Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sony A7rII

f/4 1/30 ISO 160 (handheld)
FE24-70 @ 33mm
Sunrise at 7 AM
Sandy had been using a Canon 1DsIII until the winter of 2013 when she decided to try the new Sony A7r.  Part of the decision in changing systems stemmed from weight and size differences between the 1DsIII and A7r with the Sony being a fraction of both weight and size.  Additionally there was the size difference between Canon and Sony lenses; while both offer outstanding image quality the size (both size and weight) difference is substantial.  Sandy quickly found she enjoyed shooting a mirrorless camera and we sold the Canon gear.
As shared on Instagram
f/8 1/125 ISO 50 (handheld)
FE24-70 @ 24mm 8:22 AM
f/11 1/125 ISO 50
FE24-70 @ 24mm (handheld)
8:23 AM
Sony released the A7r towards the end of 2013 and we happened to get it while shooting in Jackson Hole WY which offered a great place to test.  The A7r offers a 36.6 megapixel full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor with no optical low pass filter.  Sony upped their game earlier this year with the new a7r II which boasts 42-megapixel full-frame Exmor R CMOS senor as well as 5-Axis steady shot stabilization.  The stabilization is worth the price of upgrade by itself. Sandy ended up upgrading her A7r to the A7r II June of this year.
f/11 1/160 ISO 50
FE16-35 @ 35mm (handheld)
7:46 AM
While we’ve had the newer A7r II for the past couple months we hadn’t really had the opportunity to try it out in extreme conditions thus we were looking forward to our Bryce Canyon trip a couple weeks ago.  We spent 4-days in Bryce shooting in extreme weather conditions ranging from very cold, very windy and low light.  We had wind gusts of over 40MPH (64KLM) and temperatures ranging from a low of 10 to a high of 35 (-10 to 1 C); the average wind chill was in the neighborhood of -14 (-25 C).  Suffice it to say it was very cold in the morning as we waited for sunrise and we did this 4-days in a row. 
As shared on Instagram
f/8 1/160 ISO 50
FE16-35 @ 16mm (handheld) 11:43 AM
Same shot as shared on Instagram
f/11 1/160 ISO 50
FE16-35 @ 35mm (handheld)
So the question to ask is just how well did the Sony A7r II do in these conditions.  The short answer is very well.  We were pleased in the overall performance of the camera as well as the lenses used on the trip.  Power consumption was as expected which was good and the lenses used were equally exceptional.  Sandy used a combination of the Sony FE 16-35 and 24-70.  All of the shots included here were taken handheld with shutter speeds as low as 1/15 (ISO 50) and as high as 1/400 (ISO 50).

The following is an example of just how well the 5-axis stabilization works.
f/5 1/15 ISO 50 6:50 AM
FE 24-70 @ 24mm (handheld)
Notice the shutter speed!
The red box shows the approximate area of the 100% crop
100% crop
The following are more samples from the trip.
f/8 1/60 ISO 50
FE24-70 @ 70mm (handheld)
7:07 AM
Bryce Point
f/8 1/125 ISO 50 8:22 AM
FE 24-70 @ 24mm (handheld)
Cropped to suite
multi-shot merged into a pano (handheld)
f/11 1/250 ISO 50
FE 24-70 @ 30mm 11:55 AM
Hopefully you can see from the samples provided here why we like the Sony A7r II so much.  Lightweight, full-frame 35mm camera with 5-axis stabilization in camera that allows for handheld shots in difficult conditions that other systems would not be able to achieve.
f/11 1/400 ISO 50
FE24-70 @ 27mm (handheld) 11:36 AM
F/11 1/400 ISO 50
FE 24-70 @ 68mm (handheld)
11:52 AM
Every image shown here was processed primarily in Capture One 9 before being sent to Photoshop CC and sometimes Nik Software.

We feel the upgrade was well worth it.
Sandy & Don
f/8 1/400 ISO 50
FE 90mm





Friday, December 4, 2015

Phase One XF Waist Level Viewfinder

When Phase One released news of the new XF body I kept bugging my camera dealer Capture Integration for specific information regarding the improvements.  What I was specifically interested in was the rumor of a waist level viewfinder.  I’m still surprised today months later that they still accept my phone calls.
To make a long story short I placed my order the day the XF was available for the body and waist level finder knowing the body would be released first with the waist level coming shortly afterwards; all I had to do is be patient (yeah sure I was). Having worked with Phase One products in the past I was well aware that they take their time to make the product right the first time so I knew I was in for a wait for the waist level; I also had faith in my dealer.
Phase One XF, IQ180, Schneider LS 40-80 and the new waist level finder opened
Instead of me reinventing the product description I’ll refer you to the following page that gives all the technical details just click here.
Couple of things to consider about the waist level finder …
First, since I’m not putting my eye up against the viewfinder I find little issue with the lack of a diopter adjustment and this is coming come a person wearing trifocal glasses.
Second, and much more importantly is the ability to see clearly in bright sunlight.  Living in the southwest I have abundant sunlight. I took the system outside in midday (which was very bright) and had no problem seeing the viewfinder; actually the LCD was a little washed out due to the bright light.
Third, and this is a first for me. “Will this make me a better photographer?” The short answer is yes and the reason I say this is that having this in my kit will allow me to get a slightly different/better perspective without the strain of bending over, or sitting in a pile of snow or other crap.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I had to become a contortionist in order to set the scene through the 90° viewfinder.  I oftentimes like to shoot low to the ground and have had to lay down behind the camera in order to see through the viewfinder. I’m not saying this will totally eliminate all this however it will reduce the effort.
The waist level might not be for everyone and I’m not suggesting it’ll replace the 90° prism; I do recommend at least looking at one.
Many thanks to Dave Gallagher and his staff at Capture Integration.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

