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Monday, 04 January 2016


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Good choice on the Sony, but can I get it with a 135mm lens? :-)

Now that's a surprise...

Good morning and happy new year. One could say that the biggest thing Sony fixed was the name, which used to be "Minolta." :)

I held off on getting an A series camera for a long time mostly because of all the issues with the A7r and cooked raw files. I finally gave in this fall. With the caveat that I rarely shoot anything that moves, the A7rii with the Zony 55 is the best camera I have owned outside my iPhone (EM-5, D810, Rx-1r are my other digital cameras and I've used the Zeiss ZF and best Nikon primes). The hand-held shooting with incredible file quality is pretty hard to beat. Olympus can support the hand held shooting, but not with the file quality.

There is a serious unmet need for small and high-quality native lenses.

I agree with fws and Mike's sensibilities, except if I were to ever go with a Sony ( I won't be because the lenses will still be too large), it would be with the 12 megapixel A7S Mk II...yes, less megapixels!

Impressive camera to be sure.
And Sony also provided the sensor forThis: https://www.phaseone.com/en/Products/Camera-Systems/XF100MP.aspx
They are on a bigtime roll.
They could easily scale up the A7 body to either of the MF sized sensors they make.

The PhaseOne now offers frame capture During live view , which I take to mean continuous feed, grab frames at will.
Which I am sure is enabled by the Sony Sensor.
They don't say how often you can do it, but it's very interesting.
(24 times and it's RAW Video)
Most impressive to me is how quickly they fixed issues between iterations, including the 11bit compressed RAW.

Also the new sensor is CMOS as expected but also 16b color depth. I wonder if we'll see that on FF and lower.
Amazing stuff

Blarg. Am I the only one who finds the Sony cameras completely uninspiring? Weird handling, wacky sounding shutters and the overall feeling that you're completely plugged into a computer/disconnected from reality. I played around with the first iteration of these cameras and took a pass, then came back again to see if they could change my mind (because in theory they're perfect), and once again walked away cold. I really WANT these cameras to work for me, but it's not meant to be.

I'd say the Sony RX1RM2.
'Cos I got one and it warms me cockles, so it does.

I'm getting used to my Canon 5DsR and I can tell you it requires re-thinking a lot of shots. Since I am a landscape hound, I never go without a tripod now. Slow shutter speeds are a trap. Good to great glass is a must or you'll never get what you think you should from a 50MP sensor. When done correctly, big enlargements (20 X 30) are a delight. In a hurry? expect to be disappointed. I would love to have an 7RII and some compact glass, but the budget has killed that idea for now. I know I can put my Canon glass on one with adaptors but what is the point of a 2 pound camera and a 7 pound lens?

A decade ago, Sony barely existed in the camera world.

[In 2006? Not so. Sony was a mainstream player in digicams in that era. The F-505 for example dates from 1999. --Mike]

I swore never to buy another Sony product after they abandoned one of my first expensive digital cameras. I wonder how long they'll support the A7 line once the upper management realizes that most of the customers aren't buying Sony lens to use with it? I also find it humorous how people spend thousands for the "high-resolution" but then shoot it with fifty-year old hazy lenses..... grouchy grumbles!

My camera of the year, as it has been for the last 40 years in a row, is the Canon F1.

Yes indeed it is the wonder of 2015.

How can it get any better?

Well, Sony being a large consumer electronics company, can turn on a dime because a bean counter somewhere in Japan decides the camera division is not pulling its own weight. They have pulled the rug out of other products and cameras are just more product to them.

[Right, much better to buy from real camera companies with histories in the business, such as Contax, Bronica, Kodak, Rollei, Konica, and Minolta. Er.... --Mike]

Looks to be an impressive camera. However for me the camera of the year is more like the camera of the day. Whichever camera I am using is just fine by me. I pick the one from my arsenal that will do the job best. Each have their own "look". Yes even digi cameras.

Some days my camera of the day is just an Olympus XA. Imparts a very cool look in B&W

Panasonic GX8 is my COTY.

