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Interceptor121

Mirrorless Cameras Opportunity or Necessary Evil?

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Posted (edited)

 After reading this and similar articles, I have decided to keep my Nikons D7200 and D500, and only add a D850 if a bargain arises, as given their quality I see no advantage in converting to mirrorless. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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I'm with Elias (Kraken de Mabini). I can't see any advantage for the moment in mirrorless over, for me, the D500. There isn't anything I can think of doing with it that the camera can't handle. The lenses I want are all available, tried, tested and relatively reasonably priced. Superb housing and ports are readily available and straightforward to maintain.

I guess mirrorless will become a Necessary in the not too distant future - but hopefully not an Evil one - as DSLRs slowly fade into the sunset. Meanwhile, as Adam posted  a couple of days ago, I think I'll stock up on D500 bodies.

If one of the major manufacturers came up with a mirrorless system that was travel-small, same IQ and AF as a D500, the lenses I want, the price I'm happy to pay and a must-have feature that I can't even think of, then sign me up (probably).... till then, Hello D500, my friend.

PS: I keep drooling (it's an age thing) over a Z9 but definitely for topside. Does anyone want to buy my D5? Fabulous condition, superb camera........ 

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I'm with Elias (Kraken de Mabini). I can't see any advantage for the moment in mirrorless over, for me, the D500. There isn't anything I can think of doing with it that the camera can't handle. The lenses I want are all available, tried, tested and relatively reasonably priced. Superb housing and ports are readily available and straightforward to maintain.
I guess mirrorless will become a Necessary in the not too distant future - but hopefully not an Evil one - as DSLRs slowly fade into the sunset. Meanwhile, as Adam posted  a couple of days ago, I think I'll stock up on D500 bodies.
If one of the major manufacturers came up with a mirrorless system that was travel-small, same IQ and AF as a D500, the lenses I want, the price I'm happy to pay and a must-have feature that I can't even think of, then sign me up (probably).... till then, Hello D500, my friend.
PS: I keep drooling (it's an age thing) over a Z9 but definitely for topside. Does anyone want to buy my D5? Fabulous condition, superb camera........ 

There are already many cameras with same or better IQ than the D500
And frankly I really don’t think the stress case for underwater AF is hard
If you were talking birds in flight or track and field where an optical viewfinder may make a difference maybe but the gap is practically closed now
In general what we are seeing is that sensor performance has reached a plateau and many of the subject detection advances do not apply to fish so the benefit case is not as appealing
Still the ergonomics of not having to step back and look at the shot at least to check exposure is a significant benefit


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Posted (edited)

I think, that it depends on the system that one is currently using:

#1.: Nikon: AF in mirrorless is behind competition and by far not as good as with the comparable DSLRs. IQ of mirrorless is, at the best, comparable. In addition, not all lenses (and some important UW-lenses as. e.g. Tokina), can be used via adapter on mirrorless bodies. => Indeed no reason to switch, at present, to mirrorless, better stay with DSLR and wait for new and better mirrorless bodies and lenses to come...

#2.: Canon: AF in recent bodies (e.g. R5) reportedly better than DSLR. Even adapted EF lenses are reported to have better and faster AF on R5 compared to DSLR. IQ in mirrorless better than DSLR. Palette of new RF mount lenses already huge (including RF macro 100mm with 1.4x magnification and adjustable bokeeh) and rapidly increasing. New APS-C mirrorless bodies with RF mount just came out. => Grade up to mirrorless and have better AF, IQ, use all old EF-lenses and acquire exciting new RF-lenses...

#3.: Sony (same FF&APS-C mount),  Olympus (MFT), Panasonic (FF, but separate MFT mount), Fuji (APS-C) etc...: upgrade to mirrorless is not the question, they are all mirrorless and no DSLR counterparts exist. IQ at least as good as in the best DSLRs. Palette of lenses, useful for UW, can be huge or limited, depending on brand. Mixed reports on AF, some say the new stacked sensors (Sony A1) outperform DSLRs, while others claim DSLR is still the golden standard and not yet reached by mirrorless. A meticulous comparison of AF for UW-macro (it seems that AF problems show up exclusively with macro) still has to be performed...

 

=> In case someone does not have yet a system and is beginning to acquire a new setup from scratch, I would not advise to go with DSLR, a system where no new bodies or lenses are expected to come (buying second hand is o.k.. preferentially Canon because of lens compatibity with later mirrorless)...

