June 7, 2014
Posted in news

This week SAR readers photos selection.

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Maxime Siegler‎
Desert Wanderer
Sony a900 + Minolta 80-200 f/2.8
https://www.facebook.com/maxime.siegler.photography

You can all pictures at facebook.com/sonyalpharumors/photos. To submit your picture just send a message and picture here: facebook.com/sonyalpharumors.

What you see on this post are the most liked pictures by our readers and/or by me SAR admin.

Read the rest of this entry →

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June 7, 2014
Posted in deals

$400 off on the A6000 with two lens combo. $350 off on Zeiss combo.

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You get up to $400 off on the A6000 with 55-210mm and 50mm f/1.8 prime lens at Amazon US (Click here). Just add the camera to your shopping cart. After that add the lenses (here is the zoom and here the prime) and at checkout use discount code “NGWGUS3ZKG“. The code works also if you add the 50mm lens only.

And there is also a $350 off on the A6000 with Zeiss 16-70mm lens kit at BHphoto. You get it in Black (Click here) or Silver (Click here).

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June 7, 2014
Posted in deals

Curiosity: Zeiss almost sold out their Stock of Touit lenses and has to stop the offer next weekend already.

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As you are aware of Zeiss launched that $800 off deal on the dual Zeiss Touit lens kit at Adorama (Sold out) and BHphoto (Still some in Stock!). Well a store owner told me that Zeiss has been surprised by the massive sales and they wills top the offer next weekend because they almost sold out their entire US Stock 🙂

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June 7, 2014
Posted in reviews

Lensrentals tests best 50mm lenses: Sigma 50mm ART “wows” again!

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Roger Cicala from Lensrentals testes all the best 50mm lenses. The best lens is the 8000 Dollar/Euro Leica Summicron f/2.0 (here on eBay). But the surprise is “again” the new Sigma 50mm ART lens. Roger writes:

I think it’s pretty cool that two SLR lenses (Zeiss Otus and Sigma ART) are able to hang right there with the f/1.4 Leica lens, the Summilux. Price-wise, you would hope the Otus would, but certainly the Sigma, one of the least expensive lenses in the test, has to take honors for hanging with the best at a tiny fraction of their price.

Note: The A-mount lens can be preordered in USA Amazon (Click here) at BHphoto (Click here) and Adorama (Click here). And in Europe at WexUK (Click here) and WexDe (Click here).

And the Sigma is very close to the Summicron lens at f/2.0 aperture:

Now let’s hope the 24mm and 85mm f/1.4 lenses coming at Photokina will be as good as the 50mm ART!

The A-mount lens can be preordered in USA Amazon (Click here) at BHphoto (Click here) and Adorama (Click here). And in Europe at WexUK (Click here) and WexDe (Click here).

 

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June 6, 2014
Posted in rumors

Guest Post: A6000 Review By Menachem Goldstein

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I had intended to write a full review, including image qualty tests and performance, but I did not realize the time and effort that that entails. I will do my best, job(s) permitting, to have something out in the coming weeks. For now, this is a review of the shooting experience.

Note: After the review of the Sony A6000 itself, I have attempted to clarify Sony’s lens naming strategy, as it is essential knowledge for anyone buying into any Sony interchangeable lens (ILC) system, as well as those confused by the recent introduction of Sony’s full frame mirrorless line up. I have also provided a link to Sony’s webpage that details which lenses are compatible with its hybrid autofocus, and which are not.

Introduction: Context and Competition

Sony’s latest E-mount series camera, the A6000, stands at the forefront of a revolution in today’s broader photography market. Mirrorless cameras are starting to become real competitors to the two 1000 pound gorillas of the  photography world, Canon and Nikon. Some (especially those who frequent this site) would argue that mirrorless cameras have already posed a serious threat to the market’s status quo, but sales figures would seem to suggest that the mirrorless cameras have only recently started to come into their own. Sony’s mirrorless strategy has always been to make more possible in a camera than its size would suggest, and the Sony A6000 is no exception. It’s diminutive size (4.7 in. by 2.8 in. by 2.0 in.) hides a camera thats specifications go toe to toe with the models that are considered to be its heavyweight counterparts.

