A-O Kay

Okay, this is old news, and I’ve been running around with a Sony Alpha 700 with Version 2 patched in, but here it is anyway:

Click here for Sony Alpha 700 Version 2 firmware update.

I quote the page:

The Firmware update improves the following issues:
* The picture sharpness is better under low contrast conditions.
* Noise is reduced when working at high sensitivity ISO setting.
* The flash control is better at close range with a non-ADI control lens.

Unfortunately, I did not have a controlled environment to test the before-and-after pictures. Also, I rarely ever flash at close range with a non-ADI control lens.

David Kilpatrick over at Photoclub Alpha has published a great article about the Sony A700’s improved Advanced Dynamic Range Optimizer. I have to agree, as I’ve seen amazing results with the new DRO (on the Sony A100, DRO was meek and humble.)

DRO set on Level 4 or 5 looks like a HDR image, with less fakeness! I’ll post my own pictures in a separate post.

Click here to read Advanced DRO – the A700�s magic bullet

And now, for geeking on a different mount – the Four-Thirds mount has a new professional body in the form of the Olympus E-3!

I have to admit, I really like its specifications, and after touching one in real-life I am convinced it is awesome.

It’s got a white-balance sensor! Wireless flash is finally supported, with compatible flash units. Highlight/shadow spot metering is interesting.

Kelvin WB can be set from 2000K to 14000K (insane!) when competitors go from 2500K to 9900K only.

Of course, there’s always good ol’ One Touch WB (you can bind the Fn key to that). This would make it the JPEG shooter’s dream.

Its 2.5″ LCD screen may seem old, at 320×240, and not as bright as the Sony A700 (at 640×480). However, it swivels! Perfect for the random times when you’d want to camwhore with it.

And yes, Live View is not fun when you don’t have a swivel screen. Thank goodness the E-3 has that! In addition to that, when pressing the AEL/AFL button to trigger AF in Live View, the screen freezes its last frame and shows you which AF point is being focused on. This is unlike the Canon 40D, which blacks out while focusing. (Canon has by far the worst implementation of Live View AF, this generation.)

The grip is rubbery. It is also chunky, like my Sony A700. It also goes into the fashion of having separate vertical grips, yay! The buttons are all over but are in the right place.

The E-3 claims to have the world’s fastest AF with the Olympus Zuiko Digital 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD. Having tried it, I’ll believe that claim! In Live View, however, it seems notably slower, despite seeing it focus in the viewfinder as you press AEL/AFL (minus the mirror flapping bit.)

Honestly, I did not feel disappointed with its AF, unlike some other more expensive professional-level bodies which I tried.

The Olympus Zuiko Digital 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD, equivalent to a 100-400mm F2.8-3.5 on film.

However, I do have a gripe with it. I’d like to be able to set different AF modes for Live View and uh… viewfinder mode.

I’d want to use S-AF[MF] (Single AF, with Manual Focus Override) for viewfinder mode. Half-pressing the shutter should AF, and this is the amazingly fast AF they advertise of.

I’d want to use MF for Live View mode. NOT S-AF[MF] because, if I focused on something using AEL/AFL but did not shoot, and waited for the moment and pressed the shutter all the way down, using S-AF[MF] would REFOCUS if the object had moved out of the AF point, causing a random shutter lag, very unbecoming of dSLRs! Thus, MF is best for Live View, where I tap AEL/AFL to focus anyway.

Fortunately, the AF mode is on the top-left ala the Canon 1D series, but it is a hassle to press the Live View button and then change the AF mode accordingly.

A good reason to go into the Olympus line is for the Four-Thirds lenses, like this here Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-35mm F2.0. With a 2x crop factor, it feels like a 28-70mm of film, or about a 18-50mm of APS-C. Yes, F2.0! You don’t ever get F2.0 zooms elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the Four-Thirds system is still new, and you won’t find second-hand lenses, and third-party manufacturers don’t make much Four-Thirds-mount lenses, possibly due to the different range. However, you can get an adaptor for most mounts to the Four-Thirds mount, but that means the lens has to be operated manually, preferably one with an aperture ring.

7 thoughts on “A-O Kay

  1. Dr. Tan Post author

    Yeah, read this on Flickr! Seems like the brand I dropped is coming back with a kick.

    But somewhat I dislike the 4:3 aspect ratio.

    Feels weird.

    The f/2 zoom is damn impressive. The fastest zooms Canon and Nikon have would be 2.8, I believe.

  2. wkcheang Post author

    Regarding Sony’s DRO+ based on Apical’s IRIDIX technology, apparently, it is not alone.

    Both Nikon’s Coolpix D-Lighting and Olympus’s Studio Master software are currently using the same IRIDIX technology.

    Just FYI!

  3. Albert Ng Post author

    Dr. Tan: 4:3 is better because it’s closer to a square format, making most use of the projected imaging circle.

    Ironically, the DOF and speeds would be about the same if the 2x crop factor is 1 stop noisier. Thus, when comparing a 18mm F2.8 at ISO1600 on APS-C with a 14mm F2 at ISO800 on 4/3rds framing the same thing, the DOF and shutter speed would be the same. The benefit lies in the reduced lens size and weight.

  4. Albert Ng Post author

    wkcheang: I remember being unimpressed by another Nikon digicam’s D-lighting. It looked straight up horribly fake, unless there are D-lighting vendor variants.

    noel: Good choice!

    xj: Heh. I’m not sure exactly which one you mean, though.

    KJ: Hehe.


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