Sony a7r IV vs the Sony a7rII — my opinions

The Sony a7r IV has been announced, and it looks like a really awesome camera. Unfortunately, I cannot afford one for a long time but I want to buy one and ideally keep the Sony a7rII as a backup camera. If I could get one before I fly to Canada next year, that would be awesome.

I’m doing a bit of a Sony a7r IV vs Sony a7rII comparison for myself because that’s what I’m interested in; I figure I’d share my findings with you :).

Sony a7r IV:

  • 61 Megapixels
  • Shoots 10 FPS
  • 15 Stops of Dynamic Range
    Improved low light performance
  • The sensor is ever so slightly smaller at 35.7×23.8mm vs 35.9 x 24.0mm in the Sony a7rII
  • Eye-autofocus, video and stills and lots of focus improvements
  • Viewfinder; UXGA (1600 x 1200px) OLED; 5 760 000 dots, approx. 0.78 x magnification
  • LCD; 7.5cm (3.0-type) type TFT; 1,440,000 dots; touch screen
  • Playmemories Camera Apps™ – No
  • Weight; Approx. 665g / 1lb 7.5oz (with battery and media)
  • Dimensions (W X H X D); approx. 128.9 x 96.4 x 77.5mm. Approx. 128.9 x 96.4 x 67.3mm (from grip to monitor)
  • Better sealing
  • Dual Card Slots

Sony a7rII:

  • 42.4 Megapixels
  • Shoots 5 FPS
  • Type Tilt type 2.95″ (3.0-type) TFT drive, approx. 1,228,800 dots
  • Viewfinder; XGA (1024 x 768px) OLED; 2 359 296 dots, approx. 0.78 x magnification
  • LCD; 3.0″ type TFT LCD; 1,228,800 dots
  • Playmemories Camera Apps™ – Yes
  • Weight; 582g (Body Only) / 625g (With battery and media)
  • Dimensions (W X H X D); approx. 126.9 x 95.7 x 60.3 mm
  • Single Card Slots

Design improvements

I’m going to start with the main things that affect me in real world use. I appreciate the improved viewfinder, sealing against moisture, etc. Together, these make up a pretty massive upgrade for me. The frames per second, I genuinely might make use of when I photograph bears next year. It’s never been of importance to me so far but then again, I haven’t done much photography involving moving subjects.

I’ve been backing up my photographs using my phone, but I appreciate the dual card slots.

The little button on top of the exposure compensation dial scared the crap out of me. I thought, oh no, now I cannot move it without contorting my hand in some weird way, to press this button down. It’s actually a toggle switch, so you press it and it’s locked, press it again and it’s unlocked or vice versa. If you don’t like it, just leave it unlocked.

The grip looks more comfortable but I’m not 100% sure how it will be. I have huge hands. I’ll wait and see…

The sensor looks to be better in every regard. There is one caveat with this, but I will talk about that in the complaint section of this article. From what I can make out so far, from specifications and whatnot, you’re not getting extra megapixels at the cost of low light performance or something like that. I find more megapixels helps for fancy edits, plus noise is actually reduced when you down-sample, due to the signal to noise ratio.

The menu is labelled a bit better than the Sony a7rII. I’ve memorised the menu with my Sony a7rII, but for those who haven’t… Good luck. More on that in the complaint section…

I’m going to congratulate Sony for not including a pop-up flash or something. I know it’s expected, but there are people who craze for this feature. In my opinion, remember, if you see a little bulb, there also has to be a capacitor to power it.

I might genuinely make use of the video features this time around. I’m pretty clueless with video, but it being able to record great videos in automatic mode makes me happy, haha.

Complaints with the Sony a7r IV

I’m starting to wonder about my own personality, because after watching all of the Sony a7r IV related videos on YouTube, I thought of a few gripes with the camera. But let’s be real here, it’s a £3,500 camera and if you’re not satisfied with it but you’re tied into Sony, you’re semi-stuffed (that goes for all brands).

I noticed in the videos people are asking about the dial on top on the camera. This I found, really, really weird. Do reviewers not use their cameras much then? It’s just the same dial as before but put on top of the frame. Personally I think it looks worse; however, maybe it’s allowed for superior sealing, easier replacement if it breaks or more space in the body. Who knows. At the moment, it’s more caution rather than a negative for me.

The bump in megapixels is nice; I’m always in favour of technical advancements. However, I would like to see an mRAW function and it is not in the menus. Alternatively, a LOSSLESS compressed raw. I know Sony has LOSSY compressed; but true lossless should not impact the data. If you don’t understand the code and whatnot, consider it like a rar file.

