings with hardly any shots that are out of focus. I’m talking less than 5% (and some of that can be blamed on me pressing the shutter before it locked).

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That’s not to say it’s perfect though. Sony has added so many bells and whistles to it’s AF system it can be very confusing at first. Face detect, eye AF, center lock on AF, expandable flexible spot, the list goes on and on! While it’s taken a little getting used to and some manual reading (yes, I admit it) and I STILL don’t know all the functions of this AF system, I will say it works really well. The other odd thing I’ve noticed is out of focus shots when shooting architecture. With my canon and fuji setups I would manually focus the first image and basically leave the lens alone for the rest of the shoot and I’d be all set (focused about ~6′ into a scene stopped down to f/16 on full frame). With the sony I’ll AF the first shot and I’ve noticed every once in a while when I go to the next shot the focus will be way off (nothing in focus at all, even at f/16). This happens in both MF modes and AF modes. I’m not sure if I’m bumping the focus ring or if it’s refocusing on something at a bad distance or what. I’ve learned to just ALWAYS use the AF after each new shot to be sure and I’ve been fine since, but it’s worth mentioning…

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Manual Focus

Some of you need to just skip right past this section as you won’t all use manual focus. I manually focus a lot of my landscape and architecture shots. EVFs and LCDs have made this easier in some ways but the “focus by wire” design of the lenses make it much harder at times. If you’re coming from a canikon DSLR your lenses are not drive by wire. You physically move a ring that moves the elements inside the lens to make it focus. This works with the lens on or off a body (without power). With mirrorless cameras they use the camera’s power to move the parts inside the lens. The ring you move is just telling the computer in the camera to move the elements in the lens in a certain direction. It’s a bit slower and harder to get “perfect” vs the old way… I find myself getting really close to just right pretty quickly but then I go back and forth from too far to too close a few times before settling in on “good enough”. Peaking can help in a lot of situations but it can also hurt in others (it won’t work at all for stars). The camera also has a function called “bright monitoring” that basically uses a very slow frame rate so it can gather more light and show you a very dark scene better but it’s very laggy (due to the slow frame rate) which means it’s hard to see your focusing changes because there’s a much longer delay. This function is also only available on the full view (ie you can’t zoom in). I’ve since learned to focus stars accurately you need to turn peaking OFF (yes off), then zoom in on the brightest star in the frame and manually focus until it becomes the smallest point it can. Peaking needs to be off because it works by showing you points with good contrast because those tend to be in focus. Even with peaking set to the minimum it’ll tell you a star is in focus well before it is as well as long after it’s no longer sharp. Simply turning it off and zooming in will get you great results.

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My other complaint with manually focusing on the sony cameras is the information they show on the rear LCD is terrible. You get a gray bar on the back of the screen with head on the left end (for the close end) and a mountain on the right end (for far). There’s then a white bar that moves back and forth as you focus the lens and it tells you the distance you’re focused at. This bar is always the same thickness at all times. It should get wider if you stop down and it should also get wider as you focus further away! They also only tell you the distance you’ve got your lens focused at but they do not tell you the near or far limits of the DOF (and it’s in meters only with no way to change to feet that I’ve found?). If you’re focusing for a landscape image you want the most DOF possible. To get this you want the far end of your DOF at infinity. With sony’s display it’s impossible to know where this is without using a DOF calculator of some sort (app or website) which is a PITA. Colby Brown shared with me that setting the focus distance to the first number displayed that’s less than infinity seems to work pretty well for him (and I agree). If the lenses had a scale on them physically it would help a lot. Zeiss has OLED screens on their lenses that do this. Their display also shows you the near and far limits as well as the distance you’re set to. It’s as simple as focusing until infinity is on the long end and you’re done with one of the batis (I’d kill for them to remake the 16-35mm with sony and remove the OSS and add in the OLED!).

The body

The sony full frame cameras are built “good enough”. They’re strong and solid and great but not quiiiite as solid as my old 5Diii. They’re sealed though as are all their lenses and I’ve certainly had no issues with them. The II version have a much nicer grip on them as well as IBIS or in body stabilization. For a lot of you IBIS is probably a huge deal and crucial. Personally I’m either shooting people where I’m using a shutter speed well over 1/focal length or I’m using a tripod. That’s not to say I’m not a fan, I’ve just been happy with it in my lenses in the past. What really confuses me here is if all three of the current bodies have IBIS why’d they build OSS into a lot of their lenses (my 16-35mm, 24-240mm, and 85mm all have it)? It’s extra optics and cost and weight… I will say however that the fact that the sensor moves makes it a LOT harder or maybe just weirder to clean your sensor. It moves now! The SD door on the a7rii is also nice and firm now. I mention that because they changed it’s orientation on the II versions. The a7/a7s/a7r were rock solid, but the a7ii had a tendency to open on me. The a7rii’s door is a bit more solid now and I’ve yet to have an issue with it.

The viewfinder is bigger and better but it’s still not as nice as fuji’s. I’m a fan of EVFs but sony’s doesn’t have the tricks and display modes that fuji has baked into theirs. Remembering AF points for vertical -vs- horizontal compositions would be great! The eye cup on the a7rII also seems to be better built -vs- the a7II where the rubber liked to pull away from the frame. The tilt out screen is WONDERFUL for architectural and landscape shooters. I’ve gone from preferring the simple slide up/down style sony’s used on the a7 series to wanting one that flips out with a side hinge so it can work for vertical shots as well… One complaint with the EVF/rear LCD is the sensor for the automatic switch is far too sensitive on these cameras. When I’m backed into a corner of a room it’ll see my chest with the sensor and switch to EVF mode even though I’m ~6″+ away from it. I’ve assigned the viewfinder switch to C2 so I can cycle it back to the rear LCD but if the sensitivity was just turned down a bit (to fuji levels) it’d be great.

