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How I feel a few months into my A7

pellicle

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I've had my A7 for a few months now and I must say I'm largely very pleased with it. I've re-learned about a number of things, which had fallen into disuse in the intervening 10 years of mainly micro43 and Large Format (4x5) film.

I understand that not everyone will feel inclined to go over to my blog and read my TLDR post there (although as some may here it is in my view ...: how I'm feeling about my Sony A7 experiment) so I'll attempt to put just a summary here.

So in a word: Good.

From the day that I first read impressions various of the A7 and its use with legacy FD lenses (and wasn't it handy that E-Mount adapters from the APS-C cameras just worked, kudos Sony) I was attracted to it. However I didn't feel it would be as suitable camera for travel compared to my well proven over years m43 rig and perhaps would not provide anything valuable compared to my scanning of 35mm film taken with my OM1 camera {which could survive days out in -20C in Finland on ski sled trips}.

In the intervening time things happened (I sold my Nikon Film scanner for one) and the A7 camera system has improved and the prices dropped. So I bought one back in October (as documented on my blog here). Back then I wrote:
My $20 Canon FD 50mm f1.4 (a beautiful lens) married up with this body would be superb. It would give the wonderful Bokeh I know it does and give better shallow DoF than the (commonly dribbled about by King Wangs subjects) Nocticron lens for micro43 (which costs nearly as much as just this body is likely to).and of course it has exactly delivered that ...

John%2540Table.jpg
   ---            


Having already had a collection of FD lenses (from use in my early days of micro43 because no native prime lenses existed in 2009) I was able to pretty much bring them to bear with no extra expenditure than an adapter.

Since then I've added two more to my collection, a 24 and a 100 (mentioned above).

As I mentioned earlier, I had been procrastinating (since like 2014) about buying the A7 because I was using still using 35mm film, I anticipated that the A7 would give me fairly equal tonal range to Colour Negative, and nearly all the benefits of an almost perfect Nikon LS-4000 film scanner scan, The Nikon returned 5546 x 3784 pixels while the Sony 6000 x 4000. An image from this post on my full frame camera is film.


uenoShrine.jpg
   ---            


GAS TRAPS
Speaking for myself (and observing what I read) there is a tendency to want to "standardize" ones system and have "One Camera System", perhaps its because it makes the decision of what to "take" when you walk out the door easier, perhaps its because one doesn't like to have gear sitting around "going stale" and deprecating.
oneRing.jpg
   ---            

The reality is for me however that neither of my digital camera systems are going to significantly further depreciate (like I paid $800 for my GH-1, $70 for my GF-1, recently got given another GF-1 body) and indeed with respect to micro43 I'm now (after 10 years of horse trading lenses) comfortable with exactly what I have and why ... so much so that nothing newly released looks even interesting to me (usually because its too big).

Its important that to avoid falling into this trap that I need to keep focus (pun) on the fact that I wanted to add the A7 not to have a Full Frame Camera which is more amenable to travel, but simply to have one when I wish to explore aspects of photography to which it provides some actual real benefits (and trust me, they are probably fewer than you might think and highly specific), unless you're after huge image size for printing BIG.

This is a concept (GAS traps) which I enumerated in my 2014 blog post Gearing towards a Photographic Vision, which still underscores my view.
 
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saledolce

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I'm really interested in hearing opinions from other people that added FF recently, I picked my A7ii one month ago. Until now I've mostly spent my time fighting the shallow depth of field.
 

saledolce

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Stop down two. Don't be afraid to crank ISO. Do some testing to get confident with what it'll do.

That's exactly what I'm doing, I shoot f5.6 where I would have shot f2.8 on m43. That's why I'm interested to hear others recently experiencing the joys of FF: I feel like my two stops benefit is completely going away to recover the DoF I need to get the shot.
 

pellicle

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That's exactly what I'm doing, ...to recover the DoF I need to get the shot.
As one who used "Full Frame" for decades , as film, before m43 arrived I was pretty clear as to this being a major benefit of m43, however it is well balanced by the ability to crank that ISO in response.

So to me it's a sliding scale with things Full Frame can therefore to do that m43 can't.

