Friday, August 1, 2014

My Gear

       Since I'm always curious as to what other photographers use to make their photos, I figured I should show you a list of what I use to take my photos. Depending on how soon I get all my planned content posted, I may end up doing a review on the more complicated pieces I use.


   Sony A57

Sony A57 with 50mm 1.7
   The Sony A57 was my first ever DSLR camera. That first sentence is a little misleading however, because it is actually an SLT (Single Lens Translucent). Rather than the flipping mirror of a DSLR, it uses a semi-transparent fixed mirror. This lends it certain advantages and disadvantages that will be discussed in a later post. I'll be honest though. I had no idea what it was when I bought it. I originally planned on getting a Nikon D3200, but this one was on sale, so I got it instead. I'm glad I did though. It's a 16mp APS-C camera that uses Sony's A-Mount lens ecosystem. This is fortunate, because it is identical to Minolta's A-Mount (Sony bought Minolta). Since Minolta's lenses are all Full Frame, it made my life much easier when I upgraded.

   Sony A99

The Beast: Sony A99
    I only just made the jump to Full Frame recently, and I have to say that I love it. When I first was looking to upgrade, I had pretty much settled on the A77. I was happy with APS-C format, and what I was really after was a weather-sealed body with more manual controls. To my fortune, I found a gently used A99 body  that was only a little more than the A77/16-50 lens kit. It is Full Frame, with a gorgeous 24mp sensor, and build quality-wise is a total stud. It is the Sony equivalent of the 5D MKiii and the Nikon D800 (I secretly like the D800 more, but this thing throttles the 5D) The image quality and depth of field is phenomenal. I'm using all Minolta glass right now, but I hope to get Zeiss eventually. So far, I've found the camera to be excellent for portraits.


    Sony 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 Zoom

    This is the lens that came with the A57, and what can I say? It's not terrible. I mean, it isn't the be all, end all of lenses, but it does its job modestly and efficiently. Not a whole lot to say really.

    Minolta 50mm 1.7 Prime AKA "Nifty Fifty"

   This is a super-cheap lens that I got used for about 45 dollars. It remains my only really "fast" piece of glass, and I love it to death. It has the famous Minolta colors, and soft, creamy bokeh. I feel that my copy is a little soft, though. (That bit you see on the end of it is a 49 to 55mm step-up ring, so I can use all my normal filters.)

    Minolta 28-85mm 3.5-4.5

   This lens might qualify as one of the heaviest objects on earth. it nearly doubles the weight of the camera, which is slightly insane, given that it is only twice the size of the 50mm. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with this lens. It has a useful range (I use it for all of my macro work), but I wish it was faster. Oh, and DAMN is it heavy!!!

   Minolta 70-210mm f/4 "The Beercan"

   Sorry I don't have a studio picture of the lens, I'll try and get one. You can see in the above picture that I have a tulip-hood mounted on it, but I've since replaced it with the proper factory hood. This is a heavy lens, and fulfills my need at the telephoto end. It is a proper telephoto, with an internal zoom and a constant f/4 aperture at the wide end. it's quite sharp through the entire range, and the only thing I really miss with it is a tripod mounting collar, which would make much more sense than using the camera's tripod mount.

Odds and Ends

   Metz 44 AF-1 Speedlight

    This is my only speedlight, and it is pretty darn good. Full TTL, as well as the ability to trigger/be triggered by other flashes. The UI is insanely simple, which can lead to some confusion when the flash is set to manual mode. When deciding between this and the Sony, this was reviewed as being much more reliable.

   Eye-Fi 8gb SD Card

   When paired with the Kindle Fire HD, this card allows me to use my tablet as a larger screen to view my work in the field, this is priceless, as it allows me to check critical focus.

Cowboy Studio Flash Trigger

   I ordered these when I got my flash. They're cheap and highly effective. I love them to death.

Ultra-Pod and Variable Neutral Density Filter

     For all those times that I can't be bothered to bring a tripod, this Ultra-Pod always finds a place in my backpack. It supports about 7 pounds, which will suit the A99 with a 50mm just fine. The VND filter also generally accompanies me on my adventures. I used it to take the photo below:

Long exposure captured with A57 using the Ultra-Pod and VND filter.


   Well, that's the bulk of my shooting equipment. If you'd like to see how they perform, check out my Flicker page:   Zach's Flickr

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