I could be tempted by the Sony if it wasn't so damn ugly. The Minolta heritage coming through, I guess. I'm not curious about it, though. I don't need a FF camera, though I've got one. The camera I'm really curious about is the rumored new Fuji X-Pro2. That's gonna be one good-looking camera, which is important, when the technical differences are now as small as they are.

[And the new 35mm f/2 is perfect for it because it won't block the OVF. --Mike]

For what I see online, they have the best IQ you could ever get.
But, also, they have the worst user interface I have ever seen.

I've never shoot seriously with one of those, just played with the A7II around half an hour in a store, but I get the feeling that If I ever bought one I'd end up feeling uncomfortable and missing my older cameras.

My Cameras of the Year are Olympus E-M5 Mark IIs. Fixed pretty much everything wrong with the Mark I and added improved new functions.

Within 10 weeks, I was so convinced that I added a second body. Never regretted it for a moment. In 10 months since I got the first, they have run up over 7,000 shots.

What no one seems to say in reviews, perhaps because they aren't long tele and/or macro hounds, is the improved IBIS. Shoot a few thousand images a year at 600 mm eq. and it immediately becomes clear that the IBIS is a BIG improvement over the Mark I.

More subtly, it seems to me that EFC and revised shutter design, in place of the 1/8 sec. delay necessary on the Mark I to combat shutter shock, also improve practical detail resolution, although perhaps only noticeable at the extremes of subject magnification. The shutter delay was a useful workaround, and so much better than Panny's head in the sand attitude. But the Mark II goes past workaround to full correction - and doesn't slow shutter response or sound funny.

The High Res Mode is limited to things that don't move for straight shooting, but spectacular for those subjects.* It also adds truer color, by capturing each pixel location with sensels of each color. So, no Bayer demosaicing, and no moiré.

Then, before the year is out, we got a freebie, a big one, automated, in-camera focus stacking (Oly calls it Bracketing). Anyone who has spent far too much time manually focus stacking with focusing rail should be blown away by this! And fast enough to avoid changing light problems. (There's also some video improvement.)

The A7II is obviously a great camera, although not part of a great system. But in another way, it's an ordinary camera. Even the IBIS is either licensed or copycat from Oly.

It's really Olympus that has been leading in actual innovations that allow photographs that couldn't be done before. Anyone actually looked at the Composite Mode introduced with the E-M5 for long exposures? I've not tried the in-camera Focus Stacking Mode added to the E-M1, but have a TG-4 with simpler version. It is simply a game changer. Aim at something, push the button once, wait a few seconds, and get an image with F128+ DoF. On the TG-4, only small close things, on the E-M1, anything.

Oly wins Best Camera for the E-M5 II AND for Best Design/Engineering from me. \;~)>

* Oly claims actual shooting of the 8 exposures will take 1/60 sec. (with fast shutter speeds) in the next iteration - at a guess an E-M1 II.

Mike, next time you get the urge, have a go with an A7II and a Zeiss Loxia f2/35mm. I bet you'll like it.

I have an A7ii. As far as digital goes, I'm now hardly using my D3, or any of the others I have. I use it with Leica, Nikon, and Zeiss lenses. Sure, the interface could be better, but I have worked out what I need and where it is and keep it simple. This is a camera that makes me want to make photographs.


> 1. Pick the lens line you want...2. Find a camera...a Fuji X-Pro1
> because it's about to be replaced and it only costs $499.

'Twas my plan in fact. But here in Japan the X-Pro1 is still around US$650, so I'm still scheming.

Dean Johnston

[That was just an example, not the only recommendation. There are lots of good ways to equip yourself on a severe budget. For instance, consider a two-generations-old Canon entry-level DSLR. You can get those for less than $650. Good luck! --Mike]

@ Mike: "One caveat: I'd say to only buy the lenses you really want."

Better surely to only buy the lenses you need? If you are buying on a budget, I think it's best to buy lenses, or any other accessory, only when the lack of it is stopping you from doing something that you must, something that you ache to do.

Buying kit because you daydream of using it, or because some authority has told you you should have that particular item, costs money that could have been spent on what you really need.

I must agree with the rest of your reply to Jake, though.

