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Thread: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

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    A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    I thought to give a preliminary report of my first full wedding shoot using the A900 alone ... I left my "Nanny Blanket" Nikon D3/D700 behind this time to really put the A900s to the acid test on it's own.

    I apologize for the the long post ... it's meant for those perhaps considering the A900 for similar work.

    Real World Criteria: obviously, this is just an opinion, but I think weddings are the hardest test of a camera's over-all performance of anything. Sports is also really hard, but it is a bit more consistent type of shooting ... where weddings have you shooting in bright noon sunlight one second and in a candle lit cave the next ... color temps range all over the place ... and everything is controlled chaos for 8 hours with almost no break in the action. You are shooting portraits/groups, decisive moment candids, wedding details, food shots, and a boatload of "must haves" that you get one shot to capture or you are toast. I could go on and on ... but trust me is ain't easy and your tools have to perform IF you want consistent results while delivering any decent level of decisive moment work that transcends snapshots and defines a specific style and approach clients will recognize and pay a premium for.

    Now the Nikons are stellar at this work. Can't say enough about the speed and accuracy of the D3/D700 ... and some to the new lenses are quite good.

    But I have to admit to being a lens snob ... and truly believe that there is something different to the Zeiss look. I also hold that opinion of the Leica optics. We can argue the merits of this opinion until Hell serves Ice Cream, but it will not change my mind. That the Sony offers a perfect range of Zeiss AF lenses (AF !!!!!) for wedding work IS the only reason I moved from Leica R into Sony tools.

    The Arsenal: A900, A900 with battery grip (both with hand straps); Zeiss 16-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 85/1.4, 135/1.8; Sony flash and multiple types of diffusers, 100 gig of CFs, 8 spare AA rechargeable; 3 extra Sony batteries ... all snug in Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 shoulder bag. (I usually use a roller, but this wedding had us moving all over the place where I needed a compact, take with "working bag."

    Observations/Performance: Moving at the speed of light for up to 8 hours reveals strengths and weaknesses in short order ... both of the system and the user. The question for me was ... will the A900 stand up to all the challenges that the Nikons handle so well? Lenses snobbery is one thing, but if you miss the shot, the lens doesn't matter at all. And, do I have enough experience with this camera to trust a wedding job to it (well, I wouldn't have even tried if I thought I didn't ... but there are unknowns until you actually do it rather than practice it.)

    The A900 cuts the mustard, and delivers Zeiss deliciousness!

    FOCUS: Happy to report that of 500 shots only a doz. or so were OOF ... I had zeroed in the focus calibration on both cameras and neither missed a beat even in really low light at the reception ... except when I accidently depressed the Manual Focus button located on the Zeiss lenses because of the way I hold the lens in my left hand and where my thumb falls. This is a nice manual feature until stuff like that happens ... then it's not nice. I rather that button not be there, and relegate it to a camera button for the right thumb to activate or something like that. Of have a AF lock for the lens button.

    ISO: now the Sony can't hold a candle to the Nikons in this department ... but it did better than expected. I did a lot of shots at 800 with plenty of room ... as long as the room was slight over-exposure rather than heavy under. BUT, under wasn't as bad as I thought ... some noise but the kind I can live with. The criteria I use for judging this is in print form ... NOT on screen. I do not do much ISO 2000 even with the Nikons because I don't need to be fixing Raccoon eyes from dead overhead lighting at most of these venues. My preference is fill that is had to detect when possible ... and most of the time ISO 800 does the trick.

    Flash: I did have some difficulty with inconsistent flash/ambient balance ... but I do attribute that more to me than the camera ... it takes awhile to grasp what to do with each different camera ... I had to relearn this when swapping from Canon to Nikon ... and now again with Sony. We'll see as time goes on. I'm not crazy with having to use the menu to alter flash comp., but there is a silver lining to that also ... I leave the screen on that menu and hit the function button to alter the flash comp .... the good part is that it is easy to see in dark conditions which is almost all the time.

    What made it all worthwhile was opening the shots in LR ... the 3D pop of the images depicts a clear departure from my Nikon stuff (except maybe the Nikon 200/2VR which in itself is the reason to have a Nikon in the tool kit.) While there are other RAW developers that may be better, LR-2 is super fast for this type of work while being super secure at the same time.

