PF Bentley grew up in Waikiki on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu. At age 18, photography started out as a hobby for him because he wanted to be able to capture his friends surfing. Knowing nothing about the field, he purchased a used Minolta SRT-100 and began shooting surfers, concerts and anything he could to feed this new hobby, which he says quickly grew out of control and into an obsession. Fast forward to now – and you’ll see that Bentley’s obsession turned into an incredible career as a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker.
Bentley spent much of his career as a photographer and special correspondent with TIME Magazine. Hired by TIME in 1983, he worked there for 20 years covering presidential campaigns and domestic and international politics. Throughout these years he shot with Canon cameras. Now he’s back home in Hawaii still working as a photographer, but with the Sony system. So why did he switch to Sony after so many years of shooting with Canon? The answer lies within the innovation.
“I currently work for Hana Hou!: The Magazine of Hawaiian Airlines and for the Maui Visitors Bureau, as far away from politics as possible!” said Bentley. “You really have to evolve and change, or you die out. This brings me to why I switched from Canon to Sony. Canon it seems was bringing out the same camera every other year with very little incremental changes. Whereas Sony is truly coming out with cutting-edge upgrades. Canon’s attitude is to collect what every photographer wants and come out with it years after and expect everyone to change back to Canon. No, we aren’t going to do that.”
A trip into the jungle of Papua New Guinea for an assignment with Hana Hou! in 2015 with all of his heavy Canon gear marked a bit of a turning point. When he returned from this trip an old friend of his, Sony Artisan Brian Smith, had switched over and was obviously ahead of the photography game with Sony gear. Bentley saw this and immediately bought a Sony α6300 and 10-18mm f/4 lens.
“Hana Hou! did tests on the α6300 and at 100% you could do a two-pager and a cover, which is all I cared about,” said Bentley. “As long as it could do that, I was OK. I knew when the next full frame came out, I was going to have to have it and totally leave Canon.”
Bentley wanted to hold off for the newest full frame and so he waited until he could purchase the Sony α7r III. There were a few oddities with the α7R II that he wanted taken care of and he really wanted the 42.4MP.
“The placement of the video button and other controls along with the internal menu for the α7R II was a little difficult. Now with the α7R III, I love that you can totally customize this camera to who you are and how you shoot. I can easily have custom functions set up for the type of photo I’m going for. Here’s this camera where what you see is what you get. It’s small, it’s compact, it’s cutting-edge. And you know... Canon is again years behind.”
In addition to the features and unmatched image quality, Bentley loves the compactness of the Sony system. As part of his job he needs to be able to easily travel with a carry-on and then hike, so it’s important for him to be able to pack light and not have to think about it much.
“I’ve always had the saying, ‘Less gear, more pictures.’ When you have a lot of gear, you are weighed down by it both physically and in your own head. While you’re worrying about what to shoot with, you might miss the opportunity. If you have one camera and one lens, you’re going to make it work. My α7R III is ⅓ the size of a Canon. My entire kit can fit right in my bag. Once you’re freed up from the gear, you see things clearer. Sony allows me to do that.”
Sony α7R III. 3.2 sec., f/3.2, ISO 50.
Sony α6300. 1/640-sec., f/6.3, ISO 400.
Sony α6300. 1/250-sec., f/11, ISO 100.
Sony α7R III. 1/200-sec., f/9, ISO 100.
Sony α6300. 1/320-sec., f/9, ISO 100.
Sony α6300. 1/125-sec., f/13, ISO 400.