Yesterday, I met with a senior photojournalism student who enjoys doing multimedia documentary work. As we discussed her upcoming honors senior thesis, she asked me about my thoughts on cameras as she is wanting to take advantage of student pricing before she graduates next spring.
A little over a year ago, my answer would have been to look at Canon and Nikon. In fact, a little over a year ago, I would have laughed, if you’d told me I would be recommending a Sony to my students.
However, yesterday, I told her to look seriously at the Sony Alpha system. In fact, I told her I have recently sold my Canon gear and am using the Sony E-mount cameras exclusively. After 40 years as a Canon shooter, I have made the switch.
Why after investing in a camera system would I switch? I believe that Sony is at the innovative end of the camera world. They have developed a great set of sensors that work in both Full-Frame and APS crop (1.5) bodies. They have embraced the concept of mirrorless and are leading the pack. When I consider the size and weight of the Sony system to the much bigger DSLRs, I can carry more efficiently and with less pain on my back and shoulders after a day of shooting.
I have regained the ease of shooting with smaller camera bodies and lenses that I had years ago when I added a Leica M4p and a couple lenses to my bag for documentary work. I loved shooting with my Leica, but as I neared 40 and my diabetes began to effect my manual focusing ability, I had to give them up and strictly shoot with autofocus. However, I’m excited about the focus peaking ability of the Sonys and at times will use manual focusing in my photography. To be honest, for several years I’ve been telling my friends at Canon and Nikon they needed to bring out a rangefinder type of camera. When I bought a Sony a6000 about a year ago on the recommendation of a friend of mine, Patrick Murphy-Racey, I knew I’d found what I’d been asking for.
I have since acquired numerous E-mount lenses by Sony, Zeiss and Sigma. I have found that the combination on the APS crop a6000 is fantastic. This little body has 24.3 MP, shoots at 11fps, has Hybrid AF (using both phase and contrast AF), AF that locks on and allows great follow focus for action, and goes to 25,600 ISO. The video isn’t too bad either, with Full 1080 HD at 60p or 24p. I also love the built-in wi-fi that allows me to transfer images from the camera to my iPhone 6 or iPad Mini in the field and post to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts within seconds.
Yes, this isn’t a new camera, in fact it’s been around for a year or so. There are the rumors of a updated body coming soon, but for students, it’s a fantastic entry level camera, especially right now. You can purchase an a6000 with 16-50 kit lens for under $600 (with the instant rebate Sony is currently offering through 9/26/2015). It’s a great starter camera for students who want to begin building a camera system. I always tell my students to buy the best possible glass (lens) they can afford and not worry about getting the latest, greatest bodies. The glass will last and you upgrade your camera bodies as you progress in your career. That doesn’t mean you by the cheapest body, look for the best possible prosumer body you can find.