May 012015
 

Hi Steve & Brandon,

So here I am again and this time in favour of color photos . As you know I am a great fan and believer in black and white, it does something to me, I realized that when I shoot with the MM I see the world differently. I some how find it easier to shoot on the street and get better ideas of what or not to shoot.

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And yet, very often I know I have to shoot color, simply because the subject is sooo colourful, so impressive in colours that however filo b\w it must be colours . Period (as you Steve often say LOL)

The upper photo was shot with the M9 . I own the M9 and the M240 which is a great camera. Took me some time to get used to the 240 ( had to sell the M9 for it), but now I am absolutely happy with it. I use the M 240 for colour only. I know many will say I could use it for b\w and than convert. True , but as previously said i dont get the b\w feeling from a colour camera. I love my MM ,and use it for b\w.

So all photos where shot with the two cameras and 35 LUx + 50LUX

Thanks Danny

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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

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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

Shot 12 Lobster cages2

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 272015
 

Destination Tokyo

By Paul Perton

Several weeks of Web research, making notes on Evernote to share between my Mac, Mac notebook and iPad accompanied by what felt like an endless round of reading and image gazing and I was just about ready to head for the airport.

Destination Tokyo.

In my bag an almost brand new Fuji X100T, my trusty NEX-7 and several Leica M mount lenses – just in case.

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Twelve days to see a city that’s been on my must-do list forever. Twelve days to collect enough photographs and information to compile InSight: Tokyo, the latest photographer’s DIY city manual.

As soon as your feet hit Tokyo’s pavements you know this is a special place. Everything works, the subterranean pedestrian malls keep you from the worst of the weather, buses are everywhere and the Metro is brilliant, if confusing at first.

Based on my reading, I’d elected to stay in Shinjuku – an excellent choice as it really is the heart of modern Tokyo. From here, there are few places can’t be reached directly by foot, Metro or bus. Around the centre of Shinjuku are shops, night clubs, a gay area and a red light district. A couple of blocks away is the unique Golden Gai – 200 of the tiniest bars you’ll find anywhere on the planet – most only seat 5 or 6 patrons.

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A kilometre away is the Shinjuku Gyoen Park – here you’ll find falling leaves and spectacular colours in late autumn. Next door is Yoyogi, Harajuku (Tokyo’s Carnaby Street) and so much more that I could have spent my entire twelve days just exploring here.

I didn’t. On my list were Ueno and it’s temples, Asakusa’s seemingly endless shopping market, Akihabara, home of the bizarre Maidcafe and electronics central for Tokyo’s gamers, manga fans and electronics enthusiasts.

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In between, the Ginza beckoned, the Imperial Palace demanded attention as did the city’s myriad of historical temples and museums, street food stalls, izakayas (chicken on a skewer yakitori bars), pubs, bars and restaurants. The more I discovered, the more I realised that I’d need to return to this extraordinary city and re-visit and experience anew.

For the photographer, it’s an absolute must. The Japanese themselves are polite, helpful and largely disinterested in a photographer in their midst. In a city where everyone has a smart phone in their hands with most using their camera as much as anything else, that’s hardly surprising.

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Many of the airlines of the world are offering once-in-a-lifetime fares to far away places just now. If you can find a return flight to Tokyo in amongst their offerings, don’t hesitate…

InSight: Tokyo is finished and joins four other city Guides; London, Copenhagen, Istanbul and Cape Town and is available from the DearSusan Web site (http://www.dearsusan.net/insight-tokyo-photo-walk-ebook-capture-mother-city/). All InSight Guides are US$7.99 and downloadable in PDF format, specifically for use on iPad and other tablets.

For further details contact Paul Perton – [email protected]

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Apr 242015
 

Street Photography in Dublin Ireland with Film

By Fergus Fitzgerald

Hi All,
I hope I am familiar to most of the regulars here as I post a lot as a commentator but never before as a contributor. I suppose you could call me a street photographer in as much as most of my photography seems to take place on the streets. My interests in photography these days is in street photography and those photographers who are regarded as being talented in this genre.

I do not take myself too seriously. I think street photography is valuable in the sense that it is entirely without an agenda which is its strength.

I realise this is a gear orientated site and I am definitely not a gear head though most photographers who say that are actually not telling the truth ! How can I explain this ? You see we all start out with an ambition to produce a great image -the image that is in our heads – if we do not succeed we will try again and again always seeking that elusive image. If you have experienced this feeling and know the frustration and remain faithful to that image in your head -then you are a photographer simple as that.

