From the hillside farms of southern Goa where I spent some time around the small rice fields and buffalo grazing grounds a few days ago. Hotter than hell, but beautiful, too. When I look at farm animals these days, I often feel a level of concern rise with in me about their well-being and if their treated respectively.
I’ve been a Canon photographer for close to two decades. I was an early adopter of digital imagery and saw the potential with the underlying technology. In my mind, there was just no looking back. Digital photography was going to take over. Way back in 2002, I had one of Canon’s first fully digital SLR camera DSLR bodies, the 6.3 megapixel EOS D60. Today, compared with the new Sony A7III, my first Canon seems almost ancient. Before the Canon, I had primarily been a Minolta shooter, starting with their 100 series in the early 1980s.
Adding the new Sony A7III to my gear box
I currently shoot commercially with one of Canon’s top-of-the-line camera bodies, the 50 megapixel, medium format-wannabe, Canon EOS 5Ds, together with a meaningful range of the company’s professional L series lenses. Over the years, in between the D60 and 5Ds, I’ve owned a half dozen pro level Canon cameras, including the workhorses, Canon 1Ds Mk III and 5DMk III.
Today, for travel, I’m perfectly content with the full frame Leica Q I bought last year. It’s fixed 28 mm lens, and though basic, adequate feature set, fits most of my needs splendidly. It shoots decent video, though unfortunately not at 4k.
After selling my previous video camera, Canon’s C100Mk II, last year, I’ve been yearning for a replacement that would add excellent quality, flexibility and mobility – with emphasis on the latter. A seemingly utopian camera.
Honestly, up until just a few months ago, I’d never even considered Sony as candidate when musing about my »dream camera«. I was just too mentally invested in Canon yet frustrated that they refused to listen to their pro customers demand for more versatile camera with relevant features for those of us that had ventured into the wold of motion pictures.
First of all, I desperately wanted to keep enjoying the cinematic look and color reproduction I enjoyed my Canon lenses provide so wonderfully. Especially those beautiful skin tones and gorgeous bokeh I loved from the Canon 135mm f2 or Canon 35mm f1.4.
Secondly, I didn’t want to be forced into an additional brand’s eco-system. Canon and Leica are already very far apart insofar that each company has their own distinctive operating system as well as approach to things like color rendition and user experience (UX).
A few months ago, I happened to hear about the announcement of the Sony A7III. And since the leading third party lens adapter company Metabones had just come out with a new version of their Canon EF adapter which would allow me to use my L lenses without losing too many crucial features, or, more importantly, image quality, I started researching the camera – primarily by watching dozens of the overwhelmingly positive reviews about the Sony A7III on Youtube.
Though it’s been with me here in India, the Metabones adapter or either of the two Canon lenes I brought with me have left my camera bag.
The new Sony A7III, on the other hand, I’ve been using on a daily basis, testing it, checking out some of the umpteen available settings and numerous options. I needed to get a feel for the praised AF performance and overall handling to assess if it really can become my go-to video camera.
I bought the camera just a few days before I left Europe, together with two new lenses, a Sony E-mount Zeiss 18mm f2.8 and a Zeiss 85mm f1.4. I figured that if I also packed my Canon 35mm f1.4 and Canon 135mm f2.0, I’d be more than covered for most situations.
During the ten days I’ve been here, I’ve transitioned from skeptical to optimistic and finally to enthusiastic about the Sony A7III.
It turns out that the camera delivers astonishingly beautiful footage and stills – regardless of what I throw at it, including filming in near darkness, erratically moving subjects, or, even really harsh mid-day sunlight.
The auto focus is superbly adjustable (from slow to lightning fast), focus lock is fully reliable (locks on and focus tracks the subject in any direction) and the 5-axis stabilization means handheld shooting and filming is actually a usable feature. The battery life is phenomenal, the touch screen is very useful for tapping and locking focus and using the internal microphone is good enough to record reference audio (to use later when syncing with higher resolution audio recordings).
Werner, oh Werner!
Legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog once said something to the tune of that he never lets his camera equipment get in the way of creating movies. I can’t find the exact quote, but the essence is nevertheless something I always think about. As long as your story is worthy of watching and your camera doesn’t thwart or obstruct the path you want to take the viewer on, even the simplest gear will suffice. The Sony A7III’s features and functions aren’t remotely simple to master, but once you do, the camera is genuinely uncomplicated to operate.
