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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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  #61  
Old December 28th, 2013, 10:24 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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...It seems as if there really isn't anything that is "unquestionably better than sliced bread."..
Very true, sad to admit.
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  #62  
Old December 28th, 2013, 10:35 AM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Firstly, there is a lot of negative publicity in the forums regarding the big brother of my A7, namely the 36MP A7R.
Perhaps you are not aware of it so let me summarize the issues. The A7R seems to suffer from shutter curtain shake induced blur when used with long lenses and shutter speeds between 1/15 & 1/125. The problem would be mitigated if the A7R had an electronic first curtain like the A7 does, but it doesn't. The timing of the shutter closing, opening and closing again seems to cause some shake in the camera which has a low mass. Some believe that this will be resolved with a firmware update from Sony, or by some other means. One can work around it up to a certain degree but the solutions are not very practical. Adding some 25 ounces of mass to the body via the tripod mount seems to help, for example, but the idea of buying this camera instead of a full sized DSLR is because it is light and compact. So there is a lot of turmoil due to this and many complainers who have canceled their A7R orders. As I've mentioned above, this problem doesn't apply to A7, which makes me happy that I didn't go for the A7R.
This is not new in the world of cameras. The Pentax K-7 suffered from a similar problem. Don't expect a Firmware solution for this. This has to be resolved by changing the shutter mechanics.

Best regards,
Michael
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  #63  
Old December 28th, 2013, 10:41 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Originally Posted by Michael Nagel View Post
This is not new in the world of cameras. The Pentax K-7 suffered from a similar problem. Don't expect a Firmware solution for this. This has to be resolved by changing the shutter mechanics.

Best regards,
Michael
Hi Michael,

You are of coures right. As is, I am not expecting anything personally. But a firmware solution is perhaps a possibility after all. Men think that by introducing a small delay between the opening and closing of the curtain, the issue can be solved or lessened.
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  #64  
Old December 28th, 2013, 11:02 AM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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Hi Cem,

The blur is most likely induced by the acceleration/deceleration of the curtain during the shutter action.
During the opening action, the blades literally impact their upper resting position (same goes for closing, but this does not disturb the image anymore).
I would be surprised if this is controlled by firmware.
The speed of the curtain motion is among other things responsible for the shortest shutter time and the flash synchronization time.
This is usually highly optimized.
Introducing any sort of delay has an impact on the above functionality.

For the K-7 there was no firmware solution.

Best regards,
Michael
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  #65  
Old December 28th, 2013, 11:15 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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I'm just repeating what I read on this matter Michael. I hope for the owners' sake that they can find a solution, firmware our not. Sony hasn't really acknowledged the issues as such yet. Everybody seems to agree that a recall and the associated hardware fix would be extremely costly.
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  #66  
Old December 28th, 2013, 11:30 AM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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Hi Cem,

I hope that there will be a solution, but for this the issue has to be acknowledged first.
A positive example how a major issue can be handled is the 'white disc' issue on the Fuji X10.
I can say at least this for all I know directly or indirectly who had to deal with that issue.

Best regards,
Michael
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  #67  
Old December 29th, 2013, 12:22 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Shake between 1/15 and 1/125 with long lenses is what we have been living with since the invention of curtain shutters. I certainly had the same issue on my film cameras. Mirror pre-lift only helped so much.
I take this as a non issue. Interestingly there seem to be a lot of these non issues on Internet forums when a successful camera is out (whatever the brand). I suppose that marketing divisions have discovered Internet forums.
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  #68  
Old December 29th, 2013, 02:41 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Shake between 1/15 and 1/125 with long lenses is what we have been living with since the invention of curtain shutters. I certainly had the same issue on my film cameras. Mirror pre-lift only helped so much.
I take this as a non issue. Interestingly there seem to be a lot of these non issues on Internet forums when a successful camera is out (whatever the brand). I suppose that marketing divisions have discovered Internet forums.

