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Sony A7II | Proof Size Isn’t Everything, It’s How You Use It

December 15th 2015 10:28 AM

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There’s a pissing contest going on in photography, and it’s masquerading itself under the guise of ‘arms escalation’. It’s also, in my opinion, going to have to stop because sooner or later, it’ll all become absurd. This is because the arms race is with megapixels, and to fully understand the value of the A7II, I think it’s important to understand this.

Let’s put some things in perspective:

As most of us know, Hasselblad makes some of the best cameras that have, and continue to, shoot the most important events, campaigns, and people. It’s not a stretch to say that most of us would agree they are ‘better’ by many measurements than a Canon 5DS R, or an a7RII, or a D810. They’ve been to the moon, they’ve captured the Beatles on their single-file scurry across Abbey Road, and they’ve shot many of your favorite models wearing nothing but a stare. Even their older digital versions continue to be held among the pinnacle of photography systems today, fetching prices too dear for most of us, and you know how many megapixels there are in those versions? 40 – 50 typically.

So let’s get this straight – two medium format models of arguably one of the pinnacle photographic systems are shooting on fewer megapixels than a Sony a7RII and a Canon 5DS/R. Hmmm…

This should say a lot and raise an eyebrow or two, but too many on the feverish and comparison-driven children’s playground that is the photography mass market don’t seem to. To many, megapixels are everything. To these people, megapixels are the digital embodiment of your scrotum. He who has the most is the best,  the most virile, and his mother loves him more than yours.

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It is true, sadly, that these numbers and cameras will give you bragging rights at your local haunt, “My camera has more megapixels than yours, which means my penis is bigger than yours, and so I’m a more capable or accomplished photographer.” This seems to me to be the mentality, but it is so flawed, and it’s hurting development in other areas that could benefit us more. It’s also delaying the inevitable.

You see, camera companies know this is how the masses think, which is the only real reason they are on this unrelenting quest to deliver more. Even though those in the know have their hands up to stop the madness, they’re outnumbered. Manufacturers know that if the new model doesn’t give new owners a bigger penis than the old one, their profit and loss accounts are going to be rogered.

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And more than that, they’ve not only got to outdo the last set of numbers their mad scientists have cooked up in whatever jungle clearing their engineering department is in, but best the numbers of their competitors simply to stay competitive. So the new Sony must produce more than the new Nikon, and the new Canon must produce more than the new Sony, and on and on. But we’re quickly approaching the moment it all becomes ridiculous. What’s next? 100 megapixels sounds highly marketable. Or maybe 150 in 3 years time according to Moore’s Law? Oh hell, at this rate, it’ll end up with 1000 and then what?

Typical good lenses won’t be resolving more than 25 or so, and how large will those files be? How will that affect your workflow? Maybe on the odd occasion you’ll want those massive files but those other times, the majority of the time, it’ll just slow you down and waste resources. Sure, you could get used to the new workflow speed, just like you get used to a headache. Looking at it this way makes it easier to see the problem that it’s becoming impractical, and sooner or later, the escalation must end.

In fact, we may be already there. And once it ends, we can focus on better form, execution, delicacy, and maybe have a re-emergence of photography. I truly believe that for the vast majority of photographers, 25 megapixels will be more than enough, and more could be a hindrance. It’s why I think even in the face of the A7RII, the A7II is still relevant, and why it would be my pick.

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Click to see 100% crop

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That this should be the first addressed makes sense, because by now, most people reading this are doing so just to self-educate generally, or looking to buy one of the A7 lineups and are unsure which one. Here are the basics, the standards that we have come to expect like a high-quality EVF (which is brilliant), a tilt screen and so on. Then the points really worth discussing:

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Just a year after the release of the first A7, Sony dropped word that the A7 Mark II was heading to the assembly line that is significantly quicker an evolution than you would typically get with high-end camera models that enjoy at least two years of relevance. Also, in keeping with the mentality discussed above, it meant that had you just purchased an A7, you couldn’t possibly show your face in public with it again.

Nonetheless, Sony did it, and they gave it a cosmetic overhaul too with different build materials. It got some protein shakes, so it was beefier and more ergonomically sound, and then to add insult to injury, they packed it with one primary defining feature. The A7II is the world’s first full frame camera to come with in-body image stabilization and in a mirrorless camera.

IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization)

The IBIS system is, frankly, brilliant, and the advantage to having it should be rather obvious. It’s a 5-axis system that pretty much allows you to shake as if you had Parkinson’s and still take a steady image. That means that in low light situations you could, with some confidence, drop your shutter to 1/20 or even 1/10 and still come out with a sharp shot. This meant, of course, that you could use lower ISO, have less noise, higher dynamic range, and everything else that came along with it.

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In addition, it must be said that part of the appeal of the A7 is that with a select and growing numbers of adapters, you can pretty much use it with the majority of lenses known to man, and in many of those instances, even with autofocus. So now all those lenses without OIS built in, from many other manufacturers could have a new life. This is especially great for natural light shooters, and those using long glass. I shot frequently on the Sony 70-200mm f/4 racked out, and results were brilliant even down to 1/20. I keep seeing marketing materials saying you can shoot steady at 1/10, but that was hit and miss with me.

This is one of the two new pieces to the A7II that would make me buy this beyond a shadow of a doubt over the original. Sure, it’s not necessarily as effective as OIS systems since you’re limited to the range of movement allowed of the sensor, but still, it’s damn good. The beefed up size of the A7II compared to the original I would assume is in part consequence to this feature, but more on that in the Design portion.

AutoFocus

The thorn in the side of the A7 was always autofocus, which never really felt like it belonged on the A7. It was like having an incredible hunting beagle with strong legs, flawlessly obedient, but was morally wrecked about hunting. It was a letdown. The A7R was even worse as it had NO phase detection.

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The A7II was a bit better, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that it really came into its own, and all with a firmware update. It became the latest, and second next to the a7RII, to offer phase detection AF. It offers full phase detection AF with E-mount lenses, but it also allows for 117-point focal plane phase detection sensor to work with lenses attached via an adapter. So finally, that stable of Canon lenses you have, and many others, could benefit from this massive upgrade in AF ability. (Warrants saying here that the firmware upgrade also brought with it the ability to customize the record button).

While shooting a wedding reception with the A7II before the update, I still had no real focusing issues, but let’s get it out of the way here that it’s still not on par with offerings from Nikon or Canon, or for that matter with the a7RII, just a helluva lot closer. The a7RII says it’s a lot better with its AF on paper, and in practice it was nailing focus on the eyes of my subjects as if there was nothing else to focus on. I’ve found it to be noticeably better than on previous models,  just maybe not good enough to advertise it on a billboard.

