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Author Topic: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?  (Read 185734 times)

shadowblade

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #80 on: December 30, 2017, 08:56:13 PM »

You are totally wrong here. The eye-AF of the A7R2 and now the A9 and A7R3 is game changing for both portraits where the model is moving as well as any other situation where you are taking photos of people. Try following a child in dim light ( IE:  wide open at 1.4 ) and see what your AF hit rate is with any DSLR out there.

I've been using sony mirrorless cameras for my travel photography for the past 2 years and they have excelled. I don't know where you are coming from saying they could only be used for landscape and architecture until 6 months ago...that's total fabrication.

I said 'until the last six months' (as of the time of posting). So the A9 and A7r3 don't count.

The A7r2 locks onto nonmoving subjects just fine. But it has trouble tracking - I wouldn't trust it to track anything fast-moving, any more than I would a 5D2. It's great if you're shooting things that don't move, but of little use on a wildlife safari (other than as a backup for the landscape opportunities), at a camel racetrack, tracking running/cycling people, tracking moving vehicles, etc. I gather your travel photography didn't include much of that?

In addition, the single card slot makes it risky to use for things where you can't just repeat the shot - or the whole shoot - in the event of card failure.

As for tracking things in dim light at f/1.4, most SLRs can't do it, but the A7r2 can't either. I'd only really trust the A9, A7r3 and D5 for that.

The A9 represented a huge leap in AF (and other) capabilities for mirrorless cameras. Prior to that, you wouldn't trust them them for moving subjects. They were hit-and-miss. Sometimes they worked well, but, in situations where you absolutely need to come away with a shot, you couldn't rely on them. Now you can.
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hogloff

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #81 on: December 30, 2017, 09:29:37 PM »

I said 'until the last six months' (as of the time of posting). So the A9 and A7r3 don't count.

The A7r2 locks onto nonmoving subjects just fine. But it has trouble tracking - I wouldn't trust it to track anything fast-moving, any more than I would a 5D2. It's great if you're shooting things that don't move, but of little use on a wildlife safari (other than as a backup for the landscape opportunities), at a camel racetrack, tracking running/cycling people, tracking moving vehicles, etc. I gather your travel photography didn't include much of that?

In addition, the single card slot makes it risky to use for things where you can't just repeat the shot - or the whole shoot - in the event of card failure.

As for tracking things in dim light at f/1.4, most SLRs can't do it, but the A7r2 can't either. I'd only really trust the A9, A7r3 and D5 for that.

The A9 represented a huge leap in AF (and other) capabilities for mirrorless cameras. Prior to that, you wouldn't trust them them for moving subjects. They were hit-and-miss. Sometimes they worked well, but, in situations where you absolutely need to come away with a shot, you couldn't rely on them. Now you can.

But there is a huge amount of subjects between a still landscape image and tracking a cheetah in full flight. I still stand by my comment that the A7R2 is a better camera to photograph a human with its eye focus tracking...I find it bang on for at least a 90% hit rate tracking people from kids playing in a park to concert performances. I could not even get 50% keeper rate using a DSLR tracking at 1.8 or 1.4 apertures...not a chance.

Like I also said, the A7R / A7R2 are great travel cameras with their weight and size advantages over a DSLR...I've used mine for 2 years, selling my 5D2 which after using an A7R seemed very ancient.

Your original post that the Sony cameras could only be used for landscape or architecture...meaning no movement at all...is just totally wrong...even if you take the A9 and A7R3 out of the picture. 
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #82 on: December 30, 2017, 11:17:49 PM »

It's very subject-dependent.

Generic subject being tracked around the centre of the frame? It's hard to beat the Nikon.

Make it a human face, though, and suddenly the Sony is number one, being more likely to land a shot on the closest eye than either the Canon or the Nikon. Same thing if you're tracking a subject using the more peripheral parts of the AF area - once you get significantly off-centre, the Sony's combined PDAF and CDAF outperforms the SLRs' PDAF-only approach.

Chasing an elusive subject all over the frame? It's hard to beat the Nikon for that, with its predictive tracking algorithms. Unless, of course, the subject is a face, in which case Sony's facial recognition and eye AF trump the other two.

