Open Letter to Sony

“What Camera Do You Use?”

Dear Sony,

I have been asked this question so many times on my Facebook page and in emails that I had to add it to the FAQ section on my website and create a message template with the answer in messenger. It is a question that appears without fail in comments on every photo essay that I post—often multiple times. A question that I have answered so many times that now, sometimes even before I can, someone else has already replied to it. The answer; a Sony Alpha 7s and a Sony Alpha 6000!

A DSLR user for over a decade, I switched to Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras before starting my world tour by bicycle in early 2015, because of their compact size, less weight, stunning image quality and other features such as installable camera apps. I bought a Sony Alpha 7s camera as a primary tool and a Sony Alpha 6000 as a backup, purchased 3 Sony lenses, fit everything inside the bicycle panniers and hit the road. I first completed a 10,000km journey from Germany to Pakistan and soon after embarked on a 3-year and a 30,000km journey from Ushuaia, Argentina to Alaska. After about 20 months and cycling 17,000 km, I am typing these words from a hotel in Mexico.

The two cameras have been my constant companions on the road. They have been to 23 countries and travelled over 25,000 km on the bicycle. They have seen deserts, reached high mountain passes, crossed risky torrential rivers and endured bumpy roads and numerous falls.

Chile 2016. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

When I was cycling alone in Bolivia’s wild Altiplano with no soul in sight; when I was camping under millions of stars in the vast lifeless Atacama desert; when I was struggling against the fierce Patagonian wind; and when I reached the highest mountain passes in the Andes, these cameras were the only witnesses I had.

Bolivia 2016. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4
Bolivia 2016. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4
Bolivia 2016. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

Then, there were the people I met on the road; the Chilean shepherd family that gave me shelter from a bitterly cold evening in their lonely hut at the 4000-m elevation, the Tajik Mujahid who fought fiercely against Russians in Afghanistan, a young Afghan refugee in the bazaars of Rawalpindi, the poor Peruvians illegally digging a riverbed all day long to prospect only 1 gram of gold, the Shaman leading a sacrificial ceremony in the Guatemalan Highlands, the indigenous Andean people from Peru in biblical attire preparing for an apocalypse, the inspirational Colombian artist without arms drawing portraits of people with his feet, the tireless French man walking around the globe, or a beautiful woman proposing to me in Tajikistan, these cameras documented everything.

Pakistan 2015. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4
Peru 2016. Sony Alpha 7s with Sony FE 24-70mm f/4
Colombia 2017. Sony Alpha 7s with Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

Not only did I document these experience in pictures, I also published detailed accounts of my encounters with the people. I wrote about the local communities and their customs and beliefs, as well as penned down my own personal challenges during this journey. I did this because I believe that it is the responsibility of a traveller to document experiences and share them with the public as a way to connect them with the wider world. And so, my travelogues are available for free in the form of detailed photo essays and single-picture stories on my Facebook page KamranOnBike with 86K followers.

Peru 2016. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

I am unashamed in admitting my love for these cameras. I recommended Sony mirrorless cameras to everyone. I did this before these cameras became hugely popular, and I continue to do so today. I love them as much as I love photography itself. And that is why I am so worried right now. My journey is far from over but my trusted camera equipment is facing technical problems. I am afraid that the equipment might not be able to take the same kind of pictures as it did in the past, or it might even just stop taking pictures at all.

Turkey 2015. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

My Sony Alpha 7s has a multitude of critical problems; the lens mount is very wobbly, once in a while an error shows up that requires a camera restart, at times the exposure compensation wheel doesn’t work, and upon switching on, the camera displays a warning message about attached accessories although no accessories are attached to it. Worst still, are the times when the camera does not react at all even when I press the shutter button for a long time. The rear glass element in my Sony 24-70-mm is loose and moves freely when detached from the camera. The focus operation used to be silent but now it is a bit noisy. The zoom ring on Sony 10-18 lens produces a clicking sound between 12-13mm range as if some internal circuitry has become loose and is blocking the way of moving elements, which can cause further damage to the lens.

Though I am still able to take pictures with this gear I have missed many important shots. The malfunctions in the camera and lenses are only going to get worse over time and can cause the equipment to become dysfunctional any time. If this happens, it is going to bring a halt to my journey. The scale of this tragedy for a cyclist-photographer on a world tour to document cultures, places, and experiences is unimaginable!

An indigenous Maya woman holding a photo of her which I took earlier using my Sony Alpha 7s and Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 and printed for her. (Antigua, Guatemala 2017)

As it becomes increasingly evident that I will soon not be able to capture high-quality images that have been the distinctive feature of my travelogues, I am scrambling to learn more about my options.

Tajikistan 2015. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony E 10-18 mm f/4

I have learnt that there is a Sony Service Center in Mexico City where it might be possible to get the camera and lenses fixed, but I fear for the high costs. The last time I checked with the Sony Service Center in Santiago, Chile, a price tag of 700 USD was quoted just for the repair of the wobbly lens mount. Considering the added number of critical problems now, I am not sure if everything can be fixed in time and if I would be able to afford the repair costs at all.

