Feb 102016
 
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A Return to Film from the Leica Monochrom

by James Suojanen

Hey Steve!

I began making photographs in the 1960’s using a 35mm rangefinder and developing my own black and white film. I also made contact prints and did some enlargements. But I fell away from photography through college, professional training, career and early family life; no time, no money. And color photography eluded me. But when digital became affordable with the Nikon D70, I began again. Initially I went the SLR route, but as I got older I disliked the size and weight so I ended up back with rangefinders, eventually acquiring a Leica Monochrom to complete the return to my roots; or so I thought.

Using the Monochrom with just about any decent lens produced unbelievably sharp images.

This image was made using a 60+ year old 50mm Summarit during the Memorial Day Parade in my town (Summarit yellow filter, handheld) – Leica Monochrom

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I made this image I made at the Military Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts. Normally the graves can have NO decoration. But the father of a posthumous Medal of Honor soldier buried there won the right to have flags placed at every grave site for the Veterans Day and Memorial Day weekends. An amazing event in which hundreds of volunteers appear, place the flags and then remove them. (Monochrom with a 21mm SEM on a tripod with a yellow filter) – Leica Monochrom

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On a trip to my old stomping grounds in the South, I made this pic with the Monochrom and a 35mm Summilux FLE (UV filter).

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I like all of these images. The prints have a medium-format acuity to them. But I just found/find them a bit sterile; they lack(ed) a certain “je ne sais pas” for me. So when I saw an announcement of a Leica Akademie workshop on film photography coincident with a trip to LA, I decided I’d take a second look at film. What I like about workshops is not only the focused time devoted to learning and practicing, but also the people the people I meet. I wasn’t disappointed by the cast of characters who assembled. And I was given 2 36-exposure rolls of Ilford XP2 for a sojourn through Chinatown and environs. Great fun, great instructor and a real adventure! Film DOES make you slow down and think about the images you’re making.

XP2 is a Black & White ISO 400 negative film developed using the C-41 process for color films. The images shown here were commercially scanned at the time of development with a 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution. All images were made with my Leica M7 and Voigtlander 35mm Color Skopar, except for Bruce Lee – 90mm macro elmar. I used a yellow filter for about half of them. I post-processed in Lightroom and Nik. I think the color processing gives the files a good bit of latitude for digital post-procesing. The grain is very fine and uniform. For those do-it-yourselfers, I imagine that Kodak TMax would give similar results.

Peculiar – an open but very hostile gate.

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Church in Hispanic neighborhood next to Chinatown

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Building next to the Church. As I unloaded the second roll at the end of the day, I realized I had not rewound before I opened the camera. Steve can’t publish what I said at that moment, but I quickly closed the camera back up and hoped for the best. This bit of serendipity occurs with film and can make for some interesting images. The light from the sprocket holes provides celestial framing for this otherwise boring composition.

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My favorite image of the day. Simple story within a complex image – maybe a metaphor for most of us seeking to find a path through the complicated thing we call life.

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Statue of Bruce Lee. The sprocket light made a spotlight for his face. I had a very difficult time framing since I wanted to get his hand in-between the lanterns, like he was balancing them. I had to account for the lens/viewfinder parallax while I held the camera upside down.

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A bench. The Voigtlander lens renders very nicely on film. It’s as sharp as a 35mm Summicron (had one a while back) with very nice bokeh. Small and light, I find it’s short focus throw terrific for street photography. I spent about $350 for the screw mount lens and adapter. It also looks great on both my M7 and my Leica IIIf.

For me, I saw these images and knew I was home again – at least for B&W. They just breath more that the Monochrom pictures. I don’t really know what it is. Certainly a lens will interact with a 20µ thick film emulsion differently than a 1µ micro prism at the top of a photocell in a digital sensor. It may also reflect an analog vs digital tonal range. Perhaps some/most of you reading this (thank you for taking the time to read this piece and look at the photographs), will think me deluded. That’s okay. Art is art, and a wise man once said, “There are as many paths to God as there are people on the Earth”. I’ll paraphrase him by saying that each of us has our own path (i.e. camera, lenses, etc.) to making THE PICTURE which we all seek.

Cheers and blessings,
JNSuojanen

P.S. Given the rapid depreciation of digital cameras, I don’t think there is any significant cost between film and digital for most of us amateurs (except if you shoot action stuff). My Leica IIIf is 60+ years old and works perfectly (I can’t say the same about myself).

Feb 092016
 
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Mirrorless Revolution – Fantastic Video from Parker J Pfister  – Sony A7RII

Came across this video today created by photographer Parker J Pfister where he talks about the Sony A7RII and shows what he does with it in so many creative ways. INSPIRING. Amazing work, fantastic video and spot on. Enjoy! Be sure to check out his website HERE. Parker is putting that A7RII to great use.

Parker J Pfister walks through his transformation into a mirrorless studio. With the new Sony A7Rii in his hand he has his perfect translator. (please be advised!!! This video is pretty low tech and un-polished. The Audio is a touch off towards the end. It was a one take shot and I’m going with it.I know this. Just trying to get my point of view out there as I am re-charged as a photographer by a new way to create and I just want to pass it on.) Have an awesome day and keep on clickin’ .PJ

Parker J Pfister’s Mirrorless Revolution. from Parker J Photography on Vimeo.

Feb 092016
 

Pro’s moving to Mirrorless? Yes they are!

By Craig Roberts

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Are pro’s moving to mirrorless cameras as well as amateurs and enthusiasts? Yes, they are. Is the quality good enough? Yes, it is. Can you still sell the images easily? Yes, you can. Are the images accepted by photo libraries? Yes, they are.

I made the move to mirrorless cameras a couple of years ago and use them for travel and landscape photography. I had intended to invest in the Fuji system with the XE-1, but trying both this and the Olympus E-M5 MK1 at a trade show, in my hands there was no question which felt best and I bought an E-M5 the next day.

The E-M5 has since made way for the E-M1, whilst a faulty E-PL5 was replaced with an E-P5. It’s a great combination of cameras and I have a great set of primes and zooms in the OMD system to cover all eventualities. I don’t like talking gear that much. To me it’s all about the image. The camera is just a tool and whether you choose Olympus, Fuji, Sony or Canon or Nikon for that matter, makes no difference to the end result. It’s the picture that’s important in the end, not what was used to create it.

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That said, mirrorless cameras have some great advantages over their digital SLR cousins and whilst they aren’t perfect, each of the Fuji, Sony and Olympus models have their plus and minus points.
The OMD system works for me as a landscape photographer. It suits me, the cameras feel good in my hands and the system matches my way of shooting and produces fantastic results. If I had chosen the Fuji or Sony instead, I’m sure I would have written the same sentence about them for this feature.

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I started off buying the selection of primes for the cameras, because I felt the small and compact size of the lenses, especially the Olympus ones, suited the smaller and more compact camera bodies. I love working with prime lenses and I like the discipline they force upon you. They make you consider your viewpoints more. They force you to see the world through their focal length and encourage you to put more thought into whether you should stick with that focal length or swop to another, much more than there would be with a zoom lens. Of course, they are smaller, generally faster and sharper than zoom lenses and everyone should have at least one fixed prime lens in their arsenal to appreciate the limited vision that they offer, which is a bonus, rather than a hindrance.

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I do have some zooms and they are useful for certain situations and subjects. There are times when changing lenses all the time is not convenient and so this is where zooms come into their own. Having spent the last 20 years shooting landscapes, I now, like many others, pass on my knowledge though workshops etc. In this changing world of photography, it has often become the way for landscape photographers to earn money from their profession. There’s not many photographers shooting and selling landscape images without using teaching as a way to top up their income.

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I use many was of teaching. Through location-based workshops, online courses, text-based articles and more recently through video. This last medium is an exciting one and a way of teaching that the others can’t match. I have a YouTube channel and I also a subscription service run from my website called e6, which offers even more videos and content. I teach about landscape photography and to a certain extent, the advantages of shooting with mirrorless cameras. I will rave about the Olympus system, but appreciate the choices others have made too. They all have their place and as I said at the beginning, the camera is merely a tool for an artist to use (we photographers are artists aren’t we?!)

I love photography and I love shooting with mirrorless cameras, just as I did with my Canon SLR and my Mamiya medium format camera before that come to think of it. I need a camera that suits my needs as a professional photographer. The Olympus does that in bucket loads and I’m happy to use these new breed of cameras as a workhorse for my work.

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So, the images in this feature were all captured with Olympus cameras. They make fantastic landscape cameras, yet are equally perfect for street photography too. I’m capturing images that I probably never would have with my Canon SLR and they have made me a more creative photographer. They are part of my evolution as a photographer. Why? Because of their size, their design and their flexibility. Yes, they are just a tool, but if you have great tools to work with, your progress isn’t hindered.

My YouTube Channel:
www.youtube.com/channel/UCqRkV8eRVvxwVStV5May0rQ

My website:
www.craigrobertsphotography.co.uk

Feb 082016
 

Editing Fujifilm RAW files with Iridient Developer for more WOW

By Axel Friberg

Dear Brandon and Steve,

It’s been a while since I wrote you last. As of today, I still shoot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and edit my pictures in Lightroom CC. I might upgrade to the X-T2 when it comes, this summer. The Fuji RAW files are still not fully supported by Adobe, which is a drawback. As I’m sure you are aware, some details like foliage for example, will looked smeared. Inspired by the amazing photographer Olaf Sztaba, I decided to download the trail version of the photo editor Iridient Developer and gave the Fuji RAW files a run for its money. Let me tell you, the difference is real. Like going from 480p to 1080p on Youtube. I used Olaf’s settings in Iridient Developer, choosing the unique sharpening method ‘R-L deconvolusion’ and setting the radius slider to 0.5 and the Iterations slider to 30.

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Then I exported the RAW file edited in Iridient Developer to Lightroom and compared it with the same Raw file edited in Lightroom only, where I had set the sharpness to 33, radius to 0,8 and detail. to 100. Additionally, I also set both pictures’ contrast to +15 and clarity to +10 in Lightroom and exported the same cropped part of the picture to emphasis the difference in sharpness of the pine tree’s needles. To me there is a massive difference. The pine-needles in the RAW file edited in Iridient Developer are crisp whereas the same pine-needles in the RAW file edited in Lighroom almost look like they have been painted. Hopefully, you will be able to see what I mean in the pictures I’ve sent you!

The photo was taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and a Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 (via a Metabones adapter) @1/250 s, f/5.6, ISO400.

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Now both crops..

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Feb 042016
 

Visiting the European Motor Show in Brussels

by Dirk De Paepe

A different approach to a car show.

1902 was the first year of the Motor Show in Brussels.

It has been a big event in our country as far as my earliest memories go (and far beyond that). I remember the black and white TV reports, showing the new cars of the late fifties. I still treasure the remembrance of visiting the show as a little boy in the early sixties, together with my parents and my brother, exchanging thoughts about what would be our next car. I also remember visiting with the last class of high school, around 1970, and later a few times to get information for my own next car. The event gets much attention in the Belgian media and provokes lots of traffic jams in the area.

This year, I didn’t visit the show because I was into buying a new car. I visited it because, being such a big event for so many people, I find it an inspirational place to take pictures. Yet this isn’t a typical Motor Show report, with lots of new car models in the lead role. I even carefully avoided to make it too obvious what cars are in the picture. Instead, I wanted to show the visitors. Perhaps you remember from earlier articles of mine, that “people’s behavior” is my favorite subject. Therefor I like to visit places where people behave in a typical, specific or remarkable way.

