Category Archives: Sony

a7RII: insiders information from top Sony engineers

Being part of the Sony Artisans of Imagery Program, I was lucky to have tonight a phone meeting with some of the top Sony engineers who helped develop the very sought after Sony a7R II.

And as promised, I asked questions, and they answered. Some of these questions were asked by YOU!! So thanks a lot, and let’s get to the point!

11425539_846315538750965_7996445082006891878_oSENSOR:

  •  Is the Dynamic Range better and noise level lower than that of the a7R?

Yes! No formal test was done (it’s coming), but they confirmed that they were very impressed by the quality of the system

  • Is the higher sensitivity going to be detrimental to noise level?

No! 1/ In the new design, the photodiodes are closer to the surface of the sensor, and that allows them to detect more light, hence a higher sensitivity. This sensor has a better detection rate in low light conditions than a “regular” sensor. 2/ The change of materials to connect the diodes to the rest of the electronics ensures a lower noise level as well. They did not go into specifics but these seem to be a two key points.

  • Will the a7R II  replace the a7S in terms of image quality at high sensitivity?

No! We were told that at the same high ISO number, the a7S will outperform the a7R II. The a7R II is “ideal for mostly still photographers who want to shoot videos and 4K from time to time, but videographers will still want to use the a7S in low light conditions”

  • What about hot pixels?

➡ They came up with an internal method to make them “not a problem anymore”

  • Read out speed?

➡ Read out speed is 3.5x faster than for the a7R. This will speed up acquisition time, and allows for a higher frame rate for both photo and video

➡ “Full pixel readout without pixel binning in the Super 35 format. This crops the sensor to the same size as Arri Alexa, Red Epic, Canon C300 and Sony F55 digital cinema cameras for a clean video image that isn’t down sampled.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

  • What about a low pass filter?

No low pass filter in order to retain every detail in the image

  • Slow Motion:

➡ “Super slow motion at full 1920x1080HD at 240FPS – even though slow motion footage is the new slider/shallow depth of field cliche.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

sensorfilter

SHUTTER:

  • Electronic first curtain:

➡ Will reduce the amount of vibrations in the system when shooting handheld especially

  • Life expectancy:

➡ I was absolutely amazed to hear them say that the shutter of the a7R II is expected to last more than 500K cycles!!! Yes, you read it right: 500K as in more than HALF A MILLION CLICKS!!

shutter

IMAGE STABILIZATION (IBIS):

  • Does it work also for 3rd party manual or automatic lenses?

Yes! 5 axis stabilization works for native and 3rd party lenses, for both photography and video!

  • How much compensation can we expect thanks to the IBIS system?

➡ We were told to expect about 4.5 stops with certain long lenses

  • Can it be turned on and off at will?

Yes

OISlenses

BODY:

  • Is the new build more resistant?

Yes! Because it is now made entirely of magnesium, the body is stronger and more resistant

  • What about the mount?

➡ The mount is also stronger

➡ Its design is slightly different and I’m very excited we were told they fixed the light leakage issue they had with the a7R body!

  •  Position of the IR detector:

➡ Still only one, located at the front of the body.

LCD SCREEN:

  • Is it still going to be on all the time during long exposures?

Yes, but they are working on it to eventually turn it off

  • Will there be a timer with a count up during long exposures?

No, this is not planned at this time

LENSES:

  • Performance and resolution:

➡ Some have raised the question as to if Sony lenses are build to provide a high enough resolution for high density sensors. We had the confirmation that the lenses had been designed with this particular aspect in mind. The engineers are confident that the optical quality of the lenses is more than sufficient for high resolution sensors.

movies

  • Autofocus:

➡ We were confirmed that AF of Canon lenses was “much faster than before. With adapters (and in particular with a firmware updated Metabones mark IV) Canon lenses are almost as fast as on a Canon body“.

➡ We were also told that the adapter for Sony A mount lenses made the AF very fast, but slightly slower than on an A mount body. We were told that “A mount lenses will find another life thanks to it”.

