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Mirrorless Pro-Class Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses Sony A7, A7R and similar high end cameras that can serve as the sole cameras on Pro-event assignments.

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  #1  
Old December 12th, 2013, 10:18 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Default Sony A7/A7R Review

I have just bought the new Sony A7 today, along with the kit lens (Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS). As you know, the A7/A7R are mirror-less system cameras with a full frame sensor. The sensor in the A7 is 24 MP, the A7R boasting a hefty 36 MP. Since the A7 is a new camera which attracts a lot of attention from the photographers, I will try to write an informal review of it in the coming weeks from the perspective of a user. So please stay tuned. If there are any specific questions, please feel free to ask. I may not answer many lens related questions since I only have one lens right now. But questions regarding the camera itself are more than welcome.
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  #2  
Old December 12th, 2013, 10:28 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Cem,

Congratulations! I imagine that it will be stellar as Sony has all the experience from its sensor in the Nikon D800. It can only be better! Still, everything depends on how the camera handles skin tones. If that works as hoped for, then this is going to be one stellar camera that will turn upside down the professional camera market.

I'm looking forward to learning how large one can print and still have eyes and lips look perfect at about 30 cm.

I ordered one but the price was for the Sony A7 and not the A7R, so they cancelled and gave me a $100 credit for their error. BTW, why did you not get the A7R? The price or the fear of moiré?

Asher

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Old December 12th, 2013, 10:43 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
.... BTW, why did you not get the A7R? The price or the fear of moiré?
No, not at all. Purely because it is 600 Euro cheaper and there is no kit lens combo for the A7R. The only lens available for the A7R rigt now is the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, which is overpriced imo. In total, I'd have to pay some 1200 Euro more for the A7R with the 35mm.
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Old December 12th, 2013, 11:02 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
No, not at all. Purely because it is 600 Euro cheaper and there is no kit lens combo for the A7R. The only lens available for the A7R rigt now is the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, which is overpriced imo. In total, I'd have to pay some 1200 Euro more for the A7R with the 35mm.
Well, one thing they don't tell you is whether or not one needs the primes in order to get the most out of the lenses. Seems that this is something really helpful for Bart and Doug to put their minds too. Reflexly, I'd go for the finer glass, but perhaps the kit lens is not any limiting factor at f4 or 56.

There's no need to go for better glass if the kit lens is no constraint for resolution and contrast, unless one needs the reduced DOF effects too. In any case I'm overjoyed you have the A7 as I know we'll have our eyes opened and you will have a lot of satisfaction and be able to carry this instead of the heavier Nikon!

Asher
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Old December 12th, 2013, 03:59 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Well, one thing they don't tell you is whether or not one needs the primes in order to get the most out of the lenses. Seems that this is something really helpful for Bart and Doug to put their minds too. Reflexly, I'd go for the finer glass, but perhaps the kit lens is not any limiting factor at f4 or 56.

There's no need to go for better glass if the kit lens is no constraint for resolution and contrast, unless one needs the reduced DOF effects too. In any case I'm overjoyed you have the A7 as I know we'll have our eyes opened and you will have a lot of satisfaction and be able to carry this instead of the heavier Nikon!

Asher
Well I am not craving for primes, moderate zooms are also fine by me if the IQ is good. I had the 16-70mm f4 Carl Zeiss on my Nex-6 and it was an impressively sharp lens. I couldn't keep it since it was for the cropped sensor and it would create heavy vignetting on the A7. The kit lens seems to be not so bad (I only shot a few frames today), once stopped down to f5.6. I am eagerly waiting for the DxO modules for this camera/lens combination (planned for release in January). Once that is in place, the lens will be corrected very well by DxO during the raw conversion and may then satisfy may needs. We'll have to wait and see.

