Photographer vs Gear
Now you’re probably wondering what I mean by this...Photographer vs Gear? It’s not even possible, right?
Let me explain. For the past 2 years, I have been a full-time professional photographer.
I work with a lot of different subject types from guests at Weddings, babies in my studio, product photography right through to my main subject Cars, and quite often cars and landscapes at the same time. My job covers a good chunk of the photography spectrum.
Questioning my gear
Now here is the thing. I find myself getting asked by a lot of people what gear I use.
I know people are just making conversation, perhaps they are interested in photography themselves, but it can come across a little insulting. I feel judged by what camera I am using, and more often than not how much it cost.
This leaves me feeling like I have to prove not only to myself but to others too, that the gear has nothing to do with it really.
A tool of the trade
Anyone who knows me will have heard me say a camera is just a tool. I’m a bit like a mechanic with their tools. They invest in them so they can do a better job. This doesn’t mean to say they will do a worse job with cheaper tools, it may just take them a little longer.
So my journey started here. I wanted to prove to people that it wasn’t the camera producing the images, it was the skill of the person behind it.
I have various cameras, from fairly decent through to Pro cameras, but for this test to work though I wanted something that was common and relatively cheap.
Bargain camera hunting
After some thought, I gave myself a budget of £30. There are plenty of second-hand cameras out there, I could even get a new one from Amazon or Argus if needs be.
Older, good quality cameras are in abundance, you just have to look. It took me a few days but I found a suitable Fujifilm example for £20 through the Facebook marketplace.
So I was now the new owner of a second hand Fujifilm S6800, in white.
Full model Name: Fujifilm FinePix S6800
Sensor size:1/2.3 inch(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens:30.00x zoom(24-720mm eq.)
Extended ISO:64 - 12,800
Shutter:1/2000 - 8 sec
Dimensions:4.8 x 3.7 x 3.9 in.(122 x 93 x 100 mm)
Weight:18.4 oz (523 g)includes batteries.
For a full rundown of the specs please visit here:
Initial thoughts: good and bad
The first thing I noticed about this camera was its weight. I have been shooting with heavy cameras for years and this was really light and a joy to hold. The grip is reasonably large so it felt comfortable in my chubby hands. I also like the fact it runs off of 4 AA batteries, which can be picked up pretty much anywhere, making it unlikely that I would run out of power mid-session (I always carry spares).
It also uses an SD card the same as my Pro end cameras. The sensor is a 16mp one, which is a pleasant surprise due to how little I paid - I was thinking I might be lucky to get 10mp with the budget I had set. It’s not a massive factor and I will go into that in more detail later.
Tilting the other way
The first bad thing (in comparison to my daily camera) I noticed was no tilt screen. A fixed flush rear screen is a pain. There are a lot of people that will tell you that you’re pro you don’t need a tilt screen. The Canon pro end cameras do not have a tilt screen. I can tell you from experience and being a car photographer that for me (maybe not everyone) this is a big game-changer. I much prefer a camera with a tilt screen. It enables unusual angles and ease of use for low shots.
I also didn’t like the build quality. It felt very cheap. I wasn’t expecting much from it as it was cheap to buy but if I drop it then I don’t expect to pick it up again, at least not in one piece.
The fixed lens is a bit of a pain too. It means I can’t change the lens at any point nor upgrade it. This also leads to poor low light photos due to the F-stop's lowest 3.1
I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for weddings or low light photography.
On the plus side, It does have a pop-up flash to combat this, but we all know how harsh they can be, and with a lack of a hot shoe, there is no option for an off-camera flash.
To start I took the camera out on a couple of evenings with a local photography group that I run in Worthing. I took the Fuji and my usual pro camera. My first outing was to just to make sure the camera was fully working and to get around the menu system. I didn’t use it much but I did take a few shots and tried a few different settings. It seemed ok but time would tell.
Full steam ahead
After using the camera a couple of times I was confident that I knew my way around the menu system enough for me to delve into an evening with the Fuji alone. I left my pro end cameras at home and attended one of the Tuesday evening meetings with the group with just my £20 Fujifilm s6800.
I felt confident and believed it would do what I needed it too. The meetings start at 7 pm so it wasn’t long before the sun disappeared and it became dark. Living in Worthing we are lucky enough to have a fantastic pier and lots of other attractions that are stunning to photograph. This particular evening we started near the pier so it felt natural to head that way due to the sun going down and looking like God was about to give us a stunning sunset.
Armed with the Fuji I set about a wide-angle landscape shot of the beach and buildings with a sunset behind. After the sun had disappeared and the glow of yellow faded I decided to walk back along the pier. I thought to myself I don’t need any more of the sunset due to living here and I wanted try different scenarios with this camera. I walked back along the east side of the pier as it has a central divider cutting the path in half.
Things get interesting.
For the next shot, I used a tripod due to the decrease in light. ISO100, a shutter speed of 1second and an aperture of f8. The divider has various images and glass panels in it that are sponsored by local people/charities. It gave me a great chance to spot this shot of the new WOW (Wheel of Worthing) attraction through a doorway entrance, making it look like it was one of the panes of glass further down the walkway.
