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  1. #1
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    Paging Photo-mags: Legit Ski camera recs?

    Have a little time and $ to get back into an old hobby and replace long-ago stolen gear. I'm looking for a modest full-time Ski + Landscape Rig to haul uphill and bang around. Search function reveals many moons have passed since camera recs were last discussed.

    Criteria:
    1. Full-frame DSLR (Interchangable lenses, no crop)
    2. Mirrorless (Mucho lighter)
    3. Video-capable
    4. Decent autofocus + burst speed for El accíon
    5. 24MP or greater. I'm no pro, but it'd be nice to hang a shot on the wall or something.

    I probably can't swing multiple lenses, so need recs re: a single versatile option with good glass and less-than-heinous weight penalty.

    So far the main contenders are Sony's A7 series but there are a million variants for different $$. How fast of a burst-rate is "good enough"? Dynamic range: can you tell a difference between models? Does it matter?

  2. #2
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    FYI there is a photo/video room.

    Also... because i'm being an ass. Technically a DSLR != mirrorless. DSLR = Digital single lens reflex (reflex due to the fact you can see out the lens through the viewfinder..

    ANYWAY.

    Basically you want a full-frame mirrorless. They all do video these days.

    First question. How much you want to spend?

  3. #3
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    I looked. It's super dead, and the discussions seemed high-level. I'm a photo dumb-dumb (obviously)

    $: Expecting somewhere in the $1,xxx range for body only.

  4. #4
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    I own the a6500 with 18-135 lens and an RX100 mk I (which I got for super cheap).

    I think the best option that meets all of your criteria above is the a6500/6600. I'd start with the 18-135 lens and maybe add a Sigma 16mm f/1.2 for landscapes. Most of the skiers I know who are into photography seem to own the Sony a6x00 over other brands. But I'm sure someone will pop up and say they like the Canon M5 or whatever better.

    Anyway, I would very seriously consider the RX100 VI or VII. Pocketable means you'll take with you all the time, and it takes excellent photos. In hindsight, I probably should have upgraded the RX100 (larger buffer, faster frame rate/ "burst," and more zoom) instead of getting the a6500. I just find myself debating whether I should bring the a6500 too often, and I don't notice a huge difference in photo quality to be honest.

    But frankly, I'm kind of a photo jong so I'm sure someone else will come along and give you much better advice.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

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  5. #5
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    Feel free to get angry and chew me out about this post haha. I'm asking for it!

    As has been stated, you want mirrorless, not a DSLR.

    You shouldn't actually care about full frame, it's not getting you anything that different or special. In fact, at this point I prefer crop frame just because there are more wide-angle lens options for it. Put your money into good glass, at a zoom range that works for you with a cropped sensor, and you won't notice any difference.

    I was on an A7Rii for a couple years. It's awesome, great for ski photography, but probably overkill.

    Looking at your post as a whole, I'd argue that you're looking at more camera than you need/want. The more $$$ you put into your camera, the more worried you are going to be about it, and the less focused you will be on how/what you're shooting. And cheaper cameras are really good these days.

    I'd seriously recommend looking at something along the lines of the Sony A6000. I know you're not going to like that answer, but I went from shooting with a full "pro" kit (two bodies, bunch of lenses) to just the A6000 and I don't feel like it hurt me that much. Autofocus and burst are more than adequate for skiing. Dynamic range is great (better than the "pro" Canon I came from). And it fits in a jacket pocket. And so far it's bomb proof. You're never going to miss or blow the shot, or get a worse shot with the A6000 that you would have nailed with an A7whatever. Unless you are doing this for a living, it's not a relevant difference. And even then, a pro photog can make plenty of magic with an A6000 or similar. No one who is posting asking for first camera advice on the internet is a better photographer than that camera can handle.

    In this age of iPhones, if your camera isn't your primary wage earner, you're nearly always better off putting less money into your gear and more money into creating experiences worth shooting. That can be travel, touring gear, lift tickets, whatever. Most good photos are the result of good timing and location, not gear.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cydwhit View Post
    Feel free to get angry and chew me out about this post haha. I'm asking for it!

