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Thread: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

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    Exclamation Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Thought this maybe a good topic for discussion since one annoying thing got me yesterday and I'm a little unhappy about it but the files are fine. Anyway I shot about 70 models yesterday just 3/4 length just some quick shots for a casting. So I used the 55 this time instead of the 24-70 zoom which was disappointing as last week those images are just not nearly as sharp as the 55. So I decided to send it owns its way back and for the 4th time buy my Zeiss 35mm F2 again which I really do like the lens and either get a Tammy 28-75 used or get the Sony Kit lens. I just need this zoom for PR work on the A7 and it don't have to be killer good and more important I don't have to fight the distortion issues of the 24-70 which using C1 I can't control that. Anyway back to my issue was the dang Dial and ISO adjustment. I started with ISO 100 with my strobes and twice at some point after chimping images I went to ISO 160 than again to ISO 320 and working as fast as I did I never picked up on it since my review was off. So today I will disable the dial for ISO. Between the time you shoot and quickly try to see playback sometimes the dial setting don't engage fast enough and your actually changing the ISO instead of in playback looking at a series of images. So folks I think the best solution is turning the ISO dial off and just use the FN put ISO as one of your first settings and go that route since it is very fast to hit the FN button go to ISO and make any change. I never missed a shot in the past making those quick adjustments with other cams and as nice as it is on the dial it's obviously also dangerous and one can easily make a mistake.

    So I thought I would bring this up and it be a nice thread if anyone else has some shooting tips for others to avoid or even use to there advantage. As experienced as I am you can still get burned easily. So I wanted to pass that on and going in my office here and making that change to both cameras and turn that ISO dial setting off. As much as this technology and functions advance there is always something to be said about turning things off. IMHO this is one of them.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    One great reason to find a camera with ergonomics that suit you.
    The new camera makers could study what the old traditional brands have been doing and learn a thing to two IMHO.
    -bob
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    I guess my hands are the right size or something because I haven't bumped the ISO on the dial by accident yet. Then again, I'm rarely in a furious snapping hurry as for a paid shoot either.

    • The thing I think is important to remember for my kind of shooting is to be sensitive to the focal length with respect to the camera setup. I use Aperture priority mode coupled with AutoISO a good deal of the time, but when you go to a 90, 135, or 180 mm lens on this body, Av is less optimal due to the unmodifiable 1/60 sec ISO floor. 1/60 second is too long an exposure for consistently crisp shots with focal lengths longer than 50mm in my experience, so that's when to shift to Manual exposure + AutoISO, and set a sensible exposure time floor, rely upon the clean sensitivity to bring back good files.

    •*When I do that, I also have to keep in mind that my customization for the EV Compensation is gone (have to use the rear-right dial rather than the front dial), and to be aware that EV compensation will not change the exposure when your manual settings have hit the over-exposure point. That is, say you set 1/200 second for the 135mm and f/4, and the scene brightness is more than that can handle at ISO 100. Setting EV Compensation to a negative does not change the manual settings, you have to close down the aperture or reduce the exposure time to get it back into range for the AutoISO system and EV compensation to work.

    •*And once you switch back to Av with a shorter focal length lens, I have to remember to re-set the right-rear EV comp dial to 0 for my front dial customization to work again, otherwise the rear dial overrides it.

    •*Lastly, I find the A7's EFCS (not available on the A7r) is very useful with shorter focal length lenses up to the 90mm. It improves sharpness by reducing vibration. However, with longer lenses (135mm and 180mm for me) at very short exposure times (1/3200 second and shorter), there is a substantial gradient darkening at the top of the frame that gets worse as you shorten time to the shutter's operating limit of 1/8000 sec. It's best to turn EFCS off if you're working wide open with a long lens in bright sun.

    The Sony A7/A7r are somewhat clunky and crude buggers. But their excellent viewfinder and sensor, along with the compatibility used with most adapted SLR lenses, make them worth the small annoyances for me. Nothing's perfect ... :-)

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    I've set ISO to the down on the dial.

    Leave Menu to the viewfinder options so it's easily accessible.