➡ “Native autofocus speeds on Alpha lenses using the smaller and less expensive LAE3 adapter – the one without the translucent mirror.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

➡ “Autofocus for video is going to be a game changer on the Sony A7RII for hybrid photographers.” (quoted from Michael Britt)

specs

BATTERY:

  • What about the battery life?

➡ It will be “slightly better than that of the a7R

CONCLUSIONS:

Alright, this is all for now!!

I hope this helps you get a better idea than before about the very exciting new tech coming inside the new a7R II !

I am definitely excited about this new power horse, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. We were told that shipping should start around late July.

If you have questions, remarks or would like to discuss any particular aspect, please leave a comment below!

Advertisements

Ask your questions to top Sony developers and engineers

11425539_846315538750965_7996445082006891878_oGuys!! I have the unique opportunity to ask any questions to some of the top Sony employees who developed the new cameras that got released a couple days ago: the RX10II, the RX100IV, and extremely anticipated a7RII.

This is the chance for you to ask your own technical questions and hopefully get an answer!!
How? Just ask you questions in the comments below, and I will try and pass them along. Maybe not all of them, but as many as I can!

The answers will come in a future blog post early next week.

PS: no need to ask for future releases or the directions the tech is going. This meeting is only about the new releases

Sony a7RII: my opinion in 7 points

Yesterday, Sony announced 3 new cameras: the RX10 II, the RX100 IV, and the rumored a7R II, which we were waiting for and hearing about for a loooooong time.

Every camera is interesting and a huge step forward, but being a landscape photographer (mostly), I will tell you more about what excited me most about the a7RII, and especially in the light of long exposure photography.

11425539_846315538750965_7996445082006891878_o

Specs

  • 42MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • Internal 4K XAVC S Video & S-Log2 Gamma
  • Weather-Resistant Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • ISO 102,400
  • no shutter blade motion
  • 3.5x faster than the A7r
  • A7rII focus is almost 40% faster than the one of the A7r
  • Shipping in August

Estimated Price: $3200 USD

 

My opinion in 7 points:

1- The 42MP sensor:

Very little info has surface about it, but given the quality of the previous Sony sensors (including those being used by other major camera manufacturers), I expect and HOPE for a high dynamic range, a very low noise level and limited number of hot pixels. Two of the most important aspects for long exposure.

sensor2- No low pass filter:

Back to one of the greatest features of the original a7R in my mind: the absence of a low pass filter. This feature will lead to crispier images, and you’ll see how sharp your lenses actually are…

filter

3- The 5-Axis SteadyShot Stabilization system:

It will give stabilization to EVERY lens available on the market, including 3rd party lenses. That’s right, you read it: EVERY lens available! From zoom lenses to 30+ years old medium format glass. From the latest Zeiss beauties to the highly technical and fully manual Canon tilt/shift lenses. And all of the others as well 🙂

Potentially, it also means that it is possible to move the sensor around in the camera body. What’s the point you’ll ask me, right? Well, if you move the sensor one way, take a shot, move it the other way, take a shot and stitch them together, that’s a pretty good way to increase the resolution of your image… sort of like doing a pano.

OISlenses

4- New silent shutter with no blade motion:

No noise!! How cool is that for genuine street and portrait photography?

Even better in my mind (very biased toward long exposure of course), no blade motion, meaning less vibrations in the system, meaning even crispier images!

shutter

5- Internal 4K:

Sure I’m a photographer, sure I normally don’t do video. But hey, 4K!! And no need for an external recorder, it does it all internally. So damn, I think I’ll get into video at one point or another

sensor-size

6- ISO 102,400:

Why ISO 102,400? Hell, why not! 🙂 Again, high sensitivity can be a nice addition. Not that I would personally use it too much, but having the option seems like a great way to sweeten the deal: you can use fast or not so fast lenses for street or action photography more easily

7- faster everything:

Sony heard the complains that people had with the a7R: slow-ish auto-focus, especially with 3rd party lenses. Well, to go hand in hand with a higher sensitivity, they were able to speed things along: the camera itself is 3.5x faster than the A7r, and auto focus is almost 40% faster than the one of the A7r. I even heard somewhere that Canon lenses will have next to the same speed as on Canon bodies.

specsmovies

Conclusion:

I am very excited about this new release. Sony was able to take the best of every camera in the alpha line and concentrate it in this body: high sensitivity, higher resolution, 4K video recording, image stabilization, to name just a few.

