Camera gear discussions

Discussion in 'Photography and Cameras' started by Bill-P, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. BlueElephant

    BlueElephant Rando

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    An A7s is unfortunately out of my budget and as a novice I don't really need such an expensive piece of gear. What about general shooting though?
    Alternatively I could get the A6000 with the kit lens 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 and a 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 instead of the 50mm f1.8 prime.
    Looking at more budget options as I'm still a student.
    *Edit The A6000 option would also allow for me to get an additional battery and maybe a lens filter, which may come in helpful considering the battery life
     
  2. Stapsy

    Stapsy Friend

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    For general shooting I am sure either would work well for you! The A7s is designed more for low light and video. Unless those are things you will be focused on I wouldn't recommend it.

    Since you mention you are a novice I would recommend sticking with one lens for now. The 55-210 is also a pretty specialized zoom that would generally be used for scenario's where you are forced to be far away from your subject (ex. sports, wildlife). I think you will be better off shooting for a while with your camera before deciding on a second lens. Having a second battery may be helpful but I would wait and see how you get on with a single battery. No point in spending money on something that you don't find necessary.

    To me it really comes down to the following considerations;
    1. Size - the A6000 is a compact little camera compared to the A7. Neither are huge, but if you want to carry the camera around with you all the time it may make a difference to you.
    2. Performance - The A7 will give you a higher level of ultimate performance and resolution. As Shipsupt mentioned, it will also give you a little better low light performance due to the full frame sensor. Whether this is important is up to you! I will say that some of the best images ever taken will surprise you with their low quality. Super sharp images are nice, but it isn't a requirement for great photographs. All that being said, you may be hard pressed to notice a difference between those two cameras. If you really care about it, I am sure you can find some pixel peepers online that will blow up images and compare the ultimate sharpness. I would recommend checking out as many pictures as you can and see if you can tell a difference.
    3. Longevity - What are your plans for the longer term? I wouldn't buy an A6000 and a bunch of crop sensor lenses if you think in the future you will want a full frame mirrorless camera. In this case you would need to get another set of lenses to take advantage of the full frame sensor. On the other hand, if you may want a DSLR it could be nice to have the A6000 as a little compact camera to carry around with you when you don't want to use a DSLR. I wouldn't make this my prime concern, but it is worth considering how you will use the camera in the future.
    4. Budget - Cheaper is better! Don't feel like you need to spend a ton of money all at once. Our tastes change as we grow, learn, and experience new things. That is part of the fun and why I recommend building your kit as you go instead of all at once. As long as either choice fits in with your budget you can't go wrong.
    5. Magic - Ok this isn't a real criteria, but it is something worth considering at a personal level. A camera is already an indulgence, so if one of your choices has that special something that tickles your fancy, that is the one to buy. It doesn't matter if you think that the A6000 looks cooler than the A7 or there is some photographer you admire who uses the A7. As long as you are happy with your choice that is all that matters. I have mostly stopped using digital in favor of film. I have no real logic for this other than I like shooting film and using old camera's. It has a magic for me that gets me out there photographing. The other criteria are mostly objective, but magic is entirely subjective. If it comes down to it, go with your gut.

    One last thing, while digital technology is changing rapidly, the biggest improvements between generations of camera's are in low light perform. I think you made a good choice going for a couple of older camera's! Either one of them should have no problem lasting you at least 3-4 more years. Don't fret too much on your decision. I made the exact choice you are making a couple of years ago. Looking back I can see that there really is no bad choice.
     
  3. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    I have been eyeing the Pentax DSLRs. Since the K1 and K70 have been released I am lurking for the right deal.

    Thing is the EM5 mark I is growing on me. The image quality with a good lens, even slightly underexposed is still impressing me.
     
  4. adpo

    adpo Acquaintance

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    If you're going for low light and landscape and your only 2 choices are the a7 and a6000, I say go for the a7. The 28-70 is a perfectly adequate lens for most situations and the full frame sensor is much easier to work with in regards to high-iso noise in low light and low-iso dynamic range in landscapes. If landscapes are a priority, make sure you set aside a decent amount of cash for a good tripod. Down the line, just save up for fast primes for when the 28-70 seems lacking.