I agree, Jerome, that every new camera is given a post-mortem autopsy and death certificate within a few weeks of availability. But each finds a reason to survive, nonetheless! Remember the extreme loyalty of Leica M8 users who put up with purple blacks and white globes, as if it was just the sediment settled from a Château Lafite Rothschild, aged well and perfect to drink!


Well, Guys

What's the flash sync speed? I had wanted to use it with with flash sometimes and generally focal lengths of 21mm to 85mm Perhaps a 120mm, generally not more for people.

So how bad has it been, or will one get as sharp a picture with less pixels in the A7?

Asher
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  #69  
Old December 29th, 2013, 07:32 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
. . . or will one get as sharp a picture with less pixies in the A7?
Ah, Freud strikes again!

A challenge in the smaller bodies is to find space for the pixies.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #70  
Old December 29th, 2013, 10:17 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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What are you doing about a tripod plate Cem? I'm up to that point in kitting out my A7r after fitting the Sony protective screen and buying a packet of these (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rubber-Fee...item4cf765499d) to hopefully make the shutter button easier to use.

RRS have a tripod plate in the works. Seems to be rather over large though but I use their lever releases so it makes sense to buy from them.

I'm also looking for a good 21mm. The Olympus 21mm f3.5 is highly spoken of but the multi coated versions are rare and way over expensive. Playing with the idea of one from Germany with a small scratch on the front element for 300 Euro but not sure it's the best idea.
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  #71  
Old December 29th, 2013, 10:27 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
What are you doing about a tripod plate Cem? I'm up to that point in kitting out my A7r after fitting the Sony protective screen and buying a packet of these (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rubber-Fee...item4cf765499d) to hopefully make the shutter button easier to use.
How is the shutter button hard to use, right now and where do this stickies go, on top of the existing button?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
I'm also looking for a good 21mm. The Olympus 21mm f3.5 is highly spoken of but the multi coated versions are rare and way over expensive. Playing with the idea of one from Germany with a small scratch on the front element for 300 Euro but not sure it's the best idea. Maybe I should be looking at the Voigtlanders?
I wouldn't worry about a small scratch. If you paint it with a black magic marker to stop the reflections, it should be undetectable.

Asher
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  #72  
Old December 29th, 2013, 10:32 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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The shutter button goes down into a metal sleeve. You have to push it below the lip of the sleeve to release the shutter. Problem is that with an already badly placed button and the shutter lag of the A7r, you really want to have an easier and less fiddle release to speed up reaction time on the shutter. Hence looking for a 'soft release' type of solution. The usual releases work by screwing into the shutter release but sony doesn't have that ability so I thought of sticking something on and someone suggested these little thingies.
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  #73  
Old December 29th, 2013, 10:49 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
I wouldn't worry about a small scratch. If you paint it with a black magic marker to stop the reflections, it should be undetectable.
Paint on a element with a Magic Marker? Wow!

I suppose it would be better than butter.

I always thought the problem with a scratch on an element was scattering, not reflection.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #74  
Old December 29th, 2013, 11:16 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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I'm hearing about the Voigtlander 20mm 3.5, you can get it new for less than the Olympus and can (apparently) get it in Pentax mount which would cut down my adaptor costs. Oh and it's tiny....
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  #75  
Old December 29th, 2013, 12:14 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
Hi, Asher,


Paint on a element with a Magic Marker? Wow!

I suppose it would be better than butter.

I always thought the problem with a scratch on an element was scattering, not reflection.

Best regards,

Doug
Reflections and refractions and yes that's scatter, but then it's going to be a new essay and we'll all learn more. The black magic marker trick works, you can use any black paint. The magic marker allows one to easily wipe of excess. Butter, that would increase the scatter, no doubt. This painting of scotches is well known by users of fine vintage lenses for LF photography. Often folk have no idea how good a lens can be despite a front element scratch!

Asher
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  #76  
Old December 29th, 2013, 12:14 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
Hi, Asher,


Paint on a element with a Magic Marker? Wow!

I suppose it would be better than butter.

