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  1. #1
    TheSaintlyOne is offline I'm new here!
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    Default Advice for Red Carpet/Event Photographer Wannabe

    Hello

    I am wondering if anybody on here can give me some advice, I'm looking at getting into the business of freelance event photography i.e. Film screenings, Premieres, Book Signings, Celebrity Appearances Award Shows etc. I'm based in a town just outside of London and I can easily get to any event in the area.
    My current camera is a Sony A390 and I'm looking to upgrade in the future but for now need to concentrate on building a decent portfolio and buying better lenses.

    I would like to stick with Sony and I will eventually look to upgrade to the A77 (Is this a reasonable Idea, or is Nikon/Canon the only way to go no biased opinions please.)

    My main question is what lens choices are the best options for this kind of work, I've read that something in the region of 24-70 f2.8 is ideal does anyone have any decent recommendations and any other suggestions for useful lenses, I should mention that at this time I have limited resources so affordability has to be a decisive factor.

    Also if anybody could give some advice of flash choices including battery pack options or any other useful equipment that would be great.

    I should point out that I understand fully that this is not an easy thing to do and I'm fully prepared to pay my dues and learn my trade, and even work for free to gain initial experience.

    Whilst I'm prepared to work my ass off and practice/study everything, I expect college or apprenticeships are not really an option as I'm somewhat over 30.

    I would appreciate any advice.

    Best Wishes

    TheSaintlyOne

  2. #2
    inkista's Avatar
    inkista is offline Gear Geek Girl
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    I'm only a hobbyist and can tell you nothing about the pro side of things, but one of the main reasons that most pros will shoot one of the Big Two systems is all about support and availability, not so much the image quality. Both Nikon and Canon are widely available, so it's easier to, say, rent backup gear that's compatible with your own. And I know that Canon, at least, has a special tier of professional support. Canon Professional Services has on-site presence at the Oscars.

    While your Sony camera may deliver everything you need, even finding simple flash hotshoe gear for it is going to be diving into not-like-everyone-else territory (the proprietary Minolta hotshoe isn't like the iso-compliant one every other brand uses). That may be an issue if you find you have to rent/borrow one at the last minute.

    Lens-wise, a 24-70/2.8 is a great event lens, but how close are you going to be allowed to your subjects? Are you going to be more in a paparazzi-type position? Or are you actually going to have free rein at the event? A 24-70/2.8 is more a wedding-shooter's lens. I'd actually hazard a guess the lens you probably want to target first is a stabilized 70-200/2.8. The big white Canon lenses are more the norm in the photographer scrum waiting outside a theatre.

    For flash choices, typically getting a top of the line OEM flash, if you can afford it, is going to be worth it for on-camera work, because you'll have some form of TTL automatic power setting, the best future-compatibility, and the most power. But I'd say if you're actually contemplating switching from Sony to another system, put this purchase off until after you've made the switch, because of the hotshoe issue.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

  3. #3
    Jim Bryant's Avatar
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    Most of the red carpet photographers are media credentialed. Meaning that they work for wires services organizations and newspapers. Unless you get the creds, you'll be stuck outside the boundary lines.
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    TheSaintlyOne is offline I'm new here!
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    Thanks for the replies.

    I've been really fortunate over the last couple of days to get some great red carpet shots by getting to know the Autograph hunters/non pro photographers crowd i.e. turning up early enough at events to get a good barrier spot.

    I think I'll probably be sticking with Sony as I tried out the A77 the other day and the burst mode was fantastic I think that will be really useful.
    I do appreciate your advice Inkista really practical but nice and impartial. However I think that the majority of my work will be covering local stuff in London so no real need to worry about immediate repairs as I'll probably have a back up body on me for most shoots. I was piggy backing flash on wednesday as I was really close to the official press/royal photographers and managed some nice shots. (another thing I think the A77 burst mode will help with.

    Your definately right that I need to get credentialed i.e. press pass/invites but from talking to some freelancers at events this isn't quite as hard here in the UK as perhaps it might be in say LA a lot of the premiers here in London are smaller affairs with some being just screenings with a photocall at the start.
    I was really fortunate to have a great shooting position at a Royal premier on Wednesday of "African Cats" and managed to get some great shots of William and Kate. and would you believe it the editor of Hello magazine was standing right behind me and asked me to send her any shots I had of the couple so even if I don't get published I have a quality contact for future shoots.

