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Moving from D500 to Sony A7RIII

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I moved from a Sony A7 to a D500-could only tolerate the A7 for 2 yrs(pathetic battery life and inferior macro lens +++)I am very glad to be back to Nikon dslr.

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Referencing the comparison to a A7 III (not the RIII) below:

 

Currently shoot with a D500 (and occasionaly, the D850, both in Nauticam housings). Upgraded my daughter to an A7 III (from an Oly) earlier this year. We took a trip together to Anilao in April - after playing with her rig (in a Nauticam housing) I would say it's a great system, but not anywhere near enough to wanting to give up my D500. The overall weight/size of the A7 III was a nice plus, but other than that, the D500 was just better in every macro situation we experienced (faster AF, better in low light, etc.).

We didn't shoot any W/A so that they may have evened things up a bit, nor did we shoot any video.

Why are you considering moving away from a D500?

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I'm considering mainly for two reasons: video and high MPs (primarily for the flexibility of cropping without significant reductions in IQ). I don't shoot macro at the moment, but interesting to hear your take. I like the idea of focus-peaking if I did start shooting macro.

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Will you actually get that advantage with the Sony? The D500 has smaller pixels at 4.2 microns, while the Sony has 4.5 micron pixel, so at the same distance the D500 has a small theoretical advantage. I don't see the attraction of the Sony lineup, sure the sensors are great but lens lineup still limited you have a 90mm macro then a 50mm , Nikon you can use either the 60mm or 105mm. The 60mm allows the Nauticam MWL lens. No native fisheye though the adapted Canon 8-15 is reported to be pretty good.

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Video would be a reasonable reason to go with the A7RIII, however the lack of great (equivalent) lenses and the relative lower performance of the AF (for macro) means that after shooting with both, there is no way I would shift from a D500 to the A7 (RIII or III). I did get the opportunity to shoot with an A7RIII before buying the A7III for my daughter - basically she wasn't going to use the video capabilities, and underwater the higher res view finder and review display felt like overkill (for her). The additional mp might be useful in some situations, but with a D500 and the right glass you can easily get equivalent (or better) images. Having shot with a D850, there are only a couple of situations where I prefer it over the D500 (one is W/A with the WACP for large subjects...). I absolutely prefer the D500 over the D850 for any macro situation (so much so I didn't even bring the D850 to Anilao in April, after shooting with both in Dec. in the same place).

Again, video might be a reason to switch - but I wouldn't for virtually any other reason.

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Really interesting and valid points all around. This is exactly why I posted this question! I had not considered the pixel size - more so simply the difference in image size from (for example) a 50% cropped image on the D500 vs. the A7RIII.

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I just came back from a 2 month scuba diving trip in Grand Cayman while pretty much every day shooting my a7riii with Ikelite housing. While I was not in love with the housing I really enjoyed the dynamic range of Sony a7riii and the extended battery life. One drawback to this camera is macro set-up. I was using the Sony 90mm f2.8 macro lens and noticed that close focusing was very slow and hit or miss. I hear from other photographers that this is a common problem with the 90mm 2.8 Sony lens. Also, Sony does not have a native super-wide angle lens and you might need to adopt Canon lens via Metabones. I do have the Metabones adapter but have not used it underwater. I think the biggest improvement you will notice when moving from 12 megapixels to 42.4 megapixels that will allow you for cropping and also the superior dynamic range of the camera. Also, Sony will feel lighter in your hand. Hope this helps. I shot with A7r ii and A7 ii prior to A7r iii and would not recommend the older Sony a7 models as the batter life would not last 2 full dives. I dive on average 3 times a day and that would mean that I would need to open my housing after every dive. This has been improved and the new battery lasts me full day/3 dives per day.

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On 5/9/2019 at 2:30 AM, ChrisRoss said:

Will you actually get that advantage with the Sony? The D500 has smaller pixels at 4.2 microns, while the Sony has 4.5 micron pixel, so at the same distance the D500 has a small theoretical advantage. I don't see the attraction of the Sony lineup, sure the sensors are great but lens lineup still limited you have a 90mm macro then a 50mm , Nikon you can use either the 60mm or 105mm. The 60mm allows the Nauticam MWL lens. No native fisheye though the adapted Canon 8-15 is reported to be pretty good.

 

I know this thread is old news, but it was linked from a current thread. This particular post has left me really wondering.

 

Why are you saying that smaller pixels are an advantage?

