Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sony Alpha A7r and A7 TIPS of the DAY

Sony Alpha  A7r and A7  TIPS of the DAY
John John Florance at the Surfer Poll Awards - Surfer Magazine.  Sony A7 + 55mm f1.8 ZA FE , iso2500, f1.8, 1/125

These are a few of my TIPS of the DAY  I have been posting on a Sony ALPHA - TALK  Group created on Facebook.  It "is" open to everyone ,  Just "JOIN"  by entering your FB name to the box with " + ADD people to Group ".

Thought I would post it also here , because some Sony shooters do not have a FB account.
This is my journey with SONY ...
IF you have any  Favorite TIPS  you are discovering, that you want to share with other Sony Shooters   ... please ADD them to the  Comments line.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 19: Power Save mode does not work when Legacy Lens Attached.
Settings. Settings Reset > Initialize
That word did not seem logical when I wanted a FULL Factory Reset.

12/19/13 update: Power Save Mode not working with Leica lenses. Then I set "Remote Ctrl" to "OFF" and Power Save Mode worked as it is supposed to. Just an FYI. George

Sony ALPHA TIP # 18: How to configure your A7r as a Fast Street Shooter
Will work on  Autofocus lens or  Manual lensI 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 (I hear this lens AF is Fast and it is Sharp) ,  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 View6)  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. 7) 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 AF2) Set C1 button to "Focus Settings"     ... this is your Zoom button 
* 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.     (fyi: your focus peaking  is still there 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) 
* 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 !  ...   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)
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.'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:
Do what many Street Shooters do ... Manual Mode ...  go with f8 (with a 35mm f2.8 ZA FE  I might choose f4) and a fast shutter setting ... float the ISO for 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.
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.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 17: A7r "Can" Flash sync at 1/200.  A7r+LAEA5+50mm f1.4 ZA SSM today seems to consistently Flash Sync at 1/200 with Manual RadioPopper JrX Radio Triggers + Nikon sb900 flashes (plural).  And the response is much faster than Sony's own Wireless flash trigger system, with there own 60m flash.
* UPDATE:  Absolute Reliability/Consistency for the A7r is at 1/125 Flash Sync.  But, normally with this JrX Radio Triggers + Nikon sb900 flashes combo it's only the first Flash you will have a issue with (it will shade half of the Full Frame).
AND, with a 60m Flash on the A7r Hot Shoe it was ok quick and because of HSS on the Sony Flash you had basically NO Flash Sync limit.  Except Flash Power goes down once you cross to HSS. So, fighting the Sun is harder. But at night no problem. The higher shutters at night might be needed to handhold when there is ambient light mix (and you are sloppy on your technique).
Any inconsistency at 1/200 and 1/160 I now feel it's the compatibility of the RadioPopper to the Camera. And the A7+55mm f1.8 ZA FE is only consistent at 1/200 (with the JrX).  
I took the same set up (talking Manual RadioPopper JrX Radio Triggers + Nikon sb900 flashes (plural))  and tested on my D800. I could Flash sync at 1/320 , but there was a few shots that it did not. and only saw consistency at 1/250. AND when I flip to the Nikon CLS trigger "on" the D800 body, 1/320 flash sync  was consistent.
* So now I am thinking.  Sony needs to have a button option / program menu choice for Settings Effect ON/OFF
* Flash Modeling  (ala Nikon), menu option, button program ... to wake up the flashes from sleep, and Test your lighting
* Sony A-Mount PRO 36mp should have  1/320 Flash sync
* IN-BODY  Flash Control and Radio Wireless Trigger .. Main (on body External Flash) and Four(4) groups ...  say for Key, Fill, Kicker, Background  ... so with the Hot shoe, 5 separate groups.
* Sony should have a NEW 60m Replacement that is RADIO Wireless, and does not overheat shut down (ala sb910), and has a FAST Response. and a 200mm ZOOM.
* Sony should make/SELL , RADIO  Hot Shoe  ACC. for the system ... and a REC for studio  Strobes
* Sony should make/SELL a Sony Radio Studio STROBE,  like the Alien Bee Einstein , that uses more or less standard modifiers (Softboxes, Bdish etc)... WB control and short tail (say for Sports/action) ... and not price it more than the Einstien's.
Make the Lighting totally SONY !    Lead, and make others have to follow.  Even in there Acc support.  (just make it "easy" for others to ADD-ON)
imho, it's the kind of Aggressive move that would get PROs talking.
Sony is an Electronics Manf.  ... all of this should be Possible, if there is will and the drive to push thru  technical problems and make it happen.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 16: Sony does need to take the LEAD in Flash and Flash ACC
Ok, so this is really a SONY Tip :)  ... with a lot of self interest mixed in.
Why?   partly because they are an Electronics Manufacture. and Because they CAN.
Talking  ... Flash, Radio Triggers,  Strobes (electronic/global shutter) ...  Everything.  all in TTL , HSS (might not even need)  and Radio Control even when you are in Manual control.
That would have to increase sales.  So, it's not just to attract PROs ... which it will.
And yes,  Sony needs some Serious  "Strobist" input  ... that they take Seriously.
Can they do it ?   the crazy thing is  ... they are probably in the BEST position to do it!
Do it ALL , and change the market.
Seriously   ... it comes down to  Leadership and Desire.  AND a Steve Jobs attitude of I do not care if it cannot be done.  IT WILL BE.
Think ... what would Steve Jobs do?   if he was a Strobist ... he would NOT have only a  1/125 flash sync and no  standard out/ins for   Off camera Radio triggers.
He probably would have put it in the camera body itself the Radio Trigger.
and then all your Small cameras have Off camera flash. and stay small.
Fast Electronic/Global Shutter.   make the camera ALL Electronic , so a Electronic company Manf. would dominate. (wonder who that would be?)
Hope this helps Sony shooters

