The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

Started Jun 5, 2014 | Discussions
GaryW Veteran Member • Posts: 8,546
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

parallaxproblem wrote:...

After a long discussion on this subject with Jay Ell it would appear that in most cases resizing a high MP sensor image to the same size as a lower MP sensor image will have a very similar noise profile to that shown on the low MP sensor as 'shot noise' is a much more significant component of sensor noise than 'read noise':

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52714686

This makes one wonder if the 'excellent noise response from low MP sensor' which the A7s is proposing is simply a marketing trick and whether we would get the same results from a 36MP sensor image downsized to a 12MP equivalent

Was t this the case between the Nex-7 and the 16mp Nexes?  But there were always those complaining that the Nex-7 was noisier.  Certainly at 100% views, but that's hardly a fair comparison.

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Nordstjernen
Nordstjernen Veteran Member • Posts: 6,876
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

D Cox wrote:

But PP isn't practical for video and many users do not want to spend hours denoising their still images.

The large A7s pixels are otimized for video, says Sony.

For still photgraphers there is little or no difference in file handling and noise reduction/post processing for images that are scaled to the same size, no matter if the sensor is 36, 24 or 12 Mp.

I would expect some more well depth for large pixels, which would result in a bit better dynamic range - but nothing that really make a noticeable difference at very high ISO settings.

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ottonis Contributing Member • Posts: 734
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

The guys from "The Camera Store" have recently posted a great video comparing the A6000 with its main contenders (Fuji Tx1, Oly EM-1, Panasonig GH4) with regards to continuous and single focus autofocus performance. They took pictures of racing dirt-bikes, and the A6000 + SEL70-200 G f4 performed extremely well compared to the other cameras (the GH4 being the only camera with consistently better AF speed and accuracy). 
So, yes, considering AF performance and croppability, the A6000 is perfectly suitable for birding, the ONLY question being the zoom range, which maxes out at 200mm for native e-mount lenses. This could be a bit short for some shooting scenarios, and in that case you would need to resort to non-e-mount lenses via adapter (which would eat away all the autofocus benefits of the A6000).

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 18,271
Re: Don't agree at all

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I agree that maybe I should have said "Nature Photography" rather than "Birding" - I was just a bit over-enthusiastic with the idea of photographing the rainforest at night, with all the insects, mammals and birds like owls and whip-poor-wills. I admit , that for most birders a crop sensor would be the way to go.

It doesn't have to be an APS-C sensor. A Full Frame sensor with 48 Megapixels would be as good as a half-frame with 24, and easier to aim.

Insects at night are done with flash. See Orionmystery's many posts on the Macro Forum. He is in Malaya.

OP Alex P Scorsch Regular Member • Posts: 146
Re: Don't agree at all

D. Cox, there is no unique way to photograph insects. Some photographers may prefer to photograph without flash for a more natural effect. I myself have done a lot of successful insect photographs, many without flash. Currently I am using a Lite-Panel mini plus lighting setup. Your observation seems too dogmatic to me. But I don't want to get into any arguments. Cheers!

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parallaxproblem Veteran Member • Posts: 5,335
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

Nordstjernen wrote:

D Cox wrote:

But PP isn't practical for video and many users do not want to spend hours denoising their still images.

The large A7s pixels are otimized for video, says Sony.

Ah, that is a whole different ball-game

For video one can imagine that the lower pixel-density of the A7s is genuinely useful and there is no point in ultra-high resolution sensors for that application (unless you are using a 'digital zoom')

For still photgraphers there is little or no difference in file handling and noise reduction/post processing for images that are scaled to the same size, no matter if the sensor is 36, 24 or 12 Mp.

I would expect some more well depth for large pixels, which would result in a bit better dynamic range - but nothing that really make a noticeable difference at very high ISO settings.

Yes, that's the read noise, but it is apparently much less important than the shot noise

This assumes that the sensors employ the same level of technology...  if the lower pixel density of a 12MP sensor allows the implementation of a superior technology in the way the pixel sites are fabricted then there might be some genuine benefits

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parallaxproblem Veteran Member • Posts: 5,335
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

GaryW wrote:

parallaxproblem wrote:...