 

My understanding is that bigger pixels are better. They accommodate a larger circle of confusion, as well as, theoretically, picking up less noise.

 

In other words, a 24 MP full frame sensor would have bigger pixels than a 24 MP crop sensor and, theoretically, the FF sensor would have a distinct advantage.

 

In comparing the the a7r3 and the D500 for macro, it seems to me that you can shoot the D500 with a 105mm lens. But, you can shoot the a7r3 with the Sony 90mm lens in FF mode and get 42 MP images. Or, you can shoot it in crop mode, where you will have an effective focal length of 135mm and you will still get 18 MP images - compared to the 21 MP from the D500. With the bigger pixels of the Sony, all other things being equal, I would also expect that the image noise would be slightly less as well.

 

So, it seems to me as though the Sony would be the preferred option for macro - based purely on sensor size, pixel density, and lens choices. Differences in ability to focus are a different consideration. But, it seems like I have heard that a firmware update may have fixed some issues that had been reported with slow focusing of the 90mm?

 

Regardless, I have never shot macro. So, I wonder how important AF really is? To my completely inexperienced point of view, it seems like using manual focus with focus peaking would be the best way to be sure you are actually getting exactly what you want in focus? I don't know (really, I don't!). Maybe using a spot focus and adjusting that to exactly what you want to be in focus allows AF to work well for macro?

 

Anyway, now that the a7r4 is out, I think this thread takes on a new flavor. Shooting macro with an a7r4 in crop mode produces 26 MP images. So, you can choose from the 50mm and 90mm lenses and have 50mm with 61MP, 75mm with 26 MP, 90mm with 61MP, or 135mm with 26MP. And, from what I have read, the a7r4 with 90mm lens performs extremely well. In the latest Underwater Photography e-zine, Phil Rudin reports that:

 

Quote

For this review I selected the Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 macro G OSS lens which easily handles the larger A7RIV 61MP sensor and is without question the best macro lens I have ever used with any camera.

http://www.uwpmag.com/

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Hi,
why a dx or aps-c camera for macro?
Simply better dof. Dont know if only selecting crop mode, will bring the same...

And if i compare the D500 with the Sigma 105mm OS against the Sony 90mm on a Axxxx, there are worlds in focusing speed in between... Dont know how it is on the A7 or A9 models.

And i would only use single point focusing mode with macro, otherwise the small sharp part is anywhere.

The Sony 90mm is sharp, no question, but slow....

Regards,
Wolfgang

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8 minutes ago, trimix125 said:

Hi,
why a dx or aps-c camera for macro?
Simply better dof. Dont know if only selecting crop mode, will bring the same...

And if i compare the D500 with the Sigma 105mm OS against the Sony 90mm on a Axxxx, there are worlds in focusing speed in between... Dont know how it is on the A7 or A9 models.

And i would only use single point focusing mode with macro, otherwise the small sharp part is anywhere.

The Sony 90mm is sharp, no question, but slow....

Regards,
Wolfgang

 

I get that a smaller sensor has more depth of field for the same f/stop. But, I'm unclear on what you mean when you say "simply better DOF". You shoot a Nikon DX with f/4.0 and you'll get the same DOF as a FF camera shooting at f/6.0, right? So, can't you get the same DOF with either sensor size, just by using the right lens and f/stop?

 

I don't know if shooting a FF in crop mode makes any difference to DOF, as you don't need to change exposure settings when switching between FF and crop. So, the parts that are in focus, will still be in focus and the parts that are not in focus will still be not in focus. I think.

 

Another way of looking at it, when you switch to crop mode, your effective focal length is 1.5x. Your aperture has stayed the same physical size, so your effective f-stop is divided by 1.5. Net result, crop factor cancels itself out and DOF stays the same. I think.

 

As for focus speed, I don't know anything about the Sony 90mm and the a7r3, but from what I've read, I don't think focus speed with the r4 is an issue. And I can't cite a source, but it SEEMS like I've seen mention somewhere that focus speed with the 90mm on the a7r3 was fixed (improved?) by a firmware update.

 

I really don't know and have no personal experience with the 90mm. But, I have to ask, what is your statement about the 90 focus being slow based on? r3 or r4? Latest firmware in the camera and lens or not? I am by NO means trying to say you're not right. I'm just trying to understand the basis of your information.

