Nov 252015

FIRST LOOK! The SLR Magic 50 1.1 For E-Mount at $349!

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.22.54 AM

I have been checking out a new lens from SLR Magic and it is a 50 1.1 for the Sony FE Mount, and yes, this is a full frame 50 1.1 for $349. It’s metal construction, rangefinder like lens build and smooth manual focus ring make this a pretty great buy at $349. It is not going to be a “perfect” lens wide open but gives a unique character for sure. I have been shooting with one for a few days but I had Andrew at SLR Magic convert mine to Leica M mount. This way I can use it on Leica or Sony (via adapters) but the lens is the same through and through and for the FE mount you are getting a unique lens to add to your kit with gobs of character wide open, and sharpness and snap stopped down to f/2-2.8.

The lens feels great, looks nice and is small. Very well made for the price point for sure. I will have more of this lens in my upcoming Leica SL review..soon!

You can buy the lens at B&H Photo HERE and take a look at a couple sample shots below ;)

Wide open at 1.1 with very careful focusing! Click it for larger.


Stopped down to f/1.4


Again at 1.4


f/2.8 – it sharpens up dramatically here, focusing was on the trees in the mirror


Here is one at 1.4…


and now at f/2.8


Nov 182015


The Sony RX1RII 1st Look. Beautiful.

NOTE: This is not my review, just a 1st look. My full review will be in 2-3 weeks and no, the title shot above is not banding. It is window blinds :)

Wow. So I have had this new Sony RX1RII for only three full days and it is just as magical as the Mark I but with faster AF, a unique beautiful pop up EVF (that bests the A7RII’s EVF) and the new A7RII Sensor giving us 42MP of full frame power that will fit in a coat pocket. The RX1RII is SMALL, just as the original was and this is good as it is discreet, and thin and so easy to take anywhere. It’s about the size of an Olympus E-M10 but packs a 35mm f/2 lens inside with that full frame sensor (perfectly matched btw), powerful EVF and even an adjustable low pass filter. Yep, with the MKII you can turn on your low pass filter or turn it off and even set sensitivity so it defeats the purpose for the non R version as both are now in one! Pretty cool. Having a Moire issue? Turn it on. Want maximum detail? Turn it off. Easy and Brilliant.

See my old RX1 Mark 1 review – My Camera of the year for 2012!

The new MkII has the same body and lens as the original but now with Sony’s current best sensor that now resides in their top of the line full frame A7RII. Superb high ISO, superb dynamic range, a beautiful EVF that slides up so nicely when needed (and we do not have to pull it out as we do with the RX100 IV) and one of the best 35mm lenses ever made (that bests the Leica summicron yet the RX1RII camera costs the same as just a Leica 35 summicron), the RX1RII is here to take on the Leica Q for king of the fixed lens full framers. It has been three years since the original RX1, so I am happy to see the new model arrive.


I love the original RX1 and RX1R. I love the Leica Q. For me, the Q surpassed the Sony RX1R (1st version) due to the EVF and speedy AF as well as the gorgeous IQ of the Q. So how will the new Sony RX1RII stack up to the Q? In my full review that will come within 3 weeks, I hope to find out as I will shoot them side by side. My early gut feeling tells me the Sony may edge out the Leica Q, and at around $1000 less. The Sony is smaller, feels heftier, has a gorgeous 35mm Zeiss lens, a swivel LCD, very nice EVF, superior low light capability, and that massive sensor from the A7RII inside. It also shoots video but Sony says the RX1RII is more of a Photographers Camera than a video camera, so do not expect A7RII or SII video quality here, it will not beat them. But for photos, it can indeed surpass the quality of even the A7RII.


The RX1R II is meant for the streets, everyday life, portraits, still life, and even some close-ups with the macro mode of the lens. It’s for the photographer on the move who doest want to worry “what lenses shall I bring”. The RX1RII says “Get in close” and “Zoom with your feet” and using it is quite the joyful experience.

In my early shooting tests I am LOVING the image quality, ease of use, joy of use and the faster AF which I would say is about 30-35% faster (Sony says 30%) than the original RX1 and RX1R. It’s a noticeable improvement for sure. But the files from the RX1RII can and will beat an A7RII with 35mm lens attached (so says Sony and ME) as the lens of the RX1RII is matched perfectly with the sensor, so it was tweaked for amazing output. The files are sharp corner to corner, and it is quite amazing how well this lens and sensor work together. Sony showed me some large prints with perfect sharpness across the entire frame.

I am shooting this camera daily right now and will have the review up in December (which is soon). For now, enjoy some snapshots I took during my 1st 24 hours with the RX1RII…nothing serious just yet but this camera builds on the now cult status original and improves it in all the areas we wanted it to be improved. AF, EVF, and even Sensor. Oh, it also now has continuous tracking AF (will test this in my full review) and it is accessible from the front dial with the other focus modes.

The RX1R II next to the Leica M (Top) and OM-D E-M10 II (Bottom) – Smaller than both.



With all of these amazing new cameras hitting (Leica SL, Leica Q, Sony A7RII, SII and RX1RII, Olympus E-M10 II)..not sure which one is going to make my “Camera of the Year” for 2015 just yet!

You must click the image for a larger and MIUCH better view and rendering! All are OOC JPEGS! This camera is incredible as nothing out there can touch it for size..hard to believe this packs a 42MP full frame punch in the size of an E-M10 II with a nice solid build. Wow. 












You can order the new Sony RX1R Mark II At B&H Photo or Amazon at the direct links below. Starts shipping November 25th! It’s not cheap but quality never is. 

B&H Photo


Nov 172015


LEICA SL – 1st HANDS ON Look! 

So today I received a Leica SL and 24-90 Lens along with an M adapter so I could test M lenses on this new Leica. This is a loaner that I received to test for a while as the one I ordered for myself (from Ken Hansen) will not be in for a little while. In any case, this new Leica SL is absolutely incredible in build with a pro feel that not many cameras have besides the Leica S. In fact, it feels and looks more like a Mini S but with a full frame 35mm sensor instead of a medium format sized sensor.

My 1st Look Video Below!