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The Customization options on this camera are almost perfect. There’s two custom buttons up top near the shutter (I have mine set to the brightness monitor and switching between the EVF, LCD and auto display modes). Then on the back there’s C3 (set to focus magnification), AF/MF (set to switch between AF and MF for me), AEL (hold to AF, release to stop AFing) and the C4 button (eye focus). I’ve got the 4 way buttons set as labeled but down is set to face detect for me. The center button is set to “default” which means pushing it allows me to then move the AF point with the 4-way which is great (and hitting delete short cuts to the center AF point). The reason this setup is NOT perfect is because the list of things you can assign to buttons is limited. You can not for example set the aps-c option to any button in the camera (it can’t even go on the Fn menu). This is something I use quite a bit and would LOVE to have on a button! You also have to OK the options once you hit the button. You should have an option to have them be quick changes where one button press changes the setting if it’s only got 2 options.

Menus

A lot of people like to say that the sony menus are a hot mess. While they’re certainly not as good as they could be I don’t really see them as a mess. I’ll add to this though that I’ve been a sony/NEX user since the very first NEX5… The old NEX menus were terrible… The new tabbed layout is very similar to canon and works quite well. I will say it’s missing a “my menu” option where I can pick a page worth of options for myself and to have that always be the first menu page that comes up when I hit menu. Sony will argue that the Fn menu handles this task but it only allows about half the options from the full menu to be put as options in it (and it’s crucially missing the option for APS-C/super 35 crop to be on or off!!!). I’ll add that I prefer sony’s menus over fujis. You can learn where everything is in either over time but I prefer sony’s. The Fn menu itself should allow you to set ANY function to it’s 12 spots (and I’d personally like an option for 1 2 or 3 rows, you’re locked into 2). Some of the options need some help as well. I have steady shot set to my top left spot so I can turn it off when needed. The next spot over is then the setting for automatic or manual focal length detection (if you’re using non E or FE or adapter A mount lenses you need manual), then the THIRD spot over is for the focal length if using the manual option…. Why all three of these functions couldn’t be part of the same steady shot menu I don’t know (steady shot options: off, on-auto FL, on-manual FL with a list).

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Necessary Accessories

There are always a few accessories that you need to complete your system but there are a few with mirrorless cameras in general and specifically the Sony system that I’d say are must haves. The first on the list would be a great battery charger and plenty of spares. I’ve had a watson dual desk charger since my fuji days and it’s a life saver. Charge a battery that’s close to full in the provided wall charger and it’ll be blinking full almost immediately. Toss it in the watson and it’ll tell you the % it’s at an actually top it off to full power. Before the watson I’d use 6~8 batteries at a wedding with my X-T1. With the watson this has gone down to 4. The sony now uses the same 4 batteries as I’d use with the fuji. The great thing with the watson is that it takes ~$2 plates to change it from a sony to fuji to ricoh to canon charger! Of course put extra batteries in this section as well. I have ~7 sony batteries at last count. I keep 1 in each camera (I also have an a6000) and 4 in my think tank photo battery holder. The dual battery wallet is also nice for family outings.

Second up for me would be grips and plates. When I shoot a wedding I use the neewer (mine says meike on it?) battery grip. I’ve never really been a grip user with DSLRs (I have always preferred smaller lighter cameras). With these mirrorless cameras getting as small as they are and shooting with it all day at a wedding the added grip is great but the fact it doubles the battery capacity is awesome. I have noticed though that my grip will change the aperture setting when in Av w/o me touching it… For this reason I generally leave it’s buttons switched off and I’m considering the $300 sony version… Switching the buttons off isn’t a deal breaker for me though as I’ve never really used a grip much so I’m not used to the second shutter button but the other very strange thing is once you get used to using the EV dial on the body it’s very odd not having it near the second shutter on the grip. Whenever I’m not shooting a wedding specifically I’ve got my neewer L-bracket on the camera. L-brackets have been on all my cameras for years now as it makes switching from a vertical to horizontal composition a snap with my tripod head. I’m using the neewer l-bracket that came in a kit with the grip for $85. It’s $63 for just the battery grip, and $22 for just the l-bracket.

The third accessory I’d call a “must have” if you use flash would be any flash with a “Multi-Interface Shoe”. This is what sony calls their hot shoe with the data connection at the front. The reason this is important is it tells the camera there’s a flash involved. You can use “dumb”/manual flashes without this shoe without an issue (I do with my neewers) but because they don’t have the data connection the camera doesn’t put itself into two crucial modes: Flash WB and “setting effects off” for the live view. The first should be pretty obvious. Without knowing you’re using a flash the camera will be in AWB mode and the flash results won’t be consistent. Yes it’s an easy fix in lightroom by syncing the images and telling LR they all need flash WB but it’s much easier when the camera does this for you. The second and much more important option is that the “setting effect off” means the camera will artificially boost the ISO so you can see through the EVF to compose the shot. If this is left on, when you dial in your flash exposure you’ll be looking at a very dark (black!) viewfinder. With a normal/dumb flash you have to switch this mode on/off every time you mount/remove your flash. But with a “smart” flash with the correct shoe it’s automatic. For me this makes the nissin i40 the obvious choice as it’s TINY! It’s slightly less powerful -vs- the big speedlights but I’ve found with 1/8th power (and 1/4 when needed) it keeps up recycle time wise and I don’t need to boost the ISOs too high.

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If you’re a landscape shooter or the thought of a flash just seems silly to you, then I’ve got a different option for you… Filters! I’ve got a full set of Lee filters I carry in my mindshift filter hive. I’m also using some great new filter adapters from “the filter dude” on amazon. They’re $20 and the same as the wide version of the lee adapters (that cost ~$68) with the exception that the filter dude rings also have a set of threads on the outside of the ring so you can mount a traditional filter to them once they’re on your lens. Let me explain it this way: you’re shooting a waterfall and your panel or 105mm CP gets spray on it as does the front element of your lens. If you’ve got a 77mm CP in your filter hive you can thread it onto the filter guy ring with the ring still on your lens and there won’t be any way from spray to get onto anything but the outside of the round filter! I use this trick all the time shooting waterfalls! Once you’ve got the ring on your lens, don’t bother ever taking it off. Get some of these Lens Coat medium lens caps and use them over your rings. Makes it much easier than dealing with lens caps and threading on a filter ring in the cold dark morning before your coffee has kicked in. For any of you who’ve made it this far into a section about filters, grab some gaffers tape and tape over the logos on the front of your lenses… Those obnoxious white logos will reflect back at your filters and you’ll be able to see the text in the images (bottom right corner in the rocks there’s an orangish semi circle that’s the reflection of the words on the lens)!!!

sensor cleaning supplies… If you’ve ever made the jump from an APS-C body to full frame before you know full frame sensors collect dust at a much faster rate. If you’ve ever made the jump from a DSLR to a mirrorless/EVIL body before you know that EVIL’s have their sensor hanging out in the open when you change lenses… Combine the two and it’s a recipe for dust! I’ve got three things I use to work on the dust issue: 1) Sensor pen and loupe, 2) rocket blower, 3)gel stick. The gel stick is new to me and so far it’s been amazing. Make sure you get the orange sony version. The rocket blower gets off the easy stuff but I’ve found if the camera’s sensor cleaning function can’t get it off the rocket air usually can’t either.

