#608. The Monday Post (19 June 2017) – What of the Sony A7rIII ?

By pascaljappy | Monday Post

Jun 19

By modern standards, my Sony A7r2 is getting long in the tooth. It used to be that we bought cameras and kept them for decades. Not anymore, as sensor technology has been making great strides in the past few years and cameras in our price bracket come with the sensor glued in. So, depending on a number of factor including the depth of your pocket, your mental sanity, your resistance to GAS and the innovative-ness of your stable, you now upgrade every what ? 18-36 months ?

 

Most of us, in the ranks of Sony sucklings, have hovered at the shorter end of that scale and, for many of us, it’s that time of year product cycle again.

 

 

Sony themselves have been mounting the charge. Against Canikon, yes, but also against their own range of products. The new A9 was released to the world to make wedding photographers and sports pros very happy. And to convince the inner children inside the 99.999% of photographers who have absolutely no need for 20fps that the new flagship was all that they had ever been waiting for.

 

 

The charm didn’t work on me. At all. In fact I was absolutely baffled by the response to this crazy useless piece of disk-space-hogging garbage (yay, that’ll earn me some friendship bitcoin) and still am. But, as much as I’d love to convince you it was wisdom that stayed my purse, the reality is that my own personal asylum sits on the other side of the street.

 

The A9 was aimed at the high-ISO, high-speed, never miss a shot band of lunatics. Whereas I’m a member of the bestest image quality at all costs dummies fanfare.

 

 

And I think that may be a problem for Sony …

 

Because, let’s face it, in terms of IQ, the A7r2 set the bar really high. Where do they go from there ? It’s probably no accident that the latest charge targeted speed and not quality.

 

 

If the reaction of Sony A7r2 owners to the Hasselblad X1D and Fuji GFX has taught us one thing, is that 10 grand isn’t enough money to beat the current king of the hill. Better on some skills, worse at others, yes. Outright better, definitely not.

 

And this is where the Sony A7r3 is bound to face a real struggle. If the rumours are to be believed, 60Mpix is what our memory cards, disks, CPUs and GPUs will have to crunch through with the next incarnation.

 

And if A9 pricing, or the step up from the A7r to the A7r2, are anything to judge by, the asking price will be high.

 

So, more dinero, more pain and not a whole lot more of fun or visible IQ improvement. At least if all we’re getting in mk3 is a resolution increase.

 

 

At the same time, the A7r2’s price has been dropping and will continue to do so when the replacement is shipped. And I suspect that, at that time, my new camera will be a new A7r2 ! (new warranty, cheap upgrade, great quality, what’s not to like ?)

 

The price increase from the A7r to the A7r2 was difficult for me to swallow. But the A7r was such a pig in some aspects of its handling that the new camera was a bit of a life changer. But now, we have a body that really good, with only a few niggles, and image quality that could do me for the rest of my life. All of which is available for 2150€ and will soon drop below 2 grand. There’s no way in the world I’m paying twice that price, for a 20% increase in linear resolution and a faster shutter, even a silent one. My guess is, many, many others will feel the same way.

 

 

So what could convince jaded users to upgrade ?

 

Not a lot, to be honest. Being afflicted by our own type of mental disorder, we are receptive to IQ improvement arguments. But we are educated enough to realise that resolution alone has little bearing on that. A lot more is needed. Very prominent figures turned their backs on the A7r2 because of colour issues. And that pissed me off for long time too, although switching to CaptureOne has largely addressed the issue.

 

So, 16 bits and more accurate colour management. Ye-ess. That helps, he says yawning.

 

More dynamic range ? ‘kay, why not ?

 

 

Now, it’s possible that stringing all of these improvements together, perhaps with some lower noise at base ISO thrown in for good measure, would yield visibly better image quality.

 

This would definitely put the last nail the (mini) medium formal revival’s coffin and even stifle the rumoured 100Mpix upgrades to come.

 

Plus, yeah, 1/32000 (super useful if that mountain decides to run) and totally silent thing. Riveting.

 

But would it convince crowds to fork out double what a trusty A7r2 sets you back ? I seriously doubt it. Yes, the well healed amateur will take the bait. But I’d almost certainly sit that one out …

 

 

Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for me to end that high-IQ looney-club membership. I don’t really care all that much. And what made me bite the bullet actually wasn’t the A7r2’s image quality but the unbareable handling of its ancestor … Now that things are good, it’s time to sit back and chill.

 

In this video, Ted Forbes describes his love for the Fuji XT-2. He compares it to the Nikon F3. Something simple and intuitive, that both gets out-of-the-way and puts a constant smile of your face :

 

 

And, to me, THAT is the way ahead for Sony.

