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Thread started 27 Apr 2015 (Monday) 15:31
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A7+A7II 6 month review

 
Dorian7
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Apr 27, 2015 15:31 |  #1

Hi All,

I thought that I would write a summary of my 6 months after switching from Canon (5D3) to the A7x system - Things I love, things I wish were different and just general thoughts on the system. I held off waiting to write this until I completed my first wedding using only a A7II and A7. I had a lot of questions and concerns about the feasibility of the transition but now I can answer to a lot of those questions.

I take pictures as a hobby all the time - mostly landscape and people in that regard. For my part-time professional work I do product photography, portraits, weddings and dabbled in other areas too.

Here is what I brought with me to the wedding:

A7
A7II w/grip
FE 55mm 1.8
FE 70-200mm 4
FE 35mm 1.4
Canon FD 24mm 2.8 SSC
Canon FD 85mm 1.2
Metz AF64 Sony Flash
Yong 430 Flash as backup
6 batteries

With that setup there wasn't anything at the wedding I couldn't handle. If I stick with the A7 system I will definitely be swapping the A7 for an A7S tho.

I ended up using the A7II for 90% of my shots because the AF really is THAT MUCH better. When using both cameras inside the church during the ceremony the A7 was not efficient. I ran into no problems with the A7II. Because of the EVF and live preview I had more keepers and less overall shots (because I didn't have to take a picture then correct). The menus, custom buttons and custom 1 & 2 setting made it a breeze for me to quickly change settings and adapt to the situation. Overall I had no issues with the camera and the focus tracking inside the church was substantial for the bride walking down the isle.

Really I only have three drawbacks that I can think of at this point.

1. Battery life - it would be nice if it were closer to DSLR but I get that you can't have it small and light and take 1000+ shots. I found each battery lasts about 350 shots. The nice thing is that aftermarket batteries work great and are cheap tho.

2. AF could still be better. While I didn't have any real issues with AF (on the A7II) there is always room for improvement (especially if trying to track fast moving objects).

3. Not true 14bit raw files. This is the point that drives me NUTS. I'm not here to debate if there is real world effects of the lossy files but the fact is - there isn't as much info in the raw files are there could be. This bothers me a lot - I get that if you compare it to a D750 you prob have to boost the shadows to some ridiculous level to see and only in certain situations but the fact that it's not all there still remains. I can't help but to wonder if my photos could have higher quality raw data or not and how that might effect it. I think it's ridiculous that Sony claims 14bit raw when that is just not the case.

Hope that helps anyone that is looking to dive into sony.


A7II - FE 55 F1.8, FE 70-200 F4, Batis 85mm F1.8, Canon FD 24mm F2.8
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DagoImaging
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Apr 28, 2015 09:24 |  #2

Nice post. I've also switched from 5Dm3 and all L glass to Sony a7ii and a6000.

While I agree w/ your points on the 14 bit RAW, I will say I feel I have more DR in my raw files from Sony than my 5Dm3 gave me. I can push the raw files further and get more from them. I think you're worried about something that isn't, in the end, anything to worry about.


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David ­ Arbogast
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Apr 28, 2015 09:55 |  #3

Dorian7 wrote in post #17534758 (external link)
If I stick with the A7 system I will definitely be swapping the A7 for an A7S tho.

I hope we'll see an a7S II with the AF performance of the a7 II along with the IBIS. Would be a pretty killer all-around camera.

Nice write up; good to hear you felt well-equipped for your wedding shoot.

I agree with your frustrations on the not-14 bit lossy raw file. I like that Sony provides that format, but would prefer them provide a lossless 14-bit raw as an option. That said, it is something I've pretty much accepted and grown "OK" with for one simple reason: I get excellent results from my a7 cameras in spite of the lossy raw file.


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Sony α7R II | CV 12mm, Loxia 21mm, Loxia 35mm, Sony 50mm ZA, Batis 85mm

  
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Dorian7
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Apr 28, 2015 11:16 |  #4

I agree with both of you - I have a couple examples of studio shots shooting on a black background where you can see the artifacting if you look at 100% and know what you are looking for (still not that obvious tho) that is without ridiculously pushing the file. So I know it happens - I haven't had any images ruined by it to speak of.

I see it like this tho. They tell you the car your buying is capable of 400 horsepower but then you get the car and it only has 350 horsepower. Sure, almost no one NEEDS the extra 50 horsepower but you still want it!

From a hobbiest stand point it does not bother me one bit. It just makes me uneasy when I'm doing paid shoots.

There are so many great things about the A7II that I love (the EVF, focus peaking, the 55mm FE, the weight) that I would honestly not mind paying the premium for better hardware in the camera if that's what it takes to get true 14bit raws. It's annoying that Sony doesn't offer an official explanation or an option to get uncompressed RAW (whether that be a new camera or a firmware update).


A7II - FE 55 F1.8, FE 70-200 F4, Batis 85mm F1.8, Canon FD 24mm F2.8
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romanv
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Post edited over 3 years ago by romanv.
     
Apr 28, 2015 17:30 |  #5

I've had the A7S for a few weeks now, so a few thoughts.