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis
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3 minutes ago, Architeuthis said:

I think, that it depends on the system that one is currently using:

#1.: Nikon: AF in mirrorless is behind competition and by far nor as good as with the comparable DSLRs. IQ of mirrorless is, at the best, comparable. In addition, not all lenses (and some important UW-lenses as. e.g. Tokina), can be used via adapter on mirrorless bodies. => Indeed no reason to switch, at present, to mirrorless, better stay with DSLR and wait for new and better mirrorless bodies and lenses to come...

#2.: Canon: AF in recent bodies (e.g. R5) reportedly better than DSLR. Even adapted EF lenses are reported to have better and faster AF on R5 compared to DSLR. IQ in mirrorless better than DSLR. Palette of new RF mount lenses already huge (including RF macro 100mm with 1.4x magnification and adjustable bokeeh) and rapidly increasing. New APS-C mirrorless bodies with RF mount just came out. => Grade up to mirrorless and have better AF, IQ, use all old EF-lenses and acquire exciting new RF-lenses...

#3.: Sony (same FF&APS-C mount),  Olympus (MFT), Panasonic (FF, but separate MFT mount), Fuji (APS-C) etc...: upgrade to mirrorless is not the question, they are all mirrorless and no DSLR counterparts exist. IQ at least as good as in the best DSLRs. Palette of lenses, useful for UW, can be huge or limited, depending on brand. Mixed reports on AF, some say the new stacked sensors (Sony A1) outperform DSLRs, while others claim DSLR is still the golden standard and not yet reached by mirrorless. A meticulous comparison of AF for UW-macro (it seems that AF problems show up exclusively with macro) still has to be performed...

 

=> In case someone does not have yet a system and is beginning to acquire a new setup from scratch, I think it is not clever to go with DSLR, a system where no new bodies or lenses are expected to come (maybe buying second hand is o.k.)...

 

Wolfgang

I really would like to know which problem you would have on full frame (not APSC) with a Nikon Z7II compared to the D850 that has the same sensor 

Frankly I don't think that underwater is so challenging to say that you are doing a step back

APSC for Nikon seems like Canon a way to get cheaper cameras function deprived. The latest canon R7 is interesting but you can really only use it with mechanical shutter that underwater is OK 

I do not see however anybody wanting to go from a professional APSC like the D500 and even the D7200 to their Z series APSC that are just weak

For all the rest is mirrorless or nothing Nikon is simply lagging

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I think some of the assumptions in the article are fundamentally incorrect: 

"The key problems of an optical viewfinder is that when is dark you cannot see things until your eye adapts and this happens slowly so most DSLR users switch to live view which essentially means using your DSLR camera as a mirrorless camera and watching a video stream on your LCD."

I would
be very interested to hear what you are basing this idea on. I don't know of anyone that does this? I have recently been shooting a  lot in very dark places and am pleased to report that my optical viewfinder was just fine. In fact, I found the the Sony a7s3's EVF was unusable in the dark :)

For well lit wide angle scenes, EVFs lack the dynamic range to display the (unlit) subject and ambient background simultaneously. This makes composition challenging.

While absolute focus speed is perhaps not an issue, accuracy definitely is. We use cameras in low light, shooting small subjects (which will 
sometimes be also moving fairly fast) and typically want critical focus on very small areas (eyes.) My experience is that AF on the Z9 is significantly inferior to that of the D850 etc. even when used with the Z mount 105mm f/2.8. To be sure, the AF on the D850/D500/D5 is undoubtedly market leading, but then Nikon are claiming the same spec for the Z9's AF.

You don't mention lens availability. Well designed mirrorless (Nikon) can potentially produce better overall image sharpness. When you use an adaptor, this advantage is removed. We also shoot through water, which tends to make absolute ideal sharpness a pretty abstract concept. Until there is a full range of native mirrorless lenses suitable for underwater use, there is no optical advantage in using them.

I get that image review/peaking/zebras in the EVF is an appealing feature. Given that, most people have managed to get reasonably sharp, well-exposed images with optical viewfinders for a very long time, so I would argue that they are useful gimmicks, rather than being huge advantages!

Lastly, please do not title your posts in capitals. It is the forum equivalent of shouting, and as in conversation, shouting at people is generally considered pretty rude :) I have edited it...