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Posted (edited)

Hi,
the problem is not the camera,
the lens is slow....
Was trying a 90mm Sony against a 105mm Sigma ( Canon mount with the sigma adapter ) on a A6300, Sigma won in speed....
And have the same lens on my D500, very sharp and very, very fast.

With the f stops, yes you can close them down, but every lens has a point there it starts to perform bad, and then badder....
So only closing it down is not the same.
Had a Oly OMD5e before and loved the macros with the 60mm lens. Sharp and a lot of depht.
And if you want supermacro, it gets harder the bigger the sensor is. Simply physics.

Regards,
Wolfgang

Edited by trimix125
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@stuartv – With regards to the focusing on the A7rIII with 90 mm macro,  it really does hunt a lot (even with updated firmware). A focus light might well improve performance, but I've tended to use manual focus with peaking. It works okay. I've written up some detailed information here:

https://naturetripper.com/underwater-macro-photography

My understanding (based on reviews, not personal experience) is that autofocus performance with the A7rIV and 90 mm has improved.  

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I understood that we were talking about the lens, not the camera. And that is what my comments were intended to address. I guess you have only tried it with an a6xxx, so it could work just fine on an a7xx?

 

I just ran some DOF calcs. Subject distance of 1 foot using a FF camera.

Using this DOF calculator: https://www.pointsinfocus.com/tools/depth-of-field-and-equivalent-lens-calculator

I think I'm finally starting to understand.

Example:

With an E-M5 at 60mm and f/4, and 1.4 feet distance to the subject, the width of the frame (at the subject distance) is 4.8", and the DOF is 4.9mm.

With a Sony a7xx at 90mm, to have the same width of the frame - so the subject fills the frame equally to how it would on the m43, the distance to the subject would be 1.0 feet, giving a width of frame of 4.8". And, to get the same DOF, you'd have to use f/10, which would give you 4.7mm for DOF.

That all sounds okay. f/10 on a decent FF lens should not have bad problems. But, I can see where, if you were using f/8 on the m43, that would give you a DOF of 9.74mm.

And, to achieve equal DOF with the FF, you would have to use f/20 - f/22. And at that point, diffraction could (probably would, I think) start to degrade the image quality compared to the m43.

 

However! :) I also ran the numbers based on putting the FF camera (with a Sony 90mm lens) in crop mode. I'm not sure if I did this correctly, though. Basically, I set the calculator to a sensor size of Nikon DX, and left the focal length at 90. Compared to the previous 2 calculations, the FF in crop mode gives these results:

Distance to subject would be 1.5 feet, the width of the frame would be 4.7". To get the same DOF as the m43, when it's on f/8, you'd have to use f/11 - f/13.

That does not sound like a very big deal (to my very inexperienced mind). And with an a7r4, you're still getting 26MP. So, compared to most m43 (all?), you actually have a higher resolution image to work with.

 

In the end, it is probably academic to me. I got an a7r4 recently, but I have never shot macro and I think I'm not too likely to buy the 90 just for that purpose. I am more likely to spend the money for a WACP and shoot macro-ish with the 70mm end of the kit lens. In crop mode, that will give me 105mm focal length and 26MP, which should actually be pretty decent, I would think.

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4 hours ago, stuartv said:

 

I know this thread is old news, but it was linked from a current thread. This particular post has left me really wondering.

 

Why are you saying that smaller pixels are an advantage?

 

My understanding is that bigger pixels are better. They accommodate a larger circle of confusion, as well as, theoretically, picking up less noise.

 

In other words, a 24 MP full frame sensor would have bigger pixels than a 24 MP crop sensor and, theoretically, the FF sensor would have a distinct advantage.

 

In comparing the the a7r3 and the D500 for macro, it seems to me that you can shoot the D500 with a 105mm lens. But, you can shoot the a7r3 with the Sony 90mm lens in FF mode and get 42 MP images. Or, you can shoot it in crop mode, where you will have an effective focal length of 135mm and you will still get 18 MP images - compared to the 21 MP from the D500. With the bigger pixels of the Sony, all other things being equal, I would also expect that the image noise would be slightly less as well.

 

So, it seems to me as though the Sony would be the preferred option for macro - based purely on sensor size, pixel density, and lens choices. Differences in ability to focus are a different consideration. But, it seems like I have heard that a firmware update may have fixed some issues that had been reported with slow focusing of the 90mm?

