Category Archives: Sony

Some Photo News – Sony and Amazon

I don’t do photography news type items here very often. While doing so would give me a higher ranking in search engines and bring more people to the site. but I found that when I was doing it, people would come and look at that one particular item and then leave without looking at anything else. I’m not criticizing them for this – I do the same thing. But the primary purpose of the site is to display my own photos so I’m not going to spend a lot of time and effort on posts that don’t serve that purpose.

That being said, now I’ll contradict myself and post two bits of photography news that I think are worth sharing.

The first bit is Sony’s upcoming RX100 III.

I’m a fan of what Sony is doing with cameras these days. They are one of the few companies that seems to be attempting some degree of innovation in the field. When I bought the Sony RX10, primarily to use as a travel camera, I thought I’d sell off my Sony RX100 (Mark 1, I guess). But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The camera, for its size, is just so good and so I kept it.  I mean, full manual controls when I wanted them, shoots RAW and fits in my jeans pockets? Just too useful to part with.

The Sony RX100 II came out and I didn’t see enough there to warrant an “upgrade.” A newer sensor, a tilt screen LCD and a hot shoe just didn’t seal the deal for me.

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Now Sony has announced the “mark 3″ for the RX100 and I’m pretty definitely planning on buying it. While it features the same 20.1 megapixel 1 inch sensor as the “mark 2″ (which is the same sensor that’s in the RX10), there are a number of other notable changes that I think will make it worth spending the money.

The original RX100 has a Zeiss lens that is a 28-100mm equivalent zoom, with maximum aperture starting at F1.8 at the wide end but rapidly shrinking to F4.9 at the tele end.

The new RX100 III has a zoom lens that is only equivalent to 24-70mm. But, and here’s the big thing, it now starts out at F1.8 but at the tele end it’s now F2.8. That’s a huge positive difference for me right there. I can live with less on the tele end if it means I’m getting F2.8 instead of F4.9.

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Also notable for me is the addition of a pop-up electronic viewfinder. That will be a big help for me.

The Mark III keeps the tilt screen that was added to the Mark II but loses the Mark II’s hot shoe, not a biggie for me.

This comes out in June at a list price of US$800 (same as the Mark II but $150 more than the Mark I) and I’ll start eating cheaper lunches now.

The second item concerns Amazon. Last week they somehow managed to game the U.S. Patent Office. They patented the idea of placing an object on a table in front of a white cyclorama, placing a light in front of it, and taking a photo of that object. Unless I’ve seriously misunderstood this, what they’ve basically done is to take something every commercial photographer has done for the past 100 years and said, “No one else has patented it, so why don’t we?”

Anyway, Stephen Colbert does a great job of ripping them a new one over this. Click this link and enjoy!

 

 

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This Is Also Hong Kong

When I posted this photo to my timeline on Facebook, one of the comments I got was from someone who said, “What a shame, it’s probably been re-developed by now.” And that means this photo was successful, in my opinion, because it was shot just two weeks ago but I was hoping it would appear timeless. (By the way, this is just a 5 minute walk from my home.)

 

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And here’s another shot, I zoomed in a bit when the farmer turned around and saw me.

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Another thing about these pictures is that they were shot with my Sony RX100 (Mark 1). Back when I bought the Sony RX10 I was tempted to sell this camera off and I’m so glad I didn’t.  I don’t think there are many cameras out there that can fit into my jeans pockets that have full manual controls, RAW and can take such nicely detailed shots.  These photos were shot RAW and processed in both Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.

I love the wide range of adjustments for monochrome that you can do so easily in SEP, both through the various presets/filters and the sliders. Ansel Adams was once quoted saying, roughly, that when someone looks at one of his photos, he wants them to feel what he felt at the moment he took it. That’s a very inspirational thought to me, and when I do go down to monochrome for an image, Silver Efex Pro helps me to easily get the image to match the one I have in my head.

I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the photographic possibilities in my neighborhood because I’ve mostly been concentrating on studio shoots and band shoots, but I’m going to mix things up a bit more as time goes by.

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Random Sony RX10 Photos

I could post a lot of reasons/excuses why I haven’t posted much lately. I’ve been busy at my day job,  I got married, etc. But I’ll cut to the chase and just post some random Sony DSC-RX10 photos instead. I’m finding that getting sharp focus is a bit inconsistent, at least until I get more familiar with the camera. Even so, I’m having more fun shooting with this than with any previous Sony camera – including the NEX-7. And the fact that Lightroom and Photoshop can now handle the RAW files makes things even better.

