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Thread: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Hello all,

    I presently shoot a D3s/D2x combination. My main paid work is architecture (interiors/exteriors) and heavy machinery on locations on farms, in forests, and industrial engines for John Deere. Some studio work for brochures for same, and on-location in-working-environments portraits. AF is the mainstay of the on-location work.

    I use the 14–24.2.8, 24/3.5 PC-E, 24–70/2.8, 60/2.8G micro, 105/2.8 VR micro, 80–200/2.8 AF-S, extenders, and a number of primes. I have a bunch of SB-600s, and a SB-800. I rent lights for studio work, or use an Elinchrom three-head system.

    I have pro video gear, so do not need video capabilities in my stills cameras.

    I am thinking of changing systems. To begin, an A-900 body, and 16–35, 24–70, and 85/1.4 lenses. Then there's the question of whether the 70–200/2.8 Apo or the 70–400 Apo is the lens to get (the reports I have seen of the 70–400 are glowing re. sharpness), or whether to go with the 70–200 Apo plus the 1.4 extender; that's long enough for my needs—and I would prefer the wider aperture of this lens.

    I know the 135/1.8 is the lens that excites everyone, but if I were to get that, I would need something longer—so some kind of idea of how the 70-200/2.8 Apo compares at a similar focal length would help that decision. In the sometimes very restricted working areas we have on these locations, sneaker zoom (and even changing lenses) can be really restricted, so I would be inclined towards the zoom simply for this reason, if it's even only close to the same IQ.

    The pluses for me of the A900 over the D3s are simply the extra MP, and the Zeiss zooms—even though the current Nikkors I own are are very very good. As well, I really like the in-body stabilisation; for me, this offsets the high-ISO capability of the D3s considerably and I like the non-grip form factor.

    I have written about the usefulness of Nikon's Live View elsewhere, but others have mentioned that the finder is good enough to see in-out of focus for tilt, and because the 14–24 is so good, I find I use this in preference most of the time anyway, with careful camera placement. The additional pixels of the A900 make this (fine tuning perspective correction in PS) even easier.

    The Mirex plus one of the Mamiya or Hasselblad lenses might do this work, although finding a lens wide enough might not be easy. This aspect is the only real unanswered question for me presently. For the occasional table-top work, the Mirex seems very usable.

    I could simply get a D3x—but paying a stiff premium over the Sony for the same sensor, more or less, just does not sit well. I like the smaller/lighter form factor of the Sony, I don't need a vertical grip, and the sensor cleaning is a necessity on these sometimes very dusty locations—and the number one reason why I did not get the D3x in the first place when I upgraded from a brace of D700 bodies.

    All suggestions (for/against/orthogonal!) gratefully received.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    I'm receiving an APO 70-200/2.8 on Friday and will post some quick tests on the A850 shortly after.

    An A900 and a good lens lineup can fit in the budget of the D3X alone...

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Thanks Jan: I will be really grateful for your comments on this lens.

    And
    An A900 and a good lens lineup can fit in the budget of the D3X alone...
    there it is!

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    It may be hard to find a suitable wide t/s, but you might look into the Schneider 28mm.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    If I was in your situation, Kit, I would definitely not get into the Sony system. You have already a heavy investment in excellent Nikon glass, and the the price of body/lens combination you plan to buy can easily get you a D3X, which in my opinion, is a high end A900, well, sort of

    If it's to use the Zeiss AF glass then, can't argue with that. The ZA lenses do have an exceptional look, even though, in pure resolution terms, your Nikon glass may be on par, or even better (the 14-24 for instance).

    As for your question about the lenses, if you prefer using zooms, I would get the 70-200 with a 1.4X instead of the 70-400. I didn't use any myself, but from the photos I have seen from both, I believe the 70-200 to be the better lens and of course it has the luminosity advantage especially at the long end.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Thanks Edward; until I saw this from you, I had not considered selling the D3s and keeping all the glass—if I did, a used D3x would be possible. The only fly in the ointment is no sensor cleaning. Not an absolute deal killer, though. More thinking.

