Just like an athlete or team can create such waves, leaving the entire sport or competition floundering in their wake, renowned sports photographer, Mine Kasapoğlu reveals how Sony Alpha has changed the game completely and why it has set the precedent for sports photography.
Mine started using Alpha gear with the Sony Alpha 9 when it launched in 2017. “I shot the 2018 Winter Olympics at PyeongChang with my Alpha 9, and that year I think I was the only one shooting with Sony! A lot of photographers were asking ‘why?’. The next thing I knew, everyone was trying to keep up with me!”
Now working across a huge range of sports, Mine puts a large part of her success down to the paradigm shift of Alpha technology. “The Sony Alpha 9 changed everything for me. It allowed me to show the world what was possible in sports photography” she explains. “I remember when I was photographing the International Swim League, I frequently had swimmers and coaches approaching me, exclaiming that they had never seen swimming captured the way I was doing it, and that opened a lot of doors for me”. Continuing, Mine explains that, thanks to the Alpha 9 and Alpha 9 II, she was able to do the things she’d always wanted to do as a photographer – make creative, dynamic sports images with incredible sharpness and quality. Suddenly people were saying, “how does she get the focus like that on every picture, at 20 frames per second?”
When asked how Sony Alpha has changed sports photography, Mine explains that the impact was three-fold: “shooting at 20 frames per second; knowing I could focus accurately anywhere in the frame; and that I could see exactly what the picture would be like before I took it. It changed everything.”
“With the high frame rate,” she continues, “it helps me tell a better story with my photos. I like to focus on a competitor’s expression because that’s what connects the viewer. With 20fps – and now 30fps on my Sony Alpha 1 – I can capture the action and the emotion in the moment.”
“Focusing with complete confidence anywhere in the frame was such a leap from DSLRs,” she reveals, “not having to focus in the middle, recompose and shoot, means I don’t miss any of the action. I’d say many of the shots I get today would be close to impossible before Alpha.”
“Funnily, I first noticed the power of the eye-detection AF not when taking photos of sport, but with my little girls playing in the yard! They were running about like crazy, yet when I looked at the pictures, they were sharp every time. I knew that if I’d been shooting with my old camera, more than half of the images would be trash!”
“The original Alpha 9’s stacked sensor was also revolutionary in connecting to the subject,” Mine says. “Other types of sensors always lagged, and as a sports photographer you can’t have that. It would be like trying to compete with one hand tied behind your back. You need to see what is happening as it happens, or the action will pass you by.”
“When I started out with the Alpha 9 at events like PyeongChang, the lens range was limited,” she continues, “but now there’s everything I need – except maybe a 400mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x teleconverter built in! The FE 400mm f/2.8 GM is like my baby. It’s the one I use the most, but if I’m covering an event on my own, I’ll have FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM and FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS lenses on the other camera, all of which attach to a harness.”
Despite having moved from the Alpha 9 to the Alpha 9 II and now Sony’s flagship Alpha 1 body, Mine still uses all three cameras in her work. “I like to have three bodies and three lenses” she says, “and despite the Alpha 9 being over 6 years old, it keeps up with the other two in every way”.
Mine’s journey with Alpha cameras is now taking her into new and unexpected places. “When I started out, I was mainly shooting winter sports, skiing and swimming,” she says, “but with help from cameras like the Alpha 9, Alpha 9 II and Alpha 1 I’ve started shooting Formula 1 and football, with Galatasaray in Turkey and around Europe. And this year I’ll also be shooting a basketball tournament, a marathon and the Mediterranean Beach Games in Crete.”
“In many ways, these Alpha cameras remind me of those special athletes who rule a sport for decades because they’re always one step ahead of the pack. Of course, it’s not just a camera that makes you a great photographer, but Alpha technology gives you new powers and new ways of shooting. It hasn’t just upped the game, it’s changed the game completely.”
"Searching for light, energy and emotion, captured at the exact right time"