We can try all kinds of ways to achieve our goal -most of us (myself included ) at some time or other will succumb to the allure of the apparatus. If only we could get that new piece of equipment -that would make the transformation for us . In time we learn that the secret is to just keep shooting with what you have and try to become enthused more by the images you are creating and not the apparatus used. Mind you, I am more than willing to concede that gear can and does inspire people. So once you don’t go too crazy, what’s the harm in enjoying a new Nikon Canon Sony or even a Leica ? Not all at once of course !

I have used many cameras in my day and finally settled for Leica for many reasons -firstly they are beautiful and minimalist in the extreme and have superb optics. Secondly I like the European heritage -not to mention a desire to be a bit different.

I think of my images as being snaps for the thinking snapper. I hope anybody who recognises himself or herself in one of my photos will have the sense of humour to just have a laugh as I would never take an image to show a person in a bad way -though I will not allow my photography to become anodyne either.

These images are mostly from my M6 with 35 and 50 Summicron lenses on Ilford XP2 film scanned on my Nikon Coolscan V ED .  The images are just incidents I happened upon as I walked around where I live which is Dublin Ireland . For example the girl walking in costume reading the book was an actress rehearsing her lines during a break at the Samuel Beckett Theatre festival.

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I tend to shoot mostly with the 50mm lens and do not get too up close. Despite what Capa said I feel you can still produce good pictures from a slight distance. I cannot for example imagine myself ever using a 28mm or wider for street -though many do this magnificently.

I traded my M6 for an M8 seven or more years ago and occasionally I get a Lumix G1 on loan from a friend .I used this to get the image of the old lady bemused by the two guys reaction to whatever was on the laptop screen. I actually like the G1 a lot as it is nice and compact and produces good colour images -though I’m not a big fan of EVF’s Actually none other than Saul Leiter used one at the latter part of his career!

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The photo below was taken in Moore St Dublin where traditional traders still sell from stalls and many have family roots going back generations:

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The old gent looking through the view window is in Temple bar which has nice bars and restaurants and is a great spot for street photography. My favourite haunt there is “The Gallery of Photography “where I have seen such wonderful exhibitions as Genesis by Salgado. Keen eyed photographers will see this is not a film scan -it’s actually from the M8.

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Luck and happenstance play a big part in street photography. One day I was in the old Animal Museum in Dublin known to the kids of Dublin as the “Dead Zoo” with my nephew when I snapped a photo of him looking in wonder at a Moose. When the film was processed it turned out to be a different kid altogether as my nephew had wandered off to view something else! Years later myself and friends would visit “Yellowstone Park” in the US and I would have a very similar reaction to a live Moose -Wow they are big!

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When I got the M8 I shot almost exclusively in colour but now I mostly shoot in black and white . I love the way Leica M digital cameras render black and white. I have not seen better. Strangely I now seem to be shooting Black and White on digital and colour on film which is the reverse of a lot of photographers I know. Kodak Portra film has a lot to do with this as I love it‘s subtle pastel like colours. I have now resurrected my ancient Pentax K1000 and a few Takumar lenses for colour.

Hope you like the images.

Rgds Fergus Fitzgerald

PS might post a few colour street photos from the M8 in the future…….? Thanks Steve and Brandon.

Apr 242015
 

Pre-Baby shoot with a Sony A7II

By Aditya Agarwal

Hi Steve, Hi Brandon

Thanks for having this wonderful site and the wonderful reviews. It has immensely helped my passion for photography. I recently shifted from my Canon 5DMKIII kit to a brand new Sony A7II and A7S with a Leica Noctilux and the amazing new Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4. As of writing I have just opened the box for the 35mm and I am eager to try this wonderful new lens tomorrow.

I don’t shoot professionally and I own a successful reseller business for Apple Inc., in India. What keeps me calm and rocking is my love for photography. Though I am a Apple fanboy and tech geek myself.

Recently my family friend asked my to shoot some photos for him. His wife is expecting a child very soon and they wanted some pre-baby photos. This is the first time I am shooting for someone. Since they are our very close freinds, I obliged.

I used my Sony A7II with the Leica Noctilux 50mm mounted with a Voigtlander Close focus adapter. I got this kit after failing to resist, reading all your wonderful reviews :-D

Here are 3 pictures. I have begun to realise that NO OTHER LENS renders anything like the Noctilux. None. Period. I have fallen in love with it so much that I don’t mind the weight and size at all.