Sony ALPHA TIP # 15 : PlayMemories A7r APPS  ... only FREE one's available now for A7r.
Direct UPLOAD (with Comments) to Facebook and Flickr
You need a  FREE Play Memories Camera Apps Account.

Connecting to your WiFi Access point is "easiest" using "WPS push". if you access point has it.
Since the API is now OPEN ,  I would guess there will be more.
Update on SmartRemote Control, Direct Upload, Flicker ADD-ON.
Interesting there is NO  Instagram or SmugMug.
Needs something that can take a Landscape crop you want to preserve and easily get it to a Square and Fill with Black or White the negative space.  The put up to Instagram.
There NEEDS to be an  "EASY Button". :)
* This could "actually" get  Useful.
if you look at all APPS  ,  there is APPS for Time Lapse and Motion shot. NEX

Sony ALPHA TIP # 14: Steve Huff felt Novoflex Adapters are the best. For a A7/r M mount combo.But, Metabones Speed Booster Adapters always seem to be mentioned as a buy.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 13: A7/r "Airplane Mode" ON, might save you a little power use. Little being the operative word.
Shot a night event last night, in a dark event room. Had both A7 + 55mm f1.8 ZA , and A7r + LAEA4 + 50mm f1.4 ZA SSM on at the same time , the whole night.  My guess is the A7r combo consumes more power. and that night I shot more with the A7r combo 226 vs 164.   I over shot to get a feel of the combos in low light and using a RadioPopper JrX Radio Trigger  to two(2) Nikon sb900.  Here is something interesting.  I set the A7r in "Airplane Mode"  I assume to turn off Wifi.  At the end of the night both was virtually the same battery level  A7r -2%.  It might save power,  but not huge. :)   ... not if you are NOT  "actually using the Wifi to transfer data".
* I would like to see a  EVF "priority" mode ... where  you only use EVF.  and IF you just "Touch" the Shutter it  Wakes UP the EVF (so you can do it before you bring to your eye).   and  THEN  you NEED  a   EVF/LCD  "Flip" menu option to put on a selected BUTTON.
When using Flash or in Studio ...  Being able to Program ... Live View Display - Setting Effect  ON / OFF  on  ... Function Menu Set  OR  Custom Key Settings  ... becomes really useful.
When using Radio Flashes at night ... having  Live View Display - Setting Effect to OFF is helpful.  But, when you shoot Natural light , it's best to quickly flip to Setting Effect ON.   Because the EVF  LV for Natural Light shooting is BEST, kills the need for a Review of the shot (chimp)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 12: A7/r, ALL Flashes work , Nikon, LumoPro, Metz, Oly  ... I just tried it on the flashes I have.  (all manual power)
But, The Flash Icon does not show up on the Display screen ... this will display on the LCD, only with Sony Flashes.
Probably showing TTL compatibility.   My guess is, a Off Brand but Sony TTL compatible Flash  will show a Flash icon.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 11: Raw processing in LR of Legacy lensAdobe DNG Flat Field plugin
(No, I have not used it ... no legacy lens, or Adapters)
Easier than one might expect - create a lens profile picture and you're up and running. Great results! Color cast and vignetting can be processed together or separately.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 10: Legacy Lens Tests on A7/r:

Sony ALPHA TIP # 9: NO , AF-ON ONLY is not available on the A7/rYou have to work-around with a combo of MF and Back button AF (AF/MF control Hold)
So, I was talking with a Sony Tech today. Who informed me.But, did put the suggestion in for a FW update. 
This is the only thing missing from the AF-ON , CAF technique so many Nikon shooters use for Sports. 
You CAN ... AF-ON in CAF ... but the Half press still triggers AF ... so a AF-ON (take off you thumb from AF-ON "A7/r  AF/MF" on my config) and then Re-compose ... and wait for a shot to happen. the only thing we need is the Half press AF Kill. AF-ON ONLY option in FW.
My other "thing" is to have CAF - ON as an option on any button. what this will allow is to have a Panic CAF button in SAF or DMF. When shooting DMF and a subject starts Running (unexpectedly) , all you would need to do is PUSH one button (my choice the AEL) and in CAF track them. AFTER the shot just take your thumb off the AEL (CAF-ON) and you are back to DMF/SAF. ... Now IF , the CAF-ON "also" has a CAF-ON "ONLY" trigger. it will be the same as the Nikon AF-ON technique , but simple to use.
* IF Sony starts to use PDAF main AF point with CDAF surrounding Helper AF points in ALL modes this would be the best option. Dynamic AF ala Nikon is "only" available in CAF ... then the Nikon CAF method might be best. because you get the benefit of the Helper AF points (that in Nikon is configurable ... more points or Less Helper points) 
BUT, on a SONY set up with Dynamic AF ... it's CDAF that will be the Helper AF points - Benefit ? Dead on Accuracy , because the AF is off the Sensor

