May 032016
 

My opinion of the Wotancraft Ryker, Scout and the new Leica 28 Cron

by Dan Bar

Hello Steve and Brandon!

About a week ago I received my new 28 cron. It is the first time I use a 28 as I am a 35\50 guy. I was really curious to see how I felt about it. I also read Steve’s articles about the Wotancraft 2 bags + read all articles related, so I bought a new Scout a few months ago, and when I heard a friend of mine ( Tomer Vaknin) wanted to change his Ryker ( his was brown and he bought a new Ona Berlin Black) I immediately gave him one of my BLACK bags and took his BROWN Ryker.

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There are a lot of article\reviews about those bags and i am no expert, so I will just emphasize my opinion and thoughts. Both bags are beautiful , the Ryker is is made of the finest smooth leather and looks beautiful, as a matter of fact to my eyes it is the most beautiful bag on the market. It is not big and it can hold two Leica M cameras with lenses and no more ( in the main department of course). The front department has no zipper which is not safe, so I will never keep batteries of memory cards there. Next is a zipped pocket which can hold the cards + batteries but it is not separated into 2 pockets and that makes it uncomfortable to carry a few things together.

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Nobody mentions it is a heavy bag. You could go to the articles and see it is 1.675 grams but I don’t intend to write a review. I simply mention my feelings. It is a heavy bag, even with one camera ( no BATTERY and charger). It is heavier than the scout wich is bigger. That of course is a leather side effect.

So I will use this bag for only one camera + charger, some batteries , memory cards etc. All being said i love the look of this bag, the leather quality. Everything here shouts top-notch. Oh, unlike my friend Tomer I love the brown color which will age nicer than the black version ( in my opinion). You can see more at WOTANCRAFT.com

THE LEICA 28 CRON

As said I received my 28 Cron a week ago, so I did not have much time with it, As with the bags I shall only write about my feelings. The lens is a beauty. It is small beautifully built like all Leica lenses , very comfortable to use, it is not a heavy and the best thing is the metal hood which is compact and this time screwed to the body so no more accidents with it. I think it is a very sharp lens with a nice bokeh. It is very light and I know LEICA people love the Cron version.

Here are some of the photos of the 28 shot with the Leica 246 of my family..

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Thank you and take care!

Danny

Apr 202016
 

PRESS RELEASE:

Call for Entries: Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016

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Magnum Photos and LensCulture have joined forces to create one of the best new opportunities for photographers to be recognized and rewarded for their talent.

2017 marks a significant year for Magnum as we celebrate 70 years since our founding photographers toasted the conception of an independent photo agency. Ahead of these anniversary celebrations, Magnum Photos and LensCulture invite submissions to the inaugural Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards, an international call to discover the best photographers from all over the world.

Our distinguished jury will select 12 Winners and 20 Finalists from Documentary, Street, Portrait, Fine Art, Photojournalism and Open categories. In addition, the jury will select 7 photographers as “Jurors’ Picks” and give out 5 “Student Spotlight” awards to young, up-and-coming talents. Winners, finalists and top-rated photographers will enjoy gain access to an unprecedented level of global exposure and recognition from two of the largest organizations in the photo industry, as well as cash funding and career support.

“Magnum Photos is delighted to be working with LensCulture on this exciting new competition, which we hope will attract diverse photographic practices from all over the world. 2016 marks a significant juncture for the agency as we launch a new, stories-first website, in the lead-up to our 70th anniversary. We view this new award as an opportunity for our dedicated audience — and the photography community at large — to share in our celebrations.” – Martin Parr, Magnum Photographer and President.

MORE INFO HERE

Apr 182016
 

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PIMP YOUR SONY RX1 MKII with these awesome accessories!

I have to say, I love my Sony RX1R MKII. I loved the original, then the R and now the MKII is what I feel is the smallest body on the market with the most serious IQ and capabilities, IF 35mm is your thing. In other words, there is no camera that is this size or smaller that packs this kind of IQ, low light and full on potential. The Sony RX1 series has sort of a cult following as the ones who own it and use it seem  to truly adore it, and those who never did bond with it just sold them. But no matter how you look at it, the RX1R MKII, or any of the RX1 series of cameras can produce stunning results in the right hands.

I often get asked “what strap do you use” or “what bag was that in your last video” or “hey, what shutter release is that” or even “what grip are you using”. I get these questions very often, and this post is going to tell all of you exactly what I did to my Sony RX1R II to make it my own, and make it much more comfy to use.

I will show you two grips I love and recommend, the best soft release I have found to date (for ANY camera), the sun shade I chose for my RX1RII that is much more affordable than the Sony version as well as what strap I use when I use one on this camera. Usually though, I have it in a small bag and without a strap.

