The a77 MKII and Kayaking on the Chicago River

Started Jul 17, 2014 | Discussions thread
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dbiela Regular Member • Posts: 159
The a77 MKII and Kayaking on the Chicago River

With all the press about the a7, a7r, and a7s it seems that some people have overlooked the other cool new Sony product, the Alpha a77 MKII. I do have the Sony a7r and really love the camera but as a working pro I have several cameras in my kit and will select the camera I feel has the best fit for the job. I picked up the a77 MKII just last week and after a quick day of testing and getting to know the camera I used it for a job shooting kayaks on the Chicago River. The A77 MKII has several features that lend it self to photographing action. Fast focus, a high frame rate of 8 or 12 frames per second, and finally Sony has given the camera a large buffer so you can continually shoot up to about 60 images before the buffer will fill up and then slow the fps down. The camera no longer has internal GPS, so it will not embed your location in the image files Meta data. I now use a GPS logger app with my phone so I can add the location info later, its not difficult but adds a little time to my workflow. One thing I was concerned about was the high ISO noise and how good or bad would it be. I can tell you it’s not bad at high ISO, the files from the A77MkII are not in the same class as the a7s but I can capture a good image at 8000 to 12500 ISO.

Urban Kayaks is my client. They offer kayak rentals, lessons and tours along the Chicago River. I have been shooting with modified Sony NEX-5n’s attached to the kayak as well as going out on the river to shoot using Urban Kayaks zodiac boat but it was difficult to maneuver around the small kayaks because of the wake off the zodiac. I went out in a kayak for the dusk tour on the Chicago River .. The kayak was a tandem but reset with only one seat a little aft so I could keep my camera gear between my legs. I placed a small camera bag with 3 lenses, (14mm f2.8, Sony 16-50mm f2.8 and a 85mm f1.4) extra batteries, memory cards and towels in a heavy plastic trash bag. This worked out well. If there was any splashing or a large wave I could place the camera inside the bag to help protect it. I shot at several ISO settings from 500 up to 12,500 but most of photos were taken at 6400 and 8000.

The first thing you learn photographing from a kayak is you can’t lean around much in it or it will roll over on you. Next is where do you put the paddle when you want to shoot. Luckily with the tandem I could just put them in the cockpit with me with it sticking out to one side. As for the a77MKII it worked out very well. I like the fast focus, even in low light the focus was slower but it did not hunt. With the camera set to center weighted focus, other then 2 photos, all of my 400 images were spot on. The dynamic range is good. I shot a several images with lots of sky in them and though I did adjust the image in Adobe Camera Raw before the import to Photoshop, I did not have to do any color or density adjustments to the image file afterwards. The camera works fine with the original a77 battery grip. I couldn’t tell you how long the battery will last. I have not shot with it enough to know, but it seems to last about the same amount of images as the previous A77. All in all I feel the a77II is a great upgrade from the a77. My current workflow is to use the a7 cameras for non-action and the a77 MKII for moving subjects like cars or airplanes. I have included some of the photos from my shoot.

If you should want to go Kayaking on the Chicago River

Cheers Dennis Biela

3200 ISO with the 16-50mm f2.8 & Sony's new A77 MKII. I adjusted the image in Adobe Camera Raw to keep the sky from being too blown out and opened up the shadows a bit before importing into Photoshop after that their was very little work done to the image.

4000 ISO, Holding the camera over my head ( carefully ) with the LCD panel extended so I could frame up the image. It looks bright out in the photo but it was getting dark out.

Sorry not taken with the A77 MKII but I like this photograph on the Chicago River. Remote shot with a NEX-5n and Rokinon 8mm f2.8 lens. I love this camera for remotes you can put them almost anywhere they are so small and have great IQ.

Could not really do a good Selfie so how about a footie Sony A77MKII with the 16-50mm f2.8 lens

 dbiela's gear list:dbiela's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-5N NEX5R Sony Alpha a99 Sony Alpha a7R Sony 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* +9 more
Sony Alpha a7 Sony Alpha a7R Sony Alpha a7S Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony SLT-A77
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