May 242016
 

Hi Steve

My day job is in the photo industry, but in sales, not the creative side. In my early career I was a pro photographer. A staff photographer for the University of Edinburgh, doing varied stuff from Press/PR, graduation, architecture, portraiture, studio still life and more as well as darkroom work and managing an image library. A change of city (following my now wife) to Glasgow lead me into photo retail to pay the bills and now I work for a photo accessories import and distribution company, so my photography is now by and large for myself.

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I still have a varied interest in photography, with my first love being reportage. That said I find that landscape is what I do most. Being a “traveling salesman” as my wife likes to call me, landscape is easiest to fit into my day. I also get the opportunity to do a fair bit of street photography. I shoot with the Sony A7 system these days and I have a set of Canon FD lenses that I haven’t been using as much as I’d like, so I decided to take my 2 sons and dog to the beach near where we live.

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Instead of taking a selection of focal lengths I just took my Sony A7II and the Canon FD 50mm f1.4 with a cheap FD to E mount adapter. I wanted to simplify and restrict myself, which helped me focus on the job of getting the shot. The Sony is easy to use with manual lenses but it was going to be a challenge to nail the focus on 3 and 5 year old boys running amok at the beach. Especially as I wanted to shot wide open at f1.4. The shots are a mix of posed and action and my hit rate was satisfyingly high but I think I’ll need a bit more practice to get more shots of the boys in motion.

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The 50mm focal length was a joy to use and I’ve fallen in love with it having always been more into wider anger lenses. I’m now looking into something fast, 50 and AF but have to say I was very happy with the shots I got. Maybe the recently announced Samyang AF 50mm f1.4. I played around in Lightroom with different post options but settled on black & white as being the best option. I hope you like them.

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Cheers,

Evan Smith

May 202016
 

Winter Day… Resolve

by Dirk Dom

Hi!

Last month I spent €1,400 on prints. That’s crazy. I have credit card debt, and I want to get out of it. So, I told myself to spend no more than €300 a month on projects etc. I’m really, really serious about it.  Main thing is that I’ll stop black and white photography for eighteen months. Black and white, for me, needs to be postprocessed and printed in very high quality, and with €300 a month, that’s not possible. When I have images, I can’t resist printing. If I don’t generate images, I won’t have the urge to print.

So, goodbye Linhof and Mamiya 7, for a while.

Will I be miserable?

Certainly not. There is so much else I can do with photography. It’s only a matter of selecting what else I will do. I’m going to shoot the Hasselblad Xpan and my Canon F1. (Lost all interest in digital a year ago) Color neg, prints cost only a quarter of black and white. A 6 by 18 inch Xpan print costs me 3 Euro’s.  Today, I’ve been looking around my Xpan shots, just to get an idea of possibilities and potential.  Here are some which I like, but be warned: with me, anything goes in post.

So, I said, no black and white. Well, that’s going to be tough. A few minutes of post on this Fuji Superia 400 color image yielded this:

Note the nice silvery greys of the Cathedral and the great grain in the skies. I don’t often convert color to black and white.

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Looking a bit further in my files, I found a shot of a sidewalk in San Francisco.

Popping saturation up to 50, made it into this

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Cropping and converting to black and white:

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And saturating red:

I shoot just about anything that shows potential. Not that I take many pictures: I give every shot careful thought.

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The silver screen behind a windshield, solarized and made it high key:

I got less and less frustrated with my resolve not to shoot black and white for 18 months, but I got a little worried I’d start printing.

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I fooled around with solarisation and converting to negative, and I found this image of a box full of oranges:

Now, isn’t that cool? Images which convert in such a nice way are extremely rare.

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I can even shoot normal stuff, the 90mm is very nice for close ups:

My son, with the Golden Gate, 90mm.

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So,

I’m going to walk around with the Xpan and have fun. In a more serious way, I’m going to shoot Antwerp for a year and a half. This Summer, I’m bicycling from Antwerp to Benidorm in Spain and I’ll also take the Xpan, with the 45 and the 90 and a batch of Ektar 100. That’ll cost me less than staying home. At first I wanted to take the Mamiya 7 with the 43 and 150mm and do masterly black and white, but it’ll be for another time.

Bye,

Dirk.

 

May 192016
 

Three from Me

by David Jones

Hi,

The Gent covering his face was a street shot taken in a Sheffield cafe in UK. He sat next to me and my family, ordered soup and sat with his head in his hands until his order arrived. It was taken with a Fuji XT1 35mm 1.4 lens. To me its a shot that makes me pleased that I always carry a camera.

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The shot of the man and baby was taken As I was testing light for another shot I was about to take for a personal project I had been working on. The project was called intimate-inanimate and centered upon individuals and their most personal single possession. This shot was just taken as he held his child whilst I set the lighting. It was taken on Canon 5d mk3 and 85mm 1.8.

