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A7RIV first contact (1 Viewer)

marcsantacurz

Well-known member
I was able to get my hands on an A7RIV with the 400mm f/2.8, and the 1.4x and 2x TCs. Here's some initial thoughts on the camera. I've used it for only an hour or two so far and just in one spot I go to. I'll report back some more over the week as I use it more before I have to part with it.

I've posted two photos to the gallery showing the extreme cropping possible. I'll talk about these in a bit.

First of all, the A7RIV + 400mm f/2.8 is amazingly light for what it is: 7.9 lb / 3.55kg. I was carrying it along with a monopod for a bit over an hour with no problem. I also shot it hand held for a bit and it is pretty easy to hold and focus, even with the 1.4x TC (560mm) on it.

The camera is pretty snappy and turns on from sleep pretty quickly. Not quite d850 fast, but fast enough it did not annoy me.

I only tried a few BIF today. The EVF blackout wasn't great, but I need more time with it before passing judgement. It did make it hard to track at times, but I might get over that with more use. The birds I was shooting were flying low among clutter, so they were easy to lose with the blackout.

I switched between wide area AF and center AF depending on clutter. I also found that if I manual focus the lens then engage the AF, it does pretty well picking out what I want. The photo of the song sparrow linked above was like that. It was deep in brush and I had to manual focus to get the head somewhat sharp, then engage auto focus and it got the shot. This was on single exposure drive as I was using flash.

The song sparrow photo is cropped down to 4.8MP and I think the quality as this crop is very good. The 400mm + 1.4x TC of course helps a lot.

The white-tailed kite photo was taken from a fairly long distance (I think around 55m) at 400mm. It is cropped down to a tiny 756x756 px (0.6 MP), but even at that extreme it is a pretty decent photo.

Unlike the review Chosun linked to in a different thread, I was not that impressed with the ISO performance, as viewed in raw. I thought ISO 1000 was kind of noisy and ISO 4000 is very noisy. That is without cleaning it up at all. I expect Topaz DeNoise AI will do a good job on it, but one is starting out maybe a stop worse than the d850. If you are not cropping heavily, it's probably ok, but then why are you using the A7RIV: either you want to print giant enlargements or crop heavily or achieve super-fine detail (which is a different shooting style than wildlife). This is all informal testing -- I'll know more once I get more experience with it.

Over this week I'll be shooting it a lot more and trying different styles. I am interested in how the IQ holds up with smaller apertures, so I'll definitely do some 560mm f/6.3 - f/8 and compare that to f/4. I also want to see how it does with BIF. I'll take it to the UC Santa Cruz arboretum for hummingbird action too.

In summary, so far, it has been fun to shoot and I had a decent percentage of keepers. I am very happy with the cropping ability of it. If it is possible to get 8x - 10x crops, that could give effective focal lengths of 4800mm - 6000mm with the 200-600, though I don't know if that lens has the resolution to do that like the 400mm does.

Marc
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Marc,
I would be assuming that the review was allowing for in camera noise reduction (in other words looking at jpg output) and that might be the cause of the discrepancy with what you see?

Niels
 

marcsantacurz

Well-known member
Marc,
I would be assuming that the review was allowing for in camera noise reduction (in other words looking at jpg output) and that might be the cause of the discrepancy with what you see?

Niels

This was looking at the RAW files on a computer in Capture One at 100%.
 

marcsantacurz

Well-known member
I've taken a lot more pictures and been out shooting the last couple days. Here's a few more thoughts on the camera.

It burns batteries when in use. I was using a tripod on a white-tailed kite, who very patiently perched for a long time on a bush. Keeping my finger on the shutter release and tracking the bird to try and capture it taking off really at the battery. I used EVF, wide area AF, and "animal" AF. Keeping a half depress, I could almost see the battery percentage tick down in real time (ok, I exaggerate a little). But it did eat maybe 3% battery over the 15 - 20 minutes I was waiting on the bird. Because the wide AF -- which is great for tracking! -- will sometimes lock on to the bush or the background, I did not feel comfortable not having the half press and seeing that it was locked on.

Filled a 128GB sd card with raw files. Wow, they are big.

The sdcard buffer is small and slow (ok, that could be my card). Today I was shooting flying gulls that zoom past an outcropping where I can stand. It does not take much to get backlogged on the sd card. I am using a Sony SF-M U3 / class 10 SDXC UHS-II card (100 MB/s write, 260 MB/s read, min write 60 MB/s). I think one would want the newer (and much more expensive) SF-G cards.

The 400mm f/2.8 has been great, also with the 1.4x TC. I have not had too much luck with the 2x TC, at least reviewing the photos on the camera. I'll wait to see what they look like on the computer, but zoomed in on the LCD they do not look sharp. Shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 is really fantastic as far as keeping low ISO and high shutter speed. It will be disappointing when I need to slum it again with the 500mm f/5.6.

The tracking is really great. Probably the best part of the Sony system. Acquisition in cluttered environment is not great, not as good as the Nikon system, I think, but once it gets the target and tracks, it tracks very very well. Why I like the NIkon d850 / d500 system better for acquisition is the 3D AF is a point that I can get around clutter and then start tracking. With the Wide AF mode, I have no way of steering it that I know of. Might be pilot error here.

Once I have time to start processing and reviewing the actual photos I'll write some more.
 

GYRob

Well-known member
I'm still learning my ar7IV but did not like wide for birds I prefer zone for bif and flexi L for perched .
I took 310 jepg shots many in crop mode and had 75% battery left happy with that .
Rob.
 

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