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Sony SLT-A65, Bigger than a NEX!


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#1 BigJeff

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:28 PM

I recently had the chance to upgrade my not very old Sony A55 to a more recent A65 so I thought I'd post some pictures.

While being more of a pain to travel with than the NEX series, it does have the advantage of having a wide range of lenses currently available and for me the ability to use the ones I already have.

So far it's been used on a liveaboard in Thailand and on a land based dive trip to both Gangga Island and Kasawari Lembeh near to Manado in Indonesia, so most of the pictures are taken with either a 70mm or 105mm lens. I have used wider in Thailand but it was getting close to the end of season and the visibility was not as good as February (using the A55).

The camera works well, even some of the more unusual features such as stitch panorama produce good results with the limitation that they record JPEGS and not RAW.
HD Video recording is also good, but let down by my serious lack of video skills and inability to produce a short video that's less than 23MB in size. I'm sure with some practice then these skills will improve.

There were some changes from the A55 that pleasantly surprised me, the bigger battery means it's no problem leaving the camera in the housing all day long even with 3 photo crazy dives per day in Indonesia.
TTL is also available (in combination with Ike) when shooting with the camera in manual, and you can apply exposure compensation to the rear LCD so when in camera manual it's still possible to see the image on the screen even at 1/160 F22 when the strobes are switched on. (I don't use the viewfinder).

There are many things still to explore with the camera, but if you are thinking of going with the "bigger" route then it's a great option.
Here are the pictures…

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Edited by BigJeff, 28 June 2012 - 12:26 AM.

Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#2 tdpriest

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:23 AM

That's nice.

A little off-forum, but have a real knack for getting the fish to look at you!

Tim

;)

#3 BigJeff

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:36 AM

Yes, was torn between DSLR and Show Off, but decided this section needed something other than Canon/Nikon.
Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#4 gobiodon

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:07 AM

Great photos!
As a sony user I'm always happy to see some non-canikon pictures.
Do you have some underwater stitch panorama by chance to post.
I would be really interested in!

Cheers

Marcell
Marcell Nikolausz
Minolta Dynax 7000i, KonicaMinolta Dynax 7D, sony a100, Ikelite housing for 7000i and sony a100, two Ikelite Ai strobes
Portfolio: http://www.flickr.co...57604023368278/

#5 DrMark

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:09 AM

Yes, was torn between DSLR and Show Off, but decided this section needed something other than Canon/Nikon.


Thanks for posting your impressions. I'm trying to decide between a GH2 and an A65 (in Ike housing). Are there any negatives of the A64 that you think are relevant?

--Mark

#6 Phil Rudin

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:33 AM

Excellent job Jeff, I was hoping to see a housing for the A77 when it was released. Sony/Minolta have some excellent lenses suited to U/W photography. Keep up the great work.

Phil Rudin

#7 rtrski

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 03:55 PM

Thanks for the post. Just out of curiosity, have you tried lining up the A55 in the A65 housing? (IF you do, do it carefully, no damage just because I asked a silly question!!)

I know the cameras are different sizes so I suspect the baseplate has been moved, but otherwise the rear layout looks almost the same. There's a couple top buttons that the controls might not function well for...basically I'm wondering if I can try the opposite, upgrade to the A65 without replacing the housing, mostly because of the A55 dark viewfinder issue that the A65 (or 77, but then there's no Ike housing, although BSKinetics announced one) fixes.

Of course by the time I stop waffling - and have another trip planned to use it all on, the A88 or whatever will be out. ;)

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...


#8 BigJeff

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:24 AM

Thanks for the feedback, and to answer some questions;

Here are a few panoramas, nothing special as they were the first time experiments but I think they show the capability.
White balence/visibility becomes a bigger issue, as they are recorded as jpeg only. The first three are A55, the last A65.

1. Long Pano (camera moved sideways), I find this a little too narrow most times.

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2. Wide Pano, Camera held in portrait mode and moved "up" - actually sideways.

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3. Moving Objects - not a good idea, you can end up with half people.

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4. Above water with A65. Files can be quite large for jpeg.

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I'm not familiar with the A64, so I'm not sure what the changes are. If there had been an Ike housing for the A77 then I would have gone for one of those.