The need for adjusting f numbers to smaller aperture for DoF control diminishes with working distance. So when shooting stuff a bit further away there isn't the need to worry about that.

Stopping down to clean up a lens though is a different matter. Modern lenses help that of course, but they are dear.

I'm pretty happy with (say) my FD200f4 at f4 :)
dsc04644-01_20181028_061643-jpg.jpg
ILCE-7    ---    NANmm    f/NAN    1/750s    ISO 800


I guess what i was trying to say in my first post is that I can now use fNumber to govern my desired DoF, and have more free hand with the ISO to get shutter speed where I want it , without sacrificing bit depth noise

Check these graphs and note how the bit depth extends too

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 vs Sony A7 | DxOMark
 
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Christop82

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That's exactly what I'm doing, I shoot f5.6 where I would have shot f2.8 on m43. That's why I'm interested to hear others recently experiencing the joys of FF: I feel like my two stops benefit is completely going away to recover the DoF I need to get the shot.
I think you're looking at it wrong. The two stop advantage primarily applies to ISO. You can always stop FF lenses down to gain dof, but you can't always go two stops narrower dof or two stops higher iso with m43. If you're not using the two stop ISO advantage and wide dof is what you're after, then maybe m43 is what you should stick with.
 

saledolce

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I think you're looking at it wrong. The two stop advantage primarily applies to ISO. You can always stop FF lenses down to gain dof, but you can't always go two stops narrower dof or two stops higher iso with m43. If you're not using the two stop ISO advantage and wide dof is what you're after, then maybe m43 is what you should stick with.

Maybe I'm looking at it from the wrong direction, indeed I'm not ditching my FF stuff, I'm learning how to make the best use of if, just like anything else I shoot.

I see very clearly the superior flexibility of the raw file, I can push it in post much more than a m43 raw file, the dynamic range is a clear improvement. But two stops is two stops, if I shoot f5.6/ISO3200 with FF or f2.8 ISO800 with m43 where is the two stops advantage?
 

saledolce

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I guess what i was trying to say in my first post is that I can now use fNumber to govern my desired DoF, and have more free hand with the ISO to get shutter speed where I want it , without sacrificing bit depth noise

Check these graphs and note how the bit depth extends too

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 vs Sony A7 | DxOMark

To my example above: if I go in any of those charts and compare A7 @3200 ISO with the GX80 @800ISO all the metrics are a little better on the m43 camera. I guess my Em1.ii compared to my A7ii would have a similar "two stops advantage".

To have a benefit I need to be in a situation (like you mentioned above) where I can shoot f2.8 also on full frame. For example because the distance from the subject gives extra DoF, or in a situation where the subject is "flat" and DoF doesn't play an important role, or I'm shooting a wide lens in hyperfocal....
 

Christop82

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To my example above: if I go in any of those charts and compare A7 @3200 ISO with the GX80 @800ISO all the metrics are a little better on the m43 camera. I guess my Em1.ii compared to my A7ii would have a similar "two stops advantage".

To have a benefit I need to be in a situation (like you mentioned above) where I can shoot f2.8 also on full frame. For example because the distance from the subject gives extra DoF, or in a situation where the subject is "flat" and DoF doesn't play an important role, or I'm shooting a wide lens in hyperfocal....
I guess I've not encountered those types of situations, at least not often. If I'm stopping down to 5.6 on my FF then I'm most likely in a bright environment, or on a tripod where my iso will still be very low.
My shooting is primarily indoors in poorly lit environments. Family functions. With a little bit of space I can shoot candid shots at f1.8 or f2, keep the iso under 800, and keep shutter speeds near 60 to prevent motion blur. It's just not possible with my m43 setups.
 

saledolce

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With a little bit of space I can shoot candid shots at f1.8 or f2, keep the iso under 800, and keep shutter speeds near 60 to prevent motion blur. It's just not possible with my m43 setups.

