My Gear as Sony Ambassador + some alternative kits

Introduction

I often get requests related to which lens should I choose, which lens is best, will I make better photos with a A7RIII or with a A6500…

There are as many answers as photographers. Choosing bodies and lenses is a matching process between

  • You : your skill level, your style of photography, your willingness to carry stuff, your budget
  • What is available in the market : biggest and more expensive gear means “in general” more quality,  more features, more heavy

Not everyone need the best in each domain. If the camera is too complex or the lens too heavy and you don’t use it, it is worthless. The best camera will always be the one you have with you and that you can use without requiring you to think 5 min what are the right settings

In chapter 1 I will explain which gear I have (end 2017), why did I choose them, and in which situation I am using them. This kit is quite high end and targeted to experienced users or professionals.

In chapter 2 I propose you some alternative kits of body+ lenses

In chapter 3 I am describing which is my day to day bag for each type of scenarios: professional work, travel, sports…

In next chapters I am covering some accessories like flashes, microphones…

  1. Body and Lenses
  2. Alternative kit for different profiles of photographers
  3. My Bag
  4. Flashes
  5. Microphones
  6. Others
  7. Conclusion

1 Bodies & Lenses

My bag

  1. Sony A9 + grip extension GP-X1EM
  2. Sony A7RIII + grip VG-CE3M
  3. Sony FE 28mm F2
  4. Sony Distagon FE 35mm F1.4 Zeiss
  5. Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8
  6. Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM
  7. Sony FE 90 f2.8 Macro G OSS
  8. Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS
  9. Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G
  10. Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM
  11. Sony FE70-200 F2.8 GM
  12. Sony FE 100-400mm GM OSS F4.5-F5.6
  13. Sony PZ E 18-105mm F4 G OSS

by clicking on any of the underlined title you will be directed to my test of the corresponding gear

1.1 Sony A9 + grip extension GP-X1EM

My workhorse for holidays, sports, family photography and my backup for studio work

For those usages 24Mpix is largely enough and I get the best AF system you can get in Sony system

I have equipped the A9 with the grip extension GP-X1EM that add significant comfort for a full day walk around

1.2 Sony A7RIII + grip VG-CE3M

My Main camera used for my professional work : I am shooting mainly models in studio with flashes strobes and indoor with natural light

You can have a look at my work here ( ! Not safe for work / contain nudes )

Its sensor allows for the highest quality possible, best dynamic range (largely superior to A9) and the 42Mpix resolution allow to make prints of any size (e.g. 1m x 1,5m sometimes for exposition)

During my shootings, I am now using both a A7RIII and a A9 to avoid changing lenses all the time

I put in general the 55mm F1.8 on the A7RIII (used 60% of the time) and the 85 F1.4 GM (used 25% of the time) on the A9

I have a full grip on the A7RIII as I shoot a lot in portrait mode

I was previously equipped with an A7RII for 2 years, but the difference in ergonomics between A7RII and A9 was highly disturbing during shootings. With a set composed of a A7RIII and a A9, I could setup both in the exact same way and I can switch from one to another without thinking which camera I am using.

I am also taking the A7RIII for travels if I know I will take many landscapes.

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -009

1.3 Sony FE 28mm F2

When I need wide angle in low light for my indoor model shoots, this is the one I use

It is a small high quality lens with quite some distorsion but Lightroom is correcting this automatically, so not an issue for me

Sony FE28F2-100

1.4 Sony Distagon FE 35mm F1.4 Zeiss

My favorite for full body indoor shoots, it allows to get very nice blurry background with superb skin tone and details with my models while seeing the environment/ room in which the photo was taken.

Sony FE35F14Z-100

1.5 Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8

My favorite lens for half body portrait. I do more than 60% of my photos with it. It is small, has a superb quality, a reliable AF.

If I would need to keep only one lens, this would be the one

Sony FE55F18Z-002

1.6 Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM

I use the 85mm for more close portraits or when I need to narrow the angle of view in the studio to hide the wall/ceiling of the studio

I was previously equipped with the Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 which is a fantastic lens, with very precise and fast AF. I had the opportunity to buy the Sony 85mm F1.4 GM lens for 1000 euros from a friend that preferred to keep the 100mm STF so I sold my Batis for the GM. Results are excellent with a superb bokeh (little bit superior to the Batis) but AF is quite slow in comparison of the Batis

Sony FE85F14GM-002

1.7 Sony FE 90 f2.8 Macro G OSS

Recently acquired to explore macro work in my leisure time. I had a very good price combining a Black Friday deal and a Sony cash back offer

This lens is one of the sharpest lens available in the market, maybe too sharp for portraits! AF is quite slow compared to the other Sony lenses (which is normal for a macro lens)

oss90001c

1.8 Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS

One on the best portrait / flower/ plants lens with a wonderful bokeh, but its apodization filter make it work like a F5.6 in term of light performance, ISO is often above 2000 for indoor work, so mostly to be used for outdoor shooting

