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The Elegance Network: Browsing Zoe Page: When Camera Tests Meets Super-Sexatron
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Zoe Page (aka April Appleby)
Zoe Page: When Camera Tests Meets Super-Sexatron

Nerd alert: I've just bought a new camera. These are the first shots with it. Ariel tied up our kinky neighbour Zoe Page with a lovely rope harness under her lace dress, and the results are sexy as hell. Stop reading now if you're not a camera nerd.

Still with me? Hooray! The new camera is a Sony A7R II. I bought it to fill in a gap in my camera range which has been filled for the last five years by my Canon 7D. A lovely camera, originally bought for video, it couldn't really compete with the crisp detail of the Hasselblad and its gorgeous but stratospherically priced prime lenses. What it could do, though, was shoot in lower light levels than the CCD-chipped Hasselblad, which tops out at ISO 100 (but which I usually rate at more like ISO 80). Unusable for available light indoors under all but the brightest of conditions- f/2.8, 1/160th of a second to avoid shake and subject movement and ISO 80 does not make for a low light camera.

The Canon was fine but doesn't perform as well as full-frame CMOS cameras of later generations. But the reason I decided to replace it was that it's had a lot of use over the years, including time lapse, and I think its shutter is on the way out. I know the Canon whirr-click-pause-clunk sound of a dying mechanism of old, having burned out the shutters on several over the years. (Canon shutters are fine and usually make more than their rated number of actuations, by the way- it's just that I am a professional photographer, I shoot timelapse which burns through actuations like hell, and I don't usually buy top of the line pro Canon bodies anyway).

So... the replacement. I didn't need a studio flash resolution monster with hyper-expensive glass, the Hasselblad has that covered. I didn't need a general go-anywhere-shoot-anything lightweight (but low-ish resolution) kit, the Panasonic GH4 has that covered. So it boiled down to a replacement Canon, or the new Sony. On paper the new Sony looks far superior to latest Canon offerings so I thought I'd give it a go.

Obviously, these are the first results and I'm going to get better at using it. First reactions were extremely positive though, especially for the purpose for which I bought it- available light. Combined with the 55mm FE Zeiss lens, the level of detail is exemplary (although bear in mind I was deliberately shooting wide open in pretty dim light so the depth of field is rather shallow).

Being able to shoot at f/2, 1/160th of a second and ISO 2000 and still see every individual weave on Zoe's dress on a full-length shot is pretty damn revolutionary for me. The noise levels on the ISO 2000 shots are similar to ISO 200 on the Canon 7D. I can probably open the lens up still further- the Zeiss is much sharper than my older Canon primes manage wide open. I may even be able to hold the shutter open longer, even hand-holding, because of the in body 5 axis imagine stabilisation (which will even work on stuff like my vintage Russian flare monster glass for special situations). It's not all roses though- even pro models have difficulty holding still at exactly the right moment when shooting slower than about 1/160th in my experience, but with the right model and the right tie I think we could comfortably go down to 1/50th or so handheld, which is quite something.

It's not all roses, of course. The Sony's ergonomics frankly suck- amusingly, they are being praised by Stockholm syndrome Sony early adaptors as a vast improvement over earlier models! The mind boggles. It's useable, but compared with the stripped-back photographer centric controls of the Hasselblad or the logical, tactile layout and touch screen of the GH4, it's pretty cranky on the Sony. And the Sony cost a small fortune, with lens prices also a good factor of two up the scale compared with lenses from Canon or Nikon. I'm hoping I'll be able to pay it all off in the next few months assuming you kind people like our recent work, though, and I'm very excited by the possibility of shooting in beautiful natural light on location without compromising on the cleanliness and elegance of the RE look. Given how dim the light was in this room, I wasn't expecting results anything like as good as these, so I'm really looking forward to using it on future shots in it's niche alongside the Hasselblad.

End of nerd mode- hope you enjoy Zoe giving it the super-sexatron in bondage!

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