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A new a850 owner here! Yep, in (almost) 2018.

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Nikleo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nikleo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: A new a850 owner here! Yep, in (almost) 2018.
    Posted: 28 December 2017 at 11:19
Hello there!

New to the dyxum, so I thought I'd introduce myself, especially since today I have as good a reason to join as any :)

I'm a classically trained violinist but photography has always been my (sometimes very close) second favourite thing. Landscapes were my jam for quite some time, but lately I've gone into studio portraiture, strobist style with manual flashes. A whole new world!

Equipment-wise, my first proper camera was Pentax K200D back in 2008 but I quickly abandoned it in favour of old school film. Minolta XG-M, while not a great camera per se, really got me hooked. Things gradually escalated to the point of owning a set of Bronica ETRS gear and developing/printing all by myself which was a fantastic experience to have but ultimately wasn't particularly sustainable due to costs, both financial and time ones.

My story with Sony started about a year ago with a used a37 that I found really enjoyable and got quite a few memorable shots with. By the end of this year, I had only a few complaints:

1. It's a bit too small for my hands.
2. EVF is super useful 90% of the time but gives up in very low light which is especially annoying in night landscape or cityscape photography but becomes trully irritating in flash photography with very little ambient light (but enough for the human eye to see clearly).
3. Lack of AF micro adjustment. All of my gear was bought used and nothing has any warranty left, so if something doesn't quite align in AF accuracy, I need to send my gear in and most probably pay for calibration.
4. 1/160 sync speed. Combined with EVF problems, it means that I always have to maintain a certain minumum level of ambient light but then either stop down more than I would like to (to 'kill' the ambient) or use ND filter (which is additional hussle and makes using a hood problematic).
5. This is a very subjective and not particularly logical one but I have been missing the sense of depth and softer gradations that I had with medium format film. I know the comparison is unfair but the fact remains, MF just has that airiness to me that sometimes really makes a photo sing. I have upped my mastery of PP considerably in the last year but that does not seem to be a substitute.
(6. It has a lot of features that I never ever use. Scenes, hi-speed shooting modes, creative styles, etc. I do use video occassionally to film performances of my friends and colleagues.)

Some Sony SLT models would fix points 1, 3 and 4 but the rest was seemingly unfixable. And then, literally yesterday, while browsing through second hand inventory of a Dutch online camera store, I came across a used A850 that was discounted all the way down to 270 euro (body only) during the holidays. And then it hit me: this might solve my problems. Maybe (just maybe!) even point no.5 due to increase in sensor size. And point no.6., for the most part. I ordered almost immediately and did not even check if it comes with a battery.

So today I am a (so far) happy owner of what feels like one tank of a camera, A850. Firmware is 2.00 and shutter count is nearly 18.000 which, as I understand, is well within expected shutter life for this big guy. Cosmetic condition is pretty good, save for a slightly squeeky memory card door. Heck it even came with an extra battery!

It is possible that there are hidden issues in this camera (I still struggle to believe the price, so 12-month store guarantee and relaxed return policy are really welcome here) but my hopes are up. At the moment, I only have 85/2.8 and Tamron 70-300 USD to cover full frame but will get a 50mm soon (real shame my 50/1.8 doesn't cover FF, I like that lens a lot for portraiture). I am aware that at high ISO my a37 will probably stay ahead but I rarely need high ISO in studio or landscape, so no worries there. And if I do go high ISO, DxO 9.5 with Prime engine might be able to help a bit.

Gonna go take some photos and surely come back to Dyxum again and again for all the invaluable advice that this forums seem to be peppered with. Happy holidays everybody!

P.S. Just out of curiousity, has anyone else here gone down a similar path? 16mp SLT -> A850/900? If so, what are you impressions? Any tips? I know there have been many threads on current aps-c vs old full frame but they tend to be a bit dated and I think modern RAW processors change things considerably for the older cameras.

 



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C_N_RED_AGAIN View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote C_N_RED_AGAIN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 11:46
Congrats on the purchase. It's a great price. I think for what you do it's a great camera. Enjoy it and welcome to the site
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stiuskr View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stiuskr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 12:26
Congrats and welcome to Dyxum, that's got to be the deal of the year. I think once you start playing with the higher ISO's you'll be pleasantly surprised and the a37 will see less and less use.
Rob Suits Jr.
a99M2 a99 a77 a700 KM7D|Min24/2.8 Min35/2 So50/1.4 So50/2.8 Min85/1.4G Tam90/2.8 Tam180/3.5|Tam17-50 CZ24-70G2 KM28-75D So70-200G1 So70-300G So70-400G1| SonyF60 AD200R2
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lonewolf View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lonewolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 15:10
congratulations, i'm sure you'll love it.
I still look back fondly at images i captured with my A850 and still stack up.
A7ii+a7rii | Tamron 70-300 USD, 70-200 USD, 24-70 USD 90mm macro | Sigma 35mm ART, 85mm HSM | Plus lots of Nikon stuff

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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 16:49
Welcome, and hope you find your A850 fulfilling - I have no doubt you will. You have access to lots of cheap good glass from Minolta.
I doubt very much your A37 will be as good in ISO, but the most important thing about the A850/A900 IMHO is not just the larger sensor, but the fact that so many more adjustments are possible. It will take time to go through them, and you will get the best head-start by buying the Gary Friedmann book - highly recommended! (See the link on our home page - rightly one of the very few ads we carry for members.)
A900, A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Basil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 17:03
You will enjoy it very much. I also suggest Gary Friedmann's book. It is filled with all sorts of tips and insight into making the most out of a wonderful camera. He not only tells you what each function is, but WHY you would want to use it (or not). I would also suggest picking up a first generation Minolta 35-70/4 lens. They are dirt cheap and will open your eyes to the wonders of that sensor.
To see is to enjoy. To see beyond is to rejoice.

