Feb 042016
 

Visiting the European Motor Show in Brussels

by Dirk De Paepe

A different approach to a car show.

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

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

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

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

First the picture

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

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

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

Zeiss Loxia and Batis

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

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

 

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Sheer Delight

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

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Still Dreaming

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

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Not Sure

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

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Matters into her hands

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

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The changing of the guard

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

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Athletism

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

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Suction Force

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

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A Job to Love

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

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The Decisive Test

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

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Tresspassing

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

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Ultimate Specs

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

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Inspection

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

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On Facebook in a Minute

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

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Enlightened Admiration

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

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Design

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

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Keeping it beautiful

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

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The Essence

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

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Today and Tomorrow

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

See more on flickr

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

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

Dirk

Feb 032016
 

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Samples from the new Sony 85 1.4 GM and 24-70 2.8 GM lenses!

As posted earlier, Sony held an event today to announce and show off their new uber high-end lenses for the Sony FE (A7)  cameras. These are all no compromise lenses that are the best Sony has ever created, and the price reflect this. They are not cheap, but I think the 85 1.4 will be an amazing lens and huge seller. That is a perfect portrait lens for the A7 series, even though it is larger, it has a no compromise quality according to Sony. I had Amy Medina in NY today to check out the lenses and the new A6300 but for now I wanted to share a few images she shot with the new 85 1.4 GM and the 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens:

All are shot with the Sony A7RII and the new 85 1.4 GM, all images by Amy Medina

CLICK THEM TO SEE THEM CORRECTLY! JPEGS…

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And one from the new 24-70 f/2.8 GM…

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So far these two lenses are looking mighty nice. I will of course be reviewing them IN FULL VERY SOON.

To pre-order these new lenses, see the links below:

Sony 24-70 2.8 GM – B&H Photo

Sony 85 1.4 GM – B&H Photo 

Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM – B&H Photo

Feb 032016
 

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

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

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Sony Launches New G Master™ Brand of Interchangeable Lenses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing and Availability

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

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


by Peter Georges

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

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

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

A7RII

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The Early Steps

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

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

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

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

A7RII

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The Camera That Changed Everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

I happily said good bye to chimping.



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

A7RII

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

Current Limitations and the Future

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

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

A7RII

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

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

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

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

Peter Georges

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

Jan 222016
 

It’s Friday! WooHoo! Enjoy your weekend and be sure to come back NEXT WEEK!

Hello to all here! It’s Friday and I just wanted to wrap up this week by saying ENJOY IT! If you are in the path of the Monster SnowStorm heading throughout some states in the USA, STAY SAFE, STAY WARM and get some images if you can! I will be here NEXT WEEK with some testing of new exciting gear, reporting from Austin TX and then New York City! So start checking back Monday for some cool news and info.

This past week I have been using my RX1RII more and more and have been really getting into it. My RX1RII has no issues  – at all. It is stealthy, quiet, quick, and provides rich stunning IQ. I bought THIS hood for mine and it’s nicer than the Sony version that costs so much more. All metal too.

Debby as an Evil Clown. RX1RII and PP 

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I have also been testing the Leica 50 Summilux Limited Edition (GORGEOUS VERSION OF THIS LENS!) on my Sony A7RII and it is just as lovely using the Sony as it is on the Leica SL for most shooting. It’s got some crazy pop, color and sharpness that is somehow beating my last couple of 50 Summilux lenses. Not sure if they lucked out and had a superior glass chunk for this addition or if they were assembled with more precision or if the housing of the 1959 version helps it. Maybe my last two standard Lux’s were not 100%. Who knows. I just know the last time I had a 50 Lux designed like this, it was also PHENOMINAL (The LHSA Edition many years ago). See more of what I wrote about it HERE. 

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I did nothing to the OOC shot below yet look how amazingly sharp it is where I focused. A7RII, 50 Lux. Click for 100% crop at the right size. Keeps the 50 Lux Character as well.

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ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!!! STAY SAFE, STAY WARM!

Steve

Jan 192016
 

HUGE SAVINGS! AWESOME Sony RX1 Deal with OVF – NEW for $1695!

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WOW! ONE OF MY FAVE CAMERAS OF ALL TIME, the original Sony RX1 is now on clearance at B&H Photo and they are giving the RX1 in addition to the Sony OPTICAL VIEWFINDER, a Lowepro Bag and a 32GB SD Card. $1695 total. This is a huge savings of over 50% off, and its new and with warranty.

