Dec 012014
 

Cyber Monday Deals (Things I would Buy) – Sony, Cosyspeed and more!

Hey guys! It’s “Cyber Monday” and while every year stores and manufacturers try to get me to push their deals on things I would not personally ever buy, every year I do not post 95% of those deals simply because as I said…I would never buy or use these products. But sometimes there are deals that come along that I feel are special, or well worth the cost and sometimes, a downright NO BRAINER. Things I WOULD buy! Last week I posted a couple of deals..one on the Hasselblad Stellar SE at 70% off (and I ordered one myself), the deal on the Sigma DP Quattro, which is almost half off from $999 to $599. The Sigma is a unique camera and was not tempting to me at $999 but at $599 it is something that some will want for its unique IQ and capabilities for certain subjects.

Below are a few more deals on things that I feel are a great bang for the buck…

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Sony also has some AWESOME deals on the A6000 camera (which is FANTASTIC, see my review HERE)..

Sony A6000 with 16-50 Power Zoom lens – $598!

Sony A6000 Body only – $448!

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CosySpeed has a great deal on their Camslinger bags at $69 each! THIS BAG IS A STEAL FOR $69 and is one of the most useful camera carrying cases I have ever used. See my video on it HERE.

Buy the Cosyspeed Camslinger in BLACK for $69 HERE at B&H Photo. A $50 SAVINGS.

Their finger strap is something I actually prefer to a wrist strap, and it can be had for only $12.90. See it here. (Also used in the video at the above link) 

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How about a deal on the Fuji X100S?

$899 in black!

LEICA?

Also, do not forget Leica has some cool discounts right now. $750 of an M 240 and $250 off of most lenses. You can buy Leica from Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop or Leica Store Miami.

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NIKON!

There is a great Nikon Df deal over at Amazon (Through ONECALL) where you can get a Nikon Df and 50 1.8 for $600 off (in black) for a total of $2396 (20% off). Check it out HERE.

Oct 272014
 

Fuji Deals. Hot Fuji lenses and cameras ON SALE now!

Looks like there are some Fuji items on sale!. The 23 1.4 is one of my favorite Fuji lenses, the 56 1.2 is a fantastic portrait lens and the 10-24 is for all of you who crave a wide-angle. The following three lenses and cameras are now available, brand new, for $$$ off. Get ‘em while you can!

 

The Fuji X100s Camera is on sale IN BLACK for $200 OFF. B&H Photo link HERE

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The Fuji 23 1.4 – $200 OFF – B&H Photo link HERE

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The Fuji 56 1.2 R Lens – $150 OFF – B&H Photo link HERE

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THE Fuji 10-24 F/4 OIS  – $200 OFF – B&H Photo Link HERE

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The Fuji 14mm f/2.8 – Now only $699, $200 OFF! B&H Photo link HERE

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Sep 112014
 

The most Interesting Pre-Photokina Releases so far…to me.

With only a few days to go until Photokina kicks off we have already had some pre announcements from Fuji, Sony, Olympus and others. Nothing MAJOR and nothing WOW but I feel these big announcements will come VERY soon ;) They better! So far we have the below announcements that are somewhat interesting, but nothing ground breaking.

FUJI

As I reported the other day, Fuji has announced the X100T, the new 56 1.2, new X-T1 color/finish and even the X30. The X100T is an ongoing evolution of the X100 series camera and for me, the best Fuji has announced yet (more to come i am sure). Me, call me nuts but I prefer the original X100 even today over the X100s. After using both side by side I feel the sensor in the original is a bit more organic and dare I say..more Leica like? The X100T uses the same sensor as the X100s, which is also a fabulous camera that many swear by (my review is here). The X100 series for me is where it is at for Fuji. While I like the X-T1 a lot, the simplicity and classic lines of the X100 is what gets my blood pumping to shoot. For me, it is about simplicity. Period. Simple, clean, easy to use and shoot, fixed 35 f.2. What more can you ask for besides a full frame sensor? (See Sony RX1 for that). The X100T is available for $1299. Priced right for a super camera system.

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The new X30 is also an evolution of the X10, X20 and appears to be a super little camera as well. New EVF, new told LCD, new Classic Chrome simulation and new Large capacity battery that will give you a powerhouse 470 shots makes it sound like the little X30 may be the bang for the buck in the Fuji lineup. It looks sweet as well, the best X10 type camera to date in the design department I think. The cost is also right at $599. 

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You can pre-order all of the new Fuji from my list of recommended Fuji dealers: B&H Photo, PopFlash.com, or Amazon.

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OLYMPUS

Olympus has some new goodies on the way as well…a few that I can not mention just yet but so far they have announced a minor release or two. For example, one is the all black 12mm f/2. The 12 f/2 has long been one of my fave Olympus lenses but to date they have only released it in Silver and a black limited edition that had some extras but also was extra in the $$ department. Olympus has now released the black for normal production so you can get one for $799. This lens is so good on a Olympus body and has given me some fantastic shots. But the lens is nothing exciting if you are looking for something new and fresh. Let’s wait and see what the official Olympus releases will be as compared to the rumor sites :)

