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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:09 pm 
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What's that, you ask? A Sony Alpha Demo Day? Let me briefly explain:

A Dutch Sony forum, Fotomateforum.net, has, in close cooperation with Sony Netherlands, organized a closed event for Sony enthusiast where all (!) gear is showcased and where interactive workshops will be given. Visitors can test camera's, lenses and accessories on location (a railway museum, great for photos). The workshops cover diverse subject from studio to bird/wildlife photography and are given by forum members.
And best of all: it's free!

However, it's a closed event, only 75 people are admitted and yours truly is among those. I'll be attending the SADD coming Sunday, and I'll write up a little report shortly afterwards, giving some impressions of lenses and posting a good couple of photos from the day. So if you're interested, follow this thread.
Also, I'll see if I can give you guys some live updates via Twitter: https://twitter.com/hbbjorn

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:21 pm 
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Thnaks Bjorn! Are you expecting to see some new models?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:58 pm 
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You're welcome Gordon!

Sony is likely to announce their NEX cameras at PMA, but I don't think I'll see those. The focus on the event is on the workshops and the testing of current gear. I'll try to briefly test as many lenses as possible, and hope to do a more extensive test of the 35mm f/1.4 and Zeiss 135mm f/1.8.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:47 am 
Bjorn Congrats! a re echo would be great! PLEASE!!! :D

that's very good how i wish! to have a chance for that...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:16 pm 
Its a good opportunity, you should definitely try to make the best of it. Maybe a part time job if that's something your interested in or a beta tester for consumer cameras. Good luck, and most of all, have fun!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:53 am 
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Thanks!

Knowing now what will be announced today at PMA, it's gonna be an extra fun day!

Remember to follow me on Twitter for live updates on lenses I'm testing today and pictures taken at the event!

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:44 pm 
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Now, to get the report started:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sony Alpha Demo Day Report
by Bjorn van Sinttruije

In close cooperation with Sony Netherlands, the dutch photography forum Fotomateforum.net organized a day-long meeting of photography-enthusiasts and forum members at Holland's national railway museum in Utrecht. During the day, workshops were given to those interested and Sony allowed visitors to borrow some of their latest and greatest gear. The event was only open to a limited group of people, and I guess there were about 70 to 75 attending. If you'd like to see a quick video of the event, here's the link (video wasn't shot by me).

In this thread, you'll find an impression of what happened that day, along with brief reviews of the lenses and A850 I tested for 30 minute periods and a whole collection of images taken of and during the event.

My goal for the day was to test as many lenses as possible to briefly review on my twitter and afterwards here on CL. However, because of very high interest in the lenses and bodies Sony offered, the limited amount available and the limited time we had, I have only been able to test a small collection of stuff I'm mostly interested in myself. Here's the list (in order of testing):
  • Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4
  • Sony 35mm f/1.4 G
  • Carl Zeiss 135mm f/1.8
  • Sony A850 (A900 was taken). On the A850, I tried:
    - Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM (my own)
    - Sony 50mm f/1.4 (my own)
    - Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4
I'll start of with a quick sketch of what the event was like before getting into the gear. The SADD started at 09:30, but I got there early to help set things up. It was great to see the faces behind the people you 'meet' daily online, especially when the first guest started to arrive. After an opening word from one of the people who organized the event, Sony gave a relatively long presentation on their current line-up and the technology they use. Jessica, a Sony respresentative, and Eric, an Alpha product expert, where present to answer questions throughout the day and to provide lenses, bodies and flashguns for testing. Great thanks to Sony for being present at the SSAD and providing us with the funding required, as well as all those great lenses and cameras!Also, many thanks to those involved in the organization of the event, they made it my best 2010 weekend yet!

After Sony's talk, guests were scheduled to workshops groups. Workshops included location flash photography, studio flash photography, tethered shooting, a quick course for getting off of the P-mode and an interactive talk with my good friend Gustav Kiburg, who showed of this kingfishers photos and the materials he uses to get his stunning shots.
Being there mostly for the lenses and for meeting people, I decided to not participate in the workshops and go out shooting in the museum. Holland's railway museum is a great place for families and those interested in trains, but better yet, it's an ideal location to host an event like this. There were tens of trains, from modern to very old ones to photograph, from the outside and inside. Resulted in some shots I'd defiintely consider worth keeping and sharing on Flickr! Thanks to the Dutch railway museum (Spoorwegmuseum Utrecht) for allowing us photogs to swarm their museum!

