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Andrew Reid

Sony A99 II as Panasonic GH5 rival - thoughts and shooting experience

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17 hours ago, Trek of Joy said:

Are you getting two channels of audio directly into the camera on the A7sII as well? If so, that pretty convenient. I'm thinking about switching back to Sony from Fuji and this would be another reason to make a move for me. Thanks.

I haven't needed it on the A7SII yet, but I shot this a couple months ago with the A99II, the dual-channel receiver and two transmitters. (The interview portion, not the intro.)

 

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20 hours ago, MdB said:

Again you are talking nothing more than sharpness. Screw drive means nice linked MF with hard stops. Screw drive is also very fast and accurate. I rate every screw drive I own over STM, USM, HSM, SSM and fly by wire any day. 

As for AF, I'm sorry you rely on it so much and are obviously incapable of shooting any other way. Most people don't rely on AF for everything and while on occasion a nice feature to have, it's not make or break. 

Im sure nobody has ever shot a film with moving subjects with manual focus... ever ;) It's a total deal breaker. 

As for 'amateurish' how is shooting everything with AF not 'amateurish'? 

Personally the only time I use the AF is when shooting fast action using 120p. If you would like to point me to a better camera for that feel free.

Oh and clearly you're unaware that you can lock your exposure and set your exposure as you need it to be. 

Try and see beyond your own little world a bit? 

First of all, you don't know me or what I shoot.  One cannot shoot kids' baseball or softball and track players' movement without AF.  I tried for years - just too tough fighting exposure with ND, monitoring DOF, audio, trying to stay out of the action, keeping the rig stable and anticipating the action.

Not everyone shoots the same thing, and not all of us buy/use gear to be the next Martin Scorsese.  Not going to waste time typing to someone so obtuse.

Enjoy your F/3.5 Sony built in limitation, the ancient Minolta glass and the overheating.  I'm not suprised to find the typical Sony fanbois; they're everywhere.

17 hours ago, Trek of Joy said:

Andrew must have an exceptional copy of the 35G or he likes the wide open softness this lens exhibits.

I shot the original A99 for awhile and it was the worst A-mount lens I tried out of all the G and Zeiss lenses. Every copy I tried was soft at apertures wider than f/4 - for me the IQ was just to poor, even at heavily discounted used prices. The 24-70 was clearly sharper at the same apertures, so that's what I shot with most of the time. In fact my copy of the 24-70 was so good it almost never left my camera in the 3 months I owned it. With the A99II bump to 42mp and actual 4k/1080p resolution in video its flaws will be more obvious. Its smaller and lighter than other 35/1.4's because its was released in 1998 and its optical design is not competitive with modern designs in terms of sharpness and aberrations, the E-mount 35/1.4 is a modern optic and far superior in every measurable metric - thus the lens is larger.

 

Don't waste your breath.  I would bet big money Andrew has never personally shot the "optically excellent" Sony 35 1.4 G screw drive lens.

Do note he hasn't responded back to my question of "Have you used it personally?"  The a99II is just another "camera du jour" for Mr. Reid - he'll find yet another new shiny penny next week.

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Hi Andrew

I just don't understand the snark factor around here. 

My A99II just arrived this weekend (I got a good deal on a perfectly clean open box copy from one of my favorite retailers for $2720, complete with a full manufacturers warranty).  I am upgrading from my A77II (soon to be on eBay), am I am focused on stills, for which this camera is just absolutely lovely....Here are a few first impressions:
1. It is almost the exact same size as my A77II, but has more weight to it. I really like how it balances in my hand.  It strikes me that it is a larger body than the A7 series (for obvious reasons), but it's smaller smaller than most (all??) full frame DSLRs.  I get the sense that the SLTs are kind of this weird blend/middle ground between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (probably unintentionally).
2.  Menus are better organized, but good heavens, there are a lot of features.  The layout reminds me a lot of my Olympus E-M1 (which I sold) in a way because it is powerful and infinitely customizable (tons of features and buttons), but on the other hand -- it can be really overwhelming. That said, I am much more comfortable with the A99II so far, because I have been using the A77II for the last several years, and there is enough similarity to be familiar.
3.  I have the Zeiss 50mm F1.4 --- and it just shines on this camera. It is a nice size on this body, and it makes some gorgeous images.  I still have to test out my other A-mount lenses on this (some of which will be sold off, since money is an object...).

