Jan 032014
 
Puerto Rico, India, Family… 2013 & the Leica M240
By Bob Boyd

Hey Steve,

2013 was a very busy year for me. Lots of work. Lots of travel. We took a family trip to beautiful Puerto Rico in July (our first ever outside the states as a family) and then I had the opportunity to return to India this past fall to document some mission work in the field. I’ve shot both an M and an SLR for the last 5 years but for personal work, it’s almost always the M. I made the decision to jump to the M240 early – mainly because of the ISO limitations of the M9 – and was fortunate enough to get an early copy last spring through my longtime Leica dealer, Ken Hansen.

I thought I would share some of my favorite images from this past year with a brief description.

Here’s to a great 2014 for you and your site!

All the best,

Bob Boyd

www.bobboyd.net

A bay near El Morro, Puerto Rico. (Zeiss 21mm f/2.8)

Bay near El Morro, Puerto Rico

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Paths… (Left) a path of doorways at Fort El Morro and (right) Two brothers walk along the beach at sunset in, Puerto Rico. (50mm Lux ASPH)

Paths...

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Coast Guard boat at sunrise near the ferry for Culebra, Puerto Rico. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Coast Guard at sunrise

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Ocean play at sunset… Isle of Culebra, Puerto Rico (50mm Lux ASPH)

Ocean play at sunset...

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Graffitied Tank… The kids inspect an old rusted out tank on the beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Graffitied tank

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Room with a View… Windows of a watchtower open to a beautiful scenic view in the Puerto Rican rainforest of El Yunque.  (Zeiss 21mm f/2.8)

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Fire in the sky… A firey sunset illuminates the post-rain mist on the mountainsides in Puerto Rico. (50mm Lux ASPH)

8 2013-07-13 L1002738

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Amritsar, India… A Sikh woman bows in the middle of tourists at the entrance of Harmandir Sahib – the “Golden Temple”. (50mm Lux ASPH)

9 2013-09-22 L1004024

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A Sikh man and his bike outside Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. (50mm Lux ASPH)

A Sikh man and his bike outside Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.

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A Sikh man in Amritsar, India (right) and a Christian woman in Punjab, India (left). (50mm Lux ASPH (l), 90mm Summarit/ISO6400 (r)

Common Differences...

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Indian Corridors… (Left) Golden sunset light pours into a market area in Amritsar, India. (Right) A mother walks her children to the village school bus stop.

(50mm Lux ASPH (l), 90mm Summarit (r))

Indian Corridors...

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A remote village area. Punjab, India (35mm Lux ASPH)

A remote village area. Punjab, India

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Two young boys playing in a village in Punjab, India.
(50mm Lux ASPH)

 14 2013-09-23 L1004304

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An elderly man in a remote village in Pujab, India. (50mm Lux ASPH)

An elderly man in a remote village in Pujab, India.
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Brick Factory A worker hauls new bricks at a brick factory in Punjab, India. (21mm Lux ASPH)

A worker hauls new bricks at a brick factory in Punjab, India.

Children playing with tire inner tubes along a dirt street in Punjab, India. (35mm Lux ASPH)

Children playing with tire inner tubes along a dirt street in Punjab, India.

A Mother’s love and pride on display as she holds her child. Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

Mother and child. Punjab, India

Two women rest on cots at a home in Punjab, India. (21mm Lux ASPH)

Two women rest on cots at a home in Punjab, India.

Village street scene. Punjab, India (35mm Lux ASPH)

Village street scene. Punjab, India

A woman prepares an evening meal in a small hut. Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

A woman prepares an evening meal in a small hut. Punjab, India

Market traffic… Punjab, India (21mm Lux ASPH)

Market traffic.  Punjab, India

I’ll end on one last personal image… My wife visiting her 88 year old grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. (50mm Lux ASPH)

25 20131208 - L1005530

Dec 272013
 

Sao Paulo Street Portraits with the Nikon DF

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Dear Steve thanks for your wonderful site, to some of us who can’t actually test gear before buying is of an amazing help. I live currently in Brazil, and it’s not possible to go to a store to test all the wonderful equipment that is on the streets right now. I bought the RX1 mostly because of your review. I also recently acquired a DF, whose review came afterwards… J

I love shooting street portraits, specially wondering for hours on the streets and meeting strangers, having a talk with them and then politely asking them for a picture. Sao Paulo is a multicultural city full of a lovely mixture of people. You actually never know into what you might bump. Sadly as many other cities in South America has is toll of insecurity, but well, it’s a risk worth taking.

I have used many cameras, suffer from GAS, but think that with the DF and RX1 I am currently cover and cured for GAS, (don’t know for how long). I also have a D800 but for my enjoyment and street shooting the RX1 and DF are incredible fun! Specially the DF which reminds me so much of the X100, but without the lag.

Here are some of my street portraits in Sao Paulo I recently took with the DF, suing a voigtlander 40mm plus a 28mm 2.8 AIS. Thanks for looking!

If you are interested in seeing more portraits from Sao Paulo street please use the following link:

http://www.ilukewitsch.com/People-from-Sao-Paulo

Also here you can find my tumblr, only Sao Paulo pictures:

http://ailukewitsch.tumblr.com/

And my blog in which I post about everything I shoot.

http://ailukewitsch.wordpress.com/

 Nikon Df, sec (1/125), f/2.8, 28 mm, ISO 250, Exposure Bias 0 EV

image1

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Nikon Df, sec (1/125), f/2.8, 28 mm, ISO 180, Exposure Bias 0 EV

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Nikon Df, sec (1/250), f/4.0, 40 mm, ISO 100, Exposure Bias 0 EV

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Nikon Df, sec (1/500), f/4.0, 40 mm, ISO 100, Exposure Bias -1/3 EV

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Nikon Df, sec (1/250), f/2.2, 40 mm, ISO 500, Exposure Bias -1/3 EV

image5

Dec 262013
 

rx1riotitle

The Sony RX1 goes to Rio De Janeiro

by Mash

Hi Steve,

Been following your site for a little over six months now and thanks to your reviews I picked up the Fuji X100s and the Sony RX1.

I originally had a Nikon D300s, and it had been sitting on my desk for over two years because it was just such a hassle to carry everything around. That’s when I started researching fixed lens Cameras and based on your review I picked up the Fuji X100s first and sold the entire Nikon D300s kit.

The Fuji X100s really was a delight to use. It definitely is much more intuitive to use then the Sony RX1. The only thing that bothered me about the Fuji files was I never found the images sharp enough, there was a softness to it that some people may prefer, but it never really tickled my fancy.

Couple of months later, I planned a trip to Rio and was trying to decide on to take the Fuji or buy the Sony RX1. After reading and re-reading your review of the RX1, I sold the Fuji and bought the Sony RX1.

The Sony RX1 costs a little over USD $3000 here, and having heard horror stories about muggings in Rio, I became paranoid of taking it with me.

So, as I was committed to the trip and didn’t have any other camera I did two things to ensure the safety of the Camera.

1. Took out a travel insurance policy that covers theft or loss.

2. I also took some artistic tape, and randomly taped over the camera and the logos. You can see in the image below (taken with iphone 5).

I had no idea if uglifying the camera would work, but when two random people I met on the trip commented, “Oh did you break your camera?”, appears to have had the desired effect I wanted.

It was my first time visiting Rio De Janeiro, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Nothing was really planned and I went with the flow. I was lucky enough to have run into a wide spectrum of shooting opportunities and challenges.

gaffed sony rx1

Sony RX1 in use

For all the shots below, I had the camera set to aperture priority and in most cases the aperture was set to F2. The only adjustments I would make to control the light was using the exposure dial, dialing it up and down as needed.

What I really loved about this simple setup was, it allowed me to focus on what I wanted to capture rather than trying to get a perfect shot every single time.

The camera was set to auto focus most cases, in some rare instances I used the manual focus option. I had programmed the AEL button to switch between auto and manual focus, and once used to it – became a breeze to change.

I shot everything in RAW and then edited everything in Lightroom 5.

I wanted to share some images to show you the breath of images captured and how beautiful and sharp the images are.

Ipanema Beach

The shooting conditions on the beach was bright sun light with a lot of movement.

ipanema 1

Ipanema 2

Churches and Chris the Redeemer

I love how beautiful the bokeh out of the camera is. This image was shot in almost dark church, with natural light pouring in 500 yards from the front doors.

church 1

A look at how the macro functions. Again, there was barely any light in the room.

church 2

The following image was shot about 500 feet away looking up at the painted windows. Using the multi zone focus moved the focus point down, to avoid the windows being washed out by too much light.

church 3

Sunday mass. The silent shutter sound didn’t alert anyone to the fact that I was taking photos.

church 4

Christ the Redeemer. I loved this photo opportunity. With the sun perfectly positioned on the palm of christ. I was shooting straight at the sun, and the clouds were recovered post processing. I was really impressed by the dynamic range of the RX1, to allow me to do that.church 5

Rio Pride Parade

To give you an idea of the color rendering range of the camera, I was lucky to have come across the Rio Pride Parade. I will let the images talk themselves, the only adjustment I made was to put up the vibrancy.

pride 1

pride 2

pride 3

pride 4

Teachers Demonstration

While visiting downtown Rio, ran across what was a teachers unions strike. Chose to render this in black and white in post processing.

I am not sure how people would have reacted if I was lugging around a huge DSLR. I would like to believe, people felt much less threatened thinking I am using a simple point and shoot.

teacher strike 1

teacher strike 2

teacher strike 3Favela Visit

This was the part of the visit I was most looking forward to. It was a foggy and rainy day, and parts of the favela were in complete darkness only lit by a small fluorescent light.

I used a simple umbrella to protect the camera and the camera was small enough to operate with my other free hand. Don’t think it would have been that easy with a larger DSLR.

The camera did hunt a few times, but nothing that was annoying or unbearable.

favela 1

favela 2

Overall Impressions

Yes it may be over priced. It may have been foolish purchasing it a few weeks before the release of the Sony full frame A7. Saying all that, life is too short to live with regrets, and I am glad that the Sony Rx1 was beside me on this amazing trip to capture these beautiful moments.

I love the Sony Rx1. At no moment did I wish I had another camera, or wanted a faster focus or a different lens. It was a trusty companion by my side to take the photos the moment I wanted them.

I am already planning my next trip, and can’t wait to take the Sony RX1 along.

If you would like to see images from my brazil trip, pay a visit to my site

http://thisismash.com/street-art-brazil/

You will see more about the street art, the music, and more shots from the above themes.

Thank you Steve for letting me share this with your readers.

Mash

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

Hello to all! For the past 5+ 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 as many as 1500 at any one given moment. Because of this I need and use super fast 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. This is not a paid subscription site, so no money is exchanged for the information here.

To help out it is simple. 

