Sony A7s compared to Sony A7r at high ISO settings + Full size resolution jpgs. to download

Sony A7s compared to Sony A7r at high ISO settings + Full size resolution jpgs. to download
"Thinking about those two things, I decided to see how my A7r compared to my A7s if I downsized the 36MP files to match the 12MP of the A7s. I decided to see how the two cameras sensors performed at what might be described as 'normal' high ISO settings. i.e. 1600-12800. The A7s will of course go higher, but there are few occasions when I'd even contemplate that. But within the range I indicated, there are many situations when using that ISO setting would be useful. Below is what I got using the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens."
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SONY RX10 and a6000 IMAGE QUALITY COMPARED

SONY RX10 and a6000 IMAGE QUALITY COMPARED

I'm a great fan of the all-in-one superzoom 'bridge' cameras such as the Panasonic FZ1000 and the Sony RX10. I thought it would be interesting to see how the RX10 compared to my Sony a6000. To make it a tough test I used the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens on the a 6000. 

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More 'integrated smartphone / mirrorless workflow' - Sony A7r - Nokia 1020 - Using the Cloud - Photoshop Express.

This time my 'integrated smartphone / mirrorless workflow' involved my Nokia 1020 and Sony A7r + Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens. 



 Above Sony A7r - Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens


Above - Nokia 1020

Now there will be times when I'll just use my phones, when I want to travel light, when I want to be inconspicuous etc., but a lot of times, like yesterday I'll use them in conjunction with something else. 

The Nokia is particularly useful for my 'editorial' library files. i.e. images with people, trademarks, logos etc. and no releases.



I've been struggling to know what to do with these for some time. Some of my libraries do take them and sell them, but the process is a lot more complicated than for landscape and other images that can be sold royalty-free without a release. Plus the library I used to sell a lot of these kind of images with has nosedived in terms of sales. However I've found a library that takes my editorial images, accepts all of them and has them on sale almost instantly. The drawback is that it requires uploading from mobile devices only. I can't do that from my laptop. I have to use my iPad and the trick is to get the images to that. 

So I've been investigating the cloud and the options I have. As I have Macs, I thought simple, use iCloud. Except that iCloud is far from simple. I can save to my Photostream only from iPhoto or Aperture, both of which are extremely flawed programmes and not what I want to use. Typical Apple. Pretend everything is simple and wonderful, when it's not. Unless of course you use their software. I have to say for all their PR to the contrary, Apple are actually very photographer unfriendly. They may be just right for all those sparkling adverts for dentistry that they use in their publicity material, but in the real world they make things fiddly and unintuitive and organise things how they want, not how I want. I also have to say I'm getting pretty fed up with this 'nanny' attitude to how I want to work. Apple used to be the 'creative' platform, but now it's as proscriptive as Microsoft at it's worst.

However, both Google Drive and One Drive (the Microsoft Windows alternative) are very good. I create folders on my laptop, save pictures to a synced folder and there they are accessible on my iPad. Both also give me more storage space than iCloud. 15GB for Google and 10GB for Microstock. I don't keep files on there longer than I have to anyway, so that's fine for my purposes.




However back to the Nokia. I can save files directly to OneDrive from the phone. Only the 5MB versions, but since the library I'm uploading to is for phone pictures, that's no problem. Plus at that size I can get them online very quickly, allowing for the fact that BT don't seem inclined to install fibre optic broadband where I live anytime soon.

So things are changing dramatically. Not only am I shooting on Smartphones, I actually prefer a Windows system over my Macs. And I have to say the Windows 8 phone interface on the Nokia is actually very good. Very simple, very reliable and very intuitive. I guess they had to get it right sometime. Unfortunately, the library app. I use is Apple and Android only, so at the moment I have to use the iPad. I was considering getting an iPhone at some point, but firstly the Nokia is so good I can't see the point and secondly the iCloud nonsense has seriously put me off. There is no way I'm using iPhoto or Aperture to edit my images.

Incidentally, I have Photoshop Express on my iPad. You might think it's a 'mickey-mouse' point and shoot snapshot programme, but I really like it. It's got lots of presets but they are good presets and I can get my images as I want to on the iPad quickly and easily. It's tied up with an Adobe cloud storage system called Revel, but that's about as useless as iCloud. However, the (free) phone / tablet programme is very good for some final 'tweaking'. It even does raw files (see - http://connect.dpreview.com/post/5272472335/adobe-photoshop-express-update-brings-raw-editing) but having tried it, it's complicated, time consuming and to be honest, pretty pointless. Great for jpgs. though.

And the good things from above are what smartphones give us. Less freedom to "improve' (or mess up) than we might have with a conventional computer / software setup, but because of the nature of phones, which all this is predominantly designed for, things have to made visual and easy to use. I have to say I do like the simplicity of my phone and iPad interfaces. If it wasn't for the fact that I need the iPad apps, I'd get myself the Nokia tablet, but I'll have to persevere with the iPad for now.