    As has been stated, you want mirrorless, not a DSLR.

    You shouldn't actually care about full frame, it's not getting you anything that different or special. In fact, at this point I prefer crop frame just because there are more wide-angle lens options for it. Put your money into good glass, at a zoom range that works for you with a cropped sensor, and you won't notice any difference.

    I was on an A7Rii for a couple years. It's awesome, great for ski photography, but probably overkill.

    Looking at your post as a whole, I'd argue that you're looking at more camera than you need/want. The more $$$ you put into your camera, the more worried you are going to be about it, and the less focused you will be on how/what you're shooting. And cheaper cameras are really good these days.

    I'd seriously recommend looking at something along the lines of the Sony A6000. I know you're not going to like that answer, but I went from shooting with a full "pro" kit (two bodies, bunch of lenses) to just the A6000 and I don't feel like it hurt me that much. Autofocus and burst are more than adequate for skiing. Dynamic range is great (better than the "pro" Canon I came from). And it fits in a jacket pocket. And so far it's bomb proof. You're never going to miss or blow the shot, or get a worse shot with the A6000 that you would have nailed with an A7whatever. Unless you are doing this for a living, it's not a relevant difference. And even then, a pro photog can make plenty of magic with an A6000 or similar. No one who is posting asking for first camera advice on the internet is a better photographer than that camera can handle.

    In this age of iPhones, if your camera isn't your primary wage earner, you're nearly always better off putting less money into your gear and more money into creating experiences worth shooting. That can be travel, touring gear, lift tickets, whatever. Most good photos are the result of good timing and location, not gear.
    Eeee-nteresting. It is quite light, Interchangable lens etc and leaves $ for glass. Huh.

    I'd been shooting previously on a hand-me-down Nikon D40 with the kit lens and couldn't shake the feel that the pictures didn't have that "pro" look, no matter my composition, or how much I monkeyed with aperture, iso, EV, etc. I don't know whether that's where a good lens would make a difference, or Lightroom magic, or what...

    Also my phone is ghetto and takes potato-quality pics, hense the scheming.

  7. #7
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    I'd buy the newest iPhone.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huskydoc View Post
    Eeee-nteresting. It is quite light, Interchangable lens etc and leaves $ for glass. Huh.

    I'd been shooting previously on a hand-me-down Nikon D40 with the kit lens and couldn't shake the feel that the pictures didn't have that "pro" look, no matter my composition, or how much I monkeyed with aperture, iso, EV, etc. I don't know whether that's where a good lens would make a difference, or Lightroom magic, or what...

    Also my phone is ghetto and takes potato-quality pics, hense the scheming.
    Yeah, I mean, glass always makes the most difference. Very few kit lenses will make you happy, I have been pleasantly surprised by the kit Sony 16-50 though. Fast AF and good enough image quality.

    A6000 with a prime and a wide-angle is a smaller and lighter package than my A7Rii was with just a kit lens on it. I actually carry it in the pocket of my MTB shorts sometimes, which is pretty sweet.

    On the "trying to make your shit look better with settings" front, that's a whole can of worms, but I will just say that I went from always shooting full manual with my Canon to being lazy and just shooting in the pre-set "sports" mode most of the time on the A6000 and more times than not, it nails the settings better than I would have, and I'm getting the shot instead of faffing with settings. Small tweaks in Lightroom and I'm a happy camper.

    For me at least, going to a smaller, A6whatever made shooting much more natural and seamless, which means I'm shooting for fun more, and getting shots that I would have missed otherwise.

    Can't recommend that camera (or another from the 6000 series) enough. And shit, you'd have enough spare change left over to buy new skis, or a Mountain Collective pass, or something else cool.

  9. #9
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    Another vote for a6XXX. Unless you're going to be doing a lot of large prints and/or astrophotography there's probably no reason to go full frame. Around 10fps is good for fast action, faster is better obviously.

