I have been shooting the Sony Alpha line of cameras and lenses for the last three months now and I have really enjoyed shooting with them. The a77 was my introduction to Sony cameras, and now for the last month I have been shooting the new a99.
What great products! I love my cameras and the Sony and Zeiss lenses that I have been using. I have the Sony Zeiss 85 2.0, the Sony Zeiss 70-200 2.8, the Sony Zeiss 24-70 2.8 and the Sony Zeiss 16-35 2.8.
Below you will find many different images that I have shot with Sony over the past three months. I will include the camera info and a little story behind each image. The standouts about these cameras for me are the amazing color the sensors produce and how well it handles the shadow and highlight detail. Much like with film, you can expose for the shadow and let the highlights fall. In my experience so far it doesn't blow out the highlights. Also notable about the Sony products is the absolute sharpness of the lenses. They really are premium with truly beautiful glass.
For me shooting the Zeiss lenses made for Sony brings me back to my film days of shooting Hasselblad.
Sony a77 using 50mm lens 250/6.3 400 ISO
This is one of the very first images I shot with my Sony. I shot this image at Holman Ranch in the Carmel Valley while attending ISSE Carmel. Loren, one of the other attendees, agreed to let me photograph her so I could test the camera. I sat her at the base of the tree so her face was in the shade and she was backlit by the late afternoon sun. The exposure was set for her face, or the shadow side, and I let the highlights blow out. It was amazing how well the sensor held the highlights without blowing them out! Both shadow and highlight exposures in the image were almost perfect.
Sony a77 using 24mm lens 1000/2.0 400 IS0
One more image of Loren using the lines of the tree to take the eye to the subject using the late afternoon sun to create a rim light to separate the subject from the darker background.
Sony a77 using 24mm lens 1000/2.2 400 IS0
On my drive up to ISSE Carmel I stopped to see some friends who live near San Louis Obispo. I took the opportunity to shoot some portraits of their boys. They live out in the country so the boys can really be boys, hence the slingshot. I asked him to aim the slingshot right at the camera and focused on his eyes. Shooting with the lens wide open, creating a shallow depth of field, brings the main focal point on this image to the eyes as well as the perfect "boy" expression.
Sony a77 using 24mm lens 160/2.5 400 IS0
This image was taken in program mode to see how the camera would handle the bright light of the window in the background. The metering in the camera exposed for this image perfectly. My friends' boy had jumped up from the coffee table where he was playing to see why their dog was barking.
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 3200/2.5 400 IS0
This is Max, the barking dog. He had a gentle disposition and followed directions well. I had him jump up on this stump in the back of the property and sit. I then set the camera to manual and opened the lens wide at 2.5. My goal was to have the background out of focus so that Max's white hair would stand out from the brownish tones of the grasses behind him. Then I asked Max to smile; he really is a good listener.
Sony a77 using 24mm lens 1000/2.0 400 IS0
I wanted to shoot an image of both boys together and thought this location was perfect. What says "boy" better than a tire swing and a treehouse? I placed them in the foreground so I could include the treehouse and the tire swing, A.K.A., the boys' domain. When I plan an image, I like to think about what its content is and how the image will affect the viewer now and in the future. Think how much this image will mean to these boys and their parents when they are older or have kids of their own. The memories that will be created over the years in and around this tree will be many but will fly by quickly. This moment in time will be cherished forever.
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 160/4.0 100 IS0
This detail image was captured at a recent Labor day party I photographed. The way the sensor captures colors in just brilliant. Details is storytelling can be just as important as the story itself, especially when designing an album as a keepsake for your client.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 40/2.8 1600 IS0
There were some very fun laser light at this party. I went out onto the beach and shot straight back into the laser. The exposure was dialed in on a manual setting, allowing the colors to be sharp and vibrant but not blown out.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 40/2.8 1600 IS0
This is a silhouette of the host having fun at his party. Again keeping the camera in manual mode so I know exactly what my exposure for the colored lasers will look like, I can focus on what's happening in frot of me.
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 800/8.0 100 IS0
This image taken on the beach in Malibu is very "California" to me. This friendly game of touch football was shot in program mode to see how the camera would expose for the bright sun. Foreground and background look great. I made the image black and white as it reminds me of other older images of Malibu I have seen in local restaurants and bars.
