Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sony ALPHA A7r and A7 TIPS of the DAY Part 7

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 ".

RX1  handheld

Sony ALPHA TIP # 109: A7r + 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS 

So here is my pic of the 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS.  

Plan to shoot a Night Event, and a Commercial shoot this weekend with it.

Straight away will tell you I like it. A LOT !  
The 24-70mm ZOOM is the most useful, "for me".  And it is my belief that the Standard Zoom 24-70 should be the Fastest AF and the most useful and a must have FIRST lens in a System.  
This 24-70mm f4 is that lens for the FE mount.     Even more so for a A7r.

I mainly shoot people. and a lot of women.  My "First" impression is that having a Women in the Center, or any of the 1/3 sides will be plenty Sharp "enough" wide Open "ON a A7r". 

Can see how the OSS on this Lens will go a long way to insure sharp images on a Handhold with the  A7r. (which is all I do, most of the time)
Anyone that has shot a lot "Handheld" with the A7r (more so at night) knows you can have soft-er shots on just a Sloppy Handhold or Movement , vs a Zeiss lens that is soft on the edges.

It will also be interesting how it compares to other older A-Mount Zooms, because I think it just might be sharper on a A7r ... and your HIT rate will go UP !   (because of the OSS)
There is NOTHING more satisfying than a Nailed shot on a A7r 36mp Non-AA with a Zeiss lens.

I am not a Landscape shooter ,  so right now  the reported soft edges is not bothering me.  Now when I do more group shots , things might change.  But, so far .. So GOOD !

My initial feeling is that the AF on the 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS is "AS FAST" (if not just a bit faster)  as the 35mm f2.8 ZA FE. and my guess that was the Fastest AF "FE" lens on a A7r.

For me  the test is a Night Event.  The one thing about Good / Fast PDAF  is it tells you quickly when you tried to lock on something without enough Contrast.  Sometimes CDAF is slow to get to that same point, and let you know it will NOT Lock.

fyi  on a quick Low Light / Low Contrast test - indoors.   
The A7r + 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS  AF on a Spot just about as fast as a D700 + 24-70mm f2.8, and a A7r + 35mm f2.8 ZA FE.  and probably a bit more sure than a D800 + 24-70mm f2.8.  The  RX1 also locked on, just slower.

p.s. on that same spot.   a  a99 + 70-200mm f2.8 G SSM II , a99 + 16-35mm f2.8 ZA @ 35mm , A7r + LAEA4+16-35mm or 70-200mm G SSM II  could NOT  LOCK an Auto Focus.  

Sony ALPHA TIP # 108: SONY HYBRID AF on the a6000 and PDAF Phase Detect Auto Focus vs Contrast Auto Focus on Sony TV

Interesting read on Imaging-Resource about the NEW Hybrid-Drive AF Actuator

Sony ALPHA TIP # 107: RX10 Review

From the ... GOLD Award :
"The RX10 is as much a video camera as it is a still camera. First and foremost, the RX10 uses the entire sensor to capture video, resulting in 1080/60p video quality is, in many respects, right up there with the best digital cameras. Sony throws in tools like focus peaking, zebra pattern, and real-time audio level adjustment to support manual footage capture. Meanwhile, the stepless aperture ring and silent zoom dial allow for silent lens operation. Pros who want to view video on a separate monitor (or send it straight to a recording device) will appreciate the RX10's ability to output clean, uncompressed video over HDMI."

"While it takes quite a bit of head-scratching to figure out where the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 fits in the market, a few things are clear. First, in image quality terms, it’s the best big zoom camera on the market. Second, its video quality is top-notch, and Sony provides tools that work very well in most respects."

