I think one of the things I never quite expected when I have acquired the Sony Alpha A350, was the overwhelming response from so many people around me. The look in their faces, tells a thousand horror stories, as if I have committed one of the biggest mistakes in my life. There would be that standard set of questions on how bad is the high ISO performance, how under-performing the old camera is, and why would I waste my money on an old junk that nobody seems to care anymore. Everyone says there are better and newer options out there. Everyone is disappointed with my decision on getting the Sony. It gets really exhausting having to explain myself over and over again, and why should I have to justify my own personal choice of gear in the first place anyway?
So I thought ok screw the comments, the A350 really is a dinosaur, so I decided to take the plunge and upgraded myself to a Sony A99. And slapped a spanking sexy Zeiss onto it too.
Ok, kidding. That A99 belongs to a friend Jack. I would probably need to starve for a few months before I can afford one, and hopefully I don't die in the process. The sad fact of being an engineer in Malaysia.
Now here is the thing that saddens me, the way people look at cameras, and judge camera performance. Everything revolves around high ISO shooting. If the camera has bad high ISO performance, that camera is automatically branded as a lousy camera. The very plain truth is that I shoot 90% of my photographs in good light, especially for my personal shutter therapy session, when I brought the camera out on the streets, usually it was under hot sun. ISO100 was more than sufficient to cover most of my shooting needs. If I went into the shaded areas, I would bump up the ISO to 200, and the most, 400, and I can still get away with very clean, noise free files. Also, I would not hesitate to go up to ISO800, if needed, even if there was some trace of noise and grain in the image, it is not the end of the world !! Seriously, when I am shooting, high ISO noise was never my priority. It is strange how that is the only thing that everyone seems to be thinking and talking about. Since when photography has become dominated by high ISO performance?
Instead of lusting over what the camera can do at ISO178629101620000, I actually pay more attention to what the camera can do at base ISO. Shooting at ISO100, the camera delivers its best image quality, offering best resolution, with amazing amount of details captured, good tones and rich color information. Sony A350, being an older generation camera uses a CCD type sensor, which renders the color very differently, and to be very frank, I do love the unique color profile this Sony produces. Why emphasize on ISO100? Well, that was the setting I used for almost 90% of my shots. If it delivers good enough image quality, I am happy. Coupled with a 50mm F1.8 lens, I can shoot in dimmer lighting conditions without the need to push up the ISO settings too high. And the 50mm F1.8 lens is cheap. If the lighting gets darker, there are other options to work around the limitations, such as use of flash. Yes, flash is a valid, and very important tool in photography, and for those natural ambient light die-hard shooter, we shall have a separate round of throw-down, but lets not get into that here.
All images were taken with Sony A350, 18-70mm kit lens and 50mm F1.8 lens. Some images, as mentioned, were taken with a borrowed Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan. Thanks Jack !
Dim Sum for breakfast
On top of everyone else
They come in a large group
Friendly Chinese Man
Waiting for Breakfast
Morning Market Shopping
How to kill a Chicken.
Tilt was intended to fit the whole frame. Sometimes that 50mm is a bit tight, when space constraint is a problem. I have been thinking about the 35mm F1.8 lens too.
Stranger 2, taken with the beercan. Amazing lens, I must admit. Inexpensive too.
This boy actually came up to me, and asked to be photographed !! I think after being on the street so often, you develop some kind of people-aura that attracts subjects.
Taken with beercan. Love the compressed background, and also the creamy bokeh.
I was shooting with Kelvin, and bumped into some usual suspects, Yeow and Mun Keat. I think KL is getting smaller.
Rain is not an excuse for not shooting.
That Sony A99 you saw earlier belonged to Jack. He is one of the photographers that I do admire. We went to Pudu before, and he have had a scene he wanted to do, but he needed high ground. This second visit, he came prepared, and executed his shot. I saw the shot reviewed on the A99's screen, and it was amazing.
You know a true, passionate photographer, when you see one.
Jack's beercan, Minolta 70-210mm F4, quite a great lens. I should consider getting one.
I have no issues using the Sony system. In fact, it was quite the opposite, I was enjoying it through and through. I think I am one of the very few guys that have nothing much to complain about gear. As long as it is digital (I do not shoot film), as long as it has good and fast enough autofocus (sorry Leica, manual focus does not work for me), as long as the system has basic manual control functions, I can make do with it.
We should pay more attention to the growth of photography, more so than just emphasizing on getting better gear or newer camera that has better ISO capabilities. Take Jack for example, he has his vision of the high angle shot, and he went through the trouble to have his shot accomplished. That has nothing to do with gear choice, but determination and will to make the shot happen mattered more. Know how to connect to the subjects you are photographing. Pay more care to composition and overall image arrangements. Pre-visualize your shots, plan ahead your framing. Wait for the decisive moment, and master the controls of your camera, exposure settings and all the other smaller tricks to make the best out of what you have. Learn to act quick, and think quick. You will improve to be a better photographer.
Lets stop measurebating, and start taking more photographs !!