A Sony Fan-Lost-Boy Finally Arrives in the Promised Land

This post is only for the long suffering Sony A-mount users.  You know who you are.  You bought the A900 or the A850 and you were looking forward to Sony re-issuing all those great Minolta lenses and competing head to head with the Nikon D3S.  You saw nothing but upside from a technology powerhouse like Sony improving the DSLR.  And then they pulled the rug out from under you. Translucent mirrors that lost a half stop of light.  LED viewfinders that lagged by a second or two when you triggered the shutter.  And then the true mirrorless camera with contrast detect autofocus that didn’t focus.  The NEX series that was unbelievably small but suffering from all these problems.  And then the A7 cameras.  Series one then series two.  Painstaking progress.  Slowly the potential of the mirrorless becoming real but always something still missing.  And then the A9 the camera that had all the pieces!  And a $4,500 price tag!

But now, the A7 III.  Oh my brothers I just must joyously exclaim.  It is a real camera made by Sony.  Hallelujah, hallelujah, halleleujah. The joy of picking a point in the viewfinder, half-pressing

Sony A7 III with Sony 55mm F\1.8

the shutter and seeing the autofocus work instantly and precisely.  I could barely see the result through my tears of joy.  Huzzah, huzzah.  Never again would I focus, then magnify, then manually refocus to save the shot.  Now I go through the pictures afterward and every shot is perfectly focused.  And ISO 800 and 1600 and 3200 are perfectly usable and even ISO 6400 is often fine!  And if I want to do a macro shot with a non macro lens I use magnify to get precise focus on the exact spot I want and the 24 megapixels give me plenty of room to crop.

Nirvana, Valhalla, Heaven, Elysium, Paradise.  I’m home.  I don’t need to wait or hope or give up and change systems.  It’s done.  I’m there.

Sony you are finally forgiven for keeping me out in the wilderness all these years.

 

 

My Butterfly Chasing Rig – My Descent into the Maelstrom of Long Macro Madness

Anyone who has been following my various macro lens posts knows that I am still fiddling around with available lenses to construct a long macro rig to photograph butterflies with the A7 cameras.  Another problem I’m investigating is finding a tripod head that would provide quick release on the monopod but also could hold the weight of a 200mm lens.  Previously I used the Manfrotto 327RC2 light duty grip ball head with Quick Release but the weight of the Minolta 200 macro caused it to flop over.  I recently bought the Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head.  It differs from the Manfrotto which had a spring loaded trigger.  The Vanguard has a friction toggle switch that you engage with your thumb.  So far it’s working excellently.  The test will be to see if the friction element is long lasting.  Now I’ll have to determine if the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro and the LA-EA4 adapter is better on the Sony A7 III than the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 A-mount on the LA-EA3.

 

 

Macro Rig – Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro & Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head & Primos 65802 Tall Monopod Trigger Stick, 33-65″

 

Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head

 

 

Manfrotto 327RC2 light duty grip ball head with Quick Release

 

Review of Sigma MC-11 Adapter – Using Sigma Brand Canon-Mount Lenses on Sony E-Mount Cameras – Part 1

As mentioned in earlier posts I rented the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens for Canon EF and the Sigma 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro for Canon EF to use on my Sony A7 III with the Sigma MC-11 adapter.  I had heard on a “The Camera Store” video that the MC-11 paired with Sigma Canon mount lenses  was practically equivalent to native e-mount lenses with respect to autofocus on A7 cameras.  The only caveat was that the Sigma lenses for which this was true were restricted to three series, the Art Series, the Sports Series and the Contemporary Series.  Unfortunately for me I was interested in the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 macro lens which is not in any of these series.  So I rent ed this lens and the 150-600mm sports Series lens to compare how they performed with the MC-11.  I can now confirm that the lens series that are specified by Sigma for use with the MC-11 do indeed autofocus with Sony A7 cameras utilizing all the various capabilities of the autofocus system of the Sony A7 III (at least as far as I was able to determine).  And unfortunately, I can also confirm that lenses that aren’t in those sanctioned series of lenses have much less autofocus capability than those that do.  Many functions such as autofocus while remaining in magnified view don’t work at all.  As far as the accuracy of the autofocus it’s not as clear whether the capability of the lenses differ that much because I was using it as a macro lens and that type of lens usually doesn’t autofocus as quickly as normal lenses.  My sense is that it is less capable.  It feels like the autofocus that was available on the first generation of A7 cameras.

