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.

Sony A7 III – Oddball Test

I was taking a bunch of test shots with the A7 III today.  As I mentioned earlier the longest Sony lens I have with native e-mount is the 55mm f\1.8.  I saw an opportunity to test out the autofocus at a long distance with a moving subject.  Because I took this at about 150 feet away I cropped this thing to a ridiculous extent and it shows but also notice that the fox is in focus.  Pardon the poor quality of this jpeg (figuring out the new Capture 1 for the A7 III)  but this tells me two things.

  1.  The autofocus is very, very good.
  2. I’ve got to get some longer native e-mount lenses.
Sony 55mm f\1.8 on Sony A7 III (extreme crop)

Sony A7III – The Eagle Has Landed

Camera Girl signed for the camera today.  Tonight, I’ll set it up and see what I have to do to get a Capture 1 upgrade for that camera.  I think I’ll take some pictures of my grandson playing soccer tomorrow morning, to test out the autofocus.  If I can’t get the Capture 1 update I’ll have to go with jpegs.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll know if this camera is the end of a long road of Sony waiting.

Sony’s First Real E-Mount Sports Lens is On Its Way

Sonyalpharumors.com has a photo of this new pro sports lens discovered out in the wild (https://www.sonyalpharumors.com/sony-400mm-f-2-8-versus-canon-lens/) .  At over $10,000 each probably the only buyers will be pro sports shooters (and a few old rich guys, of course).  Looks like Sony is serious about the sports market.  I’m guessing at some point if the market materializes for them they’ll put out a 600mm f/4.  Of course, they might get some competition from sigma.  They’ve got some telephotos and unlike with wide angles the long lenses would easily adapt onto the e-mount with no need to change the lens formula.  Should be an interesting situation for the Canon and Nikon pros.  I’m sure being able to use the no-blackout, 20 frames per second A9 for football or soccer would be a very tempting choice for the guys who do that for a living.  Good work Sony.  Now let them come out with the A7 III.  I hope it has the same good autofocus as the A9.

Replacing Adobe Lightroom Revisited

So last time I was debating what to replace Lightroom with.  I was incensed at the idea of paying monthly for “the cloud.”  I installed Capture 1 last weekend.  So far all I can say is that after cataloguing my old photos in Capture 1 they look a lot nicer than in Lightroom.  Now maybe this is just the jpeg settings in the program but it was really striking how nice everything looks.  Other than that I can’t say much.  I don’t even know how to modify the photos yet.  But so far Capture 1 is not making me angry.  In your face Lightroom!

 

The Camera Store Reviews the Sony A9 Camera

The Camera Store up in Calgary Alberta, Canada does a lot of good reviews of Sony equipment. Chris concentrates on the photo side and Jordan addresses the video aspects of each camera.  They’ve been fairly enthusiastic Sony users without succumbing to fanboy-like blindness to the shortcomings of mirrorless cameras in general and Sony in particular.

This review is fairly late in the game for the A9 but I think time has given them a little perspective on the camera and I think that is why they have nailed the real significance of the A9. They realized that the true niche that the A9 fills is the perfect wedding camera.  The silent shutter, excellent autofocus, fast sensor readout and 20 frames a second guarantees that the perfect shot of the bouquet toss or the kiss or the toast won’t be missed.

And waiting until this late date allowed them to compare the A7R III to the A9 and see when the A7R III provides a cheaper but adequate option and where it doesn’t. It’s a long video (about an hour) but it’s pretty good.

Some of the highpoints is the recognition that the fast sensor read of the A9 effectively eliminates rolling shutter problems whereas the A7R III cannot. Offsetting this advantage is the lack of good video options in the A9.  This is attributed to the soon to be announced A7S III or A9S options.  And finally there is a discussion of how the use of any Sony e-mount camera as a sports or wildlife camera is handicapped by the lack of native long telephoto lenses.  This lack may soon be corrected.  Nevertheless it explains why the A9 hasn’t managed to convert large numbers of Nikon and Canon sports shooters yet.

Very interesting discussion.