Photos from 2019 Priesthood Ordination Mass for the Archdiocese of St. Louis

Earlier today, I was honored to be able to join in the celebration of the ordination of seven new priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I was asked by the class to photograph their special event, and as I have done for many years, I gladly accepted and used the occasion to rent some new photography gear—this year I supplemented my Nikon D750 and F-mount lenses with a:

  • Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S lens (Z-mount)
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens (F-mount)

This was also the first year I kept my two workhorse zoom lenses (24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8) in the bag, and shot exclusively with prime lenses. I've often considered doing this, but only recently realized there was a good prime between 105mm and 200mm that I could rely on for the shots where the Archbishop interacts with the ordinands, for example, the Laying on of Hands:

Laying on of Hands - Archbishop Carlson

I shot the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens on my D750, and besides the occasional difficulty focusing—one time I had to pop the lens off and back on to get auto-focus to start again—it was quite sharp (though not like my Nikon 85mm f/1.8), and plenty fast to focus.

After using a Sony a6000 for about a year now, I've grown fond of some aspects of using a mirrorless camera—though I still can't get used to the EVF on it. I wanted to see what Nikon's new 'state of the art' was like, so I rented a Z6 with a 35mm 'S-line' lens. I used the 35mm for all wide shots, while I alternated between my Nikon 85mm and the rented Sigma 135mm lens for tighter angles.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is almost perfection for a good wide angle, and 24 or 35mm is my favorite focal length to capture the vibrant colors of the mosaics, for example:

Sanctuary and priests at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

And another one of my favorite shots from the Z6 + 35mm, during the Laying on of Hands:

Laying on of Hands - wide angle with Nikon Z6 and 35mm

I plan on posting a more detailed review of the Z6 and 35mm f/1.8 S lens later, from the perspective of a long-time DSLR shooter, but for now the main takeaways:

  • The EVF still has some quirks, and while chimping is not as important when it's truly WYSIWYG, it is still necessary in many cases, but it's a little... weird(?) compared to shooting with a mirror then chimping on the back display as needed.
  • Silent shutter is promising, but the slight banding in some circumstances makes it a non-starter in this generation of mirrorless cameras.
  • Focus performance is adequate in low light, but I still want me some 3D focus tracking; it's way more versatile for my style of shooting when using AF-C, especially for kids, sports, and movement.
  • Eye AF is... okay. Right now it's more like "50% of the time eye, 50% of the time eyebrow". I can't compare with Sony's latest mirrorless cameras, but compared to my own single-point AF-S performance, I'd say I'm more confident with focus-and-recompose when it's critical the focus is on the right spot in portraits.

All the photos I took at the Ordination Mass are available on Flickr, under a CC license and at full resolution:

2019 Priesthood Ordination