Sep 152014
 

Photokina! New mirrorless releases from Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, and more!

Photokina is upon us and today there were loads of cameras and lenses announced today from many of the usual suspects. It seems that Canon and Panasonic are jumping on the Sony RX100 bandwagon but Panasonic did it right by making an RX100 style camera but with a full on 4/3 sensor inside which means this guy will deliver the best quality in a compact camera! So far it is my favorite Photokina release (but that silver E-M1 is gorgeous, making it my #2 fave) but there is more to come. Let’s take a look at the cool stuff being announced today!

PANASONIC

The LX100 Compact powerhouse!

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The LX100 that has been rumored forever is now official. The 1st of the so called RX100 clones (even keeping the 100 name) this one is quite nice and will present a challenge to the Sony pocket cam. Basically this little guy has a Leica/Panasonic 24-70 equivalent f 1.7-2.8 lens, 4K video, solid build, great looks, a built-in EVF and wonderful ergonomics and control. It is easy to see that this one will be popular without question.

Coming in at $899 you can pre-order it at B&H Photo HERE.  

I see this as a direct hit to the RX100III but with a larger sensor and LARGER body as well of course.  Wi-Fi, NFC and manual control rings round off this polished looking offering from Panasonic.

Amazon is also taking pre-orders for the LX100.

Even though the LX100 is priced at $899, which may be a little bit high, it is priced appropriately to the RX100III due to the larger sensor. As you can see in the image below of the camera, it is larger than a Sony RX100 but it is still rather compact. This will deliver 4/3 quality in a solid, modern, stylish and usable lens range camera. It has it most of what everyone needs and I see it as a perfect take anywhere, vacation, kids and everyday life camera. With 4K video there is not much this guy can not do (besides long telephoto of course).  An instant winner here IMO and even has ISO up to 25k!

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The Panasonic GM5

Panasonic also released the GM5, a super compact micro 4/3 camera much like the old GM1. From B&H Photo: It features a similar magnesium-alloy body as the GM1, but replaces the pop-up flash with a 1,166k-dot electronic viewfinder, as well as a hot-shoe mount, creating a more full-featured camera system. The GM5 also features a 16-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor to produce detailed still images and a heighted sensitivity up to ISO 25600. It is also capable of recording Full HD video at 60 fps.

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The GM5 is a TINY, attractive and useful powerhouse as it is pocketable but also will take any micro 4/3 lens available. If you want SMALL and a TRUE “Micro” 4/3 then be on the lookout for the GM5.

You can pre-order it at B&H Photo for $899 with a 12-32 (24-68) kit lens.

This guy with the 20 1.7 II would make for a great compact camera that would provide beautiful IQ and video.

Amazon also is taking pre-orders for the GM5.

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CANON

The 7D MARK II AND G7X has arrived.

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Canon has released a new 7D Mark II which for me is a YAWN. The 7D is fantastic but as you guys know I am not a DSLR guy. I could fake it and act like I am just to make affiliate sales but hey, I have to be honest. After using cameras such as all of the mirrorless option these days, DSLR’s have become un-necessary. I have done pro work with my Leica’s, with my Sony A7s and with my E-M1 and never did I wish for a DSLR. So yes, Canon released the 7DII but I am going to talk about the G7X which is yet ANOTHER camera from Canon that is 3 years behind the times. It seems that Canon just can not be innovative in the small pocket cam or mirrorless area. They want to keep their DSLR sales strong so they are afraid to release anything revolutionary (like Sony is doing many times per year). Instead they copy others and release little flops like the EOS M. This time it is an RX100 copy in the form of a G7X.

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The G7X comes in at $699 but has a 1″ sensor like the Sony RX100 and Nikon 1 series cameras. Already the Panasonic above beats the Canon for sensor size. The lens has more reach at 24-100 but does not have the “Leica” name attached to it. No 4K video but it does have 1080 video on board. No EVF. BASICALLY IT IS a Sony RX100 in disguise as a Canon. Not really, but for me, nothing exciting. I would pay the $200 more and buy the Panasonic in a NANO second over the Canon.

You can pre-order the Canon G7X here at B&H Photo if you just love Canon :) 

Amazon is also taking pre-orders for the G7X HERE.

OLYMPUS

The new Silver E-M1

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Olympus did not create a new E-M2 powerhouse (and frankly, I am glad they didn’t as the E-M1 is still a massive powerhouse of a camera that is capable of APS-C quality) but they did upgrade the E-M1 firmware with new features as well as release a pimped out version in Silver and black. Many have been asking why they did not originally create the E-M1 in silver like they did with the E-M5 and now Olympus has created it! I have to say, it looks mighty sharp in silver! I am a huge fan of the E-m1 and if for some reason you missed my old review of it you can see it here. 

The new firmware is pre-loaded onto the Silver E-M1 so right out of the box you get all of the new benefits and features. For those who already own an E-M1 there will be a firmware download so you too can benefit from the new features. So what are the new features?

“Features for improved performance include improved EVF display time lag. The display time lag has been reduced to 16 msec when the frame rate has been set to high-speed. New Photo Story themes “Zoom In/Out” and “Layout” have been added. The addition of a hold function has also made it possible to temporarily save a photo story while shooting, and complete it, later. Live Guide makes it possible to layer on multiple effects simultaneously*. Remote shooting features in the OI.Share™ App have been further advanced, with the addition of a self-timer sequential and interval shooting, allowing for rich variations in movement and expression. A new Scene Mode “Panning” allows you to set the optimal shutter speed automatically to match the movements of an object. “Shade” Art Effect inserts bands of shading on the left and right side of the image (or top and bottom) for a sense of wideness. A new Movie Effect “Old Film” turns your videos into flickering images with noise, scratches and dust, for the vintage look of old movies shot on film.”

em1silver2Firmware Upgrade Availability
Firmware Version 2.0 is pre-installed on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 silver model. Existing OM-D E-M1 camera owners can also enjoy the features of this new firmware by upgrading their camera using Olympus Viewer software.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The OM-D E-M1 in Silver will be available in September 2014.
Estimated Street Price: $1,399.99

You can pre-order the Silver E-M1 at B&H Photo HERE

Also at Amazon HERE. This one ships THIS month! PopFlash.com also will have the new silver E-M1! 

The new 40-150 Pro f/2.8 Lens

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Olympus has also finally released the new 40-150 Pro Zoom! This long-awaited zoom lens has been in the works for a long time now and will round out the systems pro zoom category which also includes the new 7-14 f/2.8. The 12-40 is already known to be an amazing zoom lens and now the 40-150 will give you some reach, at the expense of size and $$$. IT IS NOT CHEAP AT $1,499.00 but those who know the quality of Olympus pro glass will know that this is well worth it. For those telephoto shooters out there who own a Micro 4/3 camera, it will not get any better than this. YES this is a 40-150 f/2.8 zoom, bringing you a 80-300 equivalent! NOW THIS is an amazing lens!

You can pre-order the 40-150 f/2.8 pro zoom lens at B&H Photo HERE 

PopFlash.com is also an Olympus dealer, and a site sponsor!

SONY

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Sony has announced today the new wide angle FE mount (full frame E mount) 16-35 f/4 OSS lens, something many have been waiting for. This one will fill your wide angle needs for the A7 system and comes in at $1349.

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

Amazon is also taking pre-orders HERE!

Wide-range zoom lens designed for full-frame FE-mount cameras

Constant f/4 maximum aperture enables greater consistency throughout the zoom range and benefits working in dim conditions

Features a circular that, through the use of curved blades, keeps the aperture almost perfectly circular from its wide-open setting to when it is closed for smoother, more natural defocusing highlights

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization works to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps to benefit shooting handheld in dim lighting

Five aspherical elements, including one AA (advanced aspherical) element, and three ED elements helps to reduce chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range while also maintaining a compact form-factor

Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating enhances contrast, clarity, and color reproduction by countering the effects of lens flare and ghosting

Only the middle groups of the optical system move to achieve focus, so the overall length of the lens does not change when focusing. Also, the filter thread at the front of the lens does not rotate, which is convenient when using a polarizing filter

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So there are my fave releases today. For me Canon was the biggest disappointment. They have the funds and ability to create something extraordinary but they never ever seem to do it. They are happy sticking to their DSLR model. Same with Nikon. Nothing exciting at all from them besides the D750 DSLR. No real innovation from the two “Big Guns”. Sony has been constantly releasing new exciting products, Olympus has been keeping the momentum going with amazing lenses and Leica, well, they have yet to make their full announcements but I think we will hear from them by tomorrow.

