The Sony A7iii is capable of very good photographs with native E mount glass or adapted Sony A mount glass.
Both of these shots were made to jpeg – fine only and the only edit I did was to import to Apple Photos on my MacBook Pro and hit enhance. I used auto focus on both and the adapted lens focused perfectly. The colors here are very accurate. I used the Sony “standard” setting for jpeg color.
Then I put back on the native Sony Zeiss lens and tried to get a decent shot of this metal Christmas scene. This is not a good picture, but I am using it to illustrate a point. I tired the auto focus in wide and it got a bit confused. So I figured this was a good time to try the manual focus again. Manual focus for close up shots is really better than auto focus. So I aimed the camera at where I wanted to focus and slightly turned the focus ring on the Zeiss. The camera zoomed in and showed me focus peaking. That made it pretty easy to set focus where I wanted to. Of course this is a very very complex way to do this. My old Olympus OM2n has manual focus only and you get a very easy to use split focus in the viewfinder. When the images come together it is in focus. The Sony is almost as good in regular light and I am sure is much better in low light. If you zoom into the above photo you can see that it is quite sharp. And I can tell you the jpeg colors are accurate.
So this afternoon I thought I would take another pass through the menus to try and improve my knowledge of the many settings that are in them. I put in about an hour before it becomes just too much. There are far more Sony settings than my last camera. And from the enthusiasm of the tutorial I was using it seems like I should commit many of them to memory. But many of the settings interfere with other settings and the number of possibilities is very large. The Nikon system is far simpler. I would guess that after a year with this camera body I will still not know most of them. Adding to the complexity is the fact that only a few of the buttons are labeled. That means you have to remember where you put the focus settings before you then have to remember which of the settings you have to use. This system would be much better with a simplified menu that could be controlled by a touch screen. Since Sony makes smart phones I know they can make touch screens. And I do know that the back screen in my camera is a partial touch screen. But I have to go back and read the manual to figure out how it works.
This rainbow turned up outside our house a little after I took the pictures of the Christmas figures with the Sony. I went outside with the Sony to get a shot of the rainbow, but it was still raining. And I am not quite sure exactly how weather proof the Sony and Sony lens are. They are supposed to be OK with some rain, but I am still not sure how much. The iPhone on the other hand is quite capable of just about any amount of rain with no damage. As was my Nikon D750. So the iPhone got this rainbow shot. The above is smart HDR, and below is just a single shot.
If you look at these two shots on my detailed monitor I am not sure the HDR added anything. The clouds are not blown with either.
Unlike the Sony the iPhone XS max with the standard apple camera app is easy to understand after a bit of effort. And the Adobe iPhone camera app is pretty darn simple too. Adobe has really come a long way to improving this iPhone app over the last year. A year ago their HDR was terrible, unusable. Now it works well. But then Apple has just blown the doors off computational photography with their smart HDR which much of the time really adds something to the finished image with no effort. I have only had the new iPhone two weeks and I think I am pretty expert at using it. With the Sony I am OK with the stuff that is basic but World’s away from getting all the complicated things to work.
So here is a message to Sony from me about their A7 line of cameras. Cut about half of the menu items. Make the back screen a full touch screen. And make sure you buy and use an iPhone for a while to see how simple making good photos can be. And a couple more things. 1. Why is there no pop up small built in flash. You fit one on my last inexpensive compact Sony HX 80 so I know you can do it on the A7 bodies. That type of flash comes in very handy and if it works as well as the Sony HX 80 built in flash that would be great. 2. Identify the main buttons. Put labels on them. 3. A7s should be possible to operate with one hand, they are not.
I just spent 5-10 minutes trying to get my bluetooth speaker to attach to my iPhone so I could listen to some music. Every time I turned the speaker on it was pulling music from some device somewhere in the house but not the one I wanted it to. After a few failed attempts I gave up. I did not feel like fishing out a wire and the dongle that adapts the iPhone to an old style phone plug so I could just use a wire.
Earlier today I wanted to scan a document to email to someone. I loaded the HP printer scanner and then realized that my new MacBook Pro does not have the software for that scanner loaded into it. And since that HP is about four years old there are no updated drivers that work with the latest Mac software. So I had to go get one of my old Windows laptops that I knew had that software in it so I could run the scanner.
An hour later I tried to make a new folder on one of my external drives so I could store some data on it. Guess what, the new MacBook does not have the software on it to get full use of the Seagate drive like the old MacBook does. So I had to fire up the old MacBook to see what the name of the software is and go to the Seagate web page to get the driver.
Don’t get the idea I don’t like tech, I do, but I like stuff that is simple to get to work right and lasts a while. Bluetooth usually works OK, but can be a PIA. Wires are simple and always work. Software drivers and getting software to work in the system you want it to work in can be easy, hard, or impossible. That older HP combo printer scanner is likely not going to work as a network scanner unless wire it into the network or wire it directly to the computer I want to send the scan to. It works fine and is not that old.