First, check out the video to see it all

Then, below, , check out these two grips for the RX1R Mark II (NOTE: These will NOT fit the old Mark I versions as the MKII body has changed ever so slightly)

FROM METRO-CASE.COM 

This for fitting sleek and functional grip is quite nice. When I attached it to my RX1RII I was pleased with the design, looks, the way it keeps me from pressing the video/movie button and the fact that it is compatible with ARCA SWISS style plates. It also adds a nice grip to the camera while looking like it fits in with the design of the Sony itself. It has a solid feel and construction and for most, this would be the perfect grip. Click the stats below to see more or order. Price is $89 direct at METRO-CASE.COM

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FROM J.B. DESIGNS

I LOVE LOVE LOVE JB Grips! The wooden materials and nice design mean my cameras always look unique and cool when a JB Grip is rocking it. While this look is not for everyone (some will prefer the sleek design above from METRO-CASE, but some will also prefer this all natural wood look as it really gives off a nice vibe and makes the camera look a bit old school, a bit different and it feels great in the hand. I love this grip because of the look, design and the way it feels on the hand. It is easy to remove, lets me have full access to memory and battery and can mount on a tripod. This JB Grip is $85 and available at AMAZON HERE!

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LENS HOOD

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I looked for a nice lens hood for my RX1RII and ended up buying THIS ONE from Fotodiox on Amazon. It is all metal, is squared off and looks perfect on the camera. Not much else to say about this as its a lens hood but it does the job, looks great, is all metal and while not dirt cheap, it is well worth the cost. You can see it at Amazon HERE.

SHUTTER RELEASE – Best release I have ever found!

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WOW! I stopped buying shutter soft releases quite a while ago. WHY? They always fell off. The screw in models fell off almost daily, and they would be lost forever. Then there were even some stick ons that would always fall off as well. I gave up. UNTIL NOW. Check these out guys and see me attach one to my Sony A7RII in the video above. These come in all sizes and all shapes and are attractive with a clean design. You can go with concave or convex and 10mm or 13mm. All kinds of colors to choose from and they are not expensive coming in at $9-$15

Check them out HERE.

STRAPS?

I have to say, I do not use a NECK strap with my RX1RII often, but when I do it is this one. I always love smaller leather straps, and this one is affordable and nice ;)

 but I do use this WRIST strap from LV Designs more often.

BATTERIES – SPARES and EXTRAS

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I must have 12 batteries for the RX1/RX100’s around here but most of them are cheap spares I bought from Amazon, along with a cheap dual charger that works amazingly well. The batteries can be found cheap HERE (Two for $12) and the charger I use is HERE Highly recommended! 

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

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

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

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Mar 272016
 

Digital, Optical and Fixed. The Harinezumi 4.0

by Darek Meyer

Nothing changes here, in Indonesia, very much. Traffic also with no improvement, “horrible” is very polite expression to describe it. I`ll not make a deep dive into topic of safety, we all hear what is happening around, also in Europe. Unfortunately, Indonesia is not free from dangers, either. Rainy season is coming to an end, no serious flood this year in Jakarta. Bit of free time to refresh the webpage; update from Robert and me is already online, and as usually you can check it on http://where-were-we.com.

Luckily, camera manufacturers give us always something new to talk about. And, as result, to check how deep our pockets are. New gear from Fuji (oh, how tempting X70 is), Q (I treat it still as new camera, as availability is so poor), also lovers of DSLRs will have new beasts from Nikon and Canon very soon. As my trusted Ricoh GR died recently, there is new camera coming. But this is something for a post in future.

These days, digital camera with fixed lens, like 35mm, and optical viewfinder, does not sound any exciting anymore. Right??

Well…
Till time you realize, that among all these heavily branded cameras, with tons of functionalities and millions of ISO, you can also find tiny gem, which in addition will not force you to break the bank. I do not know whether you`ve already seen it, the tiny cam with hedgehog logo. You can be really surprised when you receive the box… Well, here it is: Harinezumi 4.0.

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One can ask: why the hell bother with a camera, which has 3 (yes, three) megapixels? if you happen to have 10 years old phone somewhere in the drawer, probably it will have better resolution.
The truth is, phones are for making calls, and cameras… just kidding.

I`m not really about to write an extensive review of this camera. All technical data you can find in the net. For the ones who would like to give it a try, couple of points to remember:

– it`s all plastic. As such, it is squeaking and cracking when you just keep it in your hand, pressing the shutter makes the sound even more interesting
– shutter lag is around 1 (one) second. So think before you frame and shoot, unless you are into slow mo, like continental drift
– battery / memory card cover is very weak. Rubber part covering USB got separated from the camera at first use. Bit of super glue keeps it in place; still possible to get to slots via plastic cover
– optical viewfinder – well, it`s just plastic frame. Unless you get experience, do not count on it to help you to frame
– rear screen: if I tell you that compared to it, Leica M9 has excellent screen, then you have the picture
– ISO 100 is great, other option available is 800, which , well, for BW can still be ok
– macro mode is great
– there is no flash
– BUT it does make movies, at 1, 8, and 30 frames per second! If you have seen a movie „Begotten”, then you can get very similar look for your productions
– there is no RAW… and 16GB memory card (micro SD) will hold for you almost 5,000 shots
– battery (installed and not possible to exchange) will last for about 100 shots; charging can be done from power bank and takes 2 hours.

After reading this, you can ask – why to bother? Answer is very short: FUN!

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This camera is tons of fun. Yes, it even brings attention when you try to use it on the street, BUT no one will have anything against. it simply does not look any serious. And the look of picture, already OOC, is, well, unique.