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Big and fast SD cards… 42mp files can chew through a lot of space in a hurry. With the new uncompressed option they’re now twice as big (~90mb now -vs- 45mb uncompressed). Make sure you get cards with a ~90mb/s read AND write time! A lot of the cards offer that as a read speed but not write which is what matters most to the camera. I wish sony had used the faster tech fuji has in the XT1’s SD slot (250mb/s). I’ve got three 64mb 90mb/s SD cards that I’m happy with so far. I keep them in a “lenscoat memory card wallet SD9” that can hold 9 SD cards. I used to be a big think tank pixel pocket rocket user in my CF card days but the lenscoat SD card option is much smaller so I prefer it. Whichever wallet you go with MAKE SURE YOU KEEP A FEW BUSINESS CARDS IN IT!!! If you ever lose it you’ll at least have a chance at getting it back. The think tank option does have a nice strap on it so you can secure it to your bag but it’s a velcro closure which I don’t like at weddings. The lenscoat wallet uses an elastic that just loops over the end so it’s dead silent.

While we’re on the subject of memory let me talk about importing these massive files into your computer! Having a fast card does you no good if you don’t have a fast card reader to go with it. I’m a mac guy and I’m using an older iMac with the original thunderbolt port and USB 2.0 ports (or maybe even originals). Thunderbolt is my fastest option. I have a drobo 5D running on a thunderbolt connection. I then have this awesome lexar workflow hub withthree SD card readers (which can be used on their own with their supplied USB cord when you’re away from your desk). I have three readers because there’s a lot of times when I end up with three cards to import from between the drone, the a7rii and the a6000.

I also use the trick Dan Carr taught me about importing from more than one card at a time in LR which is a LIFESAVER!!! The one problem I have is that the lexar hub is USB3.0 so in order to take advantage of it’s speed I need to adapter it to thunderbolt so I’m using this belkin dock. I know these parts aren’t cheap (it’s about $500 for the hub and reader before you get to my external storage) but even since I upgraded to this setup last year my import times have become comically fast. Even with three filled cards. Of course it still takes lightroom forever to build previews but that’s another story. LR is slow to work with these monster files so be ready to throw some money at your computer if it’s not up to the task… I’ll be getting a new machine in a few months (retina iMac) and can’t wait.

The last accessory I’ll talk about is how moving to a mirrorless system can change your whole system in terms of tripods and bags. I’ve added a small travel carbon fiber tripod to my kit since going mirrorless. The camera is enough lighter I get enough support from a much smaller tripod and it can now fit inside my camera bag! This has also meant (for me) that I’ve moved to larger camera bags. Not for the camera, but because it means I can use one bag to carry all my gear for non photography purposes as well as my photo kit in a single bag. So rethink your bags and support, going to a bigger bag with a smaller tripod might mean everything can now fit inside one stealth bag!

Some notes:

  • 42mp is OMG WHOA! resolution… Even if you use the 18mp aps-c mode it’s still an amazing file with plenty of detail.
  • The DR of this sensor is crazy. The a7ii I’d been using was good, better than canon and fuji (no pattern noise like canon) but the a7rii is a level above that easily.
  • ISOs are ALSO really good and easily beat my a7ii, 5Diii and the fujis.
  • For a full frame body this thing is amazing small. I switch to fuji because I never used my 5Diii unless I was on a paid shoot due to size. This body brings the best full frame sensor in the market (all around, MP, DR, ISOs) to a tiny body. It’s the same size with the 16-35mm as my old X-T1 was with fuji’s 10-24mm.
  • AF is very good even in low light at wedding receptions… Canon has the “red ring of fire”, well sony has the “green boxes of focus”. It just works.
  • AWB feels like it’s maybe not quite as good as the a7ii? I’ve never shot them side by side though but it’s a gut feeling I get…
  • My AF buttons setup has the AF turned off on the shutter button. AEL is my focus but only when held down. It’s the basic rear button AF from my DSLR.
    all custom buttons
  • Fn Menu row 1: SS on/off, SS Adjust (manual/Auto for non sony lenses), OSS FL (for non sony lenses), Focus Mode, Focus Area, Center Lock-on AF
  • Fn Menu row 2: Silent Shooting, Peaking Level, White Balance, DRO/Auto HDR, Quality, Smile/Face Detect
  • Custom Keys: Shutter AF off, C1 = bright monitoring, C2 = Finder/Monitor Sel., C3 = focus magnifier, C4 = eye AF, Center button = standard (lets me choose AF point), left = drive, right = ISO, down = smile/face detect, AEL button = AF on, AF/MF Button = AF/MF control Hold
  • Battery grip is great for weddings, but the neewer version adjusts the aperture w/o touching buttons on me….
  • AEL button is hard to feel on the neewer grip. Awkward with EV dial only usable in horizontal mode…
  • you “need” to use a sony shoe capable flash. With a “dumb”/manual flash the flash doesn’t sit right in the shoe (too far back) but it also doesn’t auto switch the camera to flash WB and it also doesn’t change the viewfinder setting from
  • “live view display: setting effect on” to off for flash (setting is in the gear -> page 3, option 1). Using the nissin i40 does both automatically!
  • get a watson charger NOW!
  • get a nissin i40 for any on camera flash NOW! It’s tiny and light and perfect. Just don’t turn it up above 1/4 or the recycle time gets slow (but we have plenty of ISO on the a7rii). 1/8th is great.
  • magnification during replay is painfully slow!
  • buy a 90mb/s write speed SD card…
  • battery life is what it is but with a watson charger it’s 4 batteries for a wedding even at 2.5k+ images… You can also charge via the USB port WHILE SHOOTING for timelapse guys or if you’re hurting and out of normal sony batteries…
  • SD card door tighter -vs- a7ii where it opened on me quite a bit (but never on the a7/a7r/a7s because it opened the other direction).
  • eye cup rubber/shape is better than a7ii.
  • silent shutter is DEAD silent… subjects will actually keep posing after a shot because they’re waiting for the noise.
  • sigma and tamron need to start making their lenses in FE and E versions. They offer a mount conversion process for existing lenses which suggests the lenses are all the same and the mounts are the only difference. This makes me wonder if sony/minolta has some weird difference in their mount that makes it so making just the mount for the existing lenses doesn’t work? I’d prefer mirrorless specific versions anyway though (so they can be smaller/lighter).
  • Sony needs to make either the 70-300 or 70-400 in an FE mount. The longest FE lens right now is the 24-240mm (which has terrible sun stars but is a great travel all in one otherwise).
  • I’ve seen some very weird hunting with my zeiss batis 85mm in vertical/portrait mode that goes away instantly once the camera is horizontal but comes right back again when back to vertical. I’ve spoken with zeiss and sony about it and zeiss has been able to replicate the issue (only happens in super low light).

