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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50 summicron APO f4 L1000324

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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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.

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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

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

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Oct 262015
 

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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.

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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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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)

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

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

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

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

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.

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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. 

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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…

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  • 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. 

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  • 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!

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  • 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. 

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  • 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 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, optical stabilization, HDR, stereo sound rec., check quality
Secondary 8 MP, 1080p@30fps

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COMPARED TO MY IPHONE 6+? Take a look:

ALWAYS click images here for larger!

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

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fullsizecar

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

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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

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Sep 182015
 

Photo’s with a Story

By Dirk Dom

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When I show people my photographs many ask me what exactly they are seeing. That is a reasonable question, because I shoot quite a lot of abstracts. I generally tell them to appreciate the images on their own grounds. Most people, however, expect photographs to be representative and are not accustomed to having to use their imagination.

I made a booklet which originated as an exercise in playful interpretation of my photos. I picked out about seventy that I particularly liked and challenged myself to create tales inspired by the images. It proved surprisingly difficult. Some of my images seem so simple and have such an impact that I couldn’t think of anything. In some cases I made up stories; in others I wrote down impressions inspired by what I was looking at — what ever came to mind, and sometimes, when the creation of the photo itself was a good story, I shared that too. At random intervals I had left the reader/observer the opportunity to make up a story himself.

This is an excerpt of the book with ten photographs.

Enjoy!

The photo above is exercise one. What does it make you think of?

Alien Encounter

A Star Seed floats through space, on its way to the core of the Galaxy to reproduce. Its solar sail is folded up, so far away from any star.

A Guffaw, who normally eats cometary cores, sees the Star Seed as a delightful snack.

The Star Seed reacts to its approach with a giant electric discharge. Intense plasma wires light up in the interstellar medium.

The Guffaw changes its mind and its direction.

The Star Seed floats on, on its journey of millions of years, on track to another star.

With thanks to Larry Niven

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Brown Dwarf Life Form

DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b, part of an ultra cold binary system, has a mass of about 28 Jupiter masses. This brown dwarf is 67.7 light-years or 399 trillion miles from Earth. It was discovered in 2013.

The life which developed there consists of twenty-mile long single-celled organisms (hydrogen filled bubbles made out of polyethylene) who float in the atmosphere and are bioluminescent. These are colonized by photosynthetic organisms. Seemingly there are similarities with the life on Jupiter.

The photograph is made in May, 2144, by the Da Vinci atmospheric probe which flew through a life form, filming, during its descent to the core.

Exploration of brown dwarves is considered a low priority.

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Drowning Moth

Beginning of March, 2014, I walked in the Zevenbergen Forest, Ranst.

On the banks of the ditches you can make photographs with lots of contrast, so I walked along the water.

About six feet from shore, this drowning moth. I planned to save it, but first, a quick photograph. A first image without paying attention to composition. Then, this image, with the moth carefully lined up in the dark reflection of a tree. I wanted to take a few more photographs, but the wave pattern the wings made stopped after about five seconds and didn’t start again. I was disappointed. Suddenly I realized the moth was dying and it was finished.

Quickly I looked for a branch, but the only one I found was too short. Pity. The moth no doubt served as a protein rich delicacy to a bird or a frog. It’s a beautiful, but sad shot.

Life is so easily extinguished.

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Nuclear blast

I was happily taking shots of forest anemones when World War Three started. The bomb incinerated the Antwerp port at twenty miles distance.

I live, but what good does it do? The anemones bloomed for the last time.

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Microvilli

Microvilli (singular: Microvillus, lat. Villus “brushy hair (from animals), wool”) are microscopic protuberances of the cellular membrane which drastically increase the surface of cells. Microvilli are found in the brush border of the small intestine. Because of the large surface macromolecules and ions can be absorbed more easily.

The brush border is the homogeneous layer which is visible at the apical side of the enterocytes (absorbing cells in the small intestine) and the epithelial cells in the proximal tubulus. If this tissue is looked at through a light microscope, one can see that the brush border consists of a great number of very closely stacked microvilli. These microvilli make for a twentyfold increase of the small intestine surface. This increase in surface makes the intake of nourishment much easier.

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Me, as a Photographer

This is a fun one.

So I went to take this photograph. At first I wanted to go alone, but I took my sister Nadine along to take the shot.

I hung about ten camera’s around my neck and arranged them in such a way that they showed nicely. But this hopelessly entangled the straps.

After about five minutes the forty pounds of camera started to really hurt and I wanted to take them off.

I couldn’t unknot them. The weight became unbearable. In the end I had to lie down and make my sister disentangle them.

I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I had done this alone.

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Love is:
Putting your paws on the eyes of your beloved.

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Visisonor

This is how the Daft Punk music looks to Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

The Visisonor, developed by the University of Antwerp in 2017, translates the impressions of the other senses to a visual signal.

Apple bought the patent.

In 2019 110 million Visisonors were sold, despite the violent price tag.

