Monday, December 02, 2013

Thoughts On Camera Systems

Just back from Vancouver and while there I did my first serious shooting with the Nex-7 and came away with some definite likes and dislikes.

I'm delighted with the Zeiss 16-70 - yes, I'd prefer a 10X zoom but not if it meant compromising quality. I have no need for a faster lens (f4) even if I can imagine situations in which shallow depth of field would be handy.

Two things did frustrate me about the camera - firstly that because it has a tilting LCD but not swinging, it simply doesn't work when the camera is vertical - do camera designers not realize we shoot vertical pictures?

The second issue is that like my Nikon D800E, the Sony does live view (the only mode it has) with the lens stopped down - fine for previewing depth of field, hopeless for trying to accurately focus.

CORRECTION: this incorrect. If you turn off preview exposure, you also start using wide open aperture for focusing. Why the two should be linked is a bit odd, and it isn't clearly documented that this is what happens, but it does - so I lose exposure preview in return for proper focusing.

Now normally on the D800E I shoot in manual mode, which means that to open up the lens I also have to adjust the shutter speed to correct for too bright a screen when focusing - at least with the Sony, I only had to adjust one knob to focus and adjust it back to expose - that's handy enough I might just start using the Nikon on Aperture priority. It would be so much nicer though if there were  a simple button that I could press once to focus and either let go to return to the exposing aperture or press once to focus, and again to return.

On returning home last night I checked my GH2 and noted that it works like the Canon, working at maximum aperture till actually taking the picture.

I don't know if there is any way to set up the Nex-7 to do things differently. Could this also be an issue for the A7 and A7R?  SEE ABOVE CORRECTION.

I really wish the Nex-7 had a more painless way to turn on and off image stabilization and manual focus rather than dipping into menus and hoping you remember which main category has those. I think I might be able to set the menu to manual focus and override with the switch/button on the back to temporarily auto focus, but you can't do it the other way - once in auto focus, you can't go manual.

I much prefer having the is/no is on the body or on the lens.

Image quality from the Nex is excellent and I'd be loathe to give up such a small kit. At the moment I have the 10-18, the Zeiss 16-70 and the Sigma 60 but I think I'll replace that with the 55-210 for the occasional longer shot. This would give me a very flexible kit in a very lightweight small package, ideal for flying with - I worry that one of these days they are going to try wedging my Nikon backpack into their little frame and it won't come out and I won't be able to fly with it - airlines are definitely getting tougher.

Will I switch from the Nex because of my frustrations - almost certainly not. I could switch to a 24 MP DSLR like a Canon 70D or 7D2, but I'd take a hit on size and that was the whole point of this kit.


Tim said...

That's good to know, especially the point about LCD behaviour when shooting vertical images - I do sometimes like that on the GH2, in good ol' MF WLF style yet portrait mode, looking down at the LCD.

I guess you can always shoot multiple horizontal-oriented shots and stitch them afterwards, just, like, for image quality and stuff... :)

Tim said...

Incidentally, now that I have a NEX-7 myself (yay!), a tweak to your comment about wanting mostly-MF-with-some-AF: you can set the AF-L button to "toggle" or "hold". Couple this with DMF or whatever it's called, and you get AF to get you started, then you can push the AF-L button and zoom to focus as though it were MF.

It's not quite the Canon way - I used to like having one-shot AF on my right thumb beside my eye - but it's good enough for me for now.