FE100-3.jpg

1.9 Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G

I am not a regular landscape photographer, otherwise I would have taken the Sony FE 16-35 mm F2.8 GM, so when I wanted to get wider than 24mm, I choosed to pick up 12-24mm F4 as the natural wide angle complement of the 24-70mm F2.8 GM

This allows me to go extra wide for landscape and architecture if needed, e.g. for an Iceland trip & some indoor architecture shoots

The lens gives excellent results and is quite light. The only issue being its front lens and fixed lens hood that prohibits the use of tradition ND filters

sony FE 12-24mm F4 G-9

1.10 Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

My all around lens for travelling or street photography, or some weddings

I don’t like to use it so much for professional work in studio are Sony primes are quite superior to it

e648cced002ba9b3478f98dfbf1a858a.jpeg

1.11 Sony FE70-200 F2.8 GM

My favorite for outdoor portrait, or public events, concerts,

In studio/indoor work, I prefer the prime lenses, they are less bulky and have aperture <2.8 that allow to be more creative and to focus more accurately & faster in studio low key setup. I don’t like the easiness of zoom to compose my scene

I also used to took it for travelling until I got the Sony 100-400mm

The lens is very good but somehow disappointing wide open on A7RIII if you compare it with 85mm prime.

I am still expecting a Sony FE 135mm F1.8 to complement my prime lenses and to replace the Zeiss 135mm F1.8 I had on A-mount

fe70-200f2-25.8GM2.jpg

1.12 Sony FE 100-400mm GM OSS F4.5-F5.6

The sony FE100-400 is a very impressive lens, better than the 70-200mm GM for me. It is really tack sharp at all focal length and all apertures. It supports without any issue the TC1.4 and TC2.0, whereas the 70-200GM with TC2 show clear drop of quality

It is now my favorite telezoom for travelling, wildlife, birds and sports

Sony FE100-400 GM-515

1.13 Sony PZ E 18-105mm F4 G OSS

My favorite for video work used with A9 or A7RIII in APS-C crop mode: I get an insane 27-157mm with power zoom that allows for smooth zoom

24-70mm F1.8-2.8 at 23.53 mm - ¹⁄₈₀ s à ƒ - 7,1 à ISO 160-123

To complement this I also have

1.14 Sony RX1R +EVF

For some quick shoot indoor with family or when I go walking in the city without any preconceived ideas, I like to only take the RX1R which is very discrete, offers excellent result with its 35mm F2 and force me to compose my scene

I have also bought an ND filter to be able to shoot outdoor in sunny situation at F2. Its max speed of 1/2000 sec being sometimes limitative

Sony RX1R-5

1.15 Sony RX100M4

When I can take any bag with me, or if I am going outdoor to do some sports, go to disneyland, restaurants, I have always my Sony RX100M4 with me

It is a very capable camera with a high quality lens. I had the RX100, RX100M2 and now the upgraded since 18 months to the M4 for its 4K capability (having invested in a Sony UHD 65″ TV)

RX100M4-1

2 Alternative Kit for different profiles of photographers

Obviously not everyone need full frame and high end, so here are a few configurations I recommend to friends, clients according to their profile

  • Smartphone user
    • I want a better quality than my smartphone but not bigger than it and not too expensive
    • RX100M3 or M4 if you have a 4K TV
  • Travel beginner user :
    • I travel often and like to zoom to take animals, distant subjects, I don’t want to bother carrying and changing extra lenses, this is too complex for me
    • RX10M2 or RX10M3
  • Enthusiast user with limited budget
    • I want to be able to get better photos of my family than with my smartphone
    • I am ready to learn a little bit about lenses, aperture, ISO…
    • Sony A6000 + kit lens
    • Sony 50mm F1.8 or sigma 30mm F2.8  to get nice portrait with blurry background
  • Medium or advanced users who want small cameras, 4K video or want to shoot wildlife
    • Sony A6300 or 6500 (if you shoot sports, birds..)
    • Depending of your needs you will want to complement the kit with either prime lenses like the Sony 50mm F1.8, 30mm F1.8, but also to benefit from the APS-c crop factor with the Sony FE 70-200 F4 G or even the Sony FE 100-400mm GM OSS F4.5-F5.6
  • Full Frame budget user
  • Full frame medium budget user
  • Advanced user or professional
    • As from this stage you should be experienced enough to compose your own kit
    • If you are limited in budget the A7RII is still a very good camera and you can get one used at the price of a A7II and invest the rest of your money in lenses
    • Pick any of the lens of my kit corresponding to your needs
    • I would also recommend some others below that I do not own but that I have tested and that really were giving me striking results
  • Video user
  • Canon User
    • Start with the Sigma MC11 and your Canon lenses and then progressively sell them and invest in Sony Lenses

3 My bag

3.1 Studio work

My bag for studio work is a Lowepro Flipside 400 AW. It is damn good, resistant and can protect a tons of gear. It opens only from the back to protect your material from theft when you walk

I used my 2 bodies equipped with Peak design anchors to attach the strap of my choice

The 2 bodies are in general with the 55mm and the 85mm, but I always take with me the 28mm F2 and the 35mm F1.4

I take also taking the 100mm STF if I am shooting outdoor

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -006Marc A - My Sony Gears- -007

