Dec 182014
 

From a Nikon D800 (DSLR) to Olympus and Fuji (Mirrorless)

by Robin Schimko

Three months ago I had the opportunity to do a reportage on a sailing boat cruising along the coastline of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea. Last year I did the same thing in the Caribbean but this time I didn’t bring a heavy and bulky DSLR, since I‘ve gone fully mirrorless at the beginning of 2014. For this trip I brought a Fuji X-T1, 23/1.4, Samyang 12/2, Samyang 8/2.8 fisheye and of course my Olympus E-M1, 42.5/1.2 and 75/1.8 with me. I was basically covered for almost any possible situation and at the same time my kit was relatively lightweight and compact.

The day I arrived I met up with my client and the moment he saw my gear he became skeptical. For him it was hard to believe that a camera this small is able to deliver good image quality and a certain look that screams “professionally” taken images. He was very pleased with the images I took in the Caribbean with my D800. So I gave him my tablet to have a look at some of my pictures I took prior this trip just to make him feel more secure and it worked fine.

So, how did it work out?

Well, the mirroless set up had two major advantages over my former D800. The first one is really obvious and that is the small form factor and the light weight. Compared to my DSLR, the Fuji for instance with attached lens is less than half the weight and that makes a huge difference. On a shaky sailing boat it can be really tough to move around safely, especially if you’re carrying heavy gear which needs to be secured with one hand to make sure it’s not bumping into something or someone. The mirrorless kit was much easier to handle and it was a breeze to use. Attached to the Fuji was the Easy Slider by Artisan & Artist which allowed me fit the camera very tightly to my chest, so I could use both hands to secure myself in case I needed to. With a bulky DSLR that would have been much more uncomfortable over the duration of a whole day or at least a couple of hours. The second advantage was the ability to shoot from the hip incorporating the tilting screen. When you look through the viewfinder it can easily happen that you punch yourself in the face with the camera and yeah that had happened to me in the past. :D Like I wrote before, the boat is constantly shaking around and the intensity of those shakes can vary randomly.

In two weeks there was only one thing I wasn’t really keen about and that’s the battery life. Especially the X-T1 tends to eat batteries very quickly and that did concern me. One could say that this is not a big issue if you bring enough spare ones. That’s totally true and I had five batteries with me, but I had no idea that these batteries had to last up to three days. Last year I could recharge every day, but not this time. The boat was quite old and electricity was only available every now and then. That was indeed the only issue I had using mirrorless cameras.

The sailing itself again was a very nice experience. The first week the weather was crazy good and we did sail a lot. The second week everything changed dramatically not just the crew and the second boat that joined us, but also the weather. There was a storm approaching and we couldn’t leave the harbor for two days. Eventually we left on the third day, but the sea was still very rough and half of the crew got seasick. Luckily I wasn’t one of them, but taking photos was almost impossible without a waterproof housing, because every couple of minutes there was a big wave coming in.

Here are some shots I took during my trip and if you like my work, you can follow me on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RobinSchimkoPicture)
or check out my blog (http://www.fotodesign-rs.de/)

Thank you all for reading,

Robin

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Dec 172014
 

Quick User Report: Using the Voigtlander 40 1.4 on the Sony A7s

by Devin Jameson

Just wanted to post a few images recently made with the Sony a7s and Nokton 40mm 1.4 SC.

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Pros:

Sharp at the focus point, even wide open—IF you nail the focus

Sharpness picks up quickly when stopped down if you prefer a clinical look or are shooting landscapes (also vignetting goes away by f/2.8 or so)

Very compact size, even with the Voigtlander Close-Focus adapter

Character is very “interesting”

Great build quality with smooth focusing ring and aperture clicks

Randomness factor–you never know what you might get when shooting wide open!

0.7 meter minimum focus distance—closer to 0.3 meter with VM-E adapter

 

Cons:

It’s not a Leica 50 Lux

Rather heavy vignetting

Bokeh is somewhat nervous (I’ve learned to love this)

Flare (I like the randomness of flare, so this isn’t a con for me)

I expect to see a 50mm focal length, so the transition to 40mm is a little tough, but should be fine in time

All in all, it’s a fun lens that lives on my a7s. Check out the sample images below—most were shot wide open.

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Dec 132014
 

Switching to Mirrorless from a DSLR

By Mohamed Hakem

Hello Steve!

Whenever I’m into any stage of photography I come to my passionate website :)

Mirrorless really helped me unhinge a new passion for photography.

I always considered myself as a nature/landscape. I had a D800 and all what I was interested in was landscape, nature and architecture. I was never a people’s photographer, not because I couldn’t but because I’m a little bit shy and not the right personality for doing weddings and commercials. Despite loving street photography and portraits of normal people in the street, it is an absurd dream for me in Egypt. In conservative cultures, people get offended when you point a camera and snap a picture, they might even get aggressive. So for me this category was off the list. Until when I got a Fuji X100 and things change! magically people in the street began accepting the photos! I had more and more confidence and I liked the Idea of having a camera with me 100% of the time! I found myself leaving the D800 and other lenses at home despite knowing that they are way more capable.

I gradually began shifting towards Fuji, I got an Xpro-1 and a couple of lenses and began traveling with the Xpro-1 18mm F/2 + 35mm F1.4. I started to discover new horizons for me in street photography. I really liked it! It wasn’t long since I got an XT-1 and sold all my nikon glass and committed myself to Fuji.

I started to get the courage to get closer to people here in my country and surprisingly having a retro style camera shifts you towards an artist more than a spy or a CIA agent or even a journalist!. I went with some friends all lugging around huge backpacks full of equipment and I really pitted them, I was going light with just the Fuji XT-1, 35mm and a 23mm. I could move more easily, having just a small shoulder bag that doesn’t even look like a camera bag I was able to get closer to people. I took some portraits of amazingly kind and simple people all with a friendly spirit.

I just LOVED mirrorless more and I knew that I took the right decision. believe me people it’s not sensor sizes or charts or dynamic ranges. It’s only you who really knows what makes you happy, Don’t just sit and read articles like mirrorless VS DSLR or buying gears just because it has a PRO marks all over it! for me, being light and mobile allowed me to get more! to discover more and to move more!

before I had the D800 and Nikon’s trinity, I couldn’t wish for more quality and supreme performance, but with the Fuji, going around more and having a clearer mind allowed me to do settings more wisely, intuitively and faster. Yes the Fuji is a slower less capable camera than the Nikon, but its combination with ME is a faster package, even the Landscape that I come from is much easier and nicer.

It reminded me with the good old days when I had the Nikon FM2 and a couple of lenses.

My website:

http://www.hakemphotography.com

http://500px.com/hakem

below are some street photos that I took with my XPRO-1 and X-T1

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Dec 122014
 

Fuji X30 does CycLavia Los Angeles

By Art Codron

There are many situations where I do not feel like lugging my bigger cameras but want something better than my iPhone to shoot with. Enter the Fuji X30… I had one of the original X10’s when they first came out and while it was a pretty good point and shoot (orbs and all), I moved on and sold it fairly quickly. I reached a point where I was over the “point and shoot” thing and used my iPhone for my casual photography like many other people. After awhile I started to get real frustrated with the noisy images that had no dynamic range and few controls over exposure. Unless the light was perfect, the picture quality was poor. It was also hard for me to get used to holding my phone out to take a picture. It just lacked the “tactile” feel of a real camera. Meanwhile, the compact camera field has changed. Far less of them are being sold, but there are now some very solid performers such as the Sony RX series and the like. I had been looking at the new Panasonic LX100 as well. I ultimately settled on the X30 as it seemed closest in feel to my Fuji X-Pro1 and X-T1 which I adore. I know many of the other higher end point and shoots have bigger sensors which have better resolution and noise performance than the X30, but none of them have both the longer lens (112 equiv for Fuji) and fast aperture (1.8-2.8). The longer lens is important to me due to my shooting style. I like to hold the camera to my eye so I wanted a good viewfinder as well. I also factored in the lower cost and tank like build. Then when I considered the Fuji X aesthetic, it was an easy decision. While they are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, the Fuji cameras have a real “soul” to me.