It is very early days right now, but I've shot some ISO3200-6400 frames this evening and the noise characteristics seem to be as good as my old D800 was! If that is the case, this is going to be heaven for me. According to DxOMark, the two cameras (A7 and D800) are on par when the "screen" criteria is chosen. I am very eager to see this getting demonstrated under real shooting conditions. To be followed....
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Old December 13th, 2013, 09:07 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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The only lens available for the A7R rigt now is the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, which is overpriced imo.

Well... It is relatively slow for a prime, but if the MTF are right it should be a very, very good lens.

A strange problem has been noted with this lens on the A7r, however: http://www.leica-boss.com/2013/12/th...-za-sel35f28z/, but it appears to be the camera and not the lens.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 12:32 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Well... It is relatively slow for a prime, but if the MTF are right it should be a very, very good lens.

A strange problem has been noted with this lens on the A7r, however: http://www.leica-boss.com/2013/12/th...-za-sel35f28z/, but it appears to be the camera and not the lens.
Hi Jerome,

Looking at the cross-section diagram of that lens, it seems to have an exit pupil that's relatively close to the sensor plane. That will cause issues with chief rays hitting the sensor at very oblique angles, not good for CMOS devices.

What these Alpha 7 and 7r need are more retro-focus designed lenses with more distant exit pupils, not lenses that were designed for film.

Cheers,
Bart
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Old December 13th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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Looking at the cross-section diagram of that lens, it seems to have an exit pupil that's relatively close to the sensor plane.
How would you know that from the cross section? (Sony does not give the position of the diaphragm in the published cross section)

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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:08 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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How would you know that from the cross section?
Hi Jerome,

The last/rear lens is a strongly negative element. It needs to be there if the exit pupil is close to the sensor/film to cover the sensor with its image circle. It also reduces the apparent size of the exit pupil.

When you check the fora for lenses that did not perform well, especially the A7r received a lot of coverage, they in general share that (strongly negative lens(es) at the rear of the design) property. They are also often symmetrical lens designs made for small/shallow rangefinder cameras.

The lenses that did perform well, all have deeper barrel designs with positive elements at the rear, because they were designed for a camera with a deeper mirror box. I've checked with some of the lenses I have, mostly Canon, and they are much more retro-focus designs with their apparent exit pupil position even further away than the mount (which is already 43mm in front of the sensor on Canons).

In general, I'd be careful with lenses that were not designed for SLRs, like the Zeiss lens designs for rangefinder film cameras. Instead I'd look for lenses designed for SLRs with asymmetric retro-focus designs, or specialized par-focal designs (e.g. for Cine applications which tend to not change image magnification when changing focus distance, to avoid 'focus breathing').

Cheers,
Bart
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:23 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Originally Posted by Bart_van_der_Wolf View Post
Hi Jerome,..........

The last/rear lens is a strongly negative element. It needs to be there if the exit pupil is close to the sensor/film to cover the sensor with its image circle. It also reduces the apparent size of the exit pupil.

When you check the fora for lenses that did not perform well, especially the A7r received a lot of coverage, they in general share that (strongly negative lens(es) at the rear of the design) property. They are also often symmetrical lens designs made for small/shallow rangefinder cameras.............
Bart,

It's interesting that you mention about the use of rangefinder lenses and these tending to have limitations for the Sony A7/R. The latest wonderful article by Michael Reichman on Luminous Landscape is about "The World's Best Sensor Meets the World's Finest Lenses" and that translates into Leica M lenses used on the Sony A7R. He did find some CA and purple fringing in high contrast areas, but so what, ~ "beauty is never perfect".

I wonder what your take is on the use of the very best rangefinder lenses with the Sony A7?