Below are some examples of what to expect. BW of course, as I`m this type of person. As a bonus, two in color, taken in small market in Jakarta. And especially here you can see, why some people call this camera “digital Lomo”.

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Of course, it is not camera for everyone. But I`m not surprised, that it exists on the market, and have so many fans. Harinezumi 2+++ (older brother) has cult status among many people; and I can tell you – it can be addictive.

Enjoy the pics! Bit more from this camera on http://darekmeyer.com/LOFI.html

best regards
take care

Mar 152016
 

The Magic of Simplicity – An approach to shooting skateboarding

by Philipp Schuster

Skateboarding can be divided into two basic approaches. On the one hand there is park skating: athletes use optimized structures that are especially made for skateboarding on dedicated locations. On the other hand there is street skating: it’s philosophy is to use the “natural“ topography of a city and to interpret urban structures with an individual approach. Skaters get lost in the concrete jungle and cruise from one spot to the other all day long.

Even though there are many stages in between, this rough distinction also works with photographing skateboarding: one approach is to build up a shooting concept where you control the scene and the light. The other is to let things slide, to use the available light and to allow unpredictable conditions to influence your shooting style.

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It’s a difficult task to transport the mood and rawness of the streets to a public of non skaters. But photography is a very endearing media that facilitates that to a broader audience – the possibilities and the variations are endless. There is an authentic match between the lifestyle of street skating and the adaptive shooting style that developed a hundred years ago. The magic happens when the camera captures part of the skate life and brings the beholder of the final image closer to a vibrant urban experience.

The lighter and more accessible a photo bag is the better: stopping at a road gap, grabbing the camera, hitting the trigger (and having the ability to store it within seconds as soon as the police show up), and then keeping on following your nose to the next spot in the area. Flexibility is key and being that flexible helps you to keep on moving and to discover new spots and locations that you wouldn’t ever find whilst lugging 20kg of flash equipment on your back.

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The worst light is always the same light. Changing seasons inspired musicians and poets to create exceptional pieces. Sometimes you cross a boring spot that gets interesting for five minutes only because of an exciting light reflection – and again: skater and photographer are ready within a minute to capture this rare moment. The key is to go with the flow of the session and to keep up with the opportunities the street offers.

Skateboard photography can be a very demanding field: fast action and uncertain shooting conditions ask for high technical standards. Nowadays those standards can be found not only in top of the line equipment, but also in entry-level gear, but because of the breath-taking array of equipment possibilities the most important ingredients of a good photograph sometimes takes a back seat: the soul and the personal signature of the photographer himself and that all important touching story. Something no technical gadget can replace.

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So really, what more do we need to tell exciting stories in the history of urban life, and to be able to freeze those now-or-never-situations. A small camera body, our favorite prime lens, a skateboard, a good session and some soul. What more?

Web: www.trottoir-media.com, www.redbullphotography.com

Instagram: @_philippschuster

Feb 172016
 
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A Tale of Two Lenses: The Zeiss Sonnar 50 f/1.5 ZM and the FujiXF 56mm f/1.2 – Fuji X-T1

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Hi Brandon & Steve!

You’ve kindly featured some of my photos here before, I thought it about time I shared something new with you.

Last year I sold my well used Olympus OM-D E-M5 to buy a Fuji X-T1, and I wanted to test out the Zeiss 50 Sonnar C ZM (Leica Mount) alongside Fuji’s highly regarded XF 56mm f/1.2. Whilst the two offer a similar price point and focal length they deliver very different images and user experience. Both are superbly made, solid lenses with the manual focus Zeiss being far more compact even with an adapter.

The huge viewfinder in the X-T1 and innovative focusing aids make using manual focus lenses enjoyable, easy and accurate. With its 1.5x crop factor APS-C sensor, both lenses become short-telephoto portrait lenses (around 75mm and 84mm equivalent on a full-frame camera). I won’t get into technicalities, This is really a ‘just for fun’ comparison.

As for my own conclusions, I tend to like lenses that exhibit distinctive, interesting bokeh and falloff. To my eyes the Zeiss has the more unique patterned bokeh with the Fuji being smoother. The Zeiss just nicks it for me, but it’s subjective and everyone’s opinion will differ.

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Fuji 56mm

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Incidentally, the switch from Oly to Fuji was purely to try something new after several years. I loved the Micro 4/3 gear and feel it offers unrivaled quality at such a compact size. I was won over by the design of the X-T1 though and have not been disappointed at all… but that could fill another article! I’ll sign off here and leave you with some images, have a great day!

http://www.jpstevenson.co.uk/photography/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamespstevenson

Thanks – have a great weekend.

James Stevenson

Feb 152016
 
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GoPro Gimbal Shootout – Feiyu Tech G4s vs EVO GP-PRO

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Something different! Lately I have been searching for a Gimbal solution for either a camera like my Sony A7RII or Olympus E-M5II for vlogging and side projects I work on daily with video. I do much more in life these days than just this website, and have been working with video more and more. Not pro level crazy stuff, but just casual use for vlogging. After my long search I have not found anything that beats a simple, small powered gimbal using a GoPro 4 silver or black. I narrowed them down to two after tests and after that, I now narrowed it down to one with my fave gimbal for portability, effectiveness, build, performance, battery life and functionality. That is the EVO-GP-PRO. The motors are SO powerful and rock solid on this gimbal, night and day next to the Feiyu Tech G4s. If you are not sure what a gimbal does, it helps create super smooth silky video, in this case, for a GoPro camera.

