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Thread: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

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    Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Hi All,

    I am new to posting in the Sony forum but I wanted to share some of my experiences in testing the A900, as I am very interested in potentially switching from Nikon.

    Firstly my drivers are:
    1. CZ glass
    2. Different look (Canon/Nikon)
    3. Smaller camera body
    4. Higher IQ

    So I have a sample kit from Sony with the CZ24-70 and have tested many different things as well as shooting briefly at one of my weddings.

    The results can be broken down into three keys areas:
    1. Overall IQ
    2. RAW converters
    3. Camera and settings

    So....

    1. Generally I find the overall IQ very pleasing and generally find that the images need less post with colour than the Nikon D3. I would normally use C1 for the files as I feel this is the best converter to get the best detail and colour from my images, sometimes not the b=most stable but the best IQ for the D3 in my opinion. Of course the topic that has been done to death is the noise, and after many many tests I see that with reasonable lighting and correct exposure I can live with up to iso1600 would prefer to stay under 800. My biggest concern is sharpness with the CZ vs the Nikon 24-70 as the test shots at the wedding there were a much higher ratio of OOF than normal and the ones that I have focus seem softer to the Nikon 24-70. Does anybody else have any experience or views, as I feel that the CZ should be on par with the Nikon form reviews and other comments? Even when I have tired under better test conditions at 70mm it does not seem to be as sharp. now of course sharpness is another area that we all can debate, I do like to have the best IQ and maybe the CZ produces a slightly softer result at 2.8 which is what I normally shoot. I am still happy with the result it is just hard when you compare, I also feel that it does drop off after iso800 where the Nikon files do tend to hold a better sharpness. With all that said I like the colour rendition from the Sony and again there seems less work with skin which is the key area for me as the D3 is way to yellow.

    My last point on IQ is I think that the settings I stated with may have assisted in the overall poor focusing as now I have the A900 with single AF, Steadyshot on and am very much more watchful of the shutter speed. I think that the D3 has made me a little more lazy than I should be in regards to camera craft. I think my original settings might have been a different focus mode and I am not sure if it was grabbing some other area with the assist points???

    2. RAW - well I have tired all the major ones C1, Aperture 2, DXO, RPP and LR2 and testing with the bare settings and only changing WB I tended to like the results from DXO and C1, no real surprised for C1 but I was surprised by DXO. Now I was really pixel peeping and I found that C1 probably retains slightly more micro detail than DXO, but DXO did a nice job with the skin with NR off. No so happy with the DXO speed but it just seemed to beat C1 at this stage. My big concern was the noise and of course above iso 800 it really does not compete with the D3 and I do shoot in low light and tend to have favored high iso which the D3 and now the new D3s excel at. I think that moving to Sony would result in a high use of flash and using the other lens like the 50 1,4 wide open and hope the steady shot give me a couple of stops advantage in the churches and receptions. I have not yet been abel to see how well the in body steady-shot works? I have use the Olympus E3 and that did work very well. Lastly I was very happy with the 58AM flash as the design is very good and it makes moving the head very easy and it did do a very even and consistent job with the ttl.

    3. The camera, well it might not be the most beautiful of designs but it does handle very well, bright viewfinder is great, overall the interface works well. I think it is a very complete system yes there are some features that I could suggest and I am sure others can as well. I think many of them could be added as a firmware update?? I think that the AF (especially) the center AF is very good and have found the multi-segment to perform very well and it does seem to have a very good DR and alot of highlight headroom.

    So where does this leave me well after way to many hours spent testing and reading I am very close to changing over. I just need to reassure myself that with this great tool I can create the images I want. So the final part for me is to see if I can get good consistent sharp images, which I am for lots of the static test shots. I also need to feel a little more comfortable about the overall noise performance and getting the result result from the RAW file which at this stage means a little more testing for C1 and DXO.

    Sorry for the long post but I do like to contribute after reading and learning from many of the great threads that are here and I hope sharing my thinking and experience to date might help others if they to are looking to see what the A900 can offer.

    I am still very interested in any other experience with the CZ lens compared to Nikon?

    regards

    Rodney

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Hi Rodney,

    Just to address the 24-70 issue, I am sure you are aware that you are here comparing a 12 mp sensor to 24 mp one, unless you are shooting with the D3X. Also the AF of the A900, while very good, cannot compete with that of a D3.

    My experience with the 24-70 is that it is very sharp, even sharper than my Contax 28/2.8 and 35-70/3.4 on a Canon 1Ds2, as I have found out with test comparisons when I first acquired the ZA.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbsr View Post
    Hi All,

    I am new to posting in the Sony forum but I wanted to share some of my experiences in testing the A900, as I am very interested in potentially switching from Nikon.

