This is a continuation of a series of posts on the Sony a7RIII. You should be able to find all the posts about that camera in the Category List on the right sidebar, below the Articles widget. There’s a drop-down menu there that you can use to get to all the posts in this series. You can also click on the “a7RIII” link in the “You are here” line at the top of this post.
I was asked to shoot another event on Sunday — children constructing costumes and participating in a pageant. It was all going to be over pretty quick, and I didn’t really know what to expect, so choosing gear was a bit tricky. I decided on two zooms, a wide-angle one, and a 70-200. The wide angle choice was easy: I don’t know of a better such lens than the Sony 12-24 mm f/4. I paired it with the a7RIII. There wasn’t going to be much light for much of the time, so I decided against the Sony 70-200/4 and for the excellent new version of the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8. I thought about putting it on the D850, which would give me the experience of shooting both of my newest cameras side-by-side. But the lens didn’t feel right on that camera. I ordered the grip at the time the camera was announced, but I don’t have it yet. I suspect the camera would have handled fine with the grip. I put the 70-200 on a D5. The two feel like they are made for each other, but the combination is really heavy compared with Sony alpha 7 gear.
I set up the autofocus systems of both cameras in about the same way, using continuous AF modes, giving them a wide latitude about where to focus, and letting them give faces preference when picking what to focus on. The Sony was slightly better at identifying faces, but the Nikon was a bit easier to control when there were several faces in the image, and I had a preference for which one was in the best focus. With the Nikon, you could frame the face you wanted in the middle of the image, wait for the dancing red squares to recognize it, then reframe slowly with the shutter release still half-depressed, and the camera would keep its attention of the face you started with. The Sony did that to a lesser extent, but it was a bit more peripatetic, or maybe you could say it had a shorter attention span.
But focusing was not a problem using either camera. And, although PDAF is not as precise as CDAF, when I developed the images both were almost always seriously sharp, even though I used the 70/200 wide open most of the time. This is another example of discovering that what is not super sharp in the laboratory is plenty sharp enough in actual use.
The D5’s shutter is much noisier than the a7RIII’s, with the unwanted side effect that I have more pictures of kids staring at my camera with the Nikon. I used EFCS for the Sony and was forced to use the plain mechanical shutter in the D5. I did not try the silent D5 mode; I used continuous low in both cameras.
News flash: kids are built low to the ground. Here’s another: I’m a lot creakier and less agile than I used to be. Put those things together, and I ended up making most of the a7RIII images using the LCD as a waist-level ( or knee-level!) finder. I was glad that I didn’t have the short lens on the D5.
Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw still don’t support the a7RIII. I bought the images into Capture 1 and exported then as DNGs. Bad idea. The color balance was nothing like what it looked like in C1, and it proved to be really hard to deal with in Lr. I went back and exported them as TIFFs. Now they looked pretty much like they looked in C1, which was a good deal more amped-up than the D5 images. I toned them down as best I could, and sent them off for publication.
The new-found operating speed of the a7RIII, its small size and light weight, its incredibly accurate focusing and the availability of some light lenses make me think that it could be an excellent event camera for available light use.
I’d show you some pix, but I didn’t get model releases, and people are concerned about where they see images of their kids.