The video above explains it all and IMO the EVO wins. I have both right here with me as I write this, no contest. If you need or want a solid gimbal that will work well, have a great US warranty and deliver the steadiest results, check out the EVO GP-PRO.

Enjoy!

Feb 112016
 

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Meze 99 Classic Gold Walnut Wood Headphone Review – $300 Beauties!

GET A DISCOUNT USING MY CODE!!! “STEVE10”

Ahh yes. A nice day for a headphone review on my camera review site!  Yes, I DO review audio gear fro time to time and most of you here probably had no idea ;)  Most of the HiFi on this page (see my reviews here) is more of the High End variety. I mean, I recently reviewed the amazing HiFiMan HE-1000 $3500 headphones. I also reviewed the McIntosh MA8000 Integrated amp that comes in at $10,000. These types of HIFi are the best I have ever heard in life, and I have heard them all and owned most over the past 25 years which is how long it has taken me to upgrade to what I have now in my office. Was a long and slow road but so worth it, as I LOVE music.

In addition to being a camera/photography junkie I have always been into HiFi Audio as music always has a special way of taking us away from our daily grind and worries. With headphones, we can make this a more private personal thing as now the sound is IN our head and a good headphone will immerse you into the performance. With SO MANY headphones out there ranging from crap to amazing and from cheap to insane how do we know what to choose for our tastes? That is always the hard part, and since I get audio gear sent to me now for review in addition to cameras, I do get to test many things. Many headphones as well. Amps, speakers…man my job is fun.

So get ready as this year will open up this site to more than camera reviews. Expect to see a few drone reviews, headphones, and some other special audio gear from time to time. Will be much less than cameras of course but hey, if I am interested in these things I am betting many of you are as well.

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Today, headphones can range from $200 to $10,000 and up but this particular review is for a set that comes in at around $300 and they are WELL worth it to anyone looking for a nice set, who enjoys quality without spending a fortune and someone who likes the look and style of the MEZE 99 Classics Gold. They also come in silver if you prefer a more “understated” look…as seen above.

My Video Look at the Meze 99 Classics


Yep! Today I am looking at the MEZE 99 CLASSICS GOLD. In build, in style, in comfort and in SOUND they are fantastic. For $309 these are as good as you will get unless you step up to $500+ models, and even then, those $500 models will not look as nice as these do. If you like a little style and flash in your headphones, look no further.

All of you here all know I review only the things that really get me excited… or that I really like, or things that present a good WOW factor or bang for the buck for my readers. These headphones surprised me, as I expected them to be subpar. They are quite the opposite, giving more bang for the headphone buck than most brands out there today (hint, for great sound using your phone as a source, these sound so much better than BEATS or most brands available at chain stores). At $309 the Meze 99 Classic Gold means business…

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With soft luxurious large over the ear earpads, real wooden cups and the uber comfortable spring headband, these guys will wow you when you unbox them. They even come with a hard shell case and two very nice cloth covered cables.

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Lookin’ Good!

So we have established instantly that in the looks and style dept, these rock. Well, if you enjoy this kind of look. Many will not, but many will. One thing these are not is understated. Use these on the subway and people will be wondering what those are on your head..who makes them..and some will probably ask you where you bought them. In person the look and build is fabulous. Nice box, nice packaging, beautiful construction with no flaws I could find, and comfort, which is rare for me and my big ears. BUT…BUT….

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SOUND?!?

They sound great. In fact, they punch above their weight in this price point for sound.

These have a neutral very PLEASING but “lean on the warm side” kind of sound. Meaning you will not put these on and wonder “where is my bass” – “where is my mids” or “where is the treble”. Nope, these headphones somehow, someway, have strengths all the way around. Usually, this $300 price point always has some sort of weakness or compromise. This is usually in build or style (not here) or on sound (again, not here) or with included accessories (NOT here). When I put these on my head, using my iPhone for the source I was blown away. With my iPhone as the source these beat my Audeze EL-8 closed backs. These beat the Master and Dynamic cans I have here as well that seem so popular these days. As for beats, these crush them in every way and easily give beats the cheap plastic beatdown they deserve.

If I could explain the sound further..it would be detailed yet smooth…warm yet NOT…full and rich but never bloated. Listening as I write this and skipping through all music from metal, rock, pop, ambient, bluegrass, techno and so on. ALL sounds good.

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One thing that struck me was the rather larger than expected SOUNDSTAGE. Usually in $300 headphones we do not get the luxury of experiencing a large wide soundstage yet these give us a taste of the higher end here..just a taste but remember, I never heard much of this in most other $300 headphones. This tell me that if you buy these, you may start to get into it and start looking into higher end headphones. It is how it happens. You get great but want the best…so these could start a journey for you that you never expected to take, if you are a audio enthusiast anyway.