I always thought the problem with a scratch on an element was scattering, not reflection.

Best regards,

Doug
Reflections and refractions and yes that's scatter, (but then could be an interesting new essay for you and we'll all learn more). The black magic marker trick actually works well, you can use any black paint. The magic marker allows one to easily wipe of excess. Butter, that would increase the scatter, no doubt. This painting in black of scratches is well known by users of fine vintage lenses for LF photography. Often folk have no idea how good a lens can be despite a front element scratch!

Asher
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  #77  
Old December 29th, 2013, 12:24 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Reflections and refractions and yes that's scatter, (but then could be an interesting new essay for you and we'll all learn more). The black magic marker trick actually works well, you can use any black paint. The magic marker allows one to easily wipe of excess. Butter, that would increase the scatter, no doubt. This painting in black of scratches is well known by users of fine vintage lenses for LF photography. Often folk have no idea how good a lens can be despite a front element scratch!
Well, I had not been aware of that process. Very interesting.

Thanks.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #78  
Old December 29th, 2013, 03:11 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
I'm hearing about the Voigtlander 20mm 3.5, you can get it new for less than the Olympus and can (apparently) get it in Pentax mount which would cut down my adaptor costs. Oh and it's tiny....
Hi Ben,

It's (20 mm / F3,5 Color Skopar SL II) a SL II series lens, so it will probably have a retro-focus design with an exit pupil far away from the sensor plane, so that would probably work fine. Of course f/3.5 is not very wide, so it's a small lens.

Cheers,
Bart
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  #79  
Old January 1st, 2014, 05:49 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Thanks Bart. I got the Olympus in the end.
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  #80  
Old January 7th, 2014, 02:54 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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I've posted some sample photos taken with the A7 using the 28-70mm kit lens here.
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  #81  
Old January 7th, 2014, 02:57 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
The shutter button goes down into a metal sleeve. You have to push it below the lip of the sleeve to release the shutter. Problem is that with an already badly placed button and the shutter lag of the A7r, you really want to have an easier and less fiddle release to speed up reaction time on the shutter. Hence looking for a 'soft release' type of solution. The usual releases work by screwing into the shutter release but sony doesn't have that ability so I thought of sticking something on and someone suggested these little thingies.
A very good idea Beni. It is indeed not so easy to press the shutter button. I think I'll follow your example.
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  #82  
Old January 7th, 2014, 03:01 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
What are you doing about a tripod plate Cem? I'm up to that point in kitting out my A7r after fitting the Sony protective screen and buying a packet of these (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rubber-Fee...item4cf765499d) to hopefully make the shutter button easier to use.

RRS have a tripod plate in the works. Seems to be rather over large though but I use their lever releases so it makes sense to buy from them.

I'm also looking for a good 21mm. The Olympus 21mm f3.5 is highly spoken of but the multi coated versions are rare and way over expensive. Playing with the idea of one from Germany with a small scratch on the front element for 300 Euro but not sure it's the best idea.
I guess I'll buy an RRS L-plate again. Or perhaps a sunwayphoto clone if they make one soon.
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  #83  
Old January 8th, 2014, 02:19 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Cem,

At this point in your shooting with this wonderful new camera, how do you feel your experience is changing from the Canon and Nikons you've had, if you can imagine that you just only ever had the same 28-70 mm lens for each.


Asher
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  #84  
Old January 8th, 2014, 05:06 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
...At this point in your shooting with this wonderful new camera, how do you feel your experience is changing from the Canon and Nikons you've had, if you can imagine that you just only ever had the same 28-70 mm lens for each...
A very good question indeed. One which needs some contemplation. I will try to provide some answers now, but the experience is on-going of course. My conclusions may change some months/years later so please keep that in mind.

Which cameras I could compare the A7 with is the first question which comes to my mind. Obviously the Canon 5DII which I've used for almost 5 years and the Nikon D800 which was with me for almost a year. Let me limit the comparison to those two for the time being.

