I’ve been using the Sony A7r pretty heavily the past nine months, and I am continuously impressed with the IQ I’ve been able to get out of this thing. I thought I would post a recent example of how this piece of gear really helped me salvage a few shots from an early morning session. The scenario was a new fire station built just outside of Reno. Photography had been delayed from the original date the shoot was supposed to happen because of delays getting some of the finishing materials installed, so now we are into late September. Well, as it so happened, the weather decided to freak out…heavy rain storms were moving into the area and were going to hit on both my scheduled day as well as the following day which I was holding as a backup day. Not good!
I got to the site while it was still dark, and saw that it was heavily overcast, but the rain was holding off. I set up facing east to try and get a few shots in the narrow window of time as it started getting lighter, hoping to catch the transition where the clouds would show up as a dark blue instead of gray. The problem was is was so dark that to get enough of an exposure to get color in the clouds, it would end up blowing out all of the highlights on the lights around the station, not to mention the surroundings were only a few steps above pitch black.
I had started shooting with my trusty Canon 5DII and TS-E24II. I tend to gravitate to the Canon in situations like this because after using it for nearly six years, it’s pretty easy for me to work quickly with it in the dark. But after the first couple of exposures, I knew it was going to be a tough task. In the days before the Sony A7r I would’ve waited around at the same spot and done multiple exposures, and then blended them later. But now, I hurriedly pulled out the A7r, swapped the TS-E from the Canon onto the Sony, and went back to work.
This wasn’t meant to be a scientific test or a direct comparison. After all, I was there to do a job, and I don’t tend to play around or experiment when my clients are paying me to make images. But, as I was looking through my raw files today I decided just for fun it would be interesting to see what would happen if I tried to push the Canon file the same way I did the Sony. So, here are the results.
First the Sony (downscaled to a web-friendly size, of course):
And the Canon:
Even downsized, I think it’s pretty clearly evident the Canon image is not really very usable. Here are 100% crops:
I can only hope Canon’s next sensor provides this kind of amazing latitude! Working with the A7r I was able to get more shots from more angles because I didn’t need to wait around to take multiple exposures for blending. This helped tremendously, because it wasn’t long before the clouds finally turned gray. And shortly after that the rain began (but thankfully by that time I had moved on to the interiors!)