God cameras and second chances

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug What a view to start work! A commuter photograph: Sunrise over the lake of Zurich; seen from Wädenswil. I enjoy this beautiful view towards the south, over the lake of Zurich, every working day (unless there are clouds, which is often the case). The highest peak on the left of the rising sun is the Säntis and on the right is the Speer.

Zeus is the King of the Gods in Greek mythology who resides over earth and space, fought epic battles with the titans, and is the hero of myths and legends. He was also noteworthy for his amorous affairs with the most beautiful women (and men). For example, one of his conquests was Eos, the goddess of dawn (and nowadays dusky cameras).

In the realm of God cameras, epic battles and courtship (with mortal photographer clients) are also a daily occurrence. Just recently, the celestial order has been unsettled by the birth of a new contender for the golden throne: Sony Alpha 7r (A7r). Much like Zeus, who changes his appearance in order to conquer (photographers in this case), A7r can adapt to almost any God camera a photographer may dream of. The only exceptions are probably "speedy sports shooting toy" or "fully integrated systems camera" - at the moment A7r, and its younger sibling A7, is a loner who cannot count on the support of an arsenal of accessories (which a God camera does not really need, to be honest).

For me, the A7r presents itself as a digital Konica Autoreflex TC or FT-1 that can now be used with almost any lens ever made, not just Konica lenses. However, it may just as well be seen as a digital Leica R, classical OM, or Canon FD camera, to name just a few possible incarnations. Being a slim mirrorless camera, the Sony A7r has a very short flange focal distance. With the help of small (and cheap), nifty, miracle adapters, almost any lens ever made can therefore be used on the A7r (and A7).

However, in my opinion it is not just the fact that all the solidly built, smoothly (manual) focusing lenses can be used, but also the size, operation, and handling of the camera itself that reminds me of the first SLR that I have used. Contrary to other manufacturers, who seem to believe that all functions need a dial in order to qualify for the label "classic", Sony chose to use dials for those functions that have always been operated by dials (basic shooting mode and exposure compensation) and implements highly flexible buttons and quick dials for the new functionalities of the digitial age (I have programmed three buttons with the magnifier function for focusing - very useful!). In my opinion a well-thought out concept! In combination with the focus peaking feature (which "works" all over the frame, not just in the center as the classical split prism) I can operate my A7r almost like my first SLR.

As you realize, I am now the (not proud but still excited) owner of an A7r. Towards the end of last year, I have made a surprisingly spontaneous and incredibly excessive (for my standards) purchase: I have ordered a Sony A7r. I do not consider it as a replacement of my beloved Lumix GH-1, but rather as a supplement for a special and more conscious kind of photography - a replacement for my XPAN, which I had sold a while ago. For weeks, I had been looking forward to the arrival of my new tool, imagined new photography projects, blog posts, and even considered a photography diary project. I was really excited!

But as it is often the case when expectations roar high, reality strikes back mercilessly. After just a few photographs, my exciting new toy refused service and had to be sent back for repair. As soon as it came back (after many weeks, it needed a substantial repair/replacement of parts), I sent it back to clean the sensor, which now showed several spots that I did not dare to clean myself. Understandably, I think, my excitement turned into frustration, even photographic demotivation, and I have even considered selling the camera again right away. However, I have decided to give my A7r a second chance because I really like using it and because it is the only "supplement camera" that I really want and that I think makes sense (for me).

In the future you may therefore also see photographs taken with this new camera (like the ones in this post) and I may report on my experiences using the A7r. I have actually already shown a photograph taken with the A7r in a recent blog post, but I doubt that anybody has realized. I will definitively spare you with extensive comparisons and pixel peeping and much rather highlight experiences relating to the actual use of the camera. As all the cameras that I have used so far, the Sony A7r does not take photographs itself: It requires a photographer who composes and creates the photographs! Apart from this quirky detail, I can reassure you that the camera is capable of recording perfectly fine photographs and a joy to use!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Another commuter composition: Closing time after an interesting day at work. Almost the same view as the one above, but in the evening.

2014/03/18 by Florian Freimoser
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