It always strikes me how people behave in a particular way, when visiting a car show. Well, that’s precisely what I wanted to picture. I’m looking for scenes that stimulate my imagination, that make me wonder what people feel – how they experience the event. I fantasize about their mutual relationships, what there intentions might be, what makes them act as they do, etc…
I hope it’s not too big a disappointment, having to miss all those car pictures, but I’m sure, if you wanna see those typical motor show shots, that you’ll find it not difficult at all to get tons of them on the internet. :-)

First the picture

I invite you to first look at each picture, before reading its title and story. With the title, I try to nail the essence of my personal thoughts about the scene and my intent with the picture. If the title is not immediately clear, the short story will clarify, I hope. Like I said, what I write is just my personal thoughts that go with the scene. I’m not at all saying that those thoughts are all the absolute truth. They’re just the reflections of how my imagination was stimulated by the scene. They are the reason why I took the picture.

It’s clear that I have no part in the scene itself. I’m merely observing and registering. My part is limited to the scene selection, viewpoint, timing and framing. So I didn’t have any power over the light neither. Many consider the light the most essential element in photography. I tend to not share that opinion completely. I believe the most important power of photography is its ability to freeze moments out of reality, giving that moment “a life of its own”. IMO no other art form can do this as easily as photography does. That’s why, again IMO, registering typical and remarkable scenes out of human life, is one of the main “tasks” of photography. Of course, if the light conditions are optimal, that’s wonderful. But I find being there at the right place and the right moment, to be even more important. I believe, when registering, the occurrence outweighs the light.

So each picture is a small story on itself. But let me be clear. I’m not proclaiming that my stories are the absolute truth. Indeed, some of what I describe actually happened. On the other hand, much of it is my personal interpretation of the scene. Which is truth and which is fantasy is completely irrelevant, because I have no journalistic aspirations with this article, not in the least. It’s merely a painting of general human behavior, feelings, reflections. Anyway, I always try to interpret the scene in a way, that very well could have been what actually happened. My goal is to make viewers reflect on human behavior, and thus to induce a better understanding. You are very welcome to interpret those scenes in your personal, very different way. I even strongly invite you to do so. That’s why I prefer the title to be put under the picture, instead of above – like Claude Debussy did with his preludes for piano, putting the title at the end of each score, inviting us to listen and have our own fantasy first, and only afterwards suggesting the subject.

Zeiss Loxia and Batis

When registering, one is first looking for a place that offers opportunities. Then it’s a matter of feeling: moving oneself to a favorable viewpoint, and acting as fast as possible – which sometimes requires cropping/reframing afterwards in pp. To be able to act very fast, is why I often apply zone focusing (with lenses up to 50mm focal length). The Loxia MF lenses are absolutely perfect for this application, IMO – great for zone focusing, thanks to their straightforward DOF scale and fantastic to manually focus very fast thanks to their super smooth focusing ring. Although, for these series, I also used the Zeiss Batis 85 – my first AF lens. I thought it could make sense to have AF in a tele, since its DOF is a lot smaller by definition, which significantly reduces the possibilities for zone focusing. But I have to say that, as far as now, I’m a bit disappointed in AF. I’m just having a hard time, handing over the decision to the camera. And I can’t say I’m experiencing that much “extra comfort” from the AF, compared to using a MF 85mm. It’s different, but on the whole… it’s not that spectacularly focusing faster or better (sometimes the focusing is worse than when performed manually).
Like I said, the other lenses I used were both Loxia’s, 50 and 35 (mainly the 50 here). Those Loxia’s are IMO simply perfect for the A7RII. When Zeiss will make a Loxia tele, I guess I’ll sell the bulkier Batis and replace it with yet another Loxia. (BTW, while writing this, my Loxia 21mm just arrived. The first thing that struck me is that it’s absolutely very compact for a 2.8/21. And I’m also immediately blown away by its IQ.)

OK, enough introduction. Let’s go to the pictures. I hope you’ll enjoy.

 

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Sheer Delight

American cars with big V8 engines are still pretty exotic in Belgium. To experience this is a real joy for many guys, regardless of their age – even if it’s only in a static way and for just a few minutes… at the motor show.

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Still Dreaming

Although already of very respectable age, this man’s mind is in another place. He’s not considering how much he can use this car – how much convenience he can get from it in his professional activity. Instead he’s dreaming about how much he wànts this car – how much pleasure he can get from it for his leisure passion. At the motor show, the dreaming is served for all ages.

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Not Sure

I admire this stylish lady. She proves that women can age beautifully, while still remaining completely natural. I noticed how she came to the show, watching and judging the cars. She wasn’t carrying a paper bag to gather brochures of so many different brands. She was only holding one catalog, the show catalog. A representative was explaining her the specs of a specific model. She was eager for the information. But I think that not all new, modern car features were immediately clear to her, which made her unsure as yet about what to decide. It was the duality of her motivation on the one hand and dubiety on the other that made me wanna take her picture.

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Matters into her hands

This remarkable lady was really into a new car. A few things stroke me. She was on her own. She was visiting the booth of a pretty exclusive brand. She was getting very specific information from this representative for her next personal car. She was connecting very targeted and without any restraint with this young(er) man. I even wonder if he was not taken slightly discomfited by her pretty assertive approach, not looking towards her, while she was absolutely focusing on him. It made me wonder about her place on the social ladder. For sure, she made herself a great career. She seemed to be at the pinnacle of her performance ability – in the stage of her life that she’s 100% self confident, going straight to her goal, fully aware of her exceptional competence. Scenes like this make me realize that we live in an absolute wonderful society in Belgium, where women can make a difference.

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The changing of the guard

Fathers teach their sons. That’s how we believe it to be. But at a given age, this changes, although we usually don’t dwell on it. The son, that I pictured here, wanted to visit the big Motor Show, and has invited his father with him, as a kind of treat. Of course he remembers, as if it were yesterday, how his father took him to the same show as a little boy, more than four decades ago, giving him the best day of his life. Today, he is pleased to return the favor – so happy to demonstrate the marvels of modern car technology, even though his father is at that stage of his life where cars are merely a means of transportation and a lot less thrilling than they used to be. In this scene, the son demonstrates how the lid of this heavy SUV can simply be closed by pushing the button. It’s obvious that the father didn’t know this feature yet. He’s clearly watching in fascination, as if a kind of small miracle is about to happen. I absolutely love this scene. It’s probably my favorite picture of this series. The profound love between father and son screams from it and really moves me.

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Athletism

This man has made it. He’s getting a special VIP treatment. He’s trying out the flagship of a leading brand, a state-of-the-art sports coupé, with all thinkable features and comfort and stunning performance. But merely getting in and out apparently is kind of an ordeal. Although in great shape, training his body on a regular basis, it took quite some time to figure out how to get back on his feet. I took several shots of him – one even showing him with the tongue a bit between his teeth, thinking of the best way to accomplish this task. I even thought of putting those pics in a series of five, for better illustration, but finally reckoned that this one shows a perfect synthesis. It illustrates the required body strength and control. It proves how, once found out the right way to go, one can “dismount” in complete harmony with the lines of the car – as long as one is kind of an athlete. BTW, next picture shows his collaborator (who takes profit from his “boss” to enjoy many exclusive cars on the show), having more difficulties.

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Suction Force

With a less well-trained body and being not that limber as his boss, this guy has great trouble getting in the cockpit. His body just seems much too colossal to ever succeed. At this stage, I almost expect him to be sucked in with a loud “pwah!”, by a big vacuum-cleaner-like force in the car. Well,… he finally got in alright, but the getting back out was just problematic. He performed like a dozen different stages, taking a good twenty seconds to complete the process in the most inelegant way thinkable, before finally getting back on his feet with a big smile on his face – just to conceal the shame of his fumbling. This car clearly is worth every penny – a show within the show.

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A Job to Love

Years ago the girls, working at the booths of a motor show, had kind of a pinup role. Nowadays, there are still (young) women working, but they do a terrific job in informing the visitor. All of them, as far as I could observe, were perfectly multilingual (in Brussels that means at least Dutch, French and English) and were professional in their approach. The young lady in this picture is clearly loving what she does. I spoke to her afterwards, showing her this photo and asking if I should delete it. Of course I could keep it. But the way she communicated with me in an open, friendly and welcome way (like she did with all other people) was simply telling me that she absolutely loves working at the motor show. And she does a great job indeed!

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The Decisive Test

I took four shots of her, since she gave me so many nice poses. When she realized that I was really shooting her, she stopped, looked at me and said (with a big smile): “You are taking my picture, or what?!”. I answered: “Well, I find girls much more beautiful than cars.” “Oh”, she replied with an even bigger smile, “a normal guy!” I can tell you, she is a very beautiful girl, playing a nice role in this scene, kind of how a movie star often has to play expressive scenes. What is the value of a car anyway, when you can’t properly check you makeup…! Her brother, sitting in the passenger seat, is just checking the dashboard. The representative, standing next to her, doesn’t seem to get the relevance of her test and is just patient.

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Tresspassing

When an exhibitor places a barrier around a car, he indicates that this is a very expensive and exclusive model. He expects the visitor to be that tactful, to stay behind the barrier, unless he is invited to approach. The two guys in this scene visit the show together, since they work together (like is the case with many male duo’s visiting a motor show). One is the boss, the other a privileged employee. The employee feels the need to prove his initiative and dynamism to his boss, by stepping over the barrier and elucidate some technical specs of this exceptional automobile. The boss absolutely keeps his reservation, being able to get all the information that he wants, from the place where he is expected to be. In a very controlled and subdued way, he’s perfectly mastering every situation.

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Ultimate Specs

This male duo is young friends, and are staying well behind the barrier. They are reading the specs of a Formula 1 car. And it’s not just any bolide, it’s the one that became World Champion in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It’s a car that, for 200% sure, they will never drive. Still they are absolutely fascinated about those specs. Totally unrealistic of course, but still the ultimate car fantasy for sure.

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Inspection

Yet another duo of friends. But those are apparently really into the technique. I guess they know what they’re looking at and that it’s not just an act for show. Future customizers?

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On Facebook in a Minute

I guess about half of the visitors is taking pictures. Many with a camera, even more with their smartphones. Those two cars are in an enclosed environment. I didn’t see how this young man was able to enter “the premises”, but I could see him perform the “I was here” act.

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Enlightened Admiration

The exhibitors spare no effort to draw the visitor’s attention to their booth. Here, they performed a quite impressive light show at the ceiling. This young man is clearly loving it.

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Design

Some visitors have a double purpose: watch and be watched. This young lady drew a lot of attention.

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Keeping it beautiful

Those booth workers, both male and female, have different assignments: informing the visitors and from time to time cleaning up the cars, wiping away the dust and possible finger prints. Like I said, those jobs are done by man and women alike – and I shot them both. But who can blame me that I selected this picture as the most beautiful one?! BTW, again, the professionalism of those workers is remarkable. I was very obviously aiming my camera at here for about maybe a minute to get the right frame. But this didn’t change her attitude or her facial expression one single bit. All the time she just kept on cleaning, just as if I wasn’t there, not specifically posing, but giving me all the time I wanted for my shot! Indeed, the exhibitors still engage beautiful girls, but they are so much more than just looking good.

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The Essence

I noticed this scene, because, although this is one of the smallest cars of the show, it brought the biggest smile on people’s faces – like if it made them realize that it’s the feel good factor that matters the most. This girl clearly enjoyed this particular one a lot. So I wanted to catch her happy face in the rearview mirror. But her face immediately changed in a kind of wondering expression. I didn’t notice that her boyfriend was in fact trying to get a beautiful picture from his love, sitting in the driver’s seat of her dream car. He was waiting for me to leave, because he didn’t want me in his picture. I, from my part, unaware of his presence, was waiting for her happy face again to appear in the mirror. After some five seconds, she understood what her friend was referring to. She looked in the mirror and gave me a beautiful smile. Only at that moment, I understood what was going on, noticing (part of) her boyfriend with his camera in the very corner of my frame, so I came half a step closer. I pushed the button and thanked them both for their open and welcoming spirit. I believe the boy took his shot ten seconds after mine.