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SAMSUNG

oops, I almost forgot the NX1

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Samsung has announced the NX1, their flagship mirrorless coming in at A WHOPPING $2799 with kit lens but that one leaves me scratching my head. The price is out there IMO. I will say that the ‘kit” lens seems more like a pro lens with a 16-50 range and a variable aperture starting out at f/2 and going to f/2.8. Still, $2799 for the set is a bit much I think. It looks like a DSLR, the lens is huge and for the money I would take the fantastic Canon 6D with a 24-105 for the full frame performance. I reviewed the 6D and loved the IQ and usability, just hated the weight with those big L lenses, but the quality is stunning. I am finding it hard to see how Samsung can sell this for $2799 with lens. Seems overpriced to me. It may be a stellar camera but not sure how many will plunk down that kind of cash to SWITCH systems. I think only some the current Samsung base will go for it.

Amazon is also taking pre-orders HERE.

May 082014
 

10 Days in Israel with the Sony a7 and vintage Canon FD Lenses

By Thomas Neumayer

Due to the reviews about the Sony A7 on this nice site I recently upgraded from my NEX-5 to an A7, and I am happy with the choice.

I am just an enthusiast photographer. Coming from analog times, when I first used my fathers two-eyed 6×6 Rolleiflex as a teenager (darkroom and all), then a Canon F1, I am now still using vintage Canon FD Lenses on my A7, with, to my eye, very decent results.

I just spent 10 days in Israel, together with my wife and my one year old little Ella, and I’d like to share this journey here photography wise. Please, have compassion for the fact that my little daughter darling appears quite frequently on the pics, I cant’ help it.

We first spent some days in Haifa, then went to Jerusalem for a couple of days, and then, after having spent an intense afternoon at the shores of the Dead Sea, went by car to a resort some miles north of Tel Aviv to spend two more days at the sea.

I brought my a7 and my nex5, and the following lenses: (All Canon FD) 15mm 1:2.8 s.s.c., 17mm 1:4 (new), 24mm 1:1.4 L, 24mm 1:2.8 s.s.c., 35mm 1:2 s.s.c., 50mm 1:1.4 s.s.c., 85mm 1:1.8 s.s.c., 135mm 1:2.5 s.s.c. and a Canon 75-200mm 1:4.5 (new).

Anyway, I found myself using predominantly the 35mm 1:2, the 24mm 1:2.8, the 85mm 1:1.8 and the 75-200mm Zoom lens, since my wife favores it.
All of them produce a nice bokeh, in my opinion, especially the 35mm and the 85mm.

Due to the manual operation of the lenses the exif data lack the aperture value, but for most of the pictures I remember it, more or less.

Some words about the shooting experience with the a7:

Mostly I used the camera in time automatic or, especially in low light environments, in auto iso mode. Even if I agree with the critics who condemn the A7s preselection of 1/60th of a second in auto iso in contrast to an adjustable value, I still found this function very usable. A bit eery, when you come from analog school.
Being also used to spot light metering (Canon F1) I nonetheless found the integral measure mode more practical on the A7, for a number of reasons: first, the process of manual focusing can be quite demanding here! Depending on focal length, f-stop and distance from the object the DOF is only an inch or even less, so, it becomes very tricky, if you have an unpredictably and fast-moving object, like a toddler…
Then, unfortunately, memorizing a given value cannot be done with the half press of the shutter release button, like with the NEX-5, for example. That slows me down considerably when using spot measurement. (Hello Sony, fix this in a firmware update!). So I use the integral measurement, and due to the ample contrast capacity of the A7 of more than 10 f-stops there is a reassuring margin of exposure adjustment in post processing available.

Otherwise, taking pictures with the a7 is as easy as green tea, it is quite close to the shooting experience from analog times, thus made me feel at home immediately. And, I love the decided shutter sound!

The EVF is a marvel and didn’t make me want for the optical one, exept… one or two times, when extreme sunlight came in from the back, like on some occasions at the dead sea; but here a more ample eyecup would certainly help.

Some words about the post-processing:

I use Lightroom 5.4. I love the possibility to play around with colour, contrast, exposure etc.
Often I find myself using some Fuji-colour presets (sorry, Steve!) found on the internet which I then modify to my needs.
As for lens correction I underwent the tedious task to calibrate all my lenses using Adobe Lens Calibrator, only to find out that I cannot integrate the resulting files into Lightroom 5.4 in a way that they are available for lens correction there – in LR 3 this had worked! (If anybody has a useful tip here, please don’t hesitate to let me know!)
So I used the correspondent Canon EF presets instead, and they seem to fit nicely (not done much work since FD times, eh, Canon?). Anyway, I found CA, vignetting and lens distortion not to be a problem anyway, using these old lenses with the A7. Even with the 15$ adapter that I use.

Now, the pictures in chronological order of our journey:

 

Haifa, Carmel beach.
Canon FD 35mm 1:2 s.s.c. @ 11, ISO 200, 1/250s

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 Acco near Haifa.

Canon FD 75-200mm @200mm 1:4,5 (new) @ 8, ISO 800, 1/750s

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 Acco near Haifa

Canon FD 17mm 1:4 @5.6, ISO 800, 1/200s

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 Acco near Haifa.

Canon FD 75-200 @75mm 1:4,5 @ 8, ISO 1600, 1/160s

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 Bazaar in Acco near Haifa.

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 4, ISO 1600, 1/500s

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 Jerusalem Bus Terminal.

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 5.6, ISO 1600, 1/200s

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Jerusalem Breakfast, tomato sauce!
Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 5.6, ISO 1600, 1/500s

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Jerusalem, Old City
Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 5.6, ISO 250, 1/60s

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 Jerusalem, Old City

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 8, ISO 400, 1/60s

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 Jerusalem, at the wall of Old City

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 2, ISO 250, 1/60s

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 Jerusalem, Dinner

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 3.5, ISO 4000, 1/60s

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 Jerusalem, after dinner.

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 3.5, ISO 4000, 1/60s

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 Jerusalem, breakfast situation

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 8, ISO 160, 1/60s

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 Jerusalem, Old City

Canon FD 35mm 1:2, s.s.c. @ 4, ISO 400, 1/60s

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 Dead Sea, Mineral Beach

Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8, s.s.c. @ 8, ISO 100, 1/125s, polarization filter

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 Dead Sea, Mineral Beach

Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8, s.s.c. @ 11, ISO 100, 1/200s, polarization filter

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 Dead Sea, Mineral Beach

Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8, s.s.c. @ 16, ISO 100, 1/45s, polarization filter

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 Dead Sea, Mineral Beach, Ella in arabian tea tent

Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8, s.s.c. @ 4, ISO 100, 1/250s, polarization filter

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Dead Sea, Mineral Beach
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.5, s.s.c. @ 8, ISO 100, 1/200s

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 Tel Aviv

Canon FD 85mm 1:1.8, s.s.c. @ 4, ISO 200, 1/1000s

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 Tel Aviv

Canon FD 85mm 1:1.8, s.s.c. @ 5.6, ISO 200, 1/4000s

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 Tel Aviv

Canon FD 85mm 1:1.8, s.s.c. @ 4, ISO 200, 1/6000s

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 Tel Aviv

Canon FD 85mm 1:1.8, s.s.c. @ 5.6, ISO 800, 1/60s

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Final word:

So, I hope you enjoyed the reading. I enjoyed the writing!

As a last word on this trip: I liked very much the warmness and friendliness I met in many people in Israel. The people coming from all parts of the world, I found the predominant international spirit very refreshing. Just religious fanaticism gives me the creeps.
If you feel like, I’d be delighted to have some feedback on these pictures!

