Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?  (Read 13840 times)

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« on: August 16, 2014, 03:28:23 pm »

Hello Folks,

I recently made a move from canon 5d M3 to a mirrorless system (Fuji XT1 / X100s). I am a professional photographer shooting mainly portraits and commercial work. This was not an easy decision for me since I work in an geographical area which requires me to be a "general practitioner" rather than specializing in a single niche market. After spending some time with the Fuji X system and getting used to the different approach using Mirrorless, I am really quite happy with the move. Images are faster to edit and look good due to the quality of Fuji prime lenses ;-) Fuji Colors have also been a bonus!

I still have one more requirment to fill and that is when I need higher resolution. Mainly for Fine Art prints but also for copy work and some commercial assignments. The Sony A7R has now appeared on my radar for obvious reasons. Last weekend I got to play with one for just a few minutes at a camera sore in Dublin (My local suppliers don't sell any high end cameras). I really liked the look and feel of the of the camera in my hands, but when I pushed the shutter button and heard the K-Clunk...I felt a little let down. It felt sluggish to shoot with and the AF was not quite as responsive as my XT1. I only had time to take a few test shots and when I got home and loaded them on my mac the handheld shots seemed to be a little soft. I have subsequently read of the shutter shock issues with this camera but I would be first to admit that I was not paying too much attention to my holding technique given that this is such a high resolution body! I have shot with MF backs / View cams in the past but it's been a while and I may need time to re-think my technique. My question is; how much of an issue is shutter shock with this body and does it really push it's usefulness outside general day to day professional work? It it just a specialized tool for high resolution work like landscapes on a tripod or can it really compete with the likes of a Nikon D810 for professional work? (excluding sports or fast moving subjects which I do not do) I am trying to make a move towards lighter and more portable gear (due to back problems) but I cannot afford to miss shots on paid assignments due to my equipment not being up to the task! Ideally I would like the chance to put one of these through it's paces but alas won't get the opportunity (Unless anyone hear is based in Waterford, Ireland and can let me take some test shots).

I am interested to hear from pro photographers who undertake paid for work with the A7R or if you chose to use a Nikon D810 after testing the two systems and if so why you made this choice. Is shutter shock really as bad as some reports make out or can it be controlled well with technique?
I have heard a Fuji Rumor that a new 24 MP X-Trans sensor may be on the cards and perhaps this would be worth the wait (I just cannot wait too long in case a job comes up where I need larger files).   

Best regards
John



 
Logged

CptZar

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 157
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2014, 05:04:57 pm »

Guy Mancuso, over at getdpi.com, uses one professionally.

Sure some guys here do too.

Cheers

Jan

Paul Roark

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 398
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2014, 06:05:42 pm »

I'm exploring the Sony a7r vibration issue also.  I have been shooting with the Sony a7r since early spring.  I make, among other things, B&W fine art panos that are 20 x 40 inches on matte paper and 17 x 35" on very unforgiving dye on metallic paper.   The stitched ones with the Leica M9 with 35mm Zeiss Biogon (last year) and the Sony with it's 35mm Zeiss FE (this year) are my favorites.  Being able to hit that visual quality with the Sony, including ultimately, hitting that with a single frame from an ultra-wide lens on the Sony, is the target.  Much of my work is landscape and hiking based -- lightweight is much appreciated.

At its best the Sony can do it.  Hand held, if the shutter speed is 1/10x the focal length, the results are consistently good.  With the 35mm lens 1/60 when perfectly hand held -- very careful shooting -- can be good.  1/125 is where the vibration peaks, but again, can be good when very carefully held.  With the 75mm Leica lens, the longest and best I regularly carry, 1/750 is usually good, but I push it higher when I can.  1/125 can be good, but the percentages of top notch shots at that speed are much lower than with the M9.

Today the test was the Gitzo traveler tripod and 75mm lens at f8.  (Inside test range -- no wind) Horizontal, pole up or down, all are outstanding.  Vertical, oddly, the results are better with the pole up.  I don't get this, but it's there.  At 1/125 the results can be a bit soft -- not terrible, but clearly affected by vibration.  Slower speeds (like 1/8?) or 1/250 and up are best.   A very carefully hand held shot at 1/125 can be very slightly better than when on the tripod in a vertical position.  The Sony light weight is a double edged sword.

