Friday, October 7, 2016

What to do, what to do...

or how one news item from Sony can alter one's plans.
For the last 4 years, I've been shooting Weddings and Events with a Sony a99. This is a camera that embodies perfection for my style of shooting: excellent AWB, useful LiveView, quiet (not silent) shutter, dual card slots,  full frame, useable autofocus for video. I'm on my 2nd aA99 body, and the recent release of the a99II meant that new a99's would be taken off the market soon. 
The a99II improves on "perfection" but it comes at a high cost: $5000CDN. I've been getting more and more requests to shoot video and the a99II would be the ideal hybrid Stills/Video camera as it comes with 2 of my must-have features for shooting wedings these days: 4k video (really good 4k) and 5-axis stabilization. But still, $5000CDN  is a lot of weddings.
I've looked at the RX10II and it ticks off almost all the boxes except for the inability to use lenses faster than F2.8. In-body stabilization (IS) is the tried and true Sony SteadyShot but it isn't 5-axis. I've looked at the a6300 and it doesn't have a headphone jack and no IS at all. 
Today, Sony announced the release of the a6500, which builds on the (fastest/quickest in the industry) autofocus of the a6300, 4k video and ADDED 5-axis stabilization! Like the a6300, the a6500 still doesn't have a headphone jack but I use a pre-amp anyways. But the 5-axis stabilization is the deal-maker for me. And all for $1700CDN!
One may ask: why not use the a7 Series of full-frame cameras? 
Well, I did, for 1.5 years with an a7II. It wasn't ideal for shooting weddings and events. slow focusing and very expensive native FE lenses. Since I have alpha-mount lenses, I use the LA EA4 adaptor and this further slows down auto-focusing, disabling all the focus points that the a7II is known for. And apparently, even the native FE lenses are slow to focus, in this blog entry by Mann & Frau Schmidt.
The a6500  is an APS-C, cropped sensor camera, fine for Video but will take time to get used to for Stills.. For me, it'll be a different way of looking , having used mostly full frame bodies. But hey, cropped sensor doesn't seem to be a negative for Kevin Lam!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sony Diaries #967: Kyle: a portrait session

Sony Diaries #966: Will it be in Colour? Or will it be in B&W?

For personal expression, freed from the constraints of Art Director demands and agreed-upon specifications, a photographer is faced with the delicious dilemna: colour or black-and-white.
When is it appropriate to use either one?
The general rule (and always meant to be broken) for a B&W image is one with a varied range of blacks, greys, whites, strong graphic elements, with good contrast between the elements. I use B&W when I don't want colours to get in the way of the message.
I use colour when colour IS the message!
Fortunately, all digital capture is in colour and with the magic of channel mixers and tone mixers and photo suites (Photoshop, Camera RAW, LightRoom, NIK, etc), any colour image can be converted into a B&W image worhty of Ansel Adams.
But what is also true is that not any image will work in B&W.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to shoot a portrait session with Amanda, for TrilliumWest (arguably, the coolest, most progressive real estate brokerage in Ontario!). All the shots had to be in colour but as I was editing, it struck me that some images would look food in B&W too.
may or may not work in B&W
I think this will work in B&W
the following works, for sure

 the following only works in colour
So there you have it.

Sony Diaries #965: a favourite photo, and a mention of a promising breakthrough technology in image capture

They say that "the best camera is the camera that you have with you", and that the best images in the world are the ones that are captured on camera, any camera. There's a reason why smartphones, as a group, are the most-used device for photos on Flicker. There have been so many times when I wished I had my Sony RX10, just because the camera controls will allow me to express what I visualize. But, a smartphone image is better than no image at all, so a cellphone shot it is.
Recently, I found out about a breakthrough technology that claims to marry big-camera controls with the convenience of a smartphone. On their website,, this is the claim:
"The L16 uses breakthrough optics design with the most advanced imaging engine ever created to give you control of a DSLR with the convenience of a smartphone. With many cameras firing simultaneously, the L16 captures the details of your shot at multiple focal lengths, then fuses that information to create an incredible image with up to 52MP resolution."
If true, this development reminds me of a super-charged HDR, on steroids! I can just imagine the possibilities, the much bigger palette and broader canvas with which to express my ideas. With this compact size, this will find a home places where space is at a premium, such as drones, spy devices, etc. And of course, jackets, back pockets, and purses.
Hmmm, I wonder what the image below would look like using this camera?

I'm not a big fan of images that scream HDR (high dynamic range) but there are times when the judicious use of HDR where its  pastel-like colours and high dynamic range just hits the spot. Until recently, HDR was only accessible with specialized software (Photomatix), and a camera on a tripod for bracketed exposures. These days, smartphones are able to simulate HDR (the keyword is "simulate").
One of my favourite spots in my favourite city, Guelph, is The Boathouse, situated on the banks of where the Eramosa joins the Speed River, off of Gordon Street, in the heart of the city. The Boathouse is a complex creature, showing different looks throughout the seasons, under varying weather conditions. I never get tired of being in this place, capturing its many moods.
(photo taken with a hunking-big Sony a99)
I can't wait for the L16 to hit the shelves, and for the world to test it out!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sony Diaries #964: Liam

Guelph Marlins Aquatic Club
Junior Champs
2015 Provincial Lifesaving Championships (Waterfront),
Scarborough Bluffs Beach. August 14, 2016