    I have a lot to learn yet with this camera, but it is looking more and more like the weapon of choice for my wedding jobs.

    Pics to come once I process them.
    Last edited by fotografz; 5th April 2009 at 08:32.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Excellent Marc
    Thank you for the great information. I look forward to some pictures.
    I'm still very happy with the files I'm getting from the A900 with Zeiss (and my new 135 f1.8 is a joy).

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Marc, A couple of ideas:

    1. Focus Hold button on the lens can be programmed to be Optical preview instead, probably a safer option.

    2. Flash exposure compensation assign to C Button (perhaps you use C Button for something else?) However you could use one of the memories to change to a flash mode with that C Button assignment.

    Weddings not for me, too much stress - I'm in awe of anyone who does them professionally.
    David Anderson

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Thank you Marc for the "field report". Looking forward to see the pics.
    M262 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/2 85/2

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Marc I just realised you were referring to to the lens AF/MF switch not the lens focus hold button, so ignore my point 1 above.
    David Anderson

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    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    I'd love to see some samples.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Well, "samples" will be coming ... but what is important about wedding work is that you have a consistent output ... meaning that with any where from 400 to 1000 images they don't all have to be award winners ... they need to "be there" first and foremost ... and the more even the results the more coherent the story flow is visually in an album or slde show. Most wedding stuff gets printed 8X10 or smaller ... so images that pop ... or as my clients say "They look so real and clear" ... helps separate you from the P&S crowd that's at every wedding these days ... or the Uncle Bobs and their Canon Digital Rebel with kit lens.

    So, IMO a contact sheet type presentation would be more revealing in the context of this report.

  8. #8
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Well, "samples" will be coming ... but what is important about wedding work is that you have a consistent output ... meaning that with any where from 400 to 1000 images they don't all have to be award winners ... they need to "be there" first and foremost ... and the more even the results the more coherent the story flow is visually in an album or slde show. Most wedding stuff gets printed 8X10 or smaller ... so images that pop ... or as my clients say "They look so real and clear" ... helps separate you from the P&S crowd that's at every wedding these days ... or the Uncle Bobs and their Canon Digital Rebel with kit lens.
    Yeah... I shoot 'em for a major portion of my living (see my website), so I definitely understand what is needed and expected. As earlier on, I'm REALLY happy to see you posting your thoughts. It is much appreciated, for sure. Such reviews are sorely lacking on the internet, and money is such that buying an a900 kit (in duplicate) for wedding work as a "test" isn't warranted for me right now.

    So, IMO a contact sheet type presentation would be more revealing in the context of this report.
    I'm not gonna agree with you here, but that's more a personal bent than anything. Given that my albums are a bit abstract and always custom designed... I often find myself finding alternate crops at pretty big enlargements, even though the "negs" I supply to clients are just color/density corrected SOOC images.

    I think it does matter what an image looks like at bigger than 8x10, as I've NEVER been able to tell what a client will order for prints... and sure as I say "they'll never use this one"... they say they want it (and cropped heavily, lol). This happens in commercial work a lot, where publications crop heavily after the fact to "abstract" a product.... and then run it double-truck.

    Wrangling aside... again... really appreciate these posts. I'm seriously looking at digital medium format right now for my commercial work, but the a900 continues to sit in the back of my mind as an "affordable" all-purpose cam.

    I love the files I've seen online... except for the lack of wedding images. Those that I have seen are fine, but not great enough in number to draw a consensus opinion (on my part)

    Thanks!

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    Yeah... I shoot 'em for a major portion of my living (see my website), so I definitely understand what is needed and expected. As earlier on, I'm REALLY happy to see you posting your thoughts. It is much appreciated, for sure. Such reviews are sorely lacking on the internet, and money is such that buying an a900 kit (in duplicate) for wedding work as a "test" isn't warranted for me right now.



    I'm not gonna agree with you here, but that's more a personal bent than anything. Given that my albums are a bit abstract and always custom designed... I often find myself finding alternate crops at pretty big enlargements, even though the "negs" I supply to clients are just color/density corrected SOOC images.

