22 August 2020

Believe It or Not, The Sony A7SIII is Not for Me


Art Model, Safia Sarai by Terrell Neasley

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world.” 

~ Freya Stark

Sony recently announced the new and long awaited, A7SIII and it's expected to be in stores sometime in September. I just can't do it. Great camera. Can't do it. Why? Okay...but first, some background.

At one point, I owned all THREE of Sony's full frame line-up of cameras. I had the A7II, the A7S, and the A7RII. Via a twist of misfortune, I sold my A7S to get the A7SII, only to find out they sold out and the camera was not available to me for quite a while. Otherwise, I would have had all three number 2 versions of each model. This was during a time, when I had everything. I even upgraded my ex-girlfriend's camera from the a6000 to the a6100, so I had that available to me, if I needed it.  

This was my all-in investment into mirrorless systems and leaving DSLRs for good and I have not looked back. I said a long time ago that mirrorless was the future and that Canon and Nikon would eventually make a change as well. Now you can see both companies coming out with their R and Zed systems, respectively. The Canon 5D model has been discontinued, but Nikon is still trying to play both sides promising a new Mirrorless AND a DSLR update to the D850. I think this will be another costly mistake that Nikon can't really afford.The DSLR is done. You can bet this will be the last run of their big sports cameras, the 1DX-series and the D6,  to go full on head to head with Sony's A9 series

Art Model, Safia Sarai by Terrell Neasley

So yeah. I'm all in on Mirrorless. BUT, that was then. This is now. The main difference: SHELVES! Back then, I had a house with shelves that I could put my cameras on. I had no less than 10 different bags and Pelican cases that I could carry them around in. In addition, I had a CAR to transport them from home to gig and back. 

Today, I have my Osprey Aether AG 70, a Thinktank Urban Disguise 60v2, and the lumbar spine of my BACK! That's it. I'm limited to two camera bodies and I prefer a particular complimentary system. Every since I was a Canon shooter with the 5DM2 and the 7D, I have preferred having a full frame body and a crop to compliment it. For my shooting style, it has always been the best situation for me. I, sort of, stumbled on that when I purchased the 5D2 and then could not keep my hands off the 7D when it came out. I gave my Canon 40D to my daughter. To me, the 7D would be the prefect back-up camera because that's what you always heard about shooting gigs. You always need a back-up. And I agree with that. The 7D was good enough to be the perfect back-up without having to invest into another expensive full-frame camera. 

Art Model, Safia Sarai by Terrell Neasley

I have never wanted DUPLICATE cameras. Having two 5DMarkII's was not anything I desired. I wanted them to be complimentary, not just a duplicate back-up. This is why I said, I stumbled into it. I was shooting with my good friend John Kompare in Las Vegas. He had invited me to go shoot with him at a bird sanctuary. I brought both my cameras and had my 70-200mm lens on the Canon 5DMarkII. I was trying to get a shot overhead at 200mm. I looked at the photo I took on the LCD screen. I wasn't pleased and said something aloud about it. The conversation when something like this:

Me: Dang. I like it, but 200mm is the closest I can get. If only I had like... maybe a 300mm, instead. I guess I can crop in on this. 

John: Yeah... Or you can pop that 70-200 onto your Canon 7D and take advantage of the 1.6 crop factor.

Art Model, Safia Sarai by Terrell Neasley

“This is the journey of your life. Don’t try to explain it to others, because only you can see it.” 

~ Nitin Namdeo

And just like that... Complimentary! I have loved that style of shooting every since. It was more than just a back up system. It was a complimentary system. Even now, I shoot with a Sony A7R2 and the Sony a6500. I have limited myself to 2 lenses... the Sony 55mm f/1.8 and the Tamron 24mm f/2.8 (thanks Lucy!). I can shoot portraits with the 55mm on the full frame OR I can also pop it on the a6500 crop sensor camera and shoot the same shot at near 85mm. I can put the Tamron on the full-frame for a 24mm perspective OR I can pop it on the crop for a near 35mm perspective. I have 4 lens perspectives available to me right now, limited only by resolution and maybe ISO qualities. 

Now let's get back to the A7Siii. The "S" is for Sensitivity. This thing is a beast that will shoot in the dark and has a killer dynamic range on a 12MP sensor, as it's always had. A 16MP... maybe even a 20MP sensor would have been a worthwhile upgrade, however. Regardless, this is obviously a video camera. Everything about this screams film-making and while I WISH I could have it, I can't say it's a priority right now, and here's why.

Art Model, Safia Sarai by Terrell Neasley

I already mentioned I prefer the full-frame/crop complementary systems. If I'm doing that, the A7R4  is a must. "R" is for Resolution. If I'm going to upgrade from my A7R2, then the 4 is the most logical choice for me. (And yes... I want that.) The A7R3 was not a viable upgrade option for me. The 4 is. That being said, IF I were to upgrade, I'd have to upgrade my crop as well since the A7R4 takes a different battery than the a6500. I'm not packing TWO DIFFERENT battery and charger types for my main camera systems. THIS MEANS... I have to upgrade to the a6600 along with the A7R4. Savvy?