Keep in mind that the softness of the 1/125, pole up Gitzo traveler verticals, with the 75mm lens, makes the frame look like what a very good frame reduced to 24MP looks like -- not terrible at all.  The losses from careless hand holding -- hasty, etc. -- are far worse than this.  For fast shooting, the Leica or other heavier camera has been, for me, much more forgiving.  There are some variables in the tripod shooting that I have not traced down yet.  Not all verticals are uniformly of 24 mp quality.

The shutter shock with the camera in a vertical shooting position usually does *not* affect the vertical resolution chart bars more than the horizontal ones -- another un-expected result. 

As a practical matter, I think I'll be able to work around the limitations for my type of work.  Ultimately, making the 35" wide glossy or 40" wide matte prints with a single shot may well be within the capabilities of the camera -- IF there is an ultrawide lens that is good enough.  The only possibility now is the Leica Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 ("WATE").  I have not tested one (yet).  (Some have, but the verbal and visual examples shown on the web are not totally consistent.)

For my purposes, the Sony works and beats my Leica M9 easily in most respects.  That said, if I were covering a wedding or action shooting as a professional, I'd take my Canon 5d2 and a zoom.  If I did street photography I'd stick with Leica.  The Sony AF is second rate, and the zooms have no advantage over Canon's.  At the wide end, the Leica microlenses are obviously better for obtuse ray angles.  The Leica WATE is said to be excellent and Canon tilt shift 24 (I have that one, but not the 17) is excellent on the Sony.   The Sony needs a relatively mild ray angle on that sensor.

It takes very good glass to take advantage of 36 mp, and every little defect from movement or vibration will show.  The potential is very high, but not necessarily easy to achieve.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
Logged

ron ritcher

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 96
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2014, 07:06:05 pm »

Wow!  I have no particular self-interest in this thread, but am amazed/heartened by Paul's thorough, detailed, and friendly response!  What a breath of fresh air, particularly in light of a few posts recently where snippiness seems a matter of course.

At its best, LuLa is an absolute wealth of informative camaraderie -- and PR's post is a terrific example.  Thanks (and even though I already own an a7, I may have to consider adding the "r" now :))

Ron
Logged

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2014, 07:48:31 pm »

Paul,

I would like to thank you for your generous response to my questions. This is exactly the information that I was looking for. To the point,  concise and excellent detail! Since I no longer shoot weddings and quality in a lightweight form factor is my ultimate goal then this may well be the right camera for me. Not quite sure if should wait a little longer to see what photokina will bring?? Maybe Sony will offer an electronic first curtain in an updated model? Also surmising on what the Xpro 2 will be like. I have tended to rush in too quickly with previous camera selections and would like to build a new system that will add longer term value. 

Thanks again and Nice work by the way!

Best regards
John
Logged

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2014, 07:49:54 pm »

Guy Mancuso, over at getdpi.com, uses one professionally.

Sure some guys here do too.

Cheers

Jan



Thanks for the heads up Jan. I'll take a peep at some of Guy's posts!

Cheers
John
Logged

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2014, 07:50:59 pm »

Wow!  I have no particular self-interest in this thread, but am amazed/heartened by Paul's thorough, detailed, and friendly response!  What a breath of fresh air, particularly in light of a few posts recently where snippiness seems a matter of course.

At its best, LuLa is an absolute wealth of informative camaraderie -- and PR's post is a terrific example.  Thanks (and even though I already own an a7, I may have to consider adding the "r" now :))

Ron

Nail on head Ron :-)
Logged

Paul Roark

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 398
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 08:37:19 pm »

I, too, eagerly await better models of the Sony (electronic shutter and one-button magnification for focusing among the features needed), and I also await better Leica EVF models.  The Leica has the "better" (for obtuse ray angle wides) microlenses on the sensor, but is lacking in MP and integrated electronics.  I'm inclined to have one foot in each turf, meaning I think the Leica glass is still where the long term investment pays the most for what I do.  I'm hedging my bet, and the best Leica M glass is hard to beat.

