Putting Sony to the test in Austin

Still working on getting super familiar with my Sony A7II - and it's great! Oh and I share some thoughts on what I love about this camera so far!

As I mentioned here a while back, I recently changed out all my gear and bought into the Sony family, choosing the A7II full frame mirrorless camera and a few lenses.  So far it's been great (and of course I don't expect that to change).  I'm really loving it.

So I have been trying to spend some time out shooting here at home in Austin, which sadly is more rare than you would think.  In the last couple of years, I have only been out to shoot here a handful of times.  I am working to correct that, because there is a lot to shoot here.  I am also working on an Austin-specific photo project, which I hope to reveal here in the next couple of months.  So that's driving me a bit, too.

Anyways, I've been out with the Sony and it's been wonderful.  I love shooting around here!

I have been trying all sorts of different types of shots, with all my lenses, and in various conditions.  That's the only way to really test it out, in my opinion.  You have to experiment a lot and shoot in all sorts of conditions. And I believe you really should be familiar with your gear before you take it off on a trip somewhere.  Funny thing though, I didn't do that.  I bought this right before I went to Norway and Scotland, but thankfully I didn't have any issues.  I brought the manual with me on that trip just in case.  :-)  I was a little nervous since I had no time to prepare!

A few things I am absolutely loving about this camera system, and some comments on other things:

* The level of detail it captures is stunning, thanks to the wonderful full frame sensor.  Having shot with a micro four-thirds for the last year and a half, I can immediately see a difference.  The sensor on this camera is nearly 4x larger than the M4/3 sensor, so that obviously comes into play.  That is not intended to disparage the Olympus, which is a great camera that I loved to shoot with, but it is a fact.

* The dynamic range of each photo is also mind-boggling.  I had heard great things about it, but wow I am impressed!  And to clarify, I have the A7II which is the 24 megapixel version - I understand that the A7RII (42 mega pixel) is even crazier!  I just didn't need that many MP so I opted for this model (and it's quite a bit less expensive too).  The difference in price was enough to cover the cost of a lens.

* Based on the two items I just listed, I believe I will find myself using a single frame fairly often instead of merging 3 frames into an HDR.  Just a guess.  As I wrote last week, I am loving getting back into HDR, but I don't want or need to process in HDR for every photo.  It's not always needed.

* I had read online complaints about the menu system not making any sense, but I have no idea what those folks are talking about.  It makes sense to me - it's pretty clear.  Yes, you always have to learn the menu whenever you get new gear (especially if you are switching brands), so that should not be news to anyone.  I have had to learn it, since I came from Olympus, but it ain't hard, people.

* The 5 axis in-body image stabilization is a big help. While I normally shoot on a tripod, I did fire a few of these handheld and I must admit that having the IBIS is a big help, especially if you are bracketing!  And admittedly, I am fairly twitchy anyways so IBIS helps.

* The lenses are great.  I have the 16-35 wide angle, the 24-70 mid-range zoom, and the 28mm prime.  This was another area of complaint that I read about.  People said "there aren't enough lenses".  That's crap.  There are plenty of lenses in the Sony family, and more coming all the time.  Besides, I am not the type of photographer that will have a huge assortment of lenses - I generally shoot with the same things on each outing, and am happy with it.  The 3 lenses I have are basically the same as what I had on my Olympus, and the same as what I had on my Nikon full frame before that.  And you can always get an adapter to attach your Nikon or Canon lenses.

* The lenses aren't f/2.8 or something like that.  This is true.  The 16-35 and 24-70 are both f/4.  This is a non-issue for me, because I am normally shooting on a tripod and since I prefer to shoot cityscapes and landscapes, I am often at f/9 or thereabouts.  I can see this *might* be an issue for some folks, but it isn't for me.  Also, the 28mm prime that I picked up is f/2.0 so that is my fun, fast, on-the-go lens for low light and handheld stuff.  It works great.

* The file isn't fully RAW - it's compressed.  Again, this is a non-issue - though it is true.  And I admit that I was a little worried about this, since I read SO MUCH about it online.  Having shot thousands of photos already in many different conditions, I have yet to see any issues with the files.  They contain plenty of info for me to work with.  And besides, Sony recently announced (and released) an update to allow for full uncompressed RAW files on the A7RII.  I suspect that other cameras in the family will get this update too.  

Ok Jim, back to the photos!

So today's post is a collection of various shots from around Austin.  These were all taken a few weekends ago, over the course of a couple of days, while I rambled about town with a list of things to shoot.  That list of mine is still growing, but I am at least now ticking a few things off of it.  I made almost no progress last year, but that's changed lately!

And yes, several of these were taken at sunrise, which explains why there aren't a bunch of tourists or partygoers in my shots - still my favorite time of day to shoot!  And it's doubly helpful when you are shooting downtown, because at sunrise you can actually get a parking spot!

Enjoy this little tour of Austin and let me know if you have any questions!