Admittedly, I am a bit of a photography gear snob many years ago. It first started with my steadfast (err… stubborn) mindset on film as the valid photography medium. (Cue Kodak Reminder) Heck I still have a few old film cameras in my arsenal that see occasional use including a Canon EOS 3 that my dad gave me. When I finally adopted digital medium it was Canon no less. Years ago when my cousin showed off her Sony Cybershot 3MP, I would laugh at her. After all, I enjoy Sony for many things like the Discman (ahem…even Walkman), Bravia TVs, Playstation and even their VAIO laptops aren’t bad. But camera? Really?! You got to be joking. Sony makes toys… not tools!
Well fast forward today, I am eating my own words with extra spicy sauce. You see, over the last decade or so, Sony has been steadily improving upon its imaging technology to the point where Sony is one of the main image sensor provider for many camera manufacturers including the likes of Nikon and selected Canon equipment. So sometime last year, Sony Canada in conjunction with Broadway Camera invited a bunch of photographers (and skeptics) to evaluate their latest products. This by invite only event was held at a derelict warehouse in of all places the notorious East Vancouver. Mmmkay.
Well they certainly trotted quite a bit of Sony Alpha professional bits including their A-Mount and E-Mount lines. Honestly, I really have no idea why Sony is keeping the A-Mount. I asked the nice Sony rep about it and Judy in her most wonderfully polished PR-ness told me while the E-Mount is enjoying a strong uptake and R&D investment, there are no plans to retire the A-Mount. Uh, OK that’s informative. Time to check out the pretty model who is getting a bit ignored thanks to the parade of sexy α and Zeiss lenses.
Without further ado, I’ll unpack the event experience and thoughts about Sony as a maker of professional imaging equipment.
Coming from Canon and sprinkles of Nikon experience, I find Sony’s take on cameras a bit unrefined. Not that there are plastic protruding from its cameras and lenses. No in fact I love the slick clean design of the Sony lenses. Ergonomics is the biggest bugbear for Sony cameras especially with full frame mirrorless A7 series. There seems to be no logical placements of buttons and menu access. There are a bazillion camera reviews out there. So I’m not even going to bore you with another camera review. It’s not the point of this article anyway.
The event has a relaxed feel. I actually enjoyed the run-down <ahem> gritty East Vancouver location. Especially I got to bring the evaluation outside. Yes nothing like taking the gear for some real world use. Back at the event central, there were people coming in and out along the way. The folks from Sony/Broadway Camera were really gracious in that you can pretty much grab a camera or attach a lens to your Sony (if you have one). I immediately fell in love with the Sony Zeiss 55/1,8 and A7II. What a beautiful piece of glass. Quite possibly the best 50-ish lens this side of the megabucks Zeiss Otus 55/1,4.
What I find most intriguing and refreshing is how Sony is constantly on the move. Having shot Canon for many years and loved their gear, I am bummed that this photography giant seem to have been on cruise mode. Technology vs Photographer skills limitation aside, any company not innovating is in danger of stagnation and being overtaken. Hey look others are now taking interest to photographing the model. Time to move on…. look, there’s a rusty lamp.
Mirrorless technology has come quite far from those early Olympus/Panasonic weirdness. With the introduction of the full-frame A7-series, Sony pretty much solidified the status of mirrorless cameras as a real alternative to traditional dSLRs. May we are getting old or require a few more X-fit classes, but lugging around pounds and pounds of 5d3s and L-glasses aren’t fun anymore. There is a certain sense of freedom shooting with a lighter set of photographic gear. In that regards, I find myself falling for the Sony A7 series especially when mated to the Zeiss 55/1,8. What a staggeringly good combo for photographic artistry.
“So what do you think?” asked Judy the nice Sony rep.
At the end of the day, Anne and I are photographers creating artistic portrait images for our clients. People hire with us because of our work. No one cares about the tools we use. The equipment we pick are enablers. Not because they are sexy or snob-factor. Look, lugging around a black brick and a heavy glass/steel cylinder doesn’t scream suave no matter what the ads want to show. I do sincerely believe Sony is definitely worth a consideration not just for the enthusiast photographers but even for working professionals. This company seems to be constantly improving its products. There is a sense of innovative momentum for Sony Alpha cameras especially with the E-Mount lines.
Have we jumped ship? No. Not yet. While our Canon gear still remains as our go-to tool of choice for many reasons including the company’s awesome professional support facilities, we will certainly include Sony in Veritas-Images “Equipment Evergreening” roadmap.
Note: We have since added the Sony α7 and Zeiss 55/1,8 to the stable. Everybody play nice now! 🙂