When you look at it from this perspective, the SL is not a Sony A7 copy..instead it is like a whole new class of camera. Leica says they are aiming for pro users, and I can see this now as any studio shooter, wedding shooter or concert shooter would fall deeply in love with the SL. Even the 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 lens is stunning in its quality from build to image quality, which renders much like a superb prime lens would.

I have to eat my words on what I wrote about the SL based on 1st thoughts of the specs and images. Now that it is in hand, and I have studied it, shot with it a little and experienced this amazing drop dead gorgeous EVF, dual SD slots, pro battery, and full weather sealing..I can say the SL is in a class all by itself, even when compared to the Canon 1d’s and D4’s of the world.

It’s larger than a Sony A7 series body but not by much. In fact, in the video you will see that it is not much larger than an M 240. With M lenses, this EVF ROCKS and makes it a breeze to shoot with M glass…much easier than even the M 240 and the IQ beats the M as well due to the new sensor.

Three quick snaps 10 minutes after getting the camera. These are just snapshots of my house, in my house and outside of my house. I wanted to see the color, detail and pop of the 24-90 Zoom. In my upcoming full review I will have TONS of image samples just as I always do for my big reviews. 

Last two are with the 50 Lux ASPH

These are all Out Of Camera images and color looks great indoor and out






Shooting the SL with something like a 28 Elmarit, 35 cron and 50 lux would be so much fun and provide stunning IQ.

My full massive review will include video samples, comparisons to the Sony A7RII, Leica M 240 and even the Sony RX1RII. It will include TONS of images samples, crops, ISO tests and usability reports. It may be my most jam packed review to date so will take around 3 weeks to do. So….

Stay tuned ;)


PS – You can order a Leica SL from Ken Hansen ([email protected]),, B&H Photo or Leica Store Miami

Oct 232015

Away we go! Off to test the new Sony A7SII! 1st samples…


It’s travel time again! In about an hour Debby and I are heading off to San Diego to meet up with friends Todd & Autumn Hatakeyama for the weekend and I am bringing the new Sony A7SII and the original A7S to do some shooting, testing and to have some fun as well. I have been shooting the new A7SII for a few days and it’s another fantastic Sony release. Now with the new body, the new 5 Axis IS inside, and a few other new features, this camera’s files pop more so than the huge resolution A7RII. 

Look for my review in about a week or so but until then here are a few shots to wet your appetite.. Oh, the A7SII is NOW SHIPPING at B&H Photo HERE.

How about an ISO 102,800 shot – OOC JPEG (EYES were 100% on the road, and no one else was on the road)


NOTHING CAN TOUCH THE A7S OR A7SII FOR HIGH ISO that I have seen yet..this is for sure. I remember when ISO 1600 looked like the ISO 102,800 shot above. Maybe even ISO 800. The fact that we can shoot in almost pure darkness (did some video tests at ISO 102,800 and they were awesome) and keep color like this is quite amazing. Can your iPhone do that? No.

Check back in a week or two for the review and comparison against the original A7s!

The A7SII also gives rich images that pop big time…lens used below Voigtlander VM 35 1.7 –








…and one more ISO 25,600 OOC – Zeiss 24-70 f/4 – Noise Reduction 100% OFF


Oct 192015


The Panasonic GX8. A One Day Hands on Report.

By Steve Huff

A couple of days ago I was able to get a hold of the new Panasonic GX8, but just for 2 days. While that is not time enough for a full detailed review, it is enough to say a few words on it as I am extensively experienced with all Olympus Micro 4/3 offerings, as well as the older GX series from Panasonic. I remember shooting and reviewing the previous GX7 (You can see it here) and I really enjoyed it, mostly thanks to the EVF that swiveled up and down and allowed me to get shots while holding the camera at my body. Also, Panasonic has a unique color signature just as Olympus does, Sony does, Leica does, Fuji does, etc.

I find the Panasonic color signature to be more on the cooler side, much like the Leica days with the M9, compared to the warmer side of Olympus and Sony and the newer Leica M 240 and Q.

I’ve always loved the Panasonic line of Micro 4/3 cameras and for many they are *the* body to choose. Me, I prefer the Olympus bodies for my personal use as the 5 AXIS IS, the design and size of them are always so appealing. For image quality, you can not go wrong with a Panasonic or Olympus, as both will get the job done. The new GX8 is nice but I quickly noticed that in my hand it feels a bit thick and meaty compared to the E-M5II and E-M10II from Olympus. In fact, it’s very close to the size of my Sony A7RII which is a full frame powerhouse! It surely is bigger than the old GX7 for sure. The body is anyway.

Lenses, ahhh yes, Micro 4/3 lenses. They are so damn awesome and amazing. For this review I used mainly the Olympus 7-14 f/2.8 pro as I love this lens. It has grown on me more and more since my review (see that here with the E-M10II) and I can say 100% that it is the best ultra wide lens I have ever used in my life. On any format.

Snapshots from the Fair – 7-14 Pro f/2.8 Olympus Lens



So this is not a review my friends, it is basically me showing a few snaps from the fair with my one day shooting the GX8 as well as some thoughts on it after shooting every Olympus body extensively. So this is a HANDS ON REPORT. 1st off, as I said the body feels much bigger to me in my hand than an Olympus E-M5II or E-M10II, especially the E-M10II as that is a TINY body. Curiosity got to me and I had to see this camera next to others just to see how big it really is. Thanks to the cool site,, we can check on such things quite easily ;) it a tad large for what it is? It is indeed larger than the previous GX7.

1st up, size vs the E-M5 II from Olympus. The GX8 is slightly larger and beefier. Not as comfy feeling in the hand if you have small to medium hands. Large hands may feel more at home with the GX8 though as it does feel ticker and larger all the way around in use. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.57.37 AM

Next to the E-M10 Ii we see the GX8 is wider but the E-M10II is slightly taller. Still, when these are side by side in the hand (I have both here) the E-M10II feels much smaller. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.57.45 AM

Still wider than an E-M1 but not as tall. The E-M1 is the Oly tour de force pro Micro 4/3 camera, so I expect it to be the largest.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.57.54 AM

Next to the A7RII, the full frame massive megapixel powerhouse which is in another league over the GX8 in every way including cost, but even though the sensor is MUCH larger in the Sony the GX8 is still wider and feels just as large when holding it in your hands. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.58.07 AM

So overall, the GX8 is not one of these mini Panasonic camera that they released year after year for a while. Nope, this is a REAL camera, a camera for the photographer or someone who really wants to really get into it. Basically, it will beat your phone in a big way but still offer you professional controls and results to grow with you. For anyone looking for a really good starter digital camera, I’d say skip the Canon rebel and go to something like a GX8 or E-M5II. These cameras are really fantastic but how did I like my shooting experience with the Panasonic vs the Olympus or even Sony? As always, just about any micro 4/3 body is a joy and pleasure to shoot.