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Sorry about the capital letters

I shoot at night and I can guarantee you that you can’t see a thing in an optical viewfinder in really low light because it is not illuminated

In fact all the DSLR people are there with their screens shining in live view

While the human eye can adapt to darkness I can guarantee you that your camera will see things you just won’t see

With regards to the dynamic range of the display that is frankly another myth yes a screen will have ten stops dynamic range but at the end your optical viewfinder has no dynamic range is just a piece of glass and you will not base the exposure on what you see but on the meter reading the image may or not clip depending on the sensor

In fact clipping if a highlight on the screen doesn’t even indicate that the image will clip in addition most mirrorless cameras have options to dissociate the display from exposure and this makes the composition much easier

On the focus front no comment that for me is mostly a red herring and actually focus aid in an evf are better than an ovf anyways

 

I have the impression you don’t actually use a mirrorless camera and a quick test is not the same in fact one of your examples about the camera not able to show a dark image sounds just incorrect as Sony as live view boost since more than 8 years now

 

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5 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

I shoot at night and I can guarantee you that you can’t see a thing in an optical viewfinder in really low light because it is not illuminated

I've been shooting in underwater caves a lot recently which are a whole lot darker than ambient lit nights. I think that you will find that very few underwater photographers use the techniques you describe - which makes your argument moot for our use case. Your article makes a fundamental mistake by extrapolating from different use cases and then presenting a conclusion and advice for a specific use case based on these. 

Our eyes have at least as good dynamic range as any camera's (at least 14 - 15 stops of dynamic range), and are significantly greater than the DR of any LED display.  While extreme acclimatization does take place and is a little slow, our physiology scales this very rapidly unless the changes are very dramatic. We can move from sunlight to indoors with little issues...Practically, with an OVF, I can compose and expose a wide angle scene as I can view it all simultaneously, whereas with an EVF, the two elements need to be composed separately as you cannot  (currently) view them simultaneously. 

I have a meter displayed in my viewfinder, so base my camera's exposure on that. I do not shoot using "trial and error." My meter will adequately expose for the camera's sensor. Any error in doing so, is technique, not the metering/sensors problem! So, if I use the meter correctly, I don't need to analyze "clipping on screen." 

The fact is that for many years, photographers have exposed and composed adequately using optical viewfinders. The tools offered by EVFs may be useful, but I would argue do not present a valid reason to advise people to switch from SLR to mirrorless. 

I should stress that I am not anti-mirrorless, I simply believe that we should chose the best tool for the job. I cannot see any advantage in them for underwater use now. This will change as lens options become available, and AF and EVF performance improves. The simple fact is that the manufacturers see advantages in creating new ranges of cameras that require us to buy new lenses (and housings), so we will be eventually forced to use them. 

The best advice for underwater photographers right now is to buy SLR as, thanks to articles like yours, people are selling very capable, amazing camera systems very cheap :) 

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I've been shooting in underwater caves a lot recently which are a whole lot darker than ambient lit nights. I think that you will find that very few underwater photographers use the techniques you describe - which makes your argument moot for our use case. Your article makes a fundamental mistake by extrapolating from different use cases and then presenting a conclusion and advice for a specific use case based on these.   Our eyes have at least as good dynamic range as any camera's (at least 14 - 15 stops of dynamic range), and are significantly greater than the DR of any LED display.  While extreme acclimatization does take place and is a little slow, our physiology scales this very rapidly unless the changes are very dramatic. We can move from sunlight to indoors with little issues...Practically, with an OVF, I can compose and expose a wide angle scene as I can view it all simultaneously, whereas with an EVF, the two elements need to be composed separately as you cannot  (currently) view them simultaneously. 

 

I have a meter displayed in my viewfinder, so base my camera's exposure on that. I do not shoot using "trial and error." My meter will adequately expose for the camera's sensor. Any error in doing so, is technique, not the metering/sensors problem! So, if I use the meter correctly, I don't need to analyze "clipping on screen." 

The fact is that for many years, photographers have exposed and composed adequately using optical viewfinders. The tools offered by EVFs may be useful, but I would argue do not present a valid reason to advise people to switch from SLR to mirrorless. 

 

I should stress that I am not anti-mirrorless, I simply believe that we should chose the best tool for the job. I cannot see any advantage in them for underwater use now. This will change as lens options become available, and AF and EVF performance improves. The simple fact is that the manufacturers see advantages in creating new ranges of cameras that require us to buy new lenses (and housings), so we will be eventually forced to use them. 

