Last month I was invited to Amsterdam by Sony for the 2019 Alpha Experience. Being one of my favourite cities, Amsterdam is a great destination, and playing with some pretty great cameras, there wasn’t a single moment I was hesitating in making the decision to go.
I’ve played with Sony cameras before, you can read that experience here:
On the menu: Portraiture with the α7R III, parkour with the α6400, gymnastics with the α9, and a rooftop shoot with whatever camera you pick up from the table.
For the portraiture session, there was a selection of Profoto lights (B10 and A1), the new 135mm 1.8 GM and a model. It was fun having a few minutes with the B10. It’s a great little flash, but since I already have four B2 heads and an A1, I’m more than settled in the compact studio flash department.
Knowing how all these work together, I went first and made the set my own. Wanting to get a close-up, some flattering light on her face, and some depth in the photo, I worked my ratios and had some fun. Nothing out of my comfort zone, but for a quick five minute shoot (literally), I managed to dial in the model and the light. I don’t have a 135 in my arsenal myself, but it’s one of those mythical ranges that’s great for any portrait.
The combination of lens and body is pretty sublime, with a 100% crop showing just how much detail there is. This is getting close to Medium Format level of details. It’s weird that Sony manufactures most MF sensors, yet doesn’t offer their own selection. I guess they’re focusing on getting Full Frame just right. Something that I can fully understand, and one of the reason I don’t like Fuji film cameras. Apart from being clunky in their use, they are all APS-C (apart from their own MF series).
The α6400 session included a gentrified hangar, a smoke machine, some over-zealous property managers and two parkour runners. While the images came out fine, this camera is just too small for me, and in my opinion plagued with the one thing Sony excels in: menus. You can tweak about anything with your camera, but it takes a whole lot of time to learn them. In frustration I sometimes just gave my camera to a Sony employee and asked to change a setting for me.
However, the autofocus is pretty great, and I mostly nailed it.
The α9 on the other hand is a beast. It’s without doubt made for sport and action photographers, and if I had to switch to Sony right now, it would probably be the α9 (with a backup α7R III).
Having an olympic gymnast and her equally talented sister in front of your lens is pretty fun. I just wished I had some strobes to go even more creative with this location.
Images shot with the FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS, FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA and the FE 24-70 f/2.8 GM.
At the end of the shoot day, we were invited to a private floor of the Amsterdam Tower, which is blessed with a great view. Here we had some more fun with lenses like the FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS and the FE 12-24 f/4 G.
The Sony cameras keep impressing with decent updates for each generation. I’ve had a great time, and while the cameras aren’t perfect, they can handle about anything you can throw at them. So, if you’re looking for a coherent and professional camera system aimed at the future, I think the Sony α full frame cameras are a decent choice.