Since these are not uber high end HIFi headphones that require a serious amp, I realized they did not scale at all when I used them on my McIntosh Head amp. In fact, they sounded just as good using my phone as my expensive amp. This tells me they are built and designed for phones, which is good as usually higher end cans do not do so well in this area (usually a lack of volume but not here). The Meze 99 Classic gold have LOADS of volume with using the phone as my source. Again, I see no real compromise in these at this price point.

My fave moment with these came one night in my dark office, sitting in my comfy chair and sipping some Absinthe. The Roliing Stones “Wild Horses” came on and I was amazed at what the Meze 99’s did for this song and for me. It was lovely with nice vocals in the center of the stage and the sound was expansive much more so than the usual $300-$400 headphones. Was VERY real, something I usually do not associate with headphones at this price. While they do not get close to the $1000 and up cans, these do very well up to $500 yet cost $300.

IF I WAS BEING PICKY, I would say they could offer a little but of a more refined sound..but I can not say this at this price point as I never heard better at this price. I have heard a ton. For $309, these are a great buy and if this is in your budget, and you like the looks and design/colors and you want a GREAT set of cans to use with your mobile device..right now as of Feb 2016, I have not seen or heard better for the price.

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WANT 10% OFF? USE MY CODE “STEVE10”

Meze also gave me a code for anyone who reads this and wants to pick up a pair at a discount, for my readers, through April 2016. You can click here to see more or order them at MEZE. Then if you want a set, use code “STEVE10” for a 10% discount. This code is good through APRIL 2016.

Bottom Line: I recommend these for anyone with a budget up to $500. Lovely set of headphones.

Jan 212016
 

Old and new :Leica M vs Leica R Lens comparison on the SL

by Jean-Marc Bottazzi

R lenses L1000308 2

Hi Steve, love your site.

Here what I was thinking with the SL being more SLR like in the leica world I got interested to look a bit at R glass on the SL and do some not so serious comparisons. Those lenses also are a popular choices for duclos cinemod. That is way cheaper than the new leica cine offering (which I am sure is better but well…). Anyway I bought the novoflex R adapter since I cannot find the leica one yet and bought a few old R lenses and decided to compare a bit with the 50 apo and the new vario elmar I own. I shot the same scene from the same spot with all lenses with the intention to compare crops.

I bought:

-the 80mm summilux R f1.4
-the apo macro emarit 100mm f2.8
-the old vario elmarit 35-70mm f3.5

The scene is the following:

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I used a lightbox making sure the speed is always at least 1/250s. I focused on the same flower in the shaded rectangle and here are the crops of that flower.

First two pictures are the 50 apo at f2 and f4 respectively… great as expected.

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Next come 3 pictures with the 80mm summilux R @f1.4 2.8 and 4 respectively. A bit soft by comparison … if you step down to f4 the summilux gets sharper but there is room for more sharpness. At f1.4 you can get as much isolation of subject as the 50 APO at f2 but you pay with less sharpness on your subject. If you step down you lose isolation as more of the picture gets sharp and busy. The 80 summilux R overall is no match for the 50 APO.

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80 summilux R f2.8 L1000326

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The next two pictures are taken with the elmarit apo macro 100mm at f2.8 and f4 respectively. Now that is sharp! Especially at f4, but so should it be, it is a macro lens after all and a good one at that. But note that the 50mm apo is keeping up quite even when scaling up. In spite of the different focal length the APO manages to isolate its subject with micro contrast highest sharply around focus plane only — in other words the picture is less busy more on its subject — for the macro and the 50 apo more than the other lenses in this batch we have this nice combination of incredible sharpness in focus combined with strong isolation ability.

100 elmarit macro R APO f2.8 L1000328

100 elmarit macro R APO f4 L1000329

Next something very interesting : the new vario elmar 24-90 @50/f4 80/f4 and 90/f4 respectively now that is sharp as well at all focal lengths. Zoom will have more depth of field than the primes previously introduced but the new zoom looks extremely sharp.

New Vario Elmar 50 f4 L1000330

New Vario Elmar 70mm f4 L1000331

New Vario Elmar 90 f4 L1000332

Finally the last two picts are the old vario elmar R at 50mm/f4 and 70/mm f4. Not too bad especially given that the old vario elmar is much more compact than the new one. It makes it an interesting lens for travel in my opinion even without autofocus it almost keeps up with the new vario elmar in terms of sharpness. Now at same aperture it looks to me that the new vario elmar is better at being sharp only around the focal plane only (while the old vario elmar is more zero to infinity sharpness). This shows when you compare the 2 shots 70mm f4 between old and new vario elmar. Of course prime are more isolating that the zooms but the new vario elmar is showing an interesting behavior especially compared with its ancestor.

Old vario Elmar 50 f4 L1000333

Old Vario Elmar 70 f4 L1000334

Again this is not meant to be serious but it helps me having a bit of intuition on how to compare those lenses.