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. 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.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK - This one will not work by bookmarking it.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;) You can also help out by writing a guess post or review on a piece of gear you love and adore. If interested in this, just send me an email here.

Dec 232013
 

My Fave Photobook buys of 2013

By Colin Steel – HIs website is HERE.

colin1

Hey everyone, I was just looking at all of the end of year lists that are appearing of the 10 best, movies, songs, photos etc. and of course the many, many versions of the top photo books of the year by various critics. This got me to thinking of the photo books that I have personally bought this year and to be honest its been a bit hit and miss in terms of quality and alignment with the topics and visions that interest me. Having said that I have been lucky enough to acquire what I think are some simply extraordinary pieces of photography and I am personally a huge fan of the photo book as being the ultimate expression of the art. One thing that struck me about the critics that proposed these lists was that they probably hadn’t bought and paid for these books themselves and they all seemed to strive to be unusual or unique in some way. I guess that is the way of journalism and the search for originality. With that in mind I thought it would be a bit of fun to highlight my favourite recent purchases, photo books that I have bought with my own hard-earned. These are not in any order of significance or rating but the idea is simply to perhaps whet your appetites and give some insight into the books and why I personally like them. So settle down with a coffee and packet of your favourite biscuits.

First up then……

Ernesto Bazan

colin2

I am lucky enough to own two personally signed books by Ernesto and they are prized possessions for a number of reasons including the wonderful memories they evoke of working, shooting and learning from Ernesto in Sicily and Brazil. The two books that I have are both from the fourteen year period that Ernesto spent in Cuba during the turbulent period when Russia was moving into Perestroika and economic aid to Cuba was largely cut off. Both books are of course crammed with Ernesto’s beautiful, poetic and lyrical photographs and it is obvious that this depth of work can only be created over a very long period of time by someone with the tenacity and skill to understand and express the people of Cuba and their environment. The books are different in that Al Campo, the study of the Cuban countryside and farmers, is in colour while the first book in the soon to be trilogy (the final book in preparation is very beautiful and shot on an Xpan) Bazan Cuba, is in black and white. Nevertheless the same sensitivity and outright beauty is apparent in both. Despite having a personal preference to shoot B&W I continually find myself returning to the colour Al Campo most and I love the mood, feel and warmth that book generates for me. I particularly like one of the most simple shots in the book of an old lady and some flowers. I find the photograph completely beguiling and timeless.

colin3 

Bazan Cuba on the other hand has a more documentary feel for me and despite the fact that many of the photographs are timeless and insightful, you can’t help but get a feeling of historical significance and I think it is a book that is going to become even more important with the passing of time. Many famous photographers have visited Cuba and tried to interpret it but in my opinion, only Ernesto through his integration (he also married a Cuban) really understood the people and place and for that reason his book is I think the definitive book on Cuba.

colin4

Again, the book is classic Ernesto and filled with beautifully observed and sensitively shot images that combine to create a visually stimulating and thought-provoking document of Cuba.

colin5 

I think Bazan Cuba is coming towards the end of the first edition print run and is getting harder to find and more expensive. If you are looking for an absolutely classic photo book that will interest, inspire and educate you as a photographer then I would highly recommend either Bazan Cuba, or Al Campo, you won’t be disappointed and you will be buying something that will only become rarer and more valuable.

colin6

Daido Moriyama

colin7

Now for a complete change of tone and style and a quick look at a few Daido books. I find that Moriyama polarises photographic opinion and perhaps it’s not so trendy to like his work as it used to be. Personally I don’t care about trends and I find Daido’s work truly inspirational and own a large number of his books, many of which are signed. I wanted to mention three of his books here; the seminal 71 New York, Buenos Aries and Reflections and Refraction. The first two mentioned books are recent reprints and come in a very nice pulp paperback type form. These two books for me have to be looked at in their entirety and I find it pointless and almost meaningless to isolate individual images because the books seem to create a narrative, mood and sensation of walking along these streets beside Daido. They have rightly been likened to beat poems and I always think that is the best way to describe them, I find them vibrant, loose and energetic. I always make a point of re-reading 71 New York if I am setting off to visit a new city, it seems to create that ‘road trip’ feel.

colin8 

I think you are either going to love or hate Moriyama so if you are not familiar with his work have a look around first, there is no shortage of it on the web. If you find you like it then I think 71 New York is a great place to start and it would do no harm to look at where Daido got his inspirations for the book from, Midnight Cowboy, William Klein and James Baldwin.

Nikos Economopoulos

colin9

Again, I consider myself very privileged to own a personally signed copy of Nikos’ classic Balkanlarda which I bought in Istanbul. Nikos, for me is an out-and-out artist, his eye for shape, structure and his bold compositions are a delight and like Ernesto’s books, I find this a highly educational as well as enjoyable piece of art. There are other parallels in that this book was composed over a considerable period with Nikos wandering around the Balkans in his camper van (which he still does incidentally as part of his workshop programme)

colin10

I think any photographer that takes the time to study this book will come to marvel at the innovative framings and structures of Nikos photographs, following my meeting with him and the workshops I attended with him I felt an intense sense of liberation from the cliched concepts that I had previously understood to be required for ‘good’ photography and I can truly say that Nikos set me free to look at things in a more individual way.

colin11

Jason Eskenazi

colin12

Make no mistake, this small, unassuming little book is a thing of very great intelligence and beauty. Jason Eskenazi is not a name that jumps to mind for many photographers and I think that is only because he likes to keep a very low profile and happily just wander around taking the most incredible photographs. I do not exaggerate, there is not a single image in his Wonderland book that you could class as a filler or in any way mediocre, it’s that good. Some of you will be aware of the incredible story that Jason was a security guard at MOMA in New York and travelled many times to Russia to create his ‘fairy tale of the Soviet monolith’ which he structured around the classical folk tales, child gets lost, taken in by guardians who don’t really care about her and so on. I feel that I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment that anyone who reads this book will get by saying too much about it, read it and see for yourself.

colin13

I can think of very few photographers that can compose a frame with the precision and insight that Eskenazi can. As with some of the other books shown here I see this as a paragon of intelligent photography and there is an enormous amount to be learnt not only from the photographs but in looking at the overall structural concept and strict editing that Jason has applied. Like some of the others in this short list, this is becoming harder to find and more expensive so if you see one, don’t hesitate to buy it.

Anders Petersen

colin14

My ownership of this book and introduction to Anders Petersen’s photography was a lovely piece of good luck when a friend in Singapore who acts as the unofficial librarian for the Invisible Photographer Asia community asked if anyone was interested in Petersen’s ‘Soho’ so that we could share shipping. I decided to take a chance and this amazing book showed up a few weeks ago. It’s always so nice when something unexpected works out so well, the book turned out to be really cool and there is so much I like about it even down to the physical choice of materials, cover etc. very understated but high quality – just like the photography. I have bought a few books from Mack who published this book and I always find them to be exceptional in the presentation and quality department.

colin15

Back to the photography and I guess that you could draw similarities in Petersen’s style with other photographers that I like, admire and try to learn from, in particular Moriyama and Sobol. Petersen’s book was a commission to shoot London’s Soho and he has done a damn fine job of capturing the sense of the place and its uniqueness. One thing that particularly struck me in many of the photos was how he captured eyes and to me its this feature of his work that takes the book beyond the ordinary. Personally I think its become very tiresome looking at harsh, flash lit ‘street photography’ but the way that Petersen and Sobol in particular use flash to create stark tones is really masterful and, as opposed to the mainstream approach which tends towards sensationalism, the flash and stark contrast enhances the mood and subject.

colin17 

Like Sobol, he also seems to have a knack (and the courage) to find and engage with extremely interesting subjects and it the blending of these fascinating subjects with the quirkiness of the Soho environment that makes the book a winner for me.

Takuma Nakahira

colin18

Nakahira’s For a Language to Come, has been out of print for a while and become pretty expensive and hard to get. However Osiris have now republished this piece of photographic magic and I was lucky to get a copy. Like Moriyama, this book and Nakihira’s style will polarise photographers and I have a few friends who are much better photographers and more credible in this area than me who do not like this at all. That’s the beauty of human diversity, and I am sure there are many people who will not like or agree with other choices in here and that is a fantastic thing and, ultimately for me, one of the sources of creativity.

colin19

I think its important to contextualise Nakahira as someone who was brought up in post war Japan and I think you see his thoughts on that in many of the photographs. Somehow he strikes into deep-rooted sensibilities inside me and I find the photographs universal and disturbing and scary and beautiful all at the same time. As with Moriyama, don’t buy this without having a look first to see if it aligns with your senses and ideas.

colin20

Vanessa Winship

collin21

This is a very, very special book and like some others in here it will easily stand the test of time and become more and more relevant as it ages. As I understand it Winship was the first woman to ever win the Cartier Bresson trust award (how can that be ???) and she used the modest amount of the award to fund some trips to America which she had always wanted to photograph. How easy would it have been to try to update Frank and do some kind of modern road trip work? Not Winship, ‘She Dances on Jackson’ is as original, sensitive and insightful a photography book as you are ever likely to come across. Again, it’s published by Mack and the prints inside are delicious in the way they pull you into the pages. I have no idea how you can create a book of this quality at a reasonable retail price, if you were to have all of these shots printed separately to this level of quality it would easily cost three or four times more than the entire book cost, amazing stuff.

colin22

I read somewhere that she doesn’t like ‘shouty’ photographs and that is very clear in the subtle beauty of this work. The photographs are almost delicate and even the many portraits have that gentle, lyrical but always meaningful, sometimes disturbing look.

colin23

I am convinced that we will be looking back in 10 years time at this book as an out-and-out photographic classic. Winship has in my opinion done something extraordinarily creative in here and it looks like the culmination of all of her years of experience and craft.

Roger Ballen

colin24

I am at a bit of a loss here as to what to say about Ballen’s work that hasn’t been said before. This year however was my introduction to him and, although I own a few of his books ‘Shadow Chamber’ is my favourite. It has a rawness that has now left his more modern work and, like all of his work it is psychological in its nature and can be deeply disturbing and thought-provoking in equal measure. I really like the way Ballen constructs his frames and there is a lot to be learnt from his structuring and arrangement of elements and shapes.

colin25

More than any photographer I can think of Ballen has a unique ability to tap into our deepest recesses and his photographs both disturb and fascinate me. Perhaps an acquired taste but well worth looking into if you want to see some completely original and creative work by an accomplished master.

Todd Hido

colin26

Todd Hido seems to be very much in vogue just now but unlike many trends and styles that come and go I think the substance behind his work is enduring. His latest book is ‘Excerpts from Silver Meadows’ and is structured around his search for the home of his younger days. What sets Hido apart for me is his ability to create universal metaphors and evoke generic memories that most of us have, this is his genius.

colin27 

It takes enormous skill to blend different formats and mediums the way Hido does and there are not many photographers that could pull this off. It’s easy to be drawn in by the motel room female shots, and they have their part to play, but I personally find his lovely, through the windscreen landscape shots to be exceptional.