This past weekend, another CycLAvia event was held in Los Angeles. For these events, a large swath of city streets are closed off to vehicular traffic and are taken over by Bicyclists such as myself and 100,000 of my closest friends. Walking is also encouraged for those that choose to not ride. There are many zones along the way to stop and experience the culture of the various neighborhoods on the route. This past weekend, the ride went through the Central Avenue corridor to Leimert Park. There was of course plenty of photo opportunities along the 12 mile round trip route as well… so it’s a way to combine two of my passions: Cycling and Photography. The Fuji X30 was the perfect camera for me on this day as I was able to sling it over my shoulder and hardly feel like it was there. It stayed out-of-the-way till I needed it. While the files have less resolution than a 4/3 sensor or even a 1” inch sensor, they are still pretty good. The photos from the x30’s 2/3 sensor are far better than standard point and shoots. The lens is very sharp and the files have the Fuji look that I love. Operation is very fast and tactile. Controls are at your fingertips and the new control ring is pretty cool. I have it set up to control aperture but I wish it had click stops. My only big complaint is that the X30 does not have a built-in ND filter like my x100s. It would have been nice to have this as it was quite sunny and I could not take advantage of the wide aperture on the lens. While this camera is no Bokeh monster, a little bit of background blur can go a long way. A prime example is the B&W shot of the gentleman below with the high-rise handlebars… It would have been far better if the BG was blurred slightly.

Thanks for the great website!

More of my general photography can be seen here:

https://500px.com/acodron748

http://acodron748.tumblr.com

Cheers, Art

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Dec 102014
 

Ten weeks with the Zeiss Loxia Planar 2/50 and the Sony A7r

by Dirk De Paepe

After ten weeks with the Zeiss Loxia Planar 2/50 I thought it was a good idea, to share my findings.

This Loxia Planar, as you probably already know, is the first one of the new Loxia series, that was put in the market by Zeiss right after Photokina, where the first two Loxias were launched. Being thrilled by Zeiss coming up with those lenses, dedicated to mirrorless cameras, I ordered both the Planar 2/50 and the Biogon 2/35 immediately, but the latter probably won’t be available before the end of the year.

Well guys and gals, I can tell you right away that in several domains this Planar offers even more than I expected – and I had really high hopes! But at the same time, in a few other fields, I had pictured something different. Luckily those don’t concern essential issues, so all in all I’m absolutely thrilled with this Loxia, to the point that it quickly became my absolute favorite lens. It’s the one that I always have on my camera when traveling, as my “ready-to-shoot-in-all-circumstances” lens. Before this Loxia, the ZM Planar 2/50 played this role. No surprise, since those two Planars are very familiar lenses in concept (click here to read the ZM Planar 2/50 review on this website). Where the ZM Planar is without any doubt an exquisite lens, the Loxia Planar is even better.

Planar versus Planar

In a former article that Steve published here, right after Photokina, I wrote about the Loxias and already explained the main differences between Loxia and ZM. (Click here to read this article.) So I’ll resume the additional Loxia features here: transmission of Exif data, shorter minimal focal distance (45 versus 70cm), automatic enlargement in the VF when turning the focus ring, de-click possibility of the aperture ring and last but not least improved optical performance for mirrorless cameras.

Optically both Planars are pretty familiar – to my eye, the produced images have the same character, the same color signature, the same clarity, the same detail, etc… As a matter of fact, it’s hard to tell which Planar took which picture, unless you do an A/B comparison. Of course I didn’t perform any measurements, since I’m a user, not a professional photo journalist, but still, in a direct comparison, it was immediately clear that the Loxia performs better in the corners. Although the ZM Planar files remain detailed until pretty far in the corners, I’d say Loxia diminishes the (already small) “vague zones” with at least three-quarters and also the vignetting is less. I have been thinking of publishing A/B pictures here to illustrate the corner performance, but abandoned this idea, since it’s only visible looking at full size, and I really never experienced this matter as a problem with my ZM. Like I said, although the ZM performs excellent, the Loxia just performs quite a tad better. I expect that their will be some improvements measured on other domains as well – we’ll probably read about it soon in different reviews.

But fact is that Zeiss really reworked the optics for Loxia, so this is absolutely no “adapted ZM lens“. It also shows by the field of view, that’s a tiny bit narrower (I reckon some 4%) with the Loxia Planar, compared to the ZM.

Maybe you wonder if this is sufficient to switch from the ZM Planar to Loxia, since the ZM already works so terrificly well on the A7x. Well, I have been wondering about this as well. But I made the move to Loxia, because first of all the wide angles (like the Biogon 2/35 that I tried at Photokina) will perform better with my A7r than most of the M-mounts, but also because I truly believe in FE-mount and Loxia will be totally dedicated to FE. Further it will offer the most modern MF applications, which simply will make me perform better as a photographer, and will be optically 100% developed for mirrorless bodies. I also saw it as a kind of statement: “Loxia is the way to go for manual focus with FE bodies!”. Loxia is dedicated to mirrorless indeed, so to me it feels right being dedicated to Loxia. And the fact that it’s Zeiss (my first and lifelong love in photography) that comes with this modern, all manual lenses for mirrorless generates only one spontaneous reaction in my mind: yes!

Now that I really own and use the Loxia Planar 2/50, I’m feeling for 100% that this was the right choice, and this feeling is even a lot stronger than I expected. The satisfaction and joy to experience this fully dedicated lens, it’s extra features, IQ, styling, and ergonomics is simply bigger than I expected. Yes, some of my reasons are subjective, only based on feeling, but subjectivity is a reality in life, so it’s something that has value to me. Maybe you will feel it differently, because this is partly a personal matter, but still there’s a lot of really objective criteria here as well.

Improvements

I love the shorter minimal focal distance a lot. Combined with the A7r, with its 36MP and its cropping power, it enables “near to makro” pictures. “European Money” is an example hereof. When looking at the 100% crop in the second picture (please remember that you can enlarge all pictures by clicking on them and that you get the real colors only then), you can see that lens and sensor are absolutely keeping up, with no real visible loss of IQ when looking at 100%. I think this indicates that Loxia probably can deliver at resolutions that are even a lot higher. I was pretty flabbergasted, when I looked at this detail. What I see here reminds me of what I get with the Otus 55 (although the Otus delivers exceptional in virtually all circumstances, and the Loxia needs be used with greater care to deliver at this level, for instance regarding choice of aperture). On my monitor, the real world dimensions are enlarged by 7 (the surface by 49), revealing details that aren’t visible with the bare eye. IMO the detail that is rendered here, is simply top-notch.

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02European Monecrop

But apart from this detail power, shooting at smaller distances further narrows the DOF, significantly increasing the bokeh abilities. The bokeh character is pretty much comparable with that of the ZM Planar, but by enacting its formation, it becomes the more clear that this is really a very smooth bokeh, in hind as well as in front focus. Its character reminds me of the Otus again, although I find the latter producing even an a tad more creamy bokeh. But bokeh is a matter of personal taste, so I let you judge for yourself. I’ve shot some wide open pictures, specially for this report, because I know that many followers of this site care a lot about shallow dof and bokeh. The pictures show bokeh in different combinations – front and hind with close and further focus – all shot wide open at f/2. Here they come.

