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Canon’s Latest Mirrorless


This past February at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo, I stopped at the Canon booth to take a look at the company’s new M5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.


Canon is best known for their full featured DSLR cameras. Although I own several high end DSLRs from both Canon and Nikon, I’ve been a devoted user of mirrorless cameras for at least five years owing to the compact size and electronic viewfinder that I highly value.

Sony has been a leader in the mirrorless realm with Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus close behind. Canon has been playing catch up with its M series for a couple of years. I now consider the M5 a strong contender.

The new M5 now uses a 24MP sensor with Dual Pixel AF for faster and more precise autofocus. This is Canon’s first M series with built-in viewfinder. The M5 combines in-camera digital and optical lens stabilization. The tilting LCD has doubles as a touchscreen. And the camera has a built-in flash.


This is the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens.


The tilting LCD also functions as a touchscreen. Touch the screen to activate focus manually.

As you can see the M5 has a convenient, dedicated exposure compensation dial.

The M5 also captures full HD 60p movies in MP4 format. The touchscreen can be used during video operations to affect focus.

The camera includes Wi-fi and NFC capabilities as well as bluetooth to send images to a smartphone.

The suggested price of Canon M5 with 15-45mm EF-M lens is $1099. The suggested price of the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens is $1479.

For more information about the M5, please visit Canon.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Sony A7 II

22nd March 2015

New Full Frame Mirrorless

I’ve been using several of Sony’s mirrorless cameras for three years or so. The three models that I regularly use are the NEX5, NEX7 and A6000 each with an APS-C size sensor. All three are compact and lightweight. Both the NEX7 and A6000 have viewfinders – a necessary feature that I expect in an advanced camera.

The A6000 has been my “go-to” camera for the past year. The quality of the images match up to those from the Canon 7D and Nikon D90 but with the added convenience of a noticeably smaller piece of hardware.

With this previous experience with mirrorless equipment, I went to the Sony booth at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo to have a look at the new full-frame Alpha 7 II.



The A7II has a full size 24MP sensor in a body that weighs a mere 21 ounces. This compares to the Canon 5D MkIII at 33 ounces or the Nikon D800 at 35 ounces. The physical size of these three cameras are (W x H x D) A7II is 5″ x 3-7/8″ x 2-3/8″ Canon 5D MkIII 6″ x 4.6″ x 3″ Nikon D800 5.7″ x 4.8″ x 3.2″

The A7II shares many of the same features of the A6000 including sweep panorama shooting mode, built in HDR, on board wifi connectivity, electronic viewfinder displays real time adjustments and tilting LCD screen. Unfortunately the A7II does not have a built-in flash as does the A6000. However the A7II records 4K video, sports fast “hybrid” autofocus and 5-axis image stabilization and 5fps still capture.

As far as lenses are concerned, Sony’s mirrorless versions (designated as FE-mount) do not share the same size and weight savings as the A7II body. But given that the body is about a pound less and considerably smaller in size, I felt that the weight savings would be a definite advantage for the type of shooting that I do in the field.

Sony also announced the release of these three lenses for full frame mirrorless:



The Sony rep also mentioned an upcoming 28mm f/2 lens that will also accept a 16mm fisheye converter and a 21mm ultra wide angle converter.

The suggested price is $2000 and is available about May 1st. For more information about the A7II, please visit Sony.

The bottom line – if you’re looking for a camera that provides the high resolution that only the mid-size format were able to deliver, the Canon 5DS (and 5DSR) has now lowered the entry price by thousands of dollars.

 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


The Sony A6000 Mirrorless

14th August 2014

My 6300-Mile Field Test

On our recent vacation, my camera of choice was Sony’s newest mirrorless camera. While I also brought a much larger Nikon D700 conventional DSLR, I relied mostly on the the Sony A6000. As a comparison, I captured about 150 images with the Nikon D700 and more than a thousand images with the Sony A6000.

My setup was the A6000 coupled with Sony’s 18-200mm lens. This combination is lightweight and compact, produces quality images and just happens to fit beneath the driver’s seat for fast, convenient access.

Hopefully, the following photographic sampler illustrates the A6000’s versatility. I’ll add a few techie details afterwards.



The A6000 is smaller than a conventional DSLR so it’s both lighter and more compact.

You can compare the sizes of the A6000 next to the conventional Nikon D700 DSLR.


The A6000’s high resolution 24MP sensor renders scenics with very high detail.

Additionally, the camera can capture subjects that have a wide range of exposure levels.


