Travel Photography: Costa Rica with the Sony A7rII
Costa Rica was my first trip with the Sony A7r II. While these small mirrorless cameras aren’t suitable for every type of photography, they do lend themselves very well to travel photography. I manage to get a full-frame camera, a 70-200mm zoom, a Canon 16-35 wide angle, DEOtech adapter and 4 batteries and my MacBook in a small backpack weighing under 20 pound. How amazing is that?
Now I’ve been an FE mount user since the first A7 came out. It’s been a rocky road, with lots of nice images and also lots of frustration, mainly due to the poor autofocus functionality of the first generation mirrorless Full Frame Sony cameras. I was actually looking into the Samsung NX1 system camera last year. I like the idea and performance of a BSI (backside illuminated) sensor, but decided their lens selection was just not good enough to make the switch. Now Sony comes along with a Full Frame BSI sensor, in a camera with Five Axis Sensor Stabilisation and an updated AF system covering more than 40% of that sensor. OK, time to put my old A7r out to pasture and hope that the second coming would guide us into the New Age. Sounds a bit religious I know, but if you’ve been working with the ILCE series cameras from day one, some faith was needed…
Travel photography requires lots of different techniques, in a way it’s a cross between street photography, documentary and landscape work, where you’re testing out every aspect of a camera. From street shooting to long exposures and everything in between, fast autofocus and full manual mode, it’s all a necessity. For me anyway.
What I quickly found out was that this camera focusses fast, very fast. Maybe not top-of-the-line DSLR fast, what you’d need for action photography, but it suits my needs very well. Adapted Canon lenses like the 16-35 f/4 with a DEOtech falcon work almost just as well as native lenses too. The ILCE7R-M2 now allows you to use all the on-sensor phase- or contrast detect points with adapted lenses, and this makes a huge difference. Though FE lenses still work best, as the system does not automatically select phase or contrast detection, and you loose face recogintion, Eye AF and of course (at least partly) the weather proofing.
The dynamic range of this camera is also amazing, I had no problem boosting the shadows in this image to an acceptable, viewable level without adding too much noise. But what it’s even better at is recovering highlights. In most of the images here, the skies appeared white in real life, but it was easy to get full definition back in post processing. I should also mention that battery life has increased to an acceptable level. Where I could only get around 200 shots out of a battery with the A7r, I get around 250-300 with the A7rM2.
Another point of improvement is high ISO noise. This shot was made at ISO 6400 and converted from RAW with Photo Ninja (yes Picture code also supports the A7rii). While I’m losing some definition in the details, you still can get a very clean image.