03. Red beauty

05. Jaguar emblem

04. Jaguar headlight

07. Austin Healey Cockpit

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07B Getting in the mood for Christmas

When street shooting wide open, one needs to focus fast. If you do this manually, the modern manual focusing features of this lens/body combination do a terrific job. The two following pictures illustrate this. In the first, I focused on the cigaret smoke and only had a time frame of around two seconds to frame and focus. IMO, this is a typical shot to benefit from those modern manual focus features. I used the automatic VF enlargement here.

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Personally I like the front bokeh yet a bit more than the hind one. IMO, the latter sometimes can get a bit nervous, especially when a very detailed background is involved, like leaves, while the front bokeh always remains super creamy in all circumstances.

All-around

Although this is only a f/2 lens, I find it usable in very divers light conditions. In the White Ochid picture the backlight from the bright white sky made the flower almost transparent. With the focal distance at 45cm, I set the aperture at f/4, in order to obtain the desired dof and a very slight but subtile blur in the hind part of the flower. To provide the right exposure, the setting of the shutter time was very delicate, because 1/3 step away killed the transparency effect.

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In “Watershow”, the exposure and processing was delicate as well, to combine the obscurity of the people with the clarity of the water. The EVF is a great tool for shooting that kind of pictures – if you read any of my former articles, you’ll probably remember that I’m a big EVF fan.

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The chiaroscuro was even pulled a bit further in the B&W “Evening at the Efteling”. And in “Compelling Show” I think I proved that also with the A7r and an f/2 lens, shooting in near dark environments is possible. This was of course shot wide open, at ISO8000 and 1/30sec. Here are some more low light pictures.

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15. Liège by night

This lens really is a high quality all-around piece of equipment – not that much a “specialised shallow dof lens”. IMO it specially shines, when you want to apply blur in a moderate, delicate and precisely controlled way or when you want to apply zone focusing and even hyperfocusing. It’ll capture light terrificly well. It’ll provide a color richness that allows you to work in post production with the colors in any way you want. On the Sony A7x this lens feels perfectly in balance, allowing very fast, spontaneous and precise shooting. Here are some different kinds of pictures to illustrate this.

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The Loxia Planar 2/50 is a very fine lens. It produces almost no barrel distortion (IMO the distortion is negligible), making it very useful for architectural shooting. And combined with the A7r, you get enough pixels to perform some “substitutional tilt/shift” work in post production. I went to the beautiful Liege Guillemins train station (Belgium) to live it up.

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Considerations

I guess you wonder if this Loxia has been a windfall to me for 100%. Well, no. In a few domains I had hoped for something slightly different.

First of all size and weight. This Loxia Planar is really a category larger than the ZM Planar (adapter included) and it simply weighs more (some 75gr – I use the Novoflex adpater for the ZM). I feel like it puts the lens/camera combination really in the next category, regarding size and weight, the more when carrying a few lenses in your bag (I will need a larger bag!). It feels like regarding size and weight it’s more to be compared now with the Leica M as a system, where in the past there was a real gain in this department for the Sony. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty comparable with my old Canon A1 with (latest generation) FD lenses. Strange how our perception changes, since at that time the A1/FD was regarded as a full size system. Although this Sony/Zeiss combination is still working fine for me, I’d say: this is the limit, guys – don’t make it grow any further!

Compared to the NEX bodies, like my NEX-7, this combination (A7x/Loxia) allows a bit less stealth shooting, particularly when the lens shade is mounted (although I believe stealth shooting is mainly a photographer’s attitude, as long you don’t use a large DSLR). Seen from a distance, the shade gives this lens the look of a medium zoom lens. When you really want to perform discrete shooting, you need to take away the shade, bringing the size “back to normal”. This is a massive lens shade, that does a great job in its own, but it’s large. For transportation, its size doesn’t pose a problem though, since you can mount it the other way round on the lens, so that it doesn’t take extra space in your bag, because it’s no longer sticking out. So all in all it’s a great working shade, that you only need to remove when you want to shoot discretely.

But every downside has its upside. I have to admit that the extra mass ads to the shooting control. In one of his articles, Steve mentioned that he felt like the size and weight of the M-system offered the ideal combination of compactness/weight and handyness and I wonder if I don’t need to share his opinion here, now that I feel the A7x/Loxia combination is playing in the same league…
The lens is bigger than the ZM, this mainly means thicker. Less stealth (a bit) and more weight on the downside, but more feeling from the focus ring at the upside. With its large (but not too large) swivel range, it allows very precise focusing. The smoothness/resistance is absolutely perfect for “one finger operation”.
The larger diameter of the barrel also makes for a bigger lens cap – less “wobbly” than the ZM caps. And as far as I heard, Zeiss has the plan to provide all Loxias with the same diameter, which would economize on the filter budget. I hope this doesn’t result in a limited lens offer, because then I’d prefer buying a few extra filters! I wonder though if this diameter will allow for a super fast 85mm. I guess and hope they’ll come at least with an f/2 which I reckon must be possible with this diameter – but wouldn’t an f/1.4 in time be nice!…

To conclude about size and weight, I initially had hoped for a lighter, more compact Loxia. But I guess, when able to choose between the two, eventually I’d probably agree with Zeiss’ choice, since it handles better. I think they had the perfect “manual focusing machine for out of hand shooting” in mind, and I have to agree that they both (Zeiss as well as Sony) have come pretty close. Furthermore, the Loxia sure looks absolutely beautiful on the Sony body.

The build quality is very good. The barrel is all metal, which gives confidence. Both the rings feel like they’ve been engineered with the finest precision. Their operation is super smooth with the perfect resistance to give you the right feedback about what you’re doing. The finish, with both rings being perfectly integrated in the barrel surface of the lens, is perfect. The look and feel is wonderful. With one consideration.

What initially disappointed me, was the design of the aperture ring. It’s placed close to the body, where on the ZM you’ll find it at the end of the lens. The placement is a matter of habit, of course, so no comments here. But because of the aperture ring being perfectly integrated in the surface of the lens barrel, I had it more difficult to feel it and thus to find it anyway. It took me a while to find my way here, missing it quite often at first. After a while however, I started using just my thumb (no second finger) at the underside of the lens to turn it. It’s really easy to find the aperture ring in this way, because the body is your guide. Both the aperture and focus rings have small knurls that provide excellent grip and both have a wonderfully smooth action, that make it easy to operate them with one finger. With my thumb on the aperture ring under the lens and my middle finger on the focus ring on top of the lens, I find it very easy and adequate to set both rings at quasi the same time, making the setting of focus and dof easier and faster then ever. Zeiss needed to place the aperture ring close to the body, to make this happen. In this position, my index finger is supporting the body in a quasi symmetric position to the right hand, which provides and equal pressure on both sides of the body, when relaxing both arms, and as such creates a perfect balans, that enables shooting out of hand with exceptionally long shutter speeds as well as allowing very fast setting and shooting. I have been shooting out of hand up till 1/15sec (the night shot with the Coca-Cola umbrellas), without really paying special attention (well, in fact, I always kind of pay special attention when pushing the button) and when looking at 100% (visible at my flickr page) you’ll see that even the fishnets are sharp.