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Things to fix via a firmware:

  • APS-C mode (setting -> gear -> tab 6 -> option 4) should be allowed on the Fn menu or as a custom key. I use APS-C for weddings a lot as I don’t need more than 18mp there (I used mRAW on the 5Diii for 10mp).
  • mRAW options? You can force 18mp via the APS-C mode but there should also be smaller RAW options that use the full frame.
  • Add the option for a third row in the Fn menu (and also the option to drop to 1 for those who’d want that). There’s a LOT of menu options I use a lot and I need more space than the 2 rows provided for what I use regularly.
  • Add a “my menu” option similar to canon’s that gives me a traditional menu page where I choose everything on it but I get to choose from ANYTHING in the menus… Also, don’t limit it to a page (let it scroll if I want more than 6 options) and let me set it up so pressing menu always brings up this screen first.
  • EVF auto switch sensitivity is too high. I’ll be in a corner doing architecture work and it’ll see my body and switch to the EVF from the rear screen. EVF switch should NEVER activate when the rear LCD is opened either way (because if it’s open you’re using that and not the EVF).
  • The added 14-bit uncompressed option is great for those screaming for it (I never felt the compression caused any issues?). I’d love to see true 14-bit with lossless compression as well. Personally I’d also love to see an option for force 12-bit when you want it as well. For weddings I shoot RAW but don’t need 14 bit so I use the slow FPS mode to force 12 bits most of the day, then silent shutter mode during the ceremony (turning on long exposure noise reduction, high ISO noise reduction, bulb, any burst mode over single shot or silent shutter all force 12-bit mode).
  • During a long exposure the rear LCD is still powered on but black. This wastes power from a camera that uses a lot and uses small batteries already. Please turn OFF the screen during an exposure! -or- give the option to have it show a counter for the shutter length so I know when a 30s exposure is almost over. During bulb count up with that counter!
  • The manual focus distance scale display is terrible! It’s always a white line of a set width that doesn’t get thicker (showing more DOF) as you go wider with focal length, farther with focus or stop the lens down. It’s always the same size!
  • The zeiss batis lenses have GREAT OLED displays with GREAT info shown, copy that on the rear screen! Also make the white bar/line get thicker as you change settings accordingly (like fuji does).
  • allow the use of the manual focus assist view (magnified live view) to be used with “bright monitoring” (where it drags the shutter is super low light so you can focus) so you can use both and really nail MF in pitch black settings.
  • allow users to turn off the non whole stop ISOs for faster ISO selection… going from auto ISO (how I shoot wedding w/o flash) to ISO 800 (how I typically shoot reception shots) is 13 button presses when it would be 4 if the non whole ISOs were out of that list. Canon and fuji both allow this.
  • option for a quick delete w/o needing to “ok” anything…
  • Option to turn off some of the AF points. I always “watered down” my 5Diii to just the more sensitive points and the ones in the corners. Something like 25 (5×5 grid) would be perfect with the a7rii. But 399, especially when you use the small box makes it slow to move your selected AF point from one side to the other.
  • To go with the above, allow the user to “wrap” the AF point selection from one side of the frame to the other. IE if I’m using a point on the left side of the frame and I press left again it should “wrap” around to the point on the far right.
    allow customization of the dial directions. The shutter speeds on the rear dial in M are backwards for me… I’m re-learning but it’s taking a while!!!
    faster read and write speed. Feels like I’m waiting for the red light quite a bit. And the A7rii takes longer to write it’s 18mp aps-c files than the a6000 does to write it’s 24mp aps-c files… Use the UHS-I U3 cards that fuji put into it’s X-T1.
  • create a hyperfocal AF mode where the camera looks at the focal length and aperture and keeps the focus dialed into whatever distance puts infinity right at the far edge of the DOF. This would be a huge advantage for landscape shooters.
  • Allow the viewfinder to store which AF point is used for vertical and horizontal shots separately (canon and fuji do this).

Current (Fall 2015) Sony Kit:

I’m currently shooting with an a7rii with both the Meike/neewer battery grip (for weddings/events) and the Neewer L-Bracket for everything else. Lens wise the Sony (by Zeiss) 16-35mm is my go to wide angle zoom and what I shoot my architecture and landscape work with. I have the sony 24-240 as my light weight long reach lens and the tamron 150-600 as a no compromise I need reach lens with a Sony LAEA3 adapter. For wedding work I have the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2, Sony (by Zeiss) 55mm 1.8 and the Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8. I shoot weddings using the aps-c crop mode 95% of the time so this trio works out to be 35mm/85mm/135mm effective. I’ve basically added the Zeiss 85mm as a longer option -vs- what I shot with both canon (35/85) and fuji (23/56).

