I think it is still a popular opinion that if you do shoot anything serious you would use either Nikon or Canon. You know, how people would regard any other camera brands as less than what a professional gear should be. I could go on and on about how Olympus and Sony can be just equally as capable, but this kind of discussion has become old and pointless, somehow. I have been shooting wedding as a freelance photographer for quite a while now, and I have very little complain with what the Olympus can do for me. It has never failed me, and my clients have all been happy so far. Nonetheless, I did acquire a new Sony Alpha A57 to add into my shooting gear, and for past weekend's wedding shoot, I decided to just bring the Sony, and leave the Olympus behind, for a change. Was the decision a sudden and unplanned one? Far from it, I have been shooting with the Sony A57 enough to know that I can confidently use it for a paid assignment.
The following is my setup:
Main Body: Sony Alpha A57
Flash: Olympus FL-50R mounted via an ISO hot-shoe adapter, controlled fully manual
Back-up: Sony A350, 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 and Sunpak external flash
Quite a mediocre setup for a full on wedding job, don't you think? A Sony A57, an entry level DSLT (oh my, not even a DSLR) for a professional level job, and all budget-designed lenses, cheapest available from the Sony lenses. And using a KIT LENS for a shoot? I think some of the audience must have rolled their eyes looking at my rather toned down setup for the wedding shoot. I think most people would expect a wedding photographer to use multiple latest and most advanced full frame bodies, with those gigantic oversized lenses, with camera bags rivaling airport luggage in size and weight.
The following are preliminary quick edits for preview purposes. But they are sufficient to illustrate what the above Sony gear setup can produce.
Can the Sony cheap setup deliver? I firmly answer, YES. Was I happy with the results? Surely, yes. Did I prefer this setup over my Olympus? Unfortunately no. The reason was mainly due to my more capable Olympus Zuiko lenses, delivering much better image rendering on the whole, and also providing me with more flexibility. On the other hand, if I were using more capable and higher grade Sony or Minolta lenses, perhaps this conclusion would be different. I cannot make any further comments in this regard, until I really tested those better lenses on the Sony system in real life shooting.
Everyone was complaining how the electronic viewfinder on the A57 was not good enough and of course the A77 and A99 offered much better resolution. I did not find this to be a limiting factor at all, and it did not hold me back in any way during my shooting. I must admit however, that the tilt and swivel location (hinge being at the bottom of the camera) was VERY inconvenient, as if I needed to twist and turn a few more times to get to the desired position. I much preferred my Olympus E-5's tilt and swivel screen, from the left side hinge position. That aside, the live view really opened up a whole lot of flexibility, and the fact that the live view AF was fast, I treasured this in helping me for more difficult angle compositions (in the first and last image, I used the tilt and swivel screen, for both high and low extreme angles).
In terms of the amazing dynamic range, the A57 clearly wins. The last image of the newly weds outside the St Peter's church was taken under harsh afternoon sun. The dynamic range captured was very good. I managed to salvaged even more details in the highlight region in post-processing, saving the sky from being over-blown. Very impressive indeed.
The decision of getting the Sony A57 was a good one. It was probably the best-value buy for an entry level budget camera with interchange-able lens ability.
Congratulations to dear friend Zachary Yap and beautiful wife Jovyn Ong on your marriage!! Zachary was there in my very beginning of exploration in street photography. We shot KL streets almost every weekend together for about a year, and he was also there when I was reviewing my first ever Olympus gear, the Olympus E-5! He has also taken a few photographs of me in action which I have used in this blog, and I have him to thank for such wonderful company and the kind encouragement for me to grow. The opportunity to shoot your wedding, Zachary was a much treasured one. Thanks mate, and I wish you and Jovyn nothing but all the best!!