All posts by David Braddon-Mitchell

David Braddon-Mitchell is a keen landscape and environmental portrait photographer. In the last decade of film he was a darkroom practitioner and worked with Olympus OM SLRs and various medium format cameras. He switched to Canon DSLRs when digital imaging improved, and made a move to Sony bodies as soon as the A7 series was born. He enjoys using a mixture of legacy manual lenses, modern manual lenses, and E mount AF lenses.

An Upgrader’s Guide to the Sony A7rIV

This isn’t a full review: if you want to check out the SNR then Bill Claff’s site Photonstophotos is where you want to go, and for technical analysis of many features of the rIV the Jim Kasson’s series is by far the best resource. Both of these sites are much to be preferred to any of the camera review sites if you have a modicum of technical knowledge.

This article, though, is more of a personal discussion of how much the differences between the A7r4 and A7rIII matter to me: and a spoiler is that while there are lots of technical differences which you can read about in the sites I mentioned, they aren’t the most important ones.

So as you can tell already, I made the plunge. Was it a good idea? that’s what this article may help you decide!

If you end up finding this useful and decide to buy one, using one of the links below will cost you nothing, and will make a small contribution to the cost of this site. None of us does this for a living, we don’t run advertising, and the small commissions just help make it possible to keep the site going.

You can buy it from B&H here

You can buy it from Amazon here

You can buy it from eBay here

Biggest Benefits

The biggest two benefits for me are the upgraded viewfinder, and the ability to make the AF/MF indicator red.

The upgraded viewfinder is great. It’s now about 5mp, and is noticeably crisper than the A7rIII. I find myself rarely or never using focus peaking, and often magnifying a little less in manual focus. This is really nice: it’s much less distracting not having focus peaking. Make sure you have the viewfinder refresh rate set on standard: the resolution drops at the high setting (the high setting is useful though – for example you might use it in  a  memory setting which uses high burst rates to follow action with autofocus. In this situation refresh rate would be more important than resolution).

The second improvement is the new, red colour available for the AF/MF target. This is wonderful! As someone who uses manual lenses maybe 2/3 of the time, my practice has been to move the focus target over what I want to focus on, then use a press of the joystick to magnify (setting initial mag to 5.9x eliminates an extra press you might otherwise need). But so often I would lose the target – it would be quite invisible. So I would have to reset it to the centre, and move it again, in the process losing the shot I wanted. The red target is really easy to see and I would personally pay big money for it. I’d also resent it big time as well, though, because it’s the kind of thing that could easily be made available on the rIII by firmware.

I think the enhanced sealing is also a big benefit. I have hated the way that I have babied the previous bodies in drizzle. Reports on the sealing of the rIV really do seem to indicate improvement – not just on the achilles heel of the riii which was the baseplate (never set an r3 down on a damp surface). The larger buttons which some people love for their ergonomics also are easier to make seals for apparently.

Image Quality

Continue reading An Upgrader’s Guide to the Sony A7rIV

Laowa 100mm f2.8 CA-Dreamer Macro 2x: A review

This lens costs $449. It’s a 100mm f2.8 macro, which focuses down to twice life-size. A feat no other lens in its class achieves. It also focuses to infinity. It claims to be apochromatic. How good can it be? Is it, as some suspected when they first heard about it, good for macro but only an emergency lens for infinity use? Or is it the deal of the century? I’m afraid I’m going to make you read further if you want to find out!

Samples

Continue reading Laowa 100mm f2.8 CA-Dreamer Macro 2x: A review

Zeiss Batis Sonnar T* 85mm f1.8: A Review

The Zeiss Batis 1.8/85mm lens has generated less excitement than any other Batis. Perhaps because it falls between the stools of two competitors: the excellent and cheaper Sony 1.8/85, and the Sony G Master 1.4/85. People think if you don’t want the GM lens, with it’s beautiful bokeh and low mechanical vignetting, you should maximise your savings get the Sony.

Often in the introduction to reviews we write teasers – Is this true? Read on to find out!! No teaser here. It’s not true. By all means get the Sony if you aren’t up for the added cost of the Batis. But the Batis is a great lens, worth the price if you can easily afford it and are looking for an all-rounder. Now for the teaser: read on to find out why.

Samples

Continue reading Zeiss Batis Sonnar T* 85mm f1.8: A Review

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* (C/Y) 35-70mm f3.4: A review

The Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* (C/Y) 35-70mm f3.4 was a standard zoom lens designed for the Yashica and Contax series of film SLR cameras. It was, perhaps, the first standard zoom of truly decent quality throughout its range. You could use it an any focal length and not really have any compromise relative the prime lenses of the time. That cliché “a tube full of primes” was (for once) true of it: at least in its day.

It’s since acquired a kind of cult reputation. Some think it remains the finest standard zoom you can get. But how much of this reputation is due to it being so amazing by the standards of when it was designed in 1982, and how much because it still deserves a place in the kits of some modern photographers? Read on to find out!

Specifications

Diameter 70mm
Length 80.5 mm
Filter Thread 67 mm
Weight (w/o adapter) 475 g
Minimum Focusing Distance 0.7m
Maximum Magnification 1:2.5
Number of aperture blades 8
Elements/ Groups 10/10
The Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* (C/Y) 35-70mm f3.4 can be purchased used on eBay.com here.

Image Samples

Continue reading Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* (C/Y) 35-70mm f3.4: A review

Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar T* 50mm f1.5 ZM: A Detailed Review

We have become used to old lens formulas being revived and sold for occasionally huge sums of money to collectors and photographers hoping to create images with a magical vintage look. All of us here have been very sceptical about this. Mostly they have been simple lenses in simple bodies with poor technical qualities being sold for more than the price of the latest and greatest glass. From one perspective the legendary C-Sonnar from Zeiss is like this. It’s a classic design dating from 1932 whose principal design goal at the time was to reduce the number of air glass surfaces because the coatings of the day were so primitive. Why do we need it now? But Zeiss bought it back in 2006 in M mount as part of the ZM series. The optical design is not much changed, but it comes with modern coatings. Many prize it for magical rendering and flattering portraiture, others think it shows that not even Zeiss is above trying to rip off nostalgic hipsters. Read on and find out who is right!

Specifications

Diameter 56 mm
Length 45 mm
Filter Thread 46 mm
Weight (w/o adapter) 250 g
Max. Magnification (w/o close focus adapter) 1:15
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor (w/o CFA) 0.9 m
Number of aperture blades 10
Elements/ Groups 6/4
The Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar T* 1.5/50 can be purchased via our affiliate links at Amazon.com or else B&H Photo Video. You can get it new on eBay.com here, or you can get it used on eBay.com here.

Image Samples

Continue reading Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar T* 50mm f1.5 ZM: A Detailed Review