Sony mirrorless primer??

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#1
Northern Virginia
1,633 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
I'm sure that's a pretty broad question, and a cruise board is a slightly odd place to ask,but I'm not ready to dive into a pure photography board (and I know Pierces is a big advocate of Sony)!

Here's the situation: I currently own a Canon T2i with some pretty decent APS-C glass (Sigma 30 mm f/1.4, Canon 60 mm f/2.8 Macro, Canon 15-85 IS USM, Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 EX HSM OS), and a G7X. I'm finding the G7X goes with me 90%+ of the time for convenience. I'm doing a fair amount of advanced hobbyist "product photography" (mostly watches, another sickness with cruising, cameras, etc.), some of which I publish online. That involves macro shots, and far too frequently "uncontrolled" and relatively low light, photography.

So, if I were made of money, I'd probably buy a Leica M and learn to use a rangefinder again. Not made of money, and even though I love the results you can get with a Leica, that's not really on my horizon. The TL line looks cool, but the bodies are expensive and the glass outrageous.

I'm finding myself drawn to the theory of a Sony mirrorless. The A9 is now the "bright shiny object", and most of what jumps out online concerns it. The a6500 looks like a really cool camera, and there is an amazing (and priced accordingly) Zeiss macro lens for the APS-C sized Sony's. The A7 models seem to come in enough flavors to drive one crazy.

Help?? How does Sony's APS-C sensor perform in lower light and for closeup/macro photography? Pros/cons? If I want to look full frame, which A7 model do I look at? (At the A9 price point I'd probably look at the Leica, for the same logical reason that I'd look at a Porsche 911S if $100K+ was suddenly in play for a car; i.e., no reason other than emotion.)

Appreciate any thoughts, and point me at where to look for good information.I have looked at the dpreview review of the a6500. As one would expect, it looks great for action photography. I'm going to be in Manhattan this weekend, and am staying two blocks from B&H, so I'm probably going to stop by and look and handle some Sonys (and probably a Leica or two).

Thanks!
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#2
Southern California
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Originally posted by markeb
I'm sure that's a pretty broad question, and a cruise board is a slightly odd place to ask,but I'm not ready to dive into a pure photography board (and I know Pierces is a big advocate of Sony)!

Here's the situation: I currently own a Canon T2i with some pretty decent APS-C glass (Sigma 30 mm f/1.4, Canon 60 mm f/2.8 Macro, Canon 15-85 IS USM, Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 EX HSM OS), and a G7X. I'm finding the G7X goes with me 90%+ of the time for convenience. I'm doing a fair amount of advanced hobbyist "product photography" (mostly watches, another sickness with cruising, cameras, etc.), some of which I publish online. That involves macro shots, and far too frequently "uncontrolled" and relatively low light, photography.

So, if I were made of money, I'd probably buy a Leica M and learn to use a rangefinder again. Not made of money, and even though I love the results you can get with a Leica, that's not really on my horizon. The TL line looks cool, but the bodies are expensive and the glass outrageous.

I'm finding myself drawn to the theory of a Sony mirrorless. The A9 is now the "bright shiny object", and most of what jumps out online concerns it. The a6500 looks like a really cool camera, and there is an amazing (and priced accordingly) Zeiss macro lens for the APS-C sized Sony's. The A7 models seem to come in enough flavors to drive one crazy.

Help?? How does Sony's APS-C sensor perform in lower light and for closeup/macro photography? Pros/cons? If I want to look full frame, which A7 model do I look at? (At the A9 price point I'd probably look at the Leica, for the same logical reason that I'd look at a Porsche 911S if $100K+ was suddenly in play for a car; i.e., no reason other than emotion.)

Appreciate any thoughts, and point me at where to look for good information.I have looked at the dpreview review of the a6500. As one would expect, it looks great for action photography. I'm going to be in Manhattan this weekend, and am staying two blocks from B&H, so I'm probably going to stop by and look and handle some Sonys (and probably a Leica or two).

Thanks!
Tee Sony APS-C cameras (A6300, A6000) are gifted with excellent low-light performance. Their DxOMark scores are higher than all but 4 of Canon's DSLRs (including full-frame models) and significantly higher than the full-frame M9 Leicas. Since close-up photography is more lens-based, I'll assume they are as good as the light you have available. My

Focusing on the A6000 is fast and accurate and the A6300 is better. THe burst rates are similar but the A6300 offers a real-time live view at up to 8 fps with full autofocus, tracking and metering.They will both do 11 fps but the A6000 gives up continuous focus to its younger cousin.

