Aug 282015
 

titlefilmyear

A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.

Leica

I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3

Hasselblad

This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3

Conclusion

Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website: www.adamlaws.com

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work: https://instagram.com/adamlawsphotography/

Aug 262015
 
SteveHuffJoaoMedeiros 16

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A Manual Approach to Wedding Photography

by Joao Medeiros

I’m not comfortable writing. Images, particularly photography are what drives me. Since very young Art was part of my life, I went from painting and waiting to be an architect to abandon everything for a life in the theatre, just to pursue a career in Jazz playing trumpet.

But at my twenties, I was struggling to make it and everyone was making sure I knew I had to earn money to be a successful individual. Money was never my interest, I’m passionate about Art, any form of it. But Photography had a degree of intimacy and control that I had never experienced.

I went to college to take a photography bachelor and complemented it with a bachelor in Fine Arts and a master’s degree in Visual Arts teaching, things went on for a while, drifting in teaching, corporate/event photography, restoration related jobs before I finally found the one area where I had complete creative freedom. A freedom that allows me to choose the gear that gives me pleasure while creating and expressing myself through Photography and eventually sharing my Vision.

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Weddings are something that has been with society since we had the need to express our love for our life companion. Happiness is something that needs to be shared and celebrated with our loved ones. And that’s what I like about them, it’s all about family and friends making the most of Life. When I was in college, I did the whole course with only an Olympus OM 1 and a 50mm, since then manual focus is second nature to me, even when I had top DSLR’s AF never grew on me. But when I used the first serious EVF (Panasonic GH2) I knew what I wanted and what I wanted to see while composing. Eventually, when I step up to weddings I needed the best dynamic range and colour I could get my hands on it, so I bought a Sony A99 and a Nikon D800e to figure out my needs. After a year the Sony won me, not because it was superior to the D800e, it was Sony’s approach to photography that made it. The fully articulated LCD, I. S and Minolta’s heritage all over the place made the A99 a superior tool in my hands.

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When the mirrorless Sony A7 appeared on the scene I had no doubts and bought one immediately with a set of Zeiss ZM and Voigtlander lenses with the VM close adapter. Since then, shooting has been a real pleasure. Nothing beats feeling your shots, even when we are capturing fleeting moments like kisses, exchanging vows/wedding rings or sharing a secret while on the dance floor at 4 am. Having a small, robust camera with the best glass in the industry makes me feel very confident and secure that when I get home, I have all I need to put together a body of work that reflect my vision. That’s the main lesson I learned, you really need to follow your own unique vision of things.

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We are all different, but you really need to push beyond the limits to reach for that inner voice. Recently I added the amazing sigma Art 35mm f 1.4 to my set, the only complain is its sheer size when compared to my little Zeiss ZM 35mm f2. My workflow is pretty straightforward, I use B&W mode to concentrate on composition and focus while having red peaking and magnify to guarantee that every moment is in focus. For 75% of all my work, I use the 35mm focal length with my Sony A7 and take advantage of the articulated LCD from the A99 to get more discrete and intimate portraits with the 85mm, also from Sigma. Just a little detail, I removed the slt mirror from the A99 and use it in manual focus, so it’s basically a big mirrorless camera. I’m more of a guest than a professional photographer, at least that’s how I’m perceived by my clients, family and friends. A friend who happens to make a living from photography. I really try to enjoy the wonderful day, conscious that I’m very fortunate to be at a private party while making a living. I’m always the first to arrive and the last to leave, it’s after all a body of work and not just a staged kiss with the golden hour moment. It’s people that drive me, the concept of family and friendship not staged moments.

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I’m looking forward to get the new Sony A7RII since it brings some new features like a new and stronger shutter that it’s better damped, the I. S, min. auto shutter, copyright embed info, better high ISO performance and even the silent shutter option although with some caveats.

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Thank you.

Regards

João de Medeiros

http://joaomedeirospamelaleite.tumblr.com/
https://instagram.com/joaomedeiros.pamelaleite/
https://www.facebook.com/MFotografia.JoaoMedeiros.PamelaLeite
http://www.joaomedeirospamelaleite.com/

Aug 252015
 

Fujifilm’s Professional F2.8 zooms take on nature

By Ben Cherry

About me

My name is Ben Cherry; I am an environmental photojournalist and Fujifilm X-Photographer. I’ve been using the XF16-55mm and XF50-140mm alongside the X-T1 for most of the year now. During that time I’ve spent three months in Borneo and two months in Costa Rica, where I’ll be until mid-December for a conservation research role. It is fair to say that these lenses have been put through a tropical boot camp, pushing them to their humid and heat limits. You can find more of my work via: www.bencherryphotos.com

The Lenses

Both are weather sealed with constant F2.8 apertures, these zooms are built to last with superb image quality, making them up to the ever-increasing standard of photographers that need gear to work everyday, all day. Made to complement each other, this could be a two-lens set up for many photographers who want a lightweight system that covers a wide focal length. Indeed if you’re not after smaller F-Stops, then these offer prime quality optics.

I personally do prefer to use prime lenses as I feel that they encourage me to be creative, the likes of the XF16mm have pushed me to improve my compositions. But when on the move, in hot tropical environments, I couldn’t ignore the convenience of these two lenses. The XF50-140mm is a no-brainer for me as it is the longest F2.8 or faster lens currently available. In the rainforest I’ve found that I’ve craved light more than focal length, so this lens ticked a lot of boxes (not that I’m not waiting on the edge of my seat for the impending super telephoto zoom!..).

XF50-140mm-2.jpg (leaping proboscis monkey), XF50-140mm-5.jpg (play fighting pygmy elephants), XF50-140mm-26.jpg (scarlet macaw portrait), XF50-140mm-27.jpg (scarlet macaw in flight)

Certain things stand out in this 1st picture.. Male proboscis monkeys have a permanent erection and when they’re not eating only have one thing on their mind.

Certain things stand out in this picture.. Male proboscis monkeys have a permanent erection and when they're not eating on have one thing on their mind.

Ben Cherry XF50-140mm-5

Ben Cherry XF50-140mm-26

Ben Cherry XF50-140mm-27

As for the XF16-55mm, this was a lens I took a little more time considering whenever it came to packing the bag light. The reason for that is it covers the same range as the XF16mm, XF23mm and XF56mm, three exceptional prime lenses with faster apertures. But again it comes back to one word, convenience. Stuck in a rather wet part of the world, whenever it does rain, it pours and the last thing I want to do is change lens. So more often than not the XF16-55mm gets the nod. Other than missing the faster apertures of the primes, I have no hesitation to use this zoom instead, especially as it is weather sealed. A lot of people are put off this lens by the lack of OIS, yes it would have been helpful… but at the same time I understand Fujifilm’s explanation, I’d rather have the brilliant image quality than compromise some for OIS.

XF16-55mm-5.jpg (Sunrise at Mt. Kinabalu), XF16-55mm-15.jpg (violet woodnymph pit stop), XF16-55mm-17.jpg (vivid Pacific sunset),  XF16-55mm-18.jpg (released baby turtles using red filtered flash so don’t distract babies.)