    That Fn quick menu is really handy but it's new to me so I don't have tips yet.
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Yeah one of the first things I changed, I have iso on C2.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    One great reason to find a camera with ergonomics that suit you.
    The new camera makers could study what the old traditional brands have been doing and learn a thing to two IMHO.
    -bob
    Its not so much the ergos but more a added feature we did not have on Nikon and Canon so in a way I am used too the old style and I think Im better at staying there with a few feature. I enjoy the features and functions these cameras come out with as you can customize to your liking but as we say Bob and i know you feel the same way just give us a way to turn some of these things off. Fortunately I can do that easily here. When i am taking my time its not really a issue but I think its a good idea if you foolproof yourself going at speed and i admit i was working very fast model in model out and such. So for me I think its smart to do the change for the speed times and just keep it like that regardless.

    Now Canon and I think Nikon had that lock switch to keep the dials from doing anything. Be nice to have that here and maybe there is a way to lock things up when shooting. Have to look into that
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Yeah one of the first things I changed, I have iso on C2.
    Im going to look at whats open on my custom buttons as well. I do think i will just turn the dial off for everything in shooting mode. I can't think of anything that would be safe on the dial without a change. So I will set it to nothing.

    The function or FN is really my fail safe I use it a lot.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by ken_vs_ryu View Post
    I've set ISO to the down on the dial.

    Leave Menu to the viewfinder options so it's easily accessible.

    That Fn quick menu is really handy but it's new to me so I don't have tips yet.
    My down is set for focus peaking low med, high setting which I do change often. Ill see what maybe left over. I do love the custom buttons
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    The Sony A7/A7r are somewhat clunky and crude buggers. But their excellent viewfinder and sensor, along with the compatibility used with most adapted SLR lenses, make them worth the small annoyances for me. Nothing's perfect ... :-)


    Agree Godfrey and I feel the same way. My issue is I shoot such a huge variety of styles or jobs lets say and just need to find a comfort zone for all of them if you know what I mean.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Thought this maybe a good topic for discussion since one annoying thing got me yesterday and I'm a little unhappy about it but the files are fine. Anyway I shot about 70 models yesterday just 3/4 length just some quick shots for a casting. So I used the 55 this time instead of the 24-70 zoom which was disappointing as last week those images are just not nearly as sharp as the 55. So I decided to send it owns its way back and for the 4th time buy my Zeiss 35mm F2 again which I really do like the lens and either get a Tammy 28-75 used or get the Sony Kit lens. I just need this zoom for PR work on the A7 and it don't have to be killer good and more important I don't have to fight the distortion issues of the 24-70 which using C1 I can't control that. Anyway back to my issue was the dang Dial and ISO adjustment. I started with ISO 100 with my strobes and twice at some point after chimping images I went to ISO 160 than again to ISO 320 and working as fast as I did I never picked up on it since my review was off. So today I will disable the dial for ISO. Between the time you shoot and quickly try to see playback sometimes the dial setting don't engage fast enough and your actually changing the ISO instead of in playback looking at a series of images. So folks I think the best solution is turning the ISO dial off and just use the FN put ISO as one of your first settings and go that route since it is very fast to hit the FN button go to ISO and make any change. I never missed a shot in the past making those quick adjustments with other cams and as nice as it is on the dial it's obviously also dangerous and one can easily make a mistake.

    So I thought I would bring this up and it be a nice thread if anyone else has some shooting tips for others to avoid or even use to there advantage. As experienced as I am you can still get burned easily. So I wanted to pass that on and going in my office here and making that change to both cameras and turn that ISO dial setting off. As much as this technology and functions advance there is always something to be said about turning things off. IMHO this is one of them.
    Thanks and at the very least this make me conscious that I may need to rethink and"idiot" proof my custom buttons. I think they are mostlyfine and only a few of them are mapped to constantly used feature (focus zoom for one) as I mostly use adapted lenses.
    Sony Visible Light & IR Photographer
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Thanks and at the very least this make me conscious that I may need to rethink and"idiot" proof my custom buttons. I think they are mostlyfine and only a few of them are mapped to constantly used feature (focus zoom for one) as I mostly use adapted lenses.
    Its why i brought it up so we can think about fool proofing ourselves a little better. I got away with it this time but there maybe a time i won't.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    I've changed the front dial for EV compensation. I'm not used to the stiff dedicated dial.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Here is the great news even though I was set for ISO 100 and it eventually went to ISO 320 a quick fix in exposure adjustments in C1 on the ISO 160 and ISO 320 given the mailability of these Sony files the images look perfect.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    LOL, The only way to idiot proof my cameras is to change the idiot holding it.
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    LOL, The only way to idiot proof my cameras is to change the idiot holding it.
    -bob
    LOL well thats part of my problem too. Sometimes the brain is on another planet I think.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Is it my imagination or are these new fangled cameras more difficult to operate than the older cameras of a few years ago? Reading all of this stuff and the review of the a6000 makes my head spin.