With Thanks to Isaac Asimov

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Second Exercise

Oh, yes, believe it or not, this is a photograph!

I can’t make up any story with this.

Can you?

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Well, hope you enjoyed it!

And, my apologies!

Dirk.

 

Aug 182015
 

CAMERA SIZE: Sony A7RII Size Compared!

Many have been e-mailing me saying things like:

“I hear the A7RII is the same size as the Nikon D810, so what is the advantage for me to go to Sony”?

“The A7RII is just as big as most DSLR’s, FAIL”

“Why is it SO BIG!?!? The A7RII offers no size advantage over a 5DIII”

I just shake my head and chuckle. Not sure what planet some of these people are living on but the A7RII is MUCH smaller and MUCH thinner than any full frame and 95% of APS-C DSLRs, and with a better sensor than any of them IMO ;) Take a look below at some size comparisons thanks to CAMERASIZE.COM

Starting with the Leica M. The M is longer but the A7RII is taller due to the EVF hump. The A7R II is also thicker, giving the Leica the “smallest full frame camera” award next to the Sony RX1 of course. 

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How about the “Small” full frame DSLR? The Nikon Df. The Df is taller, longer, and thicker. The A7RII gives better IQ and performance IMO.

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The trusty Nikon D810, which one person told me was the same size as the A7RII. The Nikon is MUCH taller, longer and MUCH thicker.

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The D4..well, no need to comment on size here.

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Now the 7D Mark II, which is smaller than the 5D III…AND an APS-C sensor, so this one is not even full frame!

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..and the 5DIII…

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..and for giggles, the Canon 1Dx. WOW!

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So this should verify that the A7RII is smaller than just about any DSLR, and all of full frame DSLR’s by quite a bit, it also beats out all of these on most things such as IQ, usability, fun factor and low light abilities (again, IMO).

Amazing what Sony have done here and I hope Canon and Nikon have a plan! I have been shooting the A7RII all day and this is one hell of a camera. It is small compared to these beasts but feels amazingly solid and nice in the hand and never overbearing or too heavy. AF is speedy and with a Leica lens, mostly all Sony FE lenses or a Zeiss Loxia I feel like I can shoot ANYTHING I want, anytime, without worry or problem. This is the only camera I have used or tested that I would possibly call “and end game” camera for many years to come. Besides moving up to Medium Format, it’s hard to fathom what could get better here for 35mm. This weekend look for  tests with the Leica 28 Summicron and 35 Summicron, up close and infinity tests. Then a review of the A7RII to follow!

Steve

Jul 312015
 

Think Tank Photo introduces new “FLAIR” kits for your Roller bag!

Make sure you have the required amount of FLAIR for your Think Tank roller!

Customize your Think Tank Photo Roller with your choice red, green, orange, or blue wheels, zipper pulls and padded handle wrap. Make your bag stand out or match your favorite colors. Each Roller Flair kit includes the following color-matched items: two wheels; 10 Easy Grip Zipper Pulls; one padded Handle Wrap; and, the Installation Guide. Think Tank is known for having the best wheels. They use a custom rubber compound for smooth, quiet rolling while also putting an emphasis on longevity. Think Tank only uses ABEC-5 sealed bearings to ensure smooth rolling even after years of hard use. Free shipping on all orders!

See details and options HERE!

Roller Flare image 3 Roller Flare image 2

Jul 272015
 
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New Video Monday! JB Designs Grip and Headphones!

By Steve Huff

Hey guys! Today I posted two new videos to my YouTube channel which can be seen below.

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One is on the JB Designs grip for  the E-M5 II and I think it is gorgeous. It is a hand-made in the USA wooden base/grip with access to the battery door and all. Perfect fit and style for this camera, and in use it feels amazing. You can browse all of the JB Grips HERE.

See the video…

Also, I did a video on some new Headphones I have been using and testing, and I love BOTH of them…the Master & Dynamic MH40 and the Blue MOFI’s. Check out what I had to say about them in the video below:

Master and Dynamic MH40: AMAZON

Blue MOFI: Amazon

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Remember to go to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE! ALL NEXT WEEK I will be posting videos from the new Sony A7R..in hand, in action and all kinds of cool stuff. These videos will be uploaded to my YouTube before they make it here, so be sure to subscribe to see them 1st!

See my YouTube channel HERE. 

Jul 232015
 

QUICK SHOT: Nocticron and Olympus E-M1

By Dave MacAaron

(From Steve: This “Quick Shot” will be a new series much like the daily inspiration but with ONE SHOT only. If you have ONE SHOT that you absolutely love, send it to me with a description of the shot, what you used to take the image and why you like it. I may post it as a “Quick Shot”! Send to me at [email protected])

Hi Steve!

Longtime fan here. Love all the reviews and articles and shares on your site. I was walking home with my daughter one night last winter in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC and it was twilight. I was snapping away at a few things here and there and then we came upon this tree with Christmas lights still up. The lighting was beautiful so I snapped the kid. It’s one of my fave moments and shots.