More on the new Phase One XF body

As shared on Instagram
Schneider LS 40-80mm @ 50mm
f/8 1/125 ISO 100 (handheld) 11:52AM
As shared on Instagram
Mamiya 28D
f/8 1/15 ISO 35 (tripod) 7:09AM
There’s been a lot going on here at Iron Creek Photography® since I last wrote and even more on the way so here’s a fast update on all things concerning the new Phase One XF camera body.

First – I love this body, I could stop here however I guess I owe everyone a little more information. 
Natural Bridge
Schneider LS 40-80mm @ 40mm

f/10 1/200 ISO 100 (handheld) 11:42AM

Schneider LS 240mm
f/6.3 1/200 ISO 35 (handheld) 10:39AM

I continue to use my IQ180 digital back with the body having opted to keep it rather than upgrade to the new IQ380.  While I might not have all the bells and whistles that those who have the XF/380 combo have, I nevertheless have a great system.  I use the same batteries in both body and back and have found the back battery replacement is 2 to 1 for the XF. One button powers the system as well as turns it off. I have a nice bubble level on the XF LCD likewise the histogram shows up for each shot. With the press of an icon I have the ability to move the mirror up, likewise I can set the XF to delay the capture for 3-seconds as well as set it for vibration dampness; and these are just some of the functions I have using the XF/180 combination.  I almost forgot about the autofocus in the XF which has been vastly improved over my older Phase One DF body.

On The Edge
Schneider LS 40-80mm @ 40mm
f/5.6 1/125 ISO 100 (handheld) 11:29AM

Having a waist level viewfinder was on my wish list and Phase One didn’t disappoint; okay, maybe slightly due to the long wait.  I can’t say anything now about the waist level since I don’t have it yet however I will have it soon and if this hasn’t been published by then I’ll add some quick thoughts after I get it.


Schneider LS 75-150mm @ 150mm

f/5.6 1/80 ISO 35 (handheld) 10:31AM

Schneider LS 240mm
f/6.3 1/200  ISO 35 (handheld) 10:49AM

The last trip we took was to Bryce Canyon National Park Utah.  We visited Bryce in November experiencing a combination of snow, wind, ice, wind, blowing snow, gusts of over 30 MPH and temperatures ranging from zero to highs of 30 with wind chill factors of well below zero.  Most days were cloudy so all in all perfect conditions to capture landscape (if not pneumonia).
This trip turned out to be the most extreme weather conditions experienced while using the XF.  Shooting early morning sunrise in extreme cold and I can truthfully say that I gave out way before the system did.

 Schneider LS 75-150mm @ 100mm
f/6.3 1/160 ISO 35 (handheld) 11:02AM

Cropped for Instagram
Mamiya 28D
f/8 1/15 ISO 35 (tripod) 7:10AM
Uncropped version

This was also perfect conditions to put the XF through its paces testing every lens I had available which are the Mamiya 28D, Schneider Leaf Shutter 40-80, 75-150 and 240.  I’ve included samples from each lens which worked very well.  This trip actually pushed me over the ledge regarding the XF/180 and the above lens as they worked so well that I decided after 8-years of using my Cambo WRS technical camera to stop using it selling that system to order the new Schneider 35mm LS lens.
We shot 4-days in Bryce before leaving and samples of those images are included here.  We left Bryce for Bluff Utah taking our time traveling the back country roads along the way and have included a few sample here as well.
Schneider LS 240mm
f/8 1/100 ISO 35 (handheld) 11:17AM
Processed in Capture One Pro

Mamiya 28D
f/6.3 1/160 ISO 50 (handheld) 2:04PM
Processed in Capture One Pro

Mamiya 28D
f/6.3 1/160 ISO 50 (handheld) 2:06PM
Processed in Capture One Pro

Mamiya 28D
f/4.5 1/100 ISO 50 (handheld) 2:08PM
Processed in Capture One Pro

Mamiya 28D
f/4.5 1/100 ISO 50 (handheld) 2:08PM
Processed in Capture One Pro

There’s so much more to write about such as Sandy shooting handheld 1/15 of a second with her Sony A7r II and getting crisp images.  We have the new waist level coming and I’ve stopped using the Surface Pro 3 and instead began using the new Surface Book which has turned out to be very nice.
As shared on Instagram
Mamiya 28D
f/4.5 1/400 ISO 50 (handheld) 3:32PM
Processed in Capture One Pro

Black & White version

Stay tuned for more.


The Waist Level is "Out For Delivery" however due to other commitments I need to publish this before I receive it.  I will post a small review just as soon as possible.