August in the Yard – Closeup Photography – Monarch Caterpillars & Translucent Sprouts

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.













A9 Bottom Line

A week ago, I said it would be a week or two to evaluate the performance of the Sony A9 camera.  Well, it’s been a week and I’ve waded through a boat load of reviews, hands-on reviews and technical discussions.  It’s enough.  I’ve got the information I’m looking for.  But, you may say, it’s too soon.  We haven’t seen the raw files opened up in a legit version of Lightroom (or fill in your raw browser of choice).  True, it may be that once you look at the 20 frames per second exposures made with the electronic shutter in fluorescent light they’ll have banding and rolling shutter jello and polka dot noise and blah, blah, blah.  And someone else will discover that at 20 frames per second when the raw files are only 12 bit there is a 2% chance of producing artifacts if you exceed the dynamic range of the camera.  And I’ll say sure.  What else is new?  All this is the same as saying no camera is perfect.  Tell me something I don’t know.  But what I do know now is that Sony has figured out autofocus.  The A9 has very good autofocus.  Is it better than the Nikon D5 or the Canon 1DX?  Will it work perfectly in low light?  Don’t know.

What I do know is that Sony mirrorless cameras will have competent AF from now on.  I have been waiting for that for about seven years.  I absolutely do not need 20 frames per second.  I wouldn’t mind good tracking AF and a silent shutter is a big advantage when shooting an occasion.  I doubt that I’ll buy the A9 (although my gear lust is sorely tempting me right now).  I’ll definitely rent it this summer to calibrate the advantages it provides over my ancient A7S.  I want to see what it does in a normally lit house or a dimly lit restaurant.  I’d like to compare the 24 megapixel files of the A9 with the A7S 12 megapixel files in very low light.  ISO 12,800 is a good setting for astrophotography.  Can the A9 make a good Milky Way shot?  I’ll try to find out.

So, there it is.  Sony has finally crossed the Rubicon.  They have proven to me that mirrorless cameras can fully replace the DSLR.  I’d expect Canon and Nikon will now produce their own mirrorless lines to compete head to head with the A9.  May the best man win.  The web sites and magazines (both print and electronic) will expend millions of words “proving” that x, y or z is the top company and all other options will fall by the wayside and end up on the ash heap of history.  And who knows?  Maybe Sony will stumble and one of its competitors will emerge as king.  Completely possible.  But that’s a problem for another day.  As I said back a few weeks ago, the A9 will determine whether Sony mirrorless cameras can provide a full-frame camera with highly competent autofocus.  Based on what I’ve read it does.  Congratulations Sony.  You’ve succeeded in keeping me aboard.  Next stop, my next camera.

More Spring Photos

Early Spring in a New England Swamp

To paraphrase George Costanza, “Spring, renewal, rebirth, all that crap.”  Stuff is coming up all over the place.  Some pretty, some scary.  Here’s a little cross-section from my neck of the woods (southern New England).  Most are with the Minolta 200mm Macro on the A7S but the first one is with the Loxia 21mm.  Several of these are similar.  I was trying to decide which were better, so feel free to leave your opinions in the comments.













My Sony Ultimatum

Well, here we go again. SonyAlphaRumors (SAR) has a post today recapping the rumors for a new full-frame camera coming out soon.  The latest development is a registration with the Chinese government of two new Sony cameras.  The Admin at SAR says based on the designations, one of the two has to be a full-frame Sony.  Also the Admin says it’s typically 1-2 months later that the cameras are launched.  These developments are added onto rumors that say that Sony will be releasing a full-frame camera that will have a high frames per second rate and extremely good auto-focus but with moderate resolution.  This identified it as either the legendary A9 or an A7S III.  In an earlier iteration of this rumor it was stated that this camera was going to be very expensive.  This would point to an A9.  The Admin was saying that it would compete with the Canon and Nikon professional cameras that retail in the $6,000 – $5,000 range.  Currently he seems to be undecided whether it could also be an A7S III and moderately more expensive than the current A7X II series cameras.

From a personal point of view I hope it turns out to b the A7S III. I currently use the A7S.  It has only two weaknesses.  It needs much better auto-focus (which is actually a general problem for all the Sony mirrorless cameras) and it could stand to have 18 or 24 megapixels of resolution.  If those two weaknesses were addressed it would be the perfect camera for my needs.

So if SAR is right (which is a big if), then sometime between the end of April and the end of May a fantastic new Sony full-frame camera is due to debut. So, do I believe this?  Well, actually kinda no.  Maybe it’s the delay in new products caused by the earthquake that occurred in Japan a couple of years ago or maybe I’m just getting skeptical.  But I don’t think Sony has the goods yet.  Believe me.  I’d like nothing better than to plunk down $3,000 to get my dream camera.  It would be right in time for summer and all the photo opportunities that that entails.  And I would love for Sony to reach up into the top bracket of camera-making companies.  After all, I’ve got a pretty healthy investment in gear at this point.

But for some reason I don’t think they’ll put out the cameras that are mentioned above. I think they’ll put out the A7 III.  It will have some number of megapixels slightly less than the current A7R II and will have some new gimmicks built in that will appeal to the mass of people (something with the word selfy associated with it).  It will claim to have the state of the art of auto-focus technology (but it won’t).  It will be just another iteration of the A7 cameras that Sony has been putting out for the last few years.  And, if that turns out to be the case, that’s going to be a problem for me.  I’ve been a loyal and patient Sony fan going back to the A-850 DSLR.  I’ve owned four Sony mirrorless cameras and a ton of lenses.  But I’m just about out of patience.  I haven’t owned a Sony mirrorless that could auto-focus half as well as the A-850. And the A-850 was far from the best auto-focusing camera out back in its day.  So I guess what I’m saying is that Sony is about to be judged by me.  If they don’t come out with a full-frame I’ll stay in waiting mode.  But if they do, I’ll be deciding whether I have a future with Sony mirrorless or not.  So listen up Sony.  It’s either my way or the highway (that’ll scare ‘em).

Sony Macro in March

There is no surer sign of cabin fever than the late winter indoor macro session.  I look out the window at blinding sunshine.  I run outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and crash into ten degrees F.

Back inside and break out the macro set up.  These were shot with a Sony A7S, Minolta 200mm F4 macro lens, and the LAEA3 adapter and sometimes some A-mount macro extensions.  Take them for what they are, a desperate cry for help(i.e., spring).

Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part 4 – Voigtlander 10mm vs. Loxia 21mm

Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part1
Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part2
Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part3

All but the last three photos were taken with the Loxia 21mm lens on the A7S. This lens has proven to be sharp wide open and corner to corner (of course it gets even sharper when it’s stopped down). The colors are excellent and the lens does not suffer from chromatic aberration or other faults. It is a fantastic lens for any photos that conform to a 21mm focal length. I highly recommend it to any A7-type camera users.

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The final three photos in the group above were taken with the Voigtlander 10mm. This lens cannot compare to the Loxia 21mm with respect to corner sharpness, or flare resistance or chromatic aberration. This is not to say that it is bad in these respects. On the contrary for an unbelievably wide 10mm focal length it’s actually amazingly good, just not in the same league with the Loxia. What it does excel at is providing the ability to juxtapose a foreground and background in extremely creative ways that only ultra wide angles can provide. And so if you need that type of composition I wholeheartedly recomment this Voigtlander (or the 12mm version too).