Or, if you're trying to focus on something behind a reflective surface, particularly a shifting one - say, fish under a pond with ripples - it's hard to beat the Canon for that. The Canon will go right for the fish, whereas the Nikon tends to be distracted by the ripples and reflections.

But, for the vast majority of applications, the results of the three AF systems are indistinguishable - none of them are likely to miss.

Can you remind me of the time you have spent shooting each of these 3 cameras?

Thom has spent a lot and his conclusion is pretty clear, their AF is not equal. ;)

Cheers,
Bernard

shadowblade

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #83 on: December 30, 2017, 11:26:29 PM »

But there is a huge amount of subjects between a still landscape image and tracking a cheetah in full flight. I still stand by my comment that the A7R2 is a better camera to photograph a human with its eye focus tracking...I find it bang on for at least a 90% hit rate tracking people from kids playing in a park to concert performances. I could not even get 50% keeper rate using a DSLR tracking at 1.8 or 1.4 apertures...not a chance.

Like I also said, the A7R / A7R2 are great travel cameras with their weight and size advantages over a DSLR...I've used mine for 2 years, selling my 5D2 which after using an A7R seemed very ancient.

Your original post that the Sony cameras could only be used for landscape or architecture...meaning no movement at all...is just totally wrong...even if you take the A9 and A7R3 out of the picture.

Read the post I was responding to. This was about professional use.

Yes, you can shoot anything with almost any camera. But, when you need to deliver first time, every time, on shoots that can't be repeated, you need reliability. The A9 is the first mirrorless camera that delivers this - the A7r2 does not (although wedding photographers were starting to pick up on it, particularly as a second camera using 'arty' lenses for posed/staged stills). The A7r2 did a great job when it hit, but you couldn't rely on it to track accurately, or quickly enough, every time, particularly when human eyes and faces were not involved. Even a 25% miss rate (either per shot or per burst) is unacceptable when you can't repeat the event.

This is also why hardly anyone shoots f/1.2 or f/1.4 in these situations, apart from for posed, nonmoving shots, or the rare spontaneous shots which aren't part of the 'core' package, but nice extras (where it doesn't matter so much if you don't get the shot). A perfectly focused, lit and composed f/1.4 action portrait, with a buttery-smooth background, may be a fantastic shot, but, if it's a 'must-get', unrepeatable event, you're probably better off shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 (depending on focal length) and being able to guarantee the shot, rather than gambling on the f/1.4 shot. And that's not even counting the opportunity cost of having the f/1.4 prime attached, when you could have taken many more shots, with varying compositions, using an f/2.8 zoom, giving you more to select from. Essentially, it's putting all your eggs in the one basket - it's fantastic if you pull it off, but can't be relied upon for a professional shoot. This may change with the A9 or A7r3, with their fast, reliable eye AF. But it's not routine at the moment.
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shadowblade

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #84 on: December 30, 2017, 11:44:33 PM »

Can you remind me of the time you have spent shooting each of these 3 cameras?

Thom has spent a lot and his conclusion is pretty clear, their AF is not equal. ;)

Cheers,
Bernard

Long enough to see for myself.

I don't care about anyone else's opinions or anecdotes. Show me hard data, or videos demonstrating relative AF performance (e.g. side-by-side tracking videos, with one camera clearly performing better than another in the same situation), and that would actually mean something.

In any case, his opinion is a generalisation, not use-by-use breakdown. Some cameras track certain things better than others. There's a significant between an A9 tracking a face and an A9 tracking something that isn't a face, whereas the D5 performs the same no matter what it's tracking. Nothing locks onto a target quite as fast as the 1Dx2 - important for snap shots. There's a big difference between centre-point and corner-point tracking performance with the D5. Not so much with the A9. If you're tracking a bird flying around trees and branches with the centre point, the D5 is going to track more accurately. If you're tracking a running soccer player with the upper right rule-of-thirds point, in order to maintain a composition with the player's face in that location, the A9 is going to do better, maintaining a constant focus on the nearest eye.

