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A7 series tethering speeds

Brandon Jackson

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Jun 25, 2020
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All, I'm new to the Sony A7 ecosystem as I recently picked up an A7R II. Part of what I shoot are headshots and for the past few years I've shot tethered during my shoots so the client(s) can see the images as I shoot. This has been a great way to work giving instant feedback and it helps coach the subject. When I have been using my Olympus EM1 (both mki and mkii) the images show nearly instantly, like .5 second or less even when shooting raw. Now granted the images are much smaller (20mp) and shooting raw makes a ~17 MB file and the EM1 mkii has USB 3 so this isn't unexpected. I find that shooting tethered with the A7rII that it takes ~5 seconds so see an image. Of course it runs a slower USB2 port and it has to transfer a 42MB file. Even jpegs are only slightly less time to transfer as I think the camera spends a lot of time having to process all that image data..

So long story but my question is does anyone have experience with tethering speeds on an A7II or the III as well as the A7RIII? I'm going to get a second body this month and was thinking an A7II might be the perfect backup/headshot camera since I don't need 40+ mp for headshots and the smaller file size might make for faster tethering.

Thank in advance for any thoughts here,

Brandon
 

SpecFoto

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Brandon, I don't do much tethering, as my portraits are 99% outside in natural settings, but I can offer some other info you may find useful. Long time user of M4/3 and since 2014 I have shot with a EM1 and the Nocticron 42.5 f1.2 and Oly 75mm f1.8 for my portrait work. Two year ago I added a Sony A7III and my goto lenses are the Zeiss Basis 85mm f1.8 and the Batis 135mm f2.8, both of which have OIS, as the Sony IBIS just sucks compared to Olympus. Use the Sony 55 f1.8 too, which is great.

Olympus uses lossless compression that reduces the file size of raws to between 17 to 20mb. It just works great behind the scene without degrading the photo. Sony does not have lossless compression and their Compressed Raw is lossy compression. It reduces the file from a 14 bit to a 12 bit file, something they don't like to mention, and artifacts can be seen in some cases. Sony A7III Compressed Raw files are in the 20 to 25MB range, where the uncompressed raw file size is 49 MB, or 2-1/2 times the file size of the Olympus file and twice as big as the Sony Compressed Raw. It's definitely takes longer to transfer, but this is the file format I use for Sony as I want my Raws to be a clean as possible.

My suggestion is to get the A7III and not the previous model II for two very important reasons. The upgraded battery and the eye detect AF. The battery went up in size in the Ver. III of the A7 and A7R models and it makes a huge difference. I can shoot upwards of 1,000 shots on 1 battery if I don't pixel peep too much, just remarkable. And the eye detect is just incredible on the A7III, much better than previous. I turn this on and just forget about focusing with portraits. This Saturday I had a shoot in the Hi Desert with 2 models and took over 450 photos and only 1, yes 1, had blown focus. The models were not always still or looking at the camera, if the focus can't find an eye it goes to a face or head outline.

I shot with Nikon FF lenses for many years and the DOF on FF fast lenses is most times not enough for close up portrait work and that is why my Nikon 58mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 lenses were mostly shot at F2 to F2.4. For this reason went I with the Basis 85mm f1.8 and 135mm f2.8 lenses and did not feel I needed the heavier and more expensive f1.4 and f1.8 variants. Very happy with this decision.

And, just to muck things up :laugh:, I recently bought the new Olympus EM1.3 as I miss shooting with my Nocticron f1.2 lens. The Nocticron has double the DOF but is still a f1.2 lens, and that is why I consider it my best portrait lens ever. And the new EM1.3 now has very, very good eye and face detection. The Sony eye detect will work a bit further away and this comes into play sometimes at the 135mm, or Oly 75mm length, but other than that the 2 eye detect systems are comparable. And if the Olympus Eye detect doesn't pick up at longer distances, they have finally added a joystick for moving the AF point, that makes this easy to do. As a lot of my shoots are off road, I will continue to carry the Oly system due to the lighter weight and bulk, as I usually bring Godox AD200 light and carry all on my back.
 
