Photos in the Garden with Caroline Jensen

7. The NEW Sony A7R5 - My Personal Review

October 31, 2022 Caroline Jensen Season 1 Episode 7
Photos in the Garden with Caroline Jensen
7. The NEW Sony A7R5 - My Personal Review
Show Notes Transcript

Join Caroline Jensen as she walks you through her impressions of the new Sony A7R5 camera. Learn how the camera performed for garden shooters, especially with insects! She covers all the fun new features! 

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Hey everyone. My name is Caroline Jensen. I am a professional photographer and Sony Artisan. Welcome to Photos in the Garden. So today we're gonna be talking about the A7R5. I was really blessed to get my hands on this camera a few weeks ago. I only had it for a few days and I was given a brief to go shoot insects with it. So I'm going to approach this little review of this camera from a bit of a different angle. A lot of great YouTube videos are out there on all of the specs, and the, the details I'm going to approach it from, from the view of a shooter.  and also from the view of a common person, I am a garden shooter, as if you follow this, you know that is true.

And I like to shoot pretty normal things, birds, bees, butterflies, flowers and people and family, things like that. I was sent the camera and I had a, a wonderful overview of the camera from one of the tech people over at Sony. Truthfully, it's really overwhelming. There's so much about this camera that I was, I was frantically taking notes during the presentation trying to, you know, make sense of all of this.

And I had a lot of questions. So at, at the time when I went through it, I really. Get the, the depth and the breadth of what the camera was capable of until I had it in my hands. And then I missed a couple of really important things that were frustrating to me because I so would've liked to have used that, uh, those functions while I had the camera.

But I digress, I am, I am planning on getting the camera.  it's a, it's a great unit and I will tell you why now. Th this whole program is about whether this camera is right for you or not. And I am very aware that, uh, price point and function makes a big difference to everybody as to what they need in a camera.

And my solid advice to friends and family who've wanted to get a Sony camera is. Get the camera that works best for what you need, what you need. And a lot of times people don't need all the extra bells and whistles that are in the latest and the greatest incarnation of the camera, so they can save considerable money by going a couple years back and getting a used model  that's still available, that is a little bit older, that is totally fine. But I think that understanding what a camera brings to the table and what it can do for you as a shooter can make all the difference in whether something is for you or not. You know, that the whole idea of gas, you know, gear acquisition syndrome that a lot of photographers get.

We want the latest and the best, but if you're not going to use those particular function, Then it's pointless and pretty much anything in the last three to three or years or so is incredible so I just wanted to, to put that out there. I'm not trying to just sell you on this particular camera, but I really do wanna give you my insight into it as a person who has some issues with shooting and some drawbacks personally, health wise and things that make shooting a little bit more difficult for me and, and why this particular camera is really helping me be a better photo.

This camera has a few functions that are brand new to Sony, and it's something that I think needs to be fleshed out a little bit so that you understand what's going on. For instance, one of the major functions that people are interested in is auto focus. Will this take the pressure off of me to focus on the correct part of the frame?

And this camera has a really unique thing in that it has a new ai. Deep learning processor that is in addition to the regular processor. So what this does is it takes some of the, the load off the regular processor so that it can function in a better way to understand the things where that fall into the, the AI court, for instance.

This camera has the ability to not only see eyes, which is in other cameras, but it also can see body positions. For instance, when I was at the Sony event in New York City, they flew me out there so that I could attend the launch, which was awesome. Thank you, Sony. They had these wonderful bays set up shooting bays where people could experience the different things that the camera could do.

And one of the bays had women in like metallic outfits with masks on where the eyes weren't really visible. I mean, the eye. Impressions were visible, but there, there weren't eyes per se. I mean, it was a mask. And the really cool thing about it is, is the camera was able to differentiate between two women dressed identically, wearing metallic shiny masks, and able to get the eyes on each individual person and understand that those were two separate people, even though they were addressed identical and also the fact that their eyes were obscured and that was something that was fascinating to me. And the, the interesting thing about it, , the camera can sense and see the shoulder width, the body height, the neck length, the shape of the head, all of those things that are a part of a human. It can differentiate just like our eyes do.

And so it can differentiate between this person and that person, even when they're mostly covered up, even with a mask. So that was something that, that I think is really, really helpful for anybody who is struggling to. Take photos of, of a particular person, say at a wedding. You know, it, it, it really can latch onto a specific individual and understand that.

And it's, it's as simple as tapping the screen. This is the person I want. And, and that's just, just mind blowing to me. So the body positioning is probably one of the most.  exciting features of this. It can tell if you have, you know, your elbow is bent or your knee is bent, or you're sitting, or you're standing, it can follow somebody running.