The top left side of the camera is unused but the top right is basically cramped. The PASM dial cannot be user defined to something else nor can the exposure compensation dial. Personally I would have liked to see the PASM and exposure compensation dial user customisable, and an OLED on the top left of the frame. You might even be able to remove one of the dials but have the same functionality, with an OLED. Failing that, do what the Sony a9 does and have a dial on the top left.

Lastly, the menu-interface… I know some devout Sony fans will argue (I’ve seen it on dpreview, lol) I’ve never used a Sony camera (I’ve had the Sony a7rII two days before it officially hit the shops, I believe), I’m just not used to it or whatnot… but damn it’s bad. To switch picture profiles, enable APS-C mode for video, etc. etc. requires unnecessary button pushes. They still haven’t separated a lot of the stills functions from video! And if you’re like me and you want to dabble in video but you don’t want to keep changing settings around, it’s a nuisance.

The labelling on my Sony a7rII reminds me of going into a shop, and the aisle that says “milk” has eggs. You’ll get used to it. You’ll remember it even, but it truly doesn’t make any sense.

I would have liked to have seen a much improved user-interface and a touch screen to flick through the menu better. I believe they can still implement it. I’d probably code it for free if they let me.

Conclusion

I can put up with the menu problems, the cramped top might not be a problem in real world use and storage is getting cheaper. I will feel a bit more assured climbing mountains with a more sealed camera, and I find the improvements important to me. I truly think that it looks like an amazing camera but I think Sony got a little lazy too! It’s great though and it looks like it’s almost perfect for me :).

Raspberry Pi 4 & flirc case

Hey,

I guess I’ve been living under a rock or something because I’ve only just noticed the Raspberry Pi 4 is available to order.

I own a Raspberry Pi 3b and it’s been quite useful to have. The Raspberry Pi 4  has faster networking facilities, a faster processor, USB 3 and it’s available in a 4G ram version! It looks pretty cool, plus you can get flirc cases for it now :).

I don’t know if anyone knows whether there will be a Raspberry pi 4 zero version of it? But that would be cool. You could make pretty fast file hubs / portable backup solutions with it.

Wireless keyboard for travel – Samsung Galaxy Note 10, android & apple

I find smartphones in general quite difficult to type with, and I’ve been thinking it’d be cool to write more while travelling. Especially as I’m considering photographing some stuff in Scotland as soon as I can afford it.

I bought the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphone upon release and I’ve been really happy with it. I wanted a water resistant smartphone with USB 3 speeds for backing up photographs with my Sony a7rII mirrorless camera, and it’s served me well. I can never get along well with a touchscreen for typing a lot though.

Things like the Dell 9380 13inch XPS laptops are obviously incredibly nice but they’re also incredibly expensive and quite heavy to hike with for long periods. I can probably get by with a little keyboard for my phone, I think. The screen is fairly small but obviously most of that is taken up with the on screen keyboard anyway. Using a wireless keyboard, you effectively get twice the screen space and I think it moves into the realm of doable. For something like the smallest Apple iPhone, it might be too small but for larger phones like a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Google Pixel 3 XL, etc. I think it should be okay.

I’ve seen a few models… The Microsoft Universal Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard catches my attention the most. Interestingly, it’s sold slightly cheaper here in the UK than in the states–that’s pretty rare for anything electronic. None of them seem to be waterproof but some have splash resistant keys. At £44.99 here in the UK, it’s cheap enough that you can break it without it ruining your life; nonetheless, it’s expensive enough I don’t really want to break it either. I have a folding case already, which I can use to prop up the phone screen.

There’s quite a few keyboards available and the microsoft is the more expensive model, but I typically really like microsoft hardware. I thought I’d mention these keyboards because it’s hard to keep track of technology and perhaps it’s something you might want to consider. If I get one, I will let you all know what I think of it. I have a few questions: are there delays when typing, does the gap in the middle of the keyboard matter much, and are the keys nice to type on? etc. so on. I currently use a topre, for my PC and I’m a bit spoiled.

I’m not sure how much these keyboards weigh in actuality either. For any travel bloggers hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019, you might just have time to grab one! Haha. I think it’s definitely something a backpacker should take a look at.

To my knowledge, the microsoft universal foldable bluetooth keyboard works with all phone operating systems that have bluetooth.

 

Godox round head speedlight flash Profoto A1

Godox have announced news they will be releasing a flash similar to the Profoto A1. I think given the advancements they’ve made recently, at the pricing point, it is hard to justify buying into Profoto so I have decided to buy more Godox flashes when they’re released. I don’t know what the Godox Profoto A1 lookalike will be called or what it will cost, but I don’t expect it to be too expensive.

I’ve cropped this photo because it has personal stuff in the room, but this was taken with Godox speedlights. In my opinion, considering this is without any lighting modifiers, it looks pretty natural. The flash near the door is too powerful but that’s just user error.

