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A couple of days in Catalunya with the Sony A7R


Six months ago I switched from Nikon to the Sony a7R but the camera didn’t see much use as shortly after my annual photography dip kicked in.

Earlier this month I went to Catalunya (Spain) with a couple of friends for some hiking in the mountains, wine tasting, fine dining and chilling at the beach enjoying a few Mojitos so it was time to dust off the camera gear and shoot some images with my “not so new anymore” camera.

But first a couple of words about the Sony, my opinions are a mixed bag because there’s so much to like but sadly also a couple of things that are not optimal for my style of shooting. I really like the fact that I can use almost any lens from any brand, though some work better than others. I’m also a big fan of the compact yet solid build, focus peaking and assist with manual focus lenses (all I use), full frame 35mm sensor, USB charging, tilting LCD, etc.

The things I don’t like is purely subjective as this camera isn’t optimised for my type of shooting which is playing with natural light when there’s not a lot of light to play with. The problem is that all the complaints about the D800E and it’s “no room for errors” 36MP sensor is a couple of times worse with the a7R as it weighs less than half the weight of the D800E, has a very clunky mechanical shutter and not enough ISO range to compensate so it’s nearly impossible to get sharp images at the lower shutter speeds.

I was missing my D3s sensor more and more and started to think I should have bought the Nikon Df but then out of the blue Sony announced the a7s, the camera that combines my beloved D3s sensor in the body I want with a fully electronic shutter to boot, needles to say I’ll be the first to trade in the a7R on day one when the a7S comes out.

On to the lenses, I usually limit myself to two small primes covering something fast in the 35-50mm range and something ultra wide, in this case I took the Carl Zeiss 2/45 Planar in Contax G mount and the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Super Wide Heliar with LTM mount.

As usual any comments are more than welcome but please be gentle as it’s been a while :)

Cap de Crues with the Zeiss 2/45 Planar

14209001286_879544de94_o.jpg

14053579040_c5e382cc7d_o.jpg

Wine Tasting, also with the Zeiss 2/45 Planar

14053306988_5f414f80eb_o.jpg

14236882751_bcfee19218_o.jpg

And one with the CV15

14236878811_24bba4e516_o.jpg


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The issue with the shutter is something I foresaw even before the cameras hit the store shelves. That's why I opted for the A7 with its' electronic first curtain, and thus have no shutter issues at all.

I like image #2 and #3. The CZ 45/2 captures the landscape and the wine bottles nicely.

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Akira

Posted

Welcome back, Jan!

 

I like the image #4 in this series.  It is no good for examining image quality of neither the lens or the camera, but is artistically excellent.

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I kind of knew as well but I ignored it as I thought I could master it like I (eventually) did with the D800E, I'm not the kind of guy that projects other peoples limitations or fears on myself but rather have a look myself (preferably proving them wrong ;) ).

 

For example there where many debates on the D800E vs D800 choice all over the net and I choose the former while most went with the latter, in the end it turned out the E model was the better choice for me as I enjoyed the insane (micro) sharpness and had not a single moire problem. 

 

But in hindsight I should have gone with the a7 yes, though with the a7S coming thats a moot point because regardless of my initial choice I would have switched it for the a7S anyway  :P

Edited by Guest
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Welcome back, Jan!

 

I like the image #4 in this series.  It is no good for examining image quality of neither the lens or the camera, but is artistically excellent.

Thanks Akira, much appreciated.

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Good to se that you survived the winter :sungum:

Looks like the A7R is a great BW camera as well. I love the silhouettes, and also the sparkle in #3. You haven't lost it during the dip.

 

How do you find working with 3rd party lensen and adapters? Slow and cumbersome, or no problem at all?

What Sony misses (IMHO) is a good selection of glass to go with these excellent (so it seems) cameras.

 

 

-frank-

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From a technical perspective any lens with mechanical diaohragm can be used. Rangefinder lenses wider than 50mm will present challenges, due to an increasingly oblique ray angle as you approach the periphery of the image. Metabones makes an adapter for Canon EOS lenses that provide aperture control, with a number of lenses.

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Good to se that you survived the winter :sungum:

Looks like the A7R is a great BW camera as well. I love the silhouettes, and also the sparkle in #3. You haven't lost it during the dip.

 

How do you find working with 3rd party lensen and adapters? Slow and cumbersome, or no problem at all?

 

 

-frank-

Thanks Frank :)

 

As I'm only using vintage lenses I have no problems with the adapters other than the empty EXIF about which lens and aperture was used but as I usually bring two lenses with me its not really that hard to tell them apart, still have to find a way though to update the EXIF with lens data for future reference (tips are welcome).

 

I'm still sticking with my initial plan to acquire a set of lenses in either Leica M mount or lenses that can be adapted to the Leica M mount with an additional adapter.