My professional website (non-photographic): http://www.loesungsseite.de

Apr 072014
 

Seven years with one camera

By Amirali Joorabchi

Hi steve , hi everybody!

I’m AmirAli , a reader of this awesome blog for about two years. I’m 23 , live in Tehran. I do painting and photography as an enthusiast. I started photography when I was 14-15. As a gift my family bought me a Canon 400D and a 50 f1.8 and if I’m right I have this set and been using it for about 7 years ! Well it’s 10mps , ISO800 isn’t clean , ISO1600is only usability in monochrome , the LCD is 2.5″(240k). The camera and two lenses weighs in at about 850g…and yes I’m still using it !

This lest seven years that has passed by..well, photography has changed a lot (which you all know better than me). The wave in digital photography started with Canon 350D (affordable DSLR for everyone) then led to this following seven years. Companies got competitive with each other , introducing new models like a mad man ( canon 40D/50D… Nikon D80/D90… Canon 5D/5DmarkII Nikon D700/D800/D610 Sony A900/A800/A99 , then mirrorless Olympus , Panasonic , Sony , Fuji…).

The more technology went further , the more prices came down , which now you have so many affordable options (heck you can buy a full frame for 1600$ which weighs less than 500g). In theory this should help people but , instead , it turned out to be a huge problem for us!

For example it became like an idea that “because a pro photographer has that camera/lens then he can take pictures that I can’t”. So I started to blame the gear and I thought if I had better camera I would have made a better photographs. This is the point when your endless loop starts (even if you are aware of the fact that getting new gear won’t make you any better), where you buy new cameras when the one you have is already very qualified. Jumping from one system to another or jump from one brand to other. You fall into this endless loop where you waste time and sources on the wrong side of the photography.

I was about to fall , but a wise photographer told me this: “Changing your gear won’t change your view , it only replaces the last window with a new window to the same view , you’re the one who should change the view “ It hit me really hard. I still didn’t know about composition , lightening , color management… My VISION was weak yet I blamed the camera that I still have. He showed me that how much VISION is more important than gear , that your vision can create beauty , you have to train it to get the most out of it. Although the truth was clear but still resisting the new gears was hard. I get another advise : “loan and play with the new ones , the hype will come off of your mind”. I took the advice and it worked most of the time.

I tested Canon 40D , Nikon D90 , Canon 1DsII , Canon 5DII , Sony A900 with zeiss 85F1.4 (this lens didn’t came off ever) , Canon 17-55F2.8 , 24-70F2.8 , 14F2.8 , Nikon 80-200F2.8 , 18-135… . All of them are far better than my set , but using them I realized that my results weren’t that different… if not worse ! The brand was different , the format was different , the lens different , but my vision was the same. Yes , new gear makes it easier to take photos like more pixels , better ISO , better OVF/EVF… . These things are not necessary to capture a master piece. These are tools to help us create. But the features has spoiled lots of photographers’ minds. A slight change in light/composition can make a mediocre photo into a master piece , yet we waste our time wondering about gear…

Well , the question is , which is worth to you more ?

1.Having G.A.S and taking mediocre images , or

2.Mastering your vision and taking eternal images

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Mar 052014
 

Vibrant Bangladesh !!!

By Siddhartha Kundu

Hi Brandon & Steve,

I am from New Delhi, India and a fan of your blog. I visit the your site every day whether on my phone or my computer. The photos posted in your site are truly amazing and have inspired me into the challenging world of street photography. Well .. to me street photography is pretty difficult and I am still learning. I have attached some photographs during my stay in Bangladesh in 2011-12. Bangladesh is a small country (144,000 sq. km) neighbouring east of India. With a population of over 163 millions it is one of the most densely populated countries. While 30% of Bangladeshi’s live below poverty line, it is one of the largest producers of ready-made garments. Most of the big fashion labels source their products from Bangladesh,

I was based in the capital city Dhaka, which is a photographer’s paradise. Streets with rickshaws, hand carts, dented buses and obviously masses of people. While it is very difficult to walk around with a DSLR (& lenses like 70-200) without drawing attention but people are quite friendly to expats. The attached photographs were taken with my old 5Dm2 & lenses like 70-200 & 24-70 L. My dream set up is obviously a Leica M + 50 Lux which I cannot afford as of now.

Some of my photographs can also be found at : http://www.siddharth-kundu.com

Thanking you

Regards

Siddharth

Photo 1: Alms

Canon 5Dm2 / 70-200 1.8L IS 1 F: 3.5 1/250s 

Converted to BW with VSCO Slide (Agfa

Photo1

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Photo 2: A Rickshaw Man

Canon 5Dm2 / 70-200 1.8L IS 1 F: 4.5 1/160s

Converted using VSCO Slide (Kodak E200)

Photo2

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Photo 3: Welcome to my shop

Canon 5Dm2 / 24-70 2.8L1 F: 2.8 / 1/30s

Converted using VSCO Slide (Kodak E200)

Photo3

Feb 202014
 

Greetings from West Africa

By Devesh Uba

Dear Brandon and Steve,

Let me begin by congratulating you guys for the wonderful website and the always inspiring resources/articles you have there. My favourite sections are ‘daily inspiration’ and off course the reviews. Keep up the great work!

I am Devesh Uba, an Indian national currently living and working in Lagos (Nigeria), from past eight months or so. I have been doing photography over a decade now and I love people and street photography. I happen to do more colour than Black and White, but I do enjoy Black and White a lot and there are phases when I only do Black and White.

Here in Nigeria I am fascinated with the colours, smiles and the culture of this country. I am trying to capture it and share it with the world through my blog and Flickr, and I will be really happy if they are selected in the ‘daily inspiration’ section of your website. I use a basic DSLR Canon 550 D with a Canon 35mm F2 (prime) mostly for streets. Here in Nigeria it isn’t safe to walk on streets with your camera (especially for an expat), so sometimes I take pictures from my car when in hostile areas.

Links to my work are:

Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/deveshuba

Nigerian Photoblog : snapitoga.tumblr.com

Thank you.

Regards from West Africa,

Devesh Uba

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Jan 092014
 

maintitlefathers

A year with my father’s camera

by Antoine Ringeard-Tordjeman

Hi Steve, and fellow stevehuffphoto.com readers ! This site has been a great inspiration to me for a long time, especially the user-submitted pieces, so I thought I might share my own story. There was a Swiss watchmaker that had an ad saying you can never really own their timepieces, as you are merely borrowing them from your grandchildren. Some cameras are like that too!

My name is Antoine, I am 22 and I got really into photography about 2 years ago when I moved from France to China. I bought a $200 superzoom and I loved it dearly, it has given me great shots (great in my own eyes, admittedly). Still, it had its limitations and I moved on to a Fuji X100, that I still use today, as it is an amazing camera.

And then, on a holiday back home, I pointed at a box in a closet and my mom said “oh that’s your father’s camera, I don’t think I’ve seen him use it in 25 years !”. I opened it like it was a treasure chest, and I was not disappointed. Inside was a pristine 1975 Canon EF film SLR.

The camera was actually bought by my uncle for a small fortune in 1975 (adjusting for inflation, the kit with a 50mm 1.4 cost him close to €2400), when my father was still a teenager, and he must have gotten it from his brother a few years later.

It was Canon’s first try at a pro-level electro-mechanical camera: it has batteries that power the TTL metering, the shutter priority mode and the two slowest shutter speeds. The body is black enamel paint on brass, just gorgeous. Even though the batteries still had power left after 25 years in storage (!!!), I took them out and I use the EF as a fully mechanical camera, metering with the X100 or an iPhone app. It has never been serviced and runs like clockwork.

Moscow, Russia – Ilford Delta 400

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Beijing, China – Kodak TMax 400

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In the box were a 35-70mm 3.5 plastic zoom and a 135mm 3.5 tele, in FD mount. Upon returning to Beijing I quickly bought a mint 50mm 1.4 for a whopping $60 and haven’t taken it off the camera since. All the pictures in this article were taken with that lens.

