Photokina Report: Gear We’ve Taken

It’s Friday and and for us at least, the day to wrap up our Photokina Experience. We head to London tomorrow and get back home to South Africa on Tuesday, so long as there are no flight delays. Its has been exciting so far – and this is by no means the concluding post – however in the very little spare time we have had, we have tried to be tourists and I thought you may like to know what gear we’ve been using.

We must give a big thank you to Sony South Africa for making some of the latest gear available to us to mix with our own.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55

This new machine is certainly a game changer, not just for Sony but for traditional DSLR photography in general. We have been amazed by the speed and accuracy of it’s continuous autofocus in both HD Video and the Speed Priority Mode which gives 10 frames per second with focus tracking.

We will bring you a complete review in the coming days as to what the camera is like to travel with and use on a day to day basis. It is a pre-production sample and that means we have picked up one or two small issues here and there, but over all this camera has surprised us a little where we thought we would be disappointed.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A580

If you are familiar with Sony’s Alpha A550 then this camera feels almost identical. The main improvement is in the new 16mp CMOS sensor and the inclusion of AVCHD Video. It is important to note that there is not autofocus in video with this camera.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A850

We use two of these cameras and they are our regular stable diet. There is something about this camera that instills confidence and feels so right. It could just be my old school emotions coming through but this camera feels more like my film based home beginnings than any other digital I have used thus far.

Sony DT 35mm f/1.8 SAM

This is one of the new lenses Sony announced when the released the A55 and A33. On an APS-C camera it takes the place of the trusty old 50mm first impressions are positive. It is a bit on the plastic side which could be improved a bit but no more so than the DT 50mm f/1.8 is.

Sony 85mm f/1.8 SAM

If you don’t to check the righting on the lens you would say that this is the exact same lens at the DT 35mm f/1.8. They share the same lens hood and look identical. The difference is that this lens is full frame. I will admit I cant see why I would buy this if I have bought and A850 or A900 (particularly when what you really want is the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 SSM) but there it is in the lens range. One can’t help wondering maybe if Sony have a cheaper full frame up their sleeves with this lens being out there?

Sony DT 18-250mm

When travelling I tend to be less of a snob and am far more open to using big range zoom lenses I would normally not like. My one complaint here is that this lens does not have an internal SSM or SAM motor which is not ideal if you want to use it for shooting video.

Sony DT 11-18mm

This is by no means a new lens for Sony either, and yet we have learnt something new about it that was a little surprising and we are still testing out. In a push, you can use this on a full frame body. In the view finder it vignettes and does make composing a bit of a challenge the results look fine on the back. As far as we recall the A850 and A900 do not automatically reset to APS-C when a DT lens is used on them and this is what we want to still test out.

Vanguard Espod Plus 233CB

We were very fortunate to get our hands on this light weight carbon fiber tripod almost on our way out the door to Photokina (a big thank you to Fotacs the agents in South Africa). This tripod weight in at only 1.3kg and comes with a small ball head as well. We have had limited space to use it at the show due to the crowds but it hasn’t been as big a burden to carry as our usual tripod would have been. We will be sure to give you a more details review in the days to come.

Carrying it All.

Greg has been carrying all his gear in a Think Tank Streetwalker Harddrive which is tough and durable taking stacks or gear and up to a 15inch laptop. My bag is the Kata DR 467 also capable of taking a large laptop (not that it has had to do so with a little Sony Vaio VPC-W217 Netbook in there) some gear in the bottom and with a day pack section at the top there has been room for brochures, snack and cables for chargers etc.

Sony Vaio VPC-W217

That is right, I like to travel lite and since my main job is just the writing or blogging I opted to take Sony current netbook offering. This model has a larger long life batter and yet I have hardly noticed any difference in weight over my usual netbook of choice. With a fantastic 10inch screen – small I know but I am not editing – this has been a great travel buddy for this trip. I will be sure to give a full review soon.