• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Help choosing a new Sony Setup (1 Viewer)

davids

Well-known member
Hi

I’d appreciate any advice on choosing a new Sony setup. I currently own a Panasonic G85 with their 100-400m lens. I’m looking to upgrade as I am dissatisfied with the Panasonic’s focusing ability particularly for BIF as well sometimes noisy pictures.

I’ve surprised myself by deciding to go down the Sony route. I had set out with the intent of either a Canon 7D Mkii coupled with their 100-400mm zoom or the Nikon D500 with the 500mm f5.6mm PF lens. I’m very tempted by the Nikon setup but it is at the very top end of my budget and I’m not keen on the fixed focal length.

I knew little about Sony cameras until I started reading the other threads in this forum and watching various YouTube videos. The 100-400mm lens seems very appealing with its light weight and close focussing abilities (as well as birds I enjoy photographing butterflies, dragonflies, etc). Although, I am concerned about the lack of reach of this lens and have considered the 200-600mm as an alternative, the weight and close focusing still make me favour the 100-400mm.

The next decision is which camera and I am somewhat bewildered by the range Sony produces. My budget means I am looking, I think, at either the A6400, A6600, A7iii or A7Riii. I am struggling to understand which would give me the best image quality when paired with the 100-400. Would the 24MP APS-C with its 1.5 crop factor give me more reach than the 40MP full frame images which can be cropped during editing?

Also I would appreciate any advice on the focussing capabilities of the various models. Does the A6600 match the A7iii?

Finally I’m not managed to hold a A6600 yet. It seems quite small though. Any comments on the ergonomics of this model would be appreciated.

Hope all this makes sense and thanks in anticipation of your help.

David
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
My Sony user experience is limited to a recently acquired A7RIV and 200-600mm. A 1.4x is on backorder. With a recent Alaska tour cancellation and word of a small but significant inheritance, combined with Covid-19 shut-in restlessness, I decided some substantial retail therapy was in order. Like you, I’ve also done a fair amount of online research.

Unless shooting birds in flight is a priority get the A7Riii. You can crop, or assign an APS-C custom function to the A7Riii and get an 18MP image. Of course the 1.4x teleconverter is an option also. Regarding autofocus capability, the A6400 and A6600 appear to exceed the A7Riii since they have the same autofocus system as the A9ii which is phenomenal for action photography like BIF. Online I’ve seen some great bird photo results from the APS-C models with the 200-600, however I think they have other limitations compared to the FF ones.

Coming from the Canon 7Dii and Tamron 150-600, I’m very pleased with the results from my new Sony kit. There are numerous reports of intermittently poor autofocusing of the A7RIV - 200-600mm combo and I believe I may have experienced some of that while handholding. However, I’ve also had shots where nothing in the frame was in focus even at decent speeds on a tripod, so it’s a bit of a mystery so far. I’ve had a couple backyard sessions this week with birds and mammals using a monopod and the new Wimberely MonoGimbal head and the vast majority of shots were nicely sharp. Even using APS-C mode (26MP) I was able to do some significant cropping.

I hope to add an A9ii and 100-400 in the next few months depending on finances and/or used pricing.

Edit: I probably should add that I'm now using Capture One 20 Pro. I had been using Lightroom 6 and DxO for the Canon 7Dii.
 
Last edited:

davids

Well-known member
Thanks Bill for your advice which is very useful and its good to hear you are pleased with your kit. I hadn't heard about the occasional focusing issues with the 200-600. I'll look into that as I haven't made a final decision on the lens.

I'm not sure its this simple but if I go for the 100-400 lens and anticipate cropping my images frequently I think I should eliminate the A7iii as that is full frame 24 MP sensor which I understand would give a only a 10MP image at 1.5 crop. On this basis it would seem to be a choice between the A7Riii, as you suggest, or the A6600. The A6600 is £600 cheaper which is making the choice harder for me!

Once again, thanks for your advice.