ISO6400, f2.8, 1/60th second

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ISO 640, f2.8, 1/160th second, playing around a bit in Perfect Effects

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ISO160, f8, 1/30th second

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ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/50th second, playing around in Silver Efex Pro

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ISO 6400, f2.8, 1/160th, from JPG

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ISO3200, f2.8, 1/160th

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… and finally, a photo taken with the RX10 not taken by me, but of me and my wife on our wedding day

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I just couldn’t resist (in more ways than one).  :-)

 

 

 

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First Impressions on the Sony DSC-RX10

Sony’s new DSC-RX10 may not be as much of a game changer as their new A7 and A7R cameras, but it’s not too shabby, either. (Photos of the camera are grabbed from various spots on the web, other photos are mine)

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When the RX10 was first announced, I didn’t think too much of it. Then a friend of mine bought one and let me play with it and I realized that this camera would suit me on many levels. One week later I succumbed to temptation and bought one.

The Sony DSC-RX10 features a Zeiss 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens that is F2.8 across its entire range, coupled with the same 1 inch sensor to be found in Sony’s RX100 Mark II pocket camera. My initial thought might have been, “Why put such great glass with such a small sensor?” Thinking about it more, the answer became obvious – a larger sensor would have meant larger and heavier glass to achieve the same aperture, and would have made this too large and heavy. It also would have increased the cost significantly.  At US$1,300 list price, it’s certainly not cheap. But with a 24-200mm F2.8 zoom lens, I think the price is relatively reasonable.

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Anyway, what I’m finding so far is that there is a lot to like about this camera.

  • Of course, the lens – I don’t have the most critical eye and won’t run this through batteries of scientific tests – basically I’m finding it sharp across the entire range, perhaps not as sharp as my Nikon 24-70 or 70-200 lenses, but each of those lenses costs more than this entire camera. And a lens hood is included.
  • The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is so good that I forgot it was an EVF and thought it was an optical viewfinder. And thank goodness there’s a diopter.
  • A PASM dial, an aperture ring on the lens and an exposure compensation dial gives me all the controls I want at my fingertips, and without digging through levels of menus. (The outer ring on the lens is for zooming, but if you switch to manual focus that becomes the focus ring, and you zoom via a lever in front of the shutter button).
  • Focus peaking
  • That LCD panel on the top of the camera (with a little button that lights it up)
  • Tiltable large clear LCD screen on the rear of the camera
  • Weather-sealed!
  • A “deep” grip means it’s comfortable to hold and shoot
  • Focusing may not be the fastest in the world but mostly I’ve found it to be quick enough for me
  • While the camera is certainly not light, the weight is reasonable.
  • My friend says this shoots amazing video – I haven’t tried that yet

My biggest gripe so far? Start-up is a bit on the slow side. Also, one has to charge the battery in the camera via the USB cable (or buy an external charger).

So while many are tagging this as an ideal travel camera, for me it may be an ideal every day camera. What I am looking for is something small and light enough to have in my day bag, but versatile enough that I can go into a club and use it to shoot bands at night. And here’s how that is working out:

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That shot above is the all-girl band currently playing at Hong Kong Cafe (formerly Neptune II) in Wanchai. It’s ISO 3200. And since Lightroom can’t yet deal with the RAW files from this camera, that shot is from the JPG, with a bit of post-processing tossed in.

The other thing for me is that while cameras such as Fuji’s X-Pro1, Sony’s NEX-7 and Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 look might attractive, I don’t want really want a second interchangeable lens system. I don’t want to have to go out and buy a range of lenses when I’ve already invested in a full range of Nikon lenses for my D800. This camera also addresses my major gripes with the RX100 – limited zoom range and a lens with a maximum aperture that drops to F4.9 as soon as you start zooming.

I’ve only had the camera for 4 days so it’s too soon to tell for sure. And of course I didn’t get a loaner or a freebie, I spent my own money on it, so I’m predisposed to liking it. Even so, I think this is going to work out fine. Here’s a few more very random shots from the past couple of days.

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(I admit I wasn’t paying close attention to the settings on this shot. I was in aperture priority mode and shooting from the hip so didn’t realize this was at just 1/40th of a second. BTW, this is also ISO 3200.)

