Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sony A7r the Street Shooter Set-UP

Not  Hawaii "

How to configure your A7r as a Fast Street Shooter
Config will work  if you have  FE  Autofocus lens or  Manual lens with Adapters.
I am sure many might argue my choice of a  36mp  4fps (focus locked), CDAF,   A7r. :)

But, there is a lot of features that could benefit  a  Street Shooter.  and  think I have a A7r Camera set up that works well ...  great with the  new 35mm f2.8 ZA FE lens ,  but the set up works with ANY Manual lens with adapter.
First, my reasons why I think the 36mp A7r  makes a great Street Shooter.

1)  the 36mp.  you can shoot with a loose crop on the  street  and then crop latter in post.
2)  LCD that Flips and Tilts, for above and below compositions. also has grids.

3)  Live View , LCD & EVF   shows you  WB and Exposure ... shows you how you  will shoot it and saves you having to Chimp.   I would say it's a great  Natural Light shooter.

4)  Exposure Compensation  Dial  right on the TOP , RIGHT  edge  easy to adjust  and Fast to adjust  Exposure ... even in Manual you can set  A and S , go with AUTO ISO   and comp. the  Exposure off the one  Exposure Compensation Dial.   * I just feel  Sony needs to have a Minimum  Shutter Speed Setting.  Small things matter.

5)  Focus Peaking  at FULL View and Zoomed View

6)  Zoom View  ...  both in DMF  (where you can Manual Focus After you Auto Focus)  , when you turn MF ASST = ON .   and  you can also ZOOM  even on Manual Focus Lens with Adapters.   and have that feature on  a number of locations (button/wheel) on the body.

* Both  Focus Peaking and Zoom are great  MANUAL FOCUS   helper  Tools.  That you can configure to make  Manual Focus (MF)   Faster and more Accurate.  But, note these are just Aids to help you Manual Focus.

7)  You can configure Back Button  AF  in Manual Focus mode.

8)  Full Frame  in a SMALL  camera body  Size.   Huge Street Shooting benifit.

9)  a small Fast , Fast Focusing , all metal  Zeiss  FE  35mm f2.8 ZA FE lens  ... that is very sharp.   Along with being able to shoot with ANY  lens ever made with an adapter.

10)  The A7r has METAL  wheels.   Some might never notice the difference between the Metal A7r wheels and the A7  plastic wheels.  I might not even be able to tell.  But, I want METAL  wheels.  Mainly the one I will use the most , the Exposure Compensation  Wheel.

11)  WIFI/NFC  to your smartphone (any smartphone) and the ability to Upload Directly to  Facebook and  Flicker  ... you just might want to share something Quickly.

12)  Weather Sealed  ...  on the street  ... it will rain

As I have been  shooting with both the A7r and the A7  with  the 55mm f1.8 ZA FE  and the LAEA4 and the 50mm f1.4 ZA SSM.   also a bit with the 16-35mm f2.8 ZA.

Here is what I found works really well  with both FE lens ... and lens on Adapters , even Manual Focus lens.   What I have found is the A7r makes  Manual  Focusing VERY Easy and FAST. and Accurate.

1) Set up the AF/MF button  to "AF/MF Control Hold"  ... this will be your Back button AF
Benifits of "Back Button AF"  is on this YouTube Link:

2) Set C1 button ... Custom Key Settings > Custom Button 1 = Focus Magnifier     ... this is your Zoom button

2/24/14 Rev.  this is my current  Back Button AF  and Zoom on C1  Settings : 

* Also set MF Asst. to  ON  ... this lets you  Zoom in when you move the  Focus ring on FE lens  in DMF mode.

3) put the camera to MF mode and use AF/MF  button to autofocus. You can move the AF point as well. When the AF locks release the  AF/MF   button and you immediately see peaking.

A t this point you have a tremendous amount of control and flexability

* Benefit at this point is you have Focus Peaking , and the equivalent of DMF, because you have MF.
And you can still move the AF point with a OK center push (if you Center button is config to Standard)
And the Half Press is DEAD , this prevents any Half Press from messing up what you have already done.

