May 252015
 
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The Sony 90mm Macro 2.8 G lens for the FE (A7) System

I will start this review off by saying I am NOT a Macro shooter. I seriously lack the skills for this kind of photography and while I have always been fascinated by it, I just never really invested in a Macro lens for myself, to use, to learn, to get up close to my subjects.

With that said, Macro lenses are popular as many LOVE to shoot the little things of this world in a way that makes them appear larger than life. That is what it is all about, and this is a lens that allows us to do just that, if we have the skill to do so ;)

With the Sony FE A7 system, users have had a lack of lenses up until recently. These days Sony has released a load of lenses onto this full frame system, and we now have some amazing lenses for use with our A7 cameras. Lenses like the amazing 35 1.4 or 28 f/2 are ones I use almost daily and now Sony sent me the new 90 2.8 G Macro to test out, and I was happy to attach it to my A7’s and shoot!

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The lens is large but the lens is of great quality. One thing I have been appreciating lately is the way Sony has been stepping up their game. Sure, their premium lenses are on the large side, but the quality is top-notch, leaving you wanting for nothing more. They are making sure they are releasing SUPERB quality glass for their superb A7 system. Even the little inexpensive 28 f/2 is ASTOUNDING for the price point. You can see my review of that lens HERE.  My 35 1.4 review is HERE.

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But today I want to talk little about the new 90 Macro. I was able to shoot a few images with it, and as I said, I am not a Macro guy, so take my words as what they are…a Novice macro shooter talking about a macro lens that he enjoyed using ;) I have reviewed and LOVED the Olympus 60 Macro but this Sony is up there  – a step above in build quality over the Olympus, and the IQ is fantastic as well, just what I would expect from Sony in 2015. The only weakness is the size, but I have used other Macro 90mm lenses that are just as large or larger and again, this is a full frame lens, so they are always larger than Micro 4/3 or APS-C.

See my 1st look video on this lens and another new lens for the FE mount…it basically gives you the lowdown on the lens

As you can see, the lens is on the larger side, it is a teeny but larger than the 35 1.4 and 16-35 but smaller than the 70-200 :) As I used the lens at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale AZ I was having a rough time getting AF because when you are up close to you subject it is VERY hard to handhold and stay within your depth of field. Any movement will render the image soft or useless as you will be out of focus, even with a breath of you lungs.  This is why most serious Macro shooters use a tripod, and manual focus..this ensures an in focus shot. Me, I did not have my tripod handy, so had to stick with wide open and handheld. The good news is the lens has built-in optical steady shot, so minor hand shakes will be compensated for.

The Bokeh is creamy, color is rich and the detail, when you nail focus, is superb. I had no issues with CA, distortion or other nasties we sometimes see with lenses on digital cameras.

click images for larger and crisper view

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The last image above reminds me of something that would come from a Leica Noctilux, which is an $11k lens. The reason it appears that way is that the 90 2.8 offers smooth as silk Bokeh when you are up close to your subject, making it a creamy bokeh fest. I found  the 90 Macro to be suited to just about ANY shooting one would do with any 90mm lens. Portraits, distant shots, close-ups, doesn’t matter. The Sony 90 Macro 2.8 G lens delivers.

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The AF, being a Macro lens is not the speediest. Macro lenses in general have slower AF as they work harder when up close to get that perfect focus. Macro lenses are just slower, that is a fact of Macro life, so if you buy this lens, be sure you want to use it for its intended purpose as  you may not be 100% happy with the AF speed if shooting normal scenes. With that said, it is not slow by any means. It is just slower than what a normal 90 may give you. I did find it focused slightly quicker on my A7s over my A7II but both were acceptable to me.

Ist image is actually a reflection in a Koi pond of a little girl watching the fish. She was fascinated with them, so I snapped her reflection which almost looks like a double exposure. 

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I think this young one thought that he may fall into the water :) F/2.8

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This post is short, as all I have to say about this lens is good. It’s built very well and has none of that hollowness that some lenses have. It is solid, has selectable on or off Optical Steady Shot, and it has a selectable focus distance so if you are NOT using the close up macro feature you can set it to full for quicker AF with normal shots. With the A7II you can choose to use the cameras 5 Axis IS worth lens OIS. I tried both and found both worked well but I concluded that the OIS in the lens was a little better, at least for me. So I let the lens do the Steady Shot duties.

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I found I was using the lens more and more for normal 90mm shots, and the lens did well. Great color snap, great pop, great detail. Click the image below to see a true 100% crop within the image. Plenty of detail. See the shot above (click on it) of the cowboy, it is sharp, has fantastic color, and there is nothing macro about it, so yes, it can be used as a general 90 2.8 lens. Below see the crop.

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I really enjoyed my quick couple of weeks with the Sony 90 Macro and I am confident that anyone who loves to shoot Macro and owns a Sony A7 system camera, well, you will adore it. I have shot with maybe 5-6 macro lenses in my life, my fave two are this Sony and the Olympus 60. Can’t go wrong here. I am just happy to see Sony release lenses that we want, from ultra wide to telephoto. While there is no native 300-400mm lens yet, I am sure there will be. Sony is dedicated to pushing forward with the FE system, as it is insanely successful for them. The A7 series is selling well for them, especially when you compare the sales to other manufacturers right now. Digital camera sales have slowed down massively over the past few years as many feel the tech has peaked, so they are keeping what they have longer.

I am seeing that over the past six months though, sales are picking up. New Sony cameras, Olympus…they are pushing the market ahead of others. Now Leica is perking up a little again with the new Mono and rumors of exciting new cameras on the way. Could be a sign that 2016 will be big. Not 2012 big, but bigger than 2014 and 15.

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The Sony A7II is still my #1 camera. It is my goto no mater what, when or where I shoot. If the lights get really low I reach for my A7s. With all of these great lenses now out there, we have a choice. Choice is good.

Some of my most recent Sony Lens reviews:

Loxia 35

Loxia 50

Sony 35 1.4

Sony 16-35

Sony 28 f/2

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So at the end of the day, another winner from Sony. I am seeing many raves for this lens from others who have had a shot at it, and some fantastic work is out THERE using this lens on various A7 bodies. Congrats to Sony yet again! The 90 Macro 2.8 G lens comes in at $1098 and is scheduled for release in July. July 7th to be exact.

PRE-ORDER/ORDER:

You can pre-order this lens at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE or directly from Sony HERE. 

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May 212015
 
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The Olympus Pen F – from Large Format to Half Frame thanks to W. Eugene Smith

By Ibraar Hussain

Steve, Brandon and every viewer of this site!

it’s been a fascinating year so far, and stevehuffphoto.com is as good as ever! Exciting camera news and excellent photography.
I really enjoy the daily inspirations and inspire they do!

After the recent Punjab trip I sold my Panasonic Lumix GX7 and was looking to go up into the world of Large Format, View cameras and 5×4 photography. My winning bid for an MPP Micro Technical camera with quick load Film holders, a Schneider lens and all the accessories had to be cancelled as the seller updated me with some information about the lens having some fungus inside.

I was disappointed as my advancement into the realm of LF had been put on hold, so until I find another one that has to wait. I was browsing the Web and came across a superb vintage Olympus advertisement showcasing their Olympus Pen F camera. It featured one of The Greatest Photographers and War Correspondents of all Time: W. Eugene Smith, composer of possibly, in my opinion,  The Most Beautiful and Magical photograph of all time: A Walk To The Paradise Garden. A photograph whose composition and making of is a story unto itself and worth looking up, and a photograph which does nothing but inspire. It inspired me to clean up my neglected darkroom and dust off everything, to gather my cameras again and shoot, to invest in an Epson SC-600 13”+ Printer and some Epson Exhibition Fiber paper and make some prints.

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Anyway, I digress.

Smith, with his ultra cool look had with him an Olympus Pen FT. I don’t know whether he used it much, and I am not really bothered about that, but I used to have an Olympus Pen F which I regret ever selling, as it’s a wonderful camera. It’s built as well as anything, solid metal housing and beautifully crafted, small and compact with tiny lenses and a wonderful portrait format finder.

I love everything about this camera, and it is a shame Olympus were unable to copy it instead releasing the Digital pen series which are nothing like this work of art, designed by the genius of Yoshihisa Maitinai himself.

The camera is unique, in so many ways. It is not a rangefinder like the Leica M series, but a true SLR. It lacks a Pentaprism and is thus oblong in shape with no un sightly prisms, humps and angles, instead it is sleek, with a low profile and an almost RF look about it – yet so very different as it is an SLR and not anything else. The Pen F was produced from 1963 to 1966 and was in turn followed by the Pen FT and FV models.

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I prefer this over any other model for a few important reasons.
Firstly, it’s the Original design and features the glorious and striking gold gothic F logo which is reason to buy it in itself.
It has a very bright large finder, which isn’t dark and cluttered like that in the FT (which has a meter and readout in the finder making it cramped). It has the double stroke wind lever which I prefer and lacks a light meter which makes it simpler and more spartan- but this is the beauty of it.

The construction is up there with the Germans, it is a solid hunk of crafter metal, a solid and satisfying shutter button, the shutter mechanism is a Ti Rotary Focal Plane Shutter and along with the Half Frame (APS sized) negative is very much like that on a Cine camera.
The Portrait format finder is like this as it is a Half Frame camera, with a 18x24mm negative which when exposed resembles that of negative stock shot with a 35mm motion picture 35 camera.

It has a nice set of compact lenses, with the 38mm f1.8 being the usual standard lens. 38mm on half frame is equal to 55mm in Full Frame Format.

I managed to get an almost Mint example from a seller in Japan with the fast 40mm f1.4 lens (pristine condition) and the Gothic F lens cap!
I also procured a classy leather strap and a 43mm Tiffen Yellow Filter to go with it.

Needless to say I absolutely adore this. It has so much character, it attracts so much attention and is so different and unique. It features nothing but the shutter button, the Shutter speed dial at the front, the wind lever and Film crank and that’s about it! it’s all i need! This is a keeper, especially the mint version I have.

Shooting with this is a different style altogether.

The portrait format with the half frames gives another dimension to the photography, and I am forced to think out side the box, to compose and shoot differently within the constraints of the narrow 60mm focal length of my 40mm f1.4 G Zuiko and the upright view finder I explore different compositions and subjects, with the added creative benefit of having a go at Penography – of shooting three consecutive pictures as a sort of three frame panorama, and using the unique format to create pairs of frames, telling a story or portraying something in chronological order, such as a triptych or montage. The possibilities are endless and with the fine grained sharp Film available Grain or resolution isn’t an issue. And I forgot to mention, one roll of a 36 exposure Film goes on seemingly forever! You get double the amount of frames courtesy of the Half Frame format!