That's a good example of something that would be challenging with a smaller sensor, you would need something like the Voightlanders f0.95 but those are just available as a MF lenses. I need to consider the distance to the subject factor, maybe the extra DoF I'm used to with m43 drives me to get "too close" to my subjects, and this makes the DoF I get at f1.8 too thin for me.
 

pellicle

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Hi

To my example above: if I go in any of those charts and compare A7 @3200 ISO with the GX80 @800ISO all the metrics are a little better on the m43 camera. I guess my Em1.ii compared to my A7ii would have a similar "two stops advantage".

agreed, although it also needs to be included "measured ISO" not just "Manufacturer ISO" (not highly significant in this case, but in the case of my GH1 its significant)

To have a benefit I need to be in a situation (like you mentioned above) where I can shoot f2.8 also on full frame. For example because the distance from the subject gives extra DoF, or in a situation where the subject is "flat" and DoF doesn't play an important role, or I'm shooting a wide lens in hyperfocal....
agreed, its not a universal "one is better than the other" but both cameras are indeed different.

If all that mattered was the measurements of
  • ISO
  • shutter
  • aperture
  • DoF
then indeed things would be "fungible" and both cameras would essentially be equivalent.

There are however differences in rendering, for instance I simply can't get a combination on m43 which to my eye suitably equals my 100f2.8 or my 50f.14 on my A7 (you will note that I have specifically mentioned that I intend to keep both systems). There is something about "contrast" and tonality which is missing on the m43 systems in specific areas of "effective focal lengths"

For instance in 2011 I published this exploration on my blog:
in my view ...: Portrait lenses: 5D vs GH1

and concluded that I preferred the rendering of the 5D to my GH1, I prefer again the rendering of the A7 to that of the (series 1) 5D (and prefer even more the A7 mirrorless features which to me make SLR cameras feel stoneage, not unlike my Bessa 120 folder (which I do still like)).

Sure I could upgrade my GH1 to something more modern (such as the G85 which I've explored here in my view ...: GH-1 vs G85 (big generational change) ) but find that for less money I can take the A7 with me when I know I'll be dealing with Low Light Shooting and know that at the same ISO's I'll get a better bit depth (which those images shows is getting to unacceptable levels of shallow on the G85).

There is always "swings and roundabouts" something gained and something sacrificed.

I understand that what you are engaging in here is your own personal exploration of what "your particular compromise is" and I'm engaging in a manner to facilitate that (not tell you what I think is right).

I hope that comes across ...
:)
 
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pellicle

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Hi

firstly if you don't mind having the same number of MPix then consider the A7s

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 vs Sony A7S vs Sony A7 | DxOMark

this shows it has a much better ability to crank on that ISO while holding noise and bit depth

...I need to consider the distance to the subject factor, maybe the extra DoF I'm used to with m43 drives me to get "too close" to my subjects, and this makes the DoF I get at f1.8 too thin for me.

I'm not sure what you mean here ... if you're talking with the same equivalence lens (say a 25 on 43rds and 50 on FF) then you'll always get a more pronounced shallow DoF with f1.8 set on both (and the subject will be the same size in the view finder from the same distance).

This is just part of the learning of what a different "format" gives ... people who move between 6x7 on 120 roll and 35mm encountered exactly this, which led many to settle on 35mm ... even more so with 4x5 sheet.

When considering larger formats its inevitable that you need higher f-numbers (smaller apertures), for instance my 90mm lens (equivalent to about a 28mm in 35mm film) is f8 and I need to stop it down to f11 to get it at its best. Given I use that with film cranking ISO is just not going to happen, because even 400 ISO is showing more grain than I like.

So when you understand the gamut of sensor size (be it film or digtal) angle of view and light you can see why 43 was considered to be a sweet spot in digital (when half frame in 35mm film was crummy) giving adequate control over focal zone and ability to work with larger apertures (smaller f numbers) balancing its lack of photons hitting the wells...
 

pellicle

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Maybe I'm looking at it from the wrong direction ... But two stops is two stops, if I shoot f5.6/ISO3200 with FF or f2.8 ISO800 with m43 where is the two stops advantage?

well its not a rule but a sliding scale. Depending on what you are looking at and what you value.

