Reporting on this portion of the adventure: we had an absolute ball, particularly enhanced by the experience using the Sony gear.
The Sony a7s make an absolutely fantastic kit. It is light years ahead of its competitors. It’s small enough to be considered “packable” but offers all the usability and ergonomics of a full-sized pro SLR. This feature was an essential factor for us when choosing a camera sponsor. We’d been spoiled with small, lightweight bodies and lenses with our previous gear. However, the Sony platform fits the bill perfectly and offers more versatility.
The real surprise for me was the glass. I figure the only people who read these missives likely know me pretty well. As such, everyone knows how much emphasis I place on glass, and the particular derision I apply to crappy lenses. I just can’t fake enjoyment if lackluster optics poison the images.
Perhaps it’s a side-effect of using rangefinders for so long. Still, I’ll sacrifice quite a bit of user function if the platform gets a leg up from really great lenses. Even better, if the glass has a unique fingerprint, I might incorporate it into a more extensive style palette.
My god, the Sony pro glass is so good it’s hard to believe. Clearly, this is why so many professional photojournalists have re-homed themselves into the Sony ecosystem. These lenses are so good it should serve as a wake up call to other century-old companies who rely on their optical engineers’ reputation.
As I’ve bored many of you on this topic, everyone knows I have a shortlist of about five truly great lenses from the last thirty years I genuinely love. Since it an entirely subjective measure, the list represents lenses that are more than just “sharp” or have pleasing “bokeh.” My top lenses are those that, when used by a large body of artists, define a unique style. These are often described as lenses having a “fingerprint all their own”. This is an important measure and stands apart from a quantitative measure of quality. I can’t wait to take delivery of the next set to add to the two we have now (35 1.4 Zeiss Distagon T & 24-70 2.8 GM). I’m getting a sense that Sony’s glass will be a contender for my list.
The 35mm prime is gorgeous and not over-corrected, as Zeiss lenses can be. It is poppy, saturated, and neutral while not being too sharp. In fact, it is just sharp enough to leave a little room for error at the short depth of fields is boasts.
The zoom, frankly, hardly feels like a zoom. I say this with the caveat I could barely pry it away from Jamie for the entire trip. Her photojournalism soul has been too long without using a quality zoom, and she fell in love with its exceptional compatibility with the a7riii body. Dimensionally, it’s small but extremely well-corrected across the zoom range and apertures. This, to be honest, was a pair of attributes I didn’t expect and gave the prime a run for its money. As we are incredibly interested in getting more GM glass in our kits, we’ll see if this trend holds. If it does, it might break my dependence on prime lenses.
Suffice to say, all of the attributes described here of the mirrorless platform are obvious to anyone watching the metadata of photojournalism images recently. The movement to the Sony platform is as noticeable as it is numerous and, I can say now with authority, with good reason.