One big question that remains unclear however is how the sensor will behave in terms of noise level, dynamic range and hot pixels.

Working closely with Sony, I hope to have more info soon on these aspects, and I also hope to get my hands on a body ASAP, take it in the field and let you know more about it… So hang tight!

Your thoughts:

What do you think about this new release? Are you excited? Indifferent? Would you have wanted to see more features and then, which ones? Let me know in the comments below!

Testing the Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS for long exposure photography

IMG_20150417_145332I was very fortunate to get my hands on a Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS and could not help but test it for long exposure.

You will see below some straight out of camera shots, as two new images that I was able to process. This is not meant to be a full review of the lens, more of a road test to see how well it works for long exposure photography.

General Comments: First of all, let me say that the lens is HUGE! It takes 95mm diameter filters, and feels very sturdy and smooth when using it. It also has a nice foot to mount it directly on a tripod head, which is a nice addition. I never used it though, because my setup was steady enough that I was not bothered by vibrations, however big the lens is.

A quick snapshot of my bag with the lens inside, together with the very nice 16-35 f/4:

IMG_20150417_124539

One tip for doing long exposure: no matter the camera or lens, I ALWAYS wrap my setup with a cloth to avoid light leakage from the sides of the mount or lens. I used this lens in the same way, and you’ll see below that I had no diffraction issue: mission accomplished 🙂

 

IMG_20150412_165545

Un-processed images: Now let’s look at a few “almost SOOC” images: (almost because some have been stitched)

DSC01342_adj copieEXIF: 28-135mm @28mm, f/8, ~8 minutes, ISO 50, ND16 Firecrest filter

Panorama sans titre2 copieEXIF: 2 images after stitching, 28-135mm @45mm, f/8, ~4 minutes each image, ISO 50, ND16 Firecrest filter

DSC01425 copieEXIF: 3 images after stitching, 28-135mm @72mm, f/8, ~3 minutes each image, ISO 100, ND16 Firecrest filter

 Pretty good, right? 🙂

Final images: Now let’s see a couple images after processing:

DSC01425 copie_resizeEXIF: 3 images after stitching, 28-135mm @72mm, f/8, ~3 minutes each image, ISO 100, ND16 Firecrest filter

DSC01509 copie_resize EXIF: 3 images after stitching, 28-135mm @80mm, f/8, ~3 minutes each image, ISO 100, ND16 Firecrest filter

 

Conclusion: I have made up my mind. Even if the lens is mostly made for video, it’s an amazing piece of hardware, including for long exposure. The constant f/4 aperture is also a great treat. I am going to make this lens a permanent addition to my gear!

As usual, don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions below or in PM.

Preparation of my upcoming exhibitions in Paris

IMG_1754I’ve been lately hard at work preparing the two exhibitions that will take place in Paris next week.

I feel very fortunate to have the help and support of many people for these two HUGE events. To name but a few, Sony US and Sony France (in particular, Kayla, Astrid and Romain) have helped a great deal with the marketing materials, press releases and more. Chritophe Marlot and José Alcantara were of course instrumental in letting me show my work in their galleries, thnak you both! And Christine and Philippe for their incredible help and support in way too many ways to describe here.IMG_1755

You will find higher two photographs of the flyers and posters that Sony France printed. These will be sent to their partner pro photography stores in Paris. don’t they look great!? 🙂

Please click the following link to access Sony France Press Release (in French): Press Release Sony France.