My point here is that if you take photos today that you want to enjoy a few years from now you had better be very careful how you save the files. If you take high quality photos and want the quality to be the same in the future you have to be especially careful to make sure that no software changes your files.
To make sure your file exists and is readable in the future you need to save some copies. This is what I do. I put the files on a plug in drive. I then back it up on a second drive locally. (In the future I am only going to use drives formatted for Mac as I do not trust that the driver for the drive will be updated in future years.) I keep copies in either Apple Photos or Adobe Lightroom CC or both. Usually the raw in LR and the jpeg in Apple Photos. I also have a third back up drive I update about once every six weeks that I store in my motorhome safe. Then as a final measure I keep a copy in drop box. Drop box is the only on line service I have found and used that does not screw around with the size of your files when you load and download them. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Flikr do. Oh I almost forgot Flickr. I have a lot of my files on Flikr and some on Google Photos. And I sometimes make photo books or have prints made.
I have had significant problems in the past loosing large numbers of my photos. I used to back everything up to one hard drive. It failed. I lost several years of full sized files and my only copies were on Apple Photos. Just last month I went to update a file from 2017 in my main back up drive. The whole year of 2017 was missing. In this case I had a back up copy of the back up copy on another drive. Some of the files did not want to be copied and I had to play with this for a couple hours. So at this point in time I am hyper careful.
I have had several on line back up systems change dramatically for the worse. I used iPhoto and Aperture on Mac. I liked both of them. But then Apple discontinued both and substituted Apple Photos. Apple Photos is still not nearly as effective at editing files as the previous system except using on line. Apple’s system of on line photos is pretty good now most of the time. I used Google Picasa to edit thousands of work photos. It was the best quick edit and file organizer you could get at any price and Picasa was free. Then Google canceled it. Adobe Lightroom on the other hand has improved. I use both Lightroom CC Classic and Lightroom CC. Both work well. The on line CC system keeps adding features and you can use it fairly well in conjunction with the CC Classic. Flickr used to be free. Now you have to pay to use it. All of these systems have at one time or another played with the size of the files except drop box and Adobe Lightroom CC Classic.
I would say my files are now very secure. But I am tired of it taking so much effort. Plus I have no illusion that raw files will work ten years from now. By then your raw files will be from an obsolete camera and you will be using a many generation newer OS. The best you can hope for is jpegs will still work. I think jpegs are mostly safe.
Here is how I did it 14 years ago. I bought film or the people that developed it sent me free film. I would send it off to Seattle Film Lab. At the time I used my Olympus OM2n and a couple of Olympus pocket film cameras. When I finished a couple of rolls or even just one roll, I would send it to Seattle Film Lab in a prepaid mailer. They would develop it and send the negatives, prints, a CD of the scans, plus a free roll of film. That would take about a week. The thing is Seattle Film Lab would edit the photos before I got them. I rarely edited what I was sent back. When I went on vacation I would use slide film so I could project the shots on a screen in full resolution. I used Kodak Kodachrome in those days. You couldn’t edit slides. You either got them right or you did not. I made photo albums. I saved the negatives, CD in files in a file cabinet. My prints from 2004 look just fine and have not faded. The CD’s I got back then still work. And if I had not sold my projector I could use slides. The only thing that endangered your back up files was your house being destroyed. So if needed today you save a copy of scans in a location not in your house.
I do not plan to go back to just using film. But anyone that tells you getting great photos is easier or cheaper today is contradicting what I have learned. iPhones or good Androids take great photos and video and are easy to use. They give better results than old pocket film cameras. But big digital cameras with big lenses and big files are very expensive, need careful care, go out of date in about 3 years, and storing the files is complicated. If you don’t already try both higher end digital and film and use what you like the best. I waver back and forth.
I have now had my Sony A7iii a little over six weeks and it is time to post some additional thoughts about it and also in comparison to my previous Nikon DSLRs the D5500 and D750. All three of these interchangeable lens cameras have the same mega pixel count, 24.
And to my eye from a users perspective and not a scientific test, all three will give about the same quality photo using the same quality lens.
So why did I switch to Sony if the image quality was about the same. There are two main reasons. 1. Try and get the size and weight down from the D750. 2. EVF. I like being able to set exposure using zebras or the histogram before taking the shot. After about six years using DSLRs I wanted to see if I could be better at getting the exposure right in varied conditions.
For the most part I did get a size reduction on the Sony compared to the D750. But you still have the problem with the lens size and weight. D750 Nikon 29.5 oz, 50mm f1.4 9.8 oz 24-120mm f4 25 oz, Sony A7iii 22.9 oz 50mm f1.4 27.5 oz 24-105 f4 23.4 oz. So you can see the problem with those two full frames. The Nikon D5500 is way smaller and lighter. I did choose the Sony – Zeiss 55mm f1.8 that is exactly the same weight as the Nikon but only f1.8 and not f1.4. Also, the Sony Zeiss is well over twice the price of the Nikon 50mm f1.4.