Time flies when you're having fun. It really does. Before I knew it, lenses were being packed back into Pelican cases and the organization was preparing an end to a very successful day. That wasn't the worst moment of the entire event though. Haha. After almost all people had left, and things were packed and ready to be taken out, I helped Jessica, the Sony rep, carry the cases loaded with gear to her car. Her car, which was only 7 metres away from the van that Gustav drives, the van in which I'd go home. His doors were open, her's weren't, in fact, she was still in museum. Now I'm not saying it felt tempting to walk away, but I felt kinda sad putting the cases in her car a moment later. All that glass, all those full frame camera's... :cry:

That was, in short, an overview of the SADD. (Might edit it a bit later since I've had a long day at uni and there might be a couple mistakes in there...)
Now, for some impressions of the lenses I tried at the event. As said earlier, I was hoping to test more gear, and more affordable gear, but that wasn't possible. Please keep in mind I'm not an experienced equipment tester nor a pixel-peeper.

Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4
Build: 9, Sharpness: 9, Bokeh: 10.
As some of you may have read here on the forums, I'm very excited about getting the 85mm Zeiss some time next week. It was, therefore, a lens I really wanted to try. It'd been quite a while since I held it, and I was very surpised of the build quality of this lens. All metal contruction, felt very tough and durable. As with many lenses, the extending elements wobble just a tiny little bit, that that's the only concern I had. The lens delivers some fantastic results, with great sharpenss and wonderful bokeh. As you know, or don't know, I prefer shooting at wide-open apertures and the Zeiss performs extremely well at f/1.4. Stopping down shows a further increase in image quality. What I love most about the lens is the very shallow depth of field, which is illustrated in the shot below.

Image
Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

And a 100% crop:
Image
Yes, I know, it's noisy. I don't care much...

At f/1.4, that sharpness seems pretty good to a non-pixelpeeper me!

Sony 35mm f/1.4
Build: 8, Sharpness: 9, Bokeh: 9.
It's known for being overpriced and for not living up to the G stardard. Certainly, compared to the 85mm Zeiss, the build quality is below par for a lens of this price. It's properly built, but too plasticky in my opinion. The quality though, is very good indeed. Sharp results and great bokeh. The lens is not too heavy either, which can't be said about the other glass I tested... What I like about the 35mm f/1.4 is the angle of view. I'm used to shooting at f/1.4 with my 50mm now, which is quite long on APS-C. The 35mm though, also on cropped frame, provides a much wider FOV that will be very useful in many situations.

Image
Sony 35 mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Carl Zeiss 135mm f/1.8
Build: 10, Sharpness: 10, Bokeh: 10.
This is said to outperform the 85mm Zeiss' sharpness in many reviews, and I have to say, it does. What a superb lens, really. The focal length may seem long, especially on APS-C, but it's great to capture some candid portraits or to do street photography without getting to close to the action. The build quality is outstanding, feels even better than the 85mm because of the internal focussing. It is rather big and some may find it heavy, but it's a lens I really really want now. It was, in a way, the biggest surprise of the day, since I hadn't expected I'd like it this much! The shallow depth of field allows you to get great bokeh even at longer distances, just wonderful!

Image
Carl Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

Sony A850
I wanted to test the A900, but that was taken already, and because the A850 was available, I took that instead. And I'm impressed. The body felt great, it made that beautiful shutters sound I know fromt the A900 and it was great in use. Only downside of it that really bothered me was the grip, which was just a few millimetres too short for my rather big hands. Other than that, a great body, even without the grip on it.
What really surpised me though, is how it suddenly made me love my Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM again. On the A700, the lens doesn't zoom out wide enough and doesn't zoom in far enough. On the A850 though, it does. My oh my, do I miss having 24mm equivalent now, even being the long-shooter I am. Shooting at 24mm delivered some great wide views with great sharpness. I can only imagine what kind of stunning videos you'd be able to record with the 24-70mm and a full frame video-DSLR.

