Wedding Photography with the Sony A7s
Well, I have been using the Sony A7s alongside the Canon 5dMk3 at the last few weddings and I have been getting to know it, how it works and its little quirks 🙂
First of all I think it’s fair to say I love it. I haven’t yet had anyone at a wedding ask if I’m using a compact camera (I think the 70-200 lens does the trick on that side 🙂 ) and whilst I think it is small and light compared to the Canon kit I have been using it is still quite a big camera when you see it alongside some of the smaller compacts. I have had a few interested guests but haven’t found that “size matters” as much as many of us think it does.
I have been using it with both the 24-70 Zeiss lens and the Sony 70-200 G lens. Both of these have image stabilisation built in to the lens and both are f4 throughout the whole of the zoom range. Sony have just announced a 16-35mm lens which is one I would love to get (and will most probably be one of my next purchase 🙂 ) because it is a lens I use quite a bit on the Canons.
These are just my opinions based on my use of the camera and lenses, nothing very scientific, just real life use.
Focus – The 24-70 does seem a bit faster to focus than the 70-200 although I have had the switch on the side of the 70-200 set to the full focus range rather than limiting it… at the next wedding I will try changing this to see if it makes much of a difference. I still haven’t really learnt the implications of all the different menu settings and at the moment the camera will still let me take a photo even if it isn’t in focus. From memory this was a menu option setting on the Canons so I will see if I can find a similar thing for the Sony. Compared to the Canon ?? Well, the 24-70 lens feels as fast as the 24-70 on the Canon 5dmk3 and the 70-200 feels as fast as the 70-200 on the 5dMk2 although in fairness most of the time I’ve been using it for the first dance with no additional light so it will struggle a bit more in those conditions.
Exposure – You can get caught out with the exposure on the Sony if you are not careful with the exposure simulation on the EVF and monitor. I have the zebra settings set to 95% so if anything is over that it will be highlighted on the back of the screen, the problem occurs if you are shooting RAW with a picture profile set. We were using PP5 to test some filming with it and I left it set to that when taking stills. The images looked fine on the back of the camera with the zebra showing where I expected it to and a rather “flat” looking image (because of the profile we had set). When I downloaded the images in Lightroom and it went through generating it’s previews everything was VERY dark…. by at least a stop and possibly as much as two compared to the view on the back of the camera. I still haven’t worked out quite how Sony is applying profiles and calculating exposure but I think it is fair to say you should trust your hand held light meter…. The last wedding I used it for I made sure I had the picture profiles switched off and a “neutral” set in camera (there seem to be two places you can set this and two different sets of options, one primarily for video and one for stills but the video one seems to override the stills one…). I have just been through everything from that wedding in Lightroom and the exposure seems to be right 🙂 – don’t forget with any camera there is a learning curve !!
Handling – I have the Sony set so that back wheel changes ISO, pressing the middle button means I can then use it to change the focus point. the front dial is for the aperture and the back dial is for shutter speed. This means the three thins that I change the most are easily accessible on single action dials/wheels. This is more like the Nikon used to¬†be rather than Canons method of needing to press a button to select the action and then the a dial/wheel to change the value. If I’m honest I prefer it but at the end of the day it is a bit like driving a car, so long as you know where the pedals/controls are you soon get used to switching between different types ! The only real draw back is the position of the video record button. Sony couldn’t have come up with a more difficult to use button/position if they had tried (unless they put it inside the battery compartment !!) It is on the side of the grip, just about flush with the surface so it is difficult to feel and even harder to use…
Right, so that is lots of words about the camera but what about low light ?? All I can say is that I’m blown away by its performance. Now the couple have seen them I have put some photos below to show what I mean. The church photos were taken at ISO8000 f4.0 1/200 and the first dance photos at ISO16000 f4.0 1/200 (yes that is 16000, I didn’t accidentally add an extra 0 !). A few years ago we could only dream about this, my first weddings I had to stay below ISO1600 because it really was unusable (unless it was black and white). These images have had no additional noise eduction applied… This opens up so many possibilities….