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The landscape was also taken on a 5d mk3 and was shot In Fleetwood Uk. I was shooting a local press story but the subject was running late so I took my camera for a walk on a nearby beach and found this scene, another reason to always have a camera handy and to look for scenes and subjects you may not be originally looking for.

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Dave

May 182016
 

Passover in Bnei Brak

By Ziv

Hi Steve and Brandon,

On Passover Jewish law prohibited eating chametz. Before Passover traditionally Orthodox Jews burn the chametz (bread, etc.). The following pictures were taken in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city. The pictures were taken mainly by Canon 6D with the wide lens 17-40L.

Each tour in that city and especially before the holidays is a great experience and exciting.

Best wishes
Ziv

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May 132016
 

40 years of flower shooting in the Zevenbergenbos, Ranst, Belgium

By Dirk Dom

I got my first camera, a Canon FTb, 40 years ago, when I was eighteen. It was a present from my mom and dad because I had graduated athenaeum.

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It came with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and for little bit of money I bought a set of diopter lenses and I started shooting flowers. I had extremely little money then, but two years later I had a real Canon FD 100mm f/4 S.C. macro lens, with which I would take tens of thousands of shots. Some were even good!

The Zevenbergen forest in Ranst I knew since birth, and there I went back again and again. Especially in spring, this little forest has spectacular flowers. This is how it looks in March:

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And this is how the meadows near it are in high summer:

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Both shots with a Mamiya C330 TLR, Fuji Velvia of course. So, plenty to shoot.  After 40 years, I still go back there often; I know every square inch of it, so I know exactly where to go.

About four years ago, I got tired of shooting flowers. I had reached perfection and I shot absolutely beautiful and absolutely boring flower pictures. I upgraded to making interesting flower photographs, like this one:

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I had bought an Olympus PEN and I had a 200mm macro lens and I experimented a great deal. I learnt to look and how to get the picture the way I wanted it. I don’t think I could have ever reached the level I’m at now without those three years of being digital. Two years ago I got fed up with the limitations of digital, and I stopped shooting flowers again. The limited processing potential, the burnt out whites and colors and the color noise, the absence of surprise. So, about a year ago, after looking back in detail at my film flower shots (scanning and opening them up myself) and discovering the potential, I went back to film. I had also gotten into medium format shooting Fuji Velvia with a Mamiya C330 and of course that totally smoked my PEN. I experimented with film, found out it was what I looked for, got more confident and now I’ve started doing a new kind of flower shots, using a 85mm f/1.2 wide open and a Petzval lens. You can find the explanation on this site, I posted a few weeks ago.

These are the first shots I took with the 85mm and a 50mm extension tube in the Zevenbergen forest. My 58th birthday was April 16th, so, forty years! I shot one film in about two hours and got seven good shots. When I shot with the PEN, I usually came home with about 400 images. At first I was a bit fed up because it was the same routine all over again, but after ten shots I got interested and started really searching. Unlike digital there is a very big surprise factor here.

All shots Fuji Superia 800, overexposed two to four stops, scanned on an Epson V750, not that much post processing because the film look is kind of delicate. Well, here they are…

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I hope these shots won’t get boring, I’ll diversify, maybe I’ll use the 200mm macro again and see how my old techniques look on film, but now I enjoy this.

Dirk.

Feb 092016
 

Pro’s moving to Mirrorless? Yes they are!

By Craig Roberts

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Are pro’s moving to mirrorless cameras as well as amateurs and enthusiasts? Yes, they are. Is the quality good enough? Yes, it is. Can you still sell the images easily? Yes, you can. Are the images accepted by photo libraries? Yes, they are.

I made the move to mirrorless cameras a couple of years ago and use them for travel and landscape photography. I had intended to invest in the Fuji system with the XE-1, but trying both this and the Olympus E-M5 MK1 at a trade show, in my hands there was no question which felt best and I bought an E-M5 the next day.

The E-M5 has since made way for the E-M1, whilst a faulty E-PL5 was replaced with an E-P5. It’s a great combination of cameras and I have a great set of primes and zooms in the OMD system to cover all eventualities. I don’t like talking gear that much. To me it’s all about the image. The camera is just a tool and whether you choose Olympus, Fuji, Sony or Canon or Nikon for that matter, makes no difference to the end result. It’s the picture that’s important in the end, not what was used to create it.

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That said, mirrorless cameras have some great advantages over their digital SLR cousins and whilst they aren’t perfect, each of the Fuji, Sony and Olympus models have their plus and minus points.
The OMD system works for me as a landscape photographer. It suits me, the cameras feel good in my hands and the system matches my way of shooting and produces fantastic results. If I had chosen the Fuji or Sony instead, I’m sure I would have written the same sentence about them for this feature.