This is a large book and definitely benefits from the sense of scale but from a learning viewpoint its also worth considering his arrangements and sequencing, very powerful but accessible photography.

Peter Turnley

colin28

As many of you will know, Peter is a world-renowned photojournalist and there is almost no major world event of the last twenty or thirty years that he has not shot. Peter and his twin brother David have been very much in the news recently due to the close relationship they shared with Nelson Mandela and they’re documenting of his release from prison and subsequent shaping of modern South Africa. Peter has lived and photographed in Paris for around forty years and this book is, as he says, is his ‘love letter to Paris.’

colin29

I had a deep concern when I first saw this book coming out that it would be a bit twee and while Peter does get dangerously close a few times, I think the over-riding sense of love, sensuality and out-and-out joy in the photographs bring it home for me.

My own favourites in the book are the more subtle and in a way artistic shots as I get a sense that these were Peter’s therapy for the horror, conflict and desperate situations that he routinely photographed in his journalistic work.

In some ways this is a very different book from the others in here but I think that, like me, many people will appreciate how the delicacy of the photographic situations and Peter’s obvious love for Paris and people make this a very worthwhile addition to any photo book library.

Twentyfifteen

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Finally, something a little different and closer to home to finish with. I have been working and living in Singapore for over six years now and find it an exceptional place to live, and, as an added bonus, there is also a thriving photographic community. From that community twenty locally based photographers have gotten together to produce a set of books in commemoration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee in 2015. The books are very innovative and high quality in their concept and design and each photographer seeks to show a unique aspect of Singapore from their perspective. There are currently only four published but their intent is to complete the entire series prior to the Jubilee events. Needless to say the photographers are very different in their style and approach and this is one of the things I enjoy about the series. I know that this is really of most interest to Singaporeans’ but if you are interested in the books have a look here to find out more:

http://twentyfifteen.sg

Also, if photography in Asia interests you there is no better place to find out what’s happening and see very original work than Invisible Photographer Asia

Well that’s it for this year folks, please take this article in the spirit it was intended. This is not a definitive ‘best of’ list, this is simply my favourites from the books that I have personally bought recently and, as such, I am sure there are many, many other great books that I have not yet seen or enjoyed. My intent here was to share, and hopefully some of you will like these choices and enjoy and learn from them in the way that I have.

Colin Steel Portfolio 2013

Colin

Dec 192013
 

Lost Angels

By Lee Jeffries

Lost Ang-2

I guess “Lost Angels was a “process” that started for me five years ago. I was in London to run the marathon and found myself wandering the streets with my camera the day before the race. I trained my long lens on a young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag from across the street. She noticed and began to shout at me in an objective manner. I was obviously very embarrassed and at the time two thoughts went through my head. Turn away and get out of the situation quickly. Or go over and talk to her. I chose the latter. Doing so changed my perception of how I wanted to approach photography. The photographs became of secondary importance. Making contact, stopping to chat and helping out where I could become much more significant. Loneliness goes hand in hand with homelessness and alleviating that for 20 minutes..or an hour…or sometimes for a few days then it’s that reaction, nearly always positive, that I take away from an encounter. The intimacy of my portraits are perhaps a testament to this.

SH2 - The Cat Lady

My images have become more like art. For that reason I never dilute them with “document” or “circumstance” unless it’s absolutely warranted. I try very hard to capture both an emotional element and supplement that with a metaphysical quality that grabs and holds the attention of the viewer. I like to allow all of that emotion to breathe inside the mind of those that “see” and allow them to make their own conclusions on the “reality” of the situation. There is enough packed into any one of my images to take the viewer on a journey. They are an exploration of humanity. It’s as much an exercise in self-examination as it is in photography. They carry a social message, a message of injustice and suffering. They are about faith. Love. Compassion.

Lost Ang-3

 

Cheers

Lee

You can check out Lee’s book “Lost Angels” at the link HERE. His 500px is HERE.

Dec 112013
 

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Around the World with the Sony Nex 7 and the Metabones Speedbooster

By James Vanderpool – His website is HERE, his Facebook is HERE

Hello all. I’ve been a fan of Steve’s site for a while, among others. I’ve always liked his real world reviews, and one thing that seems to not have many reviews in terms of photography is the speed booster from Metabones. (The vanilla way to get full frame in mirrorless!) I got the Nex 7 in about July of last year and had been using it almost weekly on photo trips. Though I was mostly pleased with the camera, there were a few things I was unhappy with like the low light performance and APS-C cropping of my all manual full frame lenses. When this adapter came out, I was extremely excited and purchased it almost immediately. Some things turned out like I expected, but there were a few surprises.

The very first time I used this adapter was shooting an event for a Roller Derby team. The adapter really came in handy that day, because the scrimmage was indoors and light was fading fast. I was able to get shots at much lower ISOs than I thought possible.

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One thing that did surprise me was the focusing. When I first got my adapter it couldn’t focus any lenses to infinity. Though I had read it about it online in EOS HD’s preview of the Metabones adapter, I hadn’t thought it would make it to the final product. This was really annoying, actually, as the farthest away I could focus was about 15 feet! (Which is why I’m almost stepping in on the action in all of my shots there, haha.)

The next day, I had the opportunity to be an assistant on a portrait shoot for the Derby team. The adapter really felt better suited for this sort of work. I could get in real close to get some amazing shots, and it worked wonders for isolating the subjects. You can see in two of my shots below that I also appreciated the extra space it gave me over a standard APS-C adapter.

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It took me a while to figure out how to properly adjust my adapter. To fix it: I had to 1) find tiny screwdrivers, 2) guess and test. Both steps took a few days, but number 2 was particularly difficult. The biggest problem was remembering that there wouldn’t be as much detail in landscapes (my testing method) as there would be in the standard adapter. When I remembered this, I checked my 35-70 zoom at 35mm with the standard adapter against my 50mm with the Metabones. They matched up, mostly. Since I don’t want to take up all Steve’s storage space, I won’t show all the photos I took but there are a few good examples of low light, landscapes, and street you should see. (Demonstrating speed, wide-angle, and ability to focus in an unstaged environment.)

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The next place I went to in my travels was Shanghai. Truthfully, I was only there for a 24 hour layover. But when I got an offer I proffered my wallet and went on a tour. (When was I going to be in Shanghai again?) I only took along my 50 1.4 for this trip. No tripods, no wider angled lenses. I had a lot of landscape shots, and a few street. I spent the most time (about two hours) in the Shanghai Pearl. When I got to the top I really wished for my tripod, but so it goes. Make do.

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I was able to stay in San Francisco for quite a while after I got back on account on free-living space. It is, to my mind, the perfect city for photography. You can walk anywhere and everywhere is beautiful, has character, and is full of history. I wish I could live there and photograph forever, but alas, it’s a pretty big investment to live there with no job already lined up. I’ll have to content myself with images for now and plan to visit again in the future.

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So by now you’ve seen the ISO, the shutter speed, and the lenses I use. I tried to keep ISO below 200 when possible, but I also tend to use my camera on shutter priority when not shooting landscapes. Before I get a bit deeper into the pros and cons of this adapter, I wanted to be sure you saw the pictures I shot with it. Though I may not be as talented as some of the posters on this site, I’d like to offer these as proof that yes, the Metabones does give your APS-C camera most of the characteristics of a full frame. Yes, you can take good pictures.

Now, for you detail oriented types.

Ergonomics

You know what my second favorite thing about this adapter’s ergonomics is? It’s small. With my 50 1.4 on the Nex 7, it’s barely larger than the 24 1.8 E-mount I started with. Considering that A) it gives a full frame field of view, and that B) on the Metabones adapter, it’s effectively f/1 in terms of light gathering (but not depth of field!) that is quite an incredible feat. Even my 35-70 3.4 is APS-C sized when you consider that it’s about an 24-50 f2.3 equivalent. Eat your heart out Sigma! (Only 17.6 oz, compared to the Sigma 18-35’s 28.8.)

My favorite thing about this adapter’s ergonomics is the tripod mount on the adapter. It is incredibly sturdy, so you can mount other accessories on an accessory. Madness! My personal favorite is my L-bracket from Really Right Stuff. Why not just mount it on the camera? Well, unless you have really expensive tripods you will always have a bit of drop between when you lock the camera into place on the tripod and when you let it go to take the pictures. This is especially a problem using the Nex 7 with my Contax lenses, as they’re often heavier than the camera. (I suppose with light enough lenses that wouldn’t be a problem, but then you wouldn’t be considering this article would you?) By attaching the camera to the tripod at the adapter instead of the camera, you change the center of gravity and make focusing much easier.

What bugs me, ergonomics-wise? Well, I can’t put my camera in the bag with the L-bracket attached. Time to bust out the Alan wrench!

Resolution

Now for the details! If you read the white paper, or the lens rentals blog post about the adapter you’ll know that resolution is better in the center with pretty much any lens. Also with any lens, it’s worse in the corners. Well, how bad? Have you noticed it?

At lower apertures, I wouldn’t focus anywhere near infinity. I’ve had a few photos I had to throw away because the corners were bad enough to distract from the image. However, this problem mostly clears itself up at higher apertures. Not entirely, but I don’t think you noticed and I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to print large. Here’s one last picture of San Francisco, followed by a ~90% crop at f/8.

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So, if you’re worried about corner softness just remember this: it’s only a few blades of grass.

Focusing

After the initial troubles with infinity, I found this was easier to focus on my Nex 7 than the standard Novoflex adapter due to the increased control over depth of field. In generous light, I don’t even need to use focus magnification to get critical focus. When the light isn’t so generous (admittedly 80% of the time) I still need to use focus magnification, but it’s a quicker process of getting in range before I activate my focus magnification function.

That being said, this will not make it easy to focus on fast-moving subjects like athletes, or even subjects just moving at street speed. It takes time, practice, and in the case of sports hundreds of exposures. (With the 50 1.4. My 100-300 4.5-5.6 was much easier to focus, but that is telephoto lenses, smaller apertures, and an APS-C depth of field.) Even though this allows you to use film lenses with most of their functions intact from 35mm it will not replace a split prism or rangefinder focusing system, let alone pro level phase detection autofocus. (For pro phase detect, think Canon 1 DX/C.)

Compatibility

My one true disappointment with this adapter was that it wasn’t compatible with all of my Contax lenses. My 100-300 4.5-5.6, a beautiful (if massive) lens had stabilizing metal flanges coming from the lens mount. Due to the glass elements of the Metabones adapter, this was impossible to mount. Other large lenses might run into the same problems.

Protection

Those same lens elements that stop me from mounting my 100-300 lens also protect my sensor from harm. A silver lining, indeed.

