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Thursday, 24 October 2013


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Back to basics - apply Vaseline to UV filter - that'll sort it.

Looking at these samples I agree with comment by Kilkry on the blog:
'You would need to use maybe a Jupiter 8 wide open for a female model, or run some sort of "smoothing" in post processing. I see now what "good for portraits" means :)'

This camera may push up the prices of Summitars and other vintage lenses that are more flattering to skin textures.

Amazing, incredibly sharp! I agree - Yuck. Might have something to do with Gustav's amazingly, incredibly, HARD lighting setup, but then maybe that was the point.

In this case, I suppose you could say that the model's skin and features are good enough to tolerate the 'scrutiny', but still, an unflattering look IMO.

The files look like they came from a Phase One IQ180 rather than the latest digicam, but I still think the lighting plays a part in the ubersharp effect.

Seems an odd photo to show off the camera. For landscape though, this resolution is awesome. And you can always get rid of detail in post, but you can't ever get more once you've snapped the shutter.

One can always get a Zeiss Softar filter.

I can only reiterate what I've said before: Its easier to 'blur' a sharp image, and control the degree of blur, when you have a sharp image, than it is to get sharpness and/or more resolution from a low res file. I'll go with sharper every time.

All this detail to kill it later airbrushing the skin to eleven

On the negative side: I am surprised that zeiss lens shows so much veiling.

On the positive: detail! I held in my hands the RX1 the other day and was a striking moment. From the purely physical standpoint it was the best camera I've held in my hands, ever. It was spectacular. If these new two are more like the RX1 and less like the nex7, I am going to have a hard time convincing myself not to buy one.

Interesting photos. But please SPELL CHECK.

If her face wasn't caked with clown paint it would be quite attractive. Skin has pores and texture and hair. That's life. The sooner everyone gets used to it, the happier everyone will be...

Dear Mike,

Absolutely, because it's well-known that once sharpness has been captured in a photograph, there's just no way to get rid of any of it. "Out, damned detail," she wailed to no avail. [vbg]

OK, now to be serious -- Eye-candyish as they may be, these kinds of photos are pretty well useless for telling you how sharp some new camera or lens is. The fact is that digital cameras hit the "Oh look, we can resolve individual hairs and eyelashes and wrinkles" last CENTURY. Turned out to only take a handful of megapixels. It proved to be a very, very low bar.

Back then, these kinds of photos were useful to convince pros that them thar new-fangled digital cameras could produce professional results. Anyone still need convincing? Hands?

Nowadays, all these are good for is to let you know the camera's at least as good as one you could buy fifteen years ago.

pax / Ctein

Question (because this kind of portraiture isn’t my chosen field): isn’t hyper-detail and/or hyper sharpness sort of the point of a picture like this? Wouldn’t this same picture, taken with say a 2007-era 6mp camera, still be just as detailed in areas where that detail isn’t required, namely the skin? Wouldn’t a lens-camera combination that is less relenting detailed, that averages out her skin texture, also offer insufficient detail in her eyelashes and iris/pupil?

Strokes for folks & horses for courses, I suppose. :)

Yuck, indeed. I know there is a contingent out there that likes to print and process in this style, but that is screechingly over the top.

In the comments he tells the group he shot Jpeg as Raw support is not yet available. And he set the in-camera contrast and sharpness both at +1.

Maybe if women had mirrors like that they wouldn't be so keen on spending time & money putting all that crap on their faces?

I liked the comment about using a Jupiter 8 for portraits!

Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it though, right?

Just use Leica lenses with it.

Without exaggeration, I am positive that this is the camera that is going to change my life as a photographer forever - and that of many others too. It has the potential to usher in a new era in digital landscape, nature, architecture and product photography. I've been "waiting" for it for about three years now for some very specific reasons that I'll be able to reveal soon ;) - stay tuned.

Good thing the A-mount adapter softened things up.

That harsh flash isn't helping things either.

I agree with "yuck".

I think its still worth getting the camera, just don't get the expensive, ridiculously sharp lenses Sony is selling with it.

