A new found love for my Sony A7II
Let me start with this first paragraph as an opener which I will come back to later on. Never say never is a lesson learned for me. Chances are you have read my posts regarding mirror less cameras and my abandonment of the dinosaur DSLR’s in favor of the Sony A7 system. I have been very satisfied with the camera and its performance. No doubt, a game changer in the photo industry. However, as fickle as we are these days, we seem to find flaws in things which in some cases are legitimate and in other cases simply selfishness on our part or just being just too darn picky.
I just returned from a trip to Yellowstone with my son. It was an amazing experience and eye opener to the beauty the national parks have to offer. The abundance of wildlife in the park is simply astonishing. As a photographer, you just can’t go wrong in a place like Yellowstone. You would think the animals are trained to smile at you as you drive or trek by them. Having said that, we ran across many photographers out there using their long lenses and big dinosaur DSLR’s. Believe me, these things were huge! As a person who mainly does street photography and documentary style photography I just can’t imagine myself shooting with such large burdening gear which would make travel extremely unpleasant and cumbersome. However, when we returned home, I felt like we missed out on something. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then after perusing through the many photographs we took, it dawned on me. We just didn’t have any of those typical wildlife pictures people are so proud to share. No tight shots of bears, elk, moose wolves etc … Quite simply I had a street camera in Yellowstone when what I needed was the big bad DSLR I so much detest. Needless to say, I immediately wanted something for my next trip and having an EA4 adapter for the Sony would allow me to use the longer Minolta and Sony lenses which would give me what I needed.
As always, click on the images below to yield best resolution …..
My world falling apart
Soon after, I realized my predicament. The search began for a suitable lens for a novice wildlife photographer. Every day I looked for a nice long lens that would suit my needs. The new Sony lenses were just too expensive for a novice. Between 7000.00 and 12000.00 for a lens which I would rarely use. I came across a couple of lenses which I though were suitable including the Tamron long zoom in native A mount which I could use with the adapter and retain auto focus. But, it was large and the A7II is a small camera. I considered the shorter zooms from Sony in E mount but they were too short. Things were not looking too good at this point. I started doubting the capabilities of the A7 with long lenses and started thinking the unthinkable from a mirror-less convert. I though about getting a Nikon DSLR! Have I lost my mind? I have a Nikon F6 that has not seen daylight in a few years and here I am thinking about a DSLR. What was I thinking? But wait, It gets worse, I go over the edge. I did the unthinkable. I bought a Nikon D810 with hopes of getting a nice Nikon long lens that would do the job. I thought to myself, it won’t hurt to have two separate systems. One dedicated for street, portraits etc … and the other for wild life.
After buying the D810, my options for lenses became more viable. Although they were there before with the Sony and an adapter, I just didn’t see them because I was too fixated on the idea of a DSLR wildlife setup. None the less, after much research, web browsing and soul searching I decided I wanted to try the Nikon 300mm F4 AFS D. Some of the images I have seen from the 300 were really amazing and breath taking. Every manufacturer seems to excel in a particular segment and from what I have seen, Nikon does so with long lenses. Since I was just getting my toes wet with a new style of photography, I didn’t want to invest big into the system and thus acquired a used copy in near mint condition for 50% of retail price.
What was I thinking
After getting home with the lens and paring it with the D810 which from all accounts is a fantastic camera, it soon became evident why I was such a fan of the mirror-less revolution. Looking through the viewfinder of the D810 with an F4 lens was just horrible. It was like shooting in the dark. I mean it was just difficult to view through the camera. Combine the dark optical viewfinder, shooting at dusk when more animals are out than during the afternoon and my failing eyes due to getting older created a situation that would most certainly yield poor result for me. Remember, it’s a combination of things and not just the camera. People get amazing results with this typical setup. Needless to say I was flabbergasted and had to unload the D810 before I took too much of a hit on it.
Light at the end of the tunnel.
Where there is dark there is light and the electronic viewfinders (EVF) are a ray of light in a dark world. After my costly experiment with the D810 I have come to the realization that I can never go back to optical viewfinders. The life like, latency free modern EVF are a blessing to the photographer. The naysayers should just zip it until they use one especially in a situation where an optical finder is useless. Even in dark scenes, the EVF brightens thing sup so you can see what your shooting. Add to that the additional features of focus peak, on screen data and magnification, image stabilization and you have the death knell for the DSLR optical finder and camera. Argue all you want, you cannot convince me otherwise.
My new love
After all was said and done, the 300mm F4 which I purchased for the D810 turned out to be a very light lens which with an adapter is perfectly suited to the A7 camera. It balances extremely well, feels comfortable, does not fatigue, looks bright in the viewfinder for an F4 and yields fantastic results. I kid you not! Manually focusing this lens with focus peak is incredibly easy and quick even when photographing birds. Granted, the birds I captured were not in flight but these are just baby steps for me. Additionally, the lens renders gorgeous bokeh, color, contrast and sharpness. I put it up there with the Zeiss 135 for its rendering. After a short walk through a garden today in search of birds to photograph, I came across quite a few scare crows which lead me to the conclusion that this will make an excellent portrait lens as well. The 3D effect from this somewhat inexpensive lens is hard to beat. Once the rumored Nikon adapter which will allow auto focus on the A7 camera is out, this lens will be even better. I can guarantee you that this lens will be with me almost everywhere I go with my camera. It is the perfect match for the A7. It fits like a glove!