    I think it does matter what an image looks like at bigger than 8x10, as I've NEVER been able to tell what a client will order for prints... and sure as I say "they'll never use this one"... they say they want it (and cropped heavily, lol). This happens in commercial work a lot, where publications crop heavily after the fact to "abstract" a product.... and then run it double-truck.

    Wrangling aside... again... really appreciate these posts. I'm seriously looking at digital medium format right now for my commercial work, but the a900 continues to sit in the back of my mind as an "affordable" all-purpose cam.

    I love the files I've seen online... except for the lack of wedding images. Those that I have seen are fine, but not great enough in number to draw a consensus opinion (on my part)

    Thanks!
    Those are all good points and observations Shelby.

    However, this specific post was more operational in nature than it was about image quality. I've had the camera long enough to have determined that it delivered the flexibility of image quality I require for severe cropping and post effects when doing albums ... as well as for larger prints (all my clients get at least one 17" X 22" or larger display print). And I have already determined that with-in the bounds of what I need for wedding work, the A900 quality has shown itself superior to what I can produce with my 12 meg. FF Nikon D3/D700. (which at 25 meg. one would hope to be the case for the A900). I also have subjectively determined that in terms of IQ the A900 outperforms the 21 meg. Canon 1DsMKIII I used prior to the Nikons mostly because of the more aggressive sensor filter of the Canon and a subjective preference for the Zeiss look.

    So the acid test in this respect was more practical in terms of shooting ... like is the AF fast enough in all conditions not just select ones? ... is the more limited ISO range compared to the D3/D700 champions sufficient for the conditions I shoot in on a regular basis? ... do I trust the camera to help deliver in wildly changing conditions? ... is the over-all delivery consistent, or do I have to screw around with the files in post more than necessary? (which is the reasoning behind the "contact sheet" remark.)

    Up to now I had used the A900 at weddings in the same manner that I had previously used a MF H3D/31 .... for stuff I know I will be printing larger. Often in less challenging lighting conditions ... like outdoors or using strobes (when the job warranted use of assistants). Note: I DO NOT think the A900 IQ is equal to the H3D-II/31 ... but the Hasselblad is quite frankly over-kill 95% of the time, and limited for more severe conditions in terms of speed and flexibility.

    My objective was to get it down to one system that (with-in reasonable bounds) delivers all that I need without dragging two different cameras/lenses to a wedding. What the decision came down to was either the A900 "system" or buying the Nikon D3X body. Well, at $8,000. for the D3X body that still uses the same AF lenses as the D3, I decided to use funds from selling my Leica DMR and R lenses to "experiment" with the A900 and a nice range of Zeiss AF optics for not much more than the Nikon D3X body alone.

    Now, this is but a one wedding acid test, and as you well know, it will take more acid tests to reveal the long term viability. As it stands, my confidence is rising and I will also do the next wedding with just the A900 sans the Nikon "Nanny blanket" or MFD camera ... but being VERY cautious and responsible when it comes to my clients wedding images, there will be a D3 and a few key lenses in reserve waiting in the truck, just in case I face more severe conditions than predicted or unforeseen creative needs pop into my head, and my assistant has to run to get it

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Were you using any flash and if so what do you think of the system?
    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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    Senior Member deepdiver's Avatar
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Hi guys,
    I want to share my experience with Sony A900 also
    I have been shooting with Nikon gears for more than 10 years from Film to DSLR.
    Up to 4 months ago, I dediced to by A900 + couples lenses.
    Sony A900 is really a great camera ( plus Zeiss 135/1.8 is an amazing lens..!!)
    i really Enjoy using this combo.
    The color from A900 is VERY natural compare to Nikon D3/D700 or D3X
    here are some photos that I took using A900 + 135/1.8 combo













    (yes I know her hand is OE, but i want to show u, how great the DR of A900)


    I love the natural color from A900
    However, Now I dont have Alpha gears anymore... I sold all of them.
    I simply cannot resist the offered that Nikon's give to me for D3x.
    The price was very attractive >_<
    Therefore I decided to sell all my Alpha gears in exchange of Nikon D3X.

