Gear

Why the Sony a7 II is Great for Event Photography

There are lots and lots of articles, tweets, comments and status updates on the web these days, about “why I switched to Sony” or “Why I’m going Mirrorless” and most of those have something to do with size or weight. I’ve not really said a whole lot myself but there are a couple of reasons why I use the Sony a7 II as my camera for events.

When I started out as a photographer (and by photographer I mean enthusiastic amateur as I shoot less than five paid gigs a month these days and it’s not my main income), I was using a lovely film Pentax, I don’t know which one it was, just that mum wasn’t using it, so I took it one day. From there, jumping forward through a load of lovely Nikon film cameras, Sony Mavica gear (Yeah, with a floppy drive) to the Canon Ixus (or, the a5 I think it was called originally) and then onwards through those because they were two things:

1.Cool looking

2.Digital

I used to be able to take the camera to a friend’s party, take some photos and have them (albeit in a very slow and small format) on a screen for people to look at almost right away, this was back in 2000 or there abouts. Jump forward some and we’re kicking off my foray into Digital SLR territory with the Canon 30D and the 17-85 EF-S lens – wow, talk about a quality jump! It was stunning and was my camera for a long while, until I got hold of the first Canon 5D Mk II (I skipped the Mk I, but the Mk I was what made me want the 5D) and from there I started getting paid gigs.

Yes, that’s half of Jedward – Canon 30D

Another jump forward and shooting music and editorial, as well as some commercial stuff and I’m relying more on my camera to earn money, live music and band portraits the main thing, mostly for tour managers, etc. Then I was hired as a venue photographer in London and was shooting many nights a week. What started to happen over the course of a couple of years was that the venue started taking a serious interest in social media and getting the word out about these events while they were happening. You can do this with a regular camera, just take a laptop and card reader, edit your images and then put them online for the client. But what that meant for me was that I had to stop shooting, go find a place to setup, do my stuff and then go back out and shoot some more, not ideal.

Uploading editorial in the middle of a sea of people wasn’t fun for me…

Skipping forward (again!) and I’m back in Melbourne, I shoot an event or two for an agency and that agency wants social media content at the event, on the fly, no mess, no fuss! I usually have an account manager at the event and she’s snapping away with her phone and uploading, but the people that hire us want more these days, they want us to provide that content then and there! And that, my friends, is why the Sony a series is perfect for me!

Sony a7Mk2 + 35mm = Perfect

I can shoot RAW, copy across full resolution images to my iPhone (I use an iPhone 6 Plus for this reason) and then after a super quick edit in VSCOcam or Camera+ and pop the image straight online for the client to share.

Editing in VSCOcam during a shoot #BTS

A common reply is “Why don’t you just let the client shoot with their phone?” Well, I could, but mostly if I’m shooting an event, I like to try work and angle and provide good work so I get hired again! If someone looks at photos from an event and they’re a bit, you know, shoddy, well, I don’t want to be credited with those ones, so if I use any one of a number of these “new” cameras and can provide great images for social media use, on the spot, I’m winning.

Captured!

As well as being able to serve up that social media content right away, I can go home post-event, edit my raw files and the deliver (I use my Synology NAS, Copy or DropBox, depending on what the client is happy with) an album for their marketing.

I like that all my gear fits in a backpack as opposed to having to take a massive backpack or a roller, but the whole size / weight thing is largely beside the point! The sweet new Sony Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 ZA that I have is heavier than my previous one and takes up more space. But man, what a lens!

In closing, the new breed of cameras with connectivity enable us to provide a better service, to post content on the fly to beat those hacks at weddings shooting everything with their phones (I’m no hater, I just think it’s funny some people think this is going to kill their business!) and to add extra offerings to our pricelist.