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Old Jul 3, 2010, 11:32 PM   #1
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Default Need suggestions on upgrade

Hi all
My plan is to eventually go pro. I want to specialize in pet photography.
My current set up:
Sony a300
-Minolta 24mm prime
-Minolta 50mm prime (use for low light mostly)
-Minolta 70-210 (beer can) (use for macro and when I need more zoom)
-Minolta 35-70 (find I don't use at all)
-Minolta 28-135 (one I keep on camera -though big and a bit heavy, a great lens)
and I just got my HVL-58am flash

-Manfrotto tripod 055XDB with 804RC2 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head
-Manfrotto monopod MA560B1

So my thoughts are that my lenses are pretty good and that I should think of upgrading my camera body before investing in better lenses. I may decide once I go full-frame to switch brands, but so far enjoy my Sony. I am just not sure what the next upgrade would be and if it would be worth the investment. With what I have read it looks as if the a700 would be a good step up, but would like the opinion of people on the forum.
I don't think I have outgrown my glass at all and that I have room to grow. I also don't think I should really invest in glass until I know for sure what full frame I will end up with. I really want to get a good fast zoom lens for horse shows and such, but I may find an upgrade in body help with that since the 700 is suppose to do good up to iso800.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
thanks much
Maggie
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Old Jul 4, 2010, 7:49 AM   #2
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Your current lens collection is quite nice, and will serve you well for what you want to do, whether you stick with an APS-C body or go 'Full Frame' (so long as you stick with the A-Mount.) The A700 would be an upgrade from your A300, as would the A500, A550, the A700's eventual replacement, and of course, any of Sony's full frame bodies.

I will also mention that Sony's 24MP 'Full Frame' dSLRs are the new favorites among fashion, portrait, and wedding photographers, especially when paired with the autofocus Zeiss lenses that are only available for the A-Mount. If you were shooting sports/action/wildlife, I'd suggest that you look elsewhere, but for pet photography, you're already where you should be.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 1:06 PM   #3
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Thanks so much TCav.
I been having a hard time finding any comparison between the 500s and 700. I see many posts from over a year ago when people were thinking Sony would come out with the next generation 700 (guess that is not happening). I have not been able to find a store with a 700 in it since they have been off the market for so long. I have been able to look at a 500 and find it a bit plastic feeling; though i can find a 500/550 cheaper than a 700. Is the 500/550 better?

i will mostly do pet photography, though I may eventually try to go to horse shows with my laptop and printer on hand to try and drum up business. So far I am only donating my services for the AHS, 2Wheels4Heroes (Harley group for veterans), and a golden retreiver rescue organization (RAGOM). I get very favorable comments and people are very happy with the pictures I take, but I want to get more schooling in before going more 'public'.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 1:20 PM   #4
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I wouldn't trade my A700 for the A500 or A550, since I'm just too accustomed to the larger body, ergonomics, control layout, viewfinder, etc..

But, the A500/A550 models are pretty good (AF performance is great, except in very low lighting; and Noise Reduction algorithms have improved over previous Sony models). If I had the spare cash, I wouldn't mind having one as an extra body.

Quote:
I see many posts from over a year ago when people were thinking Sony would come out with the next generation 700 (guess that is not happening).
They're working on it. If you believe the rumor mills, they had a replacement ready to go towards the end of last year, but decided to cancel the project until they could incorporate some newer features including AVCHD (video recording). In any event, they've stated more than once that they're working on an A700 replacement.

Note the dSLR Concept Models in this PMA news article for one example:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/press...-pma-2010.html

Or, see the dSLR news sections on some of their sites. Here's a quote from one of them:

http://www.sony.co.uk/hub/dslr/latest-news

Quote:
Sony’s DSLR range keeps on growing. Look out for more exciting new models that combine stunning image quality with powerful, easy to use features. Key facts:
  • Mid-range successor to DSLR-A700 in development
  • More new DSLR models launching in 2010
  • Newly-developed Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor
  • AVCHD format video recording
  • New lenses include Distagon T* 24mm f/2, G 500mm f/4
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 2:00 PM   #5
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Maggie,

If you want to do portrait work, even of pets, I would suggest getting and learning how to use strobes / umbrellas/ reflectors would do more to improve your portrait shots than upgrading your current body. Your lighting, poses, backdrops are going to do more for the saleability of your images than a newer body will.

As an example - there's a guy who does photos at my son's daycare. The camera and lenses I routinely use are far better than what he's using but I buy from him anyway. Why? Several reasons:
1) he goes to where my son is
2) he has a good lighting setup
3) he has GREAT backdrops and props - not the boring muslin patterns or whatever you see in a lot of school photos. If we swapped out his camera/lens for mine the photos would be a bit better but not terribly so. In fact, most parents probably wouldn't notice a difference. Portrait work is far and away more about lighting, then lenses and last of all camera body.

