sony a7ii

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I know I’m extremely late to the game on this one. Like almost 6 years late, but have you seen the movie “Finding Vivian Maier”? If you haven’t, it’s on Netflix and it’s definietly a must watch especially if you’re a creative but more specifically a street photographer. Holy Cow. I was blown away by this movie.

First of all, Vivian Maier’s work was so good and to think she shot everything on film too. I feel like with film (as opposed to digital cameras) is much more planning and thinking involved. Especially since film takes a little while to shoot and reload, but also since you can’t even see what the image looks like after you’ve captured it. It’s like praying you got something good but never not knowing for sure until your roll is developed and then it is sometimes difficult to go back and recreate that exact moment. It’s actually a bit terrifying when you sit down to think about it.

And that Rolleiflex. OMG how cool was that camera. I love how the viewfinder was on top so that you could sneakily take photos without people really knowing. I feel like I can sort of do that with my Sony A7II but not to the extent that Vivan did.

But second of all, how cool is it to find a huge trunk of negatives and seeing such amazing photographs. I loved how you got to know her and her personality through her images and the stories of people she connected with. It was very interesting how she sort of recreated herself for different people. I think when I think about her images her self portraits stand out the most to me in my head. She was such a mysterious woman and to see what she actually looked like was very nice.

Anyways, you may have noticed in 2018 I really tried my best at street photography and it’s something I really enjoy but something so different for me. Vivian Maier is now a huge inspiration to that and look forward to capturing more on my travels 🙂 This image was taken in Aruba while we were sitting down for breakfast. Across the street was this man who just seemed so content with the morning. He was basically screaming for me to capture this image.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/1000th sec at ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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So after I photographed the Korean War Memorial for a bit, I walked over to the Reflecting Pool to check things out. Since we had snow the day before, I was really hoping for a little bit of fog. Lately, I’ve been loving the reflecting pool for this exact reason. I love the way the fog gets trapped around the trees of the pool so I wanted to make sure I was at the right place at the right time. Well, it didn’t happen.

But this happened! I love how simple this image is. I shot it with my 70-200mm at 200mm standing on the top of the steps that lead to the reflecting pool. I’m not sure if it’s easy to tell the location if you’re not familiar with the Washington DC area and that’s the reason why I like it so much. It looks like it could be almost anywhere. The reflection of the Washington Monument perfectly cuts the image in half and the two people standing there is absolutely perfect. I also love how compressed the image is and you can’t even see the stairs. It’s as if we’re on two totally different platforms and you have to leap down to get close to the water.

LOL I love how these past few posts turned into a chronological description of what I did in the span of 2 days. Not intentional but it will be very interesting to look back on.

PS speaking of looking back, 2018 is almost over! If you haven’t already, check out the 2019 Dynamic DC calendar. I LOVE the way it turned out this year. I don’t have many left so get them while they last. And can we talk about how much I love February’s image OMG <3

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/1250th sec ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom lens.

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Sony Alpha A7II Mirrorless Digital Camera

I got this camera when it came time to replace my Canon 5d Mark II. Coming from a heavier full frame camera to this mirrorless dslr, I could not have been happier. It just fits so perfectly in my hands. I’ve been using it for 4 years now and knowing all the settings and where each button is just second nature to me now. However my favorite part about the camera is how lightweight and small it is. It’s so easy to travel with and just throw it in my backpack when I’m not using it. I used to feel back and shoulder pains when I would carry the 5d Mark II around but I haven’t felt that with my Sony A7II. I’ve taken it hiking and even got caught in a rainstorm with it. It’s a great durable, reliable camera.

iwo jima, lightning, storm, clouds, rain, arlington, virginia, va, reflection, rain,
Although the camera isn’t waterproof, it is weather resistant. I’ve taken it out with me during rainstorms, snow storms, all kinds of weather and never had a major issue. I have these camera sleeves just in case, but never had to use them while out on the field. I mainly have them so I can cover my camera while it’s in my un-weatherproof backpack or purse. My camera settings for this image is F5.6 1/30 sec ISO 640 with 16-35mm wide angle lens handheld.