The wide view at 7mm (14mm equivalent) is something for sure! It takes getting used to as finding interesting scenes with a ultra wide is challenging. 


B&W conversion using VSCO filters. Another day at the fair..



But…when using the GX8, somehow and someway it kept defaulting to “4K Photo Mode” and twice I had to reset the camera from within the menu as I had no instructions and after 15 minutes trying to find out what was happening, I could not. So I just  reset it every time this happened but I have no clue why or how this was happening over and over again. I am sure it was something simple but this is the first time ever I could not figure out an issue with a camera. Other than that, the camera gave me no problems. Auto focus was as fast or faster as any camera I have used that has good AF (beats the Sony, matches the Olympus) and the IQ was up there with the best of Micro 4/3, with a more crisp look to the files than I remember seeing with Olympus.

The pop up and out EVF is lovely, and I wish all manufacturers would use an EVF like this as it opens up more possibilities when shooting allowing interesting and different angles. It has a touch screen LCD as well, a nice big 3 inch one at that. It also has image stabilization though from my experience it doesn’t quite get close to the amazing 5 Axis in the Olympus bodies. The AF is quick though, and I noticed no hesitations or is what Panasonic says about the GX8’s new AF mode:


Depth-From-Defocus and Starlight AF Technologies

For accelerated autofocus performance, DFD (Depth-From-Defocus) technology is employed to quickly calculate the distance to subjects and adjust the focusing position in as little as 0.07 seconds, which enables continuous shooting up to 6 fps with continuous AF. This contrast-detection type focus method benefits both still and video recording modes, as well as subject tracking applications where subject color, size, and motion vectors are used to intelligently lock-onto the moving subjects and ensure precise focus. Additionally, supporting working in low-light conditions, a Starlight AF feature enables accurate AF performance down to -4 EV.

Benefitting manual focus operation, focus peaking is available that highlights bright edges of contrast with a colored outline for quickly recognizing your focus point, as well as Touch MF Assist for touch-to-focus operation.

In plain easy to understand language..the AF is VERY fast. Now, I did not use continuous AF in my one day of testing but the standard AF was blazing fast. Faster than the E-M5 II and E-M10II I have here.



So pretty cool on the Auto Focus front. 

As for the in body IS, I thought it was not very good. Nothing like the Olympus bodies. IQ wise, I always shoot RAW and I still slightly prefer the IQ from my Olympus bodies as I prefer warmer tones but there is a certain look to the Panasonic files, and I remember seeing this from the very early bodies and even the old G2 I reviewed HERE a long time ago.Seeing that this is $300 more than an Olympus E-M5 II, I would personally spring for the Olympus over this. It feels sleeker, has 5 Axis IS, is $897 vs $1197 and the IQ is different but not better than the GX8. All personal preference. The GX8 feels much bulkier in the hand but Panasonic has stepped up the game for sure with this model as they need to keep up with the ever innovating Olympus!

When the Olympus pro E-M1 came out I stated that Micro 4/3 can go head to head and match or beat any APS-C camera. I feel APS-C cameras should come to an end as Micro 4/3 can meet or exceed them in IQ but also offer a much smaller body, smaller lenses and fantastically sharp performance due to the lenses being able to be deigned so well for a smaller sensor. Micro 4/3 should be on anyones radar who is thinking of getting an APS-C camera. Canon rebel? Get an E-M5II or GX8 instead! Micro 4/3 has come a long way, and they are going nowhere. Even though many predicted the demise of it years ago, quite the opposite has happened. It has become more popular, more prevalent and more tech has come from Micro 43 than anywhere else. The lenses are fantastic, the bodies are as well with fast AF, gorgeous color and dynamic range and a fun factor that is hard to beat.

While these Micro 4/3 beauties can never compete with full frame, they offer not much less for a whole lot less money. The Micro 4/3 of today is so much better than the Micro 4/3 of yesterday. If you have not used the latest batch of cameras from Olympus or Panasonic, you should rent them sometime and see for yourself. Add a good prime lens and you are ready for fun, ease of use and gorgeous results.





My Final Thoughts after only a day of use..

As for the GX8, while a little bulkier and fatter than I had hoped, it is a powerhouse and after only shooting it one day I know I want to use this one more to review it properly as well as test against my Olympus bodies. It’s 100% the best Panasonic GX I have used to date and offers up 4K photo, 4K video, super fast AF (fastest in M 4/3) and unique features such as dual IS (need a lens with OIS and then it will use the body IS and lens IS together), pop up and out EVF, swivel out LCD (like E-M5Ii) and touch screen to boot. The usual suspects are here such as time lapse, pano, and filter effects that have been around now for 5 years.

The Menu System is typical Panasonic. Easy to read and use, but I find all menus easy to use once you learn them, and this camera is no exception. Newbies to the menu will be confused, but those who used Panasonic before will be right at home. The simplest menus in the business do not come from Olympus or Panasonic or Sony, they come from Leica who has the easiest to use menus of any recent modern digital camera ever.

Battery life seems very good, in line with Olympus and the fact that it takes all of the Micro 4/3 lenses as well as 3rd party lenses with adapters means you would never run out of lenses to shoot with any Micro 4/3, and yes, Olympus lenses can be used on the GX8 and vice versa as Panasonic and Olympus both are native Micro 4/3 lenses. The GX8 appears to be a winner, and the best GX yet from Panasonic. Is it enough for them to overtake Olympus? Probably not as I have a feeling Olympus is ready to drop a big bomb on any thunder the GX8 may have taken from them. Soon. Just a hunch. :)

if I can get a hold of this for 2 weeks I will post an official review soon ;)

Where to buy?

