Dec 032015
 

The Sony LA-EA4?

By Bill Spencer

 

If you have an A7 series camera, looking at one of these has probably crossed your mind at some time. The possibility of using Sony A series lenses as well the high performance older Minolta FA lens for me was quite irresistible. So when I purchased my A7II 9 months ago I quickly followed with the LA-EA4 so I could use my collection of Sony A series lens and some much older AF Minolta ones (which quite frankly are horrible if you have to manually focus them).The LA-EA3 adapter is good for Sony A mount lenses that have a built-in motor as it does not have a motor of its own. It has full electronic coupling betwixt camera and lens – so no good for screw drive lens. I just mention that for the odd person who is new to the system.

LA-EA4

The LA-EA4 adapter is not cheap! it is powered from the puny camera battery but strangely does not effect battery life as far as I can tell. Inside contains a semi translucent 45deg mirror which transfers about half a stop of light to a focus sensor array which covers about a quarter the image area with cross type sensors. There is a micro AF adjust but I have never had to use it. The adapter has a motor that has a lot of grunt, is loud, and is fast. The noise means that it is not much good for stealth street stuff. The power and speed means that Sony A lenses work very well. I have the lightweight 70 – 300mm G lens which has its own motor which overrides the adapter unit and is match made in heaven with impressive speed and accuracy all the way from closest focus to long distance even in really low light. The Sony 11 – 18 wide also works rather well using the adapter motor. Full frame is covered down to 15mm (it is an APSC lens). Continuing down to 11mm means you have to crop to the 15mm equivalent, but a minor advantage is that you can get square, landscape and portrait crops of about 18 from 24 megs from the images. The ‘steady shot’ function works seamlessly with Sony or Minolta lenses as does the lens profiling information which is useful. I think all the camera functions still work with the adapter – I have not yet found one that does not but, as you know, there are many and varied options and if you are like me once you have found a decent setup further messing gives way to picture making.

Playing with the A series APSC kit zoom is just ‘OK’ with the option of a cropped image in camera or a heavily vignetted full frame result. losing the half stop as well making it horrible all round.

All the Minolta AF lenses I have tried have worked but they are 20 to 30 years old so can be a bit variable. Both the 50mm F1.7 and 28mm F2.8 are quick and so far have coped with the power of the LA-EA4’s motor. The problem is that when auto focusing the ‘hard stops’ mechanism of the older lenses (at minimum and infinity focus) are not dampened in any way. My favourite lens, a 50mm macro has been literally ripped apart by this characteristic. A 35 – 70 zoom also works well but the weight of the focusing lens group gives it quite a kick as it works. This lens however works even better on my older A65 camera which has a more gentle focusing action.

Alert Squirrel 1/60 sec at F8 ISO-1000 300mm zoom

Alert Red Squirrel

You cannot help but notice there is a big lump sticking down from the adapter that contains the mechanism. It has a tripod mount to use instead of the cameras tripod mount. The lump fouls everything up so the adapter mount is the one to use. I have only tried it a couple of times on a tripod and it works fine. Part of the idea of a steadyshot camera, especially one with 4 stops shadow recovery, is to reduce need for a tripod. The size and shape of the lump has pluses and minuses depending on the lens in use. For me, with telephoto and zoom lenses I think it helps comfort and usability, but with shorter lenses it can become annoying and uncomfortable to the point I now prefer to put on a manual lens and go retro.

Other mechanicals such as the metal mounts are properly tight in use with no play except for the plastic mount Nex lenses which feel like they are going to fall off at any moment. The mount / dismount button is located on the left side and is good for a right-handed person ie press the button with your weaker hand and hold the lens with your better hand. The adapter seems strongly constructed in the ‘plastic fantastic’ tradition, but mine has a stress crack in one corner of the mirror which seems in my imagination to be getting bigger as time goes on. I do not think it is weather proof although I have been caught a couple of times in a sharp shower and suffered no damage.

Chains 1/60 sec F10 at F10 ISO-200 50mm prime

chains

Dust is less of a problem than I thought it would be. The few specks that have settled on both sides the mirror have been easy to get off with blower and a couple of more stubborn ones came away with a soft lens brush. Looking through it with a led torch it is still as clear as new except for the crack in the corner.

I left submitting this discussion until I had installed and used the latest much hyped A7II firmware version 1.2 update to see if anything was added or lost. Mechanically and functionally it has not made a noticeable difference to me. But! If I could roll back to a previous firmware version I would but it is not possible. It may be my imagination but the new uncompressed 14 bit files seem to have a noticeable sharpening mask added and they are huge. The 14 bit uncompressed files (as this it written) will not open into the latest Photoshop or Capture 1 and so far I have had to rely on the Sony software. Setting the ‘camera’ dialogue to ‘neutral’ in the software almost gets rid of the sharpening but not quite. Fortunately Compressed RAW when opened into Photoshop or Photoplus do not seem to be changed.