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The other great thing with this setup is I can shoot the 25mm in full frame mode for those few shots where I “need” a wide prime and the 16-35mm becomes a pretty versatile mid range zoom for those reception flash shots at the end of the night. For flashes I still have my Neewer TT850s with their awesome Lion battery packs (that last for ~600 shots!) with their wireless transmitters but I only use those off camera now (they’re massive on this smaller platform). I picked up the nissin i40 for on camera (bounced) which is great because it automagically switches the camera’s WB setting to flash as well as setting the viewfinder mode to NOT reflect your settings (since the flash isn’t flashing as you compose you end up with a black view if settings are reflected). It’s also pint sized and light which is great, but also just powerful enough I can use 1/8 or 1/4 when needed to keep recycle rates fast enough and it’ll survive and entire reception with one set of AAs for me. I’ve also kept two aps-c wide angle lenses that play nice on full frame. The first is the sony 10-18mm f/4. It’s meant to be an effective 15-27mm f/4 lens but it also covers full frame from 12mm to 16mm and is nice and small! It’s a great lens for shooting milky way shots for me as I need the added width there. I’ve been toying with it on arch shoots where 16mm on full frame isn’t quite wide enough as well. The other aps-c wide lens I’m using is the rokinon 8mm fisheye. You’ll notice shots of the 12mm fisheye in the gallery below as well. I tried both and while the 12mm is slightly nicer optically (perfect sun stars) it’s just so much bigger and bulkier that it won’t get brought along as much and you can’t use a lens you don’t have! The 8mm is tiny and lives tucked away in a corner of my bag.

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Wrap Up…

Sony has a long way to go in terms of dialing in this camera to the extent that I have zero issues with it. BUT! The vast majority of these items are very minor details (which way dials turn etc). The camera is a great tool and the more I use it the more I learn and adapt to how it’s different and the less these issues matter. That’s not to say I don’t want them fixed (and please, via firmware so I don’t need to buy my sixth a7 body in a two year span!). It’s that I can work with what I have. The sensor and the AF are fantastic and will keep me in this system for the long haul. Sony is catching up with lenses (70-300 next please?!) and each new firmware update brings new features. It’s an exciting time to be photographer!

This camera finally delivers better image quality than what I had with my DSLR (5Diii) in terms of dynamic range, clean ISOs AND more resolution. It also gives me auto focus I can trust in pretty much any situation. I have more issues manually focusing thanks to the focus by wire design and the uninformative display. All in all I’m the happiest I’ve been with a camera since the 5Diii (my only complaint there was size/weight).

You can buy a Sony A7RII at Amazon or B&H Photo 

Sep 282015
 

USER REPORT: A7RII + Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE: A weekend in Connecticut

by Jesse Hsu

Hi Steve,

After falling in love with the A7s and using it extensively for the past year, I was curious about the A7RII’s low-light capabilities as well as its stabilization to see if it was worth the purchase. ​ Borrowed the A7RII for a weekend trip to Connecticut to assess its performance. I only used the Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE lens.

This shot was taken in the backseat of a car going 75mph on the highway. I wanted to test out the 5-axis stabilization and took a quick snap of the biker in the lane next to us. Not the sharpest obviously, but not bad for a handheld shot.

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Went out to the backyard and snapped this photo. After opening it up in Photoshop later, I was blown away by the clarity and level of detail. Leaves and tree trunks were sharp and I was able to recover some shadow with ease. Note: No additional sharpening in post.

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Went grocery shopping at a local farm for dinner and snapped a sheep who was patiently posing for me. Again, impressed by the clarity of the blades of grass as well as the wool of the sheep when zoomed in.

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As night fell, my friends were getting the grill hot and ready on the porch outside. A great opportunity to test the low light capabilities. There was one light source, an overhead lamp but the sensor performed with no issues as it captured the flames in action and preserved the details of the charcoal piled high in the chimney starter.

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I took the next shot as the branzino began to crisp. Notice the criss-cross pattern of the fish scales as well as the powdery soot all over the grill.

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Cornish game hens slathered in miso and gochujang were next on the grill.

6 - hens

The next morning we heard some chirping and found some baby birds camped out in the backyard gazebo. The wonderful minimum focusing distance of the 35mm 1.4 allowed me to get pretty close to the subjects and shoot wide open at 1.4 for a heaping of creamy bokeh.

7 - birds

Few friends came by for a dip and the fast boot up time of the camera allowed me to quickly freeze a moment in time. Note the cascading water droplets as clear as day.

8 - swim

Water-skiing in the late afternoon meant another great opportunity to test stabilization. All of the shots were taken on a boat going pretty fast and I was happy that there wasn’t much blur. No tripod used, all handheld. I shot some 4k video but haven’t had a chance to check out the footage in Adobe Premiere.

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Conclusion: After putting the A7RII through its paces, I was happy with the results. It preserved amazing detail in low-light scenes and situations where there was considerable movement. I will be ordering the A7RII soon!

More photos (mix of A7, A7s, A7rII) here: www.instagram.com/scrumphsus

Aug 262015
 

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A Manual Approach to Wedding Photography

by Joao Medeiros

I’m not comfortable writing. Images, particularly photography are what drives me. Since very young Art was part of my life, I went from painting and waiting to be an architect to abandon everything for a life in the theatre, just to pursue a career in Jazz playing trumpet.

But at my twenties, I was struggling to make it and everyone was making sure I knew I had to earn money to be a successful individual. Money was never my interest, I’m passionate about Art, any form of it. But Photography had a degree of intimacy and control that I had never experienced.

I went to college to take a photography bachelor and complemented it with a bachelor in Fine Arts and a master’s degree in Visual Arts teaching, things went on for a while, drifting in teaching, corporate/event photography, restoration related jobs before I finally found the one area where I had complete creative freedom. A freedom that allows me to choose the gear that gives me pleasure while creating and expressing myself through Photography and eventually sharing my Vision.

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Weddings are something that has been with society since we had the need to express our love for our life companion. Happiness is something that needs to be shared and celebrated with our loved ones. And that’s what I like about them, it’s all about family and friends making the most of Life. When I was in college, I did the whole course with only an Olympus OM 1 and a 50mm, since then manual focus is second nature to me, even when I had top DSLR’s AF never grew on me. But when I used the first serious EVF (Panasonic GH2) I knew what I wanted and what I wanted to see while composing. Eventually, when I step up to weddings I needed the best dynamic range and colour I could get my hands on it, so I bought a Sony A99 and a Nikon D800e to figure out my needs. After a year the Sony won me, not because it was superior to the D800e, it was Sony’s approach to photography that made it. The fully articulated LCD, I. S and Minolta’s heritage all over the place made the A99 a superior tool in my hands.

