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pierces

Switching to Full-frame: One year in

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Posted (edited)

It's been just over a year since I caved in and took the leap to Full-frame. We just finished our Ireland to Iceland round trip on the Reflection and I thought that I would take a moment and reflect on the last year with my new little photo buddy.

 

If you are new to the forum, I have been a Minolta/Sony shooter for Most of my life. My first DSLR was a Konica/Minolta 7D and My last one was a Sony A77. I was an early adopter of mirrorless with a NEX 5, NEX 7, A6000 and A6300. All excellent APS-C cameras. The last two were good enough to retire the A77 for good. I passed on the full-frame Sonys when they came out because they honestly didn't have the bang for the buck to tip the scales for me. The A9 shocked me into paying attention again and when the A7III was announced, I took a long look at the specs, sold all my Somy/Minolta A-Mount stuff and ordered it. I also ordered the FE 24-105 f/4 G which has seldom left the camera since then. I still shoot with my A6300 so I thought I would compare my impressions on whether my original price/performance benefit estimate was close.

 

Handling: The A7III is easy. I have fairly normal-sized hands that fall somewhere around a comfortable L in men's and the camera feels really good in my hands. The grip is comfortable and I have noticed that the crick in my middle finger caused by thirty-plus years of holding SLR/DSLRs at relaxed ready hasn't come back. (Went completely away with the NEX and A6x00 cameras.) My hands are wide enough that my pinky curls under the A6x00 bodies and there isn't enough of a height increase on the A7III to prevent this but the camera isn't heavy enough to make this a problem for me. As for heavy, I mentioned before that the camera/lens combo only outweighs the A6300 with the 18-105 f/4 by about a pound. Same Pac-Safe bag as before and I can't tell the difference on my back. Carrying the camera cross-body all day? Same thing. I don't really notice it. It took me most of the year to start using the front dial and hey, that's a nice-to-have after all. I have still never used the touchscreen. Probably would if it were like a phone and could do menus and such. After customizing the buttons and My Menu, I have only had to go into the menu stacks a few times and never while out shooting. Reviewers whine about how many menu settings there are, but they are fairly logical and if it was short on settings, reviewers would whine about lack of sufficient settings. Reviewers whine. The settings I use habitually are easy to get to and fast to adjust. Happy camper.

 

Performance: Yeah. Pretty darned awesome. There's a reason that every new camera remotely near its price-point gets compared to the A7III. The autofocus (especially with the new firmware) is exceptional. It isn't perfect but it is so much closer than anything I have used to date. Eye-AF is uncanny in all but the worst light and action tracking at my grandson's sporting events makes sorting through burst sequences harder than ever (they're mostly all good now). In normal light, the colors and dynamic range are great. Colors in less than optimal light have staying power. Low-light performance is one of the reasons it attracted me originally and I have not been disappointed.  Do I wish it was better? Yes. If it was better, would I wish it was better? Yes. Let's just say again that there's a reason they compare other cameras to the A7III, even when they use the same Sony sensor. Battery life is not an issue. I have yet to use an entire battery in a day. I will swap out for a spare when it drops under 30% but not out of necessity and not more than once that I remember. Note: when accidently left on, it really doesn't seem to sap the battery. The few ventures into fairly heavy rain haven't resulted in any issues. I haven't shot for hours standing in pouring rain, but I also know enough to come in out of it. Mom taught me well. I didn't seem to have any issue when we were outside for over an hour in 27° F with a strong wind blowing spray from the waterfall and the sky spitting snow. The camera didn't even flinch. I did. A little.

 

Lenses: My choice of the FE 24-105 f/4 was a good one. It is quiet, fast, accurate and very sharp, even wide open. The fluorine coating on the front element doesn't let much of anything stick. I also picked up the 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G telephoto, but frankly it works so well on the A6300 that I have yet to take it out on the A7III. I will say that Sony has learned how to make lenses. Very pleased. 

