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Apr 232017
 

LET’S TALK: My Sony A9 Shooting Experience and why it is not just a sports camera! (Video)

Hey guys! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! The Sony A9 fever is still in effect, though it has died down a bit from last week. Pre orders are now open at Amazon (HERE) or B&H Photo (HERE). Only a month until it ships and so many are excited to get their camera. Since I have shot with it for a full day, I wanted to make a follow-up video to my last one with my thoughts on shooting it, the speed, the quality and all things about this new A9. I can not share any images until later in the week, but at that time I will show a few shots from the 1st time ever in life I shot any sports or really fast action. So while my images are “meh”, the camera was flat out amazing. But watch the video below for my detailed thoughts on using this new Sony beast.

I also get into why this is so much more than a sports camera. I did not call it my “Desert Island Camera” for its sports abilities! Enjoy your Sunday and I will have more during the week. Also, a note. I am traveling from AZ to IL to OH and through PA for 10 days or so via road trip with Debby in about a week. So during that time the updates will be slower here, but I will have fun updates from the road at my YouTube HERE. I have some new stuff I am testing that is top-secret, and will be putting it all to the test on my trip!

And now, the video…

You can pre order the A9 below at my recommended Sony dealers whose I trust:

B&H Photo A9 Page

Amazon A9 Page

Apr 192017
 

My Hands on 1st Thoughts on the Sony A9! (Video)

NOTE: I switched this site to a new server last night, and comments may or may not be working. If you have an issue posting comments here, email me at [email protected]

Wow, what a day! I posted something earlier about the A9 right as it was announced and that page has all the specs of this new powerhouse camera. But for now, I wanted to record all of my thoughts of this new A9 while they were fresh in my head.

But MAN OH MAN what a camera. Yes, Sony has created my Desert Island camera…see the video below to hear WHY:

PRE ORDERS START ON FRIDAY!!
I WILL HAVE A FIRST LOOK REPORT WITH IMAGES AND MORE THOUGHTS THIS WEEK! CHECK BACK ALL WEEK FOR MORE A9 COVERAGE!

Apr 192017
 

Finally! The new Sony A9 is here and so far, from what I have been hearing at the live event (streamed it live in my Facebook HERE) it is a beast. The awesome news is I get to shoot with it this week while in New York so I will have a first hands on look and video this week. Photo samples, thoughts and demos of its speed and abilities. This is the camera I have been waiting for, many have been waiting for.

If I were a. betting man, I would say this will be the most exciting camera release of the year. A game changer and I am pretty excited about it.

From what I am hearing the EVF is picture window like, the AF speed is incredible and the best Sony has ever offered. Sony says this camera IS THE BEST digital they have ever created, and it has to be!

Fully pro specs, full frame, blazing speed, and an all new sensor. New battery system with double the battery life of previous cameras, Dual SD card slots, silent vibration free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000s.

Pre Orders start FRIDAY, and the price is around $4500 US. Just about what I had expected and hoped for. Stay tuned for much more on this new camera.

Quick Specs: 

World’s First1 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP2 resolution
• Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting3 at up to 20fps4 for up to 241 RAW5/ 362 JPEG6 images
• Silent7, Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec8
• 693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second
• Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer, Dual SD card slots and extended battery life
• 5-Axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step shutter speed advantage

Sony has also announced the new G Master 100-400 lens today, and that also looks like a beauty. I am still at the event, but will update soon!!!

FULL PRESS RELEASE:

NEW YORK, Apr. 19, 2017 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their new revolutionary digital camera, the α9 (model ILCE-9).

The most technologically advanced, innovative digital camera that Sony has ever created, the new α9 offers a level of imaging performance that is simply unmatched by any camera ever created – mirrorless, SLR or otherwise.

The new camera offers many impressive capabilities that are simply not possible with a modern digital SLR camera including high-speed, blackout-free continuous shooting3 at up to 20fps4, 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second 10, a maximum shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 second8 and much more. These are made possible thanks to its 35mm full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS sensor – the world’s first of its kind – which enables data speed processing at up to 20x faster than previous Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras11. This unique sensor is paired with a brand new, upgraded BIONZ X processing engine and front end LSI that maximizes overall performance.

This industry-leading speed and innovative silent shooting7 is combined with a focusing system that features an incredible 693 phase detection AF points. Covering approximately 93% of the frame, the focusing system ensures that even the fasting moving subjects are reliably captured and tracked across the frame.

The new α9 also features a vibration free, fully electronic, completely silent anti-distortion shutter7 with absolutely no mechanical mirror or shutter noise, making it an extremely powerful photographic tool for any shooting situation that demands quiet operation. To ensure maximum usability and reliability, the camera features a new Z battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of W batteries, as well as dual SD media card slots, including one that supports UHS-II cards. An Ethernet port (wired LAN terminal) is available as well, and there is a wide variety of new settings, controls and customizability options that are essential for working pros.

“This camera breaks through all barriers and limitations of today’s professional digital cameras, with an overall feature set that simply cannot be matched considering the restrictions of mechanical SLR cameras” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “But what excites us most about the α9 – more than its extensive product specs – is that it allows professionals to see, follow and capture the action in ways that were never before possible, unlocking an endless amount of new creative potential.”

A New Standard of Speed and Focusing Accuracy

Critical to the record-breaking speed of the new α9 is the combination of the new stacked 24.2 MP2 Exmor RS image sensor, new BIONZ X processor and front end LSI.

The immense processing power from these new components allows for faster AF/AE calculation while also reducing EVF display latency. The processor and front end LSI are also responsible for the larger continuous shooting buffer, enabling photographers to shoot at a blazing 20 fps4 with continuous AF/AE tracking for up to 362 JPEG6 or 241 RAW5 images.

The camera’s innovative AF system tracks complex, erratic motion with higher accuracy than ever before, with the ability to calculate AF/AE at up to 60 times per second10, regardless of shutter release and frame capture. Further, when the shutter is released while shooting stills, the electronic viewfinder functions with absolutely no blackout, giving the user a seamless live view of their subject at all times 12. This feature truly combines all of the benefits of an electronic viewfinder with the immediacy and “in the moment” advantages that not even the finest optical viewfinders can match, and is available in all still image modes including high speed 20 fps4 continuous shooting.

With 693 focal plane phase detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the frame, the camera ensures improved precision and unfailing focus in scenes where focus might otherwise be difficult to achieve. The Fast Hybrid AF system – pairing the speed and excellent tracking performance of phase detection AF with the precision of contrast AF – achieves approximately 25% faster performance when compared with α7R II, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are captured.

Professional Capabilities in a Compact Body

Sony’s new full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that give it a true professional operational style.

The α9 features an all-new, high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. The new Tru-Finder, which is the highest resolution viewfinder ever for a Sony α camera, incorporates an optical design that includes a double-sided aspherical element, helping it to achieve 0.78x magnification and a level of corner to corner sharpness that is simply outstanding. The EVF also utilizes a ZEISS® T* Coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt.

This all adds up to a luminance that is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the α7R II, creating a viewfinder image with a brightness level that is nearly identical to the actual scene being framed, ensuring the most natural shooting experience. The frame rate of the Tru-Finder is even customizable, with options to set it for 60 fps or 120 fps13 to best match the action.

The α9 is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.0 steps 9, ensuring the full resolving power of the new sensor can be realized, even in challenging lighting. Also, with a simple half press of the shutter button, the effect of the image stabilization can be monitored in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen, allowing framing and focus to be accurately checked and continually monitored.

The α9 also offers an Ethernet port (wired LAN terminal), allowing convenient transfer of still image files to a specified FTP server at high-speed, making it an ideal choice for studio photography, high-profile news and sporting events and more. There is a sync terminal as well, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync.

