Category Archives: Sony

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).

sony-qx100-on-phone

 

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.

zrx10beauty-l__small

 

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.

Sony-A7

 

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:

sony_a7_size_comparison-550x327

 

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.

Share

Sony QX100 – Something New Under the Sun?

sony-qx100-on-phone

 

It’s not often that we see something that’s the result of such outside-the-box thinking as Sony’s soon to be released QX10 and QX100 “cameras.”

As I understand it, each of these may just look like a lens, but when paired with your smartphone, they’re entire cameras. The “body” is a zoom lens, a sensor, a slot for a storage card, a shutter button, a function-assignable ring and a clip. The “body” clips onto your smartphone and uses the phone as the viewfinder, shutter release, back-up storage and presumably other functions as well. The “camera” communicates with your phone via WiFi or NFC – meaning it doesn’t actually have to be clipped to your phone to be in contact with it. You can hold it in the palm of your hand; you can mount it on a tripod – as long as you’re within 15 feet of the camera, you can use your phone as a wireless trigger.

The QX100 is essentially a slimmed down version of Sony’s new RX100 II. Same lens 3.6x zoom lens that’s F1.8 at the wide end. Same 20 megapixel 1 inch sensor. Same processing engine. Image stabilizer. Various auto modes and effects.  HD video recording. Weighing just over 6 ounces with the battery inserted. At a list price of US$500.

The QX10 has a smaller 1/2.3 inch 18 megapixel sensor. A 10X zoom lens that goes from F3.3 at the wide end to F5.9. For US$250.

These are available either in black or in a white/gold combination and are set to be released at the end of September.

Since the QX100 is a rethink of the already proven RX100 II, we can guess that it’s a very capable camera indeed.  Hopefully the necessary iOS and Android apps to run it are also capable. We’ll see if this is just a soon-to-be-forgotten experiment or if it catches on and inspires similar devices from other manufacturers. Either way, kudos to Sony for some truly imaginative thinking here.

But imagine walking down the street using this for street photography. Cupped in the palm of your hand, finger on the release button, most people won’t know you’re holding a camera or taking their picture.

Yes. I want one.

Share

A Big Bunny

 

Standing guard in front of Tai Om Village, much like the Colossus of Rhodes, no? Except probably unlike the Colossus of Rhodes, a minute after I took this photo all the village dogs came over and took turns peeing on it.

Here’s a crop that shows how well the sensor from the Sony RX100 performs.

 

All of the RX100 photos I’ve been posting have been from RAW – though honestly, to my eyes at least, I’m not seeing a huge difference between the JPGs and the RAW files.

Share

A Few Random RX100 Shots

I think the only reason I left the house today was because I pushed myself to do it so I’d get outside and get to know the RX100 a little bit better.  The result – bought 1 of the 2 things I needed to buy and somehow ended up buying shoes that might be too small. Anyway …. outside, the RX100 really shines (pardon the pun).  This first photo more for the textures and the detail rather than anything else:

 

And here’s a crop from the above.

 

Is it as sharp as my D800? No, of course not. But it’s certainly good enough. And since I do crop a lot, having a 20 mega pixel sensor certainly doesn’t hurt.

Maybe some time I should do a post on how horrible it is to have to shoot when you only have an LCD screen and not a viewfinder. Exact framing is all but impossible, especially in bright light. I wish there was an accessory viewfinder available for this, but without a hot shoe I suppose there’s no way to mount one.

And you lose the stability one gets when one holds a camera with two hands, elbows bent, up against your face. Fortunately Sony’s image stabilization works pretty well to compensate for that.

 

Now with some cropping and a few other minor adjustments:

 

As you should be able to see, the detail is fine enough to clearly make out the two characters on those red signs on the door.

I love wandering around in Hong Kong and coming across classic shops like this one:

 

I suppose this sort of image cries out for a black and white treatment, huh?

 

Always something interesting to see along Sai Yeung Choi South Street on a Saturday.

 

A bit further down the street.

 

Doesn’t really look much like RDJ, does it?

 

Well, as I said in the subject for this post, random shots.

But overall, yes, the Sony RX100 is so small and light that one can easily bring it along for the day without having to think twice.  And you can pull it out of your pocket, turn it on and grab a photo (or, ahem, snap a shot) with one hand, which is nice. The small size will definitely be an advantage for remaining inconspicuous or looking like a tourist when shooting crowded streets.

I’m not finding the Sony menus as annoying as I was anticipating. But I’m still not really familiar with the controls – it’s not like a Fuji X camera where everything is right there on dials in front of you.  I need to get a bit more used to the controls and start getting the hell out of “P” mode.

 

Share

I Went for the RX100

I spent days, if not weeks, thinking about the choice of a second, “every day” camera and couldn’t reach a decision. Finally decision time was upon me when my Olympus OM-D was sold.

Checking the photos that were on the memory card in the Olympus, I noted that it was almost two months since I’d last shot with it.  Let’s face it, as wonderful a camera as it is – and it is indeed wonderful – once a lens was on it, it was almost as big as my regular DSLR so I’d end up just going out with the D800 with a 50mm or 35mm on it instead. When the guy I was selling it to was checking it out, I realized as he was checking to make sure the touch screen worked that I had forgotten it even had a touch screen!

Some people told me to consider the Panasonic LX7 (or the Leica D-Lux 6, essentially the same camera). The smaller sensor put me off. Then for awhile I was considering the new Fuji X100s, which is getting some really strong reviews. I love the ergonomics and control on the Fuji, not to mention the hybrid viewfinder, but finally the combination of single fixed focal length lens and the price put me off.

So then I thought, what about the Fuji X20? “Over 50 improvements over the X10” goes the hype, and most of the reviews I’ve read on it said to believe the hype. Again, great controls. Optical viewfinder now with some actual useful information displayed in the viewfinder.  No anti-aliasing filter. And a zoom lens that is at F2.8 at the telephoto end.  I’d had the X10 for a brief period and ended up really disliking it. Of course a big part of the dislike at the time was the inability of Adobe products to properly handle the RAW files, something that has finally been resolved.

But in the end I came back to the Sony RX100. The major deciding factors for me were the larger sensor and the fact that it is small enough to fit into pants pockets.  And I admit I was swayed by the Sony’s 20 megapixel sensor vs. the Fuji’s 12 megapixels, even though I know that the two sensors are technologically quite different.   Last was the fact that I was able to get a good price on it. The list is, if I recall correctly, HK$5390. One shop offered it to me at HK$4980 and I almost said yes. Then I went to a shop where they know me and managed to get it – full box set and Sony warranty – for HK$4450.  (At the moment the asking price for used ones on DCFever is HK$4200, so I think I came out okay here.)

Anyway, I got home late, it’s crappy weather, and after I charged up the battery just fired off a few random test shots in P mode with auto ISO.

 

This shot is ISO 320, 1/30th of a second, f1.8.

And here’s Bogey ….

 

This is 800 ISO, f1.8, 1/30th of a second. To be honest, I did do a bit of processing in Lightroom to this. Here’s a crop:

 

I think the sharpness is there though there’s a bit more noise at ISO 800 than I expected.

Well, the weekend is here and hopefully I’ll get out of the house a little so I’ll try to find something interesting to shoot over the next couple of days.

Share