It is interesting how just a few years back, one way to spark a debate was to talk about Nikon vs Canon. Websites and forums would be filled with endless discussions when someone would dare to post something like “I dumped my Nikon gear and switched to Canon” (and God forbid if you said anything against Pentax, it would be a quick shortcut to get death threats). Today, it seems like the gears have changed – people are much less enthusiastic about talking about DSLR brand differences. The much bigger war it seems like is now between DSLR vs mirrorless. On one side of the fence, we’ve got DSLR shooters who defend their choice with statements like “you will only be able to take my DSLR when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” and on the other side of the fence, we now have people who say things like “mirrorless is the future, it is time for flapping mirrors to go”. Both sides have their points and arguments that make sense, but once mixed with emotions, such discussions often end up being inconclusive and meaningless. And now we have manufacturers engaging in direct attacks against each other. Sony, Fuji and a few others often compare their systems to DSLRs as part of their marketing campaigns, indicating weight / size and other advantages, whereas DSLR manufacturers keep recycling the same AF speed, reliability and system advantages. But one thing for sure – DSLRs are losing market share and interest in mirrorless technology is steadily growing. Let’s revisit the topic of DSLR vs mirrorless one more time and analyze a few more important factors.
One of my resolutions for 2016 is to do a better job at timely completion of projects, and one of such tasks is to catch up with all the long-overdue reviews of gear that I had a chance to use, but never had a chance to write about. I will start off by reviewing the Sony A6000, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera that has been Sony’s flagship APS-C product since it was released almost two years ago (and soon to be be replaced with a Sony A6100). Sony dumped the “NEX” name in its line of mirrorless APS-C products and merged everything into the “Alpha” ecosystem with the launch of the A3000, A5000 and A6000 cameras, so it looks like all the future iterations of these cameras will be labeled similarly. Let’s take a look at the A6000 in more detail, see what it has to offer and compare it to other popular mirrorless cameras on the market.
Earlier this year, I wrote a detailed review of the Sony A7R, where I expressed a number of serious concerns with the camera, some of which were serious enough to be categorized as “deal breakers”. Soon after, Sony announced the much-anticipated A7R II mirrorless camera, a second iteration of the high-resolution line of A7-series cameras. Although many of us knew what to expect from the A7R II based on what we have previously seen on the Sony A7 II, there was new technology incorporated into the A7R II to make it a very appealing camera among both enthusiasts and professionals. Just like the A7 II, the A7R II gained five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and a different ergonomic design with a much more comfortable to hand-hold protruded grip. And those are relatively minor changes compared to the changes from the original A7R. Not only does the A7R II get a faster and much more reliable AF system with a whopping 399 focus points, but it also gains a brand new 42 MP back-illuminated (BSI) sensor. In addition, Sony addressed the serious shutter-shock issue by not only reducing the overall noise and vibration caused by the shutter mechanism, but also by introducing an electronic front-curtain shutter release option, which completely gets rid of shutter-related blur in images. And lastly, with the latest firmware upgrade, the Sony A7R II also gained the ability to shoot uncompressed RAW, giving the ability to take a full advantage of the sensor. I have been shooting with the Sony A7R II since it was announced, so let’s take a closer look at the Sony A7R II and see how it performed both in real world and lab environments.
Just like many other Nikon shooters, you might be wondering what Nikon has got up its sleeve when it comes to mirrorless. With so many manufacturers now competing in the mirrorless market, it is sorely disappointing to see Nikon being stuck with its 1″ CX sensor mirrorless offering, which despite its many strengths, is far from gaining popularity among enthusiasts and professionals. Unfortunately, for some manufacturers like Samsung, jumping into the mirrorless bandwagon has been challenging to say the least. Despite very strong offerings like the Samsung NX1, the company has not been able to gain a solid market share to stay afloat and its “mirrorless experiment” seems to be coming to an end, with the company’s announcements to discontinue sales of its products in a number of countries. In fact, based on these events, the future of Samsung’s NX line does not look good at all. But there is hope – today’s rumors indicate that Nikon is doing something completely unexpected, which is buying the Samsung NX mirrorless technology. According to Mirrorless Rumors, Nikon has already acquired the technology and the official announcement will be revealed in January of 2016, at the CES.
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.
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.
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.
It has been interesting to observe the debate about “DSLR vs mirrorless” unfold over the past while. I would agree with Bob Vishneski’s point in his recent article that if one is comparing full frame cameras, the weight difference alone between traditional DSLRs and mirrorless is negligible. And, that slight difference in weight is really not worth the trouble and cost to change over to mirrorless for the vast majority of photographers who use full frame gear.
I recently sold my full frame Nikon D800 and almost all of my FX glass (I only have two lenses left to sell) and I have transitioned over to a Panasonic GH4 M4/3 camera for all of my client work. I thought some readers may have interest in getting some insights behind this decision as they may be going through the same dilemma that I’ve been having for the past year or so.
It is hard to visit any photography website without noticing extensive fanfare being paid to the mirrorless camera niche. Some tout it as the savior of the mid-to-high end camera market. Others have dubbed it the “DSLR killer.” A number of prominent photographers have created videos and articles articulating how mirrorless innovations caused them to shed pounds from their bag and reintroduce them to the joy of photography. And why shouldn’t they? The market for traditional point-and-shoot cameras is in a free fall as smartphones increase in usage, quality, and capabilities. Traditional DSLR sales continue to fall as well. The industry certainly needs something to cheer about. And of course, photography websites need something to write about.
Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated camera releases this year is the Sony A7R II, a mirrorless monster with world’s first 42.4 MP BSI CMOS sensor and a slew of features, such as in-body image stabilization, electronic first-curtain shutter, completely silent electronic shutter, high-resolution electronic viewfinder and 4K video recording, to make it worth seriously looking into. We have written about this release last week and based on our readers’ feedback, many are excited about the Sony A7R II release. I have been personally waiting for this camera for years, because it brings pretty much everything I want in a compact mirrorless camera – Sony did a great job in addressing most of my concerns that I have expressed on previous iterations of the A7 line. Although battery life is still a concern and 14-bit lossless / uncompressed RAW support is only a promise by Sony at this time, I will still go ahead and order the Sony A7R II for myself for a number of reasons. First, the camera already has most of the features that I want in a mirrorless camera. Second, with Zeiss backing up Sony with their new Loxia and Batis lines of lenses, along with Sony’s own high-quality primes, I don’t have any more concerns about native lenses. Lastly, the A7R II will be my reference camera for evaluating Sony-mount lenses, which I am planning to test and review more of. Sony has been working hard on the A7 line and it these cameras have now reached the point of maturity, so I consider them safe to invest in. In fact, if the A7R II turns out to be as good as the specifications promise, I might start using it heavily for my landscape photography needs. Well, today is an exciting day, because you can pre-order your copy of the Sony A7R II!