* you can SEE the  Focus Peaking   on your  Plane  of Focus ... so when you move the camera back and forth you can see the Focus Peaking  CHANGE.    

* When you use  FE lens  , there is something  COOL that happens when you  turn  "MF ASST" - ON.  When you turn the Focus Ring it zooms in automatically 
*AND  shows you  Focus DISTANCE ! (this is useful) ...   I have "Focus Magnif. Time to - NO LIMIT.    That lets me take my time
AND I go back to Full View with a simple half shutter "tap" of the shutter button. (and it does  NOT  re-AF, *this is important)

(fyi: your focus peaking  is still there when you ZOOM IN, but might not be strong enough ... imho it is a bit of a bug ,  if you saw a Bunch of peaking "at full screen" it should not disappear  "Zoomed in".  (or  require you to have peaking set a High)

Not just for  Street shooters ... just think about   MACRO Shooters on a Slider.

You will find that when you get used to this set up  ... you can  go thru the steps VERY FAST.  and it gives you a lot of flexibility.       

* All that is missing for me is  a  CAF option that would require an additional FW change of a   " AF-ON ONLY" option , which would  Turn OFF the  AF on Half Shutter and allow you to configure CAF and trigger on the back button , for AF and Re-compose, AND give you CAF on demand.  (but I would like to see CAF with PDAF on the primary AF point but CDAF on Helper points around it. A Dynamic AF CAF point. Not sure why a SAF point could not also do that  and have Helper AF points. (menu choice  for how much, small area or larger)
Now  for those with Manual Focus Lens or non FE lens ...  How do you ZOOM  Quickly:
4) Double click the c1 this is the ZOOM IN ...

BUT, here you have OPTIONS:
* If you "only" Click c1 "once" you get the Focus BOX that you can move anywhere.
* Click another time ... you Zoom in
* Click another time ... you Zoom in MORE

5) Check the focus, fine tune Focus using the Focus ring if needed, and fire away.
* I normally have Focus Magnif. Time to NO LIMIT.

This is great for Tripod / Product stuff

The Flexible Benefit of this SET UP is ... it will work on basically ANY LENS.   on FE or A-Mount SSM lens mounted on the LAEA4 , or even lens that do not support DMF.

Key Benefit also is it kills the Half press AF that could mess up what you are doing.
SO,  Now you want the A7r  to Shutter FASTER:


*  go with f8 (with a 35mm f2.8 ZA FE  I might choose f4) 
* and a fast shutter setting ... 
* float the ISO ( w/ Exposure Comp. wheel to adjust exposure)  with AUTO ISO 
(this is where a Minimum Shutter speed setting would help , because during the day your shutter speeds could float higher) ... 
*** AND,  set a MANUAL focus at a DISTANCE  that works for you.
* Let  Depth of Field (DOF)  be your Friend and Hyperfocal Distance give you a Distance Range where it will be IN FOCUS , and you can Fire away  " QUICKLY "  
Bacically ZONE Focus , "with" EVF/LIVE VIEW  "Focus PEAKING"  confirmation. The Focus Peaking confirmation is a important AID to the Zone Focus style. 
Having said that, in time you will depend on it less and less.

*** THIS Manual Focus set up also allows you to get Faster FPS (Frames Per Second)  via a "Speed Priority" Set up.

Zone Focus: 

And how to use it in different Exposure Modes

Hyperfocal Distance Focus.  
Depth of Field is your friend, and Manual Focus at a Hyperfocal Distance can help

On-Line DOF (Depth of Field)  Calculator:

Then you use the PEAKING  to show you when your  Focus is Locked.

But after a while you will know ... "just" by Distance.

I also might hold the shutter at a Half Shutter , when I know  a shot is coming up.

Hope this helps,

Ross Hamamura
The Tourist of Light
SONY ALPHA Camera Ambassador
Please follow me on Instagram:  @RDHphoto
Facebook Sony ALPHA - TALK  Group:
SONY Community ID:  Hawaii-Geek


Unknown said...

