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Featured Forum Thread: 'Sony A7 with Leica Lenses' by Chrisnmn

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Chrisnmn, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek
    Hey guys,

    so ive bought myself the hype and got the almighty A7. Ill try to be as concise as possible in my impressions. Ive only been using the camera for 2 days. So this are early thoughts mainly and not a definitive statement.

    The camera feels solid, yet a bit 'big' when compared to my NEX6. Still super small when compared with any DSLR. I actually did a shoot on friday with a 7D plus a 35mm f1.4L, when i put it next to the A7 with a 35mm f1.4 summilux it felt at least half the size and weight. it might probably be more than that. so cant complain. this combo is small. perfect.

    [​IMG]

    IQ...theres nothing to say here. Theres hardly any better IQ that I've seen on any other camera in the market. period.

    [​IMG]

    Menus. I like them. A LOT. this feels a much well thought camera than my NEX. yet theres SO MUCH going on that I'm kinda liking the 'minimal' control approach on the nex6 now. You can set the A7 as you please. there are 4 wheels-dials to control everything.

    Handling is awesome, yet with a strap mounted, the front dial-shutter combination feels awkward. For my hands and a strap, i cant use the front dial which is fine, and deactivate it.

    [​IMG]

    Im finding better to shoot the camera in "TAv" mode like my Ricoh. There's no such thing on the sony, but since I'm using manual lenses only, i have my aperture on the lens and i shoot in shutter priority mode with auto iso and works wonders. Doing this I also get to use the EV comp dial, as you cant use it on S or M mode unless you shoot auto iso.

    the EVF and LCD are amazing. Sony made the stupid decision of having it 'auto' or either one or the other and no manual way to activate one or the other without going into the menus. But the auto mode like on my nex6 works great and theres little to no lag in the activation of both (im looking at you GX7).

    [​IMG]

    This camera made me realize that i need to re learn my photography.

    [​IMG]

    Yup, I absolutely forgot how thin DOF can be with FF. Just trying to focus anything with the 50mm f1.4 summilux is almost luck. I find it easier with the 35mm summilux though. Focus peaking in this camera is, perhaps, not working like it works on my nex6? I dont know really. I mean, it does work, and works perfect, but when you try to use it with anything wider than f2, peaking, shifts the focus, and makes you miss a lot of shots. I keep testing both lenses in between the two cameras and i definitely get WAY more shots in focus with the NEX than the A. Yes, one is APSC the other FF, and theres a difference in DOF at same apertures, thats why im saying i need to re learn that at F5.6 or even 8 some things can STILL be out of focus in the A7. I also been thinking that my 50 summilux might be faulty or needs re calibration or something, as i bought it used at the same time I bought the a7. but apparently is me, not the lens (like usual).

    This has got me a bit frustrated, gotta admit. For my street photography i might still use my NEX6. Until i really learn how to work with FF again! its been 2 years not shooting FF at all. i think i got used to smaller sensors. anyway.

    I read that Steve Huff also had some problems with peaking and f1 apertures in general, and decided to turn off the peaking and just go with bare eyes. I just tried that, and gotta say that at least inside my house im getting a hope of focusing with my 50mm summilux. phew, i really was thinking the lens was faulty.

    [​IMG]

    Battery life is alright. i dont see it worse than other mirrorless cameras, probably it is, but not in my experience. Still, i carry 2 extra batteries always.

    The camera feels slow or heavy when in use. I don't know how to explain this, but im not saying the camera IS slow, it just FEELS slower than my nex6 or other compacts. The sound of the shutter perhaps. Heres the thing, it doesn't matter how fast you shoot the 'sound' of the shutter feels slow. e.g. if im shooting at 1/3200s it SOUNDS like if i was shooting at 1/60s you know? and that feels weird. But the camera is snappy and can shoot several frames one after the other. it just 'sounds' slow. weird, i know.

    [​IMG]

    The shutter loudness. Yes it is louder than my nex6, (my ricoh is no comparison as it has leaf shutter, therefore even shooting over someones shoulder, that person would not realize i grabbed a shot) yet it is completely normal. Big sensor means bigger shutter right? and theres little we could do, right?. I shot in the streets yesterday and no one noticed me. thats good.

    [​IMG]

    The A7 on the streets?.

    Well it left me in between sweet and sour. Because this camera is a powerhouse, meaning, the little mistake you make (focus, shaking, etc) it will end up in a blurry shot and you will see it when editing. no escape to that. I mean, whats the point of buying a 24 or even a 36 mega pixel camera if its not to look at the pictures at 100%? right? c'mon lets be honest. :tomato2: You really need to get your settings and framing right, this camera doesn't forgive. Not in my experience still.

    Note to self: But if every master and every leica shooter have made a career shooting streets with FF, then it can be done, i just need to adapt my techniques onto it! buckle it up man!

