The Sony A7s – Handlheld Antelope Canyon

The Sony A7s – Handlheld Antelope Canyon

Using the Voigtlander 15 4.5 and Leica WATE

During my Southwest Road Trip one of our stops was Antelope Canyon. With 28+ of us inside we broke it down into four groups and went to different areas so we would not all be crowded together. Most had tripods (which are 100% recommended for shooting Antelope Canyon) and only a few were shooting handheld which meant they would need a camera capable of great high ISO performance. Me, with my Sony A7s and very slow aperture Voigtlander 15 f/4.5..I knew it would be a challenge even with this powerhouse as the Canyons are dim and dark. With an f/4.5 lens, could the Sony pull off some handheld shots at high ISO and keep the dramatic color and light needed for these kinds of shots?

Before I get to those, let me share an image I took with the A7s and Voigtlander 15 at Horseshoe Bend (our 2nd stop on this tour). This image has some PP and color boost to give it some drama but with the A7s and 15, no corner fix is needed. It does not have the same issues that the lens has on the A7 and A7s.

Click it for larger version to see it the correct way – the light was not ideal at all on this day but was still a great experience.

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As we traveled through the Canyons I was a little worried. I had others on this road trip who were shooting with some SERIOUS gear, costing as high as $65,000. Some were shooting with M9’s, some with M 240’s, some with Sony A7r’s, and some with Nikon D750’s and D800’s. Many had the Olympus E-M1 or E-M5 and I was the only guy with the A7s because the mindset here was MORE RESOLUTION is better. In this case, yes, that is true. Shooting landscape is always better with more resolution if you want a very large print. If you want a 20X30 print you will see more details up close with an A7r, D800 or Leica M9 even. But for just hanging a 20X30 in my office, from normal viewing distance, 99% of people would never see a difference between my A7s and a D800 file.

In any case, I had to crank the ISO to 3200, 6400 and in some cases 12,800. The good news is even at these high ISO’s the Sony did fantastic. Are they 100% noise free? No, of course not but they look pretty damn  good for these high ISO’s.  Just think, if I attempted this with digital cameras from 3-4 years ago it wold be impossible. Images would be grain city, washed out, harsh…but the Sony A7s, as I have been saying since its launch, is quite special. It is an ANY light camera capable of so much. To see more from this trip using the A7s click here.

I was using the Voigtlander 15 for many shots and they looked great. When I switched to the Leica WATE (borrowed) it got even better with color and contrast. NO edge issues with either lens on the A7s but the WATE is a much better lens (as it should be for 12X the price).

SO yes, I still adore my Sony A7s. 

Below are a few images, all handheld. Some with the Leica WATE, some with the Voigtlander 15. All without ANY NOISE REDUCTION. What you see is what you get. 

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Some of the images looked interesting in B&W and what we were looking for here were shadows, light, texture and detail. 

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24 Comments

  1. Great images, Steve. I’m torn about the A7s…want one really bad but holding off to see what Sony comes up with in late January or early February per the rumor mill.

    Take care…

    • Yea, with something around the corner it is always tough to decide on what to go for 😉 I love the A7s and will keep it no matter what comes out as it is unlikely that whatever comes will do as good in low light. If it does, it will be pretty damn amazing.

    • Thanks! I did not bring a tripod as I wanted to purposely test the A7s in this situation..not only without a tripod but with a lens that is known to be “not so good” on the Leica M and A7, A7r. The ultimate challenge “could I get decent images using the A7s with the Voigtlander 15 at Antelope Canyon”? Since this is what I do for a living, I had to test it. Using a tripod – any camera will do. But not many can do this without a tripod, so it was a torture test for the A7s and 15mm lens. I use a tripod maybe 1-2X per year. 😉

  2. Impressive and enjoyable shots. While I still plan to add a next generation A7r as a second body when available, I’ve really bonded with my A7s which I’ve shot daily since July in all kinds of urban circumstances indoor and outdoor. Your photographs makes me realize that the A7s can do landscapes much better than one might expect and, as always, the vision and skill of the photographer is the most important factor. Thanks for posting while you are so busy.

  3. Killer shots Steve! For those that haven’t been to Antelope Canyon before, the canyon is very tight in most places and very difficult to get a tripod setup and not much time to shoot with all the other visitors walking by. Having such a high ISO capability makes the A7S an excellent tool for those that don’t want to haul around a tripod with them. I had a tripod and had to shoot at 1 to 3 second exposures to keep my ISO below 640.

  4. looks great. I will be visiting these canyons in early may next year. Did you book the visit to this canyon with a company Steve and if so, which one and how was your experience? Could you recommend any of the photo tours offered at these canyons? Thanks in advance for any advice.

  5. I also shoot handheld there, but with sensor stablization of E-M5 I didn’t have go over ISO800… (and had bigger DOF as a bonus)

  6. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful…. and so it goes on with every shot! Thank you for sharing ,-)

    PS: Checking out the ww amazon. Though, taxes are bad when shipping stuff to Switzerland (when $60 up).

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