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Shooting the Sony A7 from a M43 shooter perspective!

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by Jonathan F/2, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    * I crossed posted this at Talk E-Mount, but I figure you guys at Mu-43 might appreciate the comparison.

    I picked up a Sony A7 last week here are my thoughts!

    Comparing the A7 versus my current E-M5 II, the A7 feels more like a barebones drag chassis with a big engine under the hood, while my E-M5 II feels like a rally car with all the tech inside it and a smaller turbocharged engine! Not sure that makes sense, but yeah! In terms of size the A7 is sized just right, in fact it feels like the maximum size for a small camera I'd go for.

    I'm most likely going to stick to adapted glass for the A7 and use native lenses for my M43 kit. I'm not sure there are any lenses in the FE series that appeal to me and that have a good size/performance/price ratio. Also the A7 has some aspects that doesn't make it a good street shooter like the shutter sound and the EVF dropping frame rates in extreme low light (the E-M5 II in comparison maintains it's EVF FPS even in the dimmest conditions). I know the A7S has the silent shutter, but I haven't found a used body in my targeted price range yet! ;)

    In regards to the shooting experience, the A7 is fairly simple and allows for an unfettered shooting experience. What it lacks in fancy features, it makes up as being quite unobtrusive. It's the closest digital camera to an old school SLR! Also the 1/8000th shutter is a nice welcome especially living in sunny Los Angeles.

    Added comment: I think if you're shooting quite a bit of adapted MF glass I'd consider getting an A7, dummy adapters are cheap and the FF sensor is less demanding on older glass. Used A7 bodies are also the most affordable way to go if you want to get a big sensor in a small body. If you're primarily a native glass shooter who appreciates fast/compact lenses and full featured Olympus/Panasonic bodies, I'd say stick with M43.

    Here are some pics! Shot with the A7 plus Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5 SL-II, 40mm f/2 SL-II and Nikon 50mm 1.8 AI-S 2-ring:

    DSC00561.

    temujin_hunter.

    DSC00530.

    DSC00703.

    DSC00718.

    DSC00711.

    DSC00693.

    DSC00686.
     
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  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Good analogy on the cars, lol. Pretty much nails it.
     
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  3. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    great shots!

    As a car guy, I loved the analogy too. Good summation of the feeling I get switching from an Olympus M43 to a Sony A7.

    Also wholly agree that the A7 makes for a totally different shooting experience. With the dodgy AF, I think using adapted glass is the way to go on this thing.

    Curious about your PP technique, some of these shots have some pretty heavy vignetting. How much of that is your treatment and how much is coming from the sensor/lens combo?
     
  4. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm a vignetting junkie so don't mind my PP technique! Everything is processed in Adobe Camera Raw and then touched up in Photoshop CC before saving. The M43 sensor really makes up lost ground to the bigger sensor due to high quality glass and cheaper prices. Even the $99 Pan 25mm 1.7 lens is a budget beast! The sensor in the A7 allows for more of that FF pop, but in scenarios where you want more DOF at faster apertures, you can't beat M43. Having to stop down with the A7 in low light to gain more DOF also forces me to raise my ISO, versus not having to worry with M43. I can shoot wide open all day!

    What's funny is that my PP technique is fairly consistent, so honestly I could probably mix and match the photos with the A7 and the difference would be negligible.

    I think the dudes who get hung up reading camera bloggers and charts are getting hoodwinked. We really should be discussing more about shooting technique and PP style!
     
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  5. But you can't buy either of those.
     
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  6. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    @Jonathan F/2@Jonathan F/2 , thanks for sharing this. I always have a nagging thought in the back of my mind that I want to pick up a first gen A7 to use with my adapted glass (Canon FDn 24/2, 50/1.4, 100/2). I've also thought about picking up a FDn 32/2 (I love the 35mm FoV), 20-35 L (for landscapes), and 80-200 L. It would give me a nice little kit of manual focus primes along with a couple high quality zooms to play around with.

    Given that you use the camera with adapted glass, I have a couple questions for you:
    • How do you find the focusing aids (focus peaking, focus magnify, etc.)? Have you mapped them to function buttons near the shutter release for easier use?
    • How do you find the build quality of the camera? I've handled O-MD's and my two GH4's, but how does the original A7 compare to these cameras?
    • Do you notice a difference in detail/sharpness compared to your m43 images? How about noise (at both base ISO, and high ISO)?
    • Are you able to shoot the manual lenses wide open and still get good results, or do you have to stop them down a bit for them to get sharp?
    Thanks for sharing your feedback with us!
     