New Features for Fast Operation

Sony’s new α9 has several new and updated focus functions that support faster, easier focusing in a variety of situations. The camera features a multi-selector joystick on the back of the camera, allowing shooters to easily shift focus point within the frame by pressing the multi-selector in any direction up, down, left or right when shooting in Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot focus area modes. The new model also offers touch focusing on the rear LCD screen for easily selecting of and shifting focus towards a desired focus point or subject.

New for Sony E-mount cameras, the α9 includes the addition of separate drive mode and focus mode dials, plus a new “AF ON” button that can be pressed to activate autofocus directly when shooting still images or movies.

Additional new capabilities include the “AF Area Registration”, which allows frequently used focus area to be memorized and recalled via custom button assignments. There is also the ability to assign specific settings (exposure, shutter speed, drive mode, etc) to a custom button to be instantly recalled when needed. The camera can memorize and automatically recall the last focus point used in a vertical or horizontal orientation as well, instantly switching back to it when that specific orientation is used again.
For enhanced customization, a “My Menu” feature is available, allowing up to 30 menu items to be registered in a custom menu for instant recall when needed.

Double Battery Life, Double Memory

The innovative α9 camera features an all-new Sony battery (model NP-FZ100) with 2.2x the capacity of previous Sony full-frame models, allowing for much longer shooting performance.

Also, based on extensive customer feedback, the new camera offers two separate media card slots, including one for UHS-II media. The same data can simultaneously be recorded to both cards, or the user can choose to separate RAW / JPEG or still images / movies. Movies can also simultaneously be recorded to two cards for backup and more efficient data management.

High Sensitivity and Wide Dynamic Range

The unique design of the α9 image sensor represents the pinnacle of Sony device technology. The 24.2 MP 2 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor is back-illuminated, allowing to capture maximum light and produce outstanding, true-to-life image quality. The sensor also enables the diverse ISO range of 100 – 51200, expandable to 50 – 20480014, ensuring optimum image quality with minimum noise at all settings.
The enhanced BIONZ X processor plays a large part in image quality as well, as it helps to minimize noise in the higher sensitivity range while also reducing the need to limit ISO sensitivity in situations where the highest quality image is required.

The new α9 also supports uncompressed 14-bit RAW, ensuring users can get the most out of the wide dynamic range of the sensor.

4K Video Capture

The new α9 is very capable as a video camera as well, as it offers 4K (3840x2160p) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor 15, 16. When shooting in this format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. Recording is also available in the popular Super 35mm size.
Additionally, the camera can record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps, which allows footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking 17.

New Accessories

Sony has released a variety of new accessories to compliment the new α9 camera, including:

NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Battery – high-capacity battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of the NP-FW50 W-series battery. It also supports InfoLITHIUM® technology, making it possible to view the remaining battery power as both a percentage display and five step icon on the camera’s LCD screen.

VG-C3EM Vertical Grip – provides same operation, handling and design as theα9 camera, doubles battery life and allows USB battery-charging via the camera body.

NPA-MQZ1K Multi-Battery Adaptor Kit – External multi-battery adaptor kit capable of functioning as an external power supply for four Z series batteries and as a quick charger. Kit comes with two packs of NP-FZ100 rechargeable batteries.

GP-X1EM Grip Extension – Grip extender with same look, feel and design as α9 body. Enables more solid hold on camera.

FDA-EP18 Eyepiece Cup –eye piece cup with locking mechanism

BC-QZ1 Battery Charger –quick-charging battery charger. Charges one new Z series battery in approximately 2.5 hours.

PCK-LG1 Screen Protect Glass Sheet – hard, shatterproof glass screen protector with anti-stain coating to prevent fingerprints. Compatible with touch operation and tilting LCD screen

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α9 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will ship this May for about $4,500 US and $6,000 CA. It will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.

Apr 172017
 

Using the Leica M, Nikon D810 and Olympus EM5

by Tamer Erden

Dear Steve,

First of all, I’d like to thank you for this enthusiastic web site hosting those either amateur or professional photographers’ creations. As you might remember, I submitted a user report regarding the M43 system before (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/04/18/the-olympus-e-m5-using-dramatic-tone-by-tamer-erdem/).

After that I had used Nikon D810 for more than one year. Actually I’m really satisfied with the results. Mainly I had used it with Sigma 50mm 1.4 art and 180mm 2.8 lenses. Since I am dealing with the aesthetic and plastic surgery, shooting the portraits of people is my main subject of interest in photography. And now I’ve been shooting with a Leica M (Typ 240) and Zeiss 35mm ZM 1.4 Distagon for last three months. It cannot compete with the Nikon’s better dynamic range and super-detailed images, but it creates very filmic images that I really love, also known as Leica look.  I’d like to add some portraits taken by aforementioned cameras. Thanks for your feedbacks and inputs.

 

Figures 1-13 Leica M (Typ 240) and Zeiss 35mm 1.4 ZM Distagon, wide open.

Figures 14-18 D810, Sigma 50mm art, wide open

Figures 19-21 E-M5 75mm 1.8, wide open

Tamer Erdem

 

Interested in sending in a guest review, post or article? See HERE for instructions. 

Apr 142017
 

Sony Gaining Steam. Takes #2 Spot for the FULL FRAME Market

Whoa! Sony is doing it, and just as I predicted long ago. They are creeping up in the full frame market, and now sit at the #2 spot for all out sales in the interchangeable lens segment (for full frame). Thanks to the A7 series, Sony has kept full frame alive basically and they show no signs of slowing. I feel if this new model comes sometime this year, (rumored A9 pro) they may jump to #1 by next year. Sony is KILLING it and for good reason. If you want to know why I think they are going to be #1 soon, be sure to see this.  But who is #1? I would think Canon holds that spot with their 5D series being so popular for photo and video duties but does that mean Nikon slipped to #3?

BTW, SONY ALWAYS WINS, lol. 

PRESS RELEASE BELOW FROM SONY

SAN DIEGO, April 14, 2017 – Sony Electronics – a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has announced today that their continued growth has vaulted them into the #2 overall position in the U.S. full-frame interchangeable lens camera market. (see footnote 1)

Sony’s interchangeable lens cameras and lenses have seen record sales in 2017, in particular within the U.S. full-frame camera market, where they have experienced double-digit growth (+23%) (see footnote 2) compared to the same period last year. The popularity of key models including α7R II and α7S II has been paramount to this success.

Additionally, Sony’s rapid growth has helped to drive growth of the overall full-frame interchangeable lens camera market compared to the same period last year. Without Sony’s contributions, the full-frame market would be facing a slight decline. (see footnote 3)

“Our commitment to the industry is stronger than ever,” said Neal Manowitz, VP of Digital Imaging at Sony North America. “We are always listening to our customers, combining their feedback with our intense passion for innovation to deliver products, services and support like no other.”

(1) The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan- Feb 2017

(2) The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016- Jan/Feb 2017

(3) The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Detachable Lens Camera, Full Frame, Based on Dollars, Jan/Feb 2016- Jan/Feb 2017

Apr 062017
 

10 Reasons why the Sony A7RII has been my most used camera for almost two years

By Steve Huff

90% of the photos here were shot with the A7RII over the last two years. A few are with the A7II and A7S as well. A true testament to just how good this entire system is. I love my Sony A7RII and this is why.

VIDEO OVERVIEW OF MY 10 REASONS

Ever since it was introduced in August of 2015 I have been in love with my A7RII from Sony. Sure, I reviewed, tested and used and adored other cameras over this time. Olympus, Leica, Fuji and others..but the one constant that remains is the Sony A7RII. When I switched to it from my old A7S I was unsure if I would hold out for the A7SII for the lower MP count and better low light performance, but then again, I wanted to give the higher res 42 MP sensor a try. My computer could handle the load of the large files, and why not?Well, fast forward past thousands of memories captured, after almost two years now, and my A7RII is still going strong. Never one issue, one problem, or one hiccup. I have used it in rain, snow, and even used it during a messy color run just a few weeks ago. After a dust off and clean up, it is as good as new though it is showing some use as it should. I have taken thousands of images on this camera and it never ceases to amaze me, even today. I have shot probably over 100 hours of video on this camera as well, and it never lets me down (besides battery life). But the images, even for a guy who shoots anything and everything like me, are of phenomenal quality.

