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Thread: SONY A7ii Field Test

  1. #1

    Default SONY A7ii Field Test

    SONY A7ii

    In wake of the news of the release of even newer models from SONY’s A7 stables, we take a look at the Sony A7ii, considering that ClubSnap has not had the chance to do review it previously.

    No doubt, many other sites have already done extensive reviews, including lots of technical reviews, and you can have a look at some of them for more in-depth tech notes and so on. What we do here at ClubSnap, as we’ve always done, are real-life, hands-on user experiences, or more importantly, sharing shots with you and with a local flavor, and general impressions.

    Here’s what SONY passed us:

    The Sony A7ii, 16-35/4, 24-70/4, 28/2 and a Wide-Angle Converter and Fisheye Converter to pair with the 28mm. All lenses are E-mount variants.

    The Main Feature Highlights of the Sony A7ii are:

    • Eliminate shaky photos with the 5-axis image stabilization - the world's first*1 full-frame camera with such capabilities
    • The high performance fast hybrid autofocus allows for rapid, accurate subject tracking, making for a smoother photographic experience
    • The 24.3-megapixel*2 35mm full-frame Exmor™ CMOS sensor delivers incredible high-resolution images, with superb sensitivity even in low light conditions
    • The BIONZ X™ image processing engine delivers stunning detail reproduction and minimises noise for clear, precise shooting
    • Professional video features such as XAVC-S*3 recording and excellent audio capabilities make quality movie making possible
    Experience enhanced connectivity with the NFC and Wifi capabilities, as well as Sony's PlayMemories Camera Applications*4

    *1 Among 35 mm full-frame interchangeable-lens cameras, according to Sony research as of November 2014.
    *2 Approximate effective megapixels
    *3 XAVC-S recording requires an SDXC memory card rated at Class 10 or higher.
    *4 Requires a valid Sony Entertainment Network account. Some apps require a fee. Availability of PlayMemories Camera Apps and each app varies according to country or region.

    For more about the Sony A7ii, please go here:[a7II]_SG_-_Alpha_a7II:sem:goog:SG:txt_brand:sony_a7II&pkw=so ny_a7II.
    All information and pix courtesy Sony.

    First Impressions

    Out of the box, the first thing that struck me was “WOAH! This body feels SOLID! And no doubt, many users will notice the increased heft, mainly because the A7ii weigh in at 556 g as compared to the A7 at 474 g, and the dimensions are also different. Ever so slightly larger, I for one welcome the increase in both weight and size. A slightly heavier camera is easier to hold more steadily, and the slightly deeper dimensions also affords more spacious controls, as well as a slight re-layout, and inclusion more buttons! Unfortunately I do not have the A7 do a side-by-side shot, but many exist on the internet.

  2. #2

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Along with the slight difference in dimensions, the hand grip has also gotten a lot deeper, and letís you grip the camera a lot more securely, especially when using larger lenses, or adapted behemoths like old style wide-aperture 35mms Ö or in my case, finger-hold if need be.

    Apart from that, just like the user menu interface, Sony users would be familiar with the layout and functions of the buttons. However, and this is a plus point, the A7ii, being slightly deeper, also incorporates additional function buttons, and for some users, the addition of a FOURTH Custom Button is a welcome feature!

    I remember the time that a 2MP camera was the size of something like an A4-sized brick, and was just downright clumsy, and even the pro DSLR offerings much later on were like a ton of bricks, and though smaller, was gargantuan compared to usual sized consumer DSLRs!

    The form of the entire Sony A7 series cameras are truly a sight to behold! How something so small can still be a full-frame is something that opens up multi-fold applications, and now with the 5-axis in-body stabilization, Iím sure that many users, especially videographers, or DOPs as they are known in the industry will see whole new ways of working a scene! One example was a low-light scene, with the main subject still while there is slow movement around, shot at something like 1/10 of a second with the main subject crystal sharp! Translated to real-life stills application, the new Sony A7ii 5-axix stabilization gives you something like 5 STOPS of stabilization! Iíll try to show examples of what can be done stills wise.