I don't expect a lot from the Zeiss zooms.  But, their 21mm f/2.8 prime could be a real contender.   For interior, available light (cathedrals and the like come to mind) the f/2.8, if as good as that on their Zony 35mm FE, could pay for the lens.

Note that on the big prints, grain/noise in the sky is still a limiting factor, particularly with wide angles that vignette and B&W where you want dramatic, dark "blue" skies.  Even if corrected in camera, it's just cranking up the noisy, under-exposed edge & corner areas.  Here, what may be most effective is to use multi-sampling at the shoot (continuous shoot mode) and then NOT using the PS "B&W" adjustment approach to B&W.  Select the sky by color range in PS CS5 (CC seems clunky in this) with the color version, split channels and use the red one for the skies, and darken via a well made selection (still tedious when done right but worth it for the best shots).

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
Logged

melchiorpavone

  • Guest
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2014, 11:09:46 pm »

I doubt that camera is even worth considering. If you are really a pro, this what you need:


http://en.leica-camera.com/Photography/Leica-S/About-the-S-System
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 11:19:00 pm by melchiorpavone »
Logged

Manoli

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2261
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2014, 05:57:36 am »

I am interested to hear from pro photographers who undertake paid for work with the A7R or if you chose to use a Nikon D810 after testing the two systems and if so why you made this choice. Is shutter shock really as bad as some reports make out or can it be controlled well with technique?  

Jim Kasson has also done extensive testing of the A7r and documented this on his blog 'The Last Word' in detail.  The A7r starts here, the A7 here, handholding here and EFCS here . Not easy to summarise but the core problem range seems to be 1/20 1/160 ish. Either side of this, it's unlikely to be purely a camera issue.

Paul's 10x ratio of FL/S seems overly cautious at first, but given that he's using a 35mm, 1/350 is really only an extra stop of safety margin. I use both the Leitz 75mm 'M' lenses 'cron and lux' and haven't found an issue with either at speeds in excess of 1/500 but I 'don't do' landscape (so suggest you take his word rather than mine )

There are various suggestions on the net as to how to best limit the degradation some practical, such as the battery pack, others less so. Obviously if you're using the A7r, as I do, with a fast flash generator such as a Profoto B4, with flash durations of 1/2,000- 1/20,000, shutter shock becomes rather a mute point.

The biggest disappointment IMO, was that I found the 'lux 50mm below par because of corner smearing.  The Sony 55mm though is an exceptional lens rivalling, according to some on this site, the Zeiss Otus - so I'd suggest you factor one in.  I, reluctantly, did and don't regret it. There's also a strong rumour that Sony are about to announce a few new FE lenses ( notably an 85/1.8] at Photokina.

I've set the camera up in such a way that I can implement [AF-ON] at the touch of a button, then turning the lens barrel automatically brings up an enlarged LV for manual fine tune though I've yet to find it necessary with the 55.  Setting the camera up requires some thought and consideration as to your preferred method of working. People complain about the menu system but you've got 12 programmable [Fn] , 3 [C] keys and 5 controller keys all at at the click of a single button.

Regarding some of your other points:
pros >

  • the biggest advantage of the A7r is interoperability the ability to use, via adapters, other lenses. Retrofocal designs in particular so your lens collection isn't lost. Obviously, this requires manual focus, but in 'portraiture' it's now, IMO, a necessity for critical focus.
  • EVF and focus peaking excellent implementation, I won't buy another camera without FP.
  • tethers (via the Remote Camera Control app) into a 'watch' folder in Lightroom or C1.

cons >
  • unsuitability of leica 'wides'
  • limited native lens selection
  • shutter 'noise' although I've got quite used to it and actually like it. Not suitable for discreet shooting though, but for that you've got the Fuji.
  • battery life buy a couple more and an external charger (check them on Amazon) there's also an external mains power source for studio use.

Finally, to answer part of your original question yes, I did sell my D800E, though not the lenses, because the time had come to make the switch and I didn't see any benefit in making a half-hearted jump. Do I regret it ? Not at all. Primarily because of the LV and FP and, more importantly, I now have a choice of Leica, Zeiss and Nikon primes don't 'do' zooms. If I 'need' a Nikon I can always rent one.

