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Full Frame Mirrorless

Although I have been a longtime user of mirrorless cameras, I’ve been sitting on the fence about moving to a full-frame model. What was holding me back was my reluctance to make a sizable investment for a new set of lenses.


This past February while attending the Wedding & Portrait Professional Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Sony introduced a new camera – the Alpha 7 III. In case you’re curious about it, see my previous article about the WPPI Expo here.

A couple of features of the 24 megapixel A7 III caught my attention. First was the camera’s autofocus system. Using 693 phase detection AF points focusing was fast and accurate. Second the camera’s Eye AF which identifies and tracks the subject’s eye as the focus point. Third was its high continuous shooting speed – up to 10 frames per second. And forth was the comfortably adjustable LCD screen. And I saw that the A7 III had dual SD card slots. I spent about 30 minutes inspecting the camera and bouncing questions off of Sony rep Dave Rhodes. I left the expo with a very positive opinion about Sony’s brand new model.

After returning home from WPPI, I pre-ordered the camera with a 28-70mm lens. Along with it I ordered an accessory that would allow me to use my collection of Canon lenses with this new model. This device is the Metabones Smart Adapter.


Last week Sony released the first batch of A7 IIIs and my order arrives by courier, but due to my workload I wait a few days to open it. When I finally free up some time I find that the package contains the body, lens, USB charging cord, shoulder strap and instruction manual. Strike 1 on Sony. I see that the package does not have a battery charger. Instead I have to use a USB cord to connect to the camera body to charge the battery.

Now I think that I’m ready to take a few shots so I attach the lens, insert the battery and a blank SD card and turn on the camera. Strike 2 on Sony. The battery is not charged so I cannot power on the camera. Disappointed, I unwrap the USB charging cord only to find that there isn’t an A/C adapter for the cord. Strike 3 on Sony. It would be nice for Sony to al least supply an A/C adapter for the USB cord.

After striking out, I have to take a break. I hunt around for an A/C adapter and then proceed to charge the battery (in camera) for a couple of hours. After the battery is charged, I head outdoors to take a few shots.


my first photo with the A7 III

still – landscape

close up autofocus

action autofocus

high speed frame rate

auto white balance

While there isn’t anything remarkable about the photos, I want to see the camera shoot still, close auto focus (branch), action (runner), high frame rate (duck) and auto white balance (indoor).


I’m right-handed. The camera grip feels solid. Overall the body is compact without miniature features. The electronic viewfinder is bright and crisp. The LCD screen is adjustable making it easy to compose your shots whether they are overhead or low to the ground..



convenient and customizable control

the A7 III next to my Canon 6D

I like this camera’s dedicated exposure adjustment dial. A control wheel on the rear and another on the front are useful for changing exposure combinations. There are four buttons that let you customize the settings to your preferences. For those in a hurry to share photos, one of the controls lets you send images to a smartphone by Wi-Fi. And compared to my other full-frame DSLRs, the A7 III is noticeably smaller and lighter.



To be honest, I would not have purchased the A7 III had not the Metabones adapter been available.

This accessory allows me to use my full-frame Canon lenses with Sony full-frame FE-mount bodies including the A7 III. Having read dozens of reviews of the Metabones adapter beforehand, I was convinced that it was the only way for me to afford a new A7 III without having to buy a new set of lenses.


the A7 III, Metabones adapter and a Canon E-mount lens.

the A7 III with the Canon 24-105mm F/4L lens attached.

As part of checking out this new camera, I tested all of the Canon lenses in my collection with the A7 III using the Metabones adapter.

I was pleasantly surprised. The adapter worked with all of my lenses. Additionally the lens information (ID, shutter speed, f-stop, focal length) was transferred to the images’ EXIF data (two lenses were incorrectly identified).

Below are images made using those respective lenses.



135mm F/2L

35mm F/2

75-300 F/4-5.6 @75mm


75-300 F/4-5.6 @300mm

24-105mm F/4L @24mm

24-105mm F/4L @105mm


50mm F/1.4

8-15mm F/4L Fisheye @8mm

8-15mm F/4L Fisheye @15mm


17-40mm F/4L @17mm

17-40mm F/4L @40mm

85mm F/2


100mm F/2.8 macro

Sigma 20mm F/2

24mm F/3.5L TS-E


100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L @100mm

100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L @400mm

All of these photos were taken from a distance of about eight feet except for the two 100-400mm photos which were taken from a distance of about 16 feet. In short, the Metabones adapter lets you use Canon EF-lenses on Sony FE-mount bodies.

Sony E-mount lenses (designed for the smaller APS-C size sensor) can be used on the A7 III. My E-mount 18-200mm lens worked perfectly. However using an E-mount lens reduces the image resolution from 4000 x 6000 pixels to 2624 x 3936 pixels.


 
 

One neat feature that I am going to use for portraits is coined Eye AF. Long ago I was taught that for portraits it is important to focus on the subject’s eye. With Eye AF activated, the camera identifies the subject’s eye and makes it the main focusing point even if the subject moves. Eye AF worked well with the several subjects that I photographed.