By the way, a newer version of this camera has come since I’ve purchased it. It’s called the Sony A7III (click here to see it on Amazon). It’s a great camera with great new features. I’m lucky enough to have very kind friends who have let me play with theirs and it’s very nice. You may think, what’s the point of still writing this review? Well if you’re in the market for a new camera and not willing to spend the price for the latest model, I think the A7II is a great alternative. It’s about $600 less but you’ll still get some great images. Plus I may or may not be in the market for a newer camera so I thought I’d throw up this review just in case.

Like I said before, it was the size that got me with this camera. It’s so light and compact but to be honest, this camera would not be the same without my peak design hand strap. It basically allows me to go anywhere with a camera in my hand. Plus it allows the extra freedom of trying new angles and not having to worry about the camera slipping out of my hands. It’s hard to describe but I feel an extra sense of freedom and creativity with this camera that I didn’t even know existed with the Canon because I can just hold it in different positions longer without my hands/arms getting all tired.

One of my favorite things about this camera is the flipout screen. I love the way that it comes out so that I’m able to get low angle shots without twisting and turning my neck too much. When I first got the camera, I’d alway forget about the feature but now that I know its there, I probably use it 50% of the time while I’m out shooting. I will say that I take 99.9% of all my shots using the LCD screen. I just think it’s a better representation of what the final image would look like as opposed to looking through the viewfinder. Only when it’s too bright outside will I use the viewfinder.

Beautiful Even in Low Light

Oh and don’t even get me started on the low light situation. It’s FANTASTIC! While in Japan, I went on a rooftopping tour with Eyexplore Tokyo. Since some of the rooftops are so small, there wasn’t any room to even try to fit a tripod. So I experienced the whole tour with just my A7II and hand strap and it worked wonderfully. Even Axel, the photographer leading the tour was impressed with the camera in low light.

Since then I’ve realized that I’ve actually started carrying around my tripod less. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tripod, but sometimes it can be a little bulky and inconvenient. With my Canon, I used to always have it for every sunrise or sunset but with the Sony I barely even need it. Worst comes to worst, I’ll just shoot from really low and stabilize it from the ground (which is a great point of view and makes ordinary scenes look different) or find something to balance the camera on for a little bit.

Ginza, Tokyo, japan, asia, visit, travel, tripod, eyexplore, rooftoping, skyline, vertigo, buildings, people, street, on top, travel, HokkiaidoMy camera settings for this image is F4 at .8 sec at ISO 320. Granted Tokyo streets aren’t the darkest but the sharpness is pretty amazing, especially at ISO 320 handheld.

What Other People are Saying

If you’ve done your research on the camera there are a few gripes people may have with this camera. Here’s what I think:

To be honest, I’m still on the fence about focus peaking and I’m constantly switching it off and on. Sometimes I love it but other times it can be really distracting. There will be so much color on the screen that it will be hard to compose. The nice part is that you can just turn it off when you don’t want it. When in doubt, I just switch to manual focus and work from there.

Comparing the battery life of my Sony to my Canon, yes, it’s not that great. I’ve gotten used to carrying four batteries around with me. The cold winter months can be especially frustrating. However with those 4 batteries, I’ve never run out of enough charge while out on the field. Even if I’m traveling all day (even in Norway and Iceland) they held up long enough for me to get all the shots I wanted to throughout the day. I just had to make sure I charged them back up again when I returned to my hotel. I would highly recommend looking into a multi-battery charger like this one. It makes life so much easier and the price isn’t too bad either.

All About the Lenses

For me, lenses are what make the image. I love how each focal length will give you something different and you can get so creative with them. Yes, it’s true that Sony doesn’t have the wide variety of lenses available like other camera companies but for me and the type of images I like to capture, it’s more than enough. Even if you’re thinking about switching from a different camera brand to Sony, you won’t have to necessarily switch out your lenses right away. There are plenty of third party adaptors that will help you, I used metabones but there are so many more to choose from on Amazon. It will slow down your shooting flow (for some reason it takes a little longer to record the image onto your memory card) and you have to shoot in manual focus. But it also allows you the time to test out the camera to see if it’s really something you want to invest more money in.

Speaking of lenses, my two favorite lenses are the 16-35mm and the 70-200mm. For the type of photography that I like and practice, these two lenses are pretty much the only lenses I carry in my everyday camera bag.

