Sony A7R II Firmware with Uncompressed RAW Now Available

Today is a good day in the Sony world, because the firmware 2.00 containing 14-bit Uncompressed RAW is available for download for the Sony A7R II! Finally, Sony added this option to the camera, which means you can now take a full advantage of the 42 MP Sony sensor in the A7R II, without damaging image quality. While the uncompressed RAW images will be much larger in size (roughly 2x the size), it is definitely worth using this option for critical shooting, particularly when shooting night scenes where sky posterization issues and artifacts around subjects are most pronounced. With the uncompressed option, you can enjoy seeing images that look like the ones from the Nikon D810 below:

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Don’t Be a Guinea Pig

It seems like releasing a product without proper testing has become a norm for some camera manufacturers like Nikon. You would think that after all the recalls, service advisories and lawsuits, manufacturers should be thoroughly testing equipment, preferably giving the equipment to real photographers who use and abuse their gear for a living, before trying to market and sell it. Nikon specifically has gone through so much bad press, that one would think it is time for the company to think about its long term strategy with releasing products. Looking at the past few years, it seems like almost every major product announcement has been followed by a plague of service advisories. The Nikon D800 / D800E cameras were definitely the spotlight of the industry, except almost every camera was impacted by the infamous Asymmetric Focus Issue. Nikon went quiet on that one for a while and never truly confirmed the issue.

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A Transitional DSLR with EVF Capability?

One of the biggest complaints we hear about from photographers today is lack of innovation by DSLR manufacturers. Given how far mirrorless cameras have gotten in the last few years with the electronic viewfinder (EVF) technology, it is a given that DSLRs are looking archaic in comparison, particularly when it comes to intelligent information overlays, manual focusing, focus peaking, EVF image playback and other important advancements that make mirrorless cameras not just joyful to use, but also very helpful in reducing focus issues. When using classic lenses such as the Noct 58mm f/1.2 on a DSLR, I personally find it quite frustrating that I have to switch to live view to try to nail focus with the camera at my arm’s length. Not only does that result in potential instability and undesired camera shake, but it takes me away from the optical viewfinder (OVF) and slows down the whole process. But what if there was a solution to the problem? What if DSLR manufacturers came up with a way to integrate an EVF into DSLRs and make both OVF and EVF possible? Sort of a “transitional DSLR” with both OVF and EVF capabilities. How cool would it be, if you could switch from an OVF to an EVF with just a single button? I have been thinking about this concept for a while and I think there is a way to implement this, if camera manufacturers are willing to be flexible and put some R&D resources towards such a project. It would certainly reduce the potential of mirrorless cameras taking a huge market share away from DSLR sales, which have only been declining in the past few years.

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Attitudes To Noise

Let’s talk about noise. Not the lovely Swedish lullaby my friend hums at me down the phone but digital noise in our photographic images. Most of us profess a serious allergy to it such that noise control has become a major USP for many camera models. One of the many features prospective buyers look for is noise control at higher ISOs. Models like the Nikon D4S and Sony A7s market themselves specifically as clean imaging devices, having listened to (preyed on?) the market’s feverish insecurities about the dreaded grain.

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Nikon 1 J5: A Bit of a Game Changer?

One of the most common knocks against the Nikon 1 product line has been its small CX sensor and its somewhat underwhelming dynamic range and colour depth performance. I wasn’t even mildly interested when I first read about the introduction of the Nikon 1 J5 as I initially assumed the camera would be using yet another Aptina sensor. Based on past experience this meant very little, if any, improvement in terms of sensor performance and image quality. After all, that had been the case with each successive S-series, J-series and V-series model that had been introduced. Since I don’t like using cameras without a viewfinder I just shrugged.

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Is Nikon’s New 500mm FL Too Sharp?

And I guess the follow-up question would be “Could Verm come up with a more provocative title?” To put you at ease, these sample pics are all saved at web resolution so you needn’t don eye protection. This last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting with the new AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR. Here are some quickie sample pics and comments from the first few days of shooting. There’s more to come as I’ll be doing in-depth field tests and comparing results with the “old” Nikkor 500mm.

Is it sharp? I’ll let this spike answer.

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Super Telephoto Wildlife Photography – The Good and the Bad

If you have read any of my previous articles, then you would know I have two Nikkor super telephoto lenses and I often use them in wildlife photography. I also often mention that reach is important in wildlife photography and getting highly detailed and crisp images. Two of the super telephoto lenses I have are the 600mm f/4 prime and the 800mm f/5.6 prime and they are amazing lenses that give me amazing reach for wildlife, but this reach can also be a problem when multiple eyes are involved (ie: several animals in same frame).

Lets take a look at a nightmare photo to get with a 600mm lens at optimal distance requiring minimal cropping:

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Sony A7R II Hot Pixel Issue

I recently sold my D810 to get the Sony A7R II after it was announced by Sony, so I received it less than a week ago after ordering from Amazon. The specs were too tempting, especially with Nikon being somewhat stagnant in regards to innovation on the mirrorless front. Although I loved my D810 for landscape images, lugging the camera and tripod when going on vacation or hiking with a 20 month old child, has it’s challenges. The thoughts of a lighter set-up and the 5-axis image stabilization is what finally pushed me over; the 42MP BSI sensor was just the icing on the cake as I would have gone to Sony even if they stuck with 36MP.

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Nikon F vs Canon EF – What’s the Difference?

Although discussing the topic of Nikon vs Canon can lead to unnecessarily long and emotional debates between photographers and I personally find such discussions silly, there are some distinct differences between the two systems that might be worth pointing out for those who consider investing into either system. Some of the differences are related to current technology and it might be a matter of time before either company catches up. For example, Nikon and Sony shooters often brag about the amazing dynamic range their cameras are capable of capturing, pointing out how bad Canon DSLRs look in comparison. And it is currently holds true – Canon has not done well in direct comparisons with other brands on the market, scoring consistently lower in dynamic range performance on each new iteration of its modern DSLRs. However, this is something that Canon could potentially address in the future with newer sensor technologies that provide greater dynamic range performance. On the other hand, other differences might not be possible to address. One such difference is the lens mount – both companies use mounts of different sizes. Which one is better and why? Let’s talk about the differences between the Nikon F and Canon EF mounts in detail.

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