 

A couple of reasons to do this:

- I change gear a lot, now I can change (or add another) camera brand and use my lenses by buying one Leica M to mount whatever adapter

- All my lenses can be mounted on my Voigtlander LEM to NEX adapter with the built in focussing helicoid which can shorten the minimum focus distance considerably

- All my lenses can be mounted on my Novoflex LEM to NEX adapter with an Arca tripod collar, especially useful with the heavier lenses without their own foot

- I've ordered the Novoflex Leica M macro extension tube set which can be used for all my lenses (but main use will probably be with the Rodenstock 100/1.6)

 

Besides the two LEM to NEX adapters I have of course the Novoflex Nikon F to LEM adapter to use my old Nikon lenses and if things go as planned I'll be adding a Canon FD to LEM adapter when a certain legendary APO macro lens is acquired this week in that mount, more about that later.

 

My only exception so far is the Carl Zeiss 2/45 Planar in Contax G mount which uses a dedicated G to NEX adapter to operate the auto focus "screwdriver" we all know too well from the AFD Nikkors. I just wanted to own this legendary lens which apparently is the Zeiss equal of the Leica Summicrons in the same range, some say it beats them, for just €400 euros I had to try one myself (they used to be a lot cheaper btw). I'm still contemplating whether to get the AF adapter which cost almost as much as the lens itself but for now I'm happy with my manual setup.

Edited by Guest
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What Sony misses (IMHO) is a good selection of glass to go with these excellent (so it seems) cameras.

 

 

-frank-

Remember this new FE mount is only 6 months on the market and is the first of it's full frame 135 mirrorless class. Sony is covering the basics now but committed to extend its range with more interesting lenses and Zeiss confirmed they will have certain ZM lenses in the FE mount on the shelf by the end of the year. Others will follow with dedicated lenses (instead of remounted DSLR lenses), especially when other brands will start to role out their a7 counterparts.

 

Here's Sony's FE roadmap:

Bildschirmfoto2014-05-20um105033_zps5911

 

But as mentioned in my other reply I plan to keep my Sony footprint to a minimum, so far I only bought a simple remote to do some long exposures and might add the 16-35 f/4 to have A ) a small wide-angle lens I can trust and B ) have AF capability in my favourite range.

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Thanks Frank :)

 

As I'm only using vintage lenses I have no problems with the adapters other than the empty EXIF about which lens and aperture was used but as I usually bring two lenses with me its not really that hard to tell them apart, still have to find a way though to update the EXIF with lens data for future reference (tips are welcome).

 

Sony has been ignoring this request for the last two years, that is, EXIF modifiable in camera by user.  Good luck with that.

 

I also would be careful with your strategy of buying M-mount lenses and hoping they will always work with future cameras from Sony, or even other manufacturers save leica.  Sony has never gone on record saying they will continue to support non-cpu lenses in the future. 

 

Although they have no lenses now, once FE lenses start to multiply, they could simply turn that feature off for future cameras, and make you buy 1st party.  At that point you would have to hope Chinese chipped adapters fill the void.

 

Unlikely, but possible.

Edited by yunfat
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So which mirrorless brands are EXIF friendly with non-cpu lenses?

 

Not that I'm worried but would be interesting to know which brands to keep on the radar. For instance I wouldn't mind having a FF version of the Fuji T1, looks like a really nice camera.

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Guest bjornthun

Posted (edited)

Sony and Leica (M240) are the only ones who make 35mm format mirrorless cameras at the moment. Olympus will let you choose focal length for non-CPU lenses for proper functioning of the IBIS. Fuji has an M adapter that will let you dial in focal length as well.

For the new Sony cams, you can buy an app to do corrections of non-CPU lenses in the camera. Maybe that will also let you store focAl length to EXIF.

The downside to all of these solutions is that they depend on manual input each time you mount a new non-CPU lens on the camera.

Edit: Typo

Edited by bjornthun
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So nothing above 200mm?

Not yet in FE mount, but you can use the A mount 70-400GII with Sony's AF A to NEX adapter.

 

Or a one of the Canon tele's but AF is apperently on the slow side, IS will work however. 

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Here's a couple more from the same trip.

 

With the Zeiss 2/45

14443507743_b463973ea9_o.jpg

 

14237067097_b884f54c9c_o.jpg

 

The little VCV15 is actually a very usable lens under certain circumstances, when focussing close the vignetting is very nice and in B&W the colourshifts aren't a problem, at 109 grams it's very easy to bring along for some different kind of shots to add some variation to those images shot with the main lens (prime in the 35 to 50mm range).

 

Uncropped with the CV15

14443507713_7dca4f738b_o.jpg

 

This shot was taken by sticking the camera out the window while driving, only cropped the top a bit to get rid of some excess black empty space

14443507593_7708dd6f8a_o.jpg

Edited by Guest
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