 

If they want to sell upmarket, what they need are a different type of landmark cameras. Like the Leica M6 or the Nikon F3. A before and after step in desirability.

 

There is no doubt in my mind the A7r3 will have a ton of incremental improvements to show for its price tag. Every Sony camera so far has been better than the one it replaces. In quantity and in quality. But, to me, those incremental improvements are increasingly irrelevant when the current iteration is so good and the asking price for renewal is so high. Id’ love to see significant and landmark in my reviews of future Sony bodies. I do believe those are stronger arguments against the rise of smartphones than pixel count and shutter speed …

 

The brand has done a lot to wipe away the consumer-electronics image and forge a real camera-maker respectability. Now, why not forget about technology for a few seconds and meditate on heirloom and hedonism instead ?

 


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    If you seriously need a camera that has features that yours doesn’t, perhaps. Maybe. Dunno why, if there’s nothing wrong with the cam you’ve got. If you REALLY have GAS and and the budget to indulge it, you can always get an ARCA-SWISS Cube, or a Really Right Stuff ‘pod, or a 300-600mm zoom, or something, to indulge your appetite for more.

    There are rumours (aren’t there always) that a “new & better” D7200 or D810 or both are in the pipeline. Sigh – I’ve looked at the “leaks” (advance PR?) and none of it has impressed or enthused me so far. So I’ve retreated.

    I’ve decided that next time I will open a sheet of paper (well a Word doc, perhaps), in two columns. In the left, list all the features my current cam (or whatever) lacks, that I would actually like to have. In the right, all the “new” features that the suggested replacement will have, that mine doesn’t. Then see what the score card looks like, as I check the two columns off against each other.

    There’s a fair chance the money would be better spent on another airline ticket to France!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Pete, what you’re suggesting is not buying a new camera at all. Which is fine by me! I’ll probably get a new A7r2 at some point because that would cost little more than a potential repair bill and would set me up for 3 more years of warranty.

      However, from the point of view of the manufacturer, that isn’t good news. And my question is “what can Sony do to make us want to buy its new cameras?” It’s quite possible that many people will be seduced by the new features but it does feel like we are on diminishing-returns plateau as far as desirability is concerned while the price continues to rise (or will it ?) The one thing that would convince me to spend more would be to have a more lasting and more desirable camera. Something I will enjoy using more and longer. Keeping a camera 10 years rather than 2 is a good reason to spend a lot more on it πŸ˜‰

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I guess I am. If the camera I bought 12 months ago is now a dud, and I should replace it, why shouldn’t I be able to claim a refund because they sold me a lemon? Seriously – what I’m told is in the pipeline is –
        1 – a screen that is articulated – but my camera shop tells me that’s not such a great improvement, they’re fragile, and easily knocked off or damaged
        2 – a faster transfer speed – so what, since I bought the thing as a still camera and don’t even take batches of 3 shots (let alone movies) – I’m not a sports photographer or a bird photographer, so this feature is quite pointless, for me
        3 – XQD cards instead of Compact Flash – but I’ve already come across awful accounts on the ‘Net of people who’ve used their existing Compact Flash cards in their cams, with the full blessing of Nikon, and found the card burst into flames and wrecked the new camera – YIKES! – and I invested a bundle in buying enough Compact Flash cards for my purposes, so I have no interest in lashing out & replacing them with XQD cards
        4 – more MP – so what? – my current cam produces shots that are so sharp you could carve the Sunday roast with them!

        So why, exactly, SHOULD I consider buying yet another cam? – so soon after buying the ones I have now? OK – not good for the sales of the camera manufacturer. But I’ve only just recently quit a whole heap of analogue cams that I’ve been using for decades (one was over a hundred years old, and I’ve had it since the 1960s).

        I am “interested” in a 300-600mm zoom – but for the few shots I’d use it for, I could never justify the cost. I am also intrigued by Sigma’s Foveon sensors – but I already have 4 cams, in use, regularly – so buying yet another one to add to the collection would be rather absurd. For that matter, I like the look of the Hassleblads – but I’m not planning on buying one of them, either.

        I see no reason why I should be expected to chuck out cams that are virtually “new”, just because they’re digital & not analogue. What I DO want to do, is to settle down and actually use this gear, and see what I can do with it. Changing gear is simply not in my program – it would be counter-productive to my adopted new role of converting myself into a half decent digital photographer, to chop and change all the time, instead of actually USING the gear.

        Each to his own. Everyone’s free to make their own choices and live their own lives. But that’s how I’m travelling for the time being.

