This past weekend in Colorado I decided to give my full frame mirrorless camera a break and shoot some portraits using the much smaller Sony RX100V. I was curious to see if a small, pocket-sized camera could give me the kind of results that I would be happy with. Here are my experience and recommendations if you choose to do the same!
We woke up early (my video team and model) and met up at Guanella Pass around 6 am to set up and prepare for the sunrise. Fortunately, the sky cooperated and gave us beautiful clouds and colors that would serve as our backdrop. I had a concept of taking environmental portraits wearing a wind-blown dress or fabric, so my model went out and brought a few outfits that would fit the mood. We decided to go with the one you see in the images as it fit the vibe we were going for quite well.
The Gear and Settings
I shot all of these using the Sony RX100 V. I shot these in manual model, dialing in the exposure for each shot using the electronic viewfinder (EVF). Just like a mirrorless camera, as you make adjustments to your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO you can see what the image will look like before pressing the shutter. With the histogram showing, I dialed in the settings that kept my highlights from clipping which landed me between 1/2500 to 1/4000 shutter speeds. Since its a smaller sensor camera (1") I decided to shoot at the widest aperture possible at various focal lengths to try and separate my subject from the background while still keeping her eyes sharp and in focus. I also shot all of these in raw, using auto white balance with a wide area, continuous focus. In order to give myself the best opportunity to capture her poses and flowing outfit, I set the camera to the continuous drive mode (mid as opposed to high which shoots at 24 frames per second) which did an excellent job at tracking her as she moved from one pose to another.
Here are the selects from the session. They were all processed using Capture One with one of their Spring presets applied. A few of the images were also brought into Photoshop for very light retouching to remove out of place objects in the frame that I missed when taking the photos.
As always, the most important things to consider if you want great images is your subject, lighting, and background. If you get these right it doesn't really matter what camera you choose to shoot with. While I was happy to see the results I got from this shoot with the Sony RX100 V, I would definitely recommend getting one of those hand grip accessories (in the case of the RX100 I'd recommend using the Sony AG-R2 attachment grip) to help make this smaller camera easier to hold. I also think it's a good idea to use a camera that either has a variable ND filter built in, or one that has threads on the lens that allows you to use one. As the morning wore on, it was getting more and more challenging to shoot wide open which makes the ND filter a handy tool to use. I'd say if you want to travel light but still have the possibility of getting great results, consider taking a camera like this with you for your next trip. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised as I was!