You can see more or buy the Panasonic GX8 at B&H HERE 

You can buy or see more of the GX8 at AMAZON HERE




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.

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Sep 122015

Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron…one hell of a lens!

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 8.03.06 PM

Only had this beauty with me for 2 days but wow. This lens is stunning. I was considering purchasing the Zeiss ZM 35 1.4 for my Sony A7rII but this lens just jumped ahead, and it is less than half the price. Voigtlander has come a long way and this is a serious fast 35 for anyone with a Leica M or Sony A7 series body. At $980, it is a “no brainer deal”. Not cheap but it performs like a $2k lens.

It has gorgeous color, no issues at all on the A7RII or A7II or A7s and it is built to a standard that is above and beyond what any $900 lens should be. It looks like the new 50 Nokton and it is so smooth, easy to focus and renders a quite lovely image wide open at f/1.7. This for me beats out the 35 1.2 as it is much smaller, easier to focus and sharp as you would need wide open. I usually do not post quick sample snaps from my 2nd day but I am really digging this lens, and feel it is worthy of some huge praise.

My review will be in 10-14 days, so stay tuned! Three shots until then ;) All on the A7RII. Mine came from 




Aug 242015

User Report: My 1st Leica Q Shots

by Yoon-Chou Chong

Got the Q just a day before the family holidays which was just as well to test how easy it is to pick up and go. The early pictures in Sydney were mainly from JPEG and although I have heard of Leica’s limits it was ok and does give it the ‘look’ (vs say the RX1 which probably matches in sharpness). Funny thing is when I am defaulting to Program, it always starts with F1.7 which if you aren’t thinking too much of your shots (that is pretty much what happens if you are shuffling with a 5 year old). The EVF was wonderful, and it brought me back to looking into it (rather than lazily on the screen).

2015-06 Sydney (2 of 16)

2015-06 Sydney (5 of 16)

2015-06 Sydney (6 of 16)

2015-06 Sydney (8 of 16)

2015-07 singapore (4 of 6)

2015-07 singapore (5 of 6)

2015-07 singapore2 (16 of 43)

2015-07 singapore2 (36 of 43)

Aug 042015

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


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

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

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

click image for larger…



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

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

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

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





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

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

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


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


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


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



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

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


Amazon A7RII

Aug 032015


HANDS ON! Sony A7RII 1st Thoughts, Images & Video!

By Steve Huff

Woohoo! THIS IS GOING TO BE “NEW SONY WEEK”! Meaning, I am going to be posting quite a few updates on my use with the new Sony cameras, the A7RII and the RX10II!!

Below is an OOC JPEG from the A7RII and Zeiss 25 Batis at f/2. Just a random guy through a window! Click it for larger!


So here I am in Beautiful Portland, Oregon with Sony and loads of other bloggers and media outlets as we get to test and shoot the new Sony line up over the next few days. This includes, for me, the Sony A7RII and Sony RX10II, as I already reviewed the RX100 IV (see that here).

I am SO SO EXCITED as I just came back from a 5 mile walk with just me, myself and the A7RII. I had the Zeiss 25 Batis attached and also shot a few with the Sony/Zeiss 24-70. I am happy to announce that the new resolution MONSTER, the A7RII focuses pretty damn fast. In fact, it appears the spotty and slow focus of the original A7 and A7r is GONE. The A7RII feels just as  fast if not faster than my A7II and A7s when it comes to AF! (single shot mode is all I have tested so far)

The two shots below are from the Sony/Zeiss 24-70, which somehow I have never reviewed! All JPEGS!



Now, keep in mind that the camera has been in my hands for about 3 hours and I have only shot stationary objects so far. Over the next few days I will be shooting all kinds of things from landscape, to low light, to portraits (shooting RAW as well) and more. I will give this camera a massive workout so YOU GUYS can see what it is all about and if it is something that may be for you.

These two are OOC JPEGs and color with the A7RII and Batis 25





FOR NOW, this is just a 1st hand on report, and my 1st thoughts and images after shooting with the camera.

Below, check out the video I made about the A7RII which says much more than I can write here to convert my feelings on this gorgeous very “finished feeling and mature” camera.

FYI: As I took a walk around my hotel in Portland I snapped away and what you see here is all 100% out of camera JPEGs!
My 1st impressions?

The camera feels amazing in the hand, looks very “finished” and handsome. It feels like the A7II in the hand. It is much faster to AF than I expected and the IQ, even from standard OOC JPEGS is VERY VERY good and sharp. I can not wait to process some RAW files. The ISO performance from the quick and dirty tests I did in my hotel room look great, and this camera, I feel will be THE camera to get for 2015.

It just has everything one would ever need.

  • Resolution? CHECK – 42MP!
  • Speed? CHECK! Just as fast to AF, if not faster than my A7II! (so far I have not tested continuous AF, but will)
  • Build? CHECK! This camera feels SOLID and very nice.
  • VIDEO? AMAZING 4K video specs on this camera!
  • An enhanced 5 AXIS STEADSHOT INSIDE! Enough said!
  • 2.36 Million dot EVF? CHECK!
  • Silent Shutter? CHECK!
  • High ISO? Check, up to 102k!

This camera does it ALL. OH, and it even seems to play well with wide angle Leica M mount lenses. Take a look at a shot, with crop, from the Voigtlander 15 4.5 at 4.5:



So far, just a few hours in, I am LOVING the A7RII and have no regrets for selling my A7II to fund this new camera. So far, I see the A7RII as a camera that can last for the long haul, finally!

PLENTY of MP, fast enough for my uses without question, low light ability is great, video abilities is more than I’d ever need, 5 Axis IS is GREAT to have and the fact that I can use hundreds of lenses is icing on the cake.

The cool thing? The A7RII is staring  to ship THIS week to all of those who pre-ordered! IF YOU DID NOT PRE-ORDER, you can do so HERE at the recommended dealers below:



I will be testing and posting about the A7RII ALL WEEK! This is just the beginning and the start of what will be a very thorough look at the camera with various lenses. 

Images below are all OOC JPEGS! CLICK THEM FOR LARGER!














Be sure to check back to this website every day for new A7RII and RX10II coverage! I will also be posting to my Facebook with images as well as videos to YouTube! 