While testing the 70-200 G Master I snapped a kid who had just caught a ball. He was happy to show it off!

Can’t tell but that is Alcatraz in the background. Shot this with the cheap Sony 50 1.8

The cheap 50 1.8 once again…

IN fact, after all this time the only time I Have been frustrated with this camera is with the battery life. To me, this is truly a weakness. I have six spares in my bag at all time as when shooting video, this camera eats through battery life. I am hoping that when Sony follows up this camera with something new it will have a updated battery system, for pro use. In fact, I am still holding out hope that Sony is going to release that PRO A9 that has been rumored for two years now. Their latest sensor tech, bigger battery life, pro build, dual SD slots, blazing AF, huge EVF Ala Leica SL… if they can do this, they will have an almost unbeatable camera in the 35mm world.

A7RII and the 85 G Master. Photo of Chris from the Phoblographer.

But coming from me, a guy who gets new cameras in the mail each month to test out, the fact that the A7rII has been my most used is pretty incredible. I have access to Leica, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, and anything else that is out there. Canon? To be honest, I have lately invested in some Canon L glass as I have been finding their recent offerings to be exceptional and hey, that leads me to reason #1 why the Sony A7RII has become my most used camera.

10 REASONS WHY THE SONY A7RII HAS BEEN MY MOST USED CAMERA

#1: You can use almost any lens on this camera for 35mm. Adapters are everywhere for just about anything you want to mount. Want to mount that Leica M lens? Sure, just grab a cheap adapter (or a good one like this) and away you go. How about Canon? Sure, grab an adapter (like this one) and you can use Canon glass, with full speed AF and IQ. I love the Canon 16-35 2.8 III, the Canon 24 L 1.4 II, and the Canon 50 L 1.2. Since I also own a Canon C100 MKII for video projects, I can now use these lenses on my Sony A series camera. Nikon? Sure. Vintage Leica? Sure. Any full frame lens from almost any manufacturer can be mounted to an A7 series body. To me, that makes it the most versatile camera already.

Using the Voigtlander 35 1.7 – an amazing lens!!

The Canon DREAM LENS! A very cool lens to use on this system. 

The Petzval 58 1.9 on the A7RII

A Jupiter 3 lens. This was an old vintage one, but a new one is now being made…

The 50 Mitakon Speedmaster

The Zeiss Otus 28 1.4

#2: The fact that there are loads of 3rd party manufacturers making glass for the E mount now. Lenses are plentiful for this system and more so than any other system in the 35mm world. Sure, you can use many lenses on Fuji and Olympus via adapters but you are not getting the full character of the full frame lenses. Sony, to my knowledge, is the only full frame digital camera capable of mounting almost any glass, and now that 3rd parties are making glass left and right just for E Mount, there is a limitless number of native lenses for this system. As I said, super versatile in the lens dept. All depends on what your wants and needs are and how much you want to spend.

Loxia Love

#3: Excellent in low light, high ISO. Sure the A7SII is the best in low light and for video in this size of camera, but the A7RII is no slouch. I have been able to shoot in near darkness with video and photo and be pleased with the results. Will it get even better? Sure, it always does but man, if Sony releases that PRO version of these cameras I think that will be the holy grail. I may as well close up shop here and enjoy using it. If they get it right, I see nothing in 35mm beating it, in any way. We shall see soon I hope. So low light, no problem for any of the A7 MKII versions. Versatile. Period.

#4: Set and forget it. The Menus with the Sony cameras of today are not bad at all. In the past they had a horrendous menu system with their NEX line, but now it’s easy and while the choices are plentiful, once you set it up, assign the buttons to your preferences and all of that good stuff, you really never have to go in and mess with the menu. I shoot RAW and JPEG and if I use JPEG it is usually with the Natural preset with some tweaks. So I have set my A7RII long ago, and I rarely go into the menu. All I need is outside by my fingers.

#5: The EVF of the A7RII is starting to show its age but it is still pretty damn nice. Large enough, WYSIWYG and easy to frame or use manual focus. These days I much prefer a EVF over any optical finder. One reason I stick with mirrorless over DSLRs, and the EVF tech is getting better and better all the time. Can’t wait to see what is coming next…

#6: Manual focus? Easy with magnification and focus peaking. I have used many Leica M lenses on my Sony and never have an issue. It would be even easier with a Leica SL style EVF but for now, I can not complain.

#7: SONY IS PROGRESSIVE, FORWARD THINKING..So I know they are committed to their camera systems, especially the A series and the FE mount in general. They have been putting out amazing lenses, bodies and tech for a few years now, and are hell bent on steam rolling on through to lead the full frame mirrorless world. They are doing it as no one else offers a full frame mirrorless solution that is anything near what the Sony is capable of. Most are still using APS-C or smaller sensors, or going to full blown medium format system, which for me are more for landscape guys or fashion/commercial guys. For daily driving, for me, a smaller system is preferred over Medium Format. Just one reason I am not interested in the new Fuji MF System. It would stay at home just like my old DSLRS used to, due to size and weight. While the Sony A7 system is not tiny, it is when compared to a Canon 5DIV or Medium Format rig, and this Sony can do more than a Medium Format setup in low light, for on the go shooting, and daily use.

#8: It is a RELIABLE Memory Maker. For me, this camera has created just as many memories I am fond of as my Leica M cameras have. Sony has truly led the way in digital imaging for those who desire to use full frame sensors and lenses. While they also offer killer APS-C cameras such as the A6500, my love affair will always be with the full frame cameras. To me, they offer a balance of everything. We get superior low light, Depth of Field control going from shallow to deep, better color than smaller sensors (normally) and all we give up is usually some AF speed, but the AF speed here is pretty good and never had any issues for my use. But the camera has proven to be  crazy reliable FOR ME. Never a break down, never had to send it in, and even though a color run, covered in colored powder in every crevice, it survived and is like new after a clean up. I have traveled all over with my A7RII. In bags, luggage, getting examined by TSA and it still performs as it did the day I opened it.

#9: VIDEO! I shoot a lot of video that is not for this website or part of my life. I have shot well over 100 hours of video with my A7RII and besides eating batteries like they were fruit snacks, it has given me all I could want for, for my needs. Focus is slower with video, and I hope this is improved in the next version of the camera but even so, I mostly use MF for video anyway. Sharp, great color and even nice for serious use. I do not shoot 4K so I am still doing normal 1080OP at 24FPS. For this, the A7rII is fantastic. While the Sony A7SII is king of video next to their serious video cameras like the FS5 and FS7, for me, the A7RII is great. While I now own a Canon C100 MKII for most of my video work, I still use the Sony as well.

#10: It’s size and form factor. As I stated, it is not as small as some cameras, nor are some of the pro level lenses which are just as large as most DSLR lenses. But we can create a small and light system here that packs a huge full frame mega punch. Lenses like the 28 f/2, or the 55 1.8 are small, and some are even smaller. So no NEED to go big here, but you can if you want all out performance. This guy packs a serious punch even today in 2017, almost two years after it was announced, and for Sony that is an eternity, lol. I feel with whatever they come up with next…it will be INCREDIBLE. I feel it. I hope I am right as if so, it will be exciting and motivating as well. But the A7RII is here to stay with me regardless. I have bonded with it over the last couple of years after it has created hundreds, if not thousands of memories for me.

