Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sony A7iii (a.k.a. A7M3)

1/400 sec., f4, 500 ISO
The follow focus on this camera works well for you once you've figured out the best way to use it!
I'm really excited about this camera, so I'm gonna write more about it. The lens with which all these shots were taken (Sony FE 4/24-105 G OSS) is also terrific.
If you are here, then you've watched some of the video reviews on this camera. I'm not going to make a video review; I'll let you skim over this till you get to the juicy part you want to read about. It goes quicker for you that way.

This is a still excerpted from a 4K video taken with the A7iii
I'm not much of a fan of the video formats: Introductory music and teaser - Photographer introduces himself and his location - He/She says what he's going to cover in the video - He makes some jokes, usually with friends (usually a "guy thing") - (This next part I hate:) He tells you that this new, "basic" camera has a lot of the same features as the much more expensive A7riii and/or A9 - He wonders how Sony could afford to do that - He tells you what is missing (only 10fps, no lock button on the PASM dial, etc.) - Then he gets to the point half-way through the video. Half of the information will be so basic that your grandmother could have told it to you - There will be one tweak or hint that will be useful. Unfortunately, you'll forget it after a couple of days and not know which of the dozens (soon to be hundreds) of Sony A7iii videos you saw it in. Luckily, you can always come back here to read about the camera!

In my last blog I said I'd pass on my real-world discoveries to you. First, two tweaks that you won't find in the manuals:
1. To stop the Eye-start AF (developed by Minolta in 1992) from blacking out your display when the strap or your fingers get too close to the viewfinder, simply pull out the display a few millimeters and you won't have the problem any more.
2. When reviewing the pictures you've just taken, quickly tap twice on the display to zoom in and then move the photo with your finger to view the part you want to see. Tap twice again to return to the normal view.

1/250, f5, 100 ISO
It is a shame that this JPEG is so muddy. I think it may, however, be due to the fact that I had the noise reduction set to "Normal", which would even affect the low-ISO images. 

1/320 sec., f5, 100 ISO

1/50 sec., f4.5, 6,400 ISO
The detail on the building is pretty much lost at this ISO
and with "Normal" in-camera noise reduction.
That will be different when converting from RAW.

These two photos were taken at 1/80 sec., f4 and 4,000 ISO

Count the whiskers! It was nearly dark when I took this picture at 1/20 sec., f5 and 12,800 ISO

The thing I first fell in love with here was the ability to set minimum shutter speed settings while in Auto ISO mode. I'm sure I asked for it in some forum years ago. And here it is!
So you are inside shooting an event and want to get the best quality photo but need to maintain a certain shutter speed to keep from capturing blurry hand and head movements. You set the ISO ASS (Auto Minimum Shutter Speed) accordingly: Slower, Slow, Standard, Fast, Faster. Or set it to the specific shutter speed you need/prefer - anywhere from 30" to 1/8000"! That is an amazing plus for this camera!

1/50 sec., f4, 2,000 ISO

1/100 sec., f4, 4,000 ISO
Pretty clear bell on that trombone even at this high setting!
Last time I wrote that I'd tell you about the pros and cons of the touch screen. Well, in the mean time I have not come up with any cons except that you might smear the display with your fingers, but even that hasn't happened yet with mine. I thought my nose would continually move the focus point when I hit the display, but that has yet to happen. To be on the safe side, though, I've set the active part of the touch screen to the right-hand 1/4 and then have the movements set to "absolute position". This way I can easily change the movable focus point with your thumb. (More on your thumb in the next post.)

Saving some really good news for last today:
First, the new NP-FZ100 battery life is amazing. I shot a two-hour concert and was still at 78%. I don't need any more than that, although I will want a second one in my bag (€90 - ouch!) when I'm out all day. With the tiny old NP-FW50, I'd have been on 17% and reaching for a new one.

1/250, f4, 8,000 ISO
That is amazing detail for this setting!
Second, the start-up time for turning on the camera is lightning fast. I don't know how the engineers managed it this time (and not in previous iterations!), but it's a pleasure.

Next time I'll write a bit about exposure and white balance settings that are new and improved in the A7iii. Let me know if you have any specific questions regarding this camera, and I'll try to answer them for you.

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