Sony’s Alpha 77 DSLR Debuts in Cuba With AU Abroad

HAVANA, Cuba, 9 September 2012 — While in Cuba with AU Abroad students last week, I spent some time at Casa de las Americas going over the basics of my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” course, to be taught by Cuban instructor Carlos Ernesto Escalona Marti.

Casa de las Americas is Cuba’s premier cultural institute, renowned across Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

A handful of AU Abroad students will be using Sony’s new Alpha 77 DSLR cameras, one of the latest to arrive on the scene of backpack video journalism. Sony has loaned American University’s School of Communication more than a dozen of the cameras. American University is one of just eight in the United States to receive the Sony “loaners.” Sony loaned the new gear, complete with microphones, tripods and backpacks, largely because of the Backpack Journalism Project that I founded and launched in 2010. DSLR cameras are the favorites of many documentary filmmakers for their ability to control depth of field as a compositional tool.

We now are in full throttle of the technological revolution that makes the methodology of video journalism possible. These handheld cameras can help produce a brand of visual communication far more immediate, far more intimate than can larger, shoulder-held cameras with extended crews.

I’ll be returning to Havana this semester, probably in November, to check in on our students — and the work they’re doing with the new Sony cameras.

(Photos by Carlos Ernesto Escalona Marti)

Above, here’s what the machine looks like from up close.

Above, one of my students looks over his new (loaned) toy.

Above, one of my students examines the Sony camera.

Above, students look over their photo equipment.

Above, I demonstrate how to use the Sony camera.

Above, I’m done, at least for now.