So there to go, ten reasons why this A7rII has been my most used camera over the last two years. Many come, many go. Some stay. Some stay for a long time. Since I get to try and test anything I want, the fact that this camera stuck with me says A LOT. I highly recommend this camera even today. Even if a new model comes out that knocks us out, expect it to cost quite a bit more than a A7RII today. One can even pick up a used A7rII today for a great price.  BUT you can get new deals as well, like this one with all kinds of extras and free prime shipping. 

Sony ups the game every year or two, and they have been at it for many years now. I remember the days of the NEX system when everyone moaned about there being no lenses for the Sony system, and they were right! There were minimal, average kind of cheap choices. But today that has changed, and changed dramatically. Today you have access to just about any lens you would like to use when you own a Sony A series camera. THAT IS HUGE. Full frame, low light, good AF, good video, in a semi small package. What could one ask for? Sure, better battery, Pro 4K video specs, newer higher res sensor, improved low light and AF, and a sleeker design. I can not wait to see what Sony brings us next. Hopefully we do not have long to wait.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Steve

Mar 032017
 

Quick Compare – Full Frame DOF vs APS-C DOF (Leica vs Fuji)

Hey hey to all! It’s FRIDAY which means it’s time for the weekend, so I hope everyone will be getting some R&R in or just having fun. Today I was shooting with my Leica SL and Fuji X100F The Leica SL has the Zeiss Zm 35 1.4 M mount attached, and the Fuji has its 23mm f/2 attached, giving a 35mm equivilant FOV. I LOVE BOTH OF THESE cameras right now but have been in love with the SL since it was launched (I only use it with M glass though the 24-90 is the best zoom I have ever used). It’s interesting seeing the differences in IQ between them in regards to color and DOF, ISO etc.

Speaking of Depth of Field, as always the Fuji lens will not give us the depth of field of the Zeiss ZM 35mm on the Leica SL as the SL is full frame and the Fuji is APS-C. We all know what that means in regards to DOF so I will not rehash it here. All the really matters to me, or anyone who uses these tools is the image, and what one can accomplish with a specific camera or a lens. I am not about scientific numbers or comparisons because while the Fuji at f/2 delivers DOF of a full frame 35mm lens at f/2.8, my SL will shoot and give me the DOF of 1.4 using this Zeiss lens. Again, the Fuji, it best will give the depth of field of f/2.8 when shot at f/2 when thinking in 35mm full frame terminology.

So to test the SL at f/2.8 against the Fuji, IMO, is nonsense because my SL will give me more power to shoot at the true aperture for DOF control and of course I will shoot it at f/1.4, quite often. I like to show comparisons in a real world way…as in, if I have an f/1.4 lens I will use it at f/1.4..etc. I work with the tool I have and exploit its strengths. So what I like to see is what each camera can do for me when wide open. What does the Fuji look and perform like at f/2? What does the Zeiss and Leica do when wide open at f/1.4? Honestly, I own both of these cameras and 90% of the time, they are shot wide open.

The Fuji is easy to take anywhere, is small, quick and for street or everyday…just about perfect. My SL is heavier, larger and for those times I want that full frame look and feel. BUT the images are indeed different. Of course, this Leica combo is 9X the cost of the Fuji and for that you get unrivaled build, clean smooth menus, huge window like EVF, weather sealing, dual SD cards and a fully pro feature set as well as being allowed to use all kinds of lenses for creative uses. The Fuji is a one lens camera mean to compete with the Leica Q and Sony RX1. BUT here, I decided to show the difference in DOF only. So that does not matter what camera was used. It’s basically just showing what one can expect from full frame with a 35 1.4 lens, and the Fuji with it’s 23 f/2 lens. The Fuji gives us the DOF of a 23mm lens, which is why it is the equivalent of f/2.8 at f.2 for DOF. The Leica will give us the DOF of a 35mm lens, and a true f/1.4 aperture as it is really a 35mm lens, the Fuji is not.

So with that out of the way, here are two images. CLICK THEM for larger and sharper and better (otherwise they are compressed and do not look as good). One from the Leica with 35 Zeiss at f/2 and one from the Fuji X100f at f/2, both ISO 400.

So two images, same shot – TOP from the SL and Zeiss 35 1.4 ZM and bottom from the Fuji X100F. CLICK ‘EM for larger and better! 

So this test shows you the DIFFERENCE between f/2 on a Fuji X100f and f/2 on a full frame sensor camera, the SL using a 35mm lens. Of course I prefer the SL for its more smoother and more “cinematic” rendering but is it worth the extra $8k for IQ alone? No, but it may be for some just for the body, build, EVF, usability and the fact it can use SL lenses or T lenses or M lenses or R lenses or Canon or Nikon lenses, or vintage RF lenses, etc. The Fuji X100F is smaller, lighter and is wonderful for everyday use, street, vacation, and making memories. The Leica setup feels like a premium crafted machine and is a 100% different experience so these are never meant to be compared in a “which one should I buy” scenario. This was just to show the difference between APS-C and full frame for DEPTH OF FIELD. So to those who will comment “You should have shot the Leica t f/2.8” then you did not read what this simple fun test was about ; ) I enjoy both of these cameras, and use different ones depending on my mood or needs for the day ;)

Thank you all and have a great weekend!

Steve

Feb 212017
 

A Look at the Voigtlander Ultra Wides for Sony E Mount…10, 12 and 15!

By Steve Huff

Around two weeks ago Stephen Gandy from Cameraquest.com emailed me and asked me if I wanted to take a look at all three ultra wide angle lenses from Voigtlander made for Sony E Mount. Not being a huge Ultra Wide shooter, I hesitated..and then of course said 100% YES! I used to actually really enjoy the old 15mm M mount when used on my old M9 (even with the magenta issues) and then the version II which was improved, and finally the VIII that seemed to fix the issues of the past with the lens. But let’s be real here…the 15mm has grown to double its size since the original little M mount version but I guess it had to as now in its VIII form it is beautiful with the M mount and yes, the E Mount.

But I always thought that the 15mm was SO wide, so what would a 10mm or even 12mm be like? Also, why is there a 10 and 12? To me, they seem very close when looking at the numbers..10 vs 12? Which one to get? Well, with the lenses on their way to me I was now intrigued. I could use them all, and see which focal length suited me the most of the three.

SLOW APERTURE

These lenses are pretty slow in aperture. The 15 comes in at f/4.5 and the other two the 10 and 12, well their fastest aperture is f/5.6. Not fast by any stretch of the imagination. The last time I tested a lens with a f/5.6 aperture it was THIS ONE, and I ended up really enjoying it (though I did not buy it due to cost).

About the time these lenses were sent to me Debby and I were about to head to Las Vegas for a three day getaway (and we do not ever gamble). We just like to walk, people watch and enjoy a show or two. I decided to bring the Sony A7RII along with the 10, 12 and 15 to see if I could get any use out of them. But I was nervous as I am a 50mm guy, and shooting a 10 or 12 was making me think “what the hell do people shoot with such a wide angle lens’?!?!? Truth be told, I still do not know! Lol.

With the slow aperture lenses I knew it would be a challenge unless I was in full sun, outdoors..or would it be?

The Amazing 15mm Voigtlander on the Sony A7RII (E mount)

Click for larger and crisper version

I will just say it now..I much preferred the 15mm for me and my shooting tastes. To me, that 10 and 12 were just toooo wide and I feel I would use it maybe once per year, if that. But again, take this from a guy who rarely ever shoots wider than 16mm (with my Zeiss 16-35 on my A7RII, one of my most used lenses which I use for video). So shooting at 10mm or 12mm is alien to me. So take that into consideration. What I can say is that I am used to that old 15mm, all versions actually. To me, this E mount is the best of the lot. No issues at all actually. It’s just how I remember it through the years. Crisp, crazy wide, yet with no magenta issues and with great color and contrast.

As for the 10mm, well..it can be cool for selfies but it gives you the long arm syndrome ;)

A selfie with the 10mm on the A7RII

Yep, MANUAL FOCUS!

