Why the Nikon Z 7 II CRUSHES the Sony A1 for landscape photography ?

10/29/2021  |  World Wide
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Five reasons the Nikon Z 7 II is a better tool for Landscape Photography than the Sony A1.

First a little background. Like many photographers I have been perplexed by what system and camera is best for my photography as we inter the mirrorless era. Having photographed professionally for many years, I've have seen and embraced a lot of technical advances in our equipment but the mirrorless camera is more of a game changer than anything I have seen in that time.

Why, you may wonder ? Even more than the change from film to digital? Yes, definitely because it gave all of the manufactures a clean slate, a place to start with a totally new system. Even Sony evolved with what had been started by Minolta when they became the first to move totally to mirrorless. So that also gave photographers a place to start again if they dared. I shot Nikon for the first 30 years of my career, Canon for 10 when digital came along as Nikon struggled with the conversion. Then I switched back to Nikon when they blew everybody's socks off with the D800-810-850 series. I had not shot Sony personally, but I had more than enough experience with Sony while helping my workshop clients fuss and struggle with their Sony mirrorless in the early years. That said, it was dealing with my clients Sony cameras and using them in the field that convinced me that mirrorless was the way of the future. When Nikon announced the Z6 and Z7 I was in. Even though Sony was the leader in that field I wasn't ready to switch. Then came the A7R4 with a whooping 61 mega pixels and a nearly hand holdable 200-600 lens that scooped the wildlife shooting world. Quickly I added the new pixel king to my growing collection of mirrorless cameras. Having always been somewhat of a pixel pig and knowing deep down more is always better a Lumix S1R that actually has a pixel shift function that works, providing a 160 mp image was added to the mix. Frankly, by this time the camera safe was a mess, but I had plenty of gear to come up with a decision of what worked best. I hoped, but after two years I was ready to get back to one system. In the mean time the Z6II & Z7II came along and the Sony A1 was obviously going to be the new king so the A1 was added in the hopes a final decision could be made. I mean after all how could a nearly $7000 camera with new super extreme flash cards not be the best?

Let me give you my reasons the $3000 Nikon Z7II is not only better but vastly better than the high dollar Sony A1.

1. First is because the basis of all camera systems is the core design of that system. Nikon had learned from sticking with the F Mount since 1958. Yes, it showed loyalty to their customers by not forcing a total mount change as Canon did in 1985 with their EOS. But Nikon now was ready for future of the mirrorless and made one simple change that will make their lenses sharper and less susceptible to Coma than others because less of the edges of the image circle is used. Even though Nikon has frustrated many of us with their slow early rollout of lenses, the S series Nikon lenses in the field are the top performers today. If you make and sell very large prints, enjoy star photography or just want the best this matters.

2. The basic layout of the camera and menus. Even though Sony has improved their menu on the latest camera there are still plenty of issues and complaints about the layout and logic of the current menu. If that were not enough the customization of virtually every button is more of a problem than a solution for most users. Sure when a pro or another user handles a camera everyday remembering what C1 or C3 do is not a problem but, for the person who may go weeks without touching a camera not remembering the exact custom position of a function will cause frustration and the loss of great images. Granted it may not be a problem but I have seen too many of my clients struggle with their Sony cameras especially when doing Milkyway or Aurora photography. Speaking of Aurora photography the A1 or no other Sony camera is a pleasure to use with gloves. And what is the deal of the viewfinder not working because the viewfinder - rear LCD sensor switch doesn't recognize your eye at the view finder? Just a few more things to cause you to miss those magic moments when the golden hour is going, the clouds are moving, or the perfect light beam dances across your composition.

3. The files of the Sony should be a plus but sadly that is not the case. Yes they are some 5 mega pixels larger but the files from the A1 and the A7R4 have problems. One of those is in high contrast situations the highlights lose all detail long before the histogram says they should and this doesn't seem to be recoverable in software. Another problem is with the Sony colors. I can't really tell what the base problem is but I know some colors that come out of the A1 and again the A7R4 do not exist in our world, and do not lend themselves to being adjusted in Photoshop.

4. Shutter speed. Why does Sony not have the option to shoot with a shutter speed of over 30 seconds in camera? Is there a problem with sensor heating causing long term problems? I really don't know what the issue is, but I do know taking a long exposure with a remote timer is just a bit more old school that a high dollar masthead camera should have.

5. The real shocker I found after unboxing what I though was to be my new do it all wonder camera was the lack of Focus Shift or Focus Stacking. Really what is with that? For the uninitiated focus shift shooting allows the photographer to use the sharpest aperture of the lens (usually F 5.6-8) and still achieve sharpness throughout a near to far composition without stopping down to small apertures where image quality can be lost due to lens refraction.

I really had high hopes for the A1 but it is a decent camera, at least in the top four full frame mirrorless on the market today. For me it just doesn't make a great, or even a good landscape photography camera.

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