After a long discussion on this subject with Jay Ell it would appear that in most cases resizing a high MP sensor image to the same size as a lower MP sensor image will have a very similar noise profile to that shown on the low MP sensor as 'shot noise' is a much more significant component of sensor noise than 'read noise':

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52714686

This makes one wonder if the 'excellent noise response from low MP sensor' which the A7s is proposing is simply a marketing trick and whether we would get the same results from a 36MP sensor image downsized to a 12MP equivalent

Was t this the case between the Nex-7 and the 16mp Nexes? But there were always those complaining that the Nex-7 was noisier. Certainly at 100% views, but that's hardly a fair comparison.

There were several comparisons on the A-mount forum between resized 24MP sensor outputs from A77/A65, and the equivalent 16MP bodies and the results seemed to suggest that noise was not that different on a like-for-like basis (the 24MP still being slightly noisier when downsized, but not by much)

Of course, having a 16MP sensor instead of a 24MP sensor offers benefits in terms of how quickly the files can be written to your memory card (smaller files from the 16MP sensor going quicker) and consequently can be better for high frame rates and fewer 'full' buffers (older Sony cameras not being terribly generous on buffer size, and have a bad habit of 'locking' when the buffer full until it is clear)

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bwana4swahili
bwana4swahili Contributing Member • Posts: 747
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

Sony A7R(esolution)...  Sony A7S(ensitivity)

A blend of the two would be nice but at the moment it doesn't exist, or maybe I just haven't seen it... Or maybe I'm already using it in the A7R?

Lot of talk about using an APS-C sized sensor vs. full frame.  It isn't the size of the sensor that determines resolution.  It is the size of the pixels.  An APS-C sensor with the same size pixels as a full frame camera just gives you less field-of-view; no gain or loss in resolution.  An APS-C sensor may "appear" to give you better resolution but it simply shows a cropped full frame image; the reason for the name, "crop mode sensor"!

If you want resolution for those birds and small, distant targets go the A7R route (or a camera with an APS-C sensor with the same or smaller pixels).  If you want the dusk/dawn light gathering, get closer or use a longer lens and (maybe) go the A7S route.

No one has really had a chance to full evaluate an A7S (the reason for the "maybe" above) but I have used an A7R since Nov. '13 and it is pretty darn nice for both resolution and reasonable image quality at higher ISO's, i.e.: up to ISO3200 + a bit.

You mentioned adapters.  I adapt Canon, Pentax, Minolta, M42 and T2 lenses to the A7R.  Plan to go manual focus and focus peaking for those action shots, autofocus is a bit slow!  Lots of good manual lenses/telescopes available new/used to choose from...  You may already have them in your lens collection?  I don't own any Sony lens, except a 28-70mm zoom I was given, so maybe their adapters give better performance; don't know?

bwa

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parallaxproblem Veteran Member • Posts: 5,335
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)

bwana4swahili wrote:

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

Sony A7R(esolution)... Sony A7S(ensitivity)

A blend of the two would be nice but at the moment it doesn't exist, or maybe I just haven't seen it... Or maybe I'm already using it in the A7R?

Lot of talk about using an APS-C sized sensor vs. full frame. It isn't the size of the sensor that determines resolution. It is the size of the pixels. An APS-C sensor with the same size pixels as a full frame camera just gives you less field-of-view; no gain or loss in resolution. An APS-C sensor may "appear" to give you better resolution but it simply shows a cropped full frame image; the reason for the name, "crop mode sensor"!

If you want resolution for those birds and small, distant targets go the A7R route (or a camera with an APS-C sensor with the same or smaller pixels). If you want the dusk/dawn light gathering, get closer or use a longer lens and (maybe) go the A7S route.

The 36MP sensor in the A7R has a similar resolution to a 15MP sensor in an APS-C camera, the A7 equates to only around 10MP wheres the A7s resolution will offer under 6MP...  latest APS-C sensors are 24MP

No one has really had a chance to full evaluate an A7S (the reason for the "maybe" above) but I have used an A7R since Nov. '13 and it is pretty darn nice for both resolution and reasonable image quality at higher ISO's, i.e.: up to ISO3200 + a bit.