That keeps me in the complimentary line-up I prefer and enjoy. As it stands, I can get neither of the cameras here in Vietnam. I haven't looked at purchasing them in the US and having them shipped (and likely taxed) here, but the truth is the travel business is like slow AF! Meaning, Autofocus... get your head out of the gutter. I'm doing quite well with my current two bodies and from a business perspective, the upgrade doesn't make sense. Were I stateside and able to control my income better, I'd do it whether it made sense or not! I'd make up the expense somehow and rather quickly. But this is not the case at the moment. I'll look at an upgrade, when I either absolutely NEED it, or possibly when I get back stateside. Instead of going all in, I'm going to hold.

Art Model, Safia Sarai by Terrell Neasley

08 August 2020

New Laptop and the Current Vietnam Covid Situation

Art Model Elizabeth, 2006 Terrell Neasley
Art Model Elizabeth, Copyright 2006 Terrell Neasley

"The muse drags me down many different roads often at the same time." 
~ Colin Poole

My Gigabyte Aero 15x suddenly failed on me and it picked a most inopportune time to do it. I was traveling and extended my stay in a beachfront property down South for an additional week with the specific purpose of writing and editing photos. The next morning after that extension, I woke up and tried to get to work at breakfast only to have my laptop not turn on at all. It just wouldn't power up. Thinking that the power cord came loose, which it was wont to often do, I retrieved it only to find no different result. 

An IT guy from the hotel tried working on it, but to no avail. Therefore I went that whole week just chilling with no ability to work. When I arrived back in Hanoi, two different repair places gave me the same result. Busted chip and no way to get parts. I'd have to replace the motherboard and for whatever reason, nobody had any confidence to get Gigabyte parts. Despite the fact that Gigabyte laptops are made in Taiwan, they said it was a no-go.
Art Model Elizabeth, Copyright 2006 Terrell Neasley

I jumped back on with my Grab-bike driver... like a motorbike Uber, and headed to the computer store for a new laptop. I did not enjoy having to drop another $2K unexpectedly, but sheesh... I can't go without having a laptop.

Enter the MSi GS-66. They didn't have the top tier of this model, but I was able to pull my 32GB of  DDR4 out of the old laptop and install it in the new, which came with 16gigs. I would have much preferred the better graphics card, but the Nvidia RTX 2060 is nothing to sneeze at. I'm back in business and all seems to work fine. The thing does not have an overheating problem having THREE fans and unlike last year's version, the GS-65, the motherboard is easy to get to. It doesn't have the independent number key pad, but other than that, I'm adjusted to it well enough. 

Art Model Elizabeth, Copyright 2006 Terrell Neasley

Currently, I'm waiting on my next visa extension approval. That should be in in another week. On a more aggravating note, we were Covid-free for right at 100 days. Now, it's back! Three times as strong. They are still investigating how the outbreak began, but it coincides with illegal Chinese immigrants who were smuggled into the country in Da Nang. Da Nang is in Central Vietnam and is a hotspot for tourists due to the attraction of it's beautiful beaches. There was not really any international tourism, but domestic tourism has been promoted widely since April to encourage economic growth. It was working. 80,000 local tourists had to be evacuated out of the city, but more than 95,000 departed Da Nang to get out of the epicenter. 

That means the infection also came with it and Vietnam has experienced it's first deaths due to Covid-19 related issues. I believe 10, as of this date. As I mentioned, this strain is faster and more deadly. BUT, it looks like the Vietnamese government is on top of this one too. Quarantines have taken effect again. Masks have been mandated once more. Bars and local gathering spots are off limits as before. I can only trust that we acquire the same results as before and eradicate the Coronavirus again. Stay tuned. 

Art Model Elizabeth, Copyright 2006 Terrell Neasley

This model featured in this post is Art Model, Elizabeth. I've often called our collaboration my first great work. The shots we got were some of my first shots I ever did that I might actually call art, and not just photographs of a naked girl. Beyond that, I'd say she was one of my top 3 original models that taught me about photographing the nude. What she brought to the table to teach me was about model movement and being able to SEE my shot within each shot. I moved in closer and began doing bodyscapes. She would continually move and pose in a manner that helped me learn to direct a model. 

Of course she is a beautiful woman with a great body, but her gift to me was definitely in her movement. For never having done this before, she continued to give me unique looks and shapes. That's what I remember most. We shot twice, I think, against a white backdrop in a studio and later against a black one... all under continuous HOT LIGHTS! I was able to see how to light a subject in both cases. I call her my Godsend Number 1, due to the circumstances in which we first began shooting. A direct, and sudden answer to prayer. It was quite the unique experience. Not even sure she knows that. Anyway, these are negative scans, mainly unedited and Raw. But pure magic, nonetheless.

Art Model Elizabeth, Copyright 2006 Terrell Neasley