The lens is a beautiful piece of work, solid in construction with an aperture ring and a depth of field preview button, and it has some interesting bokeh and gives delightful shallow depth of field effects. It is sharp at f4 and above and a very nice lens to own and use.

Using and owning the Olympus Pen F is a pleasure and will open many opportunities in creativity and satisfying and interesting results. It won’t make you into W. Eugene Smith, and you won’t look as cool as him, and nor will you be as great as him, but it sure as hell puts a smile on my face and has kindled the love of photography in my heart again.

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I took it for a trial run to some of my favourite walks in Epping Forest near my home (Strawberry Hill Ponds and Great Monk Wood and Wanstead Park for those interested). I used my trusty Minolta Autometer III and took the reading from the shadow areas this time!
The rest I left to experience and managed to gauge the light levels and loaded with Rollei Retro 400s (fast becoming my favourite 400 speed Film) I played with light and shadow of the sun beams amongst the trees.

I then took it to the woods in and around Burnham Beeches in Berkshire with the Missus, the Film eventually finished and I loaded it up with some Agfa Ultra 100 colour Film for some fun and games with the magic of the Bluebells and ancient Oak and Beech around here – but that is for another story!

The results were vey pleasing, and the double frames an interesting way of portraying photographs. I have used it as a gimmick though and haven’t really used the two frames or any triptych as they should be used here, though I did take a triptych of my Missus which is superb (but she’ll kill me if I upload any of her photos). I’m going to have a go at ‘Street’ photography with this delightful and beautiful camera soon, as I usually shoot Nature, travel portraiture and architecture I am pretty useless at reportage and street – but i think this camera will be ideal!

So in searching for a 5×5” Large Format Micro technical camera I’ve bought a Half Frame instead thanks to W. Eugene Smith and his über cool look. Anyway, for those bored of nature and trees, look away now. These snaps are a first roll trial.

All snaps:

Olympus Pen F
G. Zuiko Auto S 40mm f1.4
Rollei Retro 400s
Developed in R09 Rodinal
Scanned with Plustek 8100
Digital darkroom using Photoshop CS4 and Apple Aperture 3.6

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May 182015
 
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New Leica Monochrom Typ 246, 1st Look Video & Samples

NOTE: YOU MUST click on the images here to see them correctly. If you do not, you are seeing resized and resampled softer images. Click them for larger size, and to see the correct sharpness. 

It has only been 2-3 days with the new Leica Monochrom but man, I can say with 100% authority that yes, for ME, this is a huge improvement over the last Leica Monochrom (M9) in EVERY way from file quality, to body, to features, to battery, to LCD, to Rangefinder, to the modern features like video and live view (which I will most likely not use). Just as the M 240 did over the M9, the new Monochrom Typ 246 does the same over the old M9 Monochrom.

The new MM 246 with my $30 Jupiter 8 50mm f/2 lens. The MM works well with old, cheap, classic lenses. Click for much better version!

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Now..before anyone gets in a HUFF over my words, as I know there are many die-hard fans of the original Monochrom and M9, what I say here is MY opinion, for my uses and needs. To me, and many others, this new MM is a full mature camera, a niche camera of course, but a full mature camera capable of astounding B&W imagery. It is like having an all B&W camera loaded with EVERY B&W film ever made, as your files can be made to resemble many B&W films. Of course digital will never replicate the look of film, but I feel what this camera can do…well, let’s just say I think it can output BETTER than film, without the hassle, costs and time involved. Personally, I would not choose a B&W film over a Monochrom 246 if given the choice. Of course, others will disagree, the film crowd.

A quick test shot after getting the new MM. 75 Summarit, f/2.4 – click it  to see it how it is supposed to be seen

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I feel the new MM is fantastic. It has the amazing battery life of the 240, the MUCH improved LCD, the MUCH improved menu system, quieter shutter, faster operation and larger buffer, increased DR (yes, it has more DR than the previous MM) and much improved high ISO performance. It is now 24 MP vs 18 MP and while the old MM was a detail MONSTER, I am not so sure yet if this one offers any advatage in resolution. This is something I have not seen, but will have to test.

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When it comes to IQ, the differences are that the new MM has files that are more creamy and rich, where the previous MM had files that were more RAW and hard. Just as those who moved to the M 240 from the M9, if moving from the old MM to the new MM, there will be a period of 1-2 weeks of solid use where you will need to get used to the differences.

Another with the little Jupiter lens at f/2.8 – click for better view

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I can say that the files from the new MM are much easier to process. With the old version, there was a learning curve. The new version seems much easier to get where you want to go when “developing” those RAW files.

This is NOT MY REVIEW, I repeat, this is NOT my review. This is simply my very 1st thoughts after having the camera for 2-3 days. My review will be up after I get to use the hell out of it with carious lenses. I’d say 2-3 weeks.

For now, take a look at my 1st look video of the new MM. Enjoy. My MM came from Ken Hansen, you can email him here for your Leica needs. You can also order the new MM at PopFlash, The Pro Shop B&H Photo, or Leica Store Miami. The new MM is $7450, a bit cheaper than the previous which came in at $7995.

May 152015
 

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My First Wedding Photographed with the a7s and a7II

By Marc Weisberg – His website is HERE

Steve and Brandon, I’ve been following your blog daily for a few years now. It’s a great reliable source for photographers with no-nonsense reviews and great feed back from your readers.  A few years back when the Olympus OMD EM-5 was released, it was Steve’s review that put me over the edge.  I purchased two OMD EM-5 bodies, the Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, 75mm f/1.8 and then the 12-40mm 2.8.  I traveled through Paris, NYC and across California with them.  It was my entry into the world of mirrorless cameras.  The Olys were amazing! Lighting fast to focus, faithful in color rendition, even in Auto WB and the glass was tack sharp wide open.  I love the lightweight portability of the Oly system. I could now travel with a simple shoulder bag, with two bodies and three lenses that weighed less than my pro Canon body and two L lenses.

Around the time When Sony came out with the a7s and a7II I was intrigued.  It was time for me to upgrade my Canon system.  I’m a professional photographer making 100% of my income from my craft. For the last 15 years I’ve been a Canon shooter.  My last set up was a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and a D60 as a back up. Along with that I owned a lot of L glass:  85mm L f/1.2, 135mm L f/2.0, 24-70mm L f/2.8, 16-35mm L f/2.8, 70-200 L IS f/2.8 and the 50mm L f/1.2  However it was time to upgrade my entire system.  Lenses were getting older, and Canon was starting to phase out service on them.  Camera bodies needed to be upgraded.  But after shooting for two years with the Oly’s I just felt there had to be something better out there other than Canon.  I felt that Canon gear especially their Mark II lenses were getting profitably expensive.  Something with faster focus and sharper lenses.  Something mirrorless and null frame.

After a a few lunches with my friend and pro photographer Paul Gero, a Sony Artisan, and him showing me his new Sony gear I was past the intrigued stage and knew that the move was right for me. The Sony a6000 that he was using and the a7 were packed with technology that Canon didn’t have. I’d also grown used to the EVF and the WYSYWYG exposure view of my Oly’s.  My lunches with Paul and being able to see what the Sony mirrorless bodies were capable of for myself set a plan in motion for me. I sold all my Canon gear, every last bit of it and switched to Sony. It was an easy move for me. As a business person as well as a photographer, it was a logical sound technical and financial move.  I could make the move to Sony for about $10k and replace all my Canon bodies and the majority of glass. If I would have upgraded all my Canon gear it would have cost me anywhere from $15k to $20k out-of-pocket.
My initial purchase was the Sony a7s, VGC1EM vertical grip,a7II and FE 16-35 f/4 Z OSS, FE 24-70mm f/5 Z OSS, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA.  All financed with proceeds from selling my Canon gear.  Notes to all you shooters.  Keep your gear in top condition and put  quality UV filters on your glass as soon as you purchase it.  This way you’ll be able to get top dollar when selling you lenses.

My Move to Sony

Moving from one camera system to the other, especially when you’ve been with another system for 15 years does not come without a learning curve.  I shoot my a professional gig with the a7II only a few days after receiving it. You can read about that here: http://luxuryrealestateimages.com/sony-a7ii-real-world-review/  It took me about 2-3 weeks to become comfortable with the menu system for both bodies. You can see my Sony a7s unboxing video here and a few more reasons for my move to Sony:  http://marcweisberg.com/2015/01/sony-a7s-unboxing

Transparency

I spent my own money on purchasing all my Sony gear. After my A7II real world review and my a7s unboxing video I was put in contact with Sony and am proud to be aligned with them as a Sony Artisan of Imagery.  I am not paid by Sony to pimp their gear.  I could never personally endorse something or suggest to my friends or readers that a camera system, bodies or lenses are worthy of purchasing if they weren’t.  Its the quickest way to loose integrity and I just couldn’t sleep at night by hawking snake oil.  That being said:  I make my living using this gear and it works for me in ways that no camera system ever has.

The Proof is in the Images

Like Steve’s Real World Reviews, the proof is in the images….not necessarily in the tech data.  While I appreciate the tech data, it will never show you how the image looks, how the lenses and camera bodies work in unison, how naturally the skin tones are rendered, what are the real world results as far as chromatic aberration is concerned, is there moiré, how do high ISO images look, can you really shoot at ISO 51,200 and get usable images, is having an f/4.0 lens an issue, what is white balance like, how is the menu system, how does the camera feel in your hands and many more subtleties.

Photographing Weddings Exclusively with the Sony Alpha α7s and α7II

Just to be clear this wasn’t my first wedding I’ve ever photographed.  I’m numbering more in the 600 range  (weddings) photographed in the past 15 years.  That being said, 2 weeks ago I had an opportunity to photograph a wedding solely with the #SonyAlpha a7s and a7II.  I was faced with a myriad of lighting conditions that all wedding photographers come up against:  open shade, direct harsh sunlight, twilight, night time available light photography and off camera flash photography with the Profoto AcuteB600R and Pocket Wizard Plus III’s and the Neewer TT850 manual speedlights.  What follows is My First Wedding Photographed with the α7s and α7II.