        And what really puts me off spending more of my cash on these companies is their attitude to their customers. Why can’t they have standardised fittings, so anyone can transfer any lens from any brand of camera to any other brand? – THAT would be a giant leap forward! Why do they think “innovation” is what THEY dream up, and ignore what the photographers around the world have been begging them to do? Why on earth are they all out there, trying to develop an all-purposes camera, that suits pros & amateurs, sports ‘togs, landscape photographers, wedding & portrait photographers, movie buffs, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all? I don’t have a kitchen gadget that can peel onions, make sorbets, bake sponge cakes, toss pancakes and pour me a gin & tonic, so what the hell is the point of a camera designed along those lines, to be “all things to all people”?

  • Photography Lover says:

    Very valid point. I feel the same. Having moved from Canon semipro DSLR to pro DSLR and knowing how to handle it, enjoying the colours and improving ‘DR’ in post with C1 where appropriate (spreading the histogram – hardly anyone will notice that PP measure), there was no real need to upgrade the camera. Instead I spent money on Zeiss Milvus FE and actually enjoyed a much higher IQ with my existing bodies compared to parts of my ageing lens selection.

    My only reasons for purchasing a camera would be an
    1) even better handling than CANON Pro bodies (which was supplied by the Nex 5N with touch screen to enlarge QUICK in the focus area for MF). A ‘joy’stick is a crutch …
    2) a resolution which would double my lens park in terms of focal lenghts/field of view (minimum 36 Mpix, so that I can crop it to about 15-16 Mpix – which is enough for my purposes). A Milvus 21 would make a 33 mm cropped, a 50 would make a 75 mm equivalent FOV.
    Panoramas are above 60 Mpix net resolution usually, so stitching is necessary anyway. If done with 3-4 or 9-10 photos hardly makes any difference as the Mbyte count stays the same …
    3) build quality. Sony still produces sth quite fragile compared to Canon/Nikon pro cameras. I recently watched a video of Kai maltreating a Canon EOS 7D (hitting it by a truck from the tripod several times, freezing it in ICE (also internally, shooting the ice off with an airgun, drying it by setting it afire and the poor thing still worked, apart from parts of the screen, which was hit by a bullet !!!!

    But if a camera brand does not fulfill point 1) for me it’s pointless. I’d rather work on my techniques and learn how to utilise my Canon at 50-60% of its capabilities instead of the 20 % I am at πŸ™‚ … an optimistic guess (-:)

    An interesting option might be the new focal reducer for Fuji GFX to be able to mount FF lenses. If its optics are good, a combination with Zeiss glass might be an option … maybe for a possible 100 Mpix successor to come and cropping the edges off.

    I’ll wait and see which offerings are to come and remind myself to …

    ‘Concentrate on what you have instad of what you don’t have !’

    • pascaljappy says:

      – β€˜Concentrate on what you have instad of what you don’t have !’

      Hear hear πŸ™‚

      Kai is crazy. As in great crazy. He has ways of being thought-provoking by being openly silly. That’s a rare skill. In many ways, I suppose the Nikon D700 and Canon 7D are landmark cameras too. Maybe not as grand as the F3 mentioned by TED in his video but still important cameras. The A7 was important too but, as you state, I think the Nex-5N was even more so. I adored mine and it would be great to see the A range produce something that will last a long time in memories rather than be replaced by the next version 18 months later.

  • I don’t suffer from GAS as I’m too rational for that. My primary camera is still a cheap A6000 from 2014, my backup is a A77 from 2012, before I had a Minolta 7D from 2004 (before several film cameras). I can be more GAS-y when it comes to lenses, though. Surely no one needs 20+ lenses.

    So, while the world waits for the A9, A9R, A7RIII, and A7III to come, I’m still indecisive to go FF or not. I find the new electronic shutter very tempting: silent and with 1/32000s I don’t need ND filters anymore. I could also use incredible high ISO in low available light. The new AF joystick is what I was calling from day one … The A9 is no option for me, of course. But the A7III is said to have similar features. So I’m curious. Meanwhile the old A7S has fallen almost under 1.000 € used. And I prefer the old, smaller body. Also the Contrast-AF can focus in pitch-black. 12 MP should be enough for my printing and save some resources. But the II-versions have IBIS which is great for manual focusing, though I don’t need it for actual shooting.

    But then again: How does this (upgrade to FF) make my photos better? A A7S or A7III are much bigger then my current A6000, especially with lenses. I have to relearn all my current lenses because they work different. I need new lenses (which will cost another 500-1000 € at least). And I’m pretty sure, you won’t tell a difference by looking at the final photos. There’s one benefit of going FF: I can use all lenses at their intended focal length. For right now, I don’t think that’s enough. I rather go on a extensive trip for that money. I think, I would buy a A6000-sized FF (rangefinder style) with much less thinking.

