May 22, 2015

Sony A7ii Wedding Photography Review!

Review

Sony A7ii Wedding Photography Review

Taking a quick break from editing and shooting weddings to write up another quick geeky gear review blog post, the Sony A7ii Wedding Photography Review! I’ve previously reviewed the Sony A7R – the R version of Sony’s new full frame mirrorless camera system – a few times here on the blog, click these links to read about my experiences using the Sony A7R for wedding photography here and then the follow up blog post a few months later here and the final mid-year update using the A7R at more weddings. You will notice that my conclusion is basically it’s possible, but it’s not very fun to use the A7R for something as fast paced as wedding photography. The autofocus of the R is pretty slow, the shutter is noisy and slow, but the size benefits and just anticipating that the camera was going to be slow meant that it was somewhat workable. The thing was, I just didn’t end up doing enough pure landscape photography to really justify having this beautiful 36-megapixel camera that only halfway works at my main interest: wedding photography. The A7R headed to the big camera land in the sky: eBay, where another lucky person got a great deal on a lightly used A7R. The newly announced A7 version 2 (ILCE-A7M2) was getting good reviews and having been out for a while I felt more confident jumping into the second iteration of the A7, which is probably the camera I should have bought the first time with it’s faster autofocus and lower megapixel count. I took a quick trip into New York City and headed over to B&H Photo to check out the cameras in person. I ended up getting the Sony A7ii along with the Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 OSS lens after trying the 24-70mm as well, but from a wedding photography perspective I will be using this as my second camera and I will probably have something like the 85mm on my Canon 5D Mark III, so the wider lens will compliment it nicely. You can click this quick blog post I put up with some first images taken with the camera wandering around the streets of New York City, but now we’ll start digging into my impressions using the Sony A7ii at an actual Indian wedding for photography!

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

The above photos are from the first two days of this gorgeous Atlanta Indian Wedding, the mehndi night and the Grah Shanti and Sangeet ceremonies on the following day. I shot this wedding using the Sony A7ii as my secondary camera, so a lot of the “key” moments were better covered with whatever lens I had on it at the time, but I still used the A7ii a lot with the Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 OSS lens to cover the wide end of the spectrum.

Please click this “read more” link below if you are seeing this post on the main /blog page, if you’re reading this post directly ignore this line :)

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography [Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

Sunflare shots like this is one of the areas where the Sony A7ii shined over the 5D I had with me due to it’s electronic viewfinder, so you can “stare into the sun” and no go completely blind with the sun going straight into your eyeball :). All of these early morning getting ready photos and videos were also a great chance to shoot with the A7ii due to the slower pace of things before the Hindu wedding really kicked off.

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography [Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

Luckily we were able to find time to do a first look. After shooting a few of the main action with the 70-200mm f/2.8L with the 5D Mark III, I grabbed a few with the Sony A7ii as well. No Sony A7ii Wedding Photography review would be complete without some real action photos, and the next part of this Atlanta Indian Wedding is all action! Now, on to the baraat!

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

Shooting in the day light of the morning, of course auto focus was fast outdoors. Even with all of the dancing I was able to get some great shots with the wide angle lens. I typically shoot the baraat with the 16-35mm f/2.8L II Canon lens, so I was really comfortable shooting that focal length during this event. Again the flip down LCD screen of the Sony A7ii was super helpful for wedding photography to shoot photos from high and above, though I’ve been shooting like this for so long with my Canon I can do it without looking too :p.

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

Great candid moments, something that you really need fast autofocus to capture. Using the Sony A7ii was definitely pulling it’s weight and while not *quite* as fast as the 5D Mark III, I was able to hammer down the trigger during the fast paced events of this Indian Wedding pretty well.

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

Great captures during the Hindu ceremony indoors at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter. Here I was again bouncing between the Canon 5D Mark III using the 70-200mm f/2.8L II lens and then using the Sony A7ii for the wide angles as seen here. Great secondary camera to cover the wide end of this wedding.

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

During the Indian wedding reception I was again shooting with the flash, which I don’t think I mentioned yet, but I had the Sony HVL-F43M external flash on top of the A7ii throughout the day. The Sony HVL-F43M paired with the Sony A7ii wedding photography is really a great combination and I highly recommend it. I previously had the tiny HVL-F20M with my Sony A7ii, but the F43M is a proper full size flash with swivel head. I checked out the larger Sony flash models in person at B&H when shopping for the A7ii but went with this intermediate model instead of the larger F60M. If I do end up shooting with the A7-series Sony cameras for wedding photography exclusively in the future I’ll pick up the F60M flashes as I currently shoot with Canon’s top end flash the 600EX-RT professional flashes.

[Blog] Sony A7ii Indian Wedding Photography

Another awesome part of the Sony HVL-F43M for wedding photography is the built in LED light – say what??? Again not a huge deal for photographers but since I do video at these Indian weddings as well, and we were shooting a wedding video for this particular wedding, I definitely was testing out leaving the flash on the camera and turning on the LED light during the reception for some video clips! I put this quick compilation of Sony A7ii  wedding photography clips from this Indian wedding weekend at the top of the post, but here is the same video one more time.

The built in SteadyShot in the Sony A7ii is simply amazing. Shooting this video with an OSS lens (the Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 OSS) was like using a SteadiCam or GlideCam but just using my hands! All of this video was shot totally handheld, no tripods nor monopods like we normally use for our wedding videos, since they actually had the “regular” cameras on them to record the main wedding video this weekend. Super impressed with the Sony A7ii for video. The only limiting factor for the late night dancing was shooting with the 16-35mm with it’s f/4 lens meant I was shooting at ISO 10,000 for the majority of the reception. It doesn’t look *that* bad but their is still noticeable noise in the footage when you’re shooting that high ISO. An f/2.8 or other prime lens would have helped me shoot in only the ISO 6400 range but hey you gotta do what you gotta do to get the shot on these dimly lit dance floors!

In conclusion I totally am in love with using the Sony A7ii for wedding photography! Upgrading from the A7R, which I still enjoyed, the autofocus is much much faster on the A7ii which makes shooting weddings actually possible instead of an act of frustration. I really want the gear to “get out of the way” and let me capture the moments and stories from weddings, and now that Sony has unleashed a camera that allows you to not worry about autofocus any more, I can get back to creating memories instead of worrying about the camera’s abilities. The Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 OSS lens performs great as well, producing nice contrasty images from the camera’s sensor. I’m still getting the hang of finding an editing groove for a toning that I enjoy, but these are getting pretty close. The above photos were all edited in the newest version of Adobe Lightroom 6, and the video was edited in Adobe Premiere CS6.

As I take the Sony A7ii with me to more weddings this year and around New York City some more I will be sure to write up a follow-up review soon!

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