Sony ALPHA TIP # 8:   for PDF manual
ILCE-7R/B   to get  A7r Manual

Sony ALPHA TIP # 07: TIP: Back Button to AF  , and then ZOOM to Manual Focus ... Best set up
* Update
1) Set up the AF/MF  button to  "AF/MF Control Hold"
2) Set C1 button to "Focus Settings"
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.
4) Doubleclick the c1 ...  (you can also click once , and move the Magnify box to where you want it)  and you are in magnified mode, focus has not been changed and you do not need to half-hold the shutter.
5)  Check the focus, fine tune Focus using the  Focus ring  if needed, and fire away.
This also works with the LAEA4  ... so my guess is it will work with ANY Adapter and Lens.
Benefit is it kills the Half press AF that could mess up what you are doing. :)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 6: SONY, will NEED to FIX this FLASH DELAY , and get it to a Nikon CLS Standard.
Sony does seem to be working on it. but, I do have to say a99 + 60m wireless I am not a big fan. ON-Camera flash is ok.
Feels like the A7r ... with and without the LAEA4 and 60m Flash does feel Slower than the a99 + 60m . when flashing "on" camera , but that might be just the way the shutter feels on the A7r. Not that bad , but not great either. I like what Steve Huff said. if you change your mindset on the A7r , and think MF , your view changes. Yes. But, honestly on a PRO "A-Mount" 36mp camera in 2014 I am kinda expecting it to feel faster than the D800. Talking A-Mount. Not the "size priority" A7r. SPEED is where the A-Mount PRO needs to change perceptions.
It's important to point out, it's the people that believe in SONY that are saying this.
And I feel it will be addressed by Sony in 2014.
Gary Friedman on the Wireless delay on Dec. 28, 2012
Youtube A7/r video:

Sony ALPHA TIP # 5: on a A7r + LAEA4 +50mm f1.4 ZA SSM combo
How I work around DMF not AF Asst. (ZOOM) on the Focus ring after an AF
for me, I have my "Focus Magnifier" on the AF/MF Button. am used to holding the half-press and AF/MF button at the same time. (Nikon)
in DMF after the half press , I can simply push the AF/MF button twice to get my ZOOM IN. Then Manual Focus ... and my Shutter is half way there to a Shutter.
I can do it ok ... but not my Fav.
What I feel Sony should do .. is Find a way to make AF Asst. work on SSM lens .. in A-Mount and E-Mount + LAEA4.
and also have a Half Shutter AF OFF menu selection
also not a fan of how the Peaking level in LOW disappears when you ZOOM in to Manual Focus. It's there, but so low that you need a High setting to see it.
There needs to be at least a Menu config to set a Higher Level of Peaking when you ZOOM in.
* UPDATE: I have evolved on my set up.  If you look at my  Street Shooter  Set UP TIP  you will see my current set up that is more Flexable.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 4: if you are shooting RAW 14-bit. A7r, Set Zebra at 100+ , so you can see "WHERE" your Highlights are blowing out. I normally like to blow out about 1/3 stop, as long as it is not on my subjects Face.  ... Then in Lightroom, I "ON IMPORT" set Highlights (recovery) to -30. basically ETTR. Helps expose the left of the Histogram more for less noise and better detail and color there. and the DR can easily recover over 1/3 of a stop on the Highlights. note: there is "more" color information on the Right side of the Histogram vs the Left.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 3: Your LAEA4 + A7r + A-Mount lens was working. You got Peaking at Low. after someone plays with your set up. all of a sudden you can see in the Peaking your AF is slightly OFF (even in the Review at 100%). Check your mounts, (wipe with clean micro fiber cloth if needed). IF a Full Factory Reset , on menu "Initialize" does not immediately work, SET the Camera aside with the Battery OUT over night. The next day, the AF might come back again. It worked for me.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 2: To FULLY get back to the Factory Settings. Settings Reset > Initialize
That word did not seem logical when I wanted a FULL Factory Reset.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 1: On A7/r , when using FE lens , in Flexible Spot , when you move your AF point ... you can get it back to Center by pressing the Trash Can button.


TIP 89-109

TIP 88   A7r & A7 Back Button Auto Focus + ZOOM IN on any LENS

TIP 71-87

TIP 50-70

TIP 32-49

TIP 31   Exposure Compansation Dial "PRIORITY"

TIP 20-30

TIP 1-19

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


Anonymous said...

Hi Ross,

I had the same issue on Tip# 19...Power Save Mode not working with Leica lenses. Then I set "Remote Ctrl" to "OFF" and Power Save Mode worked as it is supposed to. Just an FYI.

Happy shooting! George

Ross Hamamura said...

George, Thank you I will update that now. Thank you.

The Photography Indonesia said...

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