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Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm wi...
  
 
AGeoJO
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


If you are into wildlife photography, sooner or later you realize that more reach is (almost) always better and more desirable. That is especially true for bird photography. Now, if you are using a Sony FE system, the odds are against you at this moment. There is no native long lens yet; the longest native Sony FE will be available in a few days and that's a zoom lens. While I don't have any doubt that the optical quality of that lens will be excellent but right off the bat there are a few things against you. First, it is zoom lens and it is a fairly slow one at that. The aperture varies from f/4.5 at the short end to f/5.6 at the long end. The are currently two FE tele extenders available, FE 1.4X and FE 2X. So, adding either this one will penalize you further in terms of aperture. Yes, you do get a sufficiently long reach of 800mm alright but the effective aperture is f/11. Ouch! Second, even the best tele extenders out there, while they perform really well on prime long lenses but in general, they do less so on zoom lenses based on my own experience.

Since we are still relying on Canon long lenses for this purpose, the role that smart adapters or mount converters plays is huge. The signals have to go through that piece of optic-less device. While Metabones IV still delivers the goods but Sigma MC-11 offers quite a bit and its price is less than that of Metabones, making it popular. This is not a thread about which is better and I am not associated with neither company. But it pertains to a feature of a new Metabones V, which was introduced without much fanfare. Although one can assume that it offers a better performance over the existing IV version, but the improvement, if any is not tangible as both run the same firmware, the brain behind their smart adapters. The physical difference is more noticeable; the addition of an IBIS switch is one of the noticeable features although I am still not sure what the main advantage of that feature but to me, the biggest advantage is the larger throat on the side that is mounted to the camera. Why?

If you own one of those FE tele-extenders, you notice that the rubber housing of the actual optical part is not only sticking out by quite a bit but it is also fairly large. Large enough that Sony specifies the usage of those extenders only to be limited to only selected GM lenses. Up to this point, only the GM 70-200mm f/2.8 and the soon available GM 100-400mm lenses. The larger throat of the V smart adapter allows one of the Sony FE tele-extenders to be mounted behind the adapter. If you combine that with Canon TC that is mounted between the lens and the smart adapter you can optically add or extend the reach even more. But how about AF and is the result good enough?

So, after receiving the V, I played around with the combination of those tele-extenders. It seems that the best combo of the longest reach, 1120mm, that still offers autofocus is the FE 2X behind between the camera and Metabones V and the Canon 1.4X TC between the Metabones V and Canon lens. In my case, I am using my Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS Mark II, a lens that has proven its superb image quality on the trip to Costa Rica last year. So, I tried the combo out yesterday at an actual wildlife setting at a place nearby. Burrowing owls were the targets in my case.

The green mode of Metabones V works splendidly. It could do a decent job tracking targets at AF wide mode. Yes, that’s a “dummy” mode and you rely on the setup to choose the AF point for you. Actually, it is pretty smart and it chooses the nearest point of focus in a 3-D object you are focusing and tracking. Most of the time there is a considerable distance between your target and your position. You rely on the extended depth-of-field to get most of your target in focus. If your target is pretty close, or the target is a big bird, it may be tough for you to get the entire bird in focus. It is my preference method of AF using this combo.

For semi stationary targets, I recommend using a smaller AF area, either M or even S. Since the depth of field is extremely shallow you literally have to put the AF point/cluster directly on it. If you use the L mode, it may not focus on the plane that you want to be in critical focus. The advance mode struggles a little. You have to focus manually until it is fairly close to the target and then it will focus OK. As you can imagine, it is simply tough to acquire focus at 1,120mm and f/8 regardless of the system.

A few words on the images here. I did post the first image on the big image thread yesterday but I adjusted the white balance here. It is the exact same image though. I admit that the owl in flight image is not critically sharp like the more stationary owl but it is still more than decent. I am sure, it has to do with the shutter speed and my swinging the camera to follow him. I anticipated that the owl would take off and prior to that I changed and reduced the FL by mounting my FE 1.4X behind the Metabones while keeping the same Canon 1.4X TC in the front to track him better. I noticed that there is vignetting in the extreme corners at both FLs and I did crop the images slightly. The vignetting is the result of physical restrictions in the optical path.

A few last points in random order - this effort was done on the A7r II and I am convinced that the conditions will be even better on the A9. Although I am looking forward to long Sony FE prime lenses but if the pricing of current Sony lenses provides any indication, I am afraid that those lenses would be terribly expensive and for sure more expensive than the superb Canon EF lenses of comparable specs. The rear opening of Sigma MC-11 is similar to that of the Metabones IV; you cannot mount any FE tele-extender. I can extend my Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens using either the FE 1.4X and FE 2X minimal penalties in the AF department. And optically, it is still great in both modes; thiis lens is truly outstanding. That’s an extra bonus if you want to use that lens and occasionally need the FL to be extended.