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Today and Tomorrow

This is not a typical motor show picture, but rather one that shows our present world. Since Bataclan, also the Belgian government pickets protection at every event where lots of people gather. This is what we see today, and it’s not gonna change any time soon. The shot was taken, while standing in the cue at the cloakroom, just before getting back home.

See more on flickr

You can get more technical details about these pictures, via the exif data, that goes with them on my flickr pages . I gathered all these pictures in HR in a dedicated album, with the obvious title “Visiting The European Motor Show Brussels 2016” (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/albums/72157663992622111), where there will also be black and white versions of them.

And I’d like to conclude with thanking Steve and Brandon for keeping this unique site online. I insist on mentioning with every article, that the opportunity they give us, by publishing our articles, is flat-out fantastic. We have a really great community here, thanks to their effort. And having been in the publishing business myself for over 3 decades, I know that this is far from obvious. I love to read the articles of so many of you, I also hope you liked mine.

Dirk

Feb 032016
 

NEW Sony G Master f/2.8 Lenses Promise to WOW! PRE-ORDER Links HERE!

Sony held a press event this morning in NYC and while I was supposed to be there, an ankle and then a nagging leg issue arose after my last Austin trip so instead of traveling to NYC I had a good friend, Amy Medina,(local to NYC) go cover it for me! It appears Sony is releasing an all new slew of UBER High Quality lenses for the Sony A7 system (FE) as well as the new A6300 (details on the camera later)..

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Sony Launches New G Master™ Brand of Interchangeable Lenses

Three new models including 24-70mm F2.8 Zoom, 85mm F1.4 Prime and 70-200mm F2.8 Zoom deliver unrivaled imaging experiences

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their flagship G Master™ brand of interchangeable lenses.
Sony’s new brand includes three new E-mount full frame lenses including a 24-70mm constant F2.8 standard zoom, an 85mm F1.4 prime and a 70-200mm constant F2.8 telephoto zoom. Representing the ultimate blend of high-resolution and beautiful bokeh, the new lenses feature Sony’s innovative optical element technology, design and calibration. This allows them to produce still image and video content with a level of detail and expression that has never before been possible.
“The new G Master brand represents the finest and most impressive group of lenses that Sony has ever brought to market,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “With our knowledge of what the future will bring for digital imaging, we have designed these lenses and can ensure that the G Master brand will inspire and ‘wow’ photographers and videographers for years to come.”

Sony claims these lenses are the best lenses they have EVER created and they promise that these new lenses will WOW users with the stunning IQ capabilities. I have no doubts that they will and I look forward to testing this new glass soon. Details below with images to come a little later today from Amy.

New FE24-70mm F2.8 G Master Standard Zoom Lens – Pre-Order it at B&H Photo HERE

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Featuring some of the most advanced lens technologies in market today, the new FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM (model SEL2470GM) is the ultimate choice for those seeking the highest possible optical performance for portrait, travel and event photography or even simple everyday shooting1.
The new lens is built with three aspherical elements including a newly developed, extremely precise XA (extreme aspherical) element that reduces aberration and delivers the ultimate resolution throughout the entire zoom range and aperture range, as well as from corner to corner of all image files. Additionally, an ED (Extra-low-Dispersion) glass element and Super ED glass element keep chromatic aberration to a minimum while maximizing resolution and bokeh without any unnatural coloration.
The lens features a 9-bladed aperture that maintains a near circular shape at all settings and is coated with Sony’s original Nano AR coating to suppress reflections and ensure spectacular contrast and clarity.
The new FE24-70mm F2.8 GM lens has a direct drive SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) focusing system that works with incredible efficiency thanks to a new set of algorithms that positions the lens elements quickly and accurately. The motor is smooth and quiet, making it an ideal choice for shooting both still images as well as movies.
To maximize usability, the lens is dust and moisture resistant and features a compact, streamlined design that includes AF/MF switch as well as focus hold, zoom lock and hood release buttons.
Two new matching filters for the FE24-70mm F2.8 GM lens have also been introduced, including the VF-82MP MC protector and VF-82CPAM Circular PL filter..

The next G Master lens coming off the line is the new 85 1.4 which MANY have been waiting for patiently. ALso shipping in March and coming in at $1800

New FE 85mm F1.4 GM Telephoto Prime Lens – Pre-Order at B&H Photo HERE

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Designed as the ultimate portrait lens, the long-awaited new FE 85mm F1.4 GM telephoto prime lens (model SEL85F14GM) strikes a perfect balance between resolution and bokeh in a compact package.
The lens features a new XA (extreme aspherical) element as well as three ED glass elements that work together to ensure that the in-focus areas are captured in extremely high resolution while the surrounding out-of-focus areas dissolve smoothly into a beautiful soft backdrop. It has a circular aperture with 11 blades – the most ever used in an α lens – that ensures bokeh is smooth and visually appealing. Externally, the new model has Sony’s original Nano AR Coating, which is of particular importance in a portrait lens as it reduces flare and ghosting, even with backlit subjects or similarly challenging lighting conditions.

For accurate autofocusing, the FE 85mm F1.4 GM lens includes a ring drive SSM motor system that provides ample power and speed to drive the lens’ large, heavy focus group. It’s also equipped with two position sensors to support flawless focus control of the large, heavy lens elements.

The New FE 70-200 f/2.8 G Master Lens – Pre-Order at B&H Photo HERE

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Covering the frequently used 70-200mm focal range, the new FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS telephoto zoom lens (model SEL70200GM) offers extremely high rendering, AF performance and image stabilization, making it a versatile choice for shooting wildlife, sports, weddings and a variety of other events and locations1.

The new flagship telephoto zoom model delivers extraordinary sharpness and clarity throughout the entirety of its zoom range thanks to its three advanced lens elements including XA, Super ED and ED glass components, as well as its Nano AR coating.

The new FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens features a floating focusing system – implemented in an α zoom lens for the first time – that contributes to an impressive minimum focusing distance of merely 0.96m and ensures AF performance is optimized during both still and video shooting. The lens includes a SSM (Super Sonic Motor) plus dual linear motors that work together to move large lens elements quickly – a task that requires a high level of drive control and ensures focus accuracy. The new model also has built in Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization for capturing sharp, blur-free subjects at all focal lengths and a rotating tripod mount that allows the camera to be quickly removed from a connected tripod as needed.
The new 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens is dust and moisture resistant with an additional fluorine coating added to the front lens. It also has a focus hold button as well as a focal range limiter.

Sony has also announced new compact 1.4x and 2x Teleconverters – models SEL14TC and SEL20TC respectively – that offer even greater reach while maintaining the overall streamlined design and feel of the 70-200mm lens.

Pricing and Availability

The new FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Standard Zoom and 85mm F1.4 GM Telephoto prime lenses will be SHIP in March for about $2,200 and $1,800, respectively. In Canada, they will be sold for $2,900 CA and $2,400 CA, respectively.
The new 70-200mm F2.8 GM Telephoto Zoom Lens and its compatible 1.4x and 2x Teleconverters will be available in May. Pricing is not yet available for these models.  The new G Master Series of interchangeable lenses will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.  A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new lenses and other Sony α products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com , Sony’s new community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony α brand.

Feb 022016
 
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A Professional Wedding Photographer’s Perspective on Switching to Sony Mirrorless


by Peter Georges

Excluding short interludes with cameras from Nikon, Fuji and Leica most of my photography life has been centered on Canon DSLRs.

Although it functioned as my workhorse system, I was never completely satisfied with what was on offer from Canon. Issues of sensor technology aside, DSLRs have issues pertaining to focus accuracy once higher megapixels are involved. Issues relating to mirror slap and the lack of image stabilization on prime lenses also become difficult to deal with as the megapixel count rises. As I would later learn, there are other advantages mirrorless systems offer that make it difficult to go back to a DSLR camera.

Read on to find out why I made the switch to Sony Mirrorless, why DSLRs are history for my style of photography and what I think remains to be done to completely seal the deal.

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The Early Steps

Initially it was the Sony A7s that drew me in. Sony became professionally acceptable for video use well before photography. It makes sense doesn’t it? Autofocus does not factor into the equation very much allowing an easy jump into a new camera body while adapting your existing Canon EF lenses with ease.

It stoked my curiosity with regard to the viability of the A7 system for professional photography. I picked up a Sony A7II and the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Lens and after some heavy testing went in to my next wedding with that combo. A Canon 5d Mark III kit was available as backup and tele reach. It worked! Almost…

A7II + 5d Mark III wedding: http://www.petergeorges.com.au/jonathan-monica

Although I delivered some of my best images, the Canon had to come out more often than I’d have liked. Unfortunately the A7II wasn’t completely ready. Poor tracking, no continuous autofocus when using eye detect and poor low light autofocus meant the 5d Mark III had to be used for the bridal entrances and for almost the entirety of the reception. Although the A7s was better at picking up focus in low light conditions, the lack of phase detection meant it was simply too slow to capture people in motion.

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The Camera That Changed Everything

Then – almost as if to immediately curb my disappointment in the autofocus performance – the Sony A7rII was announced and I picked up mine on the day of release.

All of a sudden I could use continuous eye detect focus (a revolution in itself), focus in low light and track subjects coming toward me with ease.

A problem with mirrorless cameras is the lack of support for firing IR flash beams to achieve low light autofocus. I believe it’s to do with the autofocus points being on sensor which is behind an IR filter. They need to be many stops better in low light conditions compared to a DSLR to compete. The advantage they do have however – unlike DSLRs – is that the autofocus operates based on the aperture of your lens rather than a fraction of the light being passed by the mirror to a separate autofocus sensor. In all my experiences so far the A7rII with a 35mm f1.4 can achieve focus even in extremely dark club environments.

As high megapixel DSLRs make the job of producing sharp images more and more difficult, the A7rII has the perfect storm of technologies that make it easier than ever:

Image Stabilization which is applied to all lenses including f1.4 primes
• The traditional mirrorless strength of accurate focusing, without the need for per-lens focus tuning
• The lack of mirror slap
• The lack of shutter vibration thanks to an electronic first curtain shutter
• Continuous eye detect autofocus, since getting critical focus on the eye is always key

Add that with a WYSIWYG view on your exposure and it means a staggeringly high hit rate. Allowing you to focus on making great artwork rather than managing the technical aspects of photography.

I happily said good bye to chimping.



Full Sony mirrorless wedding: http://www.petergeorges.com.au/ryan-georgie

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I can’t say enough about the joys of having a tilt screen with the same focus capability as the EVF. It has been a mini-revolution. I rarely hold the camera up to my eye and thanks to IBIS I don’t receive a penalty for the slight loss of stabilization. This has allowed me to experiment with creative angles so much quicker than having to move my whole body into position. Once again it is a culmination of features which makes it impossible to go back to a DSLR.

Current Limitations and the Future

It will only take one or two more generations at the rate Sony is going to completely close the gap on the remaining DSLR advantages: speed, durability and native lens selection. There is no technological reason at all why it won’t happen – and quicker than many expect. Mirrorless cameras have the potential to do everything a DSLR can do. The reverse is not true.

Speed is the key. With faster and faster sensor read outs and more advanced onboard image processing the disadvantages of mirrorless melt away.

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I do have some issues with the current implementation however, so to Sony I say:

• Give us dual SD slots throughout your A7 model range! This is absolutely critical especially if you want to capture the wedding market. Don’t leave this to the mythical A9, put it in the A7iii. This should be a standard and not a way to get people to buy a camera with features they don’t need. At the moment I’m forced to back up my images multiple times throughout the day because SD cards can and will fail.
• Work out a nice solution for moving the focus point. There are situations where there are no eyes to detect and a simple joystick would do wonders. The current system is an ergonomic nightmare.
• Consider releasing larger and more durable models with better battery life.