Asher
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bart_van_der_Wolf View Post
The last/rear lens is a strongly negative element. It needs to be there if the exit pupil is close to the sensor/film to cover the sensor with its image circle. It also reduces the apparent size of the exit pupil.
I would need to check, but I think that a strong negative element at the rear is the mark of a more telecentric lens, i.e. just what we want. In a telecentric lens, the exit pupil is reported far away from the sensor, i.e. its apparent size is very small.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:37 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Thanks Bart and Jerome for chiming in. The lack of suitable lenses on the short term is really a problem with these cameras. I have spent a lot of time today looking for some wide angle lenses which would be affordable. I have researched full frame Canon, Nikon, Sony, Voigtlander and Samyang lenses in combination with an adapter. Haven't considered Leica or Carl Zeiss lenses since my budget is very tight. The most viable choices seem to be in the area of Nikon mount lenses with the Novoflex adapter. This adapter allows manual aperture control for the G lenses and is reasonably priced; 170 Euro which is cheap compared to 399 Euro one has to pay for the Metabones (Canon) or the Sony LA-EA4 adapters. One lens I am considering is the Samyang 14mm f2.8, which has received rave reviews and is cheap in the Nikon mount (370 Euro). Also, the Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon, which has received a very high test score from DxOMark, is a candidate. I think I will just have to order one of those and see how it works out on the body. If it doesn't deliver good results, I can swap it with something else. If anybody has any suggestions, I am all ears.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Bart,

It's interesting that you mention about the use of rangefinder lenses and these tending to have limitations for the Sony A7/R. The latest wonderful article by Michael Reichman on Luminous Landscape is about "The World's Best Sensor Meets the World's Finest Lenses" and that translates into Leica M lenses used on the Sony A7R. He did find some CA and purple fringing in high contrast areas, but so what, ~ "beauty is never perfect".

I wonder what your take is on the use of the very best rangefinder lenses with the Sony A7?

Asher
Asher what Bart is referring to are the symmetrical lenses which are typically designed for rangefinders such as the Biogons. One is better off using asymmetric designs instead, such as the Distagons. This article might be useful to read. Michael Reichman's article mentions also the problems of vignetting and lens color casts caused by those Leica M lenses. They now have a LCC correction plug-in for LR in order to deal with those negative effects.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Thanks Bart and Jerome for chiming in. The lack of suitable lenses on the short term is really a problem with these cameras. I have spent a lot of time today looking for some wide angle lenses which would be affordable. I have researched full frame Canon, Nikon, Sony, Voigtlander and Samyang lenses in combination with an adapter. Haven't considered Leica or Carl Zeiss lenses since my budget is very tight. The most viable choices seem to be in the area of Nikon mount lenses with the Novoflex adapter. This adapter allows manual aperture control for the G lenses and is reasonably priced; 170 Euro which is cheap compared to 399 Euro one has to pay for the Metabones (Canon) or the Sony LA-EA4 adapters. One lens I am considering is the Samyang 14mm f2.8, which has received rave reviews and is cheap in the Nikon mount (370 Euro). Also, the Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon, which has received a very high test score from DxOMark, is a candidate. I think I will just have to order one of those and see how it works out on the body. If it doesn't deliver good results, I can swap it with something else. If anybody has any suggestions, I am all ears.
Cem,

I'm interested in using this camera for full length portraits, so the 40-55mm focal lengths would be just right. What really stellar lenses have you found in this range?

Asher
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:45 PM
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Cem,

I'm interested in using this camera for full length portraits, so the 40-55mm focal lengths would be just right. What really stellar lenses have you found in this range?

Asher
As I wrote, I am not looking for stellar, since I cannot pay for it. Also, I am in the market for the wide end. If I had to go for 40-55mm range, I would either buy the Samyang 35mm f1.4 or perhaps a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 FD lens.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
As I wrote, I am not looking for stellar, since I cannot pay for it. Also, I am in the market for the wide end. If I had to go for 40-55mm range, I would either buy the Samyang 35mm f1.4 or perhaps a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 FD lens.

I'm not asking you to buy this for $3,999





Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* Lens for Nikon F Mount



to test on the A7!, LOL!!!


Still, I'd love to know what lenses in that range of focal length, are NOT going to be resolution-limiting in getting the most out of the new Zeiss A7 sensor. I have the EF 50 1.4, 501.2L and the Pentax SMT 1.4, but are they up to the A7 sensor?

