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 A7RIV or with A9…

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

Before covering which material I currently own I will explain in Chapter 1 what were the consequence for me of the jump from A7RIII to A7RIV as this upgrade has forced me to revisit every lens of my kit

In chapter 2 I will explain which gear I have (end 2019), 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 3 I propose you some alternative kits of body+ lenses

In chapter 4 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. Upgrade from A7RIII to A7RIV the consequences…
  2. Body and Lenses
  3. Alternative kit for different profiles of photographers
  4. My Bag
  5. Flashes
  6. Microphones
  7. Others
  8. Conclusion

1 Upgrade from A7RIII to A7RIV : consequences

The A7RIV is a much more demanding body than A7RIV : lenses are suffering a lot and I had to revisit which lens do I keep , which ones do I replace or wait for a new lens to come out

After having retested around 40 lenses here

Sony FE 28mm F2, was good and inexpensive but was replaced by the marvelous Sony 24mm F1.4 GM

Sony Distagon FE 35mm F1.4 Zeiss : has a superb rendering but was not at all at ease with the 61Mpix, it was replaced by the Outstanding Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art

Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8 was still very good wide open on A7RIV but the Sony Planar T* 50mm F1.4 Zeiss was clearly better on A7RIV

The Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM excellent on A9 , very good on A7RIII was not satisfactory on A7RIV , I replaced it with the excellent Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art

The Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM is also to be replaced as not good at F1.4 on sony A7RIV , I am looking to replace it with the Samyang 85 F1.4 AF which is excellent at F1.4 or to wait maybe a GM mark II or a Sigma designed for Mirrorless

There are also a few newcomer in 2019 in my kit

2 Bodies & Lenses

Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-9Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-11Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-7

Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-5Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-3

  1. Sony A9 + grip extension GP-X1EM
  2. Sony A7RIII + grip VG-CE4M
  3. Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G
  4. Samyang 12mm F2.8 ED AS NCS Fisheye
  5. Sony FE 16-35 mm F2.8 GM
  6. Sony 24mm F1.4 GM
  7. Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art
  8. Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art
  9. Samyang 45mm F1.8 AF
  10. Lensbaby Sol 45mm F3.5
  11. Sony Planar T* 50mm F1.4 Zeiss
  12. Lomography Petzval 55mm F1.7 MkII
  13. Voigtländer 65mm F2 Macro Apo Lanthar
  14. Sony FE70-200 F2.8 GM
  15. Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM
  16. Sony FE 90 f2.8 Macro G OSS
  17. Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS
  18. Sigma 105mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art
  19. Sony FE 100-400mm GM OSS F4.5-F5.6
  20. Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM
  21. Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS
  22. TC1.4 & TC2.0
  23. 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

2.1 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

2.2 Sony A7RIV + grip VG-CE4M

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 61Mpix 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 A7RIV and a A9 to avoid changing lenses all the time

I have a full grip on both bodies as I shoot a lot in portrait mode

I upgraded from the A7RIII mainly for the AF and ergonomics but so far find the A7RIV much less versatile than the A7RIII as it requires better lighting conditions to really benefits from its 61Mpix..

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -009

2.3 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

2.4 Samyang 12mm F2.8 ED AS NCS Fisheye

An rectilinear fisheye with excellent sharpness over the entire frame

2.5 Sony FE 16-35 mm F2.8 GM

The best landscape zoom you can get

Sony FE 1635 F2.8 GM-7

2.6 Sony 24mm F1.4 GM

The best Sony prime lens together with the 135 F1.8 GM : outstanding sharpness and bokeh and excellent AF

2.7 Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art

The best standard zoom you can get and the only one capable of resolving the 61Mpix of the A7RIV , much better performance than the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM or the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art-06

2.8 Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art

The best 35mm you can get with outstanding sharpness and bokeh , build like a tank. It is same weight and size as a Sony 135mm F1.8 GM !

Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art-05

2.9 Samyang 45mm F1.8 AF

2.10 Lensbaby Sol 45mm F3.5

An Artistic lens with a very good sharpness in the centre and excellent bokeh

Lensbaby Sol 45mm F3.5-1

2.11 Sony Planar T* 50mm F1.4 Zeiss

The best 50mm you can get , outstanding sharpness and bokeh, clearly  superior to the Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F1.8 on theA7RIV :

Sony FE50F14Z-003

2.12 Lomography Petzval 55mm F1.7 MkII

An Artistic lens with a very good sharpness in the centre and excellent bokeh

Lomography - Petzval 55mm F1.7 II-7

2.13 Voigtländer 65mm F2 Macro Apo Lanthar

The sharpest lens you can get for the A7RIV , suppressing the outstanding Sony 135 F1.8 GM

but it is a manual lens (with EXIF transmission)

Voigtlander 65mm F2 Macro Apo Lanthar-2

 

2.14 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

fe70-200f2-25.8GM2.jpg

2.15 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

Excellent results on the A7RIV , but a little bit disappointing on the A7RIV . AF speed is one of the lowest of the GM series. Still acceptable but a Mark II version will be welcome

The Samyang 85mm F1.4 offers superior performance especially at F1.5 on the A7RIV

Sony FE85F14GM-002

2.16 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

2.17 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

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

The sony FE100-400 is a very impressive lens. 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

2.19 Sigma 105mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art

A monster in term of size and weight but a unique bokeh

Sigma 10mm F1.4 DG HSM Art-04

2.20 Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM

The best Sony prime lens together with the 24mm F1.4 GM : outstanding sharpness and bokeh and excellent AF

Sony 135mm F1.8 GM-003

2.21 Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS

An excellent telephoto lens at a reasonable price with outstanding / excellent sharpness and that does not extend when zoomed from 200mm to 600mm

Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3 G OSS-08

2.22 TC1.4 & TC2.0

Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-7

TC1.4 can be used without any doubt on all compatible lenses (70-200 f2.8GM, 100-400 GM, 200-600 G, 400 F2?8GM , 600 F4 GM)

TC2.0 is to be reserved for the 400 F2.8 GM or the 600 F4 GM as you see too the sharpness decrease on the other lenses

2.23 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 M4/5/6/7 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 RX10M4 that offer the eye AF for animals
  • 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 E 50mm F1.8 OSS or the Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN Art  to get nice portrait with blurry background
  • Medium or advanced users who want small cameras, 4K video or want to shoot wildlife
  • 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
    • The A7RIII is the best compromise in term of resolution AF speed it is excellent in low light and level of detail is excellent
    • The A7RIV requires much more attention and is only surpassing the A7RIII in specific scenarios mostly outdoor. It requires higher shutter speed and only the best lenses can resolve the 61Mpix. The AF is superior to the A7RIII thanks to the Tracking AF mode but stay largely below the A9
    • The A9 is the top of the sony bodies in term of AF speed and best behavior with artificial light (avoiding banding) , no blackout, rolling shutter… and will ideal for sports or weddings
    • Pick any of the lens of my kit corresponding to your needs
  • 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 travel for studio work is a Think Tank Airport Derby Roller It can roll and be carried on the back

For lighter work I used the Lowepro flip side series : I have the 200, 300 and 400 depending of the lenses I need to cary

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

  1. Sony 24mm F1.4 GM
  2. Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art
  3. Samyang 45mm F1.8 AF
  4. Sony Planar T* 50mm F1.4 Zeiss
  5. Lomography Petzval 55mm F1.7 MkII
  6. Voigtländer 65mm F2 Macro Apo Lanthar
  7. Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM
  8. Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM

Marc Alhadeff Bag 2020-1

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -006

Bag for travelling

3.2 Travelling

When Travelling in general I only take

  • the A9 with grip extension and 2 lenses Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art  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

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 200-600mm : 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 + 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 : Sandisk 128GB 300Mo/sec for fast burst  and a Lexar 128GB 400x for 4K video. Photos and videos are split.
  • On A7RIV : 3 x Sandisk 128Go 300Mo/sec with a Lexar 256GB 1000x if I run out of space