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I started off buying the selection of primes for the cameras, because I felt the small and compact size of the lenses, especially the Olympus ones, suited the smaller and more compact camera bodies. I love working with prime lenses and I like the discipline they force upon you. They make you consider your viewpoints more. They force you to see the world through their focal length and encourage you to put more thought into whether you should stick with that focal length or swop to another, much more than there would be with a zoom lens. Of course, they are smaller, generally faster and sharper than zoom lenses and everyone should have at least one fixed prime lens in their arsenal to appreciate the limited vision that they offer, which is a bonus, rather than a hindrance.

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I do have some zooms and they are useful for certain situations and subjects. There are times when changing lenses all the time is not convenient and so this is where zooms come into their own. Having spent the last 20 years shooting landscapes, I now, like many others, pass on my knowledge though workshops etc. In this changing world of photography, it has often become the way for landscape photographers to earn money from their profession. There’s not many photographers shooting and selling landscape images without using teaching as a way to top up their income.

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I use many was of teaching. Through location-based workshops, online courses, text-based articles and more recently through video. This last medium is an exciting one and a way of teaching that the others can’t match. I have a YouTube channel and I also a subscription service run from my website called e6, which offers even more videos and content. I teach about landscape photography and to a certain extent, the advantages of shooting with mirrorless cameras. I will rave about the Olympus system, but appreciate the choices others have made too. They all have their place and as I said at the beginning, the camera is merely a tool for an artist to use (we photographers are artists aren’t we?!)

I love photography and I love shooting with mirrorless cameras, just as I did with my Canon SLR and my Mamiya medium format camera before that come to think of it. I need a camera that suits my needs as a professional photographer. The Olympus does that in bucket loads and I’m happy to use these new breed of cameras as a workhorse for my work.

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So, the images in this feature were all captured with Olympus cameras. They make fantastic landscape cameras, yet are equally perfect for street photography too. I’m capturing images that I probably never would have with my Canon SLR and they have made me a more creative photographer. They are part of my evolution as a photographer. Why? Because of their size, their design and their flexibility. Yes, they are just a tool, but if you have great tools to work with, your progress isn’t hindered.

My YouTube Channel:
www.youtube.com/channel/UCqRkV8eRVvxwVStV5May0rQ

My website:
www.craigrobertsphotography.co.uk

Nov 232015
 

Crazy ONE DAY DEAL on Canon Rebel T5i and 18-55 and Printer! $399!

B&H Photo is having a crazy deal today. A Canon T5i DSLR, 18-55 Lens and a Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Printer! All for $399!!! Normal price is $1084 so I am guessing they have massive stock of this guy and are offering this deal to clear some out. I normally do not review DSLR’s but this is an awesome deal for someone looking for a higher end christmas gif this year! The Rebel is perfect for beginners, students, or anyone looking to upgrade to something better than their phone.

This one is a no brainer, you can see or buy this deal HERE at B&H Photo!

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Oct 272015
 

Hi Steve,

I shoot available light. Always have, always will.I have owned and used a “Dream Lens” (Canon 0.95- but you know that) for years. It was modified for use on my M6 and M3  (by the way I had to modify the M3 to use it).

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When I switched to m4/3 because that format would let me use my “legacy” Leica Glass, the Canon Lens had an efl of 100 mm and weighed almost as much as my DSLRs. That weight defeated my purpose. Using the Canon lens on Lumix digicams, the lens results on m4/3 were excellent. Lugging it around was quite another story. Imagine my delight, therefore, when I learned of the Mitakon 25mm 095 (efl 50mm). The lens was supposed to be released to consumers in late October- well, it’s late October and my supplier had no idea when he would be receiving the lens. Frankly, I couldn’t wait so I picked one up at PhotoPlusExpo for $399 the day before yesterday.I had to pay cash as they had no credit card  machines at the “China Pavillion”.

I used the Mitakon at the show but only at 0.95. Some of the results are attached. The lens is very tiny (comparatively speaking). It is even smaller than my Leica 25mm Summilux. The results are quite good. I also shot at the show with the Canon 0.95. I have provided one image for comparison.The images are limited in scope but you might find them interesting.

All images below are from the Mitakon except the last one, which is from the Canon 50 0.95. Digicams were 2 Lumix GX1s and a Lumix G3. The images were produced with my usual post processing.

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The Canon Dream Lens…

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Oct 152015
 

The Race of Gentlemen (with Fuji X and Canon 70D)

By James Conley

Every October, tattooed and heavily bearded men (and a few women) gather in Wildwood, New Jersey, and take over a section of the beach. With beer on tap, loud music, and louder motorcycles and cars, this motley crew waits for the tide to recede and then grinds up the sand racing antique vehicles down a quarter-mile. Known as The Race of Gentlemen, the event at first seems to be one of the most wrongly named.