Details of the show on the flyers and in the text below:

Kusch+CO

25 rue de Verneuil

75007 Paris

France Thibault-ROLAND-flyer-US-KuschBJF

27 rue de Verneuil

75007 Paris

France

Thibault-ROLAND-flyer-US-BJF

Below are some of the photographs I will show next week right after signing and numbering them (they are all of course limited editions):

18594_1602552453348086_4490956993676541288_n 11350838_1602552910014707_4146764417238019095_n 20150502_121127 20150502_122451 20150502_12211520150502_121127 20150502_125413

And these two are the largest prints I have ever had printed to date: ~50×150 cm! (~20×60″!)

 

20150502_124403

20150502_123758 20150502_123831 For those of you who wonder how my limited editions are, I sign and number them on the front side (see higher) and use a seal on each one of them, and add my signature, number in the series and the title on the back, see below:

20150502_121037 20150502_121748 20150502_122056 20150502_124316

Building a technical camera – Part IV

20150322_130154Step Four of Building a technical camera: adding left/right shifting to the back element

Last time, I showed you the results of milling out a chunk of the back element of the Fuji camera. Today, I’ll show you why I did it, and how to mount different parts together and insure they are perfectly parallel or perpendicular to each other.

For that particular step, I bought a cheap Chinese precision rail system on eBay. For $8 USD, it’s hard to get a better system that can be modified, drilled, cut or tapped. The following picture shows you exactly what this part looks like before modifying and mounting on the camera.

DSC01151First step was to take apart the rail itself (with the screw sticking out of the slot), from the support piece that is originally meant to attach on the tripod head. In the final design, the parts will be flipped: the rail will become the support (attached to the camera, see below) and the other part with the precise movement knob and the stopper. The latter part will be modified so I can attach a support plate for the camera.20150404_192705

You will find below a few pictures that I shot while adjusting the rail to the camera so that these two part are perfectly perpendicular to each other. This step is very delicate, because the slightest misalignment between them will lead to the sensor plane not being perpendicular to the lenses, effectively creating unwanted tilt. 20150404_192717

To make sure the parts were perpendicular, I used the precision of the milling machine and an indicator, see below:

20150404_192732

Just so you have a better sense of what things will look like eventually, here is a photograph of the back element with the inverted support part that I’ll drill and tap in order to mound the camera standard:20150404_193117No a few photographs of the camera with the rail system, where you can see how left/right shift will work:

DSC01173 DSC01171 DSC01164 DSC01160 Next step:

Drill the rear standard support (part with the two knobs in the pictures higher).

Conclusions:

1/ this was one of the most delicate but easiest steps so far. Easiest when you have the right tools, but these are hard to come by and even harder to let a machinist let you use his toys 🙂

2/ I found a solution to add rear swing (left/right tilt) by ordering a precise optical rotating stage for about $80 USD from China. I’ll give you the details in a later post if you are interested (please use the comment below if so). I’ll first work on a prototype that won’t have swing, see how it goes and then add the rotating stage.

Upcoming Long Exposure Workshop in Maine

flyer-4 copyWell, seems like it took me a little longer than expected to share it, but behold! 🙂

I am glad to announce that I will be mentoring a workshop with Satoru Murata in Maine March 28-29.
You will learn how to shoot and process unique and breathtaking long exposure seascape photography, and we will visit 5 of the most iconic lighthouses of the Portland and Rockland areas.
This workshop is supported by some of the major players in the industry: @Sony, Formatt-Hitech, SmugMug, Mirex and HCam.de, so be prepared for some surprises!

Places are limited to 8 in order to give you the best experience possible, and the first two to register will have a 10% discount.
Attendees are welcome to register to any or both days of the workshop.
Sunrise and sunset options are also available.

***********************************************
So check out the details and program here:
http://www.thibaultroland.com/Workshops
***********************************************

And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions!

For examples of what subjects we will shoot, take a look at my series:
http://www.thibaultroland.com/Beacon-of-Hope

Please feel free to share, thanks!

9N6A0402 copie_resize