Your comment and/or feedback is greatly appreciated!



© AGeoJO 2017

Virtually uncropped file

  ILCE-7RM2    EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    1120mm    f/8.0    1/250s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  





© AGeoJO 2017

Cropped to size - made the boogers in his nostrils visible LOL

  ILCE-7RM2    EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    1120mm    f/8.0    1/250s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






Virtually uncropped

  ILCE-7RM2    EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    1120mm    f/7.9    1/250s    125 ISO    0.0 EV  





© AGeoJO 2017

Cropped from above - I never noticed the surface/structure of the yellow part of their eyes before

  ILCE-7RM2    EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    1120mm    f/7.9    1/250s    125 ISO    0.0 EV  





© AGeoJO 2017

Owl in flight - cropped

  ILCE-7RM2    EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    784mm    f/6.3    1/1000s    250 ISO    0.0 EV  




Jul 24, 2017 at 11:48 PM
mitesh
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


We can always count on you to raise the bar, Joshua


Jul 25, 2017 at 12:16 AM
chiron
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


WOW!!! Pretty damn good!!!

And technically quite astute and inventive.



Jul 25, 2017 at 01:55 PM
Jannik Peters
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


I'd really love to see how your construction looks like on the A7RII


Jul 25, 2017 at 02:10 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


mitesh wrote:
We can always count on you to raise the bar, Joshua




chiron wrote:
WOW!!! Pretty damn good!!!

And technically quite astute and inventive.


Thank you very much, Mitesh and Peter!



Jul 25, 2017 at 02:52 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Jannik Peters wrote:
I'd really love to see how your construction looks like on the A7RII


Yes, I will post a few images showing the setup unmounted and mounted on the camera. Thank you!



Jul 25, 2017 at 02:53 PM
tntcorp
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


great effort... :-)

the static images are quite good. and it appeared the owl was further away for the in-flight.

curious to know what are the approx. distance to the static owl? and in-flight owl?



Jul 25, 2017 at 03:00 PM
Vcize
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Wow, that is some impressive stuff there.


Jul 25, 2017 at 03:08 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


tntcorp wrote:
great effort... :-)

the static images are quite good. and it appeared the owl was further away for the in-flight.

curious to know what are the approx. distance to the static owl? and in-flight owl?


Thank you! The static images would be close to be the best, if not the best what can be achieved using a combo of a 2X and 1.4X TCs regardless of the brands. I tried this before using my Canon gear. For that you had to put a short extension tube between the two TCs, eliminating the infinity focusing ability.

Those were two different owls for the stationary images. The first one was closer than the second. I would say the first owl was approximately 15 feet away while the second one probably some 20 feet away. The image of the flying owl was cropped and it was definitely further away. I would say some 60-80 feet away. Pure guessing here as I didn't have any information on the distance. I am the first to admit that the flying owl image is not critically sharp. I assumed that it had to do with the shutter speed not being fast enough as I swung the setup to track him. And of course, more so the movement of his flight played a significant role in that, too. The bush in the lower right, at least some of the branches seems to be sharp enough.



Jul 25, 2017 at 03:21 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Jannik Peters wrote:
I'd really love to see how your construction looks like on the A7RII


Here are 3 images taken of the setup using my iPad. I hope these help. Please let me know if you have any further questions. The total focal length of this is 1,120mm. I replaced the FE 2X with the FE 1.4X for the owl in flight image and the FL is 784mm. I could also remove the Canon 1.4X TC in the setup above and get a focal length of 800mm. The image quality between the two is virtually the same.

BTW, I do have a Canon 2X Mark III TC. Too bad, the AF doesn't work reliably any more. If you want to manually focus, it still works and again, the total FL would 1,600mm then.

Please note that the size of the FE 2X tele extender is approximately the same as that of the Canon 1.4X TC, just a tad thicker.




Vcize wrote:
Wow, that is some impressive stuff there.


Thank you, Ryan!




© AGeoJO 2017


Setup unmounted







Setup mounted together



Edited on Jul 25, 2017 at 04:57 PM · View previous versions



Jul 25, 2017 at 04:47 PM
 

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Fred Miranda
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


AGeoJO wrote:
Here are 3 images taken of the setup using my iPad. I hope these help. Please let me know if you have any further questions. The total focal length of this is 1,120mm. I replaced the FE 2X with the FE 1.4X for the owl in flight image and the FL is 784mm. I could also remove the Canon 1.4X TC in the setup above and get a focal length of 800mm. The image quality between the two is virtually the same.