 

The best advice for underwater photographers right now is to buy SLR as, thanks to articles like yours, people are selling very capable, amazing camera systems very cheap  

 

 

I shoot wide field astrophotography at -7 to -9 evI don’t see anything in what you say a benefit

First the dr argument is moot as you use the light meter and that doesn’t care about the display

Second it takes around 20 minutes to develop night vision and exposure to bright light will ruin it

I think you actually are against mirrorless but more than anything set in your ways the last comment is exemplary

Perhaps trying to give a proper go to what is out there would be worth it

One thing for example you cannot do with a dslr is work properly in monochrome which indeed you can do with a mirrorless

Nothing of what you mentioned instead is an advantage as you can disable the display of shooting setting in live view and it becomes like an ovf in fact this is what happens when you have a flash

Finally I doubt that any system would autofocus in complete darkness without a focus light and in caves you will be carrying a torch as a minimum

Besides the d850 is rated to -4 ev for autofocus while current mirrorless can focus on stars at -6 ev -4 ev is a bit less than full moon in terms of low light not extreme

The a7s3 of your example is capable of focussing to -6 ev however if the user sets the evf to emulate the shooting settings it may turn pitch black

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

I shoot wide field astrophotography at -7 to -9 ev

 

38 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

Second it takes around 20 minutes to develop night vision and exposure to bright light will ruin it

38 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

Finally I doubt that any system would autofocus in complete darkness without a focus light and in caves you will be carrying a torch as a minimum

Is this relevant to those of us using cameras underwater? I get that you are shooting astro, and these are all important features for that use, but don't see any relevance for underwater photography?

For example, I can't think of any situation where we would be attempting to create underwater images in complete darkness without strobe or continuous light. 

Again, people have shot very beautiful black and white for many years (Ernie Brooks) with optical viewfinders. Having the option of being able to set the VF to monochrome may be useful, but it is not a game changer, nor a good reason for changing a camera system.

I have been shooting mirrorless underwater quite a lot recently. Both Sony and Nikon. I have not shot Canon yet. Any "bias" is solely based on my experiences of doing so.

As I have previously stated, when mirrorless cameras offer a tangible advantage for underwater use, I will be in the front of the queue. Cameras are tools that we use to create images. When I find one that offers creative options that I need/want and that performs as well as my existing set up, I will change. As you mention, this runs the risk of being labelled as an "old timer" or being "set in my ways," but this could also be seen as an example of evaluating equipment choices very carefully and not adopting new technologies for their own sakes, but doing so based on any specific advantages they offer for underwater image-making.

For what it is worth, the Sony a7s3 is undoubtedly an amazing low light monster and would be my first choice for cave photography, although it does need to be paired with WACP for best results...

220428_ahanlon_07209.jpg
 

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I am surprised the a7s3 would be unusable in terms of evf as you describe it
Many users leave the ‘settings’ mode on for live view and this is a problem when your ambient light reading is -4 and your camera is set to 1/250 because you have strobes however disabling that and enabling live view boost enables to shoot almost in full darkness with that camera
One thing that is obvious though is that with mirrorless everything becomes even more mysterious. We don’t know how different brands focus, and even the live view implementation differs wildly
So before making an investment in a camera you definitely need to check you can use it and know how to work around the quirks as there are sometimes material differences between models and make
For me the critical issue of evf is lag however fish move slowly compared to land critters and you can get very close so it is rather easy the problem is your own movement and stability more than speed that may instigate the need for features like tracking autofocus
Anyway I would say that when it comes to canon i have not heard a single user having any regret after migration to the r5 but I see that Nikon has to do some work to match their own DSLR from a variety of point of view as an example the z7 has the same iq of the d850 but features are not as good. The z9 is very fast to operate great features but iq at low iso is actually a step back perhaps due to the very high readout rate


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I switched to Z7II (ii) this year after using a D7200 for 7-8 years. So far I've done about 65 dives with it. One thing I can say for sure about the EVF is that it's a lot better than the D7200 for taking super-macro images. I'm using the same viewfinder that I used previously (Nauticam 45 degree) but having a much sharper and brighter display means that I can be much more accurate in my focus when I'm trying to correctly focus a specific part of the critter.

