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For the most part, clients do not care what kind of camera their photographer is using, but as part of a small (but rapidly growing!) segment of portrait and wedding photographers who use Sony mirrorless cameras, I get a LOT of questions from fellow photographers about my equipment. As I pack for a 10-day trip to France for a photography workshop and photo-filled weekend in Paris, now is the perfect time to answer them!
Why I own two Sony mirrorless cameras
For most sessions, I have two full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras: a Sony A7r and a Sony A7rii. Camera bodies come and go, but “good glass” (aka lenses) will last decades if appropriately cared for. For most portrait sessions, I carry both cameras, one with a Sony 85 mm 1.8 on it and one with a Sony Zeiss 50 mm 1.4. The bokeh on both is gorgeous. While I do love my nifty 50, I have been lately gravitating to the 85 (because of the flattering focal length and not anything to do with the lens construction) to make beautiful portraits. Both have their place and serve me well.
That 50 mm is top-of-the-line and worth every penny, but I also have a Sigma 30 mm 1.4. I purchased this lens before making the leap to professional photographer, and with the 30 mm on a cropped sensor (yes, I own a cropped sensor camera too!), it acted more like a 50 mm. This lens is still useful on a full frame when I need to take wider shots, and I use it for every wedding with an Opteka macro attachment for beautiful detail shots of rings.
While I primarily use the lenses mentioned above for portraits and weddings, when I travel I’ll also pack a Sony FE 3.5-5.6 28 – 70 mm and a wide angle lens. Wide angles are great for landscapes. I’ve occasionally used one in portrait sessions when we want to emphasize place, but for the most part these lenses are reserved for travel photography when I want to capture street scenes or beautiful landscapes.
Digital SLRs, old-school SLRs and mirrorless are all kinds of interchangeable lens cameras. This means exactly what it says: you can change out the lens. Mirrorless cameras offer the newest technology (which is not to say the DSLR tech is outdated, it was simply developed first), and operate without an optical viewfinder.
I usually tell people that I can’t explain what’s going on in a mirrorless camera, but I know the end result of being mirrorless: they’re smaller and lighter than a traditional DSLR. Lightweight is a huge benefit to me when traveling, working a wedding or packing around both cameras during sessions. When you look through the viewfinder, you also see exactly the image you’ll be getting. Their sensors are exposed to light at all times and create a preview in the digital viewfinder or on your LCD screen.
Some photographers actually criticize the Sony mirrorless line for not feeling hefty enough. As a woman with petite hands, however, I find them far more comfortable than traditional DSLRs. Another criticism is short battery life. I’ve found that’s legitimate criticism of the two models I own, but it’s something Sony is improving with every model. I’ve never just run out of battery power. I have six batteries and two chargers, and arrive at every session or event with them fully charged. I can see how much charge a battery still holds and swap them out before they die. This criticism is legitimate, but it’s really more of a slight inconvenience than show-stopper.
Comparing mirrorless cameras to traditional DSLRs
I started photography on a Nikon d5000, which was a cropped sensor DSLR. At my day job, I use a Canon 5D mark iii, which is a model very popular with wedding photographers. A Sony NEX-7 was my first of four mirrorless cameras. Obviously you can make good images with any of these, or with your phone for that matter. The benefits of lightweight but professional cameras convinced me to stay with Sony even became pro. With the A7rii, Sony improved the sensor dramatically. Its quality of images made in lowlight far exceeds that of even the 5D mark iii, in my opinion. Lowlight capabilities are an important factor for wedding photographers, since often churches do not allow flash. But the weight was really the deciding factor for me; I committed to the Sony line when travel photography was my priority. Frankly, the best camera in the world does you no good if you left it in your hotel because you were too tired to carry it around. With Sony, I get the best of all worlds: GREAT cameras that make high-quality images that I’m happy to carry all day 🙂
Clearly I LOVE talking about cameras, so message me with any questions!