Choosing Your Camera
*Thank you to the Adorama team for sponsoring this post.
I am very excited to launch the new photography series on LivingNotes!
Photography is not only a passion but also one of the true art forms that exist in the world. As many of you know, LivingNotes has been around for many years, and throughout this journey, I have upgraded cameras and equipment as it became available. I get questions all the time about what camera I use to capture the images that are shown throughout LivingNotes. Quite often I am using different cameras for different purposes, so I thought it would be a great to start from the basics:
CHOOSING YOUR CAMERA
Choosing a camera depends on many things: what do you want to achieve, what type of photography is the camera going to be used for, who/what are you going to capture and what style of photography are you going for - all of these are important questions to ask yourself before making a plunge. A common misconception is that the more expensive the camera is, the better the images.
Let me just put that myth to rest right now.
While, yes, the camera does allow for certain captures to be possible, it is the person behind the camera that is the most important. Some of my best imagery was taken with relatively inexpensive cameras. Any photographer will support that statement.
One of the most important decisions to make when choosing a camera is whether you are a fan of a DSLR or a mirrorless one. Neither one is better than the other, both can deliver state of the art imagery, both can require a significant investment. Mirrorless cameras have been on the rise the last couple of years, here are some facts to keep in mind.
MIRRORLESS ADVANTAGES TO CONSIDER
Size: With the lack of the mirror setup, the camera body does not have the need to be as large, thus you will have a more compact camera body to carry around.
Autofocus: Mirrorless cameras access the autofocus directly from the image sensor, rather than a separate module within the camera which can lead to faster and more accurate autofocus. They are able to track the maintain focus more reliably on the subjects eye.
Video: One of the most obvious advantages with a mirrorless camera can be seen when using the camera to shoot video. The camera uses the same sensor to process still images as well as video, thus the photographer is able to simultaneously capture candid still shots with the same quality during a filming session. This is especially advantageous when you want to capture that special moment you often catch during a video but usually miss if you have to switch modes and reset all your settings.
Interchangeable system: Since the mirrorless system is less than eight years old all lenses, and equipment are made to take advantage of the newest technologies available, so if you are just coming into the scene you haven’t missed out.
MIRRORLESS DISADVANTAGES TO CONSIDER
Battery: This is the most noticeable difference is the overall usage of a mirrorless camera. Since the camera is required to maintain full power to the sensor for all activity it does lead to significant battery drain in most models. This has been one really nice feature though with the A9 that I tried as they have provided for a much better battery performance than the previous A-series bodies. As a matter of fact, I have not noticed too much of a difference from my Nikon D4s I've been using for a few years.
Viewfinder: With no mirror, it is impossible to have a true optical viewfinder in the camera. You will either be using the viewing screen or an electronic viewfinder. Lately, these have been improved, but there is the lack of the feeling of seeing all the action happening in a scene as you would with an optical viewfinder. The plus side though is that what you see in the viewfinder will be what you get when you take the image, so it does allow for more consistent results. It is a little difficult to explain, but basically, EVF allows you to see exactly the image you are going to capture, colors, highlights, exposure - you see it all.
Professional DSLR’s, on the other side, have grown to be extremely popular over the last decade, offering endless abilities for a photo-artist to create a masterpiece.
So, rather than reading endless reviews before making a decision, I highly recommend renting a camera, and here is why.
WHY CHOOSE A RENTAL/RETAIL SERVICE?
Finding a trusted retailer is very important. They not only stand behind their products, but will offer a rental service on site.
The overall results and look that any photographer will produce is largely dependent on two things: the skill of the photographer and the equipment being used. I will say that any photographer with the right skill can produce wonderful work regardless of the equipment being used, but what you use will always play a part in quality and look of the finished product. I always believe it is better to shoot a better image than try to make it better in post-production.
For the equipment side, this is where a reliable rental/retail service can be a huge advantage to beginners and pros. First, it gives you a great way to try a certain model out in real settings, not just a studio or in the store. Sure a camera may have great reviews, but you may not like it, it may not work as well in the field as you would like, or it just may not be your style. So, this gives the photographer a chance to try many different options.
The other aspect to a good retailer is the education and expertise that you can receive, and when you are ready to buy the process should be just as simple. From my experience I would highly recommend Adorama to all photographers whether you are an experienced pro in the field or amateur who is just starting out. They provide several resources and education for both photography and video. Also whether you are looking for a rental or to purchase that new piece of equipment, they make it effortless to find what you need from the Adorama website.
Being a professional in the field it is important to stay on top of the latest equipment and technologies that are coming out. With all the advances in mirrorless cameras it was time to explore this option. The choice came down between Leica and Sony. I had been eyeing the Sony series for some time as they offer a lower price point without sacrificing image quality. The reviews were not conclusive so renting a Sony became a priority on my list.
Being brand new to the Sony line, I wanted to be able to give the new A9 a full test run in the field, not just in the shop as you typically have to do. The Adorama team is very experienced with the new Sony line, and they were so helpful to assist in making a decision ( I was debating between A7ii, A7R, and A9) and made sure that the right equipment was delivered safely with everything I would need to give it a thorough field test.
At LivingNotes one of the most important cornerstones of our imagery is color, and for that, I wanted to make sure that the Sony A9 would be able to deliver the same results or better than what I have come to expect from my Nikon line of cameras. Being a mirrorless camera I was not completely sure how it would perform in the varying conditions that we experience in the field, from low light to more harsh conditions.
Guys, I am sold.
It took me the grand total of 10 snaps for my fingers to glue to the camera and never wanting to let it go again. It’s beautiful.
The colors that I have been seeing have been absolutely stunning, even in low light situations. As my son (and a very talented photographer) said, it quite literally looks as if the images have been edited already.
Some things to keep in mind, though.
The first thing to know if you are coming over from a Nikon pro series or Canon is that the frame rate in the A9 is a bit slower than you may be used to. While this is just fine for still shots and variable lighting, it is not ideal for action shots or fast motion capture. The trade-off here though is a very impressive capture of such fine details such as the eyes and other items that usually require post-processing to bring out their vibrancy.
Thus far, though I have been very impressed by what this new A9 model can deliver and a little of the sacrifice I have to make is fully and completely worth it for me. It’s been a very smooth and pleasurable experience to work with Adorama on this project, and I highly recommend their service for all the photo and video equipment needs, both rental and purchasing. After trying to find “the best deal” on one of my pro-series cameras years back, getting a defective one from one of the online retailers that had a fantastic deal (so I thought…) and having to deal with a lot of headaches while resolving the issue, I will repeat again and again: go to a trusted source. Adorama is one of my favorites right now.