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SONY

Sony has announced a new QX camera, the QX1 which is actually an E-Mount in the size and shape of a lens. Basically it helps to turn your iPhone into a high-end APS-C camera. You can use it as is or with your phone. Me, I was never a fan of these oddball cameras. Many love them but for me, if I am going to have something like this, I think I would just use my phone as it is. I love what Sony is doing with the A and RX series but am not sold on the QX yet. Maybe once I give it a try I will enjoy it :) Coming it at $398 you will also need to add an E-Mount lens to this QX1. It is rumored that Sony will be saving its big WOW announcements for 2-4 months AFTER Photokina. Is there truth to this? NO idea but if so it seems odd as they would miss the Christmas season with those big releases. The last two years were huge for the Sony A7 and RX1 with huge holiday sales at launch. I am anxious to see the rumored new RX2 ;)

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ZEISS

As I posted about last week, Zeiss has announced two new full frame manual lenses for the Sony E-Mount system. The Loxia 35 and 50 f/2 will be superb I think and give Sony A7 users more choices when it comes to a high quality fast prime lens, and Zeiss is a name that means quality. I use Zeiss ZM with my Leica’s and love them. Zeiss also announced the 85mm OTUS which has already been tested by DXO and they claim it is the best portrait lens ever made. Coming in at $4,490 IT IS NOT cheap! But damn, it will venice. The Nikon mount can be converted to use on Leica or Sony cameras.  Zeiss rocks for sure but be prepared to pay for the Otus if you want the best!

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What is to come?

I feel that this Photokina will not be as ground breaking as previous years. I see Fuji bringing out the X-Pro 2, which is just about due for a full on refresh new EVF, sensor, etc. I also see Sony releasing new FE lenses for the A7 series, as that is what is needed for the A7 cameras! More fast primes IMO! Olympus will be releasing new lenses I am sure..maybe some pro zooms that are expected and possibly a new prime or two. Panasonic I feel will not be doing anything huge this year and Leica, well, I think they will be releasing something really cool, really expensive and really limited edition. I also feel some new T lenses will be shown as well. The new 28 Summilux will also be announced but I expect it to come it at around $7k. Also, MAYBE a new X camera and D-Lux? Maybe. I think Sony has some big guns that will be special on the way but not sure when they will make them official. Pentax, Nikon, Canon, Samsung…I have not heard anything major going in with any of them though Samsung may have something really interesting coming in a few days.

I guess we will find out VERY soon, so I am looking forward to seeing what actually is announced!

Sep 092014
 

The New Fuji X100T, 56 1.2 APD, Graphite X-T1 and 50-140 Zoom.

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The new X100T – The new flagship X100 – $1299, November ship date. Buy Here.

Well, the new Fuji stuff has been announced and so far it is everything I have been told it would be. Cool updates but nothing really “WOW” or groundbreaking..yet.  Today’s announcement brings us a new version of the X100 that will replace the “S” version, yes the X100T is now a reality. Basically it has a better build and improved Hybrid viewfinder. In reality, a rehash of the X100S. Coming in at $1299, this now Flagship version of the X100 will be shipping in November in black or silver.  The X100T has the same sensor and IQ as the X100s and will still work with all X100 accessories such as the wide and tele adapters. 

The X100 is a classic and IMO the best camera in the entire Fuji lineup. I’d take an X100 over any other Fuji camera made today. I expect the T will do well, but since it is a rehash, I doubt it will sell in the same numbers as the X100s or original X100. You are gaining a new Hybrid VF, enhanced controls and faster shutter speeds. Will be available in black or silver.

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Press Info for the X100T

“The X100T comes newly equipped with an advanced Hybrid Viewfinder with an Electronic Rangefinder that now gives users reduced display lag times, automatic brightness controls and a Natural Live View shooting display.

The new FUJIFILM X100T blends award-winning image quality with a renowned design that gives enthusiast and professional photographers the most important controls and functions at their fingertips. The X100T combines the resolution and power of the APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor and EXR Processor II with a bright FUJINON 23mm F2 fixed lens for optical excellence.
And to give photographers a new type of film simulation to work with, the X100T ships with Fujifilm’s new ‘Classic Chrome’ film simulation that delivers muted tones and deep color reproduction for beautifully dramatic images.

Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder with Electronic Rangefinder
The FUJIFILM X100T uses an improved Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder with Electronic Rangefinder that allows focusing as if using a mechanical rangefinder. While in optical viewfinder mode, pushing the OVF / EVF switching lever to the left will switch the viewfinder to electronic rangefinder mode. Additionally, Focus Peak Highlight and Digital Split Image can be selected, and the magnification of the focused area can be changed. Compared to the X100S, the frame coverage in the X100T has been increased from 90% to 92%, and the field of view can now be accurately checked closer to the actual subject. The X100T also uses Real-time parallax correction for more accurate image composition. Reframing after bringing the image into focus is no longer necessary, allowing for a seamless shooting experience.

Photographers also now have access to Shooting Effect Reflection settings within the Hybrid Viewfinder to recreate selected camera effects, including Film Simulations. When turned off, users can see the natural view. The image within the finder is displayed at the maximum frame when shooting under dim light and dark areas such as night scenes, enabling shooting while looking at a smooth image, all while greatly reducing display lag time.

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Range of controls expanded, upgraded body
The FUJIFILM X100T now allows photographers to set the aperture to 1/3 steps using the aperture ring, while the exposure compensation dial has been extended to ±3 stops. Also, the command lever has been changed to a command dial, and through the adoption of a 4-way controller to improve operability. The X100T is also now equipped with 7 customizable Fn buttons for a truly personal shooting experience.

The FUJIFILM X100T has an upgraded body that is die-cast magnesium on the top surface and bottom of the body for a highly durable and functional design. The X100T’s aperture ring, shutter speed dial, and exposure compensation dial now have a groove shaped pattern for an improved feel and grip. The X100Talso features a high-definition 1.04M-dot 3” LCD has for extraordinary visibility.