Taken with the Olympus EM1 and the Panny Leica 42.5 mm f1.4 Nocticron.

Thanks for all the great work! Peace!

lights hood

Dave MacAaron

www.franbro.com

Jul 212015
 

Moment, Chaos and a Personal Perspective

By Shaul Naschitz

Hi Brandon and Steve,

I have been featured on your site more than once before, but hopefully you allow me to contribute a few thoughts once more.

I consider myself a savvy amateur photographer. I started with this means of self-expression about thirty years ago and kept doing it with more or less involvement ever since. Naturally, the digital revolution inspired a significant boost to my photographic endeavors; not least by the ever evolving technologies of creating photographs and “publishing” them. Between 2010 and 2012 I dedicated a lot of my spare time to writing about photography. The resulting blog, with its 900+ posts, never got much attention (maybe because it’s written in Hebrew…). One day, perhaps when I retire, I might try to make a nice and thick book of it.

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Anyway, in the past year or so my interest in photography has been progressively waning. I don’t carry a camera on a daily basis anymore and when I do use one I tend to do so more purposefully than before, so I shoot much less. It is not the cost that deters me like in the olden days; it is the tedious task of browsing through a mountain of rubbish to pick the few gems worth keeping. The paintwork on the Delete buttons on the backs of my cameras is always worn out.

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Another recent development is I don’t care anymore what others think of my work. Especially peers on web-based communities. I have long ago forsaken the aspirations of making a living of my hobby and finally accept the notion that I am not “better” than others. If anything, my sense for business is way below average, just like the pleasure I get from fulfilling the expectations of complete strangers. So why bother? I am old enough to serve as my own judge.

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I know that all of this sounds like old cynical bickering, but I assure you I have never felt happier, more light-hearted and liberated about my photography. After so long I feel free to explore this fascinating medium and create art, my own art. The charm in photography to me has everything to do with its inherent limitations and “flaws”. It is a great tool for observation, much less so for expression. In fact, any other art form is superior to photography in terms of sheer creation. Photography is so tightly embedded in the physical world it can’t really escape. So creating art using this medium must involve dismantling rather than construction, authorship rather than creation. Photography dissects the flow of time into distinct moments and allows us to concentrate on those fragments. That property is unique to this medium and gives it its strength.

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Cartier-Bresson coined the obscure and much debated “moment decisif” as an ideal of thematic and geometric order in a chaotic situation. But I am interested in the opposite: chaos itself. A bit of chaos makes things messed up, tense, interesting. Instead of fighting the ever-present, crude randomality I now work with it.

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The symbiosis of moment and disorder is what makes photography so fascinating to me. An extreme example of that are group dance performances, where despite the meticulous planning a lot of individual character comes through. You can’t usually observe slight synchronization errors or fleeting facial expressions when watching a live dance show, but a camera can reveal a lot. The same principles are obviously relevant to more reactive genres, such as street photography and photojournalism. It is just a matter of giving up control and letting chance play its role. And I didn’t even mention the fun in doing so.

Shaul Naschitz

Jul 212015
 

Winning 1st Place in The World’s Largest Photo Competition!

By Andrew Suryono

Hello Readers, My name is Andrew Suryono. I won 1st place in this year’s Sony World Photography Award, Indonesia National Award. Below is my winning photo, “Orangutan in The Rain.”

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This year 173,444 images was submitted from 171 countries, making Sony’s photography contest the largest in the world. Winning 1st place in this competition means a lot to me. Not only because this is the largest photo competition in the world, but also this is my first ever international award. I’m an avid reader of Steve’s site. I sent an email to Steve asking his permission to share my experience from winning the competition with you and he replied to me with a resounding YES in less than 5 minutes.

I’m super excited to share my experience with you here. Here we go! I’m sure many of you already have a question in mind: “What’s the prize of winning this competition, Andrew?” Did I read your mind correctly? :) Sony gave me a Sony A7s, a Carl Zeiss 24-70mm lens and a flight ticket to London (return). They also took care of my hotel accommodation, meals and transport during my 5 days stay in London. During this trip, Sony organized a photography tour where I can try all kinds of Sony’s new camera and lenses. I tried the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 lens, the Sony 28mm f/2 lens and the Sony 90mm Macro lens. Sony also did a photo exhibition to showcase of all the winners’ photos and finally end it glamorously with a gala dinner for the awarding ceremony. Here’s a picture of me holding the trophy during the Gala Dinner ceremony.

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On top of all that, I got tons of publication requests. My winning photo was featured in big sites such as CNN, National Geographic, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many more. I view photography as my hobby and I never thought I could make it this far. Hopefully my winning photo and achievement can inspire you or at least light up your day!

Until then, take care! If you want to learn more about me, feel free to visit me at: My Blog: www.photoseis.com My Photo Gallery: photoseis.smugmug.com

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