My followers are aware that I have been low on finances. As a matter of fact, I had to initiate a crowdfunding campaign just to be able to continue my journey. The campaign has barely managed to do that. And it isn’t really possible for me to purchase new equipment. I can, however, offer my work—original photographs of people, places, cultures and full stories in exchange for some support in this regard.

Ecuador 2016. Sony Alpha 7s with Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

Over the years, I have tried to contact you a number of times, hovered around Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors program and wondered if you may be interested in some of the work that I do, perhaps in exchange for fancy new equipment. Unfortunately, I could never get a response back from you.

I thought long and hard before reaching out to you again through this open letter. I am hopeful to get a response back this time. Hopefully, after reviewing my work crafted using the Sony cameras you are going to help me out in this matter by either offering a repair service or replacing my equipment.

Turkey 2015. Sony Alpha 7s & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

In 1998, Sony introduced a new corporate slogan, “Do you dream in Sony? We help dreamers’ dream.” At the age, when my friends and peers are moving up the ladder of career and starting their families, I took a leap of faith, quit my hard-earned job, risked professional career, and left everything behind to pursue my vision. I dared to dream in Sony. Now here I stand, wondering if you will help this dreamer achieve his dreams?

Meanwhile, people continue to ask me the same old question, “what camera do you use?” but I am occupied by a different thought. I am dreading the day when I start seeing the question, “what camera DID you use?”

Love,

Kamran

23 comments

  • Hi
    You pictures are beautiful and your journey is inspiring.. we can see the real culture of locals from eye of your camera.

    Have nice time

    Basim Abbasi
    Chicago

  • Being a Pakistani and adventure love, I am proud of what you are upto and I wish I can do something big for you but right now I only pray to Almighty Allah to help you in this regard.

  • Hello dear Kamran,

    I am not as wealthy to get you a camera, but i have spread your words. Holefully they will reach the concerned ears.

    I wish i could help you more.

  • I’ve been following Kamranonbike on Facebook to enjoy his remarkable journey. photos he share in this unique and daring travelogue, are full of life. His camera sense is exquisite. He captured some high quality photos which would have been impossible without Sony camera he used. Dear Sony, please help Kamranonbike complete this journey with your amazing camera. Thanks

      • did you approach pakistani brands or media channel, they waste tons of money in BS programs… they must be able to sponsor you…

  • Hi Kamran. I’ve sent your letter to famous photography/art site. Hopefully they will feature your letter. Because that site is a notable place for brand. Hopefully you’ll get heard by sony there.

  • Dear Kamran ji,

    I personally felt as if I’m travelling with you all along the way from germany, by the only means of photographs that you are constantly capturing with great efforts. But now i felt very sad after knowing the issue with your camera. I am with you keep going, we all followers of your journey will help you out from this trouble. I have forward your letter to some places, lets see hope for the best.

    Keep exploring

    • Thank you for your kind words and for your help! That is what keeps me going, my friend. Big thanks for forwarding the letter. Hoping for the best. Lots of greetings.

  • My dear Kamran bhi,

    Lots of prays for you to accomplish your dream. You are proud of all of Pakistan. stay blessed always. I have shared this post to all my photography & Social media links . I wish SONY makes you their ambassador to support your enthusiasm and dream. ALLAH pak app ko apny hifz o aman mien rukhay. Aameen

  • HI Kamran,

    I read your massage, I’ve been working on Sony Malaysia been 4 years and continues. As my hobby is a photography, I will share and send this to Sony as well I wish Sony will ambassador to support your enthusiasm and dream.

    Make your dream come true.

  • Hi kamran
    I ill share this message to maximum people that the only thing that I can do now….ur photographs are very stunning am also like to buy a Sony camera anyhow…

  • I know someone in Sony Europe. I will send your letter to him. Lets see if does something.

  • Shared this via Twitter. If Sony doesn’t respond and picks up this perfect opportunity for their brand, then we’ll do a crowdfunding campaign to fix the issues with the 7s. What about the Alpha 6000?

    Weiterhin eine gute Reise!

    • Thanks. Sony Alpha 6000 is an APS-C sensor camera which I bought as a backup and so I could use the inexpensive E 55-210mm telephoto lens and the wide angle lens 10-18mm. Back then the wide-angle lenses were not available for Sony Alpha 7s and I couldn’t afford the full-frame 70-200mm telephoto lens. Though the quality of Alpha 6000 is good and there are no technical problems with this camera it doesn’t match that of Sony Alpha 7s which is far superior in low light and in producing clean images. Besides, I prefer a full-frame camera for other reasons as well, such as crop factor, DOF, and most importantly higher dynamic range.

  • WoW!!! really admirable. Sounds like something freaky cool. Thanks a lot for sharing your great thoughts through your amazing post. Looking forward for more from you.

  • Only recently discovering your page, I love your photos and journey. Sadly I cannot support the idea of someone expecting this level of service. If Sony does come through that would be an amazing stretch of service that isn’t deserved the reality is that you have to have a back up plan.
    You could get a job in a country you’re in right now and save some money to pay for these repairs/purchases and hole that your subscribers help enough with donations. You have options so I wouldn’t wait on Sony or your subscribers to bail you out.

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