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When the mirrorless Sony A7 appeared on the scene I had no doubts and bought one immediately with a set of Zeiss ZM and Voigtlander lenses with the VM close adapter. Since then, shooting has been a real pleasure. Nothing beats feeling your shots, even when we are capturing fleeting moments like kisses, exchanging vows/wedding rings or sharing a secret while on the dance floor at 4 am. Having a small, robust camera with the best glass in the industry makes me feel very confident and secure that when I get home, I have all I need to put together a body of work that reflect my vision. That’s the main lesson I learned, you really need to follow your own unique vision of things.

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We are all different, but you really need to push beyond the limits to reach for that inner voice. Recently I added the amazing sigma Art 35mm f 1.4 to my set, the only complain is its sheer size when compared to my little Zeiss ZM 35mm f2. My workflow is pretty straightforward, I use B&W mode to concentrate on composition and focus while having red peaking and magnify to guarantee that every moment is in focus. For 75% of all my work, I use the 35mm focal length with my Sony A7 and take advantage of the articulated LCD from the A99 to get more discrete and intimate portraits with the 85mm, also from Sigma. Just a little detail, I removed the slt mirror from the A99 and use it in manual focus, so it’s basically a big mirrorless camera. I’m more of a guest than a professional photographer, at least that’s how I’m perceived by my clients, family and friends. A friend who happens to make a living from photography. I really try to enjoy the wonderful day, conscious that I’m very fortunate to be at a private party while making a living. I’m always the first to arrive and the last to leave, it’s after all a body of work and not just a staged kiss with the golden hour moment. It’s people that drive me, the concept of family and friendship not staged moments.

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I’m looking forward to get the new Sony A7RII since it brings some new features like a new and stronger shutter that it’s better damped, the I. S, min. auto shutter, copyright embed info, better high ISO performance and even the silent shutter option although with some caveats.

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Thank you.

Regards

João de Medeiros

http://joaomedeirospamelaleite.tumblr.com/
https://instagram.com/joaomedeiros.pamelaleite/
https://www.facebook.com/MFotografia.JoaoMedeiros.PamelaLeite
http://www.joaomedeirospamelaleite.com/

Jul 162015
 

READER QUICK SHOT: Sony A7 and Vintage Leica 35 Summilux

By Martin Bray

From Steve: This “Quick Shot” will be a new series much like the daily inspiration but with ONE SHOT only. If you have ONE SHOT that you love, send it to me with a description of the shot, what you used to take the image and why you like it. I may post it as a “Quick Shot”! Send to me at [email protected].

I love the shot below as I am a huge fan of Environmental Portraits. Seeing this man in his workspace tells the story of his daily life and routine. I think it is a fantastic image, and captured with one of the coolest lenses ever, the old vintage 1960’s Leica 35 Summilux!

Dear Steve,

I drop into your site every few days to find out what people are up to, especially with the Daily Inspiration, many of which prod me to get out and about with a camera. This week I was doing some local town shots for a friend who has a gift shop and wants to start a small gallery. I was taking a picture of an interesting door when the owner appeared and invited us in to what turned out to be his goldsmith studio. I took this image on a Sony A7 with a 1960s Leitz Summilux 35mm f1.4 (ISO 2000, 1/60 sec, f4 – natural light only) – I just like the look of the man in his studio with all the organised clutter that you get in these places.

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Thanks for looking!

Martin Bray

Jun 192015
 

Love my Sony A7II…it inspires me!

by Jens Niedzielski

Hello Steve!

I’ve been reading your website / blog quite a bit lately, as I have become an avid user – and fan – of the Sony A7 (Mark II). After following your experiences with the A7 and A7s, and trying the A7s myself during a shoot in the Maldives in March, I decided to get the A7ii, and I am using it extensively ever since (darn, they just announced the A7R Mark II…).

I’d say the Sony really makes me want to take photos so much more than any other camera before – one reason being the fact that I can throw an endless array of vintage MF lenses on it. Lately I shoot almost exclusively manually, even fast-moving objects (kids (haha), horses etc). And I got hold of really nice vintage glass, from Canon FD lenses, to old Nikkor lenses, Rokkor, Takumar, Zeiss Jena, Jupiter, Industar, MIR, to name a few.

Anyway – thanks for pointing me in the right direction :) Attached please find 3 recent photos taken, and I hope they are somewhat inspiring… All taken with the A7II.

1. GO.RIDE – I am currently residing in Thailand, and some of my friends are some of the very few people in the country who are into horse trail riding. Outdoor, no strings attached. Most people who ride are staying in the safe and sound environment of horse riding clubs and rings – but these guys and girls are going out rinding in forests, farmland and so forth. The real deal, so to say. They often abuse me to take their pictures LOL, but I also feels it’s quite a privilege as this is a really rewarding subject to photograph.

The photo was taken with the A7II x Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens (Silver). That day I decided to challenge myself by shooting horse riding with a portrait lens, while keeping it under control otherwise thanks to AF (as the other day I shot arena / ring horse riding with an MF portrait lens, which despite the fact that they were waaaaay slower in there still was really difficult). The setting should be ISO100, f/2.8 which I chose as a sweet spot of shallow depth of field combined with ‘getting something in focus’.

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2. LAST LIGHT – this is an ‘after sunset’ / blue hour shot across Bangkok’s high rises. This is one of the very few unobstructed views into sunset direction in Bangkok, and literally was shot during the last seconds of having noticeable light that day; it went dark after that even for the A7II (I guess the A7s would have had a fun time after that).

For this one, I had paired the A7II with a Tokina 17mm f/3.5 RMC. Taken at 50 ISO, f16, about 30sec exposure I believe.

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3. THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION – this shot was taken inside Bangkok’s iconic Hua Lamphong train station. That day I went inside late at night to avoid people ruining my photos :) It turned out that the station is very heavily and brightly lit inside making it difficult to show the vintage look and feel of the station due to cold, bright and clinical light.

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Apart from taking some great shots in b/w and of the old trains that night, I decided to try some creative shot around the empty tracks that would give me the feeling of an empty old train station, or a station late at night, without resorting to more common techniques like b/w.

