Fashion photographer. Two and half years with SONY A7R.
By Ivan Tsupka
Over the past two and a half years, I’ve shot more than a hundred fashion projects using the Sony A7r with Sony Zeiss 24-70/4 FE lens. I shot covers and editorials for magazines, advertising campaigns, fashion brands, etc .. And now I can share my experience. The budgets of fashion shootings are not high in Ukraine, so some features may not be in demand for a higher-budget setups. Some things that did not always work well in the A7r, such as slow autofocus and the lack of the first electronic curtain, are fixed in A7rII.
Size and weight
The Sony A7r is not the smallest full frame camera in the world. But it is small enough to let me forget about the pain in my neck after 8 hours of almost continuous shooting at the location with the camera in my hand, which was usual when shooting on DSLR.
Do you want to shoot a model against the sun? No problem. Blow out highlights? Forget it. The RAW files are very editable, you can draw almost anything out of them. The dynamic range of this camera is simply stunning!
Even if you shoot on ISO 3200, the quality of the photo will still be sufficient for print on the cover of a glossy magazine.
RAW Color reproduction
The color reproduction of Sony A7p is very good, colos are rich and deep. Although it does not reach the level of Sony A900. Lightroom makes skin tones a bit greenish, the Huelight profiles can help. In some particularly critical cases I make corrections in Capture One.
Details and resolution
Even high megapixels are never enough for fashion photography. Your photo can be printed 2 meters high at the entrance of the clothing store and it is important that the texture of the fabric on this photo looks good from the distance of the outstretched hand. 36 megapixels without anti-aliasing filter in this case look very good. And the photos shot with Sony a7p look absolutely clean on a spreadsheet of a glossy magazine.
The main advantage of EVF for me is instant feedback. I make a shot and see the result right there without taking my eyes off the viewfinder. I can immediately fix the position of light or flash output power, correct the exposure or the position of the model, make sure that the model did not blink. EVF in Sony can be compared with the best optical viewfinders. It is also very convenient for shooting in the manual focus mode.
WiFi is a very handy feature. For example, you can put the camera somewhere high and see on the iPad what happens in the top view scene. It was also very convenient to show a stylist or art director some images directly on the iPad while shooting at complex locations.
Many wheels and assignable buttons allow you to use the menu not so often. The menu is a bit confusing but it’s not a big problem. Basically you set everything up once and only occasionally change something. Most parameters can be assigned to the buttons. The only serious lack of control is absence of a joystick for the autofocus selection point. Choosing it with buttons is inconvenient. The wheel on the back of the camera scrolls accidentally. This slightly reduces its functionality.
Sony Vario-Tessar 24-70/4 FE is not the best zoom lens of all times. It is somewhat dark and does not work well at 24mm. But in the range that I need for filming, approximately 28-65 mm, it behaves perfectly. Sharp, contrast, with bright and accurate color rendition. It is also small, convenient and lightweight.
Autofocus leaves mixed feelings. It is very useful that the focus points occupy the whole frame an face detection works very well. You can confidently compose complex images in which the model’s face is in the corner of the frame without annoying “focus and recompose”. But in difficult light conditions, autofocus can simply get lost and the illumination does not really help. Sometimes it also tends to focus on a bright contrast background even if it detects a face in the frame. The focus tracking practically does not work, it limits the ability to shoot jumping or walking models. These problems are absent in Sony A7rII.
Lack of Front Electronic Curtain mode.
I did not suffer the shutter shock effect due to the lack of the first electronic curtain, but this has another problem. The shutter must close and then open and than close and open again for a single frame capture. This takes some time and causes a small but noticeable shutter lag. This somewhat limits the ability to shoot models in motion. This problem is solved in Sony A7rII.
The batteries die quickly and this is somewhat annoying. This is not critical, but it forces you to take a few spare batteries and a charger to every shooting.
About the author
Ivan Tsupka is fashion and art photographer living in Kiev, Ukraine. He shoots fashion, art projects, music videos. His works have been many times exhibited in the art galleries of Kiev and Europe.