Thinking About Going Full-Frame

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Hawkman, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Take a seat, this is going to be a long one. I might have to break it up into a few successive posts.

    I have come to a point where I am now very seriously considering going from my APS-C Sony A6000 to a full-frame Sony mirrorless camera body such as the A7 Mark II (A7ii). If it were just a matter of my own personal use of the camera as a hobby, I would be content to stick with the more affordable (both from a camera body and a lenses point of view) APS-C line of E-mount cameras. All-in-all I find that my A6000 yields more than adequate image quality for most of what I do with it. Any limitations I find in my photos has more to do with my own limitations, not always knowing how to make the best use of the available light or of the full capabilities of the camera, not any limitation of the camera itself. But I am now seriously considering - and have actually sort of started - getting some paid work in photography. And for that, I think a move to full-frame may be in order.

    On one level, any perceived need for a full-frame camera for “professional” or paid photography derives from the perceptions of potential clients. It seems that clients willing to pay for photography services are more likely to take a photographer seriously if that photographer has a full-frame camera, and more particularly, a bigger, DSLR-style camera. For all its positives, this the A6000 is not. But the A7, while small compared to most full-frame DSLRs, at least looks the part of a “serious” camera thanks to that viewfinder bump and the larger grip and added control dials.

    Were looks and size of the camera as a perceived “pro” tool all there was to it, I probably still wouldn’t be planning to make the jump to full-frame. But there are other benefits to full-frame and to the A7-series in particular, especially the Mark II line of A7 bodies.
     
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  2. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    When I upgraded from my initial E-mount camera, the A3000, to the A6000, I was actually somewhat disappointed with the resultant image quality of the A6000 photos I took. Don’t get me wrong, the photos were every bit as good as those I took with my A3000, and some even better in some respects, particularly with noise at ISOs above 1600. But I guess I was expecting more. In most respects, the 20 megapixel APS-C sensor of the A3000 yielded images of a resolution and color quality almost the equal to those of the 24 megapixel APS-C sensor of the A6000. The real separator between the A3000 and the A6000 came down to usability, functionality and operational performance.

    First, the A6000’s LCD and EVF - especially the EVF - were a noticeable improvement over those of the A3000 and truly made taking good photos easier in many situations. That the A6000’s LCD is a tilting one adds even more to the functionality and usability, allowing me to set up shots from more angles and in a way that I don’t have to bend over awkwardly to see the screen. Second, the added control dial and extra function buttons made accessing settings and functions easier on the A6000 compared to the constant navigation of the old NEX menus of the A3000. The FN button and menu is particularly useful. When I go back to the A3000 after using the A6000, it takes awhile to even remember where to find things that I have right at my fingertips on the A6000.

    Then there are the operational performance factors, most notably the auto-focus functionality. The A6000 was an autofocusing breakthrough for a Sony mirrorless camera when it was introduced. The 179 on-sensor phase detection autofocus points of the A6000 make continuous autofocus and tracking much more useful, especially compared to the contrast-detect only A3000. And its 11 frames per second continuous shooting capability (with autofocus enabled) still has not been exceeded by a Sony APS-C mirrorless camera (improved upon in other ways maybe, but not any faster shooting speed). Even the A7 series of full frame cameras can’t touch it, all being stuck at 5 fps or so. The new US$4500 Sony A9, well... that’s a different story… in every way. And it’s not a budget-conscious option anyhow. But the truth is that I rarely need that continuous shooting speed except to shoot my dogs at play or aircraft in flight. For the type of paid work I am looking at - event photography and real estate photography - a high frame rate of continuous shooting is not really a necessity. It is nice to have though… and so my A6000 is not going anywhere regardless.
     
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  3. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    So, since I’ve already started to broach the topic, it’s time to look at what I can gain from going to full frame - and even what I will give up.

    At the moment I am focused on the A7ii as the most likely full frame body I will obtain. I don’t feel a need for the higher resolution in megapixels of the A7Rii, nor can I realistically stretch my budget to afford one, even a used one. This is especially true if I also want to get some decent FE glass for my needs. And while the original A7 is even more affordable at this point, there are a few features of the A7ii that make it the FF camera of choice for me at this moment in time, most notably autofocus compatibility with more adapted lenses (via the LA-EA3 and MC-11 adapters in particular) and the in-body image stabilization.

