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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
 
 



 
 

Earlier this month I visited several of the photo equipment manufacturers at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Of course the two majors are Canon and Nikon. And while sales by other camera makers including Sony, Olympus, Pentax and Fuji trail by a large margin, new features continue to arrive rapidly among all new models by all manufacturers. This year, one feature that was common in many models is the addition of wireless functionality.

Since CES, I’ve acquired and tested two of the new DLSRs with wireless capabilities: the Canon 6D and the Nikon D600.

Here’s a quick report on how wireless works with the Canon 6D.

The 6D is the newest DSLR from Canon. Its full-frame sensor has a resolution of 20MB with good low light performance. Its autofocus system uses 11 focus points. Compared to it’s bigger brother the 5D Mark III, it is smaller in size, lighter in weight and less expensive.

The two “new” built-in features are the GPS receiver and its wireless capability. Having GPS automatically adds location information (latitude, longitude and altitude) to the EXIF data of the images.

My interest in the 6D was to see how its wireless capabilities worked.


The Canon 6D can communicate wirelessly with several types of devices: another camera, a smartphone, a printer, a web service or a DLNA device.

For this review I’ll describe my experience connecting with a smartphone. For wireless, there’s a few preliminaries that have to be performed.

The first is to give the 6D a wireless identifier. This step takes just a few minutes using the menus on the back of the camera. Here I’ve set it up with the identifier “Arnie 6D“.

By completing this step, the 6D is now its own wireless station.


The 6D can be used with either an Android or iPhone smartphone.

You’ll first have to install the free EOS Remote app for your particular smartphone.

In my case, I installed the app onto my iPhone.

Using the Settings menu on the iPhone, you connect to the camera with Wi-Fi. Look for the camera’s identifier – Arnie 6D.

For security, you’ll have to enter the Encryption Key to establish the connection.


After the camera and smartphone are connected, the EOS Remote app is ready to use.

It can perform two different functions.

Firstly, you can view the images that have been captured with the 6D.

Secondly, you can use the smartphone as a remote shutter release.


Viewing Images from camera

Choosing Camera Image Viewing brings us to a screen on the smartphone that looks like this.

By default the thumbnails are ordered by date but this can be changed to order them by rating (1 to 5 stars) or folder (if multiple folders are on the camera’s SD card).

In addition to the thumbnail, the technical data each image is also presented. This is helpful if you plan to evaluate the images while still in the field with the purpose of adjusting the settings.


Tapping one of the thumbnails presents a larger version of the thumbnail. For each image you can:

  • Download – to smartphone (1920 x 1280 jpg)
  • Email – send image with a text message
  • Rate – 1 to 5 stars
  • Delete – removes it from the camera

Capturing Images using the smartphone

Your smartphone can be used as a remote shutter release with extra capabilities.

Here I’ve set the camera on a tripod.

Choosing Remote Shooting activates the 6D Liveview. The smartphone then presents the same view as the camera.

By tapping on the different areas of the smartphone screen, I can change the autofocus.

Depending on the 6D’s mode setting I can also change the ISO, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation using the smartphone.

Another simple tap and the camera shutter is released.


Here’s the image that I took remotely.

And of course, the just captured image is immediately available if I change back to EOS Remote’s Camera Image Viewing.


There’s nothing earth shattering with this wireless capability. Yes, you can easily transfer images from the 6D to your smartphone and send them via email to others. And yes, it allows for backup, however the images are reduced to a smaller 1920 x 1280 jpg size.

I’ll cover more soon in another article about the Canon 6D’s wireless capability with a computer.

Also in the works is an article about the Nikon D600’s wireless capability.

 

 

Written by Arnie Lee