Thank You!






…and  a couple B&W OOC JEGS at higher ISO for fun…






Jul 172015


VIDEO: The Olympus E-M5II, 8mm Fisheye Pro and Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95!

By Steve Huff

Hey guys! It’s FRIDAY! That means the weekend is here, and what a better way to spend it than with a new camera, and two new lenses for me to test out. WooHoo!

No, I never ever tire of getting these new jewels in the mail. In the case of the 8mm fisheye, I rented it as Olympus has a wait list for reviewers so I wanted to check to out NOW, so I went to lens (site sponsor) and rented it for a week. The Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95 was sent to me for review by Stephen Gandy at, who happens to be the USA distributor for Voigtlander, so his site is the place to go for new Voigtlander lenses.

With that out of the way, the new Titanium E-M5II is stunning in appearance. Very Classy. Best color option IMO. To those wondering, “is it really titanium”? NO, it’s titanium in color, not material ;) Even so, it is beautiful and gives the camera and extra bit of pizazz and as I said, class. No cheap looking paint jobs here, in fact, this should be a standard color for all future Olympus bodies. Reminds me somewhat of the old “Steel Grey” of the Leica M9 days. You can order it at B&H Photo HERE, it is IN STOCK NOW!

My video on the E-M5II Titanium, the 8Mm Fisheye Pro and Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95

After owning and using the crap out of the E-M1, I am finding the E-M5II to give me things I never realized I missed. The swivel out LCD, I use it ALL the time. The new 5 Axis is amazing, especially for video. Eliminates the need for big stabilization rigs. Really. The small size and gorgeous lenses. Even though this is not a full frame camera, and I have been shooting my full frame Sony A LOT, I still adore the Olympus and use it often for personal shooting. The size, speed, response and lenses all put it up in my “top two” status these days.


With the limited edition Titanium set, of which there are 7000 made, we get a leather wallet with limited edition numbered card telling us what number we have, we get a custom made leather strap that matches the camera and we get the limited edition color, Titanium. This camera comes in at $300 more over the black or silver versions, and all we are getting are those three things. For me, it is worth it just to have this color. The strap and wallet are nice, but the color is what I love about it and when I was in a meeting with Olympus month ago they told me about this edition, and I said :I WANT ONE”. I knew it then and when I saw B&H Photo had them IN STOCK I ordered my own to replace my E-M1, of which I have been shooting since it was launched.

If you missed my big E-M5 II review you can see it HERE. This is the same camera, just with a new paint job so it will not be reviewed, just showing it here in the video so all of you can see what it looks like.

I will have full reviews of the 10.5 f/0.95 and 8mm Pro Fisheye SOON. But for now, here is a blurb and image or two or three from each:

The Olympus Pro Fisheye 8mm:

I have always loved fisheye lenses. In the past you may have seen my write ups on the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye for Micro 4/3. Believe it or not, that was one of my fave lenses for the system. I love ultra wide fisheyes as I can do so much with it. Unique images, cool video, and they are just fun. At $550 the Panasonic was pricey, especially with options from Rokinon and the like at a fraction of the cost. With the new Olympus they have taken it a step further and produced the worlds 1st f/1.8 8mm fisheye. Usually these lenses are f/3.5-f/4. This Olympus is f/1.8!

I find this to be amazing as while we do not need a fast aperture with a fisheye, IT HELPS for low light, especially with Micro 4/3 who lacks at high ISO compared to full frame offerings many of us are used to.

This lens focuses to 1″, yes ONE INCH, and when you do this you can actually get some BOKEH, crazy but true. With it’s pro build, weather sealing, fast aperture and auto focus it is the premier Fisheye lens for ANY system, and it beats my old Panasonic in sharpness, color and pop. So far so good.

You can buy the 8MM fisheye NOW as B&H Has them in stock. $999 is not cheap, but IMO its the best fisheye in the world. 

click them for larger and sharper versions ;) 




The Voigtlander 10.5 f/0.95

Another lens that just hit the streets is the Voigtlander 10.5mm f/0.95 for Micro 4/3. This lens goes with the line of f/0.95 lenses that Voigtlander developed for Micro 4/3. ALL of them are beasts. Heavy, large and FAST aperture. All are manual focus only. This lens is something. It is built to a high standard, and if you have tried the other lenses in this line, the 17.5, 25 and 42.5 then you know what I am talking about.

With this lens on the E-M5 II (see it in the video above) you have a pretty cool setup allowing you a 21mm equivalent focal length while giving you close focus performance. While not crazy sharp wide open, it does produce  the same flavor and character as the others in the line.  It’s a gorgeous lens, and so far the only negative I have found is the purple fringing that is prevalent on all of these lenses when shot at 0.95 (to be fair, fast Leica glass does the same).

Look for my full review soon, but for now, you can buy this lens at HERE. He has a few left. Limited quantities. I’s a gorgeous lens. Kind of like shooting the Voigtlander 21 1.8 on a full frame M.

Click images for larger, sharper and better versions!



Jul 012015

Crazy Comparison! Zeiss Batis 85 f/1.8 vs Mitakon Speedmaster 85 1.2!

So check this out guys…

The Zeiss Batis 25 and 85 lenses for Sony FE mount have arrived for testing and they are BEAUTIFUL. I will not tell a lie, the 25 is the one I adore the most so far as it’s size is nice. FAT but short and squat. Looks fantastic on the Sony A7II. The 85 is a tad larger but still not so bad, much more manageable than I expected.

I am SO excited that Zeiss has not only released the fine LOXIA lenses for Sony but now we have the Batis line, which is an AF line of lenses for Sony FE (A7 series). There are so many fine lenses for the Sony A7 system these days and with the new A7RII on the way, look out..these Zeiss lenses may be just what the Dr. Ordered! THEY ARE FANTASTIC and I have only had them a day.


Many have asked me to do a side by side “Crazy Comparison” between the Batis 85 1.8 and the Speedmaster 85 1.2 I recently reviewed (see that HERE)  – and while I assumed it would be a test showing the clear superiority of the Zeiss, well, it does but the Speedmaster hangs in there fairly well!