For my part, I'm looking to understand from your work how you are going to best exploit the superior capabilities of the sony sensor as opposed to having a system adequate to get great images.

You are getting excellent images with every camera until now!

Asher
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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I'm interested in using this camera for full length portraits, so the 40-55mm focal lengths would be just right.
Sony has announced a 55m f/1.8 designed by Zeiss. It has stellar MTF.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:56 PM
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I have spent a lot of time today looking for some wide angle lenses which would be affordable. I have researched full frame Canon, Nikon, Sony, Voigtlander and Samyang lenses in combination with an adapter. Haven't considered Leica or Carl Zeiss lenses since my budget is very tight. The most viable choices seem to be in the area of Nikon mount lenses with the Novoflex adapter.
Sony has two adapters for the Sony/Minolta mount lenses. The Minolta 20mm f/2.8 is quite good. The Sony/Zeiss 24mm f/2.0 is excellent.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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...Still, I'd love to know what lenses in that range of focal length, are going to be resolution-limiting in getting the most out of the new Zeiss A7 sensor.
I have been a keen tester of the resolution of the lenses I have owned using Bart's famous resolution chart. So far, even the affordable lenses such as the Sony 50mm f1.8 mounted on the Nex-7 body have delivered good results. This combination resolved almost down to the Nyquist frequency. By using the right tools (DxO and/or other deconvolution capture sharpening tools such as the Focus Magic), I have been able to elevate the image quality up to the level which only the best lenses could deliver which would have cost perhaps 10 times more. So I am not crazy enough to pay for any stellar lenses as I know better. Give me good, affordable lenses and I will produce the best results one can get by smart post processing.
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Old December 13th, 2013, 02:01 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Sony has two adapters for the Sony/Minolta mount lenses. The Minolta 20mm f/2.8 is quite good. The Sony/Zeiss 24mm f/2.0 is excellent.
Thanks Jerome. As I wrote, that adapter (LA-EA4) costs 399 Euro which is way above what I want to pay for an adapter. Also, it introduces a lot of bulk as well. Or are you referring to another adapter I am not aware of?
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Old December 13th, 2013, 02:12 PM
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Default First impressions

Now that I have spent one day with the camera, I would like to tell you about my initial impressions.

When I saw the camera for the first time in the store, I was struck by it's good looks (according to my personal taste) and it's larger size compared to the Nex-6. It is not much larger, only slightly. The EVF blob (which resembles a pentaprism housing) changes the perception. I could put the Nex-6 into my coat pocket but I would not try it with this body. The camera feels solid and all the dials have a reassuringly firm tactile feeling to them. I have read in LuLa that many people complained about this camera; that it didn't feel like as if was designed by a camera maker but rather by an electronics manufacturer. Honestly, I don't know where they get this feeling from. It is a very camera like camera and I felt at home immediately. Especially the fact that the buttons and dials are fully customizable makes it a very easy to use camera. I now have separate buttons for the ISO, aperture, shutter and exposure compensation; all of which can be accessed easily by the thumb and the index finger without taking one's eye away from the VF.

The kit lens feels plastic and cheap, although not so cheap and wobbly as the kit lenses of the Nex siblings.

To be continued...
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Old December 13th, 2013, 02:51 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Asher what Bart is referring to are the symmetrical lenses which are typically designed for rangefinders such as the Biogons.
Indeed, lots of bad reports about those designs.

Quote:
One is better off using asymmetric designs instead, such as the Distagons.
Yes, e.g. this 21mm lens Distagon, much wider FOV than the 35mm Biogon design, yet with positive rear elements ... But that's not really a cheap lens either, and need a bit of moustache distortion correction.

Voigtländer generally produced very nice lenses, maybe this one happens to work well with the Alpha 7/7r ? Don't know how far from the film plane the entrance pupil is, but purely from a design point of view it might be worth while searching for some user experiences. There may be some used copies floating around.

