Aug 242011
 

SONY GROWS SOME BALLS! The NEX-7 has been announced and it looks AMAZING!

The Sony NEX-7 has been announced and I have already Preordered Mine From AMAZON!. I RARELY pre-order anything but I have to say that I have been waiting for the “pro” NEX and Zeiss lens for quite some time and now that it has been unveieled it appears to be a camera that I am really going to dig. BIG TIME. I mean, this IS the PRO NEX we have been waiting for! SONY beat Olympus, Sony beat Panasonic, Sony beat NIKON, CANON, and all others to the punch and released a PRO SPEC mirror-less camera and matching Zeiss lens!

First of all, the resolution is there at 24 Megapixels. That is MORE than enough, and borderline TOO much… but man, there would never be a need for more. The EVF is there and from what I have been reading, it is superb and as good as it gets in an EVF to date. It is larger than the tiny NEX-C3 and the new NEX-C5 which is good as those cameras are a bit too small at times depending on the lens you have mounted.

Check out this preview WITH video at ENGADGET.

Before you read further, if you want to PRE-ORDER this camera you can do so here, at THIS LINK at AMAZON. The cool thing is, you won’t be charged until it ships but Amazon is known to take pre-orders and then cut them off when they sold too many. If you get in now, you will be one of the first to get a shipment. I ordered mine already along with the Zeiss 24 1.8 which is also available for pre-order HERE. The NEX-7 will be $1199 for the body only and the Ziess will run you $999. It will be released and should be shipping by the first week of November (just in time for my birthday)!

This is not a cheap camera setup at $2199 but it does not appear to be a cheap camera in any sense. Amazon already has a cool video up featuring the NEX-7. You can check that out HERE –

I am excited about this one and I have to say that 2011 has been a GREAT year for kick ass cameras. The Fuji X100, the Olympus E-P3, and even the Leica M9-P which is the best looking Leica digital ever.

So what is there to be so excited about here? Well, we will be getting all of the good stuff from the NEX system and ALL of the new super cool stuff as well. The new menu control system, the super resolution, the built in EVF, the larger body and grip….as the title says, SONY GREW SOME BALLS and I am glad they did. If they would have left this batch of NEX news with only the C3 and C5 it would have been a big yawn IMO. The 7 is where it is at and where the serious enthusiasts are looking. I believe this Sony will be a HUGE seller just due to everything it has going for it. Here is yet another site (in French) with some real world photos of the camera with the Zeiss lens attached.

I just hope it isn’t a dog when it is finally delivered but I seriously doubt that. When reading all of the 1st hand reports from the mega sites it seems like Sony did their homework, listened to the customer base of enthusiasts and created this camera that is still small but has the control, the viewfinder, the sensor, and build of a pro camera, but all in the compact size. The new lens should take advantage of the sensor as the old Sony kit lenses still are mediocre at best. The glass is always where it is at!

So one more time, let’s take a look at the NEX 7’s main features and why it is so special in the world of smaller mirror-less APS-C cameras.

This is the 1st ever APS-C size sensor camera to break the 24MP barrier. The OLED EVF has a resolution of 1024X768. The hotshot is a full size version, like the one they use on the larger ALPHA DSLRs. It will have 1080P HD AVCHD video. Also, a brand new “Tri Navi” interface where you will use the two scroll wheels at the top to control the menu while looking through the EVF. It has a magnesium alloy construction. The LCD on the back is tilt-able. THE NEW ZEISS 24 1.8 lens! This will give us a 35mm equivalent. It may be a bit large but my money says it will be QUALITY.

I know I will get the questions…So why am I so excited about this Sony when I have a Leica M9P? Well, I do not always take out my M9P and I love technology. I love photography. I love when companies push limits and create new and exciting things. I also love a well designed and built camera that is well thought out and I also always want a smaller camera that is high quality, a joy to shoot and one that also takes video. So yea, I pre-ordered mine even though I already have an M9P and Olympus E-P3! PLUS, I happen to know Leica is not sitting still in all of this and they will have an announcement in 2012 that will be pretty exciting. It never ends!

Again, you can PRE-ORDER the NEX-7 at Amazon using THIS LINK.. Also, the Zeiss 24 1.8 can be pre-ordered HERE.. Amazon doesn’t charge you until they ship, which is cool. As soon as I get my hands on this camera I will have a huge thorough real world review. Can’t wait! Oh, and Sony Japan already created a site for the NEX-7 which can be found HERE. The camera is scheduled for release the 1st week of November and I am guessing there will be loads of people using their Leica glass on this one. With the focus peaking and EVF..wow. No more awkward shooting with manual lenses.

It appears B&H Photo has now listed the NEX-7 on their site but they show it as coming with the 16mm lens for $1199 or the 18-55 for $1349. B&H is not taking pre-orders yet though. They usually wait until 2-3 weeks before the camera starts shipping.

Also, just because I am a fun guy, take a look at this commercial below..it’s not for the NEX-7 but for a product Sony will now need with their new set of Balls! Lol…

Let’s have even more fun. Vote in the poll below and let us know if you are planning on buying the NEX-7!

Aug 232011
 

Will you buy the upcoming Fuji X50?

Well, it appears to be coming soon…the Fuji X50. The pint sized baby of the X100. Looks like the X100, feels like the X100, works like the X100, has the same build as the X100 but it is half the size of the X100, with a small point and shoot sensor. Me, I will pass as I am no longer buying any small sensor cameras but I have to admit, this will look pretty cool with a wrist strap :) I just do not think the success will be there for the smaller version. The X100 is almost the camera so many of us have been begging for (just needs a few tweaks and enhancements to make it perfect). I don’t see a small sensor zoom version to be anything too exciting. BUT what about you?

Here are the specs of the X50:

12 MP 2/3-inch EXR CMOS – SMALL sensor so this camera will be competition for something like the Leica D-Lux 5
4x f/2 manual zoom lens (Fujinon) – Zoom lens…f/2 at wide end
Optical view finder – NOT hybrid
1080p HD movie recording
RAW+JPEG
Same lovely X100 build quality
Just under $600 at $599

So the question is..WILL YOU be buying a Fuji X50? Participate in the poll below!

Aug 222011
 

The SLR Magic 28 2.8 “E” Mount Lens Review using the Sony NEX-5 and Sony NEX-C3

Yet another lens real world use review using an SLR Magic lens! This is a company that in the last year has brought out some interesting lenses for Micro 4/3 and Sony “E” or NEX mount. I reviewed their fun Toy Lens for M4/3 and their equally fun “SLR MAGIC” lens for the Sony NEX and the reason I enjoyed those lenses so much was due to the fact that they were tiny, light and CHEAP! Plus the results were pretty cool and unique. Recently they sent me their new more serious lens for the Sony NEX mount. A 28mm f/2.8 lens made of metal. This is a manual focus lens and has aperture click stops from 2.8 up to f/22.

I had this lens a while and did not get to use it much but did manage to get a few shots in here and there. I finally have shot this lens enough to give it a fair review so here we go! Keep in mind that this is a real world review. The same type I have done for 2 1/2 years. The images you see here are all snapshots. Images I captured during my use with the lens to test the output and character of the glass. Nothing more, nothing less :)

The SLR Magic 28 2.8 equals about a 42mm on the NEX. A not so fast 2.8 aperture would make this lens seem good for landscape or maybe even portraits but this lens has a unique character just like most SLR Magic offerings. No, this lens will not give you funky swirl or crazy bokeh but it will give you a rendering that is a bit soft when wide open and with softer corners. It is a lower contrast lens as well when shot at 2.8 but when you stop it down, watch out! It sharpens up and the contrast gets a little higher as well. Also, tweaking the image in Photoshop or Lightroom easily fixes and lower contrast issues that may arise.

One unique thing about this lens is that it has a new “Revolver Style” aperture ring which gives you circular bokeh at every aperture. It also helps to cut down on size. SLR Magic also sent me the image below that helps explain the best aperture to use for certain situations.