Since the event was a spectacle, and I didn’t have to worry about being discrete, I set out to observe the event with three cameras: a Fuji X100s, XE-1, and a Canon 70D. Although “motorsports” often brings to mind long lenses and monopods, my interest in the event was more about the people than the racing. Thus, my lenses were almost all wide. I relied heavily on an older Canon L Series 17-35mm on a 70D, with the X100s outfitted with the 50mm Teleconverter. The XE-1 had a support role with the 55-200mm. I find the Fujis easier to work with in bright light, because exposure compensation is obvious. But the speed of the Canon can’t be beat.

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Wandering through the crowd, what at first appears to be a lawless takeover by various biker gangs is anything but. The dress code is the first clue. High, laced boots, paired with jodhpurs. Pilot and horseback riding helmets. Knit jerseys lettered with race events seven decades past. The women sport short bangs with long hair, beehives, and Rosie the Riveter styles, paired with high-waisted, pinstriped shorts.

Then there are the bikes. These aren’t the Harley-Davidson’s you’ve seen on television. They are long. And old. Very old. Mixed in is the occasional Henderson and a smattering of Indians, all with huge engines. The cars are likewise all American: Mercury, Buick, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, Ford, and Chrysler. Model A’s, coupes, and roadsters. Each one a piece of moving history, and each one with a driver or rider whose knuckles show the years of effort it took to rebuild these machines to working order.

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Then there are the smiles. Broad and warm, the smiles are constant. Every face is marked with joy, even when the car won’t start, even when the bike doesn’t turn over.

Then it becomes obvious that this isn’t a random gathering of ne’er do wells. This is an effort to capture a specific time in history, and to relive the best parts of it. The cars are all American made, 1953 or older. The bikes are all American made, 1947 or older. The clothes, helmets, and goggles are also antique. And so is the definition of “Gentlemen.”

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This gathering is, in fact, about being a gentleman. Those who build, enter, and race their machines exhibit the good, courteous, and polite conduct befitting the title. Despite the sand, the grease, the noise, the competition, and even the alcohol, each racer stays true to gentlemanly form: quick to lend a hand, always with a charming smile, undisturbed by adversity, and always stylish. It is a set of values not of the present time, and the strict rules for entering the race make perfect sense: The Race of Gentlemen is not about racing cars and motorcycles down a beach; The Race of Gentlemen is about recapturing the American can-do spirit, the generosity, the love of life, and the camaraderie that come from choosing to be part of the human race, as a gentleman.

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I’m happy to share with you this brief photo-essay of a day of vintage racing.

More images can be seen on my website: http://f-eleven.com, and on Instagram: @philatawgrapher

Oct 052015
 

Canon EOS M Review (Or Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Camera)

By Jonathan Acierto

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Hello Steve and Brandon,

The Canon EOS M got a lot of bad reviews when it first came out. It was basically dead on arrival due to all of its shortcomings and perceived lack of effort on Canon’s part to design a camera that could rival the other mature mirrorless system cameras from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji. So when it came time to choose a mirrorless camera to carry around to replace my Sony RX100 compact, I chose the Canon EOS M. Why on earth would I choose the apparently worse mirrorless offering? I’ve been using it for a little while now and, even with all its shortcomings, let me explain why I’m happy with the EOS M.

Price

When the EOS M was first released, it was originally priced for retail at about $800 for the kit with the 22mm f/2 pancake lens. Ever since the camera flopped, the price has been dramatically reduced to about $379 for the same kit on Amazon, and even less for the body only. You know what that means: really low used prices. Heading over to the fantastic KEH, I was able to get an EOS M with the 18-55mm kit lens for under $300, less than I paid for the RX100. Even compared to the entry level m43 cameras, the EOS M is a steal. Kudos to all of you who have enough disposable income to buy top of the line mirrorless cameras and glass from Leica, Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, etc. Reading headlines of people who have multiple mirrorless cameras and can buy f/-1.0 lenses for all of them makes me jealous. But for the rest of us folks who have a limited amount of disposable income, price is and always will be a major factor.

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Video

While the photographic community has shunned the EOS M, the video community has embraced it and it has become somewhat of a cult video camera. I was originally looking to get a camcorder, but entry level enthusiast camcorders with relatively larger sensors start around $1,000. I simply wasn’t interested in getting a consumer grade camcorder due to the small sensors, hence the lack of DOF control. Entry level HDDSLR’s and high end superzooms (like the Sony RX10) have become a great value for getting professional looking video, but they are still relatively bulky and the ergonomics aren’t the best for video. Action cameras are tiny and can withstand all kinds of abuse, but they are just not designed for shooting everyday videos of your kids (unless your kids are surfing or riding a dirt bike and you want to get footage from their point of view).