3.2 Travelling

When Travelling in general I only take

  • the A9 with grip extension and 2 lenses 24-70GM and 100-400GM
  • the RX100M4 as complement
  • An iPad Pro 128Go or a laptop to backup my Raw photos
  • An insurance for my gear

Obviously depending on the nature of the trip I could also take the macro lens or, the 12-24 F4 G if I need to do a lot of landscapes

I have several Lowepro bags that allows me to either transport

  • A9+ 2470GM +100-400GM,
  • A9 +2470GM + some food water, clothes, travel guide
  • A9 + 55mm

3.3 Ad Hoc mission

For some specific events I could take any of the appropriate lens in my bag from the 12-24mm to the 100-400mm : it all depends of what I think I will need.

I don’t like to carry all my gear “just in case of” and be tired to cary them and loose the pleasure to take photos.

3.4 Street photography

I like to discretion and 35mm focal length so  I usually take my Sony RX1R for this

3.5 Sports  / Leisure time

I take the RX100M4 with me

3.6 Accessories

Whether it is in the studio or during travels,  I usually take the same set of accessories

  • I have obviously 1 spare battery (used to get 4-6 with the A7RII) + 1 charger
  • The necessary kit to clean lenses or blow dust from sensor
  • A small speaker with me to put some ambient music for the models anywhere I need to shoot
  • All lenses are protected with either Sony Zeiss Protection filter or a Hoya HD protector filter

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -008

3.7 Memory cards

I use dual card slots with

  • On A9 : 128GB 2000x : 300Mo/sec for fast burst  and a Lexar 128GB 400x for 4K video. Photos and videos are split.
    • For travel I clean photos in the evening and I use the copy daily photos option to copy photos to slot 2.
  • On A7RIII : not doing a lot of burst in studio I use 2 high capacity high speed (1000x = 150Mo/sec)  256GB SD cards with mirroring mode

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -016

3.8 Smartphone

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -015

An Iphone X 256Go : what for ?

For Studio work

  • To communicate with models via Facebook messenger
  • To take some Backstage of the light setup, fun scene with models
  • To manage my Model Releases : I used the Easy Release app, that contain all my model release templates and allow models to sign contract on my smartphone
  • Lightroom Mobile : used to show moodboard during shooting. I am also use it on iPad pro or iPhone to progressively select the retained photos of the shoot
  • Lumu power as lightmeter (will be subject to a dedicated test)

 

During Travels

  • Playmermories app for Geotagging mainly during travels. I don’t use a lot the remote  possibility or the phone transfer
  • Google maps

But also 

  • Sony Support (all user guide, firmware announcement)
  • Alpha Library : full library of specs, accessories compatibility
  • Display from adobe (online portfolio coming with Adobe Creative Cloud for photography)

4 Flashes

  • My wireless flash configuration is based on 2 Nissin Air DI700 + one receiver to add my Sony HVL F32M
  • For on camera flash I had first the HVL20M which was nice and handy for indoor shoot but was lacking portrait capability, when HVL F32M came out with rotating head I upgraded to that one, it is the smallest yet well capable flash for A7/A9
  • HVL F45M would be my next upgrade, but I am not using flash very often outside of my studio work where I have dedicated Elinchrom Studio Flashes

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -012

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -011

5 Microphones

For my video work I have mainly 3 mics and an external recorder

  • Rode Video mic pro: for high quality directive  recording (using traditional mic-in entry on the A7/A9)
  • Sony ECM XYST1M : for wide captation directly mounted on the Sony Multi interface hotshoe
  • Rode Lavalier microphone for interview
  • Zoom H5 for external recording

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -013

 

6 Others

  • Tripod, monopod : I have 4 tripods and 2 monopods, most of them from Manfrotto and several heads : standard, ball head, micrometer head, video head
  • Video cage rig, external field monitor (subject of a future article),
  • A Gimbal : Zhiyun Crane 2
  • Several Studio flashes (Elinchrom) + some continuous light, light modifiers
  • Intervalometer for time lapse (since Sony suppressed the Playmories Camera Apps..)
  • Pelican Air Case (to store my material)
  • ND, Grad, Polarisation filters
  • Some other cameras
    • NEX3N for my daughter
    • NEX5 converted to infrared
    • Fuji instax Square, Instax Wide, Instax Mini
    • Impossible I-1 (Polaroid like)

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -014

7 Conclusion

The perfect gear for you will be the ones you will be at ease to use, can afford,  can carry with you and that correspond to your favorites photographic styles (travel, portrait, macro, landscape….)

In term of lenses don’t dream, there is no one lens fitting  all usages with max quality, low weight, low price (a 12-400mm F1.4 at 500 euros and 500 gr does not exist!)

So ask yourself questions to identify what you really need, read tests, try out in shops or with some friends, ask (wise) questions in forums or group

In a next Article I will describe my post processing workstation .

Knowing you spend more time in general to post process and view photos on your computer than to take them this is not an area to under invest if you have serious gear

Any questions don’t hesitate to post a comment !

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Categories: Photographie, Sony

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