Another day at the photo office. Working with two cameras. Including the new Sony a58.

A quick summation of last week's hybrid job.

We set up a temporary portrait and interview studio in a big conference/mixed use room. I brought along one of my favorite color management tools, a Lastolite gray/white target. In this room I used the big Sony a99. One click white balance worked for both the stills and the video. I like setting the color correction once in shooting instead of pasting it in post. I lit with two fluorescents and one LED light. And I brought my own stool for the subject's to sit on. The more stuff I can control the fewer problems I seem to have. I went for five hours with one lens. It was the 85mm 1.5 Cine lens from Rokinon.

Using the big Rokinon at wide apertures, in close is what the Sony a99 was built for. The lens is totally manual so I rely on focus peaking to ensure sharp results where I want them. 

I brought the Lastolite target out onto the assembly floor and balanced both the cameras for the existing light. Made it easier to shoot because I only had to focus on composition and focus, not on color balance. I tend to use manual exposure and all of these shots were taken in a landscape format with the camera locked down on a Manfrotto video tripod with a fluid head.

By moving quickly with one camera on a tripod and one camera over my shoulder we were able to move through the space quickly. After every still shot I ran about ten seconds of video and then moved on. We got fifty or sixty set ups during the course of a long day.

I had the client carry a small Fotodiox LED panel around with us but it didn't get much use. I liked the bright way the area was lit and, with the preset color balance the images were easy to work with in post.

My one and only gripe about the 85mm 1.5 lens is the close focusing distance. It's 39 inches. I'm spoiled, the Sony 85mm 2.8 focuses much closer. But then again it doesn't do quite as well at f2...

I unabashedly like the new a58 camera. It may be because I always use it with the 16-50mm f2.8 DT lens. I like the range of focal lengths and I love the high sharpness of the lens. The image above was made with that combo. With all the present generation of digital cameras there is a freedom in being able to comp and shoot a scene as a still photograph and then spin a dial and start shooting the same thing on video. Double threat. Most the work I did on this job with the a58 is available light, handheld and at ISOs of 800 and 1600. The OLED viewfinder is great and the built in IS works well for me. No matter how I handled the camera the metering was spot on.

I decided to live on the edge for this shoot. I realized that there's no way to shoot raw video files on the a58 so I needed to get any video I shot just right in the camera. Just like shooting jpegs. Since they were equally important to the client I decided to go ahead and shoot jpeg as well. I might as well take advantage of the extra care I was using to get things right for video...

The a58, like the a57 before it is small and light and highly usable. The new sensor is sharp and detailed and has as little noise as the a57 did but delivers a much better user experience both in the EVF and the actual sound of the shutter. I can report no focus problems in over 600 shots under regular working conditions.

While this shouldn't be construed as a review I would like to say that the tools are so suggestive to the way I take images. While the a99 was on a tripod, using a longer MF lens the a58 was always handheld and used with a fast wide to short tele zoom. With the smaller camera I found myself moving around the edges of subjects and quickly trying new angles while the locked in camera was used in a more straightforward way.  

All cameras are good these days. I don't care about brands but I know that for my paying work I'll never willingly go back to a camera that doesn't have an EVF as an integral part of the design. Now, after selling off other systems, every camera I have except the Sony a850 is equipped with an EVF. And when I pick up the 850 I have to slow down and think more about operation. That means I think less about the image. I like the real time feedback of the newer finders. They make the feedback loop much more effective.

That's it. Get yout mom an a58. Ask her if you can borrow it. Happy Mother's Day.

The End.

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