For me, the entire appeal of raw is that I only ever have to worry about exposure, depth of field, and ISO - everything else I can sort out later.
So I was a bit dismayed to learn that they throw away some info from the raw file which might make things harder or whatever.
But in real life scenarios - the dynamic range is just absolutely unbelievable compared to my Canon camera, and that's the only thing I've noticed. I've got way more in shadows/highlights regardless of compression or whatever.
The main thing I dont get, is why they even bother compressing A7S files - not as though they would be huge to start with!

Some annoyances from me:
I cant set ISO to one of the front or rear dials. When using manual lenses, having one set to Aperture is a waste, more so when rotating the dial on the back is a pain.

-I wish the camera settings would stay 'per dial click'
I think it would be better if I switch to the movie dial, it brings up the settings I had last time I was on the movie dial. Rather than what I've just been using on 'M'. Because the settings required for shooting video are so different from taking pics, I cant see the point carrying the settings across. It makes it a pain to quickly fire off a video between pictures. Yes, there are the memory settings which can take care of this - but it seems like more of a pain than it needs to be.

-I'm 'left eyed'. So most of the camera sits across my face rather than off to the side. So this means when I need to change any settings (like ISO) on the back of the camera, I'm mashing my hand against my face and its freaken annoying. Easily solved if I could set ISO to one of the main dials, as that's what I'm adjusting most of the time. With my 600D I could easily adjust everything without mashing my hand into my face. Yes it's a downside of a smaller camera, but the button locations (Adjusting ISO) are part of what makes it awkward as well.

-The look of the camera is great, I love it. However the shutter button is just damn awkward holding the camera properly while putting a finger up on top. Front button for shutter makes more sense, when you hold the right hand side as a 'grip'. It seems they've sacraficed usability for looks in a way that's going to become annoying over time.

-I know it's been mentioned heaps, but the rolling shutter makes video without a tripod or equivilent, useless. I hate hate hate the rolling shutter from gopros etc, but forgivable because they are cheap junk. But getting the same from a very spendy camera is annoying. So my 600D was comparatively much better.
A7 loses some of the point of being a small camera when you need a gigantic rig to get stable footage. Hand held video usually looks like rubbish anyway so it's a bit of a moot point... but for the odd time that you arent expecting to record anything but want to take a quick clip, it looks pretty bad.
If it wasnt so wobbly you'd at least have a chance of salvaging it with stablisation in post.

-Sometimes I want to get the 'cameras opinion' on whitebalance or whatever.
So I'll set it to auto, but it doesnt tell you what it's decided the 'auto' white balance actually is! And you cant keep it on auto, as it will change the white balance as you point the camera at different things.
If it told me Auto(5500k) or something, I'd know a starting point for manually setting it, and fine tuning it up or down. It seems like more of a pain than they need to be.

-Purple glow on the left hand side of the sensor at high iso/shutter speedsfor video is dissapointing.
This is slightly annoying because it's there, (can work around it) but it's mostly annoying because the salespitch of an A7S is the super high ISO and night time performance, and it doesnt show any of this in the demo videos.
In my experience it only happens when you're trying to shoot higher than a 50% shutter speed, which is generally frowned apon but in low light sometimes you need all you can get, an extra 25% exposure time per frame would help a lot if it was usable.

This is the first expensive camera body that I've bought, and on the whole I'm absolutely blown away by how awesome it is. So keep in mind for every 1 thing above there are 10 more things that I love. But some of the above seem like they would be an easy 'fix' to ease some frustrations with using it.
The silent shutter, full frame in small body, overall compact size, amazing dynamic range, insane ISO, etc etc all make it well worth the $$$ overall!




  
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Dorian7
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Apr 29, 2015 12:07 |  #6

Thanks for your comments Romanv.

According to SAR there is now a rumor that Sony is working on a new RAW engine. Even if the rumor is true it doesn't necessarily mean that it would be lossless files but if it is that will seal the deal for me!


A7II - FE 55 F1.8, FE 70-200 F4, Batis 85mm F1.8, Canon FD 24mm F2.8
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rantercsr
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Apr 29, 2015 12:55 |  #7

Hey thanks for making the review .. i just got the 5d3 3 months ago and I'm loving it .. but then I started reading and watching vids on a7s and a7ii.. and then I spent an hour at bandh actually holding them and liked it very much (compared to my 5d3 24-702.8 combo is quite a difference )

Anyway I will be renting for a week soon and may switch over i just can't decide which to go for a7ii or a7s...


I got a couple of Cameras and lenses ...Canon, Sony, Fuji, Pansonic, pentax
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romanv
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Apr 29, 2015 14:04 |  #8

I was never actually looking to go full frame before A7S.

Reasons -

1. I like having lots of depth of field, sometimes struggled to get enough that I wanted with APSC. So full frame makes things harder.

2. None of the Canon full frame cameras have a flip screen, which was one of the most useful features. Being able to offset the screen to one side, or have it 90 degrees to the way the camera is facing etc, was sooo good for video stuff, macro, landscape, lots of things! So it boggles my mind that there isnt a Canon full frame offering with the same.