Spider on clothes peg 1/90 sec at F9.5 ISO-800 50mm macro

spider on clothes peg

Was it worth it? The answer for me is a definite Yes. Just to be able to use the 70 -300G zoom is enough. Shorter primes are a 50 – 50 proposition. For me, manual lenses are often more satisfying and precise. After all I can pre-focus and set my depth of field ahead of time just leaving the final quick tweak at taking stage whilst leaving the camera to sort out shutter speed or ISO as desired. Remember as well the LA-EA3 is worth looking at if you are using the latest firmware update and Sony lenses with built-in motors. Add to that the improved on chip focusing and there is of course that half stop bonus. I would definitely hire or borrow before parting with the cash.

Bill

 

Dec 272013
 

Voigtlander close focus M Adapter, 50 Nokton 1.5 and Sony A7r

By Steve Huff

adapt3

Hello to all! The new year is almost upon us and last week I received a very cool item to check out. Not thinking it would be anything special I set it to the side for a day or two while I finished my Nikon Df review. When I did get around to mounting it to a Sony A7r I was so happy with this product that I decided to sell my Novoflex Leica M to Sony E adapter immediately! (SOLD)

MtoEclosefocus

The product I am talking about is the Voigtlander Leica M mount to Sony E mount adapter WITH close focus adjustment/ability. This adapter is not only well made, but using the close focus dial allows you to focus MUCH closer than normal with Leica M mount RF glass. How cool is it that we now have a way to focus closer with these gorgeous lenses using a very high quality and well made adapter. Below is a chart showing how much closer you can get with Voigtlander brand M mount lenses:

closefocus

So there ya go. You can now focus closer and I am here to tell you that it is a breeze to use this adapter on the Sony cameras. There is a sort of focus dial you rotate to adjust the close focus. Turn it clockwise all the way over if you want full close focus or turn it counter-clockwise all the way to use the lens with normal focus range. You can also set it anywhere in between to dial in the close focus you need. As I stated before, the dial is smooth and well made. This is a VERY high quality adapter.

But what about in use? Does it work well with M mount lenses? Well, yes it does and my new 50mm favorite on the Sony A7/A7r is the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton   – the newest version. Easy to focus, amazing sharpness and detail and beautiful Bokeh (imo). For some reason I prefer this lens on the A7/A7r over the Leica 50 Summilux, and this one is less than 1/4 the price (with free next day ship an B+W filter). I also used this lens extensively on the Leica M 240 and the results can be seen HERE but on the A7 the color is so beautiful and rich and the details are sharp and the 3D pop is there if you want it.

The Adapter is now for sale at cameraquest.com and can be seen HERE.  It is a jewel of a setup and the cool thing is that you can focus normally, or you can get up close if you desire. This adapter is built VERY well and feels like a precision tool. In no way does it feel cheaper than the Novoflex. In fact, it feels nicer than my Novoflex. Well worth the cost and this is now my #1 choice for an adapter to use M mount glass on a Sony body. If you do not desire to focus closer with rangefinder M mount glass then you probably do not need this adapter as its main claim to fame is the close focus ability.

Voigtlander 50 1.5, Sony A7r. This one was shot wide open on Christmas morning. No issues with focus or softness.

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Yet another one wide open, and even with a strong backlight. The A7r and 50 Nokton ROCKS.

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Getting up close with the Nokton and Adapter. Wide open Bokeh Blur!

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Insanely sharp results if you want it to be. This was shot at 1.5, wide open on the A7R

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Again, f/1.5! Brandon received many gifts this year but his fave may have been the $2 silly straw. Lol. 

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Using the close focus. This will not turn a 50mm into a macro but will allow you to get closer than the standard .7 meters of most RF glass. This one will go to about .4 meters.

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So all in all I highly recommend not only the Voigtlander Leica M to E mount close focus adapter, but the Voigtlander 50 1.5 Nokton for use on the new Sony A7 series of camera. You will get the full performance out of this lens on these cameras and it is ahoy to use. I have not had one issue with manually focusing as the viewfinder allows me to nail focus without any focus aids whatsoever. This and the 35 1.2 II along with a few other lenses would be a treat when using this adapter.

You can find all of these items HERE. Thanks to Stephen Gandy at Cameraquest for sending me the Adapter to test out! I think this one stays with me :) $309 is pricey (about $50 more than the trusty Novoflex) but this is the best and most versatile adapter you can buy for your Sony A7 or A7r to use those M mount lenses with. Period.

adapt

adapt2

May 272013
 

Hi Steve,

My name is Jason Wang and I live in Shanghai, China.

I write this mail to you because I am a fan of Mirror less Camera and I am a fan of you too! There is an optical factory in China they made their own Lens Convertor for Sony NEX system recently and this convertor is called ‘Lens Turbo’, almost the same like ‘Metabones Speed Boster’ which you might heard about it before.

