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Best Sony Camera for Wedding Photography – Part 2

My Switching Experience

One of my first thoughts when I started using the Sony mirrorless cameras was how antiquated DSLR’s felt in comparison.  It’s like you’ve suddenly graduated from flying Spitfire’s to jumping into a F35.  Looking through the EVF and having all that information there for you. Seeing your exposure change as you adjust your settings. It just makes DSLR’s feel primitive.

The ability to put your focus point anywhere on the screen has meant I have switched from using AF-S mode on my Nikon’s to using AF-C full time.  I’m no longer constrained by the little rectangular box that my AF points are in.  If you think about it, it’s crazy.  In 2019 why am I limited to putting a focus point in the centre parts of my screen only?  It just makes no sense!

The real time tracking has raised the bar higher for Sony’s competitors. They surely now need to raise their game if they hope to compete.  Auto focus is now so good and so accurate that I don’t even need to worry if the bride spins around, someone briefly walks past.  The camera is smart enough to keep going.  Yes for now it is A9 only.  But you can bet it will start to appear on every new release of camera. As the A6400 has shown.

One of the benefits I don’t think much about anymore is the fact I no longer need to calibrate my lenses to my camera body.  With mirrorless cameras (not just Sony), micro adjusting your lenses is a thing of the past.  No more staring at an image which is slightly out of focus and thinking “I could have sworn I nailed that shot….oh heck. Do my lenses need calibrating again???” With mirrorless, if you miss focus then you only have yourself to blame.  The photo below is a 200% crop from a wedding I recently shot.  Sharpness like this is pretty much par for the course now.

200% crop photo from a Sony camera

The silent shutter….again!

The silent shutter has made me really enjoy the documentary side of being a wedding photographer.  It has also allowed me to shoot in situations where I probably would have been banned.  Registrars and vicar’s attitudes have changed for the better once I’ve shown them I make no sound.  I’ve been able to put my camera literally centimeters away from the registrar’s ear, fire off a burst of 20 shots and they never knew.  Try doing that with a DSLR and see what reaction you get.  I can be super discrete for emotional moments such as the moment the father sees his daughter in her dress. Meaning I’m documenting the story without accidentally being part of it.

Father sees his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress

Videographers love me too. No more clacking disrupting their audio. Videographer’s hate it when they’re trying to edit and all they can hear whilst the bride & groom are exchanging vows is the clicking of your camera.

Shoot more….and more!

The number of frames I shoot now has gone up dramatically.  This seems to be consistent with others who have switched to Sony.  Because we’re so much more discrete.  We shoot more.  Some will hate this idea and consider it ‘spraying and praying’.  I really don’t care.  Personally I think it is something to embrace.  Shoot through the moment and choose the decisive moment afterwards in post.  No need to ‘make do’ with the best shot you tried to anticipate.

Luckily Sony have chosen to use SD cards for both slots. So I’ve upgraded from 64GB cards to 128GB.  A tip for if you’re switching.  Use fast UHS-1 cards.  Don’t bother at this moment with the expensive UHS-2 cards for slot 1.  Sony buffer’s are so good you will be wasting your money.

The last thing I will mention is that I hadn’t realised how people instinctively stop and smile at you when they think they’re having their photograph taken.  Even if they are talking, they hear the clicking and they turn to you and smile.  For documentary parts of the day, it is the exact opposite of what I want.  Shooting silent means it is much easier to sneakily take photographs to show the emotional moments your bride & groom want to see.  The real moment as it was.


Final Thoughts

Now you’re probably now thinking “Hey Martin…you’ve done nothing but talk about the A9. You’ve barely mentioned the others”  And there’s a good reason for that.  If I am shooting a wedding, the A9 is my first choice.  My backup camera is the A7r3 and the A7iii is only used for video work or as a backup to my backup.

Why?  Well it should be clear by now why I favour the A9.  But why is the A7r3 my second camera rather than the A7iii?  Simply because of the 42MP sensor.  That being said. I purchased the A7r3 before Sony announced the A7iii.  If I had to make the choice now.  I’d go straight for the A7iii.  The extra resolution I get from the 42MP sensor is really handy for cropping but it isn’t worth the price difference between the mk3 and the R3.

The A7iii is such a popular camera because of the feature set and aggressive price point.  I’m guessing it has outsold the A9 by a considerable margin.  Many many wedding photographer’s are happily using the A7iii to produce fantastic images.  It is a superb camera.  Price/performance it’s tough to beat.  Compare it side by side with the Canon/Nikon equivalent DSLR’s and even their new mirrorless cameras and the A7iii in many ways is still superior.  If I didn’t already have the A9 then I’d happily use the A7iii to shoot an entire wedding.

Some argue that the A9 is a bit of a one trick pony.  That the A7iii has silent shutter too and you can workaround issues with lighting by matching the shutter speed to the light frequency.  That for wedding ceremonies it’s good enough.  And it’s all true.  It’s good enough.  But I don’t want good enough.  I have the budget. I wanted better.

As I said earlier, it is incredibly hard to explain how liberating it is to be able to shoot silent shutter for most of the wedding day.  If asked by our customers, we’ll all claim to be ‘unobtrusive’.  But are we really if your shutter is clacking away thousands of times a day?

The Sony A9 has enabled me to get in places that I otherwise wouldn’t.  And capture lots of photographs I otherwise couldn’t.

If you are a documentary wedding photographer then I couldn’t recommend the Sony A9 enough.  For you lot, this is game changing. Just get it.

For the rest of us you can’t really go wrong with any of the three cameras. If you’re on a budget then the Sony A7iii will do you proud.

But if I had to pick one and say which camera out of the three is best for wedding photography. In my opinion, it would be the Sony A9 of course.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to help.  Feel free to drop me an email at martin@martincheung.co.uk  Respectfully I ask you to contact me this way rather than use my contact form.  Thank you!

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