    In my personal experience, I started with a few zoom lenses and then figured that I shot 50% of my work at ~50mm and the rest at either 24mm or 200mm, so I ended up just ditching the zooms for some primes. The nice thing about having a zoom is that it lets you explore and discover exactly what it is you need before you start spending the big bucks. Full disclosure, I mostly shoot studio and video for web use in controlled environments using an a7s as my main camera.
     
  5. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    @BlueElephant:

    For mirrorless cameras, when you buy them used, check to make sure the sensor does not have excess dusts/spots and definitely no scratches. You can do this simply by removing the body cover cap or the lens from the camera and look inside.

    Inspect the sensor carefully under good light. Use a magnifying glass (honestly).

    As between A7 and A6000, the difference really is just that your lenses will become wider with A7, and potentially gives you a blurrier background. Other than that, I honestly did not detect much of a difference between the two when I was handling both. That is... difference in image quality under good light from ISO 100 to about 1600. Beyond that, A7 has an edge over A6000, but nothing to scoff about.

    If you shoot in low light, I'd actually recommend that you get a faster lens (aperture larger than f/1.4, so f/1.2, f/1.1, or f/0.95) rather than getting a new camera body. Not even the A7S will give you perfect low-light shots as if it's broad daylight. That's plain impossible. In fact, between ISO 100 to ISO 3200, there's very little difference between A7 and A7S. Beyond that, A7S is simply better at reducing noise, but if you're willing to lose some details in your A7, you can get about 75-80% A7S.

    What A7S does better is simply reducing the need for you to have to post-process a lot past ISO 3200. This is especially useful when you're shooting videos, because post processing videos to remove noise past ISO 3200 is insane. It's also useful if you are a paparazzi and you shoot 200mm lenses at f/2.8 or f/4 at night with burst shots. Or you're at a night club, the room is lit only by laser beams, and for some reason, you decide that you want to take a photo of the girl standing next to you, in freaking complete pitch black. Note that A7S with a 50mm f/0.95 lens under those conditions will actually give worse image than your phone with flash on. I know because I have tried it. Honestly, I think you can live without it if you're just gonna use your camera for indoors lighting at light social events, champane and such over thanksgiving dining table. (Hey, hope you guys had a happy thanksgiving! Hope ya had lots of turkey and other goodie foodies!)

    Honestly, I don't think the biggest improvement for cameras in recent years is in low light capability, but more in noise reduction, but you do give up a part of your resolution for it. There are always trade-offs.

    And it's not true that you'll need a very good camera (A7) in order to take good landscapes and low light shots. Even one that's notoriously bad with low light and has supposedly limited dynamic range (objectively) can be used for those situations, if you know your camera gears well. Sure, you won't get the resolution (mostly megapickles count) necessary for printing very large, but do note that the iMac 27" w/ Retina Display only has a 14.7MP screen, and if you have seen it in person, you would know that at that pixel density, it looks very unrealistically sharp. So any camera with more than 16MP of resolution should be able to print at least up to that size.

    Anyway, just as inspiration, here's high dynamic range... single shot f/11 in broad daylight (harsh shadow casts) on my Leica M9:

    [​IMG]

    And here's in-doors low light:

    [​IMG]

    A6000 should be even better than my M9 at dynamic range and high ISO capabilities. A7 even more so. I had an A7R, so I know just how grossly overkill it was for what I do. Honestly, the above 2 shots could have been shot randomly on the A7R, without regards to settings, whereas I had to dial in the right settings on M9. The thing is, I knew exactly what settings to use, and I think that's much more important than having a camera that does it all for you in case you make mistakes (overexposure or underexposure on A7R is okay, whereas that's deadly on M9). Sometimes it's good to limit yourself and force yourself to learn. Then again, I think I've been at this game for longer than you have.