    Firstly my drivers are:
    1. CZ glass
    2. Different look (Canon/Nikon)
    3. Smaller camera body
    4. Higher IQ

    So I have a sample kit from Sony with the CZ24-70 and have tested many different things as well as shooting briefly at one of my weddings.

    The results can be broken down into three keys areas:
    1. Overall IQ
    2. RAW converters
    3. Camera and settings

    So....

    1. Generally I find the overall IQ very pleasing and generally find that the images need less post with colour than the Nikon D3. I would normally use C1 for the files as I feel this is the best converter to get the best detail and colour from my images, sometimes not the b=most stable but the best IQ for the D3 in my opinion. Of course the topic that has been done to death is the noise, and after many many tests I see that with reasonable lighting and correct exposure I can live with up to iso1600 would prefer to stay under 800. My biggest concern is sharpness with the CZ vs the Nikon 24-70 as the test shots at the wedding there were a much higher ratio of OOF than normal and the ones that I have focus seem softer to the Nikon 24-70. Does anybody else have any experience or views, as I feel that the CZ should be on par with the Nikon form reviews and other comments? Even when I have tired under better test conditions at 70mm it does not seem to be as sharp. now of course sharpness is another area that we all can debate, I do like to have the best IQ and maybe the CZ produces a slightly softer result at 2.8 which is what I normally shoot. I am still happy with the result it is just hard when you compare, I also feel that it does drop off after iso800 where the Nikon files do tend to hold a better sharpness. With all that said I like the colour rendition from the Sony and again there seems less work with skin which is the key area for me as the D3 is way to yellow.

    My last point on IQ is I think that the settings I stated with may have assisted in the overall poor focusing as now I have the A900 with single AF, Steadyshot on and am very much more watchful of the shutter speed. I think that the D3 has made me a little more lazy than I should be in regards to camera craft. I think my original settings might have been a different focus mode and I am not sure if it was grabbing some other area with the assist points???

    2. RAW - well I have tired all the major ones C1, Aperture 2, DXO, RPP and LR2 and testing with the bare settings and only changing WB I tended to like the results from DXO and C1, no real surprised for C1 but I was surprised by DXO. Now I was really pixel peeping and I found that C1 probably retains slightly more micro detail than DXO, but DXO did a nice job with the skin with NR off. No so happy with the DXO speed but it just seemed to beat C1 at this stage. My big concern was the noise and of course above iso 800 it really does not compete with the D3 and I do shoot in low light and tend to have favored high iso which the D3 and now the new D3s excel at. I think that moving to Sony would result in a high use of flash and using the other lens like the 50 1,4 wide open and hope the steady shot give me a couple of stops advantage in the churches and receptions. I have not yet been abel to see how well the in body steady-shot works? I have use the Olympus E3 and that did work very well. Lastly I was very happy with the 58AM flash as the design is very good and it makes moving the head very easy and it did do a very even and consistent job with the ttl.

    3. The camera, well it might not be the most beautiful of designs but it does handle very well, bright viewfinder is great, overall the interface works well. I think it is a very complete system yes there are some features that I could suggest and I am sure others can as well. I think many of them could be added as a firmware update?? I think that the AF (especially) the center AF is very good and have found the multi-segment to perform very well and it does seem to have a very good DR and alot of highlight headroom.

    So where does this leave me well after way to many hours spent testing and reading I am very close to changing over. I just need to reassure myself that with this great tool I can create the images I want. So the final part for me is to see if I can get good consistent sharp images, which I am for lots of the static test shots. I also need to feel a little more comfortable about the overall noise performance and getting the result result from the RAW file which at this stage means a little more testing for C1 and DXO.

    Sorry for the long post but I do like to contribute after reading and learning from many of the great threads that are here and I hope sharing my thinking and experience to date might help others if they to are looking to see what the A900 can offer.

    I am still very interested in any other experience with the CZ lens compared to Nikon?

    regards

    Rodney
    Rodney,

    Did you check your lens for back/front focus? There is AF adjust.

    Cheers,

    N
    A and E mount Too many lenses.

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    Senior Member dhsimmonds's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Rodney

    The 24-90 is a very sharp lens but tends to vignette with filters at the 24mm end. Are you sure about the history of the lens that you are using? Do you know if it might have been dropped for instance? As Edward has advised it could be worth using the excellent fine focusing adjustments of the a900 for the particular copy of the lens that you are using. The 16-35 ZA is also a cracking lens and I have taken to using this, the ZA 135 and the 70-300G as my standard field and travel kit.

    I have many RAW converters but now only use C1 for converting my a900 files. I am now waiting for version 5 of C1 due out at the end of this month.