These are all manual focus lenses but trust me here, it is almost impossible to get an out of focus shot with the 10mm or 12mm, and to some extent with the 15. The depth of field is so so wide, and the largest aperture you have is f/5.6 so getting an out of focus shot would be harder than getting one in focus ;) So using these lenses are simple, and one should not let the fact that these are manual focus bother them. When you look through the EVF and use focus magnification and turn the focus barrel you will see very little focus variance, so you have a huge huge area there to nail it.

But at 10mm, and even 12mm be prepared to see life wider than real life!

10mm

10mm but I cropped this one. With the Sony A7rII cropping is easy due to the super high resolution of the camera. 

But man oh man, what to shoot?

No question these lenses are fantastic when it comes to IQ and capability. All of them. 10, 12 or 15. When shooting though you can get so much in the frame you have to be careful as metering can get tricky. As in the shot above we have the darkness of the restaurant mixed with the big window on the left shining in bright light. So luckily todays cameras have much better DR than the cameras of just a few years ago. BTW, the images here are pretty much all straight from the A7RII. Speaking of the A7rII, it’s still a PHENOMENAL camera. I have shot so many frames in mine, and used it for countless hours of video and it has never failed me, ever. Not once. It’s one hell of a versatile photo taking machine. I still highly recommend it to anyone who wants a super high res 35mm full framer. For what it does, and its versatility, its priced great even at $2900. 

As I said earlier in the write up…what the heck am I going to shoot with these wide angle lenses? You guys know me, I am just a real world passionate type of shooter. A normal guy who enjoys cameras and taking photos. I’m not a landscape pro, portrait pro, studio pro or any pro. I shoot life and what I enjoy doing is capturing memories of my life and I happen to love tech and the gear that lets me do this with the most enjoyment. I usually do these things with a 28, 35 or 50mm lens. So did I find it a challenge to find subjects to fit into these wide angle frames? Well, yes and no.

The least used lens was the 12. I just could not find a place for it. For me, it was either REALLY WIDE or ULTRA WIDE ;) (10 or 15). 

BUT here is one with the 12mm, again click it for better!

Two more with the 10mm which I started to like more and more, and even using it at night was a breeze due to the A7rII ISO capabilities. 

CLICK ‘EM!

The color, contrast and sharpness for me was fantastic on all of these. Sure, you will get some bit of softening at the corners and edges but these are crazy wide my friends and the price point is within reach for the common man. These are not exotic pro Nikon, Canon or Leica lenses. These are Voigtlander who has always been known as a huge bang for the buck brand. But I will say I was thrilled with the performance even though my skill at these focal lengths is lacking. I can still see the lenses are of pretty amazing quality for what they are.

I am superhuman and my power is the power of STRETCHING my arms to take selfies ;) The 10mm…WOW is it wide. 

One more with the 10mm

AT THE END OF THE DAY…

At the end of the day I think I would actually buy the 15 if any..again. I no longer own the 15 as I use the Zeiss 16-35 so much but I think the 15mm is actually better at 15mm than the Sony/Zeiss is at 16mm. IN fact, let me test that…

THE VOIGTLANDER VS SONY FLARE TEST – THESE ARE FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA FILES FROM RAW. NO EDITING.

The Sony/Zeiss, which is much more expensive of a lens (though also gives you 16-35 zoom range and has AF) performs much worse here in regards to flare. The Voigtlander 15 is also a tad sharper. It is also smaller ;)

SIZE ON CAMERA

Here are all four of these lenses I have been discussing (The three Voigtlanders and the Sony) on the Sony A7RII..

So as you can see the 10 and 12 are around the same size. They come with metal caps as well. The 15 is the smallest, and has a standard plastic squeeze cap. (the kind you lose easily). But I have to say, these little Voigtlanders are top performers and also small when compared to the usual ultra wide angle zooms on DSLR’s and even Sony’s own E mount. They also feel fantastic in the hand, and feel substansial, and in no way cheap. My fave of course was the 15 but all three perform to a high level and I would not hesitate to recommend all of them. Which one you prefer is up to your tastes? You have to ask yourself “How wide do I want to go”?

PRICE AND WHERE TO BUY?

The Voigtlander 10mm comes in at $1099 at Cameraquest

The Voigtlander 12mm comes in at $999 at Cameraquest

The Voigtlander 15mm comes in at $799 at Camerquest

The Sony 16-35 FE f/4 Can be bought for $1099 AT B&H PHOTO

The Voigtlanders are also available at B&H HERE. 

Here are a few more with the 15mm on the Sony A7rII…

Thank you!


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

Hello to all! For the past 8 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has a crazy amount of visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 40-60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (At peak times I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny and I NEVER EVER DO! I do this for free basically, and have for years…but I do get paid when you, the reader makes a purchase (of anything) using my links to my sponsors. That is the only way I make the money to keep this free info flowing.

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing. But each month I need HUNDREDS of you to do this in order for this site to continue, and believe me that is not easy.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link (not the B&H) and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees nor do I (nor will I ever) charge for reviews, so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. If you choose to help out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dec 262016
 

Three portraits using my Sony A7RII

by Carl Fehres

Hey Steve!! I’ve been a long time reader / lurker. I really love the site and the community. I thought I would finally chime in and share some work.

Like many, I’ve gone through many stages over the years shooting different styles and genres. I’ve found my true love with portraits and lifestyle fashion photography. I can’t help but still take the occasional landscape. I really enjoy shooting with both natural and studio lighting.

I’ve been shooting for 10 years or so. I started shooting a Canon DSLR but then took a several film photography classes at the Glassell Studio School in Houston and started to shoot a mix of film and digital. I have to admit I still shoot mostly digital but I have a real love for film. I’ve got my eyes on a Pentax 67II!

Today my primary kit includes:

Sony A7RII with 35, 50 and 85mm F1.4 primes
Leica M6 with 35mm Summicron
Various Profoto gear for studio work

THREE FROM MY SONY A7RII

I love using mirrorless! I love that you can see what you will get before you press the shutter. This really makes it easy to stay in the moment with the model instead of CHIMPING to make sure you got the shot you wanted. I sold all my Canon gear a couple of years ago and I’ve never looked back (reviews here on Steve Huff really helped my decision to try the Sony!)

I’ve had the fortune of working with many very talented models which has been really fun. Here are a few photos from a recent session with Mellisa. https://www.instagram.com/melissangelica/

My most current work can be found on my Instagram feed here: https://www.instagram.com/carlfehres

I’m just now putting together my website at: www.carlfehres.com hopefully getting it done in the next few weeks. Let me know if you are interested in seeing more work or hearing more stories :).

Carl Fehres

Nov 212016
 

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HANDS ON: Zeiss 85 f/2.4 Loxia on the Sony A7RII

By Steve Huff

Holy wow guys, this lens just arrived to me from Zeiss and boy is it a beauty. The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 is the latest lens from Zeiss for the Sony E mount in the manual focus Loxia line. Along with the 21 (review), 35 (review) and 50 Loxia (review), we now have the telephoto portrait prime to round out the set. I have used and reviewed the past Loxia primes, and I loved them ALL. They remind me quite a bit of shooting a Leica M because the lenses in the Loxia line are built kind of like those small lovely Leica M lenses many of us know and love so much. These Loxia lenses are small, very solid, have smooth manual focus and have manual aperture dials as well. We all know that the entire line has been superb, so when this 85 was announced I was pretty happy, though at first I was a little disappointed that it was not going to be an 85 f/1.4. With just one day of use under my belt I am surprised to say that I am happy they went with f/2.4 like they did. For size, and for the fact that even wide open at f/2.4 this lens is sharp as can be and the bokeh looks quite nice as well..

Wide open at f/2.4 on my Sony A7RII. The color, the sharpness, the creamy Bokeh all add up to one gorgeous rendering here…

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When the package arrived from Zeiss I was surprised at how small this 85mm was. It is a full frame lens, so to have an 85mm at f/2.4 with this size is pretty spectacular.

