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May 282016
 
PRED

PRED

My Crystal Ball sees a new Leica M coming…new Olympus..Sony..Predictions!

It has been years since I pulled out my old crystal ball to make a camera prediction (2012), and it has never failed me in the past so why not have some fun and write about what I feel is coming down the road SOON from Leica, and some others…BUT keep in mind these are predictions. I have zero inside info, so take them for what they are worth! All in good fun my friends but my old Crystal Ball predictions have all been very close or spot on! My last prediction was before the M 240, and here is what my Crystal Ball said then:

FROM 2012: “As for an M10…I saw a sad face like there have been difficulties with it..maybe it is not ready but I do not see an M10 being available until MID 2013 and maybe THIS will be the “R” solution. Imagine a CMOS – LIVEVIEW M that can take R glass as well. Hmmmmm. The M10…I wouldn’t expect a working demo unit to be unveiled in September but maybe can announcement about it.”

The M 240 ended up coming in March of 2013 and had Live View and was able to use R lenses via adapter. ;) Was not called the M10, but M240.

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LEICA

I do see a new Leica M coming THIS YEAR..a slimmer M..a new RF/EVF experience..an M with an RF and EVF and no lag with live view. It will be slimmer to resemble the Leica film bodies of past and present and will have new design cues as well. Something not so expected from hardcore M fans, but at the same time, welcome as it will take the M into the future. Leica, I feel, has heard the complaints from many about the M 240 thickness, and I truly feel the new M will be as good as a modern day rangefinder can get. Big things will be the new sensor, the new RF/VF, the new design which will keep the iconic shape and style but will be a slimmer body than the M 240. There will be an LCD, great battery system and possibly a new way to get to your SD cards besides removing the bottom plate.

I predict this will be the ultimate digital M with capabilities not seen before (high ISO) in previous M’s. Price, I also predict a lower price. Not $8k or $7k..I will predict $5995-$6300.

Now, I have zero inside info, as always..but my crystal ball has never been 100% wrong ;) So we shall see. I think last 1/4 of the year will see an announcement from Leica. I also see in the fog what looks like a Q but with a different lens…not sure though. ;)

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OLYMPUS

There may be a new E-M1 MKII coming by November. I predict this will be the most powerful Olympus Micro 4/3 ever devised and include some of the new features shown in their latest tough cam. Expect rock solid build, a more squared off appearance and unique to Olympus features that will once again show that Olympus innovates more than anyones else in digital imaging. I also see a large and beautiful EVF. Now, this is all a prediction, I have no inside info..if I did, I would be sued for giving it away, so let’s hope my crystal ball is still working after all of these years :) The E-M1 Mark II or E-M2 should be one slick professional M 4/3 camera with a new sensor and the best low light capabilities of M 4/3 to date and it will be FAST. I think this one will be huge for Olympus as in, a HUGE release announcement and it will be a big deal in the digital imaging world. My crystal ball fogged out before I could see details but I think this one will be quite awesome!

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SONY

Again, no inside info ever but my Crystal Ball, while foggy by the time I got to Sony showed me something massive..I saw the words BIG…SPECIAL..POWERFUL…and I do not think it was the body that is large, though it may be larger than the A7 series. I saw a bit of a square-ish shape, and sharp lines. Maybe the long rumored A9? If so, I except this to be a statement piece from Sony much like the NEX-7 was when it launched. Not sure yet…but Sony never ever disappoints!

I did see something with a huge letter N as well and it was NOT a DSLR. Hmmmmm

I hope you are all having a killer weekend as Summer approaches! More on Monday my friends!

 

May 252016
 

Sometimes, it can pay off to approach strangers

by Leonard Manfred

Hi Brando and Steve. I am a big fan of your site, I have to say a day does not go by that I don’t click on it to see what’s new.

I wanted to share an experience I had on the summer of 2014. I was walking down the beach in Luquillo, PR, when I saw this lovely girl just walking by herself. I usually don’t approach strangers, especially the pretty young female kind, but for some reason, this time, I did. We started conversing and I learned that she was a Colombian “au pair” traveling with a family from Miami. I was just fascinated by her eyes, and trying not to sound creepy, I asked if we could take some pictures. She agreed, if first I met the family she was traveling with and they said it was ok. So I did, and we all went to do the shoot together.

I really like the results I got. I’m still captivated by her soulful eyes every time I look at the pictures. I guess it pays to speak up once in a while.

These are all jpegs straight from my old A7s (now replaced by the mark 2) and Voightlander 35mm 1.2 (possibly one of my favorite lenses, especially in combination with this camera) and probably shot wide open, if not just slightly closed from that, which is, to me, the sweet spot for this lens. I also shot raws of the same pictures, but, I prefer, whenever possible, to do as little post as possible, especially since I suck at it. I rather let the camera do the work (that’s what I pay it for, right?)

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I do have shots where she is not looking straight at the camera, and those were nice too, but, like I said, it was the eyes that got me, so sorry for the lack of creativity here.

Thank you for the work you do, please keep it up.

Lenny

ps.
her name is Karo

May 242016
 

Awesomness: Zeiss Loxia Kit Bundle for Sony E Mount…

Take a look at what is for offer at B&H Photo. The full Zeiss Loxia set for Sony E Mount (A7, A6300, etc). These are GORGEOUS lenses. Small, built very well, manual focus and made for the Sony E moount, so no adapters or issues at all. I have reviewed all three of these lenses and found them all to be superb. My 21 review is here, my 35 review is here and my 50 review is here. If you want a set for your Sony, take a look at this:

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Even comes with a custom style pelican case for all three lenses. They have other Loxia kits there as well. 

May 242016
 
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BATTLE OF THE RES! Sony RX1RII, A7RII, A6300, RX10III

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Was having some fun with the Sony cameras I have on hand here and wanted to see which one, between the RX1RII and A7RII would record the most detail, just for fun. As I drank my morning coffee I sat outside and snapped a few images of a pink water bottle. Nothing fancy or special, but it is revealing and shows the RX1RII, as Sony has said, is at the top of their IQ heap. I have been finding the RX1RII to record amazing detail without being analytical or harsh. It somehow balances between sharpness, creaminess and beauty in the way the 35 f/23 Zeiss lens renders ever so gently with this sensor.

I will be using the RX1RII more and more for personal work coming up soon, though I do recommend a 39mm ND filter as at f/2 you max out at 1/2000s. Check out these quick comparisons…

You must click these to see the real versions with 100% crop. But take a look closely on a good display at the crops. You will see the fine details in the RX1RII shot. They are still there, though less pronounced on the A7RII shot and they start to fade in the A6300 shot (same lens used on A7RII and A6300), and are gone by the time the RX10III gets the shot. 

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The Sony RX1RII is a gorgeous camera and bests the 1st version quite easily with its EVF, newer sensor, faster AF and all while retaining the size which is small, light and rugged. I love my RX1RII, one of the greats and while Leica has the Q which is serious competition for the Sony, I prefer the Sony’s gentle and organic way the sensor renders over the Q, which I also love for ITS color and pop. But at the end of the day, for me, the Sony wins in Dynamic Range, low light, resolution and versatility (swivel LCD, nice video, defeatable low pass filter, and the lens, which is a lens that beat the Leica 35 Summicron M for IQ (That lens is $3500 alone).

I will soon have a follow up report on the Sony RX1RII, showcasing its strengths, weaknesses and why it may or may not be the camera you have been looking for.

Steve

DR, DETAIL, COLOR, BOKEH is all TOP notch on the RX1RII

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May 232016
 
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The Gear I am enjoying NOW (Video)

by Steve Huff

Hello! Happy Monday! Yes, it is yet another Monday already and today I wanted to share a video with you that I made yesterday showing the cameras and lenses I have been shooting with over the past few weeks and months. From the Olympus PEN-F to the Sony RX1RII to the Leica SL to the Sony A6300, RX10 III, and more.

Enjoy the video below!

MORE INFO:

Olympus PEN-F

OLYMPUS 8MM PRO

OLYMPUS 7-14 PRO

SONY RX1RII

SONY RX10III

LEICA SL

LEICA 90-280

SONY A7RII

PETZVAL 58 1.9

May 122016
 

Zeiss 85 Batis Review

by Richard Pickup

I have been lucky enough to try out the new Zeiss Batis 85mm lens for Sony FE mount in recent weeks, and the other day it accompanied me on a trip to the Natural History Museum in Oxford. This seemed like a good occasion to use the Batis with some purpose and also to organise my thoughts on the lens so far.

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The Natural History Museum is a fine place to explore photographically. They have a relaxed and inclusive approach to their audience (photographing is not frowned upon as in so many venues now; they provide portable chairs so as to allow folks to sketch the collections; there is no entry fee), and light streams in from the fabulously ornate iron-clad roof. A stunning collection of specimens, including huge dinosaur skeletons and all kinds of stuffed animals, positively begs for a monochrome treatment. (This may just be me though: I can’t get the fabulous scene from the museum in Chris Marker’s film The Jetty out of my mind. Well worth checking out if you don’t know it, as it is made up of a sequence of beautiful stills put together to feel like a movie.)

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As is now well known in the industry, Zeiss has been putting considerable resources into its partnership with Sony and has produced some much lauded lenses for the Sony A7 camera range. I have used the Sony / Zeiss branded 55mm f1.8 quite extensively and it is a superb lens; small, light, built like a tank, and sharp wide open but still full of character (I evidently have a thing for Sonnar designs, see a previous post).

I was in for something of a culture shock when I attached the new Batis 85mm to my mirrorless A7 Mark II. It is not so much a heavy lens (at 475g), as a bulbous one. Immediately one begins to question whether the whole ethos of the mirrorless format has been compromised by adding such a form – inevitably this makes the setup seem much more DSLR-like. My take on this is that there is still a considerable advantage in size and weight over DSLR equivalents, although I expect some will see this differently. I am in the process of investigating 85mm as a focal length, and so cannot say definitively whether I am committed to it yet. I suspect that if I adopt 85mm fully, I could be quite happy accommodating a lens that is a little more bulky than I would like, especially if the results warrant it.

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The sun streamed in as I walked around the Museum and set about the task of putting the Batis through its paces. I attached the lens hood to guard against flare, something which approximately doubles the size of the lens. With my camera strap wrapped around my wrist, I could easily hold the A7II in one hand. When shooting, my left hand had a good deal to hold onto, making the whole setup feel very balanced, and this despite the fact that the camera is visually dwarfed by the lens. The Batis has a sleek and smooth shape with very comfortable ergonomics. It has a rubber focus ring which I really enjoyed using for fine focussing.

This is hardly a full and scientific lens review, however I did endeavour to use a range of apertures in typical shooting situations. The Batis is arguably designed as a portrait lens and f1.8 at close distances produces very smooth out of focus areas and gives nothing away in terms of sharpness at the centre. This is clearly an area where modern lenses now excell: the old advice to stop down an aperture or two to achieve full sharpness is less and less relevant (although generally one will have to pay for this privilege, and the Batis is not a budget lens).

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Utilising the reach of the 85mm and engaging middle apertures brings sharpness across the frame, as one would expect. I noticed some difference in critical sharpness between f9 and f11, so I would be inclined to use f9 as a limit for bigger prints. As ever, there are a number of variables at play here, so I do reserve judgment on this pending further tests and more accurate data. As ever, I found the viewfinder zoom facility on the A7II along with manual focussing to be a boon for getting focus spot on.

Examining my images from the Museum on Lightroom, it was immediately clear that this is a lens with significant edge distortion. Happily, Lightroom has a corrective profile, and so this is not an issue for me. I know that some people object to such apparent flaws in what is after all a high quality prime; my understanding is that lens designers work with a series of trade-offs to produce the qualities they desire for a specific lens. This is a lens with a distinctive (and to my eye pleasant) character, and as I have already mentioned the designers clearly have people shots in mind. I have made a very beautiful colour print of my son using Hanhnemuhle Photorag paper, which clearly show the strengths of this lens for portraiture. If I didn’t already own some top class portrait lenses, I would surely invest in a Batis for this alone.

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In summary, this is a very high quality metal lens which feels robust and has sound ergonomics. While my imagination gravitated towards black and white for my Museum trip, the Batis has a notably ‘Zeiss’ colour signature, with humming blues and intense reddish browns. At f1.8 the lens is already very sharp, and it produces sumptuous out of focus areas. The tonal transitions it produces are attractive to my eye, and while this may be entirely subjective, a little more analog-looking than those produced by some lenses for digital. This is a thoroughly modern lens with some traditional mores: when the camera is switched on a luxurious black and white LED glows a proud ‘ZEISS’, before displaying very accurate depth of field information. A boon to some users I’m sure, but perhaps not me.

As I mentioned above, I am still in the process of investigating the 85mm focal length. What I do now know is that if I settle on it, I will be very hard-pressed to give up the Batis. In any event, I for one am happy to see such a lens being added to the ever increasing options for Sony mirrorless.

 

May 102016
 
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CRAZY COMPARISON! Sony 50 1.8 “Nifty 50” vs The Zeiss 55 1.8!

Here you go! Many have been asking me if the new $249 Sony 50 1.8 is worth the buy and ask me what is the difference between the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 and the Sony 50 1.8. Basically, the 55 1.8 uses a Zeiss formula for the lens. The Sony 50 1.8 does not. This means the Zeiss will be sharper, have more 3D pop, richer color and well, not much else. The little Sony 50 1.8 will be a tad softer, less contrast and about $650 less to buy! This lens is SO WORTH the $249..and if you own a Sony A7 series body, and do not have a fast native 50, take a look at this little inexpensive wonder. It even comes with a lens hood.

Below are a few snaps side by side with the 55 1.8 Zeiss. Yep, the Zeiss is sharper, as it should be, but for the price, this little “Nifty Fifty” is amazing. You can buy one for $248 HERE at Amazon.

FOR VIDEO I would use the 55 over the 50 though due to slight AF noise with this lens. EITHER WAY, thrilled to see Sony release an affordable fast 50! More on the lens from me is HERE. 

MUST CLICK THE IMAGES TO SEE THEM LARGER AND TRUE 100% CROPS! THEY ARE ALL LABELED, AND EXIFIS EMBEDDED. ALL IMAGES FROM SONY A7RII.

ONLY LOOKING AT SHARPNESS/DETAIL, COLOR AND BOKEH

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May 092016
 
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QUICK COMPARE: Sony RX10III at 600mm vs Olympus PEN-F at 600mm

Just for fun! Was checking out the Sony RX10III today (I have written up a small piece on it a while ago HERE) alongside the Olympus PEN-F with Olympus 300mm f/4 pro and since both can do 600mm equivalent, I figured why not see what kind of difference there is between the two at 600mm. The RX10 III, a small all in one with a 24-600MM equivalent lens on it and the Oly is a mirrorless body with a pro level Olympus 300mm prime, which gives us a 600mm equiv field of view.

Now this is not a scientific test but man, the RX10 III is quite the camera. Think about it. For $1200 you get an all in one with zoom lens that will get you between 24-600mm. THAT IS HUGE! You have 4K video capabilities, you have a full swivel LCD, and a great EVF. It’s quick and has great IQ for a small 1″ sensor camera. The PEN-F is just a gorgeous camera all the way around. Sleek, sexy, and delivers stunning IQ with all of the unique features we have come to enjoy with Olympus cameras.

The RX10 III comes in at $1498.00. Pretty pricey for a all in one zoom 1″ sensor camera. BUT then again, getting all of what it offers is quite amazing for this size and price. It even has a manual aperture dial and gives us 60mm at f/4. Same as the Olympus 300mm pro.

The Olympus PEN comes in at $1199 body only and the 300mm f/4 Pro is $2499 with a 2 month wait list. $3600.

Here are some just for fun snaps at 600mm with both. NOTHING FANCY, but you get the idea. The Olympus pairing will give you more shallow DOF, and richer files with better Dynamic Range. The Sony offers small and light, with a powerful built in lens capable of 600mm at f/4.

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1st Olympus, 2nd Sony – CLICK THEM FOR LARGER!

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1st Olympus, then Sony

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At the end of the day, the Sony is a damn powerful camera for those who are looking for an all in one, vacation cam, kids cam, family cam, video cam, backup cam or for those who want to photograph birds or wildlife.

The Olympus is a more attractive package but also much more expensive. The Olympus will offer better IQ due to the larger sensor but be prepared to get a workout! The 300mm pro is heavy and large but it’s a beautiful piece of glass, a work of art and a pro tool without question.

Just shows that today, digital imaging tech is as good as it has ever been, and we still have amazing choices as photographers, hobbyists and enthusiasts in the mirrorless world.

I WILL SOON BE PUTTING UP FULL REVIEWS OF THE SONY RX10III, THE SONY 50 1.8, 70-300 AND A6300. ALSO, FULL REVIEW ON THE 300MM F/4 PRO FROM OLYMPUS! AFTER THAT, A PANASONIC GX85 REVIEW AND THE VOIGTLANDER 15 F/4.5 REVIEW FOR EMOUNT! ALSO, the new LEICA 90-280 with SL will be reviewed! Wooo, lots of work! 

May 062016
 

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Crazy Comparison! Voigtlander 15 E Mount, Sony 16-35, Olympus 7-14!

Hey guys! Happy Friday! This has been a hectic week for me, so there have been fewer posts this week but have no fear, a CRAZY COMPARISON is here to kick off your weekend! Hehe. Since I have a serious combo of wide angle lenses here I figured I’s step out in my backyard this morning (while still in my Pajamas) and take a few side by side shots with these lenses.

The new Voigtlander 15 f/4.5 for E mount is here, the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 has been with me since it was launched (I use this lens often for video) and the Olympus PEN-F and 7-14 happened to be in front of me as well. So why not take them out in the back and see how they stack up with some real world silly snapshots? This is not a scientific hardcore test, it is for fun.

All images are from RAW, none have any post processing and yes, I am barefoot because it’s already hot here in Phoenix, with temps already hitting triple digits earlier in the week..so no socks for me ;)

When going out my thought was that the Olympus would provide the sharpest of the images due  to the Micro 4/3 sensor which is small compared to a full frame like we have in the Sony, and we all know that ultra wides and full frame cameras are still nowhere near perfect at the edges. After this test it just solidifies my belief that Olympus and Panasonic have a great thing going with Micro 4/3. The only weaknesses it has over the mighty Sony is low light, where the Sony just kills the Olympus (or Panasonic) and for SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD, which is MUCH easier to obtain on a full frame camera. Other than that, the little PEN-F is still impressing me.

So let’s get to these silly shots..

1st Up, around 8:50 AM in the corner of my backyard. Wanted to look at the edges a bit as I was seeing the Voigtlander, upon close inspection had some soft edges. You can click on the images below to see them larger with full 100% crops. I noticed the Voigtlander underexposes a bit when using the A7RII meter (as we all do). It’s also softer in the edges than the Sony/Zeiss 16-35. The Olympus, here, IMO is the best in the corners and the overall image/color/vibrance but less res of course than the full frame Sony beast. 

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Yep, my bare feet..it’s HOT in Phoenix AZ this time of year. View at your own risk but if you want to take that dare, click the images for larger versions. Again, the Olympus, to me, did the best but also, less resolution. That Olympus 7-14 is a stunner and the best built of the three as well. 

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Let’s look at some prices of these kits:

The Sony A7RII is $3198 at Amazon.  For me, it has been well worth it as it is my #1 goto. I have a few Sony cameras, a couple of Olympus, a couple Leica and today my lens collection is quite large. I used to sell off lenses as I stopped using them, then I realized I usually regretted selling them. But the Sony A7RII is my most used camera for all of my shooting. Olympus comes next with the PEN-F and then the Leica SL. That’s my gear list as of now.

The Sony/Zeiss 16-35 F/4 comes in at $1248 at Amazon.  So add this to the A7RII and we are looking at $4450. That’s a ton of cash for a camera and one F/4 wide angle lens, but again, this combo has given me LOADS of use for video work where I needed Auto Focus.

The Voigtlander 15 f/4.5 for E mount is $799 at CameraQuest.com – It’s much smaller than the Sony, and lighter. It is manual focus but it zooms in as soon as you turn the focus dial, making manual focus a breeze. This lens and an A7RII comes in at around $4000. Quite pricey still.

The Olympus PEN-F comes in at $1199 at Amazon.  For $2,000 less than an A7RII you will have a smaller, sleeker and just as capable camera in most light. Sure, it’s not full frame and you will suffer in low light or when you want massive bokeh blow out, but other than that these Micro 4/3 cameras are quiet stunning.

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The Olympus 7-14 is an f/2.8 lens, and in their PRO line. It is STUNNING. It comes in at $1199, same as the PEN-F.  Cost of this lens and the PEN-F? $2400, almost half of the Sony/Zeiss setup. STILL expensive when you consider most use a cel phone and a wide angle lens adapter for these types of things these days :)

I love them all and feel lucky to have tools to choose from these days and I feel lucky to be a camera nerd. :) Today we have the best digital solutions we have ever had.

Let’s do one more comparison…

Looking at this we can see what we know, that smaller sensors can do wide angle with less issues..click them for larger. I prefer the Olympus here for tonality, and the way the image is presented. THOUGH the Olympus was the only one to flare here. 

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At the end of the day, in this world of cel phone cameras and less and less of the world interested in megabuck cameras, I feel the entire higher end digital market is going the way of the true enthusiast. There are many of us that would NEVER use our phone as our main camera just as there are many who would never buy a $4000 setup to take some snaps of their dogs or kids. Sure, I use my iPhone on occasion, when I do not have my real camera. But never have I taken an iPhone shot and said “WOW, this looks like my Leica and Noctilux”! Hehehe. I see cameras and lenses such as the ones discussed here for the ENTHUSIAST, like me. We love well made gear, we love a camera that fits our hand like a glove and we love a REAL camera that does what we want it to. So these cameras and lenses are still going strong even though I get emails daily asking me to review cel phones, yes I do.

I love them all, and they all have their strengths, like the bodies and lenses above. I still prefer my Sony 16-35 over the new Voigtlander for E mount though. The Voigtlander is underexposing on occasion, does have some slightly soft corners (as does the Zeiss) and is not as vibrant as what I get from the Sony/Zeiss 16-35 (My review of that lens is HERE). With that said, the Voigtlander is a joy to use, is smaller and lighter and less expensive. I could be happy with either for wide angle use. Then we have the little PEN and the 7-14 which I feel is giving me the best IQ for my tastes (with ultra wide – but the least resolution due to the smaller sensor)! I am going to have to start using it more ;)

What do you guys use as your wide angle solution in the 15mm range?

REFERENCE: Sony 16-35 Review, Sony A7RII Review, Olympus PEN-F Review, Olympus 7-14 Review, 1st look Voigtlander.

May 022016
 

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Bokeh Dreams…The Petzval 58 1.9 Bokeh Control Art Lens Review

By Steve Huff

All images here were shot with the Petzval 58 1.9 and Sony A7RII. 

I have been shooting with a lens that looks mighty familiar to me in design and looks. Brass, VERY Old School and unique in the way that you change aperture and even focus the lens. That lens is the new Petzval 58 1.9 Bokeh Control lens, and to me, it looks like a smaller version of the Lomo 85 Petzval  f/2.2 Art Lens, but this 58 1.9 is actually, IMO, a much better lens that the 85. When I was asked to review this lens I assumed it would be like a 58mm version of the 85. Soft wide open, low contrast and washed out colors.

Nope. Not only does this 58 1.9 offer me sharper images (ONLY at the focus point though), it also gives me more contrast and better colors than I remember getting from the 85 Petzval. But in addition to this, we get full Bokeh Control where we can dial it in on #1 and get a nice smooth-ish Bokeh or we can go to #7 and get swirl city.

When set on #7, this lens delivers SWIRL like I have never seen before. Click it for larger and see his face is pretty sharp, wide open shot. 

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Thanks to Joseph Petzval and his swirly Bokeh from the 1840’s we are now being able to purchase a replica of sorts, but even better as the original Petzval had ONLY massive swirl where this recreation gives us choices of Swirl Level with a focus ring type of dial on the lens barrel, allowing us to dial in what we want. Pretty cool if you ask me. When Lomography put up the kick starter for this one, they reached the $100,000 goal within FOUR HOURS. This tells me that there are plenty out there looking for something different, and this just may be the most unique lens I have ever touched, used or owned (yes, I am buying this one).

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Truth be told, these types of lenses are usually very gimmicky, and this one is no exception. Even so, I LOVE this lens and can not bring myself to let go of it when I am done with my review time (which is why I am purchasing my demo model) as to me, it sort of reminds me of another lens I adore, the old Canon RF Dream Lens (See my review here, and 2nd look here). While not the same, both of these lenses offer something that I like to pull out of my hat from time to time, and that is 100% UNIQUE rendering that not many of us use, or see often in everyday photos.

The 58 1.9 comes in a fantastic package with book, manual, pouch, Waterhouse aperture plates and a Brass cap. $749

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I have a history of shooting, testing and really liking small, prime and unique lenses. While many will ay “THAT BOKEH IS NASTY”, I say “THAT BOKEH IS UNIQUE” and in the right scenario, can look quite nice. Artistic, as I said, unique and different. I like my shots to be different from everyone else and seeing that most these days shoot with phones, a lens like this would make some of those phone shooting young ‘ens ask “HOW DID YOU DO THAT”?

Click images for better versions!

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Now of course a lens like this is not for every day use. If you did end up using this lens every day for two weeks, you would tire of the look and you would be frustrated for missing some shots, as it is 100% manual focus and that Bokeh is wild, meaning you really need your subject in the center-ish area of the frame to be in focus. Take a look at the shot below and see that one face is out of focus due to being out of the sharp area of the lens, which is dead center:

Click it for larger, swirl on 7

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Same here…swirl on 7

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So in reality, for me anyway, a lens like this is meant to be on your shelf for those days, times and moments that you want to be a tad more creative or want the swirl. Speaking of swirl, I know that many out there hate swirly bokeh, and many out there also love the effect from time to time.

THE SWIRL – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SWIRL but you CAN DIAL IT OUT! 

This lens is so cool as it gives you a choice with your Bokeh. It has seven settings  though I admit, I was using either #1 or #7. From mild to wild. Setting 1 will give you an old school smooth bokeh but you will still have a little swirl in the corners. This is not a “corner to corner” sharp lens..if you want this, grab a normal 50mm f/1.4 and stop down to f/5.6. Those seeking any kind of perfection, stay away from this one as you never know what will pop up on your LCD when shooting a lens like this. As I said, it can go from MILD to WILD.

Here you can see what I mean. On Setting 1, below, you still see extreme blur mostly at the edges. Even this is unique and delivers a very interesting look. But when turned up to 7, the swirl really shows up..

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And now on 7 – behind the lamp you can see more swirl as this will be directly behind your subject.

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You can see that this lens is doing some crazy things at each setting. It’s a wild lens but it’s also quite charming with its old school all Brass construction.

NIKON or CANON MOUNT ONLY! BUT, IT CAN BE ADAPTED TO SONY!

The Petzval 58 1.9 is made for Nikon or Canon mount. I have a Nikon mount version in Brass, and the lens also comes in a slick-looking shiny black. But I will choose brass as the 1840’s originals were all brass, from what I understand. If I am going to buy a vintage lens recreation, I want it to look like the original as much as possible. In fact, while out shooting this lens I had three people approach me to ask me what lens I was using. One guy thought it was an antique lens I somehow managed to adapt to digital. When I showed them what it was and how it worked they were very intrigued and gave a huge smile. It’s just so different from the norm that in this day and age of black zoom lenses and iPhones, the Petzval really stands out with its striking looks and design.

Image one is set to 7 for swirl, image two is set to 1 and the 3rd image may be somewhere in between..

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WHO IS THIS LENS FOR?

At $799, this is not a cheap $250 lens. It shouldn’t be as the construction all brass quality is stunning. The design is very old school and there is not any other lens like this in production. It’s worth the $799 but only to the photographer who wants to think outside the box. The person who wants DIFFERENT and UNIQUE. The guy or girl who sees the beauty in the SWIRL and the old school 1800’s Bokeh. I have seen some great work with this lens, and my experience is limited to a couple of days shooting so far but I already know I am hooked. If I sent this back to cameraquest.com I would miss it one day when I wanted this style and look.

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If you shoot with a Canon or Nikon DSLR I could see this being a little challenging to nail the focus as I never found MANUALLY focusing with a DSLR to be very good. I prefer using a good EVF for that and the Sony A7RII that I am using it on makes it able to 100% nail the focus, every time. I feel Lomography should start making these in E mount as well as they are made for it, so it seems when using it. So if you shoot Canon, Nikon or Sony, this is a lens you can shoot with. The Sony Nikon adapter I have is from Amazon and cost me $13. I use this one and it works perfect. 

I dig this lens more than the 85 Petzval (My review HERE) for its smaller size, better IQ and Bokeh Control as well as focal length which I prefer to 85. So for me, I love the new 58 and have  told Stephen Gandy he is not getting this review sample back, and to charge me for it. Yep, I bought it. Because sometimes, on some days I just want to go to dreamland with my photos and this is a lens one can grow with, learn its nuances and characters..and then, when that happens you will have a lens that will reward you with surreal beauty when you take your shot.

I mean, C’mon! Sometimes you just need to break from the norm of perfect sharpness and “create” instead of “snap”.

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WHERE TO BUY?

My lens came from CAMERAQUEST.COM. You can order it or take a closer look at it HERE. The price is $749. They are now IN STOCK and shipping!

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MORE INFO FROM CAMERAQUEST:

After Joseph Petzval introduced his iconic lens in 1840, portrait photography flourished. Now, 175 years later, it’s your turn to explore these first footsteps of photography with a handcrafted lens combining historical design and modern, yet original, Russian optics.
We’ve taken the best features of the New Petzval Art Lens to the next level: The New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens comes with an unprecedented Bokeh Control Ring paired with a versatile 58mm focal length. Together with an f/1.9 maximum aperture, these traits will let you explore new photographic paths. For the first time ever, you have total freedom over the blurred areas in your pictures thanks to the Bokeh Control Ring that lets you determine the strength of the Petzval’s swirly bokeh.

Boasting a shiny varnish black or brass body, the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens is great for all different types of photography. From captivating portraits and busy streets scenes, to impressive architecture and wide landscapes, every image showcases harmonic color saturation and fine contrasts.

Just like its predecessor–the New Petzval 85 Art Lens–the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens features a classic gear rack focusing mechanism and Waterhouse aperture plates for a truly 19th century-like photographic experience.

Compatibility:
The New Petzval 58 Art Lens comes available with Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, which means it’s immediately compatible with a whole host of analogue and digital cameras. You can also pair the New Petzval 58 Art Lens with many other analogue and digital cameras, like the Sony A7 for instance, by using adapters which can be purchased separately.

Package includes:
New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens Brass or Black
Standard Waterhouse aperture plates
Front and rear lens cap
Leather Pouch
Photo and manual book
Instruction manual
Features:
Focal Length: 58mm
Aperture: Waterhouse aperture stops, f/1.9, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16
Image Circle: 44mm
Field of View: 41 degrees
Optical Construction: 4 lens elements in 3 groups
Lens Mounting Profile: Nikon F or Canon EOS EF
Electronic Contacts: No
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.6m
Focusing Mechanism: Gear Rack Focusing
Filter Thread: 52mm
Bokeh Control Levels: 1 (minimum swirl) to 7 (maximum swirl)

Apr 182016
 

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PIMP YOUR SONY RX1 MKII with these awesome accessories!

I have to say, I love my Sony RX1R MKII. I loved the original, then the R and now the MKII is what I feel is the smallest body on the market with the most serious IQ and capabilities, IF 35mm is your thing. In other words, there is no camera that is this size or smaller that packs this kind of IQ, low light and full on potential. The Sony RX1 series has sort of a cult following as the ones who own it and use it seem  to truly adore it, and those who never did bond with it just sold them. But no matter how you look at it, the RX1R MKII, or any of the RX1 series of cameras can produce stunning results in the right hands.

I often get asked “what strap do you use” or “what bag was that in your last video” or “hey, what shutter release is that” or even “what grip are you using”. I get these questions very often, and this post is going to tell all of you exactly what I did to my Sony RX1R II to make it my own, and make it much more comfy to use.

I will show you two grips I love and recommend, the best soft release I have found to date (for ANY camera), the sun shade I chose for my RX1RII that is much more affordable than the Sony version as well as what strap I use when I use one on this camera. Usually though, I have it in a small bag and without a strap.

First, check out the video to see it all

Then, below, , check out these two grips for the RX1R Mark II (NOTE: These will NOT fit the old Mark I versions as the MKII body has changed ever so slightly)

FROM METRO-CASE.COM 

This for fitting sleek and functional grip is quite nice. When I attached it to my RX1RII I was pleased with the design, looks, the way it keeps me from pressing the video/movie button and the fact that it is compatible with ARCA SWISS style plates. It also adds a nice grip to the camera while looking like it fits in with the design of the Sony itself. It has a solid feel and construction and for most, this would be the perfect grip. Click the stats below to see more or order. Price is $89 direct at METRO-CASE.COM

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FROM J.B. DESIGNS

I LOVE LOVE LOVE JB Grips! The wooden materials and nice design mean my cameras always look unique and cool when a JB Grip is rocking it. While this look is not for everyone (some will prefer the sleek design above from METRO-CASE, but some will also prefer this all natural wood look as it really gives off a nice vibe and makes the camera look a bit old school, a bit different and it feels great in the hand. I love this grip because of the look, design and the way it feels on the hand. It is easy to remove, lets me have full access to memory and battery and can mount on a tripod. This JB Grip is $85 and available at AMAZON HERE!

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LENS HOOD

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I looked for a nice lens hood for my RX1RII and ended up buying THIS ONE from Fotodiox on Amazon. It is all metal, is squared off and looks perfect on the camera. Not much else to say about this as its a lens hood but it does the job, looks great, is all metal and while not dirt cheap, it is well worth the cost. You can see it at Amazon HERE.

SHUTTER RELEASE – Best release I have ever found!

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WOW! I stopped buying shutter soft releases quite a while ago. WHY? They always fell off. The screw in models fell off almost daily, and they would be lost forever. Then there were even some stick ons that would always fall off as well. I gave up. UNTIL NOW. Check these out guys and see me attach one to my Sony A7RII in the video above. These come in all sizes and all shapes and are attractive with a clean design. You can go with concave or convex and 10mm or 13mm. All kinds of colors to choose from and they are not expensive coming in at $9-$15

Check them out HERE.

STRAPS?

I have to say, I do not use a NECK strap with my RX1RII often, but when I do it is this one. I always love smaller leather straps, and this one is affordable and nice ;)

 but I do use this WRIST strap from LV Designs more often.

BATTERIES – SPARES and EXTRAS

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I must have 12 batteries for the RX1/RX100’s around here but most of them are cheap spares I bought from Amazon, along with a cheap dual charger that works amazingly well. The batteries can be found cheap HERE (Two for $12) and the charger I use is HERE Highly recommended! 

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

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

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

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

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Apr 132016
 

Photo trip to Peru

by Alec Fedorov

Hi Steve,

I am an amateur photographer who has been an avid reader of your website for three years. Thanks for the great service you provide to the community of photographers.

Recently, my wife and I returned from an REI trip to Peru where we hiked the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, and I would like to share our experiences with the readers of your site.

I brought two cameras on the trip: Fuji X100s and Sony RX100III, both of which are great for travel photography. My go-to camera was the Fuji because of excellent image quality and ease of use. The Sony was kept in my pants pocket and came in handy a few times.

We arrived in Cusco, where we spent three days acclimatizing to the altitude, since the Salkantay Pass is at 15,200 feet. Cusco has the population of about 450,000 and it was the historic capital of the Incan Empire until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1532. Nowadays, Cusco is a growing city, and it is a tourist hub for trips to Machu Picchu.

We arrived in Cusco a few days before the New Year and the city was full of tourists and holiday lights. The streets in the center of Cusco are cobblestone. Some intersections are so narrow that the cars have to back up half way through the turn in order to complete it!

One of the most noticeable aspects of Cusco are the stray dogs which are ubiquitous. Some of the dogs have owners but the majority of them live on the streets. This is often due to people purchasing the dogs as puppies and then losing interest as the dog gets older and the novelty wears off. In Peru, it is considered inhumane to neuter dogs, so the population of street dogs just grows exponentially.

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Cusco is a blend of ancient and modern. The food was excellent and some of the restaurants were very eccentric, the kind you would expect to find in Manhattan.

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One day, we hired a local driver to take us to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which encompasses the heartland of the Incan empire. The scenery was spectacular, with very few tourists. At the end of the day, we ran into many shepherds, bringing the sheep in. They live in primitive clay houses without electricity.

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After spending three days in Cusco, we hooked up with the REI group to begin the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. This trek is named among the 25 Best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. It is an ancient and remote footpath located in the same region as the Inca Trail. The first few days of the 6-day hike traverses through a landscape of scenic views of the snowcapped 20,574 ft Mt. Salkantay.

We spent the first two nights at Salkantay Lodge at 12,600, and hiked to the Glacier Lake at 14,500 feet to further acclimatize.

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The hike over the Salkantay Pass began on a beautiful sunny morning. As we ascended, the green valley and blue sky was replaced by the grey lifeless rock and a dense fog. Shortly after reaching the top of the pass, a lone white horse emerged out of the fog. It was a very surreal experience.

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Over the next few days, we continued our descent into the high jungle, where we took our repose at three more lodges. The only traffic on the trek consisted of occasional packs of mules and horses carrying the luggage and the food supplies. In six days, we only ran across two other hikers. Photos below are of the local man who followed behind our group with the water and medical supplies.

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On the last day, before reaching Machu Picchu, we hiked through coffee plantations, and we visited a local family business. Many of these families rely on selling coffee to the tourists as their only source of income.

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Machu Picchu, in itself, was spectacular, and the experience of getting there by foot was unforgettable!

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Alec

Thanks,
Alec

Apr 092016
 

5

Five Reasons why I prefer Mirrorless to a DSLR, ANY DSLR…

By Steve Huff

You know, ever since the humble beginnings of this website I have been drawn to smaller, sexier and cameras that have fun factor and mojo to them. I started this site with a Leica M8 review due to my love for what was at the time, IMO, the sexiest digital camera available. It was so different from the standard DSLR’s that flooded the digital camera market for so long. It was small, but had a serious heft, feeling like it was made out of a block of stone. The viewfinder on a Leica M has always been a tried and true old school rangefinder, which offered a much more challenging experience, at first. Soon, it became my favorite way of “seeing” with a camera viewfinder.

The Leica M8 had a good run, but when the full frame M9 hit, all hell broke loose. At the time, the only full frame digital cameras were things like the Canon 5D and Nikon D700. The M9 hit and there it was, a full frame camera that was much smaller than any DSLR. The M lenses were and are tiny in comparison to DSLR lenses (due to being manual focus) and the M9 made an amazing small, but very well made (better made than any DSLR) full frame powerhouse, with image quality that could no be matched, at the time, by any camera. Even today no camera can recreate the look of the old M9, not even the M 240 which is Leica’s latest M camera.

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But this article is not about Leica, I only mention the M8 and M9 as I feel, for me, these are the cameras that were very important at the time they were released, as there was simply no other full frame offerings that could come close to the build, size and performance (as long as we had decent light of course, those early Leica’s were not so hot in low light). The M9 was huge for Leica, they sold a ton of them and it was the M9 that had Leica selling out their entire stock of M glass for months at at time. Wait lists were long, and Leica was riding the new mirrorless wave. There was a reason for this, and it is called TIMING.

LEICA T AND NEW 35 SUMMILUX 1.4 T Click it for larger.

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Soon after the M8 and M9, other companies started releasing convincing mirrorless cameras that lived up to the promise of smaller size, and more fun factor but many of them were flawed with lack of lenses, slow AF or quirky performance. Many looked gorgeous, like the Olympus EP1, but it was so dog slow, had no EVF 0r OVF and it had only a couple good lenses to choose from. Panasonic made waves with the GF1 and soon, many were on the mirrorless train, but it was a slow road. Over the years these companies were releasing body after body but the lenses were taking time. This caused the DSLR crowd to predict the demise of mirrorless … “What good is a small body if you do not have good lenses”..

Then Olympus and Panasonic started kicking ass  by releasing amazing lenses that were small and performed incredibly well. Fast primes with attractive jewel like design and stunning performance. Lenses like the Olympus 75 1.8, 45 1.8 and the Panasonic 20 1.7 and the drool worthy Nocticron..today we have LOADS of lenses for the Micro 4/3 system, all we could ever want or need from ultra wide 7-14 or 8mm fisheye to 300mm fast pro primes and consumer zooms.

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Fuji was going full steam ahead as well, let us not forget about them! Fuji created TONS of excitement for mirrorless with the original Fuji X100. Many were saying “Now I can have my affordable Leica M style camera”..some were calling it a rangefinder, of which is most certainly was and is not, but it gave us the same kind of feeling as using one. Image quality was up there with the M9 even though the X100 was an APS-C camera and not full frame. Low light slaughtered the M9 and many feel the X100 was the start of Leica’s sales decline. See, Leica attracted the MASSES with the M9, unlike what they have done before (and after). The masses came out for the worlds first full frame mirrorless camera, which was the M9, there was nOTHING like it. I was getting THOUSANDS of emails over 6 months about the Leica M9 from normal joe’s who heard about it and was intrigued, even at the high price tag. When the X100 came out, that halted Leica’s mystique a bit as many saw the X100 as being like an M. While it was not, in any way – not in build, feel, shooting experience, or output, an M, it resembled one with its shape, and put out fantastic performance, so that was plenty good enough for the masses, at 1/6th the price.

Sony 24-70 G Master and Sony A7RII. Click for larger!

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When Sony hit the market with the original A7 series, I was excited by the possibilities. Attaching Leica M glass to it, shooting great full frame video, and having this full frame powerhouse taking up less space in my bag than a DSLR. While the A7 was larger than anything from Olympus, Panasonic or the other guys, it was indeed full frame. Much like the Leica M9, the Sony had the same benefits, but more of them. While the Sony was nowhere near as beautiful in design, build or feel as the Leica M9, the sensor inside the Sony was much more versatile. Able to capture scenes with massive Dynamic Range (the M9 did not have a huge DR) and even at night with low light high ISO performance that was cutting edge (unlike the Leica which suffered even at ISO 1250). Add swivel LCD’s and the EVF and video performance and you had an all in one powerhouse that was smaller than an APS-C DSLR yet full frame. Again, the weakness was LENSES. Sony had a 28-70 kit zoom that was average, and a couple of primes, the 35 2.8 and 55 1.8 Zeiss.

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I jumped in but over time realized the A7 series would need a lot of polishing to get up to speed and be better than most of what was out there. Soon we had more lenses, and more bodies. The A7 and A7R were replaced with the A7II, A7RII and A7S and A7SII. NOW we are talking! The MK II bodies improved the shape, build, and feel of the old A7 series. Also, the AF speed was improved quite a bit and we had a better EVF and better specs all the way around. Lenses I love for my A7RII are the Sony/Zeiss 16-35, Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, Loxia 50 and the new Sony 85 1.4 G Master which is just gorgeous. The new 70-300 looked very promising as well.

Sony 24-70 G Master – A7RII

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Sony 85 1.4 G Master – A7RII

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Today there are tons of lenses for Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, Sony and always have been for Leica. The choice of high quality Mirrorless systems out there today is head spinning. Most looking to dive into mirrorless TODAY have a tough choice, and again, I get so many emails asking me “which one should I get” and I do not really answer those questions as a camera choice is personal, and should be made by the buyer, not me! With that said, I love them all but my faves, today are still Leica, Sony, Olympus and a couple Fuji models. After using them all, shooting with them all, for me, these brands make cameras that just fit “me”.

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Leica’s M 240 is a beautiful camera in every way but with so many other full frame offerings today (from Sony) the Leica M 240 did not sell as well as the M9. The Olympus E-M1 and PEN-F are fantastic as well, mature cameras that perform to a high standard, look and feel amazing and just “work”. Sony is on a roll with the RX1RII which I have not even mentioned yet! The RX1R for me, was a huge step forward for Sony as they created a SMALLER than Leica M full frame mirrorless with a Zeiss 35 f/2 that beat Leica’s own 35 Summicron (and the Leica lens cost more than the entire CAMERA and LENS from Sony). To me, one of the most magical cameras ever made was the RX1RII, for IQ. The new Mark II has slightly different image rendering and color but has improved the AF speed and performance. I own the RX1RII and adore it and use it for personal shots all the time.

Click it for better version – Sony RX1RII

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With an RX1RII I could not even imagine wanting to replace it with a large bulky full frame DSLR and 35mm lens that would be 3X the size, 4X the weight and not even perform as well. The RX1RII is an amazing tool, if  you can handle 35mm. The Leica Q also rocks but is $1000 more, much larger and has a 28mm. I prefer the Sony in every way but many prefer the Leica. Personal pref, and both are two of the best most practical mirrorless cameras released in recent times with IQ that is tough to beat.

RX1RII and the Leica Q

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OH! I totally forgot this article was titled “Five reasons why I prefer mirrorless to DSLRs”..so before I start on another long ramble, lets get to that:

  • THEY ARE SMALLER, PERIOD. Even the larger mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7 Mark II series, are smaller than even APS-C DSLR’s while providing performance that trounces them in many areas. Low light, Dynamic Range, Sharpness, EVF over small OVF, and very good AF performance. Add something like a Voigtlander 40 2.8 to an A7 series body and you have a small powerhouse (and you can not use this lens on a DSLR). Add a HUGE 24-70 G Master lens and the fight gets closer for size but even so, still smaller in the body, which is the part you HOLD. The part that must be comfy in your hands. The Sony wins in size over ANY FULL FRAME DSLR, to which it must be compared. Take a 5DII and 24-70 and it will be larger and heavier than the Sony yet we lose the EVF, swivel LCD, and that nice Sony sensor DR and ISO performance. There is a reason Sony leads in the sensor department, they make the best. So I will choose the Sony over any DSLR due to size, features (did I say 5 Axis IS inside)? Make no mistake, the Sony A7 Mark II series may have some large pro lenses but as a whole, it is still smaller and more enjoyable for me to use over a full frame DSLR and  those large pro lenses? For me they beat the Canon and Nikon equivalents in IQ and build, so why not use them on a smaller body? Hmmmm. Take on a Olympus PEN-F or Panasonic GX-8 or Fuji X100 and you are at a whole new level of small, light and with amazing IQ. Mirrorless wins the size game every time.

A7RII vs Nikon D810 – SIZE body only. 

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  • LENSES! There are now plenty of lenses to choose from! No excuses now! Fuji, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Leica all have great lenses available for their mirrorless systems. Some are tiny like the Sony full frame 28 f/2 and 50 1.8, some are large and some are small and incredible (almost any prime from Olympus).
  • FUNCTION! EVF, Tilt LCD and something like 5 AXIS IS inside are things you will not see in a mirrored DSLR. While I appreciate that MANY prefer a good OVF to a good EVF I think many OVF die hards have not shot through an incredible EVF yet. Something like the Leica SL offers an EVF experience that beats ANY OVF, hands down. It’s incredible. Using a Sony A7 or Olympus E-M1 or even a Fuji X-T1 offers more function and is more versatile than any DSLR I have ever shot with. Things with Olympus like Live Bulb, Live Time and Live composite is changing the way we shoot astro. Things like this we do not see in DSLR’s.
  • ABILITY TO USE 3rd PARTY LENSES: These new mirrorless cameras work very well with Leica M lenses these days, any M mount lens in fact. I can buy a used M lens for $300 and get amazing shots with character when mounted on a Sony, Fuji or even Olympus camera. Can’t do that on ANY DSLR (mount a Leica M mount lens to it). I love shooting my Sony with a 50 Jupiter or even 50 Noctilux. We can now use these incredible lenses on something other than a $7k Leica.
  • PROGRESSION: Never have I seen technology in digital imaging move so fast. Mirrorless is moving ahead with new innovations, new designs, and new tech. EVery year we have some kind of new progression in mirrorless while DSLR’s remain pretty much the same in looks, style, function and everything else. In my eyes, DSLR’s today are getting stale. Mirrorless today is energizing so many with the size, tech inside and the things we can do with them in a much easier way than ANY DSLR. (something like shooting the night and seeing your exposure develop in real time using Olympus’s LIVE TIME)

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There are more reasons like being able to pick up something like a Fuji X100 or Sony RX1 and just be UBER light. No lenses, no bag needed. But you will come back with impressive high quality shots. The mirrorless world is growing, and sales are strong for some, stronger than DSLR’s in some cases. I remember 10 years ago (or so) going to disneyland and seeing so many with big DSLR’s around their neck (I had a Leica M7 and 35 Lux) and thought “WHY would they do that”! Today if I go to Disneyland I see MANY with small mirrorless cameras, but mostly all use their phones or even iPads for their photo and video. THIS is why DSLR’s are also losing steam with the average Joe’s of the world. While Fuji and Sony helped slow Leica’s M sales, I see the phones slowing DSLR sales. See, the mass public used to walk into Best Buy and say “I want to look like a pro”, and they would buy a DSLR and then realize that simply buying one will not make them a pro! They end up using it for a few weeks and then sitting it on a shelf due to size and disappointment. These days, the masses use their smart phones so while a few still go to Best Buy and buy those DSLR’s they have on display, as they know their phone can not compete, that number is MUCH lower today than 10 or even 5 years ago.

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Today many have been trained by their phones (for small size and ease of use) and when they go to buy a real camera, they want something SMALLER, something FUN, not a huge DSLR. They see cameras from Sony and Fuji and think “WOW, this is smaller and looks great”, this is why the original Sony A6000 did SO WELL and sold in huge numbers. So for most of the public, the smart phone is the way to go. For most Enthusiasts and Hobbyists, Mirrorless is the choice. For most PROS who shoot weddings, Sports or wildlife, DSLR’s are still king but that is starting to also go the way of mirrorless. While many predicted the doom of Mirrorless years ago, I will say here now that I predict a continuing downward slide for the DSLR over the next few years. Eventually, Canon and Nikon are going to have to give in and create a kick ass mirrorless system. Otherwise they face the reality of even more shrinking sales over the long term. I guess time will tell but the way I see it is that mirrorless gives us smaller size, more function and features, an experience which is more fun that using a DSLR.. and today, IQ is no longer a compromise as it was a few years ago. We can have it all and then some with mirrorless today, and that is a good thing.

Steve

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ALL Mirrorless Camera Review – MIRRORLESS CENTRAL

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Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

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Apr 072016
 

Camera love from Ricoh GR to Leica Q: confessions of a philanderer

By Denis Sauve

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This is the confession of a 28mm aficionado who loves cameras, mostly pocketable ones, and who has been cheating on his Ricoh GR since 2006.

Like many of us, I suffer from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I’ve had more than 25 digital cameras, including gems like the Nikon D700, D800 and DF, a (so primitive) Leica Monochrom, and in my favorite style of compact, no less than 6 Ricoh digital GR cameras. In my relationship with the GR series, I have been like an unfaithful married man, cheating over and over again on his beloved wife.

The GR was my soul mate and true partner. She was the most ergonomic camera I had above all others, including professional DSLRs. I had the GRD1, the GRD2, the GRD3 and the GRD4. Since the Ricoh team succeeded in inserting a APS-C sensor in such a small body with the rebranded 5th “GR”, I bought two of them — love abuse killed the first one.

The GR is not an electronic device that happens to make pictures, like most modern digital cameras, but a real photographic tool, visibly made by photo lovers for photo lovers. Even the Nikon D800 has inferior ergonomics and handling. The extraordinary level of customization, and the prodigious level of fast adjustment we can make with the GR without even entering the menu system, all with one hand, is absolutely insane. I took thousands and thousands of pictures, travelled many times only with one GR, for over 10 years.

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In the long Canadian winter (which lasts 25 months per year!), this camera is always comfortable in any coat pocket. It is a fantastic B&W shooter, either in JPEG out of camera or from raw files. The raws are in the standard DNG format, not like all the proprietary raw format out there. The GR family is a legend in Japan. Look in Flickr, and you will find Japanese GR street shooters who’ve been making B&W pictures since the GRD1, and I suspect this unrecognized camera (in the Western world) had been very important in the digital B&W trend, and in street photography popularity, since 2005.

But I was tempted and strayed! Forgive me, dear GR.

I cheated on her with the Panasonic LX3, the Sigma DP1, the Nikon J1, the Sony-RX100-III, and others. I had one of the extremely rare early Fujifilm X100 units made before the Japan earthquake. Later, I succumbed to the sexy Sony RX1…before the APS-C Ricoh GR was announced: then I returned to the beloved GR!

Later, I had the Leica Monochrom disease, which is an other kind of GAS syndrome, another level of madness, soooo hard on the bank account!

Like a sex addict, I had to try them all. The desire was stronger than my willpower. Yet over and over again, I came back to my GR.

This was before the Leica Q.

When this model was announced, within a few hours, I knew once again I could not resist. I knew I would try it, have fun, lose a ton of money, and come crawling back to my faithful GR after a few months. It was my destiny.

But this time the story changed: the Q became my new wife. The level of shooting pleasure I have with it, and the proportion of “keepers” I found among the pictures taken with this device, are unequaled in my whole life. I lost my Q (really: I LOST IT !!) three months ago, and even as I wait for my second Q, the GR sits on the shelf. Sorry, GR, my heart has gone away. I decided to sell all my equipment, including a collection of professional Nikon lenses, to be able to afford another Q. It is such a marvel.

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I hope some of my pictures show the magic “glow” of the Q Summilux lens and the pleasure I have taking them.

Notes about the Leica Q vs Sony RX1 debate

About focusing
The Q is for real 28mm shooters, for real wide angle composition. The 35mm point of view offered by the Sony RX1 (and now the RX1R mark II) is kind of midway between wide angle and standard. I consider genuine wide angle shooters see the world in 28mm or below.

If your subject is almost in the center of the image, the RX1 may be great as well. But if your composition includes often plural subjects, or a subject in a context, like in a lot of successful wide angle pictures, it is another story. If you want the focus to be on a element in a corner or somewhere else in the rule of thirds, the RX1 is very frustrating. You cannot focus and recompose in order to change the framing, since the field curvature is too important. For instance, the element focused in the center becomes out of focus if you move it a little bit on the left. For this purpose, the use of the tracking function is too slow. Off-centered composition is a pain with the RX1 especially when using open aperture. I don’t see how this may have changed with the mark II.

In this department, the touch screen focus feature of the Q is so a marvelous function. I compose the frame, touch the focus point desired, et voilà: I have my perfect shot with a perfect focus, even wide open. I don’t have problems with focus and recompose either, since the curvature field of the Q lens seems to be less a concern than with the RX1.

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About the Leica “glow”
The RX1 lens is great. I understand some people may prefer it to the Q’s 28mm Summilux. I remember one or two pictures I really love from the RX1’s Zeiss. But when I see pictures from the Q, its “glow” is so strong! But it can have an undesirable side effect: even bad composition and bad subjects make almost good pictures. This “glow”, with the pure pleasure of taking pictures with the Q, makes me shoot uninteresting things like walls or hydrants, and like the result, which is a bad thing somehow. I have to prevent myself becoming a bad photographer because of this too great camera.

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About pocketability
The Ricoh GR is a real pocket camera. It can even fit in a jeans front or rear pocket. I tried to carry the RX1, like the Fujifilm X100 before, in one of my big canadian parka made for minus 100 degrees, and I always felt like I was carrying a dictionary inside my coat. You cannot be comfortable and look normal with such a big camera in your pocket. Same thing with the Leica Q.

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For more than 10 years, I’ve been hoping for a real pocketable (read GR) full frame camera. In the film era, we had the Contaxt T, the Nikon 35 Ti, the Ricoh GR, the Leica Minilux, the Rollei 35, the Yashika T4, the Minox 35 and so on. In digital era, now, the RG is the only one of this kind with a APS-C sensor. I even wrote to Ricoh about my dream of a full frame GR, but I don’t think it will happen, since modern lenses are so big

About pleasure
This is more of a personal preference: I prefer 28mm to 35mm, I enjoy wide angle composition and I love the Q more than great 35mm lenses cameras like the X100 or the RX1.

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When I read that the Sony RX1 is “better” than the Leica Q, it’s like an insult to my wife. No, I reply, no way: my wife is the best woman on earth. She is so marvelous, I even stopped playing around with other cameras! The RX1 is another big electronic gadget which makes photos; the Leica Q is a delight, helping me to see the light and the magic of this world.

But don’t buy the Leica Q. She is all mine. I want to keep her for myself!

Flickr

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Buy a Q: Ken Hansen (Email him: [email protected]), PopFlash.com, B&H Photo or Amazon 

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