EVF. The Electronic view finder makes it much easier to nail exposure. I don’t have to bother bracketing any more. The Sony finder and back screen allow easy exposure settings. I don’t have any problems with lag in the EVF. It is not as crystal clear as the Nikon D750 OVF. Both the Sony A7 and Nikon D750 viewfinders are far superior to the Nikon D5500’s. The D5500 has a smaller size view. I don’t really know why. My near 40 year old Olympus OM2n has a huge bright viewfinder and it is a smaller body than the D5500.
I am 71 years old and am strong but have a slight bit of arthritis in my right thumb. When I would start out with the D750 and the 24-120mm lens it took a while before it became comfortable to hold. And when walking with that setup it is pretty big. I bought a Peak strap to go with it and that helped a lot, but I still many times would wish for a smaller camera set up. So now I have the Sony A7iii with one 55mm lens that is light. Plus I have five adapted lenses that are Minolta. The A7 & native 55mm f1.8 makes a great package. The adapted lenses do not perform as well as they did with the Minolta film bodies. They work, but some of the photo magic is just not there with them. I do not have a good wide to medium zoom. And if I buy the 24-105 Sony f4 then the A7iii and lens will be right back up there in size and weight with what I have with the 750 & 24-120.
Handling – Lots of writers have complained about the menus. I have had 4 Sony compact cameras over the last 15 years and the menus are all about the same. But no doubt the Sony menu is longer than Nikon’s DSLR menu. Once I set up the programable buttons I did not use the menu much. I am a big fan of touch screens. The one on the Nikon D5500 is great. Neither the A7iii or the D750 have touch screens. Yes the Sony has a very limited touch screen, but not enough for me to use it.
Both Nikons have well set up dials and buttons that are easy to learn and use. The single dial and buttons are very easy to use one handed with the D5500 as it is so light and comfortable to hold. I do prefer both a front and back dial. The D750 has front and back dials. These are the ones to adjust exposure and shutter speed. The D750 is also relatively easy to use one handed if you have something like a 50mm lens on it. A big zoom, not so much. The buttons on the D5500 and D750 are resistant to being accidentally hit and changed when using the camera.
The Sony is a different story. It’s weight is about 6 oz more than the D5500 and about 7 oz less than the D750. The D5500 and D750 have better grips for my size hand than the Sony. The Sony grip however is the least desirable of these three. But the Sony has an additional issue that makes this worse. And that is that you many times want to adjust the camera while in your right hand. Adjustments to the back or front dial or buttons is much harder than either Nikon. It is much easier to accidentally move one of the setting buttons or dials on the Sony. I did just that last time I was out shooting. I took at least 2 dozen shots before realizing it.
I also have 5 film SLR cameras I use all the time. 2 Olympus OM2n’s. This is the gold standard of handling. Perfect size with only a few simple controls. 2 Minolta 600si cameras. Just a little bigger than the Olympus and slightly larger. A wonderful camera for handling and use. Simple excellent quick to use controls for manual or auto use. I like this a little less than the Oly. Mostly because the Oly looks and feels better. The Minolta is plastic and not the Nikon nubby kind. Auto film load and rewind. 3. Voigtlander Prominent from the early 50’s. Same size as the Oly and the Leica M3 by the way. Funny about those coincidences. The Voight is beautiful with just gorgeous lenses. But it is hard to use. Much harder than the Sony.
Color – Lightroom works hand in hand with Nikon files put out by the three DSLRs I have owned in the last ten years. Ever since Lightroom started their new system earlier in 2018 I just only take raw and make my adjustments. Both LR CC Classic and LR CC work very well with Nikon. In tough lighting situations the Nikon files can require some work to get them to look right. Of course you can fix a lot of that by “chimping” and looking at the histogram after you take the shots. In general it is easy to use Nikon colors with LR. Not so with Sony. Sony (and keep in mind this is only my personal use and experience and I am just a user and no expert.) raws and Jpegs do not for me have nearly as much differentiation as the Nikons. Raw with Nikon is flat and obviously not processed. Sony when I shoot raw + jpeg the files come out looking much more similar. And if you get my Sony A7iii near the ocean or a large body of water it swings the raw files towards blue. I am forced to spend a lot of time getting the color to look how I like it. Much more so than my Nikons, Apple iPhone, or my Sony HX 80 compact. The last one really confuses me. Going towards the blue side must be part of the AWB and the camera looks for water and it’s computer must make an adjustment.
The Sony does a very good job for me with jpeg on flowers. I take lots of plant pictures. I worked at getting good at that with the Nikons. The Sony does just as good a job on raw but better for me on jpeg. I also find that even though I have begun to think the Sony jpegs are a little “weird” I am getting the “Ektar” look that I love using that Kodak film. Part of that has to do with the really spectacular Sony Zeiss 55mm lens.
So for me specifically I have things I like about the Sony color and things I do not. I guess I will call this a tie.