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From memory, the Zeiss 85 f/4 for Leica M mount is about the same size or a tad smaller. I think if Zeiss made an f/1.4 85mm we would have a much larger lens, so I am happy that they considered size and speed here for the Sony system. On the A7RII this lens is surprisingly well-balanced. When you look at it, it seems like it should be front heavy but when holding it in my hand it feels very much balanced. When shooting with the lens, holding it in my left hand as I focus using the large focus ring, it is a breeze to focus due to the auto magnify of the Sony EVF. As soon as you twist the focus ring the EVF will magnify to show you details, so you can focus critically. The lens also has a pretty long focus throw that reminded me of my old Leica Noctilux days. Twist…twist…twsit…and focus.

More wide open Bokeh for you…

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So far so good with this lens with image quality. Everything is as one would expect from a Zeiss lens. The 3D pop, the Bokeh and Color…all here. Build is fantastic, and on par with the other Loxia lenses in the lineup. The lens is solid, weighty and yet smooth all at the same time. It feels like a serious lens but it does so while remaining thin and somewhat small on the camera (for what it is). In fact, on the street some may think it is a cheap kit zoom attached as it is pretty low key.

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So my 1st day with this lens has been wonderful, and I look forward to another few weeks with it before a full review, and a full review there will be! I now have this lens, the new Voigtlander 58 1.4 Lens and the new Leica 28 Summaron here for reviews so there will be a slew of lens reviews on the way. I also have a very cool bag review coming this week as well, a luxury camera bag from blackforestbags.com  I am also going to do a cool crazy comparison between the Olympus 25 f/1.2 on a Pen-F vs a Leica SL and 50 Summilux ASPH. Just for fun! So check back all week for more…

OH, Also COMING LATER TODAY will be a very cool hands on look at the new Sony A6500 ;) 

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This Zeiss 85 1.4 lens is available for Pre-Order now at the Dealers below:

B&H Photo – Zeiss 85 f/2.4 Page is HERE

PopFlash.com is also a Zeiss Dealer and they sell the Loxia Line

Below are some specs from Zeiss:

A compact short telephoto prime for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, the Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Lens from Zeiss is an ideal portrait-length lens characterized by its sleek form factor and impressive optical qualities. Utilizing an optimized Sonnar concept, the simple seven elements, seven groups design incorporates three anomalous partial dispersion elements to greatly reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing for notable clarity and color accuracy. Additionally, a Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating has also been applied to the individual lens elements to control lens flare and ghosting for improved contrast when working in strong lighting conditions.

Prime portrait-length lens is designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, however can also be used on APS-C models where it will provide a 127.5mm equivalent focal length. 

An f/2.4 maximum aperture permits working in low-light conditions, offers control over depth of field, and also helps to maintain the compact overall form factor of the lens.

Based on the Sonnar optical concept, this lens incorporates three anomalous partial dispersion elements to greatly reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing for increased clarity and color neutrality.

Zeiss T* anti-reflective coatings have been applied to each lens surface to help minimize reflections in order to provide greater image clarity, contrast and color fidelity. 

Manual focus design is accentuated by a knurled metal focusing ring, 220° focus ring rotational angle, and engraved depth of field and distance scale markings.

The manual aperture ring can be mechanically ‘de-clicked’ for smooth, silent rotation throughout the aperture range; making it ideal for video applications.

The lens mount is fitted with an electronic interface that conveys all lens EXIF data to the camera and can also be configured to automatically activate the camera’s focusing magnification function when turning the focus ring.

An all-metal lens barrel is fitted with a weather-resistant gasket at the lens mount to protect against moisture and dust from reaching the image sensor or rear lens element.

Nov 092016
 

Crazy Comparison! Sony A7RII and 55 1.8 vs Olympus PEN-F and 25 f/1.2

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Man, I have been doing these crazy comparisons for years and years now, and every time I do there are many comments and many who like to be outspoken about this or that..but remember, these are all in fun and while they are real world side by side tests that show real world differences, they are not meant to be scientific tests, as that is not what this site has ever been about. It’s about WYSIWYG from each camera and what you can expect out of a specific combo of body and lens. This time, we have a full frame vs a micro 4/3 body and are looking at Depth of Field  and light gathering.

This morning as I sit at my desk I was looking at my Sony A7RII and 55 1.8 Zeiss sitting next to my silver Olympus PEN-F with Olympus 25 f1.2 attached. I remember someone asking me to do this comparison, and figured it could be fun. I immediately thought “well, the Olympus will lose on ISO noise, will lose at shallow DOF and will lose on detail”. But hey, I love my PEN-F and 25 1.2. So I wanted to see how it would go.

Now, it is true that using the 25 f/1.2 on the PEN-F would give me a Depth of Field like that of a 50mm lens at f/2.4 on full frame. Light gathering is the same, so ISO was set to 1000 for two of these shots, and wide open on the Olympus at f/1.2 vs f/2.4 on the Sony, as these are equivalent apertures.

You must click each image to see the larger image. ISO 1000 for both.

Top one is from the PEN-F and 25 f/1.2 at 1.2. You will see more noise in the Micro 4/3 shot at ISO 1000. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…and below is the Sony A7RII with 55 1.8 at f/2.5 to match the DOF of the Olympus. ISO 1000, less noise than the Micro 4/3 shot as we expect. 

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In the image above I prefer the Olympus rendering but I do because it is warmer (a trait of the Olympus color signature), it seems more inviting due to this warmth. The Sony renders cooler out of camera and always has and will, but it could have been warmed up in post to match the Olympus, so technically, the Sony will give you better IQ due to more MP, more DR, and the ability to go even more shallow with the DOF. But what about detail? This is a spot where Micro 4/3 can indeed do well in some cases…

The Olympus PEN-F with the 25 f/1.2 at 1.2. This lens is stunning wide open, and delivers sharpness and pop that rivals most high end f/2 50mm lenses. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wide open with the Sony A7RII and 55 1.8, this time wide open at f/1.8 which allows us to see the depth of field difference. The Olympus is at an f/1.2 aperure but it is technically a 25mm lens, not a 55mm. So we will get the DOF or Bokeh from a 25mm lens (less) compared to the 55 (more) as the longer in focal length you go, the more shallow DOF that is possible. 

sony55iso1000drill

To me, both shots above from the Olympus win me over in regards to the color signature. Some will prefer the Sony here as some prefer cooler and some will not care as we know each photo could be made to look the same with some color tweaks. What this test tells me though is that Micro 4/3 owners have a lens here that IMO is a must own if you like fast aperture and a 50mm equiv. focal length! It truly is a joy to use and the PEN-F focused about 2X as fast as the Sony for these two shots. It was instant with the 25 f/1.2. The Sony hunted for a second or two for these shots in the same light. The Olympus PEN-f is for sure the faster and most fun camera to shoot of the two but in the end, when shooting RAW the Sony will eek out more power and more depth to the iQ.

With full frame, we use real 50mm lenses to get 50mm. With a crop sensor like on M 4/3 we are using wider angle glass in the 25mm, so this is going to always produce a wider DOF. Light gathering though, is another story. The Olympus f/1.2 is an f/1.2 in light gathering terms.

Do not believe me? TAKE A LOOK BELOW:

Both cameras, one full frame, one micro 4/3. Same ISO, same aperture, and same exposure. They look the same in exposure as both were shot at f/2, same ISO of 200, and same shutter speed of 1.6s. This proves that both lenses, on these different systems, full frame and micro 4/3 give us the same light gathering capabilities. The weakness in Micro 4/3 due to the smaller sensor is that it will have higher noise levels once we crank the ISO up.