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    I think Edward is right, and you'll have a hard time replacing your 14-24 and 24PCE with Sony.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    One more thing regarding the sensor cleaning. I've had the A900 for 2 years now, and I have never cleaned the sensor. I do use a blower bulb occasionally but have never touched the sensor. Even after 2 years it is still cleaner than any of my previous cameras after wet cleaning. However, the secret is not in the sensor vibration but rather in the treatment of the glass cover and its distance from the actual sensor which many believe it to be further away from the sensor.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    More useful info; thank you. I found the D3 to be a dust magnet, and why I went to the D700 bodies, then to the D3s.

    I PMed a member this evening about possibly swapping his D3x for my D3s plus cash; let's see what transpires.

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    You may also want to consider how much of a real resolution difference you'll get between the two, in practice: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=37552546

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    You may also want to consider how much of a real resolution difference you'll get between the two, in practice: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=37552546
    Sadly that pretty well backs up my own experience, but that 10% disappears in prints.

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Douglas and Bill, honestly I agree with you; and on location most (tho' not all) if the work is hand-held—so Iliah's points may well be valid. Having a faster shutter speed available is very useful, I'd be the first to admit, especially when the light starts failing.

    Then there's the client's perception about 12 vs. 24MP!

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    Then there's the client's perception about 12 vs. 24MP!
    Absolutely! I always enjoy the look on my (very few) clients faces when they ask me how many megapixels I will give them, 8? 10? and I say 24
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Hi Kit

    No one has mentioned the Sony's colour rendition versus Nikon which most agree is more pleasing and makes for less work in RAW conversion!

    The ZA16-35 is a stunning lens and my favourite for architectural subjects. No obvious vignetting either. The large and bright viewfinder on the A900 makes it easy to check for convergence etc IMHO.

    I also have the G70-400 lens for natural history work and confirm that it is a very sharp lens even when used handheld. The hood is a bit plasticky though but so far mine has not cracked or broken. It has a little slot with a sliding cover for rotating polarising filters.

    However my favourite "long" lens for shooting wildlife is a Tamron 200-500. Every bit as sharp as the Sony 70-400 with a nice colour rendition too. It is a massive lens though!

    Just my two penny's worth!

    Good luck with whatever you chose.
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Hi Kit,

    For architectural work I can certainly see your desire to find an affordable system that would offer the megapixelage (if there is such a word) you want beyond what the D3x that you own has. And the Sony certainly fills the bill. The A900 is an amazing cam (along with its equally potent and even MORE affordable little sibling, the A850--honestly the differences are negligible--although I suppose 98% coverage vs 100% MAY be a deal breaker in precision architectural photography and studio work).

    While I'm a big fan of Sony and its utterly superb (albeit limited) lens lineup (particularly the Zeiss and tele "G" lenses) I'm not sure how much better they are than the optics you already own. I mean we're SERIOUSLY splitting hairs here. The 14-24mm f2.8 from what I've read (and seen) is out-and-out stellar and I'm not sure Sony's two Zeiss counterparts (the Zeiss 16-35mm f2.8 and Zeiss 24mm f2) can top that (they are a LOT lighter, that's for sure). For architectural work I'd think the 14-24mm must be nothing short of god sent. The Zeiss mystique, like the Leica mystique, appears to be a result of their legendary rendering of out-of-focus areas in part due to the lens formulations and in part due to the finely articulated 9 bladed apertures that approach a true circle. How much of that comes into play in architectural photography with its resolution demands to record fine details I don't know.

    At the other end of your optical wish list, again while Sony certainly has some stellar offerings in their renowned "G" series of lenses I'm not certain they are much better than Nikon (who have made a LIVING in the long end department and have only recently beefed up their short end).

    The tele zooms from Sony you've expressed interest in are, indeed, from all accounts I've read, extraordinary. But so are Nikon's. (It's always been funny that Sony had been dissed by many as having a limited lens line but the lenses that they do offer cover just about everything you need. How many overlapping coverages of 35mm or 200mm does a camera company really need? I mean if you've got a great lens that covers that focal length, enough already!)

    Then there's the matter of PC control. Yeah you can get a Schneider or the jury rigged Mirex thing but will they be better than the THREE fine optics that Nikon has designed SPECIFICALLY for their camera bodies? Not sure.

    Architectural photography is deliberative work from what I gather. So speed isn't of the essence. If Zeiss is what you want have you considered the Zeiss in the F mount. The Zeiss 18, 21 (especially), 25, 35 (now available in f1.4 as well as f2) from the examples I've seen on Flicker and Ken Rockwell's reviews are spectacular.