    A900 is definitely has more natural color compare to Nikon DSLR
    It's a great camera!

    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: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by deepdiver View Post
    I love the natural color from A900
    However, Now I dont have Alpha gears anymore... I sold all of them.
    I simply cannot resist the offered that Nikon's give to me for D3x.
    The price was very attractive >_<
    Therefore I decided to sell all my Alpha gears in exchange of Nikon D3X.

    A900 is definitely has more natural color compare to Nikon DSLR
    It's a great camera!

    Andree
    Wow Andree - what a guy!
    I hope you'll be happy - you're sure going to miss that 135 f1.8
    . . . . and now you'll have to change your signature again

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Were you using any flash and if so what do you think of the system?
    Yes Ben, I use flash 85% of the time if only just a bit of fill.

    I now have 2 Sony flashes and a Metz with a Sony/Minolta TTL module (the Metz is an unknown right now, but I will be exploring that option soon).

    There are 2 odd things about the flash system: the mount is proprietary and requires an adapter to use Pocket Wizards. That was off-putting at first, but turned out to not be a big deal. The other is the odd larger Sony flash, which has a different swivel head design, that I am having some difficulty adjusting to. Time will tell on that. The smaller version is about the size of a SB800 and uses a conventional swivel head like Nikon and Canon.

    I haven't experimented yet with off camera-flash ... that is yet to come. I know you are interested in that, and I'll let you know once I get it down pat.

    Plus, I am just getting used to the flash compensation routine which requires using the LCD menu ... pressing the Function button and then the center of the command wheel to select flash comp before adjusting it up or down with the thumb wheel. At first I thought this would be a big PITA, but in practice hasn't been bad ... because it shows all related info with the flash compensation highlighted (shows the relationship of ambient comp to flash comp together ... which is easy to see in dark conditions on the large LCD.

    As mentioned above, I was getting some inconsistent flash results while shooting, but to be fair the conditions were such that my assistant was also having the same difficulty with her Canon stuff where we were shooting (dark, highly reflective varnished wood walls everywhere with massive crystal chandlers and huge windows flanking the wedding alter).

    In the end, when I opened the files in LR-2 using ARC 4.6 with basic auto adjustments ... the results were more consistant than I anticipated when viewing the LCD screen. More consistant than I previously got with my Canon system in similar conditions.

    The other aspect I will be exploring is use of two Metz 70 MZ-5 handle mount flashes on stands with 60" umbrellas to replace studio strobes for some wedding applications. That project is in progress right now and I have the Metz recieving units coming this week.

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    Senior Member deepdiver's Avatar
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Ahhhh..!! u are right Jono!
    I need to change my signature again! hahahha
    Thx you
    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: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Marc
    I haven't even got a flash for my A900 yet, I have some weddings in the summer, so I'm going to have to do something about it.

    What about adaptors for the strange Minolta hotshoe? Where do you get them? who makes them? Is it Metz?

    Sorry for the brain picking!

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Jono, take a look at the latest Sony Flash, the F58AM. It doesn't need a hot shoe adaptor, it has built in diffusers should you need them and a white shield.

    Plus, it swivels for bounce regardless of whether you are in the horizontal or vertical mode.

    I also have the Metz 58, but I just love this new Sony flash.
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Marc
    I haven't even got a flash for my A900 yet, I have some weddings in the summer, so I'm going to have to do something about it.

    What about adaptors for the strange Minolta hot-shoe? Where do you get them? who makes them? Is it Metz?

    Sorry for the brain picking!
    Brain picking is what this post is all about IMHO.

    Sony makes an adapter that's available at the Sony Store website ... and there is a less expensive 3rd party adapter from B&H. I got both, and they both seem to work the same, except the Sony needs a battery and the other doesn't. Don't know what the difference is, or why the Sony would require a battery. The 3rd party one is also smaller, I leave that one on a Pocket Wizard, and use the sony version in the gear bag just in case.

    Metz makes a TTL module for Sony/Minolta. It has the Sony mount to fit the flash shoe already built-in. I'm trying it out on a 54 MZ4i and a Metz 70 MZ-5 handle mount.

