Before/After: Sony a6400

Did I tell you my camera strap let go while I was on the bike, riding home from the lake one morning? This is the second time I was reminded what it feels like when your blood “turns to ice.” The expensive Sony telephoto lens was on it, too.

The combo hit the tar road and bounced. I didn’t see that, I heard it. I was terrified to turn around and look, but I did. The lens hood and cap were sent flying. I picked those up first, then the camera. It didn’t seem damaged, except superficially along the edge of the lens.

I walked home with the bike and camera; I was only a few minutes away. When I got there, I blew possible dirt/dust off the lens and took a good look at it. Not broken, as far as I could tell, but there was a faint scrape across the glass.

I cleaned it, put it back on the camera, and did some tests. I ran tests for several days, then I switched out the lens and tested the camera again.

The good news is both seem to have survived the shock of smashing to the ground, but I realized how awful it would be to lose my camera due to an accident, so I decided to buy another one. I’ve had the a6000 for three years. It’s an excellent, affordable, mirrorless camera. I would never go back to a Canon single-lens anymore. My SX60 is sitting in a camera bag, unused. I took some amazing pictures with that camera, but I love the Sony mirrorless system. It’s allowed me to up my game as far as photography goes. I take pictures now I couldn’t take then.

I decided to keep the a6000 as a backup and purchase the Sony a6400, which offers faster autofocus (AF) speed and human/animal eye AF. I’ve been wanting this camera for a while, and I decided the time was right.

AF animal eye has allowed me to zero in on wildlife, giving me a higher “hit rate” on sharp pictures. So far I’ve tried it on anoles and birds. I can’t wait to run into an alligator again.

I took this photo at dusk, no flash. Notice how sharp the eye is, even in near darkness.

Most of the woodpecker pics I’ve taken lately were shot with the new camera. This red-bellied was eating the flesh of dragon fruit, which grows on a cactus in my backyard. They love it; I saw both male and female there several times a day over a period of two weeks.

Time for before and after. Right after I got the a6400, I visited a local park early one morning. The sun hadn’t even risen yet. I was using the Sony lens that bounced on the road; I was still in testing mode, and I figured slapping it on the new camera would reveal any flaws I’d missed.

A boat was leaving; I chatted with the two men until they motored out, but I had my eyes on a great egret, fishing in the reeds some distance away. It was windy as hell, and that and boat backwash had the dock rolling enough it was hard to hold the camera steady. Also, the light was dim, given the sun wasn’t up yet. This would be a true test of the new camera and battered lens.

Before, straight out of the camera. Crooked horizon, dull colors, and the whole thing covered with a haze, but the camera knew to focus on the egret and not the reeds in front of it. That was the important thing: focusing on the bird. The rest could be fixed in post.

I cropped and straightened in Photoshop, then removed noise in Topaz DeNoise before moving it into Luminar, where true magic happened.

Can you believe the difference? I barely can, and I’m the one who processed it. The haze is gone and all the colors are there, even though when I took the picture, I couldn’t really see them.

In one final step, I ran it through the latest update of Topaz Sharpen AI, which also claims it fixes focus and stabilizes the minor tremors that happen when shooting handheld and, in my case, on a rolling dock in a strong wind, and in dim light, to boot.

Well, it worked as claimed. The image on the left (after processing in DeNoise but before Luminar) is slightly out of focus, but everything snapped into sharpness afterward. You can really see the difference if you compare the two. This is what “camera shake” looks like. Focus just isn’t there. Look at the head of the bird, especially the eye, to see what a difference Sharpen AI made.

I’ve been using the program on a trial basis, but I will have to purchase it after seeing this. It’s great to have another wonderful program in my arsenal of post-processing tools. 🙂

See you next time.

About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
This entry was posted in photography, RL and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Before/After: Sony a6400

  1. A.M.B. says:

    “I can’t wait to run into an alligator again.” Ha! I’m glad your camera survived and that you have a backup now. The pictures are lovely.

    • Fenraven says:

      Thanks. I’m enjoying the new camera and the new software. 🙂 Life is tough right now because of the pandemic, but photography gives me great joy.

  2. Janet Ellinger says:

    Finally getting around to clicking on this post. (Knew by the ‘teaser’ opening sentence it would be longer than usual..heh) So glad your equipment survived!! Yikes! That ‘blood runs cold’ feeling is awful. Great before/after pics – even I can see the difference!

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