    Compared to the A6000, the A7ii features the benefit of an even higher resolution (and slightly larger) viewfinder, a second upper control dial, and an exposure compensation dial, as well as an extra custom button, plus a larger grip. The one thing the A3000 had over the A6000, from my point of view, was the form factor - namely the larger grip that made one-handing the camera much easier, and made heavier lenses easier to bear. The A7ii would appear to include that same sort of beefier grip functionality, coupled to a more powerful and sturdier body. The A7ii, being a nearly all-metal body, would likely be more durable than the A6000 - not that durability has been a problem for me so far. With respect to the controls, I expect that the added upper dial will make it that much more likely that I would not need to pull the camera away to access the rear dial to control some function. And the extra exposure compensation dial would likely be very useful for more professional work, especially for manually bracketing interior shots while using flash. I haven’t used exposure compensation much so far, but I am beginning to see the usefulness of the feature as I look to advance in my skills.

    From an image quality standpoint, my research indicates that the full frame sensor of the A7ii should yield a slight gain in dynamic range over the A6000 and a noticeable improvement in signal-to-noise ratio translating to lower noise at higher ISOs and thus better low light performance. But I am not sure if it will be an overall noticeable improvement in image quality, especially given the limitations of the humble photographer wielding the camera inexpertly. I recognize that the jump to full frame will also carry with it a difference in depth of field control, for better or worse, depending on the situation. And it will make all those manual focus legacy lenses I have accumulated function at the focal length field of view for which they were intended.

    To those who have made the jump from a crop sensor Sony body to an A7-series camera, particularly the A7ii (or its 24MP predecessor, the original A7), did you notice a marked improvement in image quality? And if so (or not), in what characteristics did you see a difference?
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
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  4. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    And finally, there is the elephant in the room: the impending release of a successor to the A7 Mk. II, the mythical A7 Mk. III. The A7ii will be three years old in November. Current rumors (over on sonyalpharumors.com) indicate that an A7III is likely coming in a 3 to 6 month timeframe, possibly "not earlier than November 2017". So, the prudent course might be to wait to see what comes this Fall. However, when one decides they want to take their activity and even career to the next level, one generally doesn't want to wait for outside factors to oblige. And who says I'd have to buy an A7III as soon as it comes out? From just a stills point of view, (as for video, well... 4K) how much better will it be? I actually suspect, based on how Sony has been progressing, that the A7III may actually be more expensive than the A7ii was, coming in at say US$2000 body-only. At US$1699 with kit 28-70mm lens (which I'll want anyway), the current price of a new A7ii is not too bad. Sure, it might be more later... but that will be then, this is now.

    Anyhow, once again I put it to the esteemed members of the forum here: for those who've made the jump from a Sony APS-C body to an A7-series, was it worth it?
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  5. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 17, 2015
    I'll step in and give you my $.02 for free, Steve.
    I started my Sony adventure with a used Nex-7 as I couldn't afford an A7 at the time. I had fun with the Nex-7 and still have it, but it doesn't use the lenses at their true focal length.
    Then the A7ii came out and I was all over it, but, couldn't afford it either.
    Finally things worked out and I got a used A7ii.
    For me, it's been the answer to my dreams of being able to successfully use all the old legacy glass I inherited/had around from my film days, that wouldn't work on my D7000.
    Yes, do it. Don't wait. Think about all the pictures you'll have taken if/when the A7iii comes out. Don't miss that opportunity now, betting on the future.
    I'm not much of a photographer compared to most here. I don't use the camera to near its full capability, I'll admit it. But, it does what I want it to (use old glass), and gives me image stabilization on top of that (which is becoming more an issue as I grow older) and with the addition of a TAP adapter also gives me auto focus with those same lenses. Boy did I ever luck out.
    Yeah, I had to wait for it to happen and yeah I had to stretch my budget, but it and I survived.
    Besides, I still have more invested in my wife's sewing machines than all my camera purchases combined for the last 20 years, so I think I'm OK there too.
    Sorry this is so disjointed/rambling, but I say do it, no justification needed, it's a whole new ball game.
     
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  6. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions TalkEmount Rookie

    19
    Apr 7, 2016
    Auto focus is much slower on A7ii than a6000 just be warned. But pic quality is nice.
     
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  7. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    [TL;DR]
    Consider all implications of the systems change it is, not only just the first camera you buy in the new system.
    Important parameter IMHO: what kind of photography do you intend do as paid work? Choice of gear depends greatly on that. If you want to look like a pro, get a grip. Literally. And choose the real deal, not an off-brand thing.