    15 rolls of Scala arrived before lunch. Think I will go retro and load a roll in an M6 and ignore, for a bit, the picture taking computers that Sony is spitting out weekly.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Was discussing this with a friend today, we're thinking of opening a course for wedding photography. The most important thing needed for successful pro photography is not something you can really teach, only experience can really train you. It's the ability to use your gear without thinking, when everything is going wrong around you, when nothing is running to time, when your flashgun stops working as the bride walks up the aisle and when you have a horrible cold, only slept two hours last night and your meds are numbing what little brain you have left - and still get the job done and get portfolio shots.

    Cartier Bresson said that using your camera should be as automatic as driving a car. When the dog runs out into the road you don't think 'left foot press brake'. You do it. Your body is reacting before you can even think. Same thing with a camera. It has to be that automatic or that thinking time is going to cost you shots.

    I find the Sony difficult in that sense, my fingers haven't as yet learnt to 'play' the camera completely without thought for more complicated stuff.
    However for the shooting I do the most of, my personal work, it's heaven. Camera on manual with auto iso. Left hand does focus and aperture, right thumb rides exposure comp dial. End. Full stop. Yes I could shoot that way with my 5D3, but it was big and bulky and does somewhat get in the way for super simple shooting while being far better than the Sony for more complicated or complex work such as event shooting. I do find a small body less of a faff when I only want to change a single control. It's only a pain when I'm trying to remember where the heck I put the controls for changing metering or drive or whatever, can never remember so I just put them all on the Q menu where I can see what I need to find.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 31st March 2014 at 12:53.
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by MikalWGrass View Post
    Is it my imagination or are these new fangled cameras more difficult to operate than the older cameras of a few years ago? Reading all of this stuff and the review of the a6000 makes my head spin.
    That's the Luddite in me speaking. Too. :-)

    Such it is.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    on my A7R, on several occasions, i have hit the on/off switch trying to set aperture with the front dial!

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    We are different in many ways, palms and fingers; then throw in shooting pressure or temperature and all the other controls being set differently. As a travel guy shooting in A, the instant ISO dial is the best thing sinced sliced bread, as I trade off s/speed and ISO all the time for a chosen aperture.

    But in the cold when hands stop working, it is a little too easy to shift the ISO dial, but hard to get the right setting. I have to be careful what is on the up/down/l/r too, wearing gloves. I moved EC onto the back control dial, so I have two of them since this is so important to fine tune the metering.

    Mikal, I love shooting the a7r, it can all be done with index finger and thumb of the right hand with FE lenses...what a sellout to the 'good old days' I am, lol. I have this theory that the brain works better with one side only in use. Good to hear the files came back Guy, always a relief.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    I can't tell you how many times I have accidentally changed EV dial on this thing without noticing it, it is becoming annoying.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    A couple of tips that are not really available in any documentation, but are kind of learned camera behavior. Not sure if these have been discussed here before; but these often seems to be news even to pro photographers arriving to Sony system (I'm a noob in photography but have used E Mount Sony for a couple of years and I'm sort of obsessive about learning all the quirks of the equipment). Related to low light shooting as I live in this dark miserable place; I think I only shot my A7R in 1st time in natural light with ISO 100 last weekend despite being among the first to get one in mid november last year.

    1. One can put the A7(R) or pretty much any E Mount camera into "always focus wide open despite chosen aperture" mode by setting the Live View Setting Effect off. Works both AF and MF and makes AF a bit better/accurate (the biggest reason my 24-70/4 OSS went back was AF accuracy in low light/short distance, F/4 just did not seem to be enough for pixel level accuracy with the A7R when viewed 100%) and less prone to hunt with for example FE 55/1.8.
    This also makes EVF less noisy for MF since the sensor is getting more light and thinner DoF makes it easier to place perfect focus while focus zooming. Obviously not applicable if one is trying to balance objects in different distances inside DoF, but if one want to be sure one specific thing in "36 megapixel perfect" focus this is a good tool. The seems not to be any focus shift at least with the FE35/55, it is in my TODO list to test this with the Focustune software.

