So, even though it wasn’t the A7 III or the A7S III it was an A7 series camera that came out yesterday. And even though I really don’t need 42 megapixels for my file size I must say I am sorely tempted to buy this sucker. It’s coming out at the end of November so I’ll pay attention to the reviews (and maybe rent it first to make sure I’m a good fit for it). Basically, they’ve taken the A7R II and added a lot of the good stuff from the A9 to it. It doesn’t have the enormous AF coverage that the A9 has but the AF capability is said to be close to the A9 performance. It’s got a 10 fps mechanical shutter, dual card slots, enhanced high ISO capability, enhanced auto-focus modes, larger buffer, improved video options, a joystick, touchscreen AF placement and a lot of other fantabulous stuff. It sounds pretty compelling. Well, I was hoping for the 24 megapixel sensor of the A9 in a slightly less capable package for a lot smaller price tag but this A7R III checks every other box. Could this be photog’s next camera? I wouldn’t bet against it. Stay tuned friends. I’ll share my thoughts as the reviews come in but it sounds really interesting.
Took some shots recently. I’ll group them sort of logically. I’ll Start with a couple of the Swamp.
Sony Alpha Rumors has an SR4 rumor for the A7SIII arriving next week.
Now that’s a camera I’m definitely interested in. They say it will have the auto focus of the A9. If that’s the case and it isn’t $5grand I have a feeling I’ll be getting it before Christmas (but let’s call it a Christmas gift). Now, SAR has been wrong before (oh brother have they) but I think they have it right this time. For you Sony fans Christmas may be coming early after all.
I’ve been meaning to set up forums but the technical aspects seemed problematic to a cyberphobe such as myself. But problems with trying to embed photos in the comments gave me the push to start up the forums. Currently the biggest problem is that the edit button for the posts doesn’t work right. So take your time and check twice before publishing posts because otherwise the work around is deleting the post and starting over. I’ve posted some instructions I found on a bbpress site on embedding photos. Hopefully they’re helpful but think of this right now as a work in progress. Your patience is appreciated by management during this difficult transition.
So today is the last full day of summer. Gahhh! The horror begins soon so it’s time to have fun while we can. Saturday I’ll have my two older grandsons over for a Lord of the Rings marathon. I think the extended version comes to about eleven hours. Breaking it up with grilled cheese sandwiches for them and corned beef and swiss for me, it will be a full day. Dinner will be another fan favorite spaghetti and meat balls. Camera Girl will do the cooking but abstain from the cinema. She’s a Tolkien agnostic, heaven help her.
As anyone who faithfully reads my reviews knows I consider Justified the most consistently well written and actualized tv drama I’ve ever seen. I have a theory that it’s because the source material is much better than that of the typical (or even superior) tv-show. So, I’m putting it to the test.
Right now, I’m reading Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens novels and short stories. I read the short story “Fire in the Hole” that was the basis for the first episode of Justified. The other stories in the collection (of the same name) were all very good too. Leonard has an enormous reputation as one of the most popular crime writers. And he has had over twenty of his books made into movies (not counting the tv series Justified). Based on all that I figure I’ll find out what all the hype is about. So, I want to see how I like his stuff. So far, I’m impressed.
The political scene continues to boil like the spaghetti pot I’ll be involved with on Saturday. Trump continues to engage all important events in his typical iconic and bombastic style. Of course, you’d have to be made of stone not to be nervous about all the various balls in the air. But I’ve learned to give Trump some time to get things done in his own way. After all he is herding particularly annoying cats (and rats). The right-wing folks are going through some growing pains on the various sites. Hopefully it’ll sort itself out sooner than later. I take a sort of neutral position on these things and wait to see how things are settled.
On the photography front I’ve added the ability to embed photos in the comments so go ahead if something in a post inspires a photo of your own. The plug-in that makes this possible has the following instructions:
This plugin embeds image links in comments with the img tag so the images are visible in your comment timeline.
Image formats supported:
I’m not an expert on this computer stuff so I’ll do my best to get things to work but have patience if there are problems.
