Shooting Light: Capturing Sunset with the Sony A6000 and Kit Lens (and a Canon G7XII)
A few weeks ago I wanted to photograph something a little different, so we headed out to a place in North County Dublin where you can see Dublin Port from the far side, as well as watch the boats come and go. We timed the trip so that we would arrive as the sun begins to set, and I was only travelling light camera wise. I went equipped with the Sony A6000, with the only lens being the kit lens. I also had the Canon G7XII with me, which I had initially brought just to shoot video, but I ended up shooting stills with it too.
I hadn’t really planned on proving a point with this shoot, but I was looking to answer a question someone had asked me recently. Someone was wondering just how good the kit lens was for the Sony A6000. I actually have a previous generation kit lens, the larger 18-55mm rather than the 16-50 which comes with the A6000 now, but it’s still a cheap kit lens. In the past, I haven’t been overly impressed with this lens, but in the right conditions, it can actually give pretty decent results.
Anyone who has been following this blog for a long time knows that the whole “it’s not the gear, it’s the photographer” thing really annoys me, as I find it incredibly patronising when coming from photographers carrying thousands of euros worth of camera gear. Having said that, it does go to show you what you can do if you’re careful with even the cheapest of cameras. Part of this, of course, is that most modern cameras are so good now that it’s hard not to do well with them.
(Above) Some examples taken with the Sony A6000 & 18-55mm Kit lens
Even so, I was surprised at the quality I was getting, especially from the lens. Images were very sharp, especially at the centre. I was shooting handheld too, so that was an even bigger surprise. The stabiliser in the 18-55 works quite well. There is some distortion at the edges of the frame, but it's pretty good, for something that is generally thrashed by commentators.
After shooting for a while with this, both stills and video, the battery died, so I switched over to the G7X. Again, I was really surprised by the results. The little compact camera is capable of really high-quality captures. I am particularly impressed by the colour and dynamic range of the small camera. I was shooting into the sun without any issues, and I was able to recover a dramatic amount of detail from the highlights.
(Above) Some examples taken with the Canon G7XII
Processing these took me a while because I kept trying different things. I had started outing Lightroom, and then I got sidetracked seeing how I could get on in Capture One. In the end, I went back to Lightroom to finish the set. One of the biggest things that I had to do was match the differences between the two cameras, to create a consistent set. Much of this was down the white balance, and I covered this in a previous blog post. There was also a piece of dirt on the sensor of the A6000 which I needed to fix. My A6000 sensor was actually pretty dirty, and I need to get it cleaned.
Overall, I had an enjoyable time shooting. It wasn’t a serious shoot (or I would have taken a tripod, and lots of lenses and probably a different camera setup) but if you put your mind to it, you really don’t need much to get good results. I’m not going to say that “gear isn’t important” but what I will say is that you should know the gear that you have, and learn to understand its limitations and strengths. That way you can use what you have in any situation to take advantage of it and get the best results.
The full set of images from this shoot can be seen on my Streets of Dublin blog.
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