Video – The Sony has much much better video ability than either Nikon. The ease of use on the A7iii is significantly better. In the past I disliked the results I got from the Nikon DSLRs and so used my iPhone for video. I have heard that the Nikon Z6 & 7 have much improved video. So if you have to have Nikon get one of those for video.
Price – The Sony with lenses is far more expensive than the Nikon D750 or Nikon D5500. Back when the Nikon was introduced it’s price was about the same as the Sony. And Nikon’s new Z6 is about the same as the Sony A7iii. Right now you can buy a Nikon D5600 and two zoom lenses for $700. And today you can get the D750 with the 24-120 for $1,800. The Sony A7iii with Sony 24-105mm is going to run you $3,300.
Bottom Line – If you want to buy one of these cameras you should do so knowing you are getting a great image maker. If you shoot mostly, almost all still photography get one of the Nikons at todays prices. Even at a big discount the D5600 is 1/3 of the D750 cost. For most people the D5600 is a much better buy. The only really huge improvement in the D750 is the viewfinder (I agree with Ken Rockwell who said the same thing.) Other than that the smaller Nikon is much easier to carry and has a touch screen. If you take video and don’t want to use your phone for that then you should get the Sony or maybe the Nikon Z6.
The Sony and Nikon cameras I have owned over the years have both been very reliable. The Nikons seem a bit tougher but I have not had problems with my Sony’s. For me I am going to stick with this Sony through the end of 2019 at least. I may buy one or two more lenses for it. But I am worn out from all the new cameras in 2018. Time to use the gear I have. Unless Olympus makes a full frame mirrorless the size of my old Oly OM2n. I would buy one of those. And I am going to shoot film too. I love the new Kodak Ektachrome. I think it might be the best slide film I have ever used.
Up until now my experience with digital cameras that were not attached to smartphones has been 4 Sony’s and 3 Nikons. All have been reliable. The Sony’s up until now have all been compacts. The Nikons have been two crop sensor and one full frame DSLR.
Over the last year I have wanted to step up to a full frame digital sensor as that is what I have been using for many years with film photography and I just like the perspective and subject isolation you get with 35mm. And I have been thinking about going mirrorless full frame to get reduced size and EVF to facilitate exposure.
Last spring Nikon offered me a deal I could not pass up on a D750 full frame DSLR. I bought it with the 24-120mm f4 and a 50mm f1.4G lens. I have to say that the images out of this rig were excellent. Nikon sold me the 24-120mm lens for $500 and that is a bargain.
The above shot was with the 24-120 and shot at 24mm. When you look at this at full resolution it is a great shot except for the top corners. But for me the combo of the D750 and 24-120 was just too big. Plus my experience with the last Sony compact with the EVF and my iPhone and using the Adobe camera app got me used to seeing exposure and over exposure in real time.
So I figured I would look at Sony and Nikon as that is what I have good experience with. I went to the camera store with the intention to buy a Nikon Z7 or Z6 and changed my mind while in the camera store. Why? 1. I have a number of legacy Sony-Minolta lenses that I thought would adapt really well on the A7iii. 2. The A7iii was $2,000 and Z7 was $3,000+. 3. I liked the fact that the Sony was on it’s third generation of A series cameras and figured they had the bug ironed out. 4. I have had recent experience with the Sony HX 80 compact and the menu system is very similar to the A7iii’s. I did not have a problem with the HX menu.
I bought the Sony A7iii and figured if regretted I could always sell it and buy something else. I also bought the Sony – Zeiss 50mm f1.8 lens and the Sony LA 4 adaptor. The Zeiss f1.8 lens is a small, light, very high quality standard lens. It also costs $1,000. In my opinion sharper than the Nikon 50mm f1.4. And it cost $375.
Most of my older Sony-Minolta AF lenses work as well as I thought they would. The 50mm f2.8 Macro which has been one of my favorite lenses. Gives very sharp, colorful, good bokeh results.
The medium tele Minolta works pretty well. I like the bokeh and it is light and easy to use. It is 1/4 the size of the Nikon 24-120mm f4 and about 1/3 the weight. Plus I paid $32 for it.
And above is using the Sigma 24mm 2.8 Macro I paid $80 for a couple of years ago. I have several more that worked well too.
The Sony autofocus adaptor worked quite well with all of the autofocus lenses. Although using the Sony with a very sharp digital sensor did show some of the weaknesses in bokeh a couple of the lenses have that was covered up more using film. Film has more grain usually and tend to smudge the bokeh a bit.
Here are two more from the Sony and the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro. These have been cropped quite a bit and the details in the full size image are great.
OVF compared to EVF. I like OVF better but EVF offers more information. Being able to see the histogram and zebras before taking the shot makes it worth it. The mirrorless is also far better for taking shots using the back screen. The Sony is much more responsive than a DSLR back screen.