So I'd start looking at building and learning a portable studio setup before you worry about camera upgrade.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 2:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Maggie,

If you want to do portrait work, even of pets, I would suggest getting and learning how to use strobes / umbrellas/ reflectors would do more to improve your portrait shots than upgrading your current body. Your lighting, poses, backdrops are going to do more for the saleability of your images than a newer body will.

As an example - there's a guy who does photos at my son's daycare. The camera and lenses I routinely use are far better than what he's using but I buy from him anyway. Why? Several reasons:
1) he goes to where my son is
2) he has a good lighting setup
3) he has GREAT backdrops and props - not the boring muslin patterns or whatever you see in a lot of school photos. If we swapped out his camera/lens for mine the photos would be a bit better but not terribly so. In fact, most parents probably wouldn't notice a difference. Portrait work is far and away more about lighting, then lenses and last of all camera body.

So I'd start looking at building and learning a portable studio setup before you worry about camera upgrade.
Very interesting take and example. Sounds very logical.

Sky
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 2:40 PM   #7
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I'd go with John. From what I can tell from your posts so far, you really don't need a new body for the types of photos you're taking, unless I'm missing something. Where do you see your A300 body holding you back now?

Don't get caught up in thinking that more megapixels are better, unless you're making very large prints.

Since you just got the HVL-F58AM, I'd practice using it (on and off camera, since your A300 supports wireless flash operation via signaling from the camera's built in flash). Then focus on an improved lighting setup for pet portraits as budget permits (and you could even use multiple Sony flashes via wireless support for that purpose).

BTW, even though you think your lenses are great, you could do better... For example, I've got a Tamron SP 20-40mm f/2.8-3.5 IF zoom lens that outperforms *both* the Minolta 24mm f/2.8 AF and Minolta 28mm f/2.8 prime lens at wider apertures (the Tamron zoom lens is sharper at 24mm, f/2.8, *and* 28mm, f/2.8; compared to the Minolta 24mm and 28mm f/2.8 prime lenses respectfully at f/2.8). That's one reason I bought one, instead of going with Minolta's wider primes, although I do have a Minolta 28mm f/2 (not f/2/8) AF lens, which does beat the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8-3.5 zoom at equivalent aperture settings). The 28-135mm you have isn't too bad. But, there are better lenses (sharpness at various aperture settings, flare resistance, contrast, etc.) . ;-)

However, with the aperture stopped down a tad, you're probably not going to see a huge difference with newer lenses unless you're shooting in harsher lighting. Ditto for a newer camera body, unless you really need improved AF speed or Noise levels at higher ISO speeds (and the A500/A550 models are better than your A300 in those areas).

As JohnG pointed out, your best bet for improving your photos would more likely be improving your lighting setup.
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Old Jul 7, 2010, 12:43 PM   #8
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Thanks all. You are right John, I do need to work on my lighting techniques. I really can't wait to take the class on it. So far I have been using mostly natural light conditions with reflectors and umbrellas to control shadow. Eventually I will have my basement to set up a small 'studio'.
I find with animals that I don't like using the flash. Animals are so much more sensitive and some of them learn when the flash is coming and close their eyes. I had to move up to using work halogen lights +umbrellas with the animals to get enough light in-doors since they move around so fast.
I really want to approach our local photographer (I live in a small town). He is very good and I would love to be a free assistance once a week to learn more, but I think I need to put together a portfolio before doing that. Unfortunately photography is a very competative field and people don't really want to create more competition for themselves.
So far, my only real hurdle is light. I find at times that I would like a camera that can do better in low light (better ISO capability). The 300 really doesn't do that great past 400; 600 in certain conditions. Though I could play with some noise reducing programs or plug-ins for PS4.
Eventually when I go pro I will want to look into a couple really good lenses. I guess one of the reasons I was looking into another camera body is that it is suggested to have 2 of everything in-case of equipment failure.
This is quite a journey and steep learning curve.
I hesitate to put up my photos, though if anyone is interested they are at flickr.com/photos/bymaggie There are so many good photographers here, but I have to remind myself that I only started with a dslr this past year.
Thanks so much for these forums !!
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Old Jul 7, 2010, 1:21 PM   #9
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I'd try shooting in RAW and see what you get using the latest Sony Converter, too. It's got *much* better algorithms for Noise Reduction compared to previous versions. See this thread for details:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/so...-sr-3-2-a.html
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