    The one thing I did learn on Wednesday was how useful something like an 18-200 would be. I was shooting with a 70-300 to cover the length of the red carpet. which was fine for head shots but the lower number would have given me greater flexibility when the celebs got closer.

    Many Thanks

  5. #5
    BK553's Avatar
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    If I were you, I wouldn't invest any more in Sony stuff. Go Canon or Nikon, there are about 15x the options for lenses/accessories.

    Some people love Sony stuff, but there aren't too many pros that shoot Sony.

    That being said, it's not the camera that makes the photographer.
    1D4 7D 500D 70-200mm 2.8L 17-50mm 2.8 50mm 1.4 430EXII

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    TheSaintlyOne is offline I'm new here!
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    Hello

    For my particular needs, I can't see the benefit of trading in all of my sony kit to swap to Nikon/Canon,

    I would argue that there definately are Pro's that shoot Sony. and whilst I'll be the first to admit that the majority of full time red carpet shooters use Nikon/Canon I think for me the Sony system will provide all I need in terms of performance price and accessories. I don't really see myself working to the kind of hectic schedules that these guys work to each and every day.

    Best Wishes

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    Jim Bryant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSaintlyOne View Post
    Hello

    For my particular needs, I can't see the benefit of trading in all of my sony kit to swap to Nikon/Canon,

    I would argue that there definately are Pro's that shoot Sony. and whilst I'll be the first to admit that the majority of full time red carpet shooters use Nikon/Canon I think for me the Sony system will provide all I need in terms of performance price and accessories. I don't really see myself working to the kind of hectic schedules that these guys work to each and every day.

    Best Wishes
    Not too many pros shoot with Sony.....there are a few, but the majority after getting the gear, using it for awhile, getting paid, they switch back. I was contacted by Sony to use their gear for a review and promptly said, your company makes great electronics, but I can't image the cameras are that good.
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    (1) EOS 1D MKIII (3) EOS 1D's, (3) EOS1D MKIIs', (1) EOS1Ds MKII, 14mmf2.8, 16-35mmf2.8, 28-70mmf2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, 300mm f2.8 and a 400mmf2.8, (4) 550 EX and 1 580E speedlite, and a Speed a tron studio flash system.

  8. #8
    TheSaintlyOne is offline I'm new here!
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    Hi Jim

    From what I glean of your reply, you didn't really even wanna give Sony cameras a try, I personally have never used a Canon/Nikon DSLR, my first was my current camera the Sony A390, my purchase decision mainly came down to the price. I had read a few reviews on the A390 against its then competitors and saw no real benefit paying the extra for the Canon/Nikon equivalent.

    In fact when recently looking at new cameras I compared the Canon 7D next to the A77 and was immediately put off by the lack of an SD card slot on the 7D

    Reviews of Sony have been generally positive and I feel its a reluctance to swap issue rather than any superior performance concerns.

    For me personally I like the sony cameras and when I tried out the A77 It felt pretty good to me which I suppose is fairly important

    In relation to this thread it comes down to each camera in the enthusiast (around a grand) category as Inkista will pretty much perform much the same, and the glass/accesories that I'm likely to need is available across all 3 brands. With the only real difference where canon/nikon is concerned is the fact that better pro support is available (however I don't realistically think that will be of benefit to me)


    Best Wishes

    Duncan

  9. #9
    inkista's Avatar
    inkista is offline Gear Geek Girl
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSaintlyOne View Post
    ... and the glass/accesories that I'm likely to need is available across all 3 brands....
    Actually, not.. quite.

    Try and get TTL PocketWizards for Sony. They exist for both Canon and Nikon, though. Try and get umbrella swivels for lightstands that take the Sony Minolta hotshoe, rather than a standard ISO hotshoe.

    Try and find a native Sony 70-200 f/4 telephoto lens for $600. Or a 28-300 full frame superzoom (aka "the paparazzi lens"). The Sony ZA 24-70/2.8 pro lens is $2000 on B&H. The NIkon one is $100 less. Canon gives you a choice between a $1600 and $2200 versions. Canon, faster-than-f/2.8-prime-wise, offers you a choice between a 28/1.8, 35/2, 35/1.4 50/1.8, 50/1.4, 50/1.2, 85/1.8, 85/1.2, 100/2, 135/2.8, and 135/2. All of which are full-frame lenses.