Click to see larger. The Olympus with 25 f/1.2 at f/2 ISO 200, 1/6s, tripod

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now the Sony and 55 at f/2, ISO 200 and 1/6 second, tripod. The Sony will give us a more shallow DOF which is why the crop is blurred. The camera focused on the copper wire and therefore, due to the razor thin DOF, what is behind the copper is slightly out of focus. Some call this a weakness of larger sensors and fast glass. 

But as for exposure? Just about the same. The Sony added in +3 exposure comp even though I was in all manual. Therefore it is a shade lighter. 

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Me, I love both systems. I use them both and have a ton of shots and time on my Sony A7RII. The PEN-F is getting much more time lately though, with the 25 1.2 and my 7-14 pro. My full review of the 25 f/1.2 should be up by the end of the week. Then after that, I will do my review of the Fuji X-T2 ;)

Have a great day everyone!

Sep 232016
 

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Where I think the Camera Industry is Headed.

By Steve Huff

Photokina has come and gone and by all reports around the world (wide web) it has shrunk again with some saying it matched 2012 and others saying it was way down. Over the years it has been shrinking in participation and attendance, and what is to blame? I don’t know but I have a guess. Smart Phones, and even the availability of USED cameras, you know.. last years models that are still amazing and can be had for half the cost.

Digital Imaging has grown by leaps and bounds since I started this website/blog. I have been here at this website not since the beginning (I have been participating within the online community ever since the 1st digital Canon DSLR the D30) of digital but since the 1st days of Mirrorless with the original Olympus PEN and the Panasonic G1 and Leica M8! During those times, the smaller more compact mirrorless segment of the camera industry was struggling to get out of the gate. Many DSLR fans bashed and bashed and bashed the poor little Micro 4/3 system and it’s smaller sensor. Many saying Micro 4/3 would be dead out of the gate. Well, that did not happen. Instead, what did happen was that those first Micro 4/3 mirrorless cameras paved the way for more and much better mirrorless cameras to be developed over the following years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was clear, the camera buying public wanted a smaller camera system over a DSLR that still gave wonderful quality results. Some were tired of the big DSLR’s, as many who were buying them ended up leaving them behind when they left the house. Only to be reserved for family shots, events, vacations, etc. With mirrorless, we now had smaller systems that we could take with us everywhere if we wanted. They were also fun to shoot, and fun to look at sometimes (The Pen series for example). Now this was BEFORE smart phones came to be with their wonderful and capable cameras.

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So along comes Sony with the NEX-3 and 5 and not long after that a stream of upgrades from Sony..then more from Olympus and Panasonic, then Fuji’s excellent X100 series and so on. Soon, we have almost every camera maker producing a smaller mirrorless solution. The early days of mirrorless were OK. Slow AF, inaccurate AF, so so high ISO performance…and then BAM! All of the sudden we were getting amazing speed, quality, smaller size and results that matched the DSLR counterparts. We were still missing a “PRO” level Micro 4/3 body of course..until the fantastic (still fantastic today) Olympus E-M1. That camera did so well for Olympus due to the rugged build, great speed, soft quiet shutter, being shock, freeze and splash proof and of course the highly capable IQ coming out of it in almost all situations except the higher end of the ISO range, which was always M 4/3’s weak spot.

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So we were now getting flooded. Sony NEX-7 and the new Alpha series, Many PEN models from Olympus, the Fuji X-Pro, XT and XE line, Samsung went at it hard with small bodies and even a large NX1, which turned out to be their last hurrah (so it seems, they were absent from Photokina this year). By 2014-2015 there was a FLOOD of mirrorless cameras out there for us to choose from. I mean, there are A TON of cameras out there in circulation. Many on the used market. Most are fantastic and can be used for years to come while giving us top quality.

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We have gotten to the point where current camera tech has reached a peak. What comes out today has to be UBER exciting for us to get our emotions and heart to co-operate and want to BUY a new camera. When I see a Leica M or Leica SL, my heart goes boom boom boom. Those are special, unique and desired by many. The cost is what kills the dream of many to own one. When I see a Sony A7RII I think “Wow, this is just a great camera. I could use this for 10 years and be happy as it has all I need”. So for me to upgrade these days, a camera has to be simply a WOW product. I think many of us are in the same boat.

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Many of you here own a recent model Sony A7 series, or a Fuji series or an Olympus or  even a Leica. Many of you are 100% happy with your current camera. SO this means every year, there are less and less NEW cameras sold. We already have amazing tech and quality, and even if we have some really old camera and want and upgrade, many go to the used market and save crazy money on a used camera that performs as new. So again, less and less new cameras are being sold. This leaves some manufacturers wondering what they need to do to keep the train moving at a fast pace.

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So where do I see the industry going? Well, I think we will be seeing slower product refresh times. Instead of the 6-12 month refresh of some, that may turn to 2-3 years. Leica has a 3 year (or more) life cycle on most of their German made cameras (The M, T, SL, S). Olympus had a three year break from the E-M1 to the Mark II and I think even Sony MAY BE slowing down with the A7 series. So first, camera releases, I think, will start to be spaced out more and more. The days of the 6 month refresh may be over ;) But this is actually welcome to most.

I also think many models will die out. Smart phone cameras are getting better and better and every year they take a bite out of REAL camera sales. A phone is always with you, and always ready to get the shot, and the IQ for 97% of us is good enough. It truly is a small niche of us who are obsessive over image quality. For the masses, most are just fine with their smart phone camera, which is going to make it tougher and tougher for these camera companies to thrive as they have over the past 10 years or so.

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So with the smart phone taking over, I think we are already seeing what will happen within this industry. 

I think the new trend, as shown by Hasselblad and Fuji this year will be GIANT sensors. We are forging past full frame 35mm and heading into medium format styles of sensors. The bigger the sensor the more rich, the more beautiful and the more WOW we get in our final image results. More dynamic range, better color, etc. It’s a fact, today we get bored easily. Our attention spans today are the shortest they have ever been. I blame the internet for this, and many of the world’s problems, but for cameras…this means that while FULL FRAME digital was hot and awesome years ago when it was new, but too expensive. Today we can get full frame bodies on the cheap (used Sony A7 for example) so today, Full Frame is old news. Many are bored with it and wanting more.

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So with Fuji entering the MF world with the GFX 50s, and Hasselblad has the X1D (which looks BEAUTIFUL to me) I feel Sony is not far behind. I see Sony as really being the #1 company to push digital imaging tech and limits. I do not see them missing the large sensor push which I feel is the next big phase of digital. We have these medium format bodies now from Pentax, Fuji, Hasselblad, all under the $10k mark. Sony already makes fabulous MF sensors, so it would be a no brainer for them to get into the MF game and release something like a Sony A10 with a Squared off body, a little larger than an A7 and include their medium format sensor in the body. Then have an A9 Pro to be the pro A7 many want to see as well. Would make sense.

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So I see these companies and digital imaging to continue the trend. We started with point and shoot sensors, then APS, then Micro 4/3, then full frame and all that is next is Medium Format, and it has already begun. I think we will see less and less of the point and shoots (another continuing trend) and less of the multiple models (like the three A7 models released at one time) and we will start to see more and more really exceptional cameras aimed at the enthusiast niche.

Special cameras. I think Leica will remain unaffected because what they offer is so unique and special, and they already have a tiny tiny market share, and those are from people who LOVE Leica and will not really want anything other than Leica. For the others like Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, etc I think we will see more time go by from release to release and when there are cameras announced I think they will be more special, more high end. No camera company can beat the Smart Phone at its own game, so the Point and Shoot’s slow death will keep on progressing IMO.

