Thursday, 14 November 2013

Okarito Weekend Part 4 - Landscapes

In this last part of my Okarito weekend postings I want to look at landscapes and discuss using the Sony A100 in a bit more detail.

The A100 was Sony's first DSLR after acquiring Konica/Minolta in 2005, and was released one year later in 2006. That makes it a pretty old camera by today's super-techno standards, so it's got to be a pretty horrible image-maker, right?

Well, no, as it turns out. It's a 10MP, anti-shake, anti-dust, 2.5" lcd, 40 segment metering, 3fps, solid performer - albeit with a few design quirks.

Okarito Lagoon Sunrise. Sony A100 with Zeiss 24-70mm on f5.6 @ 500th
The body itself is rather plasticky - but it's a solid and durable plastic, so that's really not a complaint. The lens mount is metal, and the buttons and dials have a very positive and secure feel to them still - even though this is now an 8 year old camera. The camera has good heft when in the hand, although it does feel a little on the light side when paired with the Zeiss 24-70mm f2.8 lens. The camera weighs 638 g with battery, while the Zeiss is a whopping 955 g, so the combination is a little front-heavy. But you forget all that when you look at the images taken with this combination on the computer. The files from the A100 are rich, smooth (at the low ISO's) and plenty detailed enough.

3 Mile Lagoon, Okarito. Sony A100 with Minolta 100-200 on f5.6 @ 800th
On Saturday evening Stewart and I decided to head off to the Okarito Trig Station Lookout to catch sunset. It had been a beautiful day, but with no guarantees of a decent sunset as we made our way up the hill with tripods and camera gear in hand. We were told that it was an easy 30 minute walk up to the top, but I found the climb fairly hard-going and had to stop several times before reaching the lookout. I can remember thinking at about the half-way stage of the climb that 'this better be worth it'... but I needn't have worried. It was definitely worth it! We were treated to some magic evening light and almost couldn't believe our luck.

Okarito from Trig Station Lookout. Sony A100 with Minolta 100-200 on f5.6 @ 320th
To our left was a fantastic view of Okarito which framed up nicely with my Minolta 100-200mm lens. This is the view that most people who take the track up to the lookout are expecting to see and while it was certainly worth photographing, the really stunning view this evening came from our right, out towards 3 Mile Lagoon. Again, the 100-200mm gave me a great view of the light as it swept over the landscape and I can't believe the sharp, contrasty, beautiful images I'm capturing with this lens! It's a cracking lens and was unbelievable value (I got it as part of a film camera kit for about $40.00NZ).

3 Mile Lagoon. Sony A100 with Zeiss 24-70mm on f5.6 @ 320th
It was an amazing evening of shooting, and the A100 performed faultlessly.  I make sure to shoot at the lower ISO's with it (from 100 to 400), and I watch my shutter speeds (and the Steady Shot graph in the viewfinder) to make sure my shots will be crisp hand-held. And so far, so good. In fact, I'm rightly impressed.

What don't I like about the A100? The function dial on the top left of the camera is a bit clunky to use. I'd rather these were menu-driven like the A200 that came after it. And I'd prefer two control wheels so that I could assign exposure compensation to a wheel rather than a button. But other than that, I'm very happy with the A100 and how it performs. It's just a great image-making tool.

No, it doesn't have live-view (don't care), an articulated lcd screen (don't care), it doesn't shoot video (definitely don't care), and isn't GPS or touch screen enabled (still don't care). What it does do is take beautiful photos. And it does it well.

I don't care that it's 8 year old technology. And in fact, I'll soon be using a Konica/Minolta 7D -  a 6MP 10 year old camera! And I'm really looking forward to it!

Oh yeah - one final thought on the A100. It goes forever! I had one battery, fully charged, for a whole weekend of shooting and it still had juice in it when I got home on Sunday afternoon. A single charge is good for well over a thousand images during a weekends shooting. Sony is well known for making cameras with exceptional battery life and I'm happy to report that the A100 is no exception.

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