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Sony A7r 36MP compared to Nokia 1020 38MP. Is this a foregone conclusion?



Well the Sony A7r plus Zeiss 55mm combination I used yesterday produces sharper, cleaner results with better dynamic range, but have a look at these samples below to see by just how much.







Now I can't speak for anybody else but I'm surprised and somewhat stunned by how close I can get the Smartphone files to what is the best sensor this side of medium-format and the lens that DxO called the best autofocus example they ever tested.

And of course there is this.

 Diagram showing relative sensor size.

Anyone else expect that? I certainly wasn't. And do these look like mobile phone pictures? Well not compared to anything I've ever seen in the past from any other phone camera.

The Nokia files are of course from raw and I have added some extra sharpening in Photoshop as the 1020 images come out a little soft. This has resulted in some 'grainy' luminance noise, but even so the files are capable of very high quality reproduction at very large sizes. Which I think shows just how far the Nokia 1020 is currently ahead of the competition. Because this doesn't just compare favourably with a lot of DSLR's and Mirrorless / CSC cameras, it in fact beats many of them for resolution and sharpness. In the above examples in fact, the rose petals actually look sharper on the Nokia because of the greater depth of field.

So no smeared, soft, noisy jpgs. here that anyone would be reluctant to pixel-peep at 100%. And of course this is early days in Smart camera smartphones. Samsung and Apple are already investing heavily in this field. 

I guess the impact of all this was that yesterday I went out with the Sony and my two phones. And I did use the A7r but found that it was slung over my shoulder most of the time as I was using the Nokia most of the time.

However my Sony's will get a workout tomorrow, since my Nephew and I are off to shoot an educational training video and we are using my Sony cameras and lenses to do that. Hopefully I'll be able to post some photos and footage from that and I should be able to post some stuff via instagram, facebook and twitter as I'm doing it. So be gone you mobile playthings, it's time to get serious again.




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Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 compared to Fuji 56mm f/1.2




Two extremely well regarded lenses. The Sony 55mm is of course a 35mm / 'full-frame' lens, but on the APS-C sensor of the Sony a6000 it is virtually identical to the Fuji in terms of focal length. As you can see I used the Fuji 56mm on my X-E2. I also shot these images hand-held and also set the shutter speed and aperture manually. 

First lets get this exposure difference out of the way. This is how the two cameras rendered the same OOC jpg. Default Standard setting on each.


And yes the Fuji file is darker. Though not as much as the results I was getting previously. The difference is for these shots, following a suggestion I got from a reader that I was considering myself, I turned off the Dynamic Range Optimising settings (there are two) Maybe it made the difference, maybe not. I would however point out that by adjusting the levels on the Fuji file to be the same as on the Sony, the Fuji file still had less luminance noise than the Sony. Which of course begs the question, does this really matter? To which the answer is, it matters if we think it matters. For myself, it's not something that unduly bothers me. If fact sometimes the slightly darker Fuji file is more what I want, sometimes it's not. And if users of other systems want to use it as a stick to beat us Fuji fanboys over the head with then so be it. Life's too short for me to worry about that. Incidentally the different angle for the two shots is because of the Fuji's left sided viewfinder. 

So here's a comparison shot at 100% from those jpgs.


For this I've left the different image sizes as they are because of the larger sensor size of the Sony. I've also left the exposure as it came out of the camera. Both files are OOC jpgs. It is important to emphasise that there are more MP's available for Sony a6000 users.

However for the following shot I upsized the Fuji file to the same dimensions as the Sony, plus processed from the raw files and adjusted the levels so that the exposure was similar.


Yes there are differences. The Sony is slightly sharper. But then with Fuji's lens 'corrections' which involves adding noise reduction to jpgs.in camera and raw files in Photoshop ACR which is where the raws were processed, I'd be surprised if it wasn't.

For the shot below however I've done a bit of 'tweaking' on the Fuji file - sharpening, colour correction and levels and as you can see they are pretty much identical.


So not bad for the Fuji considering the Sony 55mm f/1.8 is apparently the best AF lens DxO have ever tested. 

Incidentally I thought it would be interesting to see how the mighty DxO have rated these lenses.


Well we can't see that since DxO haven't tested the Fuji lens. If fact they don't seem to test Fuji at all. (Apart from the non X-trans sensor X100) I wonder why? Can they only test Bayer sensor gear? However, never fear you've got me instead!!

So both lenses are pretty (very) good at standard working apertures like f/2.8 and 5.6. Bearing in mind all the usual provisos about different sensors, in-camera corrections, processing etc. etc. 

However the Fuji has that whizz-bang, bokeh creating, depth of field of a gnats eyelash, we all want it because it turns us into 'real' photographers, f/1.2 aperture. 


