New York update 2 more on the A99 and Fuji

Today some more images from New York and some questions answered people asked me about the Sony A99 and Fuji X-E1.

Today I shot with the following lenses on the Sony A99, Zeiss 24-70 f2.8, Zeiss 85 1.4 (inside streetperformer images) and the Sigma 12-24 lens. On the Fuji I’m only using the 18-55 zoom lens with IS.

Ok let’s start with some of the questions.
Let me start off by saying that the answers will not be a real review, it’s my personal opinion.


How is video on the A99
Well today I shot a few video clips and the results are really nice. I shot on 1080P50 and the movement in the video is very smooth and detail is great. As soon as we’re back home I will try to make a more ellaborate video compilation and upload that, but what I see now is very good, especially on the higher ISO’s.


How is the noise performance on the A99
Great, I can’t say that I compared the 5DMKIII straight head to head to the A99 but today I shot several images on ISO5000 and ISO6400 and both look more than fine, they are without any doubt publishable, however do remember that noise can change per light source, and in this case we shot some subway shots and some outside areas on higher ISO, but honestly the high-iso files on the A99 are really good.

Is that dynamic range really that good
Yes, this was for my one of the main reasons to start shooting the A99, the dynamic range of this sensor is very good, the image above for example was shot straight into the sun and the detail I pulled back from the shadows is pretty impressive, the next image was shot at night and the problem with Times Square is the enormous amount of billboards. The last time we visited Times Square (a few years ago) I could do a great recovery of files, and the 5DMKIII is also really good in this, however when you see the next image you will hopefully agree with me that this is very impressive what the camera does, the dynamic range in this scene is really high.

Now I hear you thinking “This is an HDR” and sorry to burst your bubble but I did not even use HDR software to do this, it’s all from one RAW file, in Photoshop I lowered the highlights and raised the shadows and that’s about it, the dynamic range that you can keep is incredible.


Β How is the Sigma 12-24 lens
I got the Sigma 12-24 just a few days before we left for New York so the first shots I took with it where literally the shots I took in New York. The lens itself is one I really like and I think I will add it to my selection of lenses, it’s very sharp (even wide open) and the range 12-24 is very interesting. I love to shoot from a lower angle because it gives the “world” a totally different feel and look and with a 12mm that is just a great option to have. It’s a lens I would without any doubt advise.

How is the sharpness of the Fuji 18-55 lens
Well according to some people all zooms are “evil” and only primes are great, well I don’t agree…. I do find that GOOD primes are sharper than most zooms, however I find primes for street style photography rather limited and in the end it’s all about getting the shot. And let’s be honest in the studio primes are great but on the street I think they aren’t, and let’s look at the focus point of the Fuji series……yep it’s the perfect travel/street syle camera. Now some people will not agree about this prime story from me, but imagine it like this “Sometimes you want to show a whole person, sometimes just a face, with a prime you can’t switch that fast (change lenses), with a very good zoom this problem is solved πŸ˜€

How is the focus in the X-E1
VERY VERY good, since the 2.0 upgrade the X-pro1 was already a huge improvement, and for my “Feeling” the X-E1 seems a bit faster and more accurate, but I would have to have them next to each other, this however…. proves that Fuji is making a very fine camera with the E-1M. It’s a street photographers dream camera.


How is the AF of the Sony A99, there are so many options
Yeah I agree, but that’s a good thing.
For today I’m playing with the following settings.
First of all ISO, I’m now using my own setup without the AutoISO, which in fact will only do a calculation to the length of the lens to make sure you won’t get movement, but for me that’s not a good option, I want shutterspeeds in the 1/250 range that will work for me when there is a lot of motion and seeing that the Sony standard will be too low for me, I will just set the ISO myself (like I did before AutoISO). I do really hope Sony will add this in a firmware somewhere soon.


Focus points I use on Spot.
Object tracking is on with shutter half pressed and focus mode I’m still experimenting.
The face detection I sometimes use and sometimes not, overall I think the object tracking alone is good enough.


Battery life….
Today I ended up using 2.5 batteries in the Sony and the Fuji still has some juice left, but in all honestly the Sony was used a lot more and also for filming. I try to switch both cameras in interesting locations and everything in between while walking we will keep the Fuji save. So for me it’s no choice…. there has to be a grip πŸ˜€

Do you use JPG on the Fuji
No sorry.
I know Fuji has some amazing JPG options and quality but I will keep using RAW and do the postprocessing in Lr.