16-35mm F4 Wide Angle Lens: Perfect for any landscape, cityscape, or well lit interiors. There is a little bit of a distortion sometimes depending on the angle you’re shooting at but for the most part I love this lens. It has the ability to create such epic scenes. I love it when shooting a beautiful sky and I want to capture as much as I can in a single shot without having to stitch the images together for a PAN-orama.

frozen, reflecting pool, ice, chunks, national mall, washington dc, travel, cold, winter, ice skating, walk, sunrise, washington monument, reflection, lincoln memorial
Look at all that foreground and background. There would have been no way to capture all of this into one image without the 16-35mm wide angle lens. My camera settings for this image is F10 at 2 seconds and ISO 250 handheld.

70-200mm F4 Zoom Lens: To be honest, it took awhile for me to realize the full capabilities of this lens. I had the same lens for my canon but didn’t use it much. It was heavy and didn’t exactly know when to use it. But now that the Sony body is so lightweight and this lens is even lighter than the f2.8 version, I am looooving it. My favorite is to capture a scene that already has so many layers to it but when you photograph it with this lens, the compression is absolutely gorgeous. By compression I mean the background appears closer to the the foreground than it actually is.

washington dc, national mall, sunrise, lincoln memorial, reflecting pool, washington monument, birds, pigeons, us capitol building, us capitol, best view in dc, visit, travel
So this image was taken from the same spot as the one right above it, just not on the same day. As you can see, the WWII Memorial and US Capitol are actually shown in this image because of the ultra zoom but it appears that they are right next to each other. In reality, the Washington Monument and US Capitol are actually 2 miles from each other. Oh how I love that compression! My camera settings for this image is F4 1/125th sec at ISO 1600 handheld.

rainbow, us capitol, washington dc, capitol hill, rain, clouds, day, sunset, national mall, dome, 70-200, zoom, close up, architecture, details, washington dc
Not only can you get amazing compression with this lens, you can also get those beautiful details in places really far away. My camera settings for this image is F/6.3 1/250th of a second at ISO 320 handheld.

The 28-70mm lens that you could get with the body is ok. It’s pretty generic and will help you get your feet wet with the camera but I personally don’t use it much. The only reason why I still have it is because it’s so small and lightweight. Sometimes I’ll just use it if I want to bring my camera just in case and be as light as possible, but most of the time it just stays home.

YouTube Videos I’ve Created about the A7II

Here was my first impression of the camera:

Obviously, I had to buy some accessories for it:

I also posted this review about a year after I got it:

I’ve even shot some videos using this camera. Minus all the drone footage, this was captured with the A7II:

I will be honest, it’s not the best vlogging camera. I’ve seen others on youtube who say they would prefer to have the LCD screen flip all the way out so they can watch themselves while they’re filming. This camera won’t let you do that. However, I still think the video quality is excellent. The 4K quality is exceptional and the 5 axis stabilization is far better than other cameras that I’ve seen. My number 1 purpose for cameras is photography but I think if you’re interested in doing both then the A7II would be a great option for you.

Some of my Favorite Images

I tried my best to pull images from different lighting situations:

Fireworks, july 4th, independence day, washington dc, reflecting pool, national mall, camera settings, lincoln memorial, night, lights, point of view,

F5.6 at 1/10th sec ISO 160 with a 70-200mm zoom lens shot on a tripod.

Snow Day, washington dc, us capitol, reflection, Rayburn House Office Building, House of representatives, government, spring, snow, white, trees, taxi, cab

F11 at 1/125th of a second at ISO 200 with a 16-35mm wide angle lens handheld.

US Capitol Reflecting Pool, us capitol, reflecting pool, washington dc, capitol hill, capitol building, capital, sunrise, early morning, pink, architecture, water, weather, wind, dome
F4.0 1/10th sec ISO 250 with 16-35mm with a wide angle lens handheld.

Conclusion

Hope this review helps any of you who are considering purchasing the Sony A7II. Overall it’s a great camera and I couldn’t be happier with it. In the case of cameras, size really does matter 🙂 and I love the compactness of it. The image quality is beautiful and colors are vibrant. The 5 axis stabilization and amazing ISO makes it a great camera to shoot at night or in low lighting situations.

Like any other camera, if you are having doubts about whether or not you should purchase it, I’d start by renting one. Borrowlenses.com is a great resource to borrow almost any camera or lens you could think of. If that still doesn’t help, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll try my best to help answer any questions you may have.