The D850/810 autofocus is superior to the Z7, no question. But for wide angle it's basically irrelevant. For regular macro it can be more challenging to get things in focus on the Z7, but once they are I found that it's much easier to retain focus by gentle back and forth movement looking through the EVF than I ever could manage with the optical viewfinder. The reason for this was that I could look at my previous image in the EVF without having to move my head or camera position to review anything. I even commented to my wife/buddy how everyone else kept backing off and looking at their images before trying again. In my opinion having direct feedback in the viewfinder without having to move away from the subject in any way is a huge advantage.

Also, not that it's relevant for pure photography, the Nikon mirrorless video is far superior to the D7200/810/850.

 

Jon B

 

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9 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

I really would like to know which problem you would have on full frame (not APSC) with a Nikon Z7II compared to the D850 that has the same sensor 

Frankly I don't think that underwater is so challenging to say that you are doing a step back

APSC for Nikon seems like Canon a way to get cheaper cameras function deprived. The latest canon R7 is interesting but you can really only use it with mechanical shutter that underwater is OK 

I do not see however anybody wanting to go from a professional APSC like the D500 and even the D7200 to their Z series APSC that are just weak

For all the rest is mirrorless or nothing Nikon is simply lagging

Dear Massimo,

 

I cannot report on any problem since I never used Z7II nor D850 so far, I am convinced that both are a hammer for me. I read reviews and make my own thoughts, based on these. The major difference for photographers between Z7II and D850 seems to be AF (I know you are not convinced that AF matters, but I think decent AF is useful). Just have a look at this review, for example: https://www.backscatter.com/reviews/post/Nikon-Z7-II-Underwater-Camera-Review

 

 

Yours, Wolfgang

 

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1 hour ago, rinjani said:

The reason for this was that I could look at my previous image in the EVF without having to move my head or camera position to review anything

Yeah, that in-viewfinder review option does sound pretty useful.......  especially when you have a viewfinder which extends a good way back from the housing (like the 45-degree ones).

 

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I guess it has already been said, but for me, underwater, there is nothing that mirrorless offers me.  I am not opposed to it and eventually we will all be using it, but for now, underwater,  I don't feel the need.  prior to my D500, I shot Olympus mirrorless.  Yes, live view can offer some benefits at night, but I have not felt handicapped using my D500 and a focus light at night, and whether night or day, the improved dynamic range and focus speed and accuracy mean a lot more to me.  Maybe using  one of the coming mirrorless Canon APS-C or a Sony, if they continue making one, would offer similar focus quality, solving that problem.

To be clear, I have nothing against mirrorless and appreciate that there are some technical benefits.  I also realize that DSLR lenses will no longer be available in a few years.  If all my dive camera stuff were to get lost or stolen tomorrow, I would probably get the same stuff.  In a few years, that would probably not be true.  So for me, it is neither a necessary evil or an opportunity.  It is just technological change that, for the time being, offers me nothing important.  If I were still a newspaper photographer, I might look at it differently.

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Posted (edited)

I think I121 makes some good points in his article (linked above). Adam makes some good points as well. My digital mirrorless experience is limited to the Leica M8, Canon EOS-M, Nikon Z6, and Nikon Z9. I have had the Z9 in my possession for about a month after waiting 6 months for the delivery.

A while back in another thread I suggested that an EVF would be useful for dimly lit situations. My thinking was something like 25m down diving in Hawaii. Light enough to see by but can be challenging for even gripped DSLRs (Canon 1D and Nikon one digit) to focus quickly on small skittish fish like Flame Angelfish (one of the pygmy angelfish spp) with a 100-105mm macro lens. Have done so but they do try to avoid a light if one is using one which I was. As well one needs a light to see most colors. I have no experience thus far but possibly one could avoid having to use a light in this scenario - as well one can do some color fixing of the color of the two viewing systems (but enough for blue water???). The main caution is that according to Thom Hogan for the Z9 AF to work well the exposure has to be correct (read his blogs for the details). I.e. one might need to use long exposure for it work well in the above scenario. I am reluctant to use the term shutter speed because the Z9 does NOT have a shutter. Exposure duration is far, far better diction!!! For now I am not spending the money to find out!!

I agree that the current lens choice is limiting for all the 24 x 36mm mirrorless cameras. Someone starting from scratch has a dilemma here. Should one buy a “near-extinct species” DSLR or even a DSLR lens of a “near-extinct lens mount” - may be OK for the short term but the resale value will drop…

The best equipped mirrorless format is micro four-thirds. The issue here is phase or contrast detection AF ? One of the first questions raised of the new Panny model is if there was phase detect AF. Also, will new Oly brand stay around?