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Brandon Jackson

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  • #3
Brandon, I don't do much tethering, as my portraits are 99% outside in natural settings, but I can offer some other info you may find useful. Long time user of M4/3 and since 2014 I have shot with a EM1 and the Nocticron 42.5 f1.2 and Oly 75mm f1.8 for my portrait work. Two year ago I added a Sony A7III and my goto lenses are the Zeiss Basis 85mm f1.8 and the Batis 135mm f2.8, both of which have OIS, as the Sony IBIS just sucks compared to Olympus. Use the Sony 55 f1.8 too, which is great.

Olympus uses lossless compression that reduces the file size of raws to between 17 to 20mb. It just works great behind the scene without degrading the photo. Sony does not have lossless compression and their Compressed Raw is lossy compression. It reduces the file from a 14 bit to a 12 bit file, something they don't like to mention, and artifacts can be seen in some cases. Sony A7III Compressed Raw files are in the 20 to 25MB range, where the uncompressed raw file size is 49 MB, or 2-1/2 times the file size of the Olympus file and twice as big as the Sony Compressed Raw. It's definitely takes longer to transfer, but this is the file format I use for Sony.

My suggestion is to get the A7III and not the previous model II for two very important reasons. The Battery and the Eye Detect AF. The battery went up in size in the Ver. III of the A7 and A7R models and it makes a huge difference. I can shoot upwards of 1,000 shots on 1 battery if I don't pixel peep too much, just remarkable. And the eye detect is just incredible on the A7III, much better than previous. I turn this on and just forget about focusing. This Saturday I had a shoot in the Hi Desert with 2 models and took over 450 photos and only 1, yes 1, had blown focus. The models were not always still or looking at the camera, if the focus can't find an eye it goes to a face or head outline.

I shot with Nikon FF lenses for many years and the DOF on FF fast lenses is most times not enough for close up portrait work and that is why my Nikon 58mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 lenses were mostly shot at F2 to F2.4. For this reason went I with the Basis 85mm f1.8 and 135mm f2.8 lenses and did not feel I needed the f1.4 and f1.8 variants. Very happy with this decision.

But, just to muck things up :laugh: I recently bought the new Olympus EM1.3 as I miss shooting with my Nocticron f1.2 lens. The Nocticron has double the DOF but is still a f1.2 lens, and that is why I consider it my best portrait lens ever. And the new EM1.3 now has very, very good eye and face detection. The Sony eye detect will work a bit further away and this comes into play sometimes at the 135mm, or Oly 75mm length, but other than that the 2 eye detect systems are comparable. And if the Olympus Eye detect doesn't pick up at longer distances, they have finally added a joystick for moving the AF point, that makes this easy to do. As a lot of my shoots are off road, I will continue to carry the Oly system due to the lighter weight and bulk, as I usually bring Godox AD200 light and carry all on my back.
Thank you for the reply, and yes, the file sizes do make a difference and I believe that the embedded jpeg in the raw file is what pops up in the olympus capture software which is part of the reason it is so quick. I did test the A7rII using JPEG, Compressed RAW, and Uncompressed Raw and they were quickest in that order, but the jpeg only was still 3 to 4 seconds while the compressed raw took about 5 and the uncompressed took a little over 6 (~85mb files). I prefer to shoot raw but could get away with extra fine jpegs for headshots when doing groups.
I think a majority of the time is spent processing the images in camera (first 3 seconds or so) since they are so large. Then the time it takes to transfer the image over USB2 is the remainder of the time. I'm thinking the A7II would be faster simply as it has around half the data to crunch but like you said, the A7III should be faster overall with a faster processor and connection. That's why I was hoping to find some users who have tethered with those cameras to see what their experience has been. :)
 

SpecFoto

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That's why I was hoping to find some users who have tethered with those cameras to see what their experience has been. :)
Did a search on "Tether" here and it produced about 10 posts in 3 years, 2 of which were yours and mine. :frown: Not a lot of pros here, but I love it nonetheless. Suggest you go to the Sony forum on Fred Miranda dot com, very active group and lots of pros there.
 