You mentioned adapters. I adapt Canon, Pentax, Minolta, M42 and T2 lenses to the A7R. Plan to go manual focus and focus peaking for those action shots, autofocus is a bit slow! Lots of good manual lenses/telescopes available new/used to choose from... You may already have them in your lens collection? I don't own any Sony lens, except a 28-70mm zoom I was given, so maybe their adapters give better performance; don't know?

Danny (NZMacro) uses MF techniques for BIF and gets excellent results.  However only the highly-skilled can do this, and even after a lot of pratice this year I am still finding MF for birds beyond my abilities.  AF performance is important for most 'ordinary people' shooting birds

bwa

As has been said elsewhere, the A7s is good for Video shooters.  Those taking mainly photos should probably look elsewhere unless they want it exclusively for 'available light' photography of largish/nearby subjects (bands/concerts?)

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bwana4swahili
bwana4swahili Contributing Member • Posts: 747
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)

parallaxproblem wrote:

The 36MP sensor in the A7R has a similar resolution to a 15MP sensor in an APS-C camera, the A7 equates to only around 10MP wheres the A7s resolution will offer under 6MP... latest APS-C sensors are 24MP

Resolution has really nothing to do with the size of the sensor!  It is solely the size of the photosites on the sensor that matters.  With a 50mm lens on my Canon 60D (18 MPixel APS-C sensor and 4.3 micron pixels) the resolution is 17.86 arcsec/pixel.  The same lens on my Sony A7R (36 MPixel full frame and 4.88 micron pixels) gives a resolution of 20.27 arcsec/pixel.  Putting the same lens on my NexImage 5 (5 Mpixel 1/3" sensor and 2.2 micron pixels) results in a resolution of 9.14 arcsec/pixel.

I'm anxiously awaiting the day (sometime in the far future) when I can acquire a full frame camera with 1 micron pixels, low noise and the reported sensitivity of the A7S  

bwa

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 18,271
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)

bwana4swahili wrote:

Sony A7R(esolution)... Sony A7S(ensitivity)

A blend of the two would be nice but at the moment it doesn't exist, or maybe I just haven't seen it... Or maybe I'm already using it in the A7R?

The A7 is the blend of the two.

Lot of talk about using an APS-C sized sensor vs. full frame. It isn't the size of the sensor that determines resolution. It is the size of the pixels. An APS-C sensor with the same size pixels as a full frame camera just gives you less field-of-view; no gain or loss in resolution. An APS-C sensor may "appear" to give you better resolution but it simply shows a cropped full frame image; the reason for the name, "crop mode sensor"!

For BIF and similar, the size of the pixels is the crucial thing. But if you measure resolution as the number of line-pairs per picture height, as is reasonable for architecture or landscape, then the number of pixels is what matters.

So the choice of sensor depends on the type of photo you are taking. Which is not surprising.

If you want resolution for those birds and small, distant targets go the A7R route (or a camera with an APS-C sensor with the same or smaller pixels). If you want the dusk/dawn light gathering, get closer or use a longer lens and (maybe) go the A7S route.

Or if you can afford only one camera, get an A7 or an A6000.

No one has really had a chance to full evaluate an A7S (the reason for the "maybe" above) but I have used an A7R since Nov. '13 and it is pretty darn nice for both resolution and reasonable image quality at higher ISO's, i.e.: up to ISO3200 + a bit.

You mentioned adapters. I adapt Canon, Pentax, Minolta, M42 and T2 lenses to the A7R. Plan to go manual focus and focus peaking for those action shots, autofocus is a bit slow! Lots of good manual lenses/telescopes available new/used to choose from... You may already have them in your lens collection? I don't own any Sony lens, except a 28-70mm zoom I was given, so maybe their adapters give better performance; don't know?

bwa

bwana4swahili
bwana4swahili Contributing Member • Posts: 747
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)

parallaxproblem wrote:

Danny (NZMacro) uses MF techniques for BIF and gets excellent results. However only the highly-skilled can do this, and even after a lot of pratice this year I am still finding MF for birds beyond my abilities. AF performance is important for most 'ordinary people' shooting birds

I would agree (fast) AF is important for most people shooting moving targets.  I cut my teeth on cameras with no electronics of any sort; AF is sort of a novelty to me.  I like manual focus.  It "connects" me to the target in a way AF (just) doesn't and allows me to "follow" the target while shooting continuous mode...  But Focus Peaking certainly makes life easier!

bwa

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Bart B Van Bockstaele
Bart B Van Bockstaele New Member • Posts: 13
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)
1

As has been said elsewhere, the A7s is good for Video shooters. Those taking mainly photos should probably look elsewhere unless they want it exclusively for 'available light' photography of largish/nearby subjects (bands/concerts?)