Additionally, I don't see any big difference in IQ between the two, if anything I prefer the Sony CFA and skin tones, but that's of little importance to me as most of my photography is B&W.  I see a greater difference from lenses rather than real or imagined output variations.

The other reason for selling the D800, is that, as another poster so helpfully suggested above, I do see a very substantial difference in IQ between a Leica S and Nikon. If ultimate IQ is needed then that's the route I'd take. Do a google search on images by Tom Munro and you'll see some examples.

And to finish on a speculative note -  the ultimate MILC may well be just around the corner - all Leica need to do is modify an M-E,  upgrade the MP and sensor, ditch the OVF for a redesigned high-res internal EVF together with FP, and all bets are off...

« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 06:42:43 am by Manoli »
Logged

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 03:35:46 pm »

" I don't expect a lot from the Zeiss zooms.  But, their 21mm f/2.8 prime could be a real contender.   For interior, available light (cathedrals and the like come to mind) the f/2.8, if as good as that on their Zony 35mm FE, could pay for the lens."

I agree. My old contax / zeiss 21mm was my most used lens on the canon. They already have the formula to cook a good mirrorless one :)

"Note that on the big prints, grain/noise in the sky is still a limiting factor, particularly with wide angles that vignette and B&W where you want dramatic, dark "blue" skies.  Even if corrected in camera, it's just cranking up the noisy, under-exposed edge & corner areas.  Here, what may be most effective is to use multi-sampling at the shoot (continuous shoot mode) and then NOT using the PS "B&W" adjustment approach to B&W.  Select the sky by color range in PS CS5 (CC seems clunky in this) with the color version, split channels and use the red one for the skies, and darken via a well made selection (still tedious when done right but worth it for the best shots)."

I've not tried this approach but it sounds interesting. Perhaps making a duplicate layer and running noise ninja on one (for the sky) and then merge to use the noise filtered one only for the sky, might also work. Used this a few times with some good results. I assume the noise from the A7r shadows is no worse than 5dm3? or are you finding it particularly poor for underexposed areas?

John
Logged

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 03:41:42 pm »

Quick Google search Found
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/893157-USA/Leica_10803_S_Type_006_Digital.html

$21,950 excellent value huh (Gulp) :-P By the time this one makes it's way over to Ireland it would be cheaper to take a year off work and take a Caribbean cruise!
Logged

JohnAONeill

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 154
    • http://www.johnanthonyoneill.com
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 03:56:16 pm »

Thanks for the post Jim. Appreciate your input.

"And to finish on a speculative note -  the ultimate MILC may well be just around the corner - all Leica need to do is modify an M-E,  upgrade the MP and sensor, ditch the OVF for a redesigned high-res internal EVF together with FP, and all bets are off..."

Now you've gone a made me lust for a leica again. Had a brief flirt with the M8 and loved the IQ for 12x8 prints but I really should have waited a bit longer for the digital M to develop. Had to sell my Leica glass to finance my "work gear" so hard to think about climbing that ladder again. Still... if Leica pulled that one off, you never know ;)

Cheers
John
Logged

melchiorpavone

  • Guest
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2014, 10:08:04 pm »

Quick Google search Found
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/893157-USA/Leica_10803_S_Type_006_Digital.html

$21,950 excellent value huh (Gulp) :-P By the time this one makes it's way over to Ireland it would be cheaper to take a year off work and take a Caribbean cruise!


So? You only live once!
Logged

Paul Roark

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 398
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2014, 03:02:37 pm »

Regarding vibration and to put things in perspective, I've placed resolution test chart patches at

http://www.paulroark.com/BW-Info/Sony-a7r-Vibration-GitzoTraveler-75mm.jpg .

Relevant (effective, on the sensor) resolutions are shown in line pairs per millimeter.