    Almost your whole thought process seems to evolve around the camera itself, which is only a rather small part of the story. Changing from APS-C to FF is kind of a system change, be it not as drastic because you can use your stuff on both APS-C and FF cameras; yes, that holds for APS-C lenses too, I have used the E 18-55mm on the A7R2 for real picture-taking. Going FF means you're looking at serious investments in lenses if you want/need autofocus; I have spent more on lenses than on my FF cameras (A7R2 and A7, both bought new). And you'll seriously pay too in terms of size and weight, continually, even after the discomfort of spending money has faded to a distant memory. Just look at the size and weight difference of the FE 4/16-35mm vs. the E 4/10-18mm.

    Not specifically because of the camera, but FF is really different from APS-C in my experience, just as the step-up from µ4/3 to APS-C was a big step. You'd have to drag me kicking and screaming to go back to APS-C, I just don't want to give up dynamic range, flexibility in depth-of-field, cropping abilities (42 MP!) and use of legacy glass for its intended image format. Moreover, Sony's lens choices in APS-C are too limited for me; if I was starting over, I'd seriously consider Fuji X for APS-C despite the X-Trans sensor, just because of the lens range and Fuji's general system approach. Sony just doesn't seem to take APS-C seriously these days.

    Disclaimer: I have hardly done any paid photography work in my whole life, so what do I know?
     
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  8. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Thanks for the encouragement. I am leaning towards making the jump obviously.

    And I am also considering getting a TechArt Pro adapter at some point. I'd love to be able to autofocus all my Minolta and Nikon legacy glass. That could save me some on FE glass - autofocusing the Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50/1.4 in particular could save investing in a multi-hundred dollar FE AF 50mm f/1.4.
     
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  9. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Thanks. That's true. I know that the A6000 has better autofocus than most of the A7 series. Perhaps the A7Rii and definitely the A9 can beat it... but that's a whole other $$$ballgame$$$.
     
  10. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    I know, I tend to ramble on in my writings. But I wanted to put my thoughts out there warts and all.
    Most of what I expect to do as paid work will likely be architectural and interiors, i.e., real estate photography, with a little event photography (for corporate/business type events) from time to time. So I know I likely won't need the best or fastest autofocus. For real estate, manual focus will do fine. Indeed, so far my Robinson 12/2 on the A6000 has been perfect for real estate interiors (or the practice stuff I've been doing). Besides the fact that it's always on my mind, the thing that spurred the full frame thought was a note on a site called homejab.com, a sort of Uber for real estate photographers, that stated their requirements for photographers as having a "full frame DSLR". I'm ignoring the DSLR part, but taking the full frame part seriously.

    Oh, and I did get a grip for the A6000 for my first little ad hoc paid job. No Sony one for that, so Meike it was.

    Thanks Ad, you are right... I am all too aware of the cost it will mean in full frame lenses. To that end I expect to basically go back to the beginning. I'll start with the kit 28-70mm which seems to get very good word for a kit lens. And for real estate stuff, I know that I'll likely have to get a FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA. Beyond that I plan to go back to my legacy manual focus lenses and a few of my APS-C lenses (I hear the Sigma 30/2.8 does okay on full frame) for the immediate future. If the paid work turns up well, then I can use some of the proceeds to subsidize any further lens purchases.
     
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  11. firemist

    firemist TalkEmount Regular

    179
    Dec 4, 2015
    Why don't you wait a few months to see what Sony comes with (A7mk3) and/or Nikon mirrorless (so you can - most likely- use your existing Nikkors).
     
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  12. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    The question of wait (for an A7III) or buy now has indeed been nagging me. But everything seems to indicate that any A7III won't be announced until late this fall at the earliest, and I'd rather not just wait until whenever to get started on this new phase (especially since it has income implications).

    As for the now rumored, but still very mythical, "advanced" Nikon mirrorless, well, I'm already too heavily invested in Sony as a system to jump to another brand. It's not just the camera bodies and lenses, it's also the flashes and other hot shoe and multi-interface port accessories. Plus, I really only have three old Nikon manual focus lenses. I'm much more invested in Minolta and Sony glass at this point.
     