If your trepidation is over the extreme detail provided by this camera sensor, there are easy solutions. Once upon a time fashion photographers depended on filters to accomplish this. Now we have more choices with software effects. Personally,I would prefer an instrument capable of such detail even though I might not always need it.

In the responses on his blog, somebody asked if he was sharpening in post-processing. This, in a photo where you could pick out the individual fine hairs on the models face...8-)

That's disgusting!
I ordered mine last week and already have Contax and Nikon adapters (with tripod mount)... just waiting impatiently while I clean old lenses.

After that last bit of drool, I looked at the posts at the other end of the link. He was shooting camera jpgs with sharpness and contrast in camera +1. I don't usually shoot people (and never jpgs) but even for landscapes I that would be too sharp. But if the raw files have that same qualityI bet I could smooth it.

Is this a case of being 'too sharp' for portraits? I really noticed the lipstick bleeding etc - 12MP is already enough challenge for my retouching abilities... maybe Sony/Zeiss can start selling new Softar filters to go with the A7r :)

This illustrates what happens when you take a portrait in JPEG mode with the contrast and sharpness turned up. No kidding!

Maybe these high megapixel cameras will usher in a new conception of beauty, one where being able to see every vellus hair is the Platonic ideal.

I agree that the featured images are not very attractive, but I'm not sure if your lead is sarcasm or not - the author was using OOC jpegs, which could be overly sharpened as compared to the raw image. I sure wish the author had spent time to make them suitable for the subject.

To quote Yngwie Malmsteen, "More is more"; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHZ48AE3TOI

No, I don't want a 30+ megapixel camera, mirrorless or no, thank you very much. Every pro I've spoken to using very high-res dSLRs, e.g. the Nikon D800, or now, the A7R, is that the resolution is so high that images need to be shot using a tripod or the slightest camera movement will show up. I've never bought in to the megapixel race, and I proved it when I sent you a tack-sharp and beautifully detailed 13X19" print taken with a 4 megapixel Canon 1D. 16-24 megapixels is the most I can envision ever needing for all but the very largest, billboard sized prints.


I'm not sure that I think it's possible for a lens or camera to be "too sharp." Yes, photographs can be, but then that can often be fixed in Lightroom with a bit of negative Clarity. The photos you linked to remind me a lot of some from a Sigma DP3 Merrill that I saw a few months ago over on Luminous Landscape. They were also of a model with heavy make-up. The DP3 also produces super-sharp, highly detailed images (although with a 15MP APS-C sensor).


Does the camera have a Bayer filter over the sensor? The photographer noted further down in the answers to questions, that he was applying in-camera sharpening during the captures. One then has to take another look at the makeup used on the model and how it is reacting to the type of flash he is using. In-camera flash can be too strong and contributing to the look. Still, the detail is amazing. Alas it is not the classic soft focus look that can be so alluring.

"On the negative side: I am surprised that zeiss lens shows so much veiling."

And here I thought the opposite! There were obviously spotlights facing into the camera. There is veiling, but the image integrity holds up exceedingly well I thought.


When I first saw this, I was stunned 'cause it looked as sharp as 120 based digital, and actually looked a lot like my stuff on film from a Zeiss on a Hasselblad...the problem here, of course, is that it's lit "too hard" with a smaller "point" sized light. No one in their right minds (or hopefully a professional doing fashion) would light someone like this (unless they were looking for a specific "look"). The sharpness is so nice I can just imagine the same scene with a large Octabox lighting it! This is another example of why people need to lay off that tiny strobe built in the camera. Harsh and blue!

This portrait would have probably looked more "pleasing" if the camera hadn't had sharpening and contrast set to +1.

Maybe I'm weird, but I find the facial hair and skin texture alluring.

Too much information!

These are no 100% crops as far as I can judge, so given the lighting and (unknown) PP regime I cannot really judge whether these are any sharper than (say) a D800e with a 35mm F1.4.

I would expect it to be pretty good, of course. But cannot tell from this, really.

The only two ways to get 36 MP of resolution are with a flash or a tripod. Both of which negate the size advantage. Use it handheld without flash (which seems to be the reason to choose it over a DSLR) and you can't get 36 MP.