But the main message of this post is if there are Sigma lenses that extend the lens range for the A7 cameras in one of these three lens series (Art,Sports, Contemporary) you can expect to get near native autofocus capability with the Canon mount versions on the MC-11 adapter.

Shooting Sigma Canon Mount Lenses with the Sigma MC-11 Adapter on the Sony A7 III – Part 2 – Sigma 180mm f\2.8 Macro

Because it’s been raining and cold for weeks here I took the Sony A7 III with the Sigma MC-11 Adapter and the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon to a “butterfly conservatory” to get in some macro shooting.

This was a fairly challenging environment for the auto focus because the light level was low.  What I found was that the autofocus works but it is far from fast and because it is a macro lens it can get lost in the focus wind up if the light level is low or the subject contrast is low.  Several times I switched the lens to manual to reset it after it lost its mind.  But as I said it was a fairly challenging lighting situation.  My take on this is that the 180 mm Macro is an acceptable autofocus lens on the MC-11 but far from state of the art.  The lens itself takes excellent macro and other photos.  I am seriously thinking of getting it either in the Canon mount or possibly the amount for use with the LA-EA3.  I’ll have to rent that mount version soon to check it out and see if it’s any better.

By the way, the turkey vulture wasn’t at the butterfly place.  It was in a tree pretty far from my spot on a road side.  It’s a pretty extreme crop so the autofocus was working well when the lens was used as a telephoto lens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Note on the Sony A7 III Sensitivity

Shooting with extremely long lenses like the 150-600mm Sigma requires higher shutter speed and to compensate for this, higher ISO levels are required.  This gave me a chance of seeing the result of using 6,400 and 10,000 (and higher) ISO sensitivities.  And I will tell you I am extremely impressed.  I have a hummingbird picture at 6,400 that is perfectly fine.  I’m sure if I subjected it to very close scrutiny and blew it up to 200% I’d find issues.  And that would be crazy.  My point is this camera has really excellent 6,400 ISO results.  The next test is to take some photos at that sensitivity in a low light indoor environment.  If it passes that test then this is the camera I was looking for when I was looking for a successor for the Sony A-850 in 2011.  The A850 was a great camera.  It had a best in class 24 megapixel sensor and  shot beautiful 100 ISO photos.  Even 200, 400 and even kinda sorta 800 ISO photos were also very good.  but try to take photos in a restaurant at 100 or even 800 ISO.  You’ll have motion blur and worse.  So I used to take 3,200 and 6,400 ISO shots that looked like a Monet painting with color noise swirling around everything.  I tried to convince myself that I liked the result but it was pathetic.  Now here I am a mere seven years later and all’s right with the world.  Well, that’s assuming the indoor tests go as hoped.  That also assumes the low light autofocus is as advertised.  Stay tuned.  Results will follow soon.

Shooting Sigma Canon Mount Lenses with the Sigma MC-11 Adapter on the Sony A7 III – Part 1

Last Thursday I received the following equipment from LensRentals.com:

  • Adapter – Sigma MC-11 Canon EF to Sony E, serial 51758012
  • Bag – Lowepro Lens Case 11 x 26cm, serial S810466
  • Case – Sigma LS-137K , serial S814943
  • Filter – Sigma 105mm Protector, serial S645658
  • Filter – Sigma 86mm Protector, serial S641204
  • Hood – Sigma LH1164-01, serial S498651
  • Hood – Sigma LH927-01, serial S412678
  • Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM A1 S for Canon, serial 51367833
  • Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon, serial 13268931
  • Tripod Foot – Sigma 150-600mm S, serial S872113
  • Tripod Ring – Sigma 150-600mm S , serial S872109
  • Tripod Ring – Sigma TS-21, serial S454931

I mentioned in an earlier post that I watched a video that the TheCameraStore guys did that tested Metabones and Sigma (MC-11) adapters for Canon mount lenses onto Sony e-mount cameras.  In the video they said that on Canon brand lenses the Metabones adapter was better than the MC-11 and had pretty good autofocus.  But they also said that on Sigma brand lenses (of Art, Sport and Contemporary series) in Canon mount the autofocus was virtually identical to native Sony lens autofocus.  Now that really got me thinking.  Sony lacks really long glass  and a 200mm macro lens.  Sigma has a 150-600 that is pretty sharp and a 180mm f\2.8 macro that is also reputed to be good.  The 150-600 is part of the Sports series and therefore one of the lenses that the MC-11 is tuned for.  The MC-11 isn’t programmed for the 180mm macro so that was a question mark.  I decided to rent them and the MC-11 and test them out.