  7. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Thanks for posting this, sounds like a pretty fair summation.

    I also agree with @ijm5012@ijm5012 's questions. In my testing I found the manual focus aids on the A7 really frustrating compared those on my GX7, particularly the lack of a quick way to switch peaking intensity, and the very slow process for moving the magnification box. You seem to have nailed the focus pretty well on those images despite the shallow DoF, so I guess I'm just wondering how quickly you were able to focus those shots.

    I think if I were going to get an A7, I miiiight also be inclined to buy the 28mm f/2. It's the only lens in the entire FE system that has a better quality / value ratio than M4/3 offerings, since it compares most closely to the PL15/1.7, which is more expensive. As a fast wide angle, it can also produce one of the few kinds of images that are actually difficult to achieve with M4/3 at any price.
     
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  8. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    • 1. How do you find the focusing aids (focus peaking, focus magnify, etc.)? Have you mapped them to function buttons near the shutter release for easier use?
    The top custom button is programed for magnify and I have peaking on all the time. In fact I have my E-M5 II magnify button in the same location, so in terms of muscle memory it's easy to remember. I find at 2.8 and faster you can focus easily without the magnify aid while using focus peaking. I also have the peaking set to high. At 2.8 and below, I do use the magnify to verify focus, but in those situations you'll probably shooting in scenarios where you have a bit of time to focus. Plus I've been focusing this way since my first M43 body minus focus peaking, so I'm used to shooting this way!
    • How do you find the build quality of the camera? I've handled O-MD's and my two GH4's, but how does the original A7 compare to these cameras?
    Build quality is decent on 1st gen A7 bodies, but I recommend getting the replacement Tough E Mount for $40. Sony was cheap and did a half metal, half plastic mount. The Tough E Mount solves that by going all metal. Neewer has a similar produce for $20 that's fairly new, but I have no experience with it. Also the 1st gen A7 bodies has that shiny slippery black exterior (think E-M5 ver. I). They sell a $9 leatherette decal that gives it a more tactile feel. Everything I mentioned can be bought on Amazon Prime.
    • Do you notice a difference in detail/sharpness compared to your m43 images? How about noise (at both base ISO, and high ISO)?
    I definitely noticed better dynamic range and color depth to the photos. There's also more leeway to extract blown highlight. Realistically high ISO is a bit of wash, because M43 glass has very good pixel level sharpness and I can shoot wide open closing the high ISO gap a bit. Plus Sony's high ISO NR is sort weak especially compared to Nikon which just looks better with the same sensor. Also I have no intention of buying FE glass at the moment.

    • Are you able to shoot the manual lenses wide open and still get good results, or do you have to stop them down a bit for them to get sharp?
    The 24mp FF sensor puts way less stress on old glass versus the 16mp sensor of M43. I'm not shooting anything faster than 1.8 at the moment. The last shot I took was at f/1.8-2 and it's tack sharp. I think people don't realize though that M43 glass has some of the best micro contrast and sharpness on the market.

    The FD lenses you mentioned should be awesome on the A7. I'm using something similar with the Nikon 28/2.8, 50/1.8 and 105/2.5 and I have a pair of Voigtlander 20/3.5 and 40/2 lensess that are also Nikon mount. While I don't see the A7 replacing my Olympus gear, I think with prices dropping on used bodies, I think it'd be a nice compliment camera to an M43 shooter!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
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  9. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The 28mm f/2 looks nice, but if you compare size, the 28 is definitely much bigger and with some of that Leica DNA in the 15mm, I'd give the edge to the 15mm! Regarding focusing, I was used to focusing with my E-M5 ver. I with no focus peaking, what I did was use the digital zoom to gauge focus and them zoom back out to nail the shot. With the A7 I shoot the same way, but with focus peaking focus it's pretty accurate at 2.8 and smaller, anything at f/2 and wider...I do use the magnify to fine tune focus and then I have it setup once I hit the shutter button it goes back to normal view. Hope that helps!
     
