Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sony A7R II - The Best Canon Camera Yet?

No, I am not crazy, and you read the title correctly.  The new Sony A7R II, an upgrade from the very successful A7R, just makes me foam in my mouth; all the useful and practical features all in one body.  I don't even mind the 42MP resolution.  I can live with it.  Let's look at the new features.

42MP BSI Sensor - For a lot of people, this is a big deal.  Back Side Illuminated (BSI) technology is used, along with copper wiring on the sensor to achieve clean high ISO and amazing readout speed.  The biggest, and in my opinion, the best feature of this sensor is the 399 phase detect AF points that makes it possible to auto focus third party lenses in almost native AF speed.  I have tried the smart AF adapter for the Canon lenses, and it's just not workable for me, but from what I have seen, the A7R II is light years ahead and totally usable.  This is the reason for the weird title :)  and this is reason enough for me to eventually buy one.

In-Body-Image-Stabilization (IBIS) -- Like it's older brother, the A7 II, the A7R II now has the 5-Axis IBIS.  I have used the excellent IBIS in the Olympus E-M5 and am spoiled by it.

4K Internal Recording -- Not a feature of interest to me, but for the indy film makers, this is fantastic news.  The Panasonic GH-4 has gotten so much attention being the first mirrorless to record 4K video and the A7R II will prove to be irresistible for this group of people, for sure.

Improved Shutter -- The A7R has a pretty negative reputation for having a very loud and high vibration shutter.  Sony promises the A7R II is 50% better in this regard.  This camera also features the Silent Shutter, first introduced with the A7s.  I will find this invaluable in so many shooting situations.  As for the shutter life, this is even better than some of the professional DSLRs out there, which typically have 350K to 400K shutter life.  For most people, this kind of long life is overkill, but it provides a peace of mind.

The above are the features I feel are most important.  Putting so much new and improved stuff in one camera body, is a breath of fresh air, unlike others that uses a small improvement as a reason for a new model.  Well done Sony.  I look forward to buying one in a year (or two).

Untitled - Sony A7 & Kilfitt Makro Kilar 90mm f2.8

Friday, June 5, 2015

Beautiful Innisfil

Our IT department had the off-site meeting this year at Innisfil Ontario, about a 100 km north of Toronto.  This was my third meeting and I must say Innisfil is the best so far.  We used the Kempenfelt conference centre, which is away from the city and is pretty much all by itself, surrounded by farmland and next to Lake Simcoe.  I brought my bike with me, as I did last time in Belleville and it was a good decision.  I rode around the conference and found a very nice farm to take pictures of.

Speaking of pictures.  I brought with me the Nikon D810 with the AF-S 28-70mm f2.8 and the AF-S 70-200mm f2.8 VR.  The weight and bulk of these three items reminded me why I use the mirrorless cameras as my everyday choice, but in use, they also reminded me that mirrorless cameras still has a way to go to match DSLRs in certain situations.

I really adore the D810.  It's the best DSLR that I have used.  However unexciting it looks, this is the camera that combines image quality with great build and is very easy to use.  I do find the exposure sometimes goes a bit wacky, and the auto white balance could change from frame to frame.  Shooting RAW minimizes these minor issues.

As for the lenses, I am happier still.  Both lenses are very sharp, especially the 70-200mm f2.8 VR, which in my opinion, is much better the Canon first generation equivalent.  I do not hesitate to use both lenses wide open.  My plan is to have only a few practical lenses for the (Nikon) DSLR system; two or three primes, plus two zooms, and this will cover pretty much all my needs.

My trusty Specialized Allez Epic that I put together from the frame I bought.  It only has 8-speed, without the front derailleur but is enough for me -- Nikon D810 & 70-200mm f2.8 VR.

Farm close to the conference centre - Nikon D810 & AF-S 28-70mm f2.8.

Farm close to the conference centre - Nikon D810 & AF-S 28-70mm f2.8.

Logs at the shore of Lake Simcoe - Nikon D810 & AF-S 70-200mm f2.8.

The Light - Nikon D810 & AF-S 28-70mm f2.8.

Water Skier - Nikon D810 & AF-S 70-200mm f2.8.

The Light #2 - Nikon D810 & AF-S 28-70mm f2.8.