 

Dec 162015
 

TWO Shots. Leica Q vs the Leica SL with 28 Elmarit M

JUST FOR FUN to see differences in color rendering and AWB performance of these two cameras. With that said, I was testing a 28 Elmarit on the SL and figured it would be a nice alternative to the 24-90 Zoom (due to size). Since the Q uses a 28mm lens, I figured “why not”. I snapped a photo of my table lamp with each camera and shot in RAW format. I then loaded my SD card and exported the RAW files to JPEG’s without any added PP or tweaks. The color as you see  below is exactly what came out of each cameras RAW file, and what a difference it is.

The SL is warm, rich and a little more bolder than real life. The Q is way cooler in color temp and not really like what I see in real life. Interesting as both of these use the same sensor, but as I say, IQ is much more than a sensor. The way it is implemented makes a huge difference. IN the SL, it is tweaked and implemented differently than the Q, which is why we get two different looks from two cameras that use the same sensor.

This is not a sharpness, bokeh or scientific test. This was specifically to test the color output from each camera without tweaks as many have asked me why or how I could rate the SL higher in IQ than the Q and this shows why. The SL AWB is superior to any camera I have used, and while not perfect, it is as close to it as I have seen in AWB from any digital.

BOTH samples are super, but both are somewhat different. My wall behind the lamp in real life is sort of tan/mocha and the SL shot nailed that color. The Q made it appear off white.

Must click the images to see them correctly

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BTW, my Sony RX1RII review will be up THIS Friday! Finally! Then I will start working on my Part 2 review of the Leica 50 APO lens, as used on the SL (Part 1 was the M and Sony A7s). That should be ready to post in 1-2 weeks from now. I will say this…the 50 APO is still IMO the best 50 in the world, and it should be for the cost. On the M and SL it is just so “right”.

Check back tomorrow for more guest posts and then Friday for my RX1RII review!

Nov 242015
 

Quick Comparison: Sony RX1rII, Sony A7RII, Leica SL..all at 35mm

Just for fun, a quick comparison between the Sony RX1RII, the Sony A7RII and the Leica SL. All at 35mm! My review is in the works for the RX1RII and Leica SL but some have asked me to do a quick comparison to see the color differences or any detail differences. Below are three test shots. Which do you prefer for color, detail and overall vibe?

YOU MUST click on these shots to see them larger and with true 100% crop. 

1st up, RX1R Mark II at f/3.5, ISO 640 – TRIPOD mounted. FROM RAW

RX1RII

Sony A7RII, 35 Zeiss 2.8 at 3.5, ISO 640, from RAW

A7RII

Leica SL, 24-90 at 35mm and f/3.5 – ISO 640, from RAW

LEICASL

Oct 262015
 

TTiso409i2

Shooting at ISO 409,600 with the Sony A7SII

By Steve Huff

NOTE: THIS IS NOT MY A7SII REVIEW! Just an EXTREME High ISO demonstration. My review will be up within 2 weeks as I will be traveling to Key West next week to do more testing with the camera. 

You can order the A7SII at B&H Photo HERE or at Amazon HERE.  ISO range 50 – 409,600 

I have been shooting with the Sony A7SII for about a week now and I am again in love. Ever since the Sony A7II, then A7RII I have really been enjoying my Sony cameras. The A7RII is VERY hard to beat for a high res monster camera, and I have put many snaps on the RII I have here. It’s my daily shooter. Now that Sony sent me an A7SII to review I am just amazed at what can be accomplished in ANY light, at ANY time and yes, even up to the max ISO of 409,600. Now, of course there will be lots of noise at ISO 409,600 but I have NEVER seen ANY camera, film or digital, that can do what the AS7II does in low light or even darkness.

A7SII

Using the 16-35 or 35 1.4 Sony the A7SII focuses lightning fast, even in darkness WITHOUT an AF assist lamp. Oh, it has one, but I turn it off as it doesn’t need it.

I recently was at the state fair shooting and then went off to San Diego this past weekend to see how far I could push the limits of high ISO with the new A7SII. I pushed the limits with the original A7S in the past, and have a post up about that HERE.  Only thing is now that I look back, I did not go past 102,000 ISO with the original A7S. This time I wanted to go to the MAX or ISO 409,600 with the new A7SII just to see if it would be usable AT ALL. What I found was that while shooting in the DARK with no light source besides the moon the A7SII was giving me results that I actually liked at ISO 409,600. I would not use that on a regular basis but if you are in a situation without light, in the dark and want a camera that can actually get a shot in this situation, the only one that will do it is the A7SII.

Using Native lenses with AF, the A7SII never once failed to lock focus quickly, even in 90% DARKNESS. Using Manual M mount lenses was a breeze and gave me color and pop that reminded me so much of the Leica M9. Imagine Leica M9 output but with capability to ISO 409,600. At 409,600 the Sony A7sII looks like the Leica M9 at ISO 2500. Technology has evolved GREATLY.

Below I will show you some EXTREME ISO examples, all the way up to ISO 409,600 but shot in near darkness. Again, shooting color at 409,600 would not be advisable but shooting B&W is quite nice. With color I stop at 256,000 ISO with the A7SII. Think about that. Remember the old Canon 1Ds, the 1st one? At ISO 640 it was very noisy. Now we have a camera that is a fraction of the cost, same size sensor, can use almost any lens made and shoots up to ISO 409,600 while giving Auto Focus performance in crazy low light situations that no other camera made can do. Insane how far the digital camera world has come.