    We'll get a little more into how the camera handles, but meanwhile, let's jump to the photos!

  3. #3

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    I'm not sure how familiar you might be with the 28/2, 16-35/4 UWA zoom and the wide and fisheye converters, but let's have a quick peek at these first!

    Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens

    With a dust and moisture resistant design, the compact and lightweight Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens covers your wide-angle zoom needs and is designed for full-frame E-mount cameras but can also be used on APS-C E-mount cameras as well. A constant f/4 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range. Benefiting working in dim light is Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which serves to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps.

    The optical construction incorporates five aspherical elements, including a large diameter AA (advanced aspherical) element, and three ED (extra-low dispersion) elements to help reduce chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range as well as contribute to a compact overall form-factor. A Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating has been applied to the lens elements to minimize lens flare and ghosting while providing enhanced contrast, clarity, and color fidelity.

    - Wide-range zoom lens designed for full-frame E-mount cameras
    - Constant f/4 maximum aperture enables greater consistency throughout the zoom range
    - Features a circular aperture diaphragm that, through the use of curved blades, keeps the aperture almost perfectly circular from its wide-open setting to when it is closed for smoother, more natural defocusing highlights
    - Optical SteadyShot image stabilization works to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps to benefit shooting handheld in dim lighting
    - Five aspherical elements, including one AA (advanced aspherical) element, and three ED elements helps to reduce chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range while also maintaining a compact form-factor
    - Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating enhances contrast, clarity, and color reproduction by countering the effects of lens flare and ghosting
    - Only the middle groups of the optical system move to achieve focus, so the overall length of the lens does not change when focusing. Also, the filter thread at the front of the lens does not rotate, which is convenient when using a polarizing filter

  4. #4

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens


    - E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
    - Aperture Range: f/2 to 22
    - Aspherical, AA, and ED Elements
    - Linear Actuator Autofocus System
    - Internal Focus; Physical MF Ring
    - Minimum Focus Distance: 11.5"
    - Dust and Moisture Resistant
    - Filter Diameter: 49mm
    - Circular 9-Blade Diaphragm
    - Optional Ultra-Wide & Fisheye Converters

  5. #5

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Sony Ultra-Wide Converter SEL075UWC for the Full Frame 28mm f/2 Lens

    Bayonet mounted onto the front of the matched 28mm f/2 lens, this converter drops the focal length to 21mm.

    Sony's Fisheye Converter SEL057FEC also fits via bayonet directly onto the 28mm f/2 Lens and drops the focal length to 16mm with a full-frame fisheye effect (not a complete circle).

    Both converters fit on quite securely, and releases by sliding a spring-loaded switch that is conveniently located so that you can take off the converters while keeping the camera at eye level to do a quick shot!

  6. #6

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Chinatown, Singapore

    Singapore's Chinatown is an ethnic neighbourhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements and a historically concentrated ethnic Chinese population. Chinatown is located within the larger district of Outram.
    As the largest ethnic group in Singapore is Chinese, Chinatown is considerably less of an enclave than it once was. (Note: The name Chinatown is given by the British and continues to be used by Singaporeans today, although the area retains the Chinese name Niu Che Shui.) However, the district does retain significant historical and cultural significance. Large sections of it have been declared national heritage sites officially designated for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. ~,_Singapore

    I guess by now, most of us would be all too familiar with the attractions of Chinatown, and especially the food, but look around and you will still see some interesting sights or photo angles!

    I have to admit that I hardly ever use a fisheye lens, so one of the first things I rigged up was the 28/2 with the fisheye converter to compare that with 16-35/4. I used the fisheye much more, it was FUN!

    This was with the 16/35/4 Zeiss:

    And this was with the 28/2 and Fisheye converter:

    Believe me, it was really blinding composing with the sun directly in the frame, and when I checked the shot back home, I was quite blown away at how clean both lens combinations were, and also the dynamic range of the A7ii! NO DR expansion was switched on. Also no issues with auto-focusing.

