Testing the Sony A7II

July 19, 2018 - Photography
Testing the Sony A7II

My old camera was built in 1982

I have a Minolta XG-1 that I had used in college when I had access to a university darkroom. I had some fun with the camera and even got some equipment for developing black and white negatives at home, with the intention to scan the film into my computer. The camera has a Nikkor MD 45mm lens, and a Vivitar 80mm-200mm Zoom lens with Macro. I liked using this for Macro photography and added a 2.2x macro lens adapter to it. I didn’t use the auto wind, except for the added weight which helped hold it steady, and I never had a flash.

The Modern Mirrorless Camera

I had been away from photography for so long, and knew that the technology had jumped from the ‘Amazing’ Sony Cyber-shot 3.2 Megapixel Camera I splurged on in 2000 that was able to record 320 pixel video without sound. Then I upgraded to an 8 Megapixel camera a bit later. Now, I am shooting with 24 Mega Pixels and capitalizing on a host of features like in body stabilization!

The Sony A7II with 28mm-70mm Kit lens

I had to learn a bit about all the buttons, modes and features, and still have a way to go there. Besides that, I am still attempting to get a handle on the way different settings affect the picture quality. Just going for a walk at sunset, and trying some indoor photography got me oriented. The next step was to get away from jpg images, and tackle RAW for the first time! I found Adobe to be much to expensive, and I would rather spend that money on filters, lenses, flashes, stands, bags, and other accessories. I found RawTherapee to be a nice solution for me, although it is a bit cumbersome, I have some experience with Linux and open source software, and so I see the software as a tool and don’t care for the polished workflow that other paid solutions offer.

Using Manual Focus Lenses

Since I had my old Minolta Camera Lenses, I got a cheap adapter and a set of Magnifying filters and got a taste of some Macro Photography! I found that the Telephoto lens was great for taking shots of bugs, flowers, and even portraits. The real fun was playing with shallow depth of fields to blur the background and isolate the subject. On the dandelion, I was able to focus on the seeds that were behind the fluff! Of course, I am still playing with post production and went for a surreal amount of color with the wasp photo because I liked it.

Now to try Portraits and People as a subject

My first attempt, I tried to shoot against a very bright sky, and I was no paying attention to the ISO, and got some really grainy results.

I really enjoyed the sharp focus of the subjects and blurring the background by adjusting the aperture, and playing around with composition. Most importantly was waiting for the right expression and mood, which can separate the amazing from the good.

Now it’s back to even more Macro, using a tripod and extension tubes

I really wanted to see how close I could get to a subject, and stacked extension tubes, and a few magnification filters on the stock Kit Lens. There are a few speck of dust that are plaguing me, and I am changing the lenses often as I try out different configurations, but I am simply too excited to do a good job of cleaning the whole thing out. I figure I need to get oriented, and though I have wiped all the lenses, there must be some dust inside the lens or on the sensor, and I don’t have the patience or the confidence to clean that out without giving it proper attention, so… back to shooting.

My daughter loves Bugs, so I got her to help me set up the session, and she found an Earwig for me. Not oly was the lens dusty, but the insect and table have amazing amounts of fibers and specs as well! How do those pro macro photographers clean their insects?

I broke out a bag of Potpourri and set it on a table with a large white poster board behind and High powered shop lights to the left side. The accumulation of lenses, stacked up, and using high F stops really require a lot of light, and some photos were taking a few seconds to capture. Playing around with the lighting really changed each scene tremendously, especially if the light was direct or reflected. Also, the height of the light change the shadows and the mood of the scene.

Is that all the Macro i can get?

I must know, what is the extreme range that I can get? The lens got to be pretty long, and I stacked everything that I could together, extension tubes, 2x macro lens, telephoto with Macro, and 16x magnifiers. I took a shot of a Penny and the edge of a piece of the Potpourri mix, and then a measuring tape. The lighting from the shop light was harsh, and the image quality was noticably reduced from all of the cheap glass that I had stacked together, but, I did get very zoomed in! Every movement and shake made the image bounce around wildly, and it was very hard to set up each shot. Most of them were pretty poor, but this one came out good enough to show.

The frame size measured 5/32″ wide, that is 4mm. So, the zoom onto the 36mm sensor is 9X! I had everything set to get the maximum zoom, and will have to try again with some slightly lower magnification combinations and softer lighting for taking good photos, but it is good to know what my range is.


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