All pictures were taken wide open at f0.95 except the portrait of the couple which was at F2.0. I put in one pic of my wife, a very candid shot which I like very much. I shot them all at ISO 100 on Manual. I controlled the exposure with the shutter speed as needed.

The Noctilux is everything a lens should be. Dreamy at f0.95 and razor sharp f1.4 onwards. I will keep this lens forever and never sell it.

Hope you like the pics.

Many Thanks

Aditya Agarwal

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Apr 232015
 

My Adoration for the Sony A7 series and the Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4 ASPH Lens

by Jonathan Peterson

Steve,

To begin, I must say that I love your website. Like a ton. You’ve brought together a great community of artists and enthusiasts who gather to discuss photography and the wonderful products that show up on the shelves. I visit your website multiple times a day for inspiration and to read your views on some of my most beloved cameras.

I’m talking about the wonderful line of cameras from Sony: the A7, A7R, A7S, and A7II. I own the A7R, in particular. I LOVE this thing. I received it soon after its release and have loved it ever since. I paired it with the Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4 ASPH lens and have managed to create some decent images. I’m a U.S. Navy Sailor, so I get a chance to visit some very cool places. In fact, I’m stationed in Japan at the moment. Please enjoy some of my favorite images.

Thanks for your time and effort in this website, Steve. Please take care!

Very respectfully,

Jonathan

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Apr 202015
 

Shooting Streets with the Olympus OM-1

By Justin Halim

With so many people buying the ever-more popular Olympus OM mirrorless cameras, I thought I would pay homage to the original OM – the OM-1 35mm SLR – with which the mirrorless system derives its name and styling.

The OM-1 is an incredible camera, period.  Based on the Leica M camera (it was even called the M-1 before Leica complained about it), the OM-1 maintains the same philosophy of its German inspiration – simplicity.  This has led many to call the OM-1 the Leica SLR – they have identical dimensions, similar dial placements, and similar shooting methods.  And like the Leica M, the OM is the perfect street photographer’s camera.  I actually got very lucky with my system – after Hurricane Sandy a couple years ago, I was cleaning my house and found a bag with four OM Zuiko lenses – a 28mm f2.8, a 35mm f2.8 SHIFT, a 135mm f2.8, and a 50mm f1.8, along with a beaten up Olympus OM-G (the consumer OM model).  I can’t even describe how excited I was by this – I immediately went on eBay and bought myself a nice OM-1 to mount the lenses.

Coming from a Leica M6, I found the OM-1 very intuitive and natural to use.  It is very small (it fits perfectly in a Leica M case), built incredibly well, and very elegant – it doesn’t have the “industrialness” of a Nikon F3, but more of a jewelry-like quality, like a fine Swiss watch.  The viewfinder is the biggest and brightest viewfinder I have ever looked through, the shutter makes just a soft whispery click, and the Zuiko lenses are simply amazing – they have a certain character that makes pictures pop out at you.  I actually often find myself preferring my OM-1 to my Leica M6.  And to top it all off, they are dirt-cheap – I got my OM-1 with a 50mm 1.8 for just $70!  For anyone looking to get into 35mm film, I highly recommend this camera.

From a shooter’s perspective, the OM-1 is like a breath of fresh air to shoot.  It is so easy and so simplistic – it is that rare camera that makes shooting just pure fun.  Everything about it allows for quick and efficient shooting.  With its portable and unobtrusive design, quick focusing system and versatile lenses, it is an outstanding street photography camera.  In fact, I only ever really use it for the occasions I shoot street photography, which is kind of a shame – it deserves to be used more. My parents both work NYC, so on the days they bring me, I spend hours just walking around with my OM-1 taking pictures of whatever, just because it is so much fun to use.   Using this camera is what makes me look forward to my visits to the city.

Thank you everyone for reading and thank you Steve for publishing this article!  I hope you all enjoy the pictures!  I believe all photos were taken with the 135mm f2.8 Zuiko and 50mm f1.8 Zuiko, on Kodak Ektar, Iflord PanF, and Kodak TMax.

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/112710288@N03/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/justinhalim/

Washington Square Fountain 

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This man noticed I was taking pictures, and approached me asking if I wanted a rap in exchange for a portrait and a couple of bucks.  I don’t regret saying yes.

