When I got my first interchangeable lens camera, the Sony a7II, I was still shooting with my Canon gear for all my professional work. So far, my Sony RX1 was a very handy third body that I brought with me for all my gigs. But, I still had the butterflies — the fear of the unknown. Can I actually shoot all my regular work on a Sony mirrorless system? Well, I had an opportunity to find out for myself that very same week.
I got a last minute call for an editorial shoot. A Canadian lifestyle magazine needed some photos of Basilwood Farm, a small local farm that made organic goat milk soap. I happened to know the lovely family that owned the farm. I’ve shot family portraits for them in the past as well as some senior portraits and the weddings of both daughters — I’m practically family. So it was a no brainer, I wanted to shoot this project. I also knew that this was going to be a fun and laid-back shoot, and I thought that this might be the best environment to exclusively shoot with my new mirrorless camera. I only had one lens so far, the Sony-Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8, which I thought was a perfect fit for the type of images the magazine needed for the article.
The morning of the shoot, I packed my bag with the Sony a7II and the 55mm lens. As a backup, I brought my Sony RX1, just in case I needed some wider shots. And as a back up to my back up, I took one Canon 5D Mark II with a 35mm lens and an 85mm lens, just in case something goes wrong with the a7II.
A few things stood out to me during this all-mirrorless shoot. First is the experience of viewing every shot with an electronic viewfinder. It’s definitely a whole new world coming from the realm of DSLRs. You just have to get used to it, and comfort only comes with time. The decision to shoot this project with only this camera was a good one. It forced me to get over the jolt of using the EVF, and just concentrate on the composition and the moment.
The shoot went smoothly and I didn’t have to use any of my back up equipment. I came away with a great appreciation of having to use only one lens for a project. I think this also forced me to forget about the gear and just think about the content.
When you are ready to do your first mirrorless-only shoot. I definitely recommend this approach. Eliminate as many variables as you can. Being bound to one camera body and one lens actually gave me less things to think about and more time to get used to the ergonomics of the camera. After ten to fifteen minutes of shooting, I felt more comfortable with the camera already, which gave me the luxury of allocating more energy on the photographs instead of the photography gear.
I drove to the farm that day with butterflies in my stomach. But I quickly learned that photography is photography, no matter what camera you’re shooting. Practice a ton and know your equipment. Know it enough that it just disappears in your hands, and start making photographs. Thankfully, in no time, I went from butterflies to goats.
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