David
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
David, one thing to consider: the view in APC or FF view is wider than you are used to. To get the same field of view you will need a longer lens than 400.

Niels
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Just to be clear, the reported focusing issue is ONLY with the A7RIV & 200-600 combo. Both units work well with all other bodies or lenses. Even those reporting it can get good results, its just that the keeper rate is rather low, and the reason as of yet has not been determined. Enough pros have mentioned it to Sony to get their tech folks investigating it. There is hope for a firmware fix, apparently Sony had some very welcome and substantial firmware updates for the A7Riii and A9, but I'm not holding my breath for the current issue.
 

davids

Well-known member
David, one thing to consider: the view in APC or FF view is wider than you are used to. To get the same field of view you will need a longer lens than 400.

Niels

Niels, thanks for replying. Is this the same issue as the equivalent focal length? My understanding is that compared to a full frame with a 400mm lens, the Sony APS-C has a crop factor of 1.5 giving an equivalent focal length of 600mm and my micro 4/3 camera has a crop factor of 2 giving an equivalent focal length of 800mm.

What I am struggling to assess is the importance of sensor size.The A7Riii is full frame and a sensor size of 40MP. If I cropped that by 1.5 it would give me a file size of 18MP. This makes me think, in terms of reach, I would be better off with an APS-C camera (24MP) but I am not confident in my conclusion

Regards

David
 

davids

Well-known member
Just to be clear, the reported focusing issue is ONLY with the A7RIV & 200-600 combo. Both units work well with all other bodies or lenses. Even those reporting it can get good results, its just that the keeper rate is rather low, and the reason as of yet has not been determined. Enough pros have mentioned it to Sony to get their tech folks investigating it. There is hope for a firmware fix, apparently Sony had some very welcome and substantial firmware updates for the A7Riii and A9, but I'm not holding my breath for the current issue.

Thanks for clarifying that I hadn't understood it was just an A7RIV issue.
 

Zackiedawg

Well-known member
I can only opine on the A6600 and not the full-frame bodies, as I've only briefly handled the full-frame A7RIII and A7RIV - however I've been shooting with the A6300 and now A6600 for 5 years, with the FE100-400mm lens and now the 200-600mm lens as well.

The A6600 focusing system is very good for BIF work - tracking is quite sticky and acquisition has been excellent even with busy backgrounds. The body handling for me is a nice improvement over the previous A6xxx bodies, mostly due to the much larger, deeper grip that make such a small camera much better to handle with long lenses...and of course it allows the much bigger FZ battery so battery life is amazing for a mirrorless, very similar to my old DSLR days...I can fire off 2,500 to 4,000 frames when out shooting wildlife and BIF and still have battery life left.

The 100-400mm lens may be a little short if you're used to M4:3 - it's not bad reach but as any birder knows, even at 25-30 feet a tiny bird high in a tree needs all the focal equivalent you can get. I was OK using it for a few years, and I'd add the 1.4x TC when I needed more reach - the combo works pretty well and the TC loses minimal IQ. However, with the 200-600mm added to the collection, I immediately got it and it has now satisfied my long-reach needs for wildlife - it can even be paired with the 1.4x TC for extreme reach and again IQ is minimally affected - surprisingly, focus and tracking are not an issue despite the F9 max aperture. The two big reasons I keep the 100-400mm around is because it's a little easier to swing around handheld when shooting a lot of BIF, and because of the excellent close focus ability. The 200-600mm can still do bug closeup work, but you need to stand farther back and use all 600mm to pull in close...while the 100-400mm can do near-macro closeups.
My entire 200-600mm gallery has been with the A6600, some with the 1.4x TC farther back - though note that the more recent shots are first and descend back in time - and with Covid closing most of my local wetlands spots, there are a lot more yard and neighborhood birds in the recent shots!:
200-600mm gallery
 

davids

Well-known member
Thanks Justin, that is valuable feed back. I've looked through some of your gallery and their are some great photos with great birds! I was pleased to see the camera worked well for butterflies and dragonflies too.

Thanks again

David
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top