Sony A7 II Review

Sony A7 II

October 16 of 2013 marks an important milestone in the history of photography, because it is the date when Sony announced world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7 and A7R. The Sony A7, being the cheaper model aimed for general use, sports a 24 MP sensor and offers hybrid autofocus, while the A7R with its high resolution 36 MP sensor is targeted at more specific types of photography including landscape, architecture, studio and product photography. Since the official release of these cameras, I had a chance to test both in 2014 as soon as they were available. However, I did not write detailed reviews for a number of reasons including native lens shortage and availability, all kinds of initial firmware bugs and lags, shutter vibrations (A7R), slow start up time, compressed RAW, terrible menu system, poor battery life and a number of other annoying issues. On top of that, 2014 was also a year of personal transformation for me, so I was incredibly busy trying to shuffle a lot of things at the same time. To put it short, my lack of time and my negative experience with these cameras contributed to reviews being put off for a later date. When Sony released the A7S a bit later, I did not see drastic changes aside from the camera sensor, so I put off reviewing that camera for a while as well. However, when Sony announced the second iteration of the A7-series, the A7 II, I immediately requested a review unit for evaluation. By then, Sony already had a few more native lenses to choose from and I had high hopes that Sony perhaps addressed many of the concerns from the original A7 in this new camera. In addition, the Sony A7 II came with in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which interested me a lot – with so many different adapters available for other lens mounts, the A7 II looked rather promising as a versatile tool that could stabilize pretty much any lens on the market. And that in itself sounded really good, so off I went with my journey to assess the new Sony A7 II.

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How Much Resolution Do You Really Need?

Lightroom Library Filter ISO

Each year camera manufacturers are pushing the limits of sensor technology and the latest trend has been to increase sensor resolution to numbers that were considered unfathomable before. With full-frame cameras reaching 50 megapixels (MP) and medium format cameras pushing beyond 80 MP, we now know that the megapixel race won’t stop there and we will most likely be seeing cameras with even more resolution in the future. But the big question remains – how much resolution does one truly need today? Is 12 MP too little? Is 50 MP too much? While it is a subject that can be open to endless debates, I have been working on a methodology to determine the ideal megapixel range for one’s needs. In this article, I will share what I came up with and it will hopefully serve as a good guide for our readers in deciding how to address the megapixel quench. I highly recommend to read my camera resolution explained article as a pre-requisite to understand the relationship of resolution to printing, cropping, display size and to understand such terms as down-sampling in more detail.

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Incredible Time-lapse of the Sun from NASA

Magnificent Eruption Still

One of our readers was kind enough to send a link to a YouTube video from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Obervatory (SDO), which has been capturing images of the whole sun 24 hours a day for the last 5 years. After putting together image sequences into a time-lapse, NASA created a stunning video that is absolutely worth watching. If you visit NASA’s official website, you can click on the Related Media link and see many more videos and images from SDO, which are all as amazing as the below video:

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Camera Resolution Explained

Image Resolution Comparison

Although the megapixel race has been going on since digital cameras had been invented, the last few years in particular have seen a huge increase in resolution – we have seen everything from 41 megapixel camera phones to now 50.6 megapixel full-frame DSLR cameras. It seems like we have already reached the theoretical maximum for handling noise at high ISOs with the current generation sensor technology, so the manufacturers are now focusing their efforts in packing more resolution, while keeping sensor sizes the same in order to lure more customers to upgrade to the latest and greatest. In this article, I will try to explain some basic terminology in regards to resolution and hopefully help our readers in understanding camera resolution better.

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Nikon Lens-Only and Camera Rebates are Now Live!

Nikon Lens Only Rebates

For the next 13 days, Nikon will again offer lens-only rebates as it has previously done in the past. This is pretty exciting news for many Nikon shooters that already own Nikon cameras and are only interested in buying lenses – many of our readers have been waiting for such a rebate for a while now. In addition to these lens rebates, Nikon is also simultaneously running its “Buy Together and Save” rebate program, where additional savings are provided if you buy one of the Nikon DSLRs. Let’s take a look at these savings in more detail.

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Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art and Sigma 150-600mm Available for Pre-Order

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Just a day after Sigma announced its 24mm f/1.4 Art lens, it has now also announced both pricing and availability of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens. I honestly expected over $1K price for this quality of the lens, so I was a bit shocked to see that the lens will be sold at $849, which is tremendous value if you compare it to Nikon and Canon 24mm f/1.4 counterparts. Another much anticipated lens, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is also available for pre-order for $1,089, which is priced right around the same as the Tamron 150-600mm which we highly praised in our in-depth review. Both lenses are expected to ship around March 20, 2015.

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Nikon D810A Image Samples

Nikon D810A Image Samples (5)

And for those who are interested in the newly announced Nikon D810A, below you will find some sample images from the camera. Please keep in mind that aside from the last photo, all sample images were taken as composites with multiple images, then put together via special stitching software for astrophotography. That’s why EXIF data is not present in these images. As usual, you can download images to your computer to see a full-sized version.

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Nikon D810A Announcement

Nikon D810A

It has only been 8 months since Nikon announced the D810 and today the company announced a very specialized camera for astrophotographers, the Nikon D810A. In essence, the D810A is pretty much identical to the existing D810 – the camera has exactly the same body build, ergonomics, sensor, etc. What has changed is the filter stack in front of the sensor, which contains a modified infrared filter that is more sensitive to super low light emitted by the stars and nebulas (specifically, the hydrogen alpha wavelength). In addition, Nikon implemented additional shutter speeds (4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300, 600 and 900 seconds) to give more flexibility for astrophotography needs. While the announcement is certainly big for astrophotographers, because it is world’s first full-frame astrophotography DSLR camera, I do have a few concerns about this particular release. Having done a bit of research in astrophotography last year (my primary interest was in deep space object photography using specialized mounts and CCD sensors), I learned a little bit about the tools and what’s needed.

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Ads on Photography Life

PL Advertising

As you may have already noticed, we have been experimenting with advertising here at Photography Life over the weekend. After several days of trying out Google’s advertising, we decided to settle on a few locations on the website and we have now pretty much settled on showing advertising on the sidebar and the main content area of the page. While we have tried to do our best to make ads as unobtrusive as possible, our old-time readers who have been enjoying the ad-free environment for so many years might get a bit annoyed and might wonder why we had to resort to introducing advertising on this site. Unfortunately, it all has to do with our rising costs.

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Canon 5DS and 5DS R Image Samples

Canon 5DS R Image Samples (1)

If you are wondering about how images look from the newly announced Canon 5DS and 5DS R DSLR cameras, below you will find the official image samples from Canon USA for both cameras. Let’s take a look at the 5DS images first (apologies for wrong orientation on vertical images – our system could not properly handle orientation on such large files):

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