On Friday I did a post on my review of the new Sony A7II camera. (You can view that here at: http://www.paulfgero.com/sony-a7ii-hands-on-review/
While I would LOVE it if you told me that you sold everything and went with Sony, the point of sharing this is to highlight what I think is the
rapidly advancing pace of photo tech — and how this might impact you and your photograph business.
This new mirror less technology was something that I had been looking for for a long time (though I really didn’t know that I was looking for it, if that makes sense?)
I had sold off some of my older DSLR gear a couple of years back (you may remember from an earlier email announcing that sale) and I was looking to retool.
But something kept me from pulling the trigger. Part of it was due to the costs at the time — the enormous outlay for the larger f2.8 version II aperture zoom lenses and the newer pro bodies (hovering at $3500 each) just wasn’t a wise use of our funds. Dropping $10K or more at one time just wasn’t what I wanted to do and I simply couldn’t afford to do it then all at once.
I also had to look at the very nature of my work and since it is strongly portraits it begged the question: Do I really need those tools for the job that I do??? Honestly I had to answer that they were not needed.
But that being said, there was something else gnawing at me deep down that also helped prevent me from pulling the trigger on that purchase.
Flat out: I had just simply gotten tired of carrying all that weight. There HAD to be a better option. And I was having a hard time justifying paying all that one for faster aperture zooms when — for the bulk of my work — I didn’t need the fast speed. It sounds almost sacrilegious to say it but : I didn’t really NEED the 2.8 zooms for MOST of my work. Occasionally I did and then I would rent or borrow, but for the day to day, 98% of the work I do now, I simply did not need the faster aperture (in fact I found myself often stopping down to f5 or f5.6 for some of my work for the deeper depth of filed.
Now, a couple years the road am I sure glad that I did hold off on those upgrades.
When I picked up the a6000 as a rental with a 70-200 f4G lens back in June to try, my jaw hit the ground.
How could a camera so small be so fast and accurate? How could I have shot sports previously with such a slow motor drive (the a6000 does up to 11 fps)? And finally — HOW COULD THIS THING BE SO INEXPENSIVE? At the time it was selling for around $600 body only and now it’s down to $498 or something.
That camera gave me — what I found to be — as good or better performance than a much more expensive camera that was also quite heavy. A camera firing at that fast frame rate by The Big Two would have cost 10X or 11X as much and of course would be built like a tank. But did I *really* — I mean REALLY— need a camera costing upwards of $5000 to cover portraits and even weddings? (Plus did I want to CARRY that thing for a wedding, let alone a portrait? No. No I didn’t!)
For me the answer is and was a resounding no. (Not to say some folks DO need a camera like that (full time sports photographers, magazine sports photographers), but I had to look deep and realize that I simply did not need a camera like that). The monetary price you pay for the body taps most families but the cost to your body — the wear and tear that a heavy camera and lens set is not to be discounted. Those cameras and lens weigh a ton.
In acknowledging that I realized too that I had changed, and the camera market was changing.
No longer would a camera have to be built to last with a feature set to hold up over the lifespan of 3-5 years. Back in the film days, pro bodies would come out every 10 years and that was fine. But a different time and an entirely different model.
When you look at a company like Sony, they’re bringing out innovations and revised cameras in months and not years. The pace is simply astounding.
As a little segue, a friend was with me the other day and he’s wanting to build a portrait business. He was talking about all the computers, cameras and lenses he needed to get to start his portrait business. I said to him: Don’t worry about getting all that stuff to start your business. Just get what you need. What will handle the work you need to do?
I suggested to him one camera and one normal focal length lens would be sufficient to start. He looked at me kind of shocked. Really, could I start my business with just that?
I said to him and I’ll say it to you that yes, it’s possible to start a business with that simple amount of gear. More than gear, more than computers what a photo business needs is customers in front of the camera. Yes we need tools to photograph them but for many
If you’re a wedding photographer, would I advise the same thing: Yes and no. You could invest in that one camera and one lens and then rent or borrow the additional back-ups you would need until you can invest in the tools that you need for the job (because the wedding photographer tools are a bit different IMHO than needed by a portrait photographer).
Now back to the A7II. When I picked up the camera for the first time a couple of weeks ago I was floored. Wholesale changes and upgrades like they did to a camera would often evolve — even in the digital realm — in 24-36 months or more. Now it’s down to a year. At the same price that the original body sold for one year ago. How is that possible? I don’t have a clue but I’ll take it. It’s a camera that I must have because the advancements — especially to the AF speed — are so noticeable that it makes the upgrade imperative. Fortunately it is an upgrade cost that is half the cost of what it would have been to upgrade to a 5dm3 when they first came on the market.
Now upgrading the bodies isn’t such a stretch to pull off. It does affect the used market — the prices for used bodies drop so quickly it seems — but the benefit to us as photographers, consumers and users is clear: we get what we want and sometimes thing we don’t know that we want so much sooner.
Again, I don’t want to make this a Sony advertisement but I just really want you to see if you notice this trend in the market as well. But mostly to help you get to: What do YOU really need to do the kind of work that you simply must do? Are you in the midst of retooling your business and your tools? How will you consider the advances in the new technology and how they might affect what you do and how you do it.
If you have any questions about that, be sure and let me know?
Lots of exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to see where all this technology goes and where it will take us!