Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?

Started Jan 17, 2012 | Discussions
William Porter
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Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
Jan 17, 2012

Have a Nikon D7000 here all ready to be returned to the seller and am waiting for my A77 (with the 16-50 lens) to ship from the Sony store. Thought I was making the right decision but a couple recent threads here have me nervous: one thread about the A77 not waking from sleep quickly; another even scarier thread about the A77's autofocus system not kicking in quickly.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1037&message=40337652
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1037&message=40338127

I don't think the first problem will matter terribly for my portrait work (and I do more portraits than weddings or similar events). But at a wedding — especially during the ceremony — there are shots that I just CANNOT miss. What has me worried is (a) I'm not always able to anticipate when those shots are going to occur and (b) those moments often occur after stretches of many minutes where I haven't been shooting.

I will use the A77 with the vertical grip and 2 batteries (and have a third in my pocket if necessary).

The waking-from-sleep problem sounds like it may be real, but not all that bad. I don't have any problem touching the shutter half way when I raise the camera. A 1.5 second delay occasionally might be something I could live with.

But the autofocus problem sounds crippling. I gather that the autofocus problem is NOT experienced by everybody; maybe I'll be lucky.

Should I worry? I played with an A65 for a couple of days and didn't either of these problems. May not have used it enough, or perhaps these are A77-only problems.

Will

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Edward Sargent
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No worries
In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2012

These problems are rare and sometimes misperceptions. I've have the A77 since October and no problems so far except operator errors.

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William Porter
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Re: No worries
In reply to Edward Sargent, Jan 17, 2012

Sarge,

Thanks for the reassurance. I do hope you're right. I need to send the Nikon D7000 back today but it's not gone yet, and if I were going to change my mind, now would be the most convenient time to do it....

I find it hard to believe that the A77 could have gotten all the fabulous reviews and "camera of the year" notices that it got, with problems like these. On the other hand, some of the core technology is very new, and reviewers can't test cameras under every condition.

Will

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Gary-West Sussex
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Re: No worries
In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2012

I used an A77 for a wedding 1 day after I received it and was very happy with its performance........haven't put it down since.

I did not buy the kit lens since I vave a CZ 16-80 and a CZ 24-70 which both served me well on the A77 on the day......(took most shots with the CZ 24-70)

I also took an A550 with a Tokina 11-16 which I used for some shots.

Good luck with the wedding

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chlamchowder
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Backup?
In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2012

I think the best solution would be to use another camera with a good reliability record, like an a580 or a550, as a backup. That way, if the a77 freezes, refuses to autofocus, or otherwise gives you a nasty surprise, you can get right back to shooting with the backup camera without stressing about trying to fix the problem during the shoot.

Sony's DSLRs also have excellent battery life compared to the a77 or other SLT models, so taking one of those DSLRs would provide extra insurance - they never seem to die, no matter what you put them through.

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jonikon
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2012

I have used the Nikon D7000 for weddings, and I believe it is a superior tool for weddings than a Sony a77 for a number of reasons, but mostly for the superior Auto ISO and flash system of the D7000 to Sony's. My Sony a700 flash was poor compared to the Nikon system flash system. Also, I can rent expensive Nikon lenses and flash units locally for the D7000.

Personally, I would not feel confident that the new technology in the a77 is properly designed and reliable enough to risk a wedding shoot with it. Things happen fast at a wedding, and there are not any do-overs during the ceremony.

Best regards,
Jon

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sye46
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to jonikon, Jan 17, 2012

it's well known that you left Sony for the D7000. So obviously, you're biased. Have you had the chance to work with the A77 and the D7000 to support your claim?

To the OP, my co-worker has the D7000 and has only drooled over my A77 since I've shown him. We've gone shooting together many times and his D7000 is no where close to the overall performance of my A77. If it wasn't a gift from his wife, he would've sold the D7000 for a A77 already.

jonikon wrote:

I have used the Nikon D7000 for weddings, and I believe it is a superior tool for weddings than a Sony a77 for a number of reasons, but mostly for the superior Auto ISO and flash system of the D7000 to Sony's. My Sony a700 flash was poor compared to the Nikon system flash system. Also, I can rent expensive Nikon lenses and flash units locally for the D7000.

Personally, I would not feel confident that the new technology in the a77 is properly designed and reliable enough to risk a wedding shoot with it. Things happen fast at a wedding, and there are not any do-overs during the ceremony.

Best regards,
Jon

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quatpat
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2012

I own the A77 and shoot mainly birds with it. The wake-up time can be a bit of a problem at times when quick action is happening all of a sudden, but I don't think that this is a major problem for weddings, unless the photographer is sort of half-asleep as well.