    Still, the D3s' 12 relatively noise free megapixels is small. But from what I've been told supersized enlargements that are free of artifacts are indeed very possible from the Nikon unlike other similarly sized sensored cameras (with the exception of the D700 which has the SAME sensor). And the DR (also what I gather is essential in architectural photography) is also quite impressive (although here the Sony may outdo it).

    The Sony would demand you stick around the ISO 100-320 range to remain safe in the noise and artifact department (again not a problem for well lit, non-moving buildings). But the Sony's additional 12 MP definitely give you a leg up in the resolution department. And as I've just mentioned, the DR department as well.

    Here's my final thought....it's been a while since Nikon has announced anything at their upper end. The D3X was followed a year later by the D700 which was essentially the same sensor and image processor in a smaller, more affordable body. The 24.5 MP D3S has never seen a counterpart. And my gut tells me that Nikon may be due for something since it's been over a year. So my guess is surely Nikon wants to increase their minions among the large megapixel crowd. (If it's any evidence they seem to be really into 700 these days with their D7000 with it's new 16 MP sensor being annointed the new king of APS-C world and I wouldn't be surprised if a weather sealed version isn't far behind).

    Why not wait a month to see what Photokina brings.

    If Nikon doesn't offer any surprises in a smaller, more affordable D700X or something with it's now well established 24MP sensor...yeah...go ahead and get the Sony and its optics. (And, by the way, Sony may have some surprises of their own although an interview I read somewhere suggested that it probably not be in the FF area as they are clearly into developing their EVF/pellicle cameras and HD video capabilities and FF just isn't a high priority for them at the time. The article hinted that whatever FF they do come out with will probably also be a 'mirrorless' EVF design. But who knows?)

    In any event, you'd have an affordable 24 MP system you desire and optics that would be a good match for nearly all of your photography in terms of resolution, contrast, color and that intangible we call bokeh.

    Peter
    Life is an infinite series of moments called..."now".
    My job is to capture them.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    The A900 has better resolution in the greens than the D3x, but the D3x has about a stop better DR. For architectural photography specifically, I'd probably choose the DR advantage.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Hi Kit
    Not having used a D3x I can't give you a complete answer.

    I changed from a similar set of lenses over to Sony a couple of years ago (D3 and D700) and I can't say I've regretted it for a single moment.

    I always seemed to have to fiddle about with the colour of the Nikon files to get them right, especially in evening light, whereas the Sony files are fine out of the camera (lovely in fact).

    As for the longer zoom - don't write off the 70-300 G lens - it's very light and relatively cheap, but if you can deal with the speed it's really excellent.

    I can back up what Edward says about sensor cleaning - I've never done it, but the D3 was always getting stuff on it (the M9s I use now aren't much better).

    all the best with your decision

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    I have no experience with Sony (other than they are one of my clients!). However, I have been contemplating the purchase of a D3s for awhile, to replace my now ancient D2Xs. I've put the plans on hold until the summer when I hope to see Nikon's next batch of pro DSLRs. It could very well be that a body will materialize to closer fit your requirements for more MP. If it does (and I realize that's a big "if"), you'll feel better about hanging on to your Nikon glass. And should you trade up to a D3x in the meantime, you'd still have a killer system with that body as a backup.

    Maybe it's just my aversion to camera churning. Or maybe it's some other vague impression. But my perception of Sony as a professional camera pathway is that it's not going to be in the same league as Nikon. No offense to the Sony lovers/owners. Just a strictly biased and uninformed opinion.

    Tim

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post

    Then there's the client's perception about 12 vs. 24MP!
    No argument there. Every now and again I get shot with the Sony that shows what it is capable of delivering, and they are pretty impressive for a relatively small DSLR and probably getting in the ballpark of a Leica M9. Of course a perfect shot requires perfect technique (tripod, MLU, etc.) which is only occasionally practical. In the past, my general rule was that tripods were only necessary for big lenses or slow shutter speeds. With the Sony, they are always necessary. My monopod, which in the past had been reserved for long glass, is now with me all the time.

    When shooting hand held I think the 24 MP actually works against you because they highlight even the smallest technical error (focus, shake, shutter speed), but locked down on a tripod I do think there is a difference.

