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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.




The effort

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/2.0, 1/800sec, ISO100, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 2/25 – f/2.0, 1/800sec, ISO100, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

In previous post I argued that having a perfect camera setup is all about the experiences and memories one creates with it. While I certainly think this way, it sounds a bit mono causal, like I would suggest that all other things are meaningless in the end. The world is never simplex and there are always many things that affect us, others and everything in general. So as much ‘it’s all about experiences’, the perfect camera setup also requires effort on my part. I need to strive my best to feel that I’m getting into flow, experiencing it and capturing the shots I will appreciate later on. Maybe ‘effort’ isn’t really a right word for this kind space photography takes in my life as it sometimes means finding new things, rethinking my approach, admiring visual things on intellectual or emotional level and other similar stuff – but often it is just that: an effort. In short, to be inspired and passionate about my photography and capturing those moments, I feel I need to put effort and time into it.

This is also a point where it comes meaningful to consider what you have in your camera bag. To be inspired it is important to find the tools that speaks to you in both intellectual and emotional level. The tools you are using should align with the way you approach photography and support your efforts. For many years, before I was bitten by a photo bug, I had to use those dreadful pocket cameras for my photography needs. I have always been a visual person and I definitely had an itch for photography, but I never found it with those compromised camera apparatuses with silver plastic, small retractile lenses and pretentious names. I understand that some people just want to ‘get the pictures’ and be done with it, but as long as I’m interested in photography I need to be inspired for what I do and doing it with some ‘general camera’ isn’t going to cut it. Whenever I see those silver pocket cameras I just cannot help but to feel uninspired about their compromises as they seem to take away almost everything that is inspiring in photography – and don’t get me started with the smartphone cameras as they are pretty much a categorical replacement for those dreadful pocket cameras.

Standard DSLRs are definitely much better, but it’s interesting to note that I never aligned with them either. To me they were always too much designed for the technology-orientated photographers, and while being a newbie in photography, they made photography look difficult and very technical (though it wouldn’t bother me today). On an intellectual level they were right, for example that professional image quality they delivered, but their aesthetics didn’t align with me emotionally. I felt that if I would carry that black interchangeable camera with a zoom lens, I would also surrender to a certain kind of subject position which would guide my photography perhaps into wrong direction. In short, although the DSLRs would have given me a promise of professional image quality, I couldn’t find myself from the concept. I wanted to be more a culture- than technology-oriented photographer and the traditional DSLR-concept just didn’t inspire me (though I knew they were used by many professionals all over the world capturing everything from a to z).

Maybe it was a novelty of mirrorless cameras or just a happy accident, but eventually I found Sony’s Nex-5N (with the SEL50F18) to be perfectly inspiring to my photography itch. The concept it posed was free from earlier presumptions of how one should use it for his own photography, and to be honest, it was also simple enough for me to learn the basics and be inspired by my own photography (but still retaining that great image quality) – and like I have already said many times it became a perfect setup for me. I was able to convoy my inspiration with this setup and some prime lenses, it aligned with my skill level and supported my photography. But after couple of years intensive shooting I eventually felt I had used it all up and there was a new kind of photographer inside of me who wanted a different kind of camera. Capturing almost 100 000 images with the help of rear LCD-screen finally made me realize that I needed a camera which would have more traditional approach to photography and most importantly a viewfinder. I wanted to have a camera that I would be able to use like a camera, but I would not get the DSLR. Luckily the Sony had come out with A7-serie and once I saw it for the first time I knew that would be the camera which would fit into my approach perfectly. Uncompromised image quality with a non-DSLR-like body which would give me opportunity to put that inspiring effort into my photography and make me enjoy the process. Of course the Sony A7 isn’t perfect (for example, I would love to have touch screen and get rid of the sensor reflection issues of the vanilla A7 model), but it has been successful in my photography to sustain the flow and keep me there where I want to push my photography and be inspired by it. If this sounds that I’m pretty happy with it, it is because I am. It enables me to ‘be there’, put effort into it, and if lucky, capture it.