Between work responsibilities and bad weather I’ve only had a chance to do a little testing but I have confirmed that the MC-11 does give the 150-600 truly excellent autofocus very similar to a native lens on the A7 III.  And the 180 macro does not have that native autofocus programming with the MC-11.  The display registers an array of rough squares for the focus points.  This looks like the older autofocus from the version II A7 cameras.  So I can confirm the accuracy of the description of the MC-11’s ability on the Sports series.  The 180mm macro autofocus is definitely at a lesser level than with the specified series lenses.

But I still am interested in the 180 macro as the best choice for the A7 III camera.  So I’ve been trying it out for some bird photos including hummingbirds.  So far I like the results.  Next I’ll try some butterflies if they show up in the next week or so.

 

Sony A7 III with • Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon and Sigma MC-11 Canon EF to Sony E adapter
Sony A7 III with • Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon and Sigma MC-11 Canon EF to Sony E adapter
Sony A7 III with • Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon and Sigma MC-11 Canon EF to Sony E adapter
Sony A7 III with • Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon and Sigma MC-11 Canon EF to Sony E adapter

06MAY2018 – OCF Update

This week I’ll finish up reading Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunter Seige” and post a review.  The hard cover version came out back in July but I buy the paperback for convenience and that version just got issued.  The site has been a little slow because I’m putting together a sort of “best of” post on my southwest landscape trip for a link that Captain Capitalism is providing me and it’s a time-consuming endeavor.  It’s like eleven hundred files and I’m still learning how to use Capture One.  So bear with me.  That post should be pretty interesting for the photo enthusiasts.  As I mentioned earlier I’ll get those rental lenses on Friday the 11th and that will spawn some interesting posts on the viability of using Sigma lenses with Canon mount on the Sony A7 cameras.  That may be interesting to Canon shooters with Sigma glass who have been interested in switching to Sony and anyone who is still constrained by Sony’s telephoto and macro lens choices.

The other thing I am interested in writing about is the direction of right wing movement.  I am trying to formulate my own particular spin on what makes sense going forward.  There is a lot of confusion and undirected anger that doesn’t seem to be producing much in the way of results.  And there seems to be a certain amount of opportunism and charlatanism that makes it difficult to know what is solid and worthwhile.  Sometimes it seems that several people have each latched onto a different piece of the puzzle needed to reform the current situation but like the blind men and the elephant they only “see” a small part of the reality and are missing the big picture.  And because of that, they diagnose that small part of the problem and their solution doesn’t address the broader situation.  And some of the “wise men” are too extreme.  They would throw out the baby with the bath water.  The more I think about solutions for the social disintegration the more I think that restoring the common-sense institutions we used to have is the solution.  Stopping unlimited immigration is neither impossible nor radical.  Restoring respect for the traditions and institutions of our forefathers is important and relatively straight forward.  And replacing social justice and reverse discrimination with actual justice is so rational that it shouldn’t even require explanation.  I think some of the emphasis on race reality is a response to the absurdity that occurs when racial and sexual protectionism and intersectionality tactics are used to attack the American white middle and working classes.  If you eliminate these irritants then the rules of American society should be competent to allow different types of people to function relatively harmoniously.  Anyway, that is what I’m starting to think.  I’m definitely interested in other opinions.  And I read around to hear what other people are coming up with.  For instance I’m going to read Gregory Cochran’s “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution” and David Reich’s “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past” to see if there’s anything in biology that rules out my optimism for a functional multi-ethnic America.

And finally, I’d love to get more feedback from the readers.  Even if it’s negative.  It’s useful to know what you like and what you don’t.  Or even to just say hi.  It’s definitely appreciated and part of why I made this site.  I am interested in hearing other points of view.  And if you find something interesting on-line pass along the link.

My Undiscovered Country in Sony Shooting

Where I work there is a formal, company sponsored photo club. They have a budget and they have funded events where they go together to an arboretum or a museum and talk about equipment and techniques.  They have a charter and code of conduct.  They include everyone and value everyone’s contribution.  They give out tee shirts at the end of the year.