The Build, The Look, and Feel

This lens is pretty solid. It comes in a box with a metal screw in lens cap and a rear cap. The lens is made of metal and has a good feel about it. It does not seem as “polished” as something that would come from Nikon, Canon or Leica but look at the price. A measley $169 on their E-Bay page. For that price, I can not complain about the build at all, only praise it.

I shot with this lens on a Sony NEX-5 and a Sony NEX-C3. The lens is small enough that it felt good on both cameras. It’s not long and it’s not to heavy. When manually focusing the new peaking feature worked GREAT. I was able to shoot without using the magnification, and 95% of the time the focus was spot on. This is a manual lens folks, so that means no auto focus and no turning the dial on the back to choose aperture.

NEX-5 and the 28 2.8 wide open

The Character of the 28

This lens is NOT going to be a lens that gives you perfect corner to corner sharpness. This lens has a but of unique character and even a little bit of a classic draw. I found it good for people and if you stop it down to f/8, good for landscapes when the lens does sharpen up considerably. I love lenses with character though this lens was not so easy to use when I first started shooting with it on the NEX-5. I had many out of focus shots due to the complications of shooting manual lenses on the NEX system. Once Sony did the focus peaking update, the lens became SO MUCH better and easier to use for me.

On the NEX-5 with the new firmware. Messing with the new color effects…

Using the NEX-C3 with the 28.28  at ISO 1000 – rich color wide open here but I adjusted contrast in Photoshop. Shot in Vivid mode on the C3.

Shot during a gloomy “funny” day in Amsterdam on the NEX-5 – 2.8

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW FOR A FULL SIZE FILE FROM THE NEX-5 and 28 2.8  – This is wide open and shows the softer corners.

Low light portrait…wide open

This shows a hint of the slight dreaminess you can get from this lens…

…and by f/8 it sharpens up considerably. The next two are JPEGs from the NEX-C3,  f/8

ISO 1600, NEX-C3 – JPEG – f/2.8

below, f/8 in the full Las Vegas sun

Wide open at f/2.8 indoors – NEX-C3

The tree below was shot on the NEX-5 with the 28

The corners are soft when shot at 2.8 but the lens is sharp in the center wide open…see the sample below with 100% crop at 2.8 – MUST click image to see 100% crop


Full Size Samples from wide open to f/11

Some of you may want to see full size samples wide open and stopped down. The following images are all right out of camera JPEGS, saved as a “9” quality in Photoshop. Click on each image to see the full size version.

So, What do I think of the SLR Magic 28 2.8?

This lens is cheap at $169 (plus shipping). For your cash you get an all metal manual lens made for your SONY NEX camera. Shipping from SLR Magic is quick, and they are a great company when it comes to customer service. I have had several lenses shipped to me from SLR Magic and never had one issue. Well, that is not true. One time they sent me a lens and it never arrived. They sent me a replacement and then right after the original came. They told me to just keep both and give one away. Pretty cool.

This 28 2.8 lens is somewhat classic in its rendering when shot wide open and when you stop it down to f/8, forget about it! It sharpens up and gives really great results. When shooting on the NEX-C3 the color seemed better to me over the NEX-5 which seemed duller but that could have been the color mode I shot in as the NEX-5 shots were RAW and the C3 shots are JPEGS.

I had a love/hate with this lens from the get go though. For the first month of shooting I disliked it as I found it a chore to use on the NEX (but I found ALL manual lenses slow and cumbersome on the NEX). I did enjoy the SLR Magic 35 1.7 on the NEX-5 but that lens was made to be imperfect, like a toy lens so missing focus wasn’t such a big deal. But when you use a lens like this, which is a bit more serious, you want your shots IN focus. Not until Sony released the focus peaking feature did I really start to appreciate this lens, and again, at $169 there is NOTHING here to complain about.

My Pros and Cons? Simple really:

PROSPrice of $169, well made, manual aperture ring, rounded aperture, sharp center

CONSA but dull in the color right out of the camera, lower contrast and soft corners until stopped down a bit. 

They even sell a version of it with a Macro adapter on their E-Bay page for $100 more. (which I have but have not used yet. I will update this review with MACRO pics as soon as I get something decent with it)

After spending $899 for an E-P3 and $799 for the 12mm f/2 lens, paying $169 for a lens like this seems like a steal. BUT!!! You must remember what this lens is and is not. It is an ALL MANUAL lens. This means you have to manually focus it. You have to set the Aperture on the lens. These two things are very “Leica Like” but the quality of the lens, and it’s rendering is somewhat classic wide open. It’s one of those dual personality lenses…wide open you get a softer glow at times and stopped down you get plenty of contrast and sharpness. I like it but it is what it is. A great lens for $169. if you like the look of the photos above and do not mind a manual lens, you will probably really enjoy the SLR Magic 28 2.8. At the asking price, it’s worth it! You can buy the SLR Magic 28 2.8 direct at their E-Bay page HERE.

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Be sure and visit the all new forums on the site HERE.

Aug 212011
 

Check out the Olympus 45 1.8

Hello to all! It’s Sunday night and I am sitting here at my computer figuring out what I should be posting tomorrow. For now, I was browsing the net and found the 1st real review of the new Olympus 45 1.8 lens for micro 4/3. This is one of the two new lenses Olympus announced along with the 12mm f/2, which we already know is a fantastic (but pricey) lens. The cool thing is that the 45 1.8 will be half the price of the 12. I pre-ordered mine from B&H Photo as I heard they may be shipping in the next week or two. Their pre-order link is HERE.

 

To see the 1st real review from Robin Wong, click HERE. Love the real world style there so I am happy to link to it! The lens looks pretty promising and at $399, not too horribly priced. This seems like it will make for a great portrait lens. All I can say is that FINALLY Olympus is releasing some really good glass for micro 4/3. I have a feeling this lens will be available in the next 10 days…

Chicago Workshop/Meetup Selling Fast!

To all of you who had interest in the Chicago workshop, it will be held on September 24th, which is a Saturday. I posted about it here and I am having an “early bird” special until Sep 1st, so get in now if you want in. There will be two guest presentations, it will be held right smack dab in the middle of downtown and we will be doing some cool street shooting, having a killer lunch (all paid for by me) and a great breakfast with world famous coffee and espresso (also paid for by me). It will be a jam packed day of learning, shooting, food and fun with an optional night out at a local pub/bar for those who feel up to it :) Check out the page here and to sign up, email me at [email protected]

Don’t forget the Leica M9/Thumbs Up promo!

or the Sony NEX/SLR Magic contest (over 200 entries so far!)

In the mood to shoot some film? B&H has a used Leica M7 and an M6 for sale. 

UPDATED my Olympus E-P3 review with a side by side shot between the E-P3 with 12mm and the NEX C3 with 16mm (near the bottom)

IN STOCK! Fujifilm LH-X100 Lens Hood + Adapter Ring

Leica M9 and 50 Lux  review from Forbes – They love it!

Aug 202011
 

Out on the street with the Olympus E-P3 and 12mm f/2 lens

Yep! I’m still using this little Olympus E-P3 and 12mm lens and am letting my Leica M9-P get some rest. On my recent 24 hour Vegas trip I left the M9-P at home as my mission was to shoot the Sony NEX-C3 and Noktor 50 Hyperprime as well as the SLR Magic 28 2.8. I did bring along the E-P3 and 12mm in case I wanted to shoot any side by side stuff. What ended up happening though was I started shooting the E-P3 more than the NEX! Even my buddy kept reminding me that I was shooting with the wrong camera, haha. Well, this is the thing I am talking about with the E-P series. They are so damn fun to shoot. They feel great in the hand. The controls are just right there where you want them and with the new E-P3 being so fast, it’s almost foolproof.