Happy Snapping!

Sale
Sony Alpha a7IIK Mirrorless Digital Camera with 28-70mm Lens
  • World's first 5-axis in-body image stabilization in a full-frame camera.
  • Use your favorite lenses without blur from camera shake.
  • Capture stunning images with full-frame, 24.3MP resolution. Lens Compensation: Peripheral shading, chromatic aberration, distortion
  • Fast hybrid AF with phase-detection - 30% faster than a7.
  • Compatible with Sony's E-mount lenses, and others with adaptors.
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I have good news and I have bad news. Since you don’t have a choice in the matter, I’m going to tell you the bad news first.

Bad news is that my Sony camera is taking longer than expected to repair. Turns out it needed much more than just a little tune up and there’s a pretty significant amount of things that needed to be done to it and an even longer list of camera parts that need to be ordered. So in the end of it all, I think the camera repair people will have my camera for almost a month before I get it back 🙁

Even worser news is that I leave to California exactly 1 week from today and I don’t think my camera will be back in time.

I don’t want to bring my Canon camera with me to the west coast. I just don’t want all the extra bulk. So the good news is that I have rented a new body from borrowlenses.com, the Sony A7III. I talked to my friend, Larry about it. He just happens to be the most knowledgable person I know about Sony products and he has already warned me about falling in love. So I feel like am prepared to not like the longer battery life, dual memory card slots, and the focusing. But I’m super excited for my trip!

This image was taken a few weeks ago. The same time I took this image with my Sony A7II. I just love the stillness in this image and the crazy beautiful reflection. Days like this make waking up at 4 in the morning so worth it. I also really like how the image goes from blue to orange.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/640th of a second and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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When you’re having a good hair day and you want everyone to see it so you pose for the camera. LOL

Another one from one of my favorite places in the whole world, Höfn, Iceland. When I plan my next trip to this tiny island, I definietly want to spend more time in Stokksnes. One morning was not enough. Ideally, I’d like to spend a couple of days. What’s weird though is that it was the hardest place to book a hotel room. One minute we looked at a place and the next minute the same place blew up in prices. When I say blew up, I mean it went up by $500USD in less than 5 minutes. Sooo crazy! And then there were a lot of other places that weren’t even open for business at the time. Its such a small little town but I can see why the demand is so high. It’s amazingly beautiful here. And the horses were seriously an added bonus. They weren’t behind any kind of fence. They were just out here roaming. Next time I need to bring carrots and lure some of them on to the beach. How amazing would that be?

For this image, I was so happy to have my Sony a7ii. Its just so light and compact that it was easy to try out different points of views. The peak design hand strap made it even easier. Most of the time I had my camera down low like at my waist so I could get the horses to look very large and the background a little smaller. Especially with that huge mountain range, a lower point of view is ideal for this look. The thing that made the hand strap so great was that my camera was able to securely get down low, but my body didn’t have to. I was not about to kneel down into that grass. Do you know how much horse poop there was?

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Out of all the cherry blossom images I took this year, this one has got to be my favorite. I admit theres not as much color, saturation or editing that was involved in this one compared to some of my other images but I can’t help but love the mood it evokes. It’s also a take on the cherry blossoms that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before from the Tidal Basin. It was from last Monday when it was super foggy out. I had been walking around all morning capturing the fog and was having a total blast. But like everything else, the fun had to stop at some point. I walked the scenic route back to my car from the Jefferson Memorial and was stunned when I saw this. The high tide had risen so high that the low hanging cherry blossom branch was able to touch the water. It was just so soft and delicate, I had to find the perfect way to capture it all.

It was also amazing that there was barely anyone around. Maybe because it was a Monday morning and most people were at work at that time, but everything was just so silent and still. The couple sitting on the branch had been there for a while taking selfies. I had to include them to convey a feeling of peace and calmness of just relaxing on the tree trunk.

My camera settings were F/6.3 at 1/80 of a second ISO 200 with my 28-70mm. No particular reason for my lens choice. I think I had just been walking around with it on and didn’t feel the need to switch to the wide angle. I wanted to capture the scene as quickly as possible.

This is my favorite for now. I took so many images these past few days. Another one may pop up later that I love even more. We shall have to see <3