    Also, ive been shooting with my 35mm summilux without ANY problem. In fact i believe that EVERY photo in this post was shot with the 35mm, and as you can see there is absolutely no problems of smearing, color shift, bla bla bla on the corners. Which again shows a little bit how 'over the top' the 'internet' can be.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    How thin is super thin dof in a FF camera like the A7? well...

    this thin... this shot of my wife driving was shot at 1.4 on the 35mm summilux.

    [​IMG]

    Now lets zoom in to see whats in focus and what not. check it out on this link https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1030775/epl2/sony test/Screenshot 2013-12-01 11.42.33.png

    You can see that her cheek and eye are in focus while her nose is out of focus. Thats how thin DOF can be in this camera for those still wondering. basically, unusable DOF! yay! :smile: but we all wanted that rendering right?. I really need to make up my mind that f1.4 IS f1.4 and not f2.8 or f2 like on my other cameras.

    In other news, theres been a big talk about how super wides and anything wider than 28 create problems in this cameras. Well, i dont know if sony fixed something or not before shipping these, but yesterday i got the Voigtlander Heliar super wide 15mm f4.5, and besides being super tiny (pancake tiny) i did some test shots in the store, and the lens didn't look to have ANY problem besides some vignetting in the corners, which is absolutely normal in this type of lenses.

    [​IMG]

    two shots in case some of you think i got lucky on the first one

    [​IMG]

    I had a problem though with this lens, and that was not about IQ or magenta tints and smearing. My problem is, that it didn't mount properly on the adapter i use for my leica lenses and is not 'clicking' in place. So its going back to the store. hopefully is the lens as the adapter works wonders. Im using the Phottix M to NEX adapter.

    bottomline.

    Im keeping the A7 no doubt. just need to re learn my photography. I really dont see the shortcomings or the 'beta' side of things to this cameras. Yes, there are 'no' native lenses to this cameras, but there 'never been' to Sony NEX and such. It looks more than sony is trying to build 'universal' bodies to be used with other lenses, which to me makes sense. And on the other hand, any AF FF lens, have never been not even close to the tiny size of a Leica lens or m43 lens and apparently looks like we are far away (technology wise) to develop small AF lenses yet. It looks like with this cameras, sony 'finished their homework' in sensor technology side for the most part, now they need to get onto lens design for those who prefer AF over to manual lenses.

    Also here's a little note ive realized about AF and MF in these days.

    Technology has come really far in terms of how digital cameras perform from 2 years till now. EVFs can certainly replace an OVF in a heartbeat and theres little differences with every update. Olympus and Sony have developed two EVFs that made me prefer it to an OVF any day now.

    On the other hand the Ricoh GR and its 'snap focus' made me love hyperfocal or zone focusing again!. Something that i loved from my film cameras such as the LC-A or XA2, etc.

    But the 'fly by wire' technology trying to imitate MF gave the 'MF experience' a bad reputation of being slow, sluggish, quirky, etc. Now that ive been using (real) manual lenses, paired to a great EVF and focus peaking is nothing but a pleasure. and it can be both 'slower' and 'faster' than AF at the same time.

    Of course you can focus with your hand and will be as fast as your eye and hand to note whats in focus and what not, and theres a pleasure to that. Specially on really hard focusing situations like shooting in a crowd were you want to isolate someone in between a group, and AF can be a problem as it will keep focusing on something else. with MF you select what you want, not the camera. I like that.

    And it can be faster with hyperfocal shooting too!. set a small aperture, set the speed and off you go shooting. no AF is faster than zone focusing. It takes a bit of practice. but again so it takes to learn your gear upside down.

    And this cameras brought to me, the basic pleasure of photography. and i love that.

    ps: all shots have their EXIF for the pixel peepers. the only SOOC images were the Voigtlander 15mm. all the others are raw files processed in LR 5.3rc.
     
    • Like Like x 19
  2. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Well done! :thumbup:

    The photo with the girl in the center is especially striking.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Thanks for the breakdown Chris. Pretty encouraging really, given the negative reviews about using it with rangefinder glass. I personally don't prefer full frame for street - that's one application where I want more DOF, not less and my RX1 requires an awfully high aperture value to get the DOF I want. In low light, the DOF of an APS or m43 sensor more than makes up for the improved sensor of the RX1 for street shooting. I use the Nikon A over the RX1 almost always for street shooting. If I was you, I'd probably use the GR. For lots of non-street work, though, I'd love to have a more versatile FF system and this is where your experience is encouraging. I'm not ready to dive back into manual focus glass, but nice that it's more of an option than previously thought, particularly for wider shooting. Might encourage me to go with something like this sooner than I might have otherwise. Not SOON, mind you, but perhaps soonER...

    Have fun with it!

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Thanks for the lovely photos and detailed first impressions, well done!
     
