After many weeks of research, (yes, I’m one of those that finds it necessary to scour the internet for as much information as possible before making a purchase) I finally made my decision to purchase the Sony Alpha A6000 mirror-less camera. The search was finally over and now all that I needed to do was to wait for the UPS man to deliver it to my door.
In preparation, I of course continued my research, downloading the owners manual so that I would be up to speed when the camera arrived, and watching a variety of YouTube videos about the camera. I was ready. Or so I thought.
When the camera arrived, I was excited to put it through it’s paces with a variety of test shots. After un-packing the camera and inserting the battery, I was greeted by a “re-charge battery” note on the 3″ LCD screen. My tests would have to wait until the following morning.
The next day, full of anticipation, and a fully charged battery, I read myself for a day of testing, experimenting and basically enjoying my new camera. Although it was dark, gloomy and pouring rain, I was determined to get started, no matter the conditions, after all, I was not out to make Art, but rather explore future possibilities. Grabbing my camera, equipped with the Kit lens I stepped outside onto the front porch, where a neighborhood stray cat was lounging on the chair. We call him Dexter, and he would be the “purrrrfect” subject for the first few shots, after all, the fur and whiskers would give e a good idea of the lens quality and the sensors ability to capture detail. Setting the camera file format to RAW (which provides the best initial data for post production tweaking) I exposed the first 4 shots. Being both curious and only steps from my Mac, I was anxious to see the results immediately. After all, this is why we have digital cameras in the first place, right?
I opened Adobe Lightroom 3.6 and inserted the 32GB Lexar SD card into my high-speed reader. I selected “Import” from the menu and was expecting to see the usual screen appear with thumbnails of the images being read from the card. Instead what I saw were 4 blank boxes. But where were the thumbnails? After selecting the “target” folder inside of Lightroom, I tentatively clicked the “Import” button. I was already thinking to myself, could I live without the thumbnails in the preview mode? Maybe the images would be recognized by the software, and the IQ (Image Quality) would be so fantastic that the missing preview was but a small sacrifice to make in the grand scheme of things. But what happened next, changed the course of my plans. A small window appeared stating “File Format Count NOT be Recognized”. Arrghhh! What?
After several deep breaths, I moved forward with finding a solution to this temporary set back. After all, I was online and had the combined power of the Internet and Google at my disposal. Surely in a few short minutes I would be back at work with my new camera.
What I discover was the following. There are several work a rounds available. One was a stand alone Utility called Adobe DNG Converter. This program converts RAW files from many camera manufacturers to a readable file which can then be imported into Adobe Lightroom. OK, an extra step, not the end of the world. I followed the link to the Adobe download page, and clicked on the latest version of DNG Converter. Instead of downloading, another one of those annoying pop up windows appeared. “This Program Requires MAC OS 10.7 or higher”. I have 10.6.8. and, because of the age of my computers processor, no further upgrades are being offered by Apple. I’ve maxed out my System and short of buying a new Mac, OS 10.6.8 was where I was going to stay. So I found earlier versions of the same converter Utility, only to discover that they do not support the Sony Alpha A6000.
The next idea was to upgrade Lightroom. Strangely enough, I was already on track to do that very thing. In fact, my upgrade disc, purchase on Ebay arrived that same day. Perhaps by upgrading to Lightroom 4.04 my new cameras RAW files (actually Sony labels it ARW, that should have been my first hint that something was going to work out right) would be gladly accepted, and I could put this whole escapade behind me, and get back to my goal of integrating this camera into my Photographic arsenal.
After a successful installation of the software Upgrade (well, at least SOMETHING was going right today) I fired up my new Lightroom 4.04 and confidently clicked on “Import”. I was greeted by the same disappointing results as before. Strike 2
At this point, if I haven’t lost you due to my rather lengthy discourse, you are probably asking yourself, why not just shoot JPEG and be done with it? And I even let that thought into my head for a very brief moment too. But limiting myself to the jpg format would be like buying a Porsche and being constrained to a 55mph speed limit. Why bother owning a machine with such capabilities if you could never use them?
I quickly came to the realization that, despite my best efforts to research this decision from every angle, I had neglected one vital aspect. Would the camera communicate and integrate into my current work flow. The Sony A6000 sadly would not, and needed to go back. I carefully packed the camera into its original state, making sure that everything was just as it was when it arrived on my door step. After receiving a RMA number from B&H Photo, the camera was securely placed in its shipping carton, labeled and dropped off at UPS for it’s long and lonely trip back to NYC, where I can only hope it finds a home better suited to its needs and capabilities.
For me? I learned a valuable lesson that day, and within just a few mouse clicks, I had a list of cameras that were compatible to my current hardware and software. And on that list were 3 other “contenders” that had made my previous “short list”. But that is a subject for a future posting.