Well, in a little over 1500 words now I’ve told you everything I know how to tell you about my adapter, and a little bit about the travels I took it through. Feel free to ask me any questions about the adapter I didn’t already think to answer, or give me comments or criticism about some of my photos. I’m still learning.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the article!

Dec 062013
 

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USER REPORT: The Sony A7R and Voigtlander 35 1.2 by Gianmaria Veronese

I spent this weekend in Paris in company of the new Sony A7R and the Voigtlander 35mm 1.2. This article will therefore be a summary of the on-field-test of the new Sony A7R.

Before I get into the review I would like to make an introduction about what you will find in this article and what is not. Well, I tell you now that you will not find photos of walls or pencils to see how sharp the lens is or how much resolution the A7R has.  I can assure you that, with 36MPX and without AA filter, the limit on the size of your prints will be your walls and not the sensor. This article is designed to give you an idea of ​​how the camera behaves on the field and whether if it’s possible to leave your DSLR in favor of this Sony A7R.

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First let’s understand the ergonomic feeling and what are the differences from a traditional digital SLR. Well, the first thing that catches the eye and the touch is the size. It is really small (relative to the size of the sensor of course, FX 24 × 36 remember). The fact that it is small, however, has both the pro and cons.

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The pros are definitely weight, size and discretion. When you travel, you just need nothing except body, lenses and battery charger. Dedicated backpacks are just a distant memory. In addition, the smaller distance from sensor to bayonet, allows you to mount any lens in circulation (with an adapter of course)! I used the excellent Novoflex. Impeccably made, it can be combined with an L-shaped bracket for heavier lenses (in my case the Nikon 14-24 that I didn’t bring to Paris).

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The counter is a small body that in your hand is comfortable, but not as much as a DSLR (especially for those who have bigger hands). In short, after a while you feel a little ‘lack of something more comfortable in your hands, but I did survive without major problems.

In terms of dials, you’ll find the same of a classic DSLR, nothing new a part of the exposure compensation dial. Very comfortable to have it available, but a little ‘less practical to use. Looking through the viewfinder and looking for it with your thumb, it is easily confused with the dial on the back (the one for shutter or f-stop), but location aside, it’s a good thing there is.

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Regarding buttons, in my opinion, there’s too many.  I would have preferred a more essential camera (more like a Leica M than a DSLR), but well, since most of these are customizable, I’d say better to have them and ignore them rather than the reverse. The thing that I do not like instead is the shutter release button. It ‘s too backward on the body and, being upright, your finger stays in an unnatural position. Also, the worst thing is that no threaded hole has been designed on it for an eventual soft release in order to get a more comfortable feeling.

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Let’s come to more interesting part of this camera, the electronic viewfinder (EVF). Let me reassure you by telling that it works very well. The vision is quite natural, and the eye does not get tired as I feared would happen. The possibility to customize it is the real gem. We can preview the final exposure and we can also see the final image with picture style such as Black & White, Sepia, etc. Moreover, the presence of the EVF translates into the possibility of using the focus peaking and live magnification of the image. In practice, we have a chance to see highlighted in red (or yellow or white at your choice) areas of the image that are in focus, helping us in the correct focusing, especially with manual focus lenses. Manual focusing with this feature is very handy and works very well, but it will take a bit of practice (especially with fast lenses). For those who care about pixels, the live magnification will allow you to perfect focusing, good for peace of your monitor magnification. In short, focus is not a problem, as all the instrument, you just need the proper period of training. Unfortunately I cannot say anything about autofocus, because I haven’t any AF lens.

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Let’s come to the battery, the real sore point. It discharges very fast and you cannot stay without a second battery. Especially at the beginning, when you go through all the menus looking for the function you need, the battery consumes impressively fast. The thing is exacerbated by a severe lack: the impossibility of leaving the display turned off and only use the EVF. Or rather, you can use ONLY the EVF, but the main screen becomes completely inhibited even by turning to the menu and viewing images. In practice, we can do everything only through the EVF (i.e. going into the menu and reviewing taken pictures). Not really a good thing. The alternatives are to use ONLY the screen with liveview (completely inhibiting the EVF) or leave it in AUTO mode, where the screen turns off only when eye is approached at the viewfinder. But in this case, every time I walk away the eye from the viewfinder, the screen turns on again showing you all the settings. I did found the possibility to customize one button in order to switch off the screen, but it turns only black while remaining backlit! Incredible! I sincerely hope that this management is improved with new firmwares.

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Another thing I do not like much is the shutter sound. Of course it is fantastic, sounds like an old SLR, sounds solid. But it’s definitely too strong! In street photography this is not a good thing at all. In short, from a machine without a mirror I would have expected a lighter “click”.

Nothing to say except notes of praise on the image quality. Optimal dynamic range and very malleable files in post-production. The behavior at high ISO level is very good. We can work safely at 3200IS. Going over it is certainly possible, but you must expose very correctly. By the way, I personally think that over 6400 is completely useless.

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In conclusion I would say that this is an excellent camera, which can easily replace our dear old DSLR. Reactivity to shoot and feeling are identical to an DSLR and I am fully satisfied after just few days of use, then I can only hope well for the future.

All the shots below were made with Sony A7R and Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 freehand.

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Gianmaria Veronese

Blog: www.gianmariaveronese.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/photogmv

Nov 272013
 

Sony a7R with Grip

Week one with the Sony a7R and Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm By Raymond Hau

By Raymond Hau

A photographer is someone who defines himself by what he does, perhaps for a living or as a life passion. I am not a photographer; I merely enjoy taking photos that document my life travels in as beautiful and satisfying way as possible. This is my take on the new Sony ILC-7R, otherwise known as the a7R.

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A started out with photography in my teenage years with a Contax, B&W film and a dark room losing interest soon after moving to university. No longer with access to a dark room, I got bored pretty quickly until that was the digital revolution had arrived for me with the purchase of a Canon 350D. That was 2005 and it had remained my faithful until this year wherein it was retired for something new; I have always had access to newer and better but I always remained with the Canon because it was such a joy to use. But with the advent of new technology, why carry around a 5D3 when I can get the same thing in something more manageable? I now shoot the X-E1, RX1 and for the past week, the a7R.

I never intended to purchase the a7R, I was happy after retiring my Canon system for the RX1 and X-E1 – both are excellent cameras for my needs (the RX1, exceptional). However come launch day, I could not resist walking past and not testing the new Sony cameras. I walked out with the expensive one.

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I have been shooting the a7R and vertical battery grip with a Novoflex adapter and the Zeiss C-Sonnar 1,5/50 ZM for the past week and it is an absolute joy to use; I do not regret spending money on a new and as yet untested system. I would say I am smitten but interestingly enough, not as smitten as I was when I first handled the RX1. The RX1 is a hero camera and by that I mean a top-of-the-line showcase of technology and awe in the tried and tested ‘because we can’ fashion but it works and it is an amazing thing of beauty. The a7R is amazing but is not without its quirks.

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Let me get the positives out of the way first.

This camera is a beauty, the image quality from the a7R in combination with the C-Sonnar really showcases the Zeiss ‘pop’ and is dangerously good looking for a square block when the vertical grip is attached. Although the C-Sonnar will show heavy purple fringing in high contrast areas wide open but it is controllable; for those that wonder, the C-Sonnar is also sharp in the centre wide open and when stopped down to f/8, is sharp across the frame. I will make no great comments on auto-focus performance much more than to say it is faster than the RX1 in good conditions and about the same in bad; I prefer to manually focus and I maintain a decent hit rate not to need to worry about needing auto-focus.

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Noise and Dynamic Range.

I was rather surprised to find more noise than I expected to see, especially compared to the RX1, there seems to be more noise at lower ISOs. I was not sure what to expect but the overall image quality was surprising me and so I have not thought about it since. Dynamic range however, does not appear to be as clean as the RX1 when pulling out detail; more specifically there appears to be slightly more noise in the shadows and if white balance is not correct, the colours can appear off. The RX1 files are able to handle 100 point movements in the highlights and shadows sliders without an issue, the a7R not quite so.

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The handling is actually quite uncomfortable.

The grip appears to be a great idea but falls short in actual use that I would go as far to say I would prefer the a7R without a grip, similar to the RX1. In comparison, the Olympus E-M1 grip is fantastic. Saying that, once the vertical grip is attached the handling of the a7R changes and becomes rather good to use, so much so that I now have the vertical grip permanently attached. It does increase the weight and size, but not uncomfortably so even if I do shoot it handheld without a neck strap. The option is always available to remove it when size or weight becomes a priority.

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The lens eco-system is appalling.

I love my wide-angles, but there are none for the a7R unless I use adapters. I can deal with that but then there are issues with size versus performance. The size of the Voigtlander 15mm Heliar was perfect; the image quality was not. As others elsewhere have noted, magenta creep and smearing everywhere you looked. The LA-E4 adapter and Sony 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM works well but the monstrosity in size (as well as price) was a turn off.

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At the other end of the spectrum, looking at 85mm options, for me only the Zeiss 85mm F1.4 is my preferred choice. The native 85mm ZA lens with the attached LA-E4 adapter looks comical in proportions but I was not laughing when it came to actually using the thing; two hands are definitely required here. I will be testing at some point soon whether a Novoflex adapter and the Nikon ZF version fares any better. The lack of a lens roadmap is of real concern; I would like to know whether Zeiss will be releasing their famed 85mm f/1.4 to the FE format or whether I should plump or an adapted version.

Battery life is as bad as expected.

Everything should already know this and therefore should hold no surprises that a single battery will not last a day of shooting. I turn the LCD off, preferring to only use the viewfinder and yet the battery dies amazingly quick. The vertical grip obviously helps, as do the four extra batteries I have purchased.

No button to switch between the LCD/EVF. Why this is the case I am not entirely sure as for a camera where battery life is an important consideration, I presume many people like me would prefer to turn the LCD off when shooting. Fuji has implemented this correctly by automatically previewing shots on the LCD when in EVF mode. This is a small issue but extremely annoying one in any case.

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The shutter button is too sensitive. A mere swipe of my index finger and any actions I am performing are cancelled i.e. focus peaking magnification. This was an annoyance at first but now I have adjusted to hover my index finger above the button instead. Even though, it is still annoying.

I see myself keeping the a7R (along with the RX1) for a very long time, perhaps as long as I had the 350D. I have not delved too much into image quality as in my view, with the current state of camera technology as it stands, that conversation is moot. The image quality from cameras such as the a7R, RX1 or X-E1 will be more than enough for the majority of users like me. The minority who really need the finest of details are probably out earning their bread rather than reading a review written by me.

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In closing. After a week of using the a7R, if the only issues worth writing about are the ones above then I am happy. I was looking for a camera that could last me the next 7 years and I think I have found one; it is an enjoyable camera to use, especially with small rangefinder style lenses. All controls are at my fingertips; a little finger acrobatics are required at times but that is to be expected in something built this compact. Also, never having to worry about whether the camera can keep up with the images I want to take is liberating. I am used to ‘working within the limitations’ of cameras to get the shots I want and this was especially true with the old Contax and Canon. Great shots were there, you just had to work harder to get them. With the a7R, I maintain the enjoyment of the photo-taking process without feeling the equipment getting in the way or limiting my options.

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If I could love a camera, I would marry this one (but keep the RX1 as a mistress on the side!).

Many thanks to Steve Huff. All photographs shot in RAW format with the Sony a7R, Zeiss C-Sonnar 1,5/50 ZM and processed through Lightroom 5.3RC.

For more photographs taken with the Sony a7R (as well as RX1, X-E1), please visit my tumblr website at http://jkspepper.tumblr.com (also flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/_dhermes/ and 500px: http://500px.com/jkspepper)

You can pre-order the Sony A7 or A7r at the links HERE.

 

Nov 222013
 

The Leica C goes to the Holy Land

By Gary Perlmutter

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Readers of Steve’s excellent website will know that I have used and written about a number of cameras including the Fuji X100 and The Nikon V1. These tend to be used mainly for my passion of street photography. At present I am using the Leica M8 which whilst almost an antique in the digital world is still capable of producing stunning results, with the right light and lenses that is. However following the often quoted line’ the best camera is the one you have with you’, there have been times when the M8 gets left at home and guess what I miss some shots. So I set about looking for a truly pocketable camera that could still produce results that wouldn’t leave me wishing I had taken the picture on the M8.

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My short list included the Canon S120 and the amazing Sony RX100. However both lack a viewfinder, which being ‘old school’ I still prefer to hold a camera to my eye, at least as an option. It was at this time that Leica announced the C type 112, which yes I know is a rebranded Panasonic LF1. Although you pay a premium for the red dot, at least it includes a copy of Lightroom 5 and I believe a better warranty? I also prefer the Audi design which comes in two finishes, Champagne or Dark Red. I chose the Dark Red version as being the more subtle for my street photography.

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So why the Leica C? Well its unique I believe for a compact in including a built-in EVF, ok the quality of which is pretty rubbish by todays standards and the view minisucle. However when the sun is too bright for the rear screen at least one has an option. It also boasts built-in Wi-Fi which when used with the free app, Leica Shuttle, available for both Apple and Android devices, allows one not only to transfer your images wirelessly to your phone or iPad (and then share to Facebook etc.) but also operate the camera remotely!

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Other features that I liked include the zoom range which extends from 28mm to 200mm, which beats both the Sony and Canon alternatives hands down. Perfect for travel photography which also happened to be perfect timing for me as I was just about to go on holiday to Israel. At the 28mm end of the zoom range the aperture is a fast f2.0 although this reduces to f5.6 at 200mm.

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I have found noise control to be acceptable to as high as 1600 iso providing one shoots in RAW (or DNG to be precise as this is the native Leica method) and edit subsequently in Lightroom. The autofocus I have found to be really fast and never misses, far better than the Fuji X100 and not far off the NIKON V1.Usually like Steve I use the single focus point method, but I have been trying out the focus tracking which has been superb. It’s by far the easiest I have used and great for tracking people walking towards you . Once locked on where the focus point changes from red to yellow, it works a treat. As for other features, it also sports a lens mounted control ring, like its rivals, but better I find than the Sony in that is has click stops. This ring can be assigned to almost any function that suits you. I tend to use it as an exposure compensation dial. Choice of shutter priority, aperture or full manual as well as the usual auto and program modes.

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So any downsides so far? Well yes I wish it had the larger 1″ sensor that some rivals have for better dynamic range and noise control and that the EVF could have been better. However apart from this, I feel I have now found a camera that truly is always with me when I leave home. No more excuses from me for missing that once in a lifetime photo!

Links: http://stephenbartelsgalleryprints.com/index.php?photographer=89

flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gp_photography/

twitter: @gazonthestreet

You can buy the Leica C from Ken Hansen ([email protected]), The Pro Shop, PopFlash.com, Leica Store Miami, Amazon or B&H Photo!

Nov 082013
 

The Three Amigos in the Streets of New York:

Ricoh GR, Sony Rx1, Nikon V1 and 32mm Lens

By Joe Marquez – His website can be seen HERE

On a recent trip to New York, I took the Ricoh GR, Sony Rx1 and Nikon V1 (and 32mm lens) to do a little street photography on the side. The Ricoh GR is the smallest aps-c camera, the Sony RX1 is the smallest full frame camera and the Nikon V1 is most likely the fastest focusing mirrorless camera in the world. Walked around New York in my spare time carrying these three little cameras in a very nice ONA Bowery bag.

Here are my brief thoughts working with each of the cameras and I’ve included a plethora of images for your review.

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Ricoh GR

The diminutive Ricoh GR has the full frame equivalent of a 28mm f/2.8 lens and is widely touted as one of the best street cameras available. I consider its 16.2 MP aps-c sensor a sweet spot for street work. I’ve owned this camera for about a month and it took a few days to get comfortable with the menu system and features. I still have much to learn yet I was able to use the Ricoh effectively on the street.

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For the most part, I set the camera on TAv mode (manual setting of aperture and shutter speed and auto iso) and adjusted aperture and shutter speed as necessary. Very easy, intuitive and important because light in New York City changes often and significantly due to buildings, open avenues, cloud cover and more. I did blow out a couple of shots when I forgot to adjust shutter speed. However, other than my miscues, the camera seemed to consistently nail exposure.

Another feature I enjoyed was every time the camera turned on it would display the function buttons and the assigned customization. Such a small feature but so nice for a Ricoh novice such as myself. And of course the exposure compensation toggle was easily adjustable with my thumb and I used it with no problem.

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I really enjoyed the focusing options on the Ricoh – perhaps its strength. Primarily, I used snap focus between one to two meters but would often override by using the autofocus button. In general I stopped down as much as possible to maximize the DOF however there were situations when I had to shoot wide open at f/2.8.

Image quality from the Ricoh was outstanding. Colors looked accurate, black and white conversions were excellent and there’s plenty of detail in the 16.2 MP aps-c sensor.

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Oh and I really liked the small size of the Ricoh. One day while shooting the New York Halloween Parade (with a Nikon DSLR – my El Guapo) I carried the Ricoh in my pant pocket and used it for a few wide angle shots. Worked like a charm. Also, the camera is so small and discrete people pretty much ignored my picture taking. Thanks Ricoh for keeping the camera so nondescript. Well done.

Overall, the Ricoh was the smallest and most discrete of the three, but simply worked great – the Martin Short of the Three Amigos.

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Sony Rx1

The Sony Rx1 with the 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens is a superb camera and produces amazing images with its 24.3 MP full frame sensor. However, the Sony would be such a great street camera if it simply added a snap focus feature or would not revert to infinity every time the camera slept or was turned off. Of course shooting at f/8 or f/11 alleviates much of the focusing issues, but my intent was to shoot the Sony wide open to get that shallow DOF for a completely different street look than the Ricoh.

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To give me the focusing flexibility I assigned the C button to AF/MF Control Toggle and the AEL button to AF/MF Control Hold. This allowed me to alternate between autofocus and zone focusing. More often than not I would focus to a particular point by holding down the customized AEL button, then release to lock in the distance. This required some extra effort but worked reasonably well. I probably looked silly randomly aiming the camera at different things in different directions to get the zone focusing distance I wanted. And of course every time the RX1 went to sleep the distance would revert to infinity. Ugh.

Overall I was willing to sacrifice the percentage of keepers to get that shallow DOF and lovely out-of-focus rendering from the Sony – so most of my shots were taken at f/2. Occasionally a scene required a greater DOF and it was a treat to hear and feel those 1/3 incremental soft clicks when I turned the aperture ring. Sweet camera this RX1.

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I shot in manual mode (mostly f/2) and auto iso and adjusted shutter speed depending on light. The exposure compensation dial is readily accessible and allowed me to quickly tweak if needed.

Image quality was superb as one would expect from this camera and the shallow DOF shots were just what I wanted.

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If the Ricoh GR is Martin Short, the Sony Rx1 is Steve Martin – the most successful of the Three Amigos.

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 v1

Nikon V1 and 32mm Lens

That leaves Chevy Chase. I only took one lens with the Nikon V1 and that is the 32mm f/1.2. This gave me the equivalent of an 86mm super fast lens on a fast focusing camera – all in a package similar in size and weight to the RX1.

As you may be aware I am a fan of Nikon’s 1 System, primarily because it is the fastest focusing mirrorless system available. And despite the small CX sensor, the camera delivers more than adequate image quality for my street photography. Add the 32mm lens to the V1 and now I had a crazy quick rig and an entirely different look than the Ricoh and Sony.

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In many ways the Nikon is the easiest to shoot because it has the fewest bells and whistles. I set the camera to manual or aperture priority and auto iso. I love shooting at f/1.2 and the greater DOF with the small sensor hides many focusing errors. Focus is set to auto-area, face-priority AF is activated and I simply let the camera rip with its silent electronic shutter that reaches speeds of 1/16,000 sec. So different than the Ricoh and Sony.

Autofocusing is fast, accurate and tracks very well – although not perfectly. If someone walked toward me I raised the Nikon and pressed the shutter. Most of the time the camera found a focus point quickly, but occasionally it hunted before finding a subject or face. Sometimes it missed focus entirely, then latched on in the second or third shot of a continuous sequence.

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The Nikon was so fast I was able to get a considerable number of in-focus shots out the window of a fast moving New York taxi. It could see it trying to lock onto people’s faces standing or walking near an intersection. Incredible little camera and the 32 is just plain special IMHO.

Image quality may be the worse of the three cameras but is perfectly adequate. The metering system is top notch and the small 10 MP files convert beautifully to black and white. The out-of-focus rendering of the 32mm lens is a pleasant surprise and of the three cameras it produced subject isolation the best.

The Nikon with the 32 is larger than the Ricoh, but because of the longer focal length I was able to get some nice close-ups without being intrusive. People in the street generally ignored my shooting with the Nikon and 32 and I believe I was able to get the most natural looking candids of the three.

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Overall the Nikon did a great job on the street and I probably ended up with more keepers than with the Ricoh or Sony. I suspect this may change over time as I become more familiar with the Ricoh GR.

So the Nikon 1 system may not have the image quality of the Ricoh or Sony, but the one strength it has – incredible autofocusing – when coupled with the fast 32mm prime lens makes for a beautifully efficient street rig.

Final Thoughts

You may wonder why I took three cameras and didn’t just use the Nikon V1 and an all-in-one zoom lens (10-30mm) or a couple of primes (10/2.8 and 18.5/1.8). Well, the zoom lens is too slow and even with the 1 System primes, I really wanted a variety of looks and the image quality of the Ricoh GR and Sony Rx1.

I’m not a pixel peeper when it comes to image quality. In particular, street photography is less about image quality and much more about the moment and composition – and of course getting the subject in focus. But all else being equal it’s nice to have that little extra image quality or slightly different look if possible – and he Ricoh and Sony delivered.

Overall, the Ricoh GR is small, discrete and simply made for street photography. The Sony Rx1 is a bit temperamental as a street camera, but the images are so lovely and worth the extra effort. The Nikon V1 and 32mm lens kept producing surprisingly strong street images with the least amount of work.

Why else take all three? Kind of cool being on the streets of New York with the smallest aps-c, smallest full frame and fastest focusing mirrorless cameras in the world – and shooting like the wind. Cough.

 

Nov 022013
 

Three quick shots from the Sony RX10

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Ahhh, the Sony RX10! I am now back home from Nashville TN after a week of testing the Sony A7 and A7r..it was a great time. Because I was so into testing the A7 series and had such little time to do much of anything besides shoot them I did not get to use the RX10 while there. Luckily, Sony handed me one to take home with me so I could get to know it better and review this little beast. I will have a first look next week with video and 1st thoughts but for now, on this Saturday night, I want to post three quick samples that I shot a couple of hours ago at the AZ State Fair. It was dark so the camera was at high ISO but the AF was fast, no hunting at all. The 24-200 f/2.8 Zeiss lens is actually a knockout. The constant f/2.8 REALLY helps when shooting at 200mm.

Anyway, I did not want to leave this new guy out in the cold so wanted you all to know I am now shooting with it and will be reviewing it soon.

Have a great weekend!

PS – I had Noise Reduction set to OFF. Click images for larger. These are JPEGs.

You can pre-order the RX10 at B&H Photo HERE.

f/2.8 – ISO 1250 – 1/30th – 24mm

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f/2.8 – 50mm – ISO 1250 – 1/60th

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200mm – f/2.8 – ISO 200 – 1/250

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Sony RX10 Specs:

20.2MP 1″ Exmor R CMOS Sensor

The large, 20.2 megapixel, 1″ Exmor R, CMOS sensor features backside-illuminated technology to enhance its low-light capabilities to an expanded ISO 12800 while still retaining vivid clarity. Using Sony’s Column A/D Conversion, images are rendered with impressive image quality and smooth gradations between tones and colors due to the marked reduction in apparent noise.

New BIONZ X Image Processor

Also benefitting the image quality, as well as overall camera performance, is the new BIONZ X image processor. It faithfully reproduces details and rich tones with lower image noise than was previously possible. Performance speed is also impressive including full-resolution continuous shooting up to 10 fps, high-speed auto focusing and Full HD 1080i/p video recording. Still images can be recorded in JPEG or RAW file formats or both simultaneously.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 8.3x Optical Zoom Lens

The built-in Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-200mm, covering wide-angle to full telephoto perspectives to suit working in a wide variety of situations. The fast constant f/2.8 maximum aperture enables enhanced low-light capabilities as well as greater control over focus placement for selective focus imagery. The lens also features 7 aspheric elements for reduced aberrations and a Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating to help minimize lens flare and ghosting in order to produce imagery with rich contrast and clarity.

Built-In Wireless and NFC Connectivity

Built-in wireless connectivity enables the RX10 to instantly transfer imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing with social networking sites, via email, and to cloud storage sites. NFC (Near Field Communication) is also supported, which allows for one-touch connection between the camera and compatible Android mobile devices; no complex set-up is required. This technology when used with the free Sony PlayMemories Mobile app also provides the ability to use Smart Remote Control, which provides for remote shutter release that is controlled by a smart device.

Full HD 1080p Video Recording with Stereo Sound

Full HD 1920 x 1080 video recording is supported in multiple frames rates, including 60p, 60i, and 24p. When recording in Full HD, the AVCHD Ver. 2.0 codec is used for highly detailed image quality that translates well to editing and sharing on HDTVs. Recording in the Internet-friendly MP4 format is also supported in 1440 x 1080 and 640 x 480 sizes at 30 fps. Manual exposure control is available in video mode. Sound is recorded during filming using the built-in stereo microphone, or additionally, an external microphone can be used in conjunction with the multi interface shoe. A headphone jack allows you to monitor sound directly from the camera and a built-in HDMI output terminal provides direct connection to your HDTV, computer, or external recorder for real-time uncompressed video recording.

High-Resolution LCD Monitor

For live view monitoring, image playback and review, and menu navigation, a 3.0″ 1228K-dot LCD monitor is integrated into the camera body and features a tilting design to promote easier use from high and low angles. The screen can tilt approximately 84° up and 45° down, giving a wide range of viewing angles. The LCD also employs WhiteMagic technology, which enhances the brightness of the display for easier use in bright conditions. Real-time image adjustment can be seen on the monitor and Grid Display and Peaking can be customized for better image control.

XGA OLED Viewfinder

See spectacular clarity, contrast, and detail in every scene, regardless of conditions, on the built-in, bright, high-resolution OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder. Four dual-sided aspherical lenses provide a big, 33º view angle and maintain excellent edge-to-edge visibility of the electronic viewfinder. An eye-sensor on the viewfinder senses when your eye is at the finder and illuminates it while simultaneously turning off the LCD monitor.

Smooth High Speed Autofocus

Aided by the rapid throughput of the BIONZ X image processor, auto focusing on the RX10 is fast and accurate. The Direct Drive SSM (Super Sonic Wave AF Motor) provides fast and smooth autofocus action, and Flexible Spot frames enable versatility and precision when choosing your focus spots.

Precise Autofocus Tracking and New Eye EF Function

Lock-on Autofocus precisely focuses on moving subjects by continuously adjusting target frame size based on its recognition of subject characteristics. Even when a subject goes out of frame temporarily, tracking resumes at the moment that it is recaptured after re-entering the frame. Advanced Eye Detection technology creates Eye AF Function which detects and focuses on the subject’s eye even if the head is turned slightly.

Close-up Focusing

Close-up shooting is seamless and no switching to macro mode is needed. The minimum focus distance for the RX10 is a constant 11″.

Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization works to minimize the appearance of camera shake when working in low-light conditions or with greater zoom magnifications. The system can counter the effects of both vertical and horizontal movements, and, furthermore, Active 3-Way stabilization adds digital rolling control that balances both clockwise and counter-clockwise movements while recording videos.

Diffraction-Reducing Technology

This maintains outstanding clarity by applying aperture-appropriate filter processing to suppress and compensate for diffraction – a phenomenon that can otherwise limit photographic resolution and cause points of light to appear blurred, especially in images that have been shot using a small aperture (large f-number) setting.

Detail Reproduction Technology

By minimizing digital artifacts that tend to overemphasize hard outlines and rough edges when pictures are reproduced, detail reproduction technology makes images noticeably more natural-looking in detail, texture, and dimension.

Area-specific Noise Reduction

Noise reduction, even in images shot in low light, is individually adjusted based on imaging pattern variations for superior clarity and finer details.

Built-In Flash and Multi-Interface Shoe

A convenient pop-up flash with several flash modes is provided but the RX10 features the advanced Multi-Interface Shoe that dramatically expands compatibility with Sony digital imaging accessories such as flash units and microphones, thus increasing the potential of your photo and movie shooting.

Selectable Click/Click-Less Manual Control Ring

The manual ring gives you direct control of certain settings, zooming, and focusing, according to the focus mode in use. In addition, before turning the aperture ring to set f-stop, you can turn Aperture Click Switch on for clicked aperture adjustment or off for a quiet, smooth feel when setting the aperture. A display panel on top lets you see key settings without moving the camera as you look through the viewfinder.

Multi-Compatibility Memory Slot

The one memory card slot on the RX10 is compatible with Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro Mark 2, SD, SDHC, SDXC, microSD, microSDHC, and microSDXC memory cards.

Rugged Design

Magnesium alloy top and front casings make the RX10 light, solid, and robust enough for long, rigorous use by advanced photographers and videographers. The camera’s dust and moisture resistant design even allows shooting in rugged outdoor environments.

Advanced Interface and Customizable Buttons

A new, improved graphical user interface makes access to frequently used functions easier, just press the Fn button to display a list of them. In addition, seven control buttons can be customized to adjust up to 40 function types for faster, personalized access to camera controls

TRILUMINOS and 4K Compatibility

The RX10 supports Sony TRILUMINOS Color for exceptionally rich, natural colors when viewing images on a TRILUMINOS display. Also, photos can be viewed on a 4K television via HDMI or wireless output.

Oct 312013
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My 1st look wrap up of the Sony A7 and A7r cameras!

NOTE: All images posted here are JPEGS from the cameras, NOT RAW. 

Hello to all and good morning on this spooky Halloween day. I decided to take the morning off from this Sony event (off-road driving) because I am so backed up on work as well as tired and in need of a refresh. So I have a few hours free this morning to catch up on work, doing some tests that have been requested and charging my internal battery.

An OOC Jpeg with the A7r – 55 1.4 Otus

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Over the past few days I have been writing and showing samples from the new Sony A7 cameras. This will be my final wrap up on my 1st look of them from using these bad boys all week. To catch up you can see parts 1-3 below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I have also stated that this is basically a first hands on look, and NOT a full review. When I get a review sample at home I will do a full review of the cameras. (As for all of the requests..there is simply no way to get them all done during this week as every minute of every day is jammed packed but I will be posting my first look wrap up and opinion on my experience with the new camera so far).

Sony A7r and Zeiss Otus

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Auto Focus, Lenses and more…

So are these the dream cameras many of us have waited years  for? Is it the “RX1 with IC lenses” that many of us wanted? Is it a Leica M replacement for a fraction of the cost? Well, that remains to be seen but the camera is not perfect (no camera really is) and its biggest issue right now is native lens availability. At launch we have the Kit Zoom 24-70, a 35 2.8 and a 55 1.8 (a couple of weeks later). The 35 2.8 and 55 1.8 are superb lenses. Lightweight and sharp as can be. BUT in low light, with either of these cameras, these lenses can hunt for AF which has always been a Sony thing it seems. It’s not “bad” and you CAN get the cameras to AF in really low light, it is just there me be a time when the camera hunts and misses if shooting in low light conditions.

The Sony 55 1.8 at 1.8 on the A7 – OOC JPEG

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Sony 55 1.8 on the A7 – ISO 6400

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55 1.8 on the A7

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If you have at least SOME light then you are good to go but I can state right now that these Sony’s will not win AF speed awards with either of these cameras. Keep in mind, my reference is the Olympus E-M1 as I have found this camera to be the fastest to AF of any I have ever used, period. The Sony’s in comparison to that reference are nearly as fast in daylight but in low light they drop to about 50% as fast. I noticed this last night when shooting Ben Folds at the historic Ryman Theater using the 55 1.8 and A mount 70-400. There were a couple of occasions where it would hunt for AF due to the lights being so low.

In other words..FAST AF in daylight. Slower AF in low light. This goes for both the A7 and A7r. 

Ben Folds with the 55 1.8 and A7

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Using the 70-400 A mount lens with Adapter at 400mm, ISO 6400 and I accidentally had my camera set for -2 EV comp!

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The 55 once again..during soundcheck

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Before you read any further, take a look at the video I made for the A7 cameras comparing them side by side, taking a listen to the shutter sound of each and sharing my verbal thoughts about using the cameras.

The 1st Look Video on the A7 and A7r

The Build

The build of the A7 and A7r are fantastic. I have had no issues with this and while to me, the OM-D E-M1 feels slightly better made, I am not sure this is really the case. Both are built nice though the E-M1 may feel better in my hand. I am comparing it to the E-M1 as I have that camera with me on this trip and just held both side by side.

Same size, both feel great but the Oly is a little more “slick” in its design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The A7 and A7r are weather sealed as well so should not be an issue in the rain if you need to grab some shots while it is coming down.

As for the differences in build, the A7r has better made dials but in use you really do not notice this. Both feel the same to me in the hand as well as look the same. To me the build feels like a beefed up NEX-7.

No issues there.

The 55 1.8 on the A7 at 1.8 – Country Music legend Porter Wagner’s old suit and guitar displayed at the Ryman Theater in Nashville, TN

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General Use

In use the A7 and A7r are just fine. Menus are easy to navigate as they use the Alpha menu system and NOT the NEX menu system. To those who were saying it has the NEX Menu system available, it DOES NOT. End of story.

After setting up the camera to your own preferences it is simple as pie to use.

Exposure:

Some who are with me that have been using the camera have been saying they were having overexposure issues. Well, I have not had any when using most lenses..until I was shooting with the 55 1.8. Then I noticed the camera was over exposing just a little and I had to dial it down with some negative exposure compensation. When using the manual lenses I had no issues so not sure if this is a firmware thing or a lens thing but do know that overall I had no issues with exposure. I am sure that if any bugs are found that Sony will address these before the camera ships in the form of firmware updates.

Other than that, the exposure metering seems solid to me. I know there have been some reports about exposure issues but I have been posting loads of JPEGS..do they look overexposed? :)

Manual Focus:

When shooting any lens in manual focus, even a Sony FE lens, for me it was easy to nail focus without a problem. Some have been saying the focus peaking is not accurate..well..focus peaking is more of an aid, not a sure-fire way for critically manually focusing. I think that many testing the camera now have never really used peaking much, but using it requires some practice as well as making sure to not just rely on the peaking but on the subject in the EVF as well. I kind of mesh both..when the peaking is telling me something is in focus, and shooting wide open at 1.4 or close to it, any slight movement of the focus barrel can knock it out of whack. You have to be precise and peaking is not really precise (nor is it on any camera). Just remember it is an aid to manual focus and does not replace your own eyeball. It can also be turned off if you do not want it. You can also press a button and have instant magnification if you want to critically focus.

For every photo I posted here over the past few days using a manual lens I used peaking without magnification. I had no issues and 98% of my images were in focus. But I have used peaking quite a bit over the past few years so I am used to it and know what to expect from it and what not to.

For those who are not used to it, practice makes perfect and after 2-3 days of shooting using peaking it should not be an issue.

As for manual focusing the Sony FE lenses, I had to switch on MF last night while taking photos in a bar where Sony had us gather for some really low light shooting. Now, the place was DARK and while I could AF on some things I had to MF for others. Manually focusing a Sony lens will automatically bring up magnification when you turn the focus barrel. This makes it foolproof to nail the AF.

So for me, I had no issues with manually focusing any lens and nailing focus. At all. In fact, I found it quite easy..just as easy as manually focusing on the E-M1.

Using Leica M Mount Lenses

The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH at 1.4 – Sharp just how I remember it from the M9 days…through a store window at 12AM..Hmmm, I used focus peaking here :) Wide open…and it worked!

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After using these cameras extensively with a variety of Leica M mount glass I can say that if you shoot 35mm and up, there will be no issues on the A7 or A7r with color fringing or magenta edges or focusing. If shooting lenses such as the crazy 12mm Voigtlander or the 15mm or a Zeiss 21 2.8 or Voigtlander 28 f/2 you will see different degrees of either Vignetting or Color issues on the edges.

This also happens on the worlds only other full frame mirrorless camera, the Leica M 240 (and previous M9)

The next few are from the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH, wide open at 1.4 on the A7. I am happy to see that it keeps its signature look. It works just as well on the A7r, was a breeze to manually focus and the color is great, even in these plain old JPEGS from the A7.

EXIF is embedded so be sure to check out the ISO on these :) AND click them for larger versions! THESE ARE ALL JPEGS, NO RAWS YET.

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I am happy to see the 50 Lux retain its quality and look on the new A7 and A7r. For some, an A7r and 50 Lux would be all they would ever need. Throw in a 35 f/1.2 or 35 f2 and then 75 or 90 and you would have a nice little tiny lens kit with a powerhouse camera. Truth be told, I loved  shooting the A7 and A7r with these tiny RF lenses. Not only did it feel good in the hand, they were easy to work with and focus as well as putting out amazing results. Anyone who is saying this lens will not do good on the A7 or A7r do not know how to use them correctly on such a camera (or are trying to knock it down for Leica’s sake).

But back to the wide-angle thing…some of these ultra wides lenses are just not meant to work well with full frame digital bodies. The good news is that if you like B&W you can use the 12, 15 or any ultra wide you like. Just convert to B&W and you will not have problems. :) Lol. But seriously, if you are primarily an ultra wide Leica M lens shooter, you may want to skip these bodies. If you shoot 35mm and up, to me, these two cameras put out better IQ than the Leica M. Quite the fear for Sony so I applaud them for that.

Many of you have asked for a slew of samples on each body with different lenses. First of all, I am not a Leica lens storage cabinet, I only have certain lenses I was able to borrow for this trip (from cameraquest.com) and they are mostly Voigtlander and some Zeiss (which came from lensrentals.com). I have also had zero time until today (only because I skipped the morning trip) to do ANY sort of testing. I can tell you this though…

What I have found is that my favorite lenses on the A7 or A7r have been the Voigtlander 35 1.2 II, the Zeiss 35 Biogon f/2 and  the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH as well as the little tiny Zeiss 50 ZM Planar (amazing colors). All amazingly beautiful in color, sharpness and overall look. I am a huge fan of rangefinder lenses so I am happy to see that the Sony A7 and A7r can use most of them to their full potential without issue. (besides ultra wides).

A friend of mine, Ashwin Rao has a slew of Leica M mount lenses..something like 30 of them or so. If I can get an A7 and A7r to review and take home I will fly to Seattle to test these lenses with Ashwin, one by one, spending a full day or two to do it right. He has lenses ranging from 16mm to 135mm and also ranging from vintage to modern.

THAT would be a cool test. I will let you guys know who have interest in that soon if it will be a reality.

For now though, seeing that I am in a hotel room in Nashville, all I could do is what you see below:

Lens Testing – M Mount from 15 to 50mm

1st set on the A7R

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2nd set on the A7

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So there you go. What you see is what you get with each lens on each camera. These are direct from camera JPEG using AWB. Exactly as I expected from shooting them over the last few days. The A7 will give you slightly better performance with ultra wides though none will give you clean files with the 15mm Voigtlander. No full frame camera in digital can. The A7 with all of the lenses besides the 15 look pretty damn good though. As I said, my faves are the Voigtlander 35 1.2, the Zeiss 35 f/2 and  the Zeiss 50 f/2 (as well as the 50 lux).

Wrap it up!

There you have it! My 1st look wrap up after using these cameras for the past 4 days. Sony has  created a unique camera with a nice build and feel, a full frame sensor and the ability to not only use their new lenses, but adapted lenses as well (with some exceptions in wide angle M mount) as their older E Mount lenses (which will crop on these cameras, killing the full frame look they are bought for).

I saw a guy yesterday shooting the Nikon 14-24 on the A7R without issues and man oh man was it sharp. So the camera is very versatile when you think about the possibilities of what lenses can be attached to this little guy. There are hundreds of classic RF lenses to try and loads of Canon glass as well. Pretty limitless.

I have not yet been able to test things such as continuous AF speed or full on ISO comparisons but I can say that by using both, I really did see the resolution increase in the 7… but do I need it? Not really. Do I want it? Probably.

Many have been asking me…”Which one do I get”?

To answer that ask yourself if you want powerhouse resolution or huge resolution. Either one delivers plenty of detail and resolution but the A7r takes it up a notch. For Leica users who want to use M glass, I recommend the A7 if you want to shoot with some wide angles (some work fine) and the A7r if you are 35mm and up. It’s that simple. Both excel at low light and high ISO, both feel the same and work the same.

What about the 35 2.8 Zeiss Lens? 

For those wanting more from the new Sony 35 2.8 FE, I have posted samples and thoughts in previous posts but will do more in my  upcoming full review. The 35 is a SUPERB lens and if you want AF it will be tough to find a sharper 35mm for this system. In fact, that would be impossible. It focuses fast, is sharp as you could ever need and it is small.

Below is a full size JPEG from the 35 2.8 at 5.6 on the A7R, Handheld out of my hotel window..click it for full size (saved as a level 8 JPEG)

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A7 or E-M1?

For those asking me if they should buy an A7 or Olympus E-M1, that is not for me  to decide. Best thing to do is read reviews and go from there. As I said a few weeks ago, I will own both and will explain why in a future detailed article because it may cause some commotion :) The E-M1 will focus faster, feels even better in the hand, is more repsonsive and has many more lenses available. BUT it is not full frame, which is what the A7 and A7r are all about.

Also, many have asked about the new RX10 as well, and I have not even touched one yet but will be doing so today for the halloween costume contest Sony is putting on later. Again, it will just be my 1st thoughts, not  a full review.

So with all of that I must leave now to go get ready for the rest of the day ahead of me, this took me a few hours to put together so time to join back up with the group. Will be back home tomorrow evening so looking forward to getting back and resuming my normal schedule!

Happy Halloween!

OH and if you want to order one of the Sony cameras, doing so at my list of links will greatly help me out here on this site. Those tiny commissions I get help to keep this site up and running everytime one of you use my links to buy ANYTHING. CLICK HERE FOR THE SONY a7 PRE ORDER PAGE!

Also, big thanks to Stephen Gandy from Camera Quest once again for letting me use these lenses! His site is HERE. 

Steve

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Oct 262013
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Phoenix AZ Zombie Walk with the Olympus E-P5 and E-M1!

Just arrived back home from the Zombie Walk here in Phoenix, AZ and it was a blast as usual. This year I brought along the Olympus E-M1 and E-P5 with a 17 1.8, 25 0.95 and 45 1.8. Oh, and also a Panasonic 8mm Fisheye. I was curious to see if I would prefer using one camera over the other and while I thouroghly  enjoyed them both, i enjoyed the E-M1 a little more and most of my faves came from the E-M1 as well. Not sure why that is..because the IQ is VERY close with the E-M1 being a little different in color and sharpness. Just slight.

Some of my faves from the day are below, but what is really cool is that today we have so many lenses in the Micro 4/3 world that can give us whatever we want..from ultra fisheye wide to wide to standard to shallow DOF tools such as the 25 0.95. It’s an all around fantastic system and the REALLY cool thing is I did not have one out of focus image. Not a one. Also, using the 25 0.95 on either camera was a joy. No need for magnification or peaking due to the EVF being so large and clear.

At the end of the day I would purchase an E-M1 if buying into the Micro 4/3 system just because it offers so much and does it all so right. The E-P5 is also awesome, with looks that kill but the large EVF on top sort of kills the Mojo when in use or trying to put in a bag.

I have spoken quite a bit about these two cameras and it seems I can not say enough. I love them but most of all I love these lenses! They are so so good.

The E-M1 or E-P5 along with a Sony A7 or A7r would make for one killer “Do It All” system. One built for speed and versatility and one built for flat-out IQ. G.A.S. sucks.

Check out the images below and click on them for the details!

See ya Monday with the new Sony’s IN HAND!

Steve

The E-P5 and 17 1.8 at 1.8 – click it for larger

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The E-M1 and 25 0.95 at 0.95

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The E-P5 and 45 1.8 at 1.8. This lens at $399 is a must for any M 4/3 user. Trust me. 

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E-M1 and 17 1.8 at f/2.2

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E-M1 and 17 1.8 – Wide open at 1.8. Click it for large and detailed. Who said this lens was soft? This was also in some bright sunlight and the E-M1 handled it nicely. 

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The E-M1 and 17 1.8

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Again, the 17 1.8

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E-M1 and 25 0.95 at 0.95 and up close – amazingly sharp for wide open. The E-M1 works magic on these lenses

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Again, E-M1 and 25 0.95 at 0.95

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E-P5 and 17 1.8

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E-P5 and 17 1.8

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E-M1 and 25 0.95 at 0.95. DOF is thin but I focused on the girl..

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E-M1 and 25 0.95 at 0.95

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E-M1 and 25 0.95

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E-M1 and 17 1.8 – This was in SUPER harsh light but the highlights were easily recovered here in RAW processing. 

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E-P5 and 8mm Fisheye

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E-P5 and 17 1.8

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E-P5 and 17 1.8

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17 1.8

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45 1.8

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Me and Debby! WITHOUT Makeup :)

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ORDER LINKS:

You can order the E-M1 Here

You can order the E-P5 Here

You can order the 25 0.95 Lens HERE

You can order the 17 1.8 HERE

You can order the 45 1.8 Here

Oct 092013
 

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A Vintage Year with the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1

by Neil Buchan-Grant – His website is HERE

From Steve: Hello to all today and happy Wednesday! What you are about to see is an incredible collection of images all shot with Micro 4/3 using the OM-D E-M5 and new E-M1 by Neil Buchan-Grant. As it is all about who is behind the camera, I feel that Neil really shows what these cameras are capable of. My full E-M1 review will be here SOON and I am having a blast shooting with it. Enjoy!

 

Hi Steve and readers!

Its been quite a good year so far photography-wise. Unlike many people who take their camera out every day, I tend to concentrate my photographic efforts into short projects based around travel or events. This year I have been very fortunate to attend a number of amazing ‘vintage’ events and as my relationship with Olympus UK has flourished, they have let me try out their new gear in sunnier parts of Europe

My last submission back in January announced how little I was using the Leica M9 since buying my Olympus OMD-EM5. Well now that the EM1 has been launched, the time has come to say goodbye to the M9 (but I’m keeping the lenses!).

The year started with a long weekend in the Canary Islands where I had always wanted to shoot the dramatic sand dunes of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria.

Shot with the Olympus 12mm f/2 – E-M5

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12mm – E-M5

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On rare occasions I wake early and venture out into Winchester for a dawn shoot, this shot was from the last time this happened.

12mm – E-M5

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Next, a one-day workshop I was asked to host in the historic city of Cambridge produced these two shots

Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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I was commissioned to shoot Wayne Hemingway’s vintage festival which this year took place in Glasgow, it was good to be back in Scotland for a weekend. These two pros attend many of the Vintage events across the globe, they own the dance floor!

 Olympus 17 1.8 – E-M5

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Then I was sent out to Budapest with Jay McLaughlin, a very experienced fashion photographer (and Olympus user) to create some marketing images. Here are two of my favourites from the shoot.

Olympus 75mm 1.8 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Goodwood Revival is heritage motor sport race meeting held in the Sussex downs and always attracts a vast number of impeccably dressed vintage enthusiasts from around the world.

Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Olympus 75 1.8 – E-M5

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Panasonic 25 1.4 – E-M5

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And lastly I just came back from Portugal after a week of testing the new OMD-EM1. As a result I am quite smitten with this camera! It was a joy to use on an extended shoot where I took over 5,500 frames. The Swiss/French model who came along for the job had broken her foot 2 weeks before but fortunately didn’t have to wear a cast. She did extremely well, considering she needed crutches to go anywhere. Here are a few of my favourites from the week.

E-M1 and 75 1.8

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E-M1 and 45 1.8

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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E-M1 and new 12-40 Pro Zoom

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E-M1 and 25 1.4

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 Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these as much as I have making them, much more to see up on my blog as usual.

Oct 022013
 

“Down The Drain” 

Down the drain

The Future Is In The Past – The Leica Monochrom and Photogravure

Max Marinucci Photography

Fine Art Photography

Silver Gelatin and Photogravure

South Salem, NY

www.maxmarinucci.com

As a photographer and printer, I’ve always seen the advent of digital photography as a mixed blessing. The gain in speed, convenience, immediacy, offered by digital photography, also meant the gradual loss of film and everything related to it (photographic paper, chemicals) and, more importantly, the loss of learned skills and knowledge that are needed to produce truly hand-made prints. I have, of course, continued to use film for most of my work and honed my skills producing quality silver gelatin prints, in a world when a photographer feels like he is constantly swimming against the digital current. Kodak is no longer a driving force and so many manufacturers have disappeared or stopped making photographic product, with Ilford being the only reliable and consistent source as of today. Over the past year, while still dedicated to film photography and silver gelatin, I’ve rediscovered what is the most venerable, and in my opinion most beautiful of photographic processes: photogravure. A venerable process, and a 19th century invention, it was indeed how photography came to life, on paper, at the dawn of it all. On the camera front, as a devoted Leica user, I’ve continued with my trusty M3 and later film incarnations as the M4, M6, M7 and MP, until finally breaking down and acquiring a Monochrom upon release. There was no denying that the allure of a no fuss, great Leica camera that captures images in black and white only was too much to bear but, as my personality dictates, everything has to have a clear purpose. I am not an inkjet printer and I see no purpose in spending a good chunk of hard-earned cash on a camera to simply post digital snapshots on social networks or photography related websites, in a vacuum, with a purely digital workflow. As a photographer, artist and a printer, how do I justify the investment and, better yet, how do I bring the amazingly detailed images that the Monochrom is able to record, to life, on paper? Marrying our historic photographic past to the latest in technology, in a seamless way, and one that offers the viewer, collector, buyer, a tangible product that is not mass-produced but it is a handmade work of art, seemed the one and only way for me.

The Leica Monochrom and Photogravure: the future is in the past.

“The Old Man By The Window”

Old Man By The Window

Because of technological advances within the printing industry, and pioneers such as Jon Cone of Piezography, Roy Harrington of QTR, and Mark Nelson of Precision Digital Negatives (and few others) today it is possible to print absolutely flawless digital positives to use for the photogravure process. Of course, that doesn’t make this amazing process any easier, as it still involves the same numerous (and full of pitfalls) steps as it did one hundred years ago, but one only needs to admire in person the incredible prints born from Leica Monochrom images and onto fine art papers, hand-made with beautiful inks, to realize how special this is. I firmly believe that for a fine art photographer and printer, who is willing to let go of the constant film versus digital battles and discussions, these can be exciting times, if only one is willing to learn and push the boundaries a bit. For my own work it has now come to a point when shooting film with the ultimate goal of making photogravure plates and prints is almost not worth it. Of course, medium and large format film still offer many possibilities but, at the end of the day, film still has to be scanned and that will always be the weakest link (and probably weaker as we go on, as film scanners are barely in production). While results can be more than acceptable with 35mm, and I will still continue on this path on occasion, the amount of detail and the possibilities available with the Leica Monochrom and photogravure are truly exciting and special.

“Porte, Cassis” 

Porte, Cassis 1

For the novice who may be wondering why go through the trouble of using such a cumbersome and antiquated process to produce a print, I’d like to again outline a few important points: obviously, for as beautiful as the best inkjet prints may be, there are no particular skills required and no “hands on” aspect. If one enjoys actually “making” something, an inkjet print gives no satisfaction. Then there is the aspect of the print itself. With inkjet, we have ink (and a crappy one in most cases), sitting on top of the paper. With photogravure etchings, the image is IN the paper. What does that mean? Well, an etching on copper is basically peaks and valleys. The valleys are the deep crevices, which hold more ink and create the deep shadows and blacks, and the peaks will hold much less and create the highlights in print. Of course, we have everything in between, for a true full range of tones. What this does is actually creating a relief on paper. The images have a structure and depth that one cannot replicate with an inkjet printer, or with any other process.

“Strength and Grace”

Strength and Grace

The Prints:

All prints are in editions of 20, with image size 12×8 for standard 35mm format and 8×8 for square crops. Printed on Magnani Revere or Somerset papers, using Graphic Chemicals, Charbonnelle, and Izote etching inks. Of course archival qualities far exceed those of inkjet prints and even silver gelatin. Every print is hand made by me, and hand pulled using a manual etching press. Aside from the original digital file and the production of a “positive” on clear film, the process is fully analog.

A word about the Photogravure process:

Please do note that when I say photogravure, I mean, “copper-plate photogravure”. There is another printing process that uses pre-sensitized “polymer” plates and a few “artists” have gotten into the habit of calling it simply “photogravure”. It is NOT the same thing! Copper plate photogravure, is an etching process. A gelatin resist that is first sensitized in potassium dichromate is exposed (using first an aquatint screen or rosin dust), then applied to a sheet of mirror finish copper, developed and finally “etched” in a series of ferric chloride acid baths. The Photo-Polymer process is NOT an etching process and it does not require chemicals in any of its steps. It is much easier to master and prints can be absolutely beautiful but…IT IS NOT “PHOTOGRAVURE”.

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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