Sony Monochrom

Alright that was a cheesy blog title: Sony Monochrom, but I was presenting everything in black and white today. I have received many comments in my recent blog posts on the color that the Sony A350 produces, mostly saying how much better the Olympus color is, and I do agree mostly on this part, but hey, lets not compare and condemn one system or another. A camera is still a camera, and its job is to take pictures. So lets take all the colors away and make the camera color blind in this entry. The truth is, I am having just as much fun with the Sony, being out there on the streets attacking strangers and any subjects that caught my mind.

All you have to do to turn the Sony A350 into a Sony Monochrom, is change the "creative style" setting from default standard to B&W. I know I know its not the same thing, the results will not be what one would expect from the real deal, but hey, a black and white photograph is still a black and white photograph. And it has a strong place in photography world, and it is not going anywhere. 

The location of shoot was Bukit Bintang, at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. 

All images were taken with Sony DSLR A350 and DT lenses 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 or 50mm F1.8

Higher and Higher

Human replacement

Very kind eyes

Motionless on the floor

Stranger, again

Low Cost Apartment

Cheap Services

Hard Labor

Dying bits of JossSticks


Low Angle Shooting

Nice Vest

Leaning on the car

Stranger's gaze

The Sony Monochrom, or something like that. 

A few important notes:
1) I do think the 18-70mm kit lens is quite useable. It has flaws, but for a kit lens, I can live with it. 
2) The 50mm F1.8 lens can be quite sharp, when stopped down to the range of F4 to F5.6. It is soft wide open, nonetheless. 
3) Sony files, after conversion to black and white from RAW, was rather high in contrast, that I needed to work on post-processing quite a bit to get the look that I have in mind. The black and white presentation in this blog took a lot more effort than my usual working with Olympus files. 
4) The same question that EVERYONE asked me when they saw my Sony A350 was "How is the ISO performance?" with a very shocked expression, as if I have committed a very serious sin in photography religion. Guys, come on !!! I know what I am doing, and the choice was mine to make. 
5) The Sony is taking up much precious shutter count away from my Olympus main system, as I need my Olympus for my coming paid assignment shoots. 
6) I have discovered the new world of Minolta lenses, many which I can mount on my Alpha A350 and have full Autofocus compatibility. One of the lens that caught my attention was the beercan Minolta 70-210mm F4  lens, which I can afford !! 

And yes, I do need MORE shutter therapy !!


  1. You shoot raw right? Maybe its easier to just convert the (color) raws to B/W in PP instead of shooting in B/W? I was about to comment that these black-and-white results look quite good, until I read that you had to do a lot of work on them to get this -indeed very nice- look.

    Very nice portraits again! The "human replacement" made me laugh - "progress" cannot be stopped ;-)

    1. Hey Andre,
      In this session I actually shot RAW. I wanted to pull out details from the shadow areas, since this Sony has very strong tendency to underexpose, even when I already dialed the exposure compensation to +0.7EV. Perhaps I should start using spot metering for non-critical works.
      Thanks for the kind words !!

  2. Robin,

    Your work is great regardless of the camera used. While I think I can see a difference (in color) between Olympus and Sony, I'm not going to say that one is better than the other. The environmental conditions under which photography can be performed can vary so widely that, unless you know in advance which camera was used, I don't know how you can pick them apart.

    You comments about black and white are interesting. I've been trying to achieve a film-like quality with my black-and-white images from both Olympus Pens and a Sony NEX-5N, and they both require the same level of processing for me. Kirk Tuck has been using a NEX-7 for some time now and his technique to to shoot JPEG black-and-white and increase the the contrast "a smidge".

    I have been very pleased with the Sony NEX-5N, having purchased it new at a considerable discount. I think the 16MP sensor and Bionz processor produce excellent results. I'm not so pleased with the E-mount 18-55mm kit zoom; I feel it inferior in image quality to the M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit zoom. I'm currently using Olympus OM film lenses with the NEX-5n using a Fotodiox adapter.

    Your work, as usual, is excellent, and just fun to look at. I enjoy the vicarious view of a different part of the planet.

    1. Hello Bill !!
      It is great to hear from you again, and thanks so much for the kind compliments.
      Perhaps the new Sony cameras, using cmos image sensors have different image output in comparison to my 4 years old Sony A350, using and older ccd image sensor. I do not like the in camera default B&W conversion at all, and found myself needing to tweak the brightness/contrast balance a lot to get what I intended, as shown in this entry. I think sony has optimized and improved the camera processing engine, the Bionz in the newer cameras, hence it is not a fair comparison. Nonetheless, the Sony A350 that I am using is no slouch either, just need a little more work in post-processing, and the files can be as pleasing as I want them to be, both in color and also B&W.

      If you are complaining about the 18-55mm, you should see the older 18-70mm lens !! I bet you it is a lot worse !!

  3. Nice shots Robin. I really like them, it seems for me that you have a gift. I'd appreciate if you can test fuji X100 and tell us your opinion about.

    1. Thanks anonymous, please leave a name when you comment next time.
      I needed system that can deliver when I am using it for paid assignment. the Fuji just does.not qualify with the fixed lens and unbearably slow autofocus.

  4. i have the Minolta 70-210 f4 ... paired with my film Minolta 8000i previously. I stopped using film now. The lens is not bad, but probably will exhibit its true potential in your hands. I can pass it to you when i drop by KL. :)

    1. Hey calex,
      if you do KL let me know! We go shoot on the streets. and yes I would love to buy that 70-210 f4 from you!

    2. Hi Robin, I'll let you know. Its sitting in the drybox doing nothing anyway. I believe you could put it to better use. :)

  5. Digital photographic technology both in-camera/lens and post is of such a high order today that such lowly, if you will, gear as the Sony A350 "Monochrom" and the downright plebeian Oly EPL-1 w/ Panny 20/1.7 "pancake" lens without syrup ;) are more than adequate to produce very good to excellent IQ (Image Quality). Robin's pics in this post and his Panasonic Lumix 20mm F1.7 Pancake Lens (w/ EPL-1) post prove this hands down. Now what matters--and really always has since day one of photography--is the photog's skills in composition, framing, and "decisive-moment" (Thanks HCB!) capture.

    1. Thanks anonymous for the kind remarks, I agree the photographer matters more than his equipment when it comes to making good photography.
      Please leave a name when you comment again next time, thanks.

  6. Hi Robin,
    Be careful with Minolta's - once you try some, you might like them more then Zuiko glass :)
    Minolta has some "legendary" lenses, and the "beercan" is surely one of them, not a perfect lens by any means, not a fast action tele-photo, but a very nice portrait lens.

    1. Hey RTI,
      Now you make me even more curious about them !! How could you !