    Btw: Where Sony has massive room to improve is weather sealing. Have a look at Olympus! You can cover the whole camera in dust and wash it in the sink, and it will continue to work. Travel photography, mirrorless and real weather sealing is a no brainer to me. Their IBIS is also head with 5s stabilization. You can leave your tripod at home for many instances! How great is that.

    Btw2: Higher DR just makes dull pictures. We then need smart image processing to increase contrast and blow highlights and crash blacks again. Just in case we need such high DR, we would pull it down/up then.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Photography Lover’s and Steffen’s comments say it all, for me – well almost all, because Ted’s video is also a landmark discussion of these issues.

    I’ve seen discussion on the net of Sony’s RX100, and one unfortunate pro who had bought all of the first five models (RX100 through to RX100V) reported he’d had failures due to production quality issues with all five of them – which he blamed on Sony’s decision to cut production costs by making the RX100 in China, instead of Japan. Sorry – but I’m not prepared to risk the money involved in buying that cam, after seeing that and other similar (less dramatic perhaps) stories like that.

    Olympus, on the other hand, has built its reputation on weather proofing and solid construction.

    Because I’m a Zeiss junkie from way back, I’ve mostly gone with their lenses, which limits what I can use as a cam. That doesn’t deprive me of the pleasure other ‘togs get from other gear – just look at the photos Pascal included, to illustrate this post on DS!! – several times they stopped me right there, staring at the photo, and not paying attention to what he’d written till I finished admiring the shot! And Ted Forbes video really rounds it off.

    At the end of it all, I think the extra money I could spend on gear would be better invested in travel expenses to capture more shots, and the extra time involved in learning how to handle new gear would be better invested in improving my handling of the gear I already have, to make sure those shots are the best I can take. Since I re-equipped, my “spend” has switched to stuff for processing and printing my photos. I suffer from a delusional belief that the etymology of the word “photograph” means an image captured from light and transferred onto a reflective surface. Colour slides were an aberration and a disease I never contracted. And digital is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

    Everyone else on the planet can store all their work digitally, send it all over the place by electronic means via the net or the telephone system, view it on digital screens (which all have different characteristics, so there’s no way of ensuring that the viewer is looking at the same image as the photographer), and wake up one morning to find the computer has crashed – the disc heads have disintegrated and the data is irrecoverable – or that their storage system is defunct, because someone has invented a new system that makes the existing digital data storage systems obsolete.

    And as an added bonus, printing my photos helps me improve the quality of my photography. You learn from your mistakes – and the wonderful world of post processing is incomplete without that last stage, the print – so until you see a print of your shot emerge, you can’t really see where you went wrong, and what you need to do into the future to learn from the error of your ways and avoid repeating your mistakes. “Almost” is all you get out of digital viewing – and “almost” isn’t good enough, for that.

    • Adrian says:

      There have been a few stories of poor quality control at Sony over the years, which ffected a very expensive Sony Zeiss lens I owned which they declined to repair as a manufacturing defect. However, one shouldn’t be racist – Fuji make their cameras in Japan and their firmware continues to be full of bugs (I was discussing with an X100F owner who told me with the latest firmware the manual focus distance moves every time the shutter is half pressed, a bug which also afflicted their ILCs in one firmware version). Sony make most E mount cameras and many lenses in Thailand. Nikon have also manufactured there for many years and remarked on the high quality of the workforce, ability to source components locally, and good infrastructure. Sony have had a few problems with lens quality in China, and there were rumours they test manufactured one of their A mount Sony Zeiss models there and had to abandon it as the quality control was so poor. However, we shouldn’t judge quality by country of origin – 3 decades ago Taiwan was a byword for cheap plastic toys, now they are a world leader in integrated circuit and memory fabrication. I have had problems with poor centering of some lenses, always rectified by my dealer with a replacement, but the cameras have yet to fail me. I’m not denying other peoples problems and reports though, but Nikon have had endless problems with several camera models that they haven’t always dealt with very well either. You takes your money and makes your choice…

      • pascaljappy says:

        Exactly. I think our experience necessarily shapes our perception of a brand. My initial years with Sony cameras were catastrophic (reliability issues and abysmal customer service) so this uneasy feeling lingers and I can’t wait to replace my A7r2 with something else (or, more likely, a new one) that’s under warranty. But that’s irrational and, as you point out, other have had horrific experiences with other brands. Among the contributors to DS, some have had terrible service from mega expensive medium format brands so no one is safe. And Sony may have their occasional problem, they have made tremendous progress. I think that they are now well positioned to create exceptional cameras that would wipe away all that early years trauma.