I shot the camera in the full Nevada sun (which can at times be a little more intense than the Phoenix sun), and also at night time at ISO 3200 using the grainy black and white setting which adds MORE grain to the images. I have tested small AF cameras on the street like this before. Cameras like the Ricoh GXR which gave me good output but was very slow to focus in the low light. The NEX-5 which did great when I shot it at ISO 6400 on the light rail. The Leica X1, which would not even be usable in low light like I shot the E-P3 below,  just due to it’s very slow AF. It could be used in manual though, but not with 100% accuracy when moving quick.

Then we have the Fuji X100, which I adore. BUT if I tried using it in the late night darkness the AF would fail. Too slow. When shooting the E-P3 with the 12mm, even wide open and in dark areas the AF is just about instant, even in lower light. The KIT ZOOM is also lightning fast which tells me that cameras like this, with their contrast detect AF, CAN BE SUPER FAST. It just makes for fun, stress free, and exciting shooting. Then, with a lens like the 12mm, if I want to go manual I just slip the focus ring back and set my distance in feet for some zone focusing fun. I have been reading complaints online where people who do not own the E-P3 are moaning and groaning saying the sensor tech is lagging. Even DPreview posted their full E-P3 review only to conclude that it would have gotten their highest recommendation if the sensor was more megapixels and newer. So what they are saying is that the sensor in the E-P3 (which apparantly is the old E-P2 sensor, but has been tweaked) is too old. Does this mean that you can not take quality photos with it? The answer to that is NO. Of course you can. As a matter of fact, the only one s I have seen complaining about the E-P3 are the people who do not own one. Those who do seem to LOVE the camera, which is my experience as well.

I mean, how long has Tri-X been around in the film world? It still works and I am here to say that the sensor in the E-P3 does indeed still work :) Could it be better? Not really much better as this is micro 4/3 and there are limitations but the quality as it stands now is good enough for 98% of shooters.

The fact of the matter is, even in the new Panasonic G3, which to me, does not feel as nice in my hand, nor to control as the E-P3, has more megapixels and about a half stop improvement in high ISO. It may be a tiny but sharper but I mean, really? The 12MP of the E-P3 is wonderful. Much like another camera that I used to own and LOVE. It was a favorite of mine back in the day and I got slammed when I would post how great it was on forums. I remember taking side by side shots with it and the Canon 5D and I would get better results with the 4MP camera in many situations! I was SLAMMED for saying  this but I did show examples. That camera was the Nikon D2Hs. It was 4MP but man, the quality of the pixels was amazing. Those who owned one (or still do) know what I am talking about. That camera now has sort of a little cult following, even today.

But I am not here today to talk about the D2Hs. Instead, I am here to show some recent examples of out of camera JPEGS shot with the E-P3. Some street shots at night with high ISO and the grainy B&W art filter and a few things in between. Enjoy, and if you have been on the fence about the E-P3 and are invested in the M 4/3 system, I’d say GO FOR IT. It is wonderful and a big improvement in just about every area over the E-P1 and E-P2. The new Panasonic 25 1.4 lens and the new Olympus 45 1.8 (both of which I will review here) will give us a GREAT set of fast primes..12, 25 and 45 which will equal 24, 50 and 90. I’m so happy that the M 4/3 format is starting to mature. The camera is slick, it’s fast, it’s comfortable, it’s built well and like I said in my review, it is THE BEST PEN to date!

OK, ON TO THE IMAGES!

UPDATE – A couple of grumpy people seem to be confused and think my review shots are meant to be works of art to be hung on walls. No, they are not :) – My review shots are just that, shots to review the camera. Snapshots like most people will shoot. Just showing what to expect out of cameras and lenses. My Photo work and print sales are not the photos you find in my reviews :) So keep this in mind. As with ANY camera review site, judge the camera output, not the photo itself. Thank you!

All images are JPEGS from the camera. In some images, contrast, saturation have been adjusted. CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION.

Walking the street in downtown Las Vegas (Fremont Street) is an explosion of light and color. This was shot with the 12mm at what appears to be f/3.2 (exif says so). Love the color. 

and more from Fremont street

Inside Caesars Palace I shot this at f/2. Out of camera JPEG here. Click for larger.

Olympus E-P3 – ISO 1000 – Inside Ceasars

Fremont Street with 12mm

Street performers are everywhere it seems…

Switching over to grainy B&W mode and higher ISO – These were all shot late night

About to get a new tattoo.

Remember, grain is ADDED to these by using the grainy art filter – gives it some grit and grime – ISO 2000, 12mm.

woody just chilling on the strip…ISO 2000

Minnie Mouse taking a break – ISO 3200 – Grainy mode – 12mm

This was shot in a dark casino, ISO 3200, grainy mode AS I WALKED by. I lifted, the camera focused and I snapped. All took place in a fraction of a second. Yes, it is blurred because I was walking but shows how fast the AF is in low light.

My buddy Mike  – ISO 2500 – grainy B&W

and again a few minutes later – ISO 1250 – f/2 – Grainy B&W mode.

Aug 192011
 

 



Testing the Noktor 50 f/0.95 for the Sony E Mount with the new NEX-C3

Hello to all! It’s been a LONG LONG day for me but I am back in my office and doing what I love to do most, and that is to sit here at my desk while in my big comfy chair and tell you guys about my experiences when shooting with new gear :)

The 24 Hour Adventure

Yesterday afternoon my buddy Mike and I took a drive to Las Vegas, which is about a 4-5 hour drive from Phoenix. I brought along a very light kit consisting only of the Olympus E-P3 and 12mm lens and the brand new Sony NEX-C3 camera. I decided last minute to drive to Vegas just so I could have a change of scenery to test out the Noktor Sony “E” mount 50mm f/0.95 Hyperprime, which is basically the same lens (though now made in a new factory with better fit and finish) as the Micro 4/3 version I reviewed over a year ago. Seeing new things can inspire and I needed it after spending day in and day out in the hot blazing sun and brown desert that is PHOENIX. Yep, this was gonna be a quick 24 hour trip but I was excited.

Another Noktor Hyperprime?

Some of you probably remember that I was the 1st in the world to review the Noktor 50mm Hyperprime for Micro 4/3.  I was also the first to say I didn’t care for it. It was OK for what it was, but it was very soft, very low contrast, and the colors were not so hot. I did manage to get some decent shots at a wedding with it attached to an Olympus E-P2 but at the end of the day, the lens just was not for me. Shortly after that review Noktor seems to have disapeared and then later resurfaced when SLR Magic bought them out.

SLR Magic made a few tweaks to the lens design and started manufacture of the lens in a totally different factory, and then they released it for the Sony E mount. Yep, a 50mm f/0.95 lens for the Sony NEX mount cameras, which will give you a 75MM equivalent, unlike the 100mm equivalent on Micro 4/3.

Many out there argue that this lens (well, not THIS specific version) can be bought on ebay (but without the “E” or M4/3″ mount) for less than the $1000 or so Noktor charges for it. Well, the lens as it is now is pretty slick looking and does indeed come complete with the mount of your choice, a box, metal screw in lens cap, etc. None of this means SQUAT if the lens sucks though, so my curiosity was aroused.

After asking SLR Magic about this lens they shipped out the Sony version to me so I could give it away to one lucky reader in my SLR Magic/NEX contest. That was pretty cool of them to just donate the lens for me to give away. Since I had the lens here, I decided to take it out and see if it performed better on the NEX with it’s larger sensor than it did on the E-P2 and to see if the color and contrast was any better (it was pretty bad when I reviewed the 1st version of this lens on Micro 4/3)

I will make this quick as this is really just a quick look at the lens. I only shot with it for one night so all I am qualified to talk about is my quick experience with the lens.