I have enough tools except one, a low-light performer. I am seriously looking at the A7S II. Oh, the places I could go with this lightsaber light saver!

This will probably be my COTY in 2017 or 2018, when I can afford it in the used market:) It will then replace my (bought used) A7, for landscape tripod work.

For general shooting, the A7II is a much more sensible option, at about half-price of what the A7RII costs today.

Now, how about recommending the SOTY (system of the year)?

I could be tempted by the Sony if it wasn't so damn ugly.

I have the sqme feeling. Can't help it, looks matter to me a lot. I have decided to go for a super-bridge camera and the brain insists on the FZ1000, especially after Kirk Tuck's many encomuiums to it, but it looks so horrible that I know I will end up with the technically inferior RX10.

If I'd bought an A7 mark 1, I'd be pretty upset. From what I've read, that camera had obvious faults. You have to pay a shedload more money to get a camera that's fixed. This is what makes me hesitant about Sony.

I have the A7RII and while I love the images it produces with some of the better lenses, I always miss my other cameras when I'm using it. The other ones being the Olympus E-M1 and the Canon 1D X.

[The E-M1 was our Camera of the Year in 2013.



I have an A7r2. Yes, the menus are a bit confusing, but that is a one time thing.

Everything I need is now under a button, or, in case of infrequent use, on the 'fn' menu. I still have a few spots unused there. Yes, it took some effort to set up the menu, but now everything is easy.

It is a good thing for Jake that you did not make the COTY a Leica.

Good choice, indeed. (C'mon, what else came close?). Sony cameras have been my principal tools for longer than I realized, nearly 3 years. The A7 cameras have been my main bodies for nearly 1.5 years. Just 5 years ago I would have open-mouth laughed at such a prediction, as I was a true Canon man.

This past summer I spent several days with the Canon 5DSR before buying the A7R2. It's my 5DIII on steroids. Same body, same controls, same image...just a bigger file. I came to realize how accustomed I had become to the A7 features such as articulating screen, high-res high-scan evf, manual focus assist, easy adaptability to other lenses, smallness, and, yes, IBIS. There's no going back for me now.

For those grumpy about the Sony control design I highly recommend investing a significant amount of time configuring your custom buttons and custom function menu. The Sony offers a great deal more customization than, say, a Canon. And with such flexibility ironically comes more complexity. But once you have it set to your style it will become second nature.

My 2nd place nomination for a COY award would be the Sony RX1R II. Wow, talk about taking nearly 100% of the criticisms of prior models and delivering a 110% better product! Same 42 mp sensor as the A7R2, same gestalt as the original RX1, same Zeiss Sonnar lens. But with an articulating led, a fabulous pop-up evf (RX100-style, but better), same general control scheme as the A7's.

I always think I want one of these Sony cameras, mostly because of the image quality and high ISO capability, but also because of the bold steps Sony takes compared to stodgy Nikon and too-canny-by-half Canon. But then I pick one up with a big prime attached, and ask myself, what are you thinking?

I've got this thing about the small format being small - that's supposed to be the whole point, after all; and while I've known for years about the requirement that light strike digital sensors along a perpendicular path, for some reason, via some magical thinking, I kept expecting someone to produce a full frame digital camera in an analog form factor: a Nikon F3 with a 50mm f/2 AIS lens, let's say. (Yeah, I know Nikon never made such a lens.) Maybe I thought this could be done by use of micro lenses around the sensor or something.

It wasn't until I read this recent interview with Takashi Ueno, a product manager with Fujifilm, that the wisdom behind the APS-C sensor size was really driven home for me.

Size does matter, as we all must finally admit, but given a certain minimum image quality the size and shape of the form factor trumps the size of the sensor in the overall shooting experience - at least in my case.

All of which is just a long winded way of saying that I agree with you, Mike, that the A7RII is Camera of the Year for its IQ and daring do, but Fuji X is System of the Year for real use in the real world.

"For my money—literally, as it's what I've spent my own money on most recently—that would have to be Fuji X. But perhaps Micro 4/3 actually ties or even pulls a little ahead, because of the large number of options."

