Oct 042015

MUST SEE: Geography of Poverty

A journey through forgotten America


If you have not yet seen this, it is pretty amazing. Photos shot by Magnum Photographer Matt Black using a Sony RX100 II.

Check out the story and amazing imagery on MSNBC HERE. Be sure to scroll through the various sections “southwest” – “South” – “Northeast” and others. I spent an hour reading the entire story and viewing the extraordinary images and I think you should to.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,


Sep 292015

The Sony A7R (Mk 1) in Japan

by Michael Morris

Dear Steve and Brandon:

I have been reading your site daily for the last few years and have enjoyed reading your reviews and guest posts. I started my venture into the mirrorless world from Nikon with the purchase of the Leica M9 and 3 Leica M lenses in 2010. I tried micro four thirds and APS –C sensors and came to the conclusion that I am a full frame shooter. Over the last year I made some changes in my list of cameras. I sold my Olympus OMD–EM5, my Fujifilm XT-1, and my Leica M9. I now have a Nikon D800E, which I use for portrait work and sports, and a Sony A7R which I use for travel or when I want to travel light. I am anxiously waiting for my A7Rii to ship.

I recently traveled to Japan and brought my Sony A7R with the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f 1.8, Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm f 1.4, Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO, Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 (borrowed), and my Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8. I strongly considered purchasing the Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm for the trip. In the end I decided to bring the Nikkor zoom despite its size, and use something that I already owned. I used Novoflex adapters for both the Leica and Nikkor lenses.

Here are some sample photos.

Shibuya Crossing – Sony A7R with Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8 ISO 200 1/250 sec


Sumo Wrestling Close shot – Sony A7R with Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO – ISO 1600 1/640 sec f 3.4


Sumo wrestling – Wide shot – Sony A7R with Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 – ISO 1600 1/100 sec f 3.4


Leica Store Tokyo – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/100 sec f 5.6


Mount Fuji taken from the Shinkansen Nozomi at 170 mph Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 – 1/200 sec f 4.0


Lobby of Ritz Carlton Kyoto –Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/4000 sec f 2.0


Maiko – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 6400 1/250 f 4.0


Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) Kyoto – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 400 1/640 sec f 4.0


Michael Morris MD

Ocala, Florida USA

Sep 282015

USER REPORT: A7RII + Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE: A weekend in Connecticut

by Jesse Hsu

Hi Steve,

After falling in love with the A7s and using it extensively for the past year, I was curious about the A7RII’s low-light capabilities as well as its stabilization to see if it was worth the purchase. ​ Borrowed the A7RII for a weekend trip to Connecticut to assess its performance. I only used the Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE lens.

This shot was taken in the backseat of a car going 75mph on the highway. I wanted to test out the 5-axis stabilization and took a quick snap of the biker in the lane next to us. Not the sharpest obviously, but not bad for a handheld shot.

1 - Biker

Went out to the backyard and snapped this photo. After opening it up in Photoshop later, I was blown away by the clarity and level of detail. Leaves and tree trunks were sharp and I was able to recover some shadow with ease. Note: No additional sharpening in post.

2 - trees

Went grocery shopping at a local farm for dinner and snapped a sheep who was patiently posing for me. Again, impressed by the clarity of the blades of grass as well as the wool of the sheep when zoomed in.

3 - sheep

As night fell, my friends were getting the grill hot and ready on the porch outside. A great opportunity to test the low light capabilities. There was one light source, an overhead lamp but the sensor performed with no issues as it captured the flames in action and preserved the details of the charcoal piled high in the chimney starter.

4 - grill

I took the next shot as the branzino began to crisp. Notice the criss-cross pattern of the fish scales as well as the powdery soot all over the grill.

5 - fish

Cornish game hens slathered in miso and gochujang were next on the grill.

6 - hens

The next morning we heard some chirping and found some baby birds camped out in the backyard gazebo. The wonderful minimum focusing distance of the 35mm 1.4 allowed me to get pretty close to the subjects and shoot wide open at 1.4 for a heaping of creamy bokeh.

7 - birds

Few friends came by for a dip and the fast boot up time of the camera allowed me to quickly freeze a moment in time. Note the cascading water droplets as clear as day.

8 - swim

Water-skiing in the late afternoon meant another great opportunity to test stabilization. All of the shots were taken on a boat going pretty fast and I was happy that there wasn’t much blur. No tripod used, all handheld. I shot some 4k video but haven’t had a chance to check out the footage in Adobe Premiere.

9 - lake

Conclusion: After putting the A7RII through its paces, I was happy with the results. It preserved amazing detail in low-light scenes and situations where there was considerable movement. I will be ordering the A7RII soon!

More photos (mix of A7, A7s, A7rII) here: www.instagram.com/scrumphsus

Sep 272015

Bringing life to old glass with my Sony A7II & Leica

by Robert Tam

Hi Steve and Brandon

I am a new comer to your blog. I am impressed by the opinion provided. I have some old Leica lens, Summicron DR 50mm F2, Elmar 50mm F2.8 and Summaron 35mm F3.5. The latter two are screw mount. They are still in perfect condition and have been gathering dust over the years since Leica have been falling behind with the digital age. Having read your reviews on the Sony A7 Mark 2 series, it suddenly dawn to me that I can bring these old lens back to life.

With the Metabones and screw mount adaptor, off I went to Winton festival. A small sleepy town till dinosaur bones were found on a sheep station. This is the first time dinosaur bones have been discovered in Australia. It is rapidly becoming a major tourist attraction and is the most prolific yielding site in the Southern hemisphere.

Uniquely Australian and I hope your viewers will enjoy the local colour.

Sony A7 Mark 2 with Summicron DR 50mm F2

Winton festival-4

Winton festival-2

Winton festival

Sep 242015


The Sony RX1R around the world

by Dick Hoebee

Hello Steve,

The subject of this write-up is the magnificent Sony RX1R and some of the places I’ve taken it so far. Every photo you see here was shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom.

Positive points and general comments

Going to New Zealand was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and in late 2013 I finally had the means and time to do it. My trusty Canon Eos 450D was becoming unreliable after five years of heavy use, and I took this opportunity to go out and get a new camera. The logical choice would be a new Canon, as I had accumulated two nice lenses and a great flash. Mostly thanks to the raving reviews on this site, I checked out the Sony RX1R as well, and ended up buying it, to my own surprise.


It was either this camera, or an EOS 5D Mk. III. That’s not an easy choice to make, but I’m ultimately glad I went with the Sony. I was a little anxious about limiting myself to one lens, especially for the monumental price tag that the camera has (I bought it when it just came out, too), but that turned out to be unwarranted, as I never enjoyed a camera more than this thing.


New Zealand was the maiden voyage of the RX1R for me, and boy was I glad I took the plunge before going. This country has many sights that are truly awe-inspiring, and I recommend anyone visiting it at least once in their lifetime. I felt very small there many times. It is a humbling, unforgettable experience.


Besides the incredible image quality of this camera, I absolutely love this thing for its size and weight (or rather, the lack thereof). It is also built like a tank, which gives confidence to carry it all over the place. And I do. Because it’s so easy to take everywhere, I take it everywhere. I left my EOS 450D at home many times when I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t feel like lugging it around, and that’s even a small DSLR. Another advantage about its size is that it is an unintimidating camera to subjects. When you point a big, professional-looking camera with a large lens at people, they sometimes get self-conscious. The RX1R looks more like a cool-looking hobby-camera than the full-frame monster that it is. The shutter is completely silent, too. Most people have no idea what it is (including those who have nice cameras themselves), and some even think it is an analog camera. An older gentleman I met commented that it looked like his Leica M6.






At low to medium ISO settings, photos are incredibly clean. That said, the high ISO performance of this camera is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I can take it out at night, and take hand-held shots without having to use flash in pretty much any situation. The results are great, and photos still look alive and punchy at ISO 6400 and even 12800. Things naturally get more grainy once the ISO goes up, but it’s nice-looking grain, almost film-like. I leave luminance noise-reduction completely off in Lightroom. With a tripod and long exposure + low ISO, it really shines, too.

I use the RX1R for landscapes, portraits, and as a walk-around camera. The dynamic range is really something else, and it’s possible to achieve some amazing results. Colors are wonderful, and black & white is rich and deep. It’s easy to pull tons of detail out of shadows and highlights, and I’ve never felt the need to pull tricks like multiple exposure HDR. RAW files have an incredible amount of headroom. After having owned and used the RX1R for two years, I still get blown away every singe time I load the files in Lightroom. The image quality is absolutely staggering, still in 2015.



Settings & usage

I shoot in Aperture Priority (the ring is nice) or Program most of the time, and I use Manual for long exposure shots and stitch-panoramas. The exposure compensation dial on top is a useful tool for quick adjustment. I assigned the little C-button on top to ISO-settings, which I usually leave on auto with a range of 100-6400. Sometimes I lock it when I want to go for a specific look. All 5 buttons are programmable, as well as the four-way buttons under the wheel on the back. I set metering to multi-metering, and it is generally accurate. The auto-focus does a great job most of the time. It sometimes has a little trouble in the dark, but it usually catches what I want after a try or two. I set it to one focus point in the middle. Focus speed isn’t super fast, but fast enough for me.

I never really use the flash (not needed) or video mode (I’m a photographer, not a video guy). The only accessories I have in my bag these days are a GorillaPod and an extra battery. It really feels like everything I need now.




The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens is incredibly sharp at every f-stop, and it seems to be at its sharpest at f/5.6 and f/8. The photos are so sharp in fact, that Adobe Lightroom’s default sharpening-setting of 25 is too high and creates harsh edges. Usually I end up setting it around 10-15. Having a 35mm prime lens is easy to get used to, especially when it’s as great as this one. I love primes in general; they force you to get creative and walk around to find a good angle.





The battery-life is not great. I immediately turn the camera off after I’ve taken a shot, and I don’t spend much time reviewing photos already taken. I have an extra battery, but since Sony doesn’t include an external charger (at this price point, I’d say that’s strange), I need to switch them around while the camera is hooked up to charge them. The camera has a standard micro-USB port for file transfer and charging, which means it is compatible with pretty much every standard phone charger out there, which is convenient.




Manual focus is useless without a viewfinder (save for forcing infinity focus), as focus-peaking only works with a magnified view. I don’t know why this is, as the Sony A7 cameras are able to do this on the overview view. Another little quirk is that the camera always returns to infinity focus when it wakes up or turns on. This is something I’d like to be able to lock when I’m waiting to take a shot of something that moves. Both these things are fixable with a firmware update, but Sony doesn’t seem to do those with this camera for some reason.

I miss having an infrared shutter release. That seems like a more logical choice to build into this camera than an external mic-input.

The prices for accessories are ridiculous. I’d like to have the viewfinder (partially because using a circular polarizing filter is almost impossible with the LCD screen), but I’m not paying 500 bucks for that. Even their simple metal lens hood costs 200 bucks (check eBay for knock-offs for 1/10th the price). The only official Sony accessory I bought for it was the leather case. Although that hurt my wallet, I’m glad I got it. It provides good protection, and it really emphasizes the old-school cool look.



I’ve never been this happy about a camera, or any electronic device I’ve ever owned. It is not perfect (no camera really is), but the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The more I use it, the more I love it. The Zeiss lens, overall image quality, build quality and size, make the RX1R nothing less than a masterpiece.

I would probably still love this thing if it gave me an electric shock with every photo I take.

It is that good.

If you liked this write-up and my photos, check out my personal portfolio and blog. I update it constantly.

I also have a Facebook-page. Give me a “Like” and tell your friends, it always helps!

Or, follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing.

I will visit Australia in the near future and many other places after that, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for new photos soon. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments, I’m always more than happy to talk.

Many thanks again, Steve, for allowing me to send this in. Keep the website going, I enjoy the hell out of it.


Sep 232015


The Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron VM (Leica Mount) Lens Review

By Steve Huff

We are living in a GREAT  time for our hobby or our profession or our obsession..no matter what you call it..it is Photography. Today we have some pretty technologically advanced marvel cameras, simple basic cameras, amazing mid level cameras and even fantastic lower end cameras. Today we have more camera tech available at our disposal than at anytime in history. Even though the worlds #1 camera today is the iPhone, if you are reading this article then that must mean you are here because you appreciate quality and the process of photography, something you lose with an iPhone as you main camera.


Today I will be taking a look at the new Voigtlander 35 f/1.7 VM lens (Leica M Mount) but I will be shooting it on the Sony A7RII as that is now my #1 camera around here, and for me, the best full frame 35mm mirrorless camera made today. With the new backlit sensor tech, Sony has eliminated mostly all of the old issues when using wider angle Leica glass, at least the color issues ;) This lens works very well on the Sony A7RII, so every image in this review will have been shot with that camera and this lens (as well as the Zeiss ZM 35 1.4 Leica Mount for comparison).

One of my 1st shots with the lens which was indoors so not a ton of light. I opened up the lens, focused and shot. To me, the color is very good as is the OOF background rendering. Smooth rendering with a sharp subject. No issues.


When Stephen Gandy, head dude over at Cameraquest emailed me and said “The new 35 1.7’s are in, do you want to review one”? Of course I said YES YES YES! I have been curious about this lens but I wasn’t excited about it as I “assumed” it would be average. Not sure why I thought that when the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton hit it out of the park with bang for the buck. That little 50 1.5 came so close to the Leica 50 Summilux at 1/4 the cost it was a no brainer for those who wanted that fast 50 rangefinder lens experience without spending $4000. You can see my review of that lens HERE, well worth a read and look if you missed it as that lens is a stunner for the money. Then again, Voigtlander has always been known to be big on “bang for the buck” but what I have noticed over the past 7 years is that each time Voigtlander releases a new lens, it seems to be notch up in quality from design, build, operation and image quality. Yep, in 2015 Voigtlander lenses are kicking some serious bootie, and the new 35 1.7 VM is no exception.

My dog Olive who is a total ham. She knows when I am taking her picture, and when I aim the camera she sits and looks, as if to pose. She also watches full TV shows, interacts with animals on TV and sleeps like a human, on her back. Odd ball dog, but here she is at f/1.7 with the new 35 VM. 2nd shot wide open again!



Over the years I have reviewed many Voigtlander lenses on these very pages. Usually on a Leica M, but these days the Sony A7 series has improved considerably since the beginning about 2 1/2 years ago. While the Leica M is a gorgeous body, camera and the ultimate in “pride of ownership”, it is expensive and many are buying the Sony’s as an alternate to the full frame M and many M owners have an A7 of some sort as a backup and extra camera to their M. Many ask me daily how these lenses do on the A7RII, so this is where I will be concentrating. Of all the Voigtlander lenses I have used, reviewed, and tested the 50 1.5 is my fave, followed by this one. While I loved many of the lenses these two recent additions are really showing what this company can do when they set their mind to it.

The Lens Arrives


When I received the lens and opened it up I saw I had been sent the CHROME version, and it looks quite a bit like the 50 1.5 I have been speaking about here. This is good as it is a retro but cool design and it is easy to focus and change your aperture. Smooth yet solid, and the lens is a joy to use. It is also thin and small which is nice. MUCH smaller than the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, smaller than the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and while not as small as the Sony 35 2.8, it is a much different type of lens.

When I attached it to the camera and took my 1st shots I was happy to see the color performance was gorgeous and the lens was pretty damn sharp wide open. It offered that “Voigtlander Look” but to me, it seemed sharper, crisper, better bokeh and color than normal. I liked it. Maybe it was the Sony but what was coming out of the camera with this lens wide open made me happy :)

Both shots below were shot wide open at f/1.7. 1st one I had some natural light coming in, the 2nd image was different. It was much dimmer here than the 1st image but the fast aperture let me get as much light in as I could. 

CLICK them for larger



As I used the lens more and more over the 2 weeks I had it, I was liking it and decided that I wanted to see how it would stand up to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM that comes in at $2300. The Voigtlander comes in at under $900, so it is more than 2X less than the Zeiss. I would expect the Zeiss to come out ahead but had to see for myself what an extra $1300 would buy me ;)

Zeiss vs Voigtlander

The Voigtlander 35 1.7 next to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM


Below are some images comparing both the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and  the Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM, both Leica M mount and mounted to my A7RII with the Voigtlander close focus M adapter.

Click the images to see larger and full 100% crops. These are right from the camera with no tweaks at all. FROM RAW.

1st one is the Voigtlander, 2nd is the Zeiss. 



For this set the Zeiss is showing a tad more color pop and sharpness in the crop (click them for full crop)



At the end of the day, the Zeiss is a tad better for sharpness at 1.7 but I prefer the bokeh of the Voigtlander which also seems to be giving a more shallow DOF than the Zeiss wen using the same aperture. Very odd but I have seen this before with different lens brands. I love the Zeiss, and it’s about as good as it gets in a 35mm for Leica M mount (it has been compared favorably to the Leica 35 Summilux that comes in at $5500). The Voigtlander is really only a teeny but behind in sharpness wide open. Both are fantastic but one is $1300 less expensive and smaller. Hmmmm.

The Voigtlander also focuses closer than the Zeiss. 

Ultimately it is up to the user which one is preferred, if any. In the world of 35mm for Leica we have many choices from old to modern. For Sony FE we have a load of lenses as well that can be used, so they should be chosen like an artist would choose his brush or pencil. Choose the lens for the desired “look” or “character” of what you want to see in your final image. This lens will give you a creamy look with you subject popping from a 3D background when shot wide open. Just like a good fast 35 should do. It has a decent background blur (Bokeh) rendering and I find it quite pleasing, even better than the Zeiss. It is small, well made (feels leica-ish) and gorgeous in black or chrome. Can’t go wrong.

#1, mailbox at f/1.7. #2, Hula Hoopers at The Duce. #3, Mailbox up close (and the top is OOF due to the depth of field being so shallow, not a lens issue)




ONE MORE BIG COMPARISON – “Against all the others”

Left to right: Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon, Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2, Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM, Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM and the Sony/Zeiss 35 2.8


Many have asked me just this morning to add a quick comparison to the Sony 35 1.4, Loxia 35, and Sony 35 2.8 in addition to the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM. Well, see the image above for the size differences, and see below for the image samples with each lens! Your wish is my command! (sometimes, lol).

I am using the Sony A7s for  this one and below are full size images from camera (RAW) without any modifications. What I am looking at  here is sharpness of the subject (face of the bottle) and the Bokeh (background blur quality) as well as the color performance. What do YOU think? Leave a comment and let me know! For me, the ultimate IQ comes from the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 but it is huge. The 2nd fave of mine is now the Voigtlander, then the Loxia, then the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and then the 2.8.






So there ya go ;) Let me know in the comments which rendering you prefer. 


No wide angle lens will be perfect on the Sony A7 series, even the RII. While the A7RII has improved considerably with M lenses, there is still one issue that seems to remain. SOFT edges with some lenses. Instead of magenta side we now will be left with soft sides on many occasions. THIS only comes into play if you are stopped down and wanting perfect corner to corner sharpness. ON the Leica M it will work well, on the Sony not so much.

If you shoot this lens wide open you will never see it. That is where the character lies in this lens anyway. Stopping it down to f/8 will give you no better quality than almost any other 35mm that will fit on the Sony. For me it is a non issue, but for many they want that stopped down corner to corner performance. If that is the case, and you shoot with a Sony A7 series camera, I highly recommend the Sony 35 1.4 which is STUNNING but HUGE. See that review HERE.

You will also see some slight vignetting with this lens when wide open on the Sony A7RII or A7s or A7II, but you will also get that with the Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM on the Sony. You will also get the slight vignetting wide open when using it on the Leica M.

If you want perfection in 35mm, buy either a Leica M and a Leica 35 Summilux FLE or buy an A7RII and the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon. Both of those will offer you about the best 35mm performance you will see in full frame, no matter the type of camera. If you want a fun unique lens that also comes with a very cool and fun user experience of using an all manual lens all while getting massive character and IQ, take a look at the Voigtlander. I love it just as much as I do the 50 1.5 Nokton. I highly recommend it for Leica M or A7RII shooters!!! 




You can buy this lens at Cameraquest HERE. Best prices, and free filter and overnight shipping.  

They are the official USA distributor for Voigtlander and top notch all the way!! 




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

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

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

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

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

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Sep 232015

Leaving Mexico City

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Hi Steve,

Soon I will be moving out of Mexico and wanted to share with you and your readers some of my pics from my stay in this wonderful country.

Mexico is great city for street photography, people is warm and definitely like their portrait been taken. It’s a huge city, in which it only takes a bit of luck to bump into something interesting to shoot. I focus mostly in street portraits, but also managed to get some other things :).

I used different kinds of cameras Nikon DF, Sony A7ii, and Leica M240. No specific reason for the cameras, I just love all of them :)

Exif data should be intact. Hope your readers enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed Mexico, and if anyone is thinking of passing through here a few days, please don’t doubt it, you will be surprise how great it could be.

DSC_9732 (1)







L1008370 (1)



L1006586 (2)








Sorry for posting so many :)

More of my pictures can be seen in:


Thanks for looking!

Sep 152015


Quick Comparison: Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM vs Voigtlander 35 1.7 VM

I have been shooting with the beautiful chrome Voigtlander 35 f/1.7 lens on my Sony A7RII and WOW, it is one hell of a lens if you are into manual focus small primes on your A7RII. In fact, I have been so impressed by this small wonder that I rented the Zeiss 35 1.4 Zm to compare. I will have a full comparison in my review of the Voigtlander (coming soon) but for now, just a quick snap in my backyard. Click images for larger and full 100% crops.

As for sharpness, the Voigtlander is just as sharp as the Zeiss at f/1.7 where the Voigtlander is wide open. When the Zeiss is at f/1.4 it is not as sharp as what comes from the Voigtlander when it is at f/1.7. So in regards to details, they appear to be pretty equal. Bokeh… there are some slight differences here and I mean slight. My money would go to the Voigtlander any day as it is smaller, looks nicer, and is less than half the price. Look for more samples with both in my upcoming lens review of the 35 1.7 VM.

Click images for larger and to see 100% crop




Sep 152015

PRESS RELEASE: Sony announces new firmware for Uncompressed RAW files

Sony Announces Addition of Uncompressed 14-Bit RAW Still Image Capture for New α Cameras!

New α7S II to Feature Selectable Compressed and Uncompressed 14 Bit RAW at Launch; Free Firmware Updates Coming for Additional Models Beginning with α7R II

NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2015 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today announced user selectable Compressed and Uncompressed 14-Bit RAW image capture will be featured in the new α7S II once it arrives in stores this October.  Additionally, they have announced plans to add user selectable compressed or uncompressed 14-Bit RAW still image capture via firmware update to additional cameras beginning with the recently introduced α7R II full-frame mirrorless model.

“The voice of our α community remains the most important guiding force of our product development plans,” said Neal Manowitz, Deputy Vice President for Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “The addition of Uncompressed 14-Bit RAW processing is a direct result of customer feedback. Widely requested by photo and video enthusiasts, we believe the choice of RAW processing types will further elevate the performance of these extraordinary cameras.”

The α7S II and α7R II are compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α -mount lenses, which now totals 64 different models including 13 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 8 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 21 lenses and the overall α -mount assortment to over 70 different models.

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new α7S II and a7R II cameras plus 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.

Please follow #SonyAlpha on twitter and visit @SonyAlpha on Instagram for all of the latest α camera news and content direct from Sony.

Sep 142015

Sony A7RII and Voigtlander 35 1.2 Test

by Rob McKay

Hi Steve and Brandon,

The site is looking awesome as usual and packed full of great info!

All four of these street snaps I shot within a 4min span while out testing the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton lens on my A7RII and all wide open.

Because of your recent posts on the Sony A7RII, I sold my A7S and jumped in. I have both Loxia’s, the brass Petzval, 70-200 FE f/4, 55mm f/1.8 and recently grabbed the 28mm FE F/2 after reading your review on it. My Leica lenses seem to work great on this body as well.

A7RII can be found HERE. The Voigtlander 35 1.2 can be seen HERE. 





Loving the files from the Sony A7RII and the interesting images the Voigtlander f/1.2 produces.

Thanks again!

Rob McKay

Sep 122015

Voigtlander 35 1.7 Ultron…one hell of a lens!

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Only had this beauty with me for 2 days but wow. This lens is stunning. I was considering purchasing the Zeiss ZM 35 1.4 for my Sony A7rII but this lens just jumped ahead, and it is less than half the price. Voigtlander has come a long way and this is a serious fast 35 for anyone with a Leica M or Sony A7 series body. At $980, it is a “no brainer deal”. Not cheap but it performs like a $2k lens.

It has gorgeous color, no issues at all on the A7RII or A7II or A7s and it is built to a standard that is above and beyond what any $900 lens should be. It looks like the new 50 Nokton and it is so smooth, easy to focus and renders a quite lovely image wide open at f/1.7. This for me beats out the 35 1.2 as it is much smaller, easier to focus and sharp as you would need wide open. I usually do not post quick sample snaps from my 2nd day but I am really digging this lens, and feel it is worthy of some huge praise.

My review will be in 10-14 days, so stay tuned! Three shots until then ;) All on the A7RII. Mine came from CameraQuest.com 




Sep 112015


PRESS RELEASE: THE ALL NEW Sony A7SII is Announced! Ships October!

It appears Sony has secretly launched the A7sII over night, so to those waiting here is the press release on the new successor to the low light king!


Sony Expands Range of Full-frame Cameras with the Launch of Ultra-sensitive 7S II

New Mirrorless Model Features High Sensitivity up to ISO409600 with Wide Dynamic Range, 5Axis Image Stabilization, Internal 4K Movie Recording and more!

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 11, 2015 Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the worldกฏs largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced the latest addition to their award winning A7 lineup of mirrorless cameras, the A7S II.

Offering ultra-high sensitivity and wide dynamic range across the entire ISO range plus 5-axis image stabilization for greater shooting control, the A7S II delivers stunning image quality for photographers who shoot in the most challenging lighting conditions from the brightest of mornings to the darkest of nights.

Additionally, the new camera incorporates a host of professional movie functions including the ability to record full-frame 4K video internally with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, the worlds first camera to achieve this capability. The cameras unique balance of sensitivity, control of plane of focus and incredible image quality make it an especially effective tool for videographers and filmmakers.

Sony continues to lead the industry in terms of innovation in the mirrorless space,กฑ said Neal Manowitz, Deputy Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. With the new A7S II, weกฏve utilized many of our latest technologies to deliver a camera that will excel in all types of environments, producing still images and video content that will consistently amaze imaging enthusiasts, professional photographers and even Hollywood directors.

The A7S II delivers an awe-inspiring sensitivity range of ISO 50-409600 thanks to the unique combination of its 35mm full-frame 12.2 megapixel2 image sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine. The sensor works to optimize the dynamic range across the entire ISO range, broadening the amount of tonal gradation in bright environments and minimizing noise in dark scenes. The BIONZ X processor features an upgraded image processing algorithm that maximizes the sensors capabilities overall, in particular at the mid-high end of the ISO scale, and results in extremely detailed still images and movies with minimal noise.

Video Master

The impressive video credentials of Sonys new A7S II camera include the ability to record movies in 4K quality3 internally through use of the advanced XAVC S codec4, which can record at a high bit rate of up to 100 Mbps. Because information from all pixels is utilized without line skipping or pixel binning, the camera can maximize the expanded power of the full-frame image sensor and produce 4K movies with higher image clarity and negligible moir.

This full pixel readout without pixel binning is also employed when shooting Full HD video (24p/30p), where the camera collects information from approximately five times as many pixels that are required to generate Full HD 1920×1080 and oversamples the information, producing movies of extremely high quality and detail.

Also, in a first for the A7 series, the A7S II can record Full HD at 120fps at 100 mbps5 in full frame format, which can be immediately reviewed on the camera screen and eventually edited into appealing 4x/5x slow motion footage in Full HD (24p/30p) resolution.

Video functionality has been further enhanced with new picture profile settings; S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3, delivering wide dynamic range and simple color correction. The A7S II even offers impressive 14-stop latitude in the S-Log3 gamma setting, while also supporting other popular profiles for cinematographers including S-Gamut/S-Log2.

Other enhancements include the addition of Gamma Display Assist, a new function that allows users to monitor images or check focus when recording S-Log movies, and the improvement of the Zebra function for even greater control.

5-Axis Image Stabilization

The new A7S II is equipped with the innovative, highly acclaimed 5-axis image stabilization system from the A7 II and A7R II cameras. The system corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) which has the greatest impact on image quality and tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects night shooting and/or video recording.

Autofocus Accuracy

The autofocus system on the A7S II has been upgraded and now offers 169 AF points for fast, precise focusing with greater accuracy compared to the original model. The low noise image produced by the image sensor of the new camera enables the Fast Intelligent AF to detect contrast more easily and react speedily even in low-light situations (as low as EV-4), when itกฏs even tough to check focus with the naked eye. The AF performance is also twice as fast as the predecessor model during video shooting.

Electronic Viewfinder

The XGA OLED Tru-Finder in the A7S II has been upgraded and offers the worlds highest viewfinder magnification of 0.78x (roughly 38.5 degrees in diagonal field of view) and shows clear images across the entire display area. The use of ZEISS T* Coating ensures sharp reduction of reflections on the viewfinder. Unlike an optical viewfinder, the OLED Tru-Finder can be used to instantly show how exposure compensation, white balance and other selected settings are affecting the displayed image.

User Upgrades

A number of enhancements have been made to the look and feel of the A7S II to make it more user-friendly, reliable and intuitive. Its magnesium-alloy body is both light and highly robust and the grip and shutter buttons have been re-designed so that the camera feels more natural in the hand. Additionally, silent shooting mode can be activated at up to 5 fps continuous shooting and there is reduced-vibration shutter movement.

The lens mount has been further reinforced to ensure greater rigidity, particularly when attaching third-party lenses and users can now charge the camera via a USB power supply while the camera is in operation, thus extending battery life. The A7S II is also Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sonys PlayMemories Mobile application available for Android™ and iOS™ platforms, as well as Sonyกฏs growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps, which add a range of fun creative capabilities to the camera. Learn more at www.sony.net/pmca.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony A7S II full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in October for about $3000 at a variety of Sony authorized dealers nationwide.
The A7S II is compatible with Sonyกฏs growing lineup of ฆม lenses, which now totals 64 different models including 13 native full frame lenses.

By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 7 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 20 lenses and the overall lens assortment to 70 different models.

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new A7S II camera and other Sony products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com , Sonys new community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony brand.

The new content will also be posted directly at the global Sony Photo Gallery and the Sony Camera Channel on YouTube

Sep 082015

A Visual Review of the Sony a7RII

By Marc Weisberg

Steve and Brandon, thank you for the opportunity to post with you for a second time. What you do for the photography community worldwide, is raise the bar on awareness and vision and provide an opportunity to be seen and heard. I applaud your continued efforts. I know first hand that it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and passion to keep fresh content on your site, and that it is a labor of love.

I’ve always believed in picking the best tool for the job. Since selling all my Canon gear last January {and I had lots} I’ve slowly purchased many new tools. To wit: Sony a6000, Sony a7s, Sony a7II and recently I acquired the a7RII.

My Sony glass collection has also grown to include: Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA, Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA, Sony FE 16-35mm f/4.0 Z OSS, FE 24-70mm f/2.8 Z OSS, Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA , Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS {for me is a life changing lens} I use the 90 for portraits, landscapes and macro photography, and the Sony 70-200 f/4.0 G OSS.

You may be thinking….”Hey dude. Overkill!” However, I use everybody and every lens for specific purposes. I have five different photography sites and specialize in a broad range of photography. Broad range – specialize…oxymoron? As I mentioned above the right tool for the right job.

Recently I headed out on a 2,700 mile road trip with my family. Orange County, CA –> Moab –> Aspen–> Denver –> Albuquerque –> Sedona for twelve days. In the first two days I photographed over 128gb of RAW images on the a7RII. I brought two bodies with me the a7RII and the a7s and all my lenses, sans the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA.

How is the a7RII Compared to the Sony a7II and Sony a7s?

The a7RII has a more pro feel to it. For all purposed the a7RII exterior body is identical to the a7II in feel and texture. Both have a more beefier grip than the a7s and the same matte finish. External buttons and controls are the same too with the exception of a lock button that now resides in the middle of the top wheel that controls M,S,A,P etc. Its what’s inside the camera that make the a7RII a megapixel beast compared to the a7II and a7s. I’ve never used the original a7R nor even held it in my hands so I can not speak to the differences between the original a7R and the new a7RII. The one thing that sticks out to me that is quite different is the shutter sound. Its more of a soft mechanical Shushing sound reminiscent of a mechanical film camera. A welcomed and reassuring sound.


The menu system has some welcomed upgrades {9 frame built-in bracketing, bracketing with self timer and many, many more,} a new full-frame backlit CMOS sensor, in camera stabilization, amazing dynamic range, 4k video capabilities and the 42.3 megapixels {which have the ability to capture stunning clarity and detail} that is sending shockwaves through the photographic community. And yes there are 399 focusing points, on sensor phase detection for faster auto focusing, as well as contrast detection. The a7RII also allows any lens, Canon, Nikon, Leica, vintage etc. to be used on the body via an adapter. Essentially making its usage available every person who delights in using their favorite lens or lenses.

To see a full list of menu upgrades head on over to my friend and fellow Sony Artisan Brian Smith’s (http://briansmith.com/ten-great-new-settings-on-sony-a7rii/) web page. And of course Silent Mode is built into the a7RII body so you can shoot in complete silence. No sound…not even a whisper.

The Proof

Although I pride myself on knowing the technical aspects and details of the craft of photography…for me the proof is always in the captured image. I’m simply blown away by the amazing detail and clarity of imagery I’m able to capture with the Sony a7RII and Sony lens line up. Now I know what all the fuss is with fan boys about medium format digital cameras. The detail and clarity is amazing. Each time I brought up an image on screen from the a7RII I would sit in front of my computer and go WOW! I’ve been photographing for 17 years now and for 15 years professionally. I started out with Canon 35mm, moved to a Hasselblad 503, then got the first Canon 1D when it came out. But never have I owned a camera this capable or seen this type of detail and clarity which is coming out of the a7RII.

Below I’ll share a few single capture images from the a7RII. Each image is captured RAW. I’m a RAW shooter period. Images are culled in PhotoMechanic and post processed in Lightroom 6.1.1 Crops are 100% to show the clarity, detail and dynamic range of each image. After the A7RII images I’ll discuss briefly why I have so many bodies and what I use them for.

IMAGE 1. Moab, Canyonlands National Park, Utah. a7RII, 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS, ISO 100, 1/125th/sec, f/6.3. Tripod.

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IMAGE 2. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 3. Maroon Bells, Aspen, CO. a7RII, FE 16-35mm f/4.0 Z OSS, ISO 200, 1/3 sec. f/16. Tripod.

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IMAGE 4. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 5. Independence Pass, Aspen, CO. a7RII, Sony 70-200 f/4.0 G OSS, ISO 400, 1.160th/sec, f/10. Tripod.

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IMAGE 6. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 7. Abandoned home, 1800’s Stage Coach town, Lake County, CO. a7RII, Sony 70-200 f/4.0 G OSS, ISO 400, 1/160th/sec. f/10. Handheld.

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IMAGE 8. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 9. Old silver and gold mining town of Leadville, CO. a7RII, FE 24-70mm f/2.8 Z OSS, ISO 200, 1/160th/sec., f/10. Handheld.

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IMAGE 10. 100% crop.

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IMAGE 11. 100% crop.

IMAGE 12. Enchantment Resort, Sedona AZ. a7RII, Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS. ISO 200, 1/250th/sec., f/14. Hand held.

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IMAGE 13. 100% crop.

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The Verdict

The a7RII produces stellar, clean files with superb clarity and detail. I haven’t profiled the camera for my computer yet. But noticed that I do need to spend a bit more time getting the landscape colors where I wanted them. The files from the a7RII are almost 2x the size of my a7II and almost 4x the size of my a7s.

The only thing that I noticed on ingest into Adobe LR 6.1.1 is when building the previews, it took substantially longer than my a7II and a7s files. But that is to be expected when you are dealing with 42.3 megapixel files. When taking successive shots with the a7RII the buffer will take a while to store the images to the SD card. During this time menus can not be accessed. During my 12 days on the road and pressing the camera into use in severe locations with 102 degree temperatures I experienced ZERO glitches. The a7RII performed perfectly. Battery life appears to be the same for the a7RII as for my other a7 series cameras. Shooting in harsh conditions, sensor dust is expected and was easily blown off. Once during my trip I wet cleaned both sensors. Again, to be expected for 12 days of continuous outdoor shooting in harsh element.

The Proper Tool for the Job

As I mentioned above I have five different sites: my overall site, luxury real estate and architectural photography, pet photography, weddings and wine and food. During the course of a month I typically am photographing a weddings, family and children’s portraits, ridiculously wonderful pet photography ®, doing video and stills for wine and food, and several luxury real estate and architectural shoots destined for web and print. Often during the course of the month I’ll be photographing for magazines, both articles and cover images. And to satisfy my soul, I’ll throw some street photography into the mix.

Wedding & Family Photography

a7s can capture clean images up to ISO 51,200. Light is always changing and its my go to event camera. I may purchase a second a7s body. A7RII for portraits at weddings and for families and children – on a tripod. A7II is my back up camera for family portraits and children’s portraits – on a tripod

Luxury Real Estate Photography

a7s because of its low light capabilities and super clean files. a7RII for luxury real estate photography magazine work.

Pet Photography

a7s for quick focusing clean files in changing outdoor lighting conditions, and the a7RII, if it will be for a magazine cover work.

Wine and Food Photography

a7s for on location shooting 1080p video. And the a7RII for tripod macro stills and 4k video.

Personal Work and Street Shooting

The a6000 with the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA. Super compact, highly capable set up and very discreet.

About Marc

Marc Weisberg is a photographer, photography educator and blogger based in Irvine, California. He specializes in a broad genre of photography including luxury real estate photography, wine & food, family events, and ridiculously wonderful pet photography. You’ll find Marc’s trademark – magazine style imagery published internationally in books and magazines. In early 2015 Marc aligned with Sony to become a member of the Sony Artisan of Imagery program. You can see more of Marc’s work at www.marcweisberg.com

Sep 032015

Peru In B&W

By Roman

Hey Brandon,

I spend some time in Perú this year realising that it’s really difficult there to put away the camera for a moment: such a great landscape, such impressive building, for a European like me such an adventurous mixture of Europa (especially of course Spain) and South America and so many interesting people, expressive faces, fascinating moods. I send some of the faces (and people) I met with this email. (All images were taken with Sony A7 oder A6000 and prime lenses.)

Regards from South Germany,










© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved

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