Shooting with the Batis 85mm F/1.8.
It doesn’t happen often that an ordinary scene of the beach becomes extraordinary. It was one of those mornings when the weather patterns seemed to change by the minute. The light was isolated as a bright area and then dimmed in a beautiful transition to shade. The clouds in the first pic had a softness, yet beautiful contrast and diagonal layering – it looks like a long exposure yet the waves are in stark contrast with sharp edges. I really like the interesting foam patterns in the foreground swash area.
The second scene is a color image and has a very special and unique quality. The light reaches down in a large central area, then in a transition to the background a dark band separates two bright areas. The sun at the top margin highlights the stirring clouds as they make room for the burning sun.
This is a technical (which means boring) article on the focus characteristics of the Sony A7Rii. If you don’t own this camera you might want to skip this read unless you are suffering from insomnia.
Face Detection in S,M,L, Center or Zone.
This is the least desirable set with Face Detection. When S, M, L, Center or Zone focus areas are assigned, the face detection square stays gray and inactive when outside of the assigned focus area. Face detection becomes active only when the Face Detection box is within the assigned focus area. The outline of the box begins as white, then focus is achieved, it turns green. Until you understand what is going on, it is easy to get out of focus images in this setup – you believe face detection is active but it is actually the focus area chosen. It results in faces out of focus.
Face Detection in Wide Focus area.
This is the best setup when faces are the subject of your photo. If the Wide Focus area is assigned then Face Detection is active with a white box throughout the viewfinder and turns green when focus is achieved. In AF-C Face Detection tracks the movement of the face. This setup is ideal as long as Face Detection identifies a face. The problem begins when a face is not detected, the AF system focuses and locks on a random area of high contrast, shown by green boxes or dancing ants. If the randomly picked focus area is not the one you want, then a menu change is required to “take charge” of focus. You could change to Manual focus or the S,M,L focus areas.
I assigned Eye-AF to the C3 button – a great added feature when the eye is prominent in the picture space.
Suggestion to Sony.
Sony could improve the system by combining systems. For example, when Face Detection is ON, if a face is detected it could automatically activate the wide focus area, AF-C and track the face in the viewfinder. Recomposing is easy. When a face is not present, or is missed by Face Detection because it’s in profile, or hidden behind hair, or eyeglasses then the system switches to AF-S and S (small) focus area. Then the user can choose the point of focus, lock and recompose. I would be able to choose the eyeglasses or the edge of the hair without pause. As it is now, the system randomly chooses areas of contrast and dancing ants takes over, then I delay shooting and give face detection a chance to work, if that doesn’t work, I give up and change settings.
Face Detection and Auto Exposure metering.
Another habit of Face Detection worth noting is exposure metering. When face detection focuses on the face the exposure is adjusted to “properly” expose the face, even when in Multi-Metering Mode. The camera’s metering system switches over to something similar to “spot” metering. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages of this feature depending on your needs for image exposure. A face in shadow will result in added exposure and possibly blown highlights in the background. The better alternative may have been multi-metering exposure and then raising the shadow slider in post-processing to bring the face in proper exposure.
Another option to face detection is Lock-on AF: Flexible Spot S (M or L) with AF-C the active mode. It a great feature because it doesn’t require a face to be detected yet it will track the lock on spot through the viewfinder. This is great for lock and recompose shooting of subject that might move. If the S (small) focus bracket isn’t grabbing the point you want then switch to M (medium).