 

FIT AND FINISH

The lens feel and looks GREAT. It’s metal, it’s very solid, and it’s built very well. This lens is actually a lens designed for cinema so the aperture ring does not click. Instead it is just free and smooth and you can lock it down with a twist of a metal knob. I left it wide open all night at f/0.95. I have NO COMPLAINTS on the build or look/feel. The build of the Hyperprime gets a B+ in my book and a lens like the Leica Noctilux gets an A+, which is a TANK. So a B+ is actually quite good for a $1000 f/0.95 lens.

PERFORMANCE

 

I will not lie or sugar coat it. As with the Micro 4/3 version, this lens is a CHALLENGE to use. I shot it all night in the Fremont street area of Las Vegas and it was tough to get sharp images. Why? Well, this lens is NOT really that sharp when wide open. It CAN be a teeny bit sharp if you nail the focus, or if you stop it down to 1.4 but using focus peaking, shooting quick, and shooting wide open was a HUGE challenge. I love challenges though so what did I think after a few hours of use? Well, I do indeed like it better on the NEX than I did on Micro 4/3 but it is still a challenge to use due to the shallow DOF.

I ONLY used the focus peaking feature of the NEX-C3 when shooting this lens. Basically, when you manually focus there are bright red areas on the screen that pop up on the in focus areas of the image. Never once did I stop and magnify the back LCD. Shooting in this manner with the Noktor and NEX was a breeze and I want to give Sony huge props for implementing this peaking feature. It works very well. BUT as I already stated the Noktor lens itself IS INDEED a somewhat soft lens when shot wide open. I mean, it is a f/0.95 50mm for around $1000 so we can not expect miracles.

The lens felt good on the NEX-C3 but the camera is just a bit too small for my tastes when using lenses like this. The grip is semi useless and everything is just too cramped. IN use, I MUCH prefer shooting the Olympus E-P3 as it is a little larger, has better controls, and feels great in my hands. The C3 was just too small for me to really get into it with the Noktor and if I were buying a NEX today, I would go with a NEX-5 over the C3, no contest. It has a better grip, feels more solid and because of this, it feels better in my hand. I can say that with the 16mm kit lens, the NEX-C3 felt good but still a little small. Maybe I am just so used to the larger grip on the NEX-5?

Ok, how about the images? I did say this was a “quick look” so let’s get to what is important, the RESULTS!

You can click on any image for a larger view and to see the pictures how they should be seen. Also please note, every image in this review was shot as a JPEG. Photoshop/Lightroom does not process NEX-C3 RAW files yet. Some of  the JPEGs had minor enhancements – Levels, contrast, color saturation, etc.

Shot wide open and from a distance using the Focus Peaking of the NEX-C3 – The Noktor gives you the dreamy creamy look. Color does seem pretty good, and better than what I got on the M4/3 version over a year ago.

You can get good results if you concentrate. Again, the colors are saturated and bold here. Wide open, click for larger.

These girls were taking photos of themselves with all of the cool lights behind them.

The Bokeh? What do YOU think?

I did NOT focus on the letters here but instead on the cable/wire in front of them. Again, wide open and you can see the look you can expect from this lens on the NEX cameras.

Shot very quickly as I walked by and was lucky to nail it. Again, click image for larger view!

A walk by shot. I raised the camera, aimed, quickly focused and when the NEX told me I had focus I fired away!

Another quick raise and shoot! 

What a combo, spongebob and chucky.

More Bokeh testing….Vegas is so colorful!


In the mirror :)

and stopped down to 1.4..it sharpens up quite a bit when you stop it down a little

Click the image below for a straight from camera JPEG and 100% crop shot at 0.95, wide open. 

So what is the verdict on the Noktor Hyperprime f/0.95 E mount? YOU be the judge!

Ok, some of you may have not even read what I wrote above about how I disliked the Micro 4/3 version of this lens. Well, as you can see from the images above, the lens does seem to do better in most areas when using the larger image sensor of the NEX. The color is better and the contrast is better. Period. STILL, this lens is a challenge to use. MANY shots that I took WERE soft and out of focus so I did not always nail it. I thought I did when shooting but when I looked back there were many that were just a bit off. So yes, this lens can be a challenge if you are shooting street, wide open at night! Hell, ANY fast lens is a challenge at night! This IS f/0.95!

Also, NOKTOR IS a site sponsor (see their ad to the right) and  they did send me this lens to give away as part of my contest BUT this does not mean I am going to tell you that this lens is superb. I am just telling you MY THOUGHTS after one night of use. That’s it. The build is great, the feel is great, it’s a fast 0.95 aperture lens BUT it IS SOFT wide open. It IS a challenge to shoot on the NEX and always get good results. It DOES have a dreamy creamy look, and you will either like it or you will not. YOU CAN buy a Voigtlander 50 1.1 and adapter and shoot it on the NEX but it will run you a little bit more money and it will be bigger. It will also be sharper and more correct. So it is up to you as to what you are looking for.

I guess it will come down to if you like the look of the Noktor or not. Personal preference. I mean, a Leica M9 and 50 Noctilux 0.95 will set you back $18,000. The NEX-C3 and Hyperprime will set you back well under $2000. A savings of $16,000. That is A BIG DEAL. Will you get Leica performance from this combo? NO. It MAY get you somewhat close to the look and feel of the old Leica F/1 Nocti but not quite. This combo is pretty cool though. Even with its quirks and challenges, it is indeed looking better on the NEX system that it did on Micro 4/3. Only you can decide if it is something that floats your boat! YOU be the judge!

Remember, every image in this review was shot as a JPEG as Photoshop/Lightroom does not process NEX-C3 RAW files yet. So, what you see here is not representative of the NEX-C3 and Noktor RAW performance.

Also, do not forget to enter the contest so you can WIN THIS EXACT lens! Click here to read about it and enter!

A Few Words on the Sony NEX-C3…nice but nothing groundbreaking

As you guys know, I have been a fan of the Sony NEX-5 since its release and have written many articles on it. The review, shooting it with Leica glass, comparisons, etc. The NEX-5 was never a perfect camera but the one thing it had going for it was its large APS-C sensor, nice construction, great grip, and swivel LCD. The weak link in the NEX cameras have always been the Sony lenses. Simply put, they kind of suck for any kind of critical shooting and they fail to please most “enthusiasts”.  This is why many who shoot the NEX cameras use adapters and slap on Leica glass. BUT in the past this has been slow, cumbersome, and tricky because you would have to magnify the LCD, compose, focus, then shrink the LCD and take your shot. I was never a fan of this so I always shot it with the Sony branded 16mm.

Recently Sony updated the firmware to give filters similar to Olympus’s own Art Filters as well as “Focus Peaking”. THIS is the winning feature as we can now shoot with fast 3rd party lenses and get focus MUCH quicker! No need to magnify the screen. Many of the test shots above were taken VERY quickly. I would raise the camera and quickly focus until I saw the bright red lines showing me what was in focus. BOOM! Thats it. Even with a fast 0.95 lens it was easy and do-able.

The NEX-C3 is the latest camera from Sony in the NEX lineup. It replaces the NEX-3 and what we get is now an even smaller body, a two tone black and silver trim that is very slick looking and the C3 also gets a new sensor with 2 more megapixels (went from 14 to 16). The C3 has the new “BIONZ” image processing (who thinks of these names?, lol). Everything else, in all reality is the same as the NEX-3. So new smaller and slicker body style, new sensor, and new processing. Sony also separated the SD card from the battery compartment and it now has its own little space and door. I do like  this improvement. Sony kept the same menu system and it is exactly the same as the NEX-3 and 5 with the new firmware.

I really do not see why anyone would choose a C3 over the NEX-5 right now, especially when they are about the same price, $599. I do see the NEX-5 has been discontinued as the new C5 is on the way, and then the NEX-7 which is still in the rumor phase but very likely.