Conclusion - Pros
  • Very good photo quality, especially when shooting Raw
  • Top-notch video quality
  • Excellent and flexible 24-200mm equiv. F2.8 lens
  • Solid, weather-sealed body
  • Many tools for shooting video: focus peaking, zebra pattern, step-less aperture ring
  • Responsive AF in good light
  • Fast continuous shooting mode
  • Uncompressed 'clean' HDMI output
  • D-Range Optimizer feature helps give well-balanced JPEGs even in high contrast scenes
  • Numerous customizable buttons
  • Silent shutter allows for stealthy shooting
  • Generally well-implemented Wi-Fi feature
  • Classic Sony features (Sweep Panorama, HDR) work well
  • Headphone and microphone ports
  • Convenient USB charging
Conclusion - Cons
  • Pricey
  • JPEG images are over-sharpened and over-processed
  • Video bit rates not competitive with best digital cameras
  • Autofocus can be hesitant, especially in low light; AF improves when assist lamp is turned off
  • Camera 'locks up' while buffer is clearing after continuous shooting
  • Manual focus can be challenging due to variable speed focus ring
  • Limited remote control from smartphone
  • No external charger included for rapid charging or keeping a spare battery topped-up
And on DXO  ... the  SONY sensor "Clearly" ahead vs the Nikon 1 V3   ... both new, and both 1" sensors

Interesting read on Imaging-Resource about the NEW Hybrid-Drive AF Actuator

And interesting note on the Imaging-Resource  review was the part of Sony's all NEW Hybrid-Drive AF Actuator:
Focusing. When they briefed us on the RX10, Sony called particular attention to the new autofocus drive system it contains. It's a contrast-detect AF system, but the company has made major strides in AF speed, thanks to the combination of a CMOS sensor with very fast readout, a greatly-enhanced image processor, and an all new hybrid-drive AF actuator.
The basic idea behind contrast-detect AF is that crisp detail means the maximum brightness difference between adjacent pixels, wherever there's a contrast edge in the original subject. Think about it - when an image is out of focus, everything is soft and blurry, and nothing changes very rapidly as you move across the image. On the other hand, when an image is crisply focused with fine detail, the brightness will change much more abruptly as you look across the image. This is the basis of contrast detection. The camera looks across a row of pixels, and adds up the differences from one pixel to the next, all across the image (or all across the area it's concerned about evaluating focus for). The summed differences between pixels is a measure of the overall contrast of the image, which in turn is a measure of how well the image is focused.To understand what this is all about, it would help to take a moment to understand how contrast-detect AF works in the first place.
This is a relative measurement, though, since the summed contrast will vary enormously depending on the subject. The only way the camera can tell whether the focus is optimum, then, is to measure the contrast, adjust the focus slightly, and measure the contrast again. If the contrast number increased, the focus improved. If it decreased, it worsened.
Most people understand that being able to make the contrast measurement quickly will be key to being able to focus rapidly, but fewer realize how critical it is to be able to move and stop the lens quickly. After each contrast measurement, the camera must move the lens a precise amount, and then have it stop moving before the next measurement can be made. It turns out that this last requirement is one of the most difficult to achieve. It's (relatively) easy to make a lens motor more powerful, so it can get the lens moving quickly, but it's often another matter to bring it back to a stop with equal quickness.

Sony developed a special hybrid actuator for the RX10, making dramatically faster AF cycles possible. The RX10 uses a standard ultrasonic-wave motor to get the lens moving, but then uses a special piezoelectric actuator (borrowed from Sony's sensor-shift image stabilization technology) to stop the motion quickly and precisely. As it was explained to us, the piezo actuator in this case isn't so much operating as a driver, but rather as a brake. Apparently, the ultrasonic-wave motor is good at getting things moving, but not so good at stopping them, hence the need for a brake or "friction clamp", in the form of the piezo element.
The NDA briefing was a little sparse on deep technical details for this, but if we understood correctly, Sony says that this hybrid system can complete 50,000 start-move-stop cycles per second(!) That's apparently how many cycles the focus-actuator system can perform per second, but it's not clear how many cycles the camera actually performs in practice, as clocking the image data off the array and performing the contrast measurement will add at least some time to the process, and we don't know whether the 50K/sec spec included the contrast measurement process or not. It's likely that contrast measurement is very fast, though, given how fast we know the array can be read (from the video processing mentioned elsewhere), and that we know the new BIONZ X processor has an enormous amount of processing horsepower to bring to bear.
Regardless of the cycle rate, though, this new system clearly works. Our lab testing found autofocus on the Sony RX10 to be as fast as most consumer DSLRs using phase detection. And this was also borne out in our real-world shooting with the camera, too: It focused quickly and confidently, and nailed focus right where we wanted it most of the time.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 106: Focal Length, Angle of View, and Perspective
This Page actually has some informative "Interactive"  examples.