I was really pleased with the photo, little did I know that it would prove so popular. I posted in a local Facebook group called Worthing past and present and it got a huge amount of likes, 600+. One of my most popular photos yet.
Various comments were also put stating how good it is and how lovely etc. This was all great, but for me, the real proof that I had been successful was being approached by a lady asking to purchase a canvas of it.
In some ways ironic as I started to panic that maybe the quality wouldn’t be good enough for a canvas. I had never produced a canvas before, let alone on a camera that I had barely used. I needn’t have worried.
After a discussion with the client, we decided on a size suitable for her and a little over a week later I delivered this to her door.
My personal opinion is that you don’t need an expensive camera to take stunning images. It’s all in the eye of the person holding the camera. This experiment just proved that for me and made my feelings on this subject even stronger.
Please don’t get me wrong there are times where you will need something a lot better. More functions, better lenses, weather-sealed the list in numerous.
I just believe that if you learn photography well and get to grips with it, then you should be able to take a decent picture on whatever camera you are handed.
I hope that this will help someone new to photography, a beginner or even someone a bit more advanced. Either way, I hope you enjoyed it.
If you have any questions message me [email protected]
The camera photo is a stock image. I own the copyright to all the other images on this blog. They were taken on the Fujifilm Camera mentioned in the blog.
I have been saying for the last few months, there must be an A9ii round the corner. I am looking at a potential upgrade to my camera gear. My current one is dying a slow painful death after a good battering over the years and a couple of repairs.
Sony recently released a Sony A7iv but I have been trying to resist the urge because I had a feeling this was not far from release. This morning I saw that it is now available for pre-order at Jessops. This confirms my suspicions. If you are a Sony fanboy or even just curious then you can see the link here : https://www.jessops.com/p/sony/a9-ii-mirrorless-camera-body-180920
Specs are as follows :
|Continuous Shooting Speed (fps)||20fps|
|Lens Fitting||Sony E|
|Focusing Modes||One-shot AF, Continuous AF, Manual|
|Megapixel Banding||20 - 30|
|ISO Speed Range||100 - 204800 (extended)|
|Exposure Modes||Program, Aperture Priority, Picture Modes, Manual|
|MegaPixel (Effective Resolution)||24.2 megapixels|
|White Balance Modes||Auto, Preset, White Balance Bracketing, Custom|
|Weight (g)||678 g|
|Max Image Resolution||6000 x 4000|
|Metering Modes||Evaluative, Centre Weighted, Spot|
|4K Video Recording||Yes|
|Compatible storage media (card not supplied)||Memory Stick PRO, SDXC, Memory Stick Duo, Mem Stick PRO Duo , SD Card, SDHC Card|
|Sensor Size (WxH mm)||35.6 x 23.8mm|
|Body Dimensions (WxHxD) mm||128.9 x 96.4 x 77.5mm|
The Sony Alpha 9 II is the successor the impressive a9, maintaining ground breaking speed performance including blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking, 60 times per second AF/AE calculations while incorporating even more functionality. Updates include significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, evolved AF performance with newly optimised algorithms, a re-designed build to enhance durability and operability and more.
Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with integral memory
α9 II is the mirrorless camera that delivers next-generation high-speed performance far exceeding SLRs. It’s equipped with the outstanding 35 mm stacked CMOS image sensor with integral memory for impressively fast overall readout speed. This 24.2 MP image sensor achieves high sensitivity of up to ISO 204800 (extended) with the design of back-illuminated structure.
High-speed BIONZ X image processing engine
The camera's image-processing algorithms represent the latest generation of advancements, allowing higher levels of natural tonal gradations and more stable AWB for continuous shooting.
Uncompromised image quality
The combination of a 24.2 effective megapixel16 integral-memory full-frame stacked CMOS image sensor and the latest-generation BIONZ X make possible high-sensitivity performance up to ISO 5120017, high dynamic range, and support for 14-bit RAW output and 16-bit image processing. Together, they help capture maximum detail and image quality while reproducing rich tonal gradations and natural colour, such as human skin.
Blackout-free Shooting with Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder
n continuous shooting, the electronic shutter system banishes blackout interruption typical of optical viewfinders, and the high-speed image sensor eliminates distracting EVF display lag. A high 120fps refresh rate minimises display blurring of moving subjects, and, the Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approx. 3.68 million-dot high resolution, employs ZEISS® T* Coating to reduce reflections, and a dirt-repelling fluorine coating on the outer lens to enhance usability on location.
Incredibly fast continuous shooting
Thanks to the α9 II’s incredible speed, continuous shooting is possible at up to 20fps with the electronic shutter and 10fps with the mechanical shutter, to capture fast-moving subjects with either shutter mode, and even at its highest speed, the flash can be synchronised with the mechanical shutter.