How Did the α7s and α7II Preform?  

In a word….Brilliantly.  I was super impressed with how my a7s anda7II handled all the scenarios. Dynamic range is impressive as I was able to capture the entire range of shadow and highlights in glaring sun with ocean views. Color renditions are amazing.  I saw no CA {chromatic aberrations} in any images, even with extreme back lighting.  Focusing during the day was never an issue, with one caveat. Night time, available light only in near darkness was an issue. As the camera would hunt and seek.  But in my 15 years experience photographing weddings this is true of any DSLR without a flash attached to bounce of some kind of IR signal/pattern from the subject. That being said, when focus locked on, the images are dramatic, powerful and sharply focused. In hindsight what I should have done was use DMF {Dynamic Manual Focus}. Which would get me close to focus and then dial in the focus the rest of the way by manually fine tuning the image and using focus peaking and magnification.

Tech Notes 

What follows are singular images  processed in Adobe LR5 with adjustments to exposure, color, sharpness, clarity, tone curve, shadow and any other adjustment that is available in the LR5 modules. No Adobe Photoshop is used on any images unless specified. I’m amazed and impressed by how sharp the images are straight out of camera when shooting wide open and when stoping down. I used all the Sony glass that I own:  FE 16-35 f/4 Z OSS, FE 24-70mm f/5 Z OSS, , FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS,Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, plus the, E 30mm F3.5 Macro E-mount Macro Lens {on loan from Sony}, for the ring shots.  For pixel peepers, you should know that I’ve output all images at 20″x20″ @300 dpi.  Even the 30mm Macro images. There is no degradation, or pixelization noticeable on any images.

A few other technical notes

Skin tones are rendered faithfully, black and white conversion within Adobe LR5 from the RAW files is easily accomplished with a broad tonality range from deep blacks to gray tones and clean whites, I’m partial to punchy colors, easily bumped up with a +10 on the Vibrancy slider and +6  on the Saturation slider in LR5.

1. Left: Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA Right: E 30mm F3.5 Macro E-mount Macro Lens on my α7s.

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2. Sony lenses can handle harsh light with no noticeable CA.

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3.Great natural skin tones.

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4. Left: Notice how the dynamic range holds well showing the subtle high lights to the dark grey shadows in the bridal gown and window shutters. Right: Low light photography is never a problem for the Sony a7s, and beautiful bokeh with the FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS.

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5. Great color, dynamic range and sharpness from the a7s, FE 24-70mm f/5 Z OSS, f/10, ISO 100.

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6. Great color, dynamic range and sharpness from the a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, f/13, ISO 200. Hand held.

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7. No tech data

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8. Left: a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 640. Right: FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, ISO 125.

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9. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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10. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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11. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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12. a7s, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/5.6, ISO 100. Holding onto the dynamic range beautifully. This daylight lighting scenario is typical of what wedding photographers face at most out door weddings.

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13. Left and Right: a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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14. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 2500.

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15.Left and Right: a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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16 .a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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17. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 400.

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18. a7II, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/4, ISO 400. The bride’s face was dodged in CS5.

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19. Recessional: a7II, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/4, ISO 100.

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20. Family portraits. I always use some type of lighting. Profoto AcuteB600R with a 40″ silver bounce umbrella, Pocket Wizard Plus III. Induro CT314 tripod, RRS BH-55 ball head, and for the higher resolution I use my a7II, FE 24-70 f/4 Z OSS, f/7.1, ISO 640.

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21. This is where things start getting interesting for me. When I was a Canon shooter I could never get the color right at sunset. Skin tones were ALWAYS too orange. Shot with the a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4, ISO 800. Skin tones are natural with a slight orange glow from the sunset. Bokeh rendition separates the bride and groom form the background. At at f4.0 They are tack sharp.

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22. Black and whites render beautifully from the RAW files in Adobe LR5.

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23. I’ve included the same file here twice to show a B&W and color file processed by LR5. Keep in mind that NO RETOUCHING has been applied to these images. If you shoot in the right light and expose properly you won’t need to use Photoshop and if you do it will be minimal.

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24. No tech data

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25. Available light image. Illuminated by the glow of the tungsten lanterns with Dana Point Harbor in the background. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 2000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8

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26. Hand held. a7s, 24-70mm f/4.0 Z OSS, ISO 40,000.

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27. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 2000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8

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28 .Left: a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 2000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, Right: Available light, a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS, f/4.0, ISO 20,000,

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29. Available light. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 8000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, 1/1000th sec.

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30. Available light. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 32,000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, 1/1000th sec.

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31. Available light. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 8000, wide open on the 55 @ f1/8, 1/1000th sec.

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32. For this series of images I set up a 40″ umbrella with the Profoto AcuteB600R. Metered the strobe with a Sekonic L358. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/200th sec.

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33. For this series of images I set up a 40″ umbrella with the Profoto AcuteB600R. Metered the strobe with a Sekonic L358. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/200th sec.

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34. I’m loving the movement here of the bride and her friend dancing. A happy accident. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 500, f11.8, 1/60th sec.

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35.Using back lighting for the DJ. a7s, Sonnar T* FE 55 f/1.8 ZA, ISO 500, 1/60th sec.

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36. a7s, FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS f/4, , ISO 51,200, 1/80th sec.

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37. To capture this image I set up a single Neewer TT850 speedlight in a 40″ silver bounce umbrella. The first step is to establish a base exposure for the sunset. I usually underexpose the ambient by about a stop. Then add the off camera lighting to taste. Make sure the camera is in Manual mode. You’ll want to lock in the exposure. Using the Neewer® TT850 speedlight, a manual flash, I dialed in 1/2 power and then added a bit more light while chimping to make sure the exposure was dead on. a7s, FE 24-70mm f/4 Z OSS, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/200th sec. It is coincidental the exposure it similar to the image above. Photoshop was used for skin smoothing.

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In Conclusion

For me {<— as Steve often says} the Sony a7 mirrorless system is the perfect versatile full frame mirrorless camera system for a working progressional photographer that offers amazing consistent results.  In a given week I will photograph a natural light portrait session, a wedding, luxury real estate photography, and studio lit executive portraits on location all with my a7s and a7II. Are there shortcomings?  Yes. Longer battery life would be one. Because I do allot of on location shooting I have 10 batteries. A simpler menu system is another.  The menu system is deep.  And at fist complicated.  And some of the functions are not easily discernible. Like turning off the camera beep sound when attaining focus.  Its labeled as Audio Signal…not intuitive.  

I’ve had to take some extra time figuring out things with help from other Sony Artisans and scouring the internet for answers. Focus tracking could be allot better on both the a7s and a7II.  The a6000 bests both cameras in the focus tracking department, and is dead on for its focus tracking ability and is a stupendous mirrorless camera for under $600!  Some skeptics have been quick to point out that there is a dearth of fast primes for the Sony a7 system.  Not any more with the addition of the Loxia and now the Batis full frame auto focus Zeiss lenses, the FE 28 F2.0FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA, FE 35 F1.4 ZA and the FE 90 F2.8 Macro G OSS have rounded out the fast glass department quickly.  For me the game changer is the a7s and the ability to put the camera in auto ISO and not have to ever worry about the lack of light.  The ability to get usable images at ISO 51,200 is something just a couple years ago would have been thought impossible. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and view the images.  

p.s. Oh yeah…I almost forgot: I left out one of the most amazing feature about the a7s. The a7s has a SILENT MODE. Essentially you are turning on the electronic shutter when invoking the menu command. And this renders that camera COMPLETELY SILENT when taking images.  As the photographer you are stunned that it makes NO NOISE at all when you are pressing the shutter. This is a boon for movie set photographers and wedding photographers who are told not to take photographs in certain settings because of the shutter noise, or simply to just be a fly on the wall…no one will even know you are creating images from just feet away.

Marc WeisbergSee his website HERE

See Steve Huff’s review of the Sony A7II HERE and the Sony A7s HERE.

May 122015
 

olympusnew

New Olympus 7-14 Pro lens, 8mm f/1.8 Pro lens, and Special Edition E-M5 II!

PRE-ORDER THE 7-14 Pro f/2.8 HERE

PRE-ORDER THE 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye HERE

PRE-ORDER THE E-M5II Titanium SE HERE

Last night Olympus announced some new goodies, two of which I have been waiting for patiently as I am ALL IN on these two (and possibly in on the 3rd as well). We all know that Olympus pro lenses are fantastic, and the new 7-14 is finally here along with the 8mm 1.8 fisheye! Olympus is continuing to lead the way with lenses and we now have a pro level ultra wide for our Micro 4/3 system. YES, there has always been the Panasonic 7-14 f/4 from many years ago, one of the first M 4/3 lenses, but now we have a new Olympus PRO 7-14 that will give us a 14-28mm equivalent and a faster f/2.8 aperture. Below see the 7-14 on the E-M5II (see my E-M5II Review). It’s a chunky beast of a lens but I am confident it will be flat-out AMAZING in performance as all Olympus glass is these days. You can pre-order the 7-14 at B&H Photo, PopFlash.com or Amazon. Amazon says it will not ship until August 1st, B&H is saying end of June. I say June as that is what Olympus says,  but either way, you are not charged until it ships so pre-ordering is always a good idea if you REALLY want an item as you can cancel anytime before it ships with no penalty or charge but pre-ordering secure’s your place in line, and this lens will be popular as all get out. Watch and see. At $1299 it is not cheap, but this is a pro lens, weather sealed and up to the Olympus pro standards, which is about as good as it gets.

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I am also looking forward to the new 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye as I love a good Fisheye lens. The previous premium fish for the Micro 4/3 system is/was the Panasonic 8mm fisheye (my review of that lens here) but this Olympus will be even better with a fast 1.8 aperture vs the f/3.5 of the Panasonic. That speed is not really needed for a fisheye lens but still way cool to have in ANY lens..SPEED is KING. It also has a minimum focus distance of just 2.5cm. See the 8mm below on the E-M5II… The cost of the PRO Fisheye, which will be weather sealed and up to PRO standards will be $999. It will also be called “mine”. Get it HERE at B&H Photo, or at Amazon, or at PopFlash.com. Ships end of June 2015.