    One thing that swayed me to Sony was the in-camera image stabilization. There are a number of times it has been very handy, but it does degrade image quality (it kind of looks like the camera has a really aggressive AA filter or the focus was a bit off) and unless I am shooting in low light and slow shutter speeds I leave it off. It reminds me of Canon's image stabilization on the 28-135IS -- a good tool to have when you need it, but better left off most of the time.

    A couple other things I should mention is the Sony is only a 12-bit camera, but has a pretty broad dynamic range. What that means is the color is a little thin, and it doesn't have the depth you might be used to with a 14- or 16-bit camera. To some degree this can be overcome in raw and post processing, but it has been a very steep learning curve for me. FWIW I use Lightroom as I was not consistently happy with my results from C1.

    The last thing I will mention is the final push for me to buy the Sony was the cost of the D3x. While I have not used one, it just seems like way too much money for what it is. The Sony gave me comparable image quality at a fraction of the price in a body the size of the D700 with the best viewfinder I have ever seen in a DSLR and slightly superior to my F2 and F3. It seemed like a no-brainer to me. If I were to do it again it would be a tougher decision. The Sony is indeed a good value, but Nikon has a much deeper lens lineup and the CLS system.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Having shot a D3 and several Nikkor lenses I switched to the A900 and Zeiss zooms. I wanted the 24MP and use this camera for landscape.

    Against what many found here I could not really get friend with the Sony. Also I did not like the handling and build quality of the Zeiss lenses - I ask myself what real photographer was involved in their design - but this is my personal subjective feeling and opinion. I also did not like the colors out of the Sony and when I got my H3D39 I sold the Sony as there was no longer need for a 24MP DSLR.

    A few months later I bought back into Nikon with the D700 and all the 2.8 zooms 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 (VR2). And I am VERY happy with that camera and the lenses and the whole system. It is in my eyes the BEST DSLR system in the range above 12MP FF today. But I do agree that I would not be willing to pay the amount what a D3X costs for a FF DSLR!

    I am currently waiting for the next strike of Nikon in form of the D800, which should have higher MP count while preserving same high ISO quality if not better than the D700. I will use this setup then for mobility in landscape and wildlife photography, while the H3D39 will remain for real high end work. The D4X will probably be too expensive again and for sure too bulky.

    I am kind of on the cliff to also buy the M9 and get able to use my M glass again, but something tells me not to do this and wait one or two more years for the M10.

    Well and finally - if I am really lazy or on a business trip, then I have now my almost perfect GH2 and M43 system for that purpose.

    End of the day I did never regret that I got rid of the Sony and went back to Nikon. I found this rather a big relief.

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Just to avoid confusion with the OP, the color differences of the Sony don't come down to liking or not liking them vs. the competition. That is simply a critique of the color profile in the raw converter, not the camera itself, and this can be changed. The Sony color advantage is in regards to actual resolution differences in a particular hue.

    For example, in comparison to the D3/D700 and, even more so, the D3s, the A900 will resolve more detail in green hues at low ISO, like in foliage for landscape shots. Compared to the 5Dii, the A900 will resolve more detail in skin tones. However, most of these color differences probably require a pretty outstanding workflow to really see. Of course, the downside to this Sony CFA design is that it lets less light through to the silicon, so more amplification is required in lowlight, thus causing more noise.

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    I must say I don't recognise my A900 from some of the comments here.

    Bad colours - no
    Thin Colours - no
    Need a tripod - no
    Have to turn off antishake - no
    Poor ergonomics - no

    Sorry
    David Anderson

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    I must say I don't recognise my A900 from some of the comments here.

    Bad colours - no
    Thin Colours - no
    Need a tripod - no
    Have to turn off antishake - no
    Poor ergonomics - no

    Sorry
    +1 Same here. Short of MF high MP back, the 900 & Zeiss glass serve extremely well. Horses for courses. Since LR3, I've found ISO 1600 perfectly usable, neutralizing for the most part the only real down side to the 900 as a broad mission system.

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    What a wealth of good advice here. I have decided to hang on to the D3s, but will keep looking for a nice A900 body, and pick up a lens or two here and there.

    And I will wait for Photokina, too.

    Sincere thanks to all who replied and commented; it has been extremely helpful.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    I must say I don't recognise my A900 from some of the comments here.