On the review front, I’m going to write something on my recent toe-dip into anime. In addition to my recent viewing of Cowboy Bebop I watched Ghost in the Shell 2.0. I’ll share my thoughts.
Other film ideas, I rented the second John Wick film and I’ll put together my thoughts on both films after watching it, maybe this weekend.
I haven’t decided what sf&f book to read next. Suggestions are always welcome.
Now, you’re gonna have to bear with me for a bit. This will be a rambling seemingly incoherent rant. But I’ll try by the end to bring it back to the point.
Over the course of the last few years I have become aware of the range of “philosophies” and personalities that exists on the right wing. I do not have an exhaustive knowledge of all the players, nor do I want or need to. I think it would be fair to say these personalities run the gamut from extremely sober to raving lunatic. And over the course of the last few years this has given me reason to pause and consider how or if I fit in with this spectrum of individuals. Surprisingly, I have learned that not all the serious individuals are right and not all of the nuts are wrong. Now, that doesn’t make it easy to commune with the lunatics. In fact, most of the time you probably shouldn’t. Lunatics tend to the mercurial and don’t always play well with others. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hear what they are saying. And by the same token, the sober guys may be charming and polite individuals but listening to them may be counter-productive. Especially if they are extremely clever. Sophistry can be highly entertaining and unfortunately also highly deceptive. To my mind that is kind of how we got where we are now. Cheerleaders for supposedly conservative ideas convinced a lot of people that the Bushes and John McCain and Mitt Romney knew what the word conservative means. That was sophistry.
So, the people you agree with logically aren’t the same as the people you enjoy listening to. What that means is that you tend to have to compartmentalize your relationships. Some people you can discuss your political beliefs with easily and other people you can’t. Some people are fun to discuss zombie movies with and others only want to discuss the actual apocalypse. It’s not the most comfortable arrangement imaginable. It’s sometimes annoying. And it’s the way things are going to be for the foreseeable future. Trying to avoid this reality will lead to trouble. For example, suppose you have a good friend who likes the same sports you do. The two of you can go to a ball game anytime and sit up in the stands and talk all day about Joe Dokes’ batting average or who the best relief pitcher is. It’s great. But if you try discussing politics with him you’ll end up in a shouting match and probably won’t want to get together for months. Very not great. And alternatively, you might know someone either in real life or on the web who you agree with politically almost completely. The two of you can discuss politics and even cooperate on political action and other projects. A mutually beneficial relationship. But otherwise you have nothing in common. You like country music he’s a gangsta rap enthusiast. You like science fiction he reads books on playing golf. Absolutely no common ground. What about these two scenarios?
What about them? There’s nothing wrong with either one. They reflect the reality of the world around us. You accept that division.
Now, of course, the best case scenario is when both spheres align. Now you can talk about baseball and the revolution at the same time. Better still, you can start a fantasy baseball league for right wingers! And for something like baseball or hockey or NASCAR you might do quite well lining up people who fit both sides of the equation. No problem!
But what if your interest is photography or science fiction? Now it’s not so easy. If you happen to be a photographer and also happen to not be a left winger you’re probably aware that the majority of photographers both professional and amateur skew pretty hard left. As with a lot of the “creative” professions these people seem to be steeped in a bohemian, urban culture that is extremely hostile to right-wing values and individuals. When I first got interested in photography I experienced this hostility over and over at a number of photography websites. It was both on a subliminal level and also on a purposeful, even confrontational basis. Whenever anything in the news offended the denizens of these sites it inevitably was dragged through the forum pages in the most strident and challenging terms. Basically, it was a public challenge to deny the libel being foisted. And interestingly if you succeeded in presenting a logical argument that was too convincing, the powers that be on the site were very likely to step in and either erase your posts (or force you to erase them) or ban you from the site altogether. To say this was a sorry state of affairs would be an understatement. The only way to coexist (what a loaded word) in such an environment would be to keep your mouth shut and ignore these virtue-signaling spasms. You can only imagine how much fun that would be. But there was no other way. Eventually I found one website that had a policy that I found commendable. They specifically forbade divisive discussions that involved non-photographic topics. So, no political, racial, religious or ethnic discussions were allowed to drift into an argument. It could be a little restrictive but it totally avoided the type of nonsense I was discussing above. Interestingly, I could still tell which individuals would be the worst offenders if it was allowed. They were always the ones being censured by the moderators. And it never was anyone on the right being stopped. Always rabid leftists. You could tell they thought it was highly unfair that they were not allowed to lecture us all on the topic of the day. I have to confess I took a good deal of delight in posting complaints against the worst offenders whenever I could. But it was still only a grudging allowance of what was obviously a despised minority opinion. I believe the site owner was a right-wing guy who found that, to avoid alienating the lefties, the best he could do was try to avoid all flash points. He knew that the demographics were against him and he settled for this uneasy truce. I still have great respect for the way he maintained that arrangement. It was the best environment that existed for right-wing photographers that I ever found.