So here's the bokeh. Both shots from raw, processed identically, Fuji file upsized.




Here's the sharpness. Both shots from raw, processed identically, Fuji file upsized.



Now this really is hair splitting time. These are ridiculously close. And considering that the Fuji file is upsized and has gone through the 'softening' process of Photoshop ACR, I think for me the Fuji is just about / marginally / only ever so slightly 'better.' This is however counterbalanced by the fact that because the Fuji needs more exposure to get the same result as the Sony, that 1 and 1/6 stop advantage in terms of light gathering may not in reality be as much as you think.

So all this comparison work to find out that the lenses are more similar in terms of performance than different. And that is my conclusion. If I had to choose one to keep I'd be struggling. Despite the exposure inconsistencies I'd probably still go for the Fuji in a low light situation and for my usual outdoor work the extra MP's on the Sony camera would be a bonus, plus I can of course use it on my A7 and A7r. But if you own, or are planning to own either I can't see that you would be disappointed, I'm certainly not. This is 2014 state of the art lens making and though the Sony is primarily a lens for the FE system, it's damn good for APS-C as well. 

The common dogma is that these are 'portrait' lenses on APS-C (Yawn!) but they are both much more useful than that. I like this focal length for landscape a lot and use it all the time. Plus you are actually not obliged to use these lenses wide open. You are allowed to use the other apertures. And that's where you will find that these lenses turn out their best performances. Two great lenses, impossible for me to choose between, good job I don't have too. 

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Sony a6000 and Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens - The best of Sony





While I continue to be critical of the 16-50mm kit lens for the a6000, mounting the Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens onto the camera is another matter entirely. This is Sony at it's best and keeps my interest in what they come up with ongoing. And this combination is one of the reasons why I bought the a6000 and also why I get so frustrated with Sony. Because, when they do deliver a great lens the results are simply superb. It's just that there aren't enough of them.













But credit where it's due. This is a great combination. Incidentally I think I've just invented the washing line AF test! For the last picture above I set a washing line with one peg on it moving fast from side to side to see what happened when I tried to get a shot of the peg. I tried three shots with the camera focusing and me pressing the shutter immediately. I got three out of three like the shot above. And if you don't think that's impressive try it yourself.

Since the 55mm f/1.8 isn't that different to the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 I thought I might compare them. So that will be coming up soon.

Obviously there should be more lenses like this for the Sony e-mount. Either to cover a 35mm sized sensor or APS-C like this one. Incidentally, I just got a whole lot more interested in the A7s after reading that it's going to have a silent electronic shutter. I guess it may sound strange that I'm considering this after these seemingly negative posts about Sony. But then those with long memories will remember I wrote a lot of posts about issues with the Fuji X system. 

There is no doubt that Sony are great innovators, they come up with some amazing sensors and there are many things about the a6000, the A7 and A7r that I really like. All have OLED viewfinders, the shutters are nicely responsive (though noisy) the adjustable screens are useful etc. But I keep plugging away at some of the things that it seems to me are easy to fix and could make the cameras much more useful and user-friendly. The ill-thought out programme modes and the use of AVCHD instead of .MP4 or .MOV files for the highest quality video options are two things that could be easily changed. All it needs is a commitment to making the cameras handling and user options as important as the tech. that's inside them. I just wonder whether Sony give these cameras out to photographers to beta test them and if they do what kind of photographers get to do this. Plus do they listen to what those testers tell them?

It is important I believe to keep writing about how we interact with our gear. Because if issues with handling get posted often enough then it will get back to the manufacturers. Of course whether they choose to do anything about it is up to them. So in the event that anyone from Sony is reading this, you make great cameras and a few great lenses, why not improve our interaction with your cameras by changing a few things that offer us the same options and ease of operation we get with other cameras. Is that really too much to ask?



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Sony a6000 compared to Sony A7



I was interested to see just how the a6000 with it's APS-C sensor compared to the 35mm / 'Full-Frame' sized sensor on the Sony A7. To eliminate the kit lens I used my Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 and Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 FE lenses on the cameras. 

I've uploaded all jpgs. and raw files to Google Drive HERE so you can look for yourselves. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4wOWiZPPA13Tlhfbm5FYVRIWm8/edit?usp=sharing

I've written before about how much I like the jpgs. from the A7 and A7r cameras. And that is true for the a6000 also. For me Sony have really gone to the top of the tree with their current jpg. rendering. I think it's excellent.


As you can see there is not much difference, if any at all, in real terms between the two cameras for ISO 100 jpgs.



At ISO 800 with the raw files I started to see some colour noise appearing, it being worse on the a6000. Both files identically processed in Photoshop ACR with the colour noise reduction turned off.

a6000 top  -  A7 bottom


To bypass all the background 'correcting' that goes on in Photoshop and Lightroom, I ran comparison files at ISO 3200 through Rawker, a dcraw programme. Even though the A7 isn't particularly good at high ISO's, you can see that the a6000 performance is worse. Not surprising really.

