Thom’s Sony E/FE Bag

Yes, recently I’ve been carrying around something other than m4/3. I’m starting to get a lot more nuanced in how I approach things. For long into-the-deep-backcountry hikes the m4/3 bag still is my first choice, as I can build a smaller, lighter kit that serves me quite well. Carrying extra weight on all-day or overnight hikes in the middle of nowhere is something I long ago learned to avoid.

But for more city-based or front-country travel assignments, I’ve started using a Sony-based bag of mirrorless gear.

To put that in specifics. This year I've got a trip to Alaska where I'm doing a lot of hiking and kayaking. The m4/3 bag is packed for that. For a trip to Italy that's mostly city and museum hopping, I'll use this Sony bag.

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At the forefront of that bag is the Sony A7rII. This 42mp full frame camera is a near master of most everything. It works into low light far better than the m4/3 cameras, but it also is a pretty much state-of-the-art low ISO camera, too. Things I’d start to worry about with m4/3 (deep shadow detail) I generally don’t with the Sony.

In the bag tend to be three Sony f/4 zooms:

Depending what I’m intending to shoot, I may throw one of the Sony primes in there, but those three “4” lenses comprise a very competent set from very wide to telephoto in a reasonably compact form. Certainly smaller in size/weight than I can really do with my Nikon DSLRs.

But here's the thing: those lenses are all compromises (I should have reviews of them up soon). The only reason I use this kit over a Nikon DSLR kit is that Nikon doesn't make a set of lenses that go from 16-200mm that are as small and light as these. If I were to sub in the better f/2.8 Sony zooms, those are the same size/weight as the equivalent Nikkors, so I'd just stick to my D810 with the Nikkor f/2.8 lenses.

The point here is that I'm trying to be portable and svelte, but keep my image quality as high as possible while retaining flexibility. The A7rII and the f/4 lenses really have turned into my city travel set because of that.

If I need a backup camera, it’ll be the A6300 (I don’t own the A6500 at the moment, and I'm not convinced I'll update, as the things the A6500 adds really don't come into play here). If I add a lens for that camera, it’s generally the excellent 10-18mm f/4, though if I’m not weight conscious I’ll throw in the 16-70mm f/4, too.

Again, these f/4 zooms aren’t perfect. They're slight compromises of size and flexibility instead of performance. If you’re shooting raw, you may have linear distortion and vignetting you need to deal with, and the frame edges on some of these lenses aren’t great until you’re stopped down some. But my goal with this kit is to travel as light but as competent as possible.

All of this easily fits into the new Peak Design backpack, but when I opt for a more minimal package (2 bodies, 3 lenses), there’s lots of extra room in that bag. The overall bag weight is probably 50% more than my equivalent m4/3 bag, but that’s still far less than my DSLR bag.

text and images 2018Thom Hogan
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