    As with all cameras, the a900 needs a bit of time before feeling really accomplished with it. The Sony Steadyshot works well with all lenses but comes into it's own when hand holding very long lenses. I set my a900 on auto ISO between 200 and 400. I work on the principle that I never used film faster than 400 and prefer to maximise file quality if I can. But then I don't do weddings! The anti-dust system also works very well indeed in my view.

    I agree that there is plenty of headroom with highlight exposure but pushing shadow detail can sometimes be a bit disappointing. All in all the dynamic range is pretty good though.

    I hope you decide to make the crossover from Nikon as many here have done already. After the a900, there is only one way to go and that is Medium Format!
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Hi All,

    I suppose I should have asked if there has been anybody else here that has switched from nikon and the D3?? I have seen some people here that shot weddings, who still is? and what have they discovered using the system in battle?

    I am also a very happy user of the Hasselblad H system but that has a very different application and the Sony is not meant to replace that, it is more to fill the 35mm system space for me.

    Rodney

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    One of the forum members, fotografz, shoots weddings with both the D3 (or D3X, not sure) and the A900, plus an M9 and Medium Format as well. I think he must have been busy recently on the Leica M forum

    There was a thread about this some time ago, and I remember that the A900 was not pro enough to be used exclusively for weddings because of AF hunting in low light and the lack of simultaneous writing to both memory cards.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Simultaneous card writing is not a big issue for me, would be great to understand better what not pro enough means to others?

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Just another quick update on the RAW processing:

    I found that the DXO noise reduction seems more to smear the noise and it tends in the darker regions to look a little botchy? It reminds me a little of what happen with the Fuji S5 and dealing with NR.

    I now tend to think that C1 is going to be the better choice with maybe some NR applied after, as I read here in another thread on NR, I did try Define 2 and it worked great on one image and then on another seemed to have no effect at all?

    Rodney

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbsr View Post
    Hi All,

    I suppose I should have asked if there has been anybody else here that has switched from nikon and the D3?? I have seen some people here that shot weddings, who still is? and what have they discovered using the system in battle?
    HI Rodney
    Well, I'm not strictly professional, but I have swapped from the D3, and I've shot three weddings with the A900 (and a Leica M) this year.

    I didn't try DXO for raw processing, but I did compare C1, Lightroom, ACR and Aperture, and I like Aperture best for an all round combination of workflow, colour and detail, but I can see that others might prefer C1 (I still don't think they do fine detail on distant foliage as well as Aperture . . . but that's for landscape).

    I use single spot focusing on the A900, and although it's much much slower than the D3, I still find I get more keepers . . but lenses DO need to be adjusted for focusing (lucky it's so easy).

    I found the transition very easy, as I simply fell in love with the colour from the Sony, having struggled with the D3 / D700 for landscape work (good enough for skin tone at weddings). Of course, the high ISO isn't as good, but I feel that, whilst certainly more noisy, the shots have a feeling of reality which is rather missing from the Nikon shots.

    I tend to use the 24-70 Zeiss, and the lovely LOVELY Zeiss 135 f1.8.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Hi Jono,

    Thanks for the comments, I tried Aperture as always have been an Apple guy, but I thought the skin tone was a bit too yellow which is the one thing I did not like about the D3 as there any special settings you are using in Aperture, as I found both DXO and C1 to give better skin tone using daylight WB.

    Rodney

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    Oh forgot to ask how did you fond the sharpness going from the D3 to the A900 and the 24-70? I know the technical differences between the 12mp ad 24mp but would be interested in your experience.

    Rodney

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    I used to own Sony A900 + ZA Lenses (I also Own Nikon D3X)
    Things that I really like from Sony A900
    1. The color is very natural.
    2. The DR is very good (IMHO is better than Nikon D3X)
    3. ZA 85/1.4 and ZA 135/1.8 are Really good!! ZA 24-70 is OK... not as good as ZA 85 and ZA 135.

    Things that I don't like from A900

    1. The AF points are not well located... most of the AF points are located at the center.
    2. The JPG picture quality is not good. even at Iso 200 i can see noise at the shadow area. However, in the RAW file is very good!!!

    Andree
    Leica M9 | SE 18 | Lux 24 | Lux 50 | ZM 35 | Nikon D700 | 35/1.8 | 45 PC-E | 50/1.4 | 70-200 VR II | SB 800+600 |SF 58|

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    Re: Some thoughts from my testing - long post

    It's a shame the A900 can't write to cards simultaneously. When the A700 came out, everyone made a big stink about the lack of that feature, so I was really hoping that Sony would fix that with the A900. It's probably my #1 complaint about the camera, which goes to show what a great camera it is for me

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