    So honestly, I think it boils down to:

    1) You're on a budget and you want to learn without spending a lot? Go A6000.
    2) You don't have time to worry about any of the extra things, and you just want to make photos? Go A7, and just keep using that 28-70mm lens that comes with it until... well, forever. It'll only get more complicated past that point. Not necessarily "better". Unless you find that the A7 is just not making the look you want (do you want to blur the background more and such?), it doesn't make any sense to switch lenses or camera.

    Looking at recent announcements, I think the pricing structure for digital cameras from mirrorless micro 4/3 to 6x4.5 medium format and such is pretty clear cut, and we probably won't see a big shift down in sensor size (read: 35mm full frame and medium format cameras getting cheaper) for the consumer market for at least another decade. So, personally, I think crop cameras still make sense in current times. You shouldn't worry too much about getting a crop camera now and finding that it's obsolete next year or the year after. That's not how camera manufacturers are envisioning it. If that was the case, you'd think Fujifilm wouldn't have come out with the X-T2, considering they're going to release that mirrorless medium format camera.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
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  6. Stapsy

    Stapsy Friend

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    Interesting to read your take! Do you find that the resolution and contrast you lose shooting a lens wide open still results in a better image than strictly using a higher iso with noise reduction? I have never really bothered experimenting too much with nightime/high iso stuff. My knowledge of digital photo editing techniques is pretty poor. I always ended up with a ton of digital grain shooting over 3200 iso. The intriguing thing to me about high iso performance is the ability to stop down and increase the depth of field in low light. I assumed that the newer sensors were doing something other than noise reduction.

    Is your 50/0.95 the Canon or the Leica? I think what you really need is one of these. I am sometimes tempted by fast lenses for super low light, but the reality for me is that f2 is usually fast enough. Any faster and you start to pay for it with size.
     
  7. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    Hallo again, I picked up a Slide Lite this afternoon.
    Considered the Black Rapid straps but they were thicker than I really needed.

    Haven't had a chance to go out shooting with the new strap, but I wonder if I'm setting it up right. With a Capture base plate, the lens keeps pointing in to my body.
     
  8. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    I do not like straps. The camera is in my hand or in my bag.

    On my EM5 mark I there is a leather cord with clip. When I want to take a picture I pick up my camera, wrap the cord around my hand and the camera shall not fall. Slinging cameras, too much risk of damaging your lens or accidentally changing a setting.
     
  9. lukeap69

    lukeap69 Pinoy Panther

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    I did try several straps before including hand straps. I ended up using the stock strap and just 'wrap around' my arm when shooting making sure the camera won't drop on the ground even if I accidentally drop it from my hands. I hope that make sense...
     
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  10. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    See, you should have gotten the Black Rapid! ...kidding!

    I assume there is a swivel of some sort on that strap set up? The lens body combo definitely will effect how the camera hangs at your side.
     
  11. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    Have you tried connecting the other side of the strap (the side that's not connected to the base plate) to the other side of the camera? When I wear my PD Slide the lens kind of sits alongside my leg in a "just right" kind of way most of the time.
     
  12. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    The slide doesn't connect like BR. It has two separate connection points.
     
  13. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    Well, there you go!
     
  14. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    I'm not sure I follow this. Are you saying that you don't think sensor performance is improving, instead that the reduced noise is the result of in camera noise reduction?
     
  15. TRex

    TRex Almost "Made"

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  16. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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  17. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    It's mostly the improvement in noise reduction in the editing software than the in-camera noise reduction though that can certainly play a part if you shoot jpeg. See the article I linked above. Software-based noise reduction has come a long way.
     
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  18. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    @Deep Funk @lukeap69 I know the wraparound method, have used it with my DSLR before. But I needed a longer strap for those times when my hands are busy and I still want my camera by my side, e.g. standing around at a BBQ

    Yeah I think that may be it. I'll give that a try in the morning.
     