As for Canon and Nikon? I predict they will eventually strip the mirror box from future generation 5d’s and D810’s while retaining fast autofocus with EF and F mount lenses. They would be absolutely crazy to get rid of their lens advantage. They won’t have the smallest or lightest cameras, but they will be smaller and lighter than they currently are. More importantly, not a single one of my reasons for moving to mirrorless was size or weight.

I’d like to thank Steve for letting me contribute to the site.

Peter Georges

http://www.petergeorges.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/petergeorgesphotography

Feb 012016
 

Looking Back: A Review of The Old Nikon V1

By Jake Hyland

Hello fellow Huff readers. If you are reading this article, it means, I assume, that you are considering buying a Mirrorless camera. I also assume it means you are looking into the Nikon 1 System – among others – and that you probably have already read some pretty lousy reviews of Nikons entry into the popular mirrorless arena. Like you, I was totally conflicted. I found very few positive reviews, unless, of course, they were sponsored by Nikon. Even Steve Huff’s positive review left me a bit skeptical. Why? Because everyone keeps dismissing the V1 sensor – the Nikon invented CX sensor. Honestly, when I got back into photography, I didn’t even know what a sensor was. I still don’t, actually. Supposedly bigger means better. Well, the v1 proves that dead wrong.

Lemme give you a quick background on me. I got my undergraduate degree in photojournalism, right around the time digital photography took over in the late nineties. I used a student loan to buy a Nikon D90, which for a student photographer was kinda a big deal. I never became a professional photographer, I became a nurse…..just the way life turned out. I mention this “about me” section simply to let you know I am not, in any capacity, an expert on cameras. But I am very tempted to assume you aren’t either, which is why I think it is important for you to read why the V1 is a perfect choice for folks like us

Because I bet you are in the same boat, I feel it is my absolute duty to tell you that, for most of us, most of the time, the Nikon V1 is pretty much all you will ever need. Lemme point out that you should just dismiss the J1 altogether. There is no viewfinder, and you are not gonna be that guy/gal holding the camera out with your arms like some sort of B-list celebrity taking a selfie.

Which brings me to my first point:

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The V1 simply looks cool and, honestly, when it came down to it, that’s one of the main reasons I bought it. Like I said, I did not even know what a sensor was, so the technical side of cameras was secondary to just having a cool looking camera, and I couldn’t afford the Olympus OMD and certainly not the Sony A7 (Two other powerhouses in the 4/3 game, in case you have not looked them up yet). But this is not all in vain. Let’s face it, you really do not want to lug around a DSLR……yes, it makes you look professional, but that entire mindset needs to be dismissed. Why? Because it’s plain dumb. We are not professionals. We are every day blue-collar folks who like photography. And I am betting most of us are street photographers, so a compact, yet professional functioning camera is what we really need.

Which brings me to my second point:

The V1 feels great in your hands, but there is a catch here. You simply must buy a grip. I got a nice metal one for ten bucks on Amazon. (Be sure to use Steve Huff’s link anytime you buy from Amazon, for anything!) The menu screen is very easy to navigate, and there is this neat dial that let’s you scroll through the menu.

Ok, so the camera looks cool and feels even cooler. Now to the main point that everyone criticizes: the sensor. Yes, it is a small sensor. I believe it is about half the size of a common DSLR. But who cares?! Look at the clouds in my pics, and the clouds in Huff’s V1 review pics. Look at the vivid colors. Can you tell that those pics were taken with this so-called “toy” camera? Of course not. Because, again, for most of us most of the time, we are just shooting for fun. The sensor is an absolute non-issue for, I’d say, everyone looking for a 4/3 camera. By the way, I do not have any photo editing software. The pics were processed with whatever came on my computer. Like I said, I’m just a working stiff that likes to shoot candid shots of people.

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Point number Three:

MONEY! HUGE! ASTRONOMICAL issue! As you may know, Huff is a major fan of the Olympus OMD and Sony A7. The OMD is gonna set you back a grand (for the original EM-1, I just looked it up), and the Sony A7s and Fugi and Panasonic and ALL the other 4/3 camera bodies are WAY more expensive. Do you really need that much of a camera? Do you really need a thousand dollar body and $1200 lens? Huff does, but do you? I got my V1 refurbished from Amazon for $200. It was brand new, just had been returned. There are hundreds out there. I borrowed my brother’s OMD and, although it’s the coolest looking camera I have ever seen, I was not impressed with the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The V1 EVF is BETTER than the OMD. That’s right, BETTER! You know what is also better? The auto focus. It is blazing fast! All these images I submitted were taken from the hip, while I was walking. So the autofocus is so fast you can be moving while shooting. It really is impressive. Sorry Steve…..I know the OMD is in your arsenal. But I also know the V1 is, too.

Finally, the lenses. Nikon originally did not make any fast lenses with the V1. Now, however, there is f1.8 18.5 (50mm) and it is a must have, and it only costs around $170. In all the images I submitted I used the kit lens that the V1 comes with – the 10-30 zoom. I believe that equals a 30mm-70mm. It is a totally acceptable lens for, again, most of us most of the time. Am I making that clear enough? The V1 is absolutely awesome for…….I won’t say it again….yes I will….most of us most of the time.

Ok, there is one thing I gotta admit. The V1 has this camera mode dial on the back panel. It is really a poor placement because when you take your camera in and out of a bag the dial often changes to video mode, or this other silly “perfect shot mode” that is kinda a gimmick. I have missed a few cool shots because of this.

Well, I hope reading this has helped you make up your mind about buying a V1. I think you should certainly read Huff’s review, and also the review on the new V1 prime lens because he includes abunch of stuff about the V1 camera itself.
Good luck shooting everyone!

Jake Hyland

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Jan 292016
 

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STREET SHOOT: Hollywood Blvd.

By Darwin Nercesian

If you are looking for a target rich environment for a little street photography, there are almost always those local spots where we all know we can go to strike gold. Is this cheating? No, not really, but it certainly helps get the creative juices flowing. For me, well, I have the distinct pleasure of being both close enough and far enough from the famed Hollywood Blvd, home of Mann’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and of course, millions upon millions of locals and tourists that flood the street daily to get a glimpse, or perhaps just feel like they are in the thick of it. So when I got the call to accompany a few photographer friends into this jungle for a day street photography, it was simply an offer I could not refuse.

As always, I hit the street with my companions of choice, my trusty Leica M-P 240 an M246 Monochrom, and my 3 go to lenses, the 35mm Summilux FLE, 50mm Summilux ASPH, and 50mm Summicron APO. Ultimately, however, it was the M246 and the 50mm APO that saw the most action.

While Hollywood Blvd is thought of as more of an adult’s playground, apparently it can be fun for children of all ages.

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This kid was having a blast, the the Globetrotter could not be more entertaining to the little guy. This went on for some time andwas a joy to watch. Lets just hope he doesn’t grow up and take advice from this guy.

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And speaking of less than stellar advice, here is one I wouldn’t recommend, but then again, I take sides with Indiana Jones when it comes to the slithery in nature. Too bad this isn’t sin city because the symbolism really struck me here.

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But giant reptiles were not all that was lurking on this day, and something march larger, and perhaps much more sinister was afoot. It is always great to be aware of your surroundings, lest you be caught off guard…

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But no matter where evil lurks, there is always a watchful eye keeping the people safe. One need not look too far on this stretch of the boulevard to find a hero, and in this case, the calm fell over me when I noticed that we were under the protection of none other than…

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And so it was that people celebrated the day, paying tribute to the arts, each in their own way.

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While people from all walks of life shared common distractions…

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Because who doesn’t like a slice of pie?

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But in the end, after a long day amongst the stars (the ones embedded in the sidewalk), we found our true calling. In the midst of the glitz and glamour (not really), we learned that the lesson to take with us was, “Defend Democracy in Poland”.

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My name is Darwin Nercesian. I am an architectural, street, and travel photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. You can see more of my work at: www.dna-image.com

Jan 292016
 

Olympus PEN-F. More Sample Images

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I am now back home from Austin and the Olympus media event to showcase the new Olympsu PEN-F. If you missed my PEN-F review you can see it here. I plan on doing a follow-up as soon as I get a review unit to showcase the RAW performance of the camera. But below are a few more JPEGs I found on my SD card after arriving home. All shot in various JPEG modes. Some in the new Monochrome mode, some with the new Chrome mode and some in plain old standard mode. All are OOC JPEGS, and you must click them as always for the best version. On my 27″ iMac these look fantastic.

I should get a review unit in about 2 weeks from Olympus and then I will dig deeper into the camera and take a look at the menu system, the new features, how to use them and RAW as well as the new updated 50MP High Res Shot mode. The PEN-F is hanging in my memory, was such a joy to shoot.

You can pre-order the PEN-F in black or silver at the links below from my recommended dealers.

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CHROME MODE 3

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Reflection in a dirty window, not sure if this was CHROME 2 or STANDARD

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CHROME 3

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STANDARD COLOR MODE (NO COLOR DIAL SETTING)

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STANDARD COLOR (NO COLOR DIAL SETTINGS) – 75 1.8

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STANDARD MODE – CLICK TO SEE THE STUNNING SHARPNESS OF THE 75 1.8 – THIS IS AT 1.8

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CHROME 3 – 8MM FISHEYE PRO

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STANDARD COLOR

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MONOCHROME MODE 2 BUT WITH GRAIN OFF

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TESTING THE VIGNETTE SLIDER IN MONO MODE 2 (GRAIN OFF)

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45 1.8 MONOCHROME MODE 2

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MONO MODE 1

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MONO MODE 1

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Jan 262016
 
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The NEW Olympus PEN-F Camera Review. Just. Wow.

NOTE: Be sure to click the images here to see them larger and how they were meant to be seen.  ALL images here are Out Of Camera JPEGS, 100% (No real RAW support yet) and I mainly tested the new dedicated Monochrome Mode in mode 2 which simulates something like TRI-X so this is the look that mode gives and the Chrome/Slide Color mode as these are new modes for Olympus. Enjoy my look at this new exceptional camera from Olympus but be prepared for a slew of Monochrome images! Next update I will show images from RAW which will be the more standard color and B&W profiles. 

My 1st look VIDEO on the new PEN-F

 

It’s been an amazing last few days. I am here in Austin TX and have had the opportunity to shoot with the brand spanking new Olympus PEN-F every day which is by far, the best Olympus digital PEN EVER. Hands down, no contest. No Hype, No B.S., No Lie. This review will be one of the very 1st full REVIEWS in the world of the PEN-F. Enjoy!

The PEN-F with the 12 f/2 – Using the new Monochrome Mode 2 (Tri-X Style Simulation but with all grain OFF)  – Click it to see it correctly!

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With its gorgeous retro style. swivel screen, 5 Axis IS, 50MP High Res Shot mode, Live Time, Focus Bracketing, new color modes, new Monochrome mode, 10FPS or 20FPS with its electronic shutter, silent mode, 1/8000th s standard shutter, 1/16,000 electronic shutter, large and clear EVF, shortest lag of any other camera in this class, touch screen, and loads of other cool features Olympus have hit it out of the PARK with the PEN-F.

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Yes my friends, this is quite the camera and while not up to Full Frame sensor cameras it can stand up to any APS-C sensor camera made today IMO (been saying this since the pro E-M1) and if given a choice between the new PEN-F and ANY APS-C Mirrorless or DSLR, the PEN-F wins in a huge way, for ME. Maybe not for you, but for me, 100%. I LOVE the PEN cameras and always have, so this one really struck a chord with me.

This may end up being the most loved Olympus Digital yet by the camera buying public as well as enthusiasts because it has cool factor, speed, great construction and feel, some of the best lenses made today available for it and superb image quality. I see it as a “Super Enthusiast” camera with great design and control, just what an Enthusiast wants and just what camera companies need to be doing..making special cameras that people will WANT to use and shoot over their smart phones.

