4.25.2016

I'll be taking a few days off from blogging this week. We seem to have too much actual work to take care of. Jobs stacking up.


I'm busy setting up a lighting design for some jet black, techie products. They should come rolling in on a Fedex truck this afternoon. At least that's what the tracking information tells me. I'm trying to get organized and pre-light because tomorrow afternoon (when I was originally scheduled to be working on this project) we may get a severe weather storm and a different client called to make sure I could "stand by" in case we have some power outages, flooding, etc. that might make good video for an another upcoming project.

I could be standing around in my yellow pancho with my steel-toed, waterproof boots and a hardhat shooting video of "weather events" by dinner time tomorrow. (Rain covers and a waterproof bag at the ready).

But we still have to ship back the tech product and then spend Weds. doing post production on everything.

That, and a dual-natured (photo/video) project on Thurs. are tightening my schedule like a set of vise grips.

It's all fun and practical work but something has to give. I'm afraid it's going to be the VSL blog.
I should be back on Friday. Until then we have over 3,000 blog posts in the vault and you have the keys. I'm pretty sure that a few of you have read them all. I'm pretty sure the rest of you haven't. But then Michael Johnston is back at the keyboard over at theonlinephotographer.com so I'm not worry you'll get too bored.

See you at the end of the week.


A few years back with yet another small camera...


One of my early forays into small, mirrorless cameras was a dip into the Nex line from Sony. The Nex 6 was a pretty decent body with a 16 megapixel camera but my favorite was the Nex 7. The finder was good, the dual dials were good and the low ISO, 24 megapixel performance was great!

There were a few downsides that led me to move on. One was the horrible state of the menus in those two cameras. It was sheer chaos. And the main issue I had with the Nex-7 was its temperamental interaction with various wider lenses. Magenta splotches were rampant and the edges of most legacy wide angles were soft. When you piled on with lots of noise at 800 ISO and above you essentially were working with a compromised camera. That being said, it was a nice shooting machine if you stuck to normal and longer lenses and worked in the same, basic fashion most of the time.

I've recently bought a Sony a6000 and an a6300 and I'm loving them. The menus are much better and the sensors are leaps and bounds better. My one wish? I'd love body with the dual dials we had on the Nex-7 camera. Those felt great and were quick and functional. It was an elegant design.


The Sony RX10ii is a good working camera.

Just some event documentation with a Sony RX10ii.

I've worked events with every kind of camera you can imagine. Lately I used a Sony RX10ii to capture an open house at a new, corporate headquarters office here in Austin. I brought the RX10ii along just as my "fun" camera and I carried a bag with all the usual, stereotypical DSLRs with their assorted lenses, flashes and accoutrement. I'd planned on using one DSLR body with a 80-200mm f2.8 lens over one shoulder and a second body with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens over the other shoulder. Flashes at the ready on both of them. At least that was my plan...

I arrived early (personality glitch) and pulled out the "fun" camera to play with until all the action started. But a curious thing happened; I started shooting the catering set ups, the decor, the signage and the overall environment before the guests showed up, and every shot I clicked off just looked exactly like I wanted it to look. At first I thought it was just "screen hypnosis."

I get "screen hypnosis" a lot when shooting big, DSLR cameras. What it basically means is that the screens on those cameras make the images taken look really great. The exposures look perfect, the colors rich and accurate. The downside is that there's a depressing letdown when you finally get home and look at the images on your computer screen. The exposures can be darker, the colors muddy, and there are even awkward and unpleasant moments when one blows up the images and is confronted by the reality that some lenses (no matter how often you try to tune them) are still front focusing or back focusing. Not enough to totally ruin the shot but enough to suck the fun out of shooting.

I knew from experience that what I see on the rear screen, or the EVF, of the Sony RX10ii is pretty much exactly what I am going to see when I get home. I took a few minutes to zoom in as far as the RX10ii would allow me on a review shot and everything still looked great.

I pulled a small, manual flash out of the big bag and stuck a bounce card on it with a fat rubber band. After a few minutes of trial and error the flash, used in "guide number" mode, gave me wonderfully consistent light. By the time we finished up with the event I had done the entire assignment solely with the small, all inclusive camera.

While the RX10ii might not be the right camera for you, or the type of work you usually do, I am finding that for everything but portraits that require thin depth of field, this camera is a good fit for lots of day-to-day work.

I don't know why I should be surprised that the Sony worked well, I was able to do large parts of a three day event back in October of last year with two similar, Panasonic fz 1000 cameras, with good results. The performance of these cameras in every regard except for high ISO performance (over 800 ISO) is as good or better than the cameras we had at just at just about any price as recently as a few years ago.

The benefits of having one system that gets me from 24-200mm at a constant f2.8 is wonderful. 20 megapixels of great detail is most welcome. The ability to hold it, easily, in one hand is also good.

But when you add to this the ability to plug in a microphone, switch on good 4K video, and knock out a quick video/sound bite with a client, it is like whipped creme on the top of a hot fudge Sundae of tasty camera fun.

These are good working tools. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Are they the best choice for everything? Naw. It's nice to have something like a Nikon D810 or a Sony A7Rii for more traditional, high resolution-driven assignments. That, and when you need some narrow depth of field.

I can hardly wait to try out the RX10iii...