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 125/5.6 640 IS0
This image is from a recent portrait session. I absolutely love how consistently sharp the Sony Zeiss Lenses are. This is the 85mm which has become a favorite of mine. My focus is on the boy's eyes. The combination of the catch light, the vibrant color of blue and the sharpness of this image really makes the subject and the viewer engage.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 100/4.5 640 IS0
This image was shot indoors using available light from a nearby window. The tonal range in the ratio across the face is perfect in program mode. Many times I will make one exposure in program to get close to my exposure, then switch over to manual to dial in the exact exposure I like. Most of the time, this image being a prime example, I do not have to change anything or tweak my settings at all in manual since the metering in the camera is always right on.
Sony a77 using 24mm lens 1000/2.0 400 IS0
This image is from an engagement session I photographed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The sun had gone down and I needed to balance the exposure for the sky in the background, the couple in the foreground, and finally the lights in the sign. In this case I chose manual for my setting. Overall I came fairly close to what I needed, and with some minor adjustments to the raw file, the balance of the three different exposures work well together.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 800/2.8 400 IS0
Beyond the technical information I can share about this image there is also a life lesson involved as well. The long and short of it was the home/location we were going to use for a boudoir session fell through at the last minute and we suddenly were left with no place to shoot. Instead of being defeated I was determined to come away from this shoot with some amazing images. My model had come down from up north to shoot with me and I could not let her down. I decided to check out a location to which I had not been to in a long time, the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Since it was mid-October they happened to be set up for a Halloween carnival and haunted house. Here were all these unique props for us to use and no one was around. Shortly after we started to shoot Mr. Security Guard came by and told us we could not shoot there. With some fast talking he agreed to let us shoot for twenty more minutes which turned into two hours. (I think he liked my model and was content to watch.) The lesson here is to never give up. I was determined to win and I came away with some really great images.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 60/2.8 400 IS0
This was shot inside of an old bus that was brought in for the Halloween carnival. Again color and sharpness are great qualities of the Sony a77.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 50/4.0 800 IS0
This is from a wedding I photographed with a good friend of mine. I love this image of the groom getting ready. Available light is what I like to use much of the time during the period of getting ready and I shoot in the direction of the light. Some people are not comfortable hand holding the camera below a sixtieth of a second but I like to live on the edge. I will shoot at a fifteenth or thirtieth of a second a lot. The movement in his shirt and the sharpness in his eyes is a testament to how great the Sony camera and lenses really are. I can push the limits and get results like these which continues to excite me and makes me love my job even more.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 160/5.0 400 IS0
This is an image of the bride from the same wedding. Available light in open shade and the auto white balance is right on with the color. This image could have had more of a blue cast in this cool open shade, but not with the Sony. I find by shooting this camera I have less corrections to adjust in my raw files afterwards in post-production, speeding up my production time which is always a plus.
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 8000/2.5 400 IS0
This image is of seals I shot while up in San Louis Obispo during my trip up the coast to Carmel. It's another great example of the ability of the sensor in this camera. The shadow and highlight, or dynamic range, are stupid good, or as the say in Boston "wicked" good!
Sony a77 using 70-200mm G lens 1000/8.0 200 IS0
For the last three years I have attended and photographed the Miramar Air Show in Southern California. I was excited this year to test out the Sony in a different element than I normally shoot. Again I was not let down. The metering in the camera and follow focus work phenomenally. The a77 will shoot eleven frames per second, so shooting airplanes flying past at over 300 miles per hour was a great test for this. Make sure you have a fast card so your files can write to the card fast enough to keep up with one frame per second. The camera has a translucent mirror technology which means the mirror doesn't have to move up and down, hence the increased speed.
Sony a77 using 70-200mm G lens 2500/9.0 200 IS0
The 70-200 2.8 Sony Zoom is wonderful. It focuses fast and nails the shot. Here again is great tonal range shooting in the bright sun.
Sony a77 using 70-200mm G lens 1000/8.0 200 IS0
Striking, sharp, and beautiful are the crisp images that this dynamic duo produce. The reflection of the Marine Corps band in this tuba was shot in the bright sun and everything is exposed perfectly.
Sony a77 using 70-200mm G lens 2500/8.3 250 IS0
This memory of the historic journey of the space shuttle Endeavour on it's final journey to Los Angeles is preserved beautifully for me and my family. What a sight, and it's captured so clearly!