This is the most informative bit of advice I have found regarding custom setup on my A7

Thank you

Nick Moore said...

Ross, this is really, really helpful, thanks - primarily since this lines up almost perfectly with how I like to set up focusing. I'm awaiting my A7R and have been a bit confused by the manuals in terms of these custom configurations.

The only thing I am unclear about is that my preference would be back button continuous focus - obviously you can simply release the button to lock the auto focus (and then take over with manual focussing as you describe if necessary). From what you have said above, am I correct in understanding that this is not possible today - only single shot focus? If so, I definitely agree this would be a really helpful firmware update.


Love Photography said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

Ross Hamamura said...

Aloha Nick Moore,

*** I need to ADD this TIP on how to "change" the above Back Focus tip so you can use AF-C on the Back Button in a more typical Nikon sports AF-C Back Button AF way.
From the Above Settings CHANGE:

1) Change to AF-C
2) Flip your switch to AEL ... so the button is now on AF-ON

* You need to Flip the SWITCH on this "WHENEVER" you change to AF-C (trust me, something you might forget why, or why you have AF/MF Control Hold on the other switch lol)

3) Menu: AF w/Shutter = OFF
(this Kills the Half shutter AF)

The only (Slight) negative I have found with this AF-C as your Back Button AF. It Kills your ability to use C1 to ZOOM in.
You might ask why would I ever use ZOOM IN Manual Focus on this AF-C BACK BUTTON AF ? Well , IF you use this as Nikon shooters do as your "ONLY" AF-S as well as AF-C ... then there is times when you will want the ZOOM IN to Manual Focus.
(and that Sony does not have quite as good AF-C (as Nikon) or Dynamic AF points (with size control) in AF-C which is part of the advantage of using AF-C in Nikon)

This is my current config:
Sony ALPHA TIP # 98: A7r & A7 , when using the LAEA4 + A-Mount Lens you CAN Auto Focus in DMF mode AND "ZOOM IN" to Manual Focus Check
Here is my NEW "BACK BUTTON" AF Settings ... when in BOTH DMF (which is the same as AF-S, so DO NOT use) or MF

1) AF W/ Shutter = OFF
2) Custom Key Settings > AEL Button > AF On
3) Custom Key Settings > AF/MF Button > AF/MF Control Hold
4) Custom Key Settings > Custom Button 1 > Focus Magnifier
5) Custom Key Settings > Custom Button 2 > Focus Mode
6) Custom Key Settings > Custom Button 3 > Deactivate Monitor
7) Custom Key Settings > Center Button > Standard
8) Custom Key Settings > Down Button > Application List

* Set Focus Magnif. Time = No Limit
because when I want to GET OUT of Focus Magnification you can always push the AF/MF button OR half press the shutter

Note: you will find out that DMF and MF requires a Different Switch on the AF/MF - AEL Button.
* MF = AF/MF

Anonymous said...

Ross, you wrote, "the 36mp. you can shoot with a loose crop on the street and then crop latter in post." This would be exactly my reason to move up from a Nex7. I crop a lot and print 17x22 to 30x50 or so. Could you tell me more about A7 vs A7r in this regard? On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you compare the increase in"cropability" from the Nex7 to the A7 to the A7R? With kit zooms? And with FE primes?

And one more question: you wrote, " ... I have been shooting with both the A7r and the A7 .... What I have found is the A7r makes Manual Focusing VERY Easy and FAST. and Accurate."

Is that to say that the A7r makes it easier or faster or more accurate than the A7?

Or it applies to both?

Thanks very much for the info.

The Torquay Litter Blogger said...

I have this focus setup, more or less, using the AF/MF button as a back button focus, Manual Focus and focus area set to Flexible Spot. This works well for me except that I have no rectangle in the viewfinder showing where the spot focus area is, I only get the green one after I've pressed the back button and focus is achieved. The guide rectangle is there in DMF but not MF but the back button won't focus in DMF. This drives me mad because I inevitably miss the thing I'm focusing on and I end up doing a first focus, to get a rectangle followed by a second focus to get the thing I want focussed sharp.

Any thoughts on this?