The EOS M has became a popular camera to use for video because it has a large sensor which enables it to get the same DOF control as HDDSLR’s, it has a mic input so you can get better audio by connecting a much higher quality mic, and it is very compact and light weight, perfect for run and gun video shooting. Years ago I had a Canon Rebel T1i and I loved using it for video, but it didn’t have autofocus or tracking focus in video mode, so I had to manually focus. After a while, manual focus became a real chore. If I was a DP or first AC, I’d probably do a better job with manual focus, but I’m just not that good. The EOS M has auto and tracking focus in video mode. It’s not perfect by any means, and other mirrorless system cameras have better auto and tracking focus in video, but the EOS M is still better in most situations compared to my crappy mannual focusing. Keeping the aperture closed down a bit to get a deeper depth of field helps too. While having a razor thin DOF in a still photo is all the rage nowadays, having a razor thin depth of field for long lengths of time in video footage is now cliche and tends to get really monotonous and hard to watch. Video is a whole different art compared to photography, all you have to do is pay attention to what you see in movies and on TV. In the video world, shallow DOF is used very sparingly.

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Operational Speed

Trying to use the EOS M like a DSLR or enthusiast camera sucks, and sometimes it can be painful (sounds like the complaints about the original Fuji X100, doesn’t it?). I’m used to just pointing the camera towards the subject, half pressing the shutter button to acquire focus, and pressing the shutter button all the way down once the camera gets focus. With the Sony RX100, I’m able to get focus and snap a photo or 2 of people on a sidewalk while I’m in a moving car. Letting the EOS M decide what to focus on is a crap shoot, it could focus on the correct subject fairly quickly, or it could take a while to hunt for focus. The slow focus is the main reason why the camera has been criticized so heavily.

Then I had a revelation: the EOS M was designed for regular consumers who are used to a smartphone touch interface. This may be obvious at first, and many reviewers mentioned this, but it’s easy to forget if you’re an enthusiast or professional who normally uses a DSLR, mirrorless system camera, or other more advanced camera. Once I started using the touchscreen to focus, the camera felt much quicker to use. Using the touch screen to focus, then pressing the shutter button to take the photo, works much like my iPhone. The EOS M also does a fairly decent job tracking the subject once you acquire focus via the touch UI. It’s also much quicker to change settings (white balance, ISO, etc.) using the touchscreen compared to using the physical buttons and wheel to dive into menus. People always complain that camera interfaces are stone age, but Canon designed a pretty good touch interface for the EOS M, and reviewers complained it’s too touch oriented for more serious photographers. Go figure.

The biggest slow down after getting over the touch UI focusing seems to be after pressing the shutter button all the way down. The camera takes almost a full second to write to the memory card. I’m not entirely sure why this process is so slow, as the camera can write 1080P video at 30fps to the card without any slowdowns. Is it annoying? It can be, especially when I’m trying to fire off 2 or 3 shots quickly as I do with the Sony RX100 or Canon 6D. Does the slow write speed stop me from shooting the moments I’m trying to capture? No. I actually think the slow write time helps slow me down and be more selective of my shots. With my Canonet QL17 GIII 35mm film rangefiner, I have to wind the film after every shot, so I’m used to not being able to take shots in quick succession. With the EOS M, I’m shooting more in the Cartier-Bresson, wait for the decisive moment style, rather than spraying and praying.

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Image Quality

It’s good, what more do you need to know? Just look at the photos. We’re at a point where any camera with a sensor 1″ or larger can take fantastic photos, the only limitation is the quality of the lenses. While the native EF-M mount lenses aren’t professional L glass quality, they’re good. I’d even say they’re better than the older, pre-STM Canon DSLR EF-S mount crop sensor lenses I’ve used. The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM (35mm full frame equivalent) is certainly as good as any of the mid level Canon EF USM prime lenses, it’s about 1/4 of the price, and it’s tiny. Putting this lens on the M makes it almost as compact at the Sony RX100. I don’t plan on using the EF-M 18-55mm IS zoom lens much for stills, but it’s more than good enough for shooting 1080p video. The image stabilization really helps to eliminate vomit-inducing camera shake.

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Closing Thoughts

For all the talk of the convergence of stills and motion in one camera, it still hasn’t quite happened yet in the enthusiast/professional space. In the consumer world, I think the iPhone and smartphones have become the only camera normal people need for stills and videos, making smartphones true convergence devices. That leaves pros and enthusiasts as the only people left who are willing to spend money on a separate camera and/or camcorder.