I should mention that there’s an app on my iPhone that lets me grab images from the A7 III. The app is called PlayMemories Mobile and lets me download the images (JPGs only, not the raw ARWs) from the SD card to my iPhone. Having used the app with other Sony cameras previously, I’ve found it to be easy and very reliable.

I should also mention that PlayMemories Mobile also lets me record location information for the images. Using the smartphone’s GPS capabilities, the app sends the location coordinates via Bluetooth to the camera as it is capturing the images onto the SD card. Again, in my short time using this feature, it worked reliably. Bravo Sony.

I use the classic version of Lightroom to perform most of my image editing. To be exact, I’m now using Lightroom 6.14 but it’s my understanding that Adobe will not be making any further upgrades to this version. Therefore it’s unfortunate that I am unable to edit the raw ARW files with my copy of Lightroom without performing an extra step. Luckily I’ve found a way to fool Lightroom into believing that the camera’s raw ARW files were created with the previous generation Sony A7 II camera. Still this “fix” is an inconvenience before editing with Lightroom.

Despite my initial frustration (lack of a charger, uncharged battery, etc) out of the box, I remain very positive about its impressive features and performance. Having spent a few hours “playing” with this new mirrorless, I’ve used only several of the features that first attracted me to this camera. There are many more that I plan to become familiar with and use. Additionally, there are a large set of features that should be of interest to the movie enthusiasts. Admittedly, I’m not deep into moviemaking so I will cede the reviews on this aspect of the camera to other photographers.

In the mean time, if you’d like to learn more about this new model, Sony has an extensive description of the Alpha 7 III features here.

The suggested retail price of the A7 III is $2000 for the body or $2200 for the body with 28-70mm lens and is now available.
 
 

Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 



 
 

Sony Alpha 7 III

23rd March 2018

The Newest High Performance Mirrorless


As the cold winter weather wares on me, I look forward to escaping for a few days. My destination is the Wedding & Portrait Professional International Conference and Expo in warm (usually) Las Vegas. There photographers can attend any of several hundred seminars, classes, workshops covering the gamut of the photography world. I especially like the expo where I can seek out the makers of new equipment and accessories. And so for this article, you’ll see that I stopped at Sony to have a look at their upcoming A7 III mirrorless camera.

Sony is the leading maker of mirrorless cameras. Early on I was attracted to Sony’s NEX series owing to their compact size and weight. I now own three of Sony’s mirrorless APS-C sensor models. For the past two years, my walk-around “goto” is the Sony Alpha 6000 with which I’ve taken many tens of thousands of pix.

I’ve been holding off upgrading to a full frame, but Sony has been dangling some impressive features in their newer models. The A7 III is Sony’s latest iteration of full-framers and I had some hands-on at the WPPI Expo.


Pick up the camera and it’s lightweight (compared to full-frame DSLR) but solid. The body is made from a magnesium alloy and is sealed to keep out dirt and moisture. The handgrip is comfortable (I’m right handed) as I tested it with the 24-105mm G lens. I cozied up to the bright, crisp viewfinder. Although I was in a lower light indoor setting, the speed of autofocus seemed to be very snappy. I counted four customizable buttons – a plus for fast working in the field. There are also two convenient dials for changing shutter speed or aperture and a welcomed dedicated dial for exposure adjustment.


Among the A7 III’s impressive features are:

 

  • 24.2 MP full frame sensor with ISO from 100-51200
  • Bright 2.3MP electronic viewfinder
  • Advanced AF with 693 phase detection and 425 contrast points
  • “Eye AF” detects and focuses on subject’s eye
  • continuous shooting up to 10 frames per second
  • in camera 5-axis image stabilization
  • high capacity battery provides 700 shots per charge
  • dual SD card slots supports high speed UHS-II
  • tilting LCD screen with touch-screen capability
  • high resolution 4K HDR video

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    At the WPPI Expo, Sony rep David Rhodes demonstrated a new feature for me. Using your finger tip, you can use the touch screen to instantly change the focus point. The LCD screen also tilts up and down for easier viewing from different angles. While I wasn’t able to try it, the A7 III is capable of shooting 10 frames per second while maintaining autofocus.


    In the past, some critics pointed to the dearth of lenses for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras. Sony has been rapidly developing and introducing new lenses and now has a decent stable of prime and zoom lenses – I counted about two dozen lenses.

    Additionally, Sigma recently announced the support the Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. While they are not yet available, Sigma will be producing the following prime lenses for Sony E-mount cameras:

    14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art
    20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art
    85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art


     

    The A7 III is on target for release about mid-April. The suggested price is $2200 with a 28-70mm lens. For more information and detailed specifications, please visit Sony A7 III.

    For more information about the upcoming Sigma lenses, please visit Sigma.


    After my hands-on test and after talking to the Sony rep David Rhodes, I’ve decided to pre-order the A7 III. The two features that pushed my decision are the speedy and more accurate autofocus, the 10 fps shooting capability and the availability of a larger selection of lenses. I look forward to its arrival – I’m told in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, I’ll have a review of the new equipment in the near future.

    Note from April 10, 2018: I just received delivery of the A7 III that I preordered a couple of weeks ago. I hope to have a review shortly.

     
     

    Written by: Arnie Lee