New “Classic Chrome” film simulation
Fujifilm’s unprecedented image quality has been cultivated through the development of photographic films over the past 80 years and helps to reproduce warm skin tones, bright blue skies and rich green trees, just as photographers remember the scene. The X100T ships with the new ‘Classic Chrome’ film simulation mode, which delivers muted tones and deep color reproduction.”

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The Fuji X-T1 Graphite Edition – $1499, shipping in November 2014. BUY HERE.

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Fuji has also announced and are releasing a new flashy version of the X-T1 in a graphite finish and other enhancements over the original X-T1. I think it looks nice but you can check out the press info below:

“The new special edition FUJIFILM X-T1 Graphite Silver, a weather-resistant premium interchangeable lens camera with a large OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) that delivers an instant image preview. The X-T1 Graphite Silver also includes the latest generation 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and the segment’s fastest autofocus of 0.08 seconds*1 for professional photographers and enthusiasts who want the ultimate in image quality in all weather conditions.

Triple layer coating for a remarkable Graphite Silver finish
The new FUJIFILM X-T1 Graphite Silver edition uses a triple layer coating to give it a unique and durable fit and finish. Following an antioxidant treatment on the magnesium body, a matte black undercoat (primer) is applied to the X-T1 as a first coat. The black undercoat tightens the colors of the shadowed areas and makes the highlighted areas stand out. Then, the X-T1 body is rotated at a high speed while thin coats of ultra-fine paint particles are layered using a computer controlled “Thin-film Multilayer Coating Technology” for a smooth and luxurious Graphite Silver finish. Finally, the X-T1 is given a clear coat for extra durability and a deep gloss finish that subtly changes its appearance depending on how it is struck by the light.

Natural Live View and increased shutter speed
The FUJIFILM X-T1 Graphite Silver edition has been upgraded with a new Natural Live View in the EVF that displays images just as the naked eye sees them. With the X-T1 Graphite Silver edition, users can disable the Preview Picture effects from viewfinder image while shooting to display a truly natural image composition just as they would see with an optical viewfinder.

The FUJIFILM X-T1 Graphite Silver edition is now equipped with a high-speed electronic shutter that has a maximum speed of 1/32000 second that can be set in 1/3 steps when using the FUJINON XF23mmF1.4 R, XF35mmF1.4 R, or the XF56mmF1.2 R lenses. Additionally, the mechanical shutter will not operate when any speed for the electronic shutter is selected for a completely silent shooting experience.

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New “Classic Chrome” film simulation
Fujifilm’s renowned image quality has been cultivated through the development of photographic films over the past 80 years and helps to reproduce warm skin tones, bright blue skies and rich green trees, just as photographers remember the scene. The FUJIFILM X-T1 Graphite Silver edition ships with the new ‘Classic Chrome’ film simulation mode, which delivers muted tones and deep color reproduction.

Exciting firmware update coming December 2014 (X-T1 Graphite Silver and X-T1 Black)
Fujifilm will release a free, comprehensive firmware update in December 2014 specifically for the new FUJIFILM X-T1 Graphite Silver and the original X-T1 Black that will give users exciting new features and controls to dramatically enhance their X-T1 shooting experience, including:

AF Area direct selection – Users can select the focus area with the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn Key.
Function replacement for the AE-L/AF-L buttons – The currently locked AE-L/AF-L button function will now be interchangeable, depending on the user’s preference.
Focus Area size variability during MF – Users will be able to change the focus area in Manual mode during One Push AF with the AF-L button.
Macro Mode direct selection – Users will be able to directly turn ON or OFF the Macro function in Auto Focus mode to expand the distance measurement range to the short-distance range. This will be possible without accessing the pop-up menu screen.
Q Menu customization – The update will render the items and layout of the Q Menu, used for quick access of frequently-used items, changeable to the user’s preference.
Video frame rate selection – In addition to the existing 60fps and 30fps selections, 50fps and 25fps, as well as a 24fps selection will become available to users. 50fps and 25fps allow video editing in the PAL region, such as Europe and elsewhere, without converting the frame rate. The 24fps will offer movie-like video capture and play back.

Video manual shooting – Users will be able to select ISO sensitivity prior to shooting videos, as well as adjusting the aperture and shutter speed during video shooting.
Phase Detection AF support for One Push AF – With One Push AF, operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing, the update will enable Phase Detection AF with quicker focusing speeds.
Metering area focus area interlocking – The update will enable users to interlock the AF area position with the metering area when spot metering is selected.
Expansion of the Program Shift setting area – The update will enable the current Program Shift, in which the low-speed side is 1/4 second, to be shifted to a maximum of 4 seconds.

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The new Fuji 56 1.2 ADP – $1499, ships in December. BUY HERE!

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Then we have another Fuji rehash! A new version of the 56 1.2 that will have better 3D pop and smoother Bokeh because of the “Apodizing Filter”. When the Nocticron beat out the original Fuji 56 1.2 Fuji must have decided that they needed to update the lens, which is not even old, leaving original 56 1.2 owners out in the cold. For $1499 you can now have the 56 1.2 APD version, with a better/smoother and more blurred Bokeh.  Press info is below:

“The new FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 R APD (Apodization) is a fast and nearly silent lens for FUJIFILM X-Series CSC’s that has a maximum aperture of F1.2 to make it the world’s brightest autofocus lens for digital cameras with an APS-C sensor. In addition, the new apodizing filter makes it the ideal choice for portrait photography where every detail is crystal clear, with images set on a gorgeous bokeh with smooth outlines for pictures with a three-dimensional feel.