As I indicated, if you click the link above you can play around with raw files from each camera at ISO 100, 800 and 3200 to see what you can make of them.

All in all however the a6000 results are pretty good. What is also noticeable is the consistency between the a6000 and the A7 in terms of colour, jpg. rendering and the overall look of the files. This could be vital if getting consistent colour is important to you. It would certainly be very difficult to spot the difference between the two cameras at low ISO's, which is good to see. Whatever criticisms I might have of Sony, their sensors are pretty much state of the art these days for all round quality. It will be interesting to see just what the A7s sensor is capable of in low light at high ISO's. Added to what I have already it could make a compelling case for me working with Sony exclusively. I doubt I'll go that route, but then you never know.

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Northern Light

Sony A7r Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens

I am currently in touch with a photographer from Arizona, of which more at a later date. And she has some remarkable pictures of an environment almost alien to me. Alien because of the intense light and seemingly constant sunshine. There are times when I envy that, but there are times when I think that's all too easy and the rewards for patience and enduring the volatile weather of the UK are worth more than working in some kind of endless summer. 

The UK has a fine tradition of landscape and location photography and an image of an historic building lit by a dramatic shaft of light on an otherwise wet, cold, overcast day is one of the prizes of living in a country dominated by the caprices of the jet stream. And there is no doubt that being resident here makes me appreciate the quality of Northern Light and it's dramatic impact. Somewhat like living in a natural theatre with the action directed by the weather. If that sounds pretentious (and it probably is) then I make no apology for it. In the UK, if we work outdoors, we earn our images and that of course makes the ones we treasure very special. Maybe it's that deeply embedded protestant ethic that is suspicious of achievement that is too  easy. And whatever is indeed buried in my genes I know that I value something more if it's achieved by hard work and perseverance. 

And if you believe that, you'll believe anything!!


All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus.  Please Respect That  

Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. What is written here is at no time intended as a recommendation or otherwise of photographic gear or practice. This is a personal blog written 'in the moment' and is primarily intended as an entertainment. I would also point out that this is not a review site and not intended to be so and the Google+ groups where you can post comments are not forums. I am the sole moderator and I will remove any post (and poster) if I think fit. 
 
Plus the Soundimageplus blog is 100% independent. No-one sends me gear to review and I have no relationship with any manufacturer or retail outlet. I buy all the gear I use and write about. The advertisements that appear on this site are generated by Google and I have no control over the content, which differs from country to country. I do make a small income from them, which covers expenses and some small recompense for the time I take to write this, but no more than that. If you like what you read and would like to help me to continue to keep buying stuff to write about then clicking on a few adds will earn me a few fractions of a penny. It will cost you nothing and you don't have to buy anything to contribute a (very!) small amount to my coffers.  

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Sony A7r video with 35mm and 55mm Zeiss lenses - something special?


I am aware that I said my video testing was finished, but it did occur to me that I had missed trying one thing out. Most of my A7 / A7r video tests were done with the 28-70mm zoom mainly because of it's hand holding capabilities. One thing I hadn't tried however was the 55mm f/1.8 lens on my A7r. Plus since I now have the 35mm I thought I would check them out and also have a look at how using the APS-C crop worked. The video is below. Shot at 25fps. 1920 x1080.


So is this something special? Well compared to my GX7 m4/3 footage, not really. The video I shot below with all my small light Panasonic and Olympus lenses is sharper and  better defined. However I did think the APS-C crop on the A7r produced good results.



This does prove that video quality has to do with other things than sensor size and stills lens quality. The A7r footage looks nice yes, but compared to the Panasonic footage I've been shooting lately it looks like the Sony clips are shot through some kind of diffusing filter. Now whether this is applied noise reduction, I cannot say but there is definitely a softer look. 

I've been wondering if my workshop / photo tours venture takes off about buying either a Sony A7s or Panasonic GH4 and I think I've pretty much decided that the GH4 is the better option. Apart from the fact that it would cost a lot of extra money to actually be able to record 4K on the Sony with the extra kit required, I like the Panasonic output a lot more, should I want to shoot 4K.

It is yet another reason why I constantly criticise the Sony FE system for not being as 'professional' as the supposedly inferior smaller sensor m4/3 equivalent. And yes 'proper' videographers and film makers will probably have all sorts of options available to sharpen the footage and may well find advantages in what Sony have to offer, particularly with the low light capabilities of the A7s, but the whole Panasonic video package seems to me to be much easier to use, have better initial quality straight out of the camera and a much more flexible and useful way to shoot a combination of high quality stills and video. While the A7r plus these Zeiss lenses turns out incredible still images, it does strike me that both the Sony FE cameras are somewhat lagging behind Panasonic in terms of video.