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Below, The 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Ultra Wide

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Olympus has also announced a limited run edition of the new E-M5 II in a new and unique “Titanium” E-M5 II, limited to 7,000 units worldwide. This is not real Titanium of course but just the color to be reminiscent of the old Olympus OM-3 Ti from 1994. It will come with a special leather strap, a leather card case, and a numbered owners card showing your cameras #. The price? $1,199. Me like. Very much! Looks much more classy than the standard silver or black IMO. This sounds like a Leica special edition with the strap, card case, and numbered card ;) You can order the SE E-M5II at Amazon HERE and it will be released August 1st. My pre-order is in for this and the two lenses above! Ships end of June 2015.

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OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS:

OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL ED 7-14MM F2.8 AND 8MM F1.8 FISHEYE PRO LENSES FOR COMPACT EXPLORING

Excellent Optical Performance, Ultra-Wide, Compact and Lightweight for Ultimate Mobility, Dustproof and Splashproof Construction, Underwater Accessory Compatibility

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., May 12, 2015 — Today, Olympus is pleased to announce the availability of two new premium M.ZUIKO DIGITAL PRO lenses. The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO is an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 14-28mm, while the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm Fisheye PRO, the world’s first with an f/1.8 aperture, features a minimum working distance of just 2.5cm and offers excellent bokeh with wide-angle macro shots. Both lenses are equipped with Olympus’ legendary weather sealing, providing peace-of-mind while shooting in extreme weather conditions with an OM-D® camera.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO is the ideal lens for wide-angle shooting needs in any condition. This premium lens includes weather sealing in 11 locations, enabling use in rain and snow, or even on the beach, where other lenses may not be able to withstand ocean spray or dust penetration. At 534 grams, or just under 19 ounces, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO is about 45 percent lighter than similar competitor products, eliminating heavy equipment that may slow the user down.

The lens also includes premium close-up shooting capabilities, thanks to the minimum working distance of just 7.5cm, offering extremely sharp capture capability, even at the very edges of an image. Three Super ED lenses, one ED lens and two EDA lenses help to minimize peripheral chromatic aberration, while the ZERO (Zuiko Extra-Low Reflective Optical) Coating aids in minimizing ghosting. The lens also boasts an L-Fn button with 27 assignable functions and a Manual Focus Clutch with built-in Focus Distance Meter. The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens comes with a fixed lens hood and pinch-style lens cap LC-79 for added protection.

Hobbyists, photo enthusiasts and professionals alike will be captivated by the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye lens’ 180-degree diagonal angle of view. Like the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO, this lens includes dustproof and splashproof construction, for unlimited wide-angle adventure. The lens is also compatible with a custom dome port for use with an Olympus underwater housing.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye lens is constructed of 17 elements in 15 groups and can capture high resolution at the very edges of an image, even at the maximum aperture of f1.8. ZERO Coating minimizes optical flares and ghosting. The lens also comes with a fixed lens hood and a pinch-style lens cap LC-62.

Both of the lenses’ compact size, brightness and weight reflect Olympus’ mastery of precision engineering. When used in conjunction with core OM-D technologies, like 5-axis image stabilization, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye open the user up to new possibilities for long exposure hand-held shooting.

Underwater Lens Port, PPO-EP02

The PPO-EP02 glass dome lens port is a great accessory to the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 8mm f1.8 PRO Fisheye lens, enabling the user to capture the widest shot possible underwater with the OM-D E-M5 or OM-D E-M1 underwater housings. The PPO-EP02 is 15 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than Olympus’ previous lens port model, the PPO-E04, allowing for more compact and lightweight underwater shooting. Also, the hood section can be removed to reduce waves for over-under shots. (Rear Cover (PRPC-EP02) and Front Cover (PBC-EP02) are bundled).
U.S. Pricing and Availability

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens will be available in June 2015 (black) for an estimated street price of $1,299.99 (US) and $1,599.99 (Canada).

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO lens will be available in June 2015 (black) for an estimated street price of $999.99 (US) and $1,249.99 (Canada).

To find out more about the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f2.8 PRO and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO lenses, and for a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website at
http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/lenses/pen-omd.html.

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May 112015
 

sumt

The New Leica 90 Summarit f/2.4 Lens Quick Review on the M 240

By Steve Huff

I recently posted my very positive experience with the new set of Summarit lenses from Leica. Mainly, the 35, 50 and 75. I have now finally had a chance to shoot some frames with the 90 f.2.4 and as before with the old Summarit, I love it. It continues along the same lines as the previous version but adds a closer minimum focus, an f/2.4 aperture vs 2.5 and now comes with a full Leica leather case and metal hood at no extra charge. The rendering of the lens is very nice, and leaves you wondering if you really do need that larger, heavier, more expensive Summicron!

This is not so much a full “review”, but it is sort of an “addition” to THIS 90 Summarit review (which sums up this lens just as well) and THIS recent post. Read those 1st, then come back here to read this short but sweet article.

The video I did a few weeks ago showing the Summarit lenses and the new Leica M-P Safari set. 

Thanks Ken!

Also, before I get started let me thank Leica Legendary Dealer Ken Hansen for sending me these lenses for review. I could not even get them from Leica, so Ken sent them my way to borrow so I can test them to see what I thought. I just packed up all of them for their way back to Ken. SO THANK YOU KEN! If you need ANYTHING Leica, be sure to EMAIL him at [email protected] and ask him for it, he deals in NEW and USED and has it all in stock. All of it.

90boy

The New Summarit. Is it so different from the previous line?

This little and very light 90mm F/2.4 Summarit is a beautiful lens, and I admit, I am not a 90mm or telephoto guy. If I owned a 90 for my Leica it would probably be used twice a year. I prefer to shoot 21, 35 and 50 as I like to get up close and converse with my subjects. Even so, the 90 is fantastic when you want to shoot a portrait as you get NO distortion, and nice separation of your subject from the background..or as some like to call it “3D Pop”.

But what about the last 90 Summarit f/2.5? Is this lens better in image quality? No, not really..in fact, it seems about the same to me as the last 90. The new f/2.4 vs f/2.5, well, let’s just say there is really no measurable difference in that speed. Many say the old Summarit was really f/2.4 but Leica marked them as 2.5 as to not cannibalize the Summicron sales.

Where this 90 F/2.4 excels over the old 90 F/2.5 is that it is a new design, comes standard with a Leica leather case and metal hood where the previous version came with a felt baggie and the hood was a separate purchase. It is nice to see Leica upgrade these things as even though the Summarit lines is the cheapest new production lenses in the Leica lineup, they are NOT cheap! The 90 here comes in at a hefty $2350. YES, IT IS STILL A LEICA ;)

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I am not a 90 guy..but I did enjoy this lens. 

I know many who love and adore the 90mm Focal length though and some who call it their favorite focal length while others never touch it, especially with a Leica.

But…

There are many shooters who love them some reach. Some do not feel comfortable getting in close to their subjects and a longer lens helps them do this without being noticed. Others use them as they would any other lens, as I do, pulling it out for that portrait or when it is needed. It will deliver the depth and pop of a good 90 though the Bokeh of this Summarit, well, I much prefer the Bokeh from the 90 Summicron. But hey, the 90 Cron is $3995, close to be double the cost of the Summarit, so you will pay for that 90 Cron creaminess if you indeed want or need it.

Even so, the 90 Summarit is fantastic.

Click images here for much better versions and to see them correctly

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The 90mm focal length has long been considered the goto for portraits, and that is for many reasons. No distortion that most wider lenses will give you, nice subject pop and a good 90 will give you nice bokeh, nice detail and be just about perfect for head and shoulders type of shots or just headshots. Now the 90mm focal length is not only for portraits of course, but most of those who I know who uses a 90mm uses them for people. Others use them simply to get more reach. One thing is for sure though, Leica does not make a bad lens. Buy a summart, summicron or summilux and ALL of them will deliver what you want although they will all have a different character.

With Leica it is all about the “character” of the lens and how it renders and this is what makes them special, as there are not many lenses out there that refer quite like a good Leica lens.

As with all posts here on this website, clicking the images below will open up a much nicer and larger version, how they were meant to be seen. All images below with the Leica M-P 240 and 90 Summarit. 

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VINTAGE MODERN

The entire Summarit line, for me, renders in a way that is a mix of classic, modern and everything in between. It has the sharp crisp details that Leica is known for (modern) and also gives you a bit of that classic feel without being soft or too “vintage”. I’d say 80% modern, 20% classic. My time with the 90 was short as I rarely use a 90 but if I were a guy who loved this focal length, it would be a choice between this and the Summicron. I have owned and loved the cron, and have to say I do prefer the rendering of the APO Summicron but it is MUCH heavier, larger and expensive. This Summarit is just as good if not better than the previous summarit, and again, my review of THAT lens is HERE. It is also just as good as the old and very much loved 90 2.8 Elmarit, which is now discontinued.

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ANY ISSUES?

Not much to say here but this 90 will give you some CA (purple fringing) as you can see below in Wyatt Earp’s hat. Even the $11,000 Noctilux has CA, as do the Summilux line. For me it doesn’t bother me but I do not shoot critical work where it needs to be printed at 60 inches wide for public display, so for me this is just part of the digital course. Many say CA is a sensor issue, others say it is the lens. But it is common in good fast lenses when shooting digital… Always has been and unless the camera itself corrects for this, it will be in your photos. It is also easily taken care of with your favorite photo editor.

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The bottom line is that this version of the Summarit excels over the old version with a closer focusing distance of 0.9m, included metal hood and leather case and in use, the lens is buttery smooth to focus. I had no issues with the lens, focusing or anything.

This is a solid performer and while I did not use it a ton (again, I am not a 90 guy) I did see it’s potential. It would be very tough to choose the 90 Summicron APO over this at $4000 vs $2350. But that is all personal preference. I know what I like, and for me, I prefer the 90 Sunmicron rendering but I prefer the price of the Summarit.

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MY OVERALL FEELINGS ON THE SUMMARIT LINE as a WHOLE?

These lenses are beautiful, gorgeous, and the performance is what yo would expect from a Leica lens. Just because they are considered the “starter” or “budget” line does not mean they are sub-par. The 50 is my favorite summarit followed by the 35 and then 75. The 90 is my least favorite simply because I am not a 90mm shooter. The lenses are ALL fantastic, and one could never go wrong with any of the Summarit lenses. You will save some cash, and have some of the most beautiful and compact lenses ever made.

5 STARS for all of these because for the price, for the name, you are getting great performance at a much better price than normal.

WHERE TO BUY

You can buy these lenses from Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop, or B&H Photo. Even Amazon sells them via PRIME.