    Let me be clear about this post ... not that I'm a tech expert in any way ... just pretty experienced in shooting weddings for over a decade now ... which is the only criteria I can point to when evaluating wedding gear.

    I'm not advocating the A900 for weddings ... just reporting my results so far. I don't think I would endorse any system until I shot at least a full wedding season with it. I'm still processing these images, and haven't even made prints yet.

    As it stands now, I couldn't endorse Canon because of the increasingly aggressive sensor filter Canon resorted to for higher ISO performance on higher meg cameras. I was VERY disappointed in that direction they took. But for others it may not be an issue at all.

    I could easily advocate the D3 and D700 for weddings since I've done a ton of gigs with those cameras and they are stellar performers IMO. I just wanted to see if there was something with more resolution that wasn't $8,000. that I could also get the Zeiss look with ... with Auto Focus!. If the D3X had been $5,500. or even $6,000. I'd probably have gone there. I just think the D3X is going to plummet in price in short order and I would've been stuck with a $4K or more loss.

    Not that the Sony was inexpensive ... the lenses are pretty up there. It's fun to experiment with new gear ... but if it was NOW with the deepening economic situation here ... frankly, I would have done neither and just stuck with the D3/D700. But what's done is done.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Nice reports Marc. Very useful info and frankly the best kind of reports I find are user reports. Bottom line lens testing and all that technical crap tells me nothing. Reading info from a working Pro tells me a lot more than anything else. Especially for me what you do at weddings applies to what I do at events in many ways. Same type of shooting to a certain degree. I think what I like about this system more than anything else is the combo of AF and Zeiss glass which I don't think Canon or Nikon have in there tool shed. You can get Zeiss but you can't get AF and having a second system or even primary this is something I am looking for. What I like about this setup from playing around with it was it seemed very intuitive.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Great insights, Marc. There is starting to be more and more mention about the A900's color, which is important for the system. Sony is using color filters with near-MFDB density, and, while we pay for that a bit in high ISO noise, it really shines through. It's these subtleties that don't win magazine review awards, but are brought to light by capable photographers like yourself. Nice work.


    p.s. You may want to try using the C button for flash comp.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Metz makes a TTL module for Sony/Minolta. It has the Sony mount to fit the flash shoe already built-in. I'm trying it out on a 54 MZ4i and a Metz 70 MZ-5 handle mount.
    I'll be interested in your testing of the Metz module. I bought it too fro BH (I think it's the SCA 3302 M8) to use with my MZ4i (which I use on my Mamiya AFDIII and previously on my Nikon d300) and though it seems to work well in certain instances, I don't think it does true TTL, so in essence you can't dial it in to "auto TTL" b/c it in fact seems to fire full strength no matter what in that setting.

    The paperwork that comes with the module (yes, I actually tried to read it) has a chart that shows that TTL flash control and TTL fill-in flash control isn't supported on the Sony a900 (or any alphas for that matter) with the SCA module. It does support TTL-HSS mode/M-HSS mode (which I haven't played with yet) so that may be a place to tweak it. I think it's fine with manual mode, but that's not how I tend to work most of the time with flashes. I like to be able to use auto settings (using TTL) on it and change the bounce/direction pattern versus playing around with manual settings of the flash strength.

    I'm going to play with this for a bit to see if I can figure out a good work flow to it (I really like the MetzMZ4i), but may ultimately pull the trigger and buy the dedicated Sony flashes (the 58 looks very interesting) to use with the a900. Then use a cheap adapter to use with Pocket Wizards and the like when firing off-camera lighting (which is rare for me). I see no reason to spring for the $130 Sony adapter since you can get generic versions for $20 from Ebay or even BH (Seagull brand I think).

    If anyone has more to report on using the Metz SCA adapters with the a900, I'd be interested in hearing how you're using it. Otherwise, I will play with it too and see what I can figure out. Otherwise, it's an order to Calumet or BH for the Sony flash.

    -Josh

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Great insights, Marc. There is starting to be more and more mention about the A900's color, which is important for the system. Sony is using color filters with near-MFDB density, and, while we pay for that a bit in high ISO noise, it really shines through. It's these subtleties that don't win magazine review awards, but are brought to light by capable photographers like yourself. Nice work.


    p.s. You may want to try using the C button for flash comp.
    How's the "C" button work for flash comp?

