Night photography at the Fair.


Santa’s Enchanted Forest is a seasonal fair that operates every year between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. I had only been there the first year they opened and was not terribly impressed with it. But I could see the improvements from the highway as the years passed.
Last Friday we decided to give it a try, and had our good friend Lianett Fernandez pose as our model. We took along a portable LED light, DIC, where you can regulate the brightness and temperature of the light. We are probably getting a second one. In this case, it was used hand held by us, since the place was packed with people and felt it was not safe to have the light and tripod on the way. In fact, I think we used the tripod only a couple of times, for fear of someone tripping over it.
Tripod is a SIRUI small little thing that folds under 12”, carbon fiber and Al will be writing a review on it.

NEX-7 and 50 f/1.8
f/1.8, 1/4000, ISO 12,800
Creative Edit in LR and CS6
NEX-7 and 50 f/1.8
f/1.8, 1/4000, ISO 12,800
Creative Edit in LR and CS6

So most of the pictures you are going to see here were hand held, al high ISOs, which was the idea, putting the NEX-7 ability to handle those once more.
While waiting for our friend, we went for pics of the rides and people riding as well as some of the performers.

NEX 7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/2.5, 1/6, ISO 100
Edited with Florabella Overlay in CS6
NEX 7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/2.5, 1/6, ISO 100
Edited with Florabella Overlay in CS6

The pictures have been edited in LR, with some presets, others with Nik Color Efex Recipes and a couple adding selective blurs in CS6.
NEX-7, 10-18 f/4 @ 16mm, f/4, 1/500, ISO 3200
Creative edit on CS6
NEX-7, 10-18 f/4 @ 16mm, f/4, 1/500, ISO 3200
Creative edit on CS6

We didn’t do too many candids because it’s kind of touchy photographing children, and the light didn’t help to take quick ones, but there are always some irresistible moments.
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 1600
edited in LR and CS6
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @f/1.8, 1/250, ISO 1600
edited in LR and CS6

Needless to say, the little gem came out shinning in this adventure and can only wait for the arrival of the sister camera RX-1, but that will be another entry.
Capturing action is no news for me, but it is new in this context, and especially when there is hardly any ambient light.

NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/2000, ISO 12,800
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/2000, ISO 12,800

Sony NEX-7, Sony 50 f/1.8, f/1.8, 1/6, ISO 100, tripod mounted.
Edited in CS6 and Nik Color Efex 4
Sony NEX-7, Sony 50 f/1.8, f/1.8, 1/6, ISO 100, tripod mounted.
Edited in CS6 and Nik Color Efex 4

Contrary to what I do with DSLRs, I kept myself in Aperture value and use the very convenient live histogram to judge the needed compensation. If I wanted to blur something, lower the ISO and close the aperture. Otherwise, go for the gusto and use f/1.8. Lots of fun, experimenting unchartered territory. The joy is in the ride, not in the destination!
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 800, hh
Edited in LR and CS6 with Nik Color Efex 4
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 800, hh
Edited in LR and CS6 with Nik Color Efex 4

NEX7- Sony50f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/60 ISO 800, flash at Ev-2
Edited in LR and CS6
NEX7- Sony50f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/60 ISO 800, flash at Ev-2
Edited in LR and CS6

More to come soon, enjoy!
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8, @ f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 800, flash at Ev -3
Edited in LR and CS6, two image focus stacking.
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8, @ f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 800, flash at Ev -3
Edited in LR and CS6, two image focus stacking.

NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/40, ISO 3200, hh, no flash
Edited in LR and CS6, with Nik Color Efex
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/40, ISO 3200, hh, no flash
Edited in LR and CS6, with Nik Color Efex

NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/4000, ISO 3200
Creative edit in CS6
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/4000, ISO 3200
Creative edit in CS6

NEX-7, 50 f/1.8,@ f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 3200, hh, no flash
Edited in LR and CS6 with Nik Color Efex
NEX-7, 50 f/1.8,@ f/1.8, 1/60, ISO 3200, hh, no flash
Edited in LR and CS6 with Nik Color Efex

Sony NEX-7 Review


Recently, I have been looking for something other than bird photography, and started researching available cameras. A normal DSLR like the Canon 5DIII would be a good choice, but I feel it is too large and bulky for traveling. Large lenses for candids are counterproductive, since people tend to shy away.

