MORE WITH MIRRORLESS: Using The Sony E Mount System

In my previous blog post, I discussed how I incorporate the tiny Nikon 1 system into my equipment bag. However, this tiny system wasn’t an option to replace my bulky DSLRs on my side gig: shooting stills and videos of waterfalls.

After searching for a lighter option than my full-frame Nikons for the hiking trails, I decided to go with the Sony E-Mount System.

SEA102414-092_3_4_fused

My first gig with the system was on a waterfall trip to the Pacific Northwest last fall. I paired two a6000 bodies with a Sony E 10-18mm f4 and a Sony Zeiss E 16-70mm f4. A body paired with the 10-18mm f4 weighs a fraction over 20 ounces, lightening my pack by a considerable amount. As any serious hiker knows, pack weight is one of the most important issues with any distance hiking.

Combined with a Sony ECM-XYST1M Stereo Microphone and a Sony RM-VPR1 Remote Control, the system proved to be a capable alternative to my regular DSLR system.

Once I returned to South Florida, I started to ponder how I could incorporate this investment into my sports workflow. Pairing the a6000 and the 10-18mm f4 with a monopod, ball head and a Flash Zebra extended-length remote led to the image below.

Miami Hurricanes Fans
2014 Miami Hurricanes Football vs Florida State

Extending the monopod allowed me to get the camera up to and above the fan’s level. While this was a nice image, it was hardly justification to keep this system around for sports. Fortunately, that 11fps burst rate had kept calling me for experimentation, so I had purchased a Sony E 70-200mm f4 and headed for that week’s Dolphins game:

The above three images were made with an a6000 and the 70-200. The a6000 has an articulating screen so the camera was on the ground for these shots. For game action, I usually love to be as low to the ground as I can get, which is not easy for a 6’ 2” man. This combo made it a breeze. The combination is quick and responsive, allowing me to capture the defining moment in these images.

Adrienne Motley
2015 Miami Hurricanes Women’s Basketball vs Notre Dame

Once basketball season arrived, I paired the two a6000 bodies and the two aforementioned short zooms with small tripods and the RM-VPR1 wired remotes and placed one next to each of my knees on the end of the basketball floor. The shot above is from a Sony a6000 placed to my right, and the shot below is from a Sony a6000 placed to my left.

JCR010315-046

Third party manufacturers are making lenses compatible with Sony’s E mount. I’ve recently purchased a Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye II and a Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 Circular Fisheye. Each sell for about $300 and add an alternative view to my toolkit.

Like with my Nikon 1 System blog, I don’t delve into specifications much as I prefer to discuss how these alternative mirrors systems fit into my toolkit and workflow. There are plenty of sites and blogs out there that get into technical specs and comparisons.

After a season of experimentation with the E-mount system, I’m sold. My three-body, five-lens kit fits neatly into a Nanuk 930 case. I regularly use the a6000/70-200 combo to shoot select sports (softball, tennis, and rowing) as the quality rivals my Nikon DSLR and the cost of operation (depreciation) is much less. The a6000 currently sells for 1/10th the price of a Nikon D4s. The third party fisheye lenses cost much less than their name brand equivalent, so I don’t have a ton of money tied up into lenses that I only use on occasion.

While this system isn’t going to replace my Nikons, it serves as a nice compliment to them, allowing me additional looks and angles to my traditional coverage during assignments, and will take a significant number of shutter actuations away from them.

2015 Miami Hurricanes Men's Tennis vs Florida Atlantic
2015 Miami Hurricanes Men’s Tennis vs Florida Atlantic

UPDATE: After a year of experimentation, I sold off my Sony gear and ventured into Fuji territory. In the end, I didn’t like the lenses, with the exception of the 70-200 f4. Shortly after I made the move, Sony offered its first OSS f2.8 lenses, which are competitive with Nikon and Canon pro lenses.

Published by

JC Ridley

JC Ridley is the long-time team photographer for the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Atlantic Owls, with over 25 years of experience in the photography industry. His images have been published in numerous publications, including Sports Illustrated. JC even spent seven seasons as a contributing photographer for the National Football League.

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