The ‘lens turbo’ mounted between NEX and a SLR lens, it increases maximum aperture by 1 stop, increases MTF and makes lens wider by a factor of 0.71x. So if you mount a Nikon full frame lens on the NEX, it will make the NEX have the same angle of view and the same field of depth like a full frame Nikon camera. No 1.5X any more.

It is also at a very low-cost level, only about 130 USD here in China market. And after I tested this product today, I am very pleased for the image quality it brings to me!

Here is the image of my own NEX-6 + Lens Turbo + Nikkor 35mm F2D

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Check this images below of my test for this converter using Nikkor 35mm F2D & Nikkor 50mm F1.4D.

Two old enough Film Camera Lens. All of the pictures are OOC JPEG and did a little bit adjustment for the exposure only.

Two of my colleagues, 35mm F2, wide open @F2, finally I could enjoy this 3D feel on such a wide-angle lens. To be honest, even with Sony Zeiss 24mm F1.8, I could not have this 3D feel @F1.8.

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BELOW: 35mm @F2 wide open in the restaurant, one of my colleague. I will show you the 100% crop next.

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and the 100% crop – very sharp

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BELOW: And mounted on the 50mm F1.4D, @1.4 it is soft, but could make the background blur enough

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This lens converter really could make those SLR lens to be fully used on current mirrorless camera.

From my test, I found it only suffer a bit for the corner image solutions wide open. For normal use, it is really great and I really enjoyed to use it together with Sony’s peak focusing functions.

Have a nice day!

THX

Jason Wang

 

Jun 132012
 

The Greatness of the Olympus OM-D – Using lenses with adapters

By Stefan Schmidt

I recently bought an OM-D as a second camera to my Canon 5DMkII and I have now used it for almost two weeks and even if I had high expectations of it from reading about it in your test, I really was blown away when I started using it. First I couldn´t develop the pictures as I wanted to but as luck would have it Capture One released their update the week after I got the camera, nice timing! Here in Sweden it is quite easy to get a camera, unless you want the silver one…

Anyway, since I only have the “kit-lens” I decided to buy an adapter for my Canon lenses and as I had to go and work on my summer cabin last weekend I decided to have a little fun and not just work. My cabin is in the region called “Småland”, it is built around 1850 in a small ravine that trails down from a small lake to a larger one called Vattern. The last winters have crumbled the  stone foundation that the cabin was built upon so I had my work cut out for me. In one of the pictures you can see the small dirt track that passes by my house.

The fun begun in the afternoon after a day of working. I strapped on the adapter to my Canon 100 mm F2,8 macro and took a picture of our dog that was drowsing in the sun. I was surprised how well the OM-D exposed ! I found that I really had to use the manual focus tool to enlarge a portion of the picture because otherwise my focus would be off. I then found a crab-spider that was waiting patiently for a fly to arrive. Again the combo of the macro 100 and the Olympus surprised me! The sharpness and color were great and the bokeh is really to my liking. The only thing I had a problem with was the mechanical aperture on the adapter. It´s a little tricky to set it correctly.

Also, when going in as close as possible, the area with sharpness is really tight. (See the closeup picture of the spider…)

The second lens I brought was my cherished 70-300 4-5,6 L that really is fabulous on the 5DMkII and I was eager to try it on the OM-D. I strapped it on and attached the battery grip on the OM-D to get at least some balance to things.

I sat down ten meters away from the corner of the cabin and watched the birds nesting there, the house does not have regular drainpipes for rainwater but rather a “gutter” made from a tree that is split in two halves, worked into trenches, and tarred. For some reason the birds always make a stop there before entering their bird house that´s mounted high on the house wall. I took these pictures on the 300 mm setting and since I wanted to try the stabilisation I didn’t bring a tripod. Worked great! Although I found that the 70-300 is really tricky to focus manually since the focus ring is so extremely sensitive.

My son wanted to go fishing and naturally I brought the camera with the 70-300 along. I shot some pictures of him and focused without using the manual focus tool to enlarge the picture and although I thought it looked good in the camera I was disappointed to se the pictures on my computer and find that I was off by half a meter. Since this lens “releases” the focus pretty quick even that short a distance from the focused area in the picture it really makes a difference if focus is not “tack on”.

I also shot a distance shot across the lake from where we stood on the opposite beach and the yellow fields and the forest there as well as an evening shot when the sun descended and we walked home. I am so pleased with the warm color tone the OM-D even though I have set the tone to neutral and I only shoot raw. I wanted to drop you a line and thank you for the review, it played a large part in my decision to buy the camera.

All my attached pictures are from this weekend using only my two canon lenses. I hope you enjoy them even though they are pretty far from  street photos.

I wish some shop i Gothenburg would stock the Voigtlander 17 F0,95. I am so curious to try it out after you wrote that the manual focus on it work brilliantly with the OM-D. Still it´s an expensive piece of glass, perhaps it´s for the best. I suspect I would buy it.

With My best regards

Stefan Schmidt

Sweden

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