And it is nice how they added how Telephoto Lens is not just for Magnification. But, can usefully be used for Telephoto Compression (with a nice example).

Sony ALPHA TIP # 105: Join the Conversation about the ALPHA Grip ... and how to INCREASE  Button Custom Functions.
One idea is borrowed from Olympus M1 ... Have a SWITCH close to your Thumb (it  SHOULD BE THE AF/MF - AEL switch.
BUT, instead of CHANGING  just the one(1) button Custom Functions ... IT CHANGES ALL THE BUTTON CONFIGURATIONS.


* Still want the two(2) buttons on the Front Grip (like M1)  and a Grip like the M1.
The E-Mount  FAT/Wide Grip imho has NO function or Value.   Because when you put it in a bag with a  FE lens , the grip does not save you space VS say the M1.

This APPLYS to  A-MOUNT as well.  
There needs to be Consistency ...  of the Best Features ... like the  Exposure Compensation Wheel at the TOP.  (front and back wheel ... Use of the CENTER BUTTON and surrounding WHEEL to ZOOM IN (and select AF point) ...  two buttons on the front face next to the grip) 

Sony ALPHA TIP # 104: My "current" views on E-Mount and A-Mount
(and that both have APS-C and Full Frame now)

E-Mount is  SIZE PRIORITY   ... 
So, whatever compromises  done -  will be to keep SIZE (weight) Down.

That does not mean there cannot be some Great Lens performance in a small size (more than likely Zeiss Primes) . Which the PRIME 55mm f1.8 ZA FE  already proved.  and at f1.8 it's pretty fast. and the size is pretty small. 
It also explains the use of f4 zooms  vs f2.8.   and maybe a future 85mm f1.8  vs f1.4.

LESS compromises can be made here.

So, I would expect TOP PRO Cameras with PRO features like Very Fast lens (BIG)  and LONG , SSM,  OPTIMIZED for HIGH RESOLUTION ... 
as well as  New Tech "Fast" SD cards, GRIP with BIG PRO Battery, USB3,  two(2) SD slots, maybe even two processors, and  More Customization features via more camera space to put more buttons.  

* and YES, SPEED ... AF and AF-C
imho, needs Nikons Dynamic AF points, and AF-C choice of "Focus + Release"

It also leaves the "possibility"  for a great  f2 24-70mm PRO Zoom (as OLY did in 4/3) 
Yes, I said  "f 2.0" zoom.   
It would be a WOW , and also BIG.  
(note: I shot/owned the 4/3 f2 28-70 efl OLY SHG zoom , great by the way, except AF .. OLY has corrected this and more with there new m43 24-70mm f2.8 PRO Zoom)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 103: RX10 Great for Video. Home Camcorders are DEAD, Long Live "RX" series Video !  :)

For all of you at low to med sized events, you already know DSLR's are shooting the video.
The interesting thing is HOW MUCH  the RX10 was "made" for video.  And how much Video people tell me it's great.

RX10. And one of the reasons is the 1" sensor does NOT Line Skip. as all the FF sensors do. and uses all of the sensor

Sony ALPHA TIP # 102: LONG EXPOSURE , NOT just for Landscapes ... Even Portraits
A post shared on the Sony Community Forum

PetaPixel carried 500px blog posted today on two "How To" courses:


Sony ALPHA TIP # 101: CUSTOM your "Creative Style"  JPG settings , AND see the changes real time in LIVE VIEW.

Ok when you think about this , it seems so logical.  But how many actually noticed this powerful feature.
I did not.
It was only after another photog   showed me how he can tweak his JPG colors  and view in Live View on his M1.

Easy way to see the changes when you config a JPG is  ... Turn up all the way on the Saturation , THEN turn down all the way - Saturation ... will see it in the colors in Live View , you will see the de-saturate.
So, logical ... but I have not noticed this feature till now.  lol

You can even take control of how your WB renders.
EVEN in AUTO WB ... just go to WB > AUTO > right wheel click > and Move around the wheel and see your Graphic location of your "tweak".
But, more importantly how it effects the  WB of the scene right in front of you.
So, IF  you feel AUTO WB  renders "consistently" too COOL - for "your" tastes ... you can just adjust it WARMER this way ... and then in AUTO WB it will adjust all it's rendering with that setting in mind.

NOW,  when you start doing all these changes and tweaks and button changes ...   You better look up my TIP on HOW to do a FULL Factory Reset  ,  one day you might need to do that. :)
* Setting Reset > Initialize

Sony ALPHA TIP # 100: A Feature Request that I posted on the SONY Feature REQUEST web site.
Also good for EVERY Sony shooter to know this site.

My request:  WIFI Tether APP.

So, once your camera makes the Connection. You should be able to CHOOSE.

1) Straight Tether = Everything you shoot ... the RAW (or large JPG) saves to your Camera , AND a small JPG goes to the Smartphone ... ON AN APP that Just brings up the images FULL Screen. Then you can Page thru with a Swipe OR Enlarge to check Focus.

2)  Selected Tether =  ONLY the images you "want" sent via a Fn button push  (Send to Smart Phone)  gets send tot he Smartphone.

3)  Here's the Twist = You can also choose to WIFI send to ONE OR  MORE Smartphones

Sony ALPHA TIP # 99: PlayMemorys Lens Corrections APP works on "RAW".

And can be downloaded 10 times on any device. (the number I am not sure on)

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

*** 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)

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)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 97: SONY Hawaii is selling Product as well as doing Demo's & Clinics !
Two pics I did for them.  A7r + 35mm f2.8 ZA FE
On the Front you can see the Hours and the Phone Number. :)

I think they have the A7r , A7 , RX10  and FE lens  ... which one's I have no clue , sorry.
You need to call 808-837-7373

Sony ALPHA TIP # 96:  Early a6000  Adobe Support is Great and Important NEWS !
And Surprise !   Support for some OLDER SONY lens.

* Things are changing :)
SONY shooters can start taking off there black tape from the brand name on there cameras.
Yes,  I have seen that. lol     ...   Maybe things will start to change.    At least I have noticed PRO's are starting NOT to "totally" Trash the SONY Brand now.  Since the RX1r and A7r.
Trust me,  in media rooms  I  still hear the question "Why"  ,  but now it is more silent and under there breath.  :)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 95: FOCUS by DISTANCE and use PEAKING (in LOW) to SHOW you when Subject is in Focus.

1) Set to Manual Focus
2) Make sure Peaking is set a LOW and at a color that you can SEE. :) you might need to change the setting to SEE peaking for what you are doing ... But you should know, LOW is probably the most Accurate. Also note it is showing Peaking on VERTICAL contrast. So sometimes you can see peaking and lock just by turning the camera 90 degrees.
3) Manual Focus (MF) to a Distance. or subject at a distance you will want to AF / shutter

NOW, as you move back and forth and you will SEE Peaking show when the subject is locked ON.
All you need now to do is shutter when you see peaking on your target at the location you want.

Here is my BLOG  I  did on how to set up the A7r to STREET SHOOT

And how to use it in different Exposure Modes

Beginners Guides to Digital SLR Photography by Mark David
Easy-to-read primers
Mark David said: "Teaching people individually has shown me the areas beginners struggle with. These primers explain them."

Easy to read explanations ... Highly Recommended reading :)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 93:  Sony a6000 Review, TheCameraStoreTV
Always an interesting review from these guys. :)

For me (and Every Sony shooter including A-Mount),  the important thing to note about the a6000 is the AUTO FOCUS SPEED.
Both AF-S Single AUTO FOCUS, and AF-C  Continuous AUTO FOCUS.
And what it says about ANY Future  Sony ALPHA Camera.