Mt. Kinabalu at Sunrise

Ben Cherry XF16-55mm-15

Ben Cherry XF16-55mm-17

Ben Cherry XF16-55mm-18

Benefits

Other than the superb build and image quality, these two lenses have very snappy autofocus, especially when used with the X-T1 (the only camera which makes this a weather resistant system). I’ve captured monkeys leaping through the air, elephants fighting, and birds swooping through the rainforest. None of these were easy autofocus tasks. The X-T1 has been greatly improved by a series of firmware improvements. I am sure these two lenses will see a huge performance boost with the next generation cameras, which will have improved hardware instead of only updated firmware. To put it another way, if I was told I could only have access to two lenses then no doubt it would be these two, with the XF16-55mm just pushing out the superb XF10-24mm – please Fujifilm, make a F2.8 WR version!

What is rarely brought up is the effective focal length of the XF16-55mm, which is 24-85mm, that extra 15mm over the usual 24-70mm range is a big benefit. Expanding the uses of this lens, particular helpful for portrait photographers.

XF16-55mm-10.jpg (inquisitive young elephant)

Ben Cherry XF16-55mm-10

Downsides

Because of all that lovely glass, range and build quality, these aren’t exactly light lenses when compared to the rest of the Fujifilm range. Not to say that they feel out of place though. If using the hand or battery grip with an X-T1 then even the XF50-140mm is nicely balanced. I feel like these lenses have more to give but are waiting for camera upgrades, this isn’t necessarily a bad point just one to think about. I have been in situations where I know the lenses can handle the moment but sometimes the X-T1 gets a little flustered. This occasional occurrence is massively outweighed by the general satisfaction I get from using this system over others I have tried.

XF50-140mm-6.jpg (tactile family members)

Ben Cherry XF50-140mm-6

Conclusion

This system has been baked and soaked more than I’d ever admit to Fujifilm representatives… (awkward because they’ll probably read this… sorry!). But it is still working and producing images that I am very happy with. Certainly the products have more to give than I am currently demanding, this encourages me to push myself so I can reach the standard of these brilliant products. The camera market is incredibly competitive, a good thing as there are basically no bad systems out there. However, for me, this weather resistant X-Series is definitely my preferred choice. For anyone looking at camera system options, no matter your genre, I firmly believe that the X-Series at least warrants consideration, it is certainly producing the goods for me with nature photography.

Ben

Aug 252015
 

PRESS RELEASE – NEW OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 Mark II is here!

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 MARK II ®: THE ADVANCED CAPABILITIES OF OLYMPUS-PIONEERED 5-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION NOW AVAILABLE ACROSS THE OM-D LINEUP

E-M10MarkII-SLV_left Capture Blur-Free, High-Quality Images and Video with a User-Friendly,
Elegantly Designed High-Performance Mirrorless Camera

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., August 25, 2015 — Olympus introduces the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, a small, stylish, entry-level camera body with powerful in-body 5-axis image stabilization. As the successor to the Olympus OM-D E-M10, the OM-D E-M10 Mark II combines the award-winning power of the OM-D family, first-class quality of 5-axis image stabilization and an all-new design with improved ergonomics. The Olympus OM-D series brings flawless, professional-quality images and video to photographers of all levels.

Shoot High-Quality Images All the Time
Hailing from the cutting edge technology found in the award-winning Olympus OM-D E-M1 and OM-D
E-M5 Mark II, the OM-D E-M10 Mark II’s 5-Axis Voice Coil Motor (VCM) Image Stabilization offers a hassle-free solution to image blur caused by camera shake. With up to four shutter speed steps, it allows for longer exposures and lower ISOs for crisp and clear handheld shots. The traditional 2-axis image stabilization in many DSLRs only compensates for angular shake, while the 5-axis image stabilization in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II also corrects for rolling blur that affects both low-light shooting and the horizontal and vertical shift blur that can mar macro shots. The combination of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II’s 16-Megapixel Live MOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor maximize the power of 5-axis Image Stabilization to capture sharp images and video without the need for a tripod.

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User-Friendly, Elegant Design
The ultra-slim, compact size of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II adds to the camera’s user-friendly design. Not only does the body configuration incorporate the classic style found in Olympus OM-D cameras, but the elegantly machined metal dials, along with the leather textures of the grip, produce a highly sophisticated feel. The prominent thumb grip supports a stable, one-handed hold and reliable, one-handed shooting. Both the dial and button shape and layout have been adjusted for users to easily operate the camera while looking at their subject through the viewfinder.

High-Speed Performance
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II delivers an amazingly fast, class-leading shooting time courtesy of its Touch Autofocus1. With a sequential shooting speed of 8.5 fps — more than twice as fast as comparable DSLRs — short shooting lag time, fast responsiveness and a quick start-up time, users can easily capture split-second movements.

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Easy-to-See Electronic Viewfinder
Armed with a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II makes it easier than ever to shoot in direct sunlight and other situations where it might be difficult to view the monitor. Thanks to 100 percent field of view, users are able to see more of the scene for precise composition. The EVF also boasts a viewfinder magnification rate of 1.23x (35mm equivalent: 0.62x) and uses a high-definition 2.36-million-dot OLED monitor for sharp, clear details. For further shooting accuracy, the new AF Targeting Pad allows the user to keep an eye on the viewfinder while tracing a thumb on the camera’s rear touchscreen to adjust focus point. The E-M10 Mark II also offers a solution for shooters who are more accustomed to optical viewfinders; the Simulated Optical Viewfinder (S-OVF) offers higher dynamic range, more in line with that visible to the naked eye.

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Intuitive Video Creation
The OM-D E-M10 Mark II allows users to take advantage of 1080p Full HD Video, intuitive touch interface, variable frame rate and a new CLIPS feature which records short one-, two-, four- or eight-second clips. These clips can then be merged into a final video product in-camera, and then uploaded directly to your favorite social platform using the Olympus OI.Share app.

Creative Shooting
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II comes packed with additional shooting modes, unleashing unlimited creativity.
Art Filters: Select one of 14 available Art Filters that match your creative vision. Art Filters can be combined with Art Effects to produce truly inspiring images and video.
Photo Story: With five available patterns, Photo Story combines multiple photos into a single image to express the user’s story about a moment in time.
Live Composite: Select Live Composite mode to extract and composite the brightest areas from multiple, sequentially shot images to capture thrilling light displays. With the newest version of the OI.Share app for Android and Apple®, you can make adjustments to your settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops right on your smartphone or tablet.
Live Bulb and Live Time: Easily capture moving trails of light with the Live Bulb and Live Time modes for stunning light painting images.
4K Time-Lapse: Capture up to 999 images automatically at an interval of one image every five seconds. The camera will then combine the images into a stunning, high-resolution, 4K file, all in-camera, without the need for additional software.
Focus Bracketing: With a touch of the shutter button, multiple shots are taken with slightly different focus depths. Useful for those who shoot macro photography, users can select the image with the focus where they prefer. By using image-editing software that offers an image stacking function, users can produce images with large depth of field even while using wider apertures.
Keystone Compensation: Perspective distortion can be corrected in-camera, live, while shooting, with the ability to see your corrected adjustments as you shoot.