The overall performance of the camera is very good, but if I'd have the choice (and wouldn't be heavily invested with lenses) I'd get a OVF camera any time, no question. The OVF is simply a better tool for fast action in my opinion: immediately ready, better detail, better DR, and it is much brighter when shooting outdoors in sunlight.

Why do you consider switching to the A77? The D7000 seems like very capable camera, and has around one stop less noise at higher ISOs than the A77.

qp

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William Porter
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Re: Backup?
In reply to chlamchowder, Jan 17, 2012

I normally shoot with two cameras around my neck. I have done this partly so I could shoot with two different focal-length primes; so I work actively with both cameras. But having the second camera also means I have a second camera right at my fingertips if an emergency arises. A backup in the trunk of the car is not especially useful if your main camera fails a few seconds before The Kiss. So I'm with you on the backup idea.

But I'm less with you on the idea of using my A580 as my second camera. I strongly prefer for both cameras to work more-or-less the same way. I've shot a few events with two cameras that worked very differently and it's disorienting. Maybe I'm too old.

So there's a strong likelihood that I'll sell my A580 (and A550) and be getting a second A77. From the research I've done I'm pretty confident they'll work fine. Well, I was confident before I read these recent threads about autofocus readiness and waking from sleep.

Will

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William Porter
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to quatpat, Jan 17, 2012

quatpat wrote:

I own the A77.... The wake-up time can be a bit of a problem at times when quick action is happening all of a sudden, but I don't think that this is a major problem for weddings, unless the photographer is sort of half-asleep as well.

Never. Weddings are a no-rest labor. AFTER the wedding I worry about falling asleep as I drive home.

The overall performance of the camera is very good, but if I'd have the choice (and wouldn't be heavily invested with lenses) I'd get a OVF camera any time, no question.

Why do you consider switching to the A77? The D7000 seems like very capable camera, and has around one stop less noise at higher ISOs than the A77.

After working for a couple days with an A65, I decided that for me, the pros outweigh the cons. I am familiar with the problems of the EVF in high-contrast situations. But I hope I can live with that. And in other respects the EVF's advantages suit me. For example, I use manual focus a lot. Focus Check Live View on the A580 is one of my favorite features, and on the A65/A77 I really like the ability to use focus magnification in the EVF! The Nikon D7000 has a wonderful OVF, but the A65's EVF is even bigger and very bright inside. Although I've long been a raw-only shooter, I have learned to appreciate some of the in-camera wizardry in the Sony bodies, like stacking several images while shooting in low-light at higher ISOs to get a cleaner result. For me that feature is a kind of response to the D7000's small advantage shooting raw at, say, ISO 3200. I like the ergonomics of the A77 better than the D7000 (although it's good too). Image stabilization in the bodies is of course another plus.

Not the choice everybody would make but I'm pretty comfortable with it. The D7000 is a GREAT camera, no question, and trust me, as somebody who's been shooting with Sony for two years and before that shot with Pentax, I'm intimately aware of the advantages of Nikon and Canon as systems — easy to rent lenses, easy to buy good used lenses, easier to sell used equipment, more support from fellow pro users, not to mention the advantages of the Nikon CLS. But I'm a contrarian and perhaps equally to the point, I've already switched systems once in the last three years, so I'm influenced by the the financial advantages of sticking with Sony and keeping my current lenses and flashes and remotes etc.

Thanks,

Will

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alpha604
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to jonikon, Jan 17, 2012

This post really means nothing. Your comments make it clear that you have little to no experience on the A77, and you are comparing to a 5 year old CCD camera vs a recent Nikon that is noted as equivalent, by all account a very slight step below the A77.

Auto ISO control is better on the A77, high ISO D7000 may have the edge (that Sony 5N sensor is to thank for that).

The Sony Flash system is more restrictive, but I alos shoot Nikon and the F58 flash is on par or better than my experiences with my SB600 & SB900's. I call it a draw from using both for studio and wedding shoots.

I can't comment on the lenses, the selection is equal for this type of shoot... but readily available to rent, yeah Nikon is the winner.

As far as speed, despite improvements and minor deficiencies in the AF system vs my D300S/D700, the D7000 got returned because the AF was a bit sluggish and tracking didn't impress me. A77 is just more accurate, although almost a bit too quick for some peoples taste, video comes to mind.

Only drawback in the A77 is the minor gripe about exposure through the EVF and sudden harsh changes in contrast if dealing with really bright scenes. It is owever very workable.