Comparing AF performance without use-case breakdown is a bit like ranking lenses according to a single 'sharpness' score, without considering centre-vs-corner, field flatness, performance at different apertures, performance at different focal lengths (for zooms) or CA - in other words, of limited value. 'Average' performance doesn't help much if the sum of everything you shoot doesn't work out to average - what a stage and live music photographer gets, shooting at ISO 12800 in rapidly-changing light, is going to be very different to what a sports or wedding photographer gets, which is going to be very different, again, from what a wildlife photographer shooting non-human subjects using the centre point gets.
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hogloff

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #85 on: December 31, 2017, 12:40:24 AM »

Read the post I was responding to. This was about professional use.

Yes, you can shoot anything with almost any camera. But, when you need to deliver first time, every time, on shoots that can't be repeated, you need reliability. The A9 is the first mirrorless camera that delivers this - the A7r2 does not (although wedding photographers were starting to pick up on it, particularly as a second camera using 'arty' lenses for posed/staged stills). The A7r2 did a great job when it hit, but you couldn't rely on it to track accurately, or quickly enough, every time, particularly when human eyes and faces were not involved. Even a 25% miss rate (either per shot or per burst) is unacceptable when you can't repeat the event.

This is also why hardly anyone shoots f/1.2 or f/1.4 in these situations, apart from for posed, nonmoving shots, or the rare spontaneous shots which aren't part of the 'core' package, but nice extras (where it doesn't matter so much if you don't get the shot). A perfectly focused, lit and composed f/1.4 action portrait, with a buttery-smooth background, may be a fantastic shot, but, if it's a 'must-get', unrepeatable event, you're probably better off shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 (depending on focal length) and being able to guarantee the shot, rather than gambling on the f/1.4 shot. And that's not even counting the opportunity cost of having the f/1.4 prime attached, when you could have taken many more shots, with varying compositions, using an f/2.8 zoom, giving you more to select from. Essentially, it's putting all your eggs in the one basket - it's fantastic if you pull it off, but can't be relied upon for a professional shoot. This may change with the A9 or A7r3, with their fast, reliable eye AF. But it's not routine at the moment.

 Can you please elaborate your profession experience with the A7R2. Seems like you speak from great experience not only with the A7R2, but as a professional as indicated by your analysis of what type of shots are required by pros.

Funny how many pros seem to get by with the A7R2 in many disciplines and many indicate the eye tracking is one of the reasons they use the camera. I guess these pros donít fit into your box.
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shadowblade

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #86 on: December 31, 2017, 01:31:43 AM »

Can you please elaborate your profession experience with the A7R2. Seems like you speak from great experience not only with the A7R2, but as a professional as indicated by your analysis of what type of shots are required by pros.

Not myself. Many of the others I've worked and associated with. That's how I get access to so many different cameras and lenses from different manufacturers.

Most of my subjects don't move much. The ones which do are secondary targets at best, and normally involve a Canon body with long telephotos anyway (so Sony need not apply just yet). So the A7r2, and even the A7r, worked for me. But not so much for those shooting things that move. They got their mirrorless options this year.

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Funny how many pros seem to get by with the A7R2 in many disciplines and many indicate the eye tracking is one of the reasons they use the camera. I guess these pros donít fit into your box.

Like who? When did you last see an A7r2 in the press section of a tennis court, or in the hands of a photojournalist, being used as a stills camera (video is different)?

Probably never. At least not in a first-world country (anything goes in third-world countries, where you see wedding photographers shooting 10-year-old Canon Rebels). I've seen architecture/property photographers using them (with the obligatory UWA to make rooms look bigger), I've seen them attached to microscopes and other scientific equipment, as well as all sorts of other non-action uses, but the only professional shooters I've seen use them for moving subjects in a paid role have been third-tier, budget crews using them to shoot minor social and corporate events, as well as wedding photographers who did a lot of static/posed 'arty' shots and other nonmoving shots at the ceremony, with not a lot of 'movement' shots during the actual proceedings. Prior to the second half of last year, they didn't even have the staple 24-70 and 70-200 f/2.8 zooms - lenses that very few event/wedding photographers do without.

The A7r2's eye tracking is accurate, but not fast. Great for locking onto people in low light, not so good for tracking them.

Not so with the A9 - I've seen the A9 and 70-200mm combination everywhere from MMA fights, to stage performances, to tennis. That thing delivered a whole new level of capability that didn't exist before. And the A7r3 will likely be the same. It's like going from 5D2-level capability to 1Dx2/D5/D850/5D4-level capability.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 01:45:05 AM by shadowblade »
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opgr

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #87 on: December 31, 2017, 05:14:12 AM »


I don't care about anyone else's opinions or anecdotes.

