Soma magazine: first editorial: shooting for print with the Sony A7/r: field report, part two.

Soma magazine: first editorial: shooting for print with the Sony A7/r: field report, part two.

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If you haven’t seen part one, click here to find out about camera set up and the video shoot.

how does the Sony A7 perform when shooting a fast paced editorial?
find out after the break

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I admit, I was a bit nervous, although I have shot a few assignments with the Sony A7 already, shooting in a crowded, public place with natural light is a different story. Speed is important, there really isn’t much time to fiddle with settings and equipment. One has to stay on the move, get the shot, head back to the base, change outfits and do it all over again.

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Let’s get right to it:

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click here to see the full spring issue of Soma magazine.

after shooting 10 outfits, around 60 to 80 shots per outfit, I am pleased to report, compared to shooting wide open with a DSLR at that focal length, the keeper rate was noticeably higher, the benefits of phase and contrast detection. AF speed was on par and sometimes slightly faster then on the D800E with the 58mm G attached. Most shots were taken wide open or at f2. AF was set to medium flexible center point in AF-C mode. Shooting into the light did cause af to hunt occasionally, but certainly not worse then what I would expect when shooting with a DSLR’s.
Everything was shot in raw mode and there were no problems with buffer clearing.
Full manual mode, zebras enabled, framed through the amazing EVF, the ability to see blown out highlights and the out of focus effect as I was shooting, sped up things considerably, I didn’t feel the need to review the shots as often as when shooting with a DSLR.

Although I didn’t shoot stills with the A7r, I love the fact that both cameras are identical except for the sensor.
This cuts down on unnecessary mistakes and delays during fast paced shoots because of slightly different button and navigation layouts.
The fairly loud shutter slap served as an acoustic cue for the model to change the pose, a blessing when shooting without strobes.
LCD brightness boost.
Image quality. Love the files I am getting from the A7, especially when shooting with the Zeiss 55mm.

By now I am so used to navigating the menu, pressing buttons twice and being forced to dive into the menu for commands I could access on the Nikon D800E and Canon 5Dmk3 directly that it hardly bothers me any more, but it needs to be mentioned.

The Battery grip:
A must have, love it, however it does miss the main control dial and could have been designed a little better.
Battery life isn’t great and one has to keep an eye on that, esp when shooting on location.
I wish the LCD had the same tilt and rotation axis as on the A99 and A77.


Face detection couldn’t keep up at the pace I was shooting. (I works pretty well in the studio on neutral background)
I tried hard to find a few more things to dislike but there weren’t any.

These two Sony’s are now my favorite fusion cams :) At about half the size of the D800E and the 5dmk3, traveling and location work was never so easy. The same can be said for going back and forth between shooting stills and video, I much prefer the EVF and articulated screen over rigging up a DSLR with a loup or external EVF, which totally changes the feel and handling of the camera. When shooting with the A7/r, the feel and handling of the cameras doesn’t change, regardless if you shoot stills or video.

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15 thoughts on “Soma magazine: first editorial: shooting for print with the Sony A7/r: field report, part two.

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    Thanks David! On the A7r, wireless 1/160, wired/hotshoe, 1/200 on the A7s, wireless 1/200, 1/250 wired/hotshoe. All depends of the type of job, great for controlled photo situations and video, however, if you have to nail the shot the very first time, a pro dslr would be a safer choice. Now keep in mind when we compare dslrs with the new Sony’s, we usually judge the af speed/accuracy based on a pro standard zoom, like the 24-70mm 2.8. These lenses have a very short focus throw on dsrlr’s which makes them very fast, phase dedect accuracy is good enough to nail focus. Take the Nikon 58mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4 or Canon 50mm 1.2 or 1.4 and compare it against the Zeiss 55mm 1/8, suddenly the tables turn,
    slower focus speed, the larger aperture requires a longer focus throw for accuracy and we get many mis-focused shots wide open, because phase detect just isn’t that accurate. AF speed on the 55mm1.8 is faster and more accurate on any a7/r/s.

  2. David Ewing

    Nice editorial, I’m reading a students assignment and she uses this camera, I am now re-thinking all my canon gear to an extent. not sure if I would rock up to a job with it but certainly would be great to travel with. What is the flash max sync speed?

    Cheers David Ewing Photography.

  3. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Wesley! Certainly not, for this particular shot, the A7r would focus just as fast as the A7. In low light however, I prefer the A7, you really notice the difference. Cutting bulk down is quite liberating, the RX1 is lovely, personally I prefer to have identical control layouts on cameras shooting assignments, I would go for the A7s and A7 instead of the RX1 :)

  4. Wesley

    Do you think the phase & contrast AF is needed for pictures of walking models or moving lifestyle shots? I use two FF dslr and 35/85mm for shoots. I was thinking of getting the a7s/55mm & RX1 to lose bulk and weight but there only contrast AF. I’m also starting on video so thought a7s would be a good choice.

  5. Mike Topanoris

    Great work as usual Mike. Really enjoy reading your first hand experience in a professional environment. You are the master of innovation and trying new gear/techniques. I’m having great success with the Sony A7 myself along with Nikkor e-series 100mm f2.8 for portraiture. Very cheap (in price), but not in quality when paired with the great sensor in the A7(r).

  6. metamind

    Last 5DmIII body sold today (would massively loose value in the next few months, anyway :-) A7 ist just incredible with the Zeiss optics. 5DmIII dynamic range does not come close and Canon’s extra long innovation cycle time has become unbearable with nearly all other manufactures firing off innovations every six months. A7S will be incredible for sure…

  7. Carlos

    Models are beautiful, talented, with great attitude and emotion. Exactly the the type of images I love. Well done Mike!

  8. metamind

    Great to hear, that sensor cleaning seems to be effective then :-)

    Did you expose manually/with override ?

  9. Carkis

    Hey Mike great shoots, let me ask you this, did you notice any yellow cast from the images in RAW …I don’t know if it is the auto-white balance or it’s me ;-) but I can help to see yellow/green in most of the images on the web! (not in yours by the way) thank you in advance!

    And hoo I don’t have the camera just yet..

  10. metamind

    Looks great! Cool models, nice, hard light :-) Did you experience any sensor dust problems so far ? I have three lenses now (Zeiss 55, Zeiss 35 and kit lens), but I am really paranoid, as the sensor is directly exposed…

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