As for lenses, the new (and expensive) GMaster lenses from Sony are rated at the top of what's available and there are plenty of native lenses such as the 18-105 f/4 G and their surprising 50mm f/1.8 that offer excellent image quality. Because of the extremely short flange to senor distance, there are literally hundreds of non-Sony and manual lenses that can be used via adapter (including Canon adapters that will autofocus).

The path away from DSLRs was difficult for me...until I shot with the A6000. When the A6300 came along, I put the DSLR on the shelf and that was that. I have been shooting for over 50 years (started young ) and while I may someday move to full-frame, I feel no real pressure to do so when I consider the size advantage and image quality that the APS-C Alphas offer.

Here are links to a couple of reviews I did when I forst got them:

http://www.pptphoto.com/articles/a6000.html
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showp...7&postcount=20

And some links to galleries shot with A6000/A6300.

Southern Caribbean 2017: http://galleries.pptphoto.com/caribbean2017

Lava Tour, Hawaii: http://galleries.pptphoto.com/lava

London 2017: http://galleries.pptphoto.com/london2017

Macro stuff:

W/100mm f/2.8 Minolta Maxxum A-mount






Macro-ish with 18-105 lens.


As you may have guessed by now, I am very happy with both cameras. The A6300 is the go-to but I shoot with the A6000 fairly often as well.

Both are highly recommended.

For thel answer about full frame A-series. My first choice would be based on the type of shooting:

Events, sports - A9 - Silent, fast and nearly unmatched focusing.
Landscape, portraits, detail - A7r II - Resolution to burn and stellar low-light capability.

Dave
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#3
Northern Virginia
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Joined Apr 2009
Thanks!

What do you think about the 6300 versus 6500?

How did you light the bottle cap shot? Obviously lighting is arguably as important as the body and glass. If that's natural light, I'm sold...
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#4
Southern California
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Joined Jan 2003
Originally posted by markeb
Thanks!

What do you think about the 6300 versus 6500?

How did you light the bottle cap shot? Obviously lighting is arguably as important as the body and glass. If that's natural light, I'm sold...
The cap shot was lit by a nearby lamp with the built-in flash bent back and bounced off the ceiling about 6ft above the subject.

This was shot lit by room light from an adjoining room so I could catch the alcohol flame.


Lit by a wall sconce about 5 ft away and the computer monitor behind it.


Our 21-year-old cat playing hide the kitty in an empty box lit by a window about 15ft to the right.
A6300 with the 18-105 G at f/4, ISO6400, 1/13s handheld.


A6000 Rokinon 12mm f/2 - F/2, 10s at ISO6400


The A6x00 cameras all do quite well at higher ISO in all sorts of light.

The A6500 came out a couple of months after my NEX-7 died and I picked up the A6300 to replace it. Had the untimely death occurred a little later, I would have gone with the A6500 for the in-body stabilization. All the other camera specs are virtually identical between the A6300 and the A6500 which is why I haven't bothered to pick up the A6500. Both are highly recommended.

Dave
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#5
10,615 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
I'll disagree a bit. My a6000 with the Sony 18-105 G does ok in low light. Not great. Just Ok. I know what the specs and tests say but I find the image quality not up to my D500 in similar conditions and with a similar lens.

Now that doesn't make it a bad camera, especially for the price, but if I am shooting low light and carrying gear I take the D500.
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#6
Boca Raton, Florida
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Joined Sep 2004
The primary differences between the A6300 and A6500 come down to mostly 1 major area - stabilization built into the body. There are minor tweaks, but really that's the selling point. Focus system, speed, sensor are all essentially identical. The A6300 was a bigger step up from the A6000 before it, mostly in sensor improvements which made high ISO performance a bit better, most notably in color and lower chroma noise - we're talking at the very high end of ISO6400 and up. Also, the focus system made a fairly big step with the A6300 with more focus points, improved tracking, improved compatibility with autofocus adapters, and some significant control improvements.

For low light photography in general and extreme high ISO - several full-frame models will be the best overall - especially the A7S models specifically designed for high ISO, the A9 with the newest sensor with larger pixels, and the A7RII which just has an abundance of pixels to make up for it - all of those could be pushed into 6-digit ISO levels and still be quite usable. But the A6300 made a nice step up over the A6000, most notably with the dynamic range boost pushed in at ISO1600, the better detail retention, and the elimination of the purple chroma noise that creeped into the previous sensor at ISO6400...it's considered the best of the APS-C sensors in DXO ratings but also real-life shooting is quite impressive at some ridiculous ISO levels.