    Bad colours - no
    Thin Colours - no
    Need a tripod - no
    Have to turn off antishake - no
    Poor ergonomics - no

    Sorry
    Yeah, what camera is he talking about?
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Strange, I also haven't needed to clean the sensors of my a900s in over 2 years.
    But I would say the 24Mp does require more care (better technique) when hand held with low/medium shutter speeds.

    Other than that,
    Best colours of a dSLR I've seen
    Files need the least amount of processing.
    Small & light body with excellent ergonomics.
    Wonderful Zeiss lenses. But large & heavy is price you pay.
    Value for money is unequalled.
    A7II, FE 35, 55 C/Y 18, 28, 85, 100, 28-85

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Eoin View Post
    Best colours of a dSLR I've seen
    Files need the least amount of processing.
    Small & light body with excellent ergonomics.
    Wonderful Zeiss lenses. But large & heavy is price you pay.
    Value for money is unequalled.
    +1 from me too, Eoin hit the nail on the head with the points he made.
    Been using two A900's for two years now, and I'm quite content with these camera's.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    No 70-200 yet so no thoughts on it. It's being routed around the country due to adverse weather...

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    The Sony Alpha 70-200 was the best Alpha lens I had. Topped easily the new Zeiss zooms! But no wonder, this is the good old Minolta design and this was always known for its IQ and build quality!

    Sorry if I have a slightly different view - but I really did not like the new designed Alpha Zeiss zooms, actually the major point why I sold the Sony stuff.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    I was going to let this one go, but I just can't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    I must say I don't recognise my A900 from some of the comments here.

    Bad colours - no
    Thin Colours - no
    Really? Go compare the shots you get from your Sony to any of the shots in the Leica M9 or medium format galleries/threads. I suppose it depends on what you consider to be your reference, but compared to any camera that shoots true 16-bit color with no AA filter, there is no comparison.

    Need a tripod - no
    Have to turn off antishake - no
    Take a portrait of someone with SSS on and off. Compare the fine detail in the eyes. Let me know how that works out for you. I almost sold my A900 before I realized how much detail I was loosing to SSS. That said, below 1/30th, it is a godsend and I can get acceptably sharp photos down to about 1/15th. Of course I could get sharper photos down to 1/6th on a film based, leaf shutter rangefinder, but we won't go there. Acceptably sharp at a 1/15 is good enough for me.

    As for the tripod comment, I'm definitely not as steady as I used to be so we can chalk that up to user error if you like.

    Poor ergonomics - no

    Sorry
    Ergonomics is such a personal preference. I have always like the pro-level Minolta ergonomics like the Maxxium 9. I shot with a Maxxium 9 once when it first came out, when I picked up the A900 it was instantly familiar. I have shot thousands of frames with consumer grade Cannons and I still can't figure out how to use my partner's 5DII, but I am instantly at home with a 1-series Cannon even though I haven't owned one in five years. Nikons are a mixed bag, even more so if you are left eye dominant.

    My two critiques on the A900 ergonomics is I wish MLU was easier to access and I wish the hand grip bulge was a bit more pronounced. That's all I can come up with. I'm also a bit frustrated that I have to scroll through menus every time I need to format a card, but I think that is a bug in the current firmware.

    In the end, I suppose it is all relative. The Sony is still a great camera, a great value and probably the only single camera that comes close to fitting my needs.

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    MFDB 16bit is interpolated up from 12bits, and isn't true 16bits. Sony's CFA is very competitive with MFDB (A900 has the best color of any dslr,) but the AA makes a big difference (as well as sensor size and processing differences.)

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    The 70-200 is an outstanding lens. Mine front focused noticeably, so I had to dial in a +7 microadjustment for it. It's ever so slightly soft wide open around the outer third of the field, but sharp as a tack in the middle portions. And I mean tack sharp. This should make it a good people lens wide open, since usually this sort of shooting doesn't have a lot of content around the edges, or it's intentionally thrown slightly OOF anyway for separation. Stop it down and it's sharp all over on the A850. That makes it useful for landscapes. Color is lovely, bokeh looks good, though very fine detail near the focal plane has a tendency to double image - on a pixel level. On a large scale it renders beautifully. Contrast is a bit on the high side but nothing that can't be toned down a little in post. The field, on first check, seems very flat - I tested this by focusing on a ruler, then rotating the lens and camera on a tripod to move the ruler out to an edge and shooting. The focus shifts back a bit, and simple geometry shows it's as perfectly flat as the method allows measuring.