    Sony has 35/1.8 (crop), 35/1.4 50/1.8, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/1.8. And most of those are Zeiss ZA lenses that will cost you $1000-$2000. On the Canon side, the slower lenses are all the $350-$500 price range.

    And that's just the glass you might need. We aren't even talking about the serious exotics like tilt-shifts, macros, and fisheyes.

    Prices and availability are not the same between the brands. With Sony, in the end, you're liable to be shelling out a bit more for Zeiss glass, or having to go to 3rd party lenses. Canon and Nikon both have more lenses in the native mount, and every 3rd party lens you can find for Sony/Minolta can also be found in Canon EOS or Nikon F mounts, and probably more readily and possibly for a little bit less. Renting Sony glass is a lot harder than renting Canon or Nikon. That's the way the economics of numbers works. The most popular brands get the lion's share of 3rd party support, because the numbers mean more profit.

    That doesn't mean Sony's a worse system. But it is a smaller one with less support. You are limiting yourself. You also have no way to upgrade to a new full frame body since the A800 and A900 have been discontinued and not refreshed. There is no "pro" tier of camera bodies with integrated grips and weathersealing. Nikon and Canon both just refreshed their full-frame bodies and their pro full-frames (D4, 1DX). An old, used Canon 5D (mark I) can now be found on the used market for $1000--half the going rate on a used A800. A 5Dii is going for $1500-$1700 used/refurbished, and can be had for around $1500 on the CLP (well, today anyway).

    Don't kid yourself into thinking that the Sony system has identical advantages as the Big Two. The image quality is good. The feature set is good. The camera body prices are good. But the system overall is more limited. And as a pro, you may hit those limits harder than a hobbyist shooter. Support is the best reason to go with the Big Two. It's not the only one.
    Last edited by inkista; 04-28-2012 at 01:41 AM.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

  10. #10
    Jim Bryant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSaintlyOne View Post
    Hi Jim

    From what I glean of your reply, you didn't really even wanna give Sony cameras a try, I personally have never used a Canon/Nikon DSLR, my first was my current camera the Sony A390, my purchase decision mainly came down to the price. I had read a few reviews on the A390 against its then competitors and saw no real benefit paying the extra for the Canon/Nikon equivalent.

    In fact when recently looking at new cameras I compared the Canon 7D next to the A77 and was immediately put off by the lack of an SD card slot on the 7D

    Reviews of Sony have been generally positive and I feel its a reluctance to swap issue rather than any superior performance concerns.

    For me personally I like the sony cameras and when I tried out the A77 It felt pretty good to me which I suppose is fairly important

    In relation to this thread it comes down to each camera in the enthusiast (around a grand) category as Inkista will pretty much perform much the same, and the glass/accesories that I'm likely to need is available across all 3 brands. With the only real difference where canon/nikon is concerned is the fact that better pro support is available (however I don't realistically think that will be of benefit to me)


    Best Wishes

    Duncan
    Duncan, I understand...SD cards are not as durable as the CF cards and they (SD) have more problems. CF cards ( which I have washed and dried) from time to time by forgetting they were in the photo vest still work. A SD...that would never happen and cannot hold up to the use and abuse.

    I've used Canon for 40 years and never had a problem with any of the bodies and lenses. Being a full time photojournalist, I need a pro body that can take the wear and tear, Sony, In my opinion cannot withstand the day in and day out abuse. Like others have mentioned, both the Canon and Nikon line of cameras offer more and are not so limited. But, in the end, it all boils down to what you want out of a camera system. Me.... this is my lively hood and I need a system that I can build upon and will last.

    Then again, if the Sony system works for ya,,,,,,,,,,fine. In the end all it boils down is personal preference. What ever works.........besides, whatever works.....it's your eyes and photographic knowledge that counts, not the equipment.
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    (1) EOS 1D MKIII (3) EOS 1D's, (3) EOS1D MKIIs', (1) EOS1Ds MKII, 14mmf2.8, 16-35mmf2.8, 28-70mmf2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, 300mm f2.8 and a 400mmf2.8, (4) 550 EX and 1 580E speedlite, and a Speed a tron studio flash system.

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