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One year with Sony Alpha cameras and ZEISS E-mount lenses. Developing my own photographic eye in a in a scratch book manner. Hunting the stream of inspiration and sharing it through a popular blog platform.
This is what 'Days of Zeiss' is all about.




My new setup

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Loxia 2/50 – f/2.0, 1/60sec, ISO2500, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Loxia 2/50 – f/2.0, 1/60sec, ISO2500, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Time to talk a little bit about the new camera setup I'm using for this project. As you probably already know, I have a superb Zeiss & Sony based camera system in my use for this project and one goal of this project is to share my experiences with you regarding this setup (read more about it here). Now, I'll be the first one to say that I'm sincerely grateful to have this opportunity because it's much more that I could really afford 'in real life'. Actually it might be even a bit more, since in the back of my mind I like to think that this is really a once-in-a-lifetime setup and something I will surely remember even at the older days – one of those rare cherries that life has decided to toss me with all the other junk it throws at me, hah! So, I'm naturally very happy about it.

But it wasn't always like this. Like anyone who is starting with photography, I too had to put up with a very modest kit at the start. Years ago I only had a Sony Nex-5N with a kit lens, the original SEL1855 (3.5-5.6/18-55). As the kit lens was way too slow for indoor photography and I also wanted to have that shallow depth of field in my photographs, I counted my pennies very seriously and got myself the SEL50F18 (50/1.8). And that was it – I had two lenses for everything. From the image quality's point of view the SEL50F18 was a great lens that I used a lot. Equipped with the optical image stabilizer it was perfect for low light photography and I loved taking it out on streets at night. However, in small spaces and indoors it was a bit bulky and I had to resort for the kit lens which had convenient focal range, but was kind of 'meh' when it came to optical quality. In short, I was living within compromises, and of course, dreamed about a better setup like anyone who is just starting out with photography.

About year ago I was lucky and had an opportunity to switch my Sony Nex-5N to Sony Alpha 7, which had a full frame sensor and was much more 'a serious camera' than the Nex-5N. At the start I thought I could afford to upgrade my APS-C lenses to native FE-lenses pretty soon, but unfortunately I was wrong and had to make it with the Touit 2.8/12 and the Touit 2.8/50M. While these were very fine lenses, they had quite a gap between them in terms of focal length and they didn't utilize the whole image circle of the full frame sensor. Even if I absolutely preferred the ergonomics of the Sony A7, I was left with the camera setup that wasn't so much better than what I had with the Sony Nex-5N. To be truthful, it was actually worse, since the focal lengths that I had didn't mix so well with many of the real life situations that I encountered. So even if I had a better camera, I was still dreaming to be unchained from the limitations of my setup.

Then fast forward to year 2016 and the rest of the story you already know. This project has enabled me, with the kind help of my supporters, to use the camera setup that will finally set me free from the earlier limitations. I have access to full frame camera system that offers fast lenses in many essential focal ranges (18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm plus 75mm macro). So how does it suddenly feel to be freed from the compromises and to have that setup that I could only dream about some years ago? To be truthful, it feels kind of overwhelming. While I used years to explore the Sony Nex-5N with the SEL50F18 almost permanently attached to it and learned my system from the inside-out, I'm now facing several different kind of lenses which are still strangers to me – I don't know them in the context of my own photography and I haven't yet learn put their own unique characteristics in practice. In other words, there's a lot to learn before I can truly say that this is my setup.

For what it matters, the Nex-5N, even with inferior technical abilities and some irritating details, has been the most successful camera for me to this day. As anyone knows, it takes many successful photography experiences to really start loving your setup – and these successful experiences are really 'the thing' I'm looking for in the year 2016. I look forward to overthrown the Nex-5N.