Videos are far better. with the mirrorless than the DSLR. Video was so bad on the DSLR cameras that I almost never used it. The Sony A7iii is extremely easy to use. Although the adapted lenses would not be good for autofocus. The camera would make too much noise using the old lenses. I have tried the Zeiss and it is silent.
I do miss the 24-120 but not the weight and size. Sony makes a 24-105 f4. I have given some thought to buying it, but I don’t want to get back to lugging a heavy camera around. Using the adaptor and the 24mm prime I already have is less than half the weight and size of the Sony 24-105. But not a zoom. I think I will stick with what I have for a while before doing anything more with additional new lenses.
Do I regret not getting the Nikon. I do not regret not getting 45 mega pixels at all. My computer set up is just not ready for lots of big still files. And I have not had a problem getting used to the Sony menu system. I set up buttons for almost all functions and hardly use the menus. But I would have to say that the Nikon EVF is quite a bit better and I would like to have that. I do not love the Sony position of the front and back selector wheels. The D750 was better.
Far left is Olympus OM2n, the Voightlander Prominent, Minolta 600si, then the A7iii. Of the four I prefer the Oly. I put a a leather ever ready case around it and it becomes very easy to take and carry with you. I also have an ever ready case for the Voightlander. The 1953 leather is looking a bit worn, but still very serviceable. The Sony A7iii above has the Zeiss 55mm lens on it which is a small lens. But it is easy to see from this picture that what we think of as a small lens in 2018 is much larger than the other three. Much bigger than the Zeiss and the Sony is not an easy camera to tote around. I am giving some thought to getting the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 or the Sony FE 28 f2 which are even smaller than the 55mm. But since I have a closet full of film I can just use some of it with the smaller SLR’s.
Final comment. Olympus is the only one of the larger camera companies that have not come out with a full frame camera. If they were to make a smaller full frame and smaller lenses I think it would sell. Maybe even to me.
Yes it does. A couple of weeks ago after thinking about doing it for a year I bought a full frame mirrorless digital camera, a Sony A7iii. I chose the Sony A7iii over the Sony A7riii because of price and the fact that the bigger files would overwhelm my current computer setup. I chose the Sony over a Nikon Z7 or Z6 mainly because the 24 mega pixel Sony is available now and I have a number of Minolta/Sony/Sigma AF A mount lenses I like a lot.
I also bought the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 when I got the camera from a local camera store. No surprise the Zeiss lens works great with the Sony A7iii. The above shot was taken last weekend in full sun with a sun shade on the lens and a polarize filter. This shot was taken in raw and converted to black and white in Lightroom Classic.
The Zeiss does a good job with color too. But this is a well reviewed lens from one of the best suppliers that was designed for the A7 line of cameras and cost $1,000. So you expect it to be good. It is also light and smallish. Plus has a 49mm filter size which I have a lot of lenses that size. In fact that is the standard filter size of many of the Minolta lenses.
But when I got this camera the real question in my mind was how well my favorite Minolta – Sony A mount glass would work. These lenses are;
Minolta AF 50mm f1.4. A splendid lens at least as good as my Nikon 50mm f1.4 G lens or my Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.4. But not as good as my Voightlander Nokton German Made 50mm f1.5. The bokeh on the Voight is beyond beautiful.
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro. I have loved this lens since I first got it with my Minolta 600si film camera a few years ago. It is very sharp and goes to 1:1 or short focuses to .18 m or .62 ft.
Sigma 24mm f2.8 Macro that is also able to focus down to .18 m. A great wide angle lens that is quite sharp with little distortion.
Minolta 35-70 f3.5 – 4.5. A shockingly sharp unexpected gem that I got for free when I bought a Minolta 70 – 210mm from ebay. When I got my first samples back from this lens I immediately looked it up as the results were so good. This is a plastic excellent light small mid zoom. Don’t laugh till you see the photos.
Minolta 70 – 210mm 4.5 – 5.6. Both this lens and the 35-70 were made in Japan. This is a very good plastic lens. It is very light and very small for the zoom range. This is not the same as the all metal “beer can” Minolta with similar zoom range but f4. This lens is also quite sharp although not quite as good as the 35 – 70. But it will fit into your pocket if you are wearing cargo pants. Try that with the Sony 70-200 f2.8.
I also bought the Sony LA-EA4 adaptor that is designed for the Sony A7 series of AF lenses with screw focus.
As I found out immediately the A7iii with LA-EA4 adaptor worked very well with both the Minolta lenses and the Sigmas. As you can see in the shot above the 24mm gives a very good still shot. I used center focus and center exposure for this shot. It was taken a few minutes before sunset.
This shot above of the purple geranium is about a 50% crop and was shot at 55mm f8 @ 1/00 ISO 800. It is very sharp, good color, nice bokeh, and I got this lens for free. This is my best purchase yet. I got the 70 – 210 zoom and this lens for $32 dollars plus shipping. A laughable amount. This 35 – 70 focuses almost instantly with the A7iii and adaptor. As with all of the adapted lenses I am reviewing here I would suggest manual focus if you are going to shoot video. The adaptor and lens will just be too noisy for video in AF.