I pushed my A6300 in extreme low light wildlife shooting just to see what it could do - I was using a slow 70-300mm F5 lens, after dusk, shooting from a moving truck, and shot exclusively JPG - no RAW conversions and no post processing...I was testing out to see just how the camera's internal processing handled ISO levels at the very high end - ISO 10,000 and higher. Not to mention ability to quickly focus on animals in dark conditions from a moving truck, which shows pretty solid ability to lock on in very low light conditions. Some samples:

This is ISO 16,000:


And this is ISO 32,000:


ISO 25,600:


Those are resized for web, and not post-processed - yes, there's noise, but I find the noise character at those ISO levels to be quite uniform and fine, free of chroma, and still returning quite good contrast and preserving detail. Someone wanting to clean up can run a little noise software, or shoot RAW and work them yourself for even better results - but my test was what the JPGs in camera could produce at those levels.

There are also some nice trick features in Sony cameras which are excellent for high ISO shooting when you need lower noise and preserve very fine details - most notably the Multi-Frame-Noise-Reduction ISO mode. If you don't mind shooting JPG, you can choose to shoot a 'stacked' shot, using the camera's very fast 11fps capability, to fire off a series of frames of your subject and stack them internally into a single frame, averaging out the noise and rebuilding the details...it can allow you to shoot an image 2-4 stops higher with the same level of detail and lack of noise...perfect for those extremely high ISO needs. It's not as suitable for moving targets, but great for landscape, detail, closeup work, etc...and can be done handheld.

Here's an example of an ISO 25,600 shot, handheld, outside my house at night:


And a link to the full resolution uncropped shot: https://s3.amazonaws.com/masters.gal...BZgNO1ZPD4I%3D

Or this one which is indoors at the same ISO 25,600 MFNR mode, full resolution uncropped link:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/masters.gal...PDOJrATFGr0%3D


I've been impressed at this little camera for low light work.

As Dave mentioned, in the full frame choices, it will come down to action shooting for sports or wildlife (A9) or maximum IQ/quality for landscape, stills, closeup, product, etc photography (A7RII).
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#7
Northern Virginia
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Joined Apr 2009
Made it to B&H yesterday. The had the 6500 mated to the Sony/Zeiss 16-70 f/4. Wow!

Long chat with their Sony guy. He's really saying 6500 unless I want to sacrifice size for the A7 RII. He really wouldn't recommend any other A7 over the crop.

The 6500 felt right. With the 16-70, it's not that much bigger than my G7X. It should fit easily into my carry on for travel without needing a camera bag.

No purchase yet, but the 6500 + 16-70 f/4 + either the Zeiss 50mm macro or the Sony G 90mm macro had my attention. I'd probably eventually look at a 30mm f/1.4 (Sigma?) to fill out the set.

Any other thoughts on that?
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#8
Southern California
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By
Originally posted by markeb
Made it to B&H yesterday. The had the 6500 mated to the Sony/Zeiss 16-70 f/4. Wow!

Long chat with their Sony guy. He's really saying 6500 unless I want to sacrifice size for the A7 RII. He really wouldn't recommend any other A7 over the crop.

The 6500 felt right. With the 16-70, it's not that much bigger than my G7X. It should fit easily into my carry on for travel without needing a camera bag.

No purchase yet, but the 6500 + 16-70 f/4 + either the Zeiss 50mm macro or the Sony G 90mm macro had my attention. I'd probably eventually look at a 30mm f/1.4 (Sigma?) to fill out the set.

Any other thoughts on that?

16-70 was the first "wow" lens for the APS-C Alphas. Hard to disagree with that choice.

The 30mm Sigma is a great lens, but check out the SAL5018 50mm f/1.8 APS-C lens before you decide. Hidden gem.

I would also suggest an adapter for your 60mm Canon macro. I've never missed autofocus using my 100mm A-mount Minolta macro adapted to E-mount.

My 2˘...

Dave
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#9
Northern Virginia
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Joined Apr 2009
Thanks. I'll check out the 50/1.8. I'm kind of mentally stuck in Canon mode where the "nifty fifty" was an OK, but not great, inexpensive lens (and 50mm not really being a "normal" length lens on a crop). I've really enjoyed my Sigma 30mm. And there doesn't seem to be an equivalent (yet) to the Sigma 15-50 f/2.8 (or Canon 15-55 f/2.8) in native Sony E mount. The 16-70 is obviously significantly slower, but probably fine in most environments where you're not shooting wide open anyway.

The adapter idea is intriguing. The Sigma adapter should work with my Sigma lenses, but is apparently hit and miss with Canon lenses. Several of the less expensive adapters don't get high marks, and lack camera controlled functions. The Metabones seems to be what everyone likes, but it's almost as expensive as most of my EF-S lenses...