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So this now becomes the camera I will carry on a daily basis. I’ll need to decide if I should sell off my Sony RX100. Given that Mark II is out and mine is Mark I, I don’t think I could get a lot for it and it could still be very useful to have a camera that fits in my jeans pockets. Then again, the camera on my iPhone 5S might be good enough in that regard.

 

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New Cameras From Sony – I’m Intrigued

Sony has been making headlines with a lot of intriguing new camera announcements lately.

First came the QX10 and QX100 – seriously scaled down efforts that had a lens and a sensor and then use your smartphone for a screen and controls. Given that the QX100 uses the same sensor as the RX100, I was intrigued – until I found out it’s not capable of saving RAW images and watched a review done by the Digital Rev guys that really bashed the accompanying iPhone app (the review was here but seems to have been pulled).

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Next is the Sony RX10 – a camera featuring a 24-200mm zoom lens with a maximum aperture of F2.8 across its entire range. I lost interest when I found out that this definitely-not-pocket-sized camera was pairing that lens with the same 1 inch sensor in the RX100 II. It’s not a big surprise that the list price for this camera is US$1300 given that sort of glass but I question who the target market for this camera might be.

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Finally we come to something a lot more interesting. After months of rumors about a “full frame NEX” camera, they’ve announced the A7 and A7R – two mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras featuring full frame sensors.

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The A7 features a 24 megapixel sensor and will sell for US$1,700 while the A7R has a 36 megapixel sensor and will go for US$2,300. Here’s the specs for the A7R, which I got from here.

  • Mount: Sony E Full-Frame
  • Sensor Resolution: 36.4 MP
  • Sensor Size: 35.9 x 24mm
  • Image Resolution: 7360 x 4912
  • Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-6,400
  • Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
  • Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 12,800-25,600
  • Processor: BIONZ X
  • Metering System: Advanced 1200-zone evaluative metering
  • Dust Reduction: Yes
  • Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
  • Body Build: Magnesium Alloy
  • Shutter: Up to 1/8000 and 30 sec bulb exposure
  • Storage: 1x SD slot
  • Viewfinder Type: OLED EVF, 2.4 million dots
  • Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  • Speed: 4 FPS
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Autofocus System: Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF)
  • LCD Screen: 3″ TFT LCD with 921,600 dots
  • Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 60 fps max
  • Movie Exposure Control: Full
  • Movie Output: MOV, Uncompressed via HDMI
  • In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
  • GPS: No
  • WiFi: Yes
  • Remote Control: Yes, PC control w/ remote video capture control
  • Battery Type: InfoLITHIUM® NP-FW50 (7.2V)
  • Battery Life: 340 images
  • USB Standard: 2.0
  • Weight: 407g (body only)

This image (from here) kind of sums up what I find intriguing about this camera:

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That’s a Canon EOS 5D Mk III on the left.  It’s probably comparable in size to my Nikon D800. On the right is Olympus’s new OM-D E-M1 – similar in size to the Sony but packing a much smaller M4/3 sensor.

So here’s what I started thinking – my Nikon D800 body weighs 1,000 grams. The Sony A7R, aside from its much smaller size, weighs less than half of that.

My most-used lens, the Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 weighs 900 grams. The Zeiss 24-70mm F4 lens weighs in at 426 grams.

The Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 weighs 1,530 grams. The Sony 70-200mm F4 lens weighs 840 grams.

So I can walk around with 2,000 grams on my shoulder/around my neck or under 1,000. For you young kids out there the difference may not matter much but for an old guy like me, it very well could. On the other hand, an F4 lens is not an F2.8 lens and the differences could be important to me as well. And initially there is no Sony E mount equivalent to my Nikkor 85mm lens, an important lens for me as well.

I recall a couple of years back when I had the Sony NEX-7 that I loved the camera but was very frustrated by the lack of lenses that worked well with its APS-C sensor. The A7 and A7R will have just 5 lenses initially (the two I mention above plus a “kit” lens running 28-70mm with variable maximum aperture, a 35mm F2.8 and a 55mm F1.8). Of course more will come in time.

So the question becomes – would I trade off my Nikon D800, 8 lenses, 2 speedlights, battery grip and other accessories and convert to this new Sony system – primarily because of size and weight? It’s not a decision to be made lightly. I will be looking at reviews very carefully and also watching for new lenses. I don’t see myself making any moves right away, but six months from now it could be a different story.

Even if I don’t go down the Sony road, kudos for them for pushing the market. It will be interesting to see if and how Nikon and Canon respond to these new cameras.

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