The C3 is a very sweet and cool looking camera with the Sony 16mm mounted but IMO it is almost too tiny, especially if you are going to mount glass like this Noktor Hyperprime. Personally, I can’t wait for the NEX-7 as if this camera pans out as we are thinking, it is going to be a 100% winner. The NEX-C3 is sort of just here and there. Not really much of an improvement over the 3 and hard for me to get excited about. If you are looking into the NEX system, and never bought a NEX camera then I could recommend the C3 or the 5. To see the specs of the NEX-C3 and read more about it, OR TO BUY IT then click HERE. 

If you are wondering if the C3 is worth upgrading to from the NEX-3 then I would say not really. The new firmware will work just fine on your current NEX and give you the new features like Focus Peaking and the picture effects. Save your case. But if you want a new NEX then the C3 is worth considering if you want to get in to it for the least amount of money. B&H Photo usually has it in stock HERE. The NEX -C3 can indeed give you some stellar IQ with the right lenses. I’m getting fantastic results with the SLR Magic 28.28 (review coming soon).

Click image for larger – NEX-C3 with SLR Magic 28 2.8 – Out of camera JPEG!

PERSONALLY, I am still LOVING this Olympus E-P3 and can not recommend it more highly with the 12mm f/2 lens. It is just a joy to use and LIGHTNING fast (faster AF than the NEX). I shot with it a ton in Vegas and will post some shots later but here is one comparison I did with the E-P3 and 12mm at f/5.6 and the NEX-C3 and the 16mm 924) at f/5.6. You can click each image below to download the full size out of camera JPEGS from each camera. The NEX gives more megapixels and a different color signature but the Oly file is great as well, and the camera is soooo much fun to use. Love it! BUT, the Oly combo is about $1100 MORE expensive than the C3 combo and the C3 gives you a smoother IQ due to the larger sensor. Once again, it all depends on what you are looking for in a camera.

SONY NEX-C3 – CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC JPEG – 16mm (24) – f/5.6

OLYMPUS  E-P3 – CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC JPEG – 12mm (24) – f/5.6

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Be sure and visit the all new forums on the site HERE.

Aug 172011
 

The Olympus E-P3 is in stock now!

The hottest color and lens combo in the E-P3 is the ONE that is in stock now at B&H photo – $899. Act fast! Click here to get it, these have been selling out pretty fast! After reviewing the camera and new 12mm, I ended up keeping the review sample and yes, I had to pay full price! Great camera and improvement over past PENS. Just wanted to spread the word as there are a few of you looking for this exact color/lens combo!

I will be getting a Sony NEX-C3 today so will be heading to Las Vegas to review it and to finish my review of the the SLR Magic 28 2.8 E Mount lens and 50mm 0.95 for E mount. Woohoo! If anyone is in Vegas on Wednesday/Thursday send me an email and maybe we can meet up for a quick chat!

OH, and all Micro 4/3 owners THIS LENS is the lens to watch for – Cant wait to see how this one does. FINALLY!! Fast primes are coming to M4/3 users!

AND…as of 08/17, B&H released the new Olympus 45 1.8 lens for pre-order and I am hearing whisperings that it is arriving VERY VERY soon. This appears to be a fantastic lens, equaling a 90mm in 35mm and with a fast aperture. I have spoken with a couple of people who have been testing this lens already and they LOVE it. $399, so not a bank breaker like the 12mm f/2.

Aug 162011
 

The Chicago Workshop/Meetup Is Here!

Street Photography in the Windy City! Awesome like minded people, Presentations, Instruction, Motivation, Great Food, Street Shooting and Great TIMES. Did I mention cool cameras and guest speakers?!?! What are you waiting for! THIS IS CHICAGO!!! My kind of town!

A few spots remain! 

Scroll down for Agenda which will be updated more as we get closer.

THE DATE: Saturday September 24th 2011 – Mark your calendar!

THE PLACE: Right smack dab in the middle of downtown, Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and more! RAIN OR SHINE!

THE AGENDA: Two guest speakers, three presentations (one from myself as well), street shooting 101, street shooting tips, overcoming fears, travel photography. GREAT FOOD. Street Shooting, editing, critiques and a visit to Chicago’s OLDEST camera shop, Central CameraONE DAY ONLY! 

THE COST: $300, full DELUXE Chicago lunch at world famous Pizzeria Due included as well as coffee and snacks for breakfast – 15 people maximum, credit cards accepted. If you want to attend buy quick to avoid missing out! Date is approaching quickly! E-mail me if interested [email protected]

 

 

Chicago!

Been getting loads of e-mails requesting workshops and meet ups everywhere, in every corner of the globe! Thank you for your e-mails and requests! It seems to me though that the most popular request has been my home town of Chicago! I live in Phoenix, AZ these days but was born and raised in Chicago and am thrilled to announce that the next workshop will be held in the windy city! It is such an amazing city and the perfect location for the next workshop/meetup. While it is still in the planning stages, it will be held right in the middle of it all near Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park! We will have access to great food (on me)!, fantastic street shooting opportunities, and will also be situated in a great studio location where we can share our photos from the day, do some actual hardcore critique, and get to know each other! All minutes from the action.

There will be two guest speakers at the event and we will be doing street shooting photo walks during the day. This will be a one day only event Near the end of September. It’s coming up quick and Chicago has gotten tons of response so be sure to sign up quick! The cost for this one day workshop event will be $300 and includes the entire days events from 9am to 7pm as well as morning coffee and snacks and a full lunch featuring famous and delicious Chicago Pizza at Pizzeria Due (that will be included free of charge)! I am limiting this to 15 people and my past two events in NYC and Seattle sold out 100% so get in quick if  you want to attend Chicago!

It will be a quick, fast paced, high energy event full of new friends, good times, learning, presentations, street shooting, editing and great food!

THE AGENDA FOR THE DAY (May be additions and slight changes as we get closer)

8:30AM – Meet at the location, everyone introduces themselves, brief intro by Steve

9:15 AM-10:00AM – Head to Intelligentsia Coffee – World famous coffee/espresso. Coffee and breakfast snacks ON ME. 

10:00 AM- 11:30AM – Guest Speakers/Presentations

 

There will be TWO goes speakers at this event. Stuart Sipahilgil and Steven Blewett.

Stuart Sipahigil

Stuart Sipahigil is an award-winning photographer, author and teacher. He is a staff photographer for Outside Source Design, a multimedia design agency in Indianapolis, Indiana, working for such clients as Eli Lilly & Company, The American Diabetes Association, and others. In addition, he’s the author of Close to Home: Finding Great Photographs in Your own Back Yard (available at http://craftandvision.com). Stuart also teaches photography and post-processing classes at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts in Muncie, Indiana. He posts his thoughts on photography at his blog, http://www.thelightwithout.com.


and some inspiration from Steven Blewett on Travel Photography

My traveling has taken me to many places over the years for business. I work for a Construction Co. and Document Construction Projects as well as Supervise. I have been in photography since High School but didn’t start seriously Shooting Travel Photography until 10yrs ago. The Camera didn’t get into my hands until I realized how much I was missing.  A point and shoot or a disposable camera works. But to find how to capture the places I have been to in a way that captures the whole essence of what those places mean to me and covey that to others. In other words… To share. That is what drives me for others to see the way I see through my Photographs.
It’s more than pushing a button it is a Passion. A Passion that I hope to share with you.
and a slideshow by your yours truly about shooting on the street and why you should not  fear it! 

111:30 – 1:30PM – Street shooting at Millennium Park and all of downtown. Me and one of the guests will be on hand for questions and instruction. An assignment will be given to each of you and we will critique these assignments at the end of the day!

1:30 PM SHARP – Lunch at world famous Pizzaria Due – This is the BEST Pizza ever. We will all have Pizza and drinks, again, on me!

3:00 – 3:45 -Visit Chicagos oldest Camera shop and oldest Leica dealer, Central Camera!

3:45 – 5:30 – More shooting time and one on one time. We will venture deeper into the city….

5:30 – 7:00 – Editing back at the location with final critique and your best three shots of the day shown on the big screen. Shots will then be posted on this site for all to see. 