Another of my interests is (or was and now is again) science fiction and fantasy stories. Growing up in the nineteen sixties and seventies I can remember finding all the classic books by the Golden Age authors and just eating that stuff up. And there was all kinds of range to the quality of the stories. Some were great and some were pretty bad. And even as a kid I knew that. And yet, I could still enjoy even the bad ones because at least they were of a kind. They involved science and adventure and space flight and alien creatures and time travel and inter-dimensional mumbo-jumbo and especially cover art involving scantily clad green-skinned women. Who could ask for anything more? But as time passed and it moved into the late seventies something started to change. Fantasy books weren’t about orcs and dwarves. They were about nature spirits fighting back against modern western civilization to protect Mother Gaia. And science fiction wasn’t about humans exploring the galaxy but sexually confused individuals exploring their various orifices. And along with all these “improvements” was the overarching message that the most important problem that science fiction and fantasy needed to solve was how can we make books that no straight white men would want to read?
And I’ll be the first to admit they succeeded with a vengeance. For a few years I still picked up new books and gave them a try. But without a doubt something bad had happened. It was like all the nit-wits who had made the sixties into a stinking hippie nightmare went off and got MFA’s and started writing sf&f. And worse still they had taken over the publishing houses and the awards ceremonies and only allowed their own kind of stories to make it to the bookstore shelves. Well, eventually I stopped trying and gave up on the genres. I figured it was me. I was no longer a child and I had to put away childish things. But a few years ago, I read about the Sad Puppies. I think the link was at PJ Media. After reading about the Hugo Awards and the way nominations were only handed out to those who fit the club and wrote only right-think it all clicked. I read all I could about the Puppies and started picking up some of their books. And they were good! Of course, not everything was great. Some was just okay. But all of it was recognizable as sf&f. And there was a community of people who believed in writing stories and not social justice agit-prop. And they had websites where like-minded individuals could talk and discuss writing and stuff they liked without having to get approval from the better sort. And I heard them talk about what it used to be like before the Puppy movement, how everyone had to kowtow to the better sort and if you wanted to get ahead you had to like the right sort of stories and hold the right kind of ideas. And how even if you went through this kabuki act you still had to wait your turn and if you had the wrong plumbing and skin tone chances were you wouldn’t ever get a shot at the brass ring.
But what really sounded familiar was how everyone had to hate the same things. There was an orthodoxy and if you didn’t hate George Bush and the military and straight white men, then you were cast out. And that I recognized. It was the same group-think I had seen on the photography sites. These were the same people. The Artists.
And it got me thinking. If the Puppies could do it for sf&f why couldn’t I make a photography site where right-wing opinion wasn’t something you had to hide. Now I wasn’t looking for some kind of gated community where only right-wing right think was allowed. But a place where I wouldn’t have to hear a two minute hate every time Donald Trump’s name was in the news.
So that’s kind of my whole reason for making this site in a nutshell ( a very long 1900 word nutshell). I wanted this site to allow me to discuss right-wing issues both seriously and with a little humor. That’s for all those folks who agree with me politically but don’t speak my language on hobbies.
And for those who happen to also have an interest in either sf&f or photography it’s a place where I could talk about those things. And other general things like tv and movies and other culture topics with like-minded people. So, if any of those things interest you stop by and have a look and leave a comment.