This comparison shows crops from a baseline image that was make with the Sony a7r on a heavy tripod in the landscape orientation, sandwiched by one made with the Gitzo Traveler (2.7 lb.) tripod, pole up, portrait orientation, 0.7 sec. (close to the baseline shot), and Gitzo Traveler, pole up, portrait, 1/125, which is close to the most maximum vibration point.   I can hand hold the 75mm at 1/125 and match or exceed the Gitzo sample shown at 1/125 -- when I'm lucky. Only pixel peepers will see the difference.

These are under ideal conditions, of course.  It's easy to be careless with the light camera.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
Logged

MrSmith

  • Guest
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2014, 03:26:33 pm »

I use a 5dIII and an A7r  mainly for studio still-life, my observations:

On a camera stand/tripod with flash I find it a great camera to use once you have set up the menus/buttons, it's not as intuitive as a canon but I find the focus peaking incredibly useful especially as I use tilt a lot.
It eats batteries I reccomdend having at least 4
It tethers well using the sony app straight into capture 1
The files have more dynamic range than a 5DIII (as we all know) I can't comment on skin tone but I have no complaints about the files and I actually prefer them to d800 files I have had to retouch.
Good lenses are essential though you may have less stringent requirements for portraits, I use the new 24-70, tse90 and 24, 100 Is macro (all canon) and they all perform very well
I have shot some people handheld and yes you will have to keep an eye on shutter speeds but you do get some asa advantage over the canon, I really like the silent shutter on the 5dIII and think that you can feel less shock through the body and gain a few extra speeds for handholding with it.
If you have a lot of fast paced people work to shoot and you need fast accurate AF and hand-holding then the canon every time but I was surprised at how good the peaking was and manual focussing on the A7, I didn't bother using the AF through the metabones adapter (though IS will work)
In short I treat the A7r as a dirt cheap medium format style camera that rewards good technique, I have used a P45 back a fair bit and I don't feel I have taken a backword step with the results I get.

If/when canon release their high MP body I'll still keep the sony and relegate it to tabletop work on a cambo actus as I don't think you can beat the handling/usability of canon bodies but as I shoot mostly with live view I rarely look through the camera and use AF, I'm glad I didn't make the switch to a d800 as I'm not enamoured by the files, live view or lens offerings.

HTH
Logged

Paul Roark

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 398
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2014, 04:00:43 pm »

HTH wrote, in part: "In short I treat the A7r as a dirt cheap medium format style camera that rewards good technique, ..."

I agree.  I'm from a film MF (Rollei SL66, TLR, Bronica RF 645 (with Tech Pan), and Fuji, among them) background.

I also agree the set of top Canon glass is real useful, though I've had a few issues with the adapter.  (I sure wish mine were more compact & lighter.)

I prefer the Leica M glass -- compact, prefer the old style f-stop, like infinity stop for dual focus hand held stacking (use Voigtlander VM-E adapter to set infinity point), appreciate the old-style dof scale (adjusted for quality targets), but the wides don't work -- possible WATE exception (which I hope to test).

I need to figure out the peaking.  It often seems more of a nuisance than help.  I can really see it working wonders for the tilts (which I love -- reason for the SL66).

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
Logged

MrSmith

  • Guest
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2014, 04:26:02 pm »

I do a lot of focus stacking of wristwatches and have got very good at judging the steps manually even with focus by wire lenses like the 100 macro as helicon focus will not do it automatically like it can with nikon/canon cameras.
re the peaking I just switch the strength to suit the contrast/image and use red as a peaking colour, works for me.
Logged

Herbc

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 387
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2014, 06:28:19 pm »

I have the A7, the A7R and a Nex-7.  I have rather good prints of 24x36 from the Nex 7 handheld with the Zeiss 24mm.  One particular image won spots in two national juried shows, and sold at a third.

 While I have not had the chance to really compare the A7 vs A7R, it seems to me that the A7 would be a good place to start, since it does not have any of the vibration/shutter issues the A7R has, and given the Sony sensors are really good, 36 mp may not be necessary if one is "only" shooting for 30 x 45 inch prints.
Logged

mhospelt

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 52
    • Michael Hospelt Photography
Re: Sony A7R good allrounder or specialzed tool?
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2014, 10:15:15 pm »

A lot of good information! Thanks! Will get my A7r Thursday. :)
Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up