There's even a comparison between the GH4 and Canon 5D Mk III here at 43rumors that indicates for video the GH4 is no slouch at high ISO's either. 

Now this was worth doing and it's further confirmation that I'm making the right decision in terms of my 'hybridographer' aspirations. I'm still mightily impressed by the A7r + these Zeiss primes for stills but that I think is what I will keep them for. Aside from the fact that my GX7 outfit is so light, small and easy to use, the fact that I can get better looking footage as well makes it a no-brainer for me. So in answer to the question in the title of this post - Sony A7r video with 35mm and 55mm Zeiss lenses - something special? Well for me, no it's not.

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All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus.  Please Respect That  

Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. What is written here is at no time intended as a recommendation or otherwise of photographic gear or practice. This is a personal blog written 'in the moment' and is primarily intended as an entertainment. I would also point out that this is not a review site and not intended to be so and the Google+ groups where you can post comments are not forums. I am the sole moderator and I will remove any post (and poster) if I think fit. 
 
Plus the Soundimageplus blog is 100% independent. No-one sends me gear to review and I have no relationship with any manufacturer or retail outlet. I buy all the gear I use and write about. The advertisements that appear on this site are generated by Google and I have no control over the content, which differs from country to country. I do make a small income from them, which covers expenses and some small recompense for the time I take to write this, but no more than that. If you like what you read and would like to help me to continue to keep buying stuff to write about then clicking on a few adds will earn me a few fractions of a penny. It will cost you nothing and you don't have to buy anything to contribute a (very!) small amount to my coffers.  

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Sony FE 35mm f2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens - DxO tests

http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-28-70mm-F35-56-OSS-versus-Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-STAR-35mm-F28-versus-Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Vario-Tessar-T-STAR-24-70mm-F4-ZA-OSS___1244_0_1251_0_1253_0
http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-STAR-35mm-F28-versus-Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-STAR-55mm-F18-versus-Olympus-MZUIKO-DIGITAL-17mm-F18-on-Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-GX7___1251_0_1252_0_1112_901

I will at some point do some of my own tests (maybe) but since DxO have just finished testing the FE 28-70mm I thought I'd show theirs. (Click on the screen shots for the DxO site) And as I write often, unconvinced as I am by DxO's sensor tests, I do think their lens tests are useful.

As I suspected not much difference between the 35mm and 55mm in terms of sharpness and in the real world with images on the screen I doubt I will see much difference.

Interesting results with the zooms, as has already been pointed out elsewhere. DxO find the 28-70mm to be slightly sharper than the Zeiss 24-70mm. Zeiss are obviously much better at primes than zooms, which I guess doesn't really make the upcoming FE 16-35mm anything to get hot and bothered about.

As would be expected the Sony FE 35mm f2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens is better across the board apart from CA than the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. The sharpness difference is somewhat extreme, though again I'm not sure I'd see this on my screen.

So what does this prove? Well it proves some lenses are better at lens tests than others. Does it matter? That's for us as individuals to decide. I happen to like the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 and of course there are sharpening algorithms to apply from a variety of sources. 

Bottom line is that the Sony FE 35mm f2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens is obviously a fine lens as is the Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens, particularly when used on the non-AA filtered A7r. And the fact that this is pretty much the best that non medium-format digital photography can offer currently gives the FE system it's most attractive and compelling reasons to buy into it and use it. 

I'm no great fan of the A7 and A7r handling and many aspects of their design and performance, but fitted with these top class primes the resulting files are hard to resist. I have to admit I don't mind the handling of the A7r / 35mm combination as much as some of the heavier a-mount / adapter combinations I've used and I've certainly used both the A7 and A7r an awful lot since I've bought them. And the accumulation of 1000's of incredibly detailed and sharp high-resolution images is undoubtedly an incentive for me to keep using my FE cameras despite the reservations I have. To be honest, if I wasn't doing this for a living then I wouldn't own either the A7 or A7r, but since I do I will certainly make the best of it and continue to use them, take pictures with them and earn money from them. The final reason being a pretty motivating inducement to continue with them.

 
All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus.  Please Respect That  

Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. What is written here is at no time intended as a recommendation or otherwise of photographic gear or practice. This is a personal blog written 'in the moment' and is primarily intended as an entertainment. I would also point out that this is not a review site and not intended to be so and the Google+ groups where you can post comments are not forums. I am the sole moderator and I will remove any post (and poster) if I think fit. 
 
Plus the Soundimageplus blog is 100% independent. No-one sends me gear to review and I have no relationship with any manufacturer or retail outlet. I buy all the gear I use and write about. The advertisements that appear on this site are generated by Google and I have no control over the content, which differs from country to country. I do make a small income from them, which covers expenses and some small recompense for the time I take to write this, but no more than that. If you like what you read and would like to help me to continue to keep buying stuff to write about then clicking on a few adds will earn me a few fractions of a penny. It will cost you nothing and you don't have to buy anything to contribute a (very!) small amount to my coffers.  