  10. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Fair enough. I was used to shooting my GX1 that way, but I really liked being able to compose my shot and then tap the touchscreen on the area I wanted to focus on, fine-tune, and shoot. I guess I just need to kind of work in reverse on the Sony, and hope that I don't get much focal-plane shift for offset subjects when doing the focus-recompose dance.

    ...I'm so touchscreen spoiled, I gotta say. It's one of the biggest UI benefits I get from my M4/3 cameras, Panasonic implements them so well.
     
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  11. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If you are looking for wide angle DOF control, though, 28mm f2 is like 15mm f1.1. Big difference.
     
  12. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    Thanks for detailing your experience. I've long toyed with the idea of picking up an A7 solely as a digital back for my Asahi Pentax Super-Multicoated Takumar 50mm f1.4 (my favorite lens of all time) which I've missed shooting on a full frame body since I sold my 5D Mark II. I have other legacy glass but I doubt I'd even bother mounting another lens. As the A7 gets less and less expensive I get more and more tempted. However, like Turbofrog, I feel pretty spoiled by the MF aids on the GX7 (and the touchscreen) when it comes to using legacy glass and I'm not sure how I would get on with the A7.

    I know you shoot RAW and post process, but do you have any idea what the JPEGs look like coming out of the camera? I've also been spoiled by WiFi and rarely process RAW files anymore. I just edit the JPEGs in Snapseed on my iPad.
     
  13. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I also shoot the a7, and jpgs are a huge disappointment, IMO. NR is aggressive, and you have limited control over it, and the pattern that NR'ed areas on a jpg are IMO unattractive. I've gone to RAW shooting only on the a7.

    I had a GX7, and I personally think the MF aids on the a7 are far superior. I don't even have to magnify in a lot of the time, and when I do, it's just a double click on the button near the shutter release. I do rely on central spot, focus and recompose, though, as there is no touch screen. I was not enamored with MF on the GX7 (but the jpgs were nicer, lol)
     
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  14. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    GX7 has full time peaking that is high performance and very customizable. And you can also magnify instantly by clicking the rear dial or the AF selector button. Sounds very similar.
     
  15. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    I've gone this route. I have the FD 20-35L, 85L, and 135mm f/2 for my A7. The FD20-35mm competes well compared to the Olympus 9-18mm. I haven't used the 80-200 f/4L, but I've heard great things about it. I did have a go with the Zeiss C/Y mount 80-200mm f/4, which was quite excellent. I expect the FD would be as good, if not better!
     
  16. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have the Nikon 28mm 2.8 AI-S, and shooting at 2.8 I really don't see that big of DOF difference compared to M43 lenses that are 1.7 or faster. Honestly, I think where FF starts to show it's shallow DOF difference is with the 1.8 and faster lenses.

    Sony high ISO processing is a big let down. At low ISOs images are decent, but once you start getting into the higher ISO numbers, Sony applies NR quite heavily. For example Olympus will be noisier in the high ISO range, but you'll still get a really sharp photo. Sony just smears everything! I need to explore the camera more in low light, but as I said earlier I'm not to fond of the EVF FPS drop which the E-M5 II doesn't suffer from which I find important for street work. Though I think with tripod work, it should be better than the M43 sensor especially stopped downed.
     
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  17. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I don't know why, but the peaking on the Sony is more effective for me. There are so many variables, it's hard to say (for instance, I wear glasses, it might depend on how fast your lens is, etc. etc.) And this is only comparing the GX7 and the a7. I wouldn't encourage generalizing to other m43 bodies.
     
  18. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Having played recently with an A7R, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments and I love your analogy to cars. The Sony does feel very arthritic compared to the E-M1, but that sensor is very appealing. I decided it's not for me right now, but if the E-M1ii doesn't meet my expectations I can see the lure of the A7 being too strong!
     
  19. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I got an a7 because the price is amazing, I have legacy glass, and I wanted to use two lenses: 28/2 and 70-200/4, for certain things i shoot. I WAS interested in exploring the FF system growth, but frankly, the lens price and sizes are really leaving me behind! I am hoping Sigma might start providing FE lenses, but I can't really get anything else native from Sony.
     
  20. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here's a few size comparisons showcasing the E-M5 II and A7 -

    E-M5 II and A7 both with Nikon adapters attached:
    big_sensor.

    Both cameras side by side with lenses attached:
    TKF10003.
     
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