Sony My autofocus situation (looking for a solution)

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
Hello, as I gather experience from my time with my Sony a7R II, I am slowly learning its quirks and limitations. At first, I was very impressed with the AF performance of the camera but as I use it in more varied situations and with different lenses the experience is getting more "colourful".
I have had a few situations where the camera has become an impediment to getting the images I needed. Here are a few of those:
1) I was at work and we had a music party organized for the birthday of a couple of individuals, the light for the scene was not my choice, the space while large it was pretty crowded and I had limited mobility and composition options, the light was (to a varying degree) 1/125th (fixed) at f 2.8 (fixed) for ISO 3.200 (at best) to ISO 25.600 (at worse). The C-AF from the Tamron 28-75mm f 2.8 Di III VXD G2 was very slow and difficult, often pulsating and hunting, the Face Detection was working but not reliably and Eye-AF has never activated through about two hours (and 300 pictures) event. While I know it's a 3rd party lens that will never be as good as Sony G/GM lenses the Tamron should perform to 90-95% of Sony's given how close Sony and Tamron work together and have access and share information. There were quite a few moments that I wish I didn't lose all the pictures because of being out of focus.
2) Most of the pictures I can make of my dog is her running towards me or away from me (because if she stops she dies ... I think ... maybe she was born on the bus from Speed, 1994). In this situation all 3 lenses (Sony FE 50mm f 1.8, Tamron 28-75mm f 2.8 Di III VXD G2, Tamron 150-500mm f 5-6.7 Di III VC VXD) can not give me a good hitrate on C-AF. I am lucky to get one close enough, extremely rare in perfect, focus. The camera's pedestrian 5 FPS is not helping the situation either since it's even less of a chance to get more images in focus. It can get quite frustrating as she loses patience after running at me but we take too long to move from the spot because I can't get an image right.
3) The camera is abysmal in Single AF, I have seen it struggle for more than 5 seconds on a brightly lit subject in direct daylight to get focus on all 3 lenses. Most times if I need a flower shot I switch to Manual Focus to make sure I get the shot. I have never experienced any camera this bad and I have used and owned 11 cameras.

Now I understand that this situation is predicated solved by buying a newer model with better AF and I will get there at some point, can't afford the cost of it this year. That gives me time to decide what would be the better option. I plan on owning mostly Tamron and possibly Sigma and/or Samyang lenses BUT if I get a good enough AF boost I can consider Sony G lenses for the portrait/action moments (though I can't justify the cost of G Master lenses, not when I am not making money from the images).
The types of photography that I am going to do will be portraits and events (mainly for my job as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities) in low light and with no control over light (flash photography is out of the question as some of the people suffer from epileptic seizures on a daily basis), action/pet photography (mainly outdoors, for now) as I want to build up experience and focus on this as a professional photographer and hopefully build a business out of it.

Of course, my dream camera would be a Sony a1 but that's a very very far away dream ... like 10 years of waiting for a decent used copy under 2.500 £ dream.
I have been thinking and being tempted by the Sony a7R IV because the Tamron 150-500mm f 5-6.7 that I bought was on the premise that I have a very large amount of pixels to crop in to make up for the lack of teleconverter and 500mm limitation. But the Sony a7 IV may be a better option just for portrait, event, action and pet photography while still getting 33 MegaPickle Ricks for a good amount of cropping and printing large. And as much as I tried to think about the Sony a9, even with all the firmware updates it received that brought it very close to the Sony a1, those 24 MegaPickle Ricks are hard to trade for 61 or even 42. Real-Time Eye-AF tracking AND animal Eye-AF tracking would be very helpful in all the situations ... and more than 5 FPS shooting?
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
One thing you don't mention is your aperture settings. This may be negated by your problems shooting in bright light, but it does have an effect. I don't know what the RII is rated at, but the IV is rated down to f/22.

There are posts in this forum talking about AF and advances made in the various models. I have the IV and the RIII and have commented previously that the IV is lightyears ahead of the RIII in AF. The sensor itself is pretty amazing too, with very wide DR.

One good reference is this article at Mirrorless Comparison, which ranks cameras for BIF based on the author's testing. While I understand we aren't talking about BIF specifically, the information is directly related since we're talking about action focusing. In the summary list of 24 cameras, The A1 is #1, the A9/9II is #2, the A7IV is #3, The A7R-IV is #7, A7 III is #9, The A6400 is #12, The A6500 is #16, and the A7R-III is #20. The A7R-II didn't make the list but is mentioned under 'other cameras'.

Here's a link to the list:

And a link to the entire article. It's a pretty interesting read regardless of your brand preference.

This link is to a post I made about the AF prowess of the A7IV in another thread. This very loose field test was an eye-opener for me.

Regarding the resolution, I do find myself liking the 42MP of the RIII more than I thought I would. Yes, it's a memory hog as compared to the IV, and I'm not sure I'd want to deal with the R-IV or the A1, but when things are moving fast and getting the action means more than composition it's nice to have those added MP to fix composition in post. I've wondered aloud before if Sony's planned A9-III might sport a newer 35-40MP stacked sensor or if they'll keep it around 24 to fill that sensitivity niche. Although looking at the photons to photos DR chart, Sony has been able to exceed the DR of the 9 by a 1/2 to 1 stop with the A7-IV's 33MP. That sensor or something similar in resolution but a stacked version would be amazing.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
One thing you don't mention is your aperture settings. This may be negated by your problems shooting in bright light, but it does have an effect. I don't know what the RII is rated at, but the IV is rated down to f/22.