The Zeiss of course is a Zeiss. It is Auto Focus (and speedy on my A7II), it is shorter, smaller and MUCH lighter than the Mitakon, but for IQ..take a look:

CLICK IMAGES for larger and MUCH better versions. You will not see these as they were intended unless you click on them!

1st one, the Zeiss 85 at f/1.8 (thought I set it to f/2 but was wide open). The color has that Zeiss POP over the Mitakon but sharpness, not really any better here. Color and Pop goes to Zeiss though for sure.




More that shows the COLOR pop of the Batis 85. Again, the Batis was at 1.8 as I thought I had it set to f/2, so the image is mislabeled. Still, you can see the crispness, and 3D color pop of the Zeiss here. Even so, the Mitakon is holding its own though the color is muted as is the contrast.



The Zeiss is a fantastic lens and I only shot with it for a day so far. Love the digital focus display, love the size and feel and look. The AF is fast and accurate and my full review of both should be up within 10 days or so.

Here are a few more from the 25 and 85..

OOC JPEG with the 25 at f/2 – click it for larger


OOC JPEG with the 25 at f/2


Zeiss 25 f/2 from RAW with Alien Skin slide filter applied,  A7II


Zeiss 85 Batis with crop


The color, detail and rendering of the 85 is GORGEOUS. 



You can order the Zeiss Batis lenses from B&H Photo HERE or HERE. Full review soon with video and LOADS of samples!


Jun 102015


Sony Creates a MONSTER! The new A7RII..see my hands on report!

I am writing today from NYC at a Sony Event held in the beautiful Le Parker Meridian Hotel. Myself and loads of other journalists, bloggers and camera geeks all packed into a meeting today with Sony to see what they were revealing. Not only did they reveal the A7RII, they also announced the new RX10II and RX100IV. ALL THREE are spectacular cameras with some amazing new tech that was very cool to see. Mirrorless cameras have matured..big time and Sony is leading the way without question.

Pre-Order the A7RII at B&H Photo HERE. Available to pre-order on June get ready ;) 





My brain, heart and soul instantly fell for the A7IIR  – as it is an entirely new beast from the old A7r..I mean, entirely new.

The A7RII now has a 42.4 Megapixel full frame backlit sensor which allow the camera to do all sorts of things. 40% faster AF (and yes, it is much quicker than the old A7r and even the A7II it seems), ISO up to 102,000 (we are talking A7s territory in a high res sensor), Tweak 5 Axis IS so the images are stabilized in body with ANY lens you attach, Full 4K video shooting with an option for Super 35 shooting that offers double the res of standard Super 35. Full pixel readout without pixel binning.



It also boasts the world’s highest viewfinder magnification at 0.78. Let me  tell you, the EVF in this guy is amazing. Like a window. Of course it gas WiFi, NFC, and is compatible with all the Play Memories Apps but this A7RII is giving us the BEST of the A7II, A7s and old A7R.

We have the super high resolution of 42.5 MP..and usually there are drawbacks with this such as slow AF speed and not so high ISO capabilities. Sony changed all of that with the new sensor and processing and we get it all. Fast AF, high ISO capability and JAW DROPPING AMAZING photo quality and video quality. It has it all, and will be the most amazing A7 camera ever developed.


Data output is 3.5 times faster than the old A7r and with technology like copper wiring layers, Sony has been doing their homework.

One other awesome feature is the new Reduced Vibration shutter along with a totally silent mode that we had in the A7s.

I had some hands on time with the A7RII, was able to shoot it, handle it, check it out and I was very impressed. By far the most complete A7 to date. Not sure how they do it but Sony keeps upping the game and they created a beast with the new A7RII. Will be great for pro video, pro photo, and give you the NO COMPROMISE features and capabilities you have always wanted.

No longer do we have to substitute high res for low light abilities. It does it all!


Before you ask where the images are…well, we were not allowed to shoot with our own memory cards, in fact, the SD slots were all taped up as these are not final production cameras. So no images yet but I will have a full review unit available to me soon I am sure.

The price for all of this tech? $3198, shipping in August. Just a couple of months away. Exciting times…I mean..this camera is pretty incredible, and I have just seen huge prints and 4K video from it that were astonishing. Using it was a joy as well. This is nothing like the old original A7r. BTW, it has the new A7II body style.

BRAVO AGAIN to SONY for pushing the envelope and making the best sensors in the world (IMO).

So to sum it up, $3200, available in August and pre-orders will start on June 17th. I CAN NOT WAIT to review this camera. I will have more on the other two new releases, the RX100 4 and the RX10II in the next day or two, stay tuned!


Here is the official press release from Sony on the A7RII:


Sony’s New α7R II Camera Delivers Innovative Imaging Experience with World’s First Back-Illuminated 35mm Full-Frame Sensor.

Sony’s Flagship Mirrorless Camera Features 42.4 MP Back-illuminated CMOS sensor, In-camera 5-axis Image Stabilization, Internal 4K Video Recording, Silent Shooting, Fast Hybrid AF and more

NEW YORK, Jun. 10, 2015 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their new flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the α7R II (model ILCE-7RM2).

The new α7R II interchangeable lens camera features the world’s first back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor1, which realizes high resolution (42.4 MP approx. effective megapixels), high sensitivity (expandable up to ISO 102400)2 and high speed AF response up to 40% faster than the original α7R thanks to 399 focal plane phase detection AF points.

The camera also includes a 5-axis image stabilization system borrowed from the acclaimed α7 II model and can shoot and record 4K video in multiple formats including Super 35mm (without pixel binning) and full-frame format, a world’s first for digital cameras1. Additionally, it has a newly refined XGA OLED Tru-Finder with the world’s highest (0.78x) viewfinder magnification3.

“Sony continues to deliver game-changing imaging products that are changing the way imaging enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals can see and capture the world,” said Mike Fasulo, President of Sony Electronics.

Kimio Maki, Senior General Manager of Digital imaging Business Group for Sony Corporation, added “By harmonizing high resolution, sensitivity and speed, we’re delivering a high-level full-frame imaging experience unlike anything else in market today, with Sony’s newly developed, world’s first back-illuminated 35mm full frame CMOS sensor.”