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Click for 100% crop in natural light

Speaking of billboards, in all honesty, you’re not going to be shooting to print on a billboard, or anything remotely close to that size, and if that’s the case, guess what? The 24MP available on the A7II are going to suit you just fine. And I’m not just saying it’s good enough but great. At this point, you can be sure that you’re probably going to be able to fully resolve most of your lenses (most of us aren’t burdened with what Zeiss Otus lens to shoot), and your resolution will still allow for decent cropping and wonderful printing on a large scale. You also won’t be dealing with file sizes larger than your IQ, that require powerful computer towers to process, and towers of storage to keep.

At no point was I shooting this and thought, “Damn, if only I had 40 megapixels I could take a much better picture.” Never.

04-performance-5-stars

It only takes a quick Google search of ‘A7’ to see just how much noise has erupted about this line since its inception. It was half a hundredweight before it was even released, and most of it positive. You don’t get that kind of reception and evaluation without good performance.

I think it goes without saying that the line on a whole was a success, but I think what the A7II has done, especially now with this firmware update, is show doubters that mirrorless are every bit as capable as the DSLR, or, at least, are about to be. Keep in mind the DSLR has been around now in some form for 15 years or so, and the SLR for another 50 years before that. Like a Porsche, they’ve not really changed all that much, but over time and numerous iterations, the wrinkles have been ironed out, and they just keep being refined. Mirrorless systems are embryonic in comparison, and yet in that time, the A7II stands as a testament to how quickly they’ve covered a great distance.

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Click to see sample noise at 4000 ISO

While there was quite a massive leap from the original A7 (and its variants) to the A7II, but the differences in parameters exist in fewer instances from the A7II to a7RII. The A7 is dependable in almost every respect. The only way I’ve found it not to be is the battery. The only thing I can depend on the battery to do is die quickly, so you really do have to have spares. But that’s not a big price to pay because otherwise you’d need bigger batteries and that means a bigger camera. Even still, you’ll get a couple hundred shots per charge, though I will say in low light prior to the update of the AF, it hunted and wore down the battery noticeably.

I’ve found some responsive improvements from the shutter release button. I remember shooting on the original and while the sound the A7 made was nice, and it felt substantial, there seemed to be some disconnect between the depression of the button and the image being captured. It’s hard to describe other than it made me feel a bit detached, like trying to read braille with rubber gloves on. That seems to have been sorted out with this version unless I’m imagining it. But this felt as if timing was no issue, and there was an immediacy to the feedback that’s good.

Image Quality

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Sony has really hit the mark with image quality, because their sensors are brilliant, and much of their FE glass is too, especially when you consider the partnership with Zeiss. But the sensor does wonderful work; you will see it from the very first actuation and review. You can feel secure in the ability to underexpose and bring back details much as you are able to on the Nikon FF cameras like the D750 and D810 – they use Sony sensors, so it makes sense, and you can see why. Frankly, Sony sensors are the beacon for quality.

In that vein, it should be noted here that again with the firmware update, came uncompressed 14-bit RAW file capture, and that will have those of you in studio and wedding environments grinning. If you can’t take and process a good picture with this camera, maybe you should put it down. I was able to pull back a full 3 stops on the A7II, which strangely was reminiscent of the D750 experience.

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5000 ISO

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The resolution I discussed above is great, and more than almost anyone I know needs. And in typical Sony sensor fashion, this thing handles low light with aplomb. Noise, when it does appear, is fine, and not distracting, but given the 5-axis stabilization, you’ll notice a lot less of it, hopefully.

Honestly, unless you’re looking to shoot sports or wildlife, I can’t think of why you would want the a7RII over this. I can hear some argue that you can crop your way to success, but if you need to do that, maybe you shouldn’t be out there to begin with. What’s one of the first things a pro will tell you? Try to get it right in camera, period. Never mind how much slower your workflow will be with those files. If you need more megapixels than 24, and you need them all the time, it means you’re likely shooting a genre that requires that. And for clients that do, in which case I’d imagine more of a studio environment, then you may want to look into medium format. Otherwise, if you need the extra resolution sometimes, just rent one, because otherwise I’d bet my pants that if I shot two images on either the A7II or a7RII you couldn’t tell the difference even when printed poster size.

And that’s a beautiful thing about the A7II; It isn’t some preposterous poster child. It’s not a hunkered-down, beefed-up monster that announces itself upon entering a room. It’s built to be used every day, everywhere, by everyone, even though most people who buy them won’t have an idea of what it’s capable of as evidenced by those who argue about its resolution. It’s also a camera that’s not intimidating to be behind or in front of. It even had a friend’s dad wanting to give it a try, and he took this shot my friend Sara and I, and it’s in focus -and it wasn’t on auto…by some miracle.

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You can see a little distortion here though if you look at the background, and this was with the 55 1.8.

JPEGS are a little on the punchy side, but I find this with most Sony cameras, just as I find Nikon cameras to be a bit on the slightly green side. But generally white balance was very good, tending to err on the warm side. This is less of a problem in RAW of course, but in JPEG it’s noticeable. But don’t write off the JPEGs this produces, because they’re good, and the creative picture modes are actually useful – especially the high contrast black & white, which produces some gorgeous stuff. (see below)

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High Contrast B&W creative mode

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The only issue I had with performance, in general, is the limited availability of native lenses, and the fact that some of the native lenses, namely the 24-70mm F/4 showed MAJOR distortion to the point I began to not use it. But with the adapters available and the ability to phase-detect AF on adapted lenses, this is much less a problem. I’m sort of stumped here as for what else to say, other than the files are a joy to work with. The Sony interface is incredibly easy to adapt to and requires a short learning curve. Unlike Nikon, the Menu navigation just makes sense. The whole camera makes sense.

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This…this is real, and really annoying. I didn’t even use it long enough to figure out at which precise focal lengths it was at its worst because it was just that bad with the 24-70 f/4

To someone shooting on a D810 who likes to pixel peep, looking closely at the images from the A7II will be disappointed from a resolving standpoint. But for everyone else, the sane people who know what they’re doing, the type you’d have ‘round your house for drinks, they’re about as disappointing as Adriana Lima’s left breast.

It’s a very easy camera to get along with, and a versatile one at that, especially now. But its size allows you to use it very casually, at your child’s sports game, or at an intimate dinner without drawing too much attention. And then the very next second pirouette to shoot a wedding or be very at home in a studio.

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The small form factor of the original A7 was, in many ways, its meal ticket. The boffins at the Sony labs were able to fit in a full frame sensor into something small, light, adaptable, and aiming straight for the heart of Nikon and Canon’s bread and butter. It was ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’ aiming at Sticky Fingers, and it gained traction. Compared to the D810 and 5DRs, this was nimble and light where the others are anything but. Throw a battery grip on those and they weigh as much as the Moon.

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So on theA7 We liked the small size, otherwise, why really would we switch to mirrorless? 

A massive selling point of mirrorless FF format is the small size and weight, and if you lose that, you’re left wondering why would you leave your D810 or 5DS with their lovely bounty of great glass?