The original RX1 to this day offers lovely IQ as the original sensor is still quite amazin g today IMO. I love my RX1RII but the old original still rocks, just a but slower, lol. See my original review here of my 2012 Camera of the Year, the RX1. 

To see this offer directly CLICK HERE

Jan 192016
 

Nashville – Escape from Trade Conference with my A7RII

by Jim Idelson

Hello!

This image was captured during an afternoon escape from a convention I was attending in Nashville, Tennessee last week. Having never been to Nashville before, I really wanted to get a taste of the downtown area. From 2 to 4pm, I did a solo pub crawl, listening to some music, having a couple of beers and making a few new friends. As the sun was setting, I noticed it was just a bit over the horizon and in full view directly up the street. It was starting to bathe everything in gold and create some the beautiful long shadows. There were a few clouds in the sky. I had a feeling there would be something good to capture in this moment. I was also carrying a rented Zeiss Batis 85mm, and wanted to give it an opportunity, so I made sure that lens was in place.

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At first, I aimed the camera towards the sidewalk cafes, but facing away from the sun. That was an ok streetscape scene, but not very exciting . . . then I thought about shooting back into the sun. I got into a position on the sidewalk looking directly toward the sun. But, I really couldn’t see much in this direction by eye due to the brilliance of the setting sun. But, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to capture the whole scene before me . . . the busy street and sidewalk, the setting sun, those long shadows, and the eclectic mix of honky tonk signs – all somewhat compressed with the 85mm tele. So, I exposed simply by minimizing zebra to just a ring around the sun, making everything else in the frame go very dark . .. and hoped there would be enough DR to be able to bring it back in LR.

Camera and settings were A7RII, Batis 85mm, 1/2500 f2.5, ISO100. Processed in LR5. The primary edits were crushing highlights (a lot) and enhancing shadows (a lot). I also applied some vignette, a sprinkle of Clarity and Vibrance, and little NR. It was a pleasant surprise to see the yellow traffic light and the gold light shining through the windows of the clock tower in the distance on the left.

I’ve attached the before-processing version of the image, plus a google map snap to show where the image was shot, and another snap of some great musicians whose music I got to experience that afternoon. A fun break from work. I can definitely recommend a visit to Nashville.

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Jan 182016
 
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New E mount and M Mount Ultra Wides from Voigtlander!

YES! Voigtlander has once again announced new glass and this time the new lenses are not only for Leica M mount but now Sony E mount as well! It seems Voigtlander has taken notice of Sony’s popularity in the full frame mirrorless world and have created a 10mm, 12mm and 15mm lens for the E or FE system. Yes, these are manual full frame lenses and they look as beautiful as can be ;)

The new lenses for Sony FE include a 10mm f/5.6, 12mm f/5.6 VIII and the ever so popular 15mm f/4.5 VIII. These versions will work perfect on the Sony system as they were designed for the Sony system. No more issues using these ultra wides in M mount on the Sony. So THIS IS AWESOME as the 12 and 15 are fantastic pieces of glass that can go up against any Ultra wide in the same Focal Length. See them below:

The 10, 12 and 15 are available for pre-order at CameraQuest NOW. INFO HERE!

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Voigtlander is also releasing new M mount lenses. The 10 f/5.6 and the 12 f/5.6 VERSION III which is improved yet again like they did with the 15 Version III. I can not wait to see the 10mm in action as 10mm is WIDE.

The new M mount Ultra Wides. The 10mm f/5.6 and the 12mm f/5.6 VIII. Available HERE

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I am thrilled to see Voigtlander start making lenses for the Sony FE system. Especially well made manual lenses such as these as it adds a unique twist to the usual auto focus experience. Reviews will be coming soon!

Jan 152016
 
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The Last Best Bit of Him. Capturing my Father Before He’s Gone.

By Greg Turner

Hi Steve,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards

Greg

Jan 132016
 

The Power of Imagery

by Sebastian Szyszka

Hi Steve and Brandon,

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

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

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

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

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

Click it for larger and better version!

Jeff and his custom 1967 Shovelhead

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

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

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

Thanks and keep doing what you’re doing,

Sincerely,

Sebastian Szyszka

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

Jan 082016
 

Shooting the original Sony RX1

by Franklin Balzan

So last week I received my RX1R camera… yes its the first version of the camera (second technically as there was asl othe RX1). You may say that I am a bit late in this purchase as Sony has recently announced the RX1R II version of the camera… but the reason I bought the first version of the camera is I intend to use this as a fullframe compact carry around camera and not for work related stuff.