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Accessories
External Grip, ECG-3: A removable grip exclusively for use with the OM-D E-M10 Mark II that enhances the hold and premium feel of the camera. With a one-touch release lever on the bottom of the grip, users can smoothly exchange the battery and memory card without missing a beat.
Genuine Leather Strap, CSS-S119L: For added luxury and protection, the genuine leather strap has been treated with water repellent to protect against water damage.

1 According to Olympus research, August 2015.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II will be available beginning in early September 2015 in the following configurations.

Estimated Street Price:
Body only, available in Black and Silver
$649.99 (U.S.)
$749.99 (Canada)
Body in Black or Silver with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42 f3.5-5.6 EZ
$799.99 (U.S.)
$899.99 (Canada)
The External Grip, ECG-3 and Genuine Leather Strap, CSS-S119L, will be available in early September.

Estimated Street Price:
External Grip, ECG-3: $59.99 (U.S. and Canada)
Genuine Leather Strap, CSS-S119L: $79.99® (U.S. and Canada)

To find out more about the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, and for a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website at getolympus.com/us/en/digitalcameras/omd/e-m10-mark-ii.html.
Journalists interested in more information, review units and high-resolution images of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II should contact Colin Brown, Mullen Lowe Public Relations, [email protected], 617-226-9749, or Jennifer Colucci, Olympus America Inc., 484-896-5719, [email protected] or visit the Olympus website: http://asset.olympusamerica.com/login/.

ABOUT OLYMPUS AMERICA INC.

Aug 212015
 

Shooting from the Hip

By Mohammed Hakem

My website: http://www.hakemphotography.com
my FB page: facebook.com/hakemphotography

In conservative cultures street photography is an absurd dream. It’s very hard for people who haven’t seen enough tourists to accept being captured. The reason behind this is not related to privacy issues, but a stereotype that everybody with a camera is a journalist who will fake some news and speak badly about them. It actually happens a lot that people take random pictures of poor people and insert them into articles related to drugs and crimes. These people might be poor but they all have dignity that matters more than their lives, that’s the main reason why they become so aggressive.

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To take pictures of these amazing people you either have to build a relationship and let them trust you, or have the balls to shoot candidly. With a DSLR it is impossible to do the second, but with a mirrorless it can be done.

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I am a travel photographer and taking pictures of people naturally is part of what I do. I prefer not to let people notice I am there, I know I may be violating a copyright or bypassing privacy space but this is ART and I am not doing anything with the picture afterwards other than revealing lovely places and people to others. Every once in a while a photographer should get out of his comfort zone and shoot something different to what he is used to. Landscapers should go for streets, Fashion and portrait should go for travel photography and so on, it helps you a lot understanding other aspects.

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The technique here is to shoot from below. I use the tilting screen of my Fuji XT-1, disable the eye-senor and put the camera on top of my shoulder bag in front of me. People see me as a tourist and they are not frightened but still I don’t know their reaction if I pointed the camera directly towards them, especially that I am not the personality who can talk to strangers fluently so I won’t find a way out if someone yelled what are you doing. I adjust the Aperture for the depth of field and let the camera do the rest. I point to the target and quickly compose the picture from the screen.

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To be Honest I am amazed by Fuji’s V.4 auto focus system, it’s like a totally new camera. To those who don’t know, firmware upgrades in the mirrorless world is a real Firmware! not just solving bug issues that will affect 0.01% of your shooting the firmware introduces exciting features and upgrades the autofocus as if it’s a new camera!. Most of the pictures are shot with the 56 F1.2 lens on F1.2 in Egypt, the country I’m proud to be born in its culture. please make sure to like my FB page and take a look on the website :)

Aug 182015
 

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Quick high ISO Comparison! Sony A7s vs Sony A7RII

Many h ave been asking me to do a high ISO comparison with the Sony A7RII vs the all time high ISO king, the Sony A7s. The Sony A7s is a special camera for a few reasons, one of them being the extreme low light capabilities which came about due to Sony using a 12MP sensor. The less MP on a full frame sensor usually means better low light or high ISO performance. With the new resolution monster, the A7RII, any were expecting high ISO to be mediocre. This is not the case. In fact., it looks DAMN good against the A7s. Think about it..12MP vs 42MP and the 42MP sensor is not far off. AT ALL.

As always with my ISO tests I let the camera choose exposure as this is how 99% of people use these, either in A mode, S mode or even AUTO mode. In other words, very few manually expose these cameras, so here is the output from each as exposed by the meter in each camera. What you see is what you get.

Also, these are from RAW and all noise reduction was off. Sony made some claims saying the A7RII is a NO COMPROMISE camera due to the new sensor design, Meaning, you can have high res and great high ISO all in one. Now imagine when they redo the A7s with the new sensor tech..this is when I think we will hit ISO 1 million and have it be usable. ;) My older A7s review is HERE if you missed it! Also, before you ask, the grip on the A7RII above is the JB Designs A7RII wooden grip. 

Click each image for larger view and full 100% crops! I will go all the way to the top ISO in my full review which will be up within 2-3 weeks!

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Aug 172015
 

Sony A7s and 16-35 Head to Tasmania!

By Peter Amber

Hello Steve,

Earlier this year I took along the FE 16-35mm as the go-to lens with my A7S and traveled around the beautiful Tasmania, Australia. The 16mm focal length came in handy for landscapes and interior shots, and I find it more fun to use than the 24-70mm. As I shoot videos, the zoom lens came in handy and coupled with the APS-C function gave an effective coverage of 16-50mm to play with. Here are some images and video from our travel around Tassie. As usual keep up the awesome site guys!

www.vimeo.com/peteramber/tasmania

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Regards,
Peter/Amber
www.peteramber.com

Aug 172015
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 T 0.95 for Micro 4/3

By Steve Huff

Order this lens at B&H Photo HERE

I remember back in the early part of 2012 when I was putting on a Los Angeles workshop with Todd Hatakeyama and we had 32 attendees or so, which meant we all had a blast shooting on the streets of LA.

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What was ultra cool about that workshop was that we had a couple of special guests and a very awesome lens debut at that event. The 1st special guest was none other than actor and comedian Jeff Garlin who came by to give us some stand up and talk about a movie he was working on called “Finding Vivian Maier” which is EXCELLENT BTW and a MUST SEE! Jeff was awesome and he was part of that memorable event and helped make it a success.

Me and Jeff in 2012 at my Los Angeles workshop

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The other special guest at the workshop was Andrew Chan from SLR Magic and he was there to let all of us try the a lens that he was very very proud of. That lens was the amazing 50 T 0.95 Leica Mount and yep, it went right after the Leica Noctilux f/0.95, and man…not only did it go after it, it proved that a Leica Noct killer could be made for MUCH less than the $11,000 Leica charged for their lens.

Me shooting the 50 Leica Mount Hyperprime back in 2012 on my Leica M9. Photo shot by Judd Weiss.

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Not only was the lens $6-7K cheaper than the Leica at the time, it was a tad better in the sharpness department and even Bokeh department. It has less CA and focused closer. It was a bit larger and heavier but wow, that lens was a masterpiece.