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  5. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Great user report, Chris. Nice to see that you're loving the new gear!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek
    Thanks Chris, I agree with you, thats my favorite of the bunch as well. In fact in that shot the girly is OOF!. That shows how much sharpness is not all that matters, right?. But yeah, i wish i had the girl in perfect focus!. hahaha.
     
  7. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek
    Thanks for stopping by Ray, and sorry about the mess of a write up, in fact, i just edit it and cleaned some stuff up. But you got the idea. I could not agree more with you Ray. shooting the A7 made me realize simply how AMAZING m43 and apsc compacts have gotten. In fact, way more practical for situations such as 'street shooting'. My Ricoh GR is not going anywhere, in fact, still with all the leica glass and FF-ness im experiencing this days, i still keep going back to my little wonder (GR) and shooting with it, next to the big guys. In fact, if i have to sum it up, i would give all my other cameras and i would keep my GR. But back to the main point of discussion, manual focus right now, is almost if not even better than it was in the 'old days'. Im just missing the half split screen like the leicas, or olympus XA, etc. when they get to that it will be it.

    But deactivating the focus peaking to shoot at wider apertures as f1.4 is a pleasure. in fact the EVF is so nice, like the VF3, that you can actually guess better than with peaking. go figure. Im happy with that. Now im getting tack sharp shots with the 50mm summilux. tried that this afternoon in the park. photos to come.
     
  8. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek
    Thanks you guys, appreciate it. And Nic, im still bonding with the camera, im still finding my ways around it, but im getting there. It takes some time for sure. Its much different than APSC and M43. need to get back to practice it.
     
  9. Vidar

    Vidar SC Veteran

    223
    Oct 25, 2010
    Bergen, Norway
    Vidar
    Good work! Good pictures, that Lux sure is a sweet lens...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Very interesting and useful review:). I know what you mean about the apparent shutter slowness, with the R it was feeling even slower with that two stage clack. I'm still deliberating about getting a 7 but I truly wish for a native portrait lens :)
     
  11. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    chris thanks so much! i have read everything i could on the web about these sonys, and frankly, your review was probably the most concise, yet useful. i appreciate your, in a sense, blaming yourself (and the science of DOF) rather than the tool. my gosh, that itself is so refreshing! tbh, ive had it up to here (pointing well above my head) with this obsession at only shooting at 1.1; thats not photography, but exactly the opposite, exhibits a total lack of understanding of photography and when and how to use the various attributes of your tools.

    i have been thinking exactly the same as your theme: i too have relied on the increased DOF of crop cams and will have to relearn how to do things 'right' if i choose to go with one of the sonys. i will say also that your results reinforced my preliminary theory that i am much more partial to the overall look of the a7 vs th R. your shots have such pop, brilliant color and clarity; and i personally so far find the R to be lacking in all these areas, though having better center resolution. frankly i was stunned by the quality of some of your shots, and while i typically agree with ray on increased DOF being a personal street shooting preference, i can certainly see the absolute brilliance in a different result.

    but please, tell us about low light/high iso performance! that is the bugaboo, isnt it? 16-6400 is kind of my sweet spot and id love to know how your lenses perform on this cam in those conditions, especially given DOF issues.
    thanks again man, very very useful.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    beautiful shots. If you had told me a couple years ago that a mirrorless camera shot these I would have laughed at you.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I think that this series says more about Chris the photographer than the camera. If these had been posted with no text and no author I'd have been far more likely to pick out him as the photographer than have had a chance of picking the type or even format of camera being used, and this is the shot that would have given it away.

     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    yes, bravo! aside from the tool, some of these were priceless.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek
    wow wow... what a surprise to find myself in the main page of thsi forum!. Im glad my comments are actually useful to somebody else!. Also, you guys are being way to nice about my photos!. Thanks guys.

    Now,

    Christine,

    The reason i didnt pick up the A7r, is because ive been shooting really seriously since i got to mirrorless 2 years ago. I knew were i was heading to and the shortcomings of those "little" sensors. So everytime i shoot, i shoot without cropping in mind and making the most out of the frame IN camera. So buying a 36 megapixel is just buying huge resolution for something i dont need and hardly ever use beside of clogging my hard drive. And the A7 with 24 is more than enough for 95% of situation any photographer will encounter. If you are not going to print anything bigger than A0, then theres no point on getting the r for me.

    You've also been posting lukewarm comments about the camera, and i know you have the leica M, can yo do a comparison in between the two?. for example how much louder is the shutter and stuff? im interested.