  • if you are wanting deeper DoF then m43 gives you a two stop advantage (for a given f-number , ISO and Shutter speed)
  • if you want shallower DoF then FF gives you a two stop advantage (meaning the advantage of having a much cheaper f2 50mm lens to do the job of a f1 25mm m43 lens, which in reality would be the afore mentioned f.97)
  • if you wanted to push ISO (because shooting at a distance DoF is meaningless) then with equivalent F-number lenses then FF will give you a two stop advantage
  • if you were using an f2.8 lens on m43 it would probably look great at f2.8 but a similar grade lens on FF would proably need to be stopped down to f5.6 to clear up the edges (another 2 stop advantate)

But its not always as clear cut as simply "a 2 stop advantage" because what you wanted is important in determining if that is an advantage or not.

I have an age old saying from my University Daze : Simplifications are for Simpletons and Dumbing Down something for explanation will result in Dumbing it Down so that its probably wrong.

AKA : Know your tools :)
 

pellicle

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...I feel like my two stops benefit is completely going away to recover the DoF I need to get the shot.

and then Christoph said:
I think you're looking at it wrong. The two stop advantage primarily applies to ISO.

so taking this example I was recently at a 50th birthday party with my GF1 and my 20f1.7
Late in the evening this shot of mother and son presented itself.


P1110519.jpg
DMC-GF1       20mm    f/1.7    1/80s    ISO 1600


Looking at the data:
ExposureTime - 1/80 seconds
FNumber - 1.70
ExposureProgram - Aperture priority
ISOSpeedRatings - 1600

I would not have been able to open up more (already f1.7), nor safely slow shutter down and frankly 3200 sucks on my m43 (so upping the ISO would be dreadful)

DoF wasn't too shallow

Had I had my A7 with me (this was actually a shot which tipped me over the edge in buying mine) I would have put a 35mm lens on it which while being f2.8 would have been a superior shot cos I could have happily cranked the ISO FAR higher (and had better wiggle room in the RAW file too. As frankly the high ISO's of m43 are rather poor when it comes to noise levels and its really in the OOC JPG engines that the big strides have been made in "image quality improvement" in m43 ... well since the start really.

iso-gf-a7.jpg
   ---            


and it would be better again because you could mask that noise a bit in some post processing, scale back to 2000 pixels (x3 reduction) and it would look better than the GF1 image scaled back to 2000 pixels (x2 reduction).

So I still think you would be best benefited by playing with some "scenarios" and looking ... do so in a stepwise and logical manner and work with both JPG and RAW and see if its better for you.

... or not
 

saledolce

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First of all, happy new year everyone!

@pellicle I think I understand what you mean, but I think we should take sensor generations into account. I find ISO3200 pretty usable on my em1.ii, I'm still trying to understand where this limit is for my A7ii but I'm not sure the gap will be two stops since the A7ii sensor is a bit older.

By the way, yesterday I had quite a nice session with my A7ii using an adapted 35mm f2.8 Zuiko lens.

Using vintage lenses (I have a nice collection of OM Zuiko, I also shoot them on my OM1) without changing their nature with "crop factor" is one of the reasons that pushed me to add a FF body to my kit.

I shot f11/f16 most of the time: one of the things I need to adapt is my resistance to "high f numbers", that's probably another habit coming from m43 sensor that makes no sense in FF land. In a couple of shots I completely missed the exposure, heavily underexposing. I pushed them in post by two stops (at least) and the result was completely clean, while I'm pretty sure it would have been unusable (or only usable with DXO Prime denoise) on m43. That was interesting, it felt like having the 2 stops advantage (or more) and I didn't even have to crank the ISO up ...
 

saledolce

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I'm not sure what you mean here ... if you're talking with the same equivalence lens (say a 25 on 43rds and 50 on FF) then you'll always get a more pronounced shallow DoF with f1.8 set on both (and the subject will be the same size in the view finder from the same distance).

Yes, I was referring to that kind of situation.

Using a 25mm f1.8 m43, I'm used to a certain distance from the subjects, I shoot full aperture and I'm comfortable with the DoF I get.

If I gravitate at the same distance with FF and my 50mm f1.8, I need to develop a slightly different habit.
 