Above is my Macro 50mm 2.8 Sigma. A well built lens that is quite sharp and can focus as close as .62 of a foot. I have used this lens a lot with my first Minolta 600si as that camera came with this lens. I have seen this lens on ebay recently for around $75.
And finally we have my Minolta mid range – longer zoom. This is a very small compact zoom for the 70-210 range that might be 11 or 12 oz. Is it as good as one of the large 70-200 2.8 lenses, no. But I already own this lens and it works up to a very good standard and you can own one too for less than 50 dollars. Here is another example below of this bargain.
The above is not a good photo but does show that the lens can give a sharp and acceptable result.
My point is that the Sony A7iii is a very flexible tool for getting high quality stills with a wide variety of expensive and low cost lenses. Sony bought Minolta in 2006 and still makes cameras that use the Minolta A mount plus A mount lenses. There are a lot of A mount lenses for sale now at attractive prices. The ones I have work fine for still photos. And for that matter there are quite a few used E mount Sony lenses for sale too. Although so far I have found some of the better E mount glass to sell at relatively close to new prices. I have been looking for a 35mm Zeiss and in a couple of ebay auctions found the used sold for about 80% of new. If you want to use video without the noise of the older style auto focus you are going to have to get some native quiet glass.
A7iii. So far I like the Sony A7iii quite a bit. Since I have had several previous compact Sony cameras including a HX80. I am used to the menu and find the A7 easy to operate. Now I have set up buttons to operate all of the major functions directly and adjustments a very quick. This camera with reasonable size lenses makes for a package of camera and lens similar to my film SLR’s like my Olympus OM2n, Voightlander Prominent, and Minolta 600si. The Minolta is now my largest body. But it is only a bit bigger than the Sony. I have no plans at this point to buy huge heavy glass for this camera so that it is hard to travel with and carry around. If I had not had any of the older glass that works easily with the A7iii I might have made a different choice of a full frame mirrorless body. I like the fact that Nikon with the Z mount has come out with some pretty light and smaller glass. But the Sony already has done this. The Sony 55mm f1.8 like I bought is about the same size and weight as the new Nikon Z 50mm f1.8. But the Nikon 35mm f1.8 is over 13oz. The Sony 35mm f2.8 is 4.4 oz and the Sony 28mm f2.8 7.1 oz.
Enough for now. I have a bunch of rolls of the new Kodak Ektachrome and am waiting for the first finished roll to come back from the developer.
So mirrorless full frame cameras are now going to be a common thing. Sony has had most of the headlines in this category for the last couple of years. Leica has long made mirrorless full frame cameras too, but they are a very high cost device and their announcements for reasons of price and also features have been muted. I personally have been waiting to see what Nikon and Canon announce as at this point I really do prefer the full size 35mm image capture either film or digital to other sizes. Why, it is what I am most used to and also seems to work best.
Last Spring I rented a Sony A7riii with a Zeiss 55mm f1.8. At the time I was not thrilled with this camera except for it’s images. When I rented the camera they did not include an operators manual (even though I likely would not have read it) and I found it quite confusing even though I have had four compact Sony’s and the menu system is similar to the A7.
I blundered along using the A7riii for a day and of course used it in the most harsh condition of full sun mid day. But I did get a few shots of subjects I had taken with other cameras and found the jpegs from the Sony to be excellent. I only shot jpeg and did not do anything but shoot in aperture priority. This was before I bought a Nikon D750 and was used to the weight and size of a D5500. I found the Sony to be heavy and hard to hold. But then for a month after I got the 750 I found it heavy and hard to hold. Since I used this A7riii there is a Sony A7iii that is cheaper than the r model. But now we are down to 24 mega pixels and not up at the r’s 42.
My overall impression of the Sony was good and not so good. The images looked very good when I figured out how to operate the computer, oh I mean camera. But I am sure I would learn how to operate it just like I figured out how to use a MacBook after 20 years with Windows. What I might not get used to is the grip. Not nearly as nice as my Nikon D5500 or D750. But then my favorite camera is an Olympus OM2n which has no grip at all. The Oly is just a flat case like the Leica M’s.
Nikon had their somewhat low key intro for the Z6 & Z7 just over a week ago. I still have not held one in my hand as is the case with nearly every other prospective buyer. But a fairly big number of youtube personalities have and like almost every news caster today spins their opinions in lots of different directions. To me the main reasons to get mirrorless over a DSLR is that you get an EVF and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) plus much improved video ability. I like WYSIWYG. It is very useful so see what you are going to get in a viewfinder before you take the shot. This is one of the main reasons cell phones are so popular for photos and video. It is easy to get great shots if you know what you are going to get before and when you are taking it. Plus good video ability. My two Nikon DSLR’s are hard to use for video so I don’t. I use my iPhone.
