Big thanks for Rishi Sanyal for a ground-breaking test. There's tons of chatter on high-iso - but what good is high-iso if the camera can't focus at those low light levels???
After seeing Rishi's test, i went out and bought the A7RII and did my own low light test last night. I lowered the light in our family room until I couldn't make out the digital wall clock. I tested with the kit lens, a FE 28-70 f3.5 to 5.6. I also did the test with a Sony aps lens, a 50 f1.8 lens. With either lens, I could not see the wall clock, but just pointed the camera, and pressed the focus button. The viewfinder screen lit up momentarily and then it locked focus. With either the slow FE lens, or the fast APS lens, it locked focus 100% of the time on the wall clock. AMAZING. I then shot the wall clock with my Pentax K3 DSLR, which is rated down to -3ev. With an f2.8 zoom, it locked focus on this wall clock about 1/3 of the tests i tried.
Winner of low light static focusing test: A7RII
Thank you Rishi Sanyal and Richard Butler. You guys found a way to test AF in a meaningful way - not easy to do. All we had before was more anecdotal than anything else.
Richard, Congratulations on an excellent article. Instead of endless debates about this feature versus that feature, we should be celebrating the camera diversity and capability that is available to us.
When the first Sony Nex cameras came out in 2310, i thought they were ugly. Now i have 2 of them and there's nothing better IMO for casual walk arounds. When i shoot promos, program headshots and dress rehearsals for a local theatre company, i use my Pentax K3 for its ergonomics and control features. My Nex6 has EVF and my K3 DSLR has OVF. I switch between both camera types frequently and don't find it a problem using either. I currently use a non-proprietary flash system (Cactus V6) with RF60s and manual flashes that work well on both makes of cameras.
I think part of what Sony and other mirrorless makers benefit from, is the popularity of cameras that don't box one into just the equipment made by one camera mfr. All of my Pentax K-mount lenses are usable on my Sony Nexes.
Tape5: The future of photography will be shaped by Sony. So the question becomes :What's happening inside Sony R&D rooms and who are the new engineering graduates who will join them? The company's plans for the next twenty years.
They have so far pushed the bulk down and the quality up, which is the fattest revolution in photography for a while. They are selling sensors to Nikon and making cameras where people can use their Canon lenses. Medium format cameras are looking silly already.
And they have massive experience in video, as well as all the broadcast stuff they have done for decades.
The question now is when will DSLRs catch up to mirrorless. If they can. The A7R II offers both a well damped conventional shutter and a completely silent rolling shutter. This is really important in the event shooting i do for live plays and lobby events. There is no DSLR that offers anything equivalent. With DSLRs, one has to test and adjust the fine tuning on phase focus. Not so with mirrorless where final focusing is done on the face of the sensor by contrast. Again, DSLRs are falling behind. Yes, DSLRs are better at using less battery power, but not many of us need that benefit. Sony batteries are small and easy to carry. Both Canon and Nikon committed to developing a "large sensor" mirrorless camera at the 2014 Photokina. So where are these cameras? I'd like to see either Canon or Nikon build a mirrorless camera that would rival their DSLRs - because they could do an excellent job of it. Let the customers decide which they prefer.
I thought DPReview's A7II review was justified to criticize the lossy Raw files. It didn't used to be that way for Sony's files. Nikon's option to select lossy RAW or non-lossy RAW is a much better way to go.
I am disappointed that DPReview treated the A7II so shabby with regard to its Mirrorless FF status. The conclusion states:
Traditionally, mirrorless cameras appeal to users seeking a smaller, lighter option to DSLRs. The a7 II is not particularly small or light, though to be fair, it is smaller and lighter than any full-frame DSLR on the market.
Not only are the A7's lighter and smaller than the full-frame DSLRs, they are also lighter and smaller than some APS DSLRs. That is an amazing accomplishment. Here's some sample weights:
A700 1079gmsA750 750 gmsK3 800 gmsA7II 600 gmsA7R 500 gms
Unfortunately, DPReview chose to exhibit their bias against mirrorless FF. I don't own any A7 cameras - but they are at the top of my list as a future purchase.
Disappointing interview. I don't have either Canon or Nikon. The Canon interview reflected some enthusiasm and a plan for the future. The Nikon responses felt like the precursor to a car wreck. No regard for mirrorless or aps cameras - buy our FF or else we might consider what you want, and maybe we'll do something.
Sergey Borachev: The only reason I still look at a Pentax DSLR is its IBIS, unique among current DSLRs, and so a Pentax is the only camera that can fix the only flaw of the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8.