  10. #10
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    I shoot with the a6000 and the 18-135mm lens primarily. This lens was a massive upgrade in image quality from the 16-50mm kit lens, IMO. It makes the camera bulkier, but the shots are much sharper. That "couldn't shake the feel that the pictures didn't have that "pro" look" thing is exactly how I felt with the 16-50mm lens. I'm much happier with the 18-135.

    Now that said, my buddy with a Canon 5D Mark IV and the 70-300mm or 16-35 F4 lens takes far better photos than me, even when we're standing right next to each other shooting the same subject. Part of that is that he's a better photographer. But the image quality is undeniably better too. Which, it fucking better be, since we're talking about a $2500 body compared to a $450 body.

    Editing in Lightroom rather than Photoshop Elements or other cheap software did as much or more for my photos than gear.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  11. #11
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    A7iii is the correct answer. Buy a used 70-300mm from Sony and 28-35mm prime. I use the Loxia 35mm.

    The autofocus is much better than the 6000 series.... main reason to go crop would be for lighter lenses. Tracking system on the 7iii does AWESOME following skiers.

    Image quality means nothing without it being in focus. The a7iii is a baby a9 and hits skiers at speed 98% of the time.

  12. #12
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    Sony is the popular answer, and definitely has the "best" auto-focus at the moment. Downsides are that glass is way more expensive than Canon or Nikon. Sony also doesn't do video as well as the Nikon mirrorless cameras do IMO. Do you have any leftover Nikon lenses from before?

    Full frame is great for landscapes and portraiture, but crop can be nice to give you extra reach when shooting certain types of action.
    Harder to get ultra-wide angles on crop for the same reason. Full frame generally has more resolution which is nice for large prints at the cost of bigger file sizes.

    So keep that in mind if you want to take real estate or architecture type things. Crop cameras and lenses are less money and lighter.

    Ask yourself what you're really going to spend most of your time shooting before making that decision, then spend most of the money on glass. I would get two or three relatively fast primes instead of a kit lens. A 35 1.8 is a light and fast lens that can be good for almost anything.

    Coming from a D40 and a potato phone you'll probably be happy with almost anything really.

  13. #13
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    Your problem so far is probably the kit lenses. They're junk. An 18-300 VR lens with the D40 rendered pro results for lots of photos for a lot of years. Res is certainly lower than a new body, but as was already mentioned the glass matters.

  14. #14
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    I have a Sony setup and an Olympus setup. I take the Olympus skiing 100% over the sony.
    Personally have an Em1MkII. Super weatherproof and super bombproof. I literally just leave it clipped to the outside of my pack strap out in the snow all day and no worries (shower cap over the lens, just to keep the glass clean). Comfortable taking drops with it like that without worrying I'm going to trash it. Smaller sensor, but it is exactly what I like for skiing. You get lots of focal length range with much smaller/lighter lenses. I have a few of the Pro f2.8 and f1.2 lenses and they are sooooo sharp. Great AF and batteries last in the cold too.
    Definitely better bang for the buck than the sony setup, and definitely better suited for skiing.

    I used to use an a6000 but it would often freeze up in the cold. or burn through batteries like crazy.

    EDIT: if you are looking at the a6000, get the a6100 instead. Should be better weatherseal & better in the cold.
    Last edited by Judo Chop!; 02-25-2020 at 11:51 AM. Reason: added a6100

  15. #15
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    I'm not expert on new gear, but a few thoughts:

    - most important thing about the camera is that you're willing to carry it and that it's accessible, turns on quick, etc. I have a Sony a5000 with basic kit lens that is nothing special but I've taken a lot of pics with, because it is easy to carry and fairly unobtrusive.

    - One aspect of mirrorless without an electronic viewfinder is that it is a PITA to use with a lot of glare, like in bright sun or on snow. DSLRs or EVFs help here.

    - Managing lighting is critical, perhaps the most important aspect of shots that look pro vs not. Sometimes the experienced photographers are using techniques like fill-flash to manage overly contrasty scenes, dark foregrounds against light background, etc. This may not be too applicable when you are far from the subject, like on-mountain or landscapes, but is worth experimenting with. Another aspect of managing lighting is just figuring out where to arrange yourself and the subject so the natural light is balanced and interesting.