This was once again shot with the A7II x Tokina 17mm f/3.5 RMC.

P.S. I am aware / really quite a bit into post-production of images, but I am not using ‘filters’. All post processing is done only in LR and PS. Whenever I shoot, photos or VDOs, apart from trying to capture a really nice shot, fun for me starts when working the RAW files or VDO clips in post to see into what direction I can tweak them. Any photo, given the circumstance, inspires me to give them a certain treatment based on my perceived mood and tone of the moment. It may not be everyone’s taste, but it’s mine :)

Thanks a lot and best wishes,

Jens

INFO:

J (Jens Niedzielski)

Bangkok, Thailand

http://www.krop.com/jphotography

May 072015
 

Project Compact Photography

By Roy Teo

Hi Steve and Brandon,I have been following your site for years but back then you were mostly reviewing Leicas which at that time was out of my reach. I’m not a professional photographer but just someone who loves taking photos as a hobby. I was a DSLR user for many years and most recently with the Canon 5Dmk3. It was when you started to review more mirrorless cameras that I got interested to explore that avenue and i got myself a used Nex6 to try it out. I was soon hooked on the small size and not long after, i made a complete switch and sold off all my Canon gear and got the Sony A7r and the A6000 about 2 years ago and have never looked back since.

Going mirrorless, I enjoyed the small size and light weight and was amazed at the technological advancement on these mirrorless cameras. There are plenty of amazing examples of the images these new generation of cameras and what they can achieve and I wanted to challenge myself to do something different. I wanted to see how far i can push the files from a mirrorless camera but not just any mirrorless camera like the A7r or any A7 series. I wanted to go even smaller, to push my own limits on how much I can edit the files in post production. Because all my photos go through some kind of post production, having a good enough RAW file capability is essential having used the A7r.

I gave myself 2 criteria, one was to go even smaller than the A7r and the other was the ability to use off camera lights. After researching, I decided on the Sony RX100mk2. there was the cheaper mk1 that you highly recommended and the newer mk3. However, neither had the hotshoe where I could use triggers and flashes on, so I had only the mk2 to go for.

I started this little ongoing project for a few months now. To do shoots only with this camera, leaving my A7r at home. Everything i shot, i had to do with this camera only.  To my surprise, although it only had a 1inch sensor, the files were incredibly easy to edit and the dynamic range from this camera was decent enough to push. An added bonus which i only found out after using it was that it uses a leaf shutter which means, i could gp up to its max 1/2000 shutter speed for flash photography. The A7r was limited to 1/160 and this was a bonus for me.

Here are some examples of the images from this camera and a simple one light setup using the Godox AD360 light.  And because of its small size, there wasn’t any filter adapter I could use but being small and light, i could easily hand hold any filter i wanted in front of it and shoot with one hand.  All these photos were taken with fast shutter speeds in daylight to darken the background.

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My ongoing album dedicated to this project can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.723826737734682.1073741889.266838383433522&type=1

And my other works can be found here:
www.royteophotography.com

Thanks
Roy Teo

Mar 062015
 

The Contax 85 1.2 60 Year Anniversary Lens

by Mark Wu

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Hello, my name is Mark Wu.

I have been following Steve’s wonderful site for about a year and was always thinking about writing something to contribute. After getting the Contax 85/1.2 60 years anniversary, I think the time has come for me to write something about it.

I got this lens through auction by chance. Since this lens has the fame for both superb image quality and the high price, I have not thought about to get it at such a reasonable price.
When this lens comes to me, after unpacking I was first astonished. What a huge piece of glass! It is a 77mm f1.2 lens, the glass is just gorgeous! On the body it says “Contax 60 years”, and actually it is a limited lens which has an older version of “Contax 50 years”. The lens itself is in great condition and I’m satisfied about it.

Now here comes the real user report. I used an adapter to put it on my Sony a7 body, the balance is not so good as the a7 is just so light. Any way, I take this combination to the CP+2015 and got some shots. You can see the pictures below. The results are just amazing.

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Sharpness:

What can I say? Already quite sharp at f1.2, even at the corner compared to lens like Noctilux 1.0 which is a twice expensive lens. At the center, every thing within the focus area is clear and with appropriate contrast, out of the focus area, the BOKEH is so smooth that makes is a perfect lens for portrait. From f2 and upper, I can hardly see very much improvement in sharpness.

CA or purple fringe:

Just like other fast lens and tele-lens, this one also suffers from obvious CA at f1.2. It disappears after going down to f2.8 totally. Though, it can be adjusted in Lightroom or Photoshop or anything else, it is just so obvious that even these softwares can not fix it completely. I use a little trick in those pictures, I lower the saturation of purple in particular area, it may appear to be a little weird, but I dislike the “purple” more.

BOKEH:

BOKEH is smooth and beautiful but it may appear to be a little uncomfortable due to particular objects. And just like other wide aperture lens, the aberration makes the BOKEH looks like ellipse at the corner though I find myself quite fond of this kind of imperfectness.

Vignetting:

Of course it is obvious, but I don’t care.

Mechanic:

Nothing to complain about. German-made top grade quality same as Leica.

I have heard of the tale of this lens, that Zeiss got angry because people keep complaining about their Contax 85/1.4 being soft. So may be this lens is a kind of show off. But look at the Leica 50 summicron APO ASPH, does it not? Well I see them as a challenge towards the greatest optical quality of man-made lenses.

Jan 302015
 

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The Sony-Zeiss 16-35 F/4 OSS Lens Quick Review

By Steve Huff

A few weeks ago Sony sent me the 16-35 F/4 Zeiss OSS lens to review and seeing that I rarely shoot wider than 35mm, I knew it would be a while before I could really evaluate the lens. I do not get a review item and go on the street, take 10-20 snaps and come in and write a review. I prefer to USE the gear I review for a few weeks as this way it feels like I own it. This is why when I started this site seven years ago I called my reviews “Real World reviews” as they are written by a real guy who really loves and is passionate about photography AND I despise technical tests with charts and nonsense. Testing with charts personally tells me nothing about a camera or lens, but the results and photos do, and for me, THAT is what matters.