High Resolution, High Sensitivity and High-Speed Response

The newly developed 42.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor is the most advanced, versatile and highest resolution full-frame image sensor that Sony has ever created, allowing the α7R II to reach new levels of quality, sensitivity and response speed. In the past, many photographers have been forced to choose between high-resolution and high-speed or high resolution and high sensitivity when selecting a camera. The new α7R II eliminates that sacrifice thanks to its innovative image sensor.

The 42.4 MP sensor combines gapless on-chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s glass seal to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range. This allows the camera to shoot at an impressive ISO range of 100 to 25600 that is expandable to ISO 50 to 1024002.

Additionally, the sensor’s back-illuminated structure, with an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design, enables faster transmission speed and ensures content can be captured in high resolution without sacrificing sensitivity. Data can also be output from the sensor at an approximately 3.5x faster rate compared to the original α7R.

An ideal match for Sony’s extensive collection of FE lenses (35mm full-frame compatible E-mount lenses), the new α7R II features a high-speed BIONZ X image processing engine that allows images and video from the camera to be captured with supreme details and low noise. There is also no optical low pass filter on the camera, ensuring that scenery and landscapes are captured in the highest possible resolution and clarity.

The α7R II has a new highly durable reduced-vibration shutter that realizes 50% less vibration from shutter movements compared to its predecessor, and has a cycle durability of approximately 500,000 shots4. The camera can also be set to Silent Shooting mode in order to shoot images quietly without any sensor vibration or movement.

The new image sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor1 – that work together with 25 contrast AF points to achieve focus response that is about 40% faster than the original model. The α7R II utilizes an advanced motion-detection algorithm combined with this Fast Hybrid AF system to achieve up to 5fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.

Additionally, the focal plane phase-detection AF system on the α7R II works well with Sony A-mount lenses when they are mounted on the camera using an LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 mount adapter. This allows users to enjoy the wide AF coverage of 399 focal plane phase-detection AF points, high-speed response and high tracking performance with a wider range of lenses. This marks the first time that the AF system of a mirrorless camera can achieve high performance with lenses originally designed for DSLRs.

5-Axis Image Stabilization Optimized for 42.4 MP

The new flagship α7R II model is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity. Similar to the system launched on the acclaimed α7 II model, this advanced form of image stabilization corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) that tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects video recording. This camera shake compensation system is equivalent to shooting at a shutter speed approximately 4.5 steps faster5.

Additionally, the 5-axis stabilization works cooperatively with Sony α lenses with optical SteadyShot™ (OSS) to provide maximum stabilization and clarity, while also performing admirably via a compatible mount adapter with Sony α A-mount lenses6 without on-board stabilization . Effects of the stabilization can be previewed via live-view on the LCD or OLED viewfinder of the camera.

Unrivaled 4K Movie Shooting Performance

The impressive video credentials of Sony’s new α7R II camera include the ability to record movies in 4K quality (QFHD 3840×2160) in either Super 35mm crop mode or full-frame mode.

In Super 35mm mode, the camera collects a wealth of information from approximately 1.8x as many pixels as 4K by using full pixel readout without pixel binning and oversamples the information to produce 4K movies with minimal moire and ‘jaggies’.

In full-frame mode, the α7R II utilizes the full width of the 35mm sensor for 4K recording, allowing users to utilize the expanded expressive power of the sensor. It is the world’s first digital camera to offer this in-camera full-frame format 4K recording capacity1.

The camera utilizes the advanced XAVC S7 codec during video shooting, which records at a high bit rate of 100 Mbps during 4K recording and 50 Mbps during full HD shooting.

Additionally, the α7R II model features a variety of functions to support a professional video workflow including Picture Profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, 120fps high frame rate movie shooting in HD (720p), time code, clean HDMI output and more.

Enhanced Design, Operability and Reliability

The new full-frame α7R II has an upgraded XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with a double-sided aspherical lens that delivers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification3 of 0.78x for crystal clear image preview and playback across the entire display area. ZEISS® T* Coating is also utilized to reduce unwanted reflections that interfere with the shooting experience.

The camera has an extremely solid, professional feel in-hand thanks to its light, rigid magnesium alloy design, and has a re-designed grip and shutter button compared to its predecessor. There is also a new mechanism to conveniently lock the mode dial, and an expanded range of customizable functions and buttons to suit the most demanding photographers.

The new α7R II camera is Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application available for Android™ and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps™, which add a range of creative capabilities to the camera. For example, there is more creativity available now for time-lapse photography thanks to a new “Angle Shift add-on” app allows users to easily add pan, tilt and zoom to time-lapse images without any additional shooting equipment or PC software required. Learn more at

Sony has also introduced a new LCD monitor model CLM-FHD5, an ideal companion to the α7R II for video shooting. A compact 5.0 type Full HD (1920x1080p) LCD monitor, the CLM-FHD5 features enlarging and peaking functionality for precise focusing, false color and video level marker for adjusting exposure and S-Log display assist to assist S-Log shooting.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α7R II full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in August for about $3200 at and a variety of Sony authorized dealers nationwide.

The α7R II is compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α -mount lenses, which now totals 63 different models including 12 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 8 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 20 lenses and the overall α -mount assortment to 70 different models.



Jun 022015


Zeiss Batis 25mm and 85mm hands-on, plus Sony FE 28mm f/2 comparison

By Chad Wadsworth – See his website HERE

Don’t expect this to be a well controlled, thoroughly tested discourse on the new Batis lenses. I literally had each lens for about five minutes at Precision Camera here in Austin, TX where the store was hosting a dealer day. Lucky me when I strolled up to the Sony display and there they were, the new Batis lenses – apparently the only copies in N. America.

With a promise that I wouldn’t run away with the lenses, I was allowed to head outside for some quick test shots. We are talking about a bright strip-mall parking lot – not exactly photo shoot friendly, but I made the best of it. In the short time I had my grubby hands on the lenses, I was able to assess a few things about these new Zeiss jewels.


First off, they look to be very well built with a design that hews more to the mold of the Otus than the Touit. Since I’m not a huge fan of the Touits’ build I was deeply impressed with the construction of these Batis lenses and I think most photographers will be as well. I didn’t shoot in manual focus mode but did test out the focus ring and found it to be smooth and nicely dampened. With no other control on the lens, it has a minimalist, stout, dare I say handsome look.