Now the part in which I compare the cameras and the shooting experience with them and not the specific lens. Hence your question about imagining that I used the same lens on all other other cameras. This is not very difficult as I have shot with the 24-70mm on the D800 and I have used the 24-105 on my Canon 5D (the original body) for some while. I still remember how the cameras behaved with similar lenses with similar focal lengths.

And the final question before I start: what aspects to compare? I think the following will be a good start:
1) Usability and features: i.e. how practical are the cameras in daily shooting, travels, special projects, etc.
2) Ergonomics: i.e. how do the cameras handle, are the buttons and functions logically placed, can one shoot blindly, etc.
3) Image quality: speaks for itself, or does it? IQ is also related to how one uses the resulting images: i.e. print them (small/large), view them on the monitor, share them on the web, etc.
4) Shooting pleasure and inspiration: this is purely subjective, which camera gives the most satisfaction to shoot with? And. how cameras have inspired me as a photographer to shoot better pictures.
5) Overall: this is the dreaded part where one chucks everything into a single bin and comes up with a magical answer.

So without further ado, let's get started.

1) Usability and features
If I might adopt the famous expression, the most usable camera is the one which you have with you at the moment. In practical terms, that would be the camera on my smart phone. Do I use it then the most? No, actually not. That is because the usability in itself is not a reason to use the camera. Other aspects come into play, such as the shooting pleasure, ergonomics, IQ, etc. Assuming that these other aspects are comparable between the A7, 5DII and D800, the most usable one is the A7 since it is the smallest and the lightest of the three. Accordingly, I find myself lugging it around whenever I go somewhere. Which wasn't the case with the 5DII and the D800. So for spontaneous shooting, walking around and traveling, A7 wins the contest since it is with me more often than the others.

For project shooting and assignments, the situation is not so clear cut. If I were to slow shoot some urban site with a tripod, the A7 would not have a specific advantage in terms of weight/size. If the project involved (air) traveling, then the A7 has some advantage over the others since it fits neatly into a small cabin bag and doesn't add as much weight.

If I could take any camera with me on a day of street photography, I would still have a preference for the A7. It is unobtrusive and inconspicuous enough so that the people around you do not get alerted by it. When I used the D800 or the 5DII (especially with a white lens on it), I was immediately a threat to some and they have reacted accordingly. I have been in some nasty situations where I was threatened verbally and even physically. Believe me, it is no fun at all.

Features to me are relevant as far as they support the usability of the camera for a certain goal. Fast and accurate auto focus is, for example, relevant to street shooting or sports/action shooting. The first one can also be dealt with some smaller aperture and manual zone focusing. But the sports/action require accurate and fast focusing. The A7 is definitely not a camera for that kind of photography. The D800 would be the winner, followed by the 5DII in this comparison.

Another feature which has been of importance to me when I had the 5DII was the exposure bracketing. Especially for tripod shooting in high dynamic range situations, which is what most of my project shooting is about. The reason why it was important was that I regularly needed to shoot some 5-7 brackets and the 5DII was limited to 3 brackets. I could deal with it by combining it with the exposure compensation which then gave me 6 brackets in total. But I had to touch the camera to shift the exposure compensation in the middle of shooting, which was less than ideal. So I have wished for a camera which could do more brackets. I was then very happy with the D800 that it could go up to 9 brackets. However, the irony of the situation was that since the dynamic range and the noise characteristics of the D800 were so much better, I rarely needed to shoot brackets or when I did, 3 was usually more than enough.

So In terms of usability, what other specific features need to be highlighted which make the cameras fit for certain purposes? We have mentioned the exposure bracketing and fast AF already. Well, some of the things which come to my mind are mirror lock-up, shutter noise, continuous shooting speed, remote controlling, shutter lag, viewfinder, etc.

MLU is an important aspect of the IQ, when shooting on a tripod and using either long exposures or longer lenses, because of the shake the slapping mirror can cause. Obviously, the A7 has no issues with this since it doesn't have a mirror. I have found the MLU implementation of the Canon to be most practical in use. The D800 version of it has a totally different approach which makes it necessary to change the shooting mode, rather than switch it on/off for a give shooting mode. Especially with bracket shooting using MLU, it was a real pita. The winner in my eyes was then the 5DII.