 

After much digging, I came up with the Sony NEX-7 which I find to be a jewel.   It has 24.3 MP, APS-C sensor, no mirror, ISO to 16,000 (fully usable), Electronic viewfinder, lots of in camera features, excellent ergonomics and superb quality. Articulated LCD and capable of shooting 12 frames per second.  Panorama and HDR features, although these only in jpg format. Add some high quality lenses and you will see what I mean.Image

Sigma 105mm f 2.8 EX DG OS HSM    f 2.8  1/3200 sec  ISO 800  (157 equivalent)  hand held.

The camera is small but easy to hold in your hand, takes little getting used to. In no time, you will be able to get to all controls rapidly without effort.  The camera is complex, but so is every other camera in the market, so reading the manual and spending time with it will pay dividends in the field. It is frustrating trying to find a setting having to scroll through all the menus.

 Image

 

Image made hand held  Sony 18-200  3.5 6.3   f 6.3  1/50  ISO 200  @  142 (214 equivalent)
Shooting wide open and at a slow shutter speed for showing the sharpness and stabilization performance.
Image100% crop of previous image, no sharpening applied.

The NEX-7 has its own E Mount Sony lenses but is also able to use just about any other lens with an adapter. Interesting too, that the Sony adapter for the Alpha lenses improves the AF !!!! .The camera has a phase detection AF vs contrast in DSLRs, each has advantages and disadvantages. Face AF is not very good for fast action like birds if flight, contrast has it by a mile, however, this system has an electronic viewfinder, with a choice of live histogram or a level, which is amazing. First of all you can review the image on the viewfinder, no need to take your eyes away and look at the LCD if you want to chimp, it will be discrete :).   You can also change all settings looking into the viewfinder. Going back to the converter for using the Alpha lenses, the converted uses both face and contrast for AF functioning and it makes it faster. Still, not in the same league as the pure contrast AF systems.    

Image

Sony 18-200  3.5-6.3     f 13  4.0 sec  ISO 100    at 18mm (27 equivalent)

I did my AF testing for flight with probably the worst lens I could use but it was the only available, the 105 Sigma macro. By the way, for macro I have been using Sigma lenses both when I was with Nikon and Canon, We like like the lenses and its the only third party lens we use. With the macro lens and converter, I was able to obtain some razor sharp flight images pre-focusing and being extra careful, without the converter and the other E lenses, It was just about impossible.   Only got one, shown below.

Image

 Sony 18-200  f 6.3  1/1600  ISO 400
Made the best with harsh light conditions.

The lens line-up for this camera is superb. I would caution from buying the smaller, black 18-200, it seems to be a Tamron with a Sony label.   There is another 18-200 made by Sony (silver), a bit heavier (2 oz) and thicker, which is sharp. Not sure if we had two bad samples of the black lens but performance was not acceptable. The Sony lens was designed for their high end video cameras and has image stabilization for both still and video, the other just for stills. Price difference is about fifty dollars.

ImageSony 10-18, @ 18mm. f/4, 1″, ISO 100, tripod mounted.

First lens to buy would be the 18-200 and then you go according to need.   I want fast lenses for low light so we went with the Zeiss 24 1.8, Sony 50 1.8 and Sony 10-18, f 4.0. The 24 is the crowning jewel. Michael Reichmann raves about the lens and compares to the Leica Sumilux 24!. One amazing statement, be sure to read his reviews in Luminous Landscape for an eye opener!

 The wide angle zoom is amazing, since its image stabilized, producing sharp images at low shutter speeds even hand held.  The 50 1.8 is an obvious choice since the cost is not that high and the performance remarkable. My wife and I have tried and shot thousands of images during two trips to the House of the Mouse (Disney) and have been impressed. Some sample images including a couple at a ridiculously high ISO, taken by my wife and I.Image

Straight out of the camera with no processing   Sony 50 1.8    f 1.8   1/100 sec  ISO 16,000

Another good lens choice would be Leica.   Lenses are small and excellent performers, you set the f stop on the lens so no complicated adapter is needed .. they are manual focus only, though. For Canon, Nikon etc you need the latest adapter so the camera communicates with the lens, otherwise the lens would default to wide open.

 Image

Sony 18-200  f 22  1/4 sec  ISO 100 @ 43 mm  (equivalent 64)
Forgot my ND !!!
 

One safe way to try out this camera would be renting. Lots of places to rent online for very little and there is nothing like a hands on experience. First, download the online manual, to be familiar before the camera arrives.  After trying I know you will not be disappointed.

 Image

Sony 10-18mm @10mm, in-camera HDR with 6 Ev range, 3 images, f/22, ISO 1600, tripod mounted. Sony IR remote.