I have been wondering if Zeiss had this way of shooting in mind when designing the lens, because it’s exactly this design that directed me to this way of handling, opening up the most effective way of shooting with manual focusing lenses that I experienced up till now. I wouldn’t be surprised of it, since Zeiss is primarly a specialist of manual lenses and Loxia is developed for mirrorless, which, due to it’s compact size, is the most handy option for manual shooting. Still, up till now, this new way of holding and setting has not yet become an automatism to me. I need to initially concentrate on the way I hold and handle camera and lens. But when I do, it’s really working excellent and faster than with any other lens I know. I’m sure, eventually, I’ll get used to it and it wìll become an automatism. But I also fear that quite some people, who are less keen on experimenting with different ways of handling, will find this recessed aperture ring to be less convenient in action than the one on the ZMs. Too bad, since it really can help you to perform better than ever.

To finish this of, a word about the price. Looking online at the Zeiss lens shop, this Loxia costs 849.00€, which is 100.00€ more expensive than the ZM. Regarding the extra functions, I’d say it’s more than worthwhile. And when you buy the ZM plus a good adapter, you’ll be spending even more money. (The Voigtländer adapter, with close focus ability, even costs a good 300€!)

*pre-order the Zeiss Loxia lenses HERE*

Conclusion

Well, I hope I elucidated the pro’s as well as the con’s of this new Loxia, as far as I could pinpoint them, that is. All in all, to me, it’s the pro’s that prevail. Largely. It asked for a period of adjustment, regarding the handling of the aperture ring, but once I did it right, it allowed for the greatest manual shooting experience that I ever had.

Regarding IQ, this Loxia offers exceptional value for money, it sometimes it even makes me think of my Otus 55, regarding IQ, not regardin budget :-), without the size and weight and without giving in that much on IQ as the price difference suggests.

My “old” ZM Planar is a great all-around lens. The new Loxia Planar improves this concept on all domains where improvements were possible. For all those manual shooting enthusiasts: IMO Loxia is absolutely the way to go with mirrorless bodies – Sony today, other brands to come really soon, for sure.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures that I added, many of them were specially shot for this user report. I also placed them in a dedicated folder on my flickr page, where you can look at some of them in full resolution, to even better illustrate the IQ in all detail and where you can check full exif data of all pictures. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/sets/72157649262134498/)

All shots were taken out of hand, with the exception of the “European Money” and “White Orchid” pictures (tripod) and “Liege by Night (holding the camera against a tree). Of course shooting out of hand renders a bit less detail than when using a tripod. But I just love shooting out of hand, since this gives me more possibility to react to a moment’s. Some of the shots weren’t even possible to take with tripod, like the ones of the ceiling and tracks on the train station that I shot from a moving escalator.

Two pictures (Seagulls and Splashing Boat) actually were pretty heavy crops, to illustrate the A7r’s cropping power.

I leave you with a few extra shots now, taken at the beautiful Liege train station. Thanks for reading, guys! And I specially thank Steve and Brandon for their fabulous work on this site!

Dirk De Paepe

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Dec 092014
 

Hot Deal of the Day and Rip off of the Day!

The HOT Deal of the day…

Hey guys! It’s only around 2 weeks until Christmas (give or take a day or two) and today Amazon is having a “deal of the day’ in the camera department, and it’s a great little Olympus that can be had for a song, or $189 with a 16GB memory card! Damn, I remember when a 1GB memory card cost $399, now you can get a 16GB card with a nice Olympus compact XZ-2 camera for $189 with free shipping if you are an Amazon prime member!

Click here for this “Gold Box Deal of the Day” from Amazon, while supplies last.

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The RIP OFF of the day…

Now for the rip off of the day. Even though B&H Photo cleared out the Hasselblad Stellar for $999, Wiloughby’s is still selling the same kit for $3,595! Yep, the same orange SE kit that I purchased (along with over 40 of you here who snagged the Orange before they sold out) for $999 can be had on Amazon for $3595! RIP OFF!! The Stellar SE is absolutely worth the $999 and I adore my Orange version. Not only is it made with better materials it is also Made in Japan unlike the Sony RX100 that is made in China, so they are made in different factories. The initial batch of RX100’s were made in Japan as well, then Sony switched it up to China which is when some people had issues with Quality Control. So the SE stellar at $999 is a great buy for a fantastic camera with unbelievable IQ for the size. Fast, gorgeous IQ, superb video, fit in you pocket design, exotic wood grip, Italian leather neck and wrist strap, real wooden storage box and of course the Hasselblad name which will be a good thing for resale.

But if you buy one, AVOID the RIP OFF at Amazon for $3595 and buy it here at B&H while they have a couple left (white or black).  I have two more I bought and will be reselling them on Amazon soon (one orange sold already) for $1500 each which will be the lowest price offered on Amazon (current lowest from a third-party is $2490 making mine the best deal on Amazon). When B&H Sells out, there will be no more of these deals to be found with shipping from the USA. When I sell the other, that will have paid for my own Stellar. Win/Win as this means I will have gotten a spectacular camera for free :) Similar to when people buy a $25k Leica special edition and sell it a few years later for $3-$5k profit. No difference. But to be clear, I love the Stellar, it is a pretty awesome little camera.

Can’t do that with the RX100 V1 as the resale is at around $240-$250.

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Stellar SE vs RX100 V1

  • Stellar uses premium materials 
  • Stellar has unique design (better for resale)
  • Stellar has the Hasselblad name (resale)
  • Stellar has a real exotic wood grip (makes a big difference in handling)
  • Stellar is made in Japan, RX100 in China
  • Stellar comes with Italian Leather neck strap and wrists strap that matches the camera colors
  • Stellar seems to have better color (firmware? Imagination? Fluke?) 
  • Stellar has real wooden storage case/box. It’s beautiful. (not needed but nice to have)
  • Resale Value of Stellar SE will most likely be a little more than $999 within 6 months. RX100 – $250
  • Both fit in any front jeans pocket. It’s tiny. 

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Of course there is the new RX100 V3 for less than the $999 Stellar, and this camera gives you a pop up EVF which is brilliant, but very small. It is thicker, and has a fold out LCD (which makes it thicker) and personally, I prefer the V1 sensor AND lens. The RX100 V3 will give you a wider lens at 24 (vs 28) but you lose out on the reach (V3 is only 70mm). Some say the V3 lens is sharper but my Stellar lens is as sharp as I could want, even in the corners. The Stellar II is on its way which will be an RX100 II souped up. Will go for $2500 in a NON SE version! Again, making this one a good buy.

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All from the Stellar – 1st one at ISO 3200

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TO THE BITTER FEW:

To those who are uninformed and making comments about me buying a couple of stellar SE’s and reselling them for a small profit, well, I suggest you read what I wrote when I 1st announced this deal. I stated up front I would do this, and suggested others do the same..I even said “mark my words” in one post about being able to sell for more than paid. Now it appears some of you feel this was done “behind the scenes” and secretly and are attacking me for it (two of you). Well, this just shows you did not read my original post, my original intent and my suggestion that others should and could do the same as me, making the Stellar SE a WIN/WIN situation when buying it. Problem is that not many believed me and now they are mad that they look foolish after publicly stating the camera is worth $200. There are so many bitter, hateful and any people in the internet world. Those who attack and hate just for the fun of it. It’s sad.

If I find a good deal I will always pass it on to you guys, I do not hold back and always share info with you guys when it is valuable information. I do find it funny that I was attacked for even posting the deal in the 1st place with a couple of others saying “it’s worth $200″ – “You are stupid for buying that” and my personal fave “how retarded are you for falling for that so called deal”? None of those comments were approved of course but goes to show how wrong they all were.

BOTTOM LINE FACT: The Stellar SE is a FABULOUS camera that offers quite a bit more than the standard RX100 V1 and for ME and many others it is well worth the $999 (especially counting resale value which can be up to $1500). I mentioned it all above as well as in my very 1st post on this blowout last week (where I stated I would buy more and resell and make some money). Nothing wrong at all with that, in fact, it’s 100% right and how life works. You either act or you do not. I act. I think MAKING money is always better than LOSING money as so many do every day in this crazy world of digital photography.

So to those bitching and moaning that I did what I originally said I would do, get over yourself and move on. No one controls what I do, this site or what I say but myself. Been like this since day one. I live life in an open way and just as I shared this deal and the benefits of the deal (reselling later for more than you paid which is a rarity) I will always tell it like it is. Two years ago I started a NO TOLERANCE policy when it comes to attacks in comments – and anyone who is attacking, degrading, name calling, or accusing will be banned. Period. Educate yourself before making any accusations or starting any conspiracy theories. (as in, read what I wrote a week ago). If you do not like the rules then do not come  here.

Thank you all! Again, this was aimed at the couple of guys who were making silly accusations without being educated on the matter before they spoke, not everyone else. I only posted it here as they failed to read the comments where I explained all of this already so it had to be placed here in hopes they would actually READ before they SPEAK. If anyone still wants a Stellar SE for $999, you can still get one in white or black HERE. Once they are gone is when the resale will spike a little. Consider that a tip :)

Steve

Dec 092014
 

An exotic modern classic, the Rolleiflex FX-N

By Brett Price

Hello Steve/Brandon,

Its been a while since I’ve submitted anything for your site, I thought it was long overdue. I recently purchased what I believe to be my dream medium format camera, a Rolleiflex FX-N and I thought I would share some photos and experiences with it since owning it for the month or so I’ve had it.

Rolleiflex FX-N

Before owning this camera my primary medium format camera was a Hasselblad 501cm which I loved but often felt as though it was the wrong type of camera for my style of shooting. It’s an excellent system, but focusing can be slow and if you use a prism of any kind it becomes rather large and cumbersome. I had a kit with a few lenses, a few backs, a waist level finder and a prism but often felt like I really only shot it with the 80mm and carried one back 99% of the time. I also rather hate the need for extension tubes to get closer than 1m which can feel somewhat limiting for someone who primarily takes portraits.

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The FX-N is my perfect medium format camera because it solved most of my issues with shooting with the Hasselblad in one camera that didn’t have any negatives to me. It’s extremely small, not really needed more space than a Leica with a lens when put in a bag. It has a fast 80mm f2.8 lens, perfect for portraits. It’s quick to focus, moving from min focus to infinity is extremely easy and fast, the Hasselblad often would take 2-3 full slow turns to do that. It uses a leaf shutter, something I’ve grown accustomed to and is nice when working with flash or low shutter speed, It’s insanely quiet, almost inaudible and has no mirror slap so it can be handheld at low speeds easily. It has a built in meter, something the Hasselblad required an electronic prism for. But the main reason I sprang for it was its close focus ability, allowing me to get up to 55cm away from a subject without the need for an extension tube or magnifying filter. I hate carrying these things around, and I often feel like the sweet spot for portraits was just under the 1 meter that most cameras allow.

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So now this camera comes with me everywhere I go, easily. It doesn’t sacrifice anything I find to be important in a system and will shoot the way I want it for 99 percent of anything I typically throw at it and I’ve been hugely enjoying it thus far.

I actually thought twice about writing this short review for a camera that most people would never buy. Dropping the amount that this camera cost is not something that anyone would take lightly but when I considered the long-term usage over the course of a lifetime and the problems it has solved for me in finding an all round system that I like, it seemed like a reasonable amount. I also loved the ability to support one of the last companies still producing film cameras. I sold a bunch of gear to help pay for it, and part of it was a wedding gift from my now wife. It came in just in time for my recent wedding, which was the first day I used it for. It’ll always have a place in documenting our lives together.

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I think one of the things our generation forgets is that a camera used to last you a lifetime. It used to be something you would pass along through generations. I’m not knocking on digital cameras but that is certainly one quality I miss in modern cameras that digital will probably never be able to offer us again. I hope you like the photos I’ve shot with it thus far.

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I have more posted on my tumblr here:
brettprice.tumblr.com

Or on instagram here:
@brettwayneprice

I try to post at least a photo a day to those places if you’d like to see more.

Cheers,
Brett

Dec 082014
 

The Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon ZM (Leica mount) Lens Review

by Cemal Sagnak

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Many People belief, a Leica Camera needs native Leica lenses, although there are Alternatives by other German Companies like Carl Zeiss with a long optical history in making lenses and Rangefinder cameras. As a passionate Leica Photographer, I always search and look for high quality alternative lenses for my Leica M Typ 240.

One of my favorite lenses is the Carl Zeiss Biogon T* 2/35 ZM, a versatile documentary and Photojournalist lens with outstanding optical performance and my standard Lens on the M.

I was very tempted to read the announcement during the last Photokina in September about a new fast 35mm f/1.4 hoping this can match with my Biogon 35/2 in optical performance but with a fast f1.4 aperture.
I could not be happier when last week my Demo Lens arrived.

My initial impression was extremely good, although the Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is larger (lengths 87,3 49mm Filter, 381gr) vs. the Biogon T* 2/35 ZM (lengths 68mm, Filter size 43mm, 240gr) the finder blockage is still moderate. You get immediately a feel of the build quality, all metal finish, robust and made for the next generation, something I definitely expected from a Carl Zeiss Lens.

The Distagon is build with 10 Elements in 7 groups with and the10 blades can be set in 1/3 steps giving you a good haptic feedback, you can feel comfortably each click on the aperture wheel. The focus wheel is on the right spot, perfectly accessible and smooth in handling, Rotating is not to tight and not to loose, which is important for a fast lens shooting at f/1.4 to achieve precise results.

The lens is equipped with the T* anti-reflective coating to control flare we will see later how good it performs using the Distagon against strong sunlight. The Distagon is made to be used under low light condition or for a clear separation of the subject from the background, don’t be surprised to see many pictures shot at f/1.4.

The Data sheet is promising; with a relative distortion of less than -1% the Distagon beats the Summilux –M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH on paper. Lets see how it performs.

Non-Leica Users need to know that sharpness of a rangefinder lens is relative and depending on the skills and eyesight of the User behind the Finder.

Before I took the Lens out, I did some shots at home on a tripod to see if there is a focus shift or misalignment. One shot through the RF and one with the LCD of the M and no surprise, all was good, as you can see in the crop of the image taken through the RF.

BTW, I tried the EVF of the M240 but I come to the conclusion that I am better and faster with the optical RF and composing is much easier. I turn on the LCD just when I use a 21mm lens to control the frame. I maybe would use the EVF if someone puts me a Noctilux under the Xmas tree and for sure with Leica – R lenses. But coming back to the Distagon…

My first session was taken in my new hometown Cologne, known as the capital of German Photography and this is not because of the Photokina only.  Pictures are DNG files converted into jpg in LR 5.7 I took some random street shots including the Xmas market to get warmed up with the character of the lens.

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The Bicycle shot shows rich and contrasts colors with a nice background blur and a great sharpness on the flowers. I tried similar with people, I am glad my daughters share my passion so they are always great models to try new Gear.
My second opportunity using the Distagon was a fashion shooting with the lovely Dana, who is running a fashion blog and needs regular shots of her in the seasons dress-up.

A 35mm lens is not the first choice for Portraits and People. Still the results were highly satisfying, color and focus are as well. Flare is not always welcome but in this case I used it as an element. Unfortunately Zeiss did not deliver a Lens Hood with this demo unit. I recommend purchasing a hood with the Lens.

