Sony A7r, Fuji X-E2, Panasonic GH3 - Issues, Irrelevancies and the advantages of diversity.

Lots of activity on the Sony 'FF' front these days. The generally favourable reception is now being tempered with the 'achilles heel' that was certain to crop up. As I suspected it revolves around the vignetting / corner shading issue that was almost bound to be there. In the meantime I've been editing my huge stock of 2013 images and at the top of this page are three from that process. One from my A7r, one from my X-E2 and one from my GH3. At this size it's impossible to tell which is which, and that apples for the majority of the uses my pictures are bought for and put to as well. I'm not going to say which is which. Because firstly it doesn't matter and secondly if you are that bothered the exif data is probably still in the images. 

I've written a couple of recent posts talking about how the A7r produces these wonderful files but how the other two cameras both have something to offer me. An example of this is that on my X-E2 I can use my AF 55-200mm and on my GH3 I can use my AF 14-140mm. Neither option is available to me with the A7r. There is something equivalent to the 55-200mm arriving for the Sony but it's big, heavy and expensive. There is unlikely to be a 'superzoom' for the A7r, at least for a while and if one does arrive it's liable to need a crane to lift it, thus nullifying any size / weight advantage that the Sony might have. And that's the problem of releasing a new system with a very limited lens range.

On the A7r corner shading / fall-off / vignetting issue, I should point out that my Nikon 28mm f/1.8 fitted to my A7r is not immune to it, and it is something that happens with a lot of lenses. These days it often gets corrected in camera, but for some reason Sony seem not to have chosen that option, at least with the 35mm lens. Below are some test shots with the 28mm on the A7r. Starting with wide open and then progressing one stop at a time. I can't give you exact apertures because these were taken using my Metabones adapter.

So as you can see there are some issues wide open which improve as the lens is stopped down. For 'real world' examples, as below, this is barely noticeable.

Even at narrower aperture as was used here, if you are picky, there is actually some light fall of in the corners. But in a way we get so used to seeing it and ignoring it that it probably looks 'normal'. I got used to it with film and with digital and in a way it's not necessarily a bad thing since it draws attention to what's in the centre of the image. Plus if we are looking to get advantages from the 35mm / 'Full-frame' sensor then we probably have to get used to the disadvantages of it as well. Particularly if we want that sized sensor in a small light mirrorless body. As the old cliché states 'There's no such thing as a free lunch'

In the light of all this, I'm still happy to continue using all three of my systems and as I've always stated 35mm / 'Full-frame' doesn't have all the answers. I can still remember the pleasure I got from using my Olympus E10 with it's very small sensor and the incredible depth-of-field I achieved and I see m4/3 as a better quality yet similar format with which to explore the advantages of that. And working with one of my Fuji's, the sheer joy I get from handling and taking photographs with a modern reworking of a classic design, plus of course the extraordinary options it gives me for shooting in low light, is worth a lot to me. And if I'm not able to get these pleasures from my photography, then there is little point in me doing it, since if starts to become a chore then my pictures will reflect that.

So lets give a cheer for diversity, for camera and lens combinations that give us different options and different results. As a stock photographer that is something I need to embrace anyway. The less I produce images that look similar, the more success I will have sales wise. So it's nice to have some different formats and colour balances and overall image 'looks'. That gives me a variation in style and content to offer clients and doesn't consign me to an endless recycling of similar looking images.  

Just returning to the A7r lens issues. I'm hopefully getting a Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5 tomorrow. The Nikon fit one. It's a lens I've used before with great success. I've seen a post on using it on an A7r and the opinion was that it's a bit soft and with some vignetting wide open but this improves stopping down. Since I've fixed worse than that in Photoshop and in fact still have some presets saved for when I used a Voigtlander 12mm on a NEX-7, that shouldn't be a problem. I wrote 'hopefully getting' since I found it on the Amazon site at £100 less than it's listed anywhere else. So I'm hoping it's not some mistake and it does actually exist. Anyway I'm looking forward to that as it gives me a wide-angle option for the A7r which is small and light and will also work very nicely on my X-E2 (X-E1 and X-PRO1) and GH3 as well, via my Speed Boosters. And much as like my Nikon 28mm and 85mm f/1.8G's, going out with the Voigtlander 20mm and Nikon Series E on my A7r would be a nice combination and also one that's smaller and lighter by some distance. It should arrive tomorrow, fingers crossed.

For my continuing SONY A7r OWNER ASSESSMENT - Click Here

All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.

For comment and discussion join the Soundimageplus Blog Readers Group at Google+