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In NYC parks, chess is a very popular game.  Chess tables are built into the ground, and many players will sit and call out to passerby’s asking if they want to play.

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There are hundreds of street musicians in NYC, but this musician is my favorite.  He plays in a duo called the Outlaw Ritual with whom I believe is his wife (I may be wrong), and they can always get a crowd going.

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One of the many “Pigeon Men” of Washington Square.  They attract pigeons and let the birds perch on them.  Sometimes they hand pigeons over to tourists for fun.

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I had never actually seen one of the people who hang the posters that line NYC’s streets, so I found this strangely interesting.

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In the summer, the city boasts some surprisingly colorful gardens.

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Even among all the concrete, there are plenty of grassy spots to sit and relax (or study, as many NYU students do in the park).

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The other half of Outlaw Ritual.

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One of the many ways people get their voices heard in the city – chalking messages on the sidewalk.

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Apr 202015
 

Shooting combat sports: pushing the limits of the Olympus OMD EM-5

By Vlad Georgescu

I was recently shooting a combat sports event in London and I tried a little experiment, knowing from the very beginning that I was going to fail. However I like pushing cameras to their limits and I wanted to see how bad the results were going to be. Basically I shot one of the boxing matches with an Olympus OMD EM-5 and the standard 12-50mm kit lens. With a 3.5-6.3 variable aperture, this lens is too slow for this type of photography. However its 24-100mm 35mm focal length equivalent makes it perfect for the job.

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Shooting combat sports generally pushes any camera to its limits. The light is decent, but not very good – it is also mixed and needs careful white balance checks before the event starts. You need to freeze action with shutter speeds of at least 1/320s. Generally 1/500s or 1/640 are better in order to capture that fist smashing the opponent’s face. Flash is not permitted, to allow the fighters to maintain concentration and to keep the TV coverage clean. Focusing is demanding and requires good tracking of fast movement. When shooting mixed martial arts, following the action step by step is even more difficult as you need to shoot through the cage.

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Ringside, most photographers will use a full frame body or an APS-C with competent ISO capabilities. A fast 2.8 short zoom is mandatory in order to keep the ISO at manageable levels, but a 35mm 1.4 lens would also work to cover the ring.

Obviously a few eyebrows were raised when I pulled the little Olympus, but nevertheless I kept using it throughout the entire duration of a fight. A few shots are attached here, but  here are some pros and cons.

Pros:

The 9 frame per second shooting capability comes very handy here. For combat sports, it is mandatory to shoot rapid fire in order to capture that unique moment of the blow’s impact or the blood/sweat mix exploding from one of the fighters’ faces.

The auto-focus with tracking worked unexpectedly well. The EM5 does not have the more complex auto-focus of the EM1, combining phase and contrast technologies. However I was amazed to discover that very few shots were out of focus – the number of properly focused shots was basically on par with what I would get with a DSLR.

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For a micro 4/3, the sensor behaves reasonably well at high ISO. Most shots are done at 3200 ISO and you can easily detect the noise degradation on closer inspection. However the files keep an impressive amount of detail in the faces and the body vascularity of the athletes remains visible. The sensor’s performance is miles away from what micro 4/3 was delivering a few years back, but surely still far from what you get at 3200 ISO with a modern full frame camera.

Size was also a major plus for the EM5. Shooting for a few hours in a row can be very taxing, and a lighter camera definitely helps. You are also able to be much nimble, move around and shoot from tighter corners. This is important as, at some fights, photographers are literally on top of each other trying to get a good shot because the space by the ring or cage is restricted.

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The electronic viewfinder coped really well; the image in the viewfinder was fluid despite the fact that the ring movements are fast and the light is not great.

Controls on the camera are nicely laid out and the two top dials are enough to control the body of the camera without taking your eyes off the viewfinder.

Ah, and one other thing! The weather sealing comes in handy if you get splashed with a bit of blood or sweat. This is fairly normal at combat events.

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Cons:

Battery life, at 200-300 hundred shots max, is terrible for covering hour of sports, where you could easily need to shoot almost 1,500 frames throughout 9-10 consecutive fights. Extra batteries or the battery grip will be needed. Disabling the live view helps a lot and will extend the battery life significantly.

Sensor size and noise remain significant issues. The file size also means that not much cropping is possible without dramatically alter the quality. The reality is that the larger size you get with a full frame sensor allows decent crops, which are many times required because there is simply no way to react quickly enough to the speed of the action in the ring.