Mirrorless system cameras have changed the stills world and HDDSLR’s have changed the motion camera world, so it makes sense that the newest convergence cameras will be a combination of those two devices. Mirrorless system cameras are gaining better video capabilities all the time, but Canon started the HDDSLR revolution, so they are coming at the mirrorless world from the opposite direction of taking the HDDSLR video capabilities and cramming them into the EOS M. They did a good job, all they need to do now is match the stills photography performance of their entry level DSLR’s. I think they’re getting there; the reviews for the third generation EOS M3 have been very good. Canon has had plenty of time to improve the M since the original was released 3 years ago. The reviews of the M3 have been so good that Canon decided to release the M3 in the US after initially announcing they wouldn’t. A couple more iterations of the EOS M and they’ll not only catch up to the other mirrorless cameras, but they may even surpass them. In the meantime, I’ll have my EOS M in hand, capturing fantastic videos and photos and having a blast.

All the photos included with this review were shot with the 22mm f/2 EF-M STM lens. For more of my photos, please visit my Flckr page:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/samuraislice/album/

Jonathan V. Acierto

Aug 202015
 
fujix100s

From Canon to Fuji

by Stuart Cripps

Hi Steve,

Firstly can I congratulate you on your fantastic website. I love and appreciate your honesty and passion when telling us about the latest greatest stuff in the wonderful world of photography.
Real, honest hands on is so much more valuable than lab tests and pictures of book cases :)

Secondly, can I scold you for doing nothing to quell my longing for a Leica! (lol) I know I don’t ‘need’ one but I still romanticized about creating my work with one, and your site doesn’t help.

A bit about me. I’m a graphic designer by trade but my passion is photography, something that gives me a true sense of creativity and satisfaction. I started out with a Canon G9 but then made the ridiculous upgrade to a 5DmkIII about 3 years ago with the intention of improving my craft and trying to make it my career. Unfortunately 3 years later I am just getting to that point as I am held back by the most crippling of diseases… complete lack of self-confidence and belief.

Framed

I learned a lot of my 5DmkIII but along the way my recreational/hobby work seemed to lose something. It could have been the way I approached shots, too critical on nailed focus etc, maybe it was the fact the camera drew too much attention? Who knows? Either way it really felt like although my photos technically improved they lost some of their personality along the way. Which leads me to my short user review of sorts below…

Back in June I had 3 weeks before I was due to shoot my first wedding, in Paris – a real baptism of fire for me, my first paid wedding, my first time flying alone and my first time in France. It was make or break time! For peace of mind I needed a sidekick camera to accompany my Canon 5DmkIII (you never know when the gremlins may strike). I needed something that would suit my documentary/reportage style that i could easily master within my short 21 day prep window.

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After much research and hair pulling I decided to avoid a second bulky DSLR or the risk (and expense) of buying into another lens system. Based on all the reviews and sample images the Fujifilm X100T seemed like the way to go. I have been following Fuji’s progress for some time and it seemed they had nailed it with this tiny bit or drool worthy retro skinned hardware.

Well what can I say, I was not disappointed. From the looks, to the handling to the image quality I think I may be falling in love with this new addition to my kit bag. This may be in part because it fills the gap I will never afford to fill (or indeed justify) with the holy grail of documentary, a Leica. Mainly though it’s because it is such a wonderful tool to work with.

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Stop

As much as I love my 5DmkIII I felt my photography lost a little of what pulled me in to begin with, the size, the attention it drew when I tried to shoot covert etc. The X100T rectifies all of that, it takes me back to when I started out with my trusty Canon G9. It allows me to be covert, creative and spontaneous with little to no impact on my surroundings. In essence it has brought some of the fun and magic back into the process of capturing life around me.

The-Passenger

Is it perfect? No, certainly not. Battery life is shocking especially next to the 5DmkIII. The focus can be hit and miss, especially in lower light and the menus take some getting used to, expect a few head scratching moments as you try to squeeze the best from this little gem. But with a little practice and effort you are soon rewarded and forgive the X100T it’s shortcomings and once more begin to fall in love with its raw retro charm.

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I have only just started my journey and I am looking forward to see what images this new partnership helps me to create. The magic is back.

If you like what you see then please feel free to visit me online to see my ongoing photographic journey:

FLICKR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stumacher/albums
INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/nero.creative/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/nero_creative

I hope this is of some use to you/your readers – and if it makes the cut I hope you enjoy my images.

Yours Sincerely,

Stu

Aug 042015
 

Day Two with the Sony A7RII…so far. WOW!

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Yesterday I posted my very 1st views and thoughts on the new powerhouse Sony A7RII camera. After shooting with it all day today for the past 6 hours I have more images and thoughts and they are all GOOD.

