A Maltese mirrorless wedding with Sony
by Franklin Balzan
Hi there! First of all let me say that I am extremely happy to finally contribute to this blog! I am Franklin, an engineer with a passion for photography from the small island of Malta. Since the start of my interest in photography, in the last couple of years I have been shooting with mirrorless cameras. I was intrigued by the Sony Mirrorless realm… maybe due to their lighter and smaller than the equivalent DSLRs, I first purchased a Nex 5, then a Nex 6 and finally the a6000 before I upgraded to fullframe. Its been quite a journey…
My current setup is as follows:
A7s + JB Hand Grip
A7ii + JB Hand Grip
I cannot stress how much the JB handgrip improves the handling of the camera. I have also a Meike vertical grip, however the JB grip is just better – lighter, takes less space and adds a vintage look to the camera!
- Sony 35 f1.4
- Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8
- Sony 16-35
These are the main lenses I am currently using for my work at the moment. I also owned the Sony 24-70z for a while but I did not find it sharp and fast enough and have therefore decided to sell it off.
I am currently using two Nissin di700 together with their air controller which can wirelessly trigger them.
- Optech sholder strap
- Think Tank mirrorless camera bag
- Lowepro Flipside 300
I find this setup to be flawless for portraits and acceptable for wedding photography, even though in a fast paced wedding the autofocus sometimes struggles to keep up – nothing which can’t be worked around with a bit of tempo. The IQ is however flawless and I have made a decision to use the two bodies both with prime lenses attached, giving me different views during a wedding or a shootout, mostly shooting in a wide open fashion.
I had already met this sweet couple some months back for their engagement photoshoot at the St. Lucija Chinese Garden. For this shootout, I used my a6000 camera and a sparkle of imagination!
On the 6th of November I had the opportunity to shot Alex and Veronica’s wedding – a simple yet elegant wedding. The wedding day started with the makeup artist arriving at the Bride’s house in Birzebbugia. In Malta, The gorgeous November day, coupled with the sea view available from the house’s balcony, refreshed the bride and her family. As the preparations were underway, the air was filled with excitement… and soon the time arrived for the limousine to take away the bride.
Veronica and Alex married in the Tal-Herba Chapel located in Birkirkara and then followed up the wedding with a private function at a restaurant in Valletta. The location’s choice, while simple and elegant, provided also with an opportunity to use the bar for a quick shootout. The wedding was relatively slow-paced, so I had no problem with the autofocus.
More of my work can be seen on www.fbalzan.com. I look forward to your comments.
I personally like the pictures and consider the criticisms to be valid but not by any means the last word.
All that needs to be done is for the photographer to revisit the raw files and do minimal PP.
There is some nice use of selective focus and different vantage points.All in all nice work.
I am sure the couple loved the images.
Looking forward to the new generation of mirrorless cameras. I see more and more professionals swapping over to mirrorless gear (at least as backup). Wouldn’t it be great to not carry all this heavy gear to a wedding. The Sony A7 II is one of the first mirrorless cameras I would take to a wedding. Well done …
A very nice picture of the bride and groom at the altar, making good use of selective focus with the Batis 85/1.8 to highlight the bride.
I use the DCM option frequently with the Batis in single-servo mode. Once locked in, manual focus is enabled, including focus magnification. The Batis is very easy to use in manual mode to fine-tune the exact plane of focus desired.
Where others see “sad,” I see “contemplative.” Weddings are both joyous and solemn, and you have captured the mood exquisitely well.
Very nice! I will be visiting Malta in 2016; when is the best time of the year to visit?
We have had a tremeondously good rather warm December … this was shot this morning! https://www.facebook.com/frankbalzanphotography/photos/a.822072191207821.1073741827.814950315253342/978400802241625/?type=3
Best period would be in May – June or Sept to avoif the tourist rush! If you do come over to Malta send me a message we may be able to meet up and get some photography (i can point you to the best locations) 😉
I’d like to weight in with some constructive critique. It took me a while to figure out what exactly is breaking these images. I also own the 35/1.4 and 85/1.8 Batis and those lenses can produce such magic. This is not reflected in these images. And for me there are two killers:
Firstly, the excessive processing reminds me of people who own inferior crop sensor cameras and then try to mask the lack of dynamic range and color tonality with over the top processing. With these A7 cameras and Zeiss lenses, there’s no need to do that kind of processing. The Zeiss colors have such a beautiful signature, it is a shame to process them away completely. It is also a shame that the processing is so inconsistent. Doing a variety of styles does not mean you should do each black and white conversion with a different color temperature.
My second point is the symbology in your images. For me these photos evoke feelings of solitude and here is why. The first photo right off the bat looks like the people are sad. The bride and groom photos (10 and 12) have empty chairs in the background. Most of the photos suggest that there were no people at this wedding. The lonely limo driver, the dark silhouette, the gaze into the mirror… to me symbolize sadness and solitude. Wedding photos should radiate happiness and love instead!
