a jaguar half buried in the water

The Heart of the Wilderness

Chris Schmid shoots with the Sony Alpha 9 III

My name is Chris Schmid and I'm a wildlife photographer and filmmaker from Switzerland. More than a decade ago, I embarked on a personal photographic journey, and I quickly found myself fascinated by the allure of big cats. There's a certain magic in the way they lock eyes with you, a connection that stirred something deep within me. It's as if they held the key to a world I needed to explore.

This passion grew into my life's purpose, becoming the heartbeat of my work. I chose this path because I couldn't ignore the profound challenges they face – from poaching to the harsh realities of human-wildlife conflicts and habitat loss. These magnificent creatures are fragile in the face of these adversities, and it's deeply personal for me to share their stories and foster a greater understanding of their plight.

When we look back 10 years ago and the incredible strides in technology, it becomes evident that creative fields, like digital imaging, have been revolutionised. What was possible a mere 10 years ago and where we stand today is a testament to our capacity to push the boundaries of artistic expression. I think creativity has no end, so is the camera technology.

When Sony asked me to test the new Alpha 9 III, I planned a trip to the Pantanal in Brazil - the largest tropical wetland in the world - to photograph the enigmatic wildlife that resides there.

tropical bird about to take flight

© Chris Schmid | Sony α9 III + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS + 1.4x Teleconverter | 1/1600s @ f/4.0, ISO 2000

For the first time in a full-frame camera you have a global shutter, so as a filmmaker and photographer, it will allow me to have no distortion when I capture a fast-moving subject. The global shutter sensor's ability to capture every detail, even in high-speed scenarios, is a game-changer.

The frame rate of this camera is mind-blowing, especially when it comes to capturing fast-moving subjects like birds in action. It allows me to seize those precise, split-second moments when a bird takes flight or snatches its prey. It's truly remarkable how the cameras autofocus keeps up with such precision.

The ability to shoot at such high frame rates expands the storytelling possibilities. It opens up opportunities to document the incredible speed and grace of birds in a way that was once challenging to achieve. It's like having the power to freeze time and capture the essence of these mesmerising moments in all their glory.

The shot below is just one of a series captured at 120 fps.

a cormorant eating a small fish

© Chris Schmid | Sony α9 III + FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS | 1/3200s @ f/6.3, ISO 800

Big Cats

Jaguars are elusive creatures, often moving between patches of shadows and light within their habitat. When they find themselves in the shadows, it can get quite dim, making low light photography a challenge. That's why a camera with excellent low light performance is particularly intriguing for me.

a jaguar sitting on a tree stump in the forest

© Chris Schmid | Sony α9 III + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 640

The ability to capture clean images even when pushing the ISO in low light conditions is a must. It allows me to document the jaguars without sacrificing image quality. As a wildlife photographer, this kind of camera performance is invaluable as it enables me to capture the nuances of a jaguar's existence. It's all about preserving the authenticity and majesty of these incredible animals in their natural habitat.

The animal Eye-AF of this camera is truly remarkable. One of the aspects I find particularly captivating is its ability to keep the animal in focus within its natural environment, even when obscured by branches or trees. It's nothing short of amazing.

jaguar half concealed in a forest

© Chris Schmid | Sony α9 III + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS + 1.4x Teleconverter | 1/1600s @ f/4.5, ISO 640

This feature allows me to capture the jaguars in a way that feels authentic and immersive. It preserves the essence of their habitat and behaviour, even when they're partially hidden from view.

The pre-capture feature is a game-changer when it comes to bird photography. Birds are renowned for their swift and unpredictable movements, making it challenging to anticipate the perfect moment to press the shutter. With pre-recording technology, I can essentially rewind time and capture those crucial moments leading up to a bird's flight. It's like having a visual buffer that ensures I never miss a critical shot.

a bird catching a fish in its beak

© Chris Schmid | Sony α9 III + FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS + 1.4x Teleconverter | 1/3200s @ f/4.5, ISO 640

Having the fastest camera on Earth at my disposal, capable of shooting at 120 frames per second and featuring pre-roll recording, is nothing short of exhilarating. This remarkable capability opens up a world of possibilities, especially when documenting the lightning-fast movements of cheetah hunts or birds taking flight. It will not only enhance my photography but also enable me to tell more immersive and captivating stories. It's a game-changing feature that brings me closer to the heart of the action and allows me to share the raw beauty and drama of the natural world with my audience.

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Chris Schmid

Chris Schmid | Switzerland

"Imagery is powerful. A single shot can capture an emotion or trigger a feeling within"

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