After it was getting some crazy buzz online it seemed some politics came into play as all of a sudden SLR Magic was being attacked with nonsense accusations in an attempt to stop them from selling that lens, or at least derail them here in the US. Seems it was a huge threat to someone somewhere as the mud-slinging and stories that were told were just ridiculous. The lens was Leica M mount and worked with the RF meaning it was RF coupled. Six friends of mine bought one and loved it, and a few still have the lens to this day for their Leica or Sony FE cameras. In any case, SLR Magic seemed to withdraw the lens for a while but it did return and is still available for purchase in the NON RF coupled version in Leica mount but in reality for Sony FE mount (using an adapter) for $2999.  The lens indeed has some magic. See my review HERE.

But wait! Now there is the New 50 T 0.95 Hyperprime for Micro 4/3

Well, today I am happy to announce that SLR Magic have brought out that same lens formula for Micro 4/3, in a NEW 50mm T 0.95 Lens. This is a premium lens in build, feel and performance for Micro 4/3 and the fast T 0.95 aperture (T stops are used in video and are slightly faster than the F counterpart making this lens an F/0.91 or so. While it will not give the same look and feel as the full frame version, it will offer a flavor of that look for a fraction of the cost and will be one hell of a manual lens for your Olympus or Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras. It will also be a fraction of the LM version, coming in at $999.

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Now, all Micro 4/3 shooters realize (or at least I hope they do) that the sensor in our cameras will double the effective focal length of any lens attached, which is why Olympus sells the 25 f/1.8, to mimic a fast 50mm. So naturally this 50mm T .95 will now give us an effective focal length of 100mm, which is quite long for my tastes. I am a tried and true 50mm guy, sometimes 35mm and sometimes even 28mm. But 100mm? Not so much. This was a concern of mine when Andrew Chan sent over the new 50mm T 0.95 for me to test..that 100mm reach means not so good for indoor work.

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About a day or two after I received the lens my worry subsided as I remembered that no matter what lens you have on your camera, you can always find shots to fit it and make it work if you truly open your eyes and look for shots. You know, the old saying “zoom with your feet”, well that rings true here.

I took the camera with me along with friends and family to Las Vegas and enjoyed testing it out in various lighting situations. What I soon found out is that when wide open at T 0.95 there is a very SLIGHT softness. VERY slight. But stop this lens down to T 1.1 or 1.4 and you have an amazingly sharp and crisp lens that has some serious POP to it, and I mean amazing sharpness to the level of some glass that will set you back much more than this.

I believe SLR Magic designed this lens as a video tool primarily but it is equally as nice as a photo tool. With its smooth click-less aperture and medium focus throw it feels delightful on my E-M5II Titanium Edition. It looks awesome as well. The slide out hood is reminiscent of the Leica 5o Summilux ASPH, quality all the way around in regards to fit finish and feel.

This shot was taken at T 1.1 to give a tad more crispness to the subject. This could have worked at T 0.95 but I found that I preferred using this lens from T 1.1  to T 1.4 most of the time. 

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This one is at T 0.95 and I focused on the upper most piercing. It is also up close at its minimum focus distance, which is also why we see a tad bit of softness and glow.

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So what do I think of the lens after using it non stop for a while? I do really enjoy it, but at the same time it is a specialty lens. I would use it if I wanted a nice portrait with shallow DOF. I would stop down to f/2 for max pop and detail as well as making it easier to nail the focus (when wide open it is very tough to 100% nail focus as T 0.95 has paper-thin depth of field). I would use this lens in low light or night-time situations when I needed the maximum light sucking capabilities. I would use this lens whenever I was in a manual focus kind of mood when using my Micro 4/3 camera or if I wanted an artsy look. I would use this lens for video interviews as well or even some street work. So yes…

It is versatile.

You must click images for better view. 

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What about detail? How sharp is this lens?

As I hinted at already, this lens sharpens up DRAMATICALLY when stopping down just slightly to T 1.1 or T 1.4. Wide open at T 0.95 it is a tad dreamy and slowly and unsharp. Take a look at the crops:

YOU MUST click on the images to see them larger and with full 100% crops! 

1st image is shot wide open at T 0.95…click it to see the crop..

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The next image was stopped down to T 1.4, look how much sharper it gets..like it “snaps” into place and becomes another lens..

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Below is a full size image from RAW, click it to see to full size. Shot at f/4

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The lens is not perfect though, and as I mentioned in my video overview above, it does have some CA (Purple Fringing) in high contrast situations. The thing here is though is that all fast primes like this have CA, all of them (when used on digital). Some cameras now remove this in camera before you see the image. Leica, Canon, Nikon..all have CA in their fast primes. So if you shoot this lens wide open, and take a picture of a high contrast scene with metal or glass, look out for some CA. As you stop down this will go away and I did not have any issues once I stopped down to just T 1.1. Below is an example of the CA you can expect when shooting wide open and in a high contrast situation..

Click images below to see them larger…examples of CA in high contrast areas when shooting wide open..

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So all in all, the new SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 Hyperprime lens for Micro 4/3 is a winner in my book. When SLR Magic wants to put out quality, they do and can. This lens is a solution for anyone wanting a shallow DOF option for their little M 4/3 camera or for those who shoot lots of video or for those who need a lens for ultra low light to keep the ISO down or even for those who want to shoot some nice creamy portraits.

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What this lens is NOT

What this lens is NOT is perfect. DO not expect to shoot a scene and get an image that looked like it came from a Leica M and 50 APO cron. This is what I call a “character lens” when shot wide open, and this is good as character is unique from lens to lens and it’s always nice to have these options in your toolbox. So if you shoot at T 0.95 do not expect across the frame sharpness, instead expect a nice almost dreamy kind of look. In fact this is probably the look that is attracting you to this lens!

Click any image for larger and better versions! I love the deep blue and shadows in this 1st shot. The 2nd blue man is a ball of blur when shooting at T 0.95.

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If you click the image below you can see how sharp this gets by T 1.1..I focused on his face/eyes..

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My final word on the new SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 Micro 4/3 Lens…

With so many lenses out today for Micro 4/3, and 98% of them being fantastic, how do you know which lenses to invest in and which ones to skip? Well, you don’t! All you can do is read reviews, look at samples and decide what works for YOU. If you enjoy the images here, the Bokeh, the color, the way this lens renders on an Olympus E-M5II AND you do not mind manual focus, and you want a solid well made lens that will last you a lifetime..then this just may be what you have been looking for.

What separates this lens from a lens like the Panasonic Nocticron that offers a 42.5 f/1.2 design with auto focus and gorgeous color and IQ is about $400 and with the Nocticron you get a much larger lens as well. You can see that review HERE to compare the images. The Nocticron is beauty and will give you an 85mm equivalent instead of 100mm. It will give you f/1.2 instead of T 0.95 (more like F 0.91) and at T 1.2 I’d put the SLR Magic up against the Nocticron any day and while it will not replicate the look of the Nocticron it will offer you its own look and character. You do lose Auto Focus but some prefer this as it slows us down, makes us think about the shot. So all up to YOU, the user.