Is there a Sony photography forum? For Canon, I did a lot of my research on Photography on the Net, which has opened up to other-than-Canon but is still much more heavily Canon focused.
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#10
856 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by markeb
Thanks. I'll check out the 50/1.8. I'm kind of mentally stuck in Canon mode where the "nifty fifty" was an OK, but not great, inexpensive lens (and 50mm not really being a "normal" length lens on a crop). I've really enjoyed my Sigma 30mm. And there doesn't seem to be an equivalent (yet) to the Sigma 15-50 f/2.8 (or Canon 15-55 f/2.8) in native Sony E mount. The 16-70 is obviously significantly slower, but probably fine in most environments where you're not shooting wide open anyway.

The adapter idea is intriguing. The Sigma adapter should work with my Sigma lenses, but is apparently hit and miss with Canon lenses. Several of the less expensive adapters don't get high marks, and lack camera controlled functions. The Metabones seems to be what everyone likes, but it's almost as expensive as most of my EF-S lenses...

Is there a Sony photography forum? For Canon, I did a lot of my research on Photography on the Net, which has opened up to other-than-Canon but is still much more heavily Canon focused.
You will find the Sony aps-c 50/1.8 similar in quality to the Canon. Excellent value, very good lens. But it isn't going to be breaking any IQ records. Far better than any zoom.
Sony's best lenses are full frame -- They have a spectacular 55/1.8. Their full frame 50/1.8 and 50/1.4 are very good as well.

The 50/1.4:

https://www.dxomark.com/Reviews/Sony...ZA-lens-review

The FE macro lenses are really spectacular from what I've seen, if you want true macro.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the A6500 where it is priced -- Just not enough of a step up over the A6300 for the price difference. If your lenses are already stabilized, you won't get much benefit there. The touch screen is wonky according to every review I've seen. You get a much better buffer.. so if you're shooting sports, that could be a benefit.

My thoughts on the hierarchy:
- If you need the utmost in performance and budget isn't a big concern, then the A9. And I mean pro-sports performance, extremely demanding wedding photographers, etc.
- The A7rii still has the best image quality, highest resolution. And with all due respect to the A7sii, it has the best low light capability. You can now pick it up new for under $2500. Among the full frame cameras, it has the second best AF system, second only to the A9. That said, performance can be wonky at times. Image review, etc, can be slow. Still, in terms of image quality, you won't do better than the A7rii, and the af system is good, with some advantages over traditional dSLR.
-The A7sii, I'd ignore if you mostly do still photography. It is a video workhorse.
-The A7ii.... shouldn't be ignored. 24mp resolution has always been plenty for me. I actually don't want more resolution, because I get no real benefit from the bigger file sizes. Because the files are smaller, the camera can actually be a little speedier than the A7rii. In terms of IQ, it's not the best full frame camera around, but it's still very very good. Still better IQ and low light capability than you'd get out of any aps-c camera. The AF system is passable. And for under around $1500.... might be the best full frame camera you can get at that price.
The A7 and A7r.... I'd ignore. These were first generation experiments. Unless you really want a bargain full frame camera.... nah.

Going down to aps-c..
The A6500 is $1400, body only. It's the same price as the A7ii. So full frame IQ, or a real speedy aps-c. Personally, for this price, I'd take the A7ii. But if you crave speed, performance and autofocus, then the A6500.
The A6500 is a little smaller, but there isn't a huge difference. Of course, *if* you stick to aps-c lenses on the A65000, the camera+lens combo on the A6500 can be a good bit smaller than the A7ii.

The A6300 for $900-$1000. It's the same camera as the A6500. Just as fast really, but the buffer is bigger and clears faster on the A6500. No touch screen, and no IBIS. But most Sony lenses are stabilized. I've been shooting with the A6300 since it was released... for me, it's a very nice back up and travel camera. I tend to pair it mostly with small aps-c lenses, except for occassionally using the 70-200/4.

On lenses....
The Sony e-mount aps-c lenses are all underperformers. The 16-50 is great for being compact, but the IQ is horrible compared to just about any other lens out there. The Zeiss 16-70 is passable... but for $1000, one would wish it was more than passable. The only aps-c zoom which shines, is the 10-18. There are some good primes, including the Zeiss 24/1.8 and the SEL 50/1.8.

Unfortunately, Sony hasn't released a new aps-c lens in a few years. Back then, the e-mount was really designed for entry level type consumers, so they weren't focusing on top quality glass. Today, they are focusing on top quality glass -- but they are putting all that engineering towards the full frame lenses.