 

Regardless, I have never shot macro. So, I wonder how important AF really is? To my completely inexperienced point of view, it seems like using manual focus with focus peaking would be the best way to be sure you are actually getting exactly what you want in focus? I don't know (really, I don't!). Maybe using a spot focus and adjusting that to exactly what you want to be in focus allows AF to work well for macro?

 

Anyway, now that the a7r4 is out, I think this thread takes on a new flavor. Shooting macro with an a7r4 in crop mode produces 26 MP images. So, you can choose from the 50mm and 90mm lenses and have 50mm with 61MP, 75mm with 26 MP, 90mm with 61MP, or 135mm with 26MP. And, from what I have read, the a7r4 with 90mm lens performs extremely well. In the latest Underwater Photography e-zine, Phil Rudin reports that:

 

http://www.uwpmag.com/

It's all about context.  The OP said he thought the extra MP would be an advantage for cropping - my response was along that line of thinking - slightly smaller pixels on the D500 mean that at the same distance it has a slight resolution advantage. 

The noise and diffraction issues are other arguments - most photographers are stopping way down for DOF or to bring the corners in for wide angle work and that combined the underwater optics - dome ports etc mean the increased resolution is potentially an illusion.  

The argument about big and small pixels is equally about context - with the same generation sensor the overall image quality won't be a great deal different between big and small pixels from a noise perspective.  The surface area of the sensor is what sets the amount of light collected and that is what is important for image quality.   But at a pixel level individual pixels will have worse signal to noise and viewing the image at 100% will look worse on an computer screen - because the pixels are smaller at 100% you are zoomed in a lot more.

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14 minutes ago, SimonPierce said:

@stuartv – With regards to the focusing on the A7rIII with 90 mm macro,  it really does hunt a lot (even with updated firmware). A focus light might well improve performance, but I've tended to use manual focus with peaking. It works okay. I've written up some detailed information here:

https://naturetripper.com/underwater-macro-photography

My understanding (based on reviews, not personal experience) is that autofocus performance with the A7rIV and 90 mm has improved.  

 

Thank you for that. You have some really nice photos on that page! I can only hope I will get comparable results with my WA shooting as I go forward with my new camera. I have not gotten it in the water yet. Still waiting on my housing. But, I was shooting an E-M10 the last few years and when I started using a focus light on it, I did notice an immediate large improvement in my focus accuracy. I have done most of my photography on the wrecks off the coast of NC - usually 100 feet or deeper - so the ambient light is not often what you'd really want for your AF system...

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6 minutes ago, stuartv said:

I understood that we were talking about the lens, not the camera. And that is what my comments were intended to address. I guess you have only tried it with an a6xxx, so it could work just fine on an a7xx?

 

I just ran some DOF calcs. Subject distance of 1 foot using a FF camera.

Using this DOF calculator: https://www.pointsinfocus.com/tools/depth-of-field-and-equivalent-lens-calculator

I think I'm finally starting to understand.

Example:

With an E-M5 at 60mm and f/4, and 1.4 feet distance to the subject, the width of the frame (at the subject distance) is 4.8", and the DOF is 4.9mm.

With a Sony a7xx at 90mm, to have the same width of the frame - so the subject fills the frame equally to how it would on the m43, the distance to the subject would be 1.0 feet, giving a width of frame of 4.8". And, to get the same DOF, you'd have to use f/10, which would give you 4.7mm for DOF.

That all sounds okay. f/10 on a decent FF lens should not have bad problems. But, I can see where, if you were using f/8 on the m43, that would give you a DOF of 9.74mm.

And, to achieve equal DOF with the FF, you would have to use f/20 - f/22. And at that point, diffraction could (probably would, I think) start to degrade the image quality compared to the m43.

 

However! :) I also ran the numbers based on putting the FF camera (with a Sony 90mm lens) in crop mode. I'm not sure if I did this correctly, though. Basically, I set the calculator to a sensor size of Nikon DX, and left the focal length at 90. Compared to the previous 2 calculations, the FF in crop mode gives these results:

Distance to subject would be 1.5 feet, the width of the frame would be 4.7". To get the same DOF as the m43, when it's on f/8, you'd have to use f/11 - f/13.

That does not sound like a very big deal (to my very inexperienced mind). And with an a7r4, you're still getting 26MP. So, compared to most m43 (all?), you actually have a higher resolution image to work with.

 

In the end, it is probably academic to me. I got an a7r4 recently, but I have never shot macro and I think I'm not too likely to buy the 90 just for that purpose. I am more likely to spend the money for a WACP and shoot macro-ish with the 70mm end of the kit lens. In crop mode, that will give me 105mm focal length and 26MP, which should actually be pretty decent, I would think.