Cheers,
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Old December 13th, 2013, 03:58 PM
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Default Bull(ue)dog ready for the holiday season

So here is one of the very first pictures I took with the camera today. Nothing special, just my buddy the bull(ue)dog. So far, I am quite happy with the dynamic range of the camera and how much I can push the shadows without introducing a lot of noise. The same goes for the very low levels of noise up until ISO 6400. It feels like my old D800, just in a smaller package.


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Old December 13th, 2013, 10:36 PM
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Thanks Jerome. As I wrote, that adapter (LA-EA4) costs 399 Euro which is way above what I want to pay for an adapter. Also, it introduces a lot of bulk as well. Or are you referring to another adapter I am not aware of?
Sony has two adapters, the LA-EA4 which you noted and the LA-EA3. The latter is cheaper (199€) but does not include the "translucent" mirror AF system and screw drive motor. It will only AF, slowly, on lenses which include a motor. It will transmit lens data and aperture, so is comparable to the metabones adapters with electronics.

All adapters introduce bulk, since they have to mount lenses at their correct registration distance.
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Old December 14th, 2013, 03:20 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Sony has two adapters, the LA-EA4 which you noted and the LA-EA3. The latter is cheaper (199€) but does not include the "translucent" mirror AF system and screw drive motor. It will only AF, slowly, on lenses which include a motor. It will transmit lens data and aperture, so is comparable to the metabones adapters with electronics.

All adapters introduce bulk, since they have to mount lenses at their correct registration distance.
Thanks Jerome. I realize that they all add bulk but some less than the others. Right now I'm leaning towards Voigtlander lenses with an M mount to Nex adapter which is less bulky and the lenses are smaller too.
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Old December 14th, 2013, 07:52 AM
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Compact Voigtländer lenses will be problematic on the A7 or A7r. They already are problematic on digital Leica cameras.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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Compact Voigtländer lenses will be problematic on the A7 or A7r. They already are problematic on digital Leica cameras.
The website you have initially linked to has done tests with a few Voigtlander lenses and found them to be very good on the A7R. The lenses they tested OK were the Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 “Ultron”, Voigtlander 28mm f/2 “Ultron”& Voigtlander 35m f/1.2 “Nocton”.

Anyway, thanks for the heads up.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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I have posted many pictures from today here.

Now that I have been shooting with the camera for some days, I am very impressed by the usability of it various shooting situations. But it is not a speed monster. One could use it for sports but then one has to pre-focus and forget about focus tracking of fast moving objects. Focus peaking is useful in many situations but provides false info in some others. Some oof areas which have contrasty edges look like they are in focus and some areas with lower contrast which are in focus look like they aren't. So I have switched focus peaking off for now. I am using the DMF zoom feature now, which zooms in to the focus point when one turns the focus ring on the lens. I have assigned the AF/MF toggle function to one of the buttons so it is relatively easy to switch the focusing method.

Another area where one has to pay attention is to hold the camera steadily. Because it is small and light, one can develop a casual shooting style (such as holding the camera with one hand and pressing the shutter). That style works actually better with large DSLR cameras due to their inertia against movement but with this camera it very quickly results in shaken images.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 03:21 PM
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These insights in day to day use of the new A7 are so valuable in assessing the fit of this great camera with our needs. Also your latest street pictures which you linked are appreciated too!

So given the light weight of the camera, and considerations of checking focus, would you get yourself to take with a monopod, perhaps so as to bring home more pictures that can be printed at high resolution. Or do you think that one of the heavier lenses coming out will simply add sufficient mass to stabilize the system more readily.

Asher
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Old December 15th, 2013, 10:50 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
The lenses they tested OK were the Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 “Ultron”, Voigtlander 28mm f/2 “Ultron”& Voigtlander 35m f/1.2 “Nocton”.
They are not "compact".

OK, the 28mm f/2 is tolerable. But such is the problem with the A7: Sony reduced the register distance but could not change the laws of optics. Small or good, pick one.
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