Finally, I might have patience and wait for the A7iii. The A7iii might have many of the great features of the A9, at a reachable price.
#11
Northern Virginia
1,633 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Interesting summation.

One thing I notice with the Sony full frame lenses is with the mirrorless design, you can use them, with limitations, on their full frame. So buying good glass isn't a throwaway, and I've always advocated buying glass for the camera you have, not the camera you may buy in the future...

Where I'm leaning is only partially supported by logic, so hang with me! I'm really leaning towards picking up the a6500 with the 16-70. That gives me a smaller interchangeable lens camera than my Canon Rebel, and makes it easier to travel. If (as is likely) I go for a macro lens as well, I'm leaning towards the FE 90mm, both for focal distance and some degree of "future proofing". With the smaller size from the mirrorless design, I am far more likely to look at some version of an A7 down the road. From the reviews, I do realize the a6500 may be somewhat frustrating due to its menu structure and other little annoyances.

The "emotion" side of this is probably somewhat driven by the first camera I ever seriously used, and still have although it needs work. My father was drafted into the Army in 1950 and while serving in the Army of Occupation in Germany (rather than Korea where many of his classmates went) picked up a Zeiss-Icon Ikonta folding compact 35mm camera that is still the best lens (compact, estimate the distance, not even a rangefinder) I've ever used! So the Sony/Zeiss connection is just a gravitational pull I have a hard time with!

So, my not totally logical thought process is the a6500 gives me a generally better version of my current Rebel with a much smaller footprint. The 16-70 lens gives me a very good range in a "pretty fast" lens. I may look at an APS-C prime or two, either from Sony, Sigma, or Zeiss, probably the 90mm Sony macro, and wait out for a little while to see how they fit my needs and whether a next generation A7 XXX makes sense. And no, that's not a terribly inexpensive option, but it's within reason for me.
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#12
856 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
I wasn't trying to talk you out of the A6500..... The A6500 combined with the 16-70 is certainly smaller than your Canon Rebel.... overall, it is an upgrade. You're shooting with an older Rebel.... so for quite a few reasons, you will see a significant upgrade. You'll get higher resolution, better low light capability, more dynamic range, far greater ISO invariability, much faster burst shooting, a far more advanced autofocus system, better video, better live view, and the list goes on and on.

The lens is likely comparable to the Canon 15-85 that you were using.
The Canon is actually a little faster on the wide end (the Sony is F4, the Canon is F3.5), at 70mm.. I think it's F4 vs F5. Less than a half stop difference.
Make sure you stop the Sony down to F5.6.. even F8 at longer focal lengths. It is pretty soft at F4.
The lens is a bit disjointed -- overall sharpness in the center is good. Now all lenses fall off towards the edge, but that's especially true of the 16-70. I'd dare to say your Sony lens will out perform the Canon 15-85 in the center, but the Canon will outperform the Sony at the borders and edges.

Welcome to Sony.
#13
Northern Virginia
1,633 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Well, I did it!

I was shopping B&H a week ago, and they were closing for a Jewish Holiday through this weekend. I also discovered they had a "kit" available that included a 64GB SD card and a small travel bag (free). AND, if you bought the kit, you suddenly had access to "add-on" offers, including the 16-70 lens for $100 off and a HVL-F32M external flash for $50 off.



Just starting to use it (the above was, of course, taken with an iPhone...), but really love the size and feel. Should be able to get the entire rig into a carry-on bag for travel, which will be nice. Limited photography so far (the cat).



Ginny is not amused...
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#14
Boca Raton, Florida
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Joined Sep 2004
Congratulations! You should really start to enjoy the size of the kit - no matter how much the lenses may compare with a DSLR lens of the same focal, even as lenses get longer focal reach, the overall kit somehow remains much more portable and packable. The body size, especially the volume due to lack of any width, really helps squeeze a lot of kit into a small travel bag. Where with my DSLR, I needed a full-size backpack to bring 7 lenses along with the body, I can fit my A6300 and 7 lenses in a medium shoulder bag with room for chargers, batteries, cleaning kit, and a few non-camera related things. While I still have both the e-mount and a DSLR, I really haven't used the DSLR for travel for almost 3 years now.
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#15
Pittsburgh, PA
371 Posts
Joined May 2009
Congratulations Markeb.

I currently own an A6000 and I love it. Yesterday, I put the A6300 in my B&H wish list. I'm trying to hold off on pulling the trigger until Black Friday in hopes that they might have a deal on the camera. Enjoy!
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