    That brings up "Creative Style" on the LCD. The Fn button brings up the Camera controls including Ambient and Flash compensation. I leave the screen set to highlight Flash Comp for speed of operation.

    Or you can set the flash comp on the LCD menu and select "last screen" ... but you still have to hit 2 buttons to get to it ... the menu button and then the center of the command wheel to bring it up.

    Lots to learn about this camera yet. Like I need to decide what I want for the 3 different settings using the annalog dial on top.

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    Senior Member Braeside's Avatar
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    You can change what the C button does - The shooting menu - Custom Button and choose what you want. The default is Creative Style, but I suggest you might want Flash Comp.
    David Anderson

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    You can change what the C button does - The shooting menu - Custom Button and choose what you want. The default is Creative Style, but I suggest you might want Flash Comp.
    Yep, I always have it set on AF point selection.
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Yep, I always have it set on AF point selection.
    It is quite useful also to use the 3 memories on the A900 as you can store different Custom button settings in each memory. So if you are going to be using flash then you could have a memory for flash with C button set for flash comp for example.
    David Anderson

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    You can change what the C button does - The shooting menu - Custom Button and choose what you want. The default is Creative Style, but I suggest you might want Flash Comp.
    I owe you a drink my friend ... that's freakin' fast!

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Hi Marc
    If you haven't tried the three custom settings yet . . . they're a bit of an eye-opener, as they override everything, including the switches on the camera.

    That means that if you have setting 2 set to C/AF, then when you go there you'll have C/AF, whatever the camera AF switch on the front may be set to. This is a bit disconcerting at first, but it's actually fantastic as there are no 'quibbles' about what works and what doesn't, and it makes it really easy to understand (I got hopelessly confused with the custom memory banks with the Nikon . . . I'd work them out carefully, then, a week later it was confusion again).

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Thanks Marc, just started seriously using off camera ETTL with my Canon system (waiting for radiopopper or PW to hit the UK still!) for my wedding work, getting some decent 3D modelling on the faces in the homes and outdoor portraiture rather than on camera fill. That and with my other camera shooting with no flash and wide open is giving me results a notch above all my competitors. Also using less and less zooms, once the prime bug bites, etc. I had till now just used them on the 2nd camera. I've also relegated the LS to the off camera, it's such a relief to have it off the on camera flash, it was screwing up the wireless ETTL signals as it was, using a bounce card and although the light isn't as good (harsher), I'm a happier man without that weight hanging off the end of the flash.

    I'm just sticking with my 5D's for the moment, they do the job, they give me the results I know and like and anyway I'm having a pretty bad year wedding wise though the summer has started to pick up thankfully. There are a few things about canon that keep me with it for all that I hate so much, the RGB Histo and blinkies at the same time on the review screen, the ability to change the FEC with the wheel alone on the 580/II, the 17-40 and 24-105 IS lenses (I think I have the sharpest 24-105 on the planet, trashes all 3 24-70's I had for sharpness for all it's optical faults). I also love my 50/85/100mm USM lenses, cheap and very good, solid work tools. I'm happy to be stuck in a rut equipment wise if it doesn't hold me back photographically. Using equipment that just works, from the light stands to the strobes to the cameras to the lenses and flash units, it's a blessing and I'm not particularly interested to move on...
    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: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Marc
    If you haven't tried the three custom settings yet . . . they're a bit of an eye-opener, as they override everything, including the switches on the camera.

    That means that if you have setting 2 set to C/AF, then when you go there you'll have C/AF, whatever the camera AF switch on the front may be set to. This is a bit disconcerting at first, but it's actually fantastic as there are no 'quibbles' about what works and what doesn't, and it makes it really easy to understand (I got hopelessly confused with the custom memory banks with the Nikon . . . I'd work them out carefully, then, a week later it was confusion again).

    Forgive me if you're my grandmother and I'm teaching you to suck eggs
    I'm all ears and eyes my friend ... anything that increases the utility of these cameras I'm interested. Like a regular Joe, the last place I go is the manual ... LOL!