  7. #7

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Fisheye effect ... WITH BOKEH!

  8. #8

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    It was FUN going in REAL CLOSE to the action with the 28 and fisheye converter!

    Trishaw uncle and Japanese passenger was quite amused at how close I was going in!

  9. #9

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Jinrikisha station - former Rickshaw Headquarters

    Situated at the junction of Neil Road and Tanjong Pagar Road, the Jinrikisha Station is Singapore's last reminder of the once ubiquitous rickshaw. Rickshaws were small, light-weight carts with springs and large wheels. The rickshaw puller worked two shafts protruding from the front of the rickshaw and ran between them. The rickshaw was first imported from Shanghai to Singapore in 1880 and by 1888, a Jinricksha Department was set up to register and license each rickshaw. By the end of the 19th century, there were about 1,000 rickshaw owners in Singapore. The demand for rickshaws was so great that Japan began manufacturing cheaper versions.

    The Jinrikisha Station was built from 1903 to 1904. Its location was ideal for catering to customers from the nearby Tanjong Pagar Docks and the adjacent thoroughfare that led from the docks to the town. By 1919, there were 9,000 rickshaws manned by 20,000 rickshaw pullers working in shifts. ~

    While waiting to cross, I still had the 28/2 and fisheye converter on, and realised that I needed to very quickly take the converter off for a 28mm shot of the Junricksha Station. In a flash, I flicked and took the converter off the 28, while still holding the converter, and camera, i took the shot just before the lights turned.

    Fisheye converter back on! Lol!

    And here's another shot with the stunning 16-35/4 UWA zoom

  10. #10

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    A sight to behold, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple still draws loads of visitors, devotees as well as photographers in.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of construction hoardings, and a massive construction site just next to the temple, so 'aerial' landscapes are quite out of the question now.

    A nearby 'traditional' confectioner, renovated.

  11. #11

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    And here are some shots of Chinatown's Food Street

    QUITE AMAZED at how the A7ii manages to AF even through a panel of unclear/oily glass, and through the white smoke from the cooking.

    Some Frog Porridge Sir?

    That's all for now, till the next photo installment.

    Since I still have the camera with me, if you have any questions, I'll TRY to answer them, unless they are too technical. Sorry, I'm not a Technician.

    COMPARISONS within the A7 family can easily be found on the net.
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 23rd June 2015 at 12:58 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    A quick entry ...

    Drawing on some standard scenes and shots I use to field test equipment, the Marina Bay area provides not just technical challenges to things like camera sensors and dynamic range, but also to things like flare control, fidelity, sharpness and so on while providing fairly nice scenes. It also helps test weather-resistance with the equipment being spat at with salt water! Lol!

    All the shots except the dance shots were taken with a CF tripod and large Gitzo 3-way head, and Lo-ISOs of usually 50 or 100. Dance shots were at 16,000 - 20,000. Rectiliner shots were done with the 16-35/4 or 24-70/4, and the stage shot was done with the 28/2 and fisheye converter.

    Working from RAW files, the A7ii presents a whole lot of information to work with ... and coupled with the dynamic range of the sensor ,
    I managed to get away with NOT having to do any tonemapping or HDR.

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    The steps and people there were almost in complete shadow, especially the steps left of the Merlion,
    but with the slightly manipulated image, you can pull up details in the shadow areas.

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    Similarly, the wall just below the stage going into the water was almost completely dark at the extreme right,
    but working with the Sony A7ii RAWs give me plenty to work with, within reason.

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    Bottom left of the crowd was almost completely pitch dark in reality.
    Again, working with the A7ii RAW at lower ISOs and trying not to clip the highlights will reveal lots of details.

    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 27th June 2015 at 02:49 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Apparently there was some kind of Hip-Hop Dance competition going on with foreign countries participating, and the crowd was in full force!