Pros of the Nikon Z’s
Looks like a typical easy to hold camera body like my existing two Nikons
My Nikon glass adapts easily to these cameras
I have had very good experience with Nikon. Their cameras have been very reliable
Touch screen has full control of menu settings. This is a big deal. I have that on my Nikon D5500 and it is very fast and easy to adjust settings. However, my Nikon D750 has marked dedicated buttons for major functions like ISO and Image quality. The buttons make up somewhat for the fact the 750 screen is not a touch screen. Sony’s screen is not a full featured touch screen. Sony’s buttons are not marked. That means I have to assign the functions and remember where I set them. Overall I would have to say that Nikon’s choice to go with full featured touch screen on the Z’s is the best one. Sony’s the worst.
Nikon introduces a good working inexpensive adapter for Nikon’s F mount lenses.
Nikon comes out with 3 lenses that are relatively small and relatively well priced with new cameras.
Very good set of video specs. From the video I watched on youtube last night it seems like the video focus works quite well as does the stills focus. But so does Sony.
Z7 has basic ISO of 64. The best of any of the new mirrorless full frames.
The bodies are smaller and lighter than my D750. But so are the other new mirrorless full frames.
High resolution EVF
Cons of the Nikon Z’s
One card slot and the one card is not SD. My D750 has two SD card slots. I like two slots.
Screen does not fully articulate like my D5500. In fact it is exactly like my D750.
New lenses are high priced. Why does the new 50mm f1.8 cost more than my recent 50mm f1.4?
Z7 more costly than D850 which is the king of DSLRs at the moment. If you don’t care about video the 850 seems like a better buy.
No built in flash. I have one on my D750 and it works very well.
Canon announced their full frame mirrorless EOSR a few days ago. Orders can be placed this week and deliveries very shortly after that. I have never owned a Canon camera so my comments are just armchair ones. I would like to say that my sister has had Canon for years and is happy with it. My son who is a professional camera man for movies and TV has both a Canon 5Diii and a Sony A7s. He likes Canon. He likes Leica lenses better.
Pros for Canon
Canon has a habit of making cameras that work well without problems.
30 mega pixels vs 24 for Sony and Nikon (The lower Sony and Nikon)
Fully articulated screen
Inexpensive adaptor seems to work very well with Canon legacy glass
Made in Japan
Cons for Canon
One card slot
4K video is cropped
No high megapixel option
Two of the new lenses are huge. Small size is one of the major benefits of mirrorless and huge lenses defeat that. Those two lenses are also very expensive.
Panasonic has made it their speciality to make excellent mirrorless mirrorless micro 4-3rds cameras that are known for their video capability. They have indicated that they will announce a full frame camera in a few weeks. Since good video is one of the prime reasons to go mirrorless this might be a dark horse winner.
Olympus has made a very popular line of micro 4-3rds cameras along with Panasonic the last ten years. In the past Olympus has introduced some very innovative cameras. The OM line of 35mm film cameras offered a very capable 35mm body that was smaller and lighter than the competition. The XA compact film 35mm camera was a miracle of miniaturization for full frame image size in a pocket camera. The EM5 digital camera of 2012 started the trend of making retro digital cameras with in body stabilization, advanced video, and a high quality lens line. So anything could happen from these guys.
Fuji has been rumored to be introducing a larger than full frame sensor rangefinder camera at Foto Kina in Germany later this month. Prices for the body are supposed to be in the $3,000 – 3,300 range. If so that could sway Z7 and A7riii buyers to look at the Fuji. We will have to wait for announcements to see how all the Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji cameras turn out.
If you need a camera today you need to buy a Sony. And that might not be such a bad idea. They have three mirrorless models and also the A 99 which is mirrorless but different. Sony now has a very good lineup of lenses for zoom or prime buyers. And with an adaptor you can easily use the older Minolta AF lens line at a much lower price point. I have a number of pieces of Minolta glass and can tell you that some of it is excellent. I would put my Sigma/Minolta 50mm f2.8 macro up against any comparable lens for sharpness. And Sony is a huge company that has the resources to forge ahead with new models. They currently also have a line of excellent crop sensor cameras that use the same E mount.
For Nikon and Canon I would say that if you have Nikon or Canon lenses now that you should likely stick with that brand and go with mirrorless if you plan to do both stills and video. If you are going to mostly shoot stills I would stick with DSLR’s. Two of my friends bought Canon full frames recently at very good prices. I bought a D750 because Nikon made me an offer I did not want to refuse. And sticking with a DSLR means you can use the existing lines of glass new and used without adapters and at much lower price points than any of the mirrorless full frames. I came very close to preordering one of the Nikon bodies the first day. But then I just decided it would be better to hold one in my hands and maybe even rent one before buying. I suspect the Nikon bodies will not be fully sorted out for a while. For that mater Adobe won’t have raw conversion when the first production models come out.
The last three, Pana, Oly, and Fuji, their offerings are not known yet and only rumors.