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 80/3.2 200 IS0
This image is one of the many great images that came out of my first all Sony wedding. I didn't shoot with any other camera. During the hour of family photographs one of the guests who brought his Rollei to the wedding set it down in the grass next to his phone. The old technology next to the new caught my eye. Using the 85mm Zeiss lens, the phone is just enough out of focus to bring your eye to the Rolleiflex; the depth of field in the 85mm is just divine.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 30/2.8 400 IS0
I am not sure if it was the excitement of my first all Sony wedding, but the images I shot this day were very rewarding. This picture was taken in the bride's room just after she was dressed. Her family surrounded and embraced her prior to her walk down the aisle. The dad's smile as the bride surrenders to the comfort of her mother and sister was especially meaningful.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 30/2.8 400 IS0
As I stood outside the room looking in, I witnessed a very intimate moment between the bride and her mother. Being able to trust the a77 in program mode in order to concentrate on the moments in front of me is key. I did not care that the shutter speed was one-thirtieth of a second; I had complete confidence knowing the Zeiss 24-70 would be sharp. See more images from this wedding
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 160/6.3 800 IS0
Just as this bride sat down at her dining room table, the late afternoon sun streamed through the front window, hitting her across the face and lit up her stunning blue eyes. My plan was to use the wire mannequin in my shot but it was the look the bride gave me that was not to be missed. I had the camera set to program, as I do when I am moving around on the wedding day, never knowing what my lighting may be, and this moment was no different. Although I prefer shooting in manual I am absolutely confident and completely trust this camera to expose my images properly in program mode, even with such extreme contrast between shadow and light.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 60/2.8 1600 IS0
One of my favorite images of this bride and groom was as they danced their way out at the end of the night during their grand exit. Shooting sparklers is always tricky. Generally I rely on the sparklers to generate light for my exposure. You want to make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to avoid movement blur, yet slow enough to absorb the ambient light that the sparklers generate. I chose not to use flash here. Between the number of sparklers and the chandelier I knew I would have enough light. The Sony glass does a spectacular job absorbing light.
Sony a99 using 24-70mm lens 15/2.8 800 IS0
Once I received my a99 I wanted to shoot it so I volunteered to shoot a wedding in Palm Springs with a photographer friend. This image was taken in the bride's room. There was a neat piece of art that was a grouping of tiny mirrors. I took a quick self-portrait shooting the new a99.
In the middle of October I got my hands on an a99 to shoot. I was very excited to be able to shoot Sony's newest full-frame camera. As I've had the opportunity to become familiar with the camera I find that I am really impressed with some of the new features added to this body, as well as the high ISO 100-32000, Dual Phase detect auto focus and full-frame capabilities. One feature I love, which is available on both the a77 and a99 cameras, is the adjustable articulating screen on the back of the camera. Some might think it is only for video but I have found two ways that it benefits me when shooting stills at a wedding. I can shoot from the ground or a low perspective without having to lay down to compose my shot. The second advantage is when shooting into the large groups on the dance floor during the reception, I can tilt back the screen so I can see to compose my shots as opposed to guessing the right angle. Another benefit is the quick Navi pro setting which allows access to all camera parameter settings without missing a shot. The XGA OLED Viewfinder allows you to see your camera adjustments in real time. If you are a "chimper" (yes, you know who you are,) you can chimp right through the viewfinder, never having to look at the back of your camera or look like a monkey again.
For you video lovers this camera captures amazing 1080 HD video and is the only digital SLR that will shoot 60p at 1080, not just 720. This camera allows for autofocus in video mode as well - this is huge for those that shoot video! I have an upcoming video project planned for the a99 so stay tuned.
Sony a99 using 24mm lens 40/2.0 800 IS0
This image was captured in the lobby of a hotel. I loved this piece of art and the bride is only lit with the spotlight from the art. The light was really hot and even on a white gown, the sensor didn't blow out the whites in her dress.
Sony a99 using 24mm lens 1/6-2.0 3200 IS0
This shot was taken after the ceremony only lit with the LED tea lights you see above their heads. It was so dark and the way this camera preformed in low light was just amazing. I was extremely impressed with how the sensor illuminated the scene with such little light.
Sony a99 using 24mm lens 250-6.3 400IS0
This was an image I shot while I was in New York for PhotoPlus. I took a walk along the High Line on the Monday before Hurricane Sandy. The contrast between the building and the mural caught my eye. I just love the brilliance in the colors I get from the Sony sensor.
