My New Sony Alpha a1. My honest answer to: If the R5 had Zebra technology for stills, would I switch back to Canon? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My New Sony Alpha a1. My honest answer to: If the R5 had Zebra technology for stills, would I switch back to Canon?

What’s Up?

I published yesterday’s blog post just after 7:00am and went to work setting up my brand new Sony Alpha a1. I thought that I had a chance to finish by 7:30am and get out to do some photography on what turned out to be a sunny morning. Though the options and set-up are very similar to the options and set-ups of the a9 ii and the a7r iv, the menus are totally different and I had a huge problem trying to assign ISO to the Control Wheel. I e-mailed several folks asking for guidance but nobody knew how to help me. (Thanks to Geoff Newhouse for trying!) Once Geoff told me that he was sure that it could be done, I went back at it with a vengeance and on about my fiftieth time, I finally figgered it out. All by my lonesome. If you got your a1 using my affiliate links from B&H or Bedfords, please shoot me your receipt via e-mail and I will send you my brief but very helpful set-up notes.

Donna Bourdon and I had a good wind for sunset, but the color faded well before the sun went down. I was set up with the 600 GM, the 2X TC, and the Alpha a1 in Tv mode with Auto ISO (as usual) and had only a few decent chances. I was incredibly impressed by the speed and sureness of the AF system; it absolutely slammed onto the birds in flight and locked on tenaciously. The AF system of the Alpha a1 is clearly better than the AF system of the a9 ii. Clearly. I will probably not have a chance to test the Bird Eye recognition at least until I get to Merritt Island. Unless I try it on Ospreys in flight tomorrow.

I am hoping to share an Alpha a1 Osprey image with you here tomorrow.

Today is Thursday 11 March 2021. The forecast for Lake Blue Cypress is for mostly sunny with light east/northeast winds, not too bad at all for Osprey flight. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took a bit more less than one hour to prepare and makes eighty in a row with a new one. Please remember to use my B&H affiliate links or to save money at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout.

A Recent Comment by Jeff Walters

If Canon had Live Zebras would you be back full on? Or is Sony too far ahead?

My Reply

Great question Jeff. The short is is almost surely no. You’ve hit on SONY’s huge advantage: the Zebra technology. The other day while struggling with the R5’s in-viewfinder histogram, I realized something important. With the R5 you are looking at the admittedly lousy histogram — it usually misses seeing small bright highlights; if you go by the histogram, you wind up with some serious over-exposures. But the problem is that you are looking at the histogram while trying to frame the image. What I realized is that with SONY you are looking at the subject while noting the Zebras and dialing the ISO so that you have faint Zebras. The difference is that looking away from the subject with the R5 is always difficult at best, and usually fatal.

I have, however, avoided your question: would I switch back if Canon mirrorless offered Zebras with stills? The short answer is almost surely no. First off, AF with the a9 ii and the 600 GM with the 2X TC is insane. The best Canon might do with the R5/RF 2X TC, 600 III Is hope to tie. Another consideration is that I was unceremoniously (an inexplicably) let go as a Canon Explorer of Light about eight years ago. Huge thanks to program founder Michael Newler (aka Captain Explorer), the late Dave Metz, and Steve Inglima, for their (and Canon’s) incredible generosity over an eighteen year period. I did, and ironically, continue to do a ton for Canon; in recent months alone I have sold something like 51 R5 bodies via BAA affiliate link. I opted to take the high road when I was let go, and do not regret that. But it would be hard to imagine going back. Just because.

Don’t get me wrong, Canon has a better lens line-up by far, and the RF 100-500 is an absolute gem of a lens. I am baffled when folks e-mail complaining about the 1-5. In addition, the R5 with an adapter does extremely well on the fast EF super-telephoto lenses. On the other hand I have tried to become a SONY Artisan and my efforts have been pretty much ignored despite the fact that the number of Artisans who photograph birds is zero. As I (and Byron Katie) say often, You gotta love it.