JonathanF2

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I've replaced M43 with 1" sensor cameras when I want something small and compact. I find there's not much difference between the two files especially with the newer 20mp BSI 1" sensor. The advantage with FF is having more subject to background separation, smoother OOF transitions, easier highlight recovery and more malleable raw files. This is most noticeable with portraiture type shooting.

Regarding 1", I picked up a fire sale Nikon J5 camera and the images look very much like the A7 III images, just in smaller form. Not to mention I also get OSPDAF that no low end M43 camera comes equipped with.
 
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pellicle

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Hi

First of all, happy new year everyone!

and to you too:
2019NewYearMessage.jpg
   ---            


@pellicle I think I understand what you mean, but I think we should take sensor generations into account. I find ISO3200 pretty usable on my em1.ii,[/quote]

when I tested one I found it barely better than my GH1, and looked better in JPG than it did in RAW ... as I mentioned earlier (maybe not here??) its the development in those JPG processing engines which has improved.


I'm still trying to understand where this limit is for my A7ii but I'm not sure the gap will be two stops since the A7ii sensor is a bit older.

the very first thing I did when I got my A7 was to do this:
in my view ...: experiments with Sony A7 Full Frame

I like to know my tools, and while I don't spend hours photographing things ad nauseam I do always do some things to "get the hang" of it so I then understand what my tool can do. I like it to any artist getting new dyes and pigments for their paints.


By the way, yesterday I had quite a nice session with my A7ii using an adapted 35mm f2.8 Zuiko lens.

Using vintage lenses (I have a nice collection of OM Zuiko, I also shoot them on my OM1) without changing their nature with "crop factor" is one of the reasons that pushed me to add a FF body to my kit.

I understand. I have a great fondness for my (recently parted with) OM-1. I have kept only a single lens (the 50f1.8) as it remains such a great optic. (my reason was compounded by yet another international move, and weight was a determining factor of cost).

For a bunch of reasons (happy to discuss) I settled on nFD and gradually reduced my OM collection over time ...

None the less I agree heartilly, these lenses render much nicer on the FF than they did on smaller (APS-C or m43) sensors. For instance my OM 100f2.8 looked great on film (and indeed on digital) but in the same role my OM50f1.8 lacked contrast and had a less desirable bokeh on m43

Indeed this is the reason I'm now using the A7 ... not for any "fstop advantage"

one of the things I need to adapt is my resistance to "high f numbers", that's probably another habit coming from m43 sensor that makes no sense in FF land.

this is exactly what I was meaning in my initial response. I find that change in aperture has a more significant effect in FF (even more so on 4x5 too) and you go from the single simplistic effect of balancing exposure with "marginal change in DoF" (if any when shooting at greater than 5 meters away) to having actually control over DoF and having the ability to alter the feel of the lens taking advantage of natural vignetting present, and thus knowing something about "the character" of the lens.

Its a journey of learning

:)
 

Drd1135

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To be honest, I’ve found the high iso noise from the A7 to be essentially the same as the Fuji XE3/XH1/XT2 (same sensor). The A7R3 is much better, of course. I did really like the A7 as a small walk around camera with the Samyang 35 2.8.
 
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Richard Crowe

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I began with Sony because I wanted Eye-AF. My full-frame Canon 6D Mark-2 allowed for face detect focus but, not Eye specific AF and the face detect had to be used with live view. Viewing with the LCD in bright sunlight was darn near impossible for my old eyes. I wanted a camera with Eye detect AF viewable through an eye level viewfinder.
I started with an A6500 because I got a good price on one. I also received a Sigma MC-11 adapter but was not satisfied with the results of my Canon lenses on the APSC camera. I always shot with a pair of cameras so I picked up an A6400. I finally bit the bullet and sold all of my Canon gear and purchased a full frame A7iii. I have since sold all of my Canon glass and have only native e-mount lenses (Sony, Sigma and Tamron) as well as a small assortment of Legacy glass.
I was expecting to sell the A6500 when I purchased the A7iii but, I think that I will keep it for times when I need or want a really lightweight pair of cameras.
As much as I like my A6400 and A6500, I am totally in awe of the A7iii. Combined with the 28-75mm f.2,8 Tamron it makes a great outfit...
 

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