Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Lone Wolf Scenario

Sony a200 DSLR

In the professional photography arena, being special and unique in the equipment you use and to be known that way comes at a cost. Ever since I wanted to buy a DSLR I have always craved somehow for ‘off’ brands like Panasonic, Fuji, Sony instead of the mainstream Canon and Nikon. At that time my amateur mind could not deduce the risks and retributions that were going to come my way if I chose an ‘off’ brand.  I wanted to be seen as and remain special among my peers and have an air of exclusivity around me.  I would look down upon anyone with a Canon and Nikon. For me they were lesser mortals. At that time I didn't know soon I was going to be rewarded for that foolishness and a lot of things were in store for me.

When I went up to the camera store to check some cameras offered for sale, I was lucky to find the almost brand new Sony a200. So I chose it instead of the beaten down, overused Nikon D50 and D40x. See, by itself the Sony a200 is not a bad camera. It belongs along with the D40, D50 and D60 with more or less similar specs, size and build quality.  Before going to the store I did do my research and check pictures online. I was more than satisfied. Additionally I also asked around if it was a good buy inspite of the fact that I was going to buy it anyway. People advised me against it. Lot of reasons - new system, costly and a few number of lenses, untried, but I went ahead and bought it anyway.

Fujifilm S5 Pro

Initially everything was smooth sailing, picture quality was amazing, semi automatic modes were phenomenal. For general purposes it was a great camera. Few days later when I started to use the camera for weddings and other shoots things started to unravel one by one. 

At a wedding where I was called as a backup photographer I had great difficulty to achieve synchronization with my fellow photographer. All I had was the 18-70 kit lens and 70 mm was as far as I could get. I couldn’t use his lenses, I couldn’t use his camera triggers or flashes, strobe sync was possible only if the built in flash fired and it is dangerously delicate, prone to malfunction and crash even with a mild overuse (as of oct 2013 it isnt working anymore, but I didnt need it anyaway, I am now using the Sony FA-HS1AM adapter for the hot shoe to mount third party triggers and flashes). I was now facing the ‘Lone Wolf Scenario’.      

It is not only important to make a great camera, it is essential to understand things from the photographer’s perspective. Some camera companies rarely do that. Money is the major motivation.  You make profit, fine, but give me something to feel happy about.
When Sony entered the DSLR arena with Minolta and Zeiss’s muscles, it was indeed a new leaf for photographers and industry, but how far will you get by being extremely proprietary? 

Leica M9 Black

Thankfully just recently Sony introduced its hot shoe adapter which can be used for third party flashes, triggers etc. It debuted in the market at INR 7999, yes you read that right Rs.7999. When I recently checked the latest Sony catalogue the price listed was INR 1999, INR 6000 less. Its very uncharacteristic of Sony to reduce the prices so drastically but sure is a welcome change. 

 Pentax K-30

Amateur DSLR market is probably the most crowded presently with sellers offering cutting edge cameras that are ready to compete with even pro cameras. These amateur cameras serve their purposes in the amateur market. When it’s a DSLR like a Sony a200, it is possible that professionals will use it as a backup or main camera and it becomes an imperative task for the manufacturers to address compatibility factors and bring into the market a camera that is versatile as well as seamless for professional use. If that does not happen photographers will continue to face the ‘Lone Wolf Scenario’ and might develop disdain and disenchantment for particular brands. I hope somebody at Sony is reading this. 

-Viisshnu Vardhan-