Bokeh! in Beijing, China – Ilford HP5+

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Fenghuang, China – Kodak Portra 400

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I have been doing my own B&W processing since the first roll, it seemed like a fun thing to do (it is) and it’s cheaper. I also have a small darkroom now and I do wet prints. Most of the scans here were done by the Lomography store in Beijing. I’m not really into their aesthetic but as a lab they’re affordable, sell good B&W film (repackaged TMax 400 and Fomapan 100), do an OK job with the processing and the store assistant was really really knowledgeable and a genuine film lover.

Beijing, China – Ilford HP5+

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Beijing, China – Kodak TMax 400

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After I caught the film photography bug my GAS syndrome mutated. I was perfectly happy with my X100 and used it alongside the Canon, or by itself when I needed the high ISO and the possibility to miss half the shots without financial repercussion. While I completely stopped lusting after newer, better digital cameras, I became obsessed with film cameras, especially Soviet ones. I have since bought a Zorki rangefinder and a Flexaret TLR. Oh and a DIY plastic 35mm TLR, because of course I did, it was $12.

If the Sony A7R sold for $100, and I had $100, I’d buy a Moskva 5 :).

Moscow, Russia – Kodak Portra 400

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Moscow, Russia – Kodak Portra 400

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As for the photography itself, it’s still mostly snapshots. I try to go everywhere with a camera and shoot whatever looks good. I seem to always come back to night scenes of neon lights and dimly-lit bars. I have never been to NYC, so for me Beijing is the cuty that never sleeps.

Beijing, China – Kodak Portra 400

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Beijing, China – Kodak Portra 400

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This camera is now one of my most prized possessions, even though I’m not sure it’s technically mine.

The point of this rather lengthy article is not to say film has made me a better photographer – it probably hasn’t. I won’t argue that film photography is better in essence or in quality – it’s just different.

I get why people who started photography when film was the only option don’t miss it, it can be a hassle, especially if you’re shooting on a professional scale. And I can understand why people who are getting back into film are dismissed as hipsters. For me, at a time when every disposable gadget takes pictures, film retains that little bit of magic that keeps me excited about photography.

Unlike digital cameras, film cameras are not getting any more obsolete than they are now, most of them will still be perfectly capable of taking pictures 40 years from now. Hold on to yours, a well-loved film camera might go from garage sale junk to priceless heirloom just by being passed on to the next generation !

Beijing, China – Kodak TMax 400

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Fenghuang, China – Kodak Portra 400

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Beijing, China – Ilford HP5+

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Beijing, China – Kodak Portra 400

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Jan 042014
 

dragan

USER REPORT: 9 Photos, 9 Places, 9 Cameras

By Dragan Arrigler

Recently posted Paris photo by Gianmaria Veronese here reminded me of my own photograph I made from almost the same spot in March 1985. It was my 35 mm b&w film era and 16 years later, in 2001 I started to work with digital cameras. I would like to present a short user report and briefly describe the 9 cameras I used to make 9 very different photos of 9 different places from 1985 to 2013.

1. In 1985 I was a photojournalist and I always carried around a lot of cameras, lenses, etc. Still, my favorite combination was Canon F, 24 mm lens, and Kodak TRI X, while the vast array of other lenses and accessories in my bag waited there “just in case”. In those days I used 24 mm lens for almost everything – landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, etc. It gave me such a broad and dynamic view at the world around me. I preferred contrasty, grainy photos and as a rule my b&w films were slightly underexposed and slightly overdeveloped. I still have one Canon F from 1980. In has been regularly serviced (three times in 33 years) and it works like new.

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2. I made the picture of Pontevecchio in Florence in 2001 with Olympus Mju (Stylus) Zoom Wide 80 (I have always loved Olympus cameras for their size and weight). It was automatic 35 mm compact camera with 28-80 mm lens, considered very wide for late ’90, when it was designed. It had autofocus, small LCD frame counter and was waterproof. A perfect travel companion. The camera even displayed some sort of metadata, as can be seen on the lower right side of the photo. The kids on the picture didn’t seem to be interested in the magnificent renaissance architecture around them, and neither was I.

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3. My first digital camera was Olympus E-20P, purchased in autumn 2001. Soon after that, in February 2002 I had to do a job on Bonaire, a amall island in the Dutch Caribbean. Digital photography being sort of unexplored territory at the time, I didn’t risk and packed my trusted analog cameras as well. Most of the work was indeed done on 35 mm color slides, but with my new toy I made some charming pictures, too. One of them was a photo of windsurfers in beautiful Jibe City on the eastern coast of the island, where constant trade winds and shallow turquoise Caribbean sea waters make ideal windsurfing spot. I sold E-20P the next year after purchasing my first Canon DSLR, but I still remember its perfect zoom lens 35-140mm f 2,0-2,4 with certain nostalgia.

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4. Canon PowerShot S30 was a terrible camera by today’s standards, but was a precious pocket compact in 2003. I took it along on my trip to Provence that summer. It is fun and more or less safe to make photos with such a small and unobtrusive camera – without using flash, nobody takes you seriously, especially when you work in relatively dark interiors or at night. Café de Nuit in Arles, once beloved Vincent Van Gogh’s motif, was a perfect place to prove this. In postproduction, inspired by master’s paintings, I slightly exaggerated the colors, just like he did in 1888.

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5. I was presented Holga for my birthday in 2006. Yes, it is a rickety, cheap plastic Chinese camera. It leaks light, the lens is terrible (60 mm f 8,0 – somewhere between normal and wide-angle lens for 120 film) and it incorporates only one shutter speed which is not defined precisely – it’s probably around 1/60. And B, of course. Exposure demands a lot of guesswork. But it gives you the basic thrill of photography: you can never really tell what you will get. If the predictability of digital photography has begun to bore you, get a Holga. For best results use very old films, expired long ago. And there is more: you will never again feel the urge to invest in digital filters which imitate corny emulsions, cross processing, picture frames, over saturated or washed-out colors, vignetting, as well as dust & scratches. Nothing of this was applied to the photo of the romantic old house in Vrhnika, Slovenia.

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6. Another Canon PowerShot, the A640 was used to photograph silhouettes in a small beach bar on Caribbean island Antigua in 2008. This camera had almost limitless autonomy, because it was powered by four AA batteries and I purchased it prior to a sailing trip where I didn’t expect to have any AC outlets at hand. AA are the most common batteries – you can buy them anywhere in the world. You just have to buy a large (and heavy) stock. Being so dependent on energy is digital cameras’ big disadvantage in comparison to analog ones. For instance, I replaced the battery of my 1980 Canon F maybe three or four times in more than 30 years.

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7. Yet, it’s a digital era and small cameras are so expendable. I only had the A640 two years and then I replaced it with the third Canon PowerShot, S90. It is even smaller than A640 and claimed to be better, a great third camera for professionals, with a lot of manual controls. But in terms of picture quality I never really saw a big difference – except that it has very usable wide aperture of f 2,0 at 28 mm (equivalent) zoom setting. The other side of zoom, 105 mm (equivalent) f 4,9 is much sadder story, though. Anyway, this camera was used to make the picture of the biker (luckily dressed in red) sweating uphill on endless winding road in literally and metaphorically breathtaking, exotic, hot, humid, Avatar-like island Reunion in Indian ocean. One final remark on this tiny device: it incorporates optical stabilizer, but being so small and light (just 175 g), it just can not match the stability of big and heavy DSLR cameras with big and heavy lenses.

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8. If you like red color, Denmark is one of the countries to travel to. Red is a dominant color in their flag and elsewhere. With a bit of luck and good weather you can make nice geometric pictures like I did in the small port of Struer in north-west part of the country. I used Canon EOS 5D, bought in 2005 (can you imagine that it has already been called “vintage”?) and good old zoom 24-85 mm f 3,5-4,5, designed in 1996. In spite of being almost ancient by today’s standards, it is still one of the best and most durable combinations if you want to travel light.

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9. Finally, I would like to share some observations regarding Voigtländer Nokton 25 mm f 0,95. Read some tests of this product, e. g. here or here and let me just add this: it’s a fantastic toy, a sheer pleasure, but not in the least easy to use. And more than just a toy, of course. It’s solidly built, it’s big and heavy, heavier than my Olympus E-P3, including EVF and strap. Now just think: a heavy lens plus f 0,95 plus in-camera image stabilisation – a photographer with steady arm and some experience can work in almost total darkness without even having to use high ASA setting. The twilight picture of exotic Lisbon funicular was made handheld with 1/25 s at f 1,4 and ASA 320. And there is even more: it can focus down to approximately 8 centimetres or 3,15 inches which almost makes it a macro lens, too. Unfortunately, it has two drawbacks: manual focus and manual aperture ring. It is difficult to focus it in darkness owing to its extremely shallow depth of field (probably this problem will be solved with the newer cameras incorporating focus peaking). In bright daylight, where circumstances call for smaller f-stop, it’s even more complicated; remember, the aperture is manual and you have to focus at working f-stop. This is not easy even at f 4, and nearly impossible at f 8 or f 11. Of course, it’s 25 mm lens and everything in finder appears to be sharp. Not so later, when you critically observe your masterpiece at 100% magnification on the computer monitor. In short, this lens needs some patience and a lot of practice. If you have no patience or not enough time to practice, go and buy Panasonic’s 20 mm f 1,7 lens. It’s a very good solution, too.

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Conclusion: the point of this user report (and hopefully the pictures) is to inspire the readers to grab whatever camera they have, go out and do with it the best they can. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will make good photos with the best camera and the sharpest lens in the world. But there is a fair chance that their pictures will be widely admired even if they were made with cheap, plastic, outdated three megapixel devices. Just consider: would the photo of Café de Nuit be better, had it been photographed with a good, 36 megapixel camera, like Nikon D800E or even 60 megapixel Hasselblad H5D? Perhaps tehnically; it would be sharper, with more details, the resolution would be substantially bigger. But would it match the atmosphere of Van Gogh’s painting? I don’t think so. Sometimes the photos are about mood, not tehnical quality. Buy any camera, get used to it, then just forget it and focus on the pictures. To quote Don McCullin, the famous war photographer of the 1960s and 1970s: “I only use the camera like I use a toothbrush. It does the job.”

Dragan Arrigler

www.arrigler.com

Dec 302013
 

My 12 for 2013 

By Adam Anderson

I enjoyed Jason Howe’s Top 12 for 2012 very much, and its message distills the ‘less is more’ philosophy that resonates strongly with my own photographic intent. My life would likely improve a great deal if I was able to translate this philosophy to other areas.

Jan to Dec 2013 are convenient bookends for a significant time in my life and photography. I moved to Sydney for a 12 month tryst with the city, its surrounding landscape and my Zeiss Ikon ZM rangefinder. I also got to try a bunch of other camera and lens combos which I will give my brief thoughts on. Stricken with Gear Acquisition syndrome, my ownership period of these non-Ikon devices was short and featured a great deal of anticipation and subsequent remorse. Not unlike a good night out! So, in the spirit of the cost vs. benefit of brief liaisons with the opposite sex, I’ll chalk up my short ownership period of these cameras as a worthwhile experience.

I tried to keep this sample of 12 fairly objective since my own emotional attachment to places, people and experiences doesn’t always make it through the lens. Regardless of the photos that made the grade, this year I found myself preferring film to digital, 1×1 aspect ratio and b&w to colour a lot of the time. Hardly groundbreaking revelations to any seasoned photographer, but fun to use tools for someone like me who was excited to expand his horizons beyond MS Paint as the foundation for his digital image manipulation workflow.

The cameras:

Zeiss Ikon ZM and 35mm Biogon C 2.8

The ZI is my favourite by far and most used. It gives classic rendering with the 35mm biogon which is beautiful with negative film. I cannot give enough praise to the Ikon’s wonderful viewfinder, the convenience and reliability of its Automatic exposure mode and its overall ergonomics and handling. Steve often talks about the necessity of a camera to motivate its inclusion on outings and no camera and lens has been more motivating for my photography than this setup. I had all my film developed and scanned by Foto Riesel in Sydney. They are the best photo lab I’ve used and tolerated my “Selfies on film with a wide-angle lens” phase.

Canon 6d and 40mm f2.8 pancake

This was a neat setup. The 6D is compact for a DSLR, is solid and has a simple but useful control layout. It delivers fantastic IQ on all counts and great low light performance. It really ticks the boxes for what’s important for me in a DSLR. It survived me getting lost in the Australian wilderness several times. I regretted upgrading to the d800e.

D800e and 50mm 1.4g

I had a love hate relationship with this camera. I loved the sharp, detailed results it produced when everything was right. The various metering modes were often way off, under and overexposing at inconvenient times. The AWB was not as natural as the 6d. After the 6d’s interface and layout I found Nikon’s menu structure and controls convoluted. Not to mention the bayonet was designed on opposite day. Perhaps more time spent with this camera would have yielded a happier relationship. More likely my experience is akin to learning to drive in a Formula 1.

Mamiya 7 and 65mm f4

This was my first foray into medium format and the results blew me away. I already have quite an economical shooting style so 10 frames per roll wasn’t too restrictive. Once you get the hang of the centre weighted lightmeter it’s a breeze to use on AEL mode to really nail exposure. It’s easy to load on the go and the controls are basic but very functional. My favourite film for this camera was Fuji pro 400h. My favourite photographic technique with this camera was loading the film incorrectly and getting only 8 exposures instead of 10.

Thank you Steve for your website and your bandwidth, and your readers for their attention.

Canon 40mm 2.8 STM

D800e 50mm 1.4 G

Mamiya 7 65mm Pro 400h

D800e 50mm 1.4g

D800e 50mm f2 auto nikkor

Zeiss 35mm Biogon C Tri-x

Zeiss Biogon 25mm Portra 400

Zeiss Biogon C 35mm Portra 400 -1

Zeiss Biogon C 35mm Portra 400 -2

Zeiss Biogon C 35mm Tri x

Zeiss Biogon C 35mm Portra 400 -3

Zeiss Biogon C 35mm Tri-x

Oct 242013
 

Some images from Photo Plus in NYC today. Sony, Zeiss, Leica…

What a day! Whew…

Yesterday I flew out of Sunny AZ at 6am headed to NYC for the Photo Plus show going on this week. When I arrived in NY I did a big “UH OH” because I realized I only brought a light jacket with me, and here I was in NYC in 48 degree weather! The good thing is that it was not THAT cold so I survived a short walk to dinner with some friends and had a great evening. As always, I had a camera with me so for the chilly walk back I snapped a shot or two..

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This morning I woke up later than I expected, around 8:30AM. Had a business phone call at 9 through 9:30 and by the time I headed out to the show it was 10:30.

On my way I had to take a picture of myself in front of B&H Photo, the “Candy Land” for photo and tech geeks!

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I only had a 15 minute walk to the convention center from my hotel, and was cool that B&H is one block from my hotel. Makes it too easy to spend money though!

As I walked I snapped a few shots with a fisheye that I have been playing around with…

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When I arrived to Photo Plus I saw a few familiar faces and made my way to pick up my press pass.

I ended up walking around and it seemed every few steps someone who knew me would walk up to me to chat! Was so cool to meet so many readers of this site today, all were super nice and wonderful people.

I eventually found my way to the most crowded section of the show (from what I saw) and it was the Sony Booth. They had the A7 and A7r on display, as well as the new RX10 (which is  looking better and better to me the more I mess with it). I even had a chance to borrow a Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar from a woman who was testing some old lenses on the A7. She was kind enough to let me take a shot or two with her lens mounted on the A7.

I snapped a shot of a guy who was chatting with me (a reader here) at 1.5, wide open. Sony would NOT let me put an SD card in the camera (they are saying the camera is still not FINAL in FW, so pre-production) but when I saw the playback it had the full on Zeiss character and was beautiful. I am telling you this..the camera was a breeze to manually focus with this Zeiss ZM lens. No focus shift because you are using Live View, so what you see is what you get.

