Galveston Island and the A7R

I’ve enjoyed my Sony A7 very much with all my Minolta lenses.  I’ve concluded that, for me, it lacks nothing really important, and it performs admirably shooting the things I do.  Last night, however, I finally yielded to the temptation to buy a new camera.  Nearly identical in appearance to the A7, the A7R hides within it’s bowels one of the finest and largest resolution sensors in production: a 36 Megapixel full-frame beast of glory!  It uses the same sensor found in the Nikon D800E.  The best thing about having this sensor in the Sony though is I can still use all the old Minolta lenses I’ve been buying over the past few months.  Side note:  In the camera shop, I tested one of my 30+ year old Minolta lenses on the A7R against the Nikon D800E with one of Nikon’s best (read $$$$) equivalents.  Guess which lens won?  The cheap, old Minolta won by a mile.  Even the guys running the camera shop were shocked by this.  I’m not talking counting pixels won, it spanked it!  Sharper, clearer, better contrast, better color.  A sound beating.  That’s not even mentioning the size and weight difference.  The little Minolta weighed half what the Nikon did.  I don’t know much about optical designs but I’m not so sure the massiveness of modern lenses is warranted.  At least not in this case.  By the time I left the camera shop it was already dark out and I didn’t have a tripod with me.  No chance to shoot.  I settled instead for a tour of Peter Lik’s gallery at the Houston Galleria Mall.  That’s the first time I’ve seen this photographer’s work in person.  Let me tell you how humbling that was.  The prints I viewed left me speechless.  If you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Lik and his work, do yourself the pleasure of googling him and check out his stuff.  Then, don’t come back here for a month or so to let your memory of it fade a little.  He is in a whole different league.

Getting back now to the part where I post some new photos… This morning I left Houston and made my way to Galveston Island.  I’m here only for the day and will be flying out to go offshore in the morning.  Given this opportunity to walk the beach with my new camera, I wasn’t about to waste it sitting in a hotel room.  Being that it’s after midnight and I have to get up early I’m gonna cut to the chase and just post the photos without any details.  I’d rather get these posted sans wordiness than wait a month when I’m back on shore and have internet again.  The following photos are all from Galveston Island, TX, right across the street from the Hilton.  I spent about 2 hours walking a stretch of about an 1/8th of a mile of shoreline  All shots were made using the Minolta 28mm f/2.8 lens on the A7R.  RAW files were converted to 16-bit TIFFs using Sony’s proprietary Image Converter software.  TIFFs were then spiffed up in Photoshop.

Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8
Sony A7R w/ Minolta 28mm f/2.8

I can’t wait to get back home and reshoot some of my favorite locations with this new setup.  The level of detail you can get from this camera is insane.  I plan on doing some big prints for the house once I get a few decent images captured.  Hope you enjoyed the photos.  I’ll be back online in about a month.

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4 thoughts on “Galveston Island and the A7R

  1. Great images! Do you need an adapter to use the Minolta lenses with the Sony cameras? I have the a6000 and this sounds wonderful.

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  2. Hi Diane,
    You’re correct; an adapter is needed. I buy my adapters through Amazon. I’ve been buying a brand called Fotasy. I’ve not had any issues with them. They run between $10-15. These adapters are just a dumb piece of metal. They don’t pass through any information or control between the lens and camera body. In your camera’s menu, you’ll need to enable ‘Release w/o Lens’. This allows the camera to shoot without it recognizing an attached lens. I find the best mode to use for shooting with these adapters is Manual Mode. For Minolta AF lenses (A-mount) control of the aperture is done via the aperture control ring built into the adapter. On your camera, you’ll manually dial in the shutter speed. If I’m walking around, not knowing what I plan to shoot, I’ll set ISO to Auto. This allows the camera to still provide automatic exposure control (through its control of ISO), even though I’m in manual mode, setting my own aperture and shutter.

    Example: I have a 28mm f/2.8 lens attached. I’ll dial the aperture control on the adapter all the way clockwise until it stops. This sets the aperture wide open. Then, I’ll twist the aperture control counterclockwise maybe a quarter inch to get the aperture stopped down from 2.8 to around 5.6. The aperture control ring has no clicks or markers to indicate f-stops. At first this bothered me but since the camera viewfinder is always showing me the effect of my aperture setting, I worry less about the f-number and more about the depth of field and sharpness I’m seeing in the viewfinder. Next, I set the shutter to a speed appropriate to the lighting and subject. With the 28mm lens I know I need to have my shutter speed at least faster than the focal length if I want to have a sharp photo. Here’s what I mean by that: with a 28mm lens, a shutter speed of at least 1/30th second will give me a sharp shot when I’m hand holding. If I had a 200mm lens mounted, I would need at least 1/200th second to get a sharp handheld photo. This is not a rule. It’s a guideline that you can adjust to the steadiness of your hands. Just to be clear on this, this guideline is just to help you set your shutter appropriately at the lower limit. If it’s bright daylight out, I can get away with a much faster shutter speed. When you half click the shutter release button, the viewfinder will show you the actual ISO that the camera has determined is needed to expose correctly. If you ever see in the viewfinder that the ISO is blinking, this means that your aperture and/or shutter settings are exceeding the limits of ISO range. Here is an example of when you might see this: It’s midday and the sun is out. You have you’re shutter set to 1/30th and you’re aperture is set to wide open. The ISO of the camera cannot go lower than 100 (in Auto) and so it is going to be an over-exposed image. Solution: speed up your shutter until you see the ISO stop blinking. When the ISO stops blinking, half press the shutter release button to preview the ISO setting the camera has chosen. It should be 100 or higher. I typically try to keep my settings set in such a way as to maintain an auto ISO of between 100-800. The only reason I’d allow it to go higher is if I’ve reached the lower limit of my handholdable shutter speed and my aperture is as wide open as I can permit, based on my compositional requirements.

    One final note on adapters. If you’re planning to buy a Minolta lens you need to verify if it’s a A-mount or MD/MC mount lens. The easiest way to tell is if the lens is autofocus capable or not. If it is AF, you’ll need the A-mount to NEX E-mount adapter. If the lens is not AF and it has an aperture control ring at the back of the lens, you’ll need the Minolta MD/MC to NEX E-mount adapter. The advantage to the older MD/MC lenses is that aperture control ring built into the lens instead of your adapter. You can objectively set your aperture with those lenses whereas the A-mount lenses you’ll have an unmarked aperture control ring to set on the adapter. Either is simple to operate but only one will give you a true f-stop indication. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with either.
    I hope this information will help you. Let me know if you run into any trouble and I’ll be glad to help out any way I can.

    Tom

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  3. Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to give me such a thorough answer. While I know some of that, I would nit have known how to do everything you mention. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Thanks again; I really appreciate your help.

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  4. Hey Tom, I really like those pictures of the jetties. I thought you would like to know a bit about the history of those rocks. They are of course pink granite, and the ones on that particular streach of beach as well as most of the ones up and down the Texas coastline come from Granite Sholes and Marble Falls, TX. Im not sure from the angle of the picture of what jettie you shooting. But it very well could have been one of the ones that I helped build. I hauled those big giant blocks down there and big forklifts would offload us and we would turn around and go get more. They are NOT a light haul.

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