    [​IMG]

    Tony,

    thanks man! im glad of being of any help! I just tried to ground my comments to the very basic of a camera, and that is, in real use. As what Ray, you and I have said about needing a smaller aperture to gain some DOF means increasing the ISO, i will be honest and tell you:

    In every camera ive owned, form the 5dmkii to the epl2 to the OMD to the pen ep5 to the fuji x100 to the GR and to the A7, i turn off EVERY NR option and DR option i can. So i did with this camera, yet in the auto iso option i topped the iso at 3200 as i dont need to go any further than that. And a few times i saw the camera picking up iso 1600 or 3200 and though theres noise is nothing to be worried. 3200 feels like iso800 on my OMD or the like. So i couldnt care less about high iso. I think this sensors are so amazing that high iso is the least of my concerns now.

    In fact i love the noise on my ricoh GR and i take advantage of it every time i shoot lowlight and use it as part of the processing of the images. is simply film grain. The sony, feels like it, but i havent shot in lowlight yet. I mean i have, but i havent processed the shots, i will tonight or something.

    [​IMG]


    Nic,

    Thanks for that comment Nic, means a lot to me specially coming from you, which work i really admire and respect. I love your travel photos and constantly follow along your trips. I do agree on something you sort of said, whatever camera i use, i use it to fit my photography and not the other way around. Cause thats what cameras are for right? to fit our style, and not us to fit theirs. right?.

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 3
  16. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Great review Chris!

    Is that the M-mount 15mm f4.5 or the screw mount?

    My experience so far with M lenses:

    - Summilux 50mm Asph is that the center is excellent at f1.4. Corners match sharpness at round f4

    - CV Nokton 35/1.4 SC is soft in the center at f1.4. It gets good at f2.8. I haven't tested the corners

    I still need to test Summicron 90 and CV 21/4 (screw mount)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    I think that I'm no so much comparing the 7R I had with the Leica M but with the Sony RX1. In my mind the M and the Sony 7s are not anything like the the Leica but if you were to push me a little I'd say that the M is just a really solid, hefty picture taking machine and I actually enjoy the experience a lot more than the hurried "I must be quick before the moment's gone" kind of snapping I usually do, probably taking at least two frames or more of the same picture each time "just in case"! The Leica requires a more measured approach and a certain amount of foresight :) The shutter is an absolute dream and in the first couple of weeks of owning this M it was probably the only thing that stopped me sending it back. It's quiet and solid and the weight of the camera means that I can still take stuff at quite slow speeds without any image stabilisation of any kind. It's just that sort of gentle press and the jobs done, no fuss.

    I think my disappointment came from comparing with the RX1. I still get the wow factor when I see it's files. I just didn't get that with the 7R using the lenses that I had to hand. Bear in mind that I didn't have an adapter for the M lenses. The noise and slowness of the 7R shutter was also rather disconcerting and I felt as though I moved the camera each time. Even the dog began to anticipate it........ In conclusion, I feel that the RX1 has a beautiful Zeiss lens perfectly matched to it's sensor and perhaps the new Zeiss lenses will also be a perfect match for either the 7 or the 7R. I really hope so because I've looked at far more samples from the 7 now and have ordered one together with a back order for the 55mm 1.8 native lens........ I did say never say never :drama:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Christina, I totally see what you are thinking about the A7r (or A7 in my case). The shooting experience is just VERY different in just about every way vs. a Leica M and the RX1. And I believe the shutter button is the first thing that a photographer notices. In my case, it's not even the sound of the shutter, but the feel of it. The solid feel of the shutter button on the Leica M, Fuji XP1, XE1/2, X100 and RX1 … they are very precise. The A7 is very mushy. Mushier than the EM5. Almost like my TV remote control buttons.

    The sound of the shutter doesn't bother me that much. It's drawn out, but so is my M9. So far, in terms of a balance of IQ and shooting experience, my favorite ILC system with AF is Fuji X.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek
    Hey Jack,

    I bought the M mount version of the lens. In fact im not sure the store were i got it sells the screw mount. I just came back from the store as my Phottix adapter was no clicking in place with the lens. we tried several copies of the adapter and none clicked until the owner of the store brought up this other chinese adapter which costed the same thing as the phottix (NZD$90) and it did clicked. But to be honest this new adapter that ive got doesnt look like a $90 dollar one. So i cant wait to try it on the camera when i get home tonight. will post more about that.

    Also about the shutter. Yes i agree, is super sensitive and mushy. and it doesnt have two clicks like all my other shutter buttons. Yet again, in my case is not needed as im not focusing with it. But the 'remote control mushiness' comparison is spot on!.

    Christine,

    I know exactly what you mean. Yet the A7 at least to me, is giving me more of that experience of waiting than keep moving. Its interesting that the RX1 is conquering so many hearts lately. When i tried it i thought it was too slow for what it was. And i really wanted to get away as much as possible from a possible second "fuji x100" experience. I think you should definitely try and get an adapter for your leica lenses and try it on the sony. I believe mine are making it sing.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn SC Veteran

    405
    Jul 8, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Chris Leskovsek