25 February 2015

Going Forward with Sony

Art Model Kristi C. ©2015 Terrell Neasley Sony A7s
"If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success."
~ John D. Rockefeller

Okay. So I've already mentioned that I've made a switch in my gear, from Nikon and the D800e to Sony and both the A7s and the A7MarkII. And that's the way I'll be for a while. I have no doubt Sony will come out with a successor to the A7r and there's a significant likelihood that I will reach out for that one too. 

So here's what I like about the Sony system.

I did a post a while back on why I went with Fuji a year ago over Sony. I was highly impressed with the Fuji system for 3 reasons. They have damn excellent lenses and already had a plethora of glass when Sony had maybe 3 at the time for full frame cams. Second, they have an excellent reputation for doing firmware upgrades that actually improve your cameras as opposed to just fixing bugs and adding new languages. Also, Fuji listens to their customer base better than any other camera manufacture that I've seen or heard of.

Art Model Kristi C. ©2015 Terrell Neasley Sony A7s
But Sony is still head and shoulders above them all right now. As far as camera systems go, there is only one company in the business that comes to mind when you think of innovation. Its as if they are willing to listen to any crazy idea, throw money at it, develop it, and see what happens. Granted, they are not as haphazard as that, I'm sure. Canon has used the term "game-changer" with reference to their 70D in their marketing campaigns. I'm here to tell you that Sony is definitely changing the business model of the photographic industry. The top camera manufactures make camera models in varying grades of features, quality, and durability. Sony's top mirrorless system makes one pro camera system and then varies the model based on NEED. If you need a general pro-level system, get the A7MarkII. If you need high resolution, get the A7r. Low-light sensitivity? Get the A7s. A photog can effectively have a need for all 3 systems. Not so, with Nikon or Canon. If you want a second body, you either get a duplicate camera to the main system, or get one of lower quality and ability. So what makes Sony's mirrorless system different from the standard DSLR?

First, there's no need for a mirror. DSLR's are going to have to change. There's no getting around that. I've even said before that somebody is going to make a shutterless system at some point which will take the top off the speed limit of 1/8000ths of a second. Sensor tech is such that turning it on and off will suffice. Shutter speed will become a historic title much the same as how we still call a shutter beyond 30 seconds, "bulb" mode. In a few years, shutter speeds will rival the effective shutter speeds of flash at its shortest duration which is 1/40,000ths of a second with several of today's speedlites. Or at least half that, for now.

Art Model Kristi C. ©2015 Terrell Neasley Sony A7s
Taking out the mirror has the advantage of making the overall camera smaller and lighter. This has been the trend for the last decade and is probably the number one or possibly the second largest catalyst for more female photographers into the industry. I experienced this the first time I took my D800e to Guatemala for a month. The weight of the camera and lenses was a bit more than I preferred. Presently, I can take two Sony bodies and 3 lenses and not even feel it. Do I sacrifice quality or durability. No. Speed? Not at all. I can do whatever a DSLR does plus some, with the exception of shoot 14 frames/second like Canon's 1Dx. I can match Nikon's 11 fps or Canon's 7DMarkII with Sony's a6000, even though it is a crop sensor camera.

Right now, my work and camera needs demand smaller sizes, superior low-light performances, and an all around general use system. The A7s will do natively, ISO 50-409,600. But its not always about high ISO's. People may balk at the low pixel count, but I can attest to how over-rated people can depend on that stat. The A7s gives me the ability to shoot at the lowest ISO's in the dark and still freeze people moving around. My Nikon D800e or the Fuji XE-2 could do low light photography, but my subject would have to be absolutely still and I'd need higher ISO's. I can now get 1/30th of a shutter at low ISO's whereas I'd be using a half second shutter at high ISO's with either my Nikon or Fuji. That's the benefit of the larger full-frame pixels and Sony's Bionz-X processor.

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
~ C. S. Lewis

Art Model Kristi C. ©2015 Terrell Neasley Sony A7s

Weaknesses? Well, yeah. Every camera system will have compromises, and Sony is no different. From the short time I've been shooting, I know that I won't use my A7s as much where lots of detail is necessary or doing environmental portraits from a distance. I may be a bit biased in this regard because I am used to the 36MP sensor detail of the Nikon D800e. I've also noticed that my sensor is already in need of cleaning on the A7MkII after a recent shoot in the desert during inclement weather conditions and lens changes. Mirrorless systems operate from an open shutter position, which means as soon as you pull off the lens, the sensor is RIGHT there, 17mm back from the lens. This just means you have to be a bit more careful when removing and switching lenses. Battery life is also going to be a compromise. EVERYTHING about Sony Mirrorless systems use juice if the camera is on. Even if you don't use the LCD to compose, the viewfinder is electronic, so you're still using juice for that. The solution, buy friggin more batteries! It takes me all of 4 seconds to replace a battery. Problem solved.

Art Model Kristi C. ©2015 Terrell Neasley Sony A7s
Finally, as far as this post is concerned... the price-point is superb! I can't really find a good reason to spend what I used to on DSLRs when I have another option in what I feel to be a better camera anyway. I'll put my A7MarkII up against a Canon 5DMarkIII any day for pure picture quality. And this is what I'm saying. If you're getting just as good a shot in a smaller package for a lower price, why would you not do that? Having a hard time letting go of all that Canon or Nikon glass? Guess what, get a Metabones adapter and keep it to use with the Sony. Boom. I just made your world better.
***Drops Mic to the floor***

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