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Sony A7R II: the EVF (and why Canon and Nikon suck and are clueless about what is useful)

Sony A7R II

Get Sony A7R II mirrorless at B&H Photo.

See also Old Geezers Need an EVF: the Rear LCD and Presbyopia are a Bad Combination For Aging Eyes as well as Nikon D810 Rear LCD with Zacuto Loupe vs Sony-style EVF.

The optical viewfinder of a DSLR (OVF) has its uses for some types of shooting, but it is abysmal for manual focus with today’s focus screens and so its main purpose is for sports shooting and similar. In this regard, the DSLR still reigns supreme for some specialty areas (frame rate, black-out time, etc all matter too). But perhaps within a year or two, that too will no longer hold.

This post is not about Sony per se; it’s about making cameras less of a pain in the ass to use in practical terms, e.g., the value of EVF.

One thing that has really hit home is just how nice it is to have an EVF for composing and focusing: perfect composition, perfect focus, minimal glare, no holding the camera at arm’s length or with a bulky protuberance on the rear ass of the camera. That point was driven home when I did night shooting—OMG what a practical thing, simple as it is. Yes, I know that an optical viewfinder (OVF) is better in some cases, meaning about 1% of the time for me.

“Yes kids, when I was a young fart, cameras actually had optifucus viewfinders that no one could focus so you shot ten frames to be sure one of them succeeded”. Although you could shoot a wide range of mediocre autofocus lenses to avoid the issue”.

OK, I could use (as I have for years) the Nikon D810 or Canon 5DS R with Zacuto EVF, but you know what? Carrying an extra thing around my neck sucks and one day the camera + loupe auto-tangle-twist feature will strangle me. It’s getting old. I’ve probably logged 500 miles of hiking that way in the past five years, up steep shit and such. I’m sick of that stuff that comes out the rear end of a bull. When are Canon and Nikon going to get a procreation clue that an EVF is useful? That it is ESSENTIAL. Make that hot shoe* take an optional 2.4 or 4 megapixel EVF, please. Or, like, actually innovate for the first time in 10 years or so? Or put another 14 megapixels into the DSLR coffin a la Canon 5DS R. Or, at least do it right and take the lumbering WTF dinosaur show to 100 megapixels or so.

As for medium format, it should ship with a self-flagellation kit (leather to be sure)—the previously mythical Leica S Typ 007** is the same POS design with the same POS buttons and probably has the same POS focus and same POS camera lockups. No EVF there folks, and still 36MP***, for only $17K or so**** (down from $25K already!). So cool, you can take POS photos in Ho Chi Min City and blog about it.

* AKA 'SUT' (Stupud [sic] Useless Thing) on top of the camera that I never use.

** License to kill -- one’s neck and back, and the joy and pleasure of photography?

*** The whopping 36-megapixel Leica S Typ 007 is an impressive megapixel upgrade from the 36MP offered four years ago. Gordon Moore would be proud.

**** The good news is that for $17K, you do get one (1) battery and a battery charger bonus to go with the camera. And a nice box, which can help fill that empty space in the attic.

Christian B writes:

Your two most recent posts have fundamentally changed the way I will now think about the move to mirrorless.

Up to now, I had concluded that I wouldn’t be migrating to mirrorless because of the commitment (investment) that I’ve already made in Nikon compatible lenses (Zeiss plus Nikkor). However, the ability to use a lens adapter that will work for both types of lenses plus the benefits of EVF for manual focussing changes the tradeoffs big time.

Next year sometime after the successor to the D810 is introduced, I’ll decide whether to invest in a Sony or the new Nikon certain in the knowledge that my lenses will work with either system.

DIGLLOYD: see Reader Question: Sony A7R II with Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar and Sony A7R II: Night Shooting (Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro) in particular; both used the Novoflex adapter.

I hear sentiments along these lines a lot these days—ominous for CaNikon. BUT the beauty of it is that one can carry both a Nikon D810 and a Sony A7R II and use the same lenses. For a landscape shooter, this gets very interesting, because each camera can do things the other cannot: the D810 dynamic range is unbeatable, and the Sony is smaller and lighter and more easily handled in difficult terrain (EVF + image stabilization if no tripod).

Still, if (BIG 'if') Sony can get to the dynamic range and velvety smooth low noise of the Nikon D810 at ISO 64, then I would see little reason to use the D810 at all for the vast majority of my shooting. And once that happens, there is a cutoff point of “screw it, I’ll just settle on one approach and deal with a few shortcomings”. Such is the risk for CaNikon.

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