The XF56mm F1.2 R APD is constructed of 11 glass elements in eight groups, including one aspherical glass molded lens element and two extra low dispersion lens elements. Spherical aberrations are corrected by the aspherical glass element to deliver high resolution at the maximum aperture setting. Additionally, thanks to the combination of two extra-low dispersion lens elements and three cemented lens elements, chromatic aberrations are greatly reduced.

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The 50-140 F/2.8 Zoom – $1599, ships in December. BUY HERE!

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Finally, a new Zoom has been announced from Fuji, the 50-140 f/2.8 with a price tag of $1599. This will be like a 76-213 f/2.8 lens, so one for the tele zoom guys who love their 2.8 aperture. Press info is below:

The new FUJINON XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR has a focal length equivalent to 76-213mm, and a constant F2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. The length of the lens barrel remains constant throughout the entire zoom range, and features a weather resistant and dust-resistant finish that can also work in temperatures as low as 14°F. Thanks to a high-performance gyro sensor, a unique image stabilization algorithm and the bright F2.8 aperture, hand-held photography is possible in a wider range of shooting conditions. The XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR also now uses the world’s first Triple Linear Motor for fast and quiet autofocusing and shooting.

The FUJINON XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR has a lens construction of 23 glass elements in 16 groups, which features five ED lens elements, and one Super ED lens element with low dispersion to substantially reduce chromatic aberrations. The XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR also uses a new Nano-GI (Gradient Index) coating technology that ensures this high-performance lens delivers the outstanding imaging results that photographers have come to expect from the award-wining X-Series.

So there ya have it, new stuff from Fuji just announced and super scorching off the press!

You can pre-order the new Fuji items at B&H Photo.

Aug 262014
 

Flashback: The Fuji S5 Pro. Gorgeous color reproduction

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Many of you may be surprised but one of my favorite digital cameras ever is a camera that I feel had the best Fuji color ever, even better than what we get with the newer X series. Yep, the now classic Fuji S5 Pro was built-in a Nikon D200 body, was slow to operate (for a DSLR) and did not have the most/highest resolution BUT it was and still is a camera capable of tremendous color reproduction. My time with the Fuji was spent back in 2007 and 2008 and during this time I also owned the Nikon D300, which had a better body, was faster, and did everything better than the Fuji, well, except for the color and Dynamic Range.

Direct from camera color taken on a gorgeous fall day in Wheatfield Indiana

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Before Fuji had the X100, X-E1, Xt1 or any X camera they were using Nikon bodies and producing DSLR’s with their own unique sensor. The lens mount was Nikon so all Nikon glass would work on the Fuji S1, S2, S3 and S5. (I have owned the S2, 3 and 5). When I started doing comparisons between the S5 Pro and the Nikon D300, I preferred the S5Pro in the IQ department but loved the D300 for its speed and higher resolution. At that time I ended up sticking with the S5 Pro longer than I did the D300 but I do remember coming back to the D300 later on.

Still, as I look back at my photos on an old hard drive I noticed a few POP OUT from my screen, and then I remembered…ahhhh yes, the Fuji S5 Pro!  Today you can still find S5’s for sale used and the prices range anywhere from $300 to $550 depending on condition. After looking back at some memories shot with the S5 I may one day buy one of the used ones up for an occasional burst of beautiful Fuji color. It isn’t so shabby in N&W either!

Who here has shot with or has owned the Fuji S1, S2, S3 or S5 Pro? If so, leave a comment and let me know what YOU think of the classic Fuji digital cameras! 

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Jul 142014
 

My favorite cameras for usability, ability and versatility mid 2014

By Steve Huff

Wow. It is already mid 2014. Half of this year has whizzed by faster than ever and as always we have a ton of cameras that we can choose from when it comes to photography. If we want something small that packs a punch, we have that. If we want something for low light, we have that as well. If we want something that is a joy to shoot, hold and use, well, we also have that. Do we have it all in one single camera yet? Well, not really.

There are always new camera seeing released though maybe not as many as the years past. DSLR production, as in new models, has seemed to slow down some from the constant barrage of new models that we used to see. Well, at least it seems like it. Even mirrorless offerings seem to be lasting a little longer between releases these days, and this is GOOD as we are at the point now where almost any camera will give us better results than most of us even need.

So far in 2014 we have had some cool releases and there are still fantastic cameras that were released in the past that are still perfectly usable. The question you need to ask yourself when deciding on a new camera is “What will I be shooting with it”, also “Do I value usability more than overall versatility”? “Will I be shooting mostly low light or in good light”? “Does it need to fit in my pocket”?

Once you decide what it is you want to use the camera for, be it portraits, your kids, vacations, or just an everyday shooter then you need to decide if you want simplicity in a fixed lens model or something that will allow you to choose and change lenses. The choice is yours as there is something out there to fit your needs, and I am going to talk about the cameras I like as of July 2014 with the reasons WHY I really like, if not love them.