Shutter noise is about being able to shoot without attracting undue attention to yourself, especially during street shooting and/or event/performance shooting (as Asher has been quite busy with). Unfortunately, the A7 is not a winner in this area. The D800 had the quitest shutter of the three cameras. But being so large and visible, the advantage of the less noisy shutter is then not a big one in street shooting.

Continuous shooting speed is mainly important for action/sports shooting. Which I wasn't so keen about. Suffice it to say that the A7 and the D800 pulled ahead of the 5DII in this area.

Remote controlling is an important aspect when one is shooting on a tripod and using bracketing. Sometimes the camera is in an awkward position that we cannot use the VF to compose. And also, we want to touch the camera as little as possible to avoid shifting of it's position. Both the D800 and the 5DII could be controlled using a smart phone or a tablet with specific apps such as the DSLR controller or the Helicon Focus remote. The A7 is not compatible with those apps. Sony has an own app, which allows the control of the camera using NFC Wi-fi. It works but it doesn't have the functionality offered by the aforementioned apps. To my mind, no real winners in this area, nor losers.

Shutter lag is of great importance, of course. We press the shutter and we want the camera to react at that very moment. Well, both the 5DII and the D800 were great cameras in this area, whereas the A7 has a tiny little bit of a shutter lag which can be irritating if one starts paying attention to it. So I ignore it, basically. Also, I try to anticipate the changes in the composition so that I can press the shutter a few milliseconds earlier if necessary.

And finally, the viewfinder. The D800 and the 5DII had beautiful and bright optical VFs, whereas the A7 has an electronic VF, which is also large and nice. I used to have a super precision focusing screen on my 5DII, which made manual focusing much easier. On the D800, I did not have a comparable screen, but then again I did not shoot with manual focus lenses. The optical VF was not very helpful when I was shooting in near dark situations though. I had to revert to using the live view on the LCD, whenever possible. Whereas the EVF of the A7 is still usable in near dark. What I don't like about it is the lag it introduces, albeit a very short one. When shooting action, I use my left eye to look at the scene and anticipate the moment to press the shutter. At the same time, my right eye is looking at the EVF and keeping the composition right. A definitive advantage of the EVF is the possibility to use focus peaking and/or the automatic zoom assist for manual focusing. So which one do I prefer? This is a tough one to answer really. Many advantages and disadvantages to each and every one of them. I guess that I would vote for 55% for the optical VFs and for 45% for the EVF on the A7. But is is very close. I can perfectly live with the EVF on the A7. It is not a show stopper for me.

To be continued in the next post....
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  #85  
Old January 8th, 2014, 07:42 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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2) Ergonomics:
Ergonomics of the camera is largely a person dependent aspect. Do you have large or small hands, are you left handed, do you suffer from arthritis, etc. These all play a role in the verdict. But some aspects of the camera, such as a well thought out design and placement of certain buttons, the tactile feedback they provide, etc. are more or less generally applicable.

The A7 is smaller than the D800 and the 5DII (obviously) and not all the buttons are placed ideally. I could shoot blindly with my 5DII, using all the buttons without once looking at them. The same goes for the D800, albeit it was a shorter love affair for me. But the A7 is going to be a tougher nut to crack, even though most of the buttons can be reassigned to execute different functions.

One button which is the most problematic is the recessed shutter button. As Ben has referred to it earlier, it needs to be pushed deeply before taking a picture. The workaround is simple but effective. Just stick a small plastic cap atop the button, thereby extending it a bit.

Another button which causes me some grief is the C2 button which facilitates zooming into the picture when viewing it on the LCD. This is one function which cannot be assigned to another button and pushing the C2 button is rather tough due to it's recessed location and the location in itself is also not very logical. All in all, viewing images is a tough job on the A7, whereas it should have been a no brainer.