———–

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

May 062015
 

JPDoublemoon

The Power of Symmetry

By José Pazó 

In this article, the third one I am sending you, I am going to talk about an unexpected camera: The Nikon S32.

It is a very simple, waterproof, Coolpix series, yellow piece of plastic. Probably, for many out there, one of the worst cameras anyone can buy. The specifications are incredibly basic: diminutive sensor, lots of noise and tones of glare. All types of chromatic aberrations and quirks of use. At least, very cheap. I bought it for my 2 years old daughter, but cameras are always nice temptations. At the end, like Homer Simpson does with his bowling ball for Marge, this camera was partially for me. Do not tell my daughter.

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My prior two articles have been about film, b&w film. I like mechanical cameras (Leica M3, Hassy 503), old glass and expected and unexpected results. I still keep some reservations about digital cameras. I have a semi-old Ricoh GRD and a Pentax K01 that I like because nobody likes it. Call me old-fashioned, but pixels are like gremlins in my deep reptilian mind. Preys for ghostbusters. So I bought the Nikon S32, and when into my hands this yellow piece of soap came (probably the most non-ergonomic camera I have tried –slippery as hell), and while playing with it, the miracle showed up in the ancient form of symmetry. ¡Symmetry!

I guess I am a very asymmetrical type of guy. Although I like and practice yoga, one of my legs is shorter than the other, and size and shape of my nostrils are very unequal. Maybe that is the reason why I love Japanese art so much, because of its tendency towards asymmetry. While asymmetry is humble, subtle, suggestive and dynamic, symmetry is solid, pompous, affirmative and static. Symmetry is in general very much related with power. Japanese art tends towards asymmetry, but Chinese art (and power) leans towards symmetry. Japan hides power; China shows it. So I guess that, with the Nikon S32, a Japanese camera, I discovered ancient China and its marks in the Western world and in my reptilian brain.

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Symmetry creates admiration, or at least aw (The White House, the Taj Mahal). It also produces endless decoration (the Cordoba’s Mosque, the vegetal decorative motives of the Alhambra). Symmetry is also present in almost any altar or oratory in the world. Our bodies also tend towards symmetry (at least some bodies), our faces too. Studies have shown that babies prefer symmetrical faces, and religious iconography indulges in it. Greece was almost symmetrical, Rome was over symmetrical, gothic cathedrals and Viking homes were too, the Empire State Building is symmetrical. Butts are. Busts too. Eyes, fruits, shells… (When they forget Fibonacci, another aurean way of symmetry). Monsters and extraterrestrial beings are usually symmetrical. Hearts not so much. That is probably why they keep us unbalanced. But they produce rhythm, and rhythm is symmetrical. Trees are rotationally symmetrical and so are kaleidoscopes, one of my childhood loves.

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Nikon S32 can produce symmetrical images. If I were a fashion photographer, I would be using it to play with models to create enticing, almost religious, visions. Since I am a mere dilettante, I am sending you a batch of everyday pictures. They are technically terrible, but visually addictive. Interiors, monsters, altars, flying trees and perfect landscapes. Etscheresque, for those who enjoy Etscher, the painter. At least for my obsessive brain. This first batch includes photos related with the vegetal world. I do not know if you are going to find enough merit in them to be published, not to even mention other batches. If so, thank you in advance.
As always, regards from Madrid to the whole Steve Huff’s clan. Keep your vision and very personal approach, I find lots of value in it. And the same for all of you who write or visit here. Tons of talent around. I do not have a webpage or similar. Thinking of making one but, for the moment, I enjoy just sending pics to others. So, hasta la symmetrical vista.

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JPflower

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JPgreenhouse

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JPVera

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Apr 302015
 

tgth

Angelo Pelle Cases for the M 240 and Sony A7II (Video)

After acquiring a Leica Safari M 240 set I went to the website of Angelo Pelle to see what he had to offer in the form of a half case for the green Safari. I knew I wanted something different, something unique and something besides the usual black or brown half case as the Leica Safari is a sort of Army Green color. After perusing his website for a while, and after owning a fantastic brown leather half case for my Sony A7II that Angelo made, I found the half case AND bag that I wanted from him for my Safari M.

Camouflage.

See the video below to see the case and bag

I decided to order his “Henri Bag” which is a small design that will hold your Leica and small lens as well as one more lens to bring along, and that is about it. I asked for BOTH in Camo color (though if I could go back I would get the case in CAMO and the bag in Black) and in less than 2 weeks I had the custom set at my door. I have had my share of half cases for Leica M cameras. Gariz, Arte Di Mano, Luigi,  Artisan & Artist, Leica’s own cases and a few cheap options that all fit loose and sloppy. I always have said “you get what you pay for” and this holds true with half cases for the Leica M. Usually.

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The best fit cases I have tried until now have been the Arte Di Mano line, but man are they expensive. (then again, so is a Leica M). Luigi cases are gorgeous as well but a tad on the thick side and Leica’s own cases are the worst of the lot with sloppy fits and odd designs.

As for Angelo Pelle, his cases are right up there at the top when it comes to quality, design, fit and finish. When I received my Camo case for the Safari I was stunned at the quality of Leather used as well as the “fit like a glove” design. It offers nearly full protection for the camera, most I have seen for a half case as it come all the way up to the top and even covers pretty much all of the rear bottom, top and sides. There is even a flap to cover the LCD if you want to do that. I have been shooting the M like this, and it is pretty cool to ignore the LCD!

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Angelo’s products are top notch, best rating I can give. He is a friendly guy, offers unique options and all products of his are hand made in Italy. They fit perfect and feel fantastic. The Leica case has a built in grip that allows a nice feel, and this really takes it up a notch as well.

His cases are not cheap, but they are not the most expensive either. I find them to be the best I have used, and for quality Leica leather cases, price in the upper middle of the range. Less expensive than Art De Mano and Luigi and well worth the cost IF you are looking for a high quality beautiful case to protect your camera and give it a nicer feel when you are using it.

You can see Angelo’s website HERE. He has quite a it to offer and makes cases for many cameras. My Angelo Pelle Sony A7II case is superb, amazing. It is wearing in nicely as well. The only weaknesses I found with these cases is that once they are on you lose access to the battery and memory card until you take the case off. This is how 99% of cases are though. Me I shoot all day, come home and then take the case off once to get my card and battery. No problem.

Apr 292015
 

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A User Review of the Zeiss 35mm Distagon f1.4 ZM on a Leica M 240

By Howard Shooter

I must confess to being a bit of a Leica fan. I love Leica and the purity of the rangefinders’ back to basics approach to photography. Up until three days ago I have veered towards only Leica glass and my thoughts have been mostly positive. I was niggled and irritated by the slight softness of the 50mm Summilux on the M240mm compared to the M9 and the ever so slight lack of contrast, which means I sometimes have to give the files a bit of the proverbial kick in Lightroom. The shift from M9 to M240 was another learning curve in appreciating subtlety and nuance for me and took longer than I expected to really love the new signature of the much debated cmos sensor.

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I always loved the 35mm focal length, as it’s such a versatile lens for so many situations from landscape to portrait. I wanted the Leica 35mm summilux but the price is too steep for me to justify the outlay.

Zeiss have always had their avid and similarly loyal followers and the Leica fit Zeiss lenses have generally reviewed well and been passionately spoken for.

I ordered the Zeiss 35mm Distagon f1.4 ZM a week before they came in and the initial online reviews were scarce and very favorable. At approximately one-third of the price of the Leica equivalent I was looking forward to testing out the lens and deciding if my long and loyal following to owning only Leica glass was now dwindling.

Physically the lens is a little heavy for my liking; bulky and substantial, not balanced perfectly with the body. This isn’t a deal breaker for me as the optics far outweighs the extra size but it is a consideration and a minor irritation. The focus ring is a little tighter than I’m used to but the aperture is wonderfully smooth in third stop increments. The lens blocks the viewfinder a little but not enough for me to care. For all of it’s differences it is a beautifully well made lens in the true tradition of Zeiss and feels and looks better than in the Zeiss promotional shots.

Incidentally I am not going to post shots of my camera with the lens as you can see other reviewers do this. I am not a “professional” reviewer so I’d rather share my hopefully interesting opinions and see if this helps you decide on whether this lens might be of interest to you.

I’m in my favorite photographic haunt again of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a fishing town with a wonderful English appeal and atmosphere.

The following shots were all taken with the Leica M240 with the Zeiss 35mm lens at various apertures. All were processed minimally in Lightroom with a little post processing but the essence of the lens’s signature is preserved. After you’ve looked at the shots I’ll let you know my personal opinion.

Shot 2 Oyster Fisherman

Shot 3 Lobster cages

Shot 4 Boats Windows

Shot 5 Gone Fishing

Shot 6 Boat Silhouette

Shot 7 Fisherman Sorting Catch

Shot 8 Woman On Beach

Shot 9 Boats at Dawn

Shot 10 Man by house

 

I hope you like these shots because in some ways they really surprised me. Now this may seem strange but the lens seems to give more pop and contrast than most Leica lenses I have used on my M240. The signature almost reminds me of the look I used to get with my M9. In other words if you are missing the M9 pop from your M240 and are looking for a 35mm lens I think you can do no better then with the Zeiss.

Just to re-iterate, when used with the M240 this lens gives you the subtlety of the M240 cmos sensor with the pop of the M9… a perfect combination.

This leads me to wonder if the colour and contrast of this lens on an M9 might be a little too saturated and contrasty but I am merely speculating. I love this lens and think that it actually feels very old school Leica rather than modern day Zeiss. It isn’t overly clinical in my opinion but is very sharp, handles flare extremely well, is very adaptable with various subjects and in the right light gives plenty of pop but at a third of the price. The bokeh isn’t distracting but also isn’t class leading either as subjective as this always is. I think reds do come out a little too red and saturated on the M240 which means they need toning down a little but the black and white conversions are wonderfully filmic. The M240 has always been very good for black and white and I think with this lens you get a real sense of depth and dynamic range.

I can strongly recommend this lens. Have you got this lens and do you share my opinions….?

Shot 11 Staircase

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Shot 13 Aldeburgh Town

As always many thanks for reading,

Warm wishes

Howard Shooter
www.HowardShooter.com

(From Steve: POPFLASH has one Zeiss 35 1.4 in stock in black!)

Apr 282015
 

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Dad’s Last Roll of Film

By Darek Meyer

Hi Steve,

I hope you`re doing well!

