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January 5, 2014 / Wedding

More Thoughts on the Sony A7R for Wedding Photography

Update: Here is the latest blog post from July 2014 with brand new photos and the most current thoughts after almost a year of using the Sony A7R for wedding photography. After my quick initial though...
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Update: Here is the latest blog post from July 2014 with brand new photos and the most current thoughts after almost a year of using the Sony A7R for wedding photography.

After my quick initial thoughts blog post after my first wedding photography session with the newly released Sony A7R, I’ve had the opportunity to take it along with me on a few more weddings at the end of 2013 and give it a bit more of a trial. The more I use it the more I get used to the quirks and signatures of the new Sony system which is similar, but slightly different to the Canon control layout that I know and love. I’m slowly getting more and more accustomed to where all of the buttons are and setting up the Function buttons to be more wedding-friendly. As I get more accustomed to the handling of the camera I feel like I will be shooting it more, I really *want* to be shooting it more but I think it’s just my familiarity with my Canon 5D Mark III’s that are tried and true to get the shot, though I’m increasingly happy with the results from the Sony. The second half of the equation is the digital darkroom and getting the results I want in the editing process, and the Sony files are also slightly different from editing Canon of course.

To start things off here are a few photos from a Nikkah ceremony that took place here in Atlanta at Poona Indian Restaurant. Smaller ceremony so the perfect venue to throw in the Sony A7r into the mix here and there. I had some LED lighting already up for the video I was recording so that helped to provide a bit of fill light for these first sets of photos which were taken with the A7r and the Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens.

35mm f/2.8 ZA | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

35mm f/2.8 ZA | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA

35mm f/2.8 ZA | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA

35mm f/2.8 ZA | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA

Here is a few more from later in the evening when I put on the Metabones adapter and played around with some Canon lenses. Of course that’s the one big limiting factor at the moment, the lack of native Sony full frame lenses that you can use without an adapter. Really fun to get down to f/1.2 (well, technically f/1.3 according to the camera which doesn’t let you go down to 1.2) and use the focus peaking assistance when you’re that shallow. I would like to try the other Sony lens that is out at the moment, the 55mm f/1.4 but waiting a bit longer on that one since I have the Metabones adapter.

Canon 85mm f/1.2L & Metabones Adapater | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Canon 85mm f/1.2L II with Metabones Adapter Mark III

Canon 85mm f/1.2L & Metabones Adapater | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Canon 85mm f/1.2L II with Metabones Adapter Mark III

Canon 85mm f/1.2L & Metabones Adapater | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Canon 85mm f/1.2L II with Metabones Adapter Mark III

35mm f/2.8 ZA | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA

35mm f/2.8 ZA | Sony A7r Wedding Photography | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

Sony A7r + Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA

In between this wedding and the next wedding I’m going to share photos from, the only major difference was finally settling on a compact size flash to go with the compact camera! I have thrown on the huge professional Canon 600 EX-RT but that giant flash is as big as the camera, which makes the whole set up a bit unbalanced. Sony also makes a similar large professional flash, but I didn’t want to jump THAT far into the flash world just yet so I ordered a few third party flashes from Amazon. Unfortunately, both manual flashes, the Bower Illuminator and Sunpak RD2000C did not really work on the A7r. The Bower Illuminator is designated for Sony but it’s for the old Sony hotshoe mount, not the new universal Multi-Interface mount. Then Sunpak, while being a true manual flash, for some reason would shut off after one fire until I turned the unit off and on again. Both got sent back to Amazon and I just ordered the smallest official Sony product I could find, the HVLF20M MI, which finally works flawlessly with the A7r. Both photos below taken with the Sony A7R and the 35mm ZA lens.

Here is Betty without flash at last weekend’s wedding:

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

And here she is lit by the HVLF20M to allow her to pop out of the background a bit:

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

The Sony flash is good in the sense that it gets up and away from the lens a bit, and has two settings: direct and bounce; where it angles the flash head ever so slightly upwards for a bit of a softer lighting scenario. I wish the flash head could swivel, but I guess that’s asking too much out of this little unit (but you’d think for $150 they could make it turn…). The HVLF20M is a great match for the Sony A7r with it’s compact size, however the price you pay for that size is running on two AAA batteries which means it’s not super powerful and doesn’t refresh super fast (compared to the Canon 600 EX-RT I was shooting alongside it). At the wedding above, a Mehndi night at 5th Avenue Event Hall here in Atlanta, I took a few more photos of course, this time with flash!

All photos below are the Sony A7R and the Sony 35mm f/2.8 ZA:

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

The new track lighting setup at 5th Ave Event Hall! Now all of your iPhone photos can look good even without flash!

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Muslim Indian Pakistani Wedding Photographer

Ok, only a few from the Mehndi night fun as I was shooting the Canon more since I had wireless flashes set up with that system providing better coverage of the stage.

For an intermission on this blog post of sharing wedding photos, of course I’ve been shooting the Sony A7r as my new “walkaround family camera” and taking photos of Miles.

Christmas with Sony A7R

Christmas with the Sony A7R

Christmas with Sony A7R

Christmas with Sony A7R

Christmas with Sony A7R

Christmas with Sony A7R

Christmas with Sony A7R

I also took a few more cityscape/landscape photos with the A7R at a recent time-lapse job I was shooting in Buckhead. I still haven’t found an intervalometer for the A7R to shoot time lapse, if their is one out there I can’t wait to order it! I thought I read somewhere that Sony will have an app for time-lapse on the camera itself but I haven’t seen it in the Sony app store yet… So, instead of moving Buckhead time-lapses with the Sony, here are a few static scenes before we get back to wedding photos.

Random Sony A7r Behind the Scenes Shots

The Mighty 5D Mark III’s shooting sunset time-lapse!

Random Sony A7r Behind the Scenes Shots

Grabbing some frames here and there while the Canons shoot away.

Random Sony A7r Behind the Scenes Shots

Random Sony A7r Behind the Scenes Shots

Random Sony A7r Behind the Scenes Shots

Buckhead at Night with Sony A7r + Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II

This photo above made the coveted “Flickr Explore” somehow, woohoo! Buckhead with the downtown Atlanta skyline in the background taken with the Sony A7R and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II using the Metabones adapter again.

Downtown Atlanta at Sunset as seen from Buckhead | Atlanta Time-Lapse Photography

Last photo from our time-lapse job, I had another camera (Canon 6D) shooting a different direction towards the downtown skyline using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II lens. During a break in the time-lapse I threw the A7R onto the tripod and snapped this one.

The dynamic range and detail in the Sony A7R files is just amazing! Which is partly why I want to use it more for weddings too! I really am enjoying editing these huge files =)

Ok back to weddings! The final day of the wedding above, the Valima/Reception took place after Christmas at one of our favorite venues the Hilton Atlanta Northeast. It seems we’re there every few weeks for an Indian or Pakistani wedding =). All photos below taken with the Sony A7R, Sony 35mm f/2.8 ZA, and the HVLFM20 flash. For one section I switched to the Canon 15mm fisheye lens as you’ll see.

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

In the photos above my 70-200 was on the Canon so I was using the Sony to grab the wide shots here and there. To mix it up during the shoe game I put the Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye on the Sony A7R since I was shooting wide angle with the Canon already. I had the Fisheye in manual focus mode and was using the focus peaking to approximate focus. The good thing with wide angle is that most thing are always in focus so it made relying on manual focus a lot easier =)

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Back to the Sony 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens for the exit and grabbing a few quick extra shots here and there.

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

Sony A7R Wedding Photography | Atlanta Pakistani Indian Wedding | Hilton Northeast

And there you have it as far as recent wedding samples goes! The next wedding on the calendar is not for another few weeks after the crazy busy end to 2013. Follow this link to view our 2013 wedding photography year-end wrap up to see some of my favorite photos from the rest of the year including the wedding in Sydney, Australia to kick off 2013 and the wedding above in Atlanta to end the year (and everything in between)!!

Final thoughts on using the Sony A7R for wedding photography, after 4 real live wedding events so far… I like it. I’m not sure I “should” like it, but I really like it. Especially with the flash and having to wait a bit longer for the recycle time – I found myself being much more patient and diligent with my framing and shots with the Sony A7r versus the Canon 5D Mark III. During the speeches above, with the 5D Mark III I know I can fire away and shoot off 5 shots in a row to make sure the speaker has a good expression and didn’t blink or make a weird face, etc. With the Sony to my eye, I found myself consciously waiting and watching for just that right moment and capturing a photo here and there instead of probably the 20+ I have from each speaker taken with the Canon. I would be interested in getting a full off camera flash set up for the A7R like I have for my Canon system, but given the fact that we already have six 600 EX-RT’s I foresee the likelihood of getting multiple HVLF60M‘s (Sony’s high end professional flash) verrrrrry far down the priority list unless we really do totally switch from Canon to Sony for wedding photography. I would probably try to add on radio triggers like our old PocketWizard PLUS II’s to our current flashes and attempt some sort of dual system in the mean time. I continually really do enjoy the size of the camera with the battery grip, however even when not using the camera as a main camera I notice my batteries still drain pretty fast and always have spares with me. I think in a main camera situation I would definitely want the grip for security and a couple more batteries to last me through these long wedding days. Only a handful of weddings in the first quarter of 2014 before things get crazy in the Spring, so plenty of time to take tons of test photos with Miles and play around with the camera some more =).
As a final note we’ve been slowly playing with the video features on the Sony A7R and are really enjoying the quality there too. As the one quick behind the scenes photo above shows, Betty is typically shooting the video with the Canon 5D Mark III on the monopod or Glidecam while the other 5D Mark II’s or 6D’s record from tripods during the wedding. I used the video mode with continuous focusing on the A7R for some family videos and was pretty impressed with the results so far. I would be really eager to see the other model, the A7 with it’s phase detect autofocus, and how that is working for the professional DSLR/mirrorless video world. Editing the quick video in Premiere gave a really nice sharp picture though, I was pleasantly surprised with the in-camera color processing for A7R video.

That wraps up another geeky gear review post! Back to posting tons and TONS of weddings from the Fall and Winter season! Well, before that, back to EDITING these weddings! Now that the holidays are over it’s back full steam ahead with wedding editing to get caught up! Might have another evolving Sony A7R wedding photography blog post in the future as we get a few more weddings under the belt and new sample photos =)

Comments

[…] 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 […]

[…] Sony A7R, my favorite walk around camera (and reviewed as a wedding photographer’s camera in these links to other blog posts). Check out a few photos from this random afternoon grabbing some ramen and […]

[…] (and thoughts on the camera in general as I have had it since release) on this post, and then my follow-up post is here with more thoughts on using the camera. So here we go with a bunch of sample photographs from my 2014 wedding season so far with the Sony […]

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