It's taken three years, since I officially unloaded my hefty pro-DSLR equipment for the camera I've been waiting for to arrive. The Sony Alpha 7 II is essentially everything I was asking for in my previous review of the Sony NEX-7. It's as if someone from the engineering department at Sony read the post, and said okay - here ya go - the camera you've been waiting for.
I love the new design including the new and more rugged magnesium alloy body, the new controls and shutter release location, the image stabilizer, the viewfinder, the menu system, and most of all - the gorgeous images produced from the full-throttled, full-frame 35mm sensor. The shutter, especially when set to electronic-first-curtain, is also significantly quieter - which was one of the biggest gripes with previous Alpha 7 series models. Even crazier - images taken with my Voigtländer 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical Ultra-Wide Heliar are color-distortion free, and produce excellent results (this lens on the Nex 7 produced some tough-to-correct magenta casts and wicked vignetting).
I don't know what state Sony is in as an organization overall, and whether longer-term an investment in Sony gear will pay off, but in this particular case - thank you Sony.
There have been a few reviews of the Voigtländer 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical Ultra-Wide Heliar, attached to a Sony NEX 7 via an M-mount adapter (here, here and here). The biggest problem is the magenta vignetting that occurs with this lens/body combination. I was lucky enough to have been given the Voigtländer 12mm for Christmas and I've always enjoyed shooting with an ultra-wide. I loved my Nikkor 14-24mm - although it was mammoth in size.
Above and below are a couple of holiday snaps.... and further down is the simple Lightroom 4.0 correction that can be used to remove the magenta cast. This lens is fun. With such a wide view and generally great depth of field, manual focusing is not an issue. And despite my earlier critical review of the NEX 7, I'm loving the small and light camera bag I get to carry now. Everything's nice and compact, and a lot more discrete than my previous in-your-face DSLR gear.
After all the hype - and a couple of months of steady use, here's a short review and a few thoughts about Sony's NEX-7 digital camera. Before I start though (and in case you haven't already noticed), it's a remarkable time for photography as a whole. Technological advances in cameras are having an enourmous impact on both professional and amateur photographic communities. We're seeing consumer level cameras with sensor resolution and light sensitivity that is pushing digital photography well beyond what would have been possible with film not so many years ago. Or perhaps put another way - as little as three years ago, only professional-level digital cameras could produce images in low light with good image quality - good dynamic range, good blacks and little noise or other artifacts.
I've had my Sony NEX-7 for a couple of weeks now, and so far I'm liking it a lot.
I'll be posting a more detailed review soon (aimed specifically for those considering downsizing from their full-size DSLR gear). I also managed to find an infrared (IR) trigger and timer combination that will work with the IR remote feature of the Sony NEX-7.
The result - my first attempt at time-lapse photography - shot from our balcony here in Bangkok. It's a little choppy, and probably could have used a slightly longer 'dark' scene at the end. The camera was set to aperture priority (f8), with the timer trigger combination set to one frame every 10 seconds for about 90 minutes.
Update: 01-Dec-2011: In a subsequent email exchange between myself and Grafenstein Freizeit und Tourismuswerbung GmbH, we were able to agree on my suggested donation of 50 Euros to a local charity, and at least one of my images will be used in their publication. A win-win (albeit modest one) for Grafenstein Freizeit und Tourismuswerbung GmbH, and German Cancer Aid.
Original Post: I received an email the other day, asking if one of my pictures on Flickr could be used in a travel magazine being published in Germany. The result was a short exchange of emails that I think epitomizes the challenges faced by the photography industry as a whole - and so I decided to post about it. Here's a copy of the email I received:
Well after several visits, as well as the kind co-operation of Jill Bays, her family, and her students – I’ve finally managed to complete my short story on Jill.
It’s been educational in many ways. Jill’s life story is fascinating and I feel very lucky to have met her. But then that also contributed to the difficulty of producing a short piece like this – since I had over 40 minutes of recorded material. Reducing all of that to just 3 minutes and 44 seconds was a challenge.
Here’s the clause you need to be aware of… and what you’re effectively giving to National Geographic if you upload ‘any’ content to their site…. important bits in red-italic-bold.
...how to adopt people into the confederation - either as a tribe or as individuals... ...they had no concept that to be an Iroquois meant that you had to have certain genes or bloodline. It was about the way you lived. If you lived like an Indian you were an Indian and you could join the confederation.
I’m really impressed with what Think Tank have created in their Streetwalker backpack series. The Streetwalker Pro in particular is the perfect bag for my setup – holding an incredible amount of gear in what on the outside, looks like a fairly small and nondescript backpack. I also really like the Think Tank Lens Changer bags.