I am currently on a bus with 30-40 other journalists and Sony as we had to Mt. Hood for more shooting (in snow) with the A7RII. Since we have a 2 hour drive I decided to use my iPhone 6 as a hotspot and update you guys on how it went this morning with the camera.

One test I wanted to try was to shoot the Voigtlander 15 4.5 VIII on the A7rII as I was hearing rumblings about how the new sensor design fixes most of the issues with wide-angle Leica M glass. I have the 15 III on me, so more Leica tests will happen next week when I am home but for now, the 15 is looking AWESOME on the A7RII.

click image for larger…

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As I walked around the Japanese Garden this morning with the A7RII, 15 III, Batis 85 and Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 and 24-70 I was BLOWN AWAY at the camera. This is without a doubt, the BEST A7 camera EVER made. In fact, since I am in the honeymoon phase, I feel it is one of the best, if not the best camera I have ever used. SO many reasons why. Will I feel like this in 2 weeks? I think so, but who knows. I am just so excited by what this camera is giving me I look at it sitting here next to me and say “I WILL NEVER NEED MORE THAN THIS”.

I mean, I just want an A7RII  and some AMAZING glass to go with it, and there is TONS of glass you can shoot on the A7RII. Thousands of lenses from all manufacturers can be mounted with the right adapters and with the new sensor design, man… this is one powerful tool.

Even with its 42 MP the camera is responsive, quick and never feels sluggish. Manual focus is a breeze with the large clear EVF and low light is so much better than I thought it would be, I mean..it seems to be better than my A7II at high ISO, nearing the A7S (but not quite).

THIS CAMERA excels with out of camera quality. These are all from camera JPEGS, look at the color, the depth and the incredible medium format like IQ…click them for larger!

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It has been a lackluster year for cameras so far. I mean, we have had some amazing cameras come out..the Leica Q…a few others..but THIS is a game changer and when something like the A7RII comes along, it excites me and that excitement translates to these pages and the words I write.

I have shot with everything over the years and believe me when I say, so far, from two days with this A7RII, it is a special camera that has capabilities that far exceed my skill set. The video capabilities alone are incredible. The sensor is outstanding. They did their homework and listened to A7 users, and then they delivered this. THANK YOU SONY!

1st shot below was with the 35 1.4 Zeiss at 1.4. THIS is my fave 35 1.4 ever. 

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Here is a shot with the Canon 50 1.2 EF lens at 1.2. What is really incredible? Myself and all here agree, this lens focuses faster on the A7RII than it does on the Canon 5D series. Faster and more accurate. I borrowed this lens from someone here and now will go buy one as it is amazing on the camera. click it, and yes, this is an OOC JPEG.

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What I have been enjoying most is the rich color, deep IQ and lovely transitions. This sensor is just “WOW”. 

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So here I am still on the bus and with my laptop battery draining and my hotspot racking up data feeds I will close this out now with a couple more images from today. Tomorrow I will post more from this evening and tomorrow as we have so many events planned to use these cameras. I will also have a look at the RX10II as that is also sitting in my bag beside me.

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Believe the hype my friends, the A7RII is a take no prisoners camera and I see nothing out there that can do all it does, how it does it and do so with amazing and fun usability.

You can order the A7RII below from my recommended and trusted Sony dealers: 

B&H Photo A7RII ORDER PAGE!

Amazon A7RII

Jul 182015
 

Great Sale on Voigtlander  Lenses at CameraQuest!

Stephen Gandy over at CameraQuest.com is having a FANTASTIC sale on all Voigtlander lenses for M mount and micro 4/3!!

ALL sale lenses bundled with a Premium B+W Nano 007 Filter! All have free expedited shipping. Lenses over $600 have free Next Day Shipping to most lower 48 locations. Sale available for North and South America only.

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Voigtlander Micro Four Thirds Lenses

https://shop.cameraquest.com/voigtlander-micro-4/3-lenses/

17.5mm f/.95 $1200 now on sale $900
25mm f/.95 VII $1000 now on sale $800
42.5mm f/.95 $1000 now on sale $800

Voigtlander Leica M Lenses

https://shop.cameraquest.com/voigtlander-leica-mount-rangefinder-lenses/?p=catalog&mode=catalog&parent=191&pg=1&pagesize=48

12mm f/5.6 Leica M $750 now on sale $700
21mm f/1.8 Leica M $1200 now on sale $1050
28mm f/2 Leica M $630 now on sale $600
35/1.2 VII Leica M $1200 now on sale $1000
50/1.1 Leica M $1000 now on sale $900
50/1.5 Black Leica M $900 now on sale $800
50/1.5 Chrome Leica M $1050 now on sale $950

SL II Lenses for Nikon and Canon EOS

https://shop.cameraquest.com/voigtlander-slr-lenses/

20mm f/3.5 Nikon $550 now on sale $500
20mm f/3.5 EOS $530 now on sale$500
28mm f/2.8 Nikon $500 now on sale $480
28mm f/2.8 EOS $500 now on sale $480
40mm f/2 Nikon $500 now on sale $450
40mm f/2 EOS $550 now on sale $450

May 192015
 
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Return to film: Spring flowers in San Francisco

By Dirk Dom

Hi!