You use the crop factor to work out how DOF changes between sensor formats a 2x crop factor means that f8 on m43 is equivalent f16 on full frame.  Here's a link with a calculator https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-size.htm

Scroll down the the DOF section and you can see how aperture varies to get the same DOF with different sensor formats.

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10 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

It's all about context.  The OP said he thought the extra MP would be an advantage for cropping - my response was along that line of thinking - slightly smaller pixels on the D500 mean that at the same distance it has a slight resolution advantage. 

 

I'm sorry if I sound dense, but I still don't understand what you mean here. Maybe a concrete example would help me.

 

Suppose you and I are side by side looking at a sea turtle laying on the bottom snoozing. You adjust your D500 so the turtle fills the frame. I adjust my a7r3 so the turtle fills my frame.  We have the same Angle of View, but we're using different focal lengths.

So, we're at the same distance. How does the D500 have a resolution advantage?

One of the reasons I stepped up from my m43 to an a7r4 is exactly for the cropping advantage. I've had plenty of shots with my m43 where the subject was further away than I was setup for - or smaller. I got a shot that was exposed well enough (to fix in LR). But, I had to crop it to get a decent composition. With the m43, I have had plenty of those where, after cropping it to a good composition, what was left did not have enough megapixels left to look good, for example, displayed in full screen mode on a 24" monitor. I think I will be able to take the same photo with the a7r4 and still have a much more usable image.

 

That seems like a real, not imagined, advantage for cropping. I don't understand what I am missing here.

 

Before anyone is compelled to say it, yes, I know that the best answer is "get closer". But, reality is, when I'm down in NC shooting sharks swimming around, I often do not have time to adjust my camera for a tighter view. I would miss the shot completely. So, I tend to swim with the camera set as wide as it will go and I get as close as I can. When I am lucky, I get close enough to fill the frame and I can get a REALLY nice photo. But, other times, the shark will turn off just a few feet before it is close enough to fill the frame. Then it might only cover half the frame (or less). But, with the right cropping it can still turn out to be a nice photo. So, I could be wrong, but I feel like the extra MP of my new camera will be a genuine benefit to me.

 

1 minute ago, ChrisRoss said:

You use the crop factor to work out how DOF changes between sensor formats a 2x crop factor means that f8 on m43 is equivalent f16 on full frame.  Here's a link with a calculator https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-size.htm

Scroll down the the DOF section and you can see how aperture varies to get the same DOF with different sensor formats.

 

I am very well aware of that. You may have noticed in my post that you quoted that I linked to the DOF calculator that I used, for the calculations of the numbers I presented.

 

Something that makes it more complex that just m43-f/8 == FF-f/16 is that I was comparing real world configurations, which means an m43 with a 60mm lens to a FF with a 90mm lens.

 

That is why my example is based on a presumption of a specific subject that you are trying to shoot. I.e. all calculations are based on having the same Angle of View, so that whichever camera you consider would have the frame filled by the subject.

 

In other words, when I address the question of which camera/lens should I choose, I prefer to approach the question by saying, "what do I want to shoot? And, which of my options would be the best for that shot?"

 

In the example, I arbitrarily chose to "shoot" a subject that is 4.8" wide. Once I know what I'm going to shoot, then calculations are all based on a presumption that I will shoot that subject in such a way as to fill the frame.

 

So, with a FF and 90mm lens, I would need to be 1.0 feet away from the subject, for it to fill the frame. With an m43 and 60mm lens, I would need to be 1.4 feet away. And for a FF in crop mode, with a 90mm lens, I would be 1.5 feet away.

 

From there, if I want the DOF that the m43 camera would give me at f/8, I would have to use f/11-13 on the FF in crop mode and f/20-22 on the FF in FF mode.

 

So, in the example given, the m43 would arguably give the best result (being a f/8). But, I think I would still choose the FF in crop mode. It gives you slightly more working distance and only requires f/11 - 13.

 

However, if your normal macro shooting on an m43 requires, say f/16 - f/22, then I could see where even the FF in crop mode may no longer give nearly as good results.

 

Disclaimer: There is a significant extent to which I am simply regurgitating "book larnin'" here, so if I've missed the boat, so to speak, on any of these, I would be very grateful to anyone who can enhance my understanding of the subject. :)

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