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Beside some lens flare, I identified chromatic aberration, which appears when shooting wide open. Nowadays nothing software cant fix and also visible in some of my Summilux pictures. The third part of my Test was the low light capability of the lens, using it in some urban lightning and using it for what it was made for, wide open in low light, I travel much, so taking a tripod with me is a hassle and 100% of my shots outside are handheld. Maybe this is the case for many Leica Users.

This leads me to the Part 3 of my test…. Paris! A perfect Place using a Leica Camera and going for a photo walk along the river Seine and visiting places where Grandmasters of Photography took many iconic pictures. The Zeiss Distagon performs well wide open and paired with the great ISO abilities and Dynamic range of the M240, you will be able to get extraordinary results shooting this combo in the dark.

Here one Bokehlicious shot from a brigde in Paris.

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After all, I am pretty impressed by this new lens. I have owned the Leica Summilux 35mm ASPH (pre-FLE) and use currently the Biogon 35/2 which are the natural competitors. Before I come to my personal conclusion here is a price overview (Prices in Euro )

LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH – 4200 Euros
CZ Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM – 2000 Euros
CZ Biogon T* 2/35 ZM – 1050 Euros

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Now my question before I started this lens test: is it worth to pay almost double the price compared to the Biogon 35/2 for one f stop faster? For me it is, not that everybody needs an f1.4 lens but if you like shooting fast lenses, this is the lens, which delivers the image quality sharpness and details starting from f1.4.

Please find below the comparison shot at f2.0 between the Distagon and the Biogon. The Distagon is clearly sharper, I plan some more shots for a detailed comparison. Is the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM capable to compete with one of the best available lenses the Leica Summilux 35mm ASPH FL?

35 Biogon f/2 at f/2

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35 Distagon 1.4 at f/2

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Based on my experience with the Summilux , the Distagon is definitely worth to consider and not only because its half the price. Sharpness is on par between both lenses. I would like to do a lens comparison but I assume difference is very small and can be better measured in a LAB test rather then comparing pixel.

35 1.4 Distagon and then a crop

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The Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is announced to be ship at the end of 2014.

You can order the lens HERE at B&H Photo.

Cemal Sagnak

https://cemalsagnak.wordpress.com

Dec 082014
 

The Zeiss Loxia 50 f/2 on the streets of NYC 

By Tomer Vaknin

Dear Steve,

First let me say how much respect I have for you and the other members of your website, I have learned a lot by exploring the wonderful photos you all shared, equipment reviews and inputs. I would like to share my own personal experience with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* lens.

As a proud and very happy owner of the Sony Zeiss 55mm, I was hesitant to purchase the Loxia. However, after reading your positive impression of the lens in Photonika 2014 and as a huge fan of M mount lenses that I am, I simply had to try the Loxia.

Here are some photos I took with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* in Amsterdam streets, Marken village and Rennstrecke Zandvoort, during a holiday I took with my wife in the Netherlands. I hope these photos, along with my personal impression of the lens, will help some of undecided readers in making the right decision for themselves.

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My personal take on the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*:

- Great 3D feel (Check the box shot that was -take on a bed)

- Wonderful Bokeh

- Lovely Creamy look

- Great character

- Great colors and contrast

- Very sharp!

Overall, The 3D look, the creamy bokeh and feel + the very nice tone and color makes it a winner. The shots taken with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* looks like they were taken with the Leica lens.

Altough the Sony Zeiss 55mm is an amazing lens and you can’t go wrong with it, I personally prefer the Loxia.

www.facebook.com/tomer.vaknin.5

Dec 042014
 

Quick (not so crazy) Comparison! X100T, LX100, Stellar (RX100)

JUST FOR FUN!!!

A few asked me for one of these but I have been busy most of the day with personal things. Even so, I had time to shoot THREE JPEGS with each camera wide open, letting the camera choose exposure (just as most of use would shoot these in the real world, letting the camera choose exposure).

What I found is that the Stellar (Sony RX100) is sharpest, has pleasing Bokeh and rich color. The LX100 is the most accurate for the colors and the Fuji is the softest as the lens at f/2 is known to be a bit soft. The Fuji also has the most shallow DOF due to the APS-C sensor. The Stellar has a 1″ sensor, the LX100 a Micro 4/3 sensor and the Fuji, APS-C. Fastest to AF is a tie between the LX100 and Stellar with Fuji coming in last for AF speed AND accuracy.

Goes to show that these days, any camera can provide very pleasing and nice looking results.

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Smallest camera is the Stellar by far as it can fit in my front jeans pocket without an issue. The LX100 is next but it is a bit thick and large du to the body and lens and the Fuji is the largest of the lot.

Take a look at the quick shots below and click them for a larger 1800 pixel wide version! Tomorrow I will have my 1st look video on the new Sony A7 Mark II, so see ya then!

LX100 can be purchased at Amazon or B&H Photo.

The Fuji X100T can be bought at Amazon or B&H Photo

The Hasselblad Stellar can be found here for 70% off (while supplies last)

Steve

Images are out of camera JPEGS resized. Just meant to show DOF differences wide open as well as color/sharpness out of camera. Each camera was shot wide open and each camera was allowed to choose exposure as this is how most of us use these types of cameras. So what you see is what you get. 

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and a couple more comparisons

Below I see the Stellar capturing the most OOC detail – all at f/4 (which is Fuji’s sweet spot)

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Below I see the Stellar once again capturing the most detail (see the dirt on the bucket on the left side blue patch) – The Fuji is the smoothest and I prefer the color from the LX100

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…and by request, a few more quick snaps from the Stellar (will not be reviewing it as it is the same as the RX100 HERE)

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and size comparisons

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Dec 032014
 

The Great Venice Beach Fire of 2014

By Huss Hardan

Hello Steve and Brandon,

The night of Saturday, October 25 started off like most in Venice Beach, CA. Tourists, drunks, drunk tourists. The usual motley crew including yours truly. But then things changed with the smell of smoke. Now this wasn’t the usual smoke smell that wafts through the neighbourhood – due to 90% of the population suffering from glaucoma – but an acrid smell that warned of more serious events afoot. Something was on fire, so the normal reaction was to grab a camera and go take a look.
It was easy to track down, as I just followed the plumes of smoke, and the sound of sirens. A storage facility was the culprit, one that required 365 firemen to be summoned!

More at : http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20141026/venice-storage-fire-burns-for-14-hours-injures-eight-firefighters

It was quite the scene with moments of absurdity mixed in. One that sticks with me is the dood cycling through the fire trucks holding his munchies, without a care in the world! Ahh, Venice, don’t ever change!

I used a Leica M-E with Zeiss ZM 50mm Sonnar 1.5. All shots were at 1.5 and ISO 1250 1/125 sec . The intense strobe lights from the trucks made the auto meter go nuts – exposure readings flickering from 1/4000 to 1/30 sec, so I set it manually and stuck with that. As the Leica has an optical view finder, the viewing image was constant, but I wonder how an EVF would have coped with the strobe lights.

Peace out

Huss

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Dec 022014
 

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Hasselblad Stellar Special Edition Video & Samples!

**B&H Photo has a few of these left, blowing them out at 70% off at $999**

Many of you e-mailed me asking for an update once I had the Hasselblad Stellar SE in hand. Well, mine did arrive and it is a beautiful little camera. If course we all know it is a Sony RX100 V1 in a Hasselblad disguise but the cameras high end extras, design, wooden grip and sturdier controls as well as offering Adobe Lightroom software makes it stand out from the standard (now $500) RX100 V1. Much like the Leica D-Lux is the same camera as the LX100 yet $400 more expensive. Same concept.

My quick look video is below!