Second, the Batis are not small but not large either; a Goldilocks “just right” perhaps? The 85mm is very close in size to the ZA 85mm/1.4 but saves on the weight in glass and bulk of the LA-EA adapter. I’m sure someone out there will be outraged that the lens isn’t rangefinder tiny but it feels great and balances well on the a7II. Same with the 25mm – bigger than the FE 28mm – more so in girth, than length but it still feels right on the camera.

Third, based on my sad selection of available test targets – save the nice model who agreed to let me snap a quick portrait – I’m comfortable making some very early comments about image quality. Keep in mind, these are likely pre-production so yada yada, final product may differ.

We have all seen early samples criticized only to learn the true performance of the lenses at a later date so let’s be patient and take these images at their value – as early indications of what the performance of these Batis may be but not the final word – not even close.

25mm and quick comparison to the FE 28/2*

* note that the comparisons here were shot at different times (10 minutes apart) and aren’t perfectly controlled examples. I tried to match up f-stops but wasn’t always successful. Images were edited to my taste but edits were applied equally between the two lenses (same levels of sharpness, etc.)

I unequivocally adore the FE 28/2. I’ve said it previously and stand by my claim that the lens is a bang for the buck champ – sharper than just about any other 28mm ever produced with equally impressive bokeh for a wide-angle. Of course the FE has its issues, but for a budget optic with this level of sharpness and bokeh, I can live with software based distortion corrections and some occasional CA cleanup, and so should you. Given my admiration for the Sony 28mm, I didn’t think for a second I would have any interest in picking up the new Batis 25mm. I was wrong.

FE 28mm @ f/2


Batis 25mm @ f/2


Where the FE 28mm is in-your-face sharp, the Batis looks a bit smoother, yet zoom in to pixel peep and you will see that there’s a similar level of sharpness and micro contrast. The render of the Batis very much reminds me of the ZA 24mm f/2 but without all the field curvature AF issues that were endemic to that A-mount lens.

FE 28mm @ f/2


Batis 25mm @ f/2


To test distortion, I shot some straight lines with both lenses and the results were as expected. Without any software corrections, the Batis looks more controlled for distortion than the FE does even with its LR software profile activated. No surprise, but still nice to see. I expect that the Batis will be a boon for architecture and interiors photographers.

FE 28mm @ f/5.6 with Lightroom Profile Correction


Batis 25mm @ f8 – no software corrections for distortion


I didn’t notice much CA from the 25mm Batis (there is some) but would need to shoot in more varied conditions. To be fair, I didn’t see much from the FE shots that day either. There was some vignetting in the Batis that I corrected to match-up more closely with the FE shots – not a big deal. This next particularly uninspiring shot was composed to check corner performance in the top right and no color edits were made on these two.

FE 28mm @ f8


Batis 25mm @ f/8


Alpha shooters are going to be very satisfied having the Batis 25mm in their stable soon. I’ve already added it to my 85mm preorder. For photographers that don’t need the extra 3mm (7 degrees) of view or don’t want to spend the hefty sum of $1,200 on the Batis, the FE 28mm remains an impressive optic, and easy choice.

85mm – quick portrait

For the 85mm, the strip mall presented even fewer targets, but there were a couple of models inside the camera store that were helping out with the dealer demos, so I asked one of them for a quick portrait. She obliged and we snapped this one in about 20 seconds – not ideal, but it gives us some impression of what the lens is capable of. Focus was quick, sure and accurate. Pixel peeping shows excellent sharpness and detail. Bokeh is difficult to fully address here as we had the subject in shade and a challenging bright background, yet the highlights reflecting off automobile rooftops melted away admirably. Some have commented that there is CA visible in the portrait when viewed at 100%. I don’t believe it to be excessive or even unexpected in these backlit conditions. I was intrigued by these comments though so dug into the archive to look at some photos I took with the well regarded ZA 85/1.4 on the a900 a few years ago. I was shocked to see how much CA was present in some of those images, even at f/2.2, so the new Batis may well be a considerable improvement in that area.

Having previously owned said legendary Zeiss 85/1.4 for A-mount, I have been anxiously awaiting an FE replacement but was concerned that the lens would be too large or too slow. Again with the Goldilocks reference but the Batis seems to nail it with just the right dimensions, weight and image quality.

After my brief time with the 85mm I am guessing that it will become a must buy for many Alpha shooters.

Batis 85mm @ f/1.8


Pre-Order the Batis Lenses:

B&H Photo

Additional samples…








May 222015

The Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon ZM Leica Mount Lens, my 1st look. Wow.


Just tried out the new Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM lens and wow, the reviews and user reports are true, this is up there with the Leica 35 FLE though different in the way it renders and image. Some will like it better, some will not, but either way it is FANTASTIC. I’d say we can get most of the FLE out of this Zeiss, but with a whole different character and feel. It may not be as sharp as the Leica 35 FLE at 1.4, but it is close, and it offers a more “organic” rendering that I simply love. Smooth Zeiss pop on my Leica Monochrom 246 or amazing bold color and snap on the A7s or A7II. It’s a lovely lens, and I enjoyed the lens I rented so much I really want to own this lens for my new MM. From the few shots I have snapped so far I feel it makes a perfect match, and as a bonus it will work well on the Leica M 240 and the Sony A7 series as well. Yes, I rented the lens but will own it as soon as I can.

I will have a full review eventually here, maybe in a few weeks  – using it on the new MM and the Sony A7 bodies. But for now, Amazon has 2 in stock, via prime, in black. $2190 which is $100 less than normal. For less than half the cost of the Leica 35 FLE you can have a lens that is in reality just as good, but with a different character (which I prefer). The build is solid, the aperture click is AMAZING, best I have felt on any lens and the glass is beautiful. IT IS NOT large, but it is larger than the Leica 35 Lux by a bit. Reminds me size wise of a 50 Summlux ASPH.

The rendering is just what I like, and all Zeiss. I will own this lens as soon as I can afford it!

You can order this lens at Amazon (via PRIME) HERE. You can also buy it at, or B&H Photo. 

A couple of samples on the Leica Mono 246:








And a few with the lens on the Sony A7II:






May 182015


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!


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


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.


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


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.


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