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Sony A700 V4 Firmware Puts the Alpha On Par with the Nikon D300!

The Fizz ISO1600 1/20 f4

Red Rocket ISO3200 1/80 f2.8 +0.3

Dolph ISO3200 1/200 f2.8

Alphie II (Gugie Girl)ISO3200 1/80 f2.8 +0.3

Bobbie Girl ISO3200 1/80 f2.8 +0.3

Red Rocket ISO3200 f2.8 1/320 f2.8 +0.3

The Sony A700 V4 firmware upgrade puts the Sony a700 high ISO quality on par with the Nikon D300! These were the first few from my first 30 minutes of shooting with V4, and needless to say, the a700 is a whole new camera with V4 installed. To be quite honest, I could not be more pleased with the results as compared with V3 shots. MUCH more fine detail is preserved, and almost all traces of bogus watercolor smearing are gone. NR was set to off, no external noise reduction done other than ACR 4.5 default or less, and very minor other PP done. We now get very nice sharpness and sweet detail at 3200, 1600 is excellent, and now 6400 is usable in a pinch. I would have paid a good sum of money for this upgrade...thank you Sony for doing the right thing by releasing V4! SSS was also working well during this test as all of the shots you see above were made with the Minolta 135 2.8 in window light only. Finally we have a camera that gives D300 IQ all the way to the top of the ISO range! Very nice!

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The Sony a700 and the KM 18-70 Kit Lens Get The Job Done on Independence Day!

Believe it or not I shot the entire fireworks 2008 firworks show was with the Sony A700 and the KM 18-70mm kit lens, manually focused in the dark, at f11 and ISO 100! My *target* shutter speed on the majority of the shots was 3.2 seconds, but the full range of speeds I used was from .5 seconds to 6 seconds. The focal lengths on *most* of the shots was between 18-26mm. The small bursts required the longest shutter speeds, for the grand finale I had to cut it down to .5 seconds per exposure. I believe around 4200 shells were launched during the 30 minute sky concert, and the cost of the show was near $70,000.

This was my 6th year shooting this show, and the A700 + 18-70 kit produced more keepers than my Minolta 7hi, Minolta 5D, and the Sony A100 efforts did in the past. My position was sitting on the bank of the river, with my tripod about 2 feet off the ground. I was so close to the river at one point I actually dropped one of my batteries and it slid into the river, luckily I leaned over the bank and retrieved it as it had fallen onto a rock outcropping protruding from the water. This year it was tougher than usual to secure a solid position for the night shoot as the masses had converged on the downtown area for a big outdoor rock concert prior to the show.

To view over 180 images  and exif information from my 30 minute July 4th shoot please click here.


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Cheap 100mm Macro Alternative - The Vivitar Plastic Fantastic!

The "Plastic Fantastic is a good enough optic but the build quality is about as bad as it gets. Mine still works after three years of light use, but it is as noisy as it gets, it wobbles a lot, it's built from the cheapest plastic you ever seen, and it feels like a toy! My Vivitar version of the lens at one time had a giant hair stuck in it that made it useless beyond f11, but the hair seemed to disappear over time so it is now functional again. Dealing with the 1:1 attachment is not convenient and macro shooting would be much smoother if you could use the full range of the lens without needing to add and remove the diopter. This older lens design may to lead to easier blowouts than most of my other lenses on digital, and of the 35 or so A-mount lenses I have owned, this lens is the worst built of all of them. However, the glass inside this lens is far from the worst, and the lens can produce some very good results for most folks. Do not use this lens in a dusty, dirty environments, or you will be sorry...If you are in need of a Macro lens on the cheap then the Plastic Fantastic (Vivitar, Cosina,) may be a useful purchase for you.


Sonolta's blog

Super Sexy Sony Alpha Cheerleader Gallery Now Open - Sony Alpha a700 Does the Crush Girls in Milwaukee!!

The amazing Crush Girls Indoor Football Dance Team performing at US Cellular Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sexy Crush Girls performing in Milwaukee captured with the Sony Alpha a700 DSLR.

The Sony Alpha a700 DSLR performed beyond my expectations in Milwaukee while covering the Rock River Raptors playing the Boncerushers in CIFL indoor football action. The Bonecrushers have a stunning dance team, and I am very happy the Sony a700 was able to capture the beauty and the enthusiasm of this awesome indoor football dance squad adequately.

Click here to view the amazing Sony A700 Crush Girls photo gallery.

Click here to view all of the Sony Alpha photo galleries.

Click here to view all of the football and cheerleader galleries at RockRiverFootball.com

-Sonolta 7-17-2008

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