One of my favourite workshops is 'Shoot the City', a workshop I run twice a year for Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai. We start the day photographing architecture (normally at the DIFC in the heart of the city), after which we shoot the Jumeirah Beach skyline from the Palm: from late afternoon until about 30-40 minutes after sunset. We then head up to the rooftop bar of the Four Points Sheraton hotel on Sheik Zayed road: a great vantage point, with affordably great fries and tolerably cheap beer.
During each workshop I teach pretty much the same techniques, most of which I've listed below, but during the latest workshop I decided to try something a bit different ...
At the start of September I received an email from GPP asking me if I'd be interested in being involved with the launch of a couple of Sony's new cameras, to coincide with my upcoming visit to Dubai for their Fotoweekend event: the SLT-A99, their new full frame pro-spec camera, and the NEX-5. I wasn't especially interested in the NEX-5 – it's a good little camera, but not one that I'd use – but the SLT-A99 looked more promising.
If you're not familiar with Sony's SLT cameras the basic difference between them and a DSLR is that the mirror doesn't move, hence Single Lens Translucent rather than Single Lens Reflex. With a DSLR the mirror flips out of the way before you take the shot, with an SLT the majority of the light is fed continuously to the sensor, with a portion being routed to the main AF module via the mirror. In theory this means that you're losing around 0.3EV to 0.5EV from the outset, but in practice this loss of light seems to have little or no effect on the quality of the image.
The deal was that I'd get to keep the camera and a couple of lenses in exchange for spending some time shooting in the UK followed by two days intensive shooting in Dubai. Those images would be used to create a range of A0 prints, a photo book, and so on. I was also asked to give a 10 minute presentation at the press conference and another public talk on my experiences of shooting in Dubai as part of GPP's Fotoweekend event.
So, an intensive schedule (I was shooting on the 2nd and 3rd of November and the press conference was on the 6th), a fair amount of pressure (the images needed to be good), but I'd get to keep the camera and two lenses: the Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Vario-Sonnar® T* and the Zeiss 85mm F1.4 ZA Planar T*, both of which are great pieces of glass.
Was I delighted? Initially, no. Let me explain why ...