Sony a99 using 70-200mm G lens 2000-3.2 200 IS0
This image of my son was shot though the fence during his baseball game. My goal was to get a straight on perspective of him with the ball stopped as he pitched. The tracking in this camera works brilliantly. I think I accomplished what I was after.
Sony a77 using 85mm 1.4 Zeiss lens 1000/3.2 800 ISO
This image is from a wedding I shot with my long time friend and amazing photographer, Sara France. Matt, the groom, happens to work for Sony; Sara asked if I would tag along on a shoot with her and I gladly accepted. Sara likes to photograph individual portraits of each groomsman as well as the groom so she gave me the task of shooting the guys. I have never done individuals of my groomsmen before myself so I thought it might be interesting to have the other groomsmen in the background out of focus. I selected the 85 at 3.2 so my background would go out of focus, yet you still can make out what was there. I like the result.
Sony a99 using 16-35mm lens 250/8.0 1600 ISO
I love this moment with the bride and her girls. Getting to shoot second at a wedding is great as you don't have the responsibility as the lead and you can watch for great moments to unfold. Emotion is what makes for great images, if you can anticipate and capture emotion at a wedding chances are your clients will love their images as long as you get all the important shots as well.
Sony a99 using 135mm 1.8 Zeiss lens lens 60/2.0 1600 ISO
I shot the a77 and the a99 at this wedding. Matt, the groom, brought a variety of different lenses to use and I gravitated to the 135mmF2, I love me some big glass! What a beautiful lens especially on the full frame body of the a99. This image of the bridal party was shot in what looked to the eyes as complete darkness. We were out in the open on a golf course, I opened the lens to F2 as wide as it would go, not sure of the results I would get as far as focus with the lens wide open and hand held with such a shallow depth of field, but as you can see the shot looks amazing! Wow, the Sony Zeiss Lenses are just sick! Sick as in AMAZING
Sony a99 using 135mm 1.8 Zeiss lens 25/2.0 1600 ISO
Handheld at 1/25 of a second at F2.0 lit with only a video light; I wanted to feature the groom in this shot and let the bride go out of focus. Notice his eyes are tack sharp. What a piece of glass!
Sony a99 using 24mm lens 15/5.0 50 ISO
In this image I wanted to blur the cabs going by so I lowered the ISO to 50 which enables me to get my shutter speed low enough to get motion blur. I chose a 24mm as I wanted to see from the manhole cover up to the bridge. The light changed, the cabs came and I got the shot.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 40/2.8 800 ISO On Tripod
Hot off the a77 sensor, I just shot this image in Cancun, Mexico in a restaurant at the hotel where I was staying for a conference. I was teaching a small boudoir class, my models were amazing and the location, a boudoir playground. The reflection is off a marble table in the restaurant. I wanted to move the table as it was in my way. Since it was too heavy I had to make it work. I think this image was better than what I had planned originally. I love when an image works out like that.
Sony a77 using 24-70mm lens 1/4-2.8 800 ISO On Tripod
Another smoking image from the Cancun shoot. This is lit with available light coming from a window across the restaurant about fifty feet away. The decor in the restaurant was black, white and red so keeping with the theme, I arranged the chairs up against the black tile wall. Loving how the colors just jump off this image. For the money, the cost of the a77 is a steal considering the quality of camera you get. Here is some food for thought since we are in a restaurant, you can purchase an a77 body and a Zeiss 24-70mm 2.8 prime lens for about $300 cheaper than the cost of One 5D Mark III. Just saying.........
Sony a99 using 24mm lens 125-22 100 IS0
Finally this last image is shot with the assist of external strobes. I was seeking this specific look and overpowered the sun with the strobes. No matter what I have shot with my Sony, the results have been consistently impressive, with vibrant colors and crisp, sharp images. This camera will get you excited about taking pictures.
I could go on and on but my suggestion is that you rent a Sony body and lens and see for yourself. Sony will change your mind about photography and it will make you a better photographer. Shooting a Sony camera has brought a new sense of excitement to me and I am loving photography more than ever. #SonyMakesYouBetter. We all have a tendency to be creatures of habit; we find something we like and stick with it. I took a chance and opened up my eyes to something new, a product I kept hearing great things about from others in the industry who I respect, I am so glad I did. Sony cameras and lenses have definately made an impact in the world of photography but I think the best is yet to come. I have a feeling that before long Sony will be leading the way in photography and digital imaging. This is just a hunch on my part, and only time will tell. I am excited to walk down the path with Sony and see what the future brings to photographers like me and others throughout the world.