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.





What kind of camera is the Sony A7r?










Now I've realised that the Sony A7 / A7r (and by implication the A7s) aren't actually either pro. cameras or system cameras (because there isn't any system to speak of) then the easier it will be for me to find a use for them. Like many others I suspect, I bought into the system thinking that the large high quality sensors indicated something more than is actually the case. i.e. 35mm film sized sensors in NEX bodies restyled to look like DSLR's. 

Because it is yet another Sony system for which they now have to come up with another set of lenses (or not!!). They have a-mount for 35mm film sized sensors, a-mount for APS-C sized sensors, e-mount for APS-C sensors and now a few e-mount for 35mm film sized sensors. So in reality the FE system could be thought of as an 'a-mount sensor' in an e-mount body. And my way of dealing with that is to accept it as it is, realise that an entire lens system won't be forthcoming for months, years or maybe never and deal with that accordingly. 

Using the A7r yesterday with a 55mm f/1.8 lens (superb) and an 85mm f/2.8 + LA-EA4 adapter (very decent) yielded very good images indeed. Light(ish) and small(ish) it may have been, it was a combination that wasn't ideal however and the 35mm f/2.8 may well provide a more useful pairing. Sony are Sony I guess, and I saw a statistic that said since they have ventured into serious camera production they have come up with 40 cameras and 56 lenses, which probably says it all. So I will sell some stuff and buy the 35mm and take it from there. It's not ideal, it's not what I thought I was buying into but at the end of the day the images are superb and that's the important bit.

So that's all good then.

Plus Birmingham City grabbed a late (93 minutes) equaliser that spared them the ignominy of descending into League 1, which is somewhat unlike them but has put me in a very good mood, so I'm prepared to be a bit more flexible / tolerant / adaptable. (Delete as appropriate)

For my continuing SONY A7r OWNER ASSESSMENT - Click Here

All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus.  Please Respect That  

Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. What is written here is at no time intended as a recommendation or otherwise of photographic gear or practice. This is a personal blog written 'in the moment' and is primarily intended as an entertainment. I would also point out that this is not a review site and not intended to be so and the Google+ groups where you can post comments are not forums. I am the sole moderator and I will remove any post (and poster) if I think fit. 
 
Plus the Soundimageplus blog is 100% independent. No-one sends me gear to review and I have no relationship with any manufacturer or retail outlet. I buy all the gear I use and write about. The advertisements that appear on this site are generated by Google and I have no control over the content, which differs from country to country. I do make a small income from them, which covers expenses and some small recompense for the time I take to write this, but no more than that. If you like what you read and would like to help me to continue to keep buying stuff to write about then clicking on a few adds will earn me a few fractions of a penny. It will cost you nothing and you don't have to buy anything to contribute a (very!) small amount to my coffers.  

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.



Forget the rest - Simply the best. Sony A7r - Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 - Raw samples


Cameras come and cameras go. That marvel we thought state of the art a few years ago becomes subject to derisory offers at car boot sales. Like flocks of birds we flit from newly announced shiny object of desire to the next 'must have' item. Some of us devote far too many column inches to them and they are unjustly praised or unfairly criticised and then the circus breaks camp and it's on to the next. 

Digital photography is tricky in that it's relatively difficult to ensure some kind of future proofing, but if I have got something that I could predict I could still be using in a few years time and not feel image quality or pixel challenged then it's the Sony A7r and 55mm f/1.8.

The best camera / lens combination I've ever owned.

It's not a fashion statement, it's not particularly fun to use and I'm not even sure I like it that much, but the pictures it takes......Wow. It's old hat now, at least 4 months old! I bought mine last November. God it's so last year! But the image files it produces continue to amaze me. They are huge. 36MP resulting in a 103MB file size. Resolution to spare, cropping no problem. Print as big as you like and be amazed again. Apart from a few medium-format cameras and the Nikon D800E this camera / lens combination sees off everything else and leaves them hopelessly trailing in it's wake. It's not especially good at high ISO's, though if you downsize the files you'd be amazed at just how good they are. But at it's base ISO of 100 and the 'sweet' apertures on the lens it is quite simply head and shoulders above virtually everything else. 

The photographic internet is more accurately the camera ownership internet and the newer and more gimmick laden it is the better. So we spend time discussing cameras made from blocks of purest platinum, hand polished by virgins that glisten and tempt us from glass cases. We get all excited about cameras that take pictures and our blood pressure at the same time and instantly send x-rays of our noses to our medical practitioner. We coo about video codecs that give us broadcast quality footage of our youngest strangling the cat, without ever quite understanding what a codec actually is. But somewhere lurking hidden away on our computers (No not that stuff that we'd rather other people didn't see) are the pictures we actually took with our objects of desire.