    When Live View Setting effect is "on" the E Mount cameras will open up some to focus in low light based on metering but this is quite inconsistent, I tried to find some patterns in this behavior but did not find any.

    2. For most accurate MF in super low light set the Creative style to B/W and focus peaking to red. Color noise get reduced significantly and any potential peaking shows clearly. Gives B/W jpg sidecar but naturally the RAW is still normal RAW.

    3. Relative to the disabling ISO wheel, the default UI of A7(R) has very very badly placed WB adjustment, the rear wheel "right" press. Press this accidentally a couple of times in a row and you have crooked whatever WB preset up you have selected. By pressing the same button repeatebly one ends up in tint adjustment for WB and sets it to extreme blue if I remember correctly. I think I've saved 3 or 4 A7(R) from going back to Sony with "WB color tint issues" with this tip. Obviously will not ruin RAW photos but makes EVF look really strange and makes hair drop off from a jpg shooter. Horrid UI decision from Sony here.
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Re your point number 2, if you also up the contrast and sharpness to max in the B&W setting it really helps for peaking and when you are in magnification. It also gives you a very good likeness of Tri-X in the viewfinder .
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    So here are my custom key and fn (function menu) settings

    Attachment 80626

    Attachment 80627

    Attachment 80628

    As you can see I don't use the control wheel for any function as it is really to easy to change something by mistake

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Re your point number 2, if you also up the contrast and sharpness to max in the B&W setting it really helps for peaking and when you are in magnification. It also gives you a very good likeness of Tri-X in the viewfinder .
    I'm pushing the sharpness in Standard style, but did not like the contrast push there when I tested it, seemed to lose shadow detail and while that not matter with focus that was somewhat distracting. Need to revisit/test these for B&W, thanks.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by tn1krr View Post
    A couple of tips that are not really available in any 1. One can put the A7(R) or pretty much any E Mount camera into "always focus wide open despite chosen aperture" mode by setting the Live View Setting Effect off. Works both AF and MF and makes AF a bit better/accurate (the biggest reason my 24-70/4 OSS went back was AF accuracy in low light/short distance, F/4 just did not seem to be enough for pixel level accuracy with the A7R when viewed 100%) and less prone to hunt with for example FE 55/1.8.
    This also makes EVF less noisy for MF since the sensor is getting more light and thinner DoF makes it easier to place perfect focus while focus zooming. Obviously not applicable if one is trying to balance objects in different distances inside DoF, but if one want to be sure one specific thing in "36 megapixel perfect" focus this is a good tool. The seems not to be any focus shift at least with the FE35/55, it is in my TODO list to test this with the Focustune software.

    When Live View Setting effect is "on" the E Mount cameras will open up some to focus in low light based on metering but this is quite inconsistent, I tried to find some patterns in this behavior but did not find any.
    Thank you, that was very valuable.

    Quote Originally Posted by tn1krr View Post
    3. Relative to the disabling ISO wheel, the default UI of A7(R) has very very badly placed WB adjustment, the rear wheel "right" press. Press this accidentally a couple of times in a row and you have crooked whatever WB preset up you have selected. By pressing the same button repeatebly one ends up in tint adjustment for WB and sets it to extreme blue if I remember correctly. I think I've saved 3 or 4 A7(R) from going back to Sony with "WB color tint issues" with this tip. Obviously will not ruin RAW photos but makes EVF look really strange and makes hair drop off from a jpg shooter. Horrid UI decision from Sony here.
    Amen!

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    tn1, that WB had to go away fast for me too. ISO I still have on the 'silent wheel' on the a99 and it is a two stage process: call up the button then turn the wheel. So I am pretty addicted to 'the ISO wheel' on the a7r. I can zip from 400 to 6400 in half a turn..which can really help if it's your main control.

