Mirrorless camera for macro - a7R iv or ... ?

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boomblurt
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Mirrorless camera for macro - a7R iv or ... ?

Post by boomblurt »

Hi all. After a break from photography, and saving my pennies, I am looking to switch from Canon DSLRs to a mirrorless system. I owned a m43 kit before and liked it, but want a larger sensor. After looking at different alternatives I am still undecided.

The Sony a7Riv seems suitable as it has a full frame sensor and pixels-a-plenty to allow for cropping. However it appears to lack in-camera focus bracketing, which I consider a benefit for outdoors macro, and I'm wondering if there is a software alternative that will do this. Helicon Focus doesn't support Sony, and I am unfamiliar with both Sony's software (Remote/Viewer/Edit) and Capture One Pro - do they facilitate focus bracketing?

Or is there another system I should be considering? Thanks in advance.
Geoff

Ichthyophthirius
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Post by Ichthyophthirius »

Hi,

I don't have one but the Canon RP can now do focus bracketing (with select lenses). That would allow you keep your stacking workflow.

As far as I understand, full frame sensors don't (yet) allow a fully electronic shutter without some loss in image quality. If you want to do a lot of focus bracketing AND not wear out the shutter, you might be better off with a smaller sensor.

Regards, Ichty

Phil973
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Post by Phil973 »

My workhorse if a Fuji XT2, Pixel peaking, electronic shutter trigged by StackShot controller......A dream (15/20K shoots on the good days)

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

I don't think there is a problem with electronic shutter image quality in the latest FF cameras. All of the ones that offer pixel shifting use electronic shutter for that, and the pixel-shifted images are stunning.

ray_parkhurst
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Post by ray_parkhurst »

I'm still waiting for someone to publish something, anything, about the requried workflow for wired stacking with the A7Rm4. It's not clear to me yet if Sony fixed the problem with the A7Rm3, namely that you can't do wired stacking while still doing Live View. I'm hoping the m4 can do this.

boomblurt
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Post by boomblurt »

There is no lack of information on lenses for macro. Details about macro-specific abilities of the cameras is difficult to find, and it makes it hard to choose a system.

(Edited for clarity.)
Geoff

boomblurt
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Post by boomblurt »

So I guess what I am asking is: What is the best mirrorless systems (camera plus software) available for macro photography, and why? I am talking about a camera kit suitable for outdoors as well as high-mag indoors (eg with Mitutoyo objectives and stackshot/wemacro).

Is this a silly question?
Geoff

ray_parkhurst
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Post by ray_parkhurst »

boomblurt wrote:So I guess what I am asking is: What is the best mirrorless systems (camera plus software) available for macro photography, and why? I am talking about a camera kit suitable for outdoors as well as high-mag indoors (eg with Mitutoyo objectives and stackshot/wemacro).

Is this a silly question?
It's not a silly question, but I don't think it's an easy one to answer. Your thread title asks about the A7Rm4 but so far I don't think these questions have been answered for this camera. Other cameras each have their own limitations and quirks. Personally, I have purchased several cameras including the A7Rm3, Pentax Kx, and Canon 5DSR, and ended up sending them back for various reasons of inoperability or performance limitations in my system. I'm still using an old Canon T2i, and looking for a replacement as it won't last forever, yet so far there is no obvious winner amongst the field of contenders.

boomblurt
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Post by boomblurt »

I agree Ray and apologise - I didn't mean for this to turn into a bait and switch.

My ideal criteria is for a mirrorless, full frame, with focus bracketing for outdoor macro. I'm not sure anything ticks all my boxes, although I am still hopeful the a7Riv will, once 3rd party software allows for focus bracketing.

At this stage the Fujifilm X-T3 seems a good option, but I haven't given up on a full-frame solution.
Geoff

chris_ma
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Post by chris_ma »

boomblurt wrote:At this stage the Fujifilm X-T3 seems a good option, but I haven't given up on a full-frame solution.
I have no experience with microscope objectives myself (or anything higher then 3x), but from what I've read here and on Roberts site corner performance could be tricky to achieve.

Personally I'm not sure if full frame is really much of a benefit at high magnification.

5x on MFT is roughly equivalent to 7x on APS and 10x on FF. so you need higher mag lenses that have more problems with edge coverage, diffraction and DoF if you want more megapixels (if we stay at the same megapixels then things should pretty much balance out since the larger pixels will allow for more softness in the lenses).

so yes, for ultimate image quality FF (or larger) is the way to go but things will get a lot more complicated and expensive for not too big of a gain.

just some thoughts from somebody who's quite new to all this
chris

edit: reading the original post again I'm not sure why I got the impression that you need ultra high magnification. for things up to 2x full frame is quite nice. I'm using a S1R but only with manual lenses and I don't do deep stacks, so I can't weight in on workflow questions.

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

The S1R easily does studio work with standard rail-driven stacking. But it can't do automatic focus stacking with any currently-available macro lens, with the possible exception of the super-expensive Leica L-mount macro lens (>$6000 I think). That was very disappointing for me.

I do medium-magnification stacks with it, mostly 5x-10x. It works well for that, though it does have its quirks. There is no problem with edge quality if you scale up the tube lens relative to what you would use on your earlier camera. So for example if you were happy with a 200mm tube lens on an APS camera, a 300mm tube lens will give you the same FOV on the FF camera. As Chris says, this may or may not give you much advantage over the APS image, depending on the effective aperture and pixel size.

