Which Sony for Aerial Photography?

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Sunnytin

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Nitin
Hello friends,


I am doing aerial photography using a helicopter over a few cities. I have the following kit:-

1. Pentax 645Z with 28-45, 55, 90mm (all top class lenses, with another lens 45-85mm coming soon) : My workhorse camera, great results except when I need to shoot rapidly over parts of city where too many important sites are packed close together and where there are many restrictions on height of the chopper, amount of time you can hang around the airspace etc)

2. Sony A7 iii with Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 and Sigma 35mm f1.2 (for night photography) - the second camera

3. Pentax K1 with 28-105 f/3.5-5.6 as the standby camera if the Sony fails. - the third camera.



To get the best possible quality of images without missing the image itself (as happens sometimes with the Pentax 645Z with its slow AF), I explored various options including buying a Fujifilm etc. I do not wish to get into the Canon or Nikon systems at this stage or perhaps ever (nothing against them in particular).

With generous advice from senior members of DPReview, PentaxForums and Luminous Landscape, I have come to the conclusion that a Sony mirrorless paired with a peerless lens like the new Tamron 35-150 f2-2.8 gives me the most optimal combination for AF speed, responsiveness, good resolution, decent DR, excellent buffer, good edge to edge sharpness, ability to shoot at base ISO most of the times and low weight (I have been shooting with Pentax 645Z paired with Pentax 645 28-45mm both together weighing more than 3 kg).

While the print size is mostly going to be 24x36 and I would prefer to shoot as close to the base ISO as possible, I wish to have the following options open to me:-


1. Cropping upto 30% of the original image.


2. Making upto 40x60 prints of the very best uncropped images in future (maybe 5% of those which are selected for printing to size 24x36). Please note that I will be carrying a Pentax 645Z with 28-45mm or 55mm or 45-85mm as the second camera and if a scene is good enough to be photographed after I have shot it with the Sony, I will try to shoot it again with the Pentax maybe by bringing the helicopter around again (I will not succeed in this at all times depending on weather, fuel status, pilot's willingness etc).


3. Once the aerial photography project is over in about two years, I would like to devote time to wildlife photography. The Pentax 645Z with 400mm f5.6, 300mm f/4 and 90mm f/2.8 lenses is awesome for images of animals in habitat, but I would like to have a faster AF Sony camera with 200-600 zoom available for action shots, not being birds in flight most of the times).


I am requesting advice from the esteemed forum members on which of the Sony cameras I should choose - not being Sony A1 as it is too expensive and I am not planning to do video work for a long time. Such a camera should be the most optimum one for reasons and options listed above with a decent safety margin of performance.


So which one: A7 R iv OR A7 R iii OR A7 R ii OR A7 iv?


Pls also comment on whether there is such a thing as too many megapixels for this aerial photography work which will diminish the final product quality rather than improve it. Basically I am asking if the Sony A7 R iv 60MP resolution is either unnecessary or is detrimental to the final expected images/ prints and a camera like the A7 R iii/ A7 R ii or even the new A7 iv would be just fine without resulting in any compromise of image quality, print quality or the three options above which I wish to be available to me.

Thanking you in anticipation.
 

Sorefined

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If action is is a key genre the autofocus speed and FPS rate of the A1 and a9 II at up to 30fps and 20 fps
and resolutions of 50 and 20 MGP(or thereabouts) would be good choices, that said i note the cost limitation
however and whilst the A7R iv at 60 MGP is a good camera comparatively speaking the autofocus speed/
reliability in not a high in my view.

I guess the cost of helicopter fuel needs to be factored against the cost
of a more expensive but more reliable/functional action camera as well as future proofing given you
intend to go to video at some stage and the A1 is often quoted as being the perfect combination of the
A9 and AR7 iv with good video capability........

I cant speak on pre-AR& iv gear as i was a nikon shooter before switching.....
 

AlphaWorld

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Tony
The A1 at 50Mpixel is not a video-dedicated camera - I have shot well over 100k images with an A1 and have shot no video at all. It has several advantages, including superb AF, plenty of pixels for cropping, and extreme speed. It will also reduce the burden of sitting on an overly fat wallet…

It is also an excellent choice for your future wildlife plans.

Failing that, I’d probably go for an A7RIV, or possibly an A7RV if it comes out soon enough.

Will you be using a gimbal? I have been told (by photographers who shoot from helicopters regularly) that a stabilised gimbal is vital to getting good images from a helicopter - too much vibration.
 

Sorefined

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Hi AW,
Yes you are absolutely correct the A1 is not a video dedicated camera and neither is the A7Riv, the closest to a
recent dedicated video camera of note from the Sony range is probably the A7s III.

I respect your 100K image shooting history and with no understanding of your genre, applaud anybody's efforts to achieve
50 minutes of shooting time at 30 fpsI( or 50 days of shooting at average 2000 per day)for an average action/dynamic
wildlife shooter as myself.

In addition, as distinct from yourself, I have also and do shoot video with the A1, but do not profess to be an expert or
know anything about the key shooting attributes of aerial video photography.

Based upon what i know of the comparison between the A1 and A7s III however, the A7s is better for 4k video, on
account of line skipping on the A1, whilst the A1 is much better for 8K shooting.

The A7S is also better for high low light conditions whilst the AI is better for Lower ISOs up to 12,000 with
noise cleaning set at ISO 4000 for the A1 and 12000 for the A7s. Additionally the A1 has higher quality 8K based
offering upon the A7S pixel skipping in comparison with the A1.

The AI is also considered to have better skin tone qualities and does not have a magenta shift.

These are the key differences that i Know, apart from 8k video capture time versus overheating which I understand is about the
same on the A1/A7s III

Anyways I will leave it to other more capable videographers such as Gerald Outdone, Mark Galer and other You Tube
commentators to espouse the strengths of the A1 video capabilities as I have just received my 24-70 f2.8 GM II lens and
need to play with my new toy rather than adding further to my initial supportive comment to Sunnytin
 
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