The Upgrade Treadmill

Somewhere back in the ’00’s, something prompted me to try a Sony a35, probably the low price. It was a good example of what entry-level meant back then: continuous autofocus that couldn’t be disabled along with ISO800 images that looked as though someone had thrown sand on an impressionist painting.

But something in Sony’s PR material told me that upgrading to the a900 would solve all that. It was alpha’s flagship, the first camera I can remember that had IBIS. I was happy until something in Sony’s PR material reminded me that their new a77 actually had more reach for wildlife photography. Not much later, the NEX mirrorless series came along. Yep.

Fast forward to last year and I found myself shooting an a7R IV with both the 200-600mm and 100-400mm GM lenses, the latter often with a 1.4X teleconverter. But for someone with a history of fairly steady hands and a portfolio of sharp shots taken using heavy MF lenses, the Sony gear made me wonder if I was starting to lose my touch.

Some shots were a tiny bit backfocused, some a little front-focused; and some were focused but just not critically sharp. I slowly came to realize two things: 1) Sony’s dual stabilization wasn’t always stable; and 2) its inability to stabilize the image in the viewfinder was also indicative of it often throwing the focus point other than where I intended it to be.

Add a couple of other niggles, and any notion I might have had about adding an a9 II to the arsenal went out the door. With all the Sony gear following shortly thereafter.

When it was good, it was pretty good, as you can see below. But a dozen years of perpetually feeling that a feature or three had either been shortcutted, “engineered” by the marketing department, or purposely omitted so that it could be used to make the next “upgrade” more enticing , finally got me off a path to nowhere.

Barn Owl