Snowzilla at the Korean War Memorial

Snowzilla at the Korean War Memorial

by Jason Vines

Winter is my next-most favorite season in Washington, DC, after fall, and one reason is that I enjoy snowstorms. I love the feeling of stepping into another world when I venture out into a blizzard, and I relish the challenge of staying warm and dry under such unforgiving conditions.

This time, I brought a new companion with me, the Sony A7R II mirrorless camera. The Sony full frame mirrorless system replaces my Nikon D810 and its associated paraphernalia, the weight of which almost made me lose the will to live after putting it on my back for the first time in a few months following a surgery. I had expected to wait much longer before considering mirrorless, but the Sony a7 cameras have advanced much faster than I had anticipated. Still, even after the A7R II came out, I decided to keep waiting.

What changed my mind was having to lug the weight of my Nikon apparatus around for my Christmas holiday outing when I wasn’t used to it, thereby gaining a better appreciation of just how heavy my old gear was. I don’t have a car; I must hike or bike everywhere I go, and to make that easier, I finally embraced Sony mirrorless.

Snowzilla snowman with GW students
Snowman with the GW students who built it

One of the concerns I had before switching was durability. Could the A7R II serve as ably as the D810 as an adventure camera? Ultimately, I figured if the Sony mirrorless cameras were robust enough for Angela PanTrey Ratcliff, Colby Brown, and Matt Kloskowski, I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I put that to the test last night as Snowzilla hugged DC with full force.

I carried my A7R II out in the open for several hours as it got hit by snow and wind, and ultimately became encrusted with ice. The camera persevered like a born cold warrior the whole evening. My only issue was that the ice that built up on the viewfinder triggered the sensor in the camera that tells where you’re looking, so the LCD screen on the back eventually wouldn’t automatically turn on. I probably could have done something about that, but I felt no need to do so.

Snowzilla hangout at Albert Einstein Memorial
Young people hanging around the snow-covered Albert Einstein Memorial

I have no reservations about the A7R II as an “adventure” camera. I guess it’s probably not as tough as its beefier DSLR cousins in absolute terms, but in my real world use so far, during a historic blizzard, I’ve had no issues.

I’ll post other impressions of my new camera as time goes on.

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