Hideki Matsui

Last week I was in New York riding the subway uptown with a train filled with Yankees fans which reminded me of a shoot I did last year of Hideki Matsui at spring training.

Covering Hideki is really quite a scene.

Hideki is Japanese Elvis. There are more sports photographers following Hideki than covering the rest of the Yankees combined. Fortunately, they are all very, very well behaved.

For this shoot of Japanese baseball players in the U.S., I used a Sony a700. Sony was in developing their full-frame Sony a900 they were looking for feedback from professional photographers. I was sent a Sony a700 and told to take it out and give it a beating to see how it held up under the conditions pros really use their gear. So I decided to give it a trial under fire by using it on a few jobs.

I was set-up for environmental portrait of Hideki in the Yankees Spring Training stadium, Legends’ Field in Tampa when the Yankees PR came up to say Hideki was doing the interview now and we might not get him later.

Rather than tearing down the lights from our big set-up and dragging everything across the stadium, I simply grabbed the Sony Alpha 700 and the Zeiss 85/1.4 and Zeiss 135/1.8 lenses. This series was shot in open shade under the stadium with the 135mm wide open at 1.8 at 1/60 handheld at ASA 100 using the camera’s built-in image stabilization to keep every shot razor sharp.

sports photography of New York Yankees' Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees
Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees
Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees

I like these Zeiss lenses a LOT. The Zeiss glass reminds me of the medium format lenses that I’ve used for years. Sony definitely has the right idea. It’s ALL about the glass. The Zeiss 16-35mm/2.8, Zeiss 24-70mm/2.8,�Zeiss 85/1.4 and Zeiss 135/1.8 are all razor sharp, but what’s hard to quantify is that not only are they sharp, but they have a great “look” that I’ve only seen from medium format glass.

The good news is that we eventually got the environmental portrait of Hideki that we were after, so the tight portraits were a nice bonus and when it comes to magazine photography, there’s no such thing as having too many options.

Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees

At this year’s PMA in Las Vegas I found out that Phil Lubell of Sony is a huge Yankees fan, so Mark Weir and I hooked Phil up with a 36″x54″ print of this photo for his office. If you can make a razor sharp 36″x54″print from a 12.2 mp Sony a700, you can imagine how great the prints look from the 24.6 mp Sony a900.

Here the trick to making really big prints:

First – Always shoot RAW if possible – the more information there is in your file the better.

Second – The best time to uprez is in RAW processing, so try to do it at that stage if possible.

Third – Choose an appropriate print resolution for the print size. Epson printers can interpolate from any print resolution, but they have sweet spots at 180, 240, 360 and 480 dpi. So for a relatively small print I’ll print at 480 dpi, but for a large print like this, I’ll use 180 dpi to minimize the need to uprez.

Now go out and do something Big!

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