Unfortunately, a Pentax is still a Pentax, i.e. that Sigma lens with Pentax mount may not be here for a very long time, if ever, just like this review or any accessory for a Pentax.
So, it might help to wait for the lenses and accessories to be available first before buying this K-3, as by that time you might be looking at a K-1.
I've had a K5 for 2 years, but bought K3 after reading the review back in January by Popular Photography. I really bought it to improve the AF performance. I was relieved after buying it to see how well the camera focuses in low light. Processing speed has also jumped up in a satisfactory manner - thank you Ricoh!!! The K3 is everything i want in a DSLR, and still as quiet as church mouse when the shutter is activated. Very important for the live theater pictures i take. Did i mention that that the tracking AF really works!! Popular Photography could not even test the AF function below -2ev because that was as low as their equipment goes. Give the K3 an f2.8 lens and you will be amazed to find the AF still working in many shaded conditions.
wheatear: I've just returned a Pentax K-5, bought new from the Camera Centre, Cardiff, via Amazon. The autofocus was unreliable to the point of being useless. Colour renditions, even after resetting to 'Natural' were not pleasing, and under-exposure was the norm. My Panasonic G1 delivered better pictures, in side by side comparison, in almost every one of over 50 shots, indoors and out, mainly landscape and church architecture.
The supplier, the Camera Centre, Cardiff, claim they could find no fault with the camera.
The SD card mechanism is barely fit for purpose, so difficult is it to extract a card without dropping it.
The K-5 was a huge disappointment.
Pentax k5 is a marvelous DSLR. Has the quietest shutter of any dslr i know of - doesn't include those PS with small enough sensors they can have electronic shutters. I've also had only a few focus problems in the 3 years i've had the camera. Well built camera. Sure the card receptacle is a little tight when new but i;ve never considered that more than a small problem. I love that camera.!!! I've sold 8 pictures in October from that camera. Take it out in the rain and snow all the time.
Tord S Eriksson: I was a stern believer of Pentax, and the K-5, but eventually sold it, and a head of lenses, to get a D600 (which has slightly lighter oil/dust problems than the K-5), and a handful of nice lenses (loved the DA15, FA43, FA77, & a few more).
Never regretted it for a second, but it is sad that Pentax takes such a cavalier attitude towards the users, and the problems with the SDM (supersonic drive motor), used in many of their lenses.
For years the users had to pay for replacing the faulty SDMs in their lenses, with new ones, that was just as bad as the original ones!
Then, suddenly, the guys at Pentax were very frank, and says 'Oh, yes, we know about that', and still didn't offer any kind of compensation to the customers!
The company eventually did owe up on the K-5 oil splatter problem, as no charge for the customers, and quickly released the K-5 II, that doesn't have that problem in the same degree.
By then they had lost me, and my wife, and I am now in the Nikon camp.
All dslrs have dust problems, but not oil splatter. Some of the K5's has oil underneath the sensor glass cover and for those, Pentax covered with no charge. The K5II never had any oil problems that I've ever heard of. The D600 had continuing oil/dust problems from the shutter mechanism if i recall correctly.
seidensticker: Most of us feel screwed by Adobe and will look elsewhere. I wonder whether Adobe was forced into this new pricing because they are at the tail end of innovation. Witness the paucity of new features in CS6 versus CS5. How do they get income when they are at the end of innovation? Charge a monthly rent. Then, whether they innovate or not, they get paid. Now they will have no incentive to innovate.
Adobe just screwed themselves. When i joined a photography club, it was the other members who recommended photoshop. Not to mention legions of volunteers who instructed the next generations in how to work with Photoshop. Does Adobe really believe that screwed over customers are going to recommend their product in the future. You can bet that i'll never recommend anything to do with Adobe. Adobe isn't about ART, they are about money. Once they get this rental scheme in place, they can raise the rates to whatever they want.
Donnie G: I'm not a compact system camera fan. Probably will never buy one, but that doesn't mean that I can't express appreciation for what I see as good design. The standout feature for me in the NEX-6, as well as the rest of the NEX lineup is its grip. Sony is to be commended for putting serious effort into making the cameras comfortable to hold. So, for that feature and for the sheer weight of numbers of models that they are bringing to market, I hereby declare Sony to be the king of compact system camera manufacturers. Hail to the King! :)
I would agree but clarify to "King of the APS compacts" which later may be modified to "king of the APS and FF compacts". I find the Nex6 and the new 16-50 zoom and maybe 1 fast prime to be a very tempting combination.