How fast does the focus lock on, with both cameras
Well very very quickly, the Sony A99 is incredibly fast and the X-E1 makes you wonder “what just happened” but as with all “good” things you get used to it very quickly, I found myself for example a bit disappointed when my A99 hunted in two shots with VERY heavy backlight, however a second try and it locked immediately. Later I realized that this was actually the first time ever I saw the A99 hunt…. and trust me my 5DMKIII would have hunted in that scene also (probably worse).


The X-E1 is also incredibly quick, just aim and press the shutter and it’s in focus (depending on the scene of course).


Of course is AF performance VERY depend on the situation/contrast, the lens and the light setup, but I think (considering the experience I have with other systems) I can really say that both cameras have GREAT AF performance, the Sony is great for tracking and really accurate and quick face following etc. The Fuji is incredible fast and also can do automatically Β readjustment of focus, but…. it’s different from the Sony.


How is the EVF
Well this was something I was very afraid off in the start but seeing the fact I was already used to the Fuji cameras my “switch” to an EVF was much less problematic than I thought. For the Sony I can say that the EVF is VERY fast, it’s a very accurate tool for seeing what you’re doing, and then you press the shutter button and you have what you see, I call it WYGISWYS (What You Get Is What You See).


For the X-E1 the story is about the same, the EVF looks really good and is very fast, I would have to do a test side to side to make a real decision but how the EVF performances now….. I think both do MORE than fine with an EFV. Do remember you will have to get used to the EVF, but if you do, there probably is no turning back.

Ok which camera do I buy
Whoa, wait a minute….. you can’t really compare the two like that (but a lot of people do).
The Fuji is for me the ultimate travel and street photography camera, the price is right, the lenses are not expensive, you can even buy strobes and best of all (for a street camera) the high ISO performance is great. So if you travel a lot and you don’t want to bring a DSLR, get the Fuji X-E1, you will love it.


Now the Sony is a different camera.
Let’s for “easy” now call it a DLSR (which it is not because there is no “real” mirror like in the other cameras that moves). A DSLR system is more expensive but can be used in almost every situation, and I agree you could do a fashion in the desert with a Fuji but it’s not where the camera will shine, this is the job for MF cameras and normal DSLRs.


For me they go hand in hand but in different applications.
In the P&S area I own the X10 for these moments where I really want to cary something light.
In the street/travel photography situations I will bring the Fuji X-E1/X-Pro1, when I want to do everything on a trip….indeed, still the Fuji because as mentioned before it does do everything.
For studio work it’s the Medium Format for me (also for controlled lighting on location).


The DSRL (Canon/Sony) is used when I teach workshops, when I walk around (and I can/want to carry more than the Fuji with me) In my opinion the A99 is a great cameras and others might not believe me, but I think the market really is going to be changed very soon and Sony will be a serious player in this market, of course I cannot predict the future but when you listen to what’s gonna happen with the alpha series and when you see the quality of the A99 I think Sony is very serious about becoming number 1… now that will probably not happen over night for the simple reason that Canon and Nikon are so well known, but….. I think over time things will chance, unless of course both Canon and Nikon start doing the same kind of setups in their cameras. But I don’t think they will put an EVF in their cameras quick.


For me the choice of camera is horses for courses and I think it’s important to understand this.
Now when you are shooting as a hobby and you really only want one camera….. get the Fuji…… without any doubt, it’s a camera that isΒ about everything you will get from a DSLR but it’s smaller, the lenses are smaller/lighter AND…. the image quality rivels many DSLRs.


When you want to work in the studio, do model photography, maybe sometimes a wedding or a paid shoot….. now get the Sony/DSLR. It’s a real all rounder and it looks much better in the studio for a client than the Fuji. The major point for me with the Fuji is it’s size and the way it looks, it doesn’t draw attention to itself and gives you that way more options to make images on the street that with a DSLR are more difficult, however in a studio setup (especially paid jobs) I think the Fuji will not set yourself as a pro towards the client.


Any more questions…keep them coming via info@frankdoorhof.com


the complete album.

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  • Tim

    Hey Frank, i see most of your shot were captured, and the 2.8 – 5.6 range, was that a conscious decision or were you on a priority mode. Also i love the tint that most of your photos have was that in NIK color or a preset. Im now more than convinced that I will be happy staying with Sony and eventually getting the a99, it seems like a fine fine camera. Oh and what do you know about what Sony is planning.