    But if I can streamline the use then the A900 just gets better and better.

    The most important thing for me is to get the ambient/flash comp/balance down pat. I had it aced on the Canons from shooting them for so long, then Nikon which seemed to have an even better flash system ... now the Sony.

    Still have a lot to learn ... and I don't want to do it on my clients dime if possible.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    "The Groom"

    Sony A900 @ ISO 800, 1/15th shutter hand-held (no flash), Ziess 24-70/2.8 @ 50/2.8

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Were those his formal shoes?

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    I was wondering the same thing
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    "The Groom"

    Sony A900 @ ISO 800, 1/15th shutter hand-held (no flash), Ziess 24-70/2.8 @ 50/2.8
    Wow... really pops, especially at that shutter speed and in that light. Thanks for sharing.

    (much appreciated )

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Were those his formal shoes?
    I hope not because they look like Black Converse Chuck Taylor's...
    Sony Visible Light & IR Photographer
    http://www.iiinelsonimages.com

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I owe you a drink my friend ... that's freakin' fast!

    Glad to be of service.
    David Anderson

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I'm all ears and eyes my friend ... anything that increases the utility of these cameras I'm interested. Like a regular Joe, the last place I go is the manual ... LOL!

    But if I can streamline the use then the A900 just gets better and better.

    The most important thing for me is to get the ambient/flash comp/balance down pat. I had it aced on the Canons from shooting them for so long, then Nikon which seemed to have an even better flash system ... now the Sony.

    Still have a lot to learn ... and I don't want to do it on my clients dime if possible.
    Can I plug Gary Friedman's A900 book again?

    It is a suitable alternative to the rather dry and frustrating Sony camera manual. It is available as a PDF download.

    http://www.friedmanarchives.com/

    It covers the use of the A900 memories and flash is Gary's thing, especially off camera wireless. Gary has been writing these kinds of books for the Minolta system which of course the Sony is based on, so he really knows his stuff.

    http://www.friedmanarchives.com/
    David Anderson

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    I thought you folks would get a kick out of that

    Everyone in the wedding party AND all parents wore "Chucks".

    Here is a quick still life of the Bride's customized "Chucks" along with blood red roses ... and a Bridesmaid putting on her skull decorated high-tops.

    It was a fun group, the wedding was in a Medieval Castle ... but only slightly "Goth" ... not full tilt.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I thought you folks would get a kick out of that

    Everyone in the wedding party AND all parents wore "Chucks".
    Great, great, great... absolutely love it

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I thought you folks would get a kick out of that

    Everyone in the wedding party AND all parents wore "Chucks".
    What a wonderful idea!

    I have to admit to a small personal foible, I've been wearing them for years, but only leather ones (the canvas ones get smelly too fast). They're hard to find, only made in small quantities and nearly always different.

    I have two tone pale brown from Norwich
    Black with white soles from the internet
    two tone dark brown from Arras
    mid brown with copper lace holes from Heraklion
    grey-green with white soles from Bourg St Maurice

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I thought you folks would get a kick out of that

    Everyone in the wedding party AND all parents wore "Chucks".

    Here is a quick still life of the Bride's customized "Chucks" along with blood red roses ... and a Bridesmaid putting on her skull decorated high-tops.

    It was a fun group, the wedding was in a Medieval Castle ... but only slightly "Goth" ... not full tilt.
    Yes, I thought something interesting was up with the wall, chair, carpet combo. Glad they had a good time with it. I like the brides pair....at least her feet didn't have to hurt in heels

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    I have to admit to a small personal foible, I've been wearing them for years, but only leather ones (the canvas ones get smelly too fast). They're hard to find, only made in small quantities and nearly always different.
    It's not so much the shoes as the wedding dresses that we worry about.
    David Anderson

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Braeside View Post
    It's not so much the shoes as the wedding dresses that we worry about.
    Now Now David - I look very pretty in chiffon.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Now Now David - I look very pretty in chiffon.
    Any photographers around to record the event Jono?!!!!!!!!