I regularly use the A900 for weddings and it performs beautifully (with a lesser AF & older sensor combo than both the A77/D7000). The camera is great but it is just a tool...

jonikon wrote:

I have used the Nikon D7000 for weddings, and I believe it is a superior tool for weddings than a Sony a77 for a number of reasons, but mostly for the superior Auto ISO and flash system of the D7000 to Sony's. My Sony a700 flash was poor compared to the Nikon system flash system. Also, I can rent expensive Nikon lenses and flash units locally for the D7000.

Personally, I would not feel confident that the new technology in the a77 is properly designed and reliable enough to risk a wedding shoot with it. Things happen fast at a wedding, and there are not any do-overs during the ceremony.

Best regards,
Jon

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Ed at Ridersite
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2012

Hi Will. I'm pretty much of a rank amateur when it comes to weddings and I took 1100 images at a wedding about two weeks after getting my A-77 (there was also a pro - I was just asked to take some photos). If you have decent lenses, AF will NOT be your problem at a wedding. And, if the wake-up response is a worry, just set the camera to the 30 minute sleep mode. You have a choice of 10 or 20 sec and 1, 5 or 30 minutes. If you should go 30 minutes w/o taking a shot, just press the shutter 1/2 way and you've got another 30 minutes.

I had only the on-board flash and it really won't do the trick. I used a Minolta 28-135mm f4-4.5 and Minolta 50mm f1.4. Even indoors in absolutely awful light, the 50mm f1.4 focused fast and accurate - an it's screw drive.

IMO, your biggest problems will be noise and getting used to the new camera. I only charged the battery twice (rehearsal and wedding), used the on-board flash for many shots and still had enough battery. You should definitely carry a couple of spares, but unless you are taking thousands of images, you likely won't need more than a couple of spares.

Here's a link to my results:

http://aehass.zenfolio.com/p964049310

My processing leaves something to be desired (just learning Lightroom), but I think you can see that AF was generally not an issue. If you can get in position, you should be able to get the shots you want.
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jonikon
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to alpha604, Jan 17, 2012

alpha604 wrote:

This post really means nothing. Your comments make it clear that you have little to no experience on the A77, and you are comparing to a 5 year old CCD camera vs a recent Nikon that is noted as equivalent, by all account a very slight step below the A77.

The a700 has a CMOS sensor. The Sony flash system has not changed since the a700 was introduced. Ask anyone who has used both flash systems and they will tell you Nikon's is superior.

Auto ISO control is better on the A77, high ISO D7000 may have the edge (that Sony 5N sensor is to thank for that).

Not really. The Nikon has Auto ISO in Manual mode, which makes changing to any combination of Aperture and Shutter speed together and the camera sets the proper ISO. This is invaluable when shooting action where you want to control shutter speed for blur and Aperture for depth of field simultaneously , while still retaining auto exposure. Also, the Nikon Auto ISO has a programmable option for a minimum shutter speed in Aperture mode, to avoid subject blur, (I typically have it set at 1/125). The ISO only increases as needed if the shutter speed drops to 1/125 second. In this way you can assure a minimum shutter speed to avoid motion blur.

The Sony Flash system is more restrictive, but I alos shoot Nikon and the F58 flash is on par or better than my experiences with my SB600 & SB900's. I call it a draw from using both for studio and wedding shoots.

I disagree with you, as would most pro photographers as well.

I can't comment on the lenses, the selection is equal for this type of shoot... but readily available to rent, yeah Nikon is the winner.

No contest here. I can rent a $2400 Nikon lens locally for a weekend for less than $30! http://www.prophotosupply.com/p-rental.htm

As far as speed, despite improvements and minor deficiencies in the AF system vs my D300S/D700, the D7000 got returned because the AF was a bit sluggish and tracking didn't impress me. A77 is just more accurate, although almost a bit too quick for some peoples taste, video comes to mind.

I don't find the D7000 AF sluggish at all (much faster than the a700), and find it very accurate, if the proper AF settings are used.

Only drawback in the A77 is the minor gripe about exposure through the EVF and sudden harsh changes in contrast if dealing with really bright scenes. It is owever very workable.

The OVF has none of these issues. The OVF works great for flash too. Why suffer these problems with an EVF when an OVF does the job better?

I regularly use the A900 for weddings and it performs beautifully (with a lesser AF & older sensor combo than both the A77/D7000). The camera is great but it is just a tool...