Yes yes yes, this is one of those cameras that can do it and put a big grin on your face while doing it.

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THE BEST PEN EVER

Long time readers will know, I have had them all from the EP1, E-P2, E-P3 and the EP5 and some of the in between (EPL Series) models and this new PEN-F has more than ANYONE would ever want in a  mirrorless camera, and for me, (and others I have spoken to who are using it with me) it beats ANY DSLR made for usability, fun factor, features, size and style, again, my opinion. Oh, and the performance is the best yet from Olympus as well and while it does not have the weather sealing of the Pro level E-M1, in many ways, I’d rather have this than the aging E-M1. In fact, if given a choice I know the PEN would have my heart instantly.

With an all new 20MP sensor is inside, upping the Ante over the usual 16MP in Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras, we finally get a new higher MP Micro 4/3 sensor, and it does not disappoint. In fact, I am seeing some of the sharpest most detailed M 4/3 images yet, and I have only seen JPEG’s so far. I am sure the RAW files will be spectacular.

The new 20 megapixel sensor is indeed an improvement over the old 16MP sensor.

They are even releasing some gorgeous leather accessories for it as well as a half case and the grip. The Leather accessories look pretty sharp to me…

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MONOCHROME & MORE!

I will state right now, the PEN-F is BEAUTIFUL and the new MONOCHROME mode is great to have and quite stunning.

I am thrilled to see a camera company concentrating and working on Monochrome imaging…with a camera under $1200 instead of $7000 like the Leica Monochrom. Of course this is NOT a dedicated Mono sensor but take a look at the B&W images direct out of the PEN-F camera below. Nothing at all to complain about. The way the new sensor handles light is quite stunning. This is a $1200 camera, and believe me, well worth this cost when some cameras these days cost much more and in some cases, give less.

MUST click it for better version! This one with the 17.5 Voigtlander 0.95 at 0.95 – OOC JPEG MONO MODE 2

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When this new PEN-F was handed to me I was super excited as soon as I saw the design and held it in my hands. The Chrome model is GORGEOUS, SEXY and SLEEK but the black is much more stealthy and just as handsome. I am not 100% sure which I prefer. I love the looks of both though the Silver has more definition to the dials as they pop out more giving more of a retro vibe.

I still have an E-P5 on my shelf at home along with my OM-D camera but this one WILL be replacing my E-P5 and may become my main shooter for a while due to the fact that it can do whatever I need it to do except for very super low or no light shooting, which I reserve for my Sony full frame A7 series cameras. But take this and some nice fast primes like the 12mm f/2, 17 f/1.8,  Panasonic Nocticron or even the AMAZING DROOL WORTHY Olympus 300mm f/4 and you will have a camera capable almost anything you need.

Voigtlander 17 0.95 on the PEN-F – MONO MODE 2 (Tri-X Style)

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Now with the awesome Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Pro Lens

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But right here, right now, the big buzz among those shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin along with me? It’s all about the MONOCHROME MODE. Not sure if its a mental thing, a nostalgia thing or a combo of both but we all seem to love it and have had a hard time shooting in other modes. Olympus did a great job with this, and it is NOT a new Art Filter. It’s a new MODE. Very cool. 

As for the Monochrome mode, to me, it is FANTASTIC.  Take a look at these OOC JPEGS while in Mono mode #2. No PP here at all.

CLICK THEM for much better version! These are all MONOCHROME MODE 2 (Tri-X style, so the “look” you see is emulating this film. Deep black, high contrast. 

Next 11 images were shot with the Olympus 45 1.8. A true no brainer lens at $299. Bargain of the decade. 

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The Olympus 17 1.8

Tri X simulation Mode 2 with heavy grain (you can choose OFF, LOW, MED, HIGH)

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The $299 25 1.8

Mode 2 with medium grain

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WITH A FLICK OF THE SWITCH!

With the flick of your finger you can swap modes easily while your eye is up to the EVF. Go from standard to monochrome to chrome/slide and EACH mode has three presets with unlimited customization of each and every preset! It’s quite amazing and may take a day or two for you to learn how it all works but once you do, it is as easy as 1-2-3.

In Mono mode you can choose color filters just as you did with B&W film. For example, using the RED filter will darken and enhance the sky and lighten skin tones. You can also choose the grain and have it off, low, medium or high. The grain is also film like as Olympus made sure to make it as much like film grain as possible. This is NOT the old grainy B&W mode, it is all new.

The nice dial right on the from of the PEN-F allows you to easily select which mode you want, if any

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Myself and others here see the new PEN-F as competition to the new X-Pro 2 or even a Sony A6000..but with the new film modes that look VERY good, along with the gorgeous design and high quality parts and construction, this would most likely be my choice over any APS-C counterpart due to size, speed, lenses available, features, IQ and the gorgeous design and control and customization.

For me it is always MUCH more than just output as a camera needs to have MANY things going for it for me to LOVE it. The PEN-F is blazing fast, has one of the best selection of high quality lenses of ANY brand (I put them 2nd only to Leica for high quality and small size) and has the highest fun factor of ANY camera I have used beating Sony, Leica, Fuji. etc.

THIS PEN IS NOT A TOY ;) 

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But do not confuse FUN FACTOR with it being a Toy as the PEN-F is no toy. It could be used for anything from family snaps to pro work (I know many pros who use Micro 4/3 with gorges results) like weddings or events. When choosing a camera as an enthusiast or amateur or someone who just loves taking photos, never worry about wether a camera is labeled as “PRO” but look at a cameras capabilities, features and how versatile it is. I said it many times in the past but Olympus makes some of the most versatile cameras EVER. I see so many online who stick by their brands and like to call other brands “toys”  – which I feel is ridiculous. NO camera that is made for enthusiasts use is a toy. That is just ridiculous. ALL cameras at this level are very good to great, and it is hard to make a choice on IQ alone, which is why you must look at everything the camera offers you, how easy it is to operate and what it can do FOR YOU and your photography.

The PEN-F motivates and really makes you want to shoot it.

The new PEN-F even has a cool mode where you can be framing your image with the EVF while using your thumb on the back LCD to move your focus point. AMAZING! These are the things that set Olympus apart from other cameras made today. They are truly the leaders of Innovation with digital imaging and I have said this for years. There is a silent mode as well with a 100% silent shutter. I mean SILENT. This one may have all YOU need.

OOC JPEGS with no PP at all. These were shot in the COLOR WHEEL mode 3, which is simulating the super saturated slide and chrome films of the past. If you want a bold color pop that still looks good (it really does look much like some old slide film) use mode 3 when you have your wheel on COLOR. You choose mode 3 in the super control panel which makes camera settings a BREEZE. 

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AN EVF ON THE PEN, FINALLY! 

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The PEN-F is the first Olympus PEN digital to include an EVF. Something I have wished for since the E-P1. The PEN-F uses the same EVF as the one in the latest E-M10 Mark II. It’s VERY good and I would say in the top 3-4 EVF’s made today with the Leica SL being the best I have ever seen or used. Even so, this one is fantastic and it is so cool to have. My fave way of shooting the PEN-F was to close the LCD (which also has the nice leatherette covering) and just shoot with the EVF, while NOT reviewing the images. Was like shooting film ;) So THANK YOU Olympus for making this one with an EVF!

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SHUTTER  – MECHANICAL OR ELECTRONIC

The new PEN-F has the traditional shutter which can go up to 1/8000S or you can activate the Electronic Shutter and enjoy up to 1/16,000S. When using the E-Shutter the camera is 100% SILENT. Super stealth here. This means that if you want to shoot an f/0.95 lens in the sunlight wide open, it will not be a problem.

This camera has just about every tech feature you can imagine.

PEN-F VS LEICA MONOCHROM? WHAT?!?!?!

When I look back at my Leica MM shots I do not see a major WOW difference between those and what I can get with the PEN-F and a nice fast prime when it comes to B&W tonality. I do see more pop with Leica due to the full frame sensor and $3500 Zeiss lens I used but as for tonality, I slightly prefer the Olympus. Crazy. But I like that Tri-X style and I like to get there easy. ;)

THIS tells me that the new PEN-F is special, and quite the accomplishment from Olympus. I SO can not wait to slap on the Nocticron to this. My guess is that it will be a match made in heaven for Monochrome portrait work.

Being Micro 4/3, it still has that super high ISO/Low Light weakness next to full frame but as long as you do not need ISO 50,000 then the PEN-F just may be all you need. If you need the best high ISO low light performance I would look to a Sony A7S or A7SII.

In black with the new Olympus Grip which is much like an RSS style grip. ITS A MUST if you want more grip ;) 

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Yes, the PEN-F is retro and it is beautiful. It is modeled after the original PEN-F film camera which was a half frame camera to cut down on size but quite cute and attractive in its own right.

The Original Half Frame Film PEN

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The new digital PEN-F uses a new 20MP sensor and it is much more than a pretty face, I can assure you of this. As with all Olympus mirrorless cameras these days, the cameras are mature and the lenses are some of the best out there for ANY system. Sure the sensors are smaller, but these cameras are all about FUN, SMALL SIZE, and FANTASTIC QUALITY in build, feel, control and IQ.

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Remember, click images for better versions!

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Below are the key things I think make the PEN-F one hell of a camera, and things I have really enjoyed about it in my 2-3 days of non stop shooting…

  • MONOCHROME MODE! On the front of the PEN-F is a chunky metal dial that will switch to different color modes. The new MONOCHROME selection is beautiful and provides quite nice out of camera B&W images. Mode 2 recreates slide film and ALL OF IT is 100% customizable to your tastes. Just a switch of the dial with your finger as you look through the new built in EVF is all it takes to go to go to MONOCHROME, SLIDE/CHROME COLOR, ART FILTERS or STANDARD. 
  • The Exposure Compensation Dial! This is new for Olympus and it is much welcomed. Now you can adjust EV comp on the fly. 
  • Tilt OUT LCD – Just like the E-M5 II, this is great for all kinds of things. Video, Selfies, Vlogging, etc. 
  • Speed – As with all of the current Olympus models, this one is blazing fast to AF with most lenses. 

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  • The new BUILT IN EVF! For the 1st time EVER in a Digital PEN we have a nice big EVF. It is the same EVF as the one in the E-M10II, and it is quite nice. I have been asking for an EVF in a PEN for YEARS, now we have it!
  • DESIGN is gorgeous. Not one visible screw. Classic/Retro design that looks like a classic PEN-F. Olympus did this one justice.
  • IT’S FUN AND JUST WORKS! Olympus PEN cameras have always had something special about them to me. They are fun are fast, and just work. They are small, light and powerful with gorgeous color and overall performance. The new PEN-F is no exception and is probably the funnest PEN yet. 
  • CUSTOMIZATION. The new Monochrome or Chrome settings have three presets each but can be 100% customized to your liking. It’s quite intense at first but once you get the hang of it, then it is quite nice. 
  • Best 5 Axis IS inside and Olympus has THE BEST Image Stabilization on the market 

NEXT THREE IMAGES – THE NEW CHROME/SLIDE COLOR MODE (COLOR MODE 3, Super Saturated Slide) – Olympus 17 1.8

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When in mode 3 using the new Color modes, you are getting CHROME/SLIDE with super enhanced color, just like some old slide film that has HUGE color pop. You can turn that back a tad by going to mode 2 while the front control knob is on COLOR…

Color MODE 2

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I have been shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin with 15 or so other journalists and we all seem to be enjoying it IMMENSELY. After speaking with most of these guys the one thing they all agree on is that the Monochrome mode rocks and the camera is amazingly fun and easy to use, and the results and IQ can be BEAUTIFUL with the right lenses. I can not wait to get my full review unit and put it through paces with lenses like the Nocticron and other fast primes.

Slide Film Mode 3

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The PEN-F construction is special as well. Not ONE screw is visible anywhere on the camera. It is made VERY well with a magnesium alloy base and solid feeling knobs and dials. Nothing on the camera feels cheap and while not built like a Leica M, the build of the PEN series has always been very nice. The PEN-F is even better. lovely.