My fave cameras made for Versatility

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Micro 4/3, Olympus E-M and E-P series

My favorite camera for ALL OUT versatility as of today is still the Olympus E-M1 or even E-P5. These cameras are beautifully made with a solid feel and gorgeous looks (in the case of the E-P5). They have some of the best lenses made for any system next to Leica from fisheye to telephoto and everything in between including some super fast primes like the Nocticron f/1.2 that is one of the best lenses I have ever used. With Micro 4/3 you have speed, you have the lenses, you have the build, you have the amazing 5-AXIS Image Stabilization and you have a smaller size. The lenses are so good, and not so astronomically priced. The color reproduction is beautiful and the B&W is not too shabby either. A camera like the E-M1 has it all and the only real weakness of this camera is that the sensor is smaller than full frame and smaller than APS-C. For this reason you lose out on some shallow depth of field and the images will be a bit more noisy at high ISO than full frame cameras.

Even so, if you shoot mostly in good light and want one hell of a system with unlimited lens choice and an all around great experience with pro image quality results, the E-M1 is still a gorgeous camera. The E-M10 and E-M5 are as well. I reviewed them all and you can read my reviews of these models HERE, HERE and HERE. Yes, you can indeed get DSLR quality and beyond with these models.

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

Three from Micro 4/3 – Super versatile cameras that do it all. 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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My fave camera for Point & Shoot, Vacation and SMALL SIZE!

Sony takes it here for me with the new advanced pocket rocket, the RX100 III. 

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The new Sony RX100 III is a hell of a camera in almost every way. It is small, made very well, has a pop up EVF, tilt LCD and stellar IQ for a small pocket camera. It’s a handsome camera as well and gives us an f/1.8 to f/2.8 lens from 24-70 (ff equiv). What is not to like? The color is great. the files are nice and I have seen some do amazing work with the RX100 version 1 and now Version III improves on that model in every way. This is, hands down, the best pocket camera I have ever seen or used, ever. Video is good as well. It does it all but will not give you the all out versatility or IQ of something like a Micro 4/3 or full frame model. For what it is though, it is the perfect camera for every day shooting, vacation, kids, family, events, etc. Whoever buys an RX100 III will not be disappointed. It is the real deal. I have been able to use one for a but thanks to B&H Photo but have not had serious time yet with it. Will be doing that this week. You can buy the RX100 III at B&H Photo or Amazon.

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My Fave camera for Usability

Without Question, the Leica M reigns supreme here

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The Leica M, any of them from film to the M 240 or Monochrom take this one for me in a huge way. These cameras are ones that you cherish and create an emotional bond with. For those who think that is nonsense, then you have never had that bond with a camera, and yes, it is real. The Leica M is a masterpiece of design, build, and usability. All manual focus using a rangefinder it is a very precision tool that actually can teach you a think or two about photography, framing and exposure. It is a tool one can use for a lifetime if you choose a film model, as they last forever. While the price is off-putting to many, think about it in a new way. This is a camera that will give you the most enjoyment from any camera ever..well, it has for me and not everyone is the same. From the moment you take it from its box all of your regrets of the money spent fade away.

The Leica M6, M7, MP, M8, M9, M240 and Mono will give you that Leica experience that no other camera will give you. As for IQ, others can meet or exceed the Leica in that area but nothing can beat it for usability or for creating that emotional connection. You can buy a Leica from many places these days but my faves have always been Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop and Leica Store Miami. These guys will treat you right.

Three from the Leica M 240

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My favorite camera for general every day and low light use

The Sony A7s wins this one easily. 

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You guys know how much I adore the Sony A7s and while it is not the most versatile (only due to lack of native lenses when compared to others such as Micro 4/3) camera it is indeed quite powerful. There is no low light situation that this camera can not tackle, period. When used with the 50 0.95 Mitakon I can see in the dark and when used with the native Sony lenses such as the 35 2.8 or 55 1.8 the camera will even AF in the dark. Amazing. The A7 also has better color performance than the A7 and A7r , better AWB, faster AF and better M mount lens compatibility. You can read my review here to see what it is all about but I now have one of these bad boys with a few lenses and love it to pieces. As I said in the review, the A7s is probably puns for pound, dollar for dollar my favorite camera that I have ever reviewed.

Low light shooters, this is a must try or own. The camera also is excellent in daytime shots and video. If more native lenses were around it would be unbeatable for me as of July 2014.

You can buy the A7s at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Three from the A7s, 1st one using the Voigtlander 35 1.2 wide open and a 100% OOC JPEG. 2nd one is from the Mitakon 50 0.95 and third and fourth is from the Zeiss 50 Sonnar 1.5. 

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Runner Ups

The Fuji X-T1 and Leica T are also very cool and very capable cameras. The Leica is different than other cameras in its interface and joy of use. It is a Leica and gives you the Leica style of IQ and pride of ownership. The Fuji is still a lightweight in the build but for Fuji fans, this is the best of the lot when it comes to Fuji interchangeable lens bodies.

Of course these are not the only cameras I like, but they are my faves as of July 2014. The Sony, the Leica, the Olympus..all superb in so many ways and unlikely  to leave anyone disappointed as long as you use them with good glass. The key is to get out and use them (for me it has been tough since it has been 110-112 every day and me and extreme oven like heat do not jive well for more than 5-10 minutes) and have fun using what you do own. The key is you more than anything, not the gear..though I admit..it is very fun to test and try new cameras!