There are posts in this forum talking about AF and advances made in the various models. I have the IV and the RIII and have commented previously that the IV is lightyears ahead of the RIII in AF. The sensor itself is pretty amazing too, with very wide DR.

One good reference is this article at Mirrorless Comparison, which ranks cameras for BIF based on the author's testing. While I understand we aren't talking about BIF specifically, the information is directly related since we're talking about action focusing. In the summary list of 24 cameras, The A1 is #1, the A9/9II is #2, the A7IV is #3, The A7R-IV is #7, A7 III is #9, The A6400 is #12, The A6500 is #16, and the A7R-III is #20. The A7R-II didn't make the list but is mentioned under 'other cameras'.

Here's a link to the list:

And a link to the entire article. It's a pretty interesting read regardless of your brand preference.

This link is to a post I made about the AF prowess of the A7IV in another thread. This very loose field test was an eye-opener for me.

Regarding the resolution, I do find myself liking the 42MP of the RIII more than I thought I would. Yes, it's a memory hog as compared to the IV, and I'm not sure I'd want to deal with the R-IV or the A1, but when things are moving fast and getting the action means more than composition it's nice to have those added MP to fix composition in post. I've wondered aloud before if Sony's planned A9-III might sport a newer 35-40MP stacked sensor or if they'll keep it around 24 to fill that sensitivity niche. Although looking at the photons to photos DR chart, Sony has been able to exceed the DR of the 9 by a 1/2 to 1 stop with the A7-IV's 33MP. That sensor or something similar in resolution but a stacked version would be amazing.
I shoot mostly wide open, weather it's action or portrait, mostly for the DoF because it's one of the reasons I wanted to go 35mm FF, the keep my shutter speed as high as I can (I am learning that this format size is a lot more punishing when the shutter speed is not high enough but it could also be the lesser effective IBIS then smaller formats, but I can only speak to the Sony mount and not Nikon, Canon or Panasonic) and still being used to shoot wide open from the Micro Four Thirds days.
I do believe that the Sony a7R II is rated to CAF to f 11 and in low light it can AF (don't know if it's single or continuous) to -2 EV with a f 1.4 lens.
I do follow Mirrorless and really appreciate their work. It's a strange situation in the Sony lineup where the a7 IV has all the Speed (except for black-out free option) with lacks the buffer, the a9 has the buffer and the speed but lacks the resolution and DR, the a1 has all of them but costs as much as buying both cameras. So a middle ground is more expensive option.
The only thing I find disappointing with the Sony a7 IV is the electronic shutter roll, which is as excessive as the a7C I used to have. Being forced to use mechanical shutter only for 5 FPS on my Sony a7R II makes me forget how bad it can get.

I would imagine Sony would keep the a9 and the a1 seperated for marketing and extra cash so I doubt they will increas the MP in the a9 III until the a1 II has at least double of a9 but i would love to be wrong.

Maybe I should stick with Sony a9 (Mark I) for pet action portraits as I wouldn't need the reach and use it with a (future purchase) Tamron 70-180mm f 2.8 Di III VXD. And for events and indoor portraits get the Sony a7 IV.
That would be the plan for the next 2 years.
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
I shoot mostly wide open, weather it's action or portrait, mostly for the DoF because it's one of the reasons I wanted to go 35mm FF, the keep my shutter speed as high as I can (I am learning that this format size is a lot more punishing when the shutter speed is not high enough but it could also be the lesser effective IBIS then smaller formats, but I can only speak to the Sony mount and not Nikon, Canon or Panasonic) and still being used to shoot wide open from the Micro Four Thirds days.
I do believe that the Sony a7R II is rated to CAF to f 11 and in low light it can AF (don't know if it's single or continuous) to -2 EV with a f 1.4 lens.
I do follow Mirrorless and really appreciate their work. It's a strange situation in the Sony lineup where the a7 IV has all the Speed (except for black-out free option) with lacks the buffer, the a9 has the buffer and the speed but lacks the resolution and DR, the a1 has all of them but costs as much as buying both cameras. So a middle ground is more expensive option.
The only thing I find disappointing with the Sony a7 IV is the electronic shutter roll, which is as excessive as the a7C I used to have. Being forced to use mechanical shutter only for 5 FPS on my Sony a7R II makes me forget how bad it can get.

I would imagine Sony would keep the a9 and the a1 seperated for marketing and extra cash so I doubt they will increas the MP in the a9 III until the a1 II has at least double of a9 but i would love to be wrong.

Maybe I should stick with Sony a9 (Mark I) for pet action portraits as I wouldn't need the reach and use it with a (future purchase) Tamron 70-180mm f 2.8 Di III VXD. And for events and indoor portraits get the Sony a7 IV.
That would be the plan for the next 2 years.
Actually, the A9 has the speed with the stacked sensor, and the A7-IV has the larger buffer, over 800 shots using a CF card. The reason the IV is slower on the shutter is the non-stacked sensor readout. The 6FPS for uncompressed RAW is more than enough for my use.

I think Sony will up the ante on the A9-III. The A1 is 50MP, they could easily bump it to 36-40MP and still be below the A1. They can separate the two further with features sets.
 
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