Gotta love the irony...
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hogloff

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #88 on: December 31, 2017, 08:22:54 AM »

Not myself. Many of the others I've worked and associated with. That's how I get access to so many different cameras and lenses from different manufacturers.

Most of my subjects don't move much. The ones which do are secondary targets at best, and normally involve a Canon body with long telephotos anyway (so Sony need not apply just yet). So the A7r2, and even the A7r, worked for me. But not so much for those shooting things that move. They got their mirrorless options this year.

Like who? When did you last see an A7r2 in the press section of a tennis court, or in the hands of a photojournalist, being used as a stills camera (video is different)?

Probably never. At least not in a first-world country (anything goes in third-world countries, where you see wedding photographers shooting 10-year-old Canon Rebels). I've seen architecture/property photographers using them (with the obligatory UWA to make rooms look bigger), I've seen them attached to microscopes and other scientific equipment, as well as all sorts of other non-action uses, but the only professional shooters I've seen use them for moving subjects in a paid role have been third-tier, budget crews using them to shoot minor social and corporate events, as well as wedding photographers who did a lot of static/posed 'arty' shots and other nonmoving shots at the ceremony, with not a lot of 'movement' shots during the actual proceedings. Prior to the second half of last year, they didn't even have the staple 24-70 and 70-200 f/2.8 zooms - lenses that very few event/wedding photographers do without.

The A7r2's eye tracking is accurate, but not fast. Great for locking onto people in low light, not so good for tracking them.

Not so with the A9 - I've seen the A9 and 70-200mm combination everywhere from MMA fights, to stage performances, to tennis. That thing delivered a whole new level of capability that didn't exist before. And the A7r3 will likely be the same. It's like going from 5D2-level capability to 1Dx2/D5/D850/5D4-level capability.

Sure the A7R2 is not a sports camera...but that is such a small niche pro photography market. The A7R2 is very capable of shooting weddings, portraits, events, landscapes, travel etc...

Remember when the 5d2 came out...it was heralded by the wedding crowd as such a great camera...the A7R2 focus system is much better and more advanced than the 5d2...yet you say it is not capable of shooting weddings...not true at all.

You seem to equate shooting sports as the only professional market...but in reality it is a very small market that will get eaten up by stills being extracted from video in the next 5 years.

My feeling is you are listening to a biased crowd rather than having your own hands on experience.
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shadowblade

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Re: Death of the flagship DSLR camera?
« Reply #89 on: January 01, 2018, 12:15:02 AM »

Sure the A7R2 is not a sports camera...but that is such a small niche pro photography market. The A7R2 is very capable of shooting weddings, portraits, events, landscapes, travel etc...

Remember when the 5d2 came out...it was heralded by the wedding crowd as such a great camera...the A7R2 focus system is much better and more advanced than the 5d2...yet you say it is not capable of shooting weddings...not true at all.

Yet most Canon-shooting wedding photographers continued to use the 1D3 or 1Ds3, or combined the 1D3 with the 5D2 for great image quality in the posed stills as well as AF which could actually focus on moving subjects during a dimly-lit ceremony. And the Nikon shooters used the D700, which had the same AF system and sensor as the D3. The wedding photographers who moved entirely to the 5D2 seemed to be the ones shooting more posed/static shots and fewer action shots, as well as those who shot a lot of video, emphasising the video part in their combined photo/video wedding packages. Most notably, a lot of the ones still shooting the 1D3/1D4 moved to the 5D3 when it came out, since it corrected a lot of the deficiencies of the 5D2 which made it less than usable for even slow-moving subjects in low light.

Notably, these seem to be the same types of wedding photographers who moved to the A7r2 and A7s2 - particularly the early adopters, who made the move before the GM lenses became available. Most of them seemed to be video-centric, often lower-end photographers offering budget packages. You didn't see too many high-end wedding and event photographers moving to Sony (the A9 is different and has attracted a much wider clientele) - there were far too many deficiencies in the system at that point to ditch the SLRs just yet. I would expect sizeable number to start shifting to the A7r3 over the coming year, since it corrects almost all the deficiencies of the A7r2, in the same way that the 5D3 did for the 5D2.