It can follow somebody through a crowd. It can follow people with visual obstructions. I, I found this really fascinating. It can, it can look through. , you know, dust, dirt, water, rain, uh, any kind of, of, of, of interference, and it can find the person's face and eyes with no problem. It's, it's just really sticky that way, which is really fun.

Makes it very easy for us. The other thing that, that it's expanded on not just people and understanding, you know, what is it the back of a person's head or the back of a person. You know, your back or your, your, your legs. Like I can tell all of those things. It can do that with pets and it can also do that with insects, which is mind blowing.

And that's one of the reasons they sent the camera to me is that I work with prairie conservation. I love to shoot insects, especially birds, bees and butterflies, birds or animals, but you know what I mean? And.  because of that, I have a particular interest in this function and I have to, I have to be honest, I was feeling like the camera and I were not gelling at first, and it was totally a hundred percent user error.

So let me tell you what happened. I was photographing butterflies, maybe rattling off about 200 shots. And the way that the camera looked was it had a box over the back of, say a butterfly's head. Imagine a butterfly in front of me with its wings, outspread, and its head is, is looking away from me, right?

It's, it's back is toward me. And so I would see a box over the back of the butterfly's. And I would see some green dots that were floating on top of the wings. So I am an AFC or continuous auto focus mode, and I'm also shooting with rapid fire, right? So, so all of the, the things that I would use for an insect high shutter speed, you know, a one 2000th of a second, a little bit deeper depth of field, maybe 5.6 or F eight.

Um, really thinking about just getting whatever I can. . Well, I reviewed the images and they were all out of focus, and I'm like, What am I doing wrong? I'm screwing this up. They sent this camera to me to focus on insects and I'm messing it up. So I was pretty frustrated for a few minutes, and then I started to zoom in.

And what I realized was happening was this camera was able to differentiate the eye, the bulbus eyes on either side of the head of the butterfly. It was able to differentiate that from the rest of the butterfly. So what it was doing was it was going over the wings, over the antenna. To the eyes on either side of the, the head, and it was focusing on those which were furthest away from me.

And when I realized that I was, my, my mind was blown. My head, my, my brain was blown. And I was thinking, Oh my goodness. So this wasn't just focusing on the back of the head as I initially thought it was. It was, it had the box on the back of the head because that was the box that contained the eyes and it was.

Forward to get those eyes in focus. So once I understood that, I realized that if I wanted to catch the eyes of the insect, have insect eye out of focus on, and if I wanted to just get the, the breadth of the wings that I wanna maybe turn that off or just understand that I want to use a single focus point and put that on the wing instead of letting it do the, the.

Auto selection for me. And so once I got in the sink and started to dance with the camera, things started to fall into line and I was really understanding what was going on, but I was just, my mind was just, P blown, uh, because of that. And, and so the, the potential for being able to take true portraits of, say a caterpillar, say you have a little cute caterpillar that's looking at you.

You can get a shallow depth of field portrait of this caterpillar where it's focused on just the eyes or whatever looks like an eye . Sometimes caterpillars have fake eyes, so that might fake it out a little bit. But you know what I. Say you have a praying mantis, you can get a real portrait. Of this praying mantis.

And you can do it in the style of a human portrait because it will focus on the eyes. So you can, you know, maybe open up your aperture just a little bit. You know, with macro, we always have to stop down a little bit more. So if you're using the Sony 90, Macro, you may be at, you know, F 5.6 instead of F 11 or something, but you can get that head in, focus the eyes in focus, and let the body kind of fall off softly.

So I just have this vision of like classic portraits of insects, um, you know, in nature of course, uh, that are just reeling in my brain as, as potential things to do next summer. So that was, They also have car and airplane specific auto focus, which is really interesting. If you're doing something like NASCAR or Formula One, or you're, you're doing, uh, you know, races and things like that, you're gonna be able to tap and isolate a car amongst the rest of the cars and really get those epic shots.

Specifically and with airplane. You know, I never really have had a trouble, trouble catching an airplane, like that's never been a problem for me. However, if you're thinking of something like the Blue Angels and you wanna focus in on a specific aircraft, you know, in a grouping, then you have that option too.

So, so, It really is a specialized camera for a very specific thing. So if you're somebody who shoots the Blue Angels or you know, shoots, uh, you know, air shows or something like that, you know, then this is definitely the camera for you because it's going to put you in the driver's seat as far as selective focus and, and really telling your story in, in a really precise.