* What I got from it is EVERY Sony Camera from now on  "WILL"  have Faster AUTO FOCUS.
Now, the Question is  HOW MUCH AF SPEED,  and HOW LOW of a LIGHT can it AUTO FOCUS.
This was Sony's weak point.  That seems to be improving.

EVERY  A-Mount  shooter that wants  DSLR AUTO FOCUS SPEED and improved LOW LIGHT AUTO FOCUS had got to be EXCITED !
Because Sony with CDAF (and PDAF) "ON the SENSOR" already has  ACCURATE AUTO FOCUS.
Even with  f1.4 Lens.    Even with the A7r 36mp sensor.
(which by the way , f1.4 Full Frame AF is always challenging on both Nikon and Canon)

Sony ALPHA TIP # 93: Sony/Zeiss 35mm f2.8 ZA FE  Lens Review up on one of my favorite Lens Review Sites

One of the things I love about there lens reviews is the "easy" to understand SHARPNESS graph.
The way they plot it , it's ease to see where it is sharp and at what Aperture.  (and on zooms what FL)
imho, VERY helpful when you want maximum sharpness.
Or when you want to choose a lens that you never have to worry about sharpness at your working range. (but, you always have to pay more for that, when you combine with great build quality and weather seal)

It's also fun to see the graph float as you MOVE the Aperture slider and SEE how much it moves or how FLAT it is between Wide Open and say f11.
What I like to do is look at WIDE Open performance across the frame in Full Frame. And on a f2.8 "PRO" lens my "expectation" is that by f4 it has a FLAT graph AND close to 1 Blur unit thru f8 at least.

The 35mm f2.8 ZA FE does not quite to that out to the corners , like the 55mm f1.8 ZA FE does.  But, does that in the center.
Having been shooting the 35mm f2.8 ZA FE on the A7r for a while now, it is very easy to shoot with and Very Sharp, vs some of the old A-mount wide lens.

It is my opinion, the FE ZEISS lens (and the A-Mount 50mm f1.4 ZA SSM Zeiss)  are at another level.

Sony ALPHA TIP # 92: DPR "GOLD AWARD" for the A7r !
Review here:

Sony ALPHA TIP # 91: LINK to SONY "Events" in your town , USA.
Including the On-Going "A7 Sony Experience" & Contest

Sony ALPHA TIP # 90: A Focus Peaking TIP. by Chris Helton.
Set your a7/a7r to shoot RAW or RAW+JPG.

Set picture style to "B&W" .
Screen will turn b&w.
This makes it easier to focus with "focus peaking" because the part in focus will be red (or whatever color you set) and the rest of the picture will stay desaturated.
The jpg will be black and white,
BUT your RAW file will be color.
You have the best of both and its so much easier to focus

Sony ALPHA TIP # 89:  Scott Robert Variable ND (Neutral Density) Filter
can change between 2 thru 10 STOPS !
Allowing you to shoot at Full Flash Syncs of below 1/250 and f2.8 or lower
Flash or NO Flash this ND can help when you want to shoot with FAST lens out in the SUN.

It's a Quality piece of Kit for $75 including shipping. And you "will" wonder why ALL ND filters are not VARIABLE. :)

Great TIP from Jeremy Chan

From Scott Robert blog:
Workflow: Shooting in bright light with vND Filter
Set camera to F2.8, 1/100, ISO 100 and leave it there the entire time shooting in bright light. I adjust vND filter according to how dark or light I want my exposure and then fill in with flash on subject as needed. On a bright day I use multiple flashes so I can over power the sun and create a higher quality of light source. I usually keep sun behind subject to give me a nice highlight and use flash to expose the darker subject.

If you enjoy shooting with flash in manual, you’re going to love using my vND filter for a variety of creative lighting and shallow depth of field effects. "


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 someone,

Ross Hamamura

The Tourist of Light
SONY ALPHA Camera Ambassador
(and have been given SONY products for accepting this additional role)
Please follow me on Instagram:  @RDHphoto
Facebook Sony ALPHA - TALK  Group:
SONY Community ID:  Hawaii-Geek

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