Very true, and as I said, IMO, the D7000 is a better tool for weddings for the reason I mentioned and also because it has two memory card slots for back-up. The a77 needs two memory slots and some improvements and better lens rental availability before it will be a good choice for wedding photographers.

jonikon wrote:

I have used the Nikon D7000 for weddings, and I believe it is a superior tool for weddings than a Sony a77 for a number of reasons, but mostly for the superior Auto ISO and flash system of the D7000 to Sony's. My Sony a700 flash was poor compared to the Nikon system flash system. Also, I can rent expensive Nikon lenses and flash units locally for the D7000.

Personally, I would not feel confident that the new technology in the a77 is properly designed and reliable enough to risk a wedding shoot with it. Things happen fast at a wedding, and there are not any do-overs during the ceremony.

Best regards,
Jon

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Best regards,
Jon

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JVG - SA
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to jonikon, Jan 17, 2012

Frankly - I will reconsider using any of the SLT's for wedding work - depending on the conditions encountered.

I manage a moderately dusty construction and mining environment in South Africa. Workhorse cameras are A-500 & A580, used almost daily during site inspections. I frequently have to clean the A500 & 580 sensors, and use a professional Delkin kit to do so.

I took delivery of an A-65 SLT a month ago (as A-77's are unavailable as yet in South Africa following the Far Eastern floods). Initially, I was impressed - until yesterday evening. The mirror & sensor picked up some dust, which became visible in some of the images.

Much to my surprise, when I pressed the release button on the A-65 (to flip the mirror up), the translucent mirror dislodged itself from its frame and ended up stuck between the frame hinge and the body. I had no option but to use a small tweezer to free the mirror - and it sustained some minor scratch damage. In addition, it sustained minor finger marks on the bottom edge when I reinstalled it back into the frame.

Not only am I deeply disappointed by:

1. The fact that dust cannot be removed easily from the mirror (it appears that the mirror surface carries some electrical charge, as ferrite dust particles cling to it and cannot be blown off with air); but also

2. The sensitivity of the translucent film used on the mirror. It seems to have almost zero scratch resistance.

Making matters worse is the fact that NONE of the raving reviews of the A-77 / A-65 alert readers to the fact that these cameras are not outdoor / dust friendly at all and that the mirror surface is EXTREMELY EASY TO SCRATCH.

Although the Sony dealer arranged for a repair to be carried out, I cancelled a bulk order for A-77's this morning as these SLT's are NOT MADE FOR AFRICAN CONDITIONS, unllike the A-500; A-580 and much respected A-850's.

Any ideas / suggestions on cleaning the SLT mirror or advice regarding a better scratch resistant translucent film would be greatly appreciated.

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BMWX5
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to JVG - SA, Jan 17, 2012

Two different environment! Do you really think they will have the wedding at "dusty construction and mining environment"?

Two different make SLR vs SLT so you have to treat the cameras differently. In addition, A65, A500 and A580 are NOT sealed, not weatherproof unlike A77!

JVG - SA wrote:

Frankly - I will reconsider using any of the SLT's for wedding work - depending on the conditions encountered.

I manage a moderately dusty construction and mining environment in South Africa. Workhorse cameras are A-500 & A580, used almost daily during site inspections. I frequently have to clean the A500 & 580 sensors, and use a professional Delkin kit to do so.

I took delivery of an A-65 SLT a month ago (as A-77's are unavailable as yet in South Africa following the Far Eastern floods). Initially, I was impressed - until yesterday evening. The mirror & sensor picked up some dust, which became visible in some of the images.

Much to my surprise, when I pressed the release button on the A-65 (to flip the mirror up), the translucent mirror dislodged itself from its frame and ended up stuck between the frame hinge and the body. I had no option but to use a small tweezer to free the mirror - and it sustained some minor scratch damage. In addition, it sustained minor finger marks on the bottom edge when I reinstalled it back into the frame.

Not only am I deeply disappointed by:

1. The fact that dust cannot be removed easily from the mirror (it appears that the mirror surface carries some electrical charge, as ferrite dust particles cling to it and cannot be blown off with air); but also

2. The sensitivity of the translucent film used on the mirror. It seems to have almost zero scratch resistance.

Making matters worse is the fact that NONE of the raving reviews of the A-77 / A-65 alert readers to the fact that these cameras are not outdoor / dust friendly at all and that the mirror surface is EXTREMELY EASY TO SCRATCH.

Although the Sony dealer arranged for a repair to be carried out, I cancelled a bulk order for A-77's this morning as these SLT's are NOT MADE FOR AFRICAN CONDITIONS, unllike the A-500; A-580 and much respected A-850's.

Any ideas / suggestions on cleaning the SLT mirror or advice regarding a better scratch resistant translucent film would be greatly appreciated.