    I also tested shooting on a bean bag with and without SSS and with and without 2s timer (MLU). The only difference I could find was that the stabilized shots were sharper or the same. In no case were they worse. (This is very different from what I found with the 70-300G.)

    Build quality is like Canon L - metal barrel, lens mount, detents on the mount at 90 degrees, three AF lock/custom buttons 90 degrees apart. Heavy, but very well balanced with the A850 on a monopod. The vertical grip shouldn't affect it much (didn't try that). Hangs nicely over the shoulder with a Kirk strap attached to the tripod foot. Kirk has a plate for this lens and I think I'll order it; this thing is a keeper.

    The last lens I owned in this range was the Canon 70-200/2.8L pre-IS. The Sony is vastly better. The first IS version of the Canon took a slight dip in contrast and IQ due to adding IS. There is a new design which I haven't tried. Haven't tried the Nikkor VR either.

    I also got a type M screen and think it's a huge improvement.

    Will go out and snap a few with it later.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    While I was at it, I decided to check the A850 viewfinder accuracy. Looks pretty darn 100% to me! Whatever it deviates from 100% is splitting hairs - literally. It's more accurate than my ability to place a line exactly along the edge! Folks, it's 100%. Sony might say 98% but I think that's just market positioning.

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Hi Bill,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    I was going to let this one go, but I just can't.
    Better in than out they always say.

    As you probably guessed I don't have a MFDB or an M9, and I can't tell much from web sized screen shots, but I do have an M8 and much prefer the colours from the A900. Of course the M8 suffers from IR filters to a degree with certain lenses.

    Regarding sharpness with/without SSS, I just have not noticed any difference at normal fast shutter speeds and at low speeds SSS is better for me. When I change from a tripod, I almost always forget to switch SSS on again (wish they had a big red light). Then I always notice the motion blur at medium speeds.

    Bill, a tip to get to the format menu easily:

    First go into view a picture with the play button , then hit the Menu button, you will see you are on the page with format.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    In the end, I suppose it is all relative. The Sony is still a great camera, a great value and probably the only single camera that comes close to fitting my needs.
    Absolutely Bill, same here.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Brittenson View Post
    I also tested shooting on a bean bag with and without SSS and with and without 2s timer (MLU). The only difference I could find was that the stabilized shots were sharper or the same. In no case were they worse. (This is very different from what I found with the 70-300G.)

    Jan glad you like the new 70-200G SSM, I haven't used one, but did have the older Minolta 80-200 HS G which was not as sharp wide open at 200mm, but had lovely out of focus area. I traded it for the 70-400G SSM eventually as I needed a longer lens after selling the 70-300G SSM which I did not find good on full frame (though it was fine on the APS-C).

    After Bill alerted me to his findings with SSS causing problems, I just did a few tests handheld with my 85/2.8 with SSS on/off and in every case the SSS on was sharper at 1/80th second, with or without fill flash, so I cannot seem to reproduce that here, may be a function of how we all shake differently, but in general I just leave SSS on all the time except when on a tripod, and even then I have sometimes forgotten and results were more than acceptable.
    David Anderson

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Jan, that's great to know (talking about the 850 finder), and thanks for posting your reactions to the 70–200, too.

    Douglas, is there any difference in colours between the 900 and the 850?

    Cheers and thanks everyone, Kit

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    I was going to let this one go, but I just can't.

    Go compare the shots you get from your Sony to any of the shots in the Leica M9 or medium format galleries/threads. I suppose it depends on what you consider to be your reference, but compared to any camera that shoots true 16-bit color with no AA filter, there is no comparison.
    You know, I've been wanting to 'test' this myself for a long time so today I finally took the time and went to my dealer and took about 80 shots on both the A900 and the M9.
    I still have nice Leica glass from my M8-days and I've been thinking about the M9 for quite some time now.

    Here are my notes, YMMV, this is a very personal thing.