Oh, and to leave the best for last there is Leica. I would love to have the budget to buy an M10 with autofocus. But I don’t have the budget and they don’t sell them with autofocus. I actually like focusing my old Olympus OM2n bodies because it is so easy when it is light outside. I like the look and feel of a Leica M10 better than any other. I love the small size of the bodies and especially the lenses. But at about $8,500 for an M10 and a 50mm Summicron is that really a wise purchase in 2018. I suppose you could make the case that an M10 and an iPhone X paired is all you would need. But realistically you would want a 50mm, 28 or 35mm, and a 135mm for your kit. And now we are up to about $15,000. But going back to the first though, an M10 with 50mm Summicron + the optional electronic finder, paired with an iPhone X would be a pretty good set up. And you could call it quits and just know you were carrying two of the World’s best cameras. Keeping in mind that the Leica does not shoot video. So if a lot of video is in your future a Leica M10 is not.
But think about this. A Nikon Z6 with a Nikon new Z mount 50mm f1.8 could be bought for about $2,800. It includes EVF and video. The size is similar to the Leica, but with the lens the Nikon will be longer from back to lens front. The grip is likely more comfortable than the M10 that does not really have one. That said I find no problems when I hold an M10. And with my similarly sized Olympus OM2n I have been using it for 38 years and it is my favorite camera. So is this a better camera setup than the Nikon D750 or Canon 6D or 6D II? For just stills, maybe not.
Added the next day September 10
I write this blog to keep track of my thoughts and maybe once in a while put up something that helps out someone else. And in no way do I make any money from this or intend to ever do that.
It is amazing the amount of chatter and people involved in photography today and the storm in information and opinion going on about the new photo tools coming out this year. The year 2018 is almost 3/4 over, but it is like a building crescendo of noise from all the new cameras coming out. It seems like Sony started the noise back at the end of last year with the really capable A7riii. Then Sony upped the ante and added the cheaper but also very capable A7iii in the Spring. Now Nikon and Canon have introduced their full frame mirror less bodies and the noise is gone way up without any production units shipping. A few blogger-youtubers say they have production model Canon’s but to me real production units is when many regular users get their cameras.
What all of this reminds me of is when computers were something everyone was getting and general use of the internet was fairly new. Say about 2000. Every few months performance and new applications were introduced and Microsoft would make changes on their system. Many people including myself bought a new computer frequently. In my case I had both a desktop and laptop. I got a new one at least once a year. And Apple was starting to make a comeback. Today’s computer-cameras right now seem to be changing a lot and their is a lot of noise going on as to what the changes are and what is best.
All of this excitement is good for photography and video. But it is not the same as computers in 2000. Back then many of the computers and computer software being sold was crap. Remember the blue screen of death. For those too young to remember that is when Windows crashed yet again and you had to restart your computer. What is different is that there are all kinds of very good cameras being sold today that do not have problems and the new bodies are just improving things a little. Keep in mind the new Nikon and Canon bodies are also taking things away, like the 2nd card slot. And going with shorter battery life. Even Sony has an excellent legacy system. The A mount that has the same sensor and mega pixel count as the top end A7riii.
WYSIWYG is a big deal if you take the time to consider and adjust your shots before taking them. Blown highlights are still an issue with digital sensors and being able to tone them down before taking the shot will help you get better shots with fewer tries. WYSIWYG is not new except for Nikon & Canon in the viewfinder. Even with Nikon’s exposure setting for highlights it is helpful to be able to see in the viewfinder if you are going to blow the highlights in advance. I do that with my little Sony compact. I set it to aperture and look at the zebras before I take the shot in the viewfinder. I turn down the exposure when I see zebras. It saves ruined shots and saves time in post. So I expect EVF’s are going to take over. Eventually.
The big German camera show Photokina is going to be here shortly and I expect more announcements from more camera makers. But here is the thing. Until these new devices get released and in the field no one will really know how good they are. My favorite blog this morning after singing the praises of Nikon a couple of weeks ago and basically saying Fuji can now go back to making film. Sony can go back to TV’s and toasters. Now this morning is changing their mind as says buy Sony A9 for sports and action and Canon R for everything else. Now I am paraphrasing here and condensing the last couple of weeks of this blogs postings plus this is just my opinion of their postings – but if you had followed this blogs advice you would have placed both the A7 and A6 on preorder. Now we are told that in fact Canon is the best one except for sports and action. So you have $6,000 worth of Nikons coming in that are now not recommended. But the blogger would have been paid a commission if you had used the links on the blog.
My advice. Spend your time and money learning to use the image capture devices you already have and concentrate on improving your ability instead of trying to improve your images and video with new systems. When there are units in the field and you can go to a camera shop and hold one then that is a good time to maybe buy one. Or not buy. All the camera makers are giving big money off their existing models and Fuji just introduced their XT3 body for less money than the XT2. And the XT3 is mirror less. (crop frame though)
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