I did think about the A65 in A55 housing, but there is no way that will work.
As you pointed out the A65 is bigger and the controls are different enough in length and position that they would not work, the longer controls on top may even put too much force onto the top of the A65 if it was in the A55 housing.

Edited by BigJeff, 29 June 2012 - 01:19 AM.

Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#9 DrMark

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 09:01 AM

I love your photos. Excellent macro work and strobe placement. Did you shoot manual or TTL?

How does the white balance work with the A65? Does it have "one-push white balance" where you provide a white reference, and push a button to tell the camera that is white? I ask because although I shoot raw for stills, I need a good white balance for video (it is just too hard to recover good color from compressed 8-bit 420 video; you have to nail the white balance in camera before compression). Also, did you have any problems with white balancing at depth? My current video camera is a Sony A1U (which is amazingly still for sale by Sony all these years later), and it can't white balance below 30 feet. If I try to white balance any deeper, the camera just flashes an error symbol. I work around this with a red filter, but that cuts light.

Thanks,

--Mark

#10 BigJeff

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 02:43 AM

For macro I normally use 100% TTL, with the camera in manual. Mostly in centre spot metering but occasionally in centre weighted.

The A65 does have a manual white balance that I used against white sand, but around 3 button presses in the menu to set. Below 20m the camera does give a -9900K out of range warning but will still take the white balance if you select “OK”

I find I do still need to adjust WB afterwards, but with jpegs it seems to help if the picture is manually balanced first (less adjustment).
Camera also has a built in colour filter setting along with colour temperature, but I’ve not tried that one yet.

One correction to a previous statement, my A55 also has exposure compensation on the LCD when used in manual mode provided the flash is electrically connected (aka Ikelite). It was my even older A350 that would not compensate.
The change in the A65 is that you can choose to switch the compensation on or off in the menu.

Edited by BigJeff, 01 July 2012 - 01:01 AM.

Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#11 DrMark

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:36 AM

How did you find the focusing with the A65 to work underwater? I have recently learned about some serious limitations with the A65 auto focus in video mode, and I don't think you can both manually focus and zoom in an Ikelite housing. The feature I'm most worried about is the ability to hold focus with video to keep the camera from hunting in poor visibility.

I would appreciate any advice you can give on this.

Thanks,

--Mark

#12 A.Y.

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 04:35 PM

How easy or hard is it to switch between auto and manual focus inside the housing? Is there a programable button that can be assigned specifically to switch on and off autofocus quickly?

Thanks for the info!

#13 A.Y.

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 04:51 PM

A little off topic, but I think some Sony users may be interested.

Specs for a "prototype" entry-level Sony full-frame SLT camera were leaked and it reportedly has 24mp, 102 cross-type AF sensors, and 1080 60p HD.

#14 BigJeff

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 10:16 PM

For most lenses in the Ike housing there is no manual focus option, so there is no way to switch between Auto and Manual.

Having said that I've not had many problems with the autofocus except needing a little more light on the late afternoon dives. There was a big step up in autofocus quality from the A350 to the A55, but not much change from the A55 to A65 (I think it uses the same array, just more MP).

I did manage to shoot a short video of a small flamboyant cuttlefish with the A65, using a 105mm lens. The autofocus worked well and there was no way I could have kept it in focus using manual. Sadly I can't upload it, even when I down-res to 720p the file is too big to post, and I don't have editing software with me right now to reduce again.

Just imagine this... moving....

Posted Image

Edited by BigJeff, 07 July 2012 - 10:27 PM.

Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#15 rtrski

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 05:58 AM

One correction to a previous statement, my A55 also has exposure compensation on the LCD when used in manual mode provided the flash is electrically connected (aka Ikelite). It was my even older A350 that would not compensate.
The change in the A65 is that you can choose to switch the compensation on or off in the menu.