So that's really cool. All of that is, is not anything that maybe you've thought about before in a camera, but if that's not something that you shoot, if that's not something that's, that's relevant to you, then you know it may not be the camera for you.  the thing that I missed  about this camera that I didn't get to do while I had it, and I don't know if I was blinking during this part of the presentation when they were telling me about it, but I must have been, I must have been spacing off or something because there was so much.

Of course, but it's focus stacking and I think in my brain I was thinking about. Exposure bracketing and not focus stacking. This does focus stacking. So for something like me, for someone like me who likes to shoot flower arrangements, get as deep a depth a field as humanly possible, I'm ecstatic. So I believe this does up to 299 images focus stacking, you know, just incrementally slicing your image all the way to the back.

So I'm gonna be able to make a flower arrangement and just have incredible depth in an image that I couldn't before, and you will take those images over into Photoshop or similar and stack those images in a, in a program to get this super high resolution images. And I'm so excited about that. And I did not get to use it because I didn't know it was there and, and that.

Horrible. But I only had the, In my defense, I only had the camera for a few days and I was really focused on those insects. So anyway, that's my excuse. But I am excited to get my hands on the camera because I think there are other potential uses for that. Any, any. Any image that you want to create that is going to need really, really tack sharp, deep depth of field, uh, this is gonna be amazing, especially for like macro photographers and, and, and people who do still subjects.

It's, it's gonna be incredible. The other thing that I wanted to touch on, . And you know, for some people this is a tiny thing, but for some people it is a massive thing. And I was talking to Brooke Shaden. She's a sweet, good friend of mine who is insanely talented, and she was excited about this too. And it's the flippy screen.

You know, we, we all have had different incarnations of the flippy screen in a Sony camera and they've all been functional. But I have to say that when I'm using like my A seven S3 that has the swing,  version that goes out to the side. That is really inconvenient when you're trying to shoot at the ground level because it ends up being at some cockeyed angle and it's hard to.

See what you're doing and I shoot a lot at ground level and I kind of missed the old screen that would just sort of lay flat and I could look down as, you know, kind of a waist level view finder situation. And, and so now you have the option of both. You can do both. So anybody who shoots video doesn't have to worry about chords coming out the wrong side, and people who wanna see themselves when they're on camera can do.

and it's very sturdy. I was kind of nervous about it. It looked like it could be kind of delicate, but it's not. Uh, it's very, very sturdy. They did a great job with.  so you can, you can flip the camera screen out to the side or up or down, or view from the top, view from the bottom. It's really the best of all the worlds, and that alone might make it functionally the camera for somebody who really needs.

To see what they're doing at a particular angle and I am super excited about that cuz I do shoot from really weird angles. I also am a hip shooter as well for a lot of insects and things. And with the eye auto focus for insects as well as the flippy screen, I can pretty much shoot blind at hip level and know that I'm nailing eyeballs of so.

You know, bugs are erratic. Insects are erratic, birds are erratic. Everything's erratic. That's living really, and knowing that I can dial in bird iaf or insect iaf and we're human iaf and have it be able to track knowing that I'm getting an eyeball somewhere without even looking.  Wild. Just, just really cool.

This camera maintains the same megapixels as the A seven R four. I'm kind of happy about that because I routinely. Struggle with memory and, and massive externals. So having it, it not balloon into a hundred megapixels or something is, is actually a welcome thing for me. I was kind of relieved when I saw that they, they also do have small, medium, and large that you can dial in as far as your, your file sizes go.

So if you're not needing. All 61 megapixels, you can definitely jump in and have it be smaller. Uh, so depending on your, your use and function of the camera, you have that option. The other thing that that is pretty amazing for me is the Ibis. Now Ibis is in body image stabilization, and when you're handholding a camera that has this many megapixels, it is very common that you get a micro blur.

you might think that you're being amazing. You might think that it is tack sharp, you know, and, and then you zoom way, way in and you're like, Oh shoot. It's not exactly ttac sharp. And that's just because the more mega picks you, you have, the harder it is to get that much data to sit still. , you know, It's like there's always gonna be a little bit of shake, because unless you're, you're, you're sitting in on a tripod, it's just not, it's not easy with that much resolution.

This camera has eight, what? I don't know how you say it. Eight stops of image stabilization. Is that the right way to say it? And it really works. You know, you're gonna be able to hand, hand hold the camera down to like one 60th of a second one. Some people said they could do it down to one 10th. Uh, I am too shaky for that.