I've just done an extensive test of tube lenses for FF with 7.5x and 10x Mitutoyo objectives, and I have found some tube lenses with short focal lengths that handle corners well. These can give FF a big advantage over smaller formats. An example is the 200mm Mamiya Apo 6x4.5 medium format lens. In general, medium-format lenses have much more uniform sharpness across the frame compared to regular FF lenses. But there are some very good FF tube lenses. The cheap (under $75) and common 135mm Nikkor-Q f/3.5 does surprisingly well. So does the Nikon 180mm ED manual-focus lens, a cult classic lens for astrophotography. Extreme corners are not perfect on these but they are really good overall. The 135mm is especially noteworthy because it pushes the magnification of the objective so far down relative to the standard tube lenses, resulting in very sharp pictures. I was amazed at the lack of vignetting when using that 135mm as a tube lens on FF. I'll write this up for a post when I have time....
Last edited by Lou Jost on Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

boomblurt
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Post by boomblurt »

I desire high pixel count and density as it is useful for many types of photography, not just macro. I own quite a few macro lenses, including Mitus 5x, 10x, 20x, 50x as well as "normal" lenses. I also own microscopes that I do imaging with - Nikon microphot with DIC and SMZ-U. A larger sensor has real benefits in that it is more versatile (eg landscape), although I am always willing to compromise.
Geoff

ray_parkhurst
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Post by ray_parkhurst »

chris_ma wrote:
boomblurt wrote:At this stage the Fujifilm X-T3 seems a good option, but I haven't given up on a full-frame solution.
I have no experience with microscope objectives myself (or anything higher then 3x), but from what I've read here and on Roberts site corner performance could be tricky to achieve.

Personally I'm not sure if full frame is really much of a benefit at high magnification.

5x on MFT is roughly equivalent to 7x on APS and 10x on FF. so you need higher mag lenses that have more problems with edge coverage, diffraction and DoF if you want more megapixels (if we stay at the same megapixels then things should pretty much balance out since the larger pixels will allow for more softness in the lenses).

so yes, for ultimate image quality FF (or larger) is the way to go but things will get a lot more complicated and expensive for not too big of a gain.

just some thoughts from somebody who's quite new to all this
chris

edit: reading the original post again I'm not sure why I got the impression that you need ultra high magnification. for things up to 2x full frame is quite nice. I'm using a S1R but only with manual lenses and I don't do deep stacks, so I can't weight in on workflow questions.
My main reason for interest in FF is to minimize the number of tiles required for a Stack and Stitch session. The basic assumption is that you would use optics with sufficient coverage for FF if you go that way, but this surely restricts the available optics.

My main reason for interest in pixel-shifting is to improve demosaicing. The A7Rm4 can make big files, but I do expect them to be rather compromised for macro, either from a resolution perspective, or believability. If I end up with one, I expect to only use the 4 image composite, or if it works well enough, the 16 image composite combined with a 2x downsizing to give a nice 100% pixel view. That would give a ~60MP FF single image, and when combined into a 2x3 panorama, with ~17% overlap losses, the result is a 300MP square image, about triple what I can get now. If the 100% result is what I'm expecting, this will be quite a nice result.

Macrero
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Post by Macrero »

I don't use focus bracketing, so I can't be of any help here, but regarding FF and coverage, I've been working with APS-C and MFT cameras for years. Recently I finally dared to get a FF camera (Nikon D810) for studio work/stacking, and the only thing I regret is not having done it earlier.

The difference in IQ compared with my MFT camera (Oly Pen F) is night and day, as is to be expected. Much better DR, shadows/highlights detail/recovery. Much less noise at base ISO, far "cleaner" result.

Coverage (which was my main concern) is not such a problem. My Mittys covers well the FF sensor, no problem with my Olys Fl N 10 and 20 neither. The Lomo 3.7 and my old U10/0.22 in combos does well too. Haven't tried lenses for low M so far, but this morning I played with an Apo-Componon MI 2.8/40 in combo and it covers more than acceptably well at 2-3X and f/4.

I have used Fuji X cameras, though those were first generation X-Trans, I was honestly not impressed.

Best,

- Macrero
https://500px.com/macrero - Amateurs worry about equipment, Pros worry about money, Masters worry about Light

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

I've also used MFT extensively, and APS somewhat. I agree with Macrero's assessment of the difference in image quality between ordinary-res MFT and ordinary-res FF. Hi-res MFT gets close to ordinary FF, however.

In the studio, I exclusively use FF now, except when I need lots of fast low-m stacks of living material. For that I still use MFT. I am still a big fan of MFT for fieldwork (and by that, I mean long difficult expeditions, not day trips to a local park): the ease and speed of auto focus bracketing in the field with Oly MFT cameras is a game-changer.

The advantage of MFT for low-m studio stacks is only due to software deficiencies in my FF camera; there is no fundamental reason why there couldn't be a FF camera that works as well as the Oly MFT for fast low-m studio stacks. It seems the Nikon Z series cameras do have a similar auto-bracketing ability.

In the field, on the other hand, FF is inherently difficult, because of the weight of the lenses. That's especially true for long telephotos.

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