I got the Z9 mainly for the AF system which works rather well especially when used properly. However, not only is it mirrorless but as mentioned above, it is shutterless!!! The limitation of this aspect is the 5 millisecond flash synch. I remember the days of 1/60s flash synch so this is hardly a huge issue. The rather huge advantage is the near total silence. The only thing I hear when shooting the Z9 is the very slight whoosh sound of the ‘silent wave motor” - not so silent after all, ROTF, when using an adapted Nikon AFS lens. Walking around with the camera powered on I also hear the FTZ(1 or 2) working (the diaphragm closes down) when the camera goes into sleep mode. Why is this so huge?????? I was able to take photos not otherwise possible!! I make this as my primary criterion for buying a piece of photo gear. I was able to take photos of very skittish birds within 3 meters due to the silence. These were shorebirds during their migration in my area that took place a week after me receiving the Z9 so I was just a noob using it. I took pix at various settings - VR on and off for example, and various exposure durations, etc. They move very fast especially when probing for prey. I got a few blurred shots at 1 millisecond exposure and many at longer durations (e.g., 1/400s) - their heads jerking up and down along the bill’s axis. But I got some 100% satisfaction shots as well. These were all done with the 300mm pf lens. This silence may not have much application in underwater work (due to the racket generated by scuba) except in remote control situations when there is little background noise (I think I have been save by the noise of moving water for many of my shots).

Edited by Tom_Kline
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Well the mirrorless system just will get better by the time. The Hybrid-AF system should be the best solution for AF since we get phase, contrast AF and light gathering on one silicon.

But the question remains, did anyone really tested an old topline DLSR system against a very good midrange mirrorless like Cacon R6, Sony A7 IV? I go for macro shots in nature with flashes and didn't see any problems with my system beside the AF needs to be set good, without a flash, the review gets very very dark, the AF still works fine for me. 

Since there is no real good case for the A7 IV (Nauticam to expansive in my region), I can only tell later this year how this system might perform in the water. 

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4 hours ago, JYk said:

nyone really tested an old topline DLSR system against a very good midrange mirrorless like Cacon R6, Sony A7 IV?

I have tested Nikon SLR systems against mirrorless full frame and my experience is that mirrorless AF is not (currently) as fast or accurate as that of the D850/D500 etc. I should stress that testing has thus far been with Nikon and Sony...I have not used Canon, and cannot comment on theirs. 

I also agree that it will improve. However, it has an uphill battle to climb. "Hybrid-AF" actually creates a number of engineering challenges. It adds another level of data that needs to be transmitted and processed (really fast) via the sensor bus. By using a stand-alone AF sensor, SLRs allow a completely independent pathway for the information it produces, avoiding any potential bottleneck. 

In addition (in Nikon's case), the AF processor was also used to analyze scene detect information, allowing for very fast and accurate predictive AF modes. The only AF information being read from a Nikon SLRs sensor is contrast. At my last meeting with Nikon, they were very honest in stating that their design bottleneck now is data read and transmission rates off the chip. So much so that readout rates have now become a part of their marketing lexicon!

I do agree that this is an area in which we can expect improvement and my guess is that all the manufacturers are investing significant effort in doing so. However, I am loath to invest in what is currently an immature system, when there is a perfectly adequate mature system available. :)
 

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I've not had a chance to take my Sony A1 underwater yet, off to Guadaloupe in a couple of months so that will be the first chance I get - but I can say without a shadow of doubt that the AF when used for difficult topside subjects like birds in flight absolutely blows away traditional DSLRs, and that includes owning 1dx, D5, D500, along with the fast prime telephotos, as well as using a loaned D850. I also had an R5 for a while and that was in between the D5 and the A1 for accuracy. 

Canon DSLRs rally struggled with incoming subjects, even with easy flight shots like landing gannets I could never figure out why I would consistently keep the AF point on the face but have sharp feet instead. After speaking to top names in the field it was a common fault where the AF simply could not keep up. Things improved with Nikon but once you get the Sony A1 set up properly there simply is no comparison in hit rate topside. 

I'm not sure yet how useful the eye detect AF will be underwater due to the markings on lots of macro subjects. I anticipate it will work well with bigger subjects such as sharks, but for me, a big bonus will be the in viewfinder review, meaning I don't need to review macro stuff on the rear of the camera, meaning less movement, less risk of disturbing sandy floors, and not have to re-acquire tiny macro subjects. 