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Brandon Jackson

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Thank you, I'll have a look. I'm also considering just connecting directly to a monitor via HDMI cable. I can hit the "play" button on the camera and see the image within a second or so after taking it. I'm hoping this will display on the monitor too? That would solve the issue altogether :)
 

Brandon Jackson

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Problem solved. HDMI works fine (just make sure you're not set to record 4K video in the settings). Use HDMI plus instant review and it works perfectly and instantly.
 

Brandon Jackson

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So are you hooking this up to an HDMI input on a computer? Or?
Connected to a 22" monitor. It sits on a light stand next to me when I'm shooting headshots. I used to have my computer there tethered to the EM1. Actually not a bad compromise :)
 

WNG

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The older versions of the A7 series had the Playmemories App. It had a remote shutter feature which transferred a JPEG review file to the app for display after a shot. Done via WiFi.
You might want to look into it to see if a shot activated by the physical shutter button will still transfer the JPEG when the app is enabled.
The app can be on a smartphone or tablet which could feed out an HDMI signal to a monitor or TV. The JPEG is a reduce resolution review image so it's almost instantaneous. The reduced resolution would not be an issue for a 1080P TV. Even a 4K TV.
 

Brandon Jackson

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The older versions of the A7 series had the Playmemories App. It had a remote shutter feature which transferred a JPEG review file to the app for display after a shot. Done via WiFi.
You might want to look into it to see if a shot activated by the physical shutter button will still transfer the JPEG when the app is enabled.
The app can be on a smartphone or tablet which could feed out an HDMI signal to a monitor or TV. The JPEG is a reduce resolution review image so it's almost instantaneous. The reduced resolution would not be an issue for a 1080P TV. Even a 4K TV.
True, but this way I can skip the step of an extra device and just go straight to the monitor from the camera, and now I don't have to have my laptop on the stand like I did before. I'll be trying this out tomorrow with a headshot client which will be my first one since moving to Sony.
 

Richard Crowe

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I have not tethered my A7iii but, I will echo the advice to get an A7iii rather then the A7ii (if you can afford it). The AF capability of the A7iii far exceeds that of the A7ii - especially in Eye-AF which is great for portraiture of humans and animals. I tried the A7ii before I bought the A7iii and I am glad that I forked over the extra cash for the Mk-3 model...

The extra size battery is nice but, I always carried several batteries for my A6500 or A6400 and never had problems with battery capacity in portrait sessions...

I never worry about focusing on the eye/eyes when shooting the A7iii with Eye-AF actuated. Any slight movement of camera or the subject's head is automatically compensated for and I can concentrate on catching the expression and overall composition.
 
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WNG

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True, but this way I can skip the step of an extra device and just go straight to the monitor from the camera, and now I don't have to have my laptop on the stand like I did before. I'll be trying this out tomorrow with a headshot client which will be my first one since moving to Sony.
My thoughts were to possibly see if you can still achieve reviews for the models and retrieve them quick and wirelessly through WiFi. Possibly freeing you up from a tether in the studio and allowing for freer movement and posing. I'm all for the ability to display the resulting shot for the models to view, and don't see why such a feature isn't incorporated into the bodies with WiFi. It's a no brainer. To achieve this on other systems like the Nikon D850, required a friend to buy a 3rd party device to transfer the RAWs and JPEGs wirelessly. :p
 

bobbill

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Now, I have been coveting an A7II as I like its size and uses older batteries...so I should change...???

By the way, very interesting comments...ditto re "tethering" too.
 
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