All I know is now I want the A7SII for those very low light scenarios. I also shot some video at ISO 256,000 and it was STUNNING, again, in virtually NO light. This camera will be able to break down barriers as you can shoot it in ANY light, period. In good light, as I said, it is very M9-ish…

Two shots below..click them to see better versions. These are not crazy high ISO but show the color and pop that reminds me of  the M9. 1st Shot was the 35 1.4 Sony, 2nd the 35 1.7 Voigtlander M mount. 

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This one is at IS) 4000 and with this camera I consider that low ISO ;) 

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If you clicked on the above images and are on a large screen you will see the depth and pop of the files from this camera at lower ISO’s. You can see more HERE if you missed my post last week.

ULTRA LOW LIGHT AND EXTREME HIGH ISO UP TO 409,600

So this is what this post is about, take a look at some extreme high ISO samples from the A7SII. All are OOC JPEGS, ZERO NR (turned OFF in camera so no noise reduction).

This 1st shot at 10,000 ISO  – well, it was 90% dark. My iPhone would have caught this as a black scene as would my GoPro I had. The A7SII cranked to 10,000 ISO without any Noise Reduction lit up the scene dramatically. It did NOT look anything like this in reality. It was dark. The lights in the BG were not lighting up the cemetery. The darker the scene, the harder it is for any camera to get a noise free image, but at 10,000 ISO and zero NR, no camera could match this under these shooting situations. 

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ISO128I1

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All images above should be clicked on to see them correctly. But the only light source on the beach was the moon. In person my GoPro would see nothing but blackness. No other camera would be able to see anything unless you had a tripod and a  long exposure. A friend of mine was shooting his A7RII at max ISO and it was looking good as well but the A7SII takes it further with capability to 409,600. With an ISO range from 50 to 409,600…just wow. Thats all I got.

You can order the A7S Mark II at B&H Photo HERE or Amazon HERE.

MORE TO COME IN THE NEXT 1-2 MONTHS:

Sony A7SII review

Sony RX1R II review

Leica SL Review

and more..

 

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HLPHH

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

Oct 222015
 

PRESS RELEASE: HoldFastGear releases the Sightseer Sling Strap

Allright! Here is a new strap release that looks fantastic. I am a big fan of HoldFastGear.com and own two bags of their, some pouches, the money maker strap, a wallet and a few other pieces of their gear and WOW, it si always 100% top notch quality. Made here in the USA, the HoldFastGear products are beautiful, functional and they have converted me to such a fan I extended them an invitation a year ago to be a site sponsor (I do not allow anyone to be a site sponsor, has to be a company I love and respect with products that help photographers) and ever since I have been checking out more and more of their very cool products.

Navy-5_4f51bd52-6def-4ae1-a1c5-a6a1f3133e30

Olive-7_028c22fd-dbb7-424b-9666-7a7b048bd4cf

While I love the Money Maker Strap system, I do not use it often as I rarely have 2-3 cameras on me, and while it was made for pros who shoot multiple cameras I was hoping they would release something cool in a single strap, and they just did with this SLING STRAP in their Sightseer range of products. I love that you can add the sightseer pouches onto the strap and make it you own…for whatever the day brings you.

You check it out at their site, click HERE or the image below which is the info that I just received via email. 

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 3.48.46 PM

Oct 222015
 

HOT NEW Mirrorless Cameras coming BEFORE Christmas!

Hey Hey!  Here is a list of what I feel are the hottest, most talked about and anticipated releases still to come before the end of the year, and some that are already here. Keep this one bookmarked as I will update it in a month with new info! As always, my three fave camera companies, Leica, Sony and Olympus are on a roll with new products in the last quarter of 2015. Take a look…

rx

  • Sony RX1R Mark II – This is one I am waiting for. The original RX1 and RX1R were , IMO, masterpieces of image quality. While the AF suffered with a slowness we are just not used to today in 2015, for the time it still did well (and does for many today) and the IQ is and was stunning. The RX1R, the original, gave me some of the best Sony IQ ever, even when compared today to the new A7RII. The new RX1RII, three years after the original comes in with an all new sensor, much faster AF and the body size is still VERY small. Many do not realize how small the RX1 series really is. I hear the new one is SLIGHTLY larger..SLIGHTLY. So new sensor, new built in EVF and the same amazing Zeiss lens that outperformed even the Leica 35 Summicron in scientific tests. With a variable low pass filter that you can dial in to your preference and the new EVF and the 42MP sensor along with much faster AF, WiFi, NFC, ISO up to 102,400 and new processing with Bionz X the RX1R II will be an IQ monster as well as a camera that can be taken ANYWHERE due to its small size. This one will pack a punch. I will review it SOON. This one ships starting November 5th. Just a couple of weeks away! PRE-ORDER IT HERE AT B&H. 

sl

 

  • NEW OLYMPUS PRO? – Rumors are abound that a new Olympus will be heading our way before year’s end. I am not sure, and have no clue if this is true but if a new E-M1 Mark II is on the horizon it can only mean good things as Olympus has been on a crazy roll. So this is something that I feel MAY BE coming before year’s end. Not fact or verified. My crystal ball is saying YES ;) If so, this will be one hell of a mirrorless camera for those not ready to jump into the full frame $$$ arena. If anything happens with this, and a new Olympus pro is released before the end of the year you can bet full coverage will be right here!