It has become the “thing to do” in the photo world to trash this Hasselblad, but this was well deserved as Hasselblad went insane with the pricing out of the gate at $3500 for this SE model. I will tell you now that this camera is in no way worth $3500. So since its launch it was laughed at, trash talked and made fun of (though not as much as the LUNAR which is even more insane with pricing and has an ugly design) ONLY due to price and the fact that it is an RX100 with some new cosmetics and sturdier dials, etc.

Leica has been doing this for years with Panasonic cameras and raising the price, but they kept it in check, sticking with a $400-$600 price premium, not a $3000 price premium as Hasselblad attempted. Now that we can obtain one for $999 instead of $4000, it makes it MUCH easier to swallow and the reality is that this camera is nothing to balk at , laugh at or out down. It is a VER capable and beautiful camera.

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After snapping some images with it I was reminded how lovely the original RX100 renders an image (slightly different and more organic than the II and III) and while the III has the most nag for the buck with the pop up EVF, the Stellar SE, now that it is 70% off ($2300 OFF) it makes for a special buy. B&H Photo have sold out of one color but have a few left of the others and once they are gone they are gone for good. Other shops did not reduce the cost of this camera so stores like Amazon are still selling it for $3500-$4200. Other shops who carry this camera are sticking with the $3500- price tag which means when B&H Sells out, there could be a possible resale on eBay profit so I will buy a couple more to do just that ;)

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In the flesh the camera looks killer (IMO) and I bought the orange as for me, it sticks out and screams “what the hell is that”?!?!? The main thing I prefer over the standard version is the wooden grip, it is perfectly placed for maximum gripe and comfort.

To those who say “you are buying old tech, and it is just GAS” well..I say those who chase the latest tech are the most guilty of gas! This camera, the RX100 V1 is highly capable of gorgeous and stunning results. Just see this post here for proof of that.

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It will take gorgeous images today and in 5 years it will as well. Cameras made in trees last 2-3 years are mostly all fantastic today just as they were years ago. Look at the Nikon DF using the old D4 sensor. Amazing camera.

Differences of the Stellar SE over the standard Sony RX100?

  • Different cosmetics
  • Hasselblad name
  • Italian Leather Strap & Wrist Strap included
  • Wooden Storage/Display box Included
  • Exotic Wooden Grip
  • Metal parts and sturdier dials
  • Adobe Lightroom Included

Now 2X the cost instead of 8X the cost of the RX100 V1 ;) 

In any case, I recommend either the RX100 V1 for under $500 or this Hasselblad version of it for $999. Either would make an awesome X-Mas gift for the special photo enthusiast in your life.  Other great options are the new Panasonic LX100 or even Fuji X100T. 

PS – Oh! Before I forget...For those of you who are angry, bitter, full of negativity and hate about me posting the deal on this camera, get over it. Your negative remarks will not be approved if that is what you decide to leave. Cameras are PERSONAL CHOICE and we buy what we enjoy, like, use and cameras that can be fun, inspirational and ones that get the job done. If someone wants to buy a Leica M for $8000, so be it! If someone wants a Canon Rebel, then good for them. If someone wants a Leica D-Lux over an LX100, more power to them. If someone wants a 70% off Stellar over an RX100 then that is cool as well. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me this camera is gorgeous. It was just insanely priced before and that is what made it the laughing stock that it was. At $999 it is a great buy, and again, one that can be resold later for more (mark my words), so nothing to lose :) I may buy 3 more just to sell later!

UPDATE Dec 3rd 2014: Some stats..over the past three days nearly 30 of these have been sold from my link to B&H Photo here. This means that 30 of you bought one after reading this. The interesting thing? Orange has been the top color with over 22 sold! White sold 5 and black sold 3. I figured most would go for the classic black but it appears many of you have the same taste as me  and went for the orange! My guess is that B&H has about 20 of each color and it started with two orange combos, one sold out. For those who asked, I will be doing a just for fun crazy compare between this camera, the X100T and the Lx100 soon! 

UPDATE Dec 5th 2014: I just re-read an article I wrote about the Stellar SE when it was announced and it is funny as I said “I would pay $1000 for one” and here we are, at $999. Priced just right. You can see that article here. 

 

You can buy the RX100 V1 HERE or the Hasselblad Stellar SE HERE. 

My 1st three snaps with the Hasselblad Stellar SE at home!

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For reference, Amazon has one listed for $4,250 as of December 2nd 2014 – $999 at BH is a great buy.

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Dec 012014
 

The Nikon Df with Zeiss Zf.2 Lenses

by Sebastian Bey Haut

Dear Steve,

I’ve been fortunate to have you publish my user report ( Fuji X-Pro1 / Zeiss Touit in Varanasi) in last February. I received very pleasing comments from your readers, which gave me enough confidence to submit my images more widely… As a result I recently exhibited my work in an important photo festival in France and got a few shots published in magazines. It has been highly motivating and made my interest for photography grow even more!

I still have my Fuji but enriched my gear list since my trip to India with a Nikon DF and two Zeiss ZF2 lenses, the 21mm 2,8 and 50mm 1,4.

I have always been attracted by manual focusing, but I did not want to do it via an EVF nor by manipulating a lousy focus ring made for autofocus (tried, and did not like it).

Photography is a hobby and I don’t need it to feed my family, I’m thus free to choose whatever gear I like without any technical constraints… Which is why I indulged my self with this new kit, starting with the lenses. The Zeiss ZF2 are 100% made for manual focusing: manipulating the focus ring is a joy, and their sturdy metal construction with almost no electronics will let me enjoy them for as long as there is a Nikon F mount camera on the market. It might be purely psychological, but this unlimited life time is really helping in the buying decision as I really see myself with my two Zeiss mounted on a DF 15 in 2034.

*The Ultimate Dream Zeiss Zf Lens kit for Nikon with case*

I’ll not discuss the technical merits of the lenses in details as there already are many reviews available. The only thing I want to emphasize on is the pleasure one has in using them during the “picture taking” process. It’s very easy to zone focus using their distance scale and there is no front / back focus to mess with. The 21mm is objectively superior to the 50mm in terms of pure image quality, but both have the same “Zeiss” color rendition and micro contrast that make your shots much more beautiful and alive.

After choosing the lenses then came the question of the body. The Df was a pretty obvious choice for me as I did not want to “waste” my money in buying a “pro” autofocus system and never use it because of the manual lenses… Much has been said about the Df which might be far from perfect on the paper… But once again what matters to me is the pleasure of using it, which is far superior than the one I have with my D300 for example. The small size, the D4 sensor, the dials, and (let’s be honest) the look make it the exact “fun” camera I was looking for.

I’ll mostly use it for street and travel photography: the old school “retro” design is very un-intimidating, even cheap looking for non connoisseurs. Manual focusing is very easy and the high iso capabilities allow to close the aperture to f8 to get enough depth of field for zone focusing in most of the lighting situations.

I matched it with a Gariz leather half case (perfect to get a bit of extra grip without adding too much bulk), a Roberu canvas strap, a Nikon DK17m magnifier to make focusing even easier, and cherry on the cake and absolute must have for any serious photographer: a soft release ! (the Nikon ebonite one – I fully assume my hipster tastes :) )

I had my first serious photo trip with the Df in NYC in October, here are the resulting images.

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More are available on my 500px: https://500px.com/Sebastien_Bey_Haut

Thanks for reading

Sebastien

Dec 012014
 

Cyber Monday Deals (Things I would Buy) – Sony, Cosyspeed and more!