On my side – not that many changes since my last mail. I`m still in Asia, still taking pictures. With Robert Kresa, we`ve started “Where Were We” page. All our new things, as well as some older stuff, is there:
http://www.where-were-we.com

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These days, gear manufacturers keep us busy – all these new cameras, lenses, all sharp and all… This story however is not about gear.

Some time ago, I went back home to Poland, to arrange things and catch up with friends. At home, going through papers, I`ve found a box, full of old prints from my student times. There was also a roll of film.  To my surprise, they were not my pictures. They`ve been taken by my Father. After some investigation, it turned out they were shot around 1971-72, during his trip to Hungary. The camera used was most likely russian Smena 8M.

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The thing is, I do not recall my Father taking any pictures. Yes, he could paint, and he was good with it. But pictures? I started to look for more negatives, hoping to see more of his work. Well, not actually work – but captured pieces of his life, years back. I started to ask questions. And got very few answers. Too long time ago, already too many people passed. To my surprise, it occurred he was renting darkroom from one of local photographers. As I was told, there were several rolls developed and printed every week. What was there? Friends, architecture, nature, … ??!!

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But here is no happy end.

No more rolls.

The negatives I`ve found, they are just transparent. They did not survive harsh conditions of storage. They`ve been kept at countryside house, exposed to humidity, low and high temperatures, rats, and gods know what else. The old house my parents lived in, was sold, rebuild, so no chance to find forgotten negatives somewhere in the attic. This is it. Just 36 frames.

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I`ll keep on asking, keep on searching through family, if they have any prints left. I know that chances of success are small, as this is second or third generation already. People do not keep old things anymore. For you, just couple of frames. Are they world-class photographs? For sure not. There will be no more mention about them. But they are reflecting one of most important things in photography. And this is not about pixels, fps, or flares. They keep memories of people and events alive. They let me learn more things about my family.

Best regards,

Darek Meyer

Apr 212015
 

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The Sony Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE Lens Review. Best 35mm Lens Ever.

Yep. I said it. The spoiler. This is the best full frame 35mm lens I have ever used in my life. But remember, I only review items I love and adore, so if there is something out there I have not reviewed it is because I am not a fan of it, plain and simple. Before anyone says “you like everything you review” – well, YES this is true as I have said over 1,000 times here. If this lens was a dog it would not have been reviewed. So what you see me review on these pages is all gear that I love and adore because if it sucks, it is not worth my time, my 40-60 hours that it takes to do a review like this. With that said, this lens is indeed the best 35 OPTICALLY I have ever used.

This image was shot indoor, f/1.4, and with only a bit of natural light coming in from my kitchen door window. Click it for larger. 

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Yes.

Better than ANY 35mm lens I have used in life, and that includes those from Nikon, Canon, Leica, or whoever…and I have used the best of the best. At f/1.4 it is stunning. Absolutely stunning. The lens is a masterpiece of optical quality from detail to color to bokeh. It is auto focus and the ONLY weakness it has is that it is quite large. I am used to Leica lenses, or smaller Sony lenses and this guy is a beast. No bigger than a Nikon or Canon or any DSLR lens, in fact, it is a teeny bit smaller than those beats income ways but not by much. Weight is around the same with this lens being about a few ounces heavier than the Canon and Nikon. (1.32lbs  vs 1.4lbs). Even so, after 2+ months with the lens, I am so impressed that I can confidently say this IS INDEED the best 35mm lens I have ever used, or reviewed or held. Yes, beats the Sigma 35 1.4 Art lens for those that were about to ask.

Below is the video I made for my 1st look report which was published HERE

Paired with the Sony A7, A7r, A7II or A7s, this lens delivers the goods but I especially loved it on the A7II. To me, the A7II is the pinnacle of the A7 series. The build, design, features, 5 Axis IS, Af speed, and superb low light capabilities really flesh out this system and mature it to another level. Yes, I own an A7s as well and have shot with the A7R and A7 extensively but the A7II, for me, is the most polished and nice A7 body yet. Notice I said YET as I know there is something else on the way,  I feel it in my bones, and hey, this is Sony..and they are on a roll..and I bet they want to strike while the iron is HOT. In the mirrorless world I feel Sony and Olympus are on fire with Fuji right behind. Nikon and Canon are seriously MIA with nothing new, fresh or competitive and the others keep releasing cameras hoping they will stick, and they never do. Leica is always beautiful but most can not afford a Leica setup. Sony is doing most things RIGHT today from design, performance, new lenses and price.

This lens is a tour de force of a 35mm. Versatile for low light and AF which is accurate and pretty fast for a 35 1.4 design. This was shot inside a limo at night. No problem ;) ISO 4000, ZERO NR, f/1.4

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Want to get up close and personal? The 35 1.4 has a minimum focus distance of .3 Meters which is GOOD.  1.4

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AF is snappy, even in dim light on the A7II – 1.4

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We can no longer say that “There is a lack of lenses for the Sony FE system”..because they now have MANY amazing lenses. The A7 system is less than two years old and Sony now has SO many good lenses..

1. The 55 1.8 Zeiss – A fantastic and sharp lens that gets rave reviews. 

2. The 35 2.8 Zeiss – Another fantastic sharp lens with the Zeiss pop. 

3. The 16-35 Zeiss – a superb wide-angle zoom, this one is one of the best I have tested for Ultra wide. (Review)

4. The 28 f/2 (stunner for cheap) – This is a must own lens, a superb value for under $450 (Review)

5. The new 35 1.4 (this review)

6. A new 90mm Macro! (Review soon)

7. Wide angle and fish attachment for the 28 (Review soon)

8. A pro level 70-200 – The standard 70-200 and this one is also fantastic.

8. Some mega pro zooms and some kit zooms

10. Zeiss Loxia Primes, the 35 and 50 (review of the 35 is HERE, the 50 is HERE)

and more.. From fisheye to ultra wide to telephoto to Macro Sony is now fleshing out the FE full frame lens system for the A7 series. They released lenses pretty fast and more will be on the way as there are many more planned lenses coming like a fast portrait prime. I feel an 85 and 135 will be here eventually, sooner rather than later.

This lens is stunning. This time at f/2. Crisp all the way around.

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I have quite a few image of Katie in this review as I used the lens for some of her Prom images..this one, f/1.4, converted to B&W using Alien Skin Exposure

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The Zeiss Magic & Pop Will Wow You

This lens is a Sony/Zeiss collaboration and it shows. Zeiss is a legend and has always been lumped in with Leica when it comes to image quality though they have always had their differences. With Zeiss you will usually get more 3D pop, richer and warmer color and USUALLY they are a tad softer than the Leica counterpart. With this lens, you are getting all of the 3D pop and color but even more detail where you need it over a Leica or other lens. At f/1.4 this lens could NOT be sharper. If it was, it would not be a good thing. As it is, it is PERFECT. When focusing on eyes (see and click on the very 1st image in this review) you can see what I mean. But it is here in all images I have shot with the lens so far and I have not had one hiccup with this lens, at all.

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With this lens, shooting wide open is where you will get the true character of the lens. If you want to shoot at f/2.8, you would be better off with the much smaller and lighter Zeiss 35 2.8 or Zeiss 35 f/2 Loxia. THIS lens, the f/1.4 Zeiss, seems optimized for wide open shooting, and this is where its beauty lies. Much like the Leica 35 1.4 Summilux FLE which is the lens that used to hold my title for best 35mm lens ever made for full frame digital. Today the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 take that title as it is just so good, again, with the only weakness being the size. There is no distortion, there is no offending CA or problems, there is no vignetting and there is no softness or focus issues. I feel the reason for all of this is because Sony and Zeiss REALLY took their time with it and wanted it to be a WOW kind of lens. This is also why it is large. If it were smaller it would have issues like distortion and other things so I think it is fantastic that Sony chose to go the route of optical beauty vs optical issues.

I have seen 1-2 reports of people buying this lens and saying it is “soft”. This is so not the case. If you are getting soft images with this lens you either have a bad copy, have an issue with your camera body, are not focusing in the right spot (shallow DOF here is VERY THIN at 1.4) or you are mistaking Bokeh for being Out of Focus. There is nothing soft about this lens in any way, shape or form.

As I look over the images I have shot with the lens I am thrilled that Sony did what they had to do as they created a masterpiece. Anyone who loves t he 35mm focal length will be THRILLED with this lens on any A7 series body. I used it mainly on my A7II which is the A7 I use 90% of the time these days. Still own and love my A7s  but the A7II just clicks all of my boxes.

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This lens is good for color or for B&W conversions as you can see above and below. You can go light on the contrast or heavy on the contrast. By default, this lens puts out a medium contrast  – not too hard and not too soft.

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But one thing remains a constant with this lens. It delivers the goods each and every time I bring it out or use it. From deep rich color, to beautiful black and white to nice creamy bokeh (background blur) that will not give you a headache, this lens shows what the Sony A7 system is capable of. I have tried the Sigma Art lenses. I have shot with the Canon 35L on a 5DII, I have shot with the Nikon 35 1.4 on a D800 as well as the Zeiss ZF 35 1.4. I have owned and shot with the Leica 35 1.4 Summilux, all versions. It is safe to say that I have had great experience with all full frame 35 1.4 lenses.

This Sony is the best one I have ever used for my tastes as it does everything right. Period. The one that comes closest is the Zeiss 35 1.4 Zf, then the Sigma Art 35 1.4. Last place would be the Canon 35L as it is getting a but long in the tooth, even when used on a 5DII or III. The size of the DSLR 35 1.4’s range from Large to Beastly and this Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 is at the large end. It’s a beast, and a few ounces heavier than the Nikon or Canon (1.4 vs 1.32lbs). After a few snaps you do get used to the size, though I admit I will always prefer a smaller lens. If this lens could be made in a small size it would be one of those legendary must own lenses.

The Leica 35 Lux is small, but manual focus only, a not so close minimum focus distance (.7 meters vs .3 of the Sony) and it does not offer the overall total IQ of this Sony/Zeiss. It is also $5400, so quite a bit more expensive. It is a jewel though, a beautiful legendary lens that was at the top of the heap for IQ. It is good to know that this Sony is up there in the same league as the Leica at a fraction of the cost.

