04 December 2014

Another New Paradigm - The Sony A7s

Art Model, Kristi C ©2014 Terrell Neasley
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” ― Frank Zappa

Its happened. I've made another major change in my photographic evolution. For the first time in my photographic life, I'm DSLR-less. Or more commonly stated. I've gone Mirrorless. So this makes the third time I've made a metamorphosis like this. It first started when I chose to leave film and jump into the digital world in the fall of 2007. I was already a Canon user and felt no real reason to NOT be Canon just because I no longer used film and darkroom techniques to create my images. That was a hard switch, but I felt the Canon 40D did the job as about as good as I could get in film and stay within a budget. I think I paid about $1500 or so and got some speedlites and umbrellas to put on stands for my lighting gear. That's how I started. I used the Canon ST-E2 Infrared transmitters to trigger my 430EXII Speedlights. I quickly learned its limitations and rented the Canon 5DMarkII full frame system and fell in love with it. I paired it with a 7D and felt unstoppable. I eventually acquired a full line-up of Canon L-Series lenses, to include the 24mm Tilt-Shift (which made me money by simply having the lens ON my camera. It got attention and got me gigs), as well as my favorite the 85mm 1.2. The 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II was by far my sharpest and fastest lens to focus with, but the shallow depth of field of the 85mm 1.2 held my heart.

Art Model, Kristi C ©2014 Terrell Neasley
And so it came, as all things must, the end of my fellowship with Canon. My desire to travel quickly became a priority and my intention was to go medium format. And then Nikon came out with the D800/D800E. I was disappointed in the Canon 5DMarkIII. It just didn't have the resolution and detail I desired for my artwork. A friend of mine showed me what the D800E could do and I quickly noted that what I saw was exactly what went on in my head. Oddly enough I paired it with a Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 image stabilized lens and it served me far better than Nikon's own 24-70. I took it to Guatemala and Belize in 2012 and got exactly what I wanted. Match made in Heaven, right. Well, kinda...

The D800E fit my hands well. The size and weight were great for what I do here in the US...but abroad? Not so much. I thought I could carry fewer lenses by packing the 28-300mm and the 50mm 1.4. The 50mm did work. The 28-300mm did as well, but not quite as well. I began to see extensive Chromatic Aberation problems with the lens when the lighting conditions were higher in contrast such as the bright sun coming through the trees. This meant that I could no longer cut corners and would have to bring out the good stuff and carry more and more costly lenses on my next trip. But this notion did not appeal to me. I backpack. I don't have roller bags when I travel. Carrying all that heavy gear in Guatemala, the D800E and the 2 lenses were already bothersome. I just couldn't imagine carrying even more gear.

So then I got the Fujifilm X-E2 for my next trip to Central America. Right before I left, I picked up the camera kit, which came with the metal barrel 18-55mm f/2.8-4 and aperture ring, along with the 35mm 1.4. Fuji has an excellent line-up of cameras and especially lenses. I came back after almost 3 months in Nicaragua with EXCELLENT work. I even took it on a pro gig in L.A. on my way back to Las Vegas. The Fujifilm X-E2 is the first mirrorless camera that I purchased, but I still worked with my D800E in and around Vegas.

Art Model, Kristi C ©2014 Terrell Neasley
But now, that's all changed since I'm doing more work with low-light, nighttime, and astronomy...particularly with shooting nudes in these settings. This is where Sony has solved this problem. There's not another camera on the planet that have these attributes better than the A7s. Its another learning curve to get used to, but frankly, I like it. As of last week, I made my 3rd evolution and ventured into the little-known world of Mirrorless Interchangeble Lens Cameras as my sole system of choice. I still have the APS-C sensor Fujifilm X-E2, but I no longer have my Nikon D800E. I am 100% Mirrorless. My needs have changed and I had no problem with making the adjustment...again. I needed lighter weight systems and I needed the ability to shoot better in lower light. Usually, all that's necessary is a tripod, a cable-release and some patience. But sometimes the elements in my composition would move, such as the clouds, and I needed much shorter shutter times. And then there are a few other reasons I won't get into at the moment, but suffice to say, I think this is special. The full-frame A7s simply gives me what I need in order to get what's in my head to in front of my eyes. I've had a few people speak negatively on my decisions in this regard, but I'll save that for another post.

Art Model, Kristi C ©2014 Terrell Neasley
For now, I'll have images edited before long and I'll continue to test and learn this new system. I still have another body, another lens, and a couple more things to get to prepare me for my next adventure. I think that'll be the new A7MarkII or a new Fujifilm system. I'm pretty sure, that'll be it. I picked up the 35mm 2.8 yesterday and still need the 55mm 1.8, along with at least 1 Rokinon lens, but maybe two. Over the past few months, you've seen me blog about what I thought were shortcomings in the lack of innovation of Canon and Nikon. Well, now I've put my money with my words and made that change.

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