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Despite all this, I feel it was worth playing (and failing) with the Olympus OMD EM-5, in a challenging environment, with a lens not suitable for covering this type of action. As I was returning to the normal kit for the next fight, I felt I enjoyed the experience and would be willing to give it another go with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO lens, which should give me much more room to maneuver in terms of settings.

Some more sport shots, taken with other cameras, can be seen for comparison here: http://vladgeorgescu.500px.com/sport

Thanks,

Vlad Georgescu

Apr 172015
 

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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 172015
 

Hasselblad Xpan and Kodak Ektar: Port of Antwerp

By Dirk Dom

Hi!

Last Monday, my friend Ivo Smets and I went to shoot in the Port of Antwerp; Ivo with his M240, and me with the Xpan. I think that is the most delightful camera I own; I shot Kodak Ektar and because that film is so special, I expected some sparks.

First, we went to the Berendrechtsluis. The weather was nice, sunny and a bit hazy, which gave for sort of a high key atmosphere.

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We were lucky enough to find a gate open so we could get right next to the water.

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But shooting through the wire is fun, too. It sort of adds to the composition.

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Here’s some more fun, looking through stuff:

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In Lillo, a little village right in the middle of the port, we ate lunch. The tide was low, which made for a nice image:

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Lots of current in the river.

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We continued through the port. Antwerp is the largest petrochemical industry center in the world.

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There used to be a lot of fortresses around Antwerp. This one is from Spanish times. It’s covered by sand. It’s a forbidden entry zone, and right next to it is a lake where birders set up and shoot.

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We continued to the old crane museum near downtown Antwerp.

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We walked along the river to downtown Antwerp; the sun was setting. I had taken 4 films with me, which is 84 photographs, 21 a film. I was running out of film.

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My last shot of the day:

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I shot the Xpan with its 45mm lens. The negative size is 24 x 65mm, which makes the lens (horizontally) equivalent to 24mm on full frame. I scanned with an Epson V750 with Silverfast. Ektar scans great.

Bye,
Dirk.

Apr 162015
 

Shooting the Sony A7r at 12800 ISO

by Dirk De Paepe

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Dear Steve, Brandon and all site visitors. Here’s a very brief post of mine. It’s about my camera, the Sony A7r, and its ability to shoot at higher ISO’s.

I’m posting this because I’d like to put a bit of counterweight to so many opinions in this matter, that have been posted all over the internet, regarding the A7r. I even have the impression that many even see the “r” as the underdog of the A7 family, the more now the A7II has been succeeding the A7. Reason is said to be because the “r” has “bad” high ISO performance. … ??!

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Well, I never experienced that as such anyway. Of course I acknowledge that the “s” has the best low light performance. But I really never experienced that my “r” is falling short in this department, the more while I have so much more pixels at my disposal and I can seriously boost its low light performance by reducing its resolution in post production. After all, there’s a long way to go, before I “drop” to the A7s’s resolution. And when I have a reduction of pixels in mind, I even can perform some “Luminance” in Adobe’s Raw Converter. This isn’t a process without danger though, because it diminishes the detail and needs to be done with great care. So how do I proceed?

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Applying Luminance can in a way be compared to applying Unsharp Mask. Both need to be done with great care, otherwise you end up with a result that you really don’t want. Important in both cases is to look at the largest size that you want to use, when fine tuning. When sharpening I guess you’ll look at 100%, probably ending up with some limited sharpening at 0,5px. But when you shoot at very high ISO with the “r” and you want to reduce the size, there’s no use in judging the IQ at 100%. So what I do is applying the Luminance at full size, but judging at for instance 66%. Reducing afterwards the resolution to 66% still gives you a 16MP file. Up till now I often applied this technique with good results for ISO’s up to about 4000, largely reducing the gap with the “s”. (I don’t proclaim that it eliminates it completely.)

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In one of his articles Steve stated about the next Leica M that it had to deliver acceptable IQ at 12800 ISO. I guess he often shoot with less light than I do, because I really never need that kind of ISO. Still it encouraged me to go for an little experiment. So I just put the ISO at 12800 and went for some shots, seeing where I would end up. In the pictures hereunder, you can see the result. Of course there is some more grain than at low ISO (but the “s” as well produces grain at higher ISO’s), still I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with this IQ and, again IMO, I’d call this IQ very acceptable for sure. BTW, looking online for A7s pictures, I didn’t really find a lot of pictures, shot at this ISO, let alone higher, even not at sites that call themselves specialized in high ISO.