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Before I end this quick lens review, let me show you a few comparison shots. Below you will find the same image taken with the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, the Zeiss 35 f/2 Loxia, the 35 2.8 Zeiss, the 16-35 at 35mm and for grins, the Leica 35 Summicron at f/2 (I do not own the Lux). I will show each lens shot at f/2 to keep it the same aperture except the 16-35 will be at f/4 as  that is wide open for that particular lens and the 35 2.8 at 2.8 for the same reason.

It is a LARGE lens  – left to right: Leica 35 Cron, Zeiss 35 2.8, Zeiss Loxia 35, Zeiss 16-35, Zeiss 35 1.4

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I am not looking for detail or sharpness here, as ANY of these lenses will deliver on that. ALL are fantastic in their own right. But I am looking at color, pop, depth, bokeh, and overall character of image, which is why 99% of us buy these types of lenses…character. A lens like this is not bought for low light or high ISO use, it is mainly bought because so many of us LOVE the character of a fast lens.

YOU MUST click images for the correct view..

1st the 35 1.4 at f/2 on the A7II

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Now the Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2 at f/2 on the A7II

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Now the 35 2.8 on the A7II (at 2.8)

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Now the 16-35 at 35 at f/4

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and finally, the 35 Summicron on the A7II

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Which do YOU prefer? 

I still prefer the Sony Zeiss 35 1.4 but ALL are great, even the 16-35 at 35mm and f/4 renders a great image with contrast and pop. To me, the most amount of depth and 3D comes from the Sony 35 1.4 but all are great and most would have a hard time figuring out which is which. Goes to show, most lenses made today are good and get the job done though these lenses above are all $800 and up, all the way to $3300 for the Leica 35 Cron (though it is my #2 pick as the IQ is fantastic and the size is TINY). I will say if all you care about is corner to corner perfection your best bet is the Sony 35 2.8, but it will lack in Character compared to the 35 1.4, Zeiss Loxia, Leica cron, etc.

DETAILS!

Below is a 100% crop from this 35 1.4 Zeiss on the A7II. Plenty of detail for me! THIS is wide open!

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My Final Word on the Zeiss 35 1.4 for the Sony FE System

I love this lens. Period. For me, it is the absolute best 35mm 1.4 lens I have ever shot with, used or tested when it comes to image quality. As you know, I do not go by charts or graphs, I go by real world shooting. Using a camera and lens for what they are meant to be used for..images..memories…the main reason we take pictures! For pros, if you have a 35mm in your kit you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. It is a beauty of a lens and now takes the title as the best 35mm lens I have tested or used. THAT says a lot. If you have this lens and you are not getting astounding quality with it then you may have a dud, which is not cool, but it is NOT the norm for this piece of glass. For me, this lens is perfect for just about anything you want to shoot. Environmental portraits, fashion, every day life, landscapes, still life or what have you.

This lens takes the A7 series to the next level. AF is speedy for a 35 1.4 (bested the Art 35 1.4 when I used it on the Canon 6D) and 100% accurate on my A7II. Never did I get a misfocus. I also shot some personal images on my A7s and the results were just as fantastic as they were on the A7Ii with a slightly different feel due to the different look of the A7s sensor (slight).

So I highly recommend this lens. It’s the best of the native lenses I have used for the FE system. $1600 is expensive but cheaper than the competition while being better. Bam. Sony did it again.

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Where to buy?

You can BUY/ORDER OR PRE-ORDER this lens at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE. 

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

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Apr 172015
 

Mamiya6-Title

Mamiya 6 with Rollei Crossbird

By Frank Stelzer

Hi Steve, Brandon,

Being a long time follower, I thought I submit a story for your Film Friday series. I have been enjoying your site since 2010, when I was soaking in your Leica M9 and lens reviews all night. It was the first time that I got to know about Leica in detail; what they are, what you can do and what you cannot do, and I have been infected with the Leica virus ever since. I also value your Daily Inspirations and Film Friday series as platform to get to know other approaches, techniques and cameras.

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Quickly about myself, I have been fascinated with the process of making photographs since I was a teenager. My first equipment has been a viewfinder film camera in the 1980’s. I basically clicked what I found interesting enough to preserve as a memory. In the late 90’s I made the move from an Olympus mju-I to a film Pentax SLR and a monster 28-200 3.8- 5.6, because I thought, the bigger the camera and the lens, the better my photos. Little to nothing I knew about film sizes, f-stops and most importantly light. This changed gradually over the past 15 years, but there is still so much to learn. Somewhere in between I jumped on the digital bandwagon, enjoying the instant gratification of seeing the image immediately.

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I don’t remember since when I had this growing curiosity about medium format film, maybe it was your GF670 review. But it really accelerated after getting Jonathan Canlas’ book “Film is not dead” two years ago. Since then I gathered information about MF from almost everywhere.
I thought a portable camera would be nice, so I can easily take it with me when travelling. This sort of narrowed it down to a couple of rangefinder cameras: Fujifilm GF670, Mamiya 6 and 7.  I went for the Mamiya 6, which ticked the boxes in my book. It just feels right in your hand. The grip is fantastic, letting your hand mold around it nicely. Not only while shooting, but also when just walking around with the camera in the hand and the strap around the wrist. That’s one of the differences which made me go for the Mamiya instead of the Fujifilm GF670. One reason I preferred the Mamiya 6 over the Mamiya 7 was the retractable lens of the former, making it easy to put into a messenger bag (with Hadley Pro insert) without getting too bulky.

I only got the 75mm lens. There are also 2 more lenses (50mm and 150mm) available for the Mamiya 6, making it a nice system. There is a dark slide in the Mamiya 6 that you have to open and close manually when changing lenses when there is film inside the camera. This could lead to missing shots if you forgot to open the dark slides after a lens change. But for me it was not a problem with one lens only. The RF patch had a bit less contrast for my taste, which made focusing taking a bit longer at times. I did not consider 645 format at that time, since I was intrigued by the bigger 6×6/6×7 format.

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When my wife and I visited Australia last year, I decided to try Rollei Crossbird film for shooting some urban landscape. I never did cross-processing before, but I was curious to see what color-shift effects I would get. This film is marketed especially for cross-processing, but at the end you can take any film and cross-process it. As it seems, this film has a tendency to develop a green cast and also some visible grain. Nothing you can’t do with a digital camera and Lightroom, but definitely more fun. I am more than happy about the result I got with the Mamiya 6 and Rollei Crossbird. It’s sounds strange, but limiting yourself can be quite liberating. When shooting digital, there are endless post-processing options, that it’s easy to get carried away if you don’t know exactly what you are aiming for.

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Many people say that shooting film is a different experience compared to a digital camera. And I totally agree with them. I take more time thinking about the composition and exposure settings. Then there is the uncertainty and waiting for the film getting developed. Well, you could put tape on your DSLR’s screen and wait a week or so putting the SD card into your computer, but it’s not the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to start any film vs. digital discussion. For me it’s both film and digital. Since I am an amateur, I have the freedom to decide depending on my mood, whether to go out with film or digital camera. I enjoy both. We live in a time where we have all these many different photographic tools and formats available, where everybody can find something according to his/her own interest and budget. The good thing about film cameras is that you can sell them almost at the same price you bought them, because they don’t depreciate anymore. This makes it easy to try different formats and systems until you find the one you like most.

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I should mention that I sold the Mamiya 6 meanwhile. Not because I didn’t like it, but because the shooting experience was very similar to the Leica, both being rangefinder cameras. I wanted something more challenging for my medium format adventures, so I traded it for a Hasselblad 503CX. Admittedly, it’s a not as travel-friendly as the Mamiya 6. In fact, it is a completely different beast and lets me discover photography from another angle. But that might be another Film Friday story.

My social media links:
Website: www.frankstelzerphotography.com
Instagram: https://instagram.com/frankstelzer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frankstelzer

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Apr 152015
 

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

The 2015 Moto GP with the Sony A7II

By Chad Wadsworth – His Website is HERE

With overcast skies, rain and major storms threatening all weekend, the 2015 Moto GP Grand Prix of the Americas went off with only a minor hitch (debris on the track prior to start). Just before the race, the skies opened up and the sun broke through, lighting up the brilliant red, white and blue track elements. Red Bull racer, Spaniard Marc Marquez, pulled off the “three-peat” with his third consecutive victory at the annual event held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX.

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Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

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I packed relatively light for the event, considering the number of 600mm bazookas being hauled around by circuit photographers. The Sony A7II, A7S, the new FE 28mm f2, FE 55mm f1.8, Minolta High Speed APO 200mm f2.8 (A-mount) and rain gear were all stashed away into a small Think Tank backpack.

For Saturday’s qualifying, using the adapted Minolta (a legendary lens) was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. The combination of 1987 screw drive AF motor and adapter just couldn’t keep up with the action, even with the a7II advanced AF tracking. Luckily, Sony had the FE 70-200mm f4 enroute, with a just-in-time delivery for Sunday.

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What a difference the native FE lens made for AF tracking. On the A7II using Pre-AF, CAF and tracking, the lens picked up focus almost instantly and was able to stay on subject during some of the fastest racing (220mph on the straights) on the planet. Certainly, the combination had its limits but I was shocked at the number of keepers it produced. At the end of the day, I walked away confident in the current ability of the alpha platform and optimistic about future capabilities.

Until Sony has big gun lenses and a true professional body, this solution is not ideal for the tiny percentage of working pros who deal with these ultra high-speed environments but the writing is on the wall – expect that improvements in processing speed, hardware and software will soon make these cameras viable at the extreme niches of photography.

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Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

The combination of small, lightweight bodies and lenses was a boon for reportage style coverage of the event. The new FE 28mm continues to amaze with sharp rendering that reminds me of my old Ricoh GR1 and Minolta TC-1. The quick focus also came in handy when shooting some flatland BMX and Trials demos. I was just feet away from the bikes (another photographer got his foot run over) and the camera nailed focus every time. This lens is such a tremendous value! Mate the 28mm with the 55mm f1.8 and you have a dynamic duo that covers four useful focal lengths (28mm, 40mm, 55mm, 83mm) if you utilize APS-C mode on occasion.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

By the end of the race, I was exhausted but high on the adrenaline from covering this prestigious event. The Circuit of the Americas is one of the finest tracks in the world and still under appreciated by the US motorsport community. If you are a fan, you owe it to yourself to make it out to Austin for the upcoming American LeMans and Formula One races later this year.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Third annual MotoGP at COTA in Austin, TX, USA on 12 April, 2015.

Apr 132015
 

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The NEW Leica Summarit Lenses. 35, 50, 75 and 90 2.4. Part 1.

