Migration to Sony Alpha 7RM2: How my camera kit lost weight

I am a believer that the Camera is a means to an end . For me I am not concerned with what I shoot with. It should be a good , comfortable system which does not hamper me in any way when I shoot.

I started my Wedding Photography journey in 2008 with a Nikon D70s. It was Nikon all the way till 2010 when Canon introduced its 5DmarkII and I switched to the new camera and a plethora of L Series lenses. Over the years I have owned a 7D, 5DmarkIII, IdMarkIV and evetually a 5DmarkIV. Great cameras all of them. However what started bothering me a bit was the weight of my kit.

My kit , whenever I travel contained the following

  • Canon 5D Mark III or IV (1 body and a backup body)
  • Canon 35mm f1.4L
  • Canon 85mm f1.2 L
  • Canon 24-70 f2.8 L II
  • Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS
  • Canon 600 RT Flash
  • Gary Fong LightSpere
  • Camera Charger, Flash Battery Charger
  • Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlight Transmitter

Now all of this fit nicely into the big Lowepro Pro Runner 450 AW DSLR Backpack. But it was very heavy (nearly 14 Kgs) and carrying this around was literally a pain.

I had been on the look out for a kit that would help resolve this problem while not hamper me from taking the images that I click.

I noted down the criteria.

  1. I needed a lighter camera
  2. I needed decent well built prime lenses that would be sharp, fast and not very expensive and yes light
  3. I did not want to compromise on image quality and speed

About the beginning of last year I got my hands upon the Sony Alpha 7RM2.

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It was light, seemed fast enough for my work and had a lot of bells and whistles. I bet big on the new light Zeiss Batis lenses and purchased the Zeiss Batis 25 f2 and the Zeiss Batis 85 f1.8. I retained my canon 600 rt speedlight. For remote triggerting the flash I got myself a pair of cheap Sonia 16 Channel flash triggers from Amazon and I was set.

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I have till date shot nearly 30 weddings using this kit. I have shot in bright daylight, in rain, underwater, under very low light to challenging lighting conditions. This system has been pushed to its limits. What I havent shot is wildlife, which I have never been that interesting in shooting ever anyway. This system has also survived after my underwater housing sprung a leak and water leaked in and pretty much drenced the whole camera and the Batis 25 lens.

Here are some of the wedding images that I used the Sony Alpha 7RM2 and Zeiss lenses to shoot. There are few images which I have shot using a Canon Lens mounted via a Metabones adapter.

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Udaipur

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Pangong Lake, Ladakh

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Hua Hin, Thailand

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Langkawi, Malayasia

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Leh, Ladakh

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Leh, Ladakh

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Udaipur

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Kolkata
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Langkawi, Malaysia

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Langkawi, Malaysia

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Udaipur

Since it was just so easy to carry it around. This became my main camera for my travel photography too

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Iceland

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Iceland

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Iceland

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Losar, Spiti

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View from Chandratal, Spiti

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Nomadic Cottage, Losar, Spiti

I am very happy with the kit and I wanted to share the pros and cons of moving into this setup. The biggest advantage in this kit is that I have been able to shoot weddings without a hitch using a light camera and 2 light lenses and have almost the same flexibility as I had with my original kit.

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What I loved about the new setup are as follows

1) Electronic view finder – It has an amazing EVF and it is brilliantly useful as you get to see what you will get when you click that shutter. Extremely useful if you are in M mode. Also sometimes when you shoot in blinding daylight , the EVF is amazing for reviewing your shots.

2) Movable LCD for those low angle shots – Yes , a lot of my lying down on the ground and taking shots have reduced because right now for those special angles I don’t have to be that athletic and flexible. Top angle and low angle shots require a lot less effort.

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3) APSC Mode – Hell yeah – Now I have reduced my kit to 2 lenses only the 25 and 85. This is where the APSC mode with is 1.5x crop comes into handy turning the 25 into a 37.5 and the 85 into 127.5 without a loss in resolution. So its almost as if I have a 35mm and 135mm in my kit. Plus with a 42M image, I can crop the image in case I want to get a tighter frame. Oh yes I know its not the same as a 135 lens or a 35 lens but it gets my job done.

4) Dynamic Range – I have found Sony’s dynamic range to be pretty damn good. Both shadow and some highlight recovery is better than what I get from the Canon 5D Mark III and IVs.

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5) Accurate focussing – 25 contrast detection points and 399 phase detection points across 45% of the sensor surface make this a very decent and accurate autofocus system. The autofocus is very precise.

6) 5 Axis Image stabilization – Very useful when you are shooting at low shutter speeds with tele lenses. However a more perceptible benefit of this is seen if you are shooting video handheld.

7) Wifi and the gift of instant gratification – With Wifi and NFC, it is really easy to transfer the image onto your phone and share it on social media or whatsapp it to the bride within seconds of you taking the pics. Great for instantly getting your pics out there.

8) Some good focussing modes – There are various types of autofocussing modes which are very helpful in action shots , macros and portraits

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9) Applications – You can now have a star trails application or a timelapse application running on the camera. There is an app which can be used for creating light paintings – all of this is unthinkable on other cameras now

What was not that great but not a dealbreaker were

1) Battery Life – The Battery life is like embarrassing. Ideally I need to start with 5 fully charged batteries to shoot a day of the wedding.

2) A bit of a sluggish feel at startup – It takes a while to start , like at least 5 seconds before I can click pictures. If I run out of battery in the middle of a shoot it’s a problem as I will lose precious moments as the camera slowly wakes up.

3) Write speed to the SD card – I shoot on raw and in burst mode , buffering to the card starts and after I have shot the write to the card continues. At this point I am stuck as I am not able to review the pics that I have just shot.

4) Slow burst mode – 5ps is not a top of the line speed. It gets the work done for me but its definitely not fast. Would love to see improvement here.

5) Humongously big RAW files – the 42.4M can create huge RAW files. Would love the capability to have MRAW and SRAW in case I don’t want so much data.

6) Single Card Slot – Dual card slots are a must as you might want to use 2 cards for mirroring your data.

In spite of the problems . The camera grows on you. After a while you know its nuances. Its your friend now you overlook these things a bit as you know how a camera performs.

So in the final analysis I have achieved the following

  • Get a lightweight kit together which can be used to shoot awesome wedding, street and travel photos
  • Identify some of the issues with the current system and overcome them
  • Seamless workflow for my wedding work

What I want to see from Sony

  1. Faster Autofocus
  2. Better Battery Life
  3. Decent triggers for OCF
  4. Decent speedlights
  5. Quick startup
  6. Dual card slot

I have used the Zeiss 24-70 f4 Lense which was part of the A7R2 kit.I took a few of my shots using that. However I am biased to primes. I sold it off and got myself the two Zeiss primes.

So what happened to my Canon kit. My wife Snigdha has been very loyal to Canon and continues on that.

Want to leave you with some more images shot by me using the Sony Alpha.

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  • Koustav - March 14, 2017 - 9:34 am

    Very informative piece of article. When phototantra team is using Sony a7r2 we have enough reason to think about it.
    More and more Photographers are moving to lightweight systems, but it is the initial uneasy feeling that pulls us back.
    I am a Nikon shooter myself, using the heaviest system and surely feel the pain you have mentioned.
    And lastly, you have nailed it by showing an excellent collection of images taken by the Sony a7r2.
    Hope you have more fun in the coming days.
    Thanks,
    KoustavReplyCancel

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