In order to illustrate this, lets look at the Sony A6000 in relation to the two pro level ASC sized models from canon and nikon focusing on some specific parameters (focusing on specific attributes of each model:

Specs

Canon t5i

Nikon d5200

Sony a6000

Resolution

18

24

24

Focus points

9 cross type

9 cross type/30 non cross-type

25/179*

Crop Factor

1.6

1.5

1.5

Battery Life (CIPA)

440

500

420

Touchscreen

Yes

No

No

Screen Articulation

Full

Full

45 deg./90 deg. down

Current Native Lenses

197

205

21

*Phase detection (likely non cross-type)/Contrast detection

As you can see, the value that you get for the $650 Sony A6000 body is very competitive (to say the least), at least on paper, with the heavyweights of the industry. Sony is definitely the underdog in this business, and they have really brought their “a” game (sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself) to the table to get a shot (OK, i’m going to stop now) at becoming formidable opponent to the likes of Canon and Nikon. Although I do make the case that this ambition is very much realized in the Sony A6000, I think that it would be remiss to put out two caveats to this argument:

A) I have not actually had the opportunity to test either of the other two devices, considering that I had jumped ship from the “big two” before I was heavily invested in either system. I have used the canon t3i extensively, along with my trustworthy sigma 17-70 2.8-4 for years, before taking a quick try at the nikon d3100. At that point, I realized that the two main players were focusing on playing it safe and protecting their corporate image and market share, and not on innovation- a sure sign of dysfunction and industrial decay in any industry (If you don’t like that theory, you can go with an equally plausible theory: that the companies have become “Blackberries”, a (relatively) old player in a new market, whose corporate structure is not designed or equipped to iterate and innovate at the same level as their competition. Even though Sony is an old company, they are iterating at the pace of a much younger one). I sold all of my canon gear, and began an odyssey of micro four thirds models before finally arriving at the Sony a6000. This being the case, I never reached high enough on the totem pole of either company to own any of their more expensive bodies. I am not made of money, contrary to the beliefs of canon/nikon executives, and I was therefore never in contact with their “prosumer- models”. As such,I do not have extensive experience with either of those models.

B) The above models do have an advantage that Sony does not- a huge family of native lenses to choose from. Now, although this is true, it is very hard to find a quality lens from canon (with the exception of the ‘nifty fifty’), and to a lesser extent, Nikon, for a reasonable price. Sony doesn’t have a lot of lenses to choose from yet, so we don’t have a clear idea of their lens pricing scheme (again, no pun intended [a veiled jab at the pricing strategy of other camera companies), but leaks from their product roadmap look promising so far).

Design and User Experience

With comparisons and context covered, its time to get to the camera itself.  As noted above, despite it’s powerful set of specs, the Sony A6000 feels light in my hand, but not in a bad way. Weighing in at just 344 grams (without the lens), including the battery, it feels like it was meant to be used in one hand (which is a theme that we will be revisiting multiple times in this review). This feeling of lightness is enhanced by a camera grip which feels extremely comfortable in my hand, aided by a comfortable rubbery faux-leather grip. My old canon t3i, in comparison, weighs 570 grams without the lens, and I remember it getting very heavy in the hand during long photo sessions. Its grip was also well suited to my hand, but there is only so much one can do to disguise such a heavy weight. The A6000 is definitely far better suited for my favourite hobby: nature photography, where I now find myself able to use one hand to lean on an outcrop of rock, while using the other hand the take a picture.