But what I think many realize now is that small size doesn’t mean it’s the right size. For one, larger cameras can give a nice sense of occasion, and how Sony has beefed up the A7II and the a7RII, I think it’s all for the better. It’s attractive in a different more Brutish way, yet still civilized. In Bond terms it’s like going from Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig. The grip on the A7II is actually able to be gripped with security and sees the migration of the shutter release button move forward to a much more natural place. Even at 1.5x the A7 weight, it’s no fatted calf. And keep in mind it’s also strong,  due to the fact it’s more magnesium than plastic, unlike its younger brother.

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The other design features are much like that of the A7 and really most people will have to do a double take to notice it’s any different. It’s a good ergonomic design that builds more confidence in shooting and remains small enough that it’s much less intrusive than offerings from Nikon or Canon. You just can’t put a D810 on a restaurant table.

By biggest issue with the A7II design is again the single SD card slot. I know this is not an issue for everyone, and that storage units are more reliable than ever, but on paid assignments, it’s just a bit frightening. I typically shoot small and numerous SD cards anyway, going no larger than 16GB, and that’s rare. Typically, it’ll be two 8GB cards that are duplicates of each other, and when they’re full, they’re both swapped. On the odd occasion, I’ll keep one slot for overflow, but neither option is obviously yours on the A7II. This is a predominant issue with converting to this system for me, even though for the type of shoots I do, headshots, portraits, and tests, I’ll want to shoot tethered.

18-quality-4-stars

As just mentioned above, it’s pretty much an entirely magnesium alloy build now, and that makes it durable, along with feeling more of quality. I’m not sure what much there is to say about the quality of the A7 line because it never really leaves you wanting, or worried for that matter.

Sony didn’t come into this arena to offer up some second-rate alternative, and they know that full frame cameras are built to last. It feels as sturdy as a D750, and I don’t mollycoddle my gear. When you pick up an A7, it becomes completely apparent that Sony has applied much of what has made Sony electronics so lasting over the years. It’s good, plain and simple.

23-value-4-stars

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When we speak of value, a lot gets encompassed in that since different people draw value differently on different things, so lets work with the constant and that’s price. At a standard $1698 for the A7II, it’s near-as-makes-no-difference half the price of the a7RII which comes in about $3200 and it’s up to you to decide if the major differentiators of the a7RII are worth 2 A7II’s. Yes, it’s got a better EVF, a very quiet shutter, and many more Phase-detect AF points, but the latter two on that list will likely matter to few and specific people. The major difference is the megapixels, which brings me back to where I began.

[REWIND: THE D750 REVIEW | IT’S ACHILLES, LESS HIS HEEL]

So what we have here is a camera that is so good you just read an entire review that is not trying to show that it’s just good, but that it’s as good as and better suited to most than its newer brother that is getting all the attention. Therefore, the things it’s lacking are so minute they don’t really matter. In other words, worrying about any of them while looking at and using a camera this good is like sliding between the sheets with a supermodel who cooks and is allergic to underwear, is not a vegan, and then letting the fact they have tan lines bother you.

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About

Kishore is a photographer and writer based in Miami, though he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. With a passion for beauty and aviation photography his work is all at once focused and eclectic. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Comments [68]

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  1. Julian Murphy

    An excellent, thorough review, which put to bed any dilemmas. I will be shooting landscape in all lights, in IR, and printing no larger than 19 x 13, so the Sony ARii is my final choice. You are right, 24mp is plenty. And I have a Canon 5DS if I want to go really crazy!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Thanks much, and glad you enjoyed it. If you’ve got a 5DS, then i see absolutely no reason that this wouldn’t be a brilliant day-to-day. Cheers

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  2. Mike Hemery

    I’ve been struggling with the decision of the a7ii or D750. Thoughts?

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    • adam sanford

      Presuming you don’t have any glass from either system already…

      Nikon upsides: higher resale, better AF for moving subjects, better ergonomics, more native lenses, responsive of an OVF and better battery life

      Sony upsides: smaller overall footprint if you stick with less fast lenses (f/2 primes and f/4 zooms), adapt all kinds of other mounts’ lenses, the EVF lets you amplify light in dark environments, get a realtime histo, focus peaking, etc.

      I prefer an SLR and would recommend the D750 10 times out of 10, but everyone has different needs.

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    • Mike Hemery

      Thank you..I’m hearing this same thing from many many people.

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  3. Simon King

    I don’t agree that it’s about bragging rights, not for me anyhow, for me it’s about trying to get MF quality in a relatively cheap and PORTABLE system. That’s all. Couldn’t care less if anyone knows what I shoot with

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Believe me Simon, for many it’s for all the wrong reasons. Not all, but many, and I’m glad you’re not in that camp. It should go without saying, without me needing to qualify, that of course there are reasons for this type of system. Here’s the thing about wanting it to get MF quality, is that it begs of you to define what the quality of MF is, because there’s more to differentiate an MF system than resolution.

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    • Simon King

      What you say about image quality is of course is true and actually I did wonder whether I’d get away with using that term. In fact what I’d really like to get is LF quality in 35mm package!

      So what is it about MF and LF that so attracts me (but not enough to lug that weight around nor fork out that kind of money -were I even able!) I have been trying to define it myself and I agree it is not that easy, actually it is not about what one might expect, namely resolution.

      Resolution actually may not be what gives it that certain something, (which is why I am unsure whether the new 50MP sensors will make the difference I’m hoping for) which enables you to see immediately in a print in a book, (so not even big!) rather than on a billboard, that it has a certain something that is not defined by resolution alone.

      I can only speculate what that something is because I am not a technician. What I do call it, whether accurately or not, is ‘acuity’. A sense of precision, of pinprick detail, apparently more in fact than I can discern in reality with my naked eye, so yes, it is an artistic ‘interpretation’.

      I call it that because LF especially and some MF images (Hasselblad) are possessed of an aesthetic quality that I have yet to see from 35, and it seems to me that it is to do with micro-contrast or something akin.

      Sure I have been reading about Hassleblad adapters for 35mm yet am not convinced yet whether there is a 35mm sensor+lens option anywhere that will convincingly emulate that MF/LF quality, but that doesn’t stop me wishing.

      When I was a child I wished for the impossible at that time too (a colour TV screen that you could hold in your hand to watch after lights out in bed) and now nearly everyone has one (smartphone etc) – so I know wishing for the impossible is no longer unrealistic, but doubt I can wait another 50 years for it
      ;)

      It surprises me really that people are concerned about equipment bragging rights, it’s an irrelevance, it’s pointless, so it doesn’t concern me, but technological advantage does.

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    • Stephen Glass

      Amen to that. I spent an hour or so talking to a Phase One dealership at the PPA convention this weekend. We looked at files on an Eizo from a variety of different photogs. Most of them were not retouched. I think there’s something else we overlook Kishore. That is when a photographer drops $100K on MF gear he’s usually very experienced and very skilled. So I think a HUGE factor in MF quality is “6 inches behind the camera” as has been said.