3.8 Smartphone

Marc A - My Sony Gears- -015

An iPhone XS Max 512Go : 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

  • New Sony ECM-B1M for A7RIV
  • Sony KLR-K3M
  • Rode Video mic pro: for high quality directive  recording (using traditional mic-in entry on the A7/A9)
  • Rode Lavalier microphone for interview
  • Zoom H5 for external recording
Sony-ECM-B1M-

ECM -B1M

_DSC8801

XLR-K3M

marc-a-my-sony-gears-013-2459374878-1578431686324.jpg

 

 

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 !

Categories: Photographie, Sony

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17 replies

  1. Très intéressant merci.
    Je vous ai rencontré au photodays (test du 85 1.8 FE), c’est chouette de voir votre activité. Je pense switcher vers ce bel A7 III avec le 85mm 1.8 FE (on verra pour ce bokeh très circulaire parfois).

  2. Dear Marc,

    that’s a beautiful blog you have.
    I wonder if you could give me your 2 cents on some Sony service issue I am having, or having some direct channels to notify Sony their service problem.
    I’ve been struggling to get my Sony-Zeiss lens repaired by them. Thorough the last 4 months or so, I couldn’t even get Sony to properly repair the lens.
    I posted the story on reddit here https://www.reddit.com/r/SonyAlpha/comments/9h6270/advice_needed_lens_sal50f14z_wobbles_what_should/

    If you could at least advise what my next step should be, it will be appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Sony Support services are organized locally in each country . I know only the one in Belgium and had no problem with them. So can’t help unfortunately

  3. Why is the 70-200mm f4 not sufficient for a 43mp camera? I have it on my a7iii atm and the results are really great. ( looking in to upgrading body on the long run )

  4. Marc, Thanks a ton for your extremely informative blog. I am graduating from a Canon G16 which i have used to get comfortable with manual settings. This, i have used for over 5 years and feel ready to switch to a mirrorless. Narrowed down to A7III. However dont see any reviews from your end on this model. If you have, please share. To start with, i plan to go with just a Zeiss 50 mm prime lens to get my hands dirty. For other purposes, i will rent lenses till i can save some money. Please do share your views on A7III

    • The a7iii is an excellent body for the price , depending of your needs the a9 can go even better in term of af speed especially with the newly announced firmware with real time tracking. The A7riii is the ultimate in term of resolution with also better evf than a7iii. Personally I have the a9 and a7riii but a7iii will be already excellent for 80% of usual needs

      • Marc, first thank you so much for your extremely useful blog. How do you manage color calibration and have some recommendations ?

  5. Hi Mark, I have seen that you are in the facebook group sony a7riv. I have also seen your excellent work with the lenses, as well as your work in the studio. But on this page I see that you use A9 and A7R III. Don’t you use the A7RIV to work? I am in doubt between the A7RIII and the A7RIV. But in the Facebook forum many problems of focus and iso noise have been commented. I take photos in concerts of classical music (low light in theaters and outdoors), landscapes and portraits. In my city I have no possibility to rent the cameras to try them and I don’t know anyone so they can lend them to me. I have seen that you have a lot of criteria in the answers and that is why I would like to know your opinion. Thanks a lot.

    • I need to update the article I have now a7rIV and a9
      While a7rIV is better in term of ergonomics af speed , it is much more difficult to use it require higher speed more light . So for indoor a7riii or a9 will be much better. A7riv will be better for landscape or outdoor portrait only

  6. Selling my 16-35mm F4 which I love, but probably won’t hold up on the A7R IV which is incoming, for either the 12-24mm F4 G or the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 Art. I see you chose for the 12-24mm, why did you choose it over the Sigma? Great guide by the way.

    • I had the 12-24mm long time before I tested the Sigma 14-24
      and when comparing both I found that the 2 extra mm at lower end where making a huge difference in term of possilbity offered by the lens and ere much more important than the 1 stop gain in aperture

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