A77Mark II; A850; A700; A100; NEX 6; various film bodies and an ever-changing collection of lenses
 



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Nikleo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nikleo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 17:18
Thank you everyone for the warm welcome!

Had to go babysit a freindīs cat, so took A850 and 85/2.8 with me to photograph the beast. Haven't processed the photos yet but here are some first impressions:

1. Damn this thing is big and heavy! But in a reassuring kind of way. Well-built, almost approaching Bronica ETRS. For my hands, the size is perfect and I think the weight actually helps with holding steady.

2. With 85/2.8, the A850 seems to focus a little bit faster than A37 and the center point does seem to be a lot more confident than any focus point on A37. Need to check on pc later but from what I'm seeing on the back screen, A850 focuses more precisely as well. To be fair, I have long suspected that my A37 is in need of calibration as it tends to backfocus most lenses a bit, so it might be that my A850 is simply better calibrated. No micro adjustment is necessary for 85/2.8 so far, cat's eyes are consistently sharp (I sometimes struggled quite a bit getting models' eyes perfectly in focus with A37).

3. Although fixed, the LCD is way better than A37's. Noticeably bigger, much more resolution, better colour, possibly less relfective, very nice.

4. Having gotten used to EVF with immediate display of exposure changes, OVF is... liberating. Does mean that I took a few shots with completely messed up exposure but unobscured view is worth it. Getting to grips with Intelligent Preview will take a little while but seems quite useful.

5. Took lots of shots at higher ISOs, ranging from 800 to 6400, will process later tonight and see what's what. At the back of the camera, things don't look all that bad at all.

Not much studio work going on during the holidays but I can't wait to try A850 with strobes. Count me excited!   
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stiuskr View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote stiuskr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 17:52
http://friedmanarchives.com/Alpha900/index.htm

That's the GF e-book you should invest in, a $30 e-book or print on demand for much more money, the e-book has a 30 day money back guarantee if you're not happy with it but the book doesn't and there have been bad (loose pages) copies sent out.
Rob Suits Jr.
a99M2 a99 a77 a700 KM7D|Min24/2.8 Min35/2 So50/1.4 So50/2.8 Min85/1.4G Tam90/2.8 Tam180/3.5|Tam17-50 CZ24-70G2 KM28-75D So70-200G1 So70-300G So70-400G1| SonyF60 AD200R2
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Nikleo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nikleo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 18:22
Thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out!
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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2017 at 23:02
Originally posted by Nikleo Nikleo wrote:

Not much studio work going on during the holidays but I can't wait to try A850 with strobes. Count me excited!   


Give some attention to the "Intelligent Preview" feature of a850/900. It's a strobists dream, and far superior for flashworks than any EVF Sony.

1. EVF requires settings effect OFF for studio work. But high key background lights can cause it to go dark on subject. OVF allows use of background lights without fooling with EVF automation.

2. Intelligent Preview with flash provides useful feedback for aperture, iso, and white balance that EVF cannot.

3. And most important, Sony OVF cameras provide accurate custom white balance with flash. EVF does not, because it always takes the ambient light into the equation. Sony EVF custom white balance reverts the camera to Auto mode, even though you're in manual exposure. And thus, it forces long exposure required for low iso and small aperture. The long exposure will record the ambient light from room or modeling lights and figure it into the equation with the flash exposure. Sony OVF cameras retain manual settings and only read custom white balance of the flash exposure.
_______

You'll also note that a850/900 will magnify playback to the selected AF point. a99 lost that feature for some reason... While a7RII and newer a99II got the feature back. Even my old a200 will magnify playback to selected AF point. This makes for much more efficient field editing.

Enjoy your new ride!

Edited by Photosopher - 29 December 2017 at 05:35
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GJK View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote GJK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2017 at 00:41
850 is still an excellent camera, use it...enjoy, ya it's a bit heavy
A700/A850 / 300mm f 2.8 apo / 200mm f 2.8 apo / 2x TC apo / 100 Macro 2.8 RS / 16mm f 2.8 /50mmf1.7 RS/ 28-85mm / 70-210mm / All Minolta / Metz 15 MS-1 /Sony 28-75mm f2.8
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Nikleo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nikleo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2017 at 00:50
Well, first photos are starting to come out of the pipeline...

ISO3200, slightly underexposed, pulled up in DxO 9.5 and denoised with Prime engine on very low settings (it's really easy to get a completely smeared image with that noise reduction, so I was extra cautious, maybe too much so), then bicubic downscaling and sharpening. Is there noise? Definitely. Do I find it disturbing in this instance? Not really. Will still fiddle around with Prime settings and, of course, I have not gone into fine retouching, layering or colour correction here. Also could have developed RAW file twice, second time with stronger NR and then blend the two keeping the cat out of the stronger one. But it is a promising start! I don't think A37 would do any better, actually. Might do a side by side comparison tomorrow.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/leo_nikishin/27583552439/

P.S. Probably it is just too late for my brain to function properly but how do I attach a photo from flickr or 500px here? Feeling really stupid. Should read into it tomorrow.

Edited by Nikleo - 29 December 2017 at 00:57
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Nikleo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nikleo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2017 at 01:08
Ok, figured it out.

So here is a weaker Prime NR version. ISO3200, minor exposure push in DxO 9.5.



And here is a version 2, completely identical in processing except for stronger settings on Prime NR



Obviously not flawless but certainly getting somewhere :)
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C_N_RED_AGAIN View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote C_N_RED_AGAIN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2017 at 01:23
They look good to me
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