Image
Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM @ f/2.8

Also tried my currently favourite lens on the A850, the 50mm f/1.4. It takes some getting used to, going back from 75mm equivalent to 50mm, but on full frame, the 85mm Zeiss would replace the 50mm.

Image
Sony 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

Lastly, I also tried the 85mm Zeiss on the A850, a truly magical combo whiich delivers some stunning DoF. The 35mm is still next on my wishlist, but Sony's really gotta hurry up with a video-full frame... :)

Image
Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

I'll post more pictures next!

- Bjorn -

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Last edited by Bjorn van Sinttruije on Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:51 pm 
Very happy you got the chance to use pretty much the best that Sony has to offer.

Judging from what your saying, the 135 seems to really be one of the best Sony has, does that mean you'll buy it over the 85mm (makes more sense on full frame though)?

Also, if you had to recommend one lens from what you tested, what would it be (I know, different focal lengths for different needs) based on impression and value for money?

Good work, as usual!

P.S. Did you get a chance to play with the HVL-F58AM and does it live up to its hype?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:19 pm 
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Downside of the A850/A900: after even some basic processing, the .psd-files are easily 200MB...

Some more pictures then. More will be posted later this week!

Image
A850 | Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Image
A850 | Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM @ 24mm @ f/2.8

Image
A850 | Sony 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

Image
A850 | Sony 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

Image Image
A850 | Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 SSM @ 24mm @ f/2.8

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:25 pm 
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Thanks for the quick comment! Much appreciated!

primitive wrote:
Judging from what your saying, the 135 seems to really be one of the best Sony has, does that mean you'll buy it over the 85mm (makes more sense on full frame though)?

No, I'm still getting the 85mm next week, not the 135mm. Main reason for this is the fact it's 127.5mm equivalent on the A700. When I go full frame, I'll probably miss that focal length when I have to work with the 85mm as a true 85mm lens. I'll therefore only get the 135mm once I have a full frame camera. :wink:

primitive wrote:
Also, if you had to recommend one lens from what you tested, what would it be (I know, different focal lengths for different needs) based on impression and value for money?

For low budget: my own 50mm f/1.4. Got me some damn fine results yesterday. For anyone as crazy as myself, or those fortunate enough to enough cash to spend: Zeiss 135mm f/1.8. Don't get me wrong, the 85mm Zeiss is a superb lens as well, the 135mm is just even better, IMHO.

primitive wrote:
P.S. Did you get a chance to play with the HVL-F58AM and does it live up to its hype?

Nope, I didn't. I only use flash about 3-4 times a year, mostly for a studio selfie, so I wanted to focus on lenses. Also, there weren't that many flashguns and by the time they were available, the batteries were dead... :lol:

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:43 pm 
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You have provided very good reading Bjorn. I didn't expect you to find the 24-70 on a full-frame body so much better, but I do very much agree that the focal length on both sides isn't optimal on a cropped body.

Perhaps I should really experience a full-frame body in the near future :).

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:09 pm 
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martino wrote:
Perhaps I should really experience a full-frame body in the near future :).

You definitely should, it's such a great lens on full frame, a whole lot more practical. Though I must still admit I'd rather use primes, also on FF, the 24-70mm Zeiss is a great performer on the A850 and A900.

So... start saving?

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:48 pm 
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You can now also watch a short video on YouTube to see what the workshop hall was like. It's not too big a room, but of couse it was a relatively small event, and many photogs were out in the museum...

Here's the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MHViM5mnaY

I didn't shoot the video by the way. :wink:

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:26 pm 
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Picture time:

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A850 | Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Image
A850 | Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Image
A850 | Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Image
A850 | Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Image
A850 | Sony 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8

More to come later!

- Bjorn -

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:36 pm 
These are awesome Bjorn!

Also, if anyone wants to check out my first session with the A850, the Vermont Elopement is on my blog right now. www.vicpellicier.com/wordpress


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