Sony A7r

Friday Image No.122

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Trees on the mountain. Sony A7r + Canon 70-300 USM lens.
Trees on the mountain. Sony A7r + Canon 70-300 USM lens.

This week I thought I would share an image I shot last weekend in the Lake District. This image was captured from the banks of Thirlmere looking across the lake towards the Helvellyn range. I shot the image using my Sony A7r using a Canon 70-300mm lens. It’s a single shot in RAW format, converted in Lightroom and then tweaked a little using Nik Viveza.

At the time I was shooting this I was complaining bitterly about having to use the Sony with an adapter. The adapter is supposed to support auto-focus but it’s so slow its useless. Instead, I was manual focusing by zooming in on a point using the camera display and then trying to set the focus. For some reason, I was finding it difficult to focus and threatening to go back to using a Canon full frame. It was only when I loaded the images onto the computer in Lightroom that I could see they were spot on with focus.

I suspect I was finding life too easy shooting with the Fuji XT2 (which I was using alongside the Sony). I’m very pleased I didn’t give up on the Sony as it produced some excellent images.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget my book is free to download this weekend. Just search for “Mastering your camera” on Amazon.

Bracketing Limitation Workaround

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Fuji XT2 six image HDR
Fuji XT2. Six images at 1 stop intervals blended using HDR processing in Lightroom. The image sequence was shot using the technique discussed.

From time to time I like to shoot multiple sequences of images at different exposures. I then blend these either with HDR software or using luminosity masks in Photoshop. My Olympus EM5 makes this very easy. I call up the bracketing option in the menu, set it to the number of exposures I want and the interval. I also set the shooting mode to continuous which allows me to shoot a sequence by holding down the shooter button. When the sequence is complete there is a slight pause allowing me to release the button. This makes the entire process very easy, allowing me to hand hold.

At the weekend, I came to shoot a bracketed sequence using the Fuji XT2. This also makes shooting the bracketed sequence very easy. There is a dial switch allowing you to change from single shot to bracket. You press the shutter button once and the sequence of three images is captured with no need to keep your finger on the shutter. I found this great, until the scene I wanted to shoot required a five-image sequence at 1 stop intervals. That’s when I found out that the XT2 is limited to shooting only 3 images in a bracket. Come on Fuji, please fix this in your next firmware update. It’s basic stuff.

Now, I should stress that it’s not just Fuji that seem to have overlooked the obvious. When I also came to set up my Sony A7r at the weekend, I found a similar problem. This camera can be set to shoot a bracket sequence of 5 images, providing you don’t want to set the exposure intervals to more than 0.7EV. As soon as you set the exposure interval for a bracket to 1EV or more, you can only shoot a 3 shot sequence. What on earth are they thinking.

If you have been frustrated by this limitation with your camera, there is a simple workaround (other than changing your camera):

  • Set your camera to bracket 3 shots at 2EV intervals in the Av mode (aperture priority) and set your exposure compensation to 0.
  • Shoot the bracket sequence of 3 images.
  • Set the exposure compensation to +1.
  • Shoot a second bracket sequence of 3 images.

This gives you two sequences of three images, but across the two you will have images at 1EV intervals. These will range from -2EV to +3 EV which is what you need for HDR and Luminance blending if you want to ensure maximum flexibility. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to hand hold using this method but hopefully it will make things a little easier.

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Friday Image No.80

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Sony A7r + Canon 24-70 L series lens. ISO100, f/16.0, 1/10". Tripod mounted.
Sony A7r + Canon 24-70 L series lens. ISO100, f/16.0, 1/10″. Tripod mounted.

Yet another snow scene for this Friday’s image I’m afraid. It’s another of the images I shot a few weeks back and I seriously need to get out to shoot some new material. Unfortunately, the weather still isn’t good whenever I have some spare time. Fingers crossed for tomorrow when I will try again.

Anyway, I do like this image and though it would be a nice one to share.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Moving Over to Sony

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Sony A7r with Canon 16-35 lens at f/14.0
Sony A7r with Canon 16-35 lens at f/14.0

As many of the regular readers of this blog know, I am a diehard Micro 43 user and think these cameras (especially the Olympus EM5) are superb. Last year I conducted an experiment (a very expensive one) in which I purchased a Nikon D800 to compare performance. The D800 was a fantastically capable camera from which the results were excellent. The only problem was that it limited my shooting freedom hugely and the results were barely distinguishable from the EM5 for most purposes. I found that I could shoot all day with the D800 to achieve perhaps 1 or 2 OK images and as a result was always returning to the EM5. The ill-fated experiment end up with me selling the Nikon a couple of months later in frustration.

But now the EM5 is growing old and I haven’t seen anything much to replace it in the Micro 43 world (yet). It’s still an incredibly capable camera but I find myself wanting to refresh my equipment and inject something new into my work. I will stress though that I’m not abandoning Micro 43 – it’s simply too good a system.

Recently I have been shooting quite a bit with the Sony RX10. I really like this camera in terms of its handling and the image quality is generally very good (but not on a par with the EM5). What makes this camera stand out for me though is not the pixel count or the flexibility and usability (although impressive), it’s the colour handling. This is something that I have found with every Sony camera I have owned. The colour capture is so natural when used in Landscape photography, especially in the greens and blues. I simply love this. In fact I am so impressed that I have decided to make a Sony my next camera purchase.

I am now using a Sony A7r which has an uncannily familiar feel to it. It handles very much like the Olympus EM5 (with grip) in terms of its size and feel except that it’s just a little larger and chunkier. In fact I would go as far as to say that it feels just as flexible and enjoyable to use.

Where it does differ significantly from the EM5 is in the lenses. With the exception of the Sony R1 and more recent RX10, I have experienced issues with the Sony lenses. The lens line-up has been too limiting for landscape work and the image quality has been lacking, especially into the corners. For this camera I have therefore opted to buy Canon L Series lenses as I have always been very happy with their performance. These I am using via a cheap adapter that I purchased on Amazon for £50. Remarkably the adapter not only maintains the aperture control from the camera but also maintains the image stabilisation features built into the Canon lenses – wow!

At the moment I have only had a brief outing with the camera and the weather wasn’t very good so I can’t share very much work. Once I have had chance to use the camera properly I will share some more images and thoughts.