BTW, I do have a Canon 2X Mark III TC. Too bad, the AF doesn't work reliably any more.
...Show more

This picture made my day Joshua. That's another advantage for Sony when adapting Canon big whites. You can have extenders from Sony and Canon at the same time!

I will be the first to ask. Did you try the Sony 2x extender combined with Canon's 2x? Physically, it would be possible with your set-up.



Jul 25, 2017 at 04:56 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Fred Miranda wrote:
This picture made my day Joshua. That's another advantage for Sony when adapting Canon big whites. You can have extenders from Sony and Canon at the same time!

I will be the first to ask. Did you try the Sony 2x extender combined with Canon's 2x? Physically, it would be possible with your set-up.



Thank you, Fred! Yes, and Metabones V made it possible. Again, I am not related to Metabones in any shape or form. I edited my post to just address exactly what you meant. Physically, yes, I could actually use both 2X TC from both brands and I did try it out. The AF is kind of iffy though but the optical quality is OK. The longer you get, the less the light, the worse the AF and the IQ. At f/2.8, the Canon 400mm is the fastest lens and one can try the 500mm for longer reach but the aperture of that lens is "only" f/4. The same goes for the 600mm f/4 Mark II but I don't have that lens anymore. I am putting the Canon 2X TC for sale but I may have to withdraw that and use it if push comes to shove to get a FL of 1,600mm .

Frankly, the longer the lens, the more difficult it is to zero in on your target. With a 1,200mm FL lens, even if the bird is just perching on a branch you have to look for it. We can forget about tracking a bird in flight with that, even if the AF is enabled, let alone at 1,600mm . I can't do it, maybe some of the more skilled birder can but you need a nice gimbal head for that, too.


Edited on Jul 25, 2017 at 05:26 PM · View previous versions



Jul 25, 2017 at 05:10 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


AGeoJO wrote:
Thank you, Fred! Yes, and Metabones V made it possible. Again, I am not related to Metabones in any shape or form. I edited my post to just address exactly what you meant. Physically, yes, I could actually use both 2X TC from both brands and I did. The AF is kind of iffy though but the optical quality is OK. The longer you get, the less the light, the worse the AF and the IQ. At f/2.8, the Canon 400mm is the fastest lens and one can try the 500mm for longer reach but the aperture of that lens
...Show more

We would lose 4 stops of light but with your 400/2.8, the A9 should still focus at f/11.
1600mm f/11!



Jul 25, 2017 at 05:25 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Fred Miranda wrote:
We would lose 4 stops of light but with your 400/2.8, the A9 should still focus at f/11.
1600mm f/11!



Yes, it was tough for the A7r II to pull it off. It struggled and most of the time it gave up. You are right, aperture-wise it wouldn't be any issue for the A9, sure! But we are talking about dealing with double the maximum FL that the FE 100-400mm GM can reach though. Again 1,600 instead of just 800mm. It remains to be seen, I guess. I will consider getting an A9 for a wildlife photography trip but more towards the end of the year. if there is a local A9 user, I can get together with him at the burrowing owls place this Sunday and find out. Anyone?



Jul 25, 2017 at 05:35 PM
Faulta
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


F11 would be diffraction limited anyways, I don't expect a lot more sharpness with the 1600mm F11 setup than a cropped 1120mm F8, if at all.
With the a9, it makes more sense, but I think the best combination to get more reach and better focus would be the a6500 with the 1120mm combination



Jul 25, 2017 at 05:56 PM
taperwood
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


I was just going to say the same thing. Try this on an a6500. There would be no further aperture hit and you would get next best to A9's AF system. I'm guessing you would get 1680mm-ish equivalent from your 400mm? That would be impressive.


Jul 25, 2017 at 06:23 PM
Jannik Peters
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Thank you, Joshua! That is amazing and absolutely crazy!! I wish I could afford that beast


Jul 25, 2017 at 06:26 PM
eriet30
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


wow


Jul 25, 2017 at 09:23 PM
ManuelLaMantia
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


Jannik Peters wrote:
Thank you, Joshua! That is amazing and absolutely crazy!! I wish I could afford that beast

+1
Jannik, it will be for the next life
Thanks Joshua, in the end the beast seems manageable in term of dimensions
Manuel



Jul 25, 2017 at 09:26 PM
tntcorp
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Long reach using Sony E-mount cameras - optical 1120mm with AF!


the in-focused branches (lower left) of the in-flight image are quite sharp given (1) you stacked 3 converters, 2) branches are swaying in the wind, and 3) they aren't the intended subject.

i have stacked two converters on a mf f/2.8 on a non-sony body and was impressed with the sharpness. the result from triple stacking is really unexpected. good work... :')



Jul 25, 2017 at 09:52 PM
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