 

Profoto B10 and Godox AD400 Pro potential review

Profoto have just announced a new product, the Profoto B10. I have been reading through various comments about Profoto and it’s interesting. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again so I don’t get a “you’re a crappy photographer and don’t know what you’re talking about!” email of abuse. I’m not a good photographer, but I know a bit about making things and I’m fairly good at critical thinking.

The Profoto B10 build quality

Build quality is an interesting concept and it’s often brought up into a discussion when Profoto is mentioned. What do you think of when we say “build quality”? I often find poorly machined products made of metal are are touted as having good “build quality” simply because they feel tough/cold in the hands.

The profoto is plastic/polycarbonate. I bought a Profoto B1 and the Profoto Sony transmitter; I wouldn’t say either are built like a tank.

Here’s some things I noticed… The early version of the B1 was a wash with flash tube problems, many people had received a B1 with a flash tube that had fallen out. The B1 I received didn’t exactly impress me from a build quality perspective.

The transmitter, even less so. Take a look at the top photograph, you can see how the plastic shell doesn’t even cover the terminals properly so if water got into the battery door, it goes straight into all of the circuity. In fact, anything could go down there. It’s just lousy. The battery compartment door was also, incredibly lousy. The door itself is incredibly thin plastic and it just screams cheap crap to me. I know why it’s this way, because it’s far easier to make and assemble.

It’s just a battery compartment door, and you might think why should I be worked up over this? Well, it’s quite simple really. This is a very, very high priced item and it should be made better. For the same price, you can get a far more complicated and rugged transmitter. It uses similar technology too. Obviously you’re not going to control your camera with that, but it gives you a rough idea as to how much you’re being ripped off if you buy this thing.

Let’s take a look at their other products:

  • Profoto Easy Stand — An easy to machine stand, made with cheap materials having a price tag of £2,835
  • Profoto ProDaylight 800 Extension Cable 5m – A £10 cable being sold for £395
  • Profoto WideZoom Reflector — £30 of materials being sold for £385
  • Profoto Off Camera Flash Grid Kit — £4 worth of materials, you can have it for £72

Still not convinced?

  • Profoto OCF Barndoor — This is very, very simple to machine. It’s just a bit of sheet metal for the most part. Its weight is advertised as “300 grams”, so you know there’s not much substance to it. £72

The marvellous Profoto B10

If the marvellous Profoto B10 works better than everything else, and it does the job you intended, who cares if the manufacturers kept costs down, right? Well, here’s the problem with that too.

The Profoto B2 doesn’t colour match with the Profoto B1X. Yeah it’s similar, but it’s not the “I paid loads of money for my colour critical work!!” I imagined it to be.

In the end, I’m left thinking… Hmm. Serious photographers should probably buy Broncolor as they’re more colour accurate and freeze water better. The average photographer is probably best with Godox.

Profoto B1 and Profoto B10 vs Godox AD400 Pro

One interesting comment I read a lot is that people should buy Profoto because they offer better light than the competition. I guess if you pay £9,000+ for a complete system of lights, you’ll want to believe that, right?

From what I’ve observed, the Godox AD400 Pro is actually more colour accurate than the Profoto B1 and it’s certainly more colour accurate than the B2. It’s also advertised as less powerful than the Profoto B1 but I’ve been told it is more powerful.

If there was a Godox AD200 Pro, I would be seriously interested in that. The Godox AD400 Pro is considerably larger and heavier than the Profoto B10. I feel the Godox AD200 is probably not as good as the Profoto B10 but I think the Godox AD400 Pro is a better flash than the Profoto B1.

My conclusion with the Profoto B10

Ignoring the fact that the A1 is a complete rip off, the B1x probably isn’t any better than the Godox AD400 Pro, and the Pro-10 is a rip off also, I think the Profoto B10 is a good looking piece of kit. On paper, the Profoto B10 specs are impressive and if it can be more colour accurate than a Godox AD200, I think it wins this round potentially. It’s a good size, shape and you can get third party modifiers.

When I think of building a complete system, I have to consider the other lights though and the Profoto A1’s are ridiculous to say the least. I’d be happy owning one B1X but at the price point, it’s a hard pill to swallow. After the guarantee period is up, the repairs are so expensive you’re cheaper to buy another Godox light anyway than to get the profoto repaired.

I really like the form factor of the Profoto B10 and I’m severely put off by chinese customer service, so in that way it tempts me. If it colour matches with the B1X, then I’d simply skip buying a Profoto B2.

I think I will end up buying a Godox AD200, Godox AD400 Pro and a Godox round head. I will then review these after I’ve bought them.

Flash misfires

The Godox has a different setting for close proximity. If you’ve had troubles even when you’ve used this setting, please let me know in the comments below 🙂