Hey guys! It’s “Cyber Monday” and while every year stores and manufacturers try to get me to push their deals on things I would not personally ever buy, every year I do not post 95% of those deals simply because as I said…I would never buy or use these products. But sometimes there are deals that come along that I feel are special, or well worth the cost and sometimes, a downright NO BRAINER. Things I WOULD buy! Last week I posted a couple of deals..one on the Hasselblad Stellar SE at 70% off (and I ordered one myself), the deal on the Sigma DP Quattro, which is almost half off from $999 to $599. The Sigma is a unique camera and was not tempting to me at $999 but at $599 it is something that some will want for its unique IQ and capabilities for certain subjects.

Below are a few more deals on things that I feel are a great bang for the buck…

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Sony also has some AWESOME deals on the A6000 camera (which is FANTASTIC, see my review HERE)..

Sony A6000 with 16-50 Power Zoom lens – $598!

Sony A6000 Body only – $448!

CAMSLINGER 160 Paris Gray

CosySpeed has a great deal on their Camslinger bags at $69 each! THIS BAG IS A STEAL FOR $69 and is one of the most useful camera carrying cases I have ever used. See my video on it HERE.

Buy the Cosyspeed Camslinger in BLACK for $69 HERE at B&H Photo. A $50 SAVINGS.

Their finger strap is something I actually prefer to a wrist strap, and it can be had for only $12.90. See it here. (Also used in the video at the above link) 

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fujix100s

How about a deal on the Fuji X100S?

$899 in black!

LEICA?

Also, do not forget Leica has some cool discounts right now. $750 of an M 240 and $250 off of most lenses. You can buy Leica from Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop or Leica Store Miami.

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NIKON!

There is a great Nikon Df deal over at Amazon (Through ONECALL) where you can get a Nikon Df and 50 1.8 for $600 off (in black) for a total of $2396 (20% off). Check it out HERE.

Nov 282014
 

BLOWOUT Hasselblad Stellar SPECIAL EDITION $2299 (70%) OFF!

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UPDATE: I bought one of these in Orange and it is GORGEOUS, HEFTY and feels amazing in the hand. This is indeed a special version of a special camera and $999 is a more than fair price. I handled  the standard stellar 1-2 years ago and was impressed but this one takes it up a notch in looks and style. $3500? NO WAY. $999, YES SIR! Will I keep it for a long time? Maybe but I also may list it for sale in 6 months on e-bay for $1500 when they are sold out at $999 and others are still trying to get $4k for them. :) Others can trash talk it all they want, but this is a GREAT buy right now so if you are on the fence about it and love the RX100 camera, this is better in all ways (besides IQ which is the same) to the standard Sony version in build, materials, feel, accessories, and uniqueness. Much like the Leica D-Lux which is the exact same camera as the Panasonic LX100, made in the same factory side by side yet the Leica costs $400 more and does not include these kind of extras (as the Stellar SE does).

Video review soon just because. 

WOW! I knew this day would come as it was only a matter of time. I know 95% of the photo community made fun of the Hasselblad Stellar, which in reality is just a Sony RX100 with a premium cosmetic upgrade. But B&H Photo just took stock of several SPECIAL EDITION versions and are unloading them for $999! 70% off for this luxury edition of the Sony RX100 camera.

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These cameras are running $2,795 – $4,250 at Amazon and did run for $3299.00 originally. With the new “Stellar II” coming (and it will be full price) the original Stellar Special Edition can now be had for what I feel is actually a great price, $999.

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The Special Edition Stellar comes in unique colors, with special edition leather straps and a wooden case. Also has a special edition writs strap that comes with it. The fact is, the Sony RX100 (see my review here) is a superb camera, and IQ wise, may be slightly better than the II and III (many say so). You can buy an original Sony RX100 for $500 or so but for $500 more, you can have something special while having a great camera. A camera that will start many conversations, I guarantee it. A chance to own the most controversial camera release in years at $2400 off the normal price.

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I was able to handle the original plain (non SE) stellar a while back and loved the wooden grip, sturdier feel and metal buttons and dials, but refused to even think about paying $3000 for one. With the SE editions now at $999 at B&H Photo, I went ahead and ordered the orange one just to have a pimped out RX100 on hand and to hold onto so later in life I can tell my grandkids about the days when Hasselblad was the laughing stock of the camera community for releasing a camera like this (Sony RX100 for $2500 more than the RX100) at $3300 ;)

I have liked the looks of the Stellar but would never ever pay the original prices. At $999, I find this to be a deal worthy of going for if you want a small compact camera with high IQ and a design that is different from 100% of other cameras out there. Some will hate it of course, some will love it. But if you are one of those who liked the design of the stellar and was waiting for the big discount unloading day, well, the is it!

The Hasselblad Stellar SE is now at a reasonable price ($500 + for the design, uniqueness, rarity, name, strap, exotic wood grip, wooden case, more robust build, firmware, etc) and B&H has a few of each color color combo so click below To see what they have to offer. They even have a few of the carbon fiber black SE’s left, which was the one that sold the most, even at normal price.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OR ORDER THE STELLAR SPECIAL EDITION FOR $999 – ALL COLORS AVAILABLE

DETAILS ON THE STELLAR SE

A camera to match those autumn afternoons strolling the Champs-Élysées or a late summer’s final respite to the beaches of Dubai, the Stellar Special Edition pairs Hasselblad’s refined Swedish design with Italian opulence. A true objet d’art, the champagne-colored aluminum body features a wenge wood grip with orange accents, along with hand and neck straps crafted of vegetable-tanned Italian leather. Its air of elegance is further reinforced with the inclusion of a custom wood display box that would not seem out of place at the Metropolitan Museum, let alone as the prized item in your home collection. Chromed hardware and a lacquered finish serve as the understated backdrop to the inlaid Hasselblad emblem that signifies both historical relevance and timeless design.

The Stellar combines the size of a point-and-shoot camera with the craftsmanship and attention to detail that one would expect from Hasselblad. Along with its attractive hand grip, it also features all metal operation controls, a 20.2MP 1″ Exmor CMOS sensor to produce high-resolution still imagery and full HD 1080i/p video, and an f/1.8 10.4-37.1mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens.

The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28-100mm, which covers both wide-angle and telephoto perspectives, allowing you the versatility to shoot in many situations. The wide aperture of f/1.8 enables the camera to shoot in difficult lighting, and can isolate your subject from the background. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization helps minimize the appearance of camera shake when shooting with slow shutter speeds or long zoom magnifications. The T* coating on the lens is an anti-reflective coating that helps reduce reflections, lens flare, and ghosting, providing sharp, high-contrast imagery.

On the back of the camera is a 1229K-dot 3″ LCD screen to compose and review your images and videos, and to navigate through the camera’s menu. The display screen has auto and manual controls to adjust the brightness, from -2 to +2, as well as a sunny weather mode, which is important when shooting outdoors in sunny conditions. The screen also displays all info, and has a virtual horizon for leveling your shots. Included with the Stellar is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software to edit your images, an 8 GB SD memory card, anti-dust bags for the camera and neck strap, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

Special Edition
This special edition kit includes a custom-fit lacquered wooden camera box, and Italian leather wrist and neck straps with signature stitching. There are also two anti-dust bags to protect the camera and the neck strap, and a faux velvet cover to protect the wooden box’s finish.
Shooting Modes for Video & Stills
Choose from standard program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual modes, or additional iAuto, iAuto+, or sweep panorama modes. There are also thirteen pre-programmed scene modes to choose from.
Built-In Flash
The built-in pop-up flash aids in shooting in difficult lighting, and has five flash modes, with a +/- 2.0 EV compensation.
Shutter
A leaf shutter allows for shutter speeds between 30 seconds and 1/2000 sec, as well as a bulb mode.
Drive Modes
Shoot in single-shot, continuous, speed priority continuous, self-timer, self-timer continuous, or bracketing modes.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Included with the camera is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to incorporate into your workflow.

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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