        • Adrian says:

          Tp be 100% fair, it still seems their customer support for professionals is behind that of Canon and Nikon, although they appear to be changing that. Fuji support was very good, but the Fuji brand was the first time I had to return three things under warranty for repair. So have had a lot.of bad press about lens centering, and I’ve had a couple.of apsc lens models that clearly weren’t right, and recently a full frame model that had problems, but fortunately they were all replaced by the dealers they came from. The worst Sony story I heard was fungis growing between the bonded elements of a particular lens model that they refused to deal with out of warranty – I’m not sire how an owner can get fungus inside bonded glass! But let’s be honest – Fujis quality control.has been terrible.with their X system, Nikon dropped the ball more than once with their camera bodies and then tried to deny the problem, and the other brands like Olympus and Panasonic I don’t know enough aboit to know if their quality and service is any good or not. Sony aren’t perfect bit the signs are that they are improving their lens designs,manufacturing quality, and their support infrastructure, which can only be a good thing.

          • pascaljappy says:

            Exactly, and that takes time and money. But the signs are positive, which is all that matters. Let’s hope the drive is strong and internal, not just a reaction to bad press. We shall soon know, but it’s unlikely they would venture out into high-end territory without wanting a high-end image to support sales. Nothing we’ve seen from Sony in the past years has been out of line strategically.

  • Per Kylberg says:

    The A7R2 image quality is superb. Much better than the A7R. Much better than Sony A6000. Much better than Fuji X-T2.
    The photos I care for are printed. Web postings are for friends and family to see what I do.
    When the “Bladare” and the Fuji GFX were announced, realizing I could stretch my economy for one of them, I decided to stay with Sony. Yes IQ would be better, but a more heavy and less flexible equipment. Realized the best way to go was to make sure my lenses were on top. The first acquisition was the Batis 135/2.8. (Yes, a non-MF lens that maybe should not be mentioned on this blog.:-)). It is better than superb!
    An A7R3? Better color consistency and depth? OK. Better Dynamic range? OK. “Nice to have”.
    Re-worked ergonomy and user interface? Very useful! Not that much is needed to be done. The difference between the A7R2 and Fuji X-T2 in body design and physical controls is small! As a comment to the, too long, video above: The Nikon F3 had its quirks! Remember without any joy how cumbersome it was to change ISO. A two-handed operation…..
    Still I will not que up for a A7R3 – the current Mk2 is good enough for me.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Per,

      if Zeiss send us a Batis 135, we’ll definitely be super happy to review it πŸ˜‰ It looks really really nice and we’d love something a little longer than our 85mm lenses. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of AF but in longer focal lengths, it probably makes sense.

      I think the main difference between ergonomics of the F3 era and digital ergonomics is that the main scenario was always optimised, sometimes at the expense of the secondary scenario. The F3 made it incredibly easy to shoot and painful to change ISO, which was probably a very secondary consideration for designers. These days, menu systems have placed everything at the same level of importance, so there is little sense of flow in user experience. Ted’s right in noting that the PASM wheel is ridiculous on a high end camera and that ISO would be a much better use of reall estate. Also, whoever designed the chimping system on the Sony was on meth. It’s just plain stupid. Not a big deal as you can customise it and it’s a not a huge hindrance. But it should never have been that way. In my car, you need to switch on the radio to use the satnav. The AC buttons are unfathomable. Nothing really bad but it all feels super cheap and creates a bad image for a product that’s ultimately very good. I think it’s time for Sony to acknowledge that they’ve driven technology so far that some users have come to expect improvements in areas more than in added tech (for example, the shutter release on an X-Pro 2 is in a completely other world compared to the A7r2. Small thing, probably costs half a dollar. But when you’ve pressed it 100 000 times, it makes huuuuuuge dufference in perception) . An interesting paradox, right πŸ˜‰

      • Adrian says:

        Pascal, I’m curious about what is so bad with the Sony image review functionality?
        I actually quite like the features – for example the ability to move between enlarged images to check focus on different versions of a shot, and the use of the rear control wheel to zoom in and out.

        As for PASM, you have to have them on cameras that don’t have dedicated controls for shutter speed and aperture. On SLRs and cameras like the A7 series, as the front and rear wheels can be assigned to a number of different combinations / functions, you need something to tell the camera what mode to be in, as the non-dedicated buttons can’t have a physical “auto” setting. I like the ability to customise the wheels – I like the aperture on my shutter finger, other people prefer it on the rear shoulder. Then we get into debates what were only valid 40 years ago that “I can’t see the settings” – well, that’s why the camera has a viewfinder and a read LCD, or a top LCD in some cases, so you can see the settings whenever the camera is on.