The OOF transitions were creamy, the color was nice for being indoors with horrible light and I can tell that this camera is going to deliver on IQ, no doubt in my mind at all. After more hands on time with the A7 and A7r I can tell you that yes, the A7r does have metal dials on top where the A7 has plastic. They both feel great and I noticed no difference in feel or build when in my hand. I have a feeling that the a7r is going to be the Godzilla of resolution. A beast.

Shot with the 50 Zeiss Zm Sonnar at 1.5

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So after messing around and chatting with a few folks a woman walks up from Zeiss to show me the new Otus lens. This lens is a statement piece from Zeiss and coming in at $4000. The 55 1.4 design is gorgeous but man, this lens is HUGE (though light).

She wanted me to try it on the A7r and I used the Metabones Adapter to do so. When I looked at the results on the screen..WOWOWOWOWOW. This lens is something the perfectionist will want. Those who want ultimate IQ..this lens will do the trick and seeing that it is a pro manual focus lens (NO AF), it feels REALLY good in use. It is just large.

I HEARD MUMBLINGS…Sony was telling Zeiss..MAKE THIS FOR FE MOUNT! So we shall see. Below is the lens with hood attached and Metabones EF to E mount adapter. I may get to shoot with this lens on the A7r NEXT WEEK and this time, with an SD card in the camera :)

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So as I left Sony I headed toward Nikon, Canon, Fuji and Panasonic. Not much new there. Saw the GX7 but I already reviewed it here. I saw the All weather Nikon 1 which was larger and much more solid than I expected and I saw a few other things around the convention center that were more interesting than what Nikon was offering..

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I stopped by the Olympus booth and they were busy with everyone checking out the E-M1 and even E-P5. I saw quite a few walking around today with OM-D E-M5’s and E-P5’s. The woman above was doing an act for Olympus demoing their wifi smartphone/ipad remote feature. Before I shot this I cracked a joke which was probably not good because she could have lost her concentration :) But she didn’t. Behind here you can see every Olympus Micro 4/3 and 4/3 lens ever made.

The Leica booth had a few gawkers but they were not showing anything new besides their “Glossy Black” D-Lux 6. Yet another refresh of the same old D-Lux 6 which appeared to be slapped together just for the show..I mean, they had to have SOMETHING new right?

They did have this on display…

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I stopped by Fuji as well and took a look at the new X-E2. Looks and feels like an X-E1. Same build. AF seemed faster but not a dramatic difference. The new 23 1.4 was fantastic though.  This is a lens I would buy if I owned a Fuji. Smaller than you think as well.

So after the show I walked back to my room, stopped off at B&H Photo once again and am now laying in my hotel bed writing this update. What I learned today from Photo Plus is that there is MASS interest in the Sony A7 and A7r as well as  the new RX10. Olympus is hot with the E-M1 and Nikon and Canon are still Nikon and Canon with their usual DSLR updates. (yawwwn)

Leica is holding steady with M sales doing very well for them and Panasonic had quite the crowd as well.

So without a doubt, the biggest thing here this year is the Sony A7 and A7r. Sales are STRONG, results are looking AMAZING and the camera is well made, solid and has very fast AF. When something this good comes along, it gets noticed and the people I spoke with today who were giving it a spin all said the same thing..”I pre ordered one already”. They were all happy with the fact that they did.

Remember, starting on the 28th I will have loads of samples and news and videos on the new A7 and A7r and RX10, so bookmark and come back because you will NOT want to miss it.

For those wondering, all photos posted here were shot with an Olympus E-P5.

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I will beheading back to the show tomorrow morning to throw a Voigtlander 12mm on the Sony A7 and A7r and to see what I see on the LCD. Of course, what I see you will see here right after :)

 

Sep 032013
 

The Little Canon S100 by Richard Bach

Hi Steve,

Long time reader, first time poster.

I am an avid photographer down here in sunny SD. I try to have my camera on me every minute of every day, as you never know when the light will be right, that magical subject will appear, or any of those wonderful unpredictable things will happen that make photography so much fun.

But there are just some times I can’t haul my D700 around, and sometimes even that X100 of mine is just a little too big. After a visit at the local camera store where I beheld the glory that is the Fuji X20, I decided I need a compact again. Long story short, I didn’t get the Fuji. It s wonderful camera on all accounts, a masterpiece of precision and feel, but it’s just not pocketable. Next was the Sony RX100, but that also didn’t easily fit in my pants pocket (Whats the point of stepping down to a compact if it is not pocketable?) So I bit the bullet and bought, sight unseen, the smallest RAW shooting compact from my trusted pool of brands: the Canon S100.

canon s100

I was thrilled when I received it, and it brought me back to the time when I had just started digital photography with a Canon SD400. Me and my brothers were off to our yearly tradition of going to our favorite music festival in SoCal (NOT Coachella) that weekend, and this was the perfect time to throw this little beast to the wolves. It had always killed me that I was at such an amazingly photogenic place without a camera years before…

While there were some mishaps and missed shots along the way, I was blown away by the keepers. Perhaps it’s because pocket cameras have come such a long way since the last time I used them, or perhaps I have perfected my workflow over the years, but these results were much better than I was expecting. Its incredible some of the photographic opportunities you are presented with when you just have a camera on you.

Will I be getting rid of my full frame Nikon kit? Of course not. but for the times that camera just isn’t feasible, I will bring my S100 and be happy that I’m getting a shot at all. Because, like I said earlier, you never know when those beautiful moments will happen.

There are more images from the festival up on my Tumblr here are will probably be more to come as time goes on.

http://richardbox.tumblr.com/tagged/fyf

Thanks for reading!

– Richard Bach

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Jun 232013
 

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Day one of the Palouse Road Trip! AMAZING Scenics!

It’s 12:22 AM as I type this, I am dead tired and beat. We shot ALL day around Palouse, WA after a 5 hour drive (including a one hour freeway standstill) to get here. We started our day at 4:30AM and it is just winding down now past midnight with another full day tomorrow starting at 8:45 AM.

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This road trip/workshop, so far, has been EPIC! The light, the scenery, the people, the amazing photos coming from this event and our amazing Guide, Ryan McGinty. In fact, it is going so well Ashwin and I have been thinking that we should do this event every year, each year making it a bit different. There is so much to see and photograph here, it is simply overwhelming.


I am tired so must go to bed but wanted to give everyone an update with some of my photos from today. I shot the M 240, the X Vario, and the Fuji X-E1 and Zeiss Touit lenses. The lenses I used on the M 240 were simple. The 15mm Voigtlander, the 50 Voigtlander Nokton and the old Nikkor 85 f/2. Nothing exotic, nothing fancy.

Here are just a FEW of the keepers from today..and excuse if some are off  – 90% of them are OOC JPEGS from the M.

1st one is of Bo Lorentzen with the 50 Nokton 1.5, wide open. 

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The image below was shot with an old Canon 85 1.8 that Ashwin let me use for a while. Click it for the full size out of camera file. AMAZING and an old $600 classic in LTM mount.

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..and Ashwin being his normal hilarious self! This one with the Nikkor 85 f/2

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The two shots below was taken with the 85 f/2 – An old Nikkor classic

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Below, the 50 Nokton 1.5 shoots some intense color..

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and again, Todd Hatakeyama with the Nikkor 85 f/2 as well as a nice Nikkor landscape

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The image below had colors manipulated by me but the moon and rays were there, only the colors have been messed with – I call this “The Land of Oz”

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More from the 50 Nokton 1.5 (My review is HERE)

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…and a few from the Voigtlander 15mm  – M mount. Had to convert to B&W due to the color shifts with this lens

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and, the Fuji X-E1 with Zeiss Touit 12mm

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..and how about one from the old Canon 135 f/3.5 lens in Leica Screw Mount? A lens that cost $71 and belongs to Ryan, our guide.

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..and a few few from the Leica X Vario…JPEGS

This 1st one is of Bob Towery, taken by Ashwin Rao with the X Vario

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I have much more but just threw up a few for now! I will post more tomorrow or Monday as I can!

..and this is us, as we waited on the freeway for 90 minutes. We decided to take a group shot with the X Vario

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Steve

Mar 192013
 

The M9 Sensor is more than adequate by George Sutton

This post is a response to the recent DxO report on the Leica M9 sensor. I chose to respond this way because I can include photos. Photos are, after all, the final word in this whole discussion.