Do you have the Sigma Art 18-35 F1.8 in A-mount?  Have you tried it on the A99II in Super 35 mode?  (I have it as my go-to for my A77II, and was planning to sell it, but I may reconsider if it is a video shooter "must have".)

For what it's worth, thanks for all your work, and for sharing your excitement and passion.   

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17 hours ago, Shield3 said:

Don't waste your breath.  I would bet big money Andrew has never personally shot the "optically excellent" Sony 35 1.4 G screw drive lens.

Do note he hasn't responded back to my question of "Have you used it personally?"  The a99II is just another "camera du jour" for Mr. Reid - he'll find yet another new shiny penny next week.

You know what I can't stand Mr Shield3, is someone who feels he can throw rocks from his armchair at a resource gatherer in the field, while he's trying to give you information about a range of cameras and lenses on his own blog.

Have YOU used the Sony 35mm F1.4 G? If so, why haven't YOU written a blog about it?

Or did you just look at DXOMark, and write it off without seeing a single image or the cinematic way it renders?

And to write off the Minolta line entirely because of screw-drive AF, you should write off the entire Nikon AF-D line whilst you're at it, yeah?

Here is the 35mm F1.4 G sitting on my desk... So yes I have used it personally. The reason I didn't respond, is because you were acting like such a negative muppet I gave up on reading the thread for almost a week.

As for A99 II being just a phase, I've put forward my argument why it is useful for my shooting style...

I don't need to justify it beyond that, not least to you.

There's some stunning A-mount Minolta glass. This 28-70mm F2.8 is cinematic as hell and half the price of a used Canon 24-70 L Mk I.

And the 28-105mm F3.5-F4.5 is good enough to resolve an 8K image wide open, and cost me £60. The full 42MP frame is uploaded to this post so you can see what I mean.

Shut up with the armchair criticism, buy some gear, and tell us about your opinion on it.

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3 hours ago, Basil said:

Hi Andrew

I just don't understand the snark factor around here. 

My A99II just arrived this weekend (I got a good deal on a perfectly clean open box copy from one of my favorite retailers for $2720, complete with a full manufacturers warranty).  I am upgrading from my A77II (soon to be on eBay), am I am focused on stills, for which this camera is just absolutely lovely....Here are a few first impressions:

Good deal!

3 hours ago, Basil said:

1. It is almost the exact same size as my A77II, but has more weight to it. I really like how it balances in my hand.  It strikes me that it is a larger body than the A7 series (for obvious reasons), but it's smaller smaller than most (all??) full frame DSLRs.  I get the sense that the SLTs are kind of this weird blend/middle ground between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (probably unintentionally).
2.  Menus are better organized, but good heavens, there are a lot of features.  The layout reminds me a lot of my Olympus E-M1 (which I sold) in a way because it is powerful and infinitely customizable (tons of features and buttons), but on the other hand -- it can be really overwhelming. That said, I am much more comfortable with the A99II so far, because I have been using the A77II for the last several years, and there is enough similarity to be familiar.
3.  I have the Zeiss 50mm F1.4 --- and it just shines on this camera. It is a nice size on this body, and it makes some gorgeous images.  I still have to test out my other A-mount lenses on this (some of which will be sold off, since money is an object...).

Do you have the Sigma Art 18-35 F1.8 in A-mount?  Have you tried it on the A99II in Super 35 mode?  (I have it as my go-to for my A77II, and was planning to sell it, but I may reconsider if it is a video shooter "must have".)