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      Absolutely. When you need that kind of gear, there’s a good chance that you’re spending a lot of time and effort to make every shot count. The gear helps, otherwise those photographers wouldn’t use it, but the concept, lighting, editing, and all that count for quite a bit.

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    • Stephen Glass

      love watching the bts stuff on Annie Leibovitz. talk about a budget! but once the shot is set up her assistant hands her a digital MF, then a RZ67 with a film back, then sometimes a Canon 1D, no doubt the latest model. Then of course she hands off to the best retouching house in NYC/world. But I think you’re right. Nothing is left to chance, reference shots, sketches, grips, assistants, digital techs, etc… It’s such an inspiration.

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  4. Stephen Glass

    I’d like to thank Kishore for this and the medium format post. Very provocative. I would encourage Kishore to stay away from penis analogies. But I would also encourage him to stay on topics like this because they’re very interesting.
    I would love to see a detailed article on autofocus on a DSLR. With diagrams on the mechanisms we don’t see but count on for AF.

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  5. Tomas Ramoska

    Why all images are soft?

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  6. Matthew Saville

    Unfortunately, indeed megapixels are not the ONLY “arms race” / unnecessary escalation going on in photography. The same thing is happening for lens mm, f-stops, FPS, ISO, DR, …pretty much everything.

    The struggle, of course, is how companies should balance each of these things, to please the most people, and let’s be honest, sell the most cameras, so they can stay afloat and, hopefully, survive to fight another day and make at least a few cameras that are actually awesome and well balanced.

    For APS-C, 12-16 megapixels was, and IMO still is, that sweet spot for megapixels. The Fuji X sensor is a gem, plain and simple. The Nikon 24 MP DX sensors are nice, but 24 MP on a DX camera is definitely getting into “excessive” territory, and I really only choose it over a 12-16 MP sensor for serious landscape photography.

    For FX / Full-Frame, IMO the megapixel magic number is indeed 24. 36, 42, and 50 are absolutely unnecessary unless you’re going to make big prints. With 24, even if you like to do heavy cropping, you still have plenty left over.

    It is unfortunate that we probably won’t stop here, and ~28 MP is soon to become the new “norm” for APS-C sensors, while 36-50 MP is soon to become the new norm for FX sensors.

    Still, a BSI sensor like the A7R II gives me hope that there is at least one ace up the megapixel sleeve, one get-out-of-jail-free card. The A7R II is almost double the resolution of an A7 II, and yet it nearly matches or even beats the high ISO performance. To me, this is promising. Hopefully more sensors in the future are BSI.

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    • Andrew Leinonen

      But 16MP on APS-C is the same as 36MP on FF…

      I suppose I just simply don’t understand why people want fewer MP. In the real world it doesn’t come with any disadvantage. If you’re buying $2500 camera bodies and $1000 lenses, you can probably afford a couple $100 3TB harddrives. That’ll be good for keeping a redundant backup of 40,000 uncompressed 42MP RAW files…

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    • Kishore Sawh

      “24. 36, 42, and 50 are absolutely unnecessary unless you’re going to make big prints. With 24, even if you like to do heavy cropping, you still have plenty left over.” And honestly if you’re shooting to print big, and I mean REALLY big, it’s likely in a more controlled environment where the measures you take to shoot a high quality image, are in place. The fact is at 24MPs you CAN print REALLY big should you know what you’re doing, and that’s in terms of shooting, and understanding how printing/scaling is done properly.

      Andrew I don’t think the question is really based only around affording the drives. For me, and I know for many large producing studios, it’s workflow. a 50MP raw file is going to require more resources to process and move around than 24 by a long shot. Efficiency is key if you’re talking business, and that’s when you start to really figure out if you need or notice the difference in what you’re shooting.

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    • Matthew Saville

      @Andrew Leinonen,

      As Kishore mentioned, people want fewer MP when it begins to actually affect their workflow. It is simply not true that megapixels don’t come with any disadvantages, both while shooting and while post-producing.

      Everything from buffer speed to culling time is affected, and it adds up to a LOT more than a few extra hard drives. Especially when you go from 40,000 images per year to 400,000 images per year, let alone 4,000,000 images per year, as my wedding studio is probably going to top for 2015.

      12-16 MP on APS-C is a great balance of image quality and buffer depth / shooting speed / workflow speed, and ~24 MP on full-frame is a great balance of slightly greater image quality, but with a slightly more professionally demanding workflow. 36 MP full-frame is still totally acceptable as far as image quality goes, since as you point out it’s the same as 16 MP APS-C, however it does begin to push into “overkill” territory when you’re trying to fit each year into “just” a compact, ~1 TB portable external, instead of the big fat space-wasting 3.5″ desktop externals.

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    • Dave Haynie

      The main reason to want fewer megapixels is that you want better low light performance and higher shooting speeds. Which is why Canon and Nikon don’t put 50Mpixel sensors in their flagship models… 1Ds and D4s need to let in more light and shoot at crazy speeds.

      It’s even more of an issue on smaller sensor cameras. Sure, BSI helps… Samung’s 28Mpixel APS and Sony’s 42Mpixel FF are nice chips. They’re also running out of magic tricks… they’ll evolve, but it’s likely to be a slow thing unless there’s a totally new kind of sensor in the works (there have been attempts, of course, and there are others still being experimented with).

      Olympus’s high rez mode — 8 shots with 1/2 pixel sensor movement — is a pretty nice hack, eliminating both the tiny pixel and the Bayer issue, at least for still subjects on a tripod. For now. Let’s see how that idea evolves over the next decade.

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    • Michael None

      @MATTHEW SAVILLE

      Mentioned above is that “only a few people need high megapixels”. At the same time, only a very small number of photographers need to process >400K images per year, let alone 4M.

      For those that don’t shoot massive amounts of images, and have the computer to process high megapixel images, the extra resolution is most welcome. I disagree that only those who print big need the pixels. The images are captured in more detail than at 24, 16, or 12mp, it’s clearly visible in the files.

      Further, you don’t know what the future holds, new printing techniques and 8K displays are coming. An 8K display is more than 33 megapixels so those 24mp files you are shooting today won’t come close to filling the screen of tomorrow’s monitors. I’m happy to start future proofing my portfolio today.

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  7. Justin Haugen

    I’m shooting a wedding in two weeks. I’ll be using my D750’s knowing I’ve got the best tools for the job and practically every other type of shoot I do.

    A few weeks later, I’m borrowing my friend’s D800 for a commercial shoot. If I didn’t have it available, I’d rent a D810.