And the A7r / 55mm combination delivers something special with regard to that. Now some of us might sell our pictures, some might send them to friends and family, some might just play around editing them on a dark cold winters night, but if we took them on this camera with this lens then, unless we are completely inept, we certainly won't be disappointed. In fact we may be so impressed that we actually feel like repeating the exercise. 

And so despite it's boring looks and it's somewhat 'lets get it out in time for Christmas' evolution the A7r is truly a wonderful camera. And despite me having issues with Zeiss and their somewhat erratic autofocus lens quality control, the 55mm is an absolute gem. It does also have the virtue of actually being relatively attractive to look at and nice to use, at least in Sony terms that is.

Finally take one of these out and nobody will give you a second look. And ignore the sneers from the Nikon, Canon and Leica owners who do spot it and the jibes that you're using a playstation that takes pictures or "Is that a Betamax' and the accompanying sniggers. Because you can be secure in the knowledge that the image quality you are getting from your boring little black box will easily surpass the more braggable options that your smug fellow photographers are using. Well most of the time anyway. 

So let's hear it for the camera / lens equivalent of a Ford Mondeo with an engine under the hood that would power an executive jet. No one will guess what you are creating when you use it and it's probably a good idea not to let them know just how good the images are because then everybody would want one. And we can't have that can we?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4wOWiZPPA13dWpaTl83Sm9fVzg/edit?usp=sharing

To access a .zip file of raw and jpg. images taken with this combination at ISO 100 and f/1.8, f/4, f/8 and f/16, click the image above or this link.

All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus.  Please Respect That  

Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. What is written here is at no time intended as a recommendation or otherwise of photographic gear or practice. This is a personal blog written 'in the moment' and is primarily intended as an entertainment. I would also point out that this is not a review site and not intended to be so and the Google+ groups where you can post comments are not forums. I am the sole moderator and I will remove any post (and poster) if I think fit. 

  
Plus the Soundimageplus blog is 100% independent. No-one sends me gear to review and I have no relationship with any manufacturer or retail outlet. I buy all the gear I use and write about. The advertisements that appear on this site are generated by Google and I have no control over the content, which differs from country to country. I do make a small income from them, which covers expenses and some small recompense for the time I take to write this, but no more than that. If you like what you read and would like to help me to continue to keep buying stuff to write about then clicking on a few adds will earn me a few fractions of a penny. It will cost you nothing and you don't have to buy anything to contribute a (very!) small amount to my coffers.  


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.

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I may not like it much, but it's one great camera - The Sony A7r + 55mm f/1.8 lens

All images - Sony A7r 55mm f/1.8 lens








In a previous post I wrote about how I don't like Sony cameras much. It's a personal thing and it's a bit like a musician selecting one instrument over another, it's just what they get on with. And I don't get on with Sony cameras. However, my admiration for what they come up with, particularly with sensors, is unreserved. Walking around yesterday on a lovely Spring day with what is, or close to it, the best digital photography can offer in terms of a sensor / lens combination currently, it was brought home to me just what we have at our disposal as photographers these days. 
 
I shot 16:9 ratio for the whole day. Plus a variety of ISO settings including ISO 3200 which I downsized to 12MP. The images below show just good the results from doing that can be.


All of this is undeniably impressive. There is the lens issue of course. However I read an article by somebody (I can't remember who) who made the point that Sony DO have lots of decent lenses that will do the A7r sensor justice, but not at a price point and not of a size and weight that most likely customers for that camera might contemplate, plus they need an adapter because they are all a-mount lenses. 

The Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 24mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/1.8 are all superb. Then you have the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 and the telephotos. These are all terrific optics, but they are seriously expensive and seriously heavy. They might well be as good, or better than anything that Nikon or Canon produce but you can body build with them and as I indicated they are all a-mount and require an adapter for the FE cameras. Sony did however push this a-mount range in their A7s presentation and with the above list you can see why. Some pretty amazing stuff but some pretty amazing prices too. In the light of that it did occur to me that Sony might have put these FE sensors, including the one in the A7s, in the wrong cameras. If these had turned up in an a-mount series of cameras then they could have seriously worried both Canon and Nikon. However they presumably wouldn't have sold as many, since the amateur / enthusiast mirrorless market is I would imagine bigger than the professional DSLR market.

Currently the only e-mount lens that can compete with those a-mount monsters is the 55mm f/1.8 and it is special. But the others in Sony's range reflect the down side of the Sony lens offer, too many ordinary lenses when it comes to the cheaper, lighter and smaller options. They don't seem to have learnt anything from what Fuji are currently offering. High-spec. lenses at non-alarming prices and with an exemplary build quality and small, light form factor. However, they aren't the only ones with regard to that.