Then we have lenses like the Olympus 75 1.8 which gives us 150mm, for me, too long for every day and indoor use though it is also a beauty. At the end of the day I enjoyed the SLR Magic lens. The 50MM T 0.95 Hyperprime is a premium lens, with much of the character from their legendary M mount version at 1/4 the price, which is nice and I have no complaints. ;)

To have yet another option for those of us who shoot Micro 4/3 is a good thing, selection and choice is wonderful :)

Where to Order?

If you want to order the SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 for Micro 4/3 you can do so HERE at B&H Photo who is an authorized SLR Magic Dealer. The price is $999.

A few more snaps below using the SLR Magic T 0.95 from wide open to T 1.4…

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

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

Aug 102015
 

Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens vs Leica 35mm Summicron

A quick comparison by John Ricard

I recently had an opportunity to do a quick test of the new Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens as it compares to my 35mm Summicron.   The Lomo lens is based on the lens of the LC-A -a camera that feels cheap despite its high cost.  However, because people love the colors, vignette and rendering of its lens it remains popular today, some 30 years after its original release.

The LC-A Minitar-1 is produced in the Leica M mount.  However, unlike the LC-A, the lens is made of metal and it feels more expensive than it actually is.  The lens is so small that it looks more like a large lens cap than an actual lens.  Because it is rangefinder coupled, it is possible to focus the lens precisely -something that can’t be done on the LC-A’s zone focusing system.

Of course the only thing that really matters is how the lens renders.  From the very few images I shot with the Minitar alongside my Summicron I could see the lens was actually sharp in the center. Certainly sharper than I expected for a $350 lens.  The edges have a pronounced smearing that actually looks pretty cool to my eyes.  Remember, this isn’t a lens that you buy for its technical perfection.

I also shot a quick comparison of how the lens handled a situation where the subject was backlit and the potential for flare was great.  While my Summicron didn’t produce flare, I was pleased to see that the flare was indeed dramatic on the Minitar.  This alone would be a reason for me to purchase this lens -not as a replacement for the Summicron, but rather as a compliment to it.

All images were shot at f2.8 on both the Minitar and Summicron. Leica M240. ISO 1600

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Aug 072015
 

Why Pre-Orders ROCK! A7RII now 1-2 month wait!

I know many here pre-ordered the A7RII when it was announced for pre-order. Many of you are getting your cameras now, yesterday and today and have emailed me with your glowing thoughts on it. I am glad to see I am not the only one raving about this camera. I am without the A7RII now, but will have one again next week for 2 weeks for a full review. I did pre-order one but mine has not yet shipped from Amazon so I may have a wait! It appears if you order today, at least from Amazon, you will have a 1 to 2 month wait as the A7RII is more popular than Sony expected, selling twice as many pre-orders as the original A7 and A7R (true).

This is why I am a huge fan of pre-orders. When you see a new camera these days that you know you WANT and you know will be HOT and a massive seller, pre-orders are always best. When you pre-order a camera from Amazon for example, your credit card is not charged until the camera ships. If the camera takes 1-2 months to deliver you are locked in place and without even being charged and if you change your mind about it anytime before it ships you can cancel the order with one easy click in your Amazon acct. Very simple. It appears there were loads of pre-orders for the A7RII!

If you received your A7RII, leave a comment below and let me know what you think of it, what you love and even what you do not love about it!

 

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Aug 072015
 

Long time reader, infrequent commenter, but wanted to send a shot from yesterday I am really proud of. I did the post production, and assisted on the lighting and pre production, and provided all the equipment, but being in the photo required a friend run the actual camera itself. Used a Fuji X100, an elinchrom quadra through a Softlighter umbrella to camera left.

This is a photo of myself (the tall one) my husband, and our nine month old son, in our greenhouse in Iceland. Visible are some grapes and figs we grew ourselves from seeds, and the shot was intended to show our cluttered but hobby filled lives, as proud parents of our son.

For image credits, Styling, lighting, and post production – Sæþór Benjamín Randalsson, and photography by THGrau

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Jul 292015
 
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A Mega Leica 28 Summilux f/1.4 Lens Review

by Kristian DowlingSee his BLOG HERE!

Review disclaimer:

*Lens was used entirely at f/1.4 for the entire review, in every picture unless stated otherwise.

*No protective filters were used.

*Editing was kept as simple as possible in Lightroom, with no clarity added/subtracted to maintain the lens’s true signature.

*This is not so such a technical review, but more so focused on the lens in field-use.

*Pictures are meant to represent a variety of achievable results, typical of the average Leica M user (nothing overproduced).

*No distortion or lens correction tools have been used.

*Special thanks to Leica Camera Australia for the loan sample.

I can’t express how excited I was when Leica announced the limited edition M100 set, commemorating Leica’s 100th Anniversary, with a new Summilux-M 28/1.4-ASPH lens in chrome, a little over a year ago. I’ve been lusting after a 28/1.4 M lens since I started M photography some 21 years ago. I knew it was only a matter of time before it would become a regular production lens, and I’m very happy that it has finally come to fruition.

My experience with the 28mm focal length has been quite extensive over the years. My first experience with using a 28mm prime came in the Nikon 28Ti compact film camera, followed by the Ricoh GR and the Nikon AF-D 28/1.4 lens, which at the time delivered fantastic results (at the time). Fast forward to 2015, and we now have the ultimate (and only) ‘fast’ 28mm lens ever produced – the Leica Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH lens.

Image shot with Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH on Monochrom

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I first got to see this lens at the Australian Leica Q launch last month, and was lucky enough to have been lent the only Australian copy for the last month (no pressure for a good review). During this time, I have been able to use it in many different situations, over a variety of genres, which you will see throughout this user-review. The 28mm focal length isn’t easy to get along with, but once you get to know her, she becomes a very, very versatile focal length – probably the reason why Apple employ it in their iPhone 6 and 6 PLUS smartphones, making it the most used focal length in the world.

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It may come as a surprise that Leica is focusing their two latest products (including the Leica Q camera) on the 28mm focal length, but in my opinion it is a very smart move. There is no shortage of great 35mm lenses, and while the Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH is an excellent lens with a very smooth character, the ability to isolate doesn’t make it stand out amongst a lineup of fast class-leading lenses, like the Noctilux for example. Leica are arguably the best in the 35mm-format game when it comes to lens design, quality and performance, so it is important for them to showcase their abilities – and the new Summilux-M certainly makes a strong statement.

Previously, there were a couple of 28mm options in Leica’s lineup, and all have their unique place and usage intentions. The previous models were all mainly focused on the Elmarit as the demand for fast 28mm lenses only came about in the last decade. All previous generations of the Elmarit-M were fantastic, with the quality really stepping up in V3, where wide-open performance was significantly improved across the frame. Currently, the two Leica-M lens alternatives to the Summilux are:

· Elmarit-M 28/2.8 ASPH – small compact, well-priced and well-controlled distortion. Great for the traveller who doesn’t need speed and is more focused on keeping their gear lightweight, compact and values the lack of distortion over speed.

· Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH – A nice mix of speed, performance and size in this compact lens that is a nice jack of all trades, known for it’s smooth character due to the transition from sharp to soft wide open.

Build Quality and Design

As expected, everything about the 28 Summilux-M is typical Leica. Superb German, handmade craftsmanship, along with great handling and smooth focus and aperture action. It only comes in black (currently), most likely to keep M100 kit owners happy with their unique purchase, but knowing Leica, I would expect them to release a chrome version sometime in the future. The size fits directly between the 35 Summilux-M and the 24 Summilux-M, which was really good to see. The initial fear was that it was going to be very similar to the 21/24 Summilux-M lenses, which are a little on the large and heavy side, bordering on Noctilux territory. Thankfully, it’s not much bigger than the 35 Summilux-M so it’s great as a carry-everywhere, everyday lens, and balances really well on the M body.

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The newly designed lens hood is similar to that on the 35-Summilux-M, only a little thicker which is a nice change, and screws in firmly and perfectly aligns right on the center as it should. I’m happy to report that during the last 5 weeks using this lens, it has never come loose. Finally, it has the typical Leica depth of field scale, which is very important to those who employ the hyper-focal focusing technique, which works very well on a 28mm lens due to the extended depth of field over standard and telephoto lenses.

Optically, this is what Leica has to say about the new Summilux.

“The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. rounds off the range of high-speed M wide angle focal lengths. It offers exce lent image performance over the entire image field even at full aperture and in the close-up range thanks to a „floating element“. With its exceptional contrast, the lens delivers the same recognized high performance level as the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH., and in some respects actually outperforms it. The vignetting that is typical of every optical system is naturally more defined on a wide angle lens, particularly a high speed one like this, than on standard lenses or those with a long focal length. At full aperture in 35mm format it is a maximum, i.e. in the corners of the image, of around 3.4 stops, around 2 stops on Leica M8 models with their slightly smaller format. Stopping down to 5.6 visibly reduces this light falloff – to 1.8 and 0.8 stops respectively. Stopping down further does not bring about any notable reduction as essentially only the natural vignetting remains. Distortion is extremely low for a wide angle lens at a maximum of 1.1% , which is rarely noticeable in practice. A total of ten lens elements are used to achieve this exceptional performance. To correct color defects, seven of these are made of glass types with anomalous partial dispersion, while one has an aspherical surface. To maintain performance in the close-up range, one element towards the rear of the optical system is a “floating element” that moves independently of the rest of the mechanism.
Summary: The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. offers maximum image performance with a focal length / speed combination previously unavailable in the M system. This extends the composition options of M photography, particulaly for available light shots, but also thanks to a previously unattainable reduction in the depth of field combined with large field angles.”

Here are the graphs important to you techy-geeks out there. The MTF especially suggests that performance wide open is incredible, and equal to many other brand lenses stopped down to their best. This is truly where Leica stands above the crowd.

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Depth of field at f/1.4 is very narrow, but compared to what many are used to with 35mm, there is a little more room for error, and allows greater possibilities in certain situations where having focus is more important than not.

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Depending on how picky you are, the chart suggests excellent distortion control, and when you consider the speed of the maximum aperture, this is a design Leica should be very proud of, at least on paper. In the field ‘could’ be entirely different (though it is not haha).

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> Keep reading to see how Leica’s words translate into image quality during my field test.

Handling

Due to the size and weight distribution, the lens handles wonderfully on the M, enabling focus and aperture changes to be smooth and accurate. I have a full production sample, and the focusing action is even smoother than most 35 Summilux’s I’ve used. I believe ‘perfect out of the box’ would be an accurate description. You do notice a weight increase over the smaller 35 Summilux-M but it’s not a lot more and the size is comparable in operation. In fact I found the 28 more comfortable to use than the 35 because of the slight increase in length, making focusing and aperture changes easier with my medium sized hands. As the lens hood is screwed in flush with the lens, changing the aperture is very easy, compared to previous Elmarits and Summicron that use a large plastic clip-on hood.

Leica M | Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH

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Leica M (Safari) | Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH

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Leica Q | Summilux-M 28/1.7 ASPH

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In the Field

The 28mm Focal Length

Those who don’t have much experience using the 28mm focal length may need to be patient with this lens. Some say it’s too wide and others say it’s not wide enough, and the others say it’s too ‘in-between’. A comment I’ve been hearing a lot lately (since the Q’s introduction), is ‘28mm is the new 35mm’. Well I’m not so sure I totally agree with that, but considering the iPhone has a 28mm (approx) focal length and has the most used camera in the world, there is some argument that suggests the comment isn’t so far fetched. Back when the great Henri Cartier Bresson was roaming the streets of Europe, the 50mm focal length was the norm. Later, photographers started getting closer to their subjects and preferred the wider frame of the 35mm focal length. Considering today’s style of shooting (including paparazzi), it’s understandable how the 28mm focal length has several advantages over 35mm.

Firstly, it is wider, fitting more into the frame than 35mm at the same shooting position, also creating a slightly more dynamic ‘in-your-face’ perspective, if used correctly. You can also get closer to your subjects, while fitting more background into the frame, giving you more compositional options. Having said that, this may not be an advantage, depending on your style of shooting. The one thing I’ve always loved about shooting with the 28mm focal length is that it’s the widest focal length you can shoot without having to worry too much about tilting or placing subjects/objects on the side of the frame. When you go wider to say 24mm or 21mm, perspective distortion becomes a real issue, making it quite annoying for documentary purposes. While the 28mm perspective does come with some distortion, it is tolerable, and even when tilting, it is negligible and I have no issues with placing my subjects off-center.

Simple Model Shoot

Shooting with the 28 Summilux-M for portraits takes some getting used to, especially for 35/50mm users. The angle of view is extended quite a bit for only 7mm, giving much more depth of field and background to work with. Nailing focus is quite easy as the f/1.4 aperture is more forgiving at 28mm due to the increase in depth of field, but the drop-off from sharp to unsharp isn’t as abrupt as say the 35 Summilux-M.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot  at f/2.8 on the Leica M240

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The colour signature is as you would expect from most Leica lenses – very neutral, and with medium to high contrast, but in these samples bear in mind that the light was strong, emphasising the contrast even more. When the light gets low, this is when the 28 Summilux-M really shines.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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General Photography

For general street and travel photography, the 28mm focal length is an ideal choice as you don’t often feel limited for a majority of scenarios, unless shooting architecture or grab shots of people from a distance is your thing. The lack of distortion for such a fast wide angle lens is quite impressive and never felt it hindered my pictures of building etc. If you don’t like tripods, this lens will delver. At f/1.4, sharpness is already close to it’s maximum resolution so there is never a compromise in sharpness throughout the f/1.4-f/11 range, and at certain distances, the f/1.4 depth of field will provide adequate focus throughout the entire image.

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BELOW: Crop from image above

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As you can see here, there is some viewfinder blockage which is a bit annoying, but not a deal breaker. While some may prefer to use an external finder which gives not only as clean view, but an accurate perspective of distance and framing, they are a hassle if you’re shooting in situations that require speed.