    Leica

    - Lightweight but hard to handle
    - Expensive
    - Difficult to handle: push this while turning that buttons (ISO) / I inadvertently pushed buttons (on-off) / less display information / exp. comp. and WB takes time to change
    - Rangefinder window too small for me with long lenses and no accurate composition
    - No image stabilization (but no mirror)
    - Difficult focusing with MF, slow
    - better color (with good Leica glass)
    - better micro-contrast (with good Leica glass)
    - better sharpness (if I get the MF set correctly, but for close to medium range this is difficult for me)
    - fine (small, filmgrain-like) noise
    - Feels good for me to work with a Leica


    Sony

    - Heavyweight but easy to handle
    - Cheap
    - Easy handling: quick and easy to reach all buttons / good ergonomics / clear display with good information / exp. comp. and WB easy to change
    - 100% Excellent bright viewfinder
    - Image stabilization (and mirrorslap)
    - easy to focus by AF, relatively fast
    - less deep and less saturated colors (though with Zeiss glass)
    - less micro-contrast (though with Zeiss glass)
    - less sharpness (but always in focus)
    - blotchy noise
    - Sony does not not give me special feelings...


    I decided to stay with my two A900's because of ergonomics. Maybe wait for a mirrorless FF Leica that can take new M quality Leica AF glass - and S lenses ;-)

    Note: these are merely my personal thoughts, not trying to start a looooong discussion

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    Jan, that's great to know (talking about the 850 finder), and thanks for posting your reactions to the 70–200, too.

    Douglas, is there any difference in colours between the 900 and the 850?

    Cheers and thanks everyone, Kit
    There may be slight differences, but I'm not sure. "Hardloaf" Andrey would be a good person to ask:

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/member.php?u=2549

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Peter, maybe I'm just being dense, but can you clarify what you mean by "though with Zeiss Glass"? You're saying you're basing your impressions on shooting with Zeiss glass? Which lens(es)?
    α900+VG|F20|2xF58|16-35,24-70,135Z|STF|70-400G|50,85 1.4|16,20,28,100M,80-200APO f/2.8|28-135|500f/8|1x-3xMacro|2xMFC-1000|Tiltall+RRS, Bellows, etc.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    According to Sony the imaging pipeline etc. of 850 & 900 are identical. Cf dpr review. LL review etc. Announced differences in viewfinder & buffer size only - resulting in lower frame rate & nominally lower finder coverage as only differences along with cosmetic difference in body finish.

    If there are claimed differences I'd like a quote on quantification from recognized source describing an actual technology change/difference rather than anecdotal comment.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Iliah Borg does the color transforms for Andrey's (hardloaf) program, RPP, so he would certainly be a good guy to ask about color differences, if any. The sensor hardware is probably the same. If there is a color difference, it could be down to something like white balance preconditioning, but I have no idea.

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Hi Dave,

    I used the CZ 85 mm f1.4 against the pre-asph 90 'Cron.
    The Zeiss gave me the look typical for what I get from my other CZ lenses, 16-35 and 135 on the A900.

    I guess I expected the Zeiss to do better against the pre-asph 90 'Cron.

    Peter

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by peterv View Post
    You know, I've been wanting to 'test' this myself for a long time so today I finally took the time and went to my dealer and took about 80 shots on both the A900 and the M9.
    I still have nice Leica glass from my M8-days and I've been thinking about the M9 for quite some time now.

    Here are my notes, YMMV, this is a very personal thing.


    Leica

    - Lightweight but hard to handle
    - Expensive
    - Difficult to handle: push this while turning that buttons (ISO) / I inadvertently pushed buttons (on-off) / less display information / exp. comp. and WB takes time to change
    - Rangefinder window too small for me with long lenses and no accurate composition
    - No image stabilization (but no mirror)
    - Difficult focusing with MF, slow
    - better color (with good Leica glass)
    - better micro-contrast (with good Leica glass)
    - better sharpness (if I get the MF set correctly, but for close to medium range this is difficult for me)
    - fine (small, filmgrain-like) noise
    - Feels good for me to work with a Leica


    Sony

    - Heavyweight but easy to handle
    - Cheap
    - Easy handling: quick and easy to reach all buttons / good ergonomics / clear display with good information / exp. comp. and WB easy to change
    - 100% Excellent bright viewfinder
    - Image stabilization (and mirrorslap)
    - easy to focus by AF, relatively fast
    - less deep and less saturated colors (though with Zeiss glass)
    - less micro-contrast (though with Zeiss glass)
    - less sharpness (but always in focus)
    - blotchy noise
    - Sony does not not give me special feelings...