This claim is being made all the time, but I think it (sort of) ignores (or suggests to ignore) a rather fundamental fact about people who are taking pictures of wildlife that happens to come across their path just before or after sunrise or sunset. I am in that case myself.

While I am certainly not trying to avoid taking fantastic pictures, the likelihood that this will happen is almost zero. My goal is not to take lovely pictures, my goal is to document, i.e. provide credible evidence that what I claim to have seen is indeed what I have seen.

In my opinion, and without having used one yet (I am waiting for it to come in), the a7s is likely to be the best camera on the market at this time. After all, what use is a better resolution, if the resulting picture is a black field with nothing discernible in it?

Yes, it would be great to look that coyote straight in the eye at a metre’s distance, and the picture would probably be quite nice with even the shittiest of cameras, but what about that barely visible mink in the distance no other camera can see?

The issue in my case is not "nature photography". The issue is "science". In my search for a good camera, I have been frustrated by the fact that hardly anyone seems to be interested or even understands the issue. Most people, and all reviewers I have read, want *beautiful* pictures, while I, and people like me, want *possible* pictures. If these turn out to be pleasing, so much the better, but that is nothing more than a happy coincidence, not a sought-after one.

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Bart B Van Bockstaele
Bart B Van Bockstaele New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Don't agree at all

parallaxproblem wrote:

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

Sorry - the closest thing Sony make to a 'Birders Dream Camera' is the A77II, though it still remains to be seen how effective this camera will be in practice when a few skilled people actually get one in their hands

The closest lenses Sony make to 'Birders Dream Lenses' are the 70-400GII and (for the very well-healed) the 500/4G... both of which are A-mount! The LA-EA2/4 adaptor is horrible when used in an application like this so an A-mount body is much preferable for use with them

Most people need *reach* from their equipment for photographing birds and that means APS-C sensors coupled with long, fast lenses

I am trying to use my NEX-5R+LA-EA2 with my 70-400G for photographing birds and looking forward eagerly to general availability of the A77II to replace the NEX body in this situation

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I disagree. Yes, they need reach, but they also need visibility. What's the use of reach, when there is nothing for the camera to show? Not everybody goes birding at 2 p.m. on a sunny day. Some of us study wildlife during the night, at dawn, at dusk ... what use is a great reach, if the light that actually reaches the sensor is so limited it cannot produce an identifiable picture?

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Bart B Van Bockstaele New Member • Posts: 13
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

I am – finally – about to find it out. I'm waiting for the a7s to come in. Do you have any experience by now, or know someone who does? I have found precious little information and examples so far, even though the A7s has now been on the market for almost a year.

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Charles Currey Contributing Member • Posts: 867
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?
1

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

I have read all of the replies up to the time I started typing. Of all the good discussion, nobody has mentioned the burst rate of the A7s. I don't know the exact information, but I think the burst rate with autofocus for each picture is under 2fps. For me, that would be way too slow to consistently get "the shot" of a bird flying toward the shooter or away from the shooter or diagonally toward or away from the shooter. From that point of view the A6000 would be a better choice for me even though my highest useable ISO is a rediculous sounding 6400 when compared the astronomical number achieved with the A7s.

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surlyviking Regular Member • Posts: 328
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

The selection of long lenses for the Sony and focusing speed sort of makes it hard to advocate it as a birding camera.

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Vince Lux Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

Bart B Van Bockstaele wrote:

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

I am – finally – about to find it out. I'm waiting for the a7s to come in. Do you have any experience by now, or know someone who does? I have found precious little information and examples so far, even though the A7s has now been on the market for almost a year.

I indeed wanted to get the best result possible in impossible situations.

It is not always great photography wise, but compared to the alternative (which is a Nikon D3S, D4, D4S type of camera) there are some advantages for the A7S (cheaper, lighter, smaller, more versatile ...) and disadvantages (battery life, AF, native wildlife lenses, ...)

