10 years ago, Sony created the groundbreaking Alpha mirrorless system which would rock the world of photography – and it’s also been a decade since Albert Dros struck out on his own photographic odyssey. With a portfolio that wanders wilderness, city and sea, he’s long produced stunning scenic works, “but I was lucky that I started out with Sony,” he remembers.
Casting his mind back to his first experiences, shooting with a Sony Alpha 7 in the busy streets of Hong Kong, Albert was discovering the art of shooting stills at the same time. “For many years I was a filmmaker, rather than a photographer,” he explains, “and even though I’d used Sony bodies like the NEX-5 and NEX-7, that was for video. But living in Kowloon, I soon became addicted to documenting the city. It’s a place that is so captivating. I was obsessed with the neon reflecting in the streets, and the Sony Alpha 7 helped me capture it. As soon as I got my hands on the Alpha 7 II, I was shooting 24/7!”
But the environments Albert wanted to capture were complex, he explains, “which meant that the techniques involved were complex, too. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in that than those first few Alpha bodies.”
“There were several things that Sony’s engineers delivered at the start which fitted me perfectly”, he continues. “The first was image quality. It was so good. As soon as I started working with RAW files from the Alpha 7, it was obvious that I could do so much more than before. The dynamic range was incredible, and it gave me the freedom to capture high-contrast scenes with a single exposure. This was technology that elevated my own photography.”
“That performance continued with the arrival of the Alpha R and S series bodies,” Albert says, “and the first Alpha 7R really blew me away. It was 36 megapixels, and no-one had anything else like it. The detail was incredible, and right up to this day I love the R series cameras for the freedom they give me in editing, cropping, and making huge prints.”
Albert also used the Alpha 7S, “the ISO performance was insane”, he remembers, “and Alpha cameras made shooting at night a lot easier for me. In fact, all these bodies were a big shock to the whole industry”.
For a globetrotting photographer like Albert, Alpha also offered something vital: portability. And for the most telling example of this, we skip forward half a decade to meet him on the side of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. “It was 2017 and I wanted to capture its eruption with the Milky Way behind it,” he recalls. “It was a brutal hike, 1000s of feet above sea level and a very complicated exposure, but Alpha really helped to make it possible.”
“It wasn’t the safest place to shoot at that time,” he continues, “so I disguised my kit in this lame-looking tourist backpack. I took an Alpha 7R II, FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS, FE 50mm f/1.8 and FE 85mm f/1.8 and some, but it was designed so well that it still fitted in with all the other gear I needed to be there all night. With that level of portability, Sony made my literal journeys just as easy as the photographic one.”
Over the years, Albert feels he’s seen a shift in Sony’s path as well as his own. “Early on,” he explains, “all of the bodies were so innovative, and that’s still true, but with more recent cameras, the advancements now are more in function. The shifts in image quality aren’t as seismic as before because Sony already blew us all away with what they did. Now they’re pushing the envelope in other areas like lenses, ergonomics and autofocus.”
“10 years ago, it was a completely new system and so there weren't so many lenses,” he continues, “but until now, the choice has not only become amazing, but we’re also onto many Mark II optics. These are so much lighter that it’s amazing, and I can take a collection of lenses with me around a city or up a mountain without any stress at all. I’ll typically take the FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM or FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II on the wide end, depending on where I am shooting.”
As the journey continues, it seems there’s no more stopping Albert than there is Sony Alpha.
It was clear to me right from the beginning, that Sony was never going to be messing around on the edge of something. They were always going to be driving innovation in photography. Together, we kind of grew up. Me as a photographer and Alpha as a brand.”
"I am obsessed with getting the perfect shot"