The A6000’s articulated LCD makes it easy to capture stills and closeups.

The much improved focusing system works well for wildlife shots.


With the 18-200mm lens, I can keep dry while still in on the action.

Here’s some quick, responsive focusing


The A6000’s bright viewfinder makes it easy to compose and frame in bright sunlight.

The electronic viewfinder previews the scene with the camera adjustments applied.


It handles action shots well and can capture up to 11 frames per second.

The exposure system works quite well with a wide variety of subjects.


I used the camera’s sweep panorama feature often to automatically produce some very pleasing large images.

I suppose it doesn’t matter than I traveled 6300 miles with the camera other than I used it under a variety of conditions.

My “film” was a 32GB SD card, but I never filled it with the 200 pictures a day (the camera was set to record simultaneous RAW and JPG images). All in all, I’m very happy with the images that the camera produced. The one small gotcha is that the A6000 has a short battery life – probably due to the electronic viewfinder. Thankfully, I had an extra battery that I carried along.

Since this is my third Sony mirrorless camera, you can safely assume that I’d recommend this camera to others. In fact my daughter must have agreed with my assessment and purchased one.


For those interested, here’s a few of the technical specs for the A6000:

Sony A6000 os a mirrorless with a 24MP sensor. One of the reasons for choosing this camera is its fast and accurate hybrid focusing system that allows up to 11 frames per second capture. Other proven features are its “sweep panorama”, automated HDR capture, easy exposure bracketing, and Sony’s proven video recording.

List price for the A6000 body without lens is $650. The 18-200mm lens cost $850, more than the body but this single lens allowed me to enjoy the scenery without clutter of additional lenses.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee


Sony Alpha 6000

17th April 2014

Sony’s Newest “MILC” – Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

I’m apolitical when it comes to camera brands. I use equipment from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc.

When traveling for assignments I carry a quality camera and several lenses. For the past few years I’ve gravitated towards the smaller and lighter cameras. What’s more is that lenses for these cameras are also smaller and lighter too so packing is easier.

My go-to camera is now a Sony NEX7 which is half the size and weight of the Canon 6D or Nikon D800. But the one downside of the NEX7 is its slow focusing speed and accuracy in low light situations.

Naturally I was interested in seeing the new Sony A6000 at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Expo last month. This new model addresses the focusing issue by using “hybrid” phase detection for fast response combined with contrast detection for improved accuracy. Sony claims that the A6000 can record an amazing 11 frames per second with continuous autofocus. Whether shooting still or video this is a welcome and impressive feature packed into a camera this size and cost.

The A6000 is similar to my NEX7 in many respects including a 24 MB APS-C sensor and an electronic viewfinder (EVF). I find the EVF essential when using any of the interchangeable lenses rather than relying on the rear facing LCD screen especially in bright light. Another advantage of the high resolution EVF is that it displays a preview as you make exposure and/or white balance adjustments.

The bright, tilting LCD lets you shoot from a low viewpoint without having to kneel or from a high viewpoint without having a ladder.

The A6000 at WPPI was equipped with a 18-50mm lens. Sony calls it a PZ “power zoom” in that it has a small button which automatically zooms in and out when depressed. When retracted this camera/lens combo is quite compact, yet it fits comfortably in my hands. The specs say that the camera body weighs less than 13 ounces – how’s that for a weight saver?

The A6000 has most of the same features of the NEX7 such as in-camera HDR, sweep panorama and multi-frame noise reduction. For me a bonus is the built-in wifi for transferring images to a mobile or computer device and the downloadable apps (for an additional charge) such as time lapse, automatic backup, photo sharing.

The Sony rep told me that the A6000 will be available about April 23rd. Price for the A6000 body is $649; for the A6000 with 18mm-50mm PZ lens is $799.

I have an A6000 on order and am looking forward to this as an upgrade to my NEX7.

Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

PhotoPlus Expo – Sony a7

05th November 2013

Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

At this year’s PhotoPlus Expo, I made it a point to visit Sony’s booth to have a quick hands on their newly announced Alpha 7 camera. But first, here’s a little background that may help to explain why I take such an interest in the a7.

In 2010, Sony introduced the Alpha A55 with its unique translucent mirror. The non-movable mirror enables Sony to pack many innovative features into a space-saving SLT body that are missing from conventional DLSR cameras – accurate and continuous autofocus, real time electronic viewfinder, sweep panorama, multi-frame noise reduction, more. Since then I’ve been a user of two models – the A55 and a more advanced A65. Both produce excellent images. And since they are considerably smaller and lighter than the competitor’s equivalent models, they are less burdensome in the field.