Jun 302014
 

An Indian Wedding – one body, one lens, no flash pictures

By Arindam Pal

Hi Brandon and Steve,

How have you been doing? I have been quite busy settling down in a city in my home country for a while. Fortunately, I found some respite from the humdrum when I attended one of my brother-in-law’s wedding in New Delhi. Then I thought, why not take this golden opportunity and challenge myself to a strict rule – shoot the wedding with one body, one lens and no flash. Wedding photography without artificial light – was it even possible? Wedding photography in India is yet to take off for the masses – barring a few, most of the photographers are underpaid for the amount of effort they put in and the shots are mostly about the thousand or so people who attend, the various religious ceremonies and so on. No emphasis on smaller stories and the quintessential mood of a vibrant Indian wedding. But they do carry strobes and monos that I could leverage if I position myself correctly. Instead of trying to shoot what they would capture, I chose to pursue a different PoV. So, out came the trusty Fuji X-E2 and the outstanding 35 mm f/1.4. Many folks complain about missed focus on the X bodies. Even when shooting at night at higher than average ISOs, I never had a problem. I left the OM-D E-M1 back home because I knew I needed the Fuji’s insane sensor to allow for 99% night shots. The E-M1 is great but I wanted to minimize noise as much as possible. Ever since I heard about the Sony A7S, I have been waiting for your detailed review to come out. Maybe, that has the prowess to fill every gap that I find lacking. Here are some of the stories that I wanted to highlight:

1. The groom was sweating profusely in the intense Delhi summer. The photographer wanted a picture of the two brothers without the sweat showing up – so, the groom’s brother (my other brother-in-law) quickly takes out his own kerchief and wipes the sweat off his brother’s face. I thought this would be the best position for me to show the real camaraderie between two brothers. It was a challenging shot because I was looking straight at the bright light on the left. But the ISO 2500 DR from the X-E2 was good enough to retain some details even in harsh lighting conditions. EXIF: f/1.8 1/500 @ISO 2500

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2. Leading lines and symmetric split? And I knew no one was going to shoot the decor, the thousands of dollars’ worth of real flowers. I could have shot at a smaller aperture but the idea of one rose bouquet fading into another was just appealing. EXIF: f/2.8 1/420 @ISO 2000

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3. The bride and groom’s first dance together. I would normally focus on the couple as they venture into a new life together. However, the story here is not about the couple alone but on all the others around, showering blessings and cheering for them. So, I chose it be out of focus – critics will surely disagree. EXIF: f/1.4 1/420 @ISO 800

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4. An archetypal wedding portrait. My sister in law was all decked up and I wanted to see how well the 35 mm would hold up in the ambient magenta cast light. I opened up the door just a wee little bit to let the natural outdoor light seep through. At ISO 1600, there was hardly any noise creep. EXIF: f/2 1/70 @ISO 1600 EV -0.7

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5. And what Indian wedding is complete without showing some application of Henna tattoo? I got a small one made for meJ. This one shows one of my sisters-in-law waiting patiently as the Henna dries out and becomes permanent for a week or so. In the intense heat, 30 minutes was enough. EXIF: f/2 1/45 @ISO 2500

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6. The final one tells the story of the bride leaving her parents’ home to be with her partner for life. While everyone was focused on her, I was thinking of how my bro-in-law was feeling. He surely did not know how to react to his newly wed wife all in tears in her mother’s arms. A pinkish magenta light distorts the WB but according to me, the vivid color shows nothing but the confusion in his eyes! EXIF: f/1.8 1/70 @ISO 800

AbhinayWedding-6

Follow me on Flickr@

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

Thanks,

Arindam

Jun 022014
 

Zeiss Touit Deals BACK IN STOCK NOW! ACT FAST!

 

See the bundle deal for Sony – The Zeiss 12mm and 32 1.8 for $919!

See the bundle deal for Fuji – The Zeiss 12 and 32 1.8 for $919!

BACK IN STOCK NOW BUT WILL GO FAST!!! 

Both of these lenses are superb and are a steal of a deal at $919 for the set. Deals like this one rarely come around, so if you have been wanting a sweet lens for your Sony or Fuji X, these are both fantastic. But do not wait too long…

The Zeiss 32 1.8 on the Sony A6000 is one hell of a lens (my review here). B&H also has the 12mm Zeiss at a special price as well. Details and direct links below on these new in box lenses!

Click here to see all of the Zeiss Touit Deals at B&H Photo NOW!

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B&H PHOTO IS also advertising this INSANE deal of the two tout lenses, the 32 1.8 and 12 2.8 for Sony or Fuji for $919 TOTAL. That is $800 off the normal price. 

See the bundle deal for Sony

See the bundle deal for Fuji

IN STOCK NOW!

May 202014
 

Some Fuji x-t1 Images, A User Report

By James

Hi Steve,

Just thought I’d share some images I took the last week with the Fuji x-t1. I rented the body and the 56/1.2 lens for a trip with my daughter to Ashland Oregon. I own an x100 but it rarely came out of the bag this trip as the x-t1 was just too much fun to put down. Also it was raining quite a bit so I thought I’d give a test to the x-t1’s weather resistance, it performed great. The AF speed was surprisingly quick with the 56mm even wide open and I had very few misses. Still trying to figure out how to incorporate this rig into my pro (Canon) setup but getting an assortment of new lenses might prohibit that.

I shot in RAW+jpeg and just bounced back and forth from the Provia and BW with green filter settings. This was easy to switch on the fly with the Q menu. The jpegs looked so good I didn’t need to use the RAW files. These images here are pretty straight from the camera with just a few Lightroom tweaks, the BW images were done in camera and the color images were all shot with auto WB. I think the Fuji amps up the color a little on its jpegs but they look gorgeous straight out of the camera.

James

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May 012014
 

One is not enough – using both the m43 and X sensors

By Arindam Pal

Hi Brandon and Steve,

It’s been over a year I sent something to you. Those were pictures taken during a short visit to my native land in India. A lot has changed over the year, both personally and professionally. Last year, I was shooting with the OM-D E-M5 but did not much like the noise response and preferred the Fuji X Pro, in spite of it being slow.

Steve’s review on E-M1 was up by October of 2013 and I placed an order along with the 17 1.8 and 45 1.8. The E-M1 is a great addition to the family. It has improved upon the E-M5 in many ways. Love the large EVF, snappy autofocus and the rugged, all-terrain look. I was quite happy with the results, although I found low light noise to be an issue. I understand people have different preferences and opinions. Many would prefer the slight noise that the E-M1 produces at ISO 1600 and above. However, I personally find any amount of noise distasteful. Coming from a D3S, it’s a challenge to accept it.

So, I decided to get another body and ended up buying a lightly used X-E2 body along with the 23 1.4 and 14 2.8. I could not be happier. Now when I shoot in low light and want high quality noise free images, I use the Fuji and when I need a faster response, I just carry the OM-D. Both are equally fun to use. I also bought a Nikon adapter to use my existing Nikon primes. I found that the 85 1.8D Nikon lens goes very well with the Fuji.

Must say, I am tempted by the upcoming Sony A7S with its practically noise free images but hope Fuji or Oly will come up with something extraordinary very soon

Sending a few pictures chronologically. Hope you would like them enough to post them on your blog. I did not bother much about the technical details when I was shooting these – but they show the passion I have for my newly grown family! Please feel free to use any or all of them:

E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/4000 with -1 EV to create the silhouette

The 1st one is of wife 36 weeks in pregnancy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1000 1/70

The 2nd one is our first daughter, Aarwen celebrating her 1st month on this Earth

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 E-M1 and 45 1.8 @f/1.8 ISO 400 1/200

The 3rd one – Aarwen again, holding on to her mother

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/160

The 4th one – Aarwen with her first plaything

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/2 ISO 1600 1/25

5th – she likes to talk to Mommy

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 X-E2 and 23 1.4 @f/4 ISO 200 1/170

6th one is from my recent visit to Bangalore, a street vendor selling fresh young coconut water to beat the heat

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Thanks so much,
Arindam

Apr 262014
 

Turkish fisherman with the Fuji X100s

By Howard Shooter

I must be strangely attracted to fisherman:

The last post of mine you very kindly published was about the fishing town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, England. In stark contrast I now find myself relaxing in a wonderfully self-indulgent week of all-inclusive heaven, in Dalaman, Turkey with my wife Karen and my three gorgeous kids. What I needed was ironically a week of no photography and some serious “R and R”, after an enjoyably punishing work schedule.

As a food photographer, I decided to leave the beloved Leica M240 at home, with all the lenses, filters etc, I needed a break from manual this and aperture that… Instead I took just a small Canon (for the kids shots), and my conflicted Fuji X100s. My Fuji conflicts with me because I am magnetically drawn to out-and-out quality over everything else and I was thinking of flexing the plastic, one more time to invest in the Sony RX1R. The quality of the Sony is Leica-esque and it’s cheaper than the 35mm Summilux. or Summicron. But the story doesn’t end there; the Fuji X100s must have been designed by a photographer. It just works beautifully. I would argue that the Fuji is more ergonomically designed than the Leica in some respects, mainly the exposure compensation dial, and it is a total pleasure to use. The quality, once stopped down by a stop or two is lovely, could be sharper, with a better dynamic range, but the information is there if you want to fiddle and faddle. (I made the word faddle up btw). On an all-inclusive I expected the usual anonymous beaches, impeccable cleanliness and lack of soul or character, hence no reason to Leica up… The hotel we’re staying at is wonderful and is more than we could have wished for actually.

… and then my family, after a day of rain, went to look at the views on the beach. These Turkish fisherman were so friendly. I approached them today and just took about ten shots of each man over a three-minute period. The Fuji performed incredibly well. It’s so unobtrusive that I didn’t feel like I was violating their private space. The dual viewfinder is just perfectly implemented and the 35mm is such a flexible focal length. The shutter lag is almost non-existent and the camera feels very intuitive and responsive. Suffice to say I don’t feel so conflicted now. I shall be putting my plastic to better use. The Fuji is an excellent companion and probably got me more hits than if I would have had the Leica with all those nets flying around. Oh well… the buffet beckons!

The shots were taken in raw and have been converted to black and white in Lightroom and the blue channel has been increased just a little.
Many thanks for looking.
Howard Shooter

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Apr 142014
 

Fuji X-T1 Ergonomic DYI Improvements

by Ronald Grauer

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I will not talk to you about the quality of the camera, we all know it’s a good camera with some little problem like every camera has. Of course, I couldn’t do anything about what’s going on inside, but I could do something about 2 of the major problem I’ve found on it:

- The eyecup is to small and not deep enough. Mostly when shooting in bright light. And also after 3 years with the Sony Nex camera (Nex 7 than Nex 6), I missed a bit the left side EVF found on the Nex Camera

- The rear 4 pad, which has been discussed on every single review on the net… Almost a shame to design such a pad.

So If you want to try this little fix, feel free…

For the eyecup I used a Nikon dk-4. But I think most of the wide, round rubber eyecup should fit. Plenty of them on Ebay.

