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Switching From Canon To Sony – Part 4

Testing the Sony 16-35mm F4 Zeiss Handheld on the A7ii

Welcome to Part 4 of my series on switching from a Canon 70D DSLR to the Sony A7ii mirrorless system. Today’s post will show you the initial results of using the A7ii with the Sony 16-35mm lens.

If you’re new to these articles, you can find the first 3 posts here:

 

Today’s Test Setup: A7ii + 16-35mm

Sony a7ii with Sony 16-35mm f4 Zeiss
Sony a7ii with Sony 16-35mm f4 Zeiss

For today’s test, I decided to use the Sony 16-35mm f4 Zeiss handheld with the Sony A7ii. As with earlier tests, I let the A7ii figure out its own ISO and white balance. In most cases I used auto-focus and aperture priority mode.

I tested without tripod today as I wanted to see what was possible without one, and test some even higher ISOs to see where my breaking point might be in that regard. Below you’ll find my unedited shots SOOC which demonstrates the capabilities of this lens handheld.

 

Test 1: Channelling My Inner Pink Floyd Fan

My first test for today had me wandering around the local village looking for worthy test subjects. I particularly wanted to test lens distortion and the sharpness across the entire image.

What better test subject for distortion than a lovely brick wall?!

In the words of Pink Floyd: “Wrong, do it again!”

Before I dive into the detailed shots of the wall, I need to tell you that I had a serious WTF moment with my camera today. I want to mention it because it REALLY stumped me for a while. I’m hoping that exposing my silly mistakes as I get used to the A7ii will help anyone else who encounters the same issues.

When I first tried to auto-focus on the lovely wall below, the focus would constantly bounce back and forth. It just wouldn’t lock on. I tried various apertures and it got worse the narrower the aperture was. Super weird.

After much fiddling, it turns out that if your auto-focus is set to continuous it REALLY messes with static objects. I’d been testing that yesterday for moving targets and it was fine. The moral of the story seems to be to only use this occasionally and set it to “Single Shot AF” when you’re not shooting moving objects. Lesson learned!

Back To The Wall

Once I figured out that focus issue, I could return to trying to photograph the wall! Below are two shots, taken at 16mm and 35mm. I wanted to show you  examples of the distortion and sharpness at the extremes of the lens. I took both of these handheld at f11 which should in theory be nice and sharp:

16mm:

Sony 16-35mm f4 at 16mm (Click to view full size)
Sony 16-35mm f4 at 16mm

The above image was shot at 16mm and if you look at the very bottom, you can see the line of the wall curves up toward the edges. To me, this distortion is pretty minimal and Lightroom has had no trouble at all straightening out the wall.

If you click the image, you’ll see the full size jpq which shows you the detail and sharpness across the image. Remember this was shot hand-held so if there’s any minor blur across the image, that’s probably my fault! Overall, I’m really impressed with the sharpness – it’s lovely and sharp from the centre to the edges.

35mm:

Sony 16-35mm f4 at 35mm (Click to view full size)
Sony 16-35mm f4 at 35mm

As with the 16mm, you’ll note some distortion here, as expected. Again, it’s really quite minimal and Lightroom does a fantastic job of straightening it out.

This shot was also hand-held and despite that it’s done a great job of being sharp throughout the image. I’ve uploaded the full resolution jpg if you’d like to see for yourself. Just click the image!

 

Test 2: A Difficult Indoors Shot

This test is probably a little harsh. I took the camera inside the local church which is REALLY dark inside, and has super bright back-lit windows. Not only that, I made the camera take this shot hand-held. Normally I’d use a tripod in this situation, but I wanted to see what it could do when really pushed!

Here’s the result:

Sony 16-35mm f4 at 16mm, hand-held indoors (Click to view full size)
Sony 16-35mm f4 at 16mm, hand-held indoors

As with the wall shots, clicking the image will show you the full size jpg.

Let’s tackle various aspects of this image in detail…

Distortion

There’s so much going on in this image that I find it hard to spot distortion myself. If I let Lightroom adjust it, it does change the image quite a bit. Since Lightroom does a good job of fixing distortion it seems fair to move on!

Chromatic Aberrations

Unless I’ve missed it, I can’t see any colour fringing in the image. If anyone spots some, let me know!

Noise

I think we’ve found my ISO / Noise limit! In this image, because there are a lot of smooth surfaces like the wood and shiny floor, the noise at 6400 ISO is pretty noticeable. That said, it’s still nowhere near as bad as my old gear would have been. If I really wanted to, I could probably fix some of the noise in post-processing. Realistically though, in most cases I’d be shooting images like this on a tripod at a much lower iso.

Dynamic Range

This is a touch image for the camera to capture. Those windows are so bright and the ceiling is almost black. Note I’ve said “almost black”, because the A7ii in all its dynamic range glory has managed to capture most of this image without clipping.

There is a tiny bit of clipping to the highlights, but there’s still enough information captured that I can rescue the window highlights pretty easily in Lightroom. Here’s a before/after:

Basic Highlight Recovery
Basic Highlight Recovery

All I’ve done here is a little bit of Lightroom noise reduction and reduced the whites/highlights. Given it’s such a small area of the image, I think most people won’t be looking this close, but it’s nice to know the information can be recovered if needed!

Sharpness

As with the wall images, the image is a consistent sharpness from centre to edges. Obviously this is a difficult test image for sharpness due to the high ISO and noise, but from the tests, I’m confident that a tripod shot at lower ISO would give fantastic results.

 

Summary

This was only a super quick test of the 16-35mm lens today.  Overall it has performed very well hand held. The stabilisation of the A7ii combined with the Optical Steady Shot (OSS) of the lens results in some great images even when hand-held at slower shutter speeds. I’m pretty confident that I could take this lens out on most daytime shoots without a tripod and it would do well.

For darker indoor shots and long exposures, I’d definitely want to use a tripod. It’s also worth noting that the lens isn’t the lightest, so while I easily carried it around in my hand for a couple of hours, a monopod or tripod for support might be nice for long shoots.

Overall, the Sony 16-35mm f4 Zeiss is a fantastic lens to use – it’s sharp, feels lovely to use, and focuses well. The only downside of this lens that I can find would be the hefty price tag. However, it’s Zeiss quality glass and in this case, you really get what you pay for. If you can afford this lens, I wholeheartedly recommend it!

 

Next Tests

I’ve got a filter adapter on the way to make my 77mm ND and polarising filters work with the 72mm diameters of these Sony lenses. Once I’ve got those, I’ll take both lenses out for a proper landscape shoot with tripod somewhere scenic. Anyone fancy a photo roadtrip to the seaside? 🙂

 

7 thoughts on “Switching From Canon To Sony – Part 4

    1. Thanks for your question Adrian! I haven’t tested video yet but I’ll see if I can get round to a quick test for you in the next few days. I didn’t do much video on the 70D, but when I did, I noticed that if I let the lens auto-focus, the noise of the focussing was very loud on the video. Same goes for if it was windy. I tried to film some birds singing in New Zealand with the 70D and Canon 100-400 and you could hardly hear them on the play back. That said, I’m a complete beginner at video, so maybe I should have been focussing manually. I always found manual focus a bit too tricky on DSLRs though.

      One good thing worth pointing out with the 70D is that the screen can be rotated round to face forward (and a big variety of other angles). That’s great for if you’re filming yourself in front of the camera, filming at interesting angles, or want to be stood away from the camera and still see what it’s capturing. The screen on the A7ii, while tilt-able isn’t quite so flexible so that might be worth bearing in mind.

      I’ll do more detailed video test in the next few days and share my thoughts.

      Cat 🙂

  1. Really enjoying this.I came across your work when I was looking at the Flickr A7 Mk2 group.
    I made exactly the same move in May 2015.
    I had been shooting in Seville ( amateur stuff ) and weighed my gear when I got back to the hotel
    6D Body
    7D Mk 2 Body
    24-70 2.8 Mk2
    20-200 2.8 Mk2
    1.4 extender
    plus all the other kit you would expect so you can guess the weight !!

    Came home and decided it was time to make the move to mirrorless and traded in all my kit, I had been using Canon DSLRs for 9 years so it was a traumatic day.
    After research I decided on an Olympus OMD 5 Mk 2 and the PRO lenses.
    Probably the biggest and most costly mistake since I picked up my first camera (a very long time ago). The camera body failed and had to be returned,one of the lenses had a deformed mount after being dropped a very short distance and after 6 months I still had not worked out the menus.So it had to go.

    A month ago I bought a Sony A7 Mk2 with the Sony/Zeiss 24-70 and the same 70-200 as yours.
    Last week I also bought the 35mm 2.8.
    To say I am pleased is a massive understatement.
    I have been revisiting sites to reshoot with the Sony and it is producing better results than any Canon I used – including the 5D3.
    Also regards to Donington -we know it well my wife was born and grew up there and we still visit the area.

    1. Thanks for your comment Allen! Glad to hear you’re enjoying your A7ii. How do you find the 24-70? That’s a lens I’ve been thinking of getting at some point to bridge the gap between my two.

      1. The 24-70 is excellent . At first I thought that it being an f4 would be a be a problem but it is not so.I used it on a visit to an aircraft museum at the weekend and put the results through Lightroom yesterday. I tried leaving the camera on Auto ISO and the images are excellent.
        I did consider the wide angle but after the loss of all the money on the Olympus this year cash was a problem !!
        Yesterday I tried the the 24-70 at close focus on a tripod with some very good results.
        I have found the Sony advice to turn off the steady shot when on a tripod does improve the results and being able to use a phone as a remote is a useful feature and much easier to set up on the Sony than any other camera I have tried.

  2. Great article Cat – blown away particularly by the high ISO images! And my camera of choice is the 1D MKIV – will be looking very seriously into Sony lenses now to see what would be available to me. Currently use the Canon 500mm and 300mm prime lenses so that would be difficult for me (especially having checked the cost of the Sony equivalants!)

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