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JPEG DETAIL 

Again, every image you see here is an out of camera JPEG as there is no RAW support for this camera yet. When RAW support is available I will do an updated post with RAW files and tests. For now, take a look at some detail coming just from the JPEGS!

YOU MUST CLICK IMAGES TO SEE TRUE 100% CROP AND CORRECT SHARPNESS!

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ISO TESTS

With the new 20MP sensor, how does the camera do with high ISO while in low light? Let us see…

1st the whole image..

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Now the 100% crops (no need to click these as they are already 100%)

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Monochrome Modes Explained

The PEN-F has three Monochromatic modes. Mode 1, 2, and 3.

Mode 1 is more of a neutral B&W (click them for much better version)

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MODE 2 has several options with grain and offers a more contrasty Tri-X style of rendering. Below is a samples of Mode 2 with grain off, low, medium and high.

*Must click them for best view*

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Below is Mode 3 which is sort of like an Infrared simulation which is why the images below look like IR with grain and the blowout look. Many love this look, many hate it . ALL OOC JPEGS as with every image in this review. 

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So while the Pen-F offers normal color modes (That I did NOT use here but will add some over the next two days)  it also gives us the Chrome Film simulations and the Monochrome simulations, and I feel these are the best film simulations on any digital camera to date. Easy squeezie to get these results with OOC JPEGS.

Pros and Cons of the Olympus PEN-F

PROS

  1. It’s small, light, but VERY well made
  2. It is GORGEOUS in design and controls
  3. Super customizable
  4. MONOCHROME MODE
  5. SLIDE FILM MODE
  6. Swivel out to the left LCD get for video or Vlogging
  7. New 20MP sensor is fantastic
  8. Some of the best lenses out there are available for this system
  9. Under $1200
  10. NOW A PEN WITH AN EVF!
  11. Control dial on front adds a cool look and is very functional
  12. 5 Axis IS best so far
  13. Touch LCD screen can even change focus point with thumb while viewing through the EVF
  14. Wonderful Image Quality
  15. Decent low light high ISO capabilities though better can be had with some APS-C and Full Frame
  16. Super fast AF, very accurate AF, Fastest I have seen in M 4/3 so far
  17. This is a street shooters DREAM camera, well if not yours, it should be
  18. Exposure Compensation Dial!!! A 1st for Olympus
  19. SO many cool modes – Live Time, Focus Bracketing, Color Controls, Art Filters are still here, so so many things that are so functional that no other cameras have.
  20. Nice quality Leatherette covering, even on the back of the LCD if you want to close it and shoot without it.
  21. SILENT shutter option, and I mean SILENT!
  22. 1/8000 mechanical shutter or 1/16,000 electronic shutter. No problem for fast glass in the daylight.

CONS

  1.  No weather sealing but then again, at this price point and for what it offers I would not expect it to be there.
  2. I would probably prefer large buttons on the back as they are small, and seem hard to push. For example. the focus assist magnify button is very small and she I tried using a manual lens and using magnify I constantly had to take my eye from the EVF to find the button. I am sure after a couple weeks of use it would be second nature though it could have been bigger.
  3. Some of the MONO modes some may consider harsh but it is supposed to be emulating a Tri X style of film. So this is how it is supposed to look. If you wang normal smooth Monochrome, use Mode 1 which will offer less contrast and lighter blacks.
  4. NO MONO MODE IN RAW, only JPEG. But as I said, it is NOT a Monochrome camera, it simulates one very well.

THAT’S IT! It is one of the most “likable” cameras I have ever reviewed.

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My Final Conclusion

This camera is one of those that I love because it has everything I like and really nothing I do not. It’s an inspiration and if you are not a crazed pixel peeping maniac who only views 40-100 MP files at 100% you may not like Micro 4/3. But at the end of the day, Micro 4/3 offers shooters a real alternative to the bulk and size of many Full Frame offerings, even the smaller ones like the Sony A7 series but it does not offer full frame performance in ISO or IQ or DR. It does however keep up with APS-C, and I have proven this in the past with the E-M1. This has a better sensor. What you see here is all OOC JPEGS. My next update will be with RAW (when support is available) but my old E-M1 always did amazing with RAW and this one should be a tad better.

The PEN-F has been a long time coming and I am so thrilled that Olympus created this. There are many PEN fans out there and I feel they will FLIP over this one. I am replacing my old E-P5 with it so yep, I am ordering it even though I have an E-M5 around. I much prefer this to the E-M5 II and what sealed the deal for me was the COLOR DIAL allowing me to go from slide film like color to gorgeous Monochrome or even neutral if I so desired. The new EVF is nice (same one that is in the E-M10 II) and I just really LOVE LOVE LOVE the design here. Olympus outdid themselves and the PEN-F is 100% bonafide winner.

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With that said, for many hardcore enthusiasts and pros it will not replace a full frame camera (it’s not mean to) but for 90% of the camera loving public, it offers much more than most at this price point of around $1200 and if you want a HUGE step up from a smartphone or aging camera (even APS-C), THIS would be the camera I recommend to any and all from now on. Truth be told, if this camera was released in December, it would have been my Camera of the Year 2015 due to everything I just said about it, and the price which is excellent for what you get here. Its small, thin, and so easy to use and shoot. It JUST WORKS!

With its Electronic Shutter which is SILENT and allows up to 1/16,000S shooting or even the normal shutter at 1/8000s you are covered shooting fast glass in sunlight. With its fast AF, 10-20 FPS depending on the shutter mode and even the fantastic video capabilities (that I have not yet tested) along with the best 5 Axis IS in the business, this is a serious camera with a serious fun factor. The best part is that it delivers on all fronts from build to speed to usability to IQ.

The PEN-F will start shipping in March 2016 and will come in at $1199.00. 

Leave a comment below and let me know what YOU think of the new PEN-F!

WHERE TO BUY THE PEN-F & ACCESSORIES?

You can pre-order the PEN-F at B&H Photo & Amazon Below:

Order the PEN-F in Black at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F in Silver at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F In Silver at Amazon HERE

Order the PEN-F in Black at Amazon HERE

Accessories…

You can order the premium Leather bag at B&H Photo HERE

The grip is available HERE at B&H Photo

The half case is available HERE

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More Samples from the PEN-F!

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Below, with the new 300mm f/4 – THIS IS A DROP DEAD GORGEOUS LENS giving a 600mm FOV and easily hand holdable. 

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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. 

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FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS

OLYMPUS’ ICONIC MASTERPIECE: THE NEW PEN-F® COMBINES TIMELESS DESIGN WITH SOPHISTICATED COLOR PROFILE CONTROL FOR THE ULTIMATE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY TOOL

20 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor, 5-Axis VCM Image Stabilization, Fully-Customizable Monochrome and Color Profile Control, and Interactive OLED Electronic Viewfinder in a Classic Rangefinder Design

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 27, 2016 — Olympus is pleased to announce the PEN-F, a compact system camera created by fusing cutting-edge digital technology with craftsmanship handed down from 80 years of Olympus camera manufacturing. As the digital update of the original PEN-F, the world’s first half-frame SLR, the new PEN-F is packed with incredible performance advancements for photographers seeking superior image quality and creative control. The 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is combined with Olympus’ 5-Axis Image Stabilization, a built-in 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and a new Creative Dial on the front of the camera that accesses a host of controls to deliver a captivating shooting experience, all included in a design that exudes timeless beauty.

Elegant, Meticulous Design
The PEN-F’s classic body lines and silhouette are inherited from its predecessor, which debuted in 1963. The top and front covers of the body are crafted from magnesium, and the precision metal dials (along with the bottom of the body) are crafted from aluminum. Olympus engineers devoted extraordinary resources to ensure superior quality and craftsmanship, so much so that even screws are undetectable on the camera’s exterior. Simple, stylish touches — like the included camera strap and the leather-grained exterior of the camera body and the back of the articulating LCD monitor — provide a unified look and feel. Customizable buttons and dials are positioned for easy operation while the user looks through the viewfinder, and the new Exposure Compensation dial and four custom modes on the Mode Dial offer instant access to registered settings for simple, direct control.

Ultimate Image Quality in Every Situation
The newly-developed 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is paired with the latest TruePic™ VII Image Processor to bring out the amazing image quality of Olympus’ M.ZUIKO® lenses. The sensor’s low-pass filterless construction delivers high resolution and a low sensitivity ISO LOW mode equivalent to ISO 80. In addition, the powerful 5-axis VCM (Voice Coil Motor) image stabilization compensates up to 5.0 steps* of shutter speed for one of the world’s highest levels of compensation performance. This technology allows users to capture clear images of night scenes and other low light situations with minimal noise, without raising the ISO. Focal length may be set manually, so that even legacy manual-focus lenses can be image-stabilized. The PEN-F’s High Res Shot Mode captures 50 megapixel equivalent images that reproduce incredible subject detail in ultra-high resolution, perfect for architecture and still life work. Plus, Olympus Viewer 3 Ver. 2.0 image editing software has been updated to process High Res Shot RAW images.

Complete Freedom of Expression
The PEN-F’s new Monochrome and Color Profile Control functions allow photographers the ability to emulate their favorite films of years past. These functions differ from using photo editing software after shooting, as they allow users to apply and check effects in Live View while shooting to create their own original images. Both functions include quick-select presets designed to give images the look of classic film. Or, settings can be completely customized to achieve specific looks. The camera’s front-mounted Creative Dial accesses Monochrome Profile Control, Color Profile Control, Art Filters, and Color Creator, all with a simple twist.

Monochrome Profile Control combines five photographic effects — Color Filter effect, Shading effect, Film Grain effect, Monochrome Color, and Highlight and Shadow Control — for a variety of monochromatic expressions. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Classic Film Monochrome (Preset 2) for a monochrome film effect with high contrast, and Classic Film Infrared (Preset 3) for an effect that mimics infrared film. In Color Profile Control, users are able to adjust the color saturation of 12 individual colors in 11 steps. This is combined with Highlight and Shadow Control for limitless color expression. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Chrome Film Rich Color (Preset 2), which provides deeper tones in images, and Chrome Film Vivid Saturation (Preset 3), which creates high levels of color saturation. The PEN-F’s rear lever lets users easily toggle through the various effect controls, including Highlight and Shadow Control, a feature that also allows for the adjustment of midtones within plus or minus seven steps for advanced customization.

High-Visibility Interactive Viewfinder
The PEN-F is equipped with a built-in 2.36 million-dot high resolution OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a 100-percent field of view and a magnification rate of 1.23x (35mm equivalent: approx. 0.62x) for a clear view without aberrations, even at the edges. Simulated OVF (S-OVF) Mode expands the dynamic range and provides an image similar to what would be seen with the naked eye. The magnified display function and Focus Peaking (which offers three levels and four colors) allow for extremely precise lens focusing. In addition, the PEN-F’s vari-angle, touch-enabled LCD monitor lets users compose Live View shots from a variety of angles, high or low.

Super-Fast Response for Comfortable Shooting
The PEN-F features blazing-fast speed with the shortest shutter-release time lag of any compact system camera** at 0.044 seconds. The 1/8000-second, high-speed mechanical shutter provides superior performance for capturing fast action, and shutter functions can be customized according to the scene. Silent Mode is useful for shooting in situations that require complete silence, and Anti-Shock Mode allows users to prevent shutter shake. The AF Targeting Pad enhances control by allowing users to set focus points by touching the rear monitor with their thumb while composing their shot in the viewfinder. Face Priority AF and Eye Priority AF detect and continuously adjust the focus on faces or eyes for easier portrait shooting. Enhancing the detail of every shot is AF Target Spot Metering, which links the AF Target and the metering area, while Super Spot AF and Small Target AF make it possible to focus on small subjects.