        In comparison, I didn’t like my Fuji X Pro 1, as the shutter speed control could not be reached from a normal picture taking holding position, and needed a shift of grip to get the finger and thumb over the top of the camera to pinch and turn it. It was recessed into the top plate, rather than protruding from the front. Also, if you wanted 1/3ev shutter speeds you had to use a different second control on the rear shoulder to get them. This meant the physical shutter speed on the dial is no longer the shutter speed being used, and worse still after taking the photo, the speed yo had set with the control wheel on the rear shoulder reverted back to the setting on the top dial, so if you wanted that shutter speed again, you had to change it back each time you took a shot! Aperture had an “auto” setting on the aperture ring, but worked differently for zooms (even ones with fixed aperture, where an “A” setting would have be possible and logical), and on lenses without an aperture ring required a completely different control to set it, or set auto. On some of the lower end bodies, they have a PASM dial and aperture rings on the lenses, which meant the settings could be in conflict, and a value shown on the aperture ring may be over-riden by the camera as aperture was under body control.

        I know that some users praise Fuji’s ergonomics, mostly on the strength of them having an aperture ring and a shutter speed dial, but how any of the above adds up to “good ergonomics” is beyond me, as it is downright confusing to have 2 or 3 different ways to set something that may or may not be in conflict with something else. I didn’t find the physical or software ergonomics good at all, and it always felt like as the system grew they just tacked new bits of functionality onto it without going back to first principles of how the controls should all work.

        On another point of ergonomics, there is often some hubris about Sony menus. They aren’t terribly well structured I agree, as it’s difficult to remember where specific items are. However, in my opinion, the cameras make up for it with the “quick navi” rear screen that allows all the key shooting settings to be changed (everything on the full rear display can be selected and changed), and the ability to customise the function menu that appears in the viewfinder. I admit that there are a few items that cannot be put in the function menu or added to a custom button that some people get frustrated by, but I don’t find a need to menu dive very often apart from when changing configuration settings or perhaps “maintenance”. It would be interesting to know what features people are getting frustrated trying to find in the menus (perhaps with the idea of suggesting they are added to the list of items that can be placed on button or function menu)?

        • pascaljappy says:

          Ha ha πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

          OK, image review functionality. You click on button to launch it, then the zoom is in a completely different position, with a weird C3 label on it. The zoom wheel is nice. The central button does nothing. The wheel zooms or shitfs image depending on whether the image is zoomed in or not. It all makes absolutely no sense and is so easy to fix : one control, one use.

          As for PASM, this is more complicated. But basically, if every manufacturer who makes a lens without an aperture ring on it was severely sanctioned, as they should, we’d have a speed dial on top, aperture on the lens and ISO as a top dial. All 3 with auto positions, as Ted explains. Why designers felt that digital needed to break such a finely honed recipe is beyond me. And I agree with you. It’s super confusing to offer 3 different ways of doing the same thing. All the more reason to not change what has always worked for everybody.

          Also, what’s the point of an AF/MF switch cluttering the back ? You put an AF lens on, the camera is AF. You put a manual lens on, the camera is manual.

          Also, Fn ? Really ? Get design right and you don’t need that. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to customise or alter shooting scenarios. But there’s really no reason to mess up a way of shooting that’s been working perfectly for decades on the odd chance that someone will want to program something weird. Make the mainstream 99% simple and the occasional weird complex.

          AF complexity. Put that on AF lenses and let MF shooters (there are a ton in the A7r2 community) be rid of that unwanted stuff (menus, mainly).

          In a range that has so many models, why can’t we have a camera with no video, no associated menu, no associated button, no associated added cost ? I can’t imagine RED compromising their cameras for stills.

          Menus are simply horrific. I use exactly 2 : format card and stabilising focal length. I can never remember where the effing things are (but do remember they are at opposite ends of the menu system). Formatting a card is something everyone in the history of digital cameras has to do. That’s a top level feature. It’s OK to have the colour of the whatsit preview zebra down 3 levels of menus because you set that once and forget about it.

          OK, I’ll stop now, before my blood starts boiling. There’s a lot of easy improvements to be made on these and the past showed us how it was done. But that’s my point of view and not everyone will agree.

          • Adrian says:

            I see your point about the image review functions. It is slightly annoying that the up/down/left/right buttons on the command wheel can either be to scroll around or move between images – I tend to use the control wheels to move between images, and you are right there is no reason why the function shouldn’t be fixed as it is easy to want to scroll around but end up skipping between images (or vice versa).

            As for aperture rings and shutter speed dials, I am afraid I somewhat differ in opinion. It wasn’t digital that changed it, film SLRs had the same control wheel based regime for about 2 decades, so if Ted is blaming digital (I haven’t watched the video, I’m on a limited bandwidth connection), he’s wrong in his assessment of what caused it. Having started my photography with film SLRs with control wheels, I am absolutely fine with them. I don’t mind an aperture ring, but I do mind when it’s implemented badly and causes lots of other issues – that’s]’s not good ergonomics or “better” in my book (e.g. when the aperture ring says f8 and the camera is actually controlling it automatically).

            AF/MF switch… that’s been on Minolta SLRs since the 1990s, to release the AF clutch and allow immediate manual focus. DMF (direct manual focus) is an extension of that where the clutch is automatically disengaged when AF is acquired. I use both, always have, and find it useful for those times when MF is easier to get what you want done, and it’s in a really convenient location (but can be assigned to something else, I believe?).

            The Fn menu does quite different things to the controlling the exposure, it’s not changing or breaking anything. In mine, I have things like DRO setting, creative style for jpeg, metering mode etc – things that don’t control the exposure but I want to change from time to time and don’t want on a custom button (custom buttons for me are things like AF mode, metering, flash compensation etc).

            I actually don’t understand your point about AF complexity if you are using MF lenses… there are a lot of AF options (but less than some Canikon SLRs, to be fair) – mine end up mostly on the Fn menu so I can change it when needed.

            The video argument is getting quite boring. Sorry if I sound rude, but… get over it… convergence is where the market is going… I know photo journalists who wouldn’t consider a camera that didn’t have video and a button for it… the example given was what if you were in New York the morning of September 11… you would want to shoot footage… anyway, I don’t shoot video, I completely ignore the options and button and get on with my life. By the way, the video profiles allow you to create your own custom profile for stills also – so you can create a custom B&W profile to get your jpegs just how you want them. I read a blog from someone who used it to recreate some of the Fuji B&W styles.

            The menus are pretty bad, but that’s true of many cameras. The problem is digital cameras need lots more options to control everything that film cameras didn’t need, although my last Minolta AF SLR (Dynax 7) had about 30-40 custom options too! I think lens focal length can be put on a custom button (?), formatting no, and I agree it’s a bit of a pain. some have suggested a “my menu” option where you can add the things you need most – I think that is a good suggestion, it’s how other brands do it. I haven’t seen the new redesigned menus of the A6500 / A9 so I don’t know how much better they are.

            Pascal, just ignore it and be happy, I don’t think any of it is important enough to stop you making beautiful photos.

  • Scott Edwards says:

    Nice read and pics, as always. Today, I was editing an environmental portrait and I had zoomed in and in and was touching up the model’s face, which comprised about 5-8% of the actual image. As an A7R2 user (and A7R early adopter), my thought was: Hmm, I wonder what the model’s face would look like with a 60 or 80 or 100 megapixel sensor? I’m actually waiting for the announcement as I am living on the edge with one body (I don’t do weddings!).

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Scott.

      It’s true that the impact of higher resolution on texture is intriguing. Much light inaudible frequencies seem to shape the quality of HiFi is some measure, it’s quite possible that “invisible resolution” (invisible in smaller prints and on screen, that is) could make a visible difference in IQ πŸ™‚

      Still, I’d rather have some durability and simplicity built in than more res πŸ˜‰

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Too funny! While we’ve all been busily talking about this topic, the issue of GAS has raised its ugly head in another quarter. Cellphones!

    Catch a review of the OnePlus 5 that’s just been released! “Lightning fast for taking photos and capturing the perfect shot anywhere”! “This one feels different and for all the right reasons. Thinner, lighter, faster.”! “The highest resolution dual-camera system available on any smartphone, with a 16 MP main camera supported by a 20 MP telephoto camera for beautiful portrait shots and clearer zoom”!

    (I’m going back to my collection of dull old fashioned cameras & post processing. Catch U all later. πŸ™‚ )

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hmmm, you’ll hate me for this. But my daughter has the 3+ and I’m looking at the 5, right now πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

      • jean pierre {pete} guaron says:

        Keep us posted – everyone my age is told we need a 16 year old to look after all the technology for us – haven’t been able to find one yet, but my 20-odd year old nephew helps out – and he tells me smartphones only last 12-18 months, and after a few months the battery won’t last 24 hours on a full charge. Since photography notoriously gobbles up battery life, how do you do a shoot with a thing that snuffs it by lunchtime? Do you carry spare batteries for smartphones, too, these days?

        I am recalcitrant. I will avoid this plague, as you expected me to say, Pascal, when you made that reply. I am sticking with cameras. The industry needs support – Ricoh is now in a parlous condition, and Nikon is struggling in this market – we cannot allow them all to falter.