These two SLTs cultivated my fondness for lightweight equipment. So I was very intrigued when I learned about Sony’s NEX series of compact camera. With an APS-C sensor, a NEX camera body is half the size of a DLSR yet accommodates interchangeable lenses owing to its mirrorless design. I soon acquired a lower-end NEX 5 to see if it met my requirements. I found it has image quality but I was not comfortable using the LCD finder with longer lenses. I then purchased the NEX 7 that sports an electronic viewfinder. Since then this has been my camera of choice owing to its excellent image quality, innovative feature set, compact lens size in an extremely lightweight package.

Several weeks preceding the PhotoPlus Expo, Sony announced the Alpha 7. It’s a direct descendent of the NEX series. Yes, it has a full frame sensor but its mirrorless design has been proven by several generations of the APS-C size NEX cameras.

You can see the thinness of the camera body with 35mm lens attached.

Specs: 24MP sensor, hybrid phase detection/contrast-detection autofocus, bright 2.4MP electronic viewfinder, articulated LCD, full HD video, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, E-mount and full E-mount lens compatibility.



the a7 with Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens attached

dedicated mode and exposure compensation dials


I asked Meagan, the Sony rep, if the very compact E-mount lenses are compatible with the a7. She told me that they can be used but the view is shrunk to cover only the central 16MP of the sensor.

For the a7’s larger sensor you’ll have to use one of the new Full E-mount lenses: FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6; Sonnar 35mm f/2.8; Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 and Vario-Tessar 24-70mm F4. Also coming is a Sony 70-200mm G f/4 lens for early 2014.

Meagan says that delivery of the a7 begins December 1. Price is $1699 for body only and $1999 with the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.


 

 

I am impressed with the small size of the a7. With the 28-70mm lens attached, the package is amazingly small and lightweight. While I wasn’t able to examine my test shots in detail, I’m confident that the full-frame sensor will delivery excellent images. In fact, I understand that Sony supplies this same sensor for use in Nikon’s D600 full frame DSLR.

So I remain in a quandary. Should I move from my very comfortable NEX 7 to this new full-frame a7?

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 


 

 

Parade of Cameras 2

05th October 2012

Photokina Part 2 – the new stuff

Photokina is the largest photographic trade show and takes place every two years in Cologne, Germany. Photokina is a major venue where photographic manufacturers showcase their upcoming products. Here’s a short report about some of the new products that caught my attention during my short visit in late September.



Walking the aisles, I observed two opposing trends taking place among the photographic equipment makers.

On one side, there’s a movement towards larger sensors. Advanced and professional photographers have typically chosen equipment that produces the highest quality images regardless of size and weight. Equipment with larger, full-frame sensors have dominated this category. In Part 1 of this article, I described several of the new full-frame cameras that I demo’d at Photokina.

On the other side, there’s is a flood of activity devoted to making smaller, higher quality cameras.
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Panoramas the easy way

27th August 2012

Photographically speaking, a panorama is a photograph that encompasses a very wide view. I like panoramas because they reproduce a scene as if I were viewing it live by turning my head from the far left to the far right. I can view the photograph in small ‘chunks’ as I scan the entire image from the left to the right.

In the past, making a panorama was a complicated, multiple step process involving capturing the images and then stitching them together whether it be done chemically in a darkroom or digitally with a computer. I won’t go into details of making panoramas using either of these two “conventional” ways. Instead, I’ll point out the ease with which a feature on certain cameras enables me to easily make panoramas in one step.

For the past two years I’ve been using several Sony Alpha series and NEX series cameras to shoot panoramas. These cameras enjoy a feature called Sweep Panorama. When this feature is chosen, you simultaneously depress the shutter and move the camera in a sweeping fashion to the right. As you do this, the camera captures multiple images of the scene. The camera signals the completion of the sweep by halting the shutter. A few seconds afterward, the panoramic capture appears on the camera’s LCD for your review. Press the PLAY button and the image is displayed from left to right – in video fashion – but is actually a single, still panoramic image.

Above, I explained that the sweeping motion is from left to right. But in fact these Sony cameras let you sweep left to right; right to left; up to down; and down to up. These cameras also capture three dimensional appearing images using 3D Sweep Panorama that can be displayed on certain compatible 3D television sets.

Here’s a few of the panoramas that I’ve taken with various Sony cameras. You can click on each of the images to see a wide view of the panorama.
 


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

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