The eyecup is glued on the plastic base from the original Fuji eyecup. Unscrew the 2 screws to remove the Fuji rubber eyecup.

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But you need to use the Sugru material (I have nothing to do with them…!) or any other similar material. Cause just the glue won’t be enough. I’m not a glue expert, but I tried different very good glue, nothing could hold it. The rubber material is a porous material so you need to shape something on top of these 2 elements. And this will make them more homogeneous for the look.

It’s called ”Sugru”, www.sugru.com

I’ve also used this amazing product to customize the rear 4 pad.

It’s made in England.

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You have an hour or so to shape this “king of rubber”. Let it dry for 12 hours and it will keep the shape and have some elasticity. As sugru says, this material sticks to 99% of the material in the world.

It has been awarded as one of the most amazing material invented in the last years…

It cost around 15 euros for 8 little package…

Hope this post will help many other users…

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I’ll finish by telling you that after all, I’m a passionate photographer.

here is my website link: www.ronaldgrauer.com.

Keep with what you’re doing.

Regards,

Ronald.

Apr 042014
 

A photographic journey through New Zealand

by Cuno von Hahn

Māori: Aotearoa – New Zealand

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The beauty and grandeur of New Zealand has captured the imagination of movie-maker and photographer in the past years, and the country is a dream destination for many around the world. It is a land of majestic snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, glaciers descending to rainforest’s, fiord’s, geysers and volcanoes.There are only a few countries that have such a geographical diversity – a reason for me to travel there.

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Of course, photography in New Zealand was as important for me as traveling around. All photos from Newzealand were shot with the X-Pro1, fujinon 14mm and fujinon 35mm.

Many people were asking me, if the New Zealand photos were made in HDR . I always try to avoid shooting HDR. Firstly, it is really complex and a time-consuming process and secondly, in my opinion the pictures become better and more natural, if I use graduate filters for more dynamic range. Surely that is not enough for getting a higher dynamic range. Shooting in RAW is also necessary.

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All my pictures are carefully exposed. While shooting I am always using the histogram as a control tool. I performed almost no post production and no cropping at all. Every correction is made in Adobe Camera Raw (There are enough tools and options integrated). But my maxim is always: Digital darkroom techniques should only be used to adjust the dynamic tonal range and color balance of an image so that it more closely resembles what you saw, and that it communicates the mood of the scene.

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I was also asked if I have encountered the X-TRANS RAW conversion problem. Yes – there are still problems. 20% (low settings) sharpening in ACR and the rest I`m doing in Photoshop. That works for me very well and I get rid of the swirlies. Have a look by yourself – I think the foliage looks nice and crisp.

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If someone would like to see some more scenery images of New Zealand (also shoot with the X-Pro 1) please visit:

www.newzealand-gallery.com

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Finally, if New Zealand is not on the top of your list of countries that you want to visit, change your mind trust me!

Cheers, Cuno

Apr 042014
 

Beijing Fashion Week with Fuji XE-1 and XF 55-200

By Paolo Mercado

Hi Steve, Brandon,

I’ve been a follower of your site for about 3 years now but have only shared now. I am an occasional-but-passionate photographer. I normally take with film on a Leica MP or M7. I love my Leicas and may one day share some of my film scans. A year ago I bought an XE-1 with a Leica adapter to use some of my Leica lenses on. I was so impressed with the image quality I found myself shooting more and more with the Fuji zooms.

Last Sunday I went to one show at the Beijing Fashion Week to test out my XE-1 with the XF 55-200 lens. Here are 3 sample images I took. Before commenting on the images though, I must say that while I love taking photos with the XE-1 on manual focus peaking mode with my Leica lenses, taking on AF mode in low light was very difficult/frustrating and I missed a lot of moments. However I was pleased with a few shots I managed to squeeze through. All files are straight out of the camera, not retouched or cropped in any way (just resized for this sharing).

First shot is of the star model on the runway. I was quite pleased to have captured the details on the wire mesh head-dress on this shot. (Fuji XE-1, XF 55-200, ISO 2500, 156.1mm, -1 EV, f/5, 1/60).

First shot is

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Second shot is “faces in the crowd”. These ladies were seated 20 meters away from me, across the other side of the runway. What was actually happening on the runway is that one of the models stumbled painfully on the runway due to the impossibly high heals (stilts really!) that the designer insisted everyone wearing. The girl on the left is looking quite concerned. The camera captured these two glowing ladies quite well (including the tattoo on the arm of the lady on the left). (Fuji XE-1, XF 55-200, ISO 6400, 148.5mm, 0 EV, f/4.5, 1/60).

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Now for an outdoor shot with this charming beauty. This was a quick shot and I didn’t adjust manually. The camera took it at ISO 1000 as it took the exposure value from her black dress. This highlighted her porcelain skin quite well (and to my eye captured it quite accurately!). (Fuji XE-1, XF 55-200, ISO 1000, 148.5mm, 0 EV, f/5, 1/125).

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What amazed me the most about the Fuji is its wonderful ability to capture great skin tones straight out of the camera. No retouching on any of these (I don’t have the patience for retouching!). I am very happy with the IQ of the Fuji sensor and the capabilities of the XF 55-200 lens. I am thinking of getting the XT-1 for it’s speed and better handling, but I will hold on to the XE-1 for my Leica lenses as I like how small and discreet it is.

Many thanks and I hope these make it to your site!

Paolo Mercado

Beijing, China

Currently shooting with Fuji XE-1, Leica MP & M7, Leica X1

 

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