3. I hated going from a 600D to a 50D, as I like lighter smaller camera gear as I carry it around a lot. So the size of any Canon full frame offerings was also off putting.

4. It didnt really seem like a big enough leap in performance for the extra $$$.

However, how has the Sony changed my mind about these things?

1. With super high ISO, I can stop way down even hand held, in a way that I couldnt when ISO 800 or 1600 is getting to the usable maximum.

2. The Sony has a tilt screen, which is still crap compared to the low spec Canon cameras. But it's still handy. I was taking some moon photos the other night where I tilted it out so I didnt have to twist my body into a pretzel to see what's going on.

3. Slightly lighter than a 600D (50 grams lighter) and a fair chunk smaller. Awesome! Also, you can battery grip or rig up a small camera to make it bigger, but you cant make a big camera smaller.

4. The ISO performance jump was enough to make it seem like it would open new creative opportunities - Rather than buying a new camera that's the same old thing.

It's got some quirks for sure, and one or two downsides due to small size/ergonomics.
But there's nothing else that acheives closer to my ideal camera out there at the moment, so I'm loving it so far.




  
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id10t
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Apr 30, 2015 16:28 |  #9

I will be trading a very low count 5D3 and an A7 for a 6D and a A7II this weekend even up. I am giving up the better AF but also the weight of the 5D3 and gaining image stabilization and better ergonomics with the A7II and still have 90% of the the 5D3 with the 6D. Unlike you I am not ready to jump in with both feet and sell off my Canon gear, but I hope that's where I end up. Hopefully I am getting the best of both worlds.


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swldstn
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May 06, 2015 17:39 |  #10

I have the 5DIII, 1DX, and A7II. The Sony is a great camera but there are times when I put the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II on the Canon bodies and Sony just can't touch it it. I thought about an A7S but my understanding is the AF system is slower than the AFII even though it has great DR and great high ISO performance. Of course the Canon is bigger and heaver which is why I first bought a Fuji system to travel with but have been using the Canon and Sony more and more and letting the Fuji sit at home.

There's also the long lens problem still. I have a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 II for the Canon's that again Sony can't touch. So right now for work from 16 - 200mm I can use the Sony but after that is just can't be used for wildlife, sports, and birds. I really only get upto 300mm eqiuvalent FOV if I go to the A6000. With a 7DII I can reach out to 640mm equivalent FOV.

Also, the A7II low noise performance is not blowing me away. I thought it would be cleaner. It was better on the A7R which I used to own but I sold it for some reason. (hoping for the A7RII). The A7S might be great but so is the 1DX.

At the end of the day I really like what Sony is doing but it seems they don't take advantage of capability they could. Why do Nikon's appear to out perform then in IQ? Is it the RAW compression, a higher noise processing pipeline. Not sure but maybe Sony will fix some of these issues in the next year.


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CyberDyneSystems
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May 06, 2015 17:53 |  #11

Seems to me that if you want it all, you go with BOTH.

The adapter means you can use Canon glass on your A7, however you still need the Canon body for the best use of the long lenses.
If you don;t go overboard, I can see a two body kit half Sony half Canon working quite well.

I've been kicking around the idea of adding an A7 (s or r)
I'm scared of the A7s price, and like the idea of the A7II AF and IBIS,. so I will have to wait and see what comes next.


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Dorian7
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May 07, 2015 05:12 as a reply to  @ swldstn's post |  #12

You can always get the A mount adapter which allows you to retain decent autofocus and opens up a lot more lens options.

As far as the noise level - honestly coming from a 5D3 there is almost no difference in real world noise as far as I have been able to tell. If anything I think the canon files are "cooked" slightly more so at high ISO you have less noise but also less detail. It seems to me that the Sony file is less cooked but once noise reduction is applied it becomes a wash. There is certainly not a huge gap. Even at ISO 6400 the details and color of the A7II images are awesome (when viewed at reasonable size) one thing that is harder to quantify is I always felt like at higher ISOs with the Canon the colors were dull and washed out which I feel less of in the A7II


A7II - FE 55 F1.8, FE 70-200 F4, Batis 85mm F1.8, Canon FD 24mm F2.8
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DagoImaging
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May 07, 2015 06:10 |  #13

I came from a 5DIII and had the 70-200L/2.8 mk2. I am more than happy w/ the a7ii w/ 70-200/4. I've compared similar images in LR and can't find much difference in quality if any at all. I will say the Sony files have more room to pull shadows/highlights than any of the Canon images, and that is from a slightly compressed RAW.


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John
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May 07, 2015 14:15 |  #14

CyberDyneSystems wrote in post #17546411 (external link)
Seems to me that if you want it all, you go with BOTH.

This is what I'm thinking now. Thinking about getting the A7II and one sony "walkaround" lens.

I love the Canon 400mm too much for me to switch brands. 8-)


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jonneymendoza
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May 08, 2015 06:02 |  #15

For me silent mode indoors is useless as if you shoot above a certain shutter speed you will see light strips in your images


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