    I decided to stay with my two A900's because of ergonomics. Maybe wait for a mirrorless FF Leica that can take new M quality Leica AF glass - and S lenses ;-)

    Note: these are merely my personal thoughts, not trying to start a looooong discussion
    Peter I totally agree, although my own similar test of over two years ago was with the A900 v Leica R9/DMR at 10mpx, 16bit colour. The quality of the files were undoubtedly superior to the Sony's 12 bit , 25mpx files. But I decided to keep the Sony and sell the Leica and I have never regretted that decision.

    Leica glass has a certain something that is difficult to describe but the Zeiss glass has nice colour and is consistent. Overall I get many more keepers with my Sony than I ever did with my Leica and what's more I just love the ergonomics of the A900. Taking photographs is as much about enjoying using the tools as producing a good result IMHO.
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    I was very interested with the M9 and have visited the Leica forum regularly during that period. The impression I had was that the posters had to work quite extensively with the files. Results out of the camera were not that good color wise. I found that I much prefer the colors from the A900, which coincidentally are already great out of the camera with little to no PP.

    Regarding IS, I have also experienced occasional blurry images caused by it, even at high shutter speeds. My observation is that one has to keep an eye on the shake indicator in the VF. If I shoot before the meter settles the image is going to be most probably not so sharp. That's why I only use it when I know I will be shooting at Low shutter speeds and keep it off when not needed. Admittedly I have gotten only a few frames out of 13000 that I could attribute their blurriness to IS.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Sony, read this:

    Make it so we can choose a shutter speed range were the IS will kick in without further user intervention, sort of what happens with the auto ISO. The icing on the cake will be an option where the camera detects that a tripod is attached and turns IS off. Please to achieve this do not come out with a propietary tripod head, iISO kind of thing.

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Quino Terceño View Post
    Sony, read this:

    Make it so we can choose a shutter speed range were the IS will kick in without further user intervention, sort of what happens with the auto ISO. The icing on the cake will be an option where the camera detects that a tripod is attached and turns IS off. Please to achieve this do not come out with a propietary tripod head, iISO kind of thing.
    +1 Would be a neat option.
    David Anderson

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    +1 Would be a neat option.
    Or, allow SSS "off" to be a selection in the 3 presets as is focus status regardless of switch position. That way one of the presets could be configured for tripod shooting.

    My "high-tech" solution below

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    LOL, I like the SSS OFF label.

    I need another one to remind me to switch it back on again afterwards, maybe under the dovetail?
    David Anderson

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    An issue with the auto-tripod-SSS-switch solution is that, depending on your shutter speed and tripod stability (including environmental factors like wind,) it is occasionally good to leave SSS on when using a tripod (and even moreso with a monopod.) Someone did a test of this years ago, but I don't have the link

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    Re: Recommendations sought from Sony [i]cognoscenti[/i]

    Quote Originally Posted by dhsimmonds View Post
    Peter I totally agree, although my own similar test of over two years ago was with the A900 v Leica R9/DMR at 10mpx, 16bit colour. The quality of the files were undoubtedly superior to the Sony's 12 bit , 25mpx files. But I decided to keep the Sony and sell the Leica and I have never regretted that decision.

    Leica glass has a certain something that is difficult to describe but the Zeiss glass has nice colour and is consistent. Overall I get many more keepers with my Sony than I ever did with my Leica and what's more I just love the ergonomics of the A900. Taking photographs is as much about enjoying using the tools as producing a good result IMHO.
    Dave,
    Thanks for the reply. Indeed this is for a large part about enjoying the tools. The keeper rate with the a900 (and even with my NEX 5, that I use as a point and shoot) is much higher than with my M8, mainly due to focus issues, I'm just not fast enough with MF.

    BTW, today I took another look at my test and I think my judgement on the Zeiss colors might have been a little too harsh; I think I overexposed Sony a bit more than the Leica. And let's not forget that the Sony has more AA filtering going on than the Leica.

    So all in all I say yes the M9 has the edge but at 3 times the price the IQ is certainly not that much better. Value for money, ergonomics and IQ wise I'm happy with my Sony's, for now...

    Cheers, Peter

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