    Unfortunately no great big spots, and lots of subdued lighting which lead me to push ISO up to 16,000 and 20,000. Most likely in-cam NR was set at Low or Standard, but because I had to go under EV to ensure faster shutter speeds (Hip-Hop is really pretty fast). I'll show you an example, but thinking practically, I still managed to get decent enough shots at 16,000. For me, a comfortable publishing threshold might be 12,800.

    The A7ii's AF on continuous, AF lock tracking with smile detector switched off and generally, the AF did a great job! There were a few hiccups right at the end of shooting where it had problems locking on. It could be due to the type of movement, or the number of dancers on stage as well as suddenly lowered light.

    On hindsight, what would have been much better were a selection of faster primes in the sub f/2 tele range since I had stage-front location. Unfortunately I did not have those lenses. Slightly blurred shots were most likely user camera settings, or not having a high enough shutter speed.

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    Added NR (35%) in post.

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    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 27th June 2015 at 02:51 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    I guess one of the things much talked about, and lauded is Sony's A7ii's in-built stabilizers that act upon 5-axis. Sony's A7ii works symbiotically with Sony's OSS stabilized lenses and the most exciting part: works on 5-axis with third party lenses as well as non-stabilized Sony E-mount and A mount lenses via adapters!

    Sony's A7ii 5-axis stabilizer. Video courtesy SONY

    As most photographers know, stabilization can really make or break a photo, and does the A7ii's 5-axis work just as well to offer 4.5 stops of stabilization in real-life? Short answer is simply a 'YES'!

    I've not done any videos but here are some stills. Shooting conditions vary, and crouching and sitting seems to produce steadier shots for me. All shots handheld.

    70mm, 1/4 second, standing

    Without Steady Shot (SS)

    With SS

    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 2nd July 2015 at 10:47 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    70mm, 1/3 second, sitting.

    No SS

    With SS

  16. #16

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    70mm, 1/10 second, standing. Floor was shaky wooden boards with lots of people trudging by.

    No SS

    With SS. Sorry, something blocked the top left.

    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 2nd July 2015 at 05:14 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    70mm, 1/6 second, standing

    No SS

    With SS

  18. #18

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Just a couple at Geylang Serai's Ramadan Market.

    Also wishing all Muslim members a Selamat Hari Raya!

    There's Wadai and there's Wadai, but this Wadai innovator I knew of from several years back has taken the humble dough and prawn snack to new taste heights! Offering a selection of Mini-Wadais, this particular, spicy Wadai is like everything good and tasty thrown inside and deep-fried! It is SO SOOOO Fragrant and Yummy I don't know how to describe it! Try it the next time you see it! There's only one original! Well, the bazaar actually has two stalls of the same.

    The One responsible for all the taste!

    TRON Mannequin!

    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 17th July 2015 at 02:03 PM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Cute Hazard Sign!

    MORE FOOD!!!

    The various chicken parts and meat offerings, all nicely rubbed with herbs and spices! Same two stalls as the Wadai shown earlier.

    Highlighted in social media news, the Churros stall offering Red Velvet and Pandan Churros! This was most likely Nutella Churros.

    Also featured in SM news, the ever popular Ramly Burger. Not quite the same taste as those found in JB and KL though.

    Ayam Percik has gone up in price! $2 for most stalls, and I feel that it is already very expensive for a street food chicken wing, but this one looked particularly yummy with slathering of red chilli sauce! What I didn't expect was the $2.50 price!!! No wonder all the maciks hesitated and told me to go first!

    Absolutely lovely, rich, spicy sauce! Medocre, overcooked, hard and dry wing.

  20. #20

    Default Re: SONY A7ii Field Test

    Something to end this post ... memories galore at the Pop Gun range featuring RETRO guns!!!

    And here's a test of the Sony's A7ii HDR system, which takes several shots at one go! Also a testimony of the Steady Shot System with the 5-axis stabilization which allowed me to hand-hold this offhand! The 'movement' is the displacement of the cyclist/cars/people during the different exposures.



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