Sure a 35mm sensor is more difficult to work with, but Sony are going to have to come up with something soon to avoid all the advantages of the FE system being ignored by a lot of photographers. Surely they must realise that a lot of the customers for this system are the same customers who own, or are contemplating owning m4/3 and Fuji X cameras. These customers are used to high quality and innovative lenses that don't cost a fortune (mostly) and need a prop forward to carry them. Sony however seem to missed this, but I'm not sure they afford to be so lax for much longer. If Fuji do indeed have a 35mm sized X-Trans sensor in the pipeline, then you can bet your boots it will get released with some pretty impressive lenses. Probably fast primes. However that's a vapour rumour currently.




I can say that the A7r, in it's nifty leather case, (From Amazon - somebody always asks) and the 55mm f/1.8 is a combination that is nice to use. I wouldn't go so far as to say I like it, but I don't actually hate it. However, I still don't have that sense of enjoyment that I have with my Fuji's and even with the m4/3 cameras I've used. The quality of the images I shot yesterday though is stunning. While I have to admit also that I prefer the look of what my Fuji's produce, as I've never been a great fan of the conventional Sony Bayer sensor look. It's a bit 'antiseptic' for me and I do like something with a bit more 'grit' and character, but none the less A7r files are undeniably impressive and really can't be beaten for sharpness, cleaness and dynamic range at low ISO's. 

So will my Sony's stay or will they go?. I'm so unpredictable about these things that I can't really provide an answer. However I would point out that I've taken an awful lot of A7r and A7 pictures and I still seem to be using both cameras on a regular basis. And it is that image quality that keeps seducing me. Now if only Fuji made the cameras and lenses that housed the A7r sensor I'd be a really happy bunny. But they don't so I'll have to come to a decision. However, it could happen at any time (or not which is just as likely!) And if someone wants to organise a sweepstake on when or if I dump my Sony's, then feel free. Just don't imagine you'll get many clues from me. Because I haven't got one.

 
All original material on this blog is © Soundimageplus.  Please Respect That  


Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. What is written here is at no time intended as a recommendation or otherwise of photographic gear or practice. This is a personal blog written 'in the moment' and is primarily intended as an entertainment. I would also point out that this is not a review site and not intended to be so and the Google+ groups where you can post comments are not forums. I am the sole moderator and I will remove any post (and poster) if I think fit. 
 
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.




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Sony - do they really not like lenses?


I've often joked that Sony have more camera models than lenses. However with the FE system it's not that far from the truth. Currently you can buy four lenses for the two bodies and there is another body apparently being announced later today. Lenses? Who knows.

It's always struck me that the system was introduced in a hurry, which explains the lens shortage. Well maybe only partly, because NEX (sorry Alpha) or a-mount camera owners aren't exactly spoiled for choice either. And I don't think anybody would argue that on the lens front Sony are a bit of a disaster. But one thing is also clear, they do make amazing cameras. Since it seems I will be hanging on to both my A7 and A7r for the foreseeable future, as I have been unable to sell my A7 for the price I want, I edited some A7r files yesterday and I have to say after not doing that for a while I was again impressed by just how extraordinary the files are, particularly when as at the top of the page, the camera is paired with the amazing 55mm f/1.8. 

That lens does make Sony's reluctance to concentrate on their lens range even more mysterious. DxO called it the best AF lens they have ever tested and I wouldn't argue with that. So Sony CAN turn out incredible optics, but for reasons known only to them they seem to have chosen not to do that with any regularity or consistency. Why? Well I certainly don't know and if you have an opinion on that then don't tell me, let Sony know. That will be a lot more useful.


 
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Sony A7r + 55mm f/1.8 lens - Time to get serious?

Every time I look at images on my screen I've taken with my Sony A7r + 55mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens, all my other excursions with other camera / lens combinations just seems like self-indulgent messing about. No matter how much 'fun' they are to use this is after all my job. And why I choose to  accept second (or third) best sometimes bewilders me. I think it's time to get serious. But then again..................






 
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Is there an art to photographing art?




 All images - Sony A7r 55mm f/1.8 lens

These are works by Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor on temporary display in the grounds of a local stately home. The top two are of the Les Bourgeois de Calais, a truly remarkable piece of work that it was a privilege to view. So how did I decide to photograph it?

The first thing to establish was, why am I taking photographs of an artwork? Well firstly for myself. And secondly because there might be some commercial potential for the images, though not that much it has to be said because of copyright and property ownership issues. 

When photographing something like this I always try to ignore the temptation to take some 'arty' approach to the task. For me it's a case of letting the work take prominence. Anything else would be presumptuous. These works have history and reputation and are the creations of a man who has been rarely bettered in his chosen field. So how could some snapshot that I take compete with that?

This is how I approach photographing things like public artworks and indeed I apply it to much of my architectural photography. Too often I see people take a different approach when they try to impose some kind of 'creative vision' onto capturing an image of something that is already creative and artistic. And yes our own visual take on the world is something we should cultivate, but often craftsmanship and technical excellence, with our imagination taking a back seat, is the more appropriate response.

 
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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.

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