As film assignments by far outnumber my still photography engagements, a development or evolution I’m happy about and embrace, the Sony A7III is going to fit just nicely in my potpourri of creative tools.
It’s small enough, robust enough and competent enough to meet the technical requirements that allow me to work organically within my own artistic projects and also enable me to reach my clients goals and visions.
The shot above was taken with a two and a half year old iPhone 7.
Here’s a short video from my adrenaline boosting tut-tuk adventure yesterday and today in the hills above Agonda Beach i south Goa, India. Shot using a DJI Osmo Mobile, a Gopro Hero 6, an iPhone 6s and an iPhone 7plus.
When it comes to food, I’m a reasonably easy fellow to please. An simple omelet, a few pieces of toast and a bowl of baked beans works just fine for breakfast. And a strong mug of coffee, of course.
And being that I have genes from two countries that eat almost anything on a single piece or in between two slices of bread, it’s no wonder I convert my breakfast ingredients into a sandwich of sorts without even thinking about it.
I’ve been eating extraordinarily healthy food whilst here in India. Especially during filming and after yoga classes. Aside maybe for the last couple of breakfasts in Agonda where I’m still enjoying local cuisine, but not eating as much raw veggies as I usually do.
I strongly recommend listening to former F.B.I. Director James Comey’s interview on NPR’s formidable Fresh Air. Mister Comey has written a book about key events leading to his falling out with President Trump and subsequent firing from the F.B.I.
As I’ve written in at least two previous posts, there is an ongoing norm shift taking place in the USA – noticeable now more than ever before – which is being sanctioned and spearheaded by the current president and his many buddies – many with dubious work ethic and often nefarious, self-serving intentions.
Norm shifts fueled by a kind of Darwinism
I see the current political events led by Trump as nothing less than a precursor to a seismic shift of long-lasting social norms with wide-reaching economical and environmental repercussions. We may be heading into a new era where sound moral guidance has been interchanged with an acceptance of the use of blatant lies by elected and appointed officials and an increase of corruption and nepotism. Though Venezuela instantly comes to mind, you could probably pick any country in South America right now as an example of what happens when all forms of checks and balances are tackled and benched. I think the trust in and soul of democracy is at stake. Hope I’m wrong.
The Fresh Air interview with James Comey is obviously self-serving as he’s on a promotional tour for his first book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership. But it’s still well-worth listening to as you’ll soon understand why Comey sees Trump more as a cheesy boss in “La Cosa Nostra” than someone morally fit to be the Commander in Chief of the United States of America. I couldn’t agree more.
After a belated and painfully chilly Scandinavian winter, where most folks wear thick, hefty jackets and coats, invariably in fifty shades of black, it’s been visually liberating to be in India where bright colors and elaborate patterns are celebrated and embraced.
I hired a tuk-tuk yesterday afternoon and the driver, Sunja, drove me up to the Goan hillside where we saw and shot several beautiful valleys with small rice paddies, grazing buffaloes, bats and all kinds of fruit trees – including a few with cashews (which I learned from Sunja are not at all a nut).
To compliment what I’ve already filmed at the retreat, I’m visiting a local fish market here in Agonda later today.
Aside from a morning shoot on Thursday, all principle footage has been shot and I now have a couple of days before it’s time to head back to Europe. That said, as soon as I see something that I think could be interesting to include in the final edit, I almost instinctively whip out a camera and capture it. And here in colorful Goa, that means there’s a camera in my hand basically all of the time.
Not exactly sure where they’ll fit in to the final video, but I got amazing footage of these beach beauties on Agonda Beach the other day. They just lay there, chewing, re-chewing and chewing some more cud, the regurgitated feed from a previous meal.
It’s close to three years since I chose to eat a pescatarian diet and I can’t see myself ever returning to my old ways of eating mammalian flesh again.
It’s been a couple of years since my last film project here in India. There’s a whole bunch of reasons why I enjoy returning. I am really inspired by how colorfully both culture and religion are expressed here. And though not new to me, I still get a huge creative kick out of the chaos upon each return to almost any country in Asia.
As the Dreamliner flew in over Delhi, a thick, greenish layer of pollution engulfed the capital, I was reminded of what it was like in L.A. during the mid 1970s, before emission regulations were in place and gas came in a lead-free version and got “cleaner”. Back when the joke, “what happens when the smog lifts from Los Angeles? UCLA” was relevant.