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Below: Crop from image above

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Below: Crop from above image

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There is some field curvature, but at further distances this is not a problem, and in this image the entire frame is sharp at f/1.4 – quite amazing!

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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Bokeh is very, very smooth, much like the Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH, except at f/1.4, the focus drop-off is much more dramatic and compelling for times where you’re trying to isolate your subject from a background.

Shooting in a nightclub with screaming fans for UK pop star Craig David was no match for the 28 Summilux-M, delivering crisp images, even against backlights and fairly poor lighting……oh and did I mention it’s damn sharp too?!?

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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It wouldn’t be a Leica review without at least one cat or flower picture right?!? Well considering I’m a cat-lover, no flowers were shot during the testing of the 28 Summilux-M.

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Below: Crop from image above

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Shooting with the 28 Summilux or any 28mm on the Leica M can be a bit frustrating due to the incorrect perspective you see through the built in finder, which is more suited to the 35mm/50mm focal lengths. When you first start shooting a 28mm lens on the M, you need to remind yourself that you’re further away from your subjects than how it looks through the viewfinder, so getting closer is important.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240 at ISO 1600

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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CROP from above image:

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Shooting as a Wedding Guest

I was fortunate to be the guest at a very special wedding of two very good friends, Lawrence and Tukta, in Hua Hin, Thailand. Lawrence is also an avid Leica user and owns an M60, so the pressure was on to capture a couple of nice moments before the alcohol got to me, hehehe. Here Lawrence is seen waiting for the wedding to begin.

Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH shot wide open at f/1.4 on the Leica M240

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Using the 28mm Summilux-M at a wedding all day was a real treat. I love to get up close to my subjects and combined with the stealthy M, I was able to move in and out of places without people looking directly at the camera or feeling intimidated by the usual large and loud SLR cameras seen in these scenarios.

I found that my hit rate of in-focus shots was at about 90-95%, which is a little higher than my normal 85-90% on the 35 Summilux-M. Obviously the increased depth of field at f/1.4 helped significantly.

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Crop from above image:

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I’m not a wedding photographer, but like any documentary work, there are always those little moments happening around the bride and groom you need to look out for. Here, I love the way the focus drops off to a smooth background, and while I don’t condone shooting wide open ‘all the time’, I do enjoy keeping this lens at maximum aperture most of the time.

Below you can start to see the effects of distortion creeping in on the top corners, but it is totally fine in my opinion, and is more so due to the tilting, rather than the geometric distortion occurring.

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It doesn’t matter what the situation, I felt so comfortable shooting wide open all day long and f/1.4 always seemed to be the right aperture choice for all the scenarios. It’s perfectly sharp wide open, has beautiful contrast and colours, and drops off focus like a champion.

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It doesn’t matter what the situation, I felt so comfortable shooting wide open all day long and f/1.4 always seemed to be the right aperture choice for all the scenarios. It’s perfectly sharp wide open, has beautiful contrast and colours, and drops off focus like a champion.

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Due to the mixed lighting I found that the final two images look better in Monochrome. For the first I pre-focused on someone in the crowd and waited for the subjects to hit their mark before firing, ensuring accurate and sharp focus. What a great end to an amazing weekend!

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Muay Thai Camp – Coaching One-on-One

As a photographer and coach, I was employed to train an enthusiastic Thai photographer named Miti. During his training he was using the Leica Q entirely, and I was snapping a few test shots on the M with 28 Summilux-M. I had previously shot a story on this place around 7 years ago and a lot has changed. Please keep in mind this is not a complete story, but a selection of images I shot while coaching my student.

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Below: Crop from above image

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Below: Crop from above image

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While this looks like a slow moving wrestle it was anything but. I was shooting at ISO 1600 with 1/1000sec to ensure sharpness at the plane of focus. Due to the extreme movements I had to prefocus and guess my distance and pray for focus where I wanted it at the time of shutter release. Dare I say it, a majority were out of focus, so I have to say, the M isn’t exactly recommend to those wanting to shoot erratic, unpredictable action. I am pleased to say that my student Miti was able to achieve a good number of sharp in-focus images with his autofocusing Leica Q.

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Muay Thai fighters are often viewed as celebrities in Thailand so vanity also comes with the business of winning. Let’s just say the mirrors are used more often than you’d probably expect from young men, capable of breaking you in two.

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Below: 100% crop from above image

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The previous time I shot a professional Muay Thai fight, I was using an autofocus SLR with a short zoom lens. Using the M and 28mm, my ability to be effective was lessened and I certainly relied more on hope and luck. Luckily my 21 years experience helped me pull out a few keepers.

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Compared to the Leica Q

While some may assume this is an unfair comparison (either way), I think the two lenses should most definitely be compared. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time, nor patience to compare side by side – sorry, I’m travelling and working. Though I will give a brief analysis after spending time with both lenses/cameras.

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Firstly, there is no debate that the M lens is superior in sharpness wide open, and there is a more dramatic fall off from focus to blur. Other than that, they are quite similar lenses, though the Q lens has one major advantage. It was not only designed for the sensor it is attached to, but it has processing built into the Q body that corrects the image for any lens limitations, including distortion. Currently, there is no Lightroom profile for the new 28 Summilux-M lens, so any corrections need to be made manually if desired – at least until a profile is released by Leica.

The question on many M users’ minds will be whether to buy the Leica Q or buy the new Summilux-M, which is actually more expensive. My answer is “it depends!” It depends on price (US$1500 difference) or how you like to shoot and whether you want a second camera. Personally I prefer to shoot on an M, regardless of the better sensor used in the Leica Q. Image quality is important to me, but picture quality and the shooting experience is more so. I love shooting with a rangefinder and while it has a lot of drawbacks (compared to the Q) like I experienced in shooting Muay Thai, I still prefer the feel and manual focus elements enough to accept what I cannot change in the M.

Another difference between shooting the Leica M240 and Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH vs the Leica Q, is that the Leica Q files come out of camera with more vibrant colours and slightly higher contrast. This may no may not affect your decision if considering either of these two fine tools. Finally, the one major factor to consider is that the Q’s electronic rangefinder not only shows 100% of the frame without lens blockage, but it also shows you the exposure and correct 28mm perspective, whereas the M does not, which can be very frustrating. The Q also has macro focus ability using the maximum aperture of f/2.8, and of course AF, which could be the deciding factor for many.

On the flip side, the constant use of EVF and/or LCD can be draining on the battery, which is quite average compared to most cameras so extra batteries will need to be stocked up. Long story short, if you can afford it, buy both.

Conclusion

My long 21 year wait for the Leica Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH has been well worth it. I’ve always been more of a 35mm user, but while the Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH FLE is a great lens it’s never really got me excited. It’s sharp and has very neutral rendering but I always preferred the Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH due to it’s soft rendering and smooth character. The new 28 Summilux-M has combined my two favourite lenses into one and delivers big time. The only real flaw I found was that like most lenses, it is prone to purple fringing in high contrast situations, which is easily removed in Lightroom in 2 seconds.