These lenses were sent to me to review by Leica Dealer Ken Hansen. He has these and many other Leica items in stock, so email him if interested at [email protected].

**This review will be in two parts. This part will mainly focus on the 35 and 50 with a few 75 samples thrown in. I will show many images and talk about the character of the lenses. Part 2 will feature more 75 and 90 and go over my final thoughts on the Summarit line as well as some comparisons. So my conclusion, comparisons, and more images will be in part 2 in about 1-2 weeks. Enjoy!**

1st, a video showing the Summarits with my new Safari Leica M-P 240 

Man, these brand new 2015 Summarit lenses from Leica REALLY surprised me, and these days it takes A LOT to Surprise me. The fit, the finish, the build, the design, the smoothness, the hood’s, the caps, the whole package with these little Summarit line has gotten better than ever before with the new improvements. Optically they are STUNNERS and IMO beat many of the classic Leica lenses. For example, I prefer the new 2.4 Summarit 50 to the older 50 Summicron f/2 (non APO). The 35 Summarit is TINY but STUNNINGLY sharp. The 75 is probably the coolest of the lot with its 2.4 aperture, close focusing distance of .7 and the slim slender profile. I loved the old summarit line (which are not really that old) that Leica introduced at the end of the M8.2’s life as they released them to create a more affordable lens for what would be the M9. They did a great thing with that lens line as they were Semi Affordable in Leica terms and they were fantastic performers. 

The new line is even better with a new design, new metal hood designs, new metal lens caps, new silver or black finish, improved optics, new closer focusing distances, and each lens comes with a real Leica leather case (the old line came with a bag). So the prices have went up from $2000-$2350 but they are still the least expensive REAL Leica lenses made today for the M and they give up nothing in performance to their more expensive siblings.

The 35, 50, 75 ad 90..look at the stunning silver finish. I am not a HUGE fan of the black focusing rings on the silver body but I would still choose Silver for my Safari M-P. 

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After shooting with the 35, 50, 75 and 90 I can say that I would love to own the 50 and 75 AND 90, but may end up buying the 50 for now, and one of the other telephoto options later. I own a 35 Summicron so do not need another 35 but man oh man. The details and color..some of these have that old M9 pop that many look for IMO – all from Leica’s latest and most affordable lens line for the M.

Click this image for a larger 1800 pixel size to see the details, and depth. This was with the 50 f/2.4 and it is STUNNING at any price. If Leica packaged this as an all new special 50 with a new name, they could have priced it at $3000. It is crisper than a Summilux, sharper and has better color than the old 50 Summicron, along with a smoother Bokeh and it is smaller and sleeker and looks amazingly beautiful on the camera. Click the image of the Cowboy to see the depth, detail and character of his face. Amazing lens. 

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When you view the above image, you will see that Leica pop and look from the contrast, sharpness, color and the WOW. It is in a class of it’s own. The gentle transitions from focus to out of focus is organic, the color is scrumptious and the glow is here as well. Take a look and click on the image below. From raw, wide open at f/2.4 on the new 50 Summarit.

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But let us keep going as I think I want to make this review more image based as the images are what tell the tale.

Click on the image below for a larger sized version. Here, you can see Leica’s color signature, the glow, the detail (see the eyes) and the smooth transition from sharp to butter. :) This 50 2.4 is a smashing lens. Many will feel they need a Summicron or Lux and they will miss out. Today, there is no need to spend more for better. Each Leica lens, the Summarit, Summicron and Summilux each have a different character, but ALL are stellar and better than any DSLR 50 ;) 

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The 35 Summarit inside at ISO 2000. Still crisp, still “leica” in the feeling. Nothing special about the image but it does show that even in dark indoor interiors the 35 Summarit and M 240 can pull it off.

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Always love old doors and this one was taken in Tombstone, AZ at an old abandoned building. The 35 now has a .8 meter close focus distance, is made to a higher standard, has improved optics and again, comes with metal hood, leather case and the full Leica treatment. This 35 goes for $2250, much less than the 35 Summicron or 35 Summilux. This lens feels amazing on the M. Small, solid, smooth focus. Not much more you could ask for. Click images for larger. 

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Another with the 35, right out of the camera (RAW)…

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The 50 has its own unique mojo and character that sets it apart from the Summicron and Summilux. I know of one guy who has ALL of the Leica 50;s and chooses which one he wants to shoot depending on what he is going for in looks. For me, the 50 Summarit provides a crisp and “perfect” style of image while not being analytical or hard in any way. Look at the image below. The man WAS this red as he had a slight sunburn and he was HOT wearing his MARSHALL uniform. The Leica did color here better than my A7II did the same day and place. So Leica has finally got the old color issues settled. Now I see Leica color I remember. 

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Another with the 50, which became the most used Summarit for me while having them all. I shot with the 90 the least as I never use 90 but it is beautiful none the less. Look again at the detail the Summarit gives as well as the overall character of the rendering. 

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A quick grab shot this guy was a blast. He hung around all day dancing and playing his finger instruments. Never hounding anyone for money, just smiling for all who passed by. I used the 50 here again. 

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These two were on the street in the harsh AZ sun and I thought there is no way this image would come out OK. Usually these harsh sun images lead to faces in shadow, uneven exposure, etc. When I arrived home I was able to easily pull out the shadows on the faces while retaining highlights. 

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RICH reds here with the 50

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Again, the 50 shooting a happy young man on the Trolley Tour. LOVE the way the 50 renders images..so crisp and so colorful..with ACCURATE color. I think Leica enhanced these for use on the M 240 as the color that comes from these lenses is superb. 

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The 75 is a lens I have a love hate relationship with. Not because it is a bad lens, because it is SO GOOD and SO gorgeous, I want it. Problem is, I rarely use anything above 50. Even so, I will own this lens one day. I loved the old version of the 75 Summarit and this one is even better. Retains the Summarit look of crispness, great color, smooth transitions and this time with the new 75 we get .7 meter close focus, which is AWESOME. 

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Horse with the 75 in the direct sun. Look at how it handles the harsh light. Contrast is a but high but that is what gives these lenses the pop and 3D separation. 

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The local high school band from Nogales Mexico in Tombstone. They sounded great! The 75, even from across the street gave me detail, snap and pop. Color is spot on and the M handled the harsh light VERY well.

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I saw this lady having a BLAST watching the parade..she had her bubble machine and was getting the biggest kick out of it. She was enjoying life with a smile. I snapped this one with the 50..

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One more with the 50..love the dog ;) 

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Just a simple shot to show the detail and the Bokeh of the 75mm at 2.4

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…and a shot with a 100% crop from the 75 inside my home, no special light. Wide open at f/2.4. 

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It is safe to say that I am enjoying these Summarit lenses. I will be shooting over the next few days with the 75 and 90 more so my next report, which will be part 2, will go over these lenses more as well as a couple of comparison like the 35 Summarit vs the 35 Summicron vs the Zeiss 35 Loxia on the A7II.

REFERENCE: My old 35 Summarit review is HERE. My old 50 Summarit review is HERE. My old 90 Summarit review is HERE.

So that is all I have for now on these fantastic new lenses from Leica. ALL are stunning in their build, performance, styling and included accessories (Hood, caps, leather case, etc). The Summarits are now better than ever and are in no way handicapped by the more expensive line besides being a tad slower at f/2.4 vs f/2 or f/1.4.

If you want to save some cash and some weight, you will still get that Leica quality from the entire line of Summarit lenses. Watch for part 2 SOON which will have more on these beauties. Again, these came from Ken Hansen, email him and mention me for a GREAT buying experience ;) His email is [email protected].

MORE SOON!

Steve

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Apr 102015
 

JB Designs Leica M 240 Grip & HoldFastGear Roamographer Mini in the house!

It’s Friday and what a great beautiful sunny mid 80 degree day here in Phoenix AZ! Also a great day as I had several surprises in the mail today. First up, a slew of new hand-made in the USA grips for my Leica M 240, my A7II, the Olympus E-M5II and the Olympus E-M1, and JB Designs has been stepping up their game lately with BEAUTIFUL new designs. The Leica M 240 Grip is FANTASTIC and beats Leica’s own grip at a much lower price! It fits perfect, it looks beautiful and it feels so natural and smooth. The smell is amazing to boot. I also received the new Roamographer Mini bag from Hold Fast Gear. WOW, what a stunning bag. A work of art.

Up 1st…

JB DESIGNS LEICA M 240 GRIP

I was sent a slew of new designs from JB Designs and have to say, I love the M 240 and E-M5II grip the most. Gorgeous. But do not take my word for it, take a look for yourself and see what it looks like on my Safari M…

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Makes the M feel so much nicer. The best part? He sells these on Amazon for $85 and each one is hand made in the good old USA.

You can see it or buy it on Amazon HERE.  

At the time of this writing he has 6 in Bamboo left. The version you see here is his latest creation, with the darker Brazilian Chestnut wood. Stunning. You can see more at the JB Website HERE.  If you own an M 240 and want a unique, great feeling and beautifully made wooden grip, this is IT and it is a GREAT price for a wonderful hand crafted product.

He also has a fantastic grip for the E-M5II as well..on Amazon HERE. $85 and in stock in the new dark Brazilian Chestnut. Six left in stock there. A bargain.

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JB Designs is fantastic. A USA company that takes pride in their work, keeps prices decent and delivers a super good looking and functional product. Awesome.

HOLD FAST GEAR – ROAMOGRAPHER MINI

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The new Roamographer Mini from HOLD FAST GEAR is a stunning “mini” version of the original Roamographer that I reviewed a while back. GORGEOUS bags but the original is LARGE. The Mini is PERFECT. Hand made in the good old USA, I may not have seen another bag like this that was under $1500. This one comes in at $525 but it screams beauty, quality, pride, and is quite functional as well. Sure, you can go get a canvas bag for $50 but this is for the discriminating enthusiast or professional who wants a bag to last them their lifetime, and then they children lifetime. This is one of those bags that will be handed down generation to generation. Imagine what the bag above will look like in 50 years ;)

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I love this company and what they stand for and the owner, Matt Swaggart is a super nice guy. I own the Money Maker Strap, the large Roamographer and now the Mini. Along with Wotancraft, this is one of my all time fave bag maker (and straps). Check out all they have to offer at HOLDFASTGEAR.com!!

THIS IS QUALITY and as I always say, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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