    I like knowing there’s a couple tools I can count on for the work I do. Given a few years, there will be convergence in these features and we’ll have the cameras we really want. I love the future.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Well if that’s not a beautifully positive outlook and sensible approach I don’t know what is. Sounds good

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  8. Andrew Leinonen

    Obviously, everyone wants better ISO and DR performance. Duh. That’s basically the singular job of almost every sensor engineer in the world, and all the cubic development dollars companies can throw at it. The potential market for a tiny sensor smartphone that can actually shoot well above ISO 800 is astronomical.

    …but saying “we want ISO and DR, not megapixels!” is a totally, completely false dichotomy. It just happens to be easier to engineer more megapixels onto camera sensors at this juncture. And those megapixels happen to have little to no real world penalty in ISO or DR. Improving ISO and DR is just way, way harder, and is why we’re not seeing huge leaps without dramatic technology changes (i.e. going to backside illumination for the A7r II).

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Andrew, those people I think you’re speaking for, well, I don’t think they all are saying it in such a fashion that you propose. How you’ve phrased it and insulated those words from any that may come before or after, present what could be a dichotomy, but it’s incomplete. Most people, as you allude to, want it all, and there’s a group who would rather the other facets be improved more than MPs grown. Development flows where attention goes, and if there is a finite amount of any given factor, be it money, time, mental resources, many would prefer they be spent elsewhere.

      Regarding your comment further up, I understand that you are speaking of an advantage of using the larger sensor, that the lens/body resolving numbers often increase with a larger MP sensor. However, very few instances are there where you will actually realize the potential of the sensor. It’s because these lenses are built for mass adoption, unlike the MF systems which are matched almost perfect from the ground up. In a regular man’s world, that doesn’t exist really, which is why something like the RX1R is such an anomoly. And again, I can’t and will not contextualize every point for everyone out there, but it would suit to understand that you aren’t the majority, and what I’ve said isn’t wrong, but merely an opinion. Just as yours is neither wrong but an opinion. The answers to these questions and debates aren’t binary.

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    • Dave Haynie

      In the grand scheme of things, innovations like on-sensor ADCs (a big reason Sony keeps beating up Canon on DR) or BSI (Samsung N1) / Stacked (Sony A7RII) sensors are great, but incremental. The sensors are fundamentally the same technology. And while a pixel boost with no loss of DR or low light capabiity (Sony) is better than a pixel boost that does pretty much what you expect (Canon), you only get to play each innovation card once. Sony’s 60Mp or 75Mp sensor, Canon’s 120Mp sensir, those will follow the expected performance curves unless they introduce yet another new technology. Each new one gets more expensive.

      Sony’s been leading due to a confluence of market pressure (trying to establish their cameras as accepted Nikon/Canon alternatives), market movement (Sony’s jump toward being the “Intel of Sensors” before someone else does), and market vitality (Sony’s building into this during a very lijely peak in digital camera sales… with many signs already of the market stabilizing back at pre-digital volumes).

      We’ve probably just lived through a once-in-a-generation shift that, barring significant revolutionary new technology, is winding down. In a mature technology, everything’s levelled out… you are going to pay sensitivity and DR penalties for more pixels when you have the same level of technology in all sensors. It’s only the momentary jump that makes this seem to disappear,

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  9. Justin Haugen

    So the end game is we’ll all have 50mp sensors with amazing dynamic range in 5 years time, plus the workflow to support it. Then we can talk about how no one will ever need 80mp and 50mp is plenty for 95% of the work that’s out there.

    I remember when my 8mp images came out as double trucks in magazines and 20mp was so much resolution with room for cropping.

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    • Michael None

      Exactly, I have seen these “no one needs more than x megapixels” statements plenty of times in the past. They will always continue, and there will always be writers that will post these types of articles.

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  10. Ben Perrin

    I got to rent a 5ds for a recent trip to uluru that I did. Just a few days ago my 28 x 66 inch print from that trip arrived. Boy am I happy with the outcome. I think it’s fine to say that most people don’t need 40+ megapixels and that the a7II is just fine. It is. However, there’s really no need to bash the high mp cameras either. As far as I see it the only downside (for me) with high mp camera’s is the cost. Everybody has different needs. Surely we can all get along.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Oh no doubt they have their place and I’m not bashing them. There’s a place for them, I just hope for people to understand it’s not a necessity, nor a defining factor in taking a good image.

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    • Michael None

      Kishore, you did say that lenses can’t resolve more than 25 so in essence saying that more than that is irrelevant and useless. That is simply not true.

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    • adam sanford

      I think the ‘it helps everyone’ upside of a 50 MP rig is the ability to crop if you lack the reach needed or want to re-frame after taking the shot.

      Sure, better prep in the form of careful composition and appropriate gear selection (bringing a crop rig or longer glass) obviates the need for that, but when you are shooting unscripted subjects/events in real-time, you have to take the shot with what you have and those extra pixels give you flexibility in post.

      I’m not huge MP proponent, but one cannot deny that’s a useful upside.

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  11. Ralph Hightower

    I definitely agree that there’s an “arms race” with camera manufacturers trying to out-megapixel and out-feature their competitors. I ran into “analysis paralysis” in comparing DSLR cameras on the market with rumored new models; if I delayed my purchase, a newer model may have features that I want.

    I created a spreadsheet of features of cameras that I owned. Canon A-1: full frame, Canon F-1N: full frame. FPS with their corresponding motor drives; A-1: 5 FPS, F-1N: 5 FPS. Looking at the Canon EOS product line, the 5D Mk III had the same.

    I could’ve switched manufacturers in 2013 since the Canon FD mount is incompatible with the Canon EF mount. But I’ve used Canon since 1980, so it was brand loyalty. I wasn’t considering mirrorless or micro 4/3rds in 2013. Lens portfolio was another decision; I would like to get or rent lenses from wide to supertelephoto.

    I tried to find the video of a humorous video clip of a press conference. One photojournalist asks another “What camera are you shooting with?” The other photojournalist says “5D Mk III”. The first says “I have a 1Dx”, to which the other guy says “Do you shoot sports?” “No.” “Then you don’t need a 1Dx”. The first photojournalist, being put off, says “I have a 1Dx.”

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Ahh Analysis paralysis, is a goddamn nightmare, and we all fall into it at times because these things aren’t exactly dollar-store purchases. If you’re looking at a whole new system in a way it is like marrying someone, you marry the family of lenses and accessories and so on, so it’s a commitment. So i get the brand loyalty, I do.

      I know the clip well, I even wrote it up in an article. One of the best haha, 1Dx.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Nothing all that wrong with brand loyalty. When you find the thing that fits your brain, why not stick with it? As long as the brand stays loyal to you.

      I did both. I started in the 1970s on Olympis OM… that was st tge right kind of camera for me. Compact, good for hikes or bike trips, useful innivation, great glass, etc. Then they quit making real cameras. I eventually added Canon EOS, starting with a used Rt and moving into digital. I like Canon enough, but when Olympus came back with the OM-D series, I kept my FF Canon stuff but sold ir gave away my APS gear. Olympus still fpjust fits my brain better.