As mentioned above, it seems clear that Sony engineers specifically looked for the camera to be used with one hand, as absolutely every control feels accessible and comfortable in my hand, and I never feel the need to use two hands for anything, unless I am stabilizing the camera for a slower shutter speed. (The antithesis to this is Nikon, who places a function button near the lens release catch, which is essentially requiring you to use the camera with two hands). This, to me, is one of the main points of mirrorless cameras- I no longer have to be all kitted with heavy (and conspicuous) gear to take great pictures, I can get the same result from a less burdensome form factor. The function button, custom control buttons, and both of the dial were all in easy reach of my thumb when holding the camera with my other fingers. I do have bigger hands, but I felt like this was designed intentionally with this in mind, and I appreciated it. All of the buttons, in fact were easily accessible, with the notable exception of the movie record button, whose tiny size and mushy response feel definitely felt like bit of an oversight on the part of Sony’s product design team. I was able to reach the button with my thumb, but the effort required always required me to recompose the shot afterwards due to the movement of the camera. As an added note on the body design, the flexibility of the built in flash was one of those features that literally changed how I approach photography. Although this feature is neither unique nor new to the mirrorless camera market, it still merits notice as a poignant commentary on the stagnation of players like canon and nikon in this market. I can finally use a built in flash without the classic “I used a straight on flash when I shouldn’t have and I am thereby announcing that I don’t know how to shoot professionally” effect.

Sony’s approach towards in-camera photo processing takes it several steps beyond the competition, much to my satisfaction. While other manufacturers content themselves with features such as in camera hdr, Sony takes things several steps further. For example, there is an iso level in the menu called “ISO AUTO NR”. This setting has the camera take several pictures in order to use the multiple images to reduce image noise, and this works to a significantly effective degree. The scene modes are also contain useful modes, in addition to the standard modes meant for beginners. The “hand held twilight mode” also blends several exposures together for better dynamic range and noise reduction. These features are useful to those who want good pictures straight out of the camera, without resorting to lengthy post processing workloads.

Another part of my positive feelings towards the A6000 comes from the EVF. An viewfinder is an essential part of any camera for me, and was my only gripe about one my all time favorite compacts, the panasonic lumix lx7 (yes, you can get a mounted evf, but I didn’t (and still don’t) have the money to plunk down for it). My first encounter with an EVF almost turned me off of them completely- the sad, poor excuse for an EVF that’s found on the Sony DSC HX300. While that viewfinder gave me a grainy, pale view of whatever I was looking at, the A6000’s EVF was a measure in contrast to that, offering me a crisp, vibrant perspective. With that being said, I could still make out lines of resolution on the EVF, and it is a step down from the NEX-6, which the A6000 presumably replaces. This was a bit puzzling to me, until I put some other missing pieces of the A6000 together, which lead me to the hypothesis which can be found at the end of this article.

This then, brings me to some of the more lackluster aspects of the a6000. The most startling omission on the A6000 is the lack of a touchscreen. The screen itself is beautiful and bright, with a 3 inch, 921,600 dot resolution, which was usually visible in direct sunlight (though not always).The lower level NEX 5n featured a touchscreen, and it was a much lauded feature of the camera. This is a feature that is extremely useful in focusing, both in stills as well as in movies, and its omission is egregious, at least in my opinion. It has now become an unusually cumbersome process to change focus points, much harder than the process needed on the t3i. Additionally, I missed the fully articulating screen of the t3i, as I usually like to shoot from unusual perspectives,although that was about the only thing I missed from the t3i, so no harm done.I should, however, mention a slight bug in the firmware, in which the EVF sensor would shut off even if the screen was extended, which made it impossible, for instance to get a perspective facing up from a field of grass. To my mind, the screen being articulated necessarily means that the EVF is not being used, and the camera should therefore be disabling the EVF proximity sensor.