I don’t belong to that club.  Life’s too short.  I get together with about four or five guys who work there at lunch time.  We’ll go to a park or walk down the street or try to find a building that’s interesting.    We also occasionally take over a conference room during the lunch hour and throw our personal off hours photo results up on the big screen that usually features power point presentations of diversity training or unconscious bias hectoring or whatever else Big Brother needs us to absorb that week.

And some of these guys are pretty good.  It’s spring, and from a photographic point of view there’s finally a reason to live.  Normally we would already have gone out on a lunch time jaunt to see the dogwoods and weeping cherry trees in bloom.  But this year several of these guys have been shanghaied into a shift change to work on a big engineering project.  All of that ends on Friday, May 11th. To celebrate my brethren’s release from bondage I’ve scheduled an outing for the next Wednesday to a park that we hope will feature birds and bees and flowers and trees.  Maybe even a few butterflies.  And to make it interesting for me I’ve reserved a few lenses from a rental company for two weeks starting May 11th.  I’ve rented the Sigma MC-11  EF to E mount adapter and the Sigma EF mount version of their 150 – 600 Sports zoom and their 180mm f\2.8 macro lens.  I watched a video that the The Camera Store guys made testing out the MC-11 with Sigma EF mount lenses on one of the modern (A9 or third generation A7  cameras) Sony full-frames.  They rated the autofocus performance almost exactly as good as Sony native glass.  Now there is a catch.  It’s only warranted to be that good with certain lenses.  The Art and Sports series are covered.  So the 150-600 is in that group.  The 180 macro is not.  I spoke to the rental company and they didn’t know one way or the other.  But they did say I should try it.  Of course I’m the one paying for the privilege but I figured it was worth a shot.  So in about two weeks I’ll have something to say about the A7 III, the MC-11 and birds in flight.  Sony has never allowed me to even try such a photographic feat but here we are, a brave new world.  And with any any luck the 180 macro will prove to be good for butterfly shots.  Currently my only long macro is the Minolta 200mm f\4.  But it’s screw drive and if I want autofocus I have to use LA-EA4 with its “translucent mirror.”  For me that’s something of a compromise.  If the 180mm and the MC-11 combination turns out to have pretty good autofocus I will most probably buy those two items and retire the 200 mm to static macro and short telephoto opportunities with the LA-EA3.

So this is just me salivating in anticipation of the opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks.  To say that I’m impatient would be the greatest example of understatement since Jack Swigert said “Houston we have a problem.”  So stay tuned.  If you’re a Sony shooter these tests will give you information on options that aren’t currently available in the native Sony e-mount ecosystem.  And, even if they were, the cost would be prohibitive even to someone with my gear obsessed psyche.

Sony A7 III – A Camera Review – Part 1

Helebore flower

 

I’ve had the camera for about a week.  I went out today to get some first impressions.  The first thing I notice is the difference between the A7S and the A7 III is the autofocus.  It’s night and day.  I used center point AF.  Whatever I pointed at was instantaneously in perfect focus.  No hunting, no off-focus just dead on crystal clear.  Now granted, this is in bright day light.  But if you’ve ever shot the A7S you know that even under these conditions the photo had a more than even chance of being at least slightly out of focus.  I took it as standard operating procedure that magnified manual focus was absolutely necessary for guaranteed perfect focus.  Of course, think of what that means for a moving subject.  It meant you couldn’t get the shot.  So, the A7 III is a revelation.

The next thing I noticed was how convenient it was to have the viewfinder stay in magnified mode after autofocusing a view.  Now I can make sure that if the scene is ultra-crowded with competing focus targets that the right one was selected.  Or if something has moved I can re-focus without having to re-engage the magnify steps.  This is especially nice for macro work or distant objects.

The next thing was an item I noticed while inspecting the images on the computer.  The 24-mp files are amazingly croppable.  This contrasts with the 12-mp A7S files.  I’ve attached an extreme crop of a flower.  The focus was excellent and the crop has tons of detail.

And finally, looking at the images on the computer they seem to have a very nice look to them.  Of course, the A7S produced nice files too but these look very rich.

These are just my first thoughts.  Later on I’ll review the various functions on the camera and how they work or don’t work for my shooting needs.  But right now I have to say that except for extreme low light or star photography I can’t imagine using the A7S instead of the A7 III.