The last two years I’ve been serious about black and white on film and I grew to enjoy grain very much. With my Hasselblad Xpan I shot Kodak Ektar and fuji Superia 400 and I immensely liked the results. My Olympus PEN digital camera is extremely good, but I got tired of color noise. Film grain is beautiful, digital color noise is ugly.

So when I went to san Francisco this easter, I had my Xpan, my canon F1 and my Olympus PEN with me. And, not to my surprise, I didn’t shoot a single digital shot.

I wanted a creamy and graphical look for my flowers. The cream comes from shooting with a Canon FD 85mm f/1.2, at f/1.2. The graphical part comes from Fuji Superia 800. I used a 3 stop ND filter all the time. I used extension tubes. I don’t think there is any modern camera system that allows this kind of shots with modern lenses. Digitally, the Sony A7 with Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 and extension tubes and a $30 adapter would do the job perfectly. But I shot at ground level a lot, you’d need to use the screen, then.

Today I got my negatives back and I’ve met my objectives. This was what I had in mind. Sharpness freaks will be disappointed: this is not about sharpness but about beauty and atmosphere.

Film is beautiful.

Enjoy!

California is in its fourth year of draught, so there weren’t many flowers. Still, I got nice shots.
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Pacifica. A lily.

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At the beach.

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Also near the beach.

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Poppy, Golden Gate Park.

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Golden Gate Park. Shot through a flower in the foreground, focused on a flower behind. With the Canon F1 speedfinder I can shoot right to ground level.

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Cherry tree.

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The 85mm sometimes gives rainbows.

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Beach near the Golden Gate: great diversity of flowers. Unfortunately, they were mowing the path when I got there. 

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Poppies at f/1.2.

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Grain. Love it!

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Bernal Hill, all the flowers were already gone.

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Bye,
Dirk.

Mar 302015
 

Leica M-P 240 Lenny Kravitz Edition “Correspondent” Special Edition – Let’s get dead serious here!

By Dirk Dom

When I saw that camera, I thought it was pretty cool. Until I discovered the price. This was the first camera that made me feel sick to my stomach.

I happen to own the most brassed Canon F-1 in existence:

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This is just so totally different from this Leica. It belonged to a pro sports photographer who shot 400,000 images of soccer through it, with a motor drive attached. I bought it for 200 Euro’s, and it didn’t even need a CLA! It just worked and light metering was spot on. He had changed lenses so often and so brutally fast that the bayonet connecting groove had worn a millimeter.

After a year or so I got the idea of sanding off the black paint from the viewfinder and polishing it:

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For a while I was tempted to give the entire camera this treatment, but then I would take all the character away.

I also have a completely mint F1:

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Not even the tiniest scratch. I decided to shoot it. After two years, shock!!! – I found a trace of brassing at the strap connection. I must say I felt real bad about it, but I got over it and continued using it, after all, that’s what a camera is for.

Now, this craziness of producing a pre brassed Leica for $ 24,500.

I’d sell my Canon for that price. But not for $ 10,000; my Canon is unique. It’s more a work of art than a utensil. No one has a camera that went through 400,000 shots and I have it. Maybe I’ll put another 50,000 shots through it.

The Leica craziness to get to the purest photographic experience plus their limited series thing made me think. I’m an experienced machinist having 3D design programs, computer controlled machines, CAM and fast prototyping to my hands. I work together with the Product Design department of the University of Antwerp. Maybe I could design the unique, ultimate camera for the Leica man.

It proved both very tough and simple: A Leica Man discovers images, recording them is already below him, that’s for other people. He doesn’t need film or silicon to convey his vision.

So I came up with this design:

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Most importantly: the red dot.

No lens. The Leica man’s eyes are sufficient.

No film or sensor.

No settings

One hole to look through, superfluous, because the leica man needs no aids for composition. The hole is carefully crafted round because roundness is perfection, like the round red dot.

No rangefinder.

One hole for the strap.

316 stainless steel for thousands and thousands of years of non destructibility. Carefully partially deburred by hand by a dedicated, experienced craftsman while still showing the roughness of the initial machining. The 45 degrees angled edge is a very personal artistic statement and the only give to brutal functionality. The ultimate limited series of only one!

Price: if you want to know it, you can’t afford it, of course.

Sorry, I just had to get it out, this is what the Lenny Kravitz Leica does to me.

Dirk.

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