An important aspect of the ergonomics and key to fast shooting is the custom user settings preset/memory. All three cameras offer this option but the winner is definitely the 5DII, which saves all the camera settings including the CF settings into a memory location. On the D800, the situation is very complex due to the usage of 2 sets of memory banks which can be combined with each other. Although this seems to be more flexible, it is not as useful in the practice as it is with Canon. Also, some settings are global so changing the memory does not affect them. A7 offers one set of memory banks (two in total) but it doesn't save all the CF settings within the memory banks. Some settings remain globally applicable. Which reduces the efficiency of the memory banks. Again, my votes goes to the 5DII in this area.

The speed with which the camera switches on is also very important, when one wants to shoot something quickly. While both the Canon and the Nikon are near instantaneous, the A7 takes it's time (somewhere around 2-3 seconds). Which is too long in some cases when one has to react to an event.

The rotating/rocker dial at the back of the A7 is easy to turn, which sometimes causes problems. Apparently, it gets easily pushed to the left, which activates the drive mode. And then one click of counterclockwise turn sets the drive mode to multiple bracket shooting from one frame. Before one realizes it, 3 raw files are written to the SD card for each picture taken. Not very nice, although it doesn't cause harm directly. Unless one has a limited space available on the SD card of course.

To summarize, all three cameras are ergonomically built but the A7 could use some improvements here and there.

To be continued in the next post....
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  #86  
Old January 8th, 2014, 08:06 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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3) Image quality:
This is one aspect which most people focus on in the first place. One has to make a distinction between the technical IQ of a camera at the pixel level and the total IQ when one creates an output at a certain size. For the latter, Bart's Depth of Field output quality planner is a very helpful tool.

So how do these cameras compare to each other in real life, at the pixel level as well as at the output level? I have found out that the tests published by DxOMark are quite accurate when it comes to the pixel level IQ performance of these cameras. Namely, the D800 leads but the A7 follows at it's heels and the 5DII lags a bit behind. Both the D800 and the A7 have a phenomenally large DR and it never ceases to amaze me how much I can push the shadows or pull the highlights back in the post processing. Which definitely wasn't the case with the 5DII. There is one downside to having such a large DR in one frame though. One has to have and use some tonal mapping tools in the post processing to make the resulting image look as good as it possibly can be.

How do the cameras fare in the area of outputting to web/print etc? Well, in that case the differences are less obvious, especially when one processes the images with the appropriate tools. When comparing prints up to the size of A2, I could not possibly see many differences between the three cameras. Knowing that Nicolas can print 4 meters wide from his 21MP Canon files, I daresay that all three cameras are good enough if one knows how to use them properly and post process accordingly.

I can talk endlessly about SNR, pixel sizes, bit-depths, etc., but it won't make a difference to the conclusion in the above paragraph. So I won't.

To be continued in the next post....
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Old January 8th, 2014, 08:20 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
2) Ergonomics:
Ergonomics of the camera is largely a person dependent aspect. Do you have large or small hands, are you left handed, do you suffer from arthritis, etc. These all play a role in the verdict. But some aspects of the camera, such as a well thought out design and placement of certain buttons, the tactile feedback they provide, etc. are more or less generally applicable.

The A7 is smaller than the D800 and the 5DII (obviously) and not all the buttons are placed ideally. I could shoot blindly with my 5DII, using all the buttons without once looking at them. The same goes for the D800, albeit it was a shorter love affair for me. But the A7 is going to be a tougher nut to crack, even though most of the buttons can be reassigned to execute different functions.

One button which is the most problematic is the recessed shutter button. As Ben has referred to it earlier, it needs to pushed deeply before taking a picture. The workaround is simple but effective. Just stick a small plastic cap atop the button, thereby extending it a bit.

Another button which causes me some grief is the C2 button which facilitates zooming into the picture when viewing it on the LCD. This is one function which cannot be assigned to another button and pushing the C2 button is rather tough due to it's recessed location and the location in itself is also not very logical. All in all, viewing images is a tough job on the A7, whereas it should have been a no brainer.