  13. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions TalkEmount Rookie

    19
    Apr 7, 2016
    A7iii is projected to be about 3200. A7ii can be had for about 1200 used. Safer bet is the mkii
     
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  14. firemist

    firemist TalkEmount Regular

    179
    Dec 4, 2015
    If true then the A7Rmk2 would be an even better choice IMO, unless the mk3 has something very special.
     
  15. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    From what I've read (mostly on SAR, of course), the rumors so far seem to indicate the A7mk3 is likely to have:

    - 24MP sensor, probably BSI like the A7Rii, but not "stacked" like the A9;
    - a vastly improved AF system, likely something akin to that of the A6500 or A9, with something like 400-700 PDAF points on sensor;
    - 4K video recording (with SLOG);
    - a touchscreen LCD; and
    - possibly a joystick like the A9;
    - but it will not get the 20fps continuous shooting speed of the A9, settling for something like 8fps.

    Whether it also gets the A9's beefed up body and larger battery, and whether it gets two card slots or if one will be UHS-II, is still "uncertain."
    I'd bet it will get the larger battery - if Sony wants to sell batteries and reduce production costs on them, they'll need more, higher volume bodies than the A9 to use it. As for the dual card slots, that's anybody's guess. I also don't expect it would have the Ethernet port nor the PC-Sync port, nor the extra focus mode / drive mode dial.

    As I noted above, I fully expect it to come in at around US$2000 body only, possibly more. But I'd be surprised if it were north of US$3000. That would put it above the A7Rii, and well above the Canon 6D Mk.II and Nikon D750, which seem to be it's closest DSLR competitors. Then again, the Canon 5D Mk.IV goes for over US$3000, so, who knows.

    That's just my $0.02 worth, now that we've gone there. But what do I know.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  16. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Hi Steve,

    I went from a Nex-5, to a Nex-6 and currently have the 1st gen A7 which I bought new 1-1,5 years ago.

    I agree with you: for PRO/paid work, clients unfortunately look at your gear so IMHO in that respect getting a FF Sony is the right thing to do. Heck, at weddings when I mount the 70-200 f4, the people react so much different than when I have a small prime on like the 55 f/1.8 :D

    I can't speak for the A6000, but coming from a Nex-6, I saw 1 stop better low light/high ISO on the A7. And of course much nicer controls and grip (HUGE issue for me with the apsc sony bodies). Image quality I guess it depends on glass: IMO the 28-70 was a very soft and "blunt" lens for me and on the other hand my old apsc 18-105 gave sharp results (especially at the long end)

    It depends on what photography jobs you'll do, but if its the type I imagine you will (events, weddings, sports etc), then I'd agree you don't need anything more that 24mp so the A7ii is adequate.

    The original A7 can be had for so cheap now, but I wouldn't recommend it...
    Regarding waiting for the A7iii or getting the A7ii now, I would say this: IF you have the budget now for an A7ii, then what's another 4-5 months of wait to see what the new A7iii will bring to the table? Personally I don't believe it would be very much more expensive than what the A7ii was when new and definitely not $3200! :eek-30:
    And I believe the A7iii will be a very improved/refined camera that will make the wait (and bump in price) worth it in the end of the day - especially if we are talking about PRO/paid work!

    Lastly, please take into consideration and give it a lot of thought about the lenses: again, for above PRO/paid work, you need a lot and expensive lenses! That should be considered in your budget. I'm talking from personal experience and my own sad mistakes here :D Imagine buying the A7ii and have just the kit lens and perhaps the cheap 50 f1.8 prime. You will feel inadequate (gear wise) after a while... And forget about MF lenses for that type of paid photography work. Heck, (it may sounds bad) but I personally would't even use adapted AF lenses either...


    Edit: just saw that you replied about what type of paid work you'll do (architecture/interiors), so my comments about the lenses are totally irrelevant. And for those type of work then maybe yes, you could benefit a lot from a higher MP camera like the A7R series...