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As I wrote in a former article, IMO the A7r offers very good high ISO performance. Of course it’s outclassed by the “s”. But when processing the pics as described, one can come a long way, reducing the gap enough for me to largely prefer “r”. Personally, I definitely prefer this sensor, that offers me very good ISO as well as superb resolution. I rank it well above the 12MP sensor of the “s” that is too dedicated to situations that I virtually never meet. Again IMO.

To conclude, with the A7rII coming very soon now, that will offer even better IQ than the present “r”, that will feature the new and improved body of the A7II and the silent shutter of the “s” (if I’m well-informed), the high-resolution version within the A7 family will more than ever be thé way to go for me.

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All shots posted here were shot at 12800 ISO, even although it really wasn’t necessary. But, like I said, this was an experiment. Although I’d normally would have taken all of those shots quite a bit slower, putting the ISO that high resulted in producing a certain character, a character that one really can look for – like one used to (or still can) choose a very fast film for its grain. When shooting digital, part of this “creative process” needs to be done in post, and needs to be repeated with every picture. But I’m sure, with some experience, one can do it pretty fast.

For the first four pictures, shot in the garage, I used the Zeiss Loxia 2/50. The next four were shot with the Canon Lens FD 85mm 1:1.2 S.S.C. Aspherical, which is still one of my favorite 85s. As said, the resolution was reduced, but in all pics it still exceeds the A7s resolution. Don’t forget to click on them for a better quality. And on my flickr pages, you can find a dedicated album, called “12800 ISO”, with all those pics in full resolution.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/sets/72157650993342429/

Thanks for reading to everybody and for publishing to Steve and Brandon. This site really is the best, don’t you think!…

Apr 162015
 

Hi there Huff´s!

I been eyyeing this site sinnce 2009, It have grown to one on my daily routine on the net, so thanks fo that!

Today I wanna share three pics with my X100LE, I’ve been swapping gear a lot the last 7 years, (like most of us do :) But ive settled down with this basic camera from fuji. The weight is right, the fixed lens makes me so free in mind
The files from this bayer sensor is very organic, I love nature photo and I think x100 is made for this with its organic touch to the files. These three shots is from my lunch time at the job. I’m a courier and see a lot of beautiful places, and my x100 is always sitting next to me.

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Apr 162015
 

Artistic vs. Technical Perfection

By Olaf Sztaba

When browsing photography on the Internet it appears to be one huge quest for technical perfection. Message boards are groaning with perpetual arguments about the superiority of one camera system over another.

Then, there are thousands of photos so immaculately processed and photo-shopped that their technical perfection creates awe and envy in aspiring photographers. But many of the photos remind us of others we have seen before. They somehow feel plastic, artificial and cold. They lack emotion and authenticity.

In contrast, when you look at the images from the masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson or Sebastiao Salgado and others, you find thoughtful compositions, subtle moments and moods. Are they the most technically perfect photographs and the sharpest images you have ever seen? I don’t think so but somehow your eye feels content, your brain slows down and your visual emotions are elevated.

What strikes us is that those who produce a body of great work often don’t consider themselves photographers. They grab any camera and create art – they are artists. When Cartier-Bresson started shooting with the 35mm camera, other photographers of his time dismissed his new tool as a toy (back then only large format cameras were considered serious). But we should learn from artists. They see way beyond pixels and MTF charts. For them technical augmentation is just a distraction.

So why are we so occupied with a litany of technical do’s and don’ts? Why do we ask the wrong questions so many times: Which camera should I buy? How do I sharpen photos? How do I apply layers? Which software should I use? and so on.

Don’t get us wrong – we like photo gear and are well aware of our ‘contribution’ to this plaque. However, each time we put everything technical in the back seat and let our emotions and inner artistic self rule our photographic process the results always astound us.

Sure, it’s not easy. But the next time you think your photo is not sharp enough, your images are grainy or your camera doesn’t have elephant resolution this may be the best thing that has happened to you. Maybe it is the right moment to stop and re-focus on seeing.

All images were taken with the Fuji X100S/T, Fuji X-T1 paired with XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 50-140 F2.8.

Regards,
Olaf Sztaba

www.olafphotoblog.com
www.olafphoto.squarespace.com

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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.

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