I just, you know, I'm, I'm not a, I'm, I'm too much. Bubbly shooter. I don't know what the word would be. I'm, I'm just not very still. I can get down to one 60th comfortably, and if you're more stable and you can, you know, do the breathing out thing and stand really still, you probably can get down to one 10th as well, which is wicked cool.

You know, to be able to do that and shoot. So depending on how you shoot, that may be something that is just, just wild and perfect for. So now who is this camera for? I, I really, truly believe that.  the, Okay, so let me ba back up a little bit. The reason I ever went to mirrorless is because of issues that I have with shooting.

My eyesight was pretty poor. Uh, I don't have great eyes. I, I was a preemie. I've been wearing glasses since I was tiny, so, So there's like this. This issue that I've always had to try to overcome. And with an optical viewfinder, I really struggled and I remember manually focusing with an optical viewfinder and just trying to feel the focus, and I really got good at it.

You know, I could tell that, yeah, this is probably in focus. And 90% of the time it was, but it wasn't because I was seeing it. It was because I was. Feeling it. I just had enough experience, but with this, I know I'm nailing it. And that's something that is so much a relief. And now that we can really understand that, we can tell it to go to an insect eye, a bird eye, a dog eye, uh a car, this specific car that we can tell it what to do, then it frees me up to worry about my stabilization to worry.

Composition to worry about storytelling, which is really the crux of this. If you wanna be a good storyteller with a camera and get your physical limitations out of the way, and be able to focus on the emotion of the moment, the light, all the other considerations that, that a photographer has to think about when they're making an image, this is gonna do that for you.

And you know, at first I thought, You know, this evens the playing field for everybody, but it, it really.  and that seemed like an oversimplification and an overstatement, and I felt like I, I couldn't really say that, but it's, it, it is kind of true. If I put this camera in the hands of my dad now, I love my father.

He's awesome. He's amazing. He travels the world. He's, he's really cool, but like, he has trouble with his cell phone, you know, and, and, and techy things are hard. Hey, most of his life, he didn't have to worry about all of this weird stuff that we have today. I could give this camera to him and say, Push this button and it's gonna focus on someone's eyeball or tap the screen and it's gonna focus on that person.

It, it really like lessens the, the, the understanding of, of, of technology to enter into this arena where you're using this beast of a camera. It makes it possible to teach so much easier. If you're a photography teacher and you're trying to teach a new person how to understand photography, yes, you should do, you know, the, the, the three things, iso shutter speed and, and aperture.

You should be working on all of those things with people to understand how light works and, and all of those things and, and, and depth and, and all the things the, the camera can get out of the way. The barrier to entry has. Smashed people can, can really understand and see visually what the camera is doing, and that's just so amazing.

Imagine somebody who is maybe tech challenged, somebody who's in their eighties or seventies and they're, and they wanna pick up a camera for the first time. This camera can do that for them.  or a young person who may, but let's be real, everybody under under 20 just knows everything about tech. So , I'm not gonna even try that.

My kids totally know everything more than I do when it comes to the tech stuff. But, uh, you know, being able to focus on those stories. . You know, I, I've been a birth photographer in the past. I've been a family photographer in the past. I love flowers. Now I've been a portrait photographer. I could jump into a, like a birth situation where I'm trying to tell a story quietly, turn on the silent shutter and really let the camera do its thing.

Be that silent story. Tell. But a sports photographer could also jump in and do the same thing. So I suggest that you go look on YouTube for all of the reviews on your specific genre, if you're a sports shooter or if you're a cinematographer. Yes, the, the cinema specs in the camera are amazing. There are more specific cameras.

For that from Sony, like the FX 30, uh, just came out and my friend Sarah Krieg got to test that one, and it's, it's flipping awesome. I guess I, I'm not a cinematographer or videographer, so I can't speak to all of that, but there are wonderful tools out there from Sony for those historic. Those visual storytellers in video.

Uh, but this camera is perfect for me as a bug shooter. Let's be real and shooting flowers. And also, the last thing I wanna close with is that I did try it with my FJ 400 s from Westco, my, my strobes. And for the first time ever, I just put the trigger on the camera. I turned on the flash and it worked.

Usually I have to go Google something and figure out to turn something off in the camera or turn something on in the camera, you know, to get everything to jive properly. But it worked out of the box. Don't know if that was because they had preset something, but I'm pretty sure it was just wiped clean.

What can I say? I was able to shoot with strobe without having to think about anything except just dial in my settings. So on that note, I will leave you. Thank you so much for joining me, and I can't wait to get into the garden with this camera next summer or spring. Have a great day. Thanks everyone. Bye.