Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Perfect "Events" Camera

Events Photography is a specialized field of reportage that combines passive photo documentation, classic photo-journalism, and video reportage. One of the type of events I continually get asked to do is the  conference/seminar event. A typical day involves speakers in the morning, lunch'networking time, more speakers, and finally, cocktails and social time. 
After having bounced around using Nikon and Fuji (a derivative of Nikon), Canon, and for a short time, Olympus, I believe I have found the perfect Events camera: the Sony SLTs. Here are the 5 reasons  why this is so:
1. The SLT Mirror: a fixed mirror, as opposed to a mirror that goes up-and-down, means very little noise. There's nothing more disturbing in a quiet auditorium when all you hear is the mirror flap from the back row. As a matter of fact, I feel that Sony engineers put in a slight "mirror-flap" noise just because photographers want to be reassured that an image was indeed taken. 
(Note: the Canon EOS-1D X is almost as quiet as the Sony SLT cameras.)
2. The SLT Mirror: a fixed mirror means that Phase-Detect autofocusing is employed in real-time Live View. The other system, Contrast-Detect autofocusing, should actually be called "almost" Live View. Phase-Detect Live View allows the photographer to handle the camera as if it where a dedicated video camera: watching the scenery a foot or more from the LCD screen (which is amazing on the Sony True Black screens). The articulated LCD screen adds to the video-like handling of the camera. No more craning your neck and squinting through the viewfinder. With the camera on a monopod, I sit down with my eye on the LCD and my finger on the shutter button. Which leads me to the third reason...
3. The AMOLED electronic view finder (EVF): almost the same dimensions as the optical finder on full- frame cameras with a chart-topping 2.4 million resolution, with "what-you-see-is-what-the- sensor-gets" view. The LCD is in the same league for resolution. The photographer can plainly see changes in settings: WB, exposure, creative modes, etc. 
4. The SLT Mirror: once again, because of the SLT technology, the video implementation is second to none (at this price point, the audio is purposely handicapped by Sony so as not to take away sales from the higher-end models).
5. The Sensor: There's a reason why all Nikon and Pentax DSLRs use Sony-manufactured sensors: they're the best. The use of flash is a no-no for speaker-on-a-podium shot so typically, using a monopod, I shoot at 1/30-to-1/50, f2.4-f4, ISO1600-3200, trying to catch the peak of an action. Sony  (APS-C) sensors deliver clean, crisp high ISO RAW files with minimum post-processing. Although Sony makes the superb full-frame SLT- A99, I don't see myself getting one (the $2,999 price being the main reason).
There are other reasons why Sony is a worthwhile camera to work with: inexpensive-but-superb Minolta legacy lenses, solid build, reliable electronics. But it is the SLT technology that does it for me.
Second City stage. Oct 4th.  Minolta 100-200 f4.5, 1/40 f4.5, ISO1600. monopod

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