Body-integrated 5-axis optical image stabilisation
The body-integrated image stabilisation system is fine-tuned to compensate accurately for 5-axis camera shake that can compromise handheld shooting. This gives you extremely high performance in both stills and movies, whether shooting at longer focal lengths, in close-ups, or at night. It is equivalent to using a 5.5-step34 faster shutter speed, allowing stable determination of composition when capturing subjects in high-speed motion.
AF/AE calculations up to 60 times/sec.
AF/AE is calculated up to 60 times per second20 and is virtually uninterrupted, both while composing the image and even upon releasing the shutter. Continuous AF/AE—operated on the image sensor—locks onto and tracks erratically moving subjects with high speed, precision, and reliability. Additionally, AWB Lock capability, makes it possible to lock/unlock auto white balance operation at any time, which is useful in mixed lighting situations where natural and man-made light sources coexist.
High-speed 1/32000 sec. Anti-distortion shutter
A result of Sony’s image sensor innovation, this shutter achieves speeds up to 1/32000 sec. beyond the limits of mechanical systems. Additionally, the high curtain speed of the electronic shutter suppresses rolling shutter effect to excellently capture moving subjects during sports and other fast-moving activities.
Explore the advantages of high-speed silent shooting with a shutter that is fully digital—without a physical mechanism. The electronic shutter allows silent shooting without mechanical mirror and shutter noise. It's ideal for sports and subjects that demand quiet operation, greatly expanding camera versatility.
4D FOCUS means highly accurate subject detection, reliable rapid autofocusing, and continuous tracking of subjects in motion, based on uninterrupted AF and an optimised AF algorithm as well as the approximately 93% AF coverage from 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that track random subject motion even during shutter release.
The Real-time Tracking technology uses AI to detect moving subjects from the wealth of information captured by the image sensor. Spatial data consisting of colour, pattern (brightness) and distance information are processed in parallel at high speed, and human and animal face and eye location data are detected continuously in real time using AI, realising high-accuracy with automatic detection and tracking performance for moving subjects.
Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals
Real-time Eye AF relies on advanced AI to continuously analyse and detect eyes from the image sensor’s copious data, with left or right eye preference possible with a simple toggle. By half-pressing the shutter button, even animal eyes are detected. Team it up with Real-time Tracking for superior tracking performance of live subjects.
High-resolution 4K movie recording
The camera is capable of 4K movie recording with full-pixel readout without pixel binning. You can enjoy detail-rich, full-frame movies via the oversampling effect achieved by condensing approximately 2.4 times the amount of data required for 4K (6K equivalent) for 4K output (QFHD: 3840 x 2160). Additionally, the XAVC-S42 format is supported at bit rates as high as 100 Mbps.
AF improvements for movie shooting
When shooting 4K movies, the camera provides control of high speed, precision, and tracking performance, via adjustable tracking sensitivity, for smooth, stable AF movie shooting. More pronounced slow focus effects are now possible, and Real-time Eye AF is now also applicable when shooting movies, detecting and tracking eyes with high focus accuracy, which is critical when shooting 4K.
Versatile movie recording functions
The α9 II provides a wide array of functions to facilitate movie shooting workflows, including interval recording, clean HDMI output, time code/user bits (TC/UB), REC Control, marker display/setting, zebra function, Slow and Quick Motion, simultaneous proxy movie recording, and extraction and separate storage of a still from a movie, among others. A combination with the ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit, via the new digital audio interface, enables clear sound recording with minimised quality deterioration by sending a digital audio signal to the camera.
Support for faster data transfer; 5GHz Wi-Fi and USB 3.2 Gen 1
Connectivity has been improved, with new support for the IEEE 802.11ac 5GHz band Wi-Fi® when the camera is connected in wireless mode, along with the camera's USB Type-CTM terminal that supports USB 3.2 Gen 1.
Faster FTP transfer
You can directly transfer images to an FTP server with significantly higher speed via the camera's LAN terminal that supports the Ethernet 1000BASE-T standard. It is also possible to upload images to an FTP server through an available wireless access point, and the camera supports either transfer mode in the background while shooting. Up to nine servers may be pre-registered for fast menu selection.
A refined multi-selector, with a new surface texture for enhanced button response, lets you shift point of focus quickly and intuitively. With a thought for pro users, an improved grip shape reduces fatigue, and there is a new Exposure Compensation Dial Lock Button to increase operational security. In addition, the location and the AF-ON and other key buttons have been analysed for better feel and response. These improvements enhance your concentration on shutter release to "capture the moment" instantly.
Reliable durability and weather resistance
The α9 II brings you further enhanced body durability, with full use of lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy for covers and internal frame, keeping the camera highly rigid and light. In response to pro opinions, enhanced sealing is applied to the battery cover, terminal cover and all joints in the chassis. A double-sealed sliding mechanism replaces the hinge to the media compartment lid for better moisture resistance. Routes to dust and moisture entry have been re-examined, and a cushion around the lens mount has been added to ensure reliable operation in challenging environments.
Full credit to Jessops for the info.
Now the question is do I bite the bullet and upgrade?