    - I have a tendency to set many digital cameras to mild underexposure, about -2/3 stops exposure compensation, and just leave it there unless something demands otherwise. This is because digital sensors don't have a huge dynamic range (compared to say color-negative film) and can easily blow out the highlights, making the images 'correctly' exposed but a little flat looking.

    - I don't worry too much about kit lenses, they are way better than they used to be, especially if the light is decent and they are stopped down by a stop or two. An exception is that many kit zooms get very slow at the telephoto end and also that's where the imaging performance is likely the worst. Prime lenses are faster speed and help with low light.

    - When in doubt, get closer to your subject.

  16. #16
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    Sony and be done..

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using TGR Forums mobile app
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    I wish i could be like SkiFishBum

  17. #17
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    I finger banged an A7rIII last year and holy shit what a camera. I had a stiffy you could hang a wet towel on.

  18. #18
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    One other consideration... buy a camera with a mount you believe will be around in 8-10 years... that’s tricky these days. I think it’s likely than micro 4/3 will still be on the market... but that’s less clear than it used to be.

    Canon and Nikon and both in process of changing mounts.

    E-Mount.... apsc looks uncertain. Full frame is solid.

  19. #19
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    This isn't aimed specifically at coldfeet, just good points that I wanted to respond to for Huskydoc.

    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    - most important thing about the camera is that you're willing to carry it and that it's accessible, turns on quick, etc. I have a Sony a5000 with basic kit lens that is nothing special but I've taken a lot of pics with, because it is easy to carry and fairly unobtrusive.
    100% agree. This is where the RX100 wins big for me. Everyone talks about how the a6x00 is pocketable, but I don't think that's the case with nice glass on it. And if you're not using nice glass, why bother with the a6x00?

    - One aspect of mirrorless without an electronic viewfinder is that it is a PITA to use with a lot of glare, like in bright sun or on snow. DSLRs or EVFs help here.
    Agree here 100%. Luckily, the a6x00 series and modern RX100s (certainly the mk VI and VII) have EVFs. My older RX100 mk 1 does not and it sucks.

    - Managing lighting is critical, perhaps the most important aspect of shots that look pro vs not. Sometimes the experienced photographers are using techniques like fill-flash to manage overly contrasty scenes, dark foregrounds against light background, etc. This may not be too applicable when you are far from the subject, like on-mountain or landscapes, but is worth experimenting with. Another aspect of managing lighting is just figuring out where to arrange yourself and the subject so the natural light is balanced and interesting.

    - I have a tendency to set many digital cameras to mild underexposure, about -2/3 stops exposure compensation, and just leave it there unless something demands otherwise. This is because digital sensors don't have a huge dynamic range (compared to say color-negative film) and can easily blow out the highlights, making the images 'correctly' exposed but a little flat looking.
    Also, I've had decent results with a polarizing filter in some hard to manage glare. Obviously, a tripod with a long exposure is indispensable for landscapes and sunsets. But nice tip on underexposing -- thanks!

    - I don't worry too much about kit lenses, they are way better than they used to be, especially if the light is decent and they are stopped down by a stop or two. An exception is that many kit zooms get very slow at the telephoto end and also that's where the imaging performance is likely the worst. Prime lenses are faster speed and help with low light.
    With places like Amazon, you can often skip the standard "kit" lens, and still bundle the body with a better lens. That's how I got the Sony 18-135
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judo Chop! View Post
    I have a Sony setup and an Olympus setup. I take the Olympus skiing 100% over the sony.
    Personally have an Em1MkII. Super weatherproof and super bombproof. I literally just leave it clipped to the outside of my pack strap out in the snow all day and no worries (shower cap over the lens, just to keep the glass clean). Comfortable taking drops with it like that without worrying I'm going to trash it. Smaller sensor, but it is exactly what I like for skiing. You get lots of focal length range with much smaller/lighter lenses. I have a few of the Pro f2.8 and f1.2 lenses and they are sooooo sharp. Great AF and batteries last in the cold too.
    Definitely better bang for the buck than the sony setup, and definitely better suited for skiing.