For what it's worth, thanks for all your work, and for sharing your excitement and passion.   

I have the Sigma ART 18-35 in Canon mount and oddly enough Sigma mount for infrared timelapse on the Sigma Quattro SD mirrorless camera, but not in Sony A-mount. I think the Sony 16-50mm F2.8 SSM is likely to have better AF, but need to try the Sigma to be sure. I could see the Sigma zoom being very handy for low light in the 4K crop mode, as low light in full frame 4K tails off after 1600.

The reason I haven't jumped onboard the Sigma zoom yet on this camera is I over indulged in Sony / Zeiss primes and mainly focussed on shooting in full frame mode.

You could get the Sigma 20mm F1.4 and Sigma 35mm F1.4 for instance - these would cover a lot of shots in Super 35mm crop 4K, but also give you two full frame options that would be stunning to look at. A lot heavier and more hassle though.

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On 6/25/2017 at 2:52 AM, Trek of Joy said:

Are you getting two channels of audio directly into the camera on the A7sII as well? If so, that pretty convenient. I'm thinking about switching back to Sony from Fuji and this would be another reason to make a move for me. Thanks.

I shot two channels to the A7SII today. Worked great. The A7SII can optionally power the receiver as well. (Though you'll want to run a battery grip for that since it sucks more juice.)

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I love the picture of the dog!! (is that with the Minolta 28-105 that you posted about?  The colors are really nice!)   I get weak for photos of both dogs and cats.  Then again, I do a LOT of pet photography, and I am looking forward to using the A99II for that.

I shot a few pictures of my cats, and my parents --- I got a really nice shot of Dad with the Sony-Zeiss 50 F1.4

So the A99II has this "hybrid autofocus" which appears to combine the separate phase detect autofocus (PDAF) unit (79 AF points) from the A77II with the on sensor PDAF (399 AF points) of the A7R II.  However, to leverage both, you have to be using Sony lenses on the A99II.   Anything other brand (Sigma, Tamron, etc...), and you only get to use the separate PDAF unit (the 79 points), not both systems together.  From what I understand, that same restriction also applies to the old Minolta lenses.  Sony's support page for the A99II actually has a section (if you dig around enough) listing which lenses are compatible with the hybrid autofocus, though it only lists Sony and Minolta lenses.

On one hand, this is kind of an annoying restriction.  However, it's not exactly unique to Sony -- Panasonic uses proprietary "depth from defocus" (DFD) technology to improve the contrast detect (CDAF) on their cameras (they profile the out-of-focus characteristics of the lenses), but lo and behold, it only works with Panasonic lenses.

Having used the A77II for some time, I've never had autofocus issues with the 79 AF point -- it always seemed like enough to nail my focus, and it works just fine with my Sigma and Tamron lenses.  I'll test those same lenses on the A99II.  The only difference I can think of is the fact that the 79 point AF unit covers a smaller percentage of a full frame sensor than it does on an APS-C sensor, but I don't think that is a major limitation. 

I have limited wide angle experience:  I recently did a bit of real estate photography (and want to do more), and for that I bought the new Tamron 15-30mm F2.8.  On the A77II, the 15mm is equal to 24mm in terms of field of view, so I am looking forward to getting a true 15mm FOV when I put it on the A99II.  The lens is sharp, colors are nice, but it has a fair amount of barrel distortion (though I am told that is common on wide angle lenses).  But OMG is it a big heavy monster of a lens, and it has a big curved front element, so mounting filters is a bit of a challenge.  I think for landscape or real estate photography it will be great, but for video, I probably want to try a smaller prime...or maybe I will just hang on to my Sigma 18-35 F1.8 for now.

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On 6/26/2017 at 10:48 AM, MdB said:

Clueless moron is clueless. 