The overpriced and under featured M9 body only exists because it has a full frame sensor and mounts Leica M lenses, but that is enough to be one of the best cameras made. The M9’s biggest drawback is a lack of versatility but in circumstances where it performs well it produces some very good images. I am not disputing the DxO results but to me the take away is that there is not a great deal of difference between high end sensors in actual use. I say that after owning and using a M9, Canon 1Ds, 1Ds III and now a 5DIII, and an Olympus OM-D. To me, the telling thing is the big diss DxO gives the 1Ds. When it was first released the 1Ds was probably the best camera made. It was way ahead of anything Nikon offered (they have played leapfrog since) and it even surpassed medium format cameras for detailed image quality (there were no medium format digital cameras at that time). Yes, that was then and now there are better cameras but the 1Ds still produced great photos. What I have learned in the meantime is that the single most important factor in a camera’s quality is the lenses. The biggest drawback to the 1Ds was the soft to unusable corners in many Canon lenses back then. Nothing, in my experience at least, equals the quality of a Leica M lens. The following illustrate this point.

One of the toughest camera tests for me is shooting a city at night.

The shots below are all taken at f8 and the camera’s lowest ISO on a tripod with cable release and are close to 100% enlargements for the Leica and Canon and about a 125% enlargement of the OM-D. I selected f8 because it produces star like effects around lights and is typically the sharpest aperture for any lens. The images are somewhat flat because it was hazy and I was shooting from a few miles away. The shot with the Leica was taken with a Leica 90mm f2.8 that I bought used. My guess is that the lens is 10 to 20 years old. The shot with the Canon 5DIII was taken with a new 24-70mm f2.8 II zoom at 70mm. That lens is generally regarded as the best medium range professional zoom currently made and it is very sharp corner to corner. On the OM-D I used a Lumix 12-35 f2.8 zoom at 35mm (equivalent to 70mm on a full frame camera), which is generally regarded as the best medium range zoom for a 4/3 camera. Detail in the buildings is close for the Leica and Canon. The OM-D is worse but that is mostly due to the smaller sensor. Printed 8×10 these differences would be barely visible. The biggest difference is the lights. Note the clear multi point stars produced by the Leica. The Canon is close but the rays emanating from the lights are slightly less distinct. The OM-D is the worst. The star effect is there but the lines are distorted and broken with what appear to be concentric circles radiating out from the light. The star effect can be eliminated by shooting the lens wide open. Wide open the Leica and Canon both did a great job of capturing the light as it was. The OM-D did not do as well. I tried different lenses on the OM-D including a prime and got a similar effect each time. If I were shooting this for sale, I would shoot it with both the Leica and Canon and pick the best. If I could only shoot one it would be the Leica.

I offer these only to illustrate the point that in use the M9 sensor is quite adequate to get a great shot. I am including one more shot to make this point (the last landscape image). The landscape is cropped from the original by about 30%. It was taken with the M9 on a tripod with a Leica 35mm f2 lens at f11. I don’t know if this can be seen in the image here but I have printed the cropped image at the largest size my printer will do, 17×22, and individual bushes about a foot wide can be clearly seen on the desert floor more than a mile below. I haven’t used every camera and lens made but of those I have used I have never seen this level detail from any other camera. That is mostly due to the lenses but the sensor has to be up to the task as well and in my experience the M9 sensor is more than adequate for the job.

Leica

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Canon

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OM-D

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Feb 252013
 

From DSLR to Leica by James Maier

Hi Steve,

I’ve been shooting mainly DSLR for the last few years but, finally, I was compelled to check out the Leica digital rangefinder cameras because of the great time I’d been having (and the excellent photos I’ve been taking) with their little X2 point-and-shoot. (Thanks for the introduction to the X2 BTW!)

The rangefinder paradigm is admittedly not for everybody but I first fell in love with photography by shooting 35mm film in my father’s Contax IIIa when I was a teenager so, in some ways, the M9 was kind of like “coming home” again – only with the convenience of digital files and processing that I’ve grown accustomed to!

I shot Canon gear for years and finally, after some considerable time hands-on with the Leica M9, I’ve completely liquidated my 5DmkII and collection of “L” lenses. The M9, a spare battery and a couple of lenses all fit in a *tiny* Domke F-5XA bag, the whole kit weighing just a few pounds. Compared to the bag I used to lug my DSLR and lenses around in, this is practically effortless, plus it’s much more discrete to carry as well as shoot! The compactness of the M9 is wonderful not only for portability but I find people just don’t *react* in the same way to the M9 as they did to my huge DLSR – they’re more relaxed and comfortable. The have often mistaken it for a vintage film camera. This thing just doesn’t look that imposing. ;)

The Leica M lenses are simply phenomenal – extremely sharp, even in the extreme corners (where my Canon L glass didn’t always fare so well). The lenses are sharp and contrasty even when shot at wide open apertures…and that even applies to the wide-angle lenses! The 50mm Summicron and 35mm Summilux have been excellent partners for this camera, though my favorite is the 21mm ultra-wide Elmarit as it’s helped me to capture stunning landscapes and seascapes in contrast and clarity I could only dream of before.

The CCD sensor in the M9 certainly bucks the CMOS trend of most modern digital cameras but affords the Leica a unique image signature that is absolutely lovely and very film-like to my eyes. From my own experience, I’ve noticed that the M9’s files require much less post-processing than any of my other cameras.

Thanks to you and a few others, I finally found my way to a camera that is a perfect fit that will be a great companion for years to come.

I’ve attached a handful of my M9 shots.

Very Best Regards, James Maier

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Feb 232013
 

Weekend Tidbits. Canon EOS-M, RX1 lens rated and new Leather straps…

Hello to all and happy Saturday! I’m feeling a but better today after going through the worst flu of my life for the past 6 days straight. I have had so much bed rest during these past 6 days I am starting to go stir crazy! I am now feeling a bit better I NEED to get out of the house and see some sunshine. Since I have not done too much work over the past week I want to get caught up and post some things I will be talking about and reviewing soon.

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Canon EOS-M – Dud? 

I have had a Canon EOS-M here for about 5 days but did not even take a serious look at it until today. I fired off some test snaps with the included 22mm f/2 pancake and was all set to write the shortest EOS-M review ever (not good). One reason why is that the AF on this guy is turtle slow and makes the Fuji X cameras appear to be speed demons. The EOS-M is also very small and overly simplified to the point where it is basically a point and shoot with an APS-C sensor. There are no real dials or enthusiast buttons and I am puzzled as to why Canon even released this.

They only have two lenses for it, the 22 and a 18-55 kit quality zoom. That is it. For $799 with the 22mm (which will almost give you a 35mm equivalent due to its APS-C sensor) and no EVF, VF or real controls, I would buy a NEX-6, NIkon V1, Olympus OM-D or even a Fuji X-E1 over the Canon EOS-M. I just do not get who it is for but have a feeling hardcore Canon fans are the ones who are buying it because it is NOT a fun camera to use due to the slow AF, lack of VF, and the fact that it feels like a small P&S. It does not really inspire me in any way. You figure Canon would have been able to release something to kick all of the others to the curb in the mirrorless world but nope. Not even close.

I will still shoot with it over the next week though and even will be trying out a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH on it to see how much fun it is with manual quality glass. To me, the 50 Lux ASPH is the best Leica lens ever. I’ve always been stuck between the 35 Lux and 50 Lux but the 50 is THE ultimate Leica lens, period. My best shots over the years have come from this lens and I plan on making this my exclusive lens with the new Leica M.  Not sure how it will do on the EOS-M though, but I will see soon enough :) I enjoyed using it on my OM-D a while back and it delivered that “lux” magic even with the smaller OM-D sensor. It is a lifetime lens and no longer has year-long waits, in fact Leica dealers should have a few in stock right now and I know for a 100% fact that Ken Hansen has a LOAD of them right now.