I'm sure you know this, but just to clarify for others: on the A55 you must have a flash fully TTL connected and communicating with the camera, so the camera "knows" its there, for the viewfinder to 'brighten up' because it's trying to give you a "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) image. That means it only works for Ike strobes on the Ike housing, as the electronics in the housing moderates the info transfer. Inon or other strobes, even connected "electrically" via sync cable, have to be operated manual mode and the camera never knows they're there, although the onboard Ike electronics are connected to the hotshoe. That's my one beef with the A55...It was odd shooting with a blank (black) viewfinder but getting autofocus green rectangles...the camera can still 'see' what you're trying to shoot in those situations, but it just won't show you. This is no longer an issue on any of the newer SLTs (A65, 77, probably even 35 and 57) since it also influenced land photogs with studio flashes and poppers run in 'manual' mode. I also considered trying to raise the flash inside the housing, and using fiberoptics, but it won't raise enough to trigger the switch so the camera knows its up to fire. I also made a mini-LED flash for the hotshoe to use instead of the electrical cord, but here you have the same viewfinder darkness because the manual picture settings would seem to be 'underexposed' as far as the camera knows with no flash.

A focus light helps, but it has to be a prety hefty one to really make the difference in darker conditions. I envy your A65... Posted Image

For most lenses in the Ike housing there is no manual focus option, so there is no way to switch between Auto and Manual.

I don't know how useful it is, because there's no way to manually focus in most Ike ports once you do set to MF (and I do understand that the quote I pulled above was from the context of video), but I did find in the A55 housing that you could switch between manual and autofocus modes. E.G. if you wanted to 'autofocus' to something a distance away like your own fins and then switch to manual and just shoot, for things like wide angle shooting in blue water (everything beyond the focus plane is in focus too) for sharks or whales or whatnot. The one control arm that pushes the lens release button on the A55 can also be rotated and slid along the shaft to get to the MF/AF switch on the body beside the lens. I think the two controls are in similar positions on the A65 body, so the housing control might work this way for you as well. I didn't have a macro on any of my dives but I did try a couple times with a +2 closeup on a 17-70 to focus as near as possible, then switch it to MF, then use body positioning to finish the shot. Awkward, and admittedly with limited success, I was really wishing I'd bought a flat port for my 105mm.

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...


#16 DrMark

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 03:50 PM

For most lenses in the Ike housing there is no manual focus option, so there is no way to switch between Auto and Manual.


I wasn't so much wondering about switching between auto and manual focus, but rather just being able to force the camera to hold the current focus from within auto focus. So, for example, if I see a whale in the distance, and it happens to be in focus, I want to be able to turn off the auto-focus so that it doesn't continue to focus hunt. I think they call this "focus hold", but from the on-line documentation, it is hard to tell exactly what it does.

--Mark

#17 BigJeff

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 10:09 PM

Rtrski's full description is correct, it was not clear in mine that the compensation only works when connected electrically with Ike housing and strobes.

I'll have to fiddle with my levers to see if I can get it to reach the button; I've only ever used it to release the lens as I only use AF.
Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#18 BigJeff

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 08:03 AM

Here goes for posting a link to the A65 video, this should take you to Microsoft Skydrive where it can be viewed.

If you try to view be patient, it's 25mb so takes a while to buffer on a slow connection.

Shot with a 105mm in autofocus, so very shallow depth of field and you probably want the sound off :)

https://skydrive.liv...AHwl3jN_-v6F3hg

Edited by BigJeff, 10 July 2012 - 08:07 AM.

Jeff (Sony SLT-A65, Ike Housing, 2 x DS-161)

#19 DrMark

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 02:38 PM

I wasn't so much wondering about switching between auto and manual focus, but rather just being able to force the camera to hold the current focus from within auto focus. So, for example, if I see a whale in the distance, and it happens to be in focus, I want to be able to turn off the auto-focus so that it doesn't continue to focus hunt. I think they call this "focus hold", but from the on-line documentation, it is hard to tell exactly what it does.

--Mark


I went to a local camera store yesterday and played around with the Sony a65 some. I was able to verify that it *is* possible to hold the focus on video when in auto focus mode. In the camera menu, you can map any of a number of functions to the AEL button. One of those features is "focus hold." As long as you depress the button, the auto focus will hold its current focus point. I wish it were a toggle, but this is better than nothing. So, if you see a whale swim by, you can hold down the AEL button and shoot away, not having to worry about the camera focus hunting on you.

--Mark

#20 A.Y.

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 06:50 PM

Which wide-angle lenses are popular amongst Sony SLT users?