The PEN-F offers additional compatibility with users’ legacy lenses by enabling them to register the information of lenses without electronic contacts for inclusion in images’ EXIF data. The lens information may be recalled with the press of a button. Up to 10 lenses can be registered, including the lens name, focal length and aperture value.

Even More Creative Control
Other creative features include Live Composite Mode, which allows users to extract and composite the brightest areas from multiple, sequentially shot images to capture incredible cityscapes and star trails. With the PEN-F’s built-in Wi-Fi®, users can utilize the Olympus Image Share app for Android® and Apple® to adjust settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops in real time on a smartphone or tablet. In 4K Time Lapse Movie, the camera captures up to 999 images automatically at intervals ranging from one image every second to one image every 24 hours, and combines them into a stunning high-resolution 4K video, all in-camera, without the need for additional software.

For those who enjoy macro photography, Focus Bracketing captures multiple shots at the touch of a button, all with slightly different focus depths. The new Live View Boost 2 makes it possible to easily focus and compose shots while checking visible stars in Live View. The PEN-F’s high-speed sequential shooting capabilities let users capture all the action at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, 5 fps with C-AF, and an extraordinary 20 fps with Silent Mode.
Premium Leather Accessories
Optional accessories include the External Metal Grip (ECG-4) that lets users replace the battery without removing the grip, featuring a Quick Shoe Compatible Rail on the bottom for direct connection to a compatible tripod head. Premium-quality leather accessories are also available in limited quantities. The Premium Leather Shoulder Strap (CSS-S120L PR) features high-quality leather with a two-tone design and a thickness that helps reduce shoulder strain. A Premium Leather Wrapping Cloth (CS-48 PR) made of finely textured genuine leather is perfect for wrapping the entire camera with a large lens attached. The Premium Leather Camera Bag (CBG-11 PR) is a compact, genuine leather camera bag produced under the direction of AJIOKA Co., Ltd., a Japanese leather manufacturer, with thorough attention to details including pockets, a shoulder pad, and shoulder strap. The Genuine Leather Body Jacket (CS-47B) is designed to protect the bottom of the Olympus PEN-F from bumps and scratches.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The PEN-F is available now for an estimated street price of $1,199.99 (U.S.) and $1,499.99 (Canada).

Jan 152016
 

Fuji X-Pro 2 Unveiled. Finally. Here is the lowdown.

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Pre-Order the X-Pro 2 at my fave and most trusted dealers: B&H Photo or PopFlash.com. Amazon is clearing out the X-Pro 1 at $499

FINALLY! The all new long awaited Fuji X-Pro 2 has now been announced with full specs, images and details. What has Fuji delivered this time as an upgrade to their 1st huge mirrorless, the X-Pro 1? Well, I will predict that this will be the coolest, hippest and most desirable APS-C camera available today. With its sleek rangefinder-esque appearance to the hybrid viewfinder giving a unique experience, to the much much faster AF and low light capabilities, the new X-Pro 2 will be huge for Fuji as Fuji fans have been waiting for this one. I was a fan of the X-T1 more so than any other Fuji camera but the X-Pro 2 looks  to be even better with the new sensor and speed and capabilities. I look forward to reviewing it with some of the latest Fuji lenses. Now, let’s take a look…

Well, here is what it looks like. To me, it looks like a more refined X-Pro 1. It keeps the same design but the new 2 has a more polished look about it. 

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The Specs:

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
X-Processor Pro Engine
Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder
3.0″ 1.62m-Dot LCD Monitor
Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
Built-In Wi-Fi, SHARE Printer Compatible
273-Point AF with 77 Phase-Detect Points
Up to 8 fps Shooting and ISO 51200
Weather-Sealed Design, 2x SD Card Slots
Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

My Thoughts?

I am happy to see a new Fuji, and I have been waiting for the Pro 2 to see how far Fuji would go. Would they make it full frame? I already knew this was a NO but what they did do was up the Megapixels to 24 with an all new X-Trans III sensor, up from the 16 of the X-Pro 1. They have improved everything from the 1 and the new 2 has everything any Fuji fan would want. The AF will be blazing compared to the X-Pro 1, which is good as I remember my review of that one and having some focus issues…not only speed but accuracy. Fuji has really stepped up their AF capabilities over the years since the original X100 and Pro 1. So AF will be great here. I expect Fuji fans to jump on this body as it will be the best Fuji digital yet. I will be reviewing the X-Pro 2 as I enjoyed the X-T1 quite a bit and while I have moved on to Full Frame with Sony and Leica for my personal use, there are THOUSANDS out there who love their Fuji’s, so stay tuned for a full review soon!

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MORE DETAILS ON THE NEW FUJI X-PRO 2

The long-awaited successor to Fujifilm’s first X-series mirrorless digital camera, the X-Pro2 sports a high-resolution X-Trans CMOS III sensor and redeveloped X-Processor Pro, along with the tested rangefinder-inspired design now synonymous with the X-Pro system. Now weighing in at 24.3MP, the APS-C CMOS sensor incorporates the proprietary X-Trans technology and its randomized pixel array to afford a high degree of sharpness and accurate color reproduction, along with high expanded sensitivity to ISO 51200. When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the camera is capable of recording stills at up to 8 fps and Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, along with quick focusing and overall performance speeds. Unique among camera designs, the X-Pro2 is also heavily characterized by its Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder that blends both optical and electronic viewing methods into a single, switchable finder, giving you the best of both worlds in regard to clear viewing and the ability to preview exposure settings prior to shooting. Cementing its place as a professional tool, the X-Pro2 also features a robust, weather-sealed body design accented by a range of physical controls for intuitive handling in any condition.

Besides image quality, the sensor and processor combination also avails a highly precise, versatile autofocus system that is comprised of 273 points and uses both phase- and contrast-detection methods.

The phase-detection system covers nearly 40% of the entire image frame with 77 points, which is beneficial to subject tracking and fast overall AF performance, while the majority of the frame is then covered by contrast-detection areas for accurate focusing from edge-to-edge. The imaging attributes also contribute to creative control over the look and feel of photos, such as through the use of Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes that replicate the look of specific film types, as well as a Grain Effect mode to mimic the textured appearance of film photos. Rounding out the feature-set of the X-Pro2, its design also incorporates a range of customizable function buttons along with a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD for image playback, live view shooting, and menu navigation, and built-in Wi-Fi lets you wirelessly share images to mobile devices, remotely control the camera from a smartphone or tablet, or wirelessly send images to the optional instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for on-the-go printing.

24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor

Utilizing Fujifilm’s unique, randomized pixel array, the 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor affords a high degree of image quality and sharpness due to the omission of an optical low-pass filter. Versus conventional pixel patterns, the X-Trans design more closely mimics the organic nature of film in order to produce nuanced colors and smooth tonal transitions, while also reducing moiré and aliasing.

When paired with the X-Processor Pro, the sensor is also capable of producing clean image quality with reduced noise values, along with a native sensitivity range up to ISO 12800 that can be expanded to ISO 51200.

X-Processor Pro

Aside from benefitting the low-light performance, the X-Processor Pro also contributes to fast performance throughout the camera system, including a start-up time of 0.4 seconds, shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, shooting interval time of 0.25 seconds, and AF speeds of up to 0.06 seconds. Coupled with the on-sensor phase-detection AF, up to 8 fps continuous shooting is also possible with full-time motion predictive AF for tracking fast-moving subjects while shooting. The ability to record compressed raw files also helps to expedite file transferring for longer continuous burst shooting, and both a fast top focal plane shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. and a flash sync speed of 1/250 sec. further contribute to shooting versatility.

Beyond stills shooting, the X-Pro2 also supports recording Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps with a 36 Mbps bit rate, along with the ability to work with 50, 30, 25, and 24 fps frame rates for greater recording flexibility.

Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder

Both optical and electronic viewfinder types are incorporated into the unique Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, which lets you select from the simplicity and familiarity of an OVF as well as the versatility of an EVF. Changing between viewing types is quickly performed via the dedicated finder switching lever on the front of the camera body.

The optical viewfinder provides a clear, lifelike view of the scene for easier composition and subject tracking. Its enhanced design incorporates an Electronic Rangefinder function, which mimics the functionality of a mechanical rangefinder, and simultaneously overlays information from the electronic viewfinder on top of the optical viewfinder for comparative manual focus control. The OVF is also benefitted by a Multi-Magnification function that automatically switches the viewfinder magnification according to the mounted lens’ focal length and a Bright Frame Simulation function, which simulates the varying angles of view from different lenses to confirm which focal length is needed, prior to switching lenses, for the composition in mind.

In regard to the electronic viewfinder, this sports a high 2.36m-dot resolution along with a fast 85 fps playback speed to reduce lag for smoother panning and tracking movements. The EVF lets you preview exposure settings prior to shooting and has a customizable display, for configuring the amount and type of information shown in the viewfinder.

Intelligent Hybrid 273-Point Autofocus System

Blending both phase- and contrast-detection focusing methods, the X-Pro2 is capable of acquiring focus both quickly and accurately. The entire system is comprised of 273 points, of which 77 are phase-detection points for faster performance that is beneficial to photographing moving subjects. Approximately 40% of the imaging area is covered by phase-detection points, too, to offer greater compositional freedom without sacrificing fast autofocus performance. The majority of the frame is then also covered by an apt contrast-detection focusing system that has been quickened by the camera’s refined processing power for more versatile control. For refined manual focusing control, a Digital Split Image function is available, that simulates traditional rangefinder focusing, as well as Focus Peaking to highlight lines of contrast in the scene to more objectively determine sharp focus.

Body and Interface Design

In addition to the Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, the X-Pro2 also features a 3.0″ 1.62m-dot rear LCD screen for clear live view shooting, menu navigation, and image playback.
Supporting its use in harsh climates, the durable weather-resistant body design is constructed from four pieces of magnesium alloy and sealed in more than 61 places to protect against dust, moisture, and cold temperatures down to 14°F.
Dual SD card slots allow for a more flexible and reliable means of storing imagery, and the first card slot is compatible with UHS-II standards for fast transfer speeds.

The top plate incorporates a series of milled aluminum alloy dials and levers for fast, intuitive adjustment over exposure settings, including a shutter speed dial that offers a mechanical shutter speed range from 1 to 1/8000 sec., as well as bulb and time settings. An ISO dial is also incorporated into the shutter speed dial, for confirming the sensitivity setting without having to turn the camera on. The exposure compensation dial lets you choose +/- 3 EV in 1/3 steps, and a command dial position expands the range to +/- 5 EV for further control.

Front and rear command dials integrate a push function for easier use and settings selection and six different function buttons can be assigned to control a range of settings.
A dedicated Focus Lever provides faster, more intuitive control over selecting specific focus points while shooting.
An updated graphical user interface features a My Menu section, where you can register up to 16 items to quickly access. This pairs with the Q Menu, which also provides shortcuts to 16 oft-used settings, bringing the total up to 32 distinct functions, settings, or other controls than can be accessed in a quick manner without having to delve into a more intricate menu system.

Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

Taking advantage of Fujifilm’s vast history in traditional film-based photography, the XPro2 integrates several Film Simulation modes to mimic the look and feel of some Fujifilm’s classic film types. For monochrome shooting, the Acros mode offers smooth tones, deep blacks, and fine detail reminiscent of the Neopan 100 Acros film type. A refined Classic Chrome mode is designed to deliver muted tones and a deep color reproduction, similar to that of a dated slide film. Pulling from their more contemporary line of transparency films, Provia offers natural-looking tones for everyday shooting, Velvia produces a more dramatic and rich tonality with deeper color saturation, and Astia gives less contrast for a softer depiction of skin tones. Mimicking their negative films, Pro Neg. Std. gives smooth image tones that are suitable for accurate color renditions, while Pro Neg. Hi produces a more dramatic feel with the ability to draw color out of a variety of lighting conditions.