7PM and on.. Optional night out at a local pub or bar for some beers (NOT on me!) for whoever wants to go!

There are MANY hotels in the area and if you stay an extra day or two I may hang around an extra day or two as well to see the sights. Things like Navy PierThe Lincoln Park ZooThe Art Institute, and all of the historic architecture throughout the city. The street life in Chicago is amazing!

Check out the video below to see Amy Medina’s photos from the last Seattle workshop! Her website is HERE!

NO NEED TO OWN A LEICA TO ATTEND! Any camera is welcome, even film!

I should have an M9 or two on hand for demo purposes for anyone who wants to give one a spin. If you shoot micro 4/3, you are welcome (I’ll have my E-P3 and lenses as well as my M9-P)! If you shoot ANY camera, you are welcome! Shoot an iPhone? You are welcome!

I will release details here on this page as they become available. Guest speakers will be announced soon. Exact location will be given to those who sign up well in advance.

Also, all attendees are encouraged to bring their Laptop with them for editing!

HOW TO SIGN UP FOR THIS EVENT!

 EARLY BIRD SPECIAL THROUGH SEP 1st! SAVE $50! E-mail me and sign up before September 1st to save $50! 

Easy! I can accept credit cards through google checkout. If you want to sign up just send me an email at [email protected]. I will then email you an invoice from google that you simply click on and pay. About 1 week before  the event you will receive an e-mail with instructions, what to bring, where to go, etc. Again, this page will be updated as guest speakers are confirmed and more details are released!

The entire group from the last huge two day Seattle workshop! It was an amazing time!

JOIN US IN CHICAGO! Looking forward to seeing you all!


Aug 152011
 

ISO WARS: The Olympus E-P3 vs The Sony NEX-5!

When Olympus released the E-P1, the camera suffered from slow AF, poor high ISO performance and it always lost out to the Panasonic M4/3 camera (slightly) and other larger sensor cameras. The E-P2 did nothing to improve upon the high ISO but the AF did get a speed boost and the video control improved. With the new E-P3, Olympus claims better high ISO performance, and if you read my review you would have seen that I loved the AF speed boost, and just about everything else about the camera. But I did not really get into high ISO performance so much and I recieved a few e-mails asking me  to pit it against the Sony NEX-5 at 3200, 6400 and 12,800.

It was just over a year ago when I reviewed the Sony NEX-3 and 5 cameras. At that time, their high ISO capability was unheard of! 12,800 ISO in a small camera like that was a first, and everyone raved about the quality of low light shots, even me!

With its APS-C sized sensor (not quite full frame, but larger than the Micro 4/3 sensor) the Sony was able to do better at high ISO and low light than other small cameras and it competed with larger DSLR’s. The E-P3 is here and still has the 4/3 size sensor of course, so I wanted to see how it would stand  up to the NEX, not only in noise, but in detail. I used the 12mm f/2 lens on the Olympus at f/3.5. On the Sony I shot with the higher end 18-200 at 18mm, f3.5.

I did a quick and dirty test, using the STEADYSHOT  of the 18-200 and the built in IS of the E-P3. I turned OFF the Noise Reduction on the E-P3 as you can. The Sony does not allow you to turn it off but it does let you switch it to “WEAK”, so this is what I did. I wanted to let each camera give the most detail without letting Noise Reduction get in the way and smear it all up. I shot JPEGS as there is still no Lightroom or Photoshop support for the E-P3 RAW files.

The first comparison shot of a couple of books was taken in my living room, at night, with a very dim lamp shining in from my office. Here we go!

FIrst I will show you a couple of resized images from each camera – ISO 3200 and then ISO 12,800. After that I will show you the crops from each at 3200, 6400 and 12,800. You can click on the images for larger 1800 pixel wide versions.

The E-P3 at ISO 3200 – 12mm – f/3.5 – 12mm (24mm)

Sony NEX-5 – ISO 3200 – f/3.5 – 18mm (28mm)

Ok, let’s go to ISO 12,800

BELOW: E-P3 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger version – scroll down for 100% crops

NEX-5 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger version – scroll down for 100% crops

CROPS

E-P3 1st, NEX-5 2nd

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

What happens if you convert the JPEGS to black and white?

First the E-P3 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger 

NEX-5 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger

How about another subject with a little more light. I my Kitchen area…

The E-P3  – ISO 3200 – This time I had it set to F/2 though. MUST CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL 100% CROP VIEW!

and the NEX – ISO 3200 – MUST CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL 100% CROP VIEW

and one more…

Oranges

BELOW: E-P3 CROP

BELOW: NEX-5 CROP

What I see in all of the images is that the Noise Reduction in the NEX is hindering the detail. Also, the Olympus 12mm lens is a sharper lens than the $799 Sony 18-200. I actually prefer the grit and grime of the E-P3 versions over the somewhat dull and mushy NEX versions. Olympus did a good job with the E-P3 and when NR is turned off there is still plenty of detail in the files, even at high ISO. Next test should be against the X100 :)

Also, if you have been on the fence about the 12mm Olympus Lens. I HIGHLY recommend it. It is simply SUPERB. B&H sells it HERE.

HOW ABOUT MORE VIDEO SAMPLES WITH THE E-P3? Even a low light video that is pretty free of grain!

I’m still waiting for the “PRO PEN” with a built in EVF. Also, the rumored Sony NEX-7 with built in EVF should up the stakes yet again. Below are a couple of high ISO shots taken with the E-P3 this evening just to test it out. Enjoy!

ISO 6400 – spot metered on the can – in camera B&W JPEG (not the art filter grainy B&W, but MONOTONE color selection. Click for larger.

ISO 3200 – NIGHT – OOC JPEG, NO NR, NO PP

ISO 3200, night..f/2 – 12mm


E-P3 – 12mm,  f/2 – ISO 6400, in camera B&W, NR OFF, evening, no lights on.

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Be sure and visit the all new forums on the site HERE.

Aug 112011
 

HELP WANTED! 

Video Animation Needed!

Looking for a video whiz to create a new intro for my review videos. Looking for something cool, with motion and color. Just the video intro. If you know video animation and have any ideas, email me at [email protected]. Of course, I will pay for this as well (please be affordable) but it has to be COOL!! Would be cool if you had samples of some work.

Workshop Help Needed!

Are you in San Francisco, Chicago or Southern California? Paris or London? Australia? Looking for guest speakers and co-ordination help in these cities for upcoming workshops. E-mail me with what you can offer and I will get back to you with details! Looking for people to help with speaking, helping with areas to shoot, hotels or places to stay, restaurants, etc. Again, e-mail me at [email protected] if you are interested!

Aug 112011
 

SLR MAGIC CONTEST EXTENDED, NEW GRAND PRIZE OFFERED! Now THREE Prizes!

WOOHOO! As I posted over a week ago, I am giving away a SLR Magic 28 2.8 Manual lens for the NEX E-Mount cameras (NEX-5, 3, C3, etc) and the contest is underway with some fantastic submissions already sent in to me. To enter and read the rules, be sure to go to the contest page!

SLR Magic/NOKTOR donated the lens for a giveaway and they wanted to sweeten the pot a bit so they sent me another super cool prize to GIVE AWAY for this contest and it is their top of the line E-Mount offering, the Noktor 50 f/0.95 Hyper Prime for E-Mount. I already announced that Noktor is releasing a 50 0.95 for Leica mount, which will be an ALL NEW Lens design but this one for the E mount is similar to the Micro 4/3 version. I did a few test snaps around my house with the lens and it looks pretty good so far. I did NOT get to take it out anywhere so I have no idea of the quality but I am going to do my best to review it before shipping it to the winner :) It would also be cool if the winner wrote up an article with some images shot with the lens…hmmmmm.