So I don't see the point.

Yes, but what's the colour like? I swapped a Panasonic for an Olympus because the latter company knows how to get colour out of their machines.

It may be too sharp for chicks (chicas); perfect for tame birds though.

I'm a little interested in resolving eyelashes, etc, in the context of full-length portraits. Particularly at higher than base ISOs. The first example with the 35/2.8 looks like it is at least a third of the way there, or perhaps halfway. (Though that veiling glare...!) Have I been incorrect in my belief that we hadn't made it that far yet?


I'm sure the "too sharp, too detailed" was tongue-in-cheek. But I've never heard a model say "I want to see more pores!" There such a thing as too much detail, especially in portraiture.

I've stopped reading a certain photography website because all they seem to talk about is sharpness and megapixel count. There's so much more to photography.

I'm no expert, but I do own a 36mp Nikon D800E and these images look not only sharp but sharpened and over sharpened at that. I rarely use my D800E without a tripod and agree with Arg that a tripod is necessary to achieve full resolution with a 36mp camera.

Um . . . is it too late to change my mind on that free camera for a year thing? I mean, look, if the Leica S2 is already on it's way to my house, no worries, I'm sure I can make do. But if I could have one of these instead (let's see . . . comparable IQ, tons smaller and lighter, and a fraction of the price), that would be really nice too! ;)

Perhaps a practical cure for my medium format envy....

I'm surprised at the high share of negative comments.

As a photographer who concentrates on people, I'd love to have that level of detail in the eyelashes and irises. As to the skin texture, there are times I'd tone it down but also plenty of times I'd want to keep it.

I was at Photoplus today. The A7/A7r booth was very busy. I found one attached to a 70-200/2.8 on the new LA-EA4 adapter at a separate display of "big glass". AF seemed pretty reasonable with that combo (hard to judge, as the old 70-200 was no speed demon; this was the new version II and it was quicker but no match for my Nikon on a DSLR). Anyway, that aside, it seemed like a really nice, solid, simple camera. I'm pretty well used to Sony's interface and can switch between it and Nikon (it does not have the poor menu found on NEX models, thankfully ... hopefully that disappears for good along with the NEX name).
I have to say that while the EVF was very detailed, it still had a mini-TV-screen look that while very functional, I just don't enjoy as much as a good OVF. I'd use it in a heartbeat, but I still don't love it. It was very contrasty; I don't know if that can be controlled via settings, but I found the EM1 nicer, despite reports that it has the same EVF. Sony had several very large prints made with it that looked beautiful. Judging from the attention it was getting from all the well-heeled pros, it should do well.
I didn't get to see the native lenses up close. I was very impressed with the compactness of the m43 lenses that I'd never paid attention to before, specifically the miniscule 45/1.8, the 75/1.8 and the 12-40/2.8. And that thing focuses fast. But talk about a camera with a different control system ... customizable, but alien. Lots of nice stuff out there; we're spoiled for choice.

One aspect of very high resolution image files which is rarely talked about is that they down-sample into rich, subtly gradated prints at more reasonable sizes. You don't have to be into 40" x 60" murals to appreciate this "hidden" benefit.

I think that with a 36 megapixel sensor any decent prime could be used as a zoom lens - just crop it down to the right size,- there is plenty of resolution for that. 55mm lens could easily become a 75mm. This way, you can also control perspective. Anyway, if i want soft and fuzzy pictures, i could use some rusty old Industar or Jupiter lens on this camera.

Dear Folks,

This oft-repeated business of "you can't make really sharp pictures with this kind of camera without a tripod (or strobes)"?

I'm sorry. It's bunk. I can do it. Other people can do it. Maybe everyone can't do it, and certainly no one can do it under all conditions, but it's eminently do-able. Really, not even arguable, because there exist the demonstrated counter-examples.

And, even if it weren't true, arguing that this means that ultra-high resolution is actually a detriment to sharp photography is like arguing that you'd get sharper photographs loading Tri-X into your camera than TMAX-100 (ignoring the ISO difference, of course). It's just patently ridiculous on the face of it.