 

What has surprised me is the growing number of Sony cameras I see "in the wild". As a long time Sony shooter I have been used to being a Lone Ranger and not letting the knowing smiles bother me when I said I shoot Sony. It turns out the A7III has developed a considerable reputation and may force me to sit down and develop a knowing smile of my own.

 

In conclusion: No regrets. Price/performance metric actually better than I expected. It wasn't a cheap journey but the sale of the A-Mount stuff helped a lot and there was a small learning curve (critical focusing) with the greater depth of field. All in all, I have been very pleased that I took the leap. The camera still requires that I go stand somewhere, point it at something and push the shutter but the results I get from doing that are very consistent and of excellent technical quality as long as I do my job as a photographer. I still take the occasional what-the-hell-was-I-thinking shot, but that's on me. Shooting with a camera like the A7III fixes the blame for crappy shots firmly on the big organic aiming device where it belongs.

 

I would like to add that I moved to the A7III for performance reasons. If Sony had produced an APS-C camera that equaled the focusing performance and low-ISO ability, I would have likely continued to pass on full-frame. But they didn't. Now that I made the leap, I'm probably in it for good. Sony may release a killer APS-C camera this year and I may very well buy one as long as the price/performance is far enough above my A6300. I still shoot with the A6300 and find that a great APS-C camera with the same mount is a fantastic Full-frame accessory. Sort of a 1.5X teleconverter with a camera built in. It is also handy when you want an excellent camera but circumstances don't allow for a larger kit. 

 

If you're interested. Here's a link to our recent trip where 87% of the posted photos were taken with the A7III/24-105 combo:

Ireland to Iceland 2019

 

Happy shooting!

 

Dave

Edited by pierces

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Saw that the A7II was on sale - I think it was a bit under $1,000 and the temptation was there as it had the eye-focus feature and the battery life and two memory cards were not high on my priority list.

 

But still waiting for the A7000 as I have various e-mount lenses - though Justin's article on his blog makes the A6400 so tempting!

 

Dave - will check out your Iceland photos today!

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5 minutes ago, kenevenpar said:

The pictures are great Dave.  Thanks for the link.

 

Ken

 

Glad you enjoyed. I certainly had a great time taking them!

 

Dave

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I stuck with film till I could go full frame, no regrets though I’ve been shooting Canon as long as you have shot Minolta/Sony. So much invested in gear a change was never really a realistic option other than when they moved to auto focus back in about 95.

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I made the jump as a long time Nikon full frame shooter to the A7III just over a year ago.  Not an insignificant investment in native Nikon glass but was able to sell my Nikon gear for reasonable recovery offsetting the new investment in new Sony glass.  The FE 24-105 is an awesome lens.  I've grown fond of the FE 12-24 as well if you can live with the distortion below 18.  The low light performance of the A7III is pretty great.

 

Based on my success with the A7III I acquired an RX100M6 which goes in my pocket nearly every time I leave my cabin.  Smaller sensor so not nearly the performance as the A7III but in outdoor situations with 24-200mm equivalent it's a great little pocket camera.  Much higher low light noise profile compared to the A7III but the combo works well when I have a telephoto or ultra wide on my A7III and don't want to change lens outdoor in a moist or sandy environment on the go.

 

Both shoot in RAW so I can be a lazy or bad photographer and fix it later in post.  

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36 minutes ago, twangster said:

I made the jump as a long time Nikon full frame shooter to the A7III just over a year ago.  Not an insignificant investment in native Nikon glass but was able to sell my Nikon gear for reasonable recovery offsetting the new investment in new Sony glass.  The FE 24-105 is an awesome lens.  I've grown fond of the FE 12-24 as well if you can live with the distortion below 18.  The low light performance of the A7III is pretty great.

 

Based on my success with the A7III I acquired an RX100M6 which goes in my pocket nearly every time I leave my cabin.  Smaller sensor so not nearly the performance as the A7III but in outdoor situations with 24-200mm equivalent it's a great little pocket camera.  Much higher low light noise profile compared to the A7III but the combo works well when I have a telephoto or ultra wide on my A7III and don't want to change lens outdoor in a moist or sandy environment on the go.

