Using Sony professionally/limits

Started Jun 10, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Using Sony professionally/limits
Jun 10, 2010

I have been a champion of the cause for some time as far a Sony goes. I have used their SLR's exclusively to earn a living for a couple of years with what I feel is great results. However one thing I (and many others) know, is that Sony just doesnt cut it in the high iso, and I am not talking 800 or 1600, I mean being able to shoot a paid gig reliably at iso 2000, 3200 or even 6400. I would not dare think of it. I will occasionally at a wedding during a candle lit ceremony where no flash is allowed, use iso 1600 with my a700. It is acceptable, but not for alot of shots. I rented an a900 for a couple of gigs and it was better than my a700, (maybe I just want accustomed to it and didnt push it far enough/properly) but not enough I would have shot the whole ceremony comfortably at 1600 or higher. In studio, my a700 SHINES! heck my a200 does too. The 900 is absolutely amazing beyond words, but thats a controlled environment with lowest iso. Not an on the fly event.

I am now eating some of my words on my "Sony is just as capable" stance and have a different opinion. I am not starting a gear war, just stating an observation and I would like to hear from other WORKING PROS using Sony - Especially if you switched from Nikon or Canon, and your thoughts..

Fast forward to this last couple of weeks. I helped a friend shoot a wedding with a nikon d700. I knew the d700 was a high iso work horse from helping him already. Amazing camera, and by all rights. I also assisted a well known photographer on a commercial gig this week. He was using Nikon D3x's. I know this is starting to be an apples to oranges comparison, as those are $9k bodies, but I was simply amazed at what a camera could do.Him and I had alot of downtime and chatted about Nikons he used vs. my Sony's. I walked away from that gig with some real insight into things. My wedding photog friend keeps things safe and I dont push it on a second shooter gig, but what the other photographer was doing with the D3x, I couldn't fathom at first.

Shooting a concert entirely at iso 2000-3200 wasnt an issue. Doing stage portraits at iso's above 400 wasnt even a concern. And they were going to be used for large prints. All around, you could just use what you needed without questioning how much post work you would have to do to correct the noise. In fact he didnt run anything thru a noise reduction program at all. most of the iso 2000 or 3200 shots were better out of camera than I ever achieved at iso 800 (they looked like iso 200 or 400 shots) with an a700 or a900. I know the full frame helps with noise, but I cant see getting this kind of image out of an a900 either without some serious time in post.

This got me to thinking... Sure the initial cost is significantly more, but how much time am I wasting running tons of wedding photos through denoise plugin and stressing over lighting conditions which has me taking longer than necessary to bring in additional lighting to light it properly at a lower iso, or cringing at the thought of what I am going to need to do to fix the noise when I start to go up the iso ladder during a shoot.

Before anyone starts posting all their "acceptable" iso 3200 shots of book shelves and cats that took 30 minutes of editing, keep in mind, I do not have that luxury. I earn a living from this and each image has a "cost " associated with it. The longer I sit at a PC, the higher the "cost", but I cant adjust the retail price to match. I watched him go from memory card to finished image without ever touching any noise reduction anything of live action shots and portraits. I mean cropping and a tad bit of other tweaking was all that was done. and there was ZERO visible noise at iso 2000 and 3200 right out of camera. Shooting portraits for large printing at iso 400 and above was the same way. Applying this to a wedding, I could be done with editing in less than a day vs. the multiple days it takes me now. That is worth a significant amount of upfront investment. I will now be renting a couple of Nikons for weddings I book. I love shooting photos. Its why I walked away from everything in the corporate world to do THIS for a living. I HATE sitting behind a computer. I also separate my work from family time. This is no longer a hobby and I only alot X number of hours a day to spend shooting or sitting behind a monitor in order to keep that balance.

SONY: You have some work to do. I am not jumping ship tomorrow, because I am buried in your system, but I am considering it in the long run. I know I am not your best customer, but I have a couple of gear bags right beside me with over $15,000 of my money that has gone to support Sony and the A-Mount in the last three years. If you want pros to switch to Sony, why would they do that when they will get LESS. Its not about the cost of the item nearly as much as "will it do what I need without making me work 3 times as hard for the same results?" I found out this last week, Sony is making me work harder than I should. That will never win you pro customers, its in danger of costing you pros. I know I have spent a week second guessing my decision to stay with the A mount because I had a few minolta lenses.

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