The lens is new, in box. It has the end cap and screw on metal lens cap. The lens is all metal, solid and heavy and seems to perform a bit better on the NEX than M4/3, probably due to the larger sensor. THANK YOU Noktor for donating this lens for the contest! Free stuff for the readers here is always VERY cool!

 

ANYWAY, keep sending in your submissions to the contest! I have extended the deadline now to August 26th 2011 at noon. All other rules remain the same and the top ten will now be posted on this site on September 1st 2011. THEN you will vote for your favorites and the top three vote getters will win!

1st place: Noktor Hyperprime E Mount 50 f/0.95 lens

2nd place: SLR Magic 28 2.8 E mount lens

3rd place: ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 5 Bag

To see the official contest page and the rules and how to enter, CLICK HERE! 

GOOD LUCK TO ALL and remember, all you have to do to get a chance to win is to send in your best shot taken with a Sony NEX camera!

Aug 102011
 

CRAZY COMPARISON! The Olympus E-P3 with 12mm vs the Leica M9 and 24 Summilux ASPH!

It’s Wednesday morning at 6am and what better to kick off the hump day than with a Crazy Comparison?!?! I have not done of these in a loooong time so I figured it was about time for a new match up. This time I am pitting the Olympus E-P3 micro 4/3 camera with the new 12mm f/2 lens against the bag, bad Leica M9 and $24 Summilux ASPH. The E-P3 set comes in at about a $1700 price tag while the Leica M9-P and 24 Lux comes in at about $14, 500. Now, the Leica has the full frame sensor so I was never expecting it to lose out to the much smaller 4/3 sensor but that is why this is called a CRAZY COMPARISON!

It is just for fun, so please…no need to get all bent out of shape (as many of you did with previous Crazy Comparisons).

The files are ALL Out Of Camera JPEGS because the E-P3 RAW files are not yet supported by Lightroom or Photoshop. All settings were the same. Same ISO, SAME aperture, SAME (equivalent) focal length. The Oly 12mm comes out to a 24mm equivalent on the E-P3. We get the 24mm Field of view with 12mm Bokeh. The M9 uses the 24 Summilux which gives us a true 24mm field of view and 24mm bokeh.

This is a comparison of JPEGS only, as they come out of the camera, in each cameras native resolution.

So…let’s get on to the photos!

YOU MUST CLICK EACH PHOTO TO OPEN THE FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA JPEG FROM EACH CAMERA!

Each file was saved as a level 10 JPEG after opening the file in Photoshop. No PP!

1st up, the Olympus E-P3 – 12MP – 12mm (24) – F/2 – ISO 200 – AWB

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC JPEG!

and now the Leica M9-P with 24 Summilux, same settings – F/2 – ISO 200 – 24 Summilux – AWB

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC JPEG!

In the 1st comparison the Oly picked the better White Balance. Both were set to AUTO WHITE BALANCE to test each cameras AWB rendition. I was curious and it appears the Oly wins in that dept. This makes the Oly the more accurate representation color wise. Of course I could take the M9 RAW file and fix it up easily but again, this is just a simple OOC JPEG CRAZY comparison! If you click each image you can view the full size file. Both were shot at F/2 which was wide open for the Olympus 12mm, and the Summilux was stopped down to f/2 from 1.4. It appears the Lux vignettes even at f/2, which is one thing full frame sensors seem to do with wide angle lenses. It also appears the little Oly’s Dynamic Range is decent. The sun was hitting the bins directly.

Ok, let’s do another one. This time I will start with the M9 file.

Leica M9 – 24 Lux at f/2 – ISO 200 – Click image for full size OOC JPEG file

Olympus E-P3 – 12mm (24 equiv) – f/2 – ISO 200


It is clearly evident that you will get a more shallow depth of field (background blur) when shooting on a full frame camera with a full frame lens, meaning, when you shoot with a 24mm lens you get a 24mm field of view. When shooting the Oly the lens is a 12mm but do to the half frame sensor we are getting a 24mm equivalent view, but still the depth of field of a 12mm lens. Still, I LOVE this little Oly lens, it is incredible if you are invested in the Micro 4/3 format.

Ok one more! Why not? This time I resized both down to 1800 pixels wide so when you click on these you will NOT get the full size OOC JPEG but rather the downsized versions. It’s easy to see the more shallow depth of field in the Leica shot (2nd shot), and this the “Leica Look” with the Summilux rendering.

1st shot, Olympus E-P3

2nd shot, Leica M9-P

So that’s it! I posted this for fun, not for any kind of scientific reasons. If you look down below at the related posts you will probably see older crazy comparisons and they are always fun to check out :) It seems like both the M9-P AND Olympus E-P3 are pretty hot right now as they seem to be out of stock everywhere.

Site sponsors B&H Photo sell the Leica M9-P as does Dale Photo and Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]). Lensrentals.com rents the entire Leica lens line if anyone out there wanted to give the 24 Lux a try. Me, I’m happy with the M9 and a 50 these days. Gotta love the M9 and the 50 Lux ASPH. Magic!!!

As for the E-P3…I have been using it non stop and Olympus has a winner, no doubt. It’s the best PEN yet!

Aug 102011
 

Random Photographs from my month on tour with Seal that were never posted!

Let’s see. I’m a photographer and being away for a month on tour across Europe would mean that I most likely took LOADS of photos right? Well, yes and no. I did take quite a few photos but I tried to be selective most of the time :) I am not the type of shooter that machine guns it, especially when using a Leica M9. BUT there are a few photos from my month long journey that never made it to the blog so I decided to post a few that I liked here. This is a photography blog after all! The times I had during those 30 days are times I will never forget, and I am thrilled to have photos to remember it all :) Enjoy.

 

Aug 092011
 

The Fogg B-Laika Camera Bag Video Review

Hey ho, lets go! It is Tuesday and just realized I never posted the Fogg B-Laika bag review video I did yesterday nor did I let many of you know of the E-P3 video samples I posted in the review a couple days ago. So here they are! Oh, and my rocking’ intro music for the bag review is a one time thing, so don’t get too excited :) I know you will want to get up and dance so feel free. Lol.

The Fogg B-Laika Luxury Camera Bag – The best of the best (if that is your thing)

You can buy this bag at tamarkin.com

and I added this to the Olympus E-P3 review to show the video quality and the Jello effect in some of the shots. I did find out if you DISABLE Image Stabilization then the video does NOT have the Jello Effect. I have to say, I am still shooting the E-P3 with the 12mm and it is one hell of a combo. I will be posting a “Crazy Comparison” tomorrow between it and the M9 and 24 Summilux! Woohoo!

Aug 092011
 

ROCK ‘N ROLL SHOOTING WITH 80 MEGAPIXELS
by Bjarke Ahlstrand, Copenhagen, Denmark

I’m a television producer, doing documentaries, reportage and fiction during working hours, and in my spare time, I’m a happy Leica M9/Hasselblad H3D-39/CANON 5D MARK II shooter. I was quite fond of Canon’s 5D Mark II, especially since I also use it for “professional” purposes, video-wise, and some of the Zeiss glass is really nice. But all that changed with the introduction of a digital Hasselblad in my life last year. Suddenly colours; skin tones and grass looked “right”. And the sharpness and amount of detail of a medium format camera and 39 mega pixels is of course impressive. I find some of the same nuances with my Leica M9, which I totally love (except for the dust spots on the sensor and the utterly lousy service from Leica!) and I now consider it my main camera, also due to the portability and low light abilities.

Recently I met a really nice guy, Jacob, from PhaseOne, which is actually Danish based alongside Hasselblad. (Being a Dane it’s quite weird that the biggest still cameras in the world are manufactured here, but that’s another story…). Having just released the world’s BIGGEST resolution digital back with the new PhaseOne IQ180, 80 stunning megapixels with an amazingly-price-tag. I had seen the usual press/example photos, documenting the abilities of the camera (in sterile studio enviroments), I asked why they didn’t let me borrow the camera for a couple of days to see how it would perform. Since my M9 is currently at Solms for dust spot removal (second time in a row since they didn’t clean it at all the first time), the upcoming Roskilde Festival seemed like a good (dust) spot (haha) — and to my lucky surprise, they agreed. To let me take the most expensive camera in the world (the back alone is US 44.000$!) into a realm filled with drunken people,
dirt and rock ‘n roll. Brave them.