The Technical Details

The RX1R camera has been greatly praised in all reviews I have read, with its amazing dynamic range, very good bokeh and low light performance. The camera comes with a fixed lens 35mm Zeiss prime (f2), a very flexible So the camera had everything that I needed, in a very compact body. Also the camera has a silent shutter – no sound at all when you click for the picture – making it perfect for discreet work.

When I say that the camera has an amazing dynamic range, I really mean it. In fact it seems that it even wins against my A7s and A7ii in the amount of information and detail I am able to recover.

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Usability

If you are like me, I am always imagining street photography shots as I walk around. It happened to me a number of times that I said to myself that I wished I had a camera with me. Now I am making a resolution with myself to carry this gem around with me, wherever I am and up till today (around 2 weeks of use) I have always been able to take it with me apart from one time when I wore a very tight jacket.

What is missing

What I do miss, more then the viewfinder, is a tilting screen. Since this camera is a street photography workhouse, a tilt screen would have been really useful to shoot from the a low point and not attracting too much attention. I have also decided to purchase a wrist leather strap, since I find the camera grip to be existent and constantly feel as if the camera is going to slip from my hands.

The Pictures

I am here sharing some shots I have taken with this camera up till now.

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Well I must say, I am really happy with my RX1R and I feel I will be using is a lot over these Christmas holidays ! :)

More of my work on www.fbalzan.com

Jan 082016
 

Sony A7II with Mitakon 50 0.95

by Przemek

Hi Steve

My name is Przemek Przezak and I’m an amateur photographer based in Switzerland (but originally from Poland). In the attachment you will find a few pictures I shot this Christmas at the Cauma lake in the Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. On December 26th me and my girlfriend went for a walk to the lake, not far from where we were staying. Because the winter is very warm this year, even here in the alps, we were pleasantly surprised to find the lake frozen and the surroundings covered in a thin layer of snow. What an eerie place!

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Anyway, I thought this was the perfect time and place to try out my Christmas presents (and I do have to thank you for at least some part of it, as your reviews played a significant role when I chose my new gear) – Sony a7II with the Mitakon 50mm f0.95. Also, here is the link to my facebook portfolio: www.facebook.com/digofoto

Best regards and happy new year!

Przemek

Jan 072016
 

Mixing Music & Photography

by Eliot Lewis

My name is Eliot Lewis of the Daryl Hall & John Oates band and the “Live From Daryl’s House” TV show and Independent artist.

I first discovered Steve from his awesome shots of Seal who I was lucky to cross paths with several years ago and since then I’ve been following this fantastic website almost on a daily basis. I’ve also been shooting for many years while on tour as I’m always inspired to document my travels.

I like to travel pretty light so recently I’ve been shooting with a Sony A6000 with two lenses and a Panasonic LX100. I’ve been very fortunate to mix music and photography and have even done some photos and record covers for Daryl and John.
We recently finished a tour of Japan and returned to the legendary Budokan arena.

Here’s a few from this tour and many thanks for looking. You can see more of my photography at www.eliotlewis.com

“My View” taken with Sony A6000 and the Sony 10-18mm

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“Osaka Girl” taken with Sony A6000 and the Sony FE 28

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“Osaka Girl” taken with Sony A6000 and the Sony FE 28

The Amp

Jan 052016
 

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A Sony RX1R Mark II Camera Review, in Iceland

by Chad Wadsworth – His site is HERE

In 1988, The Sugarcubes debut album “Life’s Too Good” was getting heavy rotation in my cd player and served as an introduction to the quirky band’s native Iceland. Over the years other Icelandic bands like Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men, continued to sonically and lyrically paint an enticing canvas of their native homeland, further cementing the small country on my bucket list of places to visit. So this fall, while friends planned their winter vacation to warmer climes, I pitched the family on an adventure in the land of Ice and Fire. My wife has come to accept my odd predilections and the kids were just happy to get passports so we booked the flights and began our planning.

Anxious to capture the beauty of Iceland, I still had to be realistic about the nature of the trip. This was a family vacation, not a photo tour or workshop so I had to pack light and work quickly. Luckily, a friend was in possession of a loaner Sony RX1RII from B&H Photo and offered it up for use during the trip. This friend is building some impressive 3D printed Arca Plate compatible grips for compact cameras that add almost zero weight. Check them out HERE. – highly recommended.