So by really using the gear over an extended time, I can see what my feelings are on longer term use which is always good because if the lens or camera ended up sitting on my shelf most of the time instead of being used, then it would not be so good :)

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With the Sony 16-35 that did not happen. I used it any time I could and evaluated it on the A7s and A7II. For me, Lens reviews are pretty easy to write as I will just be sitting here to tell you about my experiences with the lens and how I feel it compares to other wide-angle lenses I have shot with. I will share most of the images I snapped while using it as well so you get an idea of the IQ from the lens. You will not see resolution tests as this does not matter. As I said above, the photos and results matter and tell me MUCH more than any resolution chart ever will.

To make a long story short, the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 is a hell of a lens for your A7 system. If you shoot wide-angle and LOVE the 16mm-35mm focal lengths…this is about as good as it gets for the A7 series, or any system for that matter.

These three were all shot on the A7s – A&s review is HERE

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Long ago I shot with a D700 and 14-24 Nikon lens. Even back then, not being a really wide-angle guy I was unsure about the lens purchase but with the raves coming in for it back then I knew it was a masterpiece..and it was. While it was large with a huge bulbous front piece the image quality was stunning and that combo of D700 and 14-24 had some magic going on with it. That lens brings back very fond memories of a unique time in life. As I go over the old photos I see my son, much younger..I see where I lived, as well as the fun me and him had with that wide-angle lens,  and I start to remember that just maybe…I AM a wide-angle guy! (just a little).

I always tell myself that I am a 35 and 50mm shooter as that is what I love to shoot with most of the time but there is a beauty to be seen with certain wide-angle lenses and the word at 16mm or even 21mm can be pretty cool. I still feel I am not skilled enough to pull off masterful shots with an ultra wide but with time, patience and passion I think I can get there. The Sony 16-35 may be the lens to push me in that direction as it is a stellar lens for image quality, flare control and distortion control.

While very large (and this I do not like) for a mirrorless system, I can not fault the lens quality or feel. It’s sharp, provides color that is bold and behaves like an ultra wide should. I have used the manual Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 on many occasions over the past 4-5 years but on most of the Sony full frame bodies (A7, A7r, A7II) it suffers from color issues and massive vignetting. On the A7s, it works much better as do most wide-angle M mount lenses. But with the Soy 16-35 there are no problems..though the lens is about 10X larger than the tiny 15mm Voigtlander ;)

There are shots with this lens in my A7II review as well..

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Impressive. The shots below were shot directly into the sun and NO FLARE. This lens has outstanding flare control. 

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The Info:

Here is the lowdown on the lens from Sony:

“With a dust and moisture resistant design, the compact and lightweight Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens covers your wide-angle zoom needs and is designed for full-frame FE-mount cameras but can also be used on APS-C E-mount cameras as well. A constant f/4 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range. Benefiting working in dim light is Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which serves to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps.

The optical construction incorporates five aspherical elements, including a large diameter AA (advanced aspherical) element, and three ED (extra-low dispersion) elements to help reduce chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range as well as contribute to a compact overall form-factor. A Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating has been applied to the lens elements to minimize lens flare and ghosting while providing enhanced contrast, clarity, and color fidelity.”

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The lens is well made, and when I look over the images captured with it I see rich color, medium to high contrast and share details. There are no weird issues with the lens and the AF is fast and accurate as can be on the A7s and A7II. For video, this lens is also quite fabulous and with the A7II, the 5 AXIS really makes your video appear smooth as butter.

Usually my lens reviews are short, sweet and to the point and with the Sony 16-35 I really found nothing I disliked about the lens besides the larger size, so this review will be low on words and heavy on the images captured with the lens. The IQ, for me, beat the Leica Wide Angle Tri Elmar (When used on the A7s and A7II) which is a VERY expensive lens at 3X the cost. The Zeiss lens is larger but not so heavy and if I were a wide-angle guy this would be the wide-angle lens of choice for my A7 system, hands down. For Sony owners who love and adore ultra wide to wide, this could be your perfect lens in one simple zoom.

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How about the slow f/4 Aperture? Does this pose a problem in real world use?

In a word, NO, not at all. With the excellent higher ISO performance of these Sony cameras the f/4 aperture never ever was a hindrance. In fact, for wide-angle zooms I do not feel f/2.8 is needed at all (when you have camera tech as it is today). Look at the Leica Wide Angle Tri Elmar..VERY expensive but it is an f/4 lens as well yet considered one of the best wide-angle lenses you can get (when used on a Leica M). It has a huge cult like following and even on a Leica, the f/4 aperture was never an issue due to the fact that with ultra wides, fast apertures are not needed.

Also, at f/4, this lens is sharp and has the quality one would expect for a stopped down lens. So shooting wide open is not a problem AT ALL with the 16-35. This means that there are basically no limitations on what aperture you can shoot with the lens. It will reward you with the same consistent quality throughout the range.

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The lens also has optical steady shot inside which Sony says will give you a 4 stop advantage, and is another reason it is on the large side. When using it on the A7II you can choose if you want to use the 5 Axis in the camera or the OSS in the lens. I choose the 5 Axis in the body when I use it on the A7II.

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My Conclusion on this mega short review?

With lenses there is not much I can say or ramble on about if the lens performs exceptionally well, and this lens performs about as good as I expected, if not better. For the A7 system it will provide problem free wide-angle shooting and while it will not have the character of something like a mega exotic Leica 21 Summilux, it will give you sharp, consistent, bold color and a clean image. Seriously guys, one of the best wide-angle zooms I have ever tried or used, up there with the Nikon 14-24! At $1,398 the lens is NOT cheap but when we look at other full frame lenses like this for other systems, this one comes in well below the others. This is mainly due to the slower f/4 aperture but as I said, f/2.8 is not really needed for a lens like this, especially on the A7 system.

If I had to give a score, I would give the Sony-Zeiss 16-35 f/4 a 95% –  HIGHLY Recommended. Just a few points taken off only for the large size (I feel they could have made it smaller, which would have made it PERFECT) but optically it is wonderful. 

Where to Buy?

You can buy the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 F/4 Lens at B&H Photo or Amazon Below:

B&H Photo 16-35 Page

Amazon 16-35 Page

More images below. All EXIF is embedded and images are a mix from the A7II and A7s. Click any image for a larger size. 

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