So armed with the IQ180 digital back, a PhaseOne 645DF camera and two stunningly sharp Schneider lenses, a 55 mm f/2.8 and 110 mm f/2.8 respectively, I entered the festival, I was armed and ready to shoot.

On my way to the car, I convinced my colleague, Ruth, to participate in a test-shoot.

Whauh. Nice first shot. And the details in those 80 mpix are amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it. And this is “raw” from the camera–I didn’t (re)touch it all.

The Roskilde Festival is the biggest musical festival in Northern Europe, and attracts some 100.000+ people, most from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. And Zombie- land it seems.

ISO 200 · 55 MM · F/3.5 · 1/10 SEC

A zombie handheld at 1/10 sec with a heavy medium format camera, will never be sharp. And the thing about cameras–the most expensive they become, the worse they handle ISO, so shooting more than ISO200 on the most expensive digital camera in the world simply isn’t an option, even though, it technically can go up to ISO3200. But then the images “downscale” to “just” 20 mpix resolution (like a full frame 5D Mark II or Leica), but it looks very bad. So the zombie had to be a little blurry, but I’m sure he can live with that :-)

ISO 200 · 55 MM · F/3.5 · 0.7 SEC

Ooops, another unsharp image–but at least it tells a story. It’s something about a fire breathing musician warming up backstage before entering the stage, and a sign saying something a true photographer will never ever read. Shot from the hip, nobody noticed anything.

ISO100 · 110 MM · F/2.8 · 1/100 SEC

At concerts you won’t see many Steve Huff’s running around in the press pit with little Leicas. Nope, most likely you’ll see a bunch of Nikon and Canon carrying men with their 24-70 and 70 – 200 mm lenses shooting constantly at everything that moves. I’ve been there, but I wouldn’t go back. A prime lens forces you to think about what you shoot and how to frame it, and I personally find zoom lenses to be boring, even though they have a flexibility that primes don’t.

The band playing here is Norwegian black metallers 1349, and the monk-looking bass player took it all the way to the underworld of … bass lines.

ISO 100 · 110 MM · F/2.8 · 1/125

I converted this one to black and white in Nik Silver Efex, other than that it’s totally raw, and it looks amazing on print in high resolution.

ISO 100 · 110 MM · F/2.8 · 1/160

In the media section of the back stage the Canon and Nikon Professional Services teams were heavily represented and all the pro’s had the opportunity to borrow lenses etc. for free. But I was more interested in the guy from HP and his huge, I mean GIGANTIC printer. I didn’t get its model number (hey, it’s a printer, not a camera or a lens :-) but he made prints of the best of the Nikon concert shots. I convinced him, for testing purposes, to print one of my images so we could check out the details and sharpness. I chose the last image I took of 1349, backstage, after the concert.

I used a single Canon Speedlite and took only two shots before the band was off. Bang, there it is. That sharpness. Check out the drummer’s eye, the guy farthest to the right. The printer guy printed a huge print and was very impressed and claimed that we could have made wallpapers out of this easily.  All the Nikon shooters and representatives didn’t understand what camera took that shot, haha. Oh, the little things in life…-

ISO 100 · 55 MM · F/5.6 · 1/100 SEC + SPEEDLITE FLASH

 Here’s a crop of that same image.

Roskilde Festival is four days of music and people in an intense but friendly melting pot. So for the next couple of days, I just wandered around, drank some beers, shot some people, drank some more beers, shot some music, and … you get it.

Nice girl…

ISO50 · 55 MM · F/4.5 · 1/60 SEC

 

Guy with glasses next to graffitti with … glasses

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/7.1 · 1/60 SEC

 

She just blends in, that orange girl, with the emo-rocking-gothy looking people

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/5.6 · 1/80 SEC

Nice bokeh in front of the mohawk.

ISO100 · 110 MM · F/2.8 · 1/80 SEC

 –

They’re not faking it.

ISO35 · 110 MM · F/4 · 1/60 SEC

Perhaps this Indian Indian is faking it a little bit

ISO100 · 110 MM · F/3.5 · 1/200 SEC

12 year old finding it hard to believe that he should clean his room, when grown ups don’t.

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/5.6 · 1/125

There was sun, there was dirt, there was rain — and when you mix it, you get something else…

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/5.6 · 1/10 SEC

Here’s one of yours truely, the one on the left. It’s not everyday that I meet someone who has
my tattoo on a t-shirt, so I had to get my Nikon-shooting friend, Daniel, to immortalize this moment.

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/4 · 1/400 SEC

These are only very low resolution copies of the actual images, which are full size 10328 px x 7760 px = 80.1 megapixels. I promise you, if you look at this image in full resolution, you can see every detail, every tiny ink stroke on his tattoos, every hair, all the … Well, I’m glad I’m not shooting fashion or doing retouching, because the files coming out of the IQ180 are huge. Around 90 mb as raw files, and if you save them as 16 bit tiffs (you have to import them via the CaptureOne raw converter software for the best results), they turn out as 480 megabyte files… Heavy cameras demand heavy computers, and my iMac I5 with 8 gb ram came to its knees a few times.

Fortunately you shoot a lot less images with a “big” camera. Through out the 4 days and nights at Roskilde, I shot 610 images. That’s not much–since I was all over the place, eager to test the camera–and I know for a fact, that some of the professional concerts shooters easily end up with 700-1000 images … per concert!

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/4 · 1/125 SEC

My son, Hjalte, was with me one of the days, and he has an age (12), where he thinks it’s quite embarrassing when his old (young!) man stops strangers and ask to take their photo. But when we met my best friend, Michael, and his wife Klara, even he couldn’t refuse…

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/4 · 1/160 SEC

…and when he met his biggest idols, Danish supergroup “De Eneste To” backstage before their concert, he actually asked me to take a photo with them.

ISO35 · 55 MM · F/5 · 1/250 SEC

But then he got so exited that he dropped his iPhone and and smashed the glass/screen.Instead of being a good parent and helping him pick up the pieces, I shot this one, a split second before he burst into tears.

ISO35 · 110 MM · F/6.3 + SPEEDLITE

Oh my god, the sharpness in those little eyes, it’s simply amazing. Not that I enjoy seing my son unhappy, but testing a camera on something you know, really works for me. I don’t fancy shots of jewellery or fancy shining cars–give me a person and I’ll see if it handles skintones etc. the way I like it.

And even though I actually think that my 39 megapixels Hasselblad H3D does a better job with colors (those fantastic Fuji ones :-), the IQ180 beats everyone and everything when it comes to sharpness and the amount of details.

ISO35 · 110 MM · F/6.3 + SPEEDLITE

And the last concert shots of “De Eneste To”, here’s Peter Sommer

ISO100 · 1100 MM · F/2.8 · 1/125

And here’s Simon Kvamm

ISO100 · 110 MM · F/2.8 · 1/125 sec

And the two of them after I added grain and converted to black and white with Nik Silver Efex.

ISO200 · 110 MM · F/2.8 · 1/125 sec

Well, that concludes it on my behalf. Even though I’ll never be able to afford the PhaseOne kit (approx 76.000 US $ incl the two lenses !!! ) I took rock ‘n roll shooting with me to Roskilde Festival, it was a nice experience. It was quite easy to use and produced excellent images (as long as you don’t exceed ISO400 :-). The post was very heavy, but zooming 100% in on a nice shot, makes it worthwile.

Now I miss my little Leica. So you there in Solms: will you please get your fingers out of your … and clean (the sensor)!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

Skip to toolbar