Well done. Nice variety of wedding shots. Bride and groom obviously pleased with your work.
It is a lot easier to post a critical comment than posting an article, so never mind Franklin! To be polite is not everybodies strength.
If you want to get perfect colors, you should consider to use a ColorChecker from X-Rite. I use it for portraits, product and even landscape and like the results.
I’m sure the happy couple are pleased with their photographs and in the end that is all that matters.
Good job Franklin
Oke than, let me say this…Franklin
All that talking about technical stuff is one thing and there is a lot to learn…
I allways want to look in a positive way…not only critical.
The feeling and your aproach are more important things for me.
Some shots i like very much and are ringing a bell.
Go, shoot, be critical about yourself and the most important thing, enjoy!
Hi there first of all i appreciate all your comments. I agree that the skin tones and colour tones vary and are not consitent… But i did this on purpose asked to deliver a variety of styles as requested by the couple. i do not mind critique, but I would appreciate if you could point out what can be improved like ailukewitsch did.
Hi Frank; good of you to be open like that about something you must have put a lot of effort in.
If the client(s) asked for a variety of approaches, then that’s what you do. I’m not sure that would necessarily translate into different colouring approaches, but you were there, I was not.
I always feel that the interest of images does not start with the processing, although you certainly can aim for a specific effect, it starts with the interest of the image itself.
That’s how I look at the images I produce. Is an image interesting and if so, why? If not, why not? The processing then follows, to your and/or your client’s taste.
Negative comments based on some inherent need to insult are both unprofessional, unkind, and I doubt what Steve had in mind at all for this blog. Comments number 4 and 5 should be deleted.
Franklin, great effort and nice work with DOF, focus and bokeh.
Franklin, as you know shooting a wedding is a tonne of work and often stressful….not to mention the hours spent in post processing the shots. With that in mind, sometimes less is more when it comes to post processing, especially for wedding photos. As others have said the colours in these are a little different and in some cases not even consistent.
Obviously the colours you have are what you were looking for but I think maybe something closer to what you got out of the camera would have been generally more asthetically pleasing….just my 2 cents. On a positive note I like that shot of the rings sitting on the piano, cool shot.
What’s wrong with comment #5? Criticism put forward in a civilized way I thought.
At least from where I am seeing the pictures the skin tones are not to my liking at all. Also even thou they are from the same wedding the skin colors are all around the place, no consistency at all. Some are greener some are more pale, actually non of the color pictures I found to be pleasing in colors.
I don’t like those pics and the quality of the files look terrible
Thank you for saying what many of us would hesitate to say! Couldn’t agree with you more. These images look like a serious waste of some excellent gear.
[I seem to be confused as to how the comments work, so I apologise if this is a duplicate:]
Franklin, thanks for sharing. I like the photos but I have two problems:
– The toning used on the colour shots is not nice, IMHO. I never use those kinds of filters and I just let the sensor do the talking.
– The b&w shots look like desaturated colour shots (though #429 is great). They don’t have much character (I’m talking about the tonality). I think there are some filters – and here is where digital filters are actually useful – which apply a film-like tone map to the digital files. I don’t shoot b&w much so I don’t know any further details.
Thanks for sharing your pictures. How do you find the battery life on the cameras? How many batteries do you use on a wedding day?
The author should reply regarding his own experience. Based on mine, I should think three or four would be required. If you shoot continually and turn unneeded features off (e.g., Wi-Fi and the rear screen), you can get 300-400 shots from a single charge. Since the sensor and viewer(s) are continuously active, they place a heavy drain on the battery whether you are shooting or not. Roughly speaking, you get about an hour’s continuous operation whether you shoot or not.
Eyeballing the (first?) introductory image I thought “Oh; smaller, lighter?”. Great pics fortunately.
I don’t think you understand how small and light the 85mm Batis + A7 combo is.
This. I think people see DSLR shaped and assume it must be like a DSLR. It’s very hard to gauge the difference without actually handling it for yourself.
Mike, I was only (and not even seriously) commenting on the first image, which makes the combo look quite large. But now that you’ve broached that subject, let’s stick to the facts. The 85/1.8 Batis is over a 100 grs heavier and a bit bigger than the 85/1.8G; the weight advantage (not the size advantage) of the A7RII therefore effectively disappears when that Nikkor is coupled to f.i. a 750.
I’m not into brand wars, just like stick to the facts.
this has nothing to do with mirrorless or not
It does. This photographer is relating to others how he used his equipment. That’s why he wrote the article in the first place.
the fifth picture of the wedding day is breathtaking…bravo franklin