Also, the 24-70 and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses weren't available until the middle of 2016. Those are probably the staple lenses of wedding photographers (with 35mm and 85mm f/1.2 or f/1.4 primes being the usual secondary lenses for nonmoving/posed shots). What were your A7r2-using wedding photographers shooting with before that?

Quote
You seem to equate shooting sports as the only professional market...but in reality it is a very small market that will get eaten up by stills being extracted from video in the next 5 years.

My feeling is you are listening to a biased crowd rather than having your own hands on experience.

You know you're probably on the right track when mirrorless users attack you for an SLR bias, while SLR shills repeatedly attack you for a perceived Sony/mirrorless bias. You've pretty much quoted me word-by-word from numerous other threads, where I've said that professional photography is much more than just sports.

But action is much more than just sports. Any time you're shooting something that's moving and need to track a moving subject, you're shooting action. A walking person in dim lighting during an indoor event can be just as difficult for an AF system as a running athlete or fast-moving race car - the lighting is worse, the distance is closer (meaning bigger moves in the focal plane) and the accuracy required is often greater (focusing on just one part of the body, rather than the athlete as a whole). Also, the stakes are often higher - a footballer will kick a ball many times during a match, and it usually doesn't matter if you miss one particular kick (and, on the occasions where it does, the action is often stopped and you have time to pre-focus and pre-compose on a known location), but no-one is going to walk down the aisle more than once per ceremony. The A7r2 can reliably and accurately lock focus onto a subject (the original A7r couldn't even do that in low light), but doesn't do a great job at tracking it under less-than-ideal lighting or at high speeds. You could trust it to focus accurately for the nonmoving parts of an event (e.g. presentations on stage, or photos at a cocktail party) but not to track it quickly or accurately enough after it acquired initial focus - particularly when the thing you needed to track wasn't a visible human face. Even a one-in-four chance that you'd end up with a long sequence of slightly out-of-focus images of a walking person isn't acceptable when you can't repeat or re-stage the shoot.

And pro photography requires much more than just a reliable AF system. Even discounting the lens ecosystem (which didn't meet the requirements of most professional use outside of nonmoving subjects until mid-2016), you still need dual card slots, good battery life, rapid start-up time and, in some cases, reliable tethering (notably, many of the applications which don't call for fast AF require good tethering). The A7r2 had none of these things. There's a reason the only action photographers (to use the broader sense of the term) who moved to the A7r2 were low-end photographers offering budget packages for parties, weddings and other events, as well as the video-centric ones who also used the A7s2 - most of its pro users shot things that didn't move much, while pro action shooters stuck with their SLRs. Losing a wedding due to card failure can be a business-destroying disaster.

I've been saying a similar thing about video and action photography since 4k came out. Once 8k comes out (definitely before July 2020), video cameras will also be 39MP/25fps mirrorless cameras, with full AF capabilities. You won't be extracting stills from video (since video might be shot at 1/30s exposure, while shooting for stills will require 1/500 or faster) but will be shooting both with the same camera and lenses, with different settings depending on whether you're trying to shoot stills or video.

Basically, mirrorless technology is rapidly evolving and not yet mature. The A7r was essentially a sensor-in-a-box, a proof-of-concept prototype - very good for what it did, but also very limited in application (lack of EFCS being its greatest weakness in its roles). The A7r2 was much better, but no equal to the SLRs of the time - apart from resolution/DR (which are sensor qualities rather than general camera qualities) it could not outshoot the 5D3 or D750, which were several years old by the time the A7r2 was released. It was akin to a 5D2 released in 2015, with an updated sensor, but with other parts hanging around 6 years behind the times - better than the 5D2, but not up to the capabilities of the 5D3 or D750. The A9 and A7r3 change everything - they are really the first mirrorless cameras able to compete against their SLR contemporaries on an even footing, in all areas of photography. Better in some respects, not as good in others, but overall equal to the D5 and 1Dx2 (for the A9) or D850 (for the A7r3). It is not a mature technology yet, but evolving much faster than SLRs (which have almost reached their technical limits), and there's little doubt that either the next generation, or the one after that, will exceed SLRs in capability.
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