Speaking of SONY, I took my brand new Sony Alpha a1 out for a test drive last night at sunset and was mega-impressed. I did not however, have a chance to play with the new Bird Eye recognition technology. Donna and I are headed for Lake Blue Cypress to meet up with Clemens Van der Werf and his boat to photograph Osprey. I am bringing only my SONY 600 GM, the 1.4X TC, and the Alpha a1. I will be shooting two systems for at least a while as the R5/RF100-500 with RF Extenders 1.4X and 2X TC are utterly superb for close work with tame birds. Time will tell how the Bird Eye recognition stuff stacks up against the R5’s Face Detection plus racking with animal eye.

Why No Photo in This Blog Post?

Donna got to ILE at about 3:00pm. At 3:30 we began setting up her brand new R5. We worked off and on for about an hour. Donna did not have a UHS ii card for her new body so I took the brand new Delkin UHS-II 128GB Power SD Memory Card out of my a1 and gave it to her. Now needing a card for my new camera, I figured what the heck so I opened the packet with one of my two brand new Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card, the super-fast card designed to maximize performance with the a1. I was smart enough to set up the a1 to shoot Compressed RAW as I need to find out how to convert the a1 raw files. But I was not smart enough to realize that I did not have a card reader that I could use to get the images onto my MacBook Pro. Duh. I had lots of other Delkin UHS-II cards that I could have used …

I will use a much slower UH-S II card all day today. Steve Elkins of Bedfords is sending me a ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type A & UHS-II SDXC Dual-Slot USB 3.2 Gen 2 Card Reader ($79.99) via Fed-Ex; it should arrive today or tomorrow the latest. That saves you $40.00 as compared to the cost of the Sony MRW-G2 CFexpress Type A/SD Memory Card Reader ($119.99) which is very hard to get right now. Right now, it looks as if Bedfords has both card readers in stock.

All of the links to the SONY stuff above go to Bedfords, so if you need a CFexpress Type A card and one of the readers to pair with your new Sony Alpha a1, be sure to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout to save 3% and enjoy free second-day air shipping.

Tomorrow morning we are doing Stick Marsh over near Vero on Clemens boat. We head over to Merritt Island on Saturday to get in an extra day of shooting before the IPT begins.

Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card

Notes: It is likely that Delkin will — at some point, be making the CFexpress Type A cards. When that happens, I will switch to the Delkin cards. (I did have a problem with the single SONY Tough UHS-II card that I purchased in a pinch a while back …)

CEA-G Series CFexpress Type A Memory Card

Extremely fast, reliable, and compact for professionals who require the highest performance in the most extreme conditions. The CEA-G80T and CEA-G160G memory cards protect recordings and boost workflow for photographers, videographers, and enthusiasts.
CEA-G Series CFexpress Type A Memory Card

New standard for compact storage

CFexpress Type A cards are a new standard for compact, high-performance storage. Despite being smaller than a conventional SD card, their PCIe Gen3 interface offers ultra-fast data transfer. It is an ideal storage medium for the future of compact, high-bitrate video and still cameras.

High-speed performance

Sony CFexpress Type A memory cards are designed for professional photographers, videographers, and enthusiasts looking to super-charge their workflow with unrivaled speed and reliability. Ultra-high-speed performance (up to 800 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write ) is efficiently packed in the compact and durable body, to help you get the most from the latest high-end cameras.

Made incredibly TOUGH

Thanks to Sony’s unique TOUGH card design, our CFexpress Type A cards offer over 10x greater bend resistance than the CFexpress Type A standard. Designed for absolute dependability, the resin body is 5x more impact-resistant than the CFexpress Type A standard, and provides IP57 dust and water protection. New heat-dissipating materials also ensure consistent high-speed data transfers, along with resistance to X-rays, UV, and electrostatic radiation.

Work faster, be more productive

CFexpress Type A memory cards open up worlds of opportunity for professionals. Handling high-resolution files and high-speed recordings in a small but rugged format, it’s perfect for speeding up workflows and improving productivity, allowing you to have more time available for creative work.