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Still, I would never buy the EOS-M to shoot Leica glass on anyway as Leica glass works so well on the Sony NEX, Fuji X or Olympus OM-D (and best on the Leica M bodies) due to them having actual viewfinders. So first impression of the EOS-M without any shooting time is a big disappointment. I can tell the IQ is good but it does nothing that other APS-C sensors can not do but give you those Canon colors.

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The Sony RX1 Ziess lens tested by DXO..and it’s a beauty!

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So DXO tested the Sony RX1 Zeiss 35mm Lens and boy did they REALLY RAVE ABOUT IT. This will give you an idea on why the RX1 is priced as it is..THE LENS  is the heart of the system and tested better than the stand alone $1800 Zeiss 35 1.4…

“Its optical performance is outstanding, and particularly noteworthy for its consistent sharpness and homogenous imaging across the frame. With excellent image quality at maximum aperture becoming outstanding at f/2.8 and on, the Zeiss Sonnar T* 2/35 is likely to become a classic, against which all others are judged. Of course the lens can only be obtained with the purchase of the RX1, a camera that is not entirely without its own quirks and shortcomings. In spite of this, if you have the money to invest, then close to perfect imagery is assured.”

 “With a high overall DxOMark score of 33, the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* is a superb performer optically. That score puts it comfortably ahead of the $1,850 manual focus Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1.4/35 (35mm f/1.4) on a Nikon D3X, which achieved a DxOMark score of 30.””

So there ya go. This Zeiss lens is “likely to become a classic, against which all others are judged” – Same thing I thought from the get go without needing to do any measurements. The RX1 is a beast.

Hand made Leather straps – Tap and Dye

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A few weeks ago I received some straps from a company called “Tap & Dye” who told me their straps are hand made in the good old USA (New York) and I have to say they are very nice quality straps. With so many strap manufacturers out there today it is not hard to find a great strap but sometimes it can be tricky to find one that really gives you what you are looking for when it comes to comfort, usability, security, length, etc. I have seen some Leather straps selling for $200+ but Tap & Dye straps come in under $70 which makes them a good buy for a strap that will last you a lifetime.

These straps will get soft over time and wear in to your own body but when you first get them they will have some stiffness going on.

You can order in any size from 38″ to 48″ and they also sell hand straps using the same quality leather.

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Each strap is made from Full Grain,Cowhide leather. All edges will be left unfinished and distressed for a vintage antique look.

Each strap features durable, high quality antique nickel plated solid brass rivets.

To see all of the offerings from Tap & Dye you can click on over to their site HERE.

Jul 222012
 

Canon EOS-M full specs and Pre-Order info!

So the info is out. The cat is out of the bag. Canon’s new Mirrorless offering is available for pre-order now. If you are a Canon fan you may be thrilled with this offering (Because you can use your Canon glass with it, so makes sense doesn’t it)? Looks like the new “EOS – M”, which is something you should not confuse with a Leica M (ha ha ha) is going to contain a large APS-C sensor coming it at 18MP. As expected, full HD video and high ISO up to 25,600. The camera will also feature a touch screen and hybrid AF just like the Nikon V1 which should make this a speed demon in the AF arena. The new lens mount is the “M’ series and as of now you have two options. The 22mm f/2 or the 18-55 zoom. Two native lenses at launch which is less than the four Nikon released with the 1 series. Canon will also sell an adapter to use all of the Canon EF and EF-S lenses.

With Canon’s power behind this guy it should be a success. The price of this EOS-M is $799 with the 22mm kit prime. Oh and no EVF or built in VF of any kind here. Boo. IC cameras…all should have a VF of some kind IMO though preferably not a huge wart that sits on top. This offering from Canon isn’t going to make me give up any of my current cameras but for some it may be a perfect entry into a mirrorless system. Why they named it the “M” I have no clue because it is surely NOTHING like a Leica M. (LOL, a reader pointed out the M is probably for “Mirrorless” – a big DUHHHH to me as I should have know that)! Maybe Canon has another trick up their sleeve and will announce a more advanced model at Photokina? If this is it then to me it seems a bit “Blah”. Just being honest with MY opinion. Yours may vary.

YOU CAN PRE-ORDER THE EOS-M at B&H Photo HERE.

The new 18-55 Zoom can be pre-ordered at this link.

 

Sensor and Image Processor
High resolution 18.0 MP CMOS APS-C (1.6x crop factor) sensor and high performance DIGIC 5 image processor equal fast functional response, exceptional image quality and sharp detail in both photo and video.
Full HD Movie
The EOS-M offers Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF for continuous focus tracking of moving subjects, manual exposure control, multiple resolution and frame rates, built-in stereo microphone with a wind filter, manual audio level adjustment, and Video Snapshot with editing. Combined with STM lenses, such as the included 22mm f/2 STM lens, the Movie Servo AF provides smooth, silent auto-focus function, a great benefit when shooting video. The camera automatically splits files larger than 4GB for extended, uninterrupted recording and offers a jack for compatible external microphones.
ISO Sensitivity
Normal ISO sensitivity on the EOS-M ranges from 100-12800 but expands in High Sensitivity Mode to 25600 for faster shutter speeds and sharper details in low light.
Hybrid CMOS Auto-focus
Hybrid CMOS AF uses a combination of both Contrast AF, which utilizes the CMOS sensor, and Phase Difference Auto-focus to increase accuracy and auto-focus speed in both photo and video.
Touch Screen LCD with Touch AF
Thanks to a new construction between the its resin-coated cover and the liquid crystal display, the 3.0″ Clear View LCD monitor keeps glare to a minimum and makes it easy to see your images even in bright light. The 1,040,000-dot resolution is ideal for playback and focusing and the smudge-resistant coating on the LCD preserves the luminosity after multiple touches. Numerous camera operations can be handled by the touch screen including Auto-focus control, whereby you touch the LCD screen on the part of the image you want in focus. Two-finger (multi-touch) control allows you to zoom, scroll images and navigate the menus as you would with a smartphone.
Lens Compatibility
At this point, Canon has introduced two M series lenses including the 22mm f/2 STM lens that is included in this kit, but the new EF-M mount on the EOS-M camera is able to use any of the huge family of Canon EF and EF-S lenses. The EF-EOS Mount Adapter will be necessary, but this opens up the EOS-M’s range of creative possibilities to… endless!
Noise Reduction
Multi Shot Noise Reduction provides outstanding noise reduction while preserving fine detail in photos at high ISO speeds. With MSNR activated, the camera takes four consecutive shots of the same image, then merges and aligns them, reducing noise and blur.
Advanced Imaging Features
Handheld Night Scene and High Dynamic Range are assistive functions that allow all levels of photographers to take advantage of digital advancements to improve their shooting results. HDR, for example, shoots three images of the exact same image simultaneously in various exposures and combines the three into one perfectly balanced photo. This is ideal when shooting images that have both shadow and bright light and those whose subject is lit from behind. The EOS-M also offers seven Creative Filters to enhance your images, including Toy Camera Effect and Art Bold Effect, which makes your photo look like an oil painting.
Scene Intelligent Auto Mode
Scene Intelligent Auto mode optimizes all of the camera’s auto controls to provide the best settings based on the camera’s reading of the scene. You compose the shot, the camera does the rest.
Recording
The EOS M Digital Camera uses popular SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards and is even compatible with the newest Ultra High Speed (UHS-I) memory cards.
Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens
The EOS-M kit comes with one of Canon’s first M-mount lenses, the 22mm (35mm equiv = 35.2mm) f/2 STM lens. It is a moderate wide-angle prime lens equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full-frame (35mm) camera. It is ultra-slim, befitting the mirrorless camera it is to be attached to and lightweight. The f/2 aperture means lots of light enters your camera and fast shutter speeds are possible even in lower light and the minimum focusing distance of 5.9″ (O.15m). It houses one aspheric lens element and a 7-blade circular aperture which can deliver soft backgrounds and beautiful bokeh. It is an STM lens which stands for stepping motor and this provides a smooth, silent autofocus when used with the EOS-M’s Movie Servo AF. Silent auto-focus is all-around great, but particularly useful when shooting video so that the sound of the AF does not interfere with the audio you are recording.
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