Friday 15 June 2018


The Bun 
A7II, Zeiss ZF.2 T* 1,4/85 Planar

First a quick shooting update. I passed 4000 shots for the year at the end of May and am now less than 1000 shots under what I shot in 2014, the last year before my shooting collapsed. And I continue to actively shoot several times a week. I'm very happy with this and expect the full year will bring me back to my typical 10k or so shots for the year. Mostly it's walkabout shooting city & macro work, but a little nature & street too.

That said, I became increasingly frustrated with the D800. Not because it's not a great camera, but for two other reasons.

1. It's heavy. It's just too large & heavy for regular walkabout days of shooting. It's fine when I'm carrying the full kit and headed out for some serious shooting (since a bag full of lenses weighs a lot more than 1 body), but it's a pig for days when I just want to throw the 50/1.8 or 55/3.5 and go explore.

2. Increasing frustration in using the 28/3.5 and 85/1.4 on it, especially the latter. The 28 is one lens I just could not get to work well on the D800, although I knew from my film bodies that it was actually pretty good. The low contrast wide open was just too much of a challenge to use with the D800's somewhat sketchy AF confirm. The focus shift on the 85/1.4 made focusing wider than f4.5 a crapshoot unless I was wide open. A pity, since I love the results at f2-2.8 when I hit focus.

The NEX-7 could solve the first one, which is why I traded a D300+lenses for it. For the second it was either replace the lenses or the body. And I'm almighty fond of my Zeiss 85, regardless of its flaws.

But a week after I bought the NEX-7, I found a Sony A7II in the same store for an irresistible price. So after some deliberation, I returned the NEX-7 and traded in the D800 for the A7II, and came out cash even (actually, a little ahead, but I bought a spare battery for the A7II, since I know it's bad on batteries).

This nets me a main camera light enough to do light carry with my smaller lenses, and with the ability to accurately focus my 85/1.4 at working aperture. The above picture was at f2.8 with the Zeiss 85 and focus is dead on. That shot would have been a complete gamble on the D800 but focus peaking & EVF magnification made it dead easy on the A7II. As much as I like the OVF view, focus accuracy is more important.

Overall I shot just shy of 3000 shots on the D800. And I loved shooting it, I just didn't love coming home to 50% out of focus shots. don't get me wrong, it's actually a great camera (and IMHO a better overall camera than the A7II for most applications), just for my uses and lenses, the A7II can deliver in focus shots where the D800 cannot for reasons that really are the fault of the lenses in question, and that seals the deal. Bodies come and go, but lenses are the core of the system. As a bonus, I now have a body for my beloved Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4 LTM lens. That's my cold dead hands lens, and I've not had a good body for it in several years.

Oh, and I get IBIS (stabilization) for all my lenses.

So for now I'll have the A7II with adapted F mount glass as my main camera, and the D300 for speed/beater usage. We'll see how things evolve from here. I'm not planning any investments, so far everything's really been just horse-trading. I've been lucky in that.

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