    It would make a great addition to Quentin's stock library perhaps?
    Cheers, Dave
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by dhsimmonds View Post
    Any photographers around to record the event Jono?!!!!!!!!
    No Dave
    after the incident with the goat I keep myself very much to myself.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Update:

    I just ran all the prints from the "acid test" wedding. For me prints are the final test because that's what I sell. IMO, the internet is the great equalizer, but with prints there is no place to hide.

    Well, as I was processing on screen I was wondering if the stuff was going to print better than my previous Canon 1DsMKIII system.

    Here's my final impression: these wedding prints are some of the best I've been able to produce. There's just something about them that pops ... micro detail is excellent and reminds me of the Leica stuff from the DMR in that respect ... but I pulled off shots with this camera I could never do with the manual focus DMR without any stabilized R lenses. Also, the color (especially skin tone) is much nicer than I could produce with the same effort when using the Canons and L glass. But what is the real differentiator is that the A900 files don't exhibit that ever so slightly Canon smeared look (aka, plastic) look to them. The A900 detail is amazing.

    The camera and Zeiss lenses are this wedding shooters dream come true.

    I would also like to say that I used the Zeiss 16-35/2.8 for the first time on this job, and prints are really excellent ... matching the other Zeiss lenses in color, detail, etc, while doing a much better job of controlling distortion than my Canon 16-35/2.8L-MKII did. The lens is definitely a keeper.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Excellent, fotografz. I'm glad to hear that you had success. This little A900 is developing quite a following...at least on getdpi.

    I posted something on the Leica forum the other day that probably bares repeating here. According to Iliah Borg, the color of the A900 is near-MF quality, and that's why we get a little bit more high ISO noise. However, this noise doesn't seem to be much of an issue in print, and we gain quite a bit from the color, IMO. Both Nikon and Canon are trending towards high ISO performance and sacrificing spectral properties, and I think that is unfortunate. The plastic skin you talk about from Canon is partially a result of using a weaker filter on the blue channel, and the Sony hasn't gone that route. The A900 also does better in the greens than the D3x, so no mushy grass, either. Another factor responsible for the nice A900 images is the non-linear, "film-like" sensor response, which is unusual and gives that nice highlight roll-off. Iliah just stated yesterday that the D3x is his least used camera (he owns/has owned 1Dsiiis, D3s, A900s, Phase Backs, etc,) and he actually sold one of his two D3xs!

    It's great to hear real-world reports from pros about how their cameras are performing. Thanks!


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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Question remains if Sony will continue down this road or bend under the pressure of users demanding high iso performance. The next model from Sony might unfortunately have more in common with the 5DII and the A900 might be a one of a kind experience.
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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Yeah, that's a good question, Edward. Sony's Exmor is a unique design that specifically caters toward lower ISO in regards to read noise, so hopefully Sony doesn't become tempted and stays on course with the dense CFAs. FWIW, Sony has always seemed to have better color and slightly more color noise than it's competitors, although I don't have the means to measure such a thing like Iliah can. The backlit Exmor chips of the future may be a nice compromise. Who knows?

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Question remains if Sony will continue down this road or bend under the pressure of users demanding high iso performance. The next model from Sony might unfortunately have more in common with the 5DII and the A900 might be a one of a kind experience.
    Well Edward, they brought this camera out in the face of the move towards high ISO by Canon and Nikon - so here's hoping they realise where there advantage is and stick with it.

    Marc - thanks for the work on this, I'm glad that the A900 is a success for wedding work.

    I find it hard to put my finger on why I like things or not . . . . But after years of irritation with Nikon greens (especially) and late evening light, it only took me one afternoon with an A900 last October to convince me to get rid of all my Nikon gear. I've certainly never regretted that decision.

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    Marc - novice question
    I assume these wee small prints for the bride and groom. What are you using to print a big series of small prints?

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    Re: A900/Zeiss Acid Test

    A question to those of you with experience from A900 as well as Nikon, the D700 in particular:
    I tried the A900 again today (with the 24-70) for the umpteenth time. Everything about it feels perfect, even slightly better than the Nikons/Fujis that I use every day, except the grip. It feels a bit too thick for me, which makes the camera seem heavier than it really is. Is it me, or is there really a noticeable difference?

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