    Tough call :(
     
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  17. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    Sadly, layman's perception is 9/10 reality. Even though it's pure ignorance. Bear in mind, you will not only be moving to a new camera, format, but attempting to take on paid work with said gear with little time behind it. That can add to the anxiety levels. :) Results are expected by the customer. It's the events that don't allow flexibility. The static real estate shoots will be more forgiving to time constraints.
    Not saying you don't get a full-frame body now. That is the scale you're balancing, paid gigs justify the investment now. It's all tax deductible as a business expense too. ;)
    There is nothing to constrain you from buying an a7ii (even used) now, and selling it later when the a7iii is released if it warrants an upgrade.
    All your batteries for the a6000 will supplement an a7ii for day long event gigs too. But I'd not so quickly dismiss the a6000 based on perception.
    You already have a battery grip for it, so that adds bulk :)D) for that pro look. Another is to install a camera cage. With all the attachment points, grips, external battery, accessories, rails, it looks at home attached to RoboCop! Not only looks professional, but downright intimidating! :D
    For interior design shoots, no one would be so arrogant to claim you're not 'professional' if you showed up with a tripod with nodal slide on a pano clamp and an a6000 in an L bracket. IMHO, for truly high resolution, wide interior shots for clients, you'll be migrating to stitched panoramic images.

    I'm also pining for an a7ii full frame upgrade. But I've decided to wait till Fall for signs of the A7iii. I don't think it will be more than $2500. Possibly $2100.
    But, I don't have any potential paid gigs. ;)
    Get the A7ii, pursue your prospects. If they pay, all is good. If they dry up, that's OK too, because you wanted to try full-frame and IBIS. You may find that the a6000 can be fully replaced by the A7ii, and sell your APS-C gear.
    I see no negatives or reasons to hesitate to get an A7ii now. Commercial revenue always justifies the capital investment.
     
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  18. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Top Veteran

    998
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    I am a rank amateur compared to the photographers here (why I do not post images very often), so this is mostly a hobby for my own enjoyment and certainly not for paid work. I really struggled over whether to move to full-frame myself. When the trade-in bonus and rebate program came up earlier this year, I decided I had to try it and sold some of my favorite lenses to help fund an A7ii with the 28-70 kit lens. Some of my reasons are the same you cited. IBIS is very helpful, PDAF was needed for AF adapters I also wanted (TAP is amazing). The ergonomic aspects actually surprised me. I thought I preferred the small bodies (still have the A6000 and like it), but I have found the larger body more comfortable, easier to grip, etc. I find I can pretty much stay in the viewfinder and feel my way around the controls (which I customized), which is very nice. Another big reason for me, is eliminating the crop factor. I originally learned photography on 35mm film, so I always found adjusting to the crop factor somewhat trying even after using it for several years. You will lose the telephoto reach of APS-C, but wide angles are truly wide. For your work that is a good thing. After having used a 10-18mm on A6000 for a while, I now find 20mm is about as wide as I want to go (for now anyway), but you may want wider. (Note that the 10-18 can be used at about 12-17mm on FF if you remove a baffle and reportedly does pretty well - I seem to recall you have one of these.)

    IQ wise, I do think it is better though maybe not dramatically so. A little extra DR, better at higher ISOs, better DOF control, etc. I am currently torn on what to do about lenses. It may be coincidence and/or GAS, but I do find myself wanting better glass. Same MP as the A6000 but FF seems to demand a little extra from your lenses, and points out flaws. Perhaps it was that I was just getting the center of the image circle on my mostly legacy lenses. I think you will find that you will want better lenses for your architecture at least. Unfortunately native Sony glass is not cheap, though by all reports is excellent. TAP is amazing if you want to use legacy glass, but even there you may want the better (read more expensive) legacy glass. I am still exploring this after picking up a TAP, so my opinion may change in the future. Probably more about my ability or lack thereof to coax quality images out of my existing lenses.

    As for the A7iii, nobody knows for certain when it will come or what it will have, much less what it will cost. If I was upgrading right now, and still could not manage an A7Rii (which is the case), personally I would buy a used A7ii. I usually buy used bodies anyway, and had planned to do so until the Sony program came up. If you are careful about it, you can get something that looks practically new and functions fine for a decent discount over new. While we all wait to see what happens with an A7iii, you will have a very nice full frame body with all the pluses. If you buy used, even though the used prices will drop you may not lose too much value if you sell it to buy an A7iii.

    I do think the APS-C bodies are great and a great value packed with a lot of cool features. It is very much an individual thing as to what suits you better. If I had to do it over again knowing what I do now, I would still go full frame, because that is what suits me. It is a tough call.
     
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  19. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    ^^ Are you kidding? Post away Bob! Most of us are just hobbyists and rank amateurs. I still manage to forget to remove the lens cap now and then! :D
     
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  20. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    :) The [TL;DR] was meant for my sentence immediately after, not for your post :)
     
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