    • Hi,
      I will change aperture in combination with what I want to be my focus of attention, I’m still testing the AF system so sometimes I will set it to have a bit more DOF to make sure I get the shot, but as it seems over the last 2 days I will not need to do that.

      I’ve been testing the A99 for some time now but mostly in the Netherlands under “easy” circumstances, here it REALLY gets a workout and the focus system is “sick” it’s really good. So I’m getting more and more confidence in the camera.

      • Tim

        Thanks, i think ill have to look into Alien skin

    • The tinting is indeed Alien Skin by the way.

  • Hi Frank, Whats the processing on the colour images? I really like the look and feel of them. Is it Alienskins exposure?

  • Sui

    just love these photos πŸ™‚

  • Chris Belyea

    Hi Frank … just curious if you have any experience with the Canon 1DX and how the A99’s dynamic range compares ?

    • No sorry.

      But from what I heard its about .5 stops better than the 5dmkIII. The a99 is “a bit” better.

  • riko

    great great job mr doorhof, great review with a great image sample, dynamic and “3D feel” just awesome, just like seeing 3d lcd πŸ™‚
    nice “alien skin” tone, just dont tinted ur mind with brand offer on the back door, we need ur opinion just like this, iv seen many reviewer didnt objective anymore, kenrockwell 4 example

    • Hi,
      I ONLY promote materials I REALLY use and LOVE πŸ˜€
      There is no money in the world that could buy me to say I like something if I don’t…. well there is a lot of money in the world but I think you get what I mean.

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  • AJM

    Another great article making me want an A99. πŸ™‚ I briefly got to my hands on the A99 last night.
    One thing we could not figure out is how to get the EVF to not be totally black when ambient light is low yet the shutter speed is high enough for flash use. I found later there is a buried menu to set EFFECTS OFF. Not bad to set and forget for studio work, but if I’m in a situation where I turn the flash on/off frequently, this would be a huge PITA. Can you comment whether the Sony flash(es) affects this automatically or if it can be made to be more quickly accessed, perhaps by the silent dial or other other quick menu in some way?

    Other than the slight slowness/jitter of the EVF in low light, the not being able to see when using flash are the only potential downsides I’ve found. (the former being almost a non-issue, the latter a potential deal breaker for my particular uses) πŸ™

    • You can use the flash with the evf, with the effect off πŸ˜‰

      I use it all the time in the studio. The flash option will let you see what the ambient does while adding the strobe a VERY powerful tool for people that want certain effects but refuse to meter it πŸ˜‰

      I think an unique option.

  • os_beginner


    Regarding to the auto ISO with minimum shutter speed for a99, you can simply use M mode. In M mode, you can still use auto ISO. You can have full control of the exact combination of aperture & shutter speed settings. Let a99 decide the optimal ISO. In the meantime, you can use exposure compensation in M mode if the “optimal ISO” setting gets underexposed/ overexposed photo! (Yes! Use exposure compensation in M mode! Didn’t think of it, right?) I think it is more flexible than “auto ISO with minimum shutter speed”, especially when you are using a 70-200 zoom which has varying requirements on the “safety shutter speed” subject to the focal length you’ve chosen.

    Hope it help you and you will enjoy using a99.

    • Manual works pretty well indeed but not perfect. Especially in very bright situations. But then nothing is perfect.

      Best for me would be Min shutter of 1/500 and av mode.

      But even the canon does 1/250 as max. But that is often enough.

      I now just use iso800 and av mode. Works in almost any situation noise is no issue any way. But sometimes it will indeed go above 1/8000 so I have to adjust. With street photography your exposure needs sometimes change a lot.

  • Terry Thornton

    Frank; how do you deal with the subject of model releases when doing street photography?

    • not. I won’t sell the images so there is not a real issue, although I am thinking about writing something about the way I take the shots and my views on the shots, but as far as I know I won’t need the releases for that but I’ll check.

    • Terry. You don’t need a model release for street photography unless you use the images to advertise or promote. But if you wanted to sell the images on a website or gallery, you don’t need a release. Lets say you wanted to release a book. If the images are inside a book, no release is needed. If you wanted to put one of those images on the cover, you’d need a release since the cover is used for advertising.

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