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  12. Paul Nguyen

    24MP is plenty! I spent a long time shooting 16MP and I never noticed any diminished cropping ability at all.

    That said, there are things I wish the A7II had. For starters, I wish it had 4K video. As someone who’s trying to shoot more and more video, the difference between 4K and 1080p isn’t just the resolution, it’s that 4K generally carries a higher bitrate and even when downscaled to 1080p, gives cleaner and sharper results. That said, I understand adding 4K would cannibalise the A7RII and A7SII sales.

    Also, I wish there were better native lenses. Out of the current crop, the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and 70-200mm f/4 OSS are the only ones I’d highly recommend. The Zeiss Batis 25/2, 85/1.8 and Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 are just all so expensive. I know that they’re Zeiss lenses…etc., but the Batis 25/2 is around twice the price of the Sigma 24/1.4 ART and the Sony Zeiss 35/1.4 is more than twice the price of the Sigma 35/1.4 ART. It’s not like those Sigma lenses are slouches.

    If these problems were fixed, I would genuinely seriously consider the A7II.

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    • Michael None

      downscaling (resizing) photos from higher MP gives the same benefit.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Yeah, Paul, the A7ii really is not a video performer and no one I know who has purchased it gives it much of a thought. A Sony rep told me the only people who ask about the video capabilities on it are those who are casual shooters and they just want to know it CAN record. Their words, not mine.

      The lenses….just like when a new game console comes out, it will get better with time, and there are available lenses for it, albeit price. But they are good. With broader adoption and higher volume of sales that comes with it, perhaps we’ll see a reduction in those prices.

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  13. lee christiansen

    Seriously… did I just read, “allows you to shake as if you had Parkinson’s and still take a steady image…”

    I’m not one of those politically correct police types – but this should never make the final draft of ANY review.

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    • Lenzy Ruffin

      Agreed. I’m not PC police, either. I’ve never even met anyone with that disorder and I still know that’s a terribly inappropriate thing to write. Unfortunately, Mr. Sawh seems to think it’s a clever thing to write when reviewing gear. Not only is it not his first time writing it, it’s not even the first time this week. There’s really no place for such a statement by anyone and certainly not from someone who writes for a living. Even if it were clever or funny (it is neither), it’s just wildly inappropriate. This would be wrong if a high school kid wrote it. It’s certainly wrong coming from a grown man.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Agreed. The correct statement would obviously have been “allows you to shake as if you were Joe Cocker and still take a steady image”.

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  14. Lauchlan Toal

    Gotta love 24MP cameras. More is nice, but for 99.9% of use 24MP is plenty enough, even for commercial work. Great write-up, good to a Sony review that’s not about the A7RII.

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  15. Michael None

    Guess what, we have been in the megapixel race since the moment digital cameras were released. While I agree with the article that the Sony A7II is a great camera I disagree with the megapixel comments in general. I often see nonsense like “lens can only resolve about 25 megapixels”, and I have no idea where that comes from. Quality lenses can resolve well into hundreds of megapixels. Also, diffraction isn’t worse with higher megapixels. The lens causes diffraction, not the sensor.

    There are plenty of cameras with high density sensors and no one is complaining that the resolution is too high nor that the lens can’t keep up.

    Nikon D810 : 36 MP
    Nikon D7200: 24 MP DX : 54 MP full frame equivalent.
    Sony RX100 : 20 megapixels 1″ : 146 MP ful frame equivalent.

    Do the D7200 files look bad? No, it’s also a great camera and already well past the 50MP pixel density. The Sony even more so, that sensor scaled to full frame would be almost 150 megapixels, and it produces great results that I don’t see anyone complaining about.

    More pixels are coming, and I’m happy that they are.

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    • adam sanford

      Agree on lenses being better than we give them credit for. DXO — though their methods are radioactive — recently retested over 100 lenses on the 5DS R and just about all of them saw a nontrivial bump in resolution on that new sensor. Very few lenses did not pass muster on 5DS R’s more detailed canvas.

      As for wanting/prioritizing more pixels, however, I disagree. A great number of photographers (myself included) would rather have 2 more stops low light performance than 10 more MP.

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    • Michael None

      Adam, I’m not endorsing pixels at the expense of everything else. We have had gains in both areas, the DR on my D810 is significantly better than my older camera AND it has a lot more pixels as well. No reason we can’t have both.

      If you want more DR, why not get a Sony A7SII?

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    • Andrew Leinonen

      Or, for that matter, the D810 or A7r II, both of which have better dynamic range than any other camera (including the A7S).

      And even the A7r II is better at low light ISO than nearly any other camera up to about ISO 6400 if you downres it to an equivalent resolution instead of pixel-peeping 42MP at 100%.

      Really it just seems silly to blame pixels for any sensor shortcomings, since in many ways the highest resolution sensors on the market are also the best in all the other metrics, too.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Mike, hi. Is is Heller, or None? Either way, allow me a moment to express gratitude for taking the time to read the article, and put such thought and effort into your comments, even as pejorative as they may be.

      I think it’s important to note here that to write in an over technical fashion isn’t what the majority are looking for from us, or me, and there’s DxO for that. As such I try not to be pedantic about certain specifics. However, as you brought it up, I’ll explain the phrase you have such issue with, with the need to get into MTF charts.

      I understand where you are coming from, but believe me where you are coming from isn’t the same place as the majority. You are among the minority who revels in the technicalities and may even understand some. I understand what you’re speaking of with the lenses but here’s what I’m on about. I’m not speaking succinctly about a specific lens’ ability on it’s own to resolve (not always anyway), but of the resolving ability between a specific lens and a specific camera/sensor.

      So if a camera has a marked 36MP sensor such as found on the D810, when it’s paired with a particular lens you may only be getting 30, and with another lens maybe more, and with another maybe less. The ‘resolution’ in this sense comes from a combination of the ability of a lens, light, and whatever other elements to actually realize the pixels on the sensor. (DxO has their own sort of ‘trick’ name for this called MPix or P-MPix or something.) But for brevity and clarity, and knowing the majority of the audience, I explained it as such, and it serves most well.

      In fact those numbers I gave you were directly from DxO testing the resolution of a D810 paired with the Otus 85 F14 ZF.2, and the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G. Paired with the Otus the resolution was a whopping 35MP, and the with the Nikkor it was 30. If you pair that same Nikkor with a D610 it get’s a total of 21MP (not the full 24 as you may think as that’s the marked sensor number for the D610). So if you were wondering where that comes from, that’s where. Hope this finds you well.

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    • Andrew Leinonen

      But Kishore, that same metric that you refer to is nothing but flattering to larger sensors in almost every circumstance. You almost never find such a thing as a lens “outresolving” a sensor, or a sensor “outresolving” a lens in the real world. We’re dealing with essentially analogue data (at least, until we get down to cameras with pixels the size of individual photons), and the better the combination of either part of that combined system, the better the result.