At about US$1500 more than either a Leica Q or a 35 Summilux, it’s arguable whether that figure represents good value for money or being too pricey to consider. From my experience with this lens, and having used lenses like the Noctilux and 50 APO which cost a lot more, I think the Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH represents fantastic value for money – considering that value is represented by the effort the user makes to use the lens to the best of their ability. A photographer and his tools are only as good as the opportunities he/she creates with them.

If you are after a fast 28mm M lens, there is no substitute, no alternative available. If there was, they would be trembling with fear because the Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH is the real deal. Think 50 APO incredible, and there you have it – it is THAT good!

Be sure to visit Kristian’s Blog HERE!

You can buy the Leica 28 Summilux from any of my top recommended Leica dealers below:

Ken Hansen: Email him at [email protected]

PopFlash.com Website

B&H Photo

Leica Store Miami

Jul 282015
 

User Report: A Nikon J5 Review

by Eyal Gurevitch

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What makes a small camera great?

When asked what camera is compact and excellent I have no straight answer. It’s complicated, I tell them. You must sacrifice zoom range, or the max apertures of the lens, or the price of the camera, or its controllability, or its size.

So what’s the best compromise, they ask. It depends, I say. Would you call yourself an advanced photographer? Do you enjoy controlling your camera? Change its settings much? Must you have a large zoom? Can you pay more? Can you carry more?

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How can you compete with a x30 zoom of a 240 gram camera, or a x83 in a camera the size of an entry-level DSLR? How can you challenge a 1” sensor in a 300 gram camera that also has a useful zoom range and an f/1.8-2.8 aperture range?

It’s tough for camera makers to keep pleasing us photographers. To keep surprising us. But somehow they keep it coming. Such is the Nikon 1 J5. No, it’s not a groundbreaking camera, it doesn’t bring anything entirely new to the market. What it does it to balance some really great qualities in a single, triumphant package.

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Size matters.

With its 10-30mm kit lens, the J5 is not any taller or wider than the implicitly aforementioned RX100 IV. It is thicker, due to the length of the lens, so it’s not pocketable and that’s a big difference, but in terms of conspicuousness, they are virtually the same.

So why even consider the J5 over the RX100IV if they have the same sensor size and body size, but a large difference in max apertures, in favour of the Sony? The first and most obvious argument would be the ability to switch lenses. However, most Nikon 1 lenses mounted on the J5 would render it cumbersome and unbalanced, so other than for a niche use of a large aperture prime or a long zoom here and there, the capital practical use of this camera would undisputedly be with the 10-30mm along with its f/3.5-5.6 apertures.

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The grip. The controls.

There are two significant changes the Nikon did with the J5 over the previous body. The first is the all new BSI-CMOS sensor that delivers 20.8 megapixels but much more importantly better image quality and richer colors. The second is a thought out design of dials, buttons and controls added to the camera body without adding to its size. There’s a new Fn button in the front, a new dial around the video button, PASM modes in the main control dial and there’s a new grip. I would never understand why all cameras don’t have a grip as deep as their smallest attachable lens. The new grip of the J5 makes it oh-so-much easier to hold, especially compared to J4’s bar-of-soap-like slippery body. All these additions turn the J5 into a camera that’s easy to use and easy to control.

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The Speed

Nikon take pride in the fast shooting abilities of the J5 and they have almost every right to do so. Just like the J4, it can shoot a max of 20 shots per second with AF at full resolution, or 60 shots per second with locked focus. It has an impressive variety of slow modes in video (but an unimpressive 15fps in 4K). The only caveat being its slow processing, taking long seconds and sometimes even minutes to save the large amount of photos taken during a quick burst.

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There’s also the cool best moment capture feature, which keeps buffering images as long as you half press the shutter, taking a batch of 20 shots when you fully press it, 10 out of which are from the second before you pressed it.

In this regard there’s no change at all from its predecessor – you’re sure to capture the decisive moment, but probably not the next one.

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The Bottom Line

The Nikon 1 J5 is a highly capable, intuitively controllable compact mirrorless camera. It’s a huge step up from the J4 in terms of body design and as well as in image quality, making it a viable competitor in the high-end, large-sensor compact camera market, standing against the likes of the Sony RX100 IV as well as the Panasonic GM5, and with a truly attractive price tag.

Check out the Nikon 1 J5 at B&H Photo or Amazon.

Jul 242015
 
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Olympus EM1 + Sony A7s – Still my favorite Combo!

By Neil Buchan-Grant

Hi Steve

I thought I’d share some new images with your readers. I’m still loving the Olympus EM1 and Sony A7s although I have to say, since the Olympus 40-150mm zoom and the new 7-14mm zoom came out, the Oly has had more use. I also recently bought the Oly MC-14 1.4x tele converter for the big zoom and for me its performance in terms of resolution and sharpness underlines the big range now offered by the Olympus system. These 3 PRO zooms give me pretty much all I need for general travel work and the 12-40mm has all but replaced my wide primes with no loss of image quality. I still only tend to get the A7s + Leica M 35mm or 50mm f1.4 Summilux’s out when I’m out at night or I’m shooting low light work but with these lenses it still offers something a bit special.

My friend a few weeks before giving birth – EM1 – 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 25mm – available light and off camera flash

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My friend and her baby girl who had just had another lifesaving operation only days after her birth – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – mixed available light

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My friend holding it together by reading Winnie the Pooh to her baby girl who was still gravely ill only one week after her birth – Sony A7s – Leica M 35mm 1.4 – mixed available light

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My work here is a mixture of commissions and personal shots ranging from an architecture job in Oxfordshire, corporate portraits and a trip to Wimbledon tennis championships to some intimate portraits of my friend Scarlet and her baby, Frida. The baby had a traumatic and complicated birth and had to be resuscitated several times in her first few days. Thankfully she’s doing brilliantly now and is thriving! Thanks again for the opportunity to share these with your readers and keep up the great work! If anyone is interested, I have a new, short program of workshops on my website here:

My friend and her baby Frida who was finally out of harms way and seemed to be enjoying her new world – EM1 – Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light

 

 

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Frida just a few days ago, now 2 months old and currently my favorite model! – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light

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The Prado Museum in Madrid during a quick break – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 15mm

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A late night bar in Madrid – Sony A7s Leica M 35mm 1.4 – available light

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A studio portrait of the actress Hetty Baynes Russell, who was married to Ken Russell the British film director. – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – continuous light through 4ft softbox

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Another shot of Hetty – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – window light

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A photograph of a rather special Barn design in Oxforshire at dusk – my friends Arthur and Kate were the architects who designed it – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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The same building during the day – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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A model in Prague – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light and reflector

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A corporate shoot in London – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – Off camera flash

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Self portrait in the studio – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 35mm – continuous light through a 4 ft softbox and reflector

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Britain’s number one female tennis player Heather Watson winning her match at Wimbledon – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO with MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

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Another self portrait in my garden – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 10mm – available light and off camera flash

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A tree surgeon working behind my garden – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO + MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

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The same shot as above from the same spot, the tree surgeon is just visible – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

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http://buchangrant.format.com/workshops where you can join me in Berlin, India or China/Tibet over the next 10 months!

Jul 212015
 

Moment, Chaos and a Personal Perspective

By Shaul Naschitz

Hi Brandon and Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaul Naschitz

© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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