You can disagree with anyone you like in the forums, that's your privilege, and a lively debate is always more exciting and stimulating than everyone agreeing about a topic like a flock of sheep. But it's generally considered poor etiquette to call someone who disagrees with you a moron, and does not advance your cause any further. Name-calling is childish. It's unprofessional. It demeans the person who uses that language. If you want to delete that post, go ahead, if not, I'll delete it for you. As far as AF goes, most of the work I've seen by self-professed experts who preach about how autofocus is just for idiots looks, well, it looks like a moist, steaming pile of doggy poo. Maybe you're the exception. Do you have a YouTube or Vimeo channel, a showreel or a website where I can see some of these magnificent focus pulls of yours?

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I was home alone (spouse on a work trip), so I played a bit more with the camera last night and night before (my poor cats seemed annoyed with my being paparazzi).  I will post a few pics and video clips tonight or tomorrow, but a few observations (subject to revisions, retractions, edits, etc...):

1.  I tested out the Tamron 15-30 F2.8 wide angle lens.  Yes, it is big and heavy and I didn't like using it on my A77II.  It seemed much more comfortable on the A99II, which is the same size body, but is heavier.  I guess that lens is better balanced on the A99II body.  The AF only uses the separate PDAF unit, (likely the same unit as in the A77II), but it worked just fine.

2.  I enabled center lock AF (it's in one of those menus), which works in video mode.  I then used the AEL button to lock the exposure in video mode.  I was shooting 4K 30P, and pointed the camera toward a light source, until the shutter speed dropped to 1/60, then locked the exposure.  That froze the shutter speed where I wanted it.  The camera freezes the aperture at F3.5, which is annoying.  Interestingly, you can adjust the ISO, or just set it to auto.  I then used the video with the AF, and shot a couple 10 - 20 second clips of the cats (who were not being very cooperative). I still have to pull the clips in Final Cut, and take a look on the computer, but on playback on the LCD screen -- the AF worked nicely. It tracked my uncooperative subjects (who walked out of the room!).  This could be really useful for quickie run & gun (non-professional, clearly) clips. It would be great, if the aperture wasn't locked at F3.5, or at least if the lock was eased a bit to maybe a cap of F3.5 (since I was using my 50mm F1.4  lens)  - just to have some control over depth-of-field.  One final note:  I was futzing a lot with the camera (still figuring out how I want to set it up, program buttons, etc...), but even with my clumsy, unsteady handling -- I noticed that the 5-axis image stabilization is pretty damn awesome in video mode. 

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I'm going to upgrade from a T2i, yes that 7 yr old camera, please don't laugh.    

Right now I'm thinking GH5 with Speedbooster, the A99 Mk.ll or possibly wait for the A7S Mark.lll   

4K is great, but I'm perfectly happy just to be able to get true high quality 1080p with minimum moire/aliasing and more frame rate options for slow mo.  A full 2 stops of better low light than my T2i would be ideal as well.  I think the GH5 with Speedbooster might be only one stop better in low light than my T2i, but not sure on that. 

Any recommendations would be appreciated. 

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On 6/26/2017 at 5:17 PM, Andrew Reid said:

You know what I can't stand Mr Shield3, is someone who feels he can throw rocks from his armchair at a resource gatherer in the field, while he's trying to give you information about a range of cameras and lenses on his own blog.

Have YOU used the Sony 35mm F1.4 G? If so, why haven't YOU written a blog about it?

Or did you just look at DXOMark, and write it off without seeing a single image or the cinematic way it renders?

And to write off the Minolta line entirely because of screw-drive AF, you should write off the entire Nikon AF-D line whilst you're at it, yeah?

Here is the 35mm F1.4 G sitting on my desk... So yes I have used it personally. The reason I didn't respond, is because you were acting like such a negative muppet I gave up on reading the thread for almost a week.

As for A99 II being just a phase, I've put forward my argument why it is useful for my shooting style...

I don't need to justify it beyond that, not least to you.