 

Both shoot in RAW so I can be a lazy or bad photographer and fix it later in post.  

 

Walking about the ship, I usually just strap on the A7III. I've been carrying an SLR, DSLR or Mirrorless rig for so long that I hardly notice it. I think I wear a camera more often than a watch. As for a little camera, if my A6300 with a 25mm on it isn't small enough, I have a Pixel phone that produces truly remarkable images. The Pixel and the Windows Icon phone before it killed compacts for me about five years ago. The RX100 cameras are fantastic but these phones are really changing casual shooting. 

 

Dave

 

 

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14 minutes ago, pierces said:

The RX100 cameras are fantastic but these phones are really changing casual shooting. 

 

I tried doing a cruise with just a phone including some Moment lens.  I vowed I'd never do it again. 

 

I kept hearing myself say "If I had my real camera that would be an awesome shot".  The RX100M6 200mm telephoto capability is a clear difference and while low light performance is becoming better on smart phones, it's still not there yet.  I particularly miss a real camera when I want better manual control.  Some apps try to offer this but I've yet to find an app that makes this efficient so you can dial it in within mere seconds.  Nothing like real bokeh either, when appropriate.  My biggest gripe with phone photography is keeping the lens clean.  It's a magnet for finger prints.  

 

The best camera is the one you have with you.  I get that.  However while phone cameras are making leap and bounds so are cameras with larger sensors and much better lenses.

 

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

 

I tried doing a cruise with just a phone including some Moment lens.  I vowed I'd never do it again. 

 

 

 

I did say, "casual". 🙂

 

Don't get me wrong, I do about 98% of my photography with the ILC but the niche where I used to take along a pocket camera is now firmly in the hands of the phone. The computational imaging done by today's phones is exciting to me because companies like Sony are working to add it into the arsenal of programming available in ILCs. 

 

This was taken at 5:00AM lit by the TV and a 60w table lamp 15 feet away and dimmed to 50%. I used the new Night Sight multi-frame algorithm on the Pixel and this is JPEG straight out of the phone. I didn't need to play with manual settings or anything. 

 

1/3s @ ISO2125

IMG_20190618_050145.thumb.jpg.d50965cdbf2bb5442c6153325ae2f562.jpg

 

With new sensors like the stacked unit in the A9, the ability to flash multiple images and stack them in near real-time could be coming to a camera near you very soon. Until recent models, Sony offered a multi-frame noise reduction mode that stacked several exposures in-camera to eliminate noise in high-ISO images but this was done with distinct image bursts. A 60fps or 120fps burst with an electronic shutter could supply a noise reduction algorithm with all it needs to render a nighttime scene with very little light to work with. Night Sight also does a good job of pulling shadows and taming highlights without the cartoonish look of bad HDR.

 

I agree that the best camera is the one you have with you, but I'll add that the picture you took is always better than the one you didn't! 😉

 

Dave

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 Thank you for your lengthy post. I to have the alpha 73 camera. It is my first full frame camera also. I love it. I did find the curve the learning curve to be a bit daunting. But I am enjoying taking pictures with this lovely beast. 

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44 minutes ago, Cynchaslo said:

 Thank you for your lengthy post. I to have the alpha 73 camera. It is my first full frame camera also. I love it. I did find the curve the learning curve to be a bit daunting. But I am enjoying taking pictures with this lovely beast. 

 

You are welcome!

 

"Lovely beast" That describes the A7 III very well! 🙂

 

As for the learning curve, I am very thankful that I started when I was 10 years old! A little different than snapping with a phone!

 

I found this shirt to be both true and hilarious!1095215944_Annotation2019-06-21083423.jpg.9ff5bbd49c623590ee02f01f9b9a955a.jpg

 

Happy shooting!

 

Dave

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