My last disappointment concerned the wifi interface, which let me down in a number of ways. The first time I tried to connect my smartphone to my camera, it took me a number of tries until I even found the correct menu option on the camera. After that, the camera would not allow me to connect to my phone without signing up for a Sony entertainment account. That is an utterly ridiculous move on Sony’s part, especially considering their infamous leak of user data in 2011. I don’t want to give Sony my information, and I shouldn’t have to sign up for an account to connect my phone to my camera. Secondly, and even more outrageous, I couldn’t even create an account on either the camera or my phone! The camera directed me to use my computer, which wasn’t available, and and when I tried to use my phone (a samsung galaxy S4 running CM11) to create an account, the webpage refused to render properly for me. The real painful moment came at the end though, after I had finally signed up for an account on my laptop. I had to enter my username and password using a qwerty keyboard on the camera display, and controlled by the scrollwheel on the camera! I was appalled at the clunkiness of the implementation of this feature, as I had to painstakingly roll over to every character of my email address, (with a separate level of the keyboard reserved for numbers, too), and password. I sat there, stunned by the ease with this could have been accomplished with a touch screen, and hurt by how awful the process was without one. I felt a distinct impression that this camera had indeed been designed with a touchscreen, only to have it ripped out in a cost cutting move, until a different scenario entered my mind:

The Sony A6000 is not meant to be the flagship e-mount device. There is (assumedly) going to be another device that will come to take its place atop the Sony e-mount line up, which will feature a better EVF, a touchscreen, and likely more phase detection points (a more thorough discussion of this particular point will have to wait my next part of the review: image quality and performance.

Overall, though, I think this camera is an extremely refined iteration of the Sony mirrorless camera product line, the result of years of refining and perfecting, and I think that this camera will be my main workhorse for years to come. Quibbles aside, I think this another sensational hit from Sony, and with the widespread interest that the camera has generated, the lens selection will grow rapidly, if not by Sony, then by a third party such as sigma or tamron (although I suspect all three will participate).

Addendum

The A6000 comes into Sony’s lineup amidst a major overhaul of their naming strategy and product lineup, leading to a somewhat confusing camera and lens naming system:

(Warning: the following paragraph is intended not for for the faint of heart, if you lose track at one point read the tl;dr at the end) The NEX brand no longer exists, and all of Sony’s interchangeable lens cameras, mirrorless or SLT, ASC or full frame, now carry the alpa moniker. In a bit of confusing twist, though, Sony’s lens architectures remains separate and sometimes incompatible, with A-mount lenses being used in SLT cameras (all  of which carry ASC size sensors), E mount series lenses being used for ASC sized mirrorless cameras, and FE mount series being used for full frame mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless cameras can use all mirrorless lens types (although cropping or severe vignetting will occur when using E mount lenses on a full frame camera). A-mount series lenses are not able to be used on mirrorless cameras, without using an adapter, which, if you’re not already confused, is another rabbit hole in it of itself. While this all make sense in physical terms, seeing as Sony is currently invested in two camera architectures, the naming structure is somewhat tortured and confusing, and can easily result in a newcomer buying an incompatible lens for his or her new camera. Additionally, not all lenses are compatible with Sony’s recently developed Hybrid Autofocus system, and you have to check the compatibility of a given lens’ ability to communicate with the phase detect autofocus point system. What comes out of this mess is the following (tl;dr):  This camera is only compatible with Sony’s E or FE mount lenses, so do not buy any A-mount lenses, unless you plan on using an adapter. Also, check out this list from sony before you buy a lens, and make sure that you are buying one that will give you fast autofocus.

Sony A6000 store link list:
Sony A6000 at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonyStore. In Europe at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, AT, NL, BE, CH, FI, SE, PT, WexUK.
Silver A6000 at Amazon US, BHphoto, WexUK.
Sony A6000 with lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, SonyStore, Sony Canada, WexUK.
Silver A6000 with lens at Amazon US, BHphoto, WexUK.
Sony 70-200mm FE at Amazon, BHphoto, SonyStore. In Europe at Sony DE, UK, FR, IT, ES, AT, NL, BE, CH, FI, SE, PT

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