    And to say that in low light (50% of mine is at ISO 6400) the FE55 still gets focus right almost all the time, even with LV On. Pretty amazing, but it is this way with the RX1 too. If I see much noise I check the histo, it is almost always U/E. Sadly for me maybe, LV is too valuable not to have On. And I agree re focus shift on this lens - I see none.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Quote Originally Posted by philip_pj View Post
    And to say that in low light (50% of mine is at ISO 6400) the FE55 still gets focus right almost all the time, even with LV On. Pretty amazing, but it is this way with the RX1 too. If I see much noise I check the histo, it is almost always U/E. Sadly for me maybe, LV is too valuable not to have On. And I agree re focus shift on this lens - I see none.
    FE55 focuses quite nice in low light and if you are not stopping down hugely it does open up to focus, if you shoot say F/4 it often opens to F/2.2 or so with live view on. The biggest benefit of turning Live view off is with MF and slow paced shooting. I've been using a Gossen Light meter a lot lately (TTL delay in A7R is a pain so manual flash only) and with proper calibration to sensors RAW output the exposure, at least from technical point of view, is purrfect every time. With light meter the the Live View is not of much use. A few reviews have said the A7(R) metering has tendency to underexpose a bit and when using light meter to meter the camera meter often thinks I'm at least a 3rd of stop overexposed.

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Thanks for this Guy.

    I've only done a couple of "pressure cooker" shoots with the A7R so far … and admittedly haven't really committed this camera to muscle memory quite yet. In some ways, your going 100% forces the issue and gets the handling aspects and discovery down faster … where I'm still working with multiple platforms, and may not use the A7R for days or even weeks.

    What is interesting is when you don't use the camera for a while and come back to it scratching your head … which goes to Mikal's point that such proprietary handling can be somewhat less than "intuitive". I've always believed that any camera is just a box with basic controls … but some of these newer e-cameras challenge that belief.

    Perhaps part of the problem is the rapid advancement and ever more optional refinements that has us learning a new camera at ever shorter intervals of time. Sony is like a punch press spitting out cameras with each one being different is some way that requires relearning, then relearning, then relearning again. As Ben said, you have to become one with the camera to do something like a wedding for pay where fiddling around time is reduced to zero.

    I'll tell you, moving from the A900 to the A99 was ergonomic shock of the highest order. I just sold my A900 to one of my assistants, and it took 5 minutes to show him how to use the camera … compared to Canon and Nikon cameras I had used previously, the A900 was one of the fastest operating cameras of them all. I could not use that camera for months and come back to it and instantly be in the fast work flow.

    IMO, Sony nailed it with the A900, then wandered off into the woods … while they didn't succeed as they wished with the A900, I think they threw the baby out with the bath-water.

    Meh, maybe I'm just a "closet luddite" at heart.

    - Marc
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  30. #30
    Super Duper
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Not really Marc, friend was in the studio today with his 5D3, I asked to hold it, wow but I'd forgotten what a joy it is to hold. Fits into the hand like a glove, really does. Rather unlike the A7r with the shutter release way too far back, buttons that can't be found, are hard to press and numb feeling and a control wheel which is at the same time impossible to find and too easy to move.

    I still love the whole 'incredible IQ in a tiny package-ness' of the whole experience but honestly it seems like it was designed to be as you said, an E-Camera rather than a camera that a photographer ever held in their hand during the design stage.

    Whatever, for how I'm using it, manual mode, auto iso and manual lenses, the only thing I ever change on the camera is the exp comp and sometimes front dial for shutter. Both of which are perfectly situated. With such a simplistic setup the camera does shine. It's only when I'm trying to access anything else that it gets annoying.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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  31. #31
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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Sound like my experience every time I pick up the ancient Olympus E-1, Ben. A true classic in camera design, IMO. Everything falls exactly where I'd want it to be, and the things that do not ought not to. The E-M1 is close but not quite the same.

    My hands have accommodated the A7 now and I've come to be happy with it overall, but only because, like you, I use it in a specific way and only with manual lenses. It's never felt all that tiny to me ... even though it's within mm of the same size as the E-M1, it feels larger, taller to me. It feels like a normal compact SLR used to be in the film days—Olympus OM-1, Nikon FM, Pentax MX—usually my favorite class of cameras.

    I do switch back and forth between Av and M modes, and every time I do I have to remember to mentally switch the EV comp dial control location in my head too. That's the tough part: my head's controls are too inflexible... ;-)

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    Re: Lessons learned. Shooting tips

    Yes it's sad that we have to call a camera small when in fact it is what we used to know as 'normal'.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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