I can entirely believe most people don't NEED that pixel count. I certainly don't, and I'm fussier than the average bear. But there's a huge difference between "don't need" and "couldn't even use."

pax / Ctein

FYI -- The original poster has uploaded some landscapes taken with the A7R:


Interesting that several people seem to think you need a tripod to get all the resolution out of a 36 MP sensor since the pixel density is about the same as a 15 MP APS-C sensor and much less than the 24 MP APS-C sensors. In decent light with a reasonably fast lens, I have no problem getting critically sharp images with my 16 MP Nex 5n or my 24 MP Nex 7. So I can't see why the 36 MP A7r would be a problem.
BTW, if you took the pixel density of a 24 MP APS-C sensor, it would equate to a 54 MP full frame sensor.

To those on here that said this detail in a camera is a waste unless you use a tripod, I say: I've been a professional photographer for almost 40 years, specializing in advertising and catalog, and I don't remember taking a picture for money in the last 30 of them where I didn't use a tripod! In fact, many times I think about the tripod I'm going to be bringing before I select the camera...

As we used to say years ago, you know you've brought the right tripod when it's a drag to carry...

Mike: maybe it's just that I am spoiled by that new Nikkor...

Great, now we can be pore-peeping. What do you want?

Is this a portrait or a microscopic analysis of facial features ? It's beyond portrait, or not a portrait. Is this level of analysis actually relevant for this subject ? This type of picture has been possible/made for many years but suddenly so many people are besotted by the impact of oversharp on heavy make up (that lends itself to displaying sharpness due to its powdery coarseness accentuating hairs, pores and wrinkles (up close). It's sharp, move on, nothing else to see here.

Electronic viewfinders scare me. I guess I need to go to a store and try it in person.

I had the chance to play with this camera for a few minutes today in the sony store in Chengdu,China. I think it would be great if instead of showing you 100% of the image in the viewfinder there was an option to show you frames wheen using Leica M lenses, the way M cameras do. That is one of the great things about Leica rangefinders. It shouln't be too much trouble to do it.

At last! I'm last? Again? Is this the final comment on this topic? I never get the last word at home – how is this possible?
Thanks to the pleasure I take from reading others TOP readers' comments, by the time I organize my thoughts everyone has moved on to other topics. Never mind - this is how I learn.
I love photography, and even more,I love the hardware of photography.A knowledgeable fan is not necessarily a judge - I’ve never had the eyes, the optical design background, the patience to learn, nor the depth of knowledge to pass judgment on the quality of lenses – so I’ve always purchased lenses based on the opinions of others – hopefully experts.
In my younger days everyone loved these pictures – “you can see every pore, every eyelash, every freckle !” We discussed them, we honored them by buying lenses based on them. As a fanboi (before fanbois were invented) I once determined to own the best dozen or so SLR lenses regardless of body. (Even then I knew I couldn’t afford the best RF lenses.) Besides the obvious Nikon /Canon, names like Vivitar, Konica, Exacta, Kyocera (Contax), Ricoh and Minolta, popped up . Seeing every lash, every pore, every facial hair (and worse) though far from pretty, used to be part of the “wow look- a the new Flectoflex with the Macro-Nichtlicht f.075 lens” experience. You never knew when LIFE would call with an assignment to shoot a mouse’s eyelash at twilight. You had to be ready.

Some of the comments above inspired me to write this little confession;

Dear Ctein – cogent, funny, to-the-point, knowledgeable, a for-real physicist, smart as heck, a great writer, and has lived a life centered around the art and science of photography. And those are his lesser qualities. Thanks for the logic in the hyped megapixel wars. I do remember when the Contax full frame 6 mpx DSLR arrived, and everyone had previously agreed that we had enough pixels to do anything at 6. I also remember (and sorely miss) my D700 which literally COULD do anything I needed at 12 mpx.

Dear John Krill – I usually agree with the “Spell Check” remark – unless the author is obviously not a native English speaker – like Gustav.

Dear Peter Urban – I can’t wait to see how Sony can “change your life as a photographer forever.” That’s how I felt about the Minox when I was nineteen.

Dear Mike – Just keep doing what you’re doing. Please.

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