My Undiscovered Country in Sony Shooting

Where I work there is a formal, company sponsored photo club. They have a budget and they have funded events where they go together to an arboretum or a museum and talk about equipment and techniques.  They have a charter and code of conduct.  They include everyone and value everyone’s contribution.  They give out tee shirts at the end of the year.

I don’t belong to that club.  Life’s too short.  I get together with about four or five guys who work there at lunch time.  We’ll go to a park or walk down the street or try to find a building that’s interesting.    We also occasionally take over a conference room during the lunch hour and throw our personal off hours photo results up on the big screen that usually features power point presentations of diversity training or unconscious bias hectoring or whatever else Big Brother needs us to absorb that week.

And some of these guys are pretty good.  It’s spring, and from a photographic point of view there’s finally a reason to live.  Normally we would already have gone out on a lunch time jaunt to see the dogwoods and weeping cherry trees in bloom.  But this year several of these guys have been shanghaied into a shift change to work on a big engineering project.  All of that ends on Friday, May 11th. To celebrate my brethren’s release from bondage I’ve scheduled an outing for the next Wednesday to a park that we hope will feature birds and bees and flowers and trees.  Maybe even a few butterflies.  And to make it interesting for me I’ve reserved a few lenses from a rental company for two weeks starting May 11th.  I’ve rented the Sigma MC-11  EF to E mount adapter and the Sigma EF mount version of their 150 – 600 Sports zoom and their 180mm f\2.8 macro lens.  I watched a video that the The Camera Store guys made testing out the MC-11 with Sigma EF mount lenses on one of the modern (A9 or third generation A7  cameras) Sony full-frames.  They rated the autofocus performance almost exactly as good as Sony native glass.  Now there is a catch.  It’s only warranted to be that good with certain lenses.  The Art and Sports series are covered.  So the 150-600 is in that group.  The 180 macro is not.  I spoke to the rental company and they didn’t know one way or the other.  But they did say I should try it.  Of course I’m the one paying for the privilege but I figured it was worth a shot.  So in about two weeks I’ll have something to say about the A7 III, the MC-11 and birds in flight.  Sony has never allowed me to even try such a photographic feat but here we are, a brave new world.  And with any any luck the 180 macro will prove to be good for butterfly shots.  Currently my only long macro is the Minolta 200mm f\4.  But it’s screw drive and if I want autofocus I have to use LA-EA4 with its “translucent mirror.”  For me that’s something of a compromise.  If the 180mm and the MC-11 combination turns out to have pretty good autofocus I will most probably buy those two items and retire the 200 mm to static macro and short telephoto opportunities with the LA-EA3.

So this is just me salivating in anticipation of the opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks.  To say that I’m impatient would be the greatest example of understatement since Jack Swigert said “Houston we have a problem.”  So stay tuned.  If you’re a Sony shooter these tests will give you information on options that aren’t currently available in the native Sony e-mount ecosystem.  And, even if they were, the cost would be prohibitive even to someone with my gear obsessed psyche.

2 thoughts on “My Undiscovered Country in Sony Shooting

  • May 6, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Curious: never rented a lens and wondering what it costs to rent a, say, $1200 unit?

    Also curious about the long macro lenses you’re talking about. Seems to me that the large proportion of the really brilliant macro shots that I’ve seen have been done with prime lenses right around 100mm. Despite the segments of my college physics courses devoted to optics, I’m light years away from what could be referred to as an optical engineer. But intuition is telling me that increasing magnification comes at the expense of the micrometer level of resolution that we hope to achieve from out best lenses.

    • May 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Here’s a link to that I use. This link goes to the Sony FE lenses (both Sony and third party). I’m not sure of the purchase price for the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 but I’ll bet it’s more than $1,200. The weekly rental for that lens is $135. Less expensive lenses are proportionally cheaper to rent. So this is not a good deal from an ownership perspective but works out for professionals who can write off the cost of a rental. Now I’m not a professional but as Camera Girl likes to remind me I make a habit of wasting money on a whim. But in my defense I’m actually interested in these two lenses so it’s not completely crazy.

      As far as macro lenses, Some of the best super magnified pictures I’ve seen ( )are done with a reversed 28 or 50 mm normal lens in complete manual mode, so yeah there’s no need for fancy gear. But I like using a long macro to give me a little space when shooting butterflies. Of course technique is a better way to handle that but I’m lazy so I like to lean on a monopod and let the autofocus do some of the work. When I had the A-850 I got decent autofocus with the Minolta 200 macro. But now I either have to use the LA-EA4 which involves a translucent mirror or the LA-EA3 and manual focus which is excruciating. So I’m in the market for another option. I’ve heard of photographers using a 300 mm lens and adding a space for closer focusing. Maybe I’ll try out the 150-600 on butterflies but only trying will tell. And finally I excuse the cost of renting by claiming it’s necessary for my blogging so excuses are easy to come by. Of course someday I’ll miss that money but I’m an optimist and hope an asteroid will finish off the planet before I run out of cash.


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