  19. TRex

    TRex Almost "Made"

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    @DigMe @shipsupt sure, software helps much, but in-camera processing has been improving as much. The most important one is probably ISO invariance. For example, it's better to shoot "true to ISO-meter" on old Canon (pre-5DmIv) while shoot ETTR on Nikon & Sony (post-D800, give or take). The advantage to push/pull by 4 exposure stops without significant noise and clipping problem is huge - no software can do.
     
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  20. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, or more like, here's how I understand it:

    1) A digital camera sensor in its base form has fixed sensitivity rating, much like film. And typically, it's equivalent to about a ISO 100/200 rating film. I have seen some odd ones, but most cameras should conform to that. And the "base sensitvity" is usually quoted as the "base ISO", or for some the "best ISO", since there is no extra interference to the sensor's natural working state.
    2) In order to "simulate" higher sensitivity, what camera manufacturers do is take the low ISO analog signal of the camera and "amplify" it up before passing it to the ADC. Some claim this "dilutes" the analog signal and so they refuse to shoot photos in anything but the base ISO of the camera, or for some others, they try to not go too far above base ISO.
    3) At some point, there will be hardware limitations such as improving the ADC would necessarily make the camera much bulkier, generate more heat, use up more battery, etc... so manufacturers decide to stop amplifying the signal at a certain ISO range and then use software to push the remaining. This is where the firmware and processor kick in, and I think this is what most think of when they say "in-camera processing".
    4) If it's a CMOS sensor, the amplifier is embedded within the sensor, and I think they have also moved to stack the ADC on the sensor as well, so essentially, the sensor unit outputs digital signal instead of analog. In that case, talking about "sensor performance" may mean various things.

    So there are many things that are happening here all at once, and depending on the tech of your camera, and its sensor, we may be talking about "something else" altogether.

    For CCD cameras, I would claim that yes, sensor performance isn't actually improving, because we have long moved on to CMOS cameras only. There haven't been a single CCD camera announced since the Leica M9, Leica S (006), and those Phase One backs from almost half a decade ago. Unless, of course, you want to consider the Leica M Monochrome a brand new camera (it's still essentially an M9 with better circuits inside), then yeah, I think it's the very last CCD camera in existence. Leica has just replaced it with a CMOS model, too.

    For CMOS camera, since the sensor does many things, and also noise reduction in and of itself, it's hard to tell whether the improvements really are due to better photodiodes (the photon capture part, or what I'd consider "sensor performance"), or if it's just because the amplifier and ADC are improved. Sometimes improving/reducing noise in the power supply (read: battery circuitry) will also help (parallel with audio?). But I would also claim that it's mostly just the amplifier and ADC, because they are easier to improve than making better photodiodes.

    And that's just the hardware side of things. Software has improved, too, I think. Noise reduction algorithms have gotten better, along with sharpening and upscaling algorithms. We have much more processing power now compared to a decade ago, and just to say, cameras from 10 years ago are still alive and kickin', and taking a lot of photos nowadays. They work fine, but they obviously can't compare to the fancy new cameras with more modern processors that can handle touch screen, film simulation modes, in-camera RAW processing (beyond just turning them into JPEGs), stabilizations, WIFI, etc...

    Anyway, long story short, yeah, I think cameras have gone a long way, but I suspect the actual photodiodes on the sensor have not improved much, but rather, it's the other parts that have improved.

    Granted, I'd admit that Sony's recent improvements to Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) technology brought along a fresh breath to the industry, but... there are only a handful of cameras on the market, including Sony's own A7Rii, that actually sports that tech. Otherwise most other cameras are still using regular non-back-side-illuminated sensors AFAIK. Considering prices for BSI sensors trickled down to "consumer level" around 2009, I'd say it has taken them an awfully long time to introduce new cameras with it in tow.

    So considering that, I think that it's going to be another 5-6 years before we start seeing cameras with sensors bigger than full frame 35mm to start getting down to "consumer level" pricing. But of course, a brave and bold manufacturer may yet prove me wrong.
     

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