An important aspect of the ergonomics and key to fast shooting is the custom user settings preset/memory. All three cameras offer this option but the winner is definitely the 5DII, which saves all the camera settings including the CF settings into a memory location. On the D800, the situation is very complex due to the usage of 2 sets of memory banks which can be combined with each other. Although this seems to be more flexible, it is not as useful in the practice as it is with Canon. Also, some settings are global so changing the memory does not affect them. A7 offers one set of memory banks (two in total) but it doesn't save all the CF settings within the memory banks. Some settings remain globally applicable. Which reduces the efficiency of the memory banks. Again, my votes goes to the 5DII in this area.

The speed with which the camera switches on is also very important, when one wants to shoot something quickly. While both the Canon and the Nikon are near instantaneous, the A7 takes it's time (somewhere around 2-3 seconds). Which is too long in some cases when one has to react to an event.

The rotating/rocker dial at the back of the A7 is easy to turn, which sometimes causes problems. Apparently, it gets easily pushed to the left, which activates the drive mode. And then one click of counterclockwise turn sets the drive mode to multiple bracket shooting from one frame. Before one realizes it, 3 raw files are written to the SD card for each picture taken. Not very nice, although it doesn't cause harm directly. Unless one has a limited space available on the SD card of course.

To summarize, all three cameras are ergonomically built but the A7 could use some improvements here and there.

To be continued in the next post....
Can't disagree with a single word.
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  #88  
Old January 8th, 2014, 08:23 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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4) Shooting pleasure and inspiration:
The fact is, the more pleasure I have shooting with a certain camera, the more it inspires me to take better pictures. But this is clearly a subjective aspect. That is why not every camera is good for everybody, regardless of the features/capabilities of it. In the past, I have used a Sony Nex-7 (after selling my trusty 5DII) and it hasn't excited me as much as it should have. I have sold it and went back to the D800 as a result. Therefore, one can argue that it is also what will happen with the A7. I think/hope not. After schlepping around the D800 with the very large lens for a year, I am now finding the added value of a small/lightweight camera/lens combo to be invaluable. So much so that any diminishing shooting pleasure is more than compensated by the fact that I can still continue shooting without damaging my back and my shoulder.

Also, the A7 feels a bit more camera-like compared to the Nex-7. Perhaps it is a psychological effect caused by the placement of the viewfinder and the prism-like extension atop the camera. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.

When I had the 5DII, I was shooting with the famous tilt/shift 24mm lens. That combo gave me the most inspiration and pleasure in photography in the past 5 years. But that is also a plus point of the A7. If I want to, I can buy the T/S lens and use it with an adapter again. I don't expect that I'll do this in the next year or so, but my options are open anyway.

The D800 was a real camera and felt like a brick. Reliable, tough, substantial. With the very good 24-70mm on it, it was a force to reckon with.

So does the A7 provide a similar level of pleasure of shooting as with the Canon or Nikon? In absolute terms, no it doesn't. But in practical terms, taking the usability factor into account, it gives at least as much pleasure as the other two.

To be continued in the next post....
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Old January 8th, 2014, 08:36 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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5) Overall conclusion:
And finally, the verdict. How does the A7 fare against the 5DII and the D800, taking all previously mentioned aspects into account?

In a summary, it fares well. The A7 is a worthy camera which can be used to take really good pictures with, it is compact and lightweight, it has a full frame sensor which delivers impeccable image quality and it is pleasurable to shoot with. It is flexible and almost all the lenses from other brands can be used with an adapter on this camera, which opens up a lot of possibilities.

There are of course lesser things about it. It focuses slowly, it wakes up slowly, it is ergonomically not perfect.

All pros and cons considered, I think that A7 is an excellent camera. So much so that I am content with it being my only camera at the moment.
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Old January 8th, 2014, 08:38 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
Can't disagree with a single word.
Good to hear that we are on the same page Beni.
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