We are in the process of reviewing the Sony A7R II mirrorless camera and we thought it would be a good idea to provide our recommended settings for this camera, since many of our readers have been asking for it. With a powerful 42 MP sensor and a pretty long list of features including native 4K video recording capability, the Sony A7R II is a high-end interchangeable lens mirrorless camera designed for serious enthusiasts and professionals. In this article, we will provide some information on what settings we use and shortly explain what some of the important ones do. The Sony A7-series cameras have a myriad of different settings and buttons, which can be confusing to understand, so the below information is provided as a guide for those who struggle with the cameras.
This is our second iteration of the “How was this picture taken?” series of articles and this time we have a fun picture to dissect – the Total Lunar Eclipse, a.k.a. the “Blood Moon”, which took place on the 27th of September. I had the chance to photograph the Blood Moon along with a few other Colorado Fall Color workshop participants last week, so after I put together the image below, I thought it would be fun to ask our readers about this one to see if they can figure out exactly how the below image was captured:
It seems like many of our readers really loved our new idea (big thanks to John Bosley for suggesting it!) with the “how was this picture taken” series, since we had huge feedback and lots of interesting discussions. I must apologize for not being able to provide the answer to our first exercise sooner, as I have been swamped with the workshops I am conducting in the mountains. We will try to post answers sooner to such series in the future! Let’s take another look at the image in question and this time I will start off by revealing some useful EXIF data on the same image to kick off the answer:
Within the next few weeks, Microsoft will be releasing the new generation model of its successful laptop for professionals, the Surface Pro 4. Having been using the Surface Pro 3 since it came out, I have taken it all over – from the dusty Race Track playa of Death Valley to the red sands of Wadi Rum in Jordan. Being light and portable, it has been in my camera bag pretty much everywhere I go. I have always been a PC guy (although I recently bought an iMac), so I have had quite a bit of experience using all kinds of PCs for my needs. And although I have never had issues with PCs, my biggest struggle has always been laptops. Having tried everything from expensive Dell Precision models to lightweight ultrabooks, I pretty much hated them all for one reason – the amount of heat they generate, particularly when using them on my lap.
Ever since Sigma announced their new direction with reorganizing new lenses into three different “Contemporary”, “Art” and “Sports” product lines, the company has been successfully rolling out a number of truly groundbreaking lenses. We were blown away by the optical quality of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens, which topped our lens charts as one of the sharpest lenses we have seen to date. Then we welcomed the updated Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and were quite inspired by world’s first f/1.8 constant aperture zoom lens, the 18-35mm f/1.8 Art. Earlier this year, Sigma announced yet another addition to the “Art” line of lenses, again in the “world’s first” category, the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art. Built on the concept of the 18-35mm f/1.8 Art, the 24-35mm f/2 was redesigned to cover the full-frame image circle, while maintaining the superb optical performance. The result was a larger and heavier lens, but one that was to challenge primes from 24mm to 35mm focal lengths. Set on to go head to head with such primes specifically, the biggest question I had was – could this lens actually optically challenge prime lenses? If it performed well optically, that’s a single lens which could potentially replace such lenses as the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G, 28mm f/1.8G and 35mm f/1.8G in a single package – a rather tough challenge, as those lenses are quite strong performers on their own.
Going forward, we will be featuring the new “how was this picture taken” series articles, asking our readers to look at an image, analyze it and provide information on how they think the image was captured. When guessing, information could include such data as: approximate exposure variables (shutter speed, aperture and ISO), focal length, camera to subject distance, camera and lens used, what the gear was mounted on, post-processing techniques, composition, cropping, etc. This could be a fun exercise for our readers to practice with and we see it leading to all kinds of fun discussions.
P.S. The answer has been posted here.
I am currently in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Colorado, getting ready to conduct my annual Colorado Fall Workshops. Although some of the areas have not turned in their full fall color glory yet, it is just a matter of days at this point to witness the stunning transformation of the scenery before winter rolls its cold in. A breathtaking visual spectacle; something I love indulging myself in, together with some of the most amazing people from all over the world – our readers who will be arriving later this week to join the workshops. As I was trying to catch up with work earlier today, I realized that I was about 30 minutes away from sunset. I looked outside and was disappointed to see a bunch of thick clouds covering the sky. At first, I thought I would just stay and work, but then the thought of potentially losing a sunset opportunity crossed my mind, so I grabbed the Sony A7R II (which I am currently testing) and off I went to quickly get to the first overlook of the glorious Mt Sneffels.
After almost a year of hard work, John and I are excited to finally release our first photography course “Level 1: Photography Basics“. It has been an awesome experience creating this video and I can proudly say that we have done our best to produce truly educational material for our readers to learn from. Compressing years of photography knowledge and experience into a 5 hour course was not easy, but we managed to do it! Although this is our first commercial product, we have huge plans for making more of such videos in the future, as detailed below.
While I am getting ready to leave for the upcoming PL fall workshops this week, it was exciting to hear today that Sony is finally going to address the Lossy 11+7 bit RAW issue we have seen on all Sony A7-series cameras (you can read about the Lossy RAW issue in my Sony A7R review). Although the press release below states that Sony will feature uncompressed 14-bit RAW beginning with the A7R II and the newly announced A7S II, I really hope that the company adds this must-have feature to its older A7-series cameras as well, since landscape photographers could really benefit from shooting true 14-bit RAW, without worrying about seeing artifacts in images. This is great news and I am glad that Sony responded to our complaints – it is great to see such a large company listen to customer and expert feedback.
I have been using ACDSee Pro for many years, because I found it to be pretty convenient to use for viewing different image formats. It has great built-in tools for viewing EXIF / exposure data and customizing exactly what I want to view, which is great. Although I have switched to FastRawViewer for fast viewing of RAW files and culling images, ACDSee can be a great tool for reviewing other images and graphics – it can literally open any image format out there. We have previously published a detailed review of ACDSee Pro 8 and although we found it to be quite messy and cumbersome for photo editing when compared to Lightroom, ACDSee still worked out great as a general purpose image viewer. However, since we published the review, I have been very annoyed by all the pop-ups and ACDSee’s attempts to lure me into upgrading to their Ultimate version (which started out at around $70+, then eventually came down to $40), showing up way too often, sometimes several times a day! And now I am getting pop-ups for the new upcoming version 9 of the software, as seen below: