Mar 052015
 

 

4DAYS

4 days in the life of a Magnum photographer

by Sebastien Bey-Haut

Dear Steve,

I just came back from what has been one of the best photographic experience of my life and would like to share it with your readers.

I indeed had the privilege to attend a Magnum photography workshop mentored by Stuart Franklin in Panjim, a small town in Goa State, India.

It all started while browsing the Magnum website a couple of months ago: I saw a post calling for applications and having nothing to lose I sent a portfolio without too much hopes as they would accept only 12 participants worldwide… I received the good news a few weeks later: I was accepted! Living in Switzerland it meant a long trip (40h) for only 4 days of fun… But no way I would pass on it, so I booked my tickets, packed my gear and here we go !

The workshop was quite intense with mornings dedicated to discussions with Stuart and peer reviews, afternoon to shooting and evening / night to post processing. Our objective was to present a coherent 10 photographs story to be showcased at the Goa Photo festival… If possible without putting too much shame on our mentor’s name.

Of course having someone like Stuart reviewing your work is an incredible experience, his critics were always constructive but he would not miss the slightest default. Composition, tones, alignment of the different elements, everything has to be perfect or the photograph will be rejected without mercy.

The focus of the workshop was in building a coherent story and in editing our work so in order to give you a sense of what we went through I’ll first present the final 10 photographs we selected with Stuart:

10 selected photographs 

001_Seb

002_Seb

003_Seb

004_Seb

005_Seb

006_Seb

007_Seb

008_Seb

009_Seb

010_Seb

-

Then here are some other “Stuart approved” photographs which did not make it into the final cut

aDSC_6715-3

aDSC_7470-3

fDSC_5783-4

gDSC_6196-2

hDSC_5924-2

hDSC_6915

pDSC_5947v2-3

pDSC_7210

pDSC_7379v2

-

And to finish some of the images that I personally liked but were rejected by Stuart:

aDSC_5963

aDSC_7606-Modifier-2

bDSC_6538

gDSC_6218

pDSC_5752

pDSC_6066-2

pDSC_7410

pDSC_7556

As you can see the “image quality” is not what really matters, Stuart was looking for images which would invite the viewer to imagine a story behind it, transmit emotions, and more generally have their own strengths. Anything looking more like a nice “tourist postcard” was discarded, which is what happened with most of my portraits…

As a conclusion the main outcome of this workshop was to teach me how to be more demanding with my own photography, which is highly inspiring and will for sure be very useful in the future.

The gear I used is quite irrelevant to describe this experience, so I’ll let you guess what it could have been. One hint: Stuart was using the same camera “hipster” camera…

You can find more of my work here https://500px.com/Sebastien_Bey_Haut

Thanks for reading

Sebastien Bey-Haut

PS: I’d like to take this opportunity to send a big cheers to the Secret Magnum 12, keep the good images coming!

Mar 022015
 

Travel Photography with Medium Format Color Film

By: Logan Norton

www.seeingthelightworkshops.com

As someone who has done quite a bit of photography oriented travel, I have experimented with many different gear configurations in search of the most suitable solution for my travel needs. I have found that using medium format (120/220) color negative film (c-41) offers me the most versatility while ensuring that I can achieve the “look” that I desire. I know that many of you will probably have serious doubts about the practicality/convenience/wisdom of this choice, but I can assure you that I have tried just about every other format and, for me, this is the one that fits the best.

unnamed

unnamed

Knowing that the digital vs. film debate will inevitably arise from this post is, I would like to address that a little before we get any further. This is not meant to be an endorsement of film over digital. I don’t believe there is a universal truth that one format is better than the other. They are both tools with advantages and disadvantages and the beautiful thing is that they both exist. You have a choice as to how you will achieve the goals you seek through the use of one or the other, or both. I have taken a Nikon D800 and a Think Tank bag full of lenses on a two week Costa Rica trip. I’ve spent a week shooting in Austin, TX with a Fuji X100s and I took a Leica M9 and a 1950’s 50mm summicron on a roadtrip up the west coast for two weeks. Recently I spent a couple weekends in San Francisco with nothing but a Leica MM Monochrom and a 35mm cron and these days, the majority of my shooting is done with a Leica M2 loaded with Kodak 400tx and an older 35mm summicron – a setup that I love for its simplicity.

unnamed

unnamed

 

The point I am trying to make here is that I have enjoyed an assortment of equipment configurations, both film and digital, and I have been able to create wonderful images with each, despite that fact that all of them have unique challenges. Anytime you seek to find the most appropriate tool for a specific job you have to weigh the negatives against the positives for each option. I spent quite a bit of time doing just that before a recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I wanted to simplify my travel setup; I didn’t want to carry multiple cameras with different film format, battery or memory card needs. I wanted something that would not distract me from enjoying the process of traveling and photographing.

unnamed

The first question was film vs digital. I realized that I didn’t want to be tempted to spend my evenings poring over the thousands of images I had downloaded into my computer, or to spend my lunches thumbing through pictures on my camera screen. It was important to me that I enjoy the experience of traveling while also taking pictures, rather than being preoccupied with the pictures I was taking on my travels. I also knew that I didn’t want to be reliant on batteries as I often spend long days shooting without any opportunity for charging. Another consideration was that a huge amount of travel photography occurs during the brightest part of the day in very changeable light conditions. Film is able to handle these changes more consistently and pleasingly than any digital format I have experimented with. The latitude that film allows, along with its ability to smoothly control transitions between shadows, mid-tones and highlights makes it a more effective tool for mid-day shooting, in my opinion. I also considered the difference in the way I work with film as opposed to digital. With digital I have a tendency to shoot everything knowing that I have virtually unlimited capacity for recording.

unnamed

unnamed

 

When I’m using film, however, I find my process slows substantially. I search each setting/situation for the right moment, knowing that my shots are limited. I find that film forces me to really get into each moment and to stay there longer, something that I find incredibly important when I travel. In the end, these considerations led me to choose film as the medium for my travel photography needs.

Next I had to settle on the format. 35mm would allow for smaller, lighter gear and many more shots per roll. Medium format would give me incredible dynamic range, detail and latitude while forcing me to be extremely critical while shooting. In the end, the technical advantages of the medium format option won out over the convenience of 35mm. I knew it was going to be medium format film, and because I was going to the amazingly colorful town of San Miguel I knew I wanted color film. I chose to bring Kodak Portra 400 as my only film stock as it affords exceptionally smooth renderings at low iso while also providing excellent push-ability, fantastic highlight retention (imperative for the bright Mexican sun), and great colors. It also translates very well to black and white Continuing my theme of keeping things simple, I chose a Fuji GW670ii rangefinder camera for the trip. These “texas leicas” are all mechanical so there was no battery life to worry about. Since rangefinder cameras are mirrorless, they are nearly silent in operation and they allow the user to utilize slower shutter speeds with less vibration than slr cameras. These cameras all feature a fixed 90mm Fujinon lens that is incredibly sharp with fantastic bokeh characteristics and color rendition.

unnamed

unnamed

Armed with my newly simplified kit I headed off to San Miguel de Allende for 12 days of exploration and shooting. I would be lying if I said I didn’t immediately question my decision upon leaving the rest of my gear behind, but after the first day I was convinced I had made the right choice. The Portra performed as well as I’d hoped in capturing the beautiful colonial architecture and brightly colored haciendas of San Miguel. When shooting in the mid-day sun I was able to rate it at 100 iso without any need to pull the processing when I got home (which was critical while using the Fuji which has a top shutter speed of 1/500) and it produced amazing results pushed as high as 6400 iso at I spent countless hours walking San Miguel’s beautiful cobblestone streets, sampling the local cuisine, meeting locals, and capturing amazing images. I found it to be one of the most welcoming and warm environments for travel that I have ever experienced. My days were spent exploring the magnificent el Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens; the el Tianguis Tuesday Market, a huge bazaar that features a little bit of everything; and the central square known as El Jardin that sits right next to the beautiful Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel cathedral, the main architectural landmark of the city. During my trip I was privileged to witness two daylong celebrations in and around this immaculately maintained square, as well as a traditional Mexican wedding at the church. These events provided further insight into Mexican culture and afforded me some amazing photographic opportunities.

unnamed

unnamed

 

Spread around the city are a number of other spectacular cathedrals, as well as a number of other squares where people gather. I could not help but fall in love with the uniqueness and beauty of the city and its people; and I returned home with 53 rolls of film filled with amazing memories from my time there. I cannot wait for Ultimately I was incredibly happy with my decision to simplify my travel photography setup. I believe that the careful process of selecting the right tools afforded me the ability to be in the moment more during this trip than any other before it.

Mar 022015
 

The Sony A7 meets Maceo Parker

By Christoph Baechtle

Hello Steve,

First of all I would like to thank you for your website. Plenty of interesting and helpful information, real live reviews and expert knowledge you share with your community. My name is Christoph and I live in the southwest of Germany and started with photography in my childhood. At some point I took a long break but returned to it about 25 years ago. Back then, with analog Minoltas. As you might know it took its time until Minolta decided to give up its analog system. These were tough times for Minolta users who waited impatiently for the first DSLR from Minolta. Nikon and Canon were already in the trade. When Minolta started its DSLR business I purchased a Dynax 7D with its 6 MP CCD-sensor. Today I use the old 24 MP workhorse Sony a900 (I still love this camera at ISO 100 to 400) and the mirrorless Sony a7 which is in my opinion a wonderful camera – although the successor enters the market.

unnamed

unnamed

I took some pictures with the a7 at a concert of Maceo Parker, one oft he former saxophone players of James Brown. He played in a music club called „Scala“ in Ludwigsburg. It’s about 15 kilometers from Stuttgart in the southwest of Germany. I only used the Sony 1,8/55 Zeiss lens. Unfortunately there is actually no short-range-telelens available but due to the excellent quality of the sensor and the Zeiss 1,8/55 there is a huge potential for cropping the files. All shots were taken as jpgs at ISO 1600 or 3200 and were processed in LR5.

As usual for Maceo Parker he played for nearly three hours. You really get a lot of funky party music for your money. The show was a kind of family concert as Maceos niece Darliene Parker performed as a singer and his nephew Marcus Parker played the drums. By the way his solo on a drum computer with vocal-like sounds was very impressive. If you like Maceo’s „2% Jazz, 98% funky stuff“, check Maceo’s tour dates. As you see on the pictures he and his band really know to party.

unnamed

unnamed

Compared to the a900 the image quality of the a7 at ISO 1600 or 3200 is outstanding. For a long time Minolta/Sony user it’s a new experience for me to turn the wheel up to ISO 3200. No more hard noise-troubleshooting in lightroom late in the evening – just enjoying the files. Quite a lot E-mount-users are wondering if the A-mount is an obsolescent model. I don’t think so. One unbeatable advantage of the E-mount is the compact size of a mirrorless camera without restraining the technological power. Using wide angle or 50 mm lenses won’t affect the handiness of the mirrorless cameras even at large apertures as 1,8 or 2,8. But using a fast portrait, short tele or macro lens like the announced 2,8/90 mm or a high-speed 200 mm telelens with a diameter of 72mm on the slender sony a7 is a little bit contradictory. That’s like Goliath sitting on David’s lap.

unnamed

unnamed

If I have the choice between shooting at f2,8 at ISO 1600 or f4 at 3200 I would prefer the 2,8/1600 combination. But I expect that for the E-mount system Sony will concentrate on telelenses providing only f4 as fastest stop. Really fast lenses as a 1,4/50 or a 1,8/135 or a 2,8/200 will remain A-mount business. So I think there are still good reasons for the A-mount and I hope Sony won’t drop it.

Please find some more pictures taken with the Sony a7 and the Sony a900 in my flickr

photostream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/baechtle/

and on my website: www.baechtle.com

Feb 272015
 

Back to Sony after 30 years away and why the RX10 works for me

By Chris Lamle

unnamed

What? I hear you cry… but Sony didn’t make cameras 30 years ago! It’s true, they didn’t, but way back when I was an graphic design student I had 2nd hand Minolta XG-7 (see the Sony connection?), upon which I cut my photographic teeth and learned the basics of taking photographs as well as processing and printing the images.

Fast forward a few years and there’s marriage and kids. The Minolta has long since died and I ditch my wifes’s Canon AE-1 for a Pentax compact (what was I thinking!). Sacriledge I know, but I was looking for something easier and simpler to use and that had autofocus and a zoom. I guess I was a lazy photographer.

Fast forward a few more years and a succession of film compacts, an early Minolta Dimage bridge camera (Sony again!!!), various other digital compacts and a Fuji bridge camera. All were pretty convenient and took, to my eyes at the time, pretty ok snapshots.

I had always enjoyed taking photographs but never considered myself an enthusiast and had only minimal knowledge of such basics as ISO, noise, sensor size and suchlike. I just stuck the camera in ‘P’ and hoped for the best.

It was only after briefly using a friend’s Nikon D90 that I realised that I was missing something. Well a lot really… like rich colours, image detail, bokeh, low light performance, a decent viewfinder. You name it.

So I decided that I would take my photography more seriously and started reading up. And boy did I read… magazines, websites, online reviews, offline reviews, watched video reviews and became immersed in everything to do with photography and cameras, to understand what I was missing.

So what was I looking for in a camera (in no particular order)?

Image quality
Convenience
Versatility
Usability
Quality
Shooting experience

What I didn’t want:

Bulk
Weight
Faffing about

After what seemed like months of research I came within a hairs breadth of getting a E-M5. And probably would not have regretted buying it. Then a friend mentioned the RX10. This, he said, was the Holy Grail for what I was looking for.

So I read up all I could on the RX10, including Steve’s review here. And took the plunge. A big deal for me, especially as I paid launch price for it. That was 4 times more than I’d EVER spent on a camera in my life.

The Basics:

I won’t detail full specs here as there are plenty of online reviews that go into much greater detail. For those unfamiliar with the RX10, it is basically the RX100’s big brother. The headline features are the same 1” 20Mp sensor as the RX100, but paired with a constant F2.8 Zeiss 24-200 equivalent zoom.

So why does the RX10 work for me?
Convenience.
Just 1 camera for stills and video. 1 fixed lens for pretty much all the situations that I like to shoot, whether it be portraits, street photography, landscapes, architecture. It’s reasonably compact, especially given the extra lenses you’d need to bring along from a comparable ILC system. And then there’d be the tiresome bother of changing lenses. Some people argue that the electronic zoom is slow. And it is, compared to a manual zoom. But people forget that while you’re changing out your 24-70mm for a 70-200mm, you’ve just missed the shot that I just got. And the zoom, in video mode, is pretty much silent.

x-default

Versatility.

It’s the Swiss Army Knife or Gerber Multitool of cameras. Excellent at lots of things and just really handy to have around… need more reach and better quality than a compact? Yep. Want better video than an E-M5? Yep. Full manual controls like a full sized DSLR? Yep. Good EVF so you can shoot in bright sunshine, or because your eyesight is so poor you can’t see an LCD screen without glasses? Yep. It can’t take stones out of horses hooves, but there’s not much it isn’t capable of tackling… high speed sports and wildlife excepted.

Usability.

The RX10 scores really well here. Buttons and controls are numerous and customisable. I particularly like the aperture ring on the lens and the dedicated exposure compensation dial. Combine these with the function buttons and dials and I can easily change camera parameters without taking my eye from the viewfinder or delving into menus. And the camera isn’t overloaded with buttons.

The Sony menus seem intuitive and easy to navigate. Plus there is a Fn button that brings up a customisable view of functions that you can change quickly – like metering, drive mode, special effect, ISO, ND filter on/off. Nice.

x-default

Quality.

I’ll divide this into build quality and image quality. Build quality is superb, as to be expected from a camera at this launch price. But it’s a really great feeling piece of kit. It features a magnesium body overlaid with high grade plastics. The Panasonic GH series cameras and entry level DSLRs are like plastic toys in comparison. The lens is a precision engineered chunk of glass and metal befitting its Zeiss badge, with the electronic zoom and aperture ring feeling very slick. The peripheral dials and buttons have that ‘hewn from solid’ feel that you know will last.

Image quality.

The pairing of Sony’s excellent 1” sensor and 24-200 Zeiss lens make a winning combination. The lens is sharp and produces punchy images. I shoot a mix of Raw and JPEG. I find the JPEG processing, although a little mushy when you’re pixel peeping, is more than adequate if I’m taking photos at a social event where the images are only going on Facebook. For landscape shoots or when I want to control the final image more, I’ll shoot RAW. There’s more noise than you would get from a bigger sensor, obviously, but at the A3 sizes I print it’s fine for me. I reckon I can recover plenty of shadow detail from Raw images – see sample of the Cabo Sao Vicente – Europe’s most south westerly point.

unnamed

x-default

I’ve also included (shock horror on Steve Huff Photo) images of a brick wall!!! I know this isn’t meant to be a hugely technical review and my comparison isn’t hugely scientific or methodical, but shows how how the RX10 stacks up against an APSC camera (in the shape of an EOS M) at ISO 200 and ISO 1600, all SOOC JPEGs. There’s a smidge more noise at 1600, but damn this 1” sensor stacks up well given it’s half the size. The image from the RX10 is actually punchier and more contrasty to boot.

unnamed

unnamed

Shooting Experience

So it may have all these great features, but what’s it like to shoot with? The size is more traditional DSLR than an M4/3 system, but then it does come with a 24-200 F2.8 lens built-in. To to add that range onto a DSLR or even an M4/3 body will add more weight combined, than the RX10 alone. At around 800 grams it feels comfortable to use all day. It doesn’t drag on my neck and neither does it feel heavy to hold for long periods. The grip is a good size and feels nice and comfortable in the hand. Well my hand anyway. The dials and buttons all feel ‘right’ and in the right place. The buttons actuate precisely without any sponginess, ditto the dials which I’ve never had accidentally shift to another setting.

Being a mirrorless camera it has an EVF. Not as bright as an OVF, but good enough for me, and even better than an OVF in low light. The live view is brilliant for getting a more realistic idea of what your image will turn out. Subtle adjustments to aperture and the EV compensation and you can instantly see changes to exposure and/or depth of field. All without taking your eye away from the scene in the viewfinder.

Autofocus speed is good. Maybe it’s not as snappy as an E M5 or an A6000, but it’s good. I rarely find myself thinking ‘just bloody focus will you’. The only times have been at the tele end in low light and low contrast.

There’s also the option of the excellent manual focusing, which you can use with focus enlargement or focus peaking. I haven’t really got the hang of focus peaking yet, either that or it doesn’t work for stills. It never seems to be in quite in focus using this method. Maybe there’s a technique I’ve missed.

Tracking focus is another story. But then this camera is not really aimed at sports or wildlife, which probably includes kids and dogs. You need to take a different approach to this type of shooting, either using zone focusing or presetting a focus point, which I used in the pool shot.

So what do I think it’s good for?
Landscapes. Good dynamic range and an excellent focal length range means it’s great for anything from stunning wide vistas to detail shots, both inside and out.

unnamed

Street shooting: the near silent shutter is a bonus, but the fact it looks more like a DSLR and the size make it a little more obvious and intrusive. But, again, the focal range means you can be switching between views and grabbing open street scenes or more intimate moments

unnamed

Portraits: subject isolation is possible at its widest aperture and a longer focal length.

unnamed

unnamed

Events and social gatherings: the zoom range and wide aperture makes it great for capturing people at social events. Again the near silent shutter is great here.

x-default

x-default

What it’s not so great for:

Basically anything requiring 200mm+ reach is out.
Fast moving subjects using tracking focus
Fitting in your pocket. This is strictly a bag only cam.
If you want ultimate low noise high ISO image quality

A few more images..

All the images have all been taken over the last year and have mainly been taken in Spain, in and around a small town in Andalucia called Olvera. Others are from my home in West Yorkshire and from a short trip to Portugal. It’s a mixed bag as you can see, with a bit of everything from food photography for a local bar, to friends and family, people and places. Sharp eyed Game of Thrones fans may even spot Missandei (actress Nathalie Emmanuel) when we did a spot of papparazzi as the show was being filmed in our neck of the woods in Spain.

unnamed

x-default

x-default

unnamed

x-default

x-default

unnamed

x-default

x-default

x-default

 

Downsides

OK, so there are some. It’s size does mean it’s not at all pocketable. So maybe I’ll get an RX100 one day as a companion. Ideal for simply popping in a shirt pocket. Battery life is barely a day. Typical for a mirrorless camera I guess. But batteries are cheap enough that it’s not an issue. The switch that alternates the clicky/clickless option on the aperture ring is prone to be activated accidentally. Again, it’s a nitpick really. You need to remember to pull the LCD screen away from the camera before mounting on a tripod, as it won’t slide out otherwise. Not sure if the focus peaking actually works properly, or whether it’s just me. The screen isn’t fully articulated, where I guess most videomeisters would prefer it was.

Conclusions

A great travel and family camera in a moderately compact form. It offers a real step up in quality from a standard P&S, and is not that far behind M4/3 and APSc. For many people it’s literally all the camera they could ever need. No need to bother with lens swapping, no need for a separate video camera. Just get it out and start taking great pictures. Yet it also enables advanced users the option to get fully creative with the manual controls, which are all to hand like a ‘proper’ camera. It’s great for both stills and video.

Talking of video… why no mention of it. Well (cough, shuffles feet), I’ve barely done any. The few clips I’ve done look excellent to me, but I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what it does video-wise. But it’s nice to know it’s very capable, should I get the urge to create a movie sometime. Despite the lack of 4K video it offers serious pro-level features, like a clickless aperture ring. silent zoom, headphone socket, no line skipping full sensor readout.

At the price I paid I thought it was a great all-in-one camera. At its current price of around £650 in the UK, it’s a positive steal.

Hope you enjoyed the review, and the pics.

Thanks Steve.

—-

B&H Photo has the RX10 for $999 – See Steve’s original RX10 Review HERE.

Feb 262015
 

Using Sony NEX cameras as a digital back for 4×5″ Sinar

By Dierk Topp

What do you get:

The possibility of the use of most of the movements of a large format 4×5″ camera!
And to get very high resolution images (300 MPixel or more) for very large prints. I printed up to 2m wide, I love to “walk” around with my eyes on high res prints :-)

Where and for what can it be used?

for any static object, ideal for studio work and stills
the weight of my set up with tripod is about 10kg, not usable for hiking (the gear of Ansel Adams was 20kg and more, as far as I know)
Therefor for landscapes I use the normal technique shooting hand held or with a tripod and just shift the whole camera.

but:

you should have some experiences with large format and/or want to learn more about it
you have to invest some time for set up and camera alignment
you want to slow down for taking pictures

How do you use it?

set up the camera on a tripod
set the camera on all manual and RAW
use the ground glass of the Rhinocam for rough positioning (the normal ground glass of the Sinar is useless, it is not at the position of the sensor)
move the NEX into position
use the display of the NEX for first focusing
move the camera to the outer edges of the Rhinocam and control the framing of the whole image
use the shift and tilt mechanics of the camera for the desired plane of focus
control the framing again
use the focus lope for exact and final focusing
stop down the lens and do a test shot of an important area for exposure control
adjust flash and or aperture or exposure time for outdoor shots
if necessary, do a test shot with gray card or Colorchecker for color management

You may just shoot the 6 or 8 images by using the movements of the camera within the Rhinocam and get a high res image. If you want or need higher resolution, you move the camera closer to the object. In order to cover the same scene you have to shoot extra rows and columns by shifting the camera rear standard in x and y direction and will end up with 20 or 30 images. The parallax is no problem, as all the images are coming out of the same image circle! Using large format you will know, that the lenses have a huge image circle, in which you may shift the film or today the digital camera.
For example the image circle of the Rodenstock Sironar-N 150mm is 214mm at f/22! (more here: http://www.prograf.ru/rodenstock/largeformat_en.html )
More on Schneider Symmar lenses is here: http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/en/photo-imaging/product-field/photo-lenses/products/large-format-lenses/analog-lenses/apo-symmar-l/

Sorry, if this is not clear enough, but I tried my very best (and sorry for any strange English :-) ).
The different image sizes of the following images below depend of the use of this shift technique and multi row shooting.

What gear do I use?

a Sony NEX camera (I use the NEX-6)
a 4×5 Sinar P (or Gandolfi Variant) with standard back mount
I prefer the Sinar P, as all movements are geared and can be controlled perfectly
a Rhinocam adapter (there are other adapters, that could be used as well, but I only know and use the Rhinocam today)
a large format lens with 150mm or more for infinity shots,
for studio or close up shots 120mm or less is possible
a good tripod with a good head (Manfroto 055 with Arca Swiss Monoball P0)
two soft boxes for studio work and a remote flash trigger
the X-rite Colorchekcker or gray card for perfect color management
a software for stitching images (ICE from MS for Windows, PTGui, PS or many others)

How much does it cost?
Here are my “investments”:

the price of a APS-C NEX depends on the model and condition
the Sinar P was about 650€ used in perfect condition
the price of the Rhinocam depends on where you buy it
the price of my Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm/5.6 was 350€ (like new)
the price of a tripod and head depends on many factors (if you don’t have a tripod)

you may find more images in my Sinar album at flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/sets/72157641670093123/
and the Gandolfi album:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/sets/72157641081324295/

There is not much more to say. Here are some of my results:
all images are multi row and multi columns stitches images. That is the reason, why the image sizes vary.

Table Top Examples

This is about my standard set up. Only the flash trigger is not mounted. With flash trigger you can only use the camera in landscape orientation as the trigger will hit the ground glass, when you try to rotate the camera into portrait orientation.

in this case the rear standard of the camera is tilted by about 15°, as you can see it on the scale at the bottom of the image

lens used: Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm/5.6

-

This is the result
Sinar 4×5″ with Rhinocam adapter and Sony NEX-6, Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm/5.6@ f/11
stitch of 20 images, 15.000×10.000 pixel  = 150 Mpixel

Sinar tilted, f/22

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 5,6/120mm @f/11,
13.000×8.500 pixel = 110 MPixel

unnamed

a 1:1 crop

unnamed

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 5,6/120mm @f/16,
12.000×7.000 pixel = 91 Mpixel

unnamed

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 5,6/120mm @f/11,
10.000×7.700 pixel = 77 MPixel

80 MPix, stitch of 9 images

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with  Rodenstock Sironar-N 150mm/3.5 MC@f/13,
13.200×7.500 pixel = 99 MPixel

unnamed

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/16,
13.200×6.000 pixel = 80 MPixel

unnamed

-

This is a test image for the ultimate control of the focus plane by tilting the front and/or rear standard, the focus is exactly parallel to the surface of the book and it looks like the apple was “photoshopped” into the image, but the apple really lies on the book!

Besides control of exposure and contrast this is, what comes out of the camera after stitching the images!

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/8,
11.500×7.800 pixel = 90 MPixel

unnamed

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/8,
13.300×7.600 pixel = 100 MPixel

unnamed

-

NEX-6 with Rhinocam on Sinar P 4×5″ with Schneider APO-SYMMAR MC 5.6/210 @f/16,
19.000×8.000 pixel = 150 MPixel

unnamed

-

another set up for the following picture

making of

-

NEX-6 on Rhinocam adapter on Sinar P with Schneider Makro-Symmar HM MC 120mm@f/11
stitch of 15 images, 13.400×11.500 pixel = 154 MPixel (I would like to print it in 2x2m :-) )

f/22, stitch of 15 images, 150 MPix

and a 1:1 crop

unnamed

this is one of a few outdoor imagesthe set up

unnamed

the result, tilted for the focus plane on the ground
NEX-6 on Rhinocam adapter on Sinar P with  Schneider APO-Symmar 210/5.6
13.600×7.800 = 106 MPixel (printed 1,80m wide)

stitch of 2x4 images

this is a comparison of two different tilt settings, where you can see, how easy it is to control the focus with focus peaking
while you tilt the camera, the focus is moving till you see the whole desired plane in focus peaking color
compare this with a dark cloth over your head and a magnifying glass on the ground glass.

unnamed

and just for fun, if you want to take your 4×5″ camera into the field, there is a nice “little” box for all that stuff :-)
you may find the tiny NEX somewhere on this picture

my "new" camera bag, very handy for my nex hicking tour :-)

and an explanation, how to use this box for shooting :-)

my "new" camera bag, very handy for my nex hicking tour :-)

and last but not least my little large format camera collection
left the Sinar P, in the middle an old wooden camera and on the right the Gandolfi Variant field camera

unnamed

I hope, you enjoyed it and thanks for looking

dierk

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/

Feb 252015
 

DSC_1401

Low light photography with the Nikon V3

By Aspen Z

Hi Steve and Brandon, it’s great to be here again! The last time I posted was when I took the V2 to South Africa where it did the entirety of the trip. Since then, I’ve done many more excursions with it and from the tone of that post it shouldn’t be a surprise that I upgraded to the V3 as soon as it was out.

nikon-1-v3

Most recently, I embarked on a solo trip to Norway with the primary intention of seeing (weather/solar activity permitting) the auroras- a phenomenon I’ve always been fascinated with since young and somewhat sceptical of. Dancing lights of varying colours? Hmm…

There was just a single snowy day spent in Stockholm mainly for ease of flights, but it turned out to be very interesting a place and I’m definitely gonna give it a proper visit someday. For some reason, none of the locals knew where the Nobel Museum was and I found it in a square after crossing a secluded alleyway in Gamla Stan.

Arriving in Tromsø, with skies deep blue, I was abruptly reminded of the possible challenges ahead; polar night just ended and there was no true day to speak of. It meant working with ISOs I’m not usually comfortable with on the V3. I’d admit that there were at least two occasions before the trip I hesitated getting another camera (namely D750) so that I wouldn’t need to fret about noise. Besides, I’ve never photographed the auroras before and common advice online suggested full-frame cameras, fast lenses and possible weather-proofing. There was no telling if the V3 would fail me on multiple levels.

DSC_1481-2

DSC_1582

DSC_1401

I did learn a few things, some are tips from the perspective of a first-time aurora shooter, others just discoveries in general.

1) Unofficially, the V3 handles up to -16°C or heavy snow with no problem. I frankly believe most modern cameras can perform in conditions beyond their ‘limits’, much like how the Galaxy S5 can go underwater but isn’t given a special mention for it likely due to unnecessary warranty claims.

2) Test run a shot, i.e. do the highest ISO possible on your camera with a shorter shutter speed and adjust as needed. Suggestions of ISOs, exposure times and other aspects vary wildly from site to site and there’s no telling what light conditions were present or lens they used for such settings. Unfortunately for the V3, the sightings were during the new moon so the landscapes were very dark. Worse still, there’s not a fast ultra-wide lens for the N1 and it meant working with a relatively slow f/3.5. 90% of my shots warranted 15-30 seconds shutter speed with ISOs 1600/3200. These settings are typically not recommended due to noise (and they’re referring to full-frame!) but I knew trying ISO 800 and pushing up exposure was much worse in the V3. My focus was manually adjusted to infinity dialled back a notch. Be sure to check beforehand how long a shutter speed you can pull off before star trails become a problem.

2) The V3’s virtual level was immensely helpful (note: not the same as grid lines!). Except for the occasional compositional advantage, I couldn’t afford to crop with such light conditions/settings and wasting it on straightening horizons is entirely avoidable! Also, the tiltable touchscreen meant easy adjustments and no need for remote shutter.

3) The batteries drain faster but no faster than constantly using AF-C for motorsports/birding (in terms of duration). Warming up a frigid battery did restore some of its charge. I got through a night with two batteries, each left with the final bar of charge.

DSC_1222_DxO-2

DSC_1669_DxO-2

DSC_1750_DxO-2

Autofocus, as with its predecessors, was a joy to use and very swift even in poor light. At no point did the V3 falter and the magical twilight colours of Tromsø were captured accurately. The N1 lenses in general have stunningly good stabilization (rivalling IBIS?) and typically give you 5 stops of advantage (with the infrequent 6-7 stops from time to time on telephoto lenses). Viewing Tromsø after a cable car ride, I decided to settle with the 32 prime for composition, forcing ISO 6400 due to no stabilization, and it was then I really missed the lenses with VR. Reine was my last destination and I was greeted with much milder weather. The days were just a bit longer and the bright red Rorbu cabins with seaweed sprawling along the intertidal zone lent contrast to the dull light and snowy mountains.

DSC_1880_DxO_1-2

DSC_1917_DxO_1-2

The auroras were indescribably amazing, with many colours in every form and shape, and they would disappear, capriciously, at times, only to reappear with greater intensity than before. They renewed in me a sense of awe so rarely experienced after childhood. My photos might have been better with a full-frame camera but I’m pleased with the V3’s output and glad that it shared such an experience with me.

More photos to be found here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aspenz/sets/

BUY: The Nikon V3 is available at Amazon.

Feb 172015
 

Another photographer’s 365 project.

By Hilmar Buch

I can hear you guys sighing… but please keeping reading.

As many other photographers I decided to do a 365 project which for me meant to take a photo every single day throughout the entire year of 2013. Yes, we are talking 2013. It’s only a few days ago that I eventually finished off this project. Of course, I took all the photos in 2013 but editing and processing my images took until this time of year (February 2015).

01 January Binoculars

Apart from some wedding jobs I love to do as the primary shooter for friends and colleagues I am not a professional photographer. Thus, carrying out a 365 days photo project forced me to cope with the normal workload in my regular job as well as to convince myself to look for photo opportunities regardless of whether I felt tired or unmotivated. And I can tell you that this happened rather often.

For example, my girlfriend and I did some extensive traveling in 2013 to Namibia (see my earlier report on Steve’s website HERE.  Also Portugal HERE. As easy as it is to go with the flow on your vacation and feel inspired by the people you meet and the landscapes you see, the difficult it is to withstand the creative gap after being back home. If you have a look at the photos I took the days right after returning home, you can clearly see how bad these photos are because I did not feel inspired at all.

02 February Travelling across the universe

Or imagine your regular work day that sometimes can be really challenging. Feeling extremely exhausted when leaving the office in the cold dark winter night makes it hard to feel motivated to find a great photo opportunity, in particular if you only want to get home as fast as possible or have other personal obligations to meet. Taking a decent photo under these circumstances is not easy and a few times I felt like stopping my photo project from one day to another.

03 March Munich in the 1960s

These are the bad feeling that naturally arose but I do not want to complain at all as I enjoyed doing what I did! I did not give up.

I did the project just for myself in order to progress and to work with continuity on my photography skills. It definitely paid off I find. Although I do not know whether I got any better in the course of 2013 I can say that going out and just doing it yielded some photos I would never have gotten if I had not taken the effort to try. Without carrying out the project I would have taken far less photos and I would not have carried the camera with me almost all the time (I rather wore the camera than just took it with me…).

04 April Crane Stories - old vs new

05 Mai The silhouette

And often when I had no desire to shoot and when I was sure I would not enjoy it I was rewarded big time. My mood changed while I was taking photos and sometimes I met interesting people or found interesting places I would never have seen if I had stayed at home. So this was something I learned. By hindsight this experience means more to me than improving my photography skills although the latter were the primary reason for getting me started.

07 July Untouchable

09 September Street portrait

10 Oktober Lisboa you love or hate it

When I have a look at my photos these days, I am of course not content with every photo I took. Most of the photos are not special and just depict everyday life. But that is absolutely alright with me. I must not forget that for an entire year I got off my backside every single day and tried to capture something. The project is not about the single image but about my feelings, my challenge for power of endurance and me trying to do the best under the specific conditions.

06 June No standing

As I cannot show off all the photos I took in 2013, I chose one picture per month. If you want to have a look at the entire project, please follow the link to my website which can be found here:
http://hilminson.com/album/threesixfive-13?p=1

Cheers,
Hilmar

Feb 162015
 

unnamed

Testing the Zeiss Loxia 2/35 Biogon: the future of manual focusing

By Dirk De Paepe

Loxia. The name that enthused me the most during the last year. It’s the lens line that my life long favorite manufacturer, Zeiss, dedicates to my favorite camera, the Sony A7R. I love Sony for daring to explore new paths, resulting in the launch of the A7 family, the full frame/compact size bodies that finally offered a worthy alternative for the Leica M, and… at a reasonable price! I love Zeiss for believing in Sony’s boldness, and supporting them with excellent glass, Loxia being the most recent in the line.

From the moment they were launched, I knew this was it for me. That’s why I ordered them right away, both A7r and Loxia, and up till now, I didn’t regret it for one moment.
For this article, I did some shooting with the second and latest addition to the still young Loxia line, the 2/35 Biogon. And of course I shot it with my Sony A7r. The pictures that go with this review are all shot at the Antwerp Central Station (more info in the last paragraph of this article), and are available at a larger resolution on my flickr pages

(https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/).  I gathered them in a dedicated album, named “Loxia 2/35 Biogon at the Antwerp Central Station”. Quite some of those pics are in full resolution, i.e. as a full 36MP file. Please check them out for image details and exif data, if you want, by clicking here.https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/sets/72157650231351238/

unnamed

The importance of Loxia
Loxia is Zeiss’s lens line, dedicated to mirrorless camera bodies, like ZE/ZF.2 is a line for classic DSLRs and ZM is for rangefinders. When first announced, I read that some publishers doubted if it really was going to happen, if Zeiss was going to push through with it, creating a whole line for “yet another” new Sony development. In other words, they adviced their readers to be cautious and not buy a system that was not fully deployed yet. I have never shared their opinion. From the start, I was absolutely convinced that fullframe E mount was going to be very important and therefore that the Loxia line was going to be thé way to go for me. I’ll explain why.

It all begins with the most important evolution in photography of the last decades: the digital sensor and its dramatic progression in two domains: resolution and ISO. Although ISO has the most impact on the IQ, resolution has the biggest commercial impact and is responsible for the decline of the film camera. Nevertheless, many masterly pictures have been made with a lot less MPs than today’s average, which causes the reaction amongst many serious photographers that you’d better go for ISO than for MP – or, regarding the A7 line, that you’d better go for the A7s than for the A7r. (I’m not referring to the A7II here because this is just the next evolution of the hardware, with indeed some significant improvements, but eventually we will see those in all A7 models. At this point, I’m purely referring to ISO versus MP.) Personally, I want them both, ISO and MP. So I bought the A7r. And I still would buy it today, because it kind of offers me both. How so? Well, when shooting at high ISO, one càn apply some noise reduction (I prefer to do it in post production), when shooting with the A7r. This is often being contested, because NR reduces the detail of your picture. But this occurs at pixel level, which means that you will partly loose the benefit of your extra MPs. Correct. When shooting for instance at 3200 ISO, after some carefully dosed NR, I reduce the picture size to 66%, and get a pretty clean image, significantly diminishing the gap with the A7s in this regard and ending up with a 16MP file, which is still more than the resolution the A7s offers.

As a matter of fact, the higher the ISO, the smaller my files will get, if I want them to be pretty clean, but that counts for every sensor, also the A7s’s. So I prefer the A7r, because at least it gives me the opportunity to also go for a large, detailed 36MP file, when there is sufficient light, which mostly is the case. So in the A7 family, I prefer the higher resolution. And let’s not kid ourselves, this increase of MPs will not stop! Yes, it asks for more processing power, but the processing speed of computers will further improve as well. Anyway, with my iMac, I experience not the slightest problem, when processing the A7r’s files. I’m sure my next computer won’t have problems with my next sensor neither…

unnamed

The increase of MPs is a fact. Even the “low MP” A7s offers a multitude of the pixels, of what we had a few years back. Let’s not deny this any further. We will all shoot at higher MPs ten years from now. But this has consequences regarding focusing. The more pixels in our frame, the more critical the focusing gets. If you wanna focus very precisely at high MP, you need to do this manually. Although the AF systems will further improve, critical focusing also means selective focusing, and there will always be photographers that want to keep things 100% under control and perform the focusing themselves, not relying on whatever sophisticated system. To perform this kind of critical focusing, an optical viewfinder simply doesn’t do the job. That’s why the EVF is mandatory. There has been a lot of criticism, with many photographers rejecting the EVF. I believe they’re wrong. Already today, the EVF outclasses the OVF, regarding focusing precision. And the EVF quality will only further improve. The gap with the OVF will further increase and eventually the OVF will become totally obsolete. Is that a bad thing? I don’t see why. We’re talking about digital images anyway. One can argue that the OVF is closer to reality, but the EVF is surely closer to the final picture. And photography is all about creating a picture. So I see only advantages here.

Let’s resume. MPs will further increase and this will make the OVF obsolete. This means that the mirror is no longer needed in the camera body. Or in other words: mirrorless is the future! IMO this is ineluctable. And I believe that Zeiss nows this as well. And Sony is leading the pack in this department. Well, guys. That’s why I firmly believe in the Sony E mount, and that’s why I’m absolutely sure that Zeiss will further develop the Loxia range to become a very comprehensive product line. BTW, from what I read, the sales numbers of both the A7 family and the Loxias significantly surpass the initial  expectations, (hense the backorders for Loxia), which further confirms my point.
The importance of Loxia is that it will be thė MF lens line for the camera system of the future: mirrorless.

unnamed

Classic lenses versus Loxia
For many manual A7x shooters, M-mount lenses seem to be the preferred choice, because their compact size matches the compact A7x bodies very well. But we all now about the “issues” that arise with most wide angle M-mount lenses on the A7x, especially the A7r: corner color shift and smearing. At the Photokina Zeiss booth, I was told that the ZM line was, as a matter of fact, developed for film camera’s, not for sensors, and that they are therefore not intended to be used with modern sensors. I guess this also counts for (most of the) Leica M-lenses, because the digital Leica M-bodies correct their lenses with dedicated profiles. Loxia is completely issue free in this regard. But besides offering issue free lenses for modern mirrorless fullframe bodies, Zeiss announced from the start that the Loxia lenses would render state-of-the-art IQ. And I have to say: as far as now, they deliver! The 2/50 Planar is a clear step forward from the very familiar ZM Planar – what I didn’t expect, as you can read in my formar post. (http://www.stevehuffphoto. com/2014/12/10/ten-weeks-with- the-zeiss-loxia-planar-250- and-the-sony-a7r-by-dirk-de- paepe/) This Loxia 2/50 Planar made me think of Otus more than once. And how the 2/35 Biogon performs, is what I’m about to report here. But I can already tell you that this one surprised me even more!

Besides M-mounts, there are so many other lenses to be used with the A7x. All that beautiful classic glass, with so many different characters, that now can be shot on modern sensors, isn’t it wonderful?! For me too, this is a very important motivation to go for mirrorless bodies: thanks to their short FFD (flange focal distance), virtually all classic lenses can be mounted, with the right adapter. Those lenses often have a unique character, which I guess we all can quite appreciate and would like to exploit. However, most of the time, when used on modern hi-res sensors, those “classics” fall short in the IQ department. I own a few very nice vintage Jupiter lenses, with lovely signature, but it really makes no sense to go for the full 36MP resolution with them, since you simply can’t get a detailed image, when looking at full size. Luckily, most of the time, we don’t really need that much pixels, so I keep on using them from time to time. Classic glass on the A7x is absolutely a go!

unnamed

However, with Loxia, I experience something else. This is modern glass, completely up to date, regarding functionality ànd performance. To me, this is a joy of shooting beyond compare and with a fantastic image quality, at par with the modern hi-res sensors. IMO their IQ is only topped by Otus (although Loxia makes me think of Otus more than once). Add to that their compact size and a weight of roughly 1/3 of Otus and you can image that nowadays I prefer to put my Loxia 2/50 in my bag, rather than my Otus 55. So I use the Otus a lot less these days: really only when I have a very specific project at hand, where  the highest possible IQ is mandatory and gear transportation is no issue. Loxia is thàt good that I have even considered selling my Otus. But as far as now, it still feels good owning it, for those very special occasions.

Of course, Otus typically is a DSLR lens. But why not using SLR lenses on the A7X?! Think of old Leica R glass for instance. Makes a lot of sense, although of course we have to take the extra size and weight for granted with those SLR lenses.
What counts for all those classic lenses, is that they lack the data communication, which means that they can’t allow the “modern manual focusing” features that contribute to the joy of shooting with Loxia.

Loxia offers advanced functionality (top level in manual focusing) in a pretty compact package (only slightly outdone by M-mount) with excellent IQ (IMO only slightly surpassed by Otus). All in all, Loxia is undoubtably the best choice for MF shooting with fullframe E-mount camera’s, by combining in a unique way great performance in functionality, size and IQ. Nothing else comes close.

unnamed

General Loxia features
Of course many of the features of the new 2/35 Biogon are common with the Loxia 2/50 Planar, that was the subject of my latest article, published on this website. Since I already talked about general Loxia features in formar posts, I’ll confine myself to resuming the most important general Loxia features here.
The Loxia lenses are intended for manual shooting. They have no Auto Focus, and even don’t offer Auto Aperture. So you have to shoot in Aperture Priority mode or in Manual. No Shutter Priority available. If you’re not feeling happy with this, there’s only one simple conclusion to make: don’t buy Loxia. But if you want to have 100% control about everything, those Loxias are a dream come thru.

The Loxias not only match the A7x style perfectly, from an aesthetical point of view, they also bring manual shooting ergonomics to a height, never known before. This is thanks to the automatic “VF-zooming” feature, when moving the focus ring (a function that you can turn on/off in the menu), and also thanks to the perfectly designed and smoothly operating focus and aperture rings. They allow almost simultaneous “one finger” ajustment, thus featuring the fastest thinkable way of manual focusing and DOF determining. (Again, read my 2/50 article for more details, please.) The de-click option of the aperture ring (normally in 1/3 stop steps) will in certain ultra-critical situations allow for hyper precise determining of the dof  – of course besides it’s applications for filming, but that’s not my thing. The data exchange between lens and body, necessary to perform the automatic VF zooming, at the same time enables full exif data transmission.
When shooting with a hi-res sensor, like the 36MP one of the A7r, manual shooting is the way to go for critical focusing and, as I said, as well is the electronic viewfinder. The automatic zooming in the VF and the focus peaking add to that and together they make for very precise focusing. When you wanna shoot full frame in this way, with a pretty compact system, there is only one combination today: the A7x and Loxia.

Last advantage of the Loxias, compared to there ZM sisters, is their closer minimal focus distance. For the 2/35 Biogon, this is 30cm, compared to 70cm for the ZM. Big difference!
As a critical remark, again in comparison with ZM, I need to say that the Loxias are bigger (thicker, that is) ànd heavier. This makes your total system less compact than when using ZMs. In my smallest bag, I used to cary three ZM lenses plus body. With Loxia, that’s only two. A bit less compact indeed, but offering a better feeling. I guess this size must be about the ideal compromise between size, weight and ergonomics.

BTW the A7x/Loxia system still has a very big advantage, compared to a DSLR system, in this regard. The handling is still typically that of a handy, compact camera. Compared to a clumsy DSLR with big, heavy lenses, this is heaven on earth to me.

The Loxia 2/35 Biogon performance
Like the 2/50 Planar, this Loxia 2/35 Biogon was derived from its M-mount counterpart, the Biogon 2/35 ZM. But this doesn’t mean at all that it’s just an “adaption” of this lens. No way! Although those two Loxia lenses are admittedly familiar with the ZMs, they are thoroughly reworked. I don’t own the ZM 2/35 Biogon, so I couldn’t make a direct comparison, but I do own both 2/50 Planars (ZM and Loxia) and although there were no optical issues with the ZM Planar on the A7x, I could clearly see the difference in IQ and even in view angle. (Again, read my 2/50 article for details.) The ZM Biogons on the other hand unmistakably pose problems with the A7r: the known corner color shift and smearing. One could work around them and correct a great deal in post production, but franckly, this  was not to be preferred, as I experienced with my ZM 2.8/28 Biogon. So I was very anxious about the Loxia 2/35, when I read, just before its launch at Photokina, that it was going to be a Biogon design. So I went to Photokina, to do a few quick shots – just to see if there was going to be corner problems. In “Testing the Zeiss Loxia, ZM 35 1.4 and Otus lenses on the A7R” (click here to read this article on this website http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/10/03/testing-the-zeiss-loxia-zm-35-1-4-and-otus-lenses-on-the-a7r-by-dirk-de-paepe/) I reported that there was no question of color shift, nor smearing with the 2/35. A great relief that made me order both Loxias right away. But of course, I couldn’t be absolutely conclusive after only a few quick shots. Owning the new 2/35 Biogon for some weeks now, I can report with a bit more background. So let’s go a bit more in detail.

Color shift. There is no color shift what so ever. Never, at no matter what aperture. I can be very conclusive about this. I never noticed the slightest corner color shift in any picture I took. None of my pics in this review were corrected for color shift, not even in the slightest way. So no color shift. Period.

Distortion. There’s no distortion – well, nothing that matters. I add quite some pictures here for this report, with straight lines at the borders. In none of my pics, I performed any compensation for barrel distortion. Zero. So to me, in this regard, the performance is simply perfect. Look for yourself. I have to say that I did as a matter of fact perform quite some test shots with grids, to check for distortion. Well, indeed a few times I noticed a minimum of inverse distortion, barely noticeable though. I think I push it over the edge, to even mention it here. In real life pictures, even the very demanding once like the Station’s front view from behind the window, nobody can or will speak of even the slightest distortion. This is an excellent performance IMO. It makes this lens very suitable for shooting buildings and the like.

unnamed

unnamed

Fringing. OK, there is some fringing, mainly at larger apertures. But it’s very limited and very controllable, should you want to correct it. IMO fringing mainly matters when shooting with large DOF, because then, you want a lot of cleanness and detail on all plans. You’ll find quite some pictures here, that I shot hyperfocally. On my flickr page, you can look at some at full size. I think in this regard, this Biogon’s performance is really amazing. Look for instance at the “Swirl” picture (placed first after the “Detail” paragraph), go to the right upper side to see a zone with great contrasts, very sensitive for fringing. I think the lens’s performance is astonishing here. In another picture, Left Arm (first image after the “Bokeh” paragraph), you can see about the maximum of fringing I got (green fringing here). Of course this was shot at f/2, with very close focusing, so that the out of focus effect was about maximal. It was still pretty easily correctable, but in a bokeh shot, I feel no need to correct any fringing, so what you see is what you get here. And in a third shot, Coffee Addiction (pictured hereunder), also shot at f/2 you get some magenta fringing around the lamps. Well, I don’t feel the need to correct this neither, but again, this can very easily be done, should you want it. So IMO the fringing with this Biogon is very limited, always easily correctable if you’d want, and at larger DOF non-existing or only very slightly visible, and only when looking at 100%. I think this is an excellent performance in this department.

unnamed

Color signature and nuances. This 2/35 Biogon clearly has its own color signature. There’s a kind of slight silky softness in the colors, which goes together with very subtile nuances. An absolute joy to watch, IMO. It’s different than the Planar, that is more cool and strict, always correct and neutral. But I honestly can’t say that the Biogon is incorrect in any way. Of course performing “laboratory test shots”, with the necessary measurements could give more precise information. In real life though, I can only say, those “somewhat silky” colors please me a lot. And, BTW, with very little input, you can correct or change or enhance those colors in any direction you like. Everything you need is there, to be processed in any way you want. In every picture, I could easily get the final look, that I had in mind. One consideration though, when a lens has a specific signature, probably it will be disliked by some – the more by those who are stuck to the signature of another lens that they already own. With every new lens, I’m trying to keep an open mind and see what this lens can do for me. With every picture that I take with this Biogon, I enjoy the aesthetics of the colors, I feel inspired by them and I quickly get the exact image that I want. The words that pop into my mind, thinking about this Biogon’s color signature are: pictorial, subtle, versatile, silky. All are very positive. The latter involves personal taste. I like it very much.

unnamed

unnamed

Detail. In a former article, published on this site, I reported about this lens, after some quick shots at Photokina. I wrote that the 2/35 renders a somewhat softer detail than the Planar. Well, I have to correct this. I guess I was misled by its silkier color signature and because one always get less detail, when shooting out of hand (all shots at Photokina were OOH). I invite you to look in detail to some pics, shot with tripod. Go to my flickr page and select the full size image. You’ll find a “36MP file” indication at the full size pictures. Again, I didn’t perform measurements, but I have the strong impression that this Biogon produces as much detail as the Planar. And (!) it performs even better in the corners – there’s a bit more softening in the very deep corners with the Planar IMO. This was a big surprise to me. Maybe it is a small fraction softer all over, but really, with the bare eye and in normal pictures, like published here, I really couldn’t tell. Maybe it even renders a fraction more. But I càn tell you about the better performance in the corners, although the Planar was already outstanding there. To me it’s clear, detail is no issue at all –  not in the slightest way. Incredible detail, when using a tripod, but also OOH, when taking care, the detail is still pretty amazing. The first picture in this post was shot OOH – you can get a 36MP from my flickr account. BTW, with its closest focusing distance of 30 cm, the minimal FOV can even be smaller than with the Planar, revealing even more detail of a certain object for sure! Regarding detail, this Loxia 2/35 is high class! As good as it gets!

unnamed

Aperture range. We often think about a lens having a sweet spot, i.e. the aperture at which the performance is at its best. The designated way to determine the sweet spot is by performing specific test shots to measure, which I didn’t do. I just took “normal” shots throughout the whole aperture range. But I looked in detail and the results were pretty remarkable. Concerning detail, the 2/35 definitely renders a softer image wide open, at f/2. But already when closing one click (f/2.2), you can see a clear increase of detail. At f/4, you get as much detail as you’ll ever get (looking at 100%). Regarding detail, this stays that way up till f/16. Closing further towards f/22, the diffraction gradually occurs, with some loss of detail. Also the color dynamic range gets a bit poorer. I’d say the dynamic range is virtually optimal as from f/14 and wider. Regarding vignetting, there indeed is some at wide apertures. By f/3.5 I’d say it’s negligible and past f/4 it’s completely gone. As from f/2.8 you can completely correct the vignetting in the Adobe raw-converter, if you’d want. I’d say, the vignetting is never a problem. So what is the sweet spot of this Loxia 2/35? Well, I couldn’t tell. I’d rather speak about a “sweet zone”, that I’d place from f/4 to f/13, with this regard that the outer zones still produce very acceptable IQ, performing ever better than many “classic” lenses. The wideness of this sweet zone really surprised me. This means that I can use this lens at whatever DOF (at f/13 you can have acceptable focus from about 1,5m to infinite) and never have to worry about lesser IQ. Wow!

Large DOF shooting. This lens is really at its best, IMO, when zone focusing or even hyperfocusing. I thank Zeiss for continuing to put a DOF scale on their MF lenses – a great tool for zone and hyperfocusing! With its focal length and speed range, this lens is about ideal for street shooting, IMO. Again, I invite you to look in detail to some of the pictures here, that I shot with large DOF. On my flickr page is indicated which ones are shot with tripod and have a full 36MP resolution. Some of them, like the station front from behind the window (called “Dirty windows”) is a remarkable illustration hereof. This picture was shot a few hours after a melting snow storm. When looking at full size, you can clearly see the dirt that the storm left on the windows in the front plan and at the same time, you get tremendous detail from the station’s facade in the hind plan.
This lens’s ability to render amazing detail with constant clearness from front to hind plan is incredible. Again, I was quite astonished here. I can say it outclasses anything I saw up till now. (Again, I didn’t try every lens on the market, of course.) But what’s remarkable here is that one often (rightfully) speaks about acceptable focus, when talking about hyperfocusing and that some photographers even doubt that hyperfocusing is still possible anyway with a 36MP image, because “acceptible focus” becomes trickier as resolution increases – something I experienced clearly when upgrading from a 24 to a 36MP sensor. But this Biogon surprised me again! Indeed, I could realize pictures that showed clear detail all over – with no visible loss in IQ throughout the plans, even when looking at 100%. Simply jawdropping!

Smearing.This is really non existing. When I’m absolutely critical, I think I can see a very, ever so slight softening in the deepest corners, and only when looking at full size, like I mentioned above. I feel almost ashamed to mention this. Either way, I now of no lens that performs better in this department (of course I didn’t try all possible lenses). But smearing, I just don’t see any, up till the very tip of the corners. IMO, this performance is no less than Otus level. A big, very pleasant surprise to me, after what we’ve seen from the ZM Biogons. Also the Leica 2/35 Summicron, that I owned for a while, performed really not good in this department (on my A7r, that is) – that’s why I sold it.

Bokeh. Let’s be clear. This is no bokeh monster. It’s just not that kind of lens. Wide angle and f/2, what do you expect?! If you really want to create and explicit bokeh with this 2/35, you need to focus very close (or very far with very close OOF objects). But when you really go for it, like in the “Left Arm” and “Coffee Addiction” pictures, you get a really beautiful and soft bokeh IMO, both in front and hind. I believe it’s even softer than the Planar’s. But again, you really need to go looking for the right circumstances to achieve this. And in my kind of shooting, the bokeh is always a result, not a goal. BTW, even at f/2, the detail is not bad at all, as you can see, when looking at the next two pictures in full size, via my flickr account.

unnamed

unnamed

Low light and artificial light shots. I wanna talk about this for two reasons. First, low light almost automatically means artificial light. And artificial light implies specific white balance. When it gets dark, the Antwerp Central Station is illuminated by many different kinds of light, each requiring a specific white balance. Some of the shots combine different light sources in one picture. Colors created by artificial light are different from daylight colors, but still they require a correct white balance to make them look right. Therefore a specific post processing was mandatory for those picture, and to perform this, the basic material, provided by the raw-file, must be of good quality. Well, the files that the Biogon/A7r provided me, gave me the impression that I could do whatever I wanted. What a joy to work with! Oh, and another thing that I wanted to do, was showing the high ISO capabilities of the A7r. I’d like to illustrate this with “Evening Hall” (next picture). This was shot at 4000 ISO. After some processing, I reduced the file to 66%, ending up with a 16MP file (still 4MP more than what the A7s delivers!) and I must say that I’m very pleased with the result – cleanness, detail and overall rendering. I hope you understand why I prefer the A7r above the A7s, offering me the best of both worlds. On my flickr page, you can see this picture in full 16MP format.

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

Black and White. Concerning black and white shooting, let me first tell you that I deliberately had to decide to add some B&W pictures here, because in every shot, I loved the colors that much, that I just wanted to keep them. Of course, when you intentionally go shooting for B&W pictures, this is another matter, but I didn’t do that for this review – I was just trying out my newest lens. :-) Anyway, IMO, when shooting for B&W with a color sensor, you first need to get a good color balance, before converting the picture to B&W. The files you get from this Loxia 2/35 are a pleasure to work with, also in this regard.

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

The figures

The Zeiss online lens shop announces this Loxia 2/35 Biogon for €1149,- which is considerably more than the €849,- for the Loxia 2/50 Planar. But this difference is well justified, because the Biogon features 9 elements in 6 groups, whereas the Planar 6 elements in 4 groups. Nevertheless, the Biogon weighs a bit less: 320gr instead of 340gr for the Planar. This is probably due to the lens elements being a lot smaller in diameter and probably also in thickness. I don’t know if the lens shade, obviously being shorter for a wider angle lens, place a roll herein a well. Measurements are the same: 66x62mm, caps included.

Conclusion

Like with the Loxia 2/50 Planar (and I’m sure this will count for all future Loxias), it’s a tremendous joy to shoot with this Loxia 2/35 Biogon. Thanks to its great ergonomics and advanced features, it really accomplishes what I call “modern manual focusing”. In combination with the A7x, this is a wonderful and very powerful performance machine for so many different kinds of shooting. But I’m convinced that Zeiss mainly had the kind of photographer in mind, that takes profit from a compact camera. The OOH street shooter is probably the stereotype hereof. Although I wouldn’t be surprised when the wonderful colors would convert quite some B&W shooters.  :-) Thanks to its compact size, out of hand street shooting is a great joy, as I said. This is probably the most handy combination on the market today for this kind of shooting, but at the same time it offers a remarkable IQ, at a surprisingly wide aperture range. So this is also a great choice for tripod work. This Biogon reveals itself in that case as a very precise tool with a very beautiful color palette and a personal signature, that I love.
I am so very glad that I immediately ordered this Loxia 2/35 Biogon!

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

Shooting at the Antwerp Central Station

For this article, I gave myself an assignment: making a kind of pictural essay of the Antwerp Central Train Station. So all shots were taken of or in the station building. I like working at assignments and thought this was a nice one. Indeed, Antwerp Central is one of greatest stations in the world.
The original building of the Antwerp Central Station was constructed between 1895 and 1905 as a terminal train station. The hall is 75m (246 ft) high, while the tracks and platforms are covered by a vast iron and glass trainshed of 185m (607 ft) long and 44m (144 ft) high. The complex has for more than a century been regarded as one of the finest examples of railway architecture in Europe. Between 1998 and 2007, large scale reconstruction works converted the station from a terminus to a through station, allowing high-speed trains to frequent Antwerp Central without the need to turn around. To accomplish this goal, a tunnel has been excavated under the station and a good part of the city, with added platforms on two underground levels. A central pit under the glass roof brings daylight to the underground platforms. Since the reconstruction, the station has 14 tracks and 4 levels. Today the Antwerp Central Station is an even more impressive infrastructure than it has been in the last century. In 2009 the American magazine Newsweek judged it the world’s fourth greatest train station and, according to the Brittish/American newssite Mashable, it’s even the most beautiful train station in the world. That aside, to me it’s as impressive as it is beautiful and a real “feel-good” place. If you ever can spare some time in Belgium, I advice you to make a train trip from Antwerp to Liege, to visit two exceptional stations.

unnamed

unnamed

Feb 122015
 

Canon 6D Long Term User Report

eos6d_f3

 

By Jonathan Acierto

This is a long term review for the Canon 6D DSLR.  If that first sentence didn’t lose you, then please read on!  I know mirrorless/ILC/whatever you call them are the rage nowadays and truth be told, I did consider switching from my Canon DSLRs to one of the new fangled camera systems.  But I decided to stick with the Canon DSLR system for a number of reasons, all of which boil down to two: money and familiarity.  It was much cheaper for me to trade in my crop sensor DSLRs (Rebel T1i and 50D) and crop sensor lenses to get a Canon 6D.  I kept my EF lenses (24-105mm f/4L, 50mm f/1.4USM, 28mm f/1.8USM, and 40mm f/2.8STM) which were compatible with full frame.  And my fingers are used to Canon’s controls and menu system.  I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of learning another company’s control and menu quirks, and I wanted to get to taking photos right away.
unnamed

I’m also a musician and own a number of acoustic and electric guitars and an electric bass.  Whenever I get a new instrument, it takes a lot of time to get to know the instrument well enough to play it and make it sound its best.  There’s a lot of experimentation with string gauges, finding dead spots on the fingerboard, adjusting volume and tone knobs on the instrument and on the amplifier, adjusting string height at the saddles, etc.  But once you learn all the instrument’s quirks, you can make great music with it, even with its perceived limitations.  I tend to think the same way about cameras.  For me, it takes time to learn how the camera settings interact with the buttons, the way the light meter reads the scene I’m photographing, the lag of the shutter when you press the shutter button, the way noise looks in both dark and bright scenes, dynamic range of the sensor in dark and light scenes, the way different lenses interact with the camera both operationally and optically, etc, etc.  There are just too many variable to mention, but when you’ve had enough time with a camera, you instinctively learn how to get the best photos from it.

unnamed

After a year and a half with the Canon 6D, I’m really enjoying it as a photo making tool.  Here are my thoughts about the 6D in no particular order.
-I used to worry about taking photos at ISO 1600 and higher, but with the 6D, I no longer worry about noise at all.  Photos I take at ISO 12800 look cleaner than photos I took with the 50D or Rebel T1i at ISO 1600.  In good light, there’s really no discernible quality difference between the 6D and the crop sensor DSLRs I traded in, which is no surprise considering I’m using the same lenses.

unnamed

-There is definitely a noticeable difference in-depth of field between the 6D and the crop sensor DSLRs.  On average, to my eye there’s about a stop of difference.  Photos taken with the crop sensor DSLRs at f/2.8 are roughly equivalent to the 6D photos taken at f/4.  I say roughly because the difference in-depth of field is more or less noticeable depending on lens focal length, distance to subject, how busy the background is, etc.
-It’s nice to have a digital 35mm field of view to match the field of view I get with my 35mm film DSLR and rangefinder.  I’m getting a better feel for how the focal lengths actually look before I put the camera up to my eye, whereas I had to keep in mind the crop factor of about 1.6 changed the feel of the focal lengths on the Rebel T1i and 50D.

unnamed

I still use the half-press method of focusing and the shutter button on the 6D doesn’t have as good of a half-press feel compared to the Rebel T1i and 50D.  This annoyed me at first and I would miss shots, but once I got used to the feel of the shutter button and learned where exactly the half press starts and stops, it doesn’t annoy me as much anymore.

unnamed

I used to use a battery grip all the time with my DSLRs, partly to double my battery capacity, and partly for the convenience of a vertical shutter button for taking portraits.  Since the 6D has such great battery life, I’ve stopped using a battery grip on a regular basis.  The only time I use the battery grip nowadays is when I know I’ll need the vertical shutter button for portraits, and even then, I only put 1 battery in the grip to keep weight down.

My style of shooting has changed over the years.  With the crop sensor cameras, I had preferred using zooms lenses or the 28mm prime, which is more of a “normal” focal length lens on the crop sensor bodies.  With the 6D, I have switched to mostly using prime lenses of moderate to semi wide focal lengths.  As I mentioned above, I have a couple of Canon USM lenses and a Canon STM lens.  The USM lenses are small and light and focus quickly.  Sure, they’re not quite as “good” as Canon L lenses, but they’re more than good enough for my use.  I’m more interested in capturing moments and less interested in ultimate IQ (whatever that may be).  The lens I really love using is the 40mm f/2.8 STM, which is a tiny pancake lens, dirt cheap at $150, and weighs almost nothing.  When I have it on the 6D, it feels almost like just having a body cap on the camera.  It’s incredibly sharp wide open and although it’s a little slower to focus compared to the USM lenses, it’s plenty fast enough for capturing my little kids as they play.

unnamed

The focusing system of the 6D isn’t as sophisticated as other newer DSLRs (or mirrorless cameras for that matter), but I find it’s more than adequate for me.  The number of focusing points is the same between the Rebel T1i, 50D, and 6D, so I really didn’t have to adjust my style of shooting at all.  If a shot is out of focus, it’s most likely my technique and not the camera.  What’s really great with the 6D is that it has the ability to focus down to -3EV (same spec as the much-lauded Sony a7S), so I can take photos at night with nothing more than moonlight and street lamps and the camera will have no problem focusing.

unnamed

Sorry for such a long post, I’ll get to the real reason you’re still here, which is to look at some photos.  Enjoy!

To see more of my photography, please visit my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/samuraislice/sets/

Jonathan V. Acierto

Feb 112015
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nature Photography with Olympus OM-D E-M1

By Albert Lowe

Hi Steve, thanks for this opportunity!! Love your website, very informative camera and lens reviews. Keep up the good work.

I started photography when I’m in junior high school, at first I was just shooting for families, friends, and events. Yeah, those kinds of stuff. But then a professional photographer inspired me to do more and teaches me the basics of photography. From an ordinary student that pretty much play games everyday now loves to viewing pictures, I found a passion that changed my life completely, it’s called PHOTOGRAPHY.

My first camera given by my dad is an Olympus PEN E-P2. It’s simple to use and perfect for starters. I spent 1 year with it, learning, practicing. Love this camera. Had good memories, and bad ones too. In 2012, Olympus announced a new mirrorless camera called the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I bought it and wohoooo!!!! An awesome camera!! Yeah!! Small, awesome IQ, fast AF, well worth the money. I love the kit lens, not because of the quality, but because of the macro feature. Because of that lens I can do macro photography and quickly I fell in love with macro. Spent 1 year too with the E-M5, then comes the Olympus OM-D E-M1. After some thought and conversation with my parents… JUST SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!! I sold my Olympus PEN E-P2, OM-D E-M5, my dad’s old Canon EOS 50D to get the E-M1 and the awesome kit lens, the 12-40mm f/2.8.

The day before I buy this camera, I was very excited. So excited that I smiled almost every time at school, even my teachers and friends thought I’m crazy. The next day, I have the E-M1 on my hands. I don’t think I have to tell my feelings, I’m pretty much sure you guys know already…. Anyway, it’s been 1 year I shoot with the E-M1 and I’m going to share my thoughts, experiences with the camera, what I like and dislike, suggestions for the new E-M1 MKII. Oh and yeah, I’m also gonna compare the E-M1 with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, I had the chance of using it with the 24-70 f/2.8 , 70-200 f/2.8, and 100mm macro L lenses. I usually shoot with RAW files as it gives me the extra quality and the extra editing capabilities for post-processing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What are my thoughts? (In general)

The E-M1 is simply a fantastic camera. An improvement from the E-M5 in many ways.

Here are the improvements I noticed from the E-M5:

1. The grip is very comfortable
2. Although it’s larger and heavier than the E-M5, it’s still small
3. The AF is improved and quicker, especially with the 12-40mm lens
4. 5-axis IS is updated!!! Yeah well… Let’s just be honest, it’s an overpowered feature
5. FOCUS PEAKING!!!!
6. FPS is quicker, making continuous shots more better
7. Timelapse, although i don’t use that feature a lot but it’s nice
8. EVF is much more enjoyable and more durable
9. And so on
10. Still, the E-M5 is a fantastic camera.

I’m pretty much a guy that loves nature, so i really like photography that has something to do with nature (Wildlife, landscape, etc.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, what’s it like to shoot wild life with the E-M1?

Most of my wildlife shots are with the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens & the Olympus FL-600R flash , some uses
the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens. (Seriously, can’t wait to try the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens)

Here are my thoughts:

1) The camera is small, so carrying it for photo shoot is very comfortable. I never feel tired of carrying that camera
2) The AF rocks, but in macro photography sometimes i prefer to use manual focus because sometimes the AF hunts
for seconds. But still, AF is usable in macro photography. As for other wildlife shots i use AF and it’s a 99% chance of
always getting the right focus.
3) The IS helps a lot, it stabilise the Live View for a much convenient shot and helps reduce the shake
4) Weather shield helps a lot, you’ll wish every camera and lens has it
5) I usually don’t exceed ISO more than 400, but sometimes I did surpass to ISO 1000 or even higher. The IQ is still good.
As long as the light is supportive.
6) Focus peaking helps a lot. Making manual focus much more easier.
7) I find that the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO can actually take close-up shots pretty well too. Perfect lens all
around for the E-M1

I have an experience in wildlife photography. I was going on a trip to the Thousand Island in Indonesia. Most of my shots are from my GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition because the main activity is snorkling. But somehow on that island, there is a goat. Yeah, a goat. And it’s a crazy one. Always running and trying to ram someone like a bull. I wanted to get a shot of it with the E-M1 but it flee already. I decided to track it down but my friends tell me to just give up. But I didn’t mind their comments and headed for the goat with or without my friends help. After 2 minutes of searching, I found it. But when it sees me he fled slowly so i follow it. After a while, it finally settles down and started to get curious of what I am. And then what happened? It walks slowly toward me. I also went closer to the goat so I can shoot closer. I quickly take my E-M1 and shoot it. Most of the shots are close-up because it really is close to me, I could even touch it. The results are wonderful and very rewarding. From that day, I believe that patience, will, and the guts to shoot the animal from a close distance will create outstanding pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suggestions for wildlife photography with the E-M1?

1) For macro, a flash such as the Olympus FL-600R is a MUST. A flash ring is even better. Flash can make a really huge
difference as it produces more light to increase the aperture number, reveal more details, pop those hidden colours, and that’s what macro photography needs.

2) Gather some guts and shoot closer to the animal. I find that shooting closer to animals produces better result almost all
the time. The E-M1 size is also an advantage for shooting closely as it’s appearance is not as bulky as DSLRs that can
scare animals easily when get closely.

3) Maximize the usage of the tilt flip screen. You might have to shoot at low angle when photograph an animal and that
feature helps a lot especially in macro photography

4) Don’t forget to customise those Fn buttons. I set Fn1 button for ISO setting and Fn2 button of magnification. It’s a really
handy feature and you can quick changes without having to press the OK button

5) When taking pictures of an animal(s), don’t just take one photo but dozens. You don’t know what that animal will do later
after you take several shots. I usually find that my 10th picture is better than the first one because i constantly change
the focal length, composition, and angles. The expression of the animal can also change and make the shots completely
different.

6) Try do macro shots after raining. You’ll feel the magic of water droplets on the insects or spider web as you shoot it with
a macro lens and a flash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And now, for landscape photography. My thoughts with the E-M1? (My combo: E-M1 w/ M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO

Lens, polariser filter, Grad ND filter, SLIK travel tripod)

1) The size of the E-M1 is small and carrying it is very easy. I’ll explain more later with my experience.
2) The IQ is good for landscape photography
3) Focus peaking really does help when I’m shooting in manual focus for landscapes
4) Weather shield makes the E-M1 very durable and I’m not afraid of getting the camera wet from the rain
5) The dynamic range of the E-M1 is great actually for a four thirds sensor. I can recover lots of highlighted/shadowed
details
6) Sometimes, I shoot stars and milky way with the E-M1. Which means the usage of high ISOs (1000-2000). I kinda feel
the lack of quality compared to the other cameras, but it’s still good though. A couple of smart noise reduction can do the
trick or do the image stacking technique.
7) I find that the usage of the Olympus Imaging App can be useful as a remote shutter. I like it. The connection is fast too.
8) Live Time is the most overpowered BULB mode ever!!!! So as Live composite. You can see the process of the image
while on BULB mode. As far as I know, only Olympus cameras can do this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suggestions for landscape photography with the E-M1?

1) LIGHT. M4/3 cameras can produce FF quality images if the light conditions are favourable. Pick the right time for the
shot you want. It’s not surprising for a landscape photographer to wake up at 04:00 a.m just to get the right shot with
the right light.

2) I suggest to use the E-M1 w/ the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens for landscape because of it’s light size and
outstanding IQ. The focal length is also very useful not just for landscapes but for human interest too. But, if you really
want something more light and comfortable with the usage of prime lens, then go for the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f/2.0 or Leica Summilux 15mm f1.7 or Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8. The size of these prime lenses are very very small that you
can even fit it with the E-M1 with a waist bag. But keep in mind that those lenses are not weather shield so be careful
when shooting.

3) Your E-M1 is very sturdy thanks to that weather shield. Take advantage of it. You don’t have to worry about taking a shot
when it’s raining.

4) Always have more than 2 E-M1 batteries with you. Due to the low temperature, batteries tend to drop faster at the top
of the mountain. Use silica gel or warm cloth to protect your batteries.

5) Always don’t forget to bring your camera and lens cleaning kit, a lens pen might do at least. You don’t want your shots to
be dirty just because you forgot to clean the lens. Beware of dirty sensors too. It’s a pain in the ass to see pictures with
slight black dots because there’s a huge dust on the sensor. Because the E-M1 don’t have a mirror on the front of the
sensor, the chance of a dust to enter the sensor is larger than DSLRs.

6) Hiking with a fellow M4/3 user is always a good idea as you can learn much more stuff and tips to get awesome photos
with an Olympus or Panasonic cameras.

7) Take advantage of the Olympus Image App, use it as a remote shutter so you don’t have to touch your camera for
changing the settings.

8) If you’re going to hike a tall mountain, I suggest you to hire a porter (Supportmen that helps you carry your supplies).
Ask for their help to carry your other supplies such as tent, food, etc. so you can focus to carry your own camera or
maybe grab a snapshot without have to worry you might get tired because of carrying the other heavy equipments.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is an important experience that changed my photography life forever:

I had once an experience in landscape shooting. In May 2013, I took a flight from Jakarta, my hometown, to Lombok, an
island near Bali, to climb Mount Rinjani (3625 dpl i think. It’s the second tallest active volcano in Indonesia). The mountain is known for its beauty scenery. The sky is awesome, the lake is awesome, the hot spring is awesome (If you’re going to Rinjani, I suggest to try the hot springs, it’s very very relaxing and worth your time.)

The camera of choice? Canon EOS 5D Mark II w/ 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm, and 135mm f/2.0. I also bring the Manfrotto tripod 484RC2, several filters, additional batteries, and so on. All carried in a Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW. The total weight of all of them when i checked at the airport? 8kg!!!! That’s even heavier than my friends normal carrier. Back then, I believe that the 16-35mm would be awesome for the ultra wide shoot, 24-70mm for standard shots, and 135mm for human interest photography.

Sounds cool right? 3 L lens with a full frame body. But in reality, IT’S NOT!!! My camera bag is so so so heavy that I become too tired of carrying my carrier (Main backpack for hiking) and my camera bag. When I reach the campsite, I didn’t take my camera out. Why? Because I’m so tired. My will to shoot has gone. All i wanted is to sleep. ZZZZzzz I immediately regret my decision. I should have just bring the E-M5 w/ the 12-50mm (I still didn’t bought the E-M1 yet). Instead of cool landscape shots, I only shoot human interests back when I’m on the mountain. But I did create some good shots though after I decent from the mountain and went to a local beach.

In June 2014, I’m back to that mountain and this time I bring the E-M1 with the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO and the SLIK travel tripod. It’s so light that I can move much faster, my will to shoot is raging and burns to get those beautiful shots, and I feel like a boss. Because I feel more energetic and not tired, my shots are better too. The conditions are better to actually The tripod is also very light compared to my heavy Manfrotto for the 5D Mark II. Oh and by the way, the E-M1 is so small that I didn’t bring my big Lowepro bag instead i put in my waist bag, and it fits!!

Once when I was in junior high, I was a Canon fanboy that pretty much say “Nikon sucks!!” to my friends (I’m trying to be honest here). I believe that Canon is the most superior camera system in the world. However, due to the Mount Rinjani incident, somewhat I kinda “hate” my 5D Mark II and started to realise that all cameras are actually good and the act of being a fanboy is omg… so embarrassing. I realised that those type of acts are the ones that destroyed the photography community, newcomers will feel very uncomfortable with these kinds of act. Nowadays, I never dislike camera brands. I like all of them. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic, etc… They created wonderful cameras. Remember, it’s the one that behind the camera that matters, the PHOTOGRAPHERS.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, here’s what I like about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 in general:

1) Great build quality

2) So many awesome features

3) Menu system (Now the Olympus OM-D menu system is considered by many as hard. I admit when using it the first time I was confused. But after a month using it and learned the menu, I think that the menu is actually functional and awesome)

4) 5-axis IS is great. And over powered also. Why? Think of it. Every single lens attached to the E-M1 has an IS although it
actually don’t have one. Because of the in-body IS, Olympus can create awesome lens with much cheaper price because
all of their lenses don’t need IS, the iS is in the body. In my country, the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS is more expensive than the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens just because the Panny have an IS that increased the price.

5) Outstanding overall image quality and dynamic range

6) AF is fast, really fast even

7) Awesome EVF, feels more comfortable than an OVF in my opinion

8) The fps is fast

9) The camera is very responsive

10) The one thing that make me love this camera so much: The SIZE. IT’S SMALL!!!

11) Small sensor. Now this is actually what I like and dislike. Due to the smaller sensor, the body can be smaller and so the
lens too. Which means more convenience for shooting.

12) Many customisable buttons

13) The buttons are big and very comfortable

14) Weather shield is a beast

15) Live bulb and Live Time (Live composite can be upgraded to the E-M1 with firmware update) is no damn nice!!!

16) All Olympus lenses are full-time MF lenses

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s what I don’t like about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 in general:

1) Battery is kinda not that strong, I know it’s a general problem for a mirrorless camera but still, it’s kinda annoying.

2) I don’t know if you guys have this issue or not, if you playback an image, sometimes the image is pixelated when zoomed
in on the camera’s LCD. But when imported to the computer, the image is normal, no pixelated problem.

3) Low light. I feel that the biggest weakness of M4/3 cameras compared to APS-C cameras is the low light capability. I’m
not saying that the E-M1’s low light is awful but it’s just lacking. They should focus on improving the sensor’s low light
performance.

4) Small sensor. Now this is actually what I like and dislike. Due to the smaller sensor, I get less DoF. But that’s not much
of a problem for me, I can bear with it. The issue is that smaller sensors can’t handle high ISO very well compared to
APS-Cs and Full Frame cameras.

5) Video mode. I know it has nothing to do with photography, but nowadays, many photographers are interested in
videography. One of those interested in videography is me. It’s kinda sucks that for a $1500 camera you get only
1080p 30fps. I really wish that they give RAW video mode and 24fps. 4K is not necessary yet but it’ll be awesome.
But at least they improved the video in the E-M5 Mark II. I’m very happy about that.

6) The price.. I think it’s kinda too high or maybe that’s just my country. Inflation is so high. Gotta move to USA as fast as I
can.

7) So mmmm…. Yeah i think that’s the only thing I found problematic about this camera

And now, it’s time for E-M1 Vs 5D Mark II based on my experience using it (M4/3 Vs Full frame):

1) Build quality: Both of them are great

2) Size: Without doubt the E-M1 is much smaller and I like it. The 5D Mark II is just a big beast that can cause my arms to
feel tired after 1 week of using it.

3) Handling: The E-M1 is smaller and I like it better than the 5D Mark II. But it depends on people though, because some
actually prefer larger cameras because it has larger grip that fits with their hands.

4) AF: Easy. E-M1 wins, the 5D Mark II isn’t designed for fast AF, it’s more about getting that superb IQ for it’s class back
when it’s released. But the 5D Mark II’s AF is still usable especially put in some high quality L series lenses such as the
24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 L. I also find that the AF system in DSLRs are better for shooting sports so I
actually use the 5D Mark II for sports instead of the E-M1 (REMEMBER: I haven’t tried the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens yet.
maybe that lens can transform my E-M1 into a better sport camera than my Canon). But if your gonna go sport
photography, don’t use 5D cameras, use 7D or 1D cameras.

5) Low light: The 5D is better in my opinion due to the larger sensor. I even once shoot with ISO 25600 on a concert.
Although the low light performance isn’t that great nowadays but it’s good actually back in 2008 when it’s first released.

6) IQ: Actually I see almost no difference but it’s just that the 5D has higher resolution so yeah the 5D wins but seriously,
the E-M1 can catch up and even better than the 5D Mark II as long as the light is enough.

7) Features: The E-M1 wins because the controls are better and besides, it’s a newer camera than the 5D Mark II.

8) DoF control: The 5D obviously wins due to the full frame sensor so creating bokeh pictures is easier with the 5D. But still
the E-M1 can create bokeh pictures too. Give it a fast lens and you can still create a bokeh picture with the E-M1.

9) VF: I find EVF (E-M1) to be more useful compared to OVF (5D Mark II), the EVF of the E-M1 is very responsive and
overall I prefer the EVF rather than the OVF. But OVFs are still very responsive and more natural looking.

10) Video: 5D wins. 1080p with 24fps is available. Olympus only has 30fps. The only thing that I like about the Olympus
for video is the 5-axis IS. It’s very well stabilised, and not all Canon lenses have OIS. But in the end… When you shoot
a film, gimbals are much more useful and create better results in terms of quality and stabilisation than normal IS.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suggestions for a new E-M1 MKII camera:

1) Video update please: 1080p that can do 24, 25, 30, 50, 60 or even 120 fps. RAW video. 2.7K can also be a nice upgrade

2) More Fn buttons please. Loved them

3) I’m really interest with the High-Res shot of the E-M5 Mark II. Try improve it and put it to the new E-M1

4) 5-axis IS improved please, make it 6-stop if possible :D Pretty much sure almost every photographer will be astonished with that.

5) AF system that can actually shoot better in sports, would really appreciate that.

6) Improve the battery life

7) Low light performance must be improved and make a big difference than the first E-M1. With that, I’m pretty much sure everyone will be interested with the new E-M1

8) Focus peaking can be actually used while recording on video

So yeah that’s it. Thanks for reading!!! The Olympus OM-D E-M1 will always be my main camera unless there’s an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II coming out :)

You can buy the E-M1 at B&H Photo HERE, or Amazon HERE

Pre Order the new E-M5II at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE

Feb 102015
 

Second go with the Leica M Monochrom

By Chris H

Not long ago, I published my first blog post via stevehuffphoto.com (Many thanks to Steve for sharing my write up) about my first serious experience with the Leica M Monochrom + Vintage LTM lenses in Paris.

leica-ralph-gibson-m-monochrom-4-650x433-c

The Leica M Monochrom has definitely sparked my passion for black and white photography.  I love shooting in black and white but was never as motivated until owning the Leica M Monochrom.  One of the main reasons is because the Leica M Monochrom leaves me no alternatives but to shoot in black and white.  There were times that I struggled to generate great black and white frames but the more I struggled, the harder I pushed myself.  I love keeping myself at the limit because that’s where you unleash your full potential.  Some people might ask why did I not keep a color camera in hand but that is because I like to be completely focused on the one thing I wish to master.  From time to time I seek challenges, keeping myself out of the comfort zone is a method to achieve improvement.

Tokyo, Japan is one of my favourite capitals as it has some of the most astonishing architecture, countless vintage camera stores and of course Japanese food allowing me to enjoy more than 3 meals per day.  Being a frequent traveller, I am always impressed by what I see but to also be able to capture it exactly as how I felt at that moment is not easy.  Often one perfect frame which I already have in mind will take quite long to reproduce through my camera and lens.  This time I have decided to explore a very unfamiliar focal length – 21mm   Knowing that it might not be easy to use since the Leica M 21 F/1.4 ASPH is not a shift lens (I love lenses with shift movement for shooting architecture / landscape) plus the widest focal length I experienced is 28mm.  Being a first timer with the 21mm I had this fear which I might not able to cope with such wide perspective in such a short matter of time.  Finder choice, I picked the Universal Wide-angle Viewfinder.  Yes, not many people like it due to the look, plus it adds weight and size to the M but for me I value its practicality..  It is bright, like a TV screen and features that beloved leveler.  The leveler is a star because I dislike correcting perspective in post-production; dragging or cropping pixels are never a good thing.  For a filter option, I went for a normal UV MRC by B+W which I did not prefer too much and would have loved to have a yellow filter (rarely in stock in Hong Kong) for boosting the shadow detail a little.

First location – Tokyo International Forum

This is a masterpiece location which I visited as part of an architectural tour almost 10 years ago.  There are only bits and pieces in my memory which I can recall unfortunately.  Being able to return and appreciate this beauty after so long has made me very emotional.  The camera was kept in the bag for the first 45 minutes or so after arriving on site. I just wanted to focus on enjoying the atmosphere and every bit of detail like the materials, shape and structure which formed this amazing art piece.  As time went on, the sun found its way out of the clouds.  I have noticed some amazing shadows being cast on the ground through the curtain wall and roof structures.  Walking up and down, standing and kneeling.  People at the Tokyo International Forum must have thought I am a strange person but I could not care less because I knew that there was not much time left for me to enjoy this ultimate wonderland and to make the most of it, I had to focus.  As a first timer to the 21mm the final images are very encouraging; I am pretty much in love with this focal length.

Understand one thing, shooting a non Tilt-shift ultra wide forces you to work harder on composition.  The Leica M 21 F1.4 Summilux Asph is extremely sharp even at wide open (if you own a good copy); to me, stopping down is for extra depth of view plus getting rid of the slight vignette.  There is a bit of pincushion distortion at the edges but is totally acceptable as such fast aperture ultra wide is not easy to design.  Running the lens profile option through Lightroom 4 can correct the distortion instantly.

Second Location – Tokyo Sky Deck

An awesome location that allows you to capture Tokyo’s skyline and sunset without having massive glass windows in front killing the image quality!  Even though you are not that into photography, it is a great location to spend an afternoon with your loved ones.  As the sun goes down, seeing Tokyo lighting up slowly, the atmosphere is just incredible.  If you want a good spot, please be sure you arrive early because there were plenty of photographers that were already there in the early afternoon.

Pre-Owned Leica items

Thanks to the super guide by Tokyo camera style, I was able to check out a few vintage camera stores around Tokyo.  Price wise was not very attractive but you can always find mint to like new condition items in Japan. Therefore if you are looking for collector grade items, Japan is the place to go!

http://kenshukan.net/john/archives/2013/12/26/tokyo-photo-travel-guide-part-2-shinjuku-camera-shop-walk/

I could never get enough of Tokyo.  Revisiting is the only option!

I hope you all enjoy the images. Please be sure to leave any comments and feedback by either emailing me or leaving me a message on my Facebook page! Thank you!

Instagram: FotografiePorter

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FotografiePorter

Website:  www.FotografiePorter.com

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

Feb 092015
 

year

Year of the Cat with Micro 4/3

by Pierre Arden

Yeah, I know what you want to say: “Cat pictures are boring. They are for amateurs with mobile phones. A cat pictures can never be considered as art.”

Is this really true? Cats are probably the most photographed creatures on earth and there must be a reason for that. Yes, they are cute. But as an owner of two cats I can tell they are so much more and it’s up to you to show that through the lens.

Disclaimer: Yes, I like dogs, too – I even make pictures of them, but cats are more mysterious and I am attracted to them a little more. Sorry dog lovers / cat haters ;).

So given the millions of cat pictures out there, how can one try to create some unique and inspirational cat photos? Well, I always try to “read” the cat and make pictures according to the character. It’s much easer if you have a bond of course or at least some street cat has an affection to you so being good with cats is a big plus (and a good way to have a chance to get near them).

Indoor cats

But let’s start with my own cats: Of course I know them very well so I try to show some different sides of them which make them unique to me. McLovin (I know, the name…) is an impressive British Shorthair tom who can look like a boss but on the other hand also be very cute and persuasive when it comes to his favorite food. So most of the time he is lying around, making the room look nicer. So I use a longer focal length like my 45mm (90mm equivalent) on the Olympus PEN E-P5 or the OM-D EM-1. That lens is not to long for indoor shots if you don’t want much of the surrounding on the picture. I also used the Sony NEX 5r with the 50mm prime lens (75mm equivalent) in the past.

Since these cats trust me it’s easy to get near and make pictures so it’s always fun to use a fisheye lens with a short minimum focus distance for some nice close-up shots.

Wanda, my second cat, is more active than McLovin is – she is a Savannah so there are some wild cat genes left in her. Due to that I make pictures of her on the balcony or while playing fetch with me. I have a good view on the Frankfurt skyline so it’s possible include some nice background in the shots. She is very curious so there are lots of nice opportunities to make interesting pictures of her.

Before I talk about outdoor cats in the next part let’s see some pictures on Wanda and McLovin:

01_cat_personality

02_cat_personality

03_cat_personality

04_cat_personality

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

07_cat_personality

08_cat_personality

09_cat_personality

10_cat_personality

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Street cats

It’s more difficult to capture pictures of street cats. It’s often not possible to get near if they are shy and since you don’t know them and probably can’t spend much time with them you have no chance to get very deep into their character. I often use a longer lens like the brilliant M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 (150mm equivalent) on the Olympus E-M1 for some nice portraits. In this case I try to be on eye level with the cats to make them look more impressive, a tiltable screen on the camera helps a lot in this case. If you are lucky, you have nice surroundings you can include in the pictures, in this case I use a wider angle like the M.Zuiko 9-18mm (18-36 equivalent).

It can be very interesting to spot street cats in their areas and on my vacations I always look for some cats to make a scene more interesting. A cat makes every picture better ;).

In the following examples you can see some cats I met in Malta, Sicily, Portugal and Kyoto. Some of them were very shy, some were very relaxed (like the little cat in Malta):

12_cat_personality

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

26_cat_personality

Macro

A macro lens is a good chance to capture some of the amazing details a cat body has to offer. It’s not easy because you need to get very near and movement often makes the pictures unusable (and you don’t want to use flash on a cat eye!). The results are worth it though, I use the the M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens from time to time to get a closer look at my cats. See some examples:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are more ways to create nice cat pictures that stand out from all the mobil phone pictures out there but I think this is enough for some inspiration. You can see my complete set of cat pictures by following the link below:

http://www.ultraweit-verwinkelt.net/Galleries/Cats/

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions, thanks for your attention!

The Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I live in Frankfurt, Germany and when I’m not working in a bank I am a passionate travel photographer. You can see more of my pictures on my homepage www.ultraweit-verwinkelt.net where you can find pictures of Japanese cities like Tokyo, Nara and Koyasan as well as other places around the world (and pictures of cats, cats are important…). All photos are also available as prints and for licensing.

Homepage: www.ultraweit-verwinkelt.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ultraweitverwinkelt
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pierreaden/
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/110027262868810382651/

Feb 092015
 

The Fuji X-Pro 1..My “Soulmate” Camera

by Christina Davis

Thank you for letting me share, once again, with the readers here on this site. I am a Fujifilm camera user (X-Photographer wannabe….I can dream, can’t I?). I sold off all of my DSLR equipment and the XPro1 was my main camera. Like many Fuji enthusiasts I, too, got one of the X-T1 cameras when they came out. While I was less than thrilled with the form, the performance was as described and I happily shot away with it all spring and summer this year. In fact, the XPro1 was gathering dust and as August rolled around, I was considering letting it go. As I thought it over I remembered one photo I took this summer with it. On an outing to The Huntington in Pasadena, California, I took the XT1 and the XPro1. I put on the 18mm lens on the XPro1 “just in case”. Well, this is the photo I made with that “just in case” set up:

cldavis1

That picture drew me in – it spoke to me, if you will. The tones I got out of the XPro1 that day were far and above any taken by the X-T1 on that same day. So I pondered my decision to sell the XPro1 and then I decided to put the X-T1 aside, except for shooting my son’s sports, and focus once again on using the XPro1. I have been using the XPro1 almost daily since the end of August. It just feels right and even when I do use it for sports shooting, the handling and shooting experience are much more satisfying. The set-up in camera is different and I get many fewer action shots with the XPro1, but it is still possible to shoot a soccer game with it.

On a nit-picky level, one of my biggest issues with the X-T1 was the placement of the movie mode button. I was used to changing ISO on the XPro1 with the function (Fn) button. It is quick, easy and I don’t have to take the camera away from my eye to change ISO settings while in the process of shooting. It just works for me. I can’t count the number of times, while shooting with the X-T1, that I engaged the movie mode. Even while shooting for a number of months on end of the X-T1, that reflex to change ISO with my shooting finger never went away.

cldavis2

Another thing I notice is the original X-Trans sensor is just a little more….subtle? I can’t put it into words, but there is a difference in the way the original iteration of the X-Trans sensor handles the files when compared to those from the updated sensor in the X-T1. Both are perfectly fine and produce wonderful files. I just find the original X-Trans sensor output more pleasing to my eye and taste.

cldavis4

Old habits die hard. How many times did I open the battery door to remove the SD card in the X-T1? Every. Single. Time. Every time I went to download the photos, I looked for the card under the battery door. Also, my SD card door on the X-T1 opened up on me constantly while out and about. Minor? Oh yes! Annoying? Yes.

cldavis6

cldavis7

Feeling in hand? I like the rangefinder styling of the XPro1 over the slr styling of the X-T1. I mentioned in the first paragraph that I was a little disappointed with the style of the X-T1. It handles just fine, I don’t have any major complaints at all – just the minor ones I noted above, but it does not give me the same shooting experience, tactile experience, as I get when holding and using the XPro1.
When I jumped into Fuji I lusted after the XPro1 but avoided it for months due to higher price. I finally broke down and got one, used it and love it – then put it aside for something newer. Now, I can’t believe I actually considered getting rid of it. It is my main camera and camera of choice with the Fuji 35mm lens. I still have the X-T1. It is great for shooting my son’s soccer and football games with the 55-200 lens. I won’t get rid of it, either.

cldavis3

As corny as it sounds, the XPro1 is my soul-mate camera…unless the X100T takes its place. It is a never-ending cycle of newer and better and I do fall victim to liking the shiny new toys. With the layout and style of the X100T….only time will tell.

If you like what you see, you can see what I’m up to on Instagram @cldavisphotography.

Thanks for letting me share with you again!

Best to you all,
Chris Davis

Feb 062015
 

Dear Steve,

I have been a very frequent reader of your wonderfully informative posts and reviews (via Facebook mainly) over the past few years.

In fact, I bought an x-pro 1 after reading your excellent review back in 2012 (cannot believe it was that long ago). Something about the camera really attracted me to it from the word go…probably its Leica looks along with auto focus (and a great choice of prime lenses). The camera literally pulled me out onto the streets to take pictures! Through past few years I have stuck with it (quirks and all).

The images attached here were taken in London (Shepherds Bush Empire) last year, when I was invited to see a friends band (My Life Story) play a reunion gig.

I wanted to concentrate on the backstage atmosphere (last-minute rehearsals etc.) as there were plenty of photographers to capture the show from the auditorium.

All were shot as RAW files, and the BW conversions were made using photo-shop plug-in silver FX. These were all shot around 1600 ISO using auto focus. I made frequent use of the exposure compensation dial, whilst looking through the viewfinder at the EVF to see the results instantly.

So far I have been very temped to switch to the A7s or the RX1, but have decided to wait a little longer (although fast losing patience) for the x-pro 2 release date and reviews as I have invested in lenses for this system.

Thanks for all of the great work you put into your site.

Best wishes, Stephen Swain

www.capturethemoment.co.uk

unnamed unnamed unnamed unnamed unnamed unnamed unnamed

Feb 022015
 

Four steps in Milan, with the Leica M-E

by Bruno Taraffo

Hi Steve, hello everybody!

I’m an Italian man 38 years old regularly reading your beautiful site and, about a year ago, I decided to make myself a gift: a brand new Leica M-E!!

M-Eb

That’s what I call “Love at first sight”, since I simply cannot imagine a more sensual object to take pictures…

I’m not the kind of guy walking around with tripod and filters shooting at silky waters; I like real life and I just try to catch its shades with my own gear and sensibility.

I’m a huge fan of italian photographer Gianni Berengo Gardin and, of course, I go mad for black and white. Nevertheless, since I know life is in colors, sometimes I give them the chance to stay in my pictures…

Recently I spent a few days in Milan in good company: my wife, my Leica and a 35 Summicron Asph, and here you have the results…

Milano-3

Milano-6

Milano-12

Milano-25

Milano-53

Milano-81

I really hope you enjoy my shots and, if you have the time, give a look at my Flickr profile as “Bruno Taraffo”

Best regards, Steve!

Bruno

© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved