Monday, August 10, 2015

The A7r II

I am still waiting for news about the A99 II, to be announced next month if the rumors are correct. However, the release of the A7r II is a real game changer, and I am seriously tempted to buy one along with the LA-EA4 converter. It will be seriously expensive, but this is the first time that I am tempted to cross over to e-mount territory.
Here are the reasons:
1. 5-Axis stabilization - I've been doing a fair bit of hand held video and this could be really useful for me, eliminating the cumbersome use of tripods and monopods.
2. Eye tracking focus - I seriously would use this feature. As time goes by I find myself using more closed shutters, going up to 4.0 and even 5.0 with my 50mm 1.4 lens, for anything but studio or studio-like work where I have time to re-check photos and move a model. But with good eye tracking focus I could try going back to 2.8 or even lower and create some stunning well focused photos even in demanding environments.
3. Shoot at near darkness - SLTs are not known for their ability to shoot at high ISOs. It seems that the A7rII creates really nice photos at ISO 6400 with barely any noise and has workable noise up to double that. The A99 has noticeable noise at ISO 1600 and gets really funky at 6400.
4. More pixels - This will be quite useful for printing and for crops.

So, if the A99 does not have ALL of these which I really like and could boost my work, why should I spend all that money on it when I can get one mirrorless future proof camera that already has all I want and need?

I will keep you updated as to my decision in the upcoming month. I might wait to April (my birthday to make a final decision). Then again, I might not.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The importance of having an adjustable LCD screen

One of the better reasons for me to get the A99 instead of the Canon or Nikon competition is the 3-way adjustable rear 3-inch LCD. As you might know, the A99 is the only full-frame digital SLR to offer a tiltable screen. This never fails to amaze me. Canon, for example, has a superb articulate LCD which is used on the 70D SLR which I used while my A99 was being fixed (along other cameras) which not only is adjustable but also is a touch screen, like your cellphone's.
Many photographers seem to agree with me.

Hetzer, for example, on the Canon rumor board wrote, "A fully articulating screen is brilliant for stills. Low-level work (macro etc), overhead, astrophotography and just anywhere you can't get you head directly behind the camera."

Apparently, for reasons of pride and conservativeness, not only that there is no non full-frame model to offer this (I guess Sony technically has too, if you consider the A7), future models will probably also NOT get this feature because it is considered "amateurish", perhaps due to its origin in video camera models. 
All this is silly to me, as professionally speaking, I adjust the LCD all the time. It simply allows me to better compose high or low angle shots without having to contort myself or go look for a chair or an apple box. While my A99 was away I had to make due sometimes with the A900, a very good camera producing excellent colors, but I simply had to stop doing some of my favorite composition types, or just "guess" high angle shots, that is, hold camera high and hope the framing was okay and the moment was right.

Let me give an example from last day's shoot. I was shooting a nice young woman, Dana Iungelson. During sunrise, I had the perfect lighting with my reflector well positioned and my external wireless flash in the back. She also managed a perfect smile, somewhat mischievous, but also full of warmth. So I took this photo:

While looking good, I wanted more out of the image, so I flipped the LCD and perfectly composed a higher angle shot.

This produced a more dynamic shot, with the eyes looking more slanted and the upper torso and long hair looking nice in the framing. I would not have been able to make this adjustment with any other professional grade top dog SLR on the market. Instead, I would have to guess the composition or go looking for something high to stand on while my subject is wasting away her perfect smile. Sure, I could also step back and re-compose, but that would have been, artistically, a very different framing.

This is one of the reasons why, as long as Sony continue to innovate and incorporate features from consumer and prosumer models into their high end ones, I will continue to buy their SLRs. As I mentioned before, I would like MORE of these features, to be incorporated. If you don't like them and are a straightforward look-through-the-view-finder kind of a photographer, that is great, just don't use any of it, or better yet, buy some nice A900s, the are seriously cheap and produce great results. For other photographers, many of these features are something they can use to have more creative options in their work as a photographer.

For the rest of the session with Dana Iungelson

BTW: I am trying to get to 1000 likes on my Facebook page, so if you got the time, I would appreciate some nice liking'n sharing here.