On the downside, it is yet to be seen how the EVF will fare for wide angle underwater. 

Early mirrorless may not offer too much against a good standard DSLR, but the latest incarnations are certainly superior, both in IQ and especially AF. Thats using real world experience, not reading spec sheets. You just need to look at what the top level birds in flight shooters are now using, and its mostly the Sony A1, followed by the R5 with the Z9 now creeping into the bags of those who wanted to remain with Nikon. DSLRs are pretty much out of that game now. 

If Adam you think that the likes of the A1 cannot compete with a D850 topside then I really believe you need to revisit how it is set up. 

The main question over the AF though underwater is do we need the latest and greatest, as in general the subjects are slower moving than we get topside?

It remains to be seen if I made the right choice, but I wanted one system for above and below water - only time will tell

Mike

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Posted (edited)

I think these questions won't be answered, because I see many "feelings" in the statements and less real testing. However I think to test AF performance is something most people can't do because there are so many variables in the testing setup and to many use cases where AF systems differ in performance. 

Questions about what subjects the user is shooting, the gear and the environment needs to be the same and then we have the problem that DSLR and Mirrorless are using different lenses. Setup of the System (AF-C vs AF-S and so on). Or if the DSLR AF workflow is not applicable for mirrorless... 

In the end, if people like their gear, why should they switch? But we all know, Mirrorless is the future, because most big players already stopping to develop new DSLR bodies and put all they dev. money into mirrorless. 

Edited by JYk

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58 minutes ago, pooley said:

 

Early mirrorless may not offer too much against a good standard DSLR, but the latest incarnations are certainly superior, both in IQ and especially AF. Thats using real world experience, not reading spec sheets. You just need to look at what the top level birds in flight shooters are now using, and its mostly the Sony A1, followed by the R5 with the Z9 now creeping into the bags of those who wanted to remain with Nikon. DSLRs are pretty much out of that game now. 

If Adam you think that the likes of the A1 cannot compete with a D850 topside then I really believe you need to revisit how it is set up. 

The main question over the AF though underwater is do we need the latest and greatest, as in general the subjects are slower moving than we get topside?

It remains to be seen if I made the right choice, but I wanted one system for above and below water - only time will tell

Mike

I think it is necessary to be quite specific when speaking about performance of mirrorless AF and speak of specific models rather than just Sony Nikon, Canon.  It's really only 1 or 2 of the latest high end models in each brand that are achieving the AF performance.  In Sony the A1 seems to stand alone, the A7IV series is not as good, but is significantly better than all the rest.  No doubt lesser models will inherit the technology down the track but for now it's a fairly limited number of models.

As for whether the very best AF is needed - it certainly can't hurt, sure you can work around poorer AF, but better AF in Macro or for shooting skittish fish has to take some of the frustration out of this type of photography.

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I've only used an R5 and A1 so can't comment on other models, and out of those 2 the  A1 is superior. I'd still rate the R5 better than the D500 topside though, but like I said, I'm not sure exactly how it will transfer to underwater work. I'll do some wide angle sharks in guadaloupe later this year, but probably won't get to do some macro until after that to do a proper comparison. 

I'm just  hoping it'll help with that last few percent  of AF ability missing  from the D500 (which I do still think is an incredible underwater camera by the way.)

Mike

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Something I heard recently when taking a class on shooting sunballs - Very few EVF's can show the remaining content of the scene when presented with a sunball.   Not a problem with OVF, but can be a major issue with EVF's.  I wish I could remember the one camera which worked OK - either the Sony A1 or the top Canon.

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Something I heard recently when taking a class on shooting sunballs - Very few EVF's can show the remaining content of the scene when presented with a sunball.   Not a problem with OVF, but can be a major issue with EVF's.  I wish I could remember the one camera which worked OK - either the Sony A1 or the top Canon.

Underwater photography is for most a low dynamic range activity because water reduces contrast
Landscape photography is instead a high dynamic range scenario and people can shoot sunset and sunrise on land no problem
A sunball in water is less challenging than shooting into the light on land and in addition using strobes counter the light of the scene so ultimately there is no real issues
I have been shooting sunburst even with compact cameras so I would say this really isn’t an issue
The specular highlight in the scene will clip and yet you will still see it
Besides if you look into the sun with your eyes you will also loose sight of the shadows
I think whoever is putting those messages out there must not consider the thousands of photos of sunburst taken with mirrorless and even compact cameras


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