a7sii

  • NEW SONY A7S MARK II – I have this one on hand and am reviewing it now. It’s not far off from the original A7s but it is so much better for a few reasons. The new body style is now with the A7SII, and for me, its much nicer. Also, with the new 5 Axis IS, better video features, ISO past 400,000 and Sonys best Auto Focus in an A7 series body the new A7SII continues the low light king tradition. This camera can shoot anywhere, anytime and give you tremendous results. My 1st tests seem to show me better color performance yet again, though not sure if its just me as it does use the same 12MP sensor as the original. The files from the SII look more “medium format” than even the A7RII. odd. THE A7SII IS NOW SHIPPING AND AVAILABLE AT B&H Photo or Amazon. 

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An OOC JPEG from the A7S Mark II in strange light. It nailed it. Click it for larger and much nicer looking version. This was at night and just a snap to txt AWB, which it aced. 

lemon

  • THE LEICA Q: This one was a surprise. I expected it to be ho hum but it was and is fantastic. The IQ is gorgeous and gets close to the old M9 look. The camera is a nice size, has a good EVF, and is an all in one single lens camera that anyone could be proud of. Surpassing the original Sony RX1 and RX1R the Leica Q is faster, sleeker and more simple. Not sure how it stacks up against the new RX1 Mark II but the Q has character, and is probably the most exciting single lens fixed digital they have ever released. For me it beats the X-Vario, X1, X2, X and all other fixed lens Leica’s. The only problem is..finding one. Leica has not been sending the Q and M 246 to dealer lately here in the USA and it has created some frustrations among Leica fans. If you can get one, you will not be disappointed. My review can be seen HERE. Again, I recommend Ken Hansen, PopFlash or B&H for your Leica needs.

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Other than these cameras, nothing is exciting me in the mirrorless digital world that is on the way or coming soon. There are loads of cameras already out that are amazing (each one is linked to my review for that camera). Leica M, Sony A7RII, Olympus E-M5 II, E-M1 and E-M10II as well as still going strong Fuji X-T1 and Sony A6000 for APS-C. We also can not forget about the Ricoh GR or Sony RX100 IV, both stunning pocket cameras. The Fuji X100T as well, awesome.

The holidays are almost here and Christmas morning will be here before you know it. To all of you photo enthusiasts, pros and hobbyists looking for something new and exciting, what do you have your mind set on, if anything? Let me know in the comments below!

Steve

Sep 242015
 

The LG G4 Phone as a camera? Yep, I had to try ;)

By Steve Huff

LG-G4-Beat_Range-Shot-2

A while ago LG contacted me and told me I had to try their G4 phone as a camera. I told  them “I have never reviewed a phone, so it’s not really my thing”. They then replied “Well this could be a 1st! Just concentrate on the camera”.

So they sent me a phone to review ;)

The G4 arrived and being that I am an Apple guy, it was odd trying to get used to the Android OS. The phone itself was gorgeous, and had a fantastic screen and in many ways I preferred it to my iPhone as a whole. But my job was to test the camera in this guy so I charged it up, and away I went with it in my pocket every day. I decided to use it as I would my iPhone, as I use my phone often for video, snapshots, etc. I was never thrilled with my iPhone camera so I figured I would not be so impressed with the G4 camera.

Well, when I started using it I realized the camera in the G4 was much more powerful than the one in my iPhone, or at least it seemed. All manacle control were available as was adjustable ISO. All touch screen of course making it as simple as eating a piece of pie. ;)

After a week or so I unloaded all of the images from the G4 and wow, I was surprised! MUCH better IQ than my iPhone! This is NOT a review, not at all, just some thoughts on using the G4 as a camera.

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As I reviewed the images from the G4 I was mightily impressed with the color, contrast and details.

Specs:

16 MP, 5312 x 2988 pixels, laser autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash, check quality
Features 1/2.6” sensor size, simultaneous video and image recording, geo-tagging, face detection, HDR
Video [email protected], [email protected], optical stabilization, HDR, stereo sound rec., check quality
Secondary 8 MP, [email protected]

20150725_122214

20150725_122227~2

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20150725_163315~2

bandjohn

COMPARED TO MY IPHONE 6+? Take a look:

ALWAYS click images here for larger!

1st up, iPhone 6+. Next, the G4

carapple

fullsizecar

1st up, iPhone 6+ and then the LG G4 – easy to see the winner ;) 

iphone6

lgg4

While I am not going to sit here and review a phone, as that is not my specialty, I will say that the G4 is the best phone camera I have tried. It kills my iPhone 6+ and is compatible to point and shoot cameras, which is why the sales and existence of P&S cameras have stalled ;) When you have a phone in your pocket that can take fantastic images, why the need for a $400 point and shoot? The G4 is one phone that can handle double duty and if I were an Android guy, I would be switching ASAP just for the camera!

mikewfiltervintage

OOCFILE

orgoocfiresign

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