Might have agreed with you re: micro 4/3 about 1 1/2 years ago. And, while there may still be a greater total number of lenses (due to two major manufacturers) with 20 lenses already available for Fuji X, including a 1.4 X teleconverter, it's looking very much like a complete and most importantly, integrated system. A rather remarkable accomplishment in less than four years. And the lenses are getting better and better.

Try finding a Zeiss Batis in stock...

Based on my very personal criteria, i think my camera of the year is the only camera currently without a system. The Leica SL. I love the files my A7R2 produces. In almost every respect it's the sensible choice. There's so little to complain about. Maybe a good 2.8 standard zoom. But that's really it. It has so much packed into it's tiny little shape that it's just the obvious winner.

But I still reach for the SL.

Yep. A camera with exactly one lens and a year before a single AF prime lens is available. A camera that's in desperate need of a second, and possibly a third firmware update to fix some niggling issues. Leica screwed the launch so badly that not only is there a single lens, the brochure shows compatibility with lenses where there's no adaptor even available yet. It's bordering on false advertising. It's a camera that just doesn't make sense right now.

But I still reach for the SL.

It's so addictive as a camera. Beautifully built. Solid as a rock. Sensational in use. I am a registered Leica fanboy. But even I was skeptical. I wasn't ever going to buy a large stupid camera with one lens. Hell, my 4 year old Sony a99 has an almost identical spec sheet, except it has IBIS AND a lens range. But I made the mistake of going to the Leica launch. And now I'm hooked.

And I think I know why. Apart from all the usability stuff that Leica always does so well, this camera has potential. I can actually see what Leica is thinking now I've used one for a month or so. When a few more lenses turn up this really could be a viable alternative for so many working photographers and enthusiasts. Sure, no sports photographer will use one, no matter what Leica says but in reality the photographers who actually need the super predictive AF of a D4S are no that big a group. Any photographer in the domestic market will love this camera, if they can justify the cost. On paper this camera makes no sense. What ever you do, don't pick one up.

I think the SL will have an influence on the big three. (Sony, Fuji and Olympus :) ) I think you'll see a larger, better built "pro" camera from the other mirrorless players who've seen that mirrorless doesn't have to mean so small that it handles like crap with a flash in the hotshoe. I think you'll see more emphasis on the weather sealing and ruggedness, dual card slots etc. Maybe even Canon and Nikon will see there's a market for a real mirrorless camera for the serious photographer.

So with respect, I think the A7R2 is a nice camera but not the one that'll have an effect on the industry or the one that'll be even remembered in a couple of years. That'll be the SL.


I eagerly awaited the arrival of the A7Rii for months. When it was finally released to great fanfare, what did I do? I bought a Nikon D810.

Why? I wanted a studio camera for portraiture with strobes and it just seemed like the right choice. Also, I purchased an EM5mkii in the summer but never gelled with it and felt like I had enough of the great electronic viewfinder swindle.

I was very close to buying the Sony and felt that I would have buyer's remorse. Who buys year-old (plus) tech anyway? This post almost brought it on... but still, no.

The Sony is an amazing piece of technology for sure and the photos I've seen from it are impressive. But for all of the talk about DSLRs being film technology mindlessly applied to digital and limiting its potential, one thing overlooked is that it is a mature approach that works.

Anyway, camera technology marches on. Soon, digital may even look better than film. :-)

Well Mike, I know you like car analogies...

The A7RII reminds me of the Nissan GT-R and the XT1 is more like Mazda's new MX5.

A technical tour-de-force with every driver aid imaginable and capable of incredible performance, vs. a simple, tactile lightweight that relies on the fundamentals and is fun to drive to work.

There is a good reason to by either, but they don't appeal to the same type of petrol-head.

COTY: Oly EM-5 II. Sure, I wish it had better high ISO performance. But the image quality at ISO 200 is fine, if not outstanding. The Pro lenses are super. The livetime feature for long-exposures is invaluable by eliminating tedious guesswork. The multi-shot feature is great. As a workaround, I often take a single shot at base ISO along with an 8-shot exposure. That way, I've got a decent enough file to mask out 8-shot artifacts.

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