    I used to use an a6000 but it would often freeze up in the cold. or burn through batteries like crazy.
    Nice activity specific recommendation. I don’t know anyone with that Olympus.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    - I have a tendency to set many digital cameras to mild underexposure, about -2/3 stops exposure compensation, and just leave it there unless something demands otherwise. This is because digital sensors don't have a huge dynamic range (compared to say color-negative film) and can easily blow out the highlights, making the images 'correctly' exposed but a little flat looking.

    - When in doubt, get closer to your subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by auvgeek View Post
    Also, I've had decent results with a polarizing filter in some hard to manage glare. Obviously, a tripod with a long exposure is indispensable for landscapes and sunsets. But nice tip on underexposing -- thanks!
    Shooting RAW is 100% the way to go for better images. You get so much more flexibility out of your image. Having it look "flat" in camera is really what you are looking for then you can add the correct amount of color and contrast in Lightroom or Photoshop.

    The underexposing thing does save you from totally blowing out your highlights. Overexposed to the point of white is pretty much the only stuff that can't be saved later on, so underexposing helps avoid this if you aren't watching your exposure carefully. A true underexposure will have recoverable shadows most of the time, but you will get lots of noise in the image, so it's not the ideal way to shoot. What you want is as much exposure as possible without clipping your highlights. New mirrorless cameras will have a live histogram so you can watch how your exposure is looking in real time.

    OP, check out the new Z50 along with any Sony crops. Has the Z mount which is the new standard for Nikon, it's small, about $1k for the kit, and will have a much sharper lens than almost any cheap setup just due to the new lens design.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supermoon View Post
    Shooting RAW is 100% the way to go for better images. You get so much more flexibility out of your image. Having it look "flat" in camera is really what you are looking for then you can add the correct amount of color and contrast in Lightroom or Photoshop.
    Sorry, I thought that was assumed, as is watching the histogram for real-time exposure. But the general tip is that a little underexposed it better than a little overexposed, and I think that's a good reminder.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by auvgeek View Post
    Sorry, I thought that was assumed, as is watching the histogram for real-time exposure. But the general tip is that a little underexposed it better than a little overexposed, and I think that's a good reminder.
    For sure it's a good reminder.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supermoon View Post
    Sony is the popular answer, and definitely has the "best" auto-focus at the moment. Downsides are that glass is way more expensive than Canon or Nikon.
    What about getting a metabones adapter for Canon lenses? And I wouldn't recommend getting primes for skiing. If the action isn't happening where you thought it was, and you already skied down in position, I'd rather zoom in than shoot way too wide with a prime. I'd rather use a sharp prime for street photography or portraits. Try Sigma Art lenses for sharp zooms, they beat Canon zooms by a lot, although I haven't tested every one. If you prefer the ultra-sharp look, which often I don't.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    What about getting a metabones adapter for Canon lenses?
    Always an option. This is best if you already have some Canon lenses laying around, IMO. I have a hard time buying anything other than a specialty lens that has to be adapted. You lose some of the benefits of mirrorless by adding an adapter and a big SLR lens to the camera.

    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    And I wouldn't recommend getting primes for skiing. If the action isn't happening where you thought it was, and you already skied down in position, I'd rather zoom in than shoot way too wide with a prime. I'd rather use a sharp prime for street photography or portraits. Try Sigma Art lenses for sharp zooms, they beat Canon zooms by a lot, although I haven't tested every one. If you prefer the ultra-sharp look, which often I don't.
    Zooms are certainly more flexible, but come at the expense of cost, weight and image quality.

    All depends on how you are shooting your skiing. If you are just getting to the bottom and snapping pics of your buddies than a small zoom makes sense and is probably plenty for the IQ you're looking for. If you are shooting more deliberately, primes are absolutely ok because you're usually directing the skier to be somewhere specific and you have an idea of what your framing will look like ahead of time.

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