In addition to simulating specific film types, a Grain Effect mode is also available to replicate the look of old film photos with an organic textured appearance, which is especially noticeable when printing.

Other Camera Features

An electronic shutter function permits using shutter speeds up to 1/32,000 sec. for working with wide aperture settings in bright lighting conditions.
Built-in Wi-Fi enables wireless transferring of imagery to linked mobile devices as well as remote control over camera settings and the shutter via the free Fujifilm Camera Remote app. Additionally, this connectivity enables the use of the optional instax SHARE Smartphone Printer for wireless instant printing via the instax Share app.

An interval timer permits recording time-lapse sequences and can be configured to record up to 999 frames in time spans ranging from one second to 24 hours.

Multiple exposure mode gives you the ability to overlay imagery in-camera. When working in this mode, subsequent exposures can be paired and the final appearance can be previewed on the LCD or in the EVF before making the final exposure.
Additional Advanced Filters can also be used to creatively enhance the look of imagery in-camera, and include Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High Key, Low Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus, and Partial Color (Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue/Purple).

Jan 152016
 
best

best

The Last Best Bit of Him. Capturing my Father Before He’s Gone.

By Greg Turner

Hi Steve,

As ever thanks for all the effort you put into your website. I check it pretty much every day and enjoy the contributions from so many talented photographers as well as your own insights and thoughts. It’s something I look forward to at the end of the day.

Lately my photographic journey has been going through a ‘purple patch’ and I’ve been trying to find an answer to the question ‘what kind of photographer am I?’ Most likely this is just a mid-life crisis but there’s a lot from my childhood that I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to understand and come to terms with and so now I find myself doing that through the medium of photography. Some might think that pretentious. I don’t care. They’re my demons I’ll exercise them any way I like!

One of the things I did over Christmas in pursuit of finding an answer to that question was put together a website. The process of ‘curation’ was fascinating and insightful in itself and it was precisely that process that I hoped would lead me to insight. If I am going to select what I show, I should be able to say why I am showing this and in doing that, come up with an answer to my question.

I named the site ‘Tears in Rain’, the line comes from the film Blade Runner (which has been my favourite film since way before it was cool to say that!) and references the idea of memories being ‘lost, like tears in rain’. I don’t want the memories to be lost; I want them to be captured after all, that is the essence of photography. And since the film and the book on which it’s based, deals with the notion of what it means to be human, I find myself coming up with my answer.

I’m just an amateur photographer, motivated to understand the world and the people who live in it a little better through the medium of photography. The website address is www.tearsinrain.co.uk

Which brings me to the project I really wanted to share with you and one that has had the most profound impact on me personally.

My father was always my inspiration for my interests in life; my hobbies and pursuits all come from him (I get my work ethic and intellectual drive from my mother). It was he who introduced me to photography for example.

About eight years ago he got quite ill and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. As a consequence of this, he had a small blood clot cause a minor stroke of some sort, which in turn resulted in part of his brain tissue dying, the area around the frontal lobe. The consequence of this has been a slow but very noticeable decline in his cognitive ability, empathy and behaviour. He’s formally diagnosed with ‘frontal lobe dementia’ and the condition is progressive. It took a long time to diagnose and for many years we struggled with the subtle but difficult shift in his behaviour. Now that subtlety has long since passed and being with him is a lot like being with a young child.

So as we all watch him fade, and as we struggle to manage his behaviour, it occurred to me that I really needed to both capture the essence of who he is/was now before it’s gone and also, in the process, reconnect with him in some way. So we arranged a photo shoot and these are the pictures I wanted to share. I don’t think the individual pictures need much commentary. For those that are interested (and I see no problem with that), they were taken with a Sony A7s and either the 35mm Sony Zeiss f/1.4 ZA (the B&W image shot at f/1.4) or the Sony Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 ZA with the LA-EA4 adapter (the colour versions, shot at f/5.6 and with off camera flash). There are other images and these at a larger size under the ‘Projects’ folder on the website. The project is called ‘Dad’.

Rememberance

The Creeping Darkness

The Man In-Front of You

This was also my first attempt to shoot with a flash, either on or off camera, though for this shoot I went off camera with a single light source shot through an umbrella. I think the results, good or otherwise as they are, are more good fortune and luck than anything else. But I am very pleased with the results not least because the process of looking and thinking engages us with the subject and it’s been a long time since I properly did that with my father.

Best regards

Greg

Jan 132016
 

The Power of Imagery

by Sebastian Szyszka

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Been enjoying your site for a while, especially the positivity it exudes. It’s a nice change of pace.

I started shooting sometime between the ages of 7 and 10 while I lived in Germany with my parents. We were Polish refugees waiting to come to America. One of my birthday presents during that time was a plastic 110 camera that I absolutely loved, which was quickly upgraded to a Polaroid. It was the Polaroid, decades before I ever read the words “decisive moment,” that taught me the power of photography. I didn’t gravitate towards posed stuff, I reveled in the moment. Real, unscripted, often ambushed. Those images were ones I was not used to seeing because most shots around me were “say cheese” kind of shots. Looking back at it, I still remember the first image that struck that chord with me. Can’t share it though, my poor mother would kill me…

The power of imagery has always stuck with me. Nowadays photography is a quick, immediate balance against the daily routine of being an advertising artist. The two go hand in hand, and both strengthen and compliment each other.

I’m including three images, one that I took of a friend of mine, and two of my street stuff that keeps me sane on my Chicago commutes.

The first shot is of my friend and coworker Jeff on his custom 1967 Shovelhead. What makes the image special to me is the fact that it was taken in his father’s gas station, which was built-in the 1920’s. A lot of heritage and vintage in one frame. My only regret was not getting Jeff’s father in the shot. Alas, he was not there that day. Taken with a Sony a6000 and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Lit with some wirelessly triggered strobes layered on top of available light. Post work in LR.

Click it for larger and better version!

Jeff and his custom 1967 Shovelhead

The second shot is of a “poet for hire” near Bourbon St. in New Orleans. For a small fee and 30 minutes of waiting, they write a bespoke poem for you. Taken with a Sony a6000 and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Post work in LR.

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The third shot of a man exiting a train is from one of my old commutes on the “L” Train in Chicago. Shot with a Sony NEX-5 and 16mm f/2.8 with fisheye attachment. Post work in Aperture with some Nik SilverEfex 2.

Exit

(I know, a lot of Sony, but my favorite camera by far is my X100T. I use both for their unique strengths.)

Thanks and keep doing what you’re doing,

Sincerely,

Sebastian Szyszka

www.sebastianszyszka.com
500px.com/sebastiand
www.flickr.com/photos/sebastiand/

Jan 112016
 

A Look at The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Black Chrome Special Edition. Beautiful!

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Ahhhh, gorgeous! Recently I was able to get a hold of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Special Edition. This is the beautiful matte black edition of this legendary lens with a different design (from 1959) and even smaller filter size (43mm vs 46). The last time I had a 50 Summilux ASPH that looked like this was during the M8 days when I bought the LHSA Special Limited Edition version, which was exactly the same as this one, just in black paint (also came in Chrome) instead of matte black chrome. That lens..I paid $3600 for back then and sold it for $8000 later on as it appreciated like mad. Even today that version of this lens sells for $7500+ USED. It came in Black paint of Chrome. Take a LOOK HERE at a used LHSA 50 Lux on B&H. $7500. It is exactly the same as this new limited edition inside and out! Design, hood, everything. SO why would one pay $7500 for a used version of this lens when you can get it new for $3900 or so? Well, if you are a hardcore collector and want the LHSA edition for the LHS name (on the box) then maybe you would. If you want to use the lens, this new Limited Edition is the way to go over all versions of this lens, IMO.

My video showing you this lens and why I think it is the best 50 Lux you can buy today..

To date I have tried around 8 50mm lenses on the Leica SL and Sony A7RII so far and my faves have been the 50 APO cron and now this 50 Lux SE (others are the Zeiss 50 Planar, Zeiss 50 Sonnar, Voigtlander 50 1.5). But for me, this Lux Limited Edition makes much more sense to be my main 50 for my SL and my Sony as only 500 were made, and it is a lens that will go up in value instead of down like all other lenses today. Just like the limited number LHSA edition that even today sells for $7500 used ($4k more than it sold for new), this version should creep up over the years, not down.

50 1.4 Lux ASPH LE at 1.4 – click it for better version – All images here shot on the Leica SL

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This one was sent to me by Ken Hansen to try out and what a beauty it is. The lens has a heft to it that makes it feel UBER solid. Much more solid feeling than the standard 50 Lux. The focusing is also smoother, and no focus tab which is a plus for me. The scalloped focusing ring is easy to twist and dial in. This and the LHSA edition are the most beautiful 50 Lux ASPH’s I have seen, and I also have one more reason I prefer it to the normal Lux. Overall Quality.

For some  reason when I used to own the LHSA LE edition of the Lux ASPH it was sharper and performed better than the standard Lux ASPH I had at the time. Same here, this Limited Edition is PERFECT and seems snappier and crisper at the focus point than the standard Lux I have here. I feel that these limited runs may be made to a higher standard as I have now experienced this TWICE. I feel these LE’s may be assembled with a little more perfection as they are a limited run. No other way to explain it.

Must click images to see them correctly – always best on large screens!

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Sof or the obvious reasons of beauty, construction, perfection and the fact that this lens will not go down in value (as it is a limited edition) means this will be my main go to 50mm on the SL or A7RII for me, and after testing all the 50’s I had interest in for my SL, this is the winner even though the 50 APO is technically perfect (this one is a better deal IMO at half the cost) It just feels so good, looks gorgeous and is much easier to focus without the tab (some may prefer the tab though). It has a serious little heft to it but as you know, it’s small. This lens also comes with a very nice and solid brass hood and cap (black chrome) and it sticks to the old 1959 version in all ways having to do with looks and design, but with modern internals. This means no slide out hood, instead you must attach it on and off manually.

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Here is what Leica has to say about this Special Edition:

Resembling its predecessor from 1959, the black-chrome edition Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens features a unique matte black finish along with a classic exterior design akin to the first production run of this renowned lens. While recalling its past on the outside, this edition is also characterized by its contemporary optical design that incorporates one aspherical element and one floating element, as well as elements made from anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glasses.

This sophisticated construction helps to reduce chromatic aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing and aperture ranges, which contribute to high overall sharpness and clarity. Further benefitting the lens’ overall versatility, the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture also aids in working in difficult lighting conditions as well as offers greater control over focus for shallow depth of field techniques. Pairing a classic outer design with innovative optical components, this black-chrome edition is the epitome of Leica’s penchant for mixing both form and function.

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L1230010

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As part of a limited edition of 500 pieces, this black-chrome finish Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens features a matte black exterior as well as an outer design that resembles the first edition of this lens from 1959. Other distinct design elements include a scalloped focusing ring, red-colored focusing distance scale in feet, and a finely-knurled aperture ring. In addition to the unique appearance of the lens, this edition also includes a metal front lens cap as well as a metal round lens hood.

One aspherical element and one floating element are incorporated within the optical design, along with anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glass elements, to control aberrations and distortions at all aperture and focus positions.
Fast f/1.4 maximum aperture benefits working with selective focus and shallow depth of field techniques, as well as working in difficult lighting conditions.

Manual focus design provides a minimum focusing distance of 2.3′ (0.7 Meters) with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:11.3.

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WHERE TO BUY…NOW..for a NORMAL PRICE!

If you want this lens do not pay $5,6 or 7k on E-Bay where sellers are trying to take advantage of the limited edition name tag on this lens (it is limited to 500) Ken Hansen has a few IN STOCK NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected] if you want one! Tell him I sent you! He has only a limited few left!

PopFlash had one. It seems to now be gone.

B&H has them IN STOCK as well.  Normal retail price of $3950

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