Rapid-response photography

Dramatically expand your photographic possibilities, with uncompressed continuous RAW shooting for fast-moving action such as motor sports and wildlife. Writing speeds of up to 700 MB/s1 ensure ultra-fast camera buffer clearance for responsive, continuous shooting.

Dependable videography

Sony CFexpress Type A cards are optimized for continuous, high-bandwidth data writing, making them ideal for professional high-bitrate video recording, such as 4K 120p, where dependability is critical. For extra reassurance and video recording stability they also carry the VPG (Video Performance Guarantee) 400.

Speed up workflow with the CFexpress Type A card reader

Optimized for Sony CFexpress Type A memory cards, the optional MRW-G2 card reader allows you to transfer data via a SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps (USB 3.2) interface and take full advantage of high-speed backups and more efficient workflows. It’s compact, easy to carry, and works with both Sony CFexpress Type A and SDXC UHS-II/UHS-I memory cards.

Sony’s TOUGH for the roughest places

With a tough design, CFexpress Type A memory cards offer superior strength up to 10x greater than the CFexpress Type A standard, additional rigidity tested to 150 newtons of force, and can withstand falls of up to 24.6 feet.

Sony’s TOUGH for the toughest places

You can rely on CFexpress Type A memory cards to work faultlessly in extreme temperatures, X-rays, electrostatic environments, and intense UV light. A dust- and water-resistant design provides the reliability needed for outdoor use in challenging conditions (IP57).
File Rescue: Recover lost files

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

10 comments to My New Sony Alpha a1. My honest answer to: If the R5 had Zebra technology for stills, would I switch back to Canon?

  • Is Canon R5 compatible with my existing Canon Lens. I a
    m shooting a 1DX MK2

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes, with one of the EF-EOS R Adapters. Learn about those n the blog post here.

      with love, artie

      ps: get your R5 from Bedfords and save 3%!

  • Hi Artie

    The first thing I will buy when I things go back normality will be the Canon R5 with the 100 to 500 4.5 I know you are right on this set up I seen the results of how good good they our together .I am so pleased that Florida is a 100% back, you are blessed to live and work in such a magnificent part of the world full of wildlife and photographic opportunities I will return one day
    and meet you again on one of your IPT’s.
    Best and love

  • Hi Artie

    To days blog is a bit too Sony for me I have used Canon all my Photographic life and to long in the tooth to make a change now and the cost would be out of the question due to the impact of Covid 19 on my business. A lot of top flight retailers here in the UK our closing down is the same in the US? But on a more positive note we have just booked are first vacation for July we have not been any where for well over 12 months.
    Best and love to you and your team


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry, just the facts. Here is another fact you might not like: if you shoot Canon, the R5 is their best camera body ever for birds in flight and Face Detection plus Tracking AF 🙂

      Enjoy the vacation.

      Florida is 100% open and non the worse for wear.

      with love, a

  • Howdy Artie
    Hope you Donna and Clemens have a great day shooting! Capture one’s upgrade now supports Sony’s Alpha 1 that was just released.
    Yesterday Sony released a firmware update for the A9II and the A7III not sure what is new though in the firmware.
    Looking forward to seeing your images!
    Always with love b

  • avatar Tom

    That was nice of you to loan out your card. Can you use your camera as the card reader to download your images to your computer or do you have to have a card reader?

    I’m looking forward to seeing your A1 images.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Tom. Donna is a long-time friend. I could have done that but it is just too much of a hassle for me 🙂

      with love, artie

      • Hi Arty,
        Wondered if when using the canon gear at f14 you will have diffraction issues with the R5?
        Kindest regards.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Hi Stuart,

          Are you seeing any at f/18 and f/20? I have never had any diffraction issues with super-telephotos lenses. Have you? My understanding is that it is supposed to be a problem with short lenses ..

          with love, a

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