And finally after the revolution when I am elevated to the highest circles of the new order, hopefully in the movie version of my life story I’ll be played by Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin will play Camera Girl. And they really should include “Angel in the Morning” in the soundtrack but absolutely nothing by Wham! They really suck.
See I told you I’d bring it all back in the end.
So over the Labor Day Weekend I did a walk around and with the aid of Hawkeye (aka Camera Girl) we spotted some creatures that look like they belong in a pint sized Jurassic Park.
Only a seriously unserious photographer would spend 350 bucks to rent a camera like the A9 for a week and then use it as frivolously and haphazardly as I just did with it. My only defense is that I only wanted to establish one thing. I wanted to know whether the autofocus was great, good or as miserable as on my A7S. It’s not a good defense. Enough reports are out there to show that it’s much, much better than the A7S. In fact there is plenty of testimony for it being better than any of the A7 cameras and for it being at least comparable to high end Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
Well, call me Doubting Thomas. I needed to see it with my own eyes and experience it with my own hands.
Okay, big surprise, it’s really very, very good. Put the camera on center point focus and point it at anything inside or outside and it focuses instantaneously and flawlessly. Beyond that I did some tests with tracking and eye-focus of moving targets and it was pretty good. It wasn’t perfect or flawless but that could be attributed to my lack of understanding of which setting should be used when and my lack of technique for shooting sports or occasion subjects.
At this point you can see that there will be no big surprises or important information coming out of this post (unless you are a doubter like me and for some reason trust me more than the reputable reporters who’ve already sung the A9’s praises). What this is is a personal opinion about why the A9 is an important camera for Sony shooters.
As anyone who has been following my photography posts knows I have been a somewhat patient long-suffering Sony camera user. As an owner of the last full frame DSLR from Sony (the praiseworthy A-850) I have been waiting and suffering through the long chain of mirrorless cameras that Sony produced. From the NEX-5N up to and including the A7R II I have been disappointed by the incompetent autofocus and mediocre shooting experience of these cameras compared to a basic DSLR like the A-850.
Those days are over.
The A9 is a better camera than the A-850 in every way.
And here’s my take on why this is important. I don’t have to abandon Sony. I can keep my lense and buy into their overpriced stuff and at least I won’t have to sell it all in a fire sale and go over to Canon or Nikon. The features that the A9 has are remarkable. No black out shooting, excellent indoor and outdoor autofocus, low light capability, silent shutter, very short exposure time, you name it, it’s got it.
The only downside, $4,500 price tag. I am not that nuts. You see I’m a hobbyist. I don’t shoot weddings and I don’t work for CBS sports. I do not actually need 20 frames per second. Nor do I want to pay for it.
What I do want is that fantastic autofocus and the no blackout shooting experience. Well actually, I’d also like to get that bigger battery too. Unfortunately, it’s starting to get closer to most of the camera. Damn. Well anyway, I want an A7 III with all the goodies of the A9 but without the mortgage. Three grand? Sure. Thirty five hundred? Ahhhh, I dono. So come on Sony make it a Merry Christmas. After all I have been patient.
So this is a bit of a joke. The FE 55mm is in no way a macro lens. Its closest focus is about a foot away and so with a 55mm focal length it’s basically a normal size image. The twist is that because the A9 allows autofocus in a magnified view you can get incredibly exact focus on small things like insects from that 12 inches away and then you can crop the image to look like a macro shot. What follows is a series of images followed by a crop of the focal point. I found it pretty easy to get even hyperactive bugs like the bees and wasps to end up in focus. This was my first day with the camera. These photos are just jpgs. I don’t have the latest Lightroom rev that works with A9 files so these are rough pictures and won’t be reworked to their fullest potential. Tomorrow I’ll see if I can do anything more sensible with it.
So Camera Girl found two interesting subjects in the yard. These are all shot with the Sony A7S and the Minolta 200mm F\4 Macro. This is using the manual focus ring because this is a screw drive AF lens and the adapter only autofocuses motor driven lenses. But for caterpillars and plants that not such a problem.