In the last few months I've been feeling a growing itch in my body. I've been feeling that I had somehow hit a wall with my photography. While my eye for a good motif, and my ability to capture it, kept improving, my camera was becoming the weak link. I felt that even when I did everything right, using the right exposure, the right aperture, a tripod, etc., the technical quality of my pictures - especially in low-light scenery, left a lot to be desired. I started to look for a new lens, but realized my camera's A-mount system was an obstacle. The selection of A-mount lenses just isn't very good. Besides, my old trusty Sony A33 increasingly started to feel like a beginner's camera. I felt I had moved on from the beginner stage.
To make a long story short, I itched for a new camera. I knew it had to be a Sony again, but with the more future-proof E-mount system that would, at the same time, allow me to reuse my old lenses with an adapter.
After pretty thorough research - and with the advice from my more technically adept brother - I chose a Sony A7 II. While by no means Sony's top model, it has all the qualities I can realistically hope for with my budget. And with the right lens, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to take pictures that until now I could only dream of.
The right lens, however, is still a thing for the future. My economy can only take so much camera equipment in one month... possibly year. So for now I have to make do with my old lenses and the generic lens that came with the camera. And that's ok. There are plenty of new features in the camera itself that should help improve picture quality even with the old lenses. A lot of that, however, takes practice and studying, something I haven't done much of yet. So in my first few weeks of using the camera, I can't say that I have utilized its more advanced features much, just as I haven't pushed it to its limits by doing much low-light photography or other challenging exercises.
Still, the following pictures, all taken with the new camera and with the included lens, show a lot of promise of what it's capable of.
The first one is a well-known motif: Frederiksborg Castle, a stitch of six handheld images. Nice, sharp, and crisp.
Seagulls at the harbor in Dragør during a photo excursion that I hope to write a separate post about soon. I wish the background of this shot hadn't been so messy, but I'm happy with the sharpness, achieved at only 1/160 second, in a burst of shots that made the memory card stumble to keep up.
Another personal favorite of mine from my trip to Dragør. Again, notice the lack of blur, particularly in the waving flag. And boy, was it windy that day.
The only non-handheld picture of the bunch, and again from my Dragør expedition. That's me testing the app that comes with the camera and that turns your smartphone into an advanced remote control. Awesome! I always had trouble with remote controls for my old camera. This new smartphone system just worked. And the picture? There's a crispness about it that I just don't think I could have achieved with my A33.
Next is my only attempt at low-light photography so far. Just the view from my backyard captured with a handheld shot at ISO 320 and 1/60 second. I think this demonstrates A7 II's anti-shake qualities in a big way. And the noise? There was none detectable. Definitely an improvement over my old A33.
A picture of our neighbor's beautiful cat Ollie. Here I have experimented with A7's manual focus, adjusting the focus to the cat's eyes, something that wasn't even possible with my A33. Yes, I admit, I enhanced the eyes in post-processing, but still...
One of my favorite pictures that I have taken so far, not just with the new camera, but... like... ever. I don't know if it tells a lot about the camera, but I'd like to think I couldn't have achieved quite the same result with my A33. All I know is that I had to include it here because I just hit the nail on the head with this one, if I say so myself.
Well, the days are getting longer, the beech trees will explode in green within a few weeks, life is returning to nature, people are coming out of their houses, and I will be there to document it all with my A7 II. So keep an eye on this spot. I can feel this will be an extraordinary photo year.
[…] around town for a while, I spent some time at the local marina. I included a picture of that in my last post, so here instead is another one I took there of two seagulls chasing each […]
Regarding low light photography ... if we talk about high-ISO photography, you should be able to go much, MUCH higher, something like ISO 6400, and still be able to get very little noise in your pictures ... if you apply some noise reduction in post.
So, ISO 320 is nothing, so to speak.
"I wish the background of this shot hadn’t been so messy"
- You should have shot much more open - at a much lower aperture.
"a burst of shots that made the memory card stumble"
- One of the differences between our cameras; mine would never stumble.