With the RX1RII secured, I committed to use it for the majority of vacation shooting (everything presented here was shot with it unless otherwise captioned). Some may question why use a camera with only a fixed 35mm focal length but not everyone wants to play the roll of conspicuous tourist sporting a DSLR and zoom lens. On the contrary, the RX1RII embodies the classic concept of a decisive moment camera, similar to film compacts like the Konica Hexar AF that enabled pros to pack a much smaller kit when traveling, without sacrificing quality. The a7RII along with the Zeiss Touit 12mm and a Leica Summitar 50/2 also made it into the travel bag, but the primary test was to determine the RX1RII capabilities in real world shooting under some extreme conditions, not a traditional lab review with test charts.

While light was at a premium, what was available (about 5 hours per day around Christmas) was wonderfully diffuse and photography friendly. The weather in Iceland is quite variable with multiple daily changes in climate and conditions as we roamed the countryside. Unfortunately, there was record snow in December and persistent cloud cover so the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) were hidden from view, but that didn’t stop us from hitting everything else on the itinerary. With good planning, you can easily maximize the available winter light and complete a full day of activities. Based for part of the trip in a small coastal town named Stokkseyri (pop 445) we managed to drive our rental car to Gulfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, the wreckage of an American DC-3 on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur, the Dyrhólaey promontory, Vik, Geysir, Seljavallalaug swimming pool, the Jökulsárlón glacial lake area and of course Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon.

Must click on the photos in this report to view them correctly. Also, all images are from the RX1RII unless noted. Some are from the A7RII. 

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Image below…a7RII 50/2 Summitar

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Back to the RX1RII Shots

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Reflecting back over the week spent with an RX1RII as a primary tool, there are few cameras that would have been more satisfactory for the task of vacation photography in this environment. The compact size allowed for easily accessible stowage in a jacket pocket, a more challenging prospect for big brother a7RII or even the Leica Q. Why was this important? While the camera was well protected from the weather – see below for thoughts on its weather handling – I still wouldn’t want it exposed to the cold and rain if needn’t be. Second, for many activities, not having a camera or bag swinging around or in a difficult to access backpack was a big plus. The fixed lens meant no concern for switching lenses in extreme cold, humid or dusty conditions and by using a small hood I was able to keep most of the foul weather off the front lens element. The RX is also by nature of its small size and with the new flip screen, extremely inconspicuous, perfect for street scenes and easy low perspective photography.

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Using the RX1RII in the field is a significant improvement over the first generation in terms of user interface and speed of operation although the speed of image review is rather sluggish. I’d like Sony to take note of what some competitors do to increase the appearance of playback speed – immediately display a low resolution JPEG image when you hit the play button as the buffer clears and the higher resolution RAW becomes available. This is a nice trick that would make playback more responsive.

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Autofocus is greatly improved over the original RX1 with advanced modes like object tracking and eye-AF that are not just gimmicks to be ignored. Being able to lock-on to my subject’s eyes or face with the push of the button is a useful feature that enables a more effortless and accurate off-center composition, compared to a traditional focus and re-compose technique. Sony claims a 30% improvement in AF speed and that figure feels about right – maybe 40-50% in some circumstances. Really we are at a level of AF performance with these cameras that is beyond good enough for most purposes.

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Since the majority of my work takes place in front of a music stage, I don’t normally expose my gear to the elements in a way they were in Iceland. Both the a7RII and the RX1RII were used unprotected in significant exposures to rain, snow, waterfall spray and sub freezing temperatures. I came away with new found confidence in the weather handling capabilities of these cameras. On the RX1RII I even used the EVF in the rain which I was initially worried would expose the camera to water due to the pop-up mechanism. The one criticism I can lay on the RX is the poor battery performance in cold weather. The little battery just couldn’t hold the juice when the temperature dropped below the freezing point. With a pocketful of spares, I never ran out of power but the hassle of swapping batteries in -15 C was not an overly pleasant experience. There are solutions available, such as using an external power pack via USB and I may look closer at those options if I was to use the camera extensively in such cold environments again. Comparatively, the a7RII battery held up quite well and I never once had to change it in the field.

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The Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f2 lens that the public and reviewers raved about in the original RX1 makes a return in the new camera matched to the resolving power of the 42mp sensor first introduced in the a7RII. The Zeiss was magic on the original and none of that mojo has been lost on the RX1RII. The Zeiss renders almost like a Planar design, with softer/smooth bokeh, while retaining a Sonnar’s critical sharpness in the center wide open and across the field when stopped down – an almost perfect recipe for a 35mm lens. No one should call this Zeiss clinical, but rather images have an organic feel that is hard to come by in modern designs. The lens appears to be resolving every single one of those 42mp, especially evident in scenes with a distant subject such as a landscape. I am simply staggered by the level of detail this combination is resolving in many of the Iceland scenes. Even more impressive was the few handheld panoramics I attempted. The results were beyond expectations; the 42mp sensor in the tiny RX1RII is capable of generating impressive high megapixel stitched images. One shot on the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue resulted in a 162mp file with levels of detail unheard of in a camera this size.

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Image below…Sony a7RII 50/2 Summitar

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A7RII and 12mm Zeiss Touit

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All images here are shot in RAW so I can’t comment on JPEG performance but working with the Sony files in post is a pleasure. Dynamic range is as expected – stellar – and having continuity between my a7RII and the RX1RII is a big deal as it can be a challenge to match output on a shoot from different camera models. Color is subjective and easily manipulated but I enjoy working with the base Sony color space. So far there haven’t been any surprises or ugliness in terms of how the files react to edits -no artifacts or banding, just rich malleable data.

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To wrap it up, if I measure the RX1RII based on the resultant images, the satisfaction while using it and the desire to keep using it, this field test in Iceland can only be categorized as a success. As groundbreaking as the original RX1 was, expectations were high for the new camera and if my experience can be used as an indication, Sony delivered a worthy successor.

Camera talk aside, I hope it is obvious that we fell in love with beauty of Iceland. Thanks to Steve for sharing our little trip and if interested please visit my site where I have a full day-by-day travelogue with details of each stop.

Chad

Dec 232015
 

The Sony Rx1R Mark II: Ballet, Bikinis, The President and More!

By Joe Marquez

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been quite busy with a number of shoots including photographing The Nutcracker ballet in Honolulu. During this time I’ve tried to incorporate the new Sony RX1RM2 into my workflow to test if it works for me. This is not a review, but rather an opportunity to provide my initial impression while using this camera and share a number of photographs. In the future you can see more of my Sony photographs at www.thesmokingcamera.com.

Overall, I am pleased with the improvements over the first generation Rx1 (which I sold about a year ago). In particular the autofocus speed is substantial. Sony claims a 30% increase, but I’m not sure I can quantify the improvement. The first generation camera struggled with ballerinas in low light. The new version is much improved and now focuses on moving dancers even in poor lighting. I’ve included a number of black and white ballet rehearsal photos – all shot wide open at f2 and all at iso 3200.

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The tilt-able LCD screen is a bonus as I am able to easily compose low angle shots. In fact I had to stop myself from shooting so low and try out the retractable electronic viewfinder. At first glance the built-in EVF seems a bit toy-like, but I found it more than adequate. It is bright, responsive and easy to put away when not needed.

Face detection and Eye AF are very useful features. When turned on I can concentrate on composing the image and confidently allow the camera to handle focusing.

Image quality is superb as one would expect and I have no problem getting sharp, detailed images wide open. The Zeiss Sonnar T* lens is easily on par with my Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens on a Nikon DSLR – with a substantial weight savings.

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And the Sony is so small and light I am able to carry it around my neck at the same time I have a DSLR attached to a 70-200mm or 85mm 1.4 lens around my shoulder. This gives me focal length flexibility without having to carry two DSLRs or change a lens in the middle of a shoot. This was my setup at a couple of beach photoshoots and when President Obama shook hands with a small crowd (I’ve always wanted to use this oxymoron) while vacationing on Oahu. My guess is this is the first time The President has been photographed with the Sony RX1RM2.

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At a recent shoot I attached a Nikon Sb-800 strobe to the hotshoe via an older inexpensive sc-17 cable. This setup worked flawlessly and potentially gives me a small lightweight off-camera flash solution at future events when I need or want super high quality images. Of course I will be limited to manual flash adjustments but I can live with that.

And finally, I have to do more testing to determine if the new Sony is workable as a very long exposure rig (several minutes). My initial images contain a significant number of hot pixels that require post work, but it is so tempting to have this lovely lens in font of 42 megapixels for long artistic exposures.

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Although I’m pleased with the improvements I do find the camera a bit sluggish and I’m not able to make quick adjustments when shooting fast action. Of course this could be attributed to the large files and my lack of familiarity with Sony’s menu system and controls. Also, I wish there was a way to simultaneously keep Eye AF on while using the AEL button as an AF-ON equivalent. Just saying.

In conclusion, the Sony RX1RM2 has been a nice upgrade for me and I plan to carry it along on future assignments, shoots and just for fun. Happy holidays to all.

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