      To use the dreaded DXO as corroboration…take Nikon’s utterly mediocre full-frame superzoom, the 28-300mm, a lens that by all accounts resolves no better than a Micro Four Thirds equivalent. It gets only 7 of DXO’s P-MP on the D700, but 11MP on both the D750 and the D810. So you may be right that 24MP is about the limit if you want to use dated superzooms.

      But step up to lens more in the right price bracket for these bodies, like the 28-70/2.8, and the D700 gets 9MP, the D750 gets 17MP, and the D810 gets 21MP. So the advantage is consistent the more MP you add.

      The advantage is even more dramatic using modern high-end lenses with a Canon system. The new 35mm/1.4 II scores 18 MP on the 5D III, and 37 MP (!) on the 5DS R. Literally more than double the effective resolution out of the exact same lens.

      Now do you need 37MP? Maybe not. But even if all you did was batch rescale every single 50MP image you took with your 5DS R down to the same 22MP image you’d get out of the 5D III, you’d have a more detailed, higher quality image. But hey, storage space is cheap, anyway…

      It’s not just about more data. It’s about better data. And if you don’t actually care about that, then why get all hot and bothered about the A7 II to begin with? The Olympus E-M1 offers a faster, more polished shooting experience, with a better built body, a more complete lens line, and more features, all in a more affordable package…

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    • Paul Empson

      I have more than enough mp now.. D810 is the best camera I’ve owned & used.. 24mp would probably be more than enough.. I have a 28″x14″ demo wedding album full of double page spreads.. the images were all take on my trusty D700 12mp just to prove it.. however the extra mp gives me the confidence I can shoot a close up shot, full of detail, and spread that over two pages..

      I’m agree with Adam S’ it’s not more mp I want but better low light performance..

      There are always gear junkies.. however my bottom line cured me of, most, of my bad habit.. I don’t suffer camera envy.. they are just tools for the job..

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    • Michael None

      The only things I revel in are the great results of my D810. As soon as Nikon drops a 50+ MP cam I’ll go buy that assuming it has the same DR and ISO performance of my D810 (though it may have even better). Higher sampling is clearly visible, and the new Canon 50MP cams show that.

      You also state that the Sony and Canon cams are shooting with higher megapixels than their fancy medium format equivalents. You conveniently ignore the 50MP Hassy and 80MP Phase 1. If you are taking the pinnacle of 35mm sensors then do the same with medium format. But then, it wouldn’t support your argument.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Actually, diffraction is an issue as you add megapixels. Yes, the lens “causes diffraction”… for any given aperture, you have a given Airy disc size. But you’re only diffraction limited when the size of that Airy disc starts to get larger than the size of your pixels. So take my Canon 24-105 f/4… or any lens at f/4. That’s going to project an Airy disc of 5.08μm. Now, on my Canon 6D, that’s never a problem, because I have 6.5μm pixels. On the Nikon D810 or A7, you’re dealing with 4.88μm pixels… so you are going to have an tiny bit of diffraction… not enough to be much of an issue. Now take Canon’s 5DS.. you have 4.14μm pixels… you’re getting even more diffraction blurring… is it visible yet? Maybe not. But stop down to f/5.6, and your Airy disc at 7.11μm is now covering nearly all of any 2×2 pixel cell… you are very definitely diffraction limited. Now, sure, some of that’s hidden in the blurring caused by de-Bayering… but clearly, diffraction limiting is a real thing in any high megapixel camera today. Canon’s 120Mpixel will look pretty much like their 50Mpixel if you don’t shoot above f/4.0 all the time.

      And that’s physics… no way around it, at least in the visible light spectrum. Same reason the slowest lens I have for my OM-D is f/2.8… that’s 3.7μm pixel there.

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    • Michael None

      @DAVE HAYNIE

      Happy to agree to disagree…

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    • Dave Haynie

      You can absolutely have your own opinion on megapixels today. And that’s great — wouldn’t life be tedious if we all had the same opinions?

      I have single 5-8GB photos composited from 16-20 Mpixel individual shots. That’s not everything I shoot, but it’s most of what I shoot in landscapes. A higher resolution would be pointless to me. In fact, the only A7 that I really found attractive is the A7S, because that’s better than the 6D, or any other full frame, in low light. I completely understand the occasional need to shoot st one shot :-)

      On the other hand, we all get the same science. And while we’re not at the end yet, we are approaching the point of diminishing returns on 35mm full frame sensors. We’d be closer if we had good, full RGB pixels rather than Bayer patterns. The next big jump is going to find f/4 lenses fuzzy, and all the low light fans will need f/0.95 lenses, just like today’s low light m43 shooters. Too much weight and money, I think.

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  16. Stephen Glass

    Great article. Makes me want an A7II all that much more but I got to hang with my D750 bodies. The switch has to wait for that unexpected $20K job where I can get a few lenses at least.
    I fell into the megapixel trap with the D800. That camera was good in the studio but horrid in low light. The other thing is that it seems that the focusing sensors on my D750 do not operate well out of that center area with certain lenses. Maybe it was that way on my D700, D3 and D3s but I didn’t notice it.
    YES – to the lens resolution. A much over looked spec.
    Here’s the other thing to remember folks. Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s guys were shooting double truck spreads with D1 bodies. Portrait shooters were making 16×20 and even 20×30 prints. If you remember the software “Genuine Fractals” that’s what that was all about. What most don’t realize is that PS will easily interpolate up to 200% without a noticeable quality loss. Even 300%. Then something like Genuine Fractals or whatever it’s called now could help.
    Does anyone know if Sony is still making Nikon sensors? Did that change when they went to CMOS from CCD?
    Kishore: thanks for letting us pixel peep those images at 100%. That is extremely helpful.
    Dude! is that your wife? She’s beautiful. Great portraits.
    This is a very helpful article.
    The technology still bumps into the physics of photosites per inch. More photosites more megapixels less ISO. Less photosites more ISO. That’s why they make different A7 models I would imagine.
    I’m comfortable with my penis size and with my 24 MP D750 both optimistically average these days. Maybe Kishore you could do a survey that actually compares penis size to the camera body shot? Not sure what the female equivalent would be but it seems to be something that weighs on your mind.

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    • Michael None

      Disagree with this comment “I fell into the megapixel trap with the D800. That camera was good in the studio but horrid in low light.”.

      Far from horrid, and in fact better than any Canon on the market even today (just my opinion). There are better cameras available, sure, but the D800 works quite well in low light situations up to ISO3200 and even produces files suitable for web work at ISO6400.