There's some stunning A-mount Minolta glass. This 28-70mm F2.8 is cinematic as hell and half the price of a used Canon 24-70 L Mk I.

And the 28-105mm F3.5-F4.5 is good enough to resolve an 8K image wide open, and cost me £60. The full 42MP frame is uploaded to this post so you can see what I mean.

Shut up with the armchair criticism, buy some gear, and tell us about your opinion on it.

Who is throwing rocks?  Just stating the FACTS here, which is the 35 1.4 G doesn't get anywhere sharp until F/4.  I have owned a ton of Sony gear - A77, a99, a7s, a7r, a7r2, and a ton of Sony A Mount + Minolta glass.  I have been a gear whore much like yourself.  Just stating the facts that the Sony 35 1.4 G Minolta would never be considered "opticially excellent" by anyone with attached retinas.

I have a full time gig managing IT for a large gov't agency - I am not a professional shooter nor do I have time to "write blogs".  That's your thing not mine.  "Buy some gear"?  I've posted a ton of threads on here and elsewhere about the gear I've used, including Sony FS700's, 1dx2's, 1dc's, C100, etc.

If it makes you feel better to put down and argue with someone who has a dissented (and educated) opinion on the topic, so be it.  It's your playground.  All I see as a long time member of this site is you holding very firmly on your "opinon du jour" and insulting folks who disagree.  Next week you'll be into another body, and everything before it will be trash.  Then you can make some pseudo log profile or sell a how to guide.  It's fine if that's how you earn your living - nothing wrong with that.

But the F/3.5 AF limitation and "dying" mount is real, and screw drive lenses suck.  Whether or not one can work around this is up to them.

Have a good one.  If I have ruffled your feathers too much here by voicing an alternate opinion and not simply "ooh Andrew, you're right - I'll go buy whatever you suggest" then feel free to delete my account.  But don't be an asshole and tell me I'm sitting in an armchair not using gear and throwing rocks.  That's a copout.

Love, Shield3.

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On 30/06/2017 at 8:33 AM, emgesp said:

I'm going to upgrade from a T2i, yes that 7 yr old camera, please don't laugh.    

Right now I'm thinking GH5 with Speedbooster, the A99 Mk.ll or possibly wait for the A7S Mark.lll   

4K is great, but I'm perfectly happy just to be able to get true high quality 1080p with minimum moire/aliasing and more frame rate options for slow mo.  A full 2 stops of better low light than my T2i would be ideal as well.  I think the GH5 with Speedbooster might be only one stop better in low light than my T2i, but not sure on that. 

Any recommendations would be appreciated. 

I think Andrew's assessment that an A7S MkI would be a good option. It does lovely 1080p scaled from full 4K readout (and can do 4K to an external recorder if you decide to later). 

An alternative is the Canon C100 which goes for A7S money, personally I prefer the Canon. At the time(s) of release the A7S was better buying, but for the same cash I would take the C100 hands down. 

On 28/06/2017 at 3:53 PM, jonpais said:

You can disagree with anyone you like in the forums, that's your privilege, and a lively debate is always more exciting and stimulating than everyone agreeing about a topic like a flock of sheep. But it's generally considered poor etiquette to call someone who disagrees with you a moron, and does not advance your cause any further. Name-calling is childish. It's unprofessional. It demeans the person who uses that language. If you want to delete that post, go ahead, if not, I'll delete it for you. As far as AF goes, most of the work I've seen by self-professed experts who preach about how autofocus is just for idiots looks, well, it looks like a moist, steaming pile of doggy poo. Maybe you're the exception. Do you have a YouTube or Vimeo channel, a showreel or a website where I can see some of these magnificent focus pulls of yours?

I call things as I see them. The guy admits he's an IT nerd that thinks test charts are the be-all end-all of discussion. There were attempts at 'lively discussion' but they were met with brick wall stupidity. I don't have time for that. 

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