I used the A7s with a Nikon 600mm f4 + TC2, manual focus. This gets extremely difficult due to the long telephoto, the distance through air and high ISO setting, which gives more noise in real dim light. But it does go into ISO levels which others can not even try and gives very clear "scientific" data on your subject.

All in all the A7s can give very good results (it is a fantastic stills camera with high dynamic range and colour depth), but it is no miracle either, sometimes too dark is simply too dark.

Bart B Van Bockstaele
Bart B Van Bockstaele New Member • Posts: 13
Re: The Sony A7s - Birders' dream camera?

Vince Lux wrote:

Bart B Van Bockstaele wrote:

Alex P Scorsch wrote:

I think the Sony A7s would be the wildlife and bird photographer's dream camera. When the birds and animals are active it's usually about 6:00 am and relatively dark, especially in the rainforest were I often shoot. With the high ISO capabilities and the small apertures of long telephoto lenses this might be a great choice. One only has to decide if one wants to live with the relatively low pixel count. I think it would be worthwhile, even if adapters are in order for the "big guns".

I am – finally – about to find it out. I'm waiting for the a7s to come in. Do you have any experience by now, or know someone who does? I have found precious little information and examples so far, even though the A7s has now been on the market for almost a year.

I indeed wanted to get the best result possible in impossible situations.

It is not always great photography wise, but compared to the alternative (which is a Nikon D3S, D4, D4S type of camera) there are some advantages for the A7S (cheaper, lighter, smaller, more versatile ...) and disadvantages (battery life, AF, native wildlife lenses, ...)

I used the A7s with a Nikon 600mm f4 + TC2, manual focus. This gets extremely difficult due to the long telephoto, the distance through air and high ISO setting, which gives more noise in real dim light. But it does go into ISO levels which others can not even try and gives very clear "scientific" data on your subject.

All in all the A7s can give very good results (it is a fantastic stills camera with high dynamic range and colour depth), but it is no miracle either, sometimes too dark is simply too dark.

It would seem that we have the same goals, and similar experiences. As you say, sometimes too dark is simply too dark. Clearly, the people who claim the camera works in "(near) total darkness" have not actually used the camera, or what they claim to be (near) total darkness is simply what I call "low light". The camera cannot show what is not actually there, and it is still – at least for me – substantially less light-sensitive than the human eye.

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Ross Warner Senior Member • Posts: 1,255
Re: The Sony A7s - Birds vs. Wildlife (Resolution vs. Sensitivity?)

Bart B Van Bockstaele wrote:

As has been said elsewhere, the A7s is good for Video shooters. Those taking mainly photos should probably look elsewhere unless they want it exclusively for 'available light' photography of largish/nearby subjects (bands/concerts?)

This claim is being made all the time, but I think it (sort of) ignores (or suggests to ignore) a rather fundamental fact about people who are taking pictures of wildlife that happens to come across their path just before or after sunrise or sunset. I am in that case myself.

While I am certainly not trying to avoid taking fantastic pictures, the likelihood that this will happen is almost zero. My goal is not to take lovely pictures, my goal is to document, i.e. provide credible evidence that what I claim to have seen is indeed what I have seen.

In my opinion, and without having used one yet (I am waiting for it to come in), the a7s is likely to be the best camera on the market at this time. After all, what use is a better resolution, if the resulting picture is a black field with nothing discernible in it?

Yes, it would be great to look that coyote straight in the eye at a metre’s distance, and the picture would probably be quite nice with even the shittiest of cameras, but what about that barely visible mink in the distance no other camera can see?

The issue in my case is not "nature photography". The issue is "science". In my search for a good camera, I have been frustrated by the fact that hardly anyone seems to be interested or even understands the issue. Most people, and all reviewers I have read, want *beautiful* pictures, while I, and people like me, want *possible* pictures. If these turn out to be pleasing, so much the better, but that is nothing more than a happy coincidence, not a sought-after one.

In that case, have you ever tried binoculars? There are some types available that can record a digital image, and the reach of these binoculars often equals or exceeds a 600mm lens on full frame cameras.

Quality is another matter...but you don't seem concerned about that.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=digital+binoculars&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=

 Ross Warner's gear list:Ross Warner's gear list
Sony Alpha a7R II Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM +4 more
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