      Here is a cleaned up ISO3200 test shot I did shortly after getting my D800. Is that horrid?
      http://www.photokaz.com/blog/2012/04/30/nikon-d800-high-iso-test/

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Thank you for the kind words, Stephen. I love the D750. In fact, there is not Nikon I’d rather have than that, and I linked my review of it as the rewind in this article. The key takeaway I made about the D750 is that it made cameras like the D810 and D4s niche cameras, because the D750 does so much well, you would only get e D4 should you need the speed for a specific genre, and D810 when you know you’ll need the MPs. The D750 is, I think, the best value on the market. And while some may disagree with you on the MP trap, clearly I don’t, and there are a sea of working pros who know what you’re on about. Re the penis size survey…. I’m not sure I’m the man for the job. Cheers

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    • Mike Hemery

      Thanks for the article. So, ultimately would you say go with the D750 or the A7ii? This is my struggle right now.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Mike, it’s hard to guide you without knowing much about you – I need some context in order to guide you sensibly and not sound like a salesman. If we were having this discussion over a beer I’ve ask you what type of photography you do and what direction you want to go; What equipment you currently own; your budget; how averse to renting you were; how important is size to you, and all sorts.

      We are speaking about two entirely different platforms. Nikon has a much broader range of native lenses, probably broader than any brand out there given the backwards compatibility of the F-mount. Sony has much fewer native FE mount lenses, though what they have is good, and it’s nice now that Sigma released their adapter that allows any Sigma Canon-mount lens (15 of them) to be used on Sony Alpha cameras.

      The A7ii is a nice camera to use, and if you throw on Leica glass or some small native lenses it’s a small kit, which is easier to carry around and less intrusive that the D750. Performance-wise I’m still partial to the D750, and I’m also not one who needs an EVF. They’re nice, but if you do studio work with strobes then you won’t really see some of the benefits.

      The current $300 cost savings on the Sony is not much, and honestly Sony lenses are generally more costly anyway so that saving will be eaten quick. So, I actually have no idea what to tell you blindly. You couldn’t go wrong with either, but I would generally say the D750 as a safer bet as a workhorse.

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    • Mike Hemery

      Thank you so much for this response. The problem I’m running into is (man, this would be a better conversation sitting down together, you’re right) is I’m looking for a camera that “does it all”: Landscapes, portraits, my kids indoor and outdoor sports, low-light activities. That’s a tough bill, I know. But I think what was happening is I was trying to convince myself the EVF didn’t drive me nuts and the image quality was fine on the a7ii. LOTS of people were telling me to love that camera because it was the “next big thing.” But every time I held it I felt like I was making excuses. And I keep looking at sample photos from the a7ii and they seem “flat” for some reason? That might not even be a thing, but it’s what I see. When I see the D750 samples, on the other hand, they are vibrant and rich and more 3D (again, probably not even a real thing). (Although–the a7rii seems to be doing some incredible stuff, but is way out of my budget.)

      I’ve been looking mostly on Sony forums and FB pages and witnessing this “intense” war between DSLR folks and the mirrorless people. Geez, who knew this was happening. I suppose when you’ve been shooting on a Canon EOS20D for the past 10 years you miss some stuff. :)

      But, based on what feels right, I think I will most likely go D750. Seems to fit the bill for much of what I need. It’s a little heavier, but in all reality, any camera is heavier than the camera on my phone, so it doesn’t really matter and the image quality is the bottom line most important thing.

      Thanks again for all your time.

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    • Justin Haugen

      Mike, if you’re looking to have a conversation about the D750 and A7ii (I’ve shot with both, but own the D750), chat with me on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pixelhero

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  17. adam sanford

    Nice review!

    So it’s a D750 without a mirror. Or a ton of native glass. Or a good battery life. Or as effective an AF system as an SLR. (Mirrorless will absolutely take over in a matter of years, but it just isn’t there yet.)

    The adage that ‘it’s fine, presuming your AF/burst needs are not demanding’ is the easy statement to make, but there’s more to mirrorless’ shortcomings than that. The lens/flash/accessory ecosystem remains puny compared to CaNikon, and a newer/better sensor doesn’t change that. Sony would be wise to step off of the new body / new sensor gas pedal and start pumping out more supporting hardware for those great bodies.

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    • Justin Haugen

      Whereas Fuji keeps rehashing the same sensor but gives an abundance of lens options.

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    • adam sanford

      Agree. Fuji rehashes it’s APS-C sensors like Canon did with 18 MP Rebels for years and years.

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    • Michael None

      More lenses too.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Yup. One funny point… he mentions “slap a battery grip on those [D810 and 5DRs] and they weigh as much as the moon”. Well, slap a battery grip on any of those A7s, they weigh more than my EOS 6D, and they still don’t get even half as many shots on a single battery.

      You can go to mirrorless for compact size and light weight. But I don’t think there’s any substantial savings in going for full frame mirrorless. Sure, it’s a more compact body. Some of that’s because it’s mirrorless, some of that’s because it’s simply not made to the same standards as a pro Canon or Nikon. If you drive a truck over that Sony, it’s dead… if it’s the Canon or Nikon, you pick it up, rinse it off, and keep shooting.

      And your lenses are larger… that extra 18mm or whatever they cut out in the flange to sensor distance between a DSLR and a mirrorless, that gets added to the length and weight of every lens, if you’re talkin’ full frame. If you really want compact, get an Olympus. Yeah, it’s a smaller sensor. When I’m stitching together 40 or 60 shots, that doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

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  18. Colin Woods

    Well said on the MP wars. My gorgeous D750 is way better than my D300, but not because its 24MP instead of 13MP. Even my first digital camera, the 6MP D70, could make superb A3 prints. One of my projects is to shoot the same scene with the D300 and the D750 with the same lenses and get a big print done of each and see what the difference is. I suspect the answer will be ‘not much’.

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    • Timothy Going

      Not sure how big you want to go, but I printed a couple of studio portraits of my kids at 16X20″. One from my D3 and one from my D90, both using a Nikon 80-200 f/2.8, and couldn’t tell enough of a difference to be concerned. They are both hanging on my wall and no one who has looked at them has ever mentioned a difference, and that includes my photographer friends

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    • Colin Woods

      I’ll probably do my test prints at that size, but its quite rare that I print big. Our house has only so much wall area. What I do have is a 10 x 7 foot print from my D300. One of pictures was included in an exhibition a few years back and they chose mine to be printed this big on plastic for the big roadside sign advertising the exhibition. And its amazingly good. Sure if you put your nose against it its a bit nasty but as soon as you step back far enough that you can see the whole photo without turning your head from side to side its really good. As soon as I saw it that was the end of the MP race for me. Like everyone I am a victim of advertising and I was starting to believe that more MP would make me a better photographer. I bought my D750 for its awesomeness in dynamic range, high ISO and AF tracking of erratically moving objects – my three year old son specifically.

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  19. Yael DeFaye

    If anybody would be nice enough and be my Santa this year, I would like that camera!
    Merry Christmas and Happy holidays everyone!

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