  • Adrian says:

    I appreciate its not quite what you are talking.bout, but it seems fairly.clear that the next Sony camera will be an A7ii replacement. All the rumors suggest it’s staying at 24mp, but perhaps getting a sensor similar to the one in the A9, but perhaps without the high frame rate capabilities. I would hope for.better high ISO noise management somewhere around he A9/A7R2 level, and perhaps better dynamic range than the A9, which pays a penalty for its fast sensor readout. A 24mp camera with excellent AF and low.light performance nearing the original A7s would be something I would like, as it could allow me to replace 2 bodies with only 1. I actually think the A7ii is a very under valued camera, as its 95%+ as good as the R2 but without the arguably unnecessary pixel count. Resolution increases sound impressive but don’t make much difference to the length and width of prints as you say. As for an A7R3 – more pixels, better focusing etc…. But then you reach the point that Canon and Nikon have been at for years where minor incremental improvements give little reason to upgrade except for the brand faithful. Sony have iterated rapidly because of functional improvements and a maturing product. It will be harder for sony to get people to upgrade, but perhaps easier to get new customers to switch to them as there are fewer and fewer reasons / excuses not to…

    • pascaljappy says:

      Yes, it seems like 24 mpix is now a sweet spot for most FF users. No PP pain, plenty enough resolution. My guess is the A73 will be a downsized A9. Same sensor, less speed, fewer AF thingies, …

      Unless Sony have a very special trick up there sleeves, I can’t see anything that would compell me to upgrade either. Not in specs, anyway. If, however, they fixed some minor colour issues and, more importantly, worked on proper weather sealing, gave us a less mushy shutter release, a real ISO dial, proper rear button design, a higher quality (phone quality) screen, fake leather that doesn peel off … just much higher perceived quality … that would be completely different.

      • Adrian says:

        I agree that it seems 24Mp is a good compromise between resolving power and the benefit of larger pixels. It’s amazing that the A9 sensor comes quite close to the A7s from 3 years ago for noise management, with twice the pixels, although the A7s still excels above ISO6400…. and I am wondering if all this new technology was heaped on another 12-16Mp sensor, what an A7S v3 could be like…! Compared to my first DSLR, a humble Minolta Dynax 5D, the first thing that revolutionised my attitude to digital capture was going to 12Mp and getting much better dynamic range than those early cameras. More recently, the major revolution for me hasn’t been resolution (I’ve been shooting 24Mp full frame for about 8 years now) but noise management and dynamic range with it. It has literally revolutionised what I can photography, and made it much easier. The 24Mp A7 has lovely image quality, but the sensor doesn’t excel at higher ISOs, which I would regard as it’s only image quality weakness. It will be interesting to see how A9 files compare to A7ii files – to be honest, at ISOs below 6400, looking at DXO Mark graphs, it appears to offer no image quality benefit, which makes the A7ii seem like a bargain at a third of the price of an A9 (I know the A9 has major benefits for action and continuous shooting, but that’s not what I’m discussing here). Sony now have 3 cameras that for a fixed print size have excellent image quality until about ISO 12800 (A7s, A7r2, A9), and I’d love to see some of those improvements in sensor technology in a newer 24Mp sensor not aimed at speed. Therefore I absolutely agree that the A7ii replacement will be 24Mp with better AF from the A9, similar sensor benefits, but a lower frame rate to reduce the cost of the pipeline from the sensor to the memory card. Sony have some form on this type of “cheapening” when you consider the A900 had dual circuit boards to handle the 24Mp load at 4fps, whilst the A850 had single circuit board and a slightly cheaper viewfinder, but everything else the same at a considerable cost saving. Hence an A7iii that’s a cut down A9 in an A7 styled body seems almost inevitable.

      • Adrian says:

        I think it’s almost inevitable that the A7iii will be a cut down A9 in an A7ii body. Sony have form with this – compare an A850 to the earlier A900, for example – and 24Mp is a sweet point for noise management and resolution. Clearly a newer 24Mp sensor with better noise management and the newer process that Sony use at ISOs about 640 to better handle noise (in the A7rii, A9 etc), improved AF with more PDAF across a wider area of the sensor, and some other tweaks would keep the “basic” A7 body in the game. The A7ii is a lovely camera, but completely over-shadowed by the A7r2 mostly because of the latter’s resolution – almost everything else about the cameras is the same. I am actually quite excited to see what an A7ii replacement will be like as for everyday shooting it’s the best camera.

        • Adrian says:

          apologies, I thought my previous post had been lost due to a connection error, sorry for spamming with duplication!…

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