Today is a big day in the world of photography, because Sony announced a camera that might challenge DSLRs in terms of autofocus speed in accuracy. The much-anticipated update to the Sony A6000 we reviewed earlier is finally out and it looks like it was well worth the wait. The Sony A6300 is the first mirrorless camera that is specifically aimed at capturing fast-moving action, thanks to its “4D” autofocus system with a whopping 425 phase-detection autofocus points. The camera breaks the world record in terms of the number and the spread of these autofocus points, reaching all the way to the far end corners of the frame, allowing fast-moving subjects to be tracked and captured at up to 11 frames per second. Although with its 24 MP APS-C sensor the camera probably won’t have the necessary buffer to be able to shoot action for prolonged periods of time like the Nikon D5 or Canon 1DX Mark II can, even shorter bursts with fast and accurate autofocus are going to make a huge difference. Couple all these capabilities with the 4K video capture (up to 100 Mbps) along with its MSRP of $999, and we’ve got one of the most desirably mirrorless cameras on the market.
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.
With the Photo Plus show, a lot of manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma have announced great promotions in the form of instant savings ranging from $50 all the way to thousands of dollars. Canon is basically discounting every DSLR, including the new Canon 5DS R (which is currently $300 off), and if you go for some specific kits like the Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens, you can save up to $750. The new Canon 7D II has been discounted heavily too. You can purchase it with the Pixma Pro-100 printer for $1,249 after a $350 mail-in rebate, which is a pretty sweet deal. If you shoot Nikon, the “Buy Together and Save” program is still actively going, with savings up to $1,100 when you get the D810 with the 24-120mm lens. And speaking of the D810, the camera itself has been heavily discounted by a whopping $500, so if you don’t need to buy a lens, you can grab the D810 body only for $2,800. B&H will sweeten the deal even more by giving you a 2% reward card and a few accessories worth another $100.
Just a quick report for those who are wondering about the Sony A7R II file sizes and storage options after upgrading to firmware 2.00 and enabling uncompressed RAW. First of all, file sizes in fact do look much bigger in comparison! Here is a short summary of Lossy / Compressed RAW vs Uncompressed: 43 MB vs 86 MB – the file size basically doubles! Ouch, that means not only slower write times to your memory card, but also twice less images to save on them too. And if you keep the original RAW file, it will also double your storage and backup requirements. If you do not like this, there is one workaround – to use Adobe’s DNG converter. If you import your images into Lightroom, you can convert uncompressed RAW files to DNG upon import, or you can use the free Adobe DNG converter software before you start the import. The good news is, this process will create a lossless compressed DNG file, which means that you will end up with a much smaller file. How much smaller? Take a look at this small table:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.