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Drue Mc Laughlin
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to Ed at Ridersite, Jan 18, 2012

Ed at Ridersite wrote:

Hi Will. I'm pretty much of a rank amateur when it comes to weddings and I took 1100 images at a wedding about two weeks after getting my A-77 (there was also a pro - I was just asked to take some photos). If you have decent lenses, AF will NOT be your problem at a wedding. And, if the wake-up response is a worry, just set the camera to the 30 minute sleep mode. You have a choice of 10 or 20 sec and 1, 5 or 30 minutes. If you should go 30 minutes w/o taking a shot, just press the shutter 1/2 way and you've got another 30 minutes.

Interesting shots Ed..I have not done a wedding with the A77, but have found the fill flash to be indispensable, especially in bringing the shadow around the eyes top life, have also found very little red eye without that turned on in camera, the flash seems to sit higher(better than my A55), so you are able to capture fast shots....the A77 is FAST...was surprised what you did get without using it ..Thanks

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Amateur Sony Shooter
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Say no to A77, if you care about image quality
In reply to William Porter, Jan 18, 2012

I never shot any wedding but did some indoor events using high ISO (with A55), and most of my photog friends are doing wedding. I think the most important issue for you should be high ISO (1600-3200), followed by AF accuracy. From what I know, typical "budget" wedding camera is Nikon D700, followed by Canon 5DII (has reputation of unreliable AF), then D7000 or Canon 7D. I would imagine Sony A580 is in somewhere between D7000 and 7D, a bit stripped down in terms of buttons and handling. Most of A65/77 images posted here have disappointing image quality. If you need to do some big print (8x10 or larger), or need to provide hi-res photo CD/DVD to your friend/client, you might have a risk of using latest Sony SLT camera.

If I were you, I would rent D700 with 70-200/2.8 VR2 for a day or two, and use your current D7000 as secondary camera with 24-70/2.8. You will be a lot happier at the end.

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Dustinash
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to Drue Mc Laughlin, Jan 18, 2012

Having owned both a A77 (my current camera) and a D7000 I would have to say I agree with the edge going to the d7000, its just got little things that make it a little btter, it has less noise, it has auto iso in manual, it has tow card slots (I highly reccomend using redundant card shooting during a wedding, what if a card fails?) It also has a much better flash system then sony and it does not suffer from wake up time. It also can do over double the amount of shots on a single battery.

I actually miss my d7000. That said an A77 is still a fine tool for shooting a wedding. Its just that because of the little things I think the nikon is, all around, a slightly superior photographic tool.

Just for the record I rarely notice AF lag on the a77, what bothers me is the wake up from sleep time and blacking out of evf during high speed shooting. Also the ultra small buffer sucks.. and forget using the creative lighting system with on board flash. It will over heat after about 7-10 shots.

But its still a good camera all around.

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Ed at Ridersite
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Re: Should I worry about using A77 for WEDDING work?
In reply to Drue Mc Laughlin, Jan 18, 2012

Drue Mc Laughlin wrote:

Interesting shots Ed..I have not done a wedding with the A77, but have found the fill flash to be indispensable, especially in bringing the shadow around the eyes top life, have also found very little red eye without that turned on in camera, the flash seems to sit higher(better than my A55), so you are able to capture fast shots....the A77 is FAST...was surprised what you did get without using it ..Thanks

Thanks for the comment Drue.

Funny you should mention fill flash. I took some grandkid photos recently for a friend. Later, I sent a link to Gary Friedman after reading his latest e-letter. He mentioned that I should have used the fill flash set to EV -1.7.

I'll definitely use it in the future.
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Jim Funston
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Re: Say no to A77, if you care about image quality
In reply to Amateur Sony Shooter, Jan 18, 2012

Am Sony Shoot, "Most of A65/77 images posted here have disappointing image quality" I think many would tend to disagree with that generalization.

I don't know a thing about Nikon's or Canon's or for that matter any other brand cameras, but, I have shot weddings way back in the 60-70's and own a A77. That said, a a77 would not be my first choice for paid wedding assignments. My reason has been mentioned in another post already... No dual card slot. I would prefer to be safe than sorry. All the other negative issues posted are subjective and in my opinion non-issues.

If I was going to shoot weddings with a Dslr it would be a full frame with dual card slots. Plus I would have the best glass I could find with my back up cameras being the same as my primary camera. I would carry 2 and have a third in the car. When I shot weddings I always believed in quality backups for my quality backups. You need to know you are offering the best product for a once in a lifetime event. Good isn't good enough and if you can't afford this you are not ready to do weddings seriously.

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