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With so many used deals out there on recent releases, more people getting tired of the constant upgrade game, technology sort of peaking right now for digital imaging, and smart phones being plenty good enough for the masses…it’s going to be a tricky route for most of these camera giants to navigate. I feel with concentration on making cameras the best they can be in build, speed and performance as well as adding and going larger with the sensors (as has already begun) in a mirrorless body will be what we see over the next few years. I think we will still have Micro 4/3, APS-C, and Full Frame of course but these new bodies will have to have something special about them for most enthusiasts to bite. I also see VIDEO as getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

I would be excited by a new Leica M, a new Sony A9 Pro, a new Sony Medium Format body. I already am excited to test the new Olympus E-M1 MKII and see the new Hasselblad and Fuji MF cameras as well. So today as we near the end of 2016 I feel we have some amazing cameras to choose from as far as new releases and current releases. We also have a hell of a lot of used options, so being a Camera Enthusiast, Photographer or even a Pro today is great. We have many options but 5 years from now, we will probably have a smart phone that gives us everything we get in todays mid to top mirrorless or DSLR’s. THEN we will start to see what truly happens to the industry. Change is gonna come, that I know.

Steve

Aug 312016
 

The Mighty Canon 5D from Mark 1 to IV

By Steve Huff

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The new full frame Canon camera, the Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR is announced and up for pre order…so why am I not posting about it? Well, I am right here..sort of..in a way. ;)

Many here know me as a “Mirrorless” guy who shys away from big bulky DSLR’s, but that has not always been the case, and may not always remain the case. I found 6 old external hard drives I had in storage and when I plugged them in to my iMac I found thousands and thousands of old photos, from almost every early digital camera ever made. The Canon D30, 10D, Nikon D100, D200 and D300. The Olympus E1 and many more. The images to me that stood out from the rest were shot back then on the Canon 5D original. A camera that I feel is an important part of Digital Camera history.

It’s true, As I get older…and older..and older…the less I am interested in DSLR’s. My interest in them started fading quite a few years ago, when the first mirrorless bodies were produced. The Olympus PEN, the Panasonic GF1 and others in the early mirrorless “revolution” were slow, clunky, awful in low light, had no built in EVF’s and while offering good IQ, they suffered GREATLY from the well loved and mighty DSLR.

For years and years Canon ruled the roost and rightly so as they were the ones who started the digital DSLR craze with the very 1st consumer/prosumer digital DSLR that was priced within reach at $3500 (now available used for $80 or $100 with a lens). That camera was the D30 and it was a powerhouse 3 Megapixel cropped sensor DSLR with awful low light abilities, slow AF and the earliest of digital camera tech (awful LCD, etc). But hey, at the time I LOVED IT. I ADORED IT. It was the early days of serious digital and there was nothing quite like it.

The Canon D30 when I owned it. A shot of my then VERY young 6 Year old Son Brandon..The year? 2002. Brandon is now 20 going on 21. 

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I bought that D30 a few weeks after it was announced, with a slew of Canon glass. I loved it, though my bank account suffered a $6k hit after the glass was bought. Back then we did not have options of Micro 4/3, APS-C, Full Frame or other sensor sizes when it came to digital. In fact, what came before the Canon D30 were a slew of small sensor and floppy disk cameras from Sony, Fuji and others that were not very good…but it was all we had if we wanted to go digital.

D30, 2002. My buddy Mike who still appears in my reviews today!

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TRUTH: I loved my D30 THEN but would hate it NOW.

It’s performance TODAY can not even get close to something like a new Canon 5D Mark IV, the latest offering from Canon. Canon has continued on their path since that original D30 DSLR. They went from D30 to cameras like the 10D, 20D and 30D and kept it up through the 5D series and others like the 6 and 7D. They have released so many DSLR’s that look similar over the years but each one took up the performance another notch. Wether that was in the form of faster AF, better low light or Dynamic Range or a more friendly quicker user experience.

 

But today is not like yesterday. We are in a different time, and world with blistering new tech in mirrorless that is bringing in serious competition from the likes of Sony and Nikon (whose 1st DSLR, the D100 I also owned and used for a year or so) ramping up from year to year, it seems like I am seeing less and less large DSLR’s around when I am out and about. Even with the 5D series being almost legendary for Canon these days, less and less are buying DSLR’s today than they were just a few years ago. Each year Mirrorless takes a slice of the DSLR pie, and every year Smart Phones take a slice of the mirrorless pie. Funny huh?

But DSLR’s are still very very good and many rely on them day after day. They are polished, they are fast, they have been around and evolved more than any other type of digital camera made today. They are what the pros gravitate towards and if you want sports, action or wildlife the DSLR has the advantage, even today when mirrorless is catching up FAST (but not 100% there yet).

The original 5D with a shot of my  dog Winnie. 

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The 5DII, years later…

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As good as these modern day digital imaging solutions are, more and more are using smart phones today for their image duties. Five years ago a regular hobbyist Joe or Jane may have bought a Canon, Nikon or Sony or even a point and shoot. Today, more and more are perfectly content with their phone for taking images, even those who in the past were 100% into great cameras and lenses. Some are thinking that today, the camera game is a losing game. We buy, we spend, we sell, we lose. We repeat the cycle. I do it, many of you do it, and that is how the camera industry has grown so quickly and offered so much to us over the years…with fast repeated upgrades.

BUT I do not want to get off track here. Going over these old shots of mine has given me the warm and fuzzies, and I vividly remember those old days with my Canon 5D…snapping away. I would go out and work on my Homeless Project or take photos of my family and son growing up. I just can not believe  that it has been so many years that have gone by so fast! I remember shooting that D30 in 2002 and being so happy with it. It ignited my passion for sure.

 

Over the years I went from 5D  to 5DII and by the time the 5DIII came around I was 100% locked into mirrorless. So I skipped the III and now we have the IV. Does it intrigue me? Well, only a little. Today I do not shoot things that require a DSLR. I do not shoot sports (if I did I would be an oddball and use a Leica). I do not shoot wildlife (though if I did, my A7RII would get the job, or Oly Pen-F) and I do not need, personally, what a DSLR offers. With that said, there are MANY..thousands and thousands who LOVE DSLRS and dislike Mirrorless. I get it, as the DSLR does offer things most mirrorless cameras have not been able to (again, speed, lenses, etc)

So what has changed since the 5D Mark 1 to t he 5D Mark IV? A TON. But looking back at my old 5D images, I see that this was a fantastic camera, even for the time. The IQ is even today, stunning as the sensor in that 5D had some special MoJo with it that I feel they lost a little in the Mark II.

All from the original Canon 5D years ago…

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Canon is a GIANT. They have been around and will be around forever. When I talk to those on the street or strangers, 90% of the time they ask me if the best cameras are made by Canon. It’s just a thing most think as Canon is the most recognized name in Digital imaging to those OUTSIDE the circle of forums, reviews, etc. Most go by what they see at Best Buy, Target, and retail shops. Most see the #1 sellers on Amazon, and usually a Canon Rebel is up in that list. Photo students today almost always go with a Canon Rebel over a Nikon or Mirrorless. It’s a funny thing as you would think DSLR’s would still rule the roost in sales.

Unpublished from my Homeless Project many years ago…

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The Canon 5D is a legend in the digital world. No question. While I am out of my DSLR Phase, for now, I understand that if it were not for that original Canon 5D we may not be where we are today in digital imaging. That 5D ignited so much excitement for being full frame, offering gorgeous IQ and with a great piece of L glass on it, it delivered magic. It was even great in low light for the time, and even today can do quite well. I feel we owe a lot to the original 5D from Canon. It was a game changer then, and Canon are still updating and improving on it here in 2016 and beyond.

I may have a 5DIV sent to me to check out with a couple of good L lenses. I may go out and give it a go to see how I like shooting a full fledged Canon DSLR for a week or two. Going by my memories of the times I had shooting that original, I may surprise myself. It’s been a while and while I have cameras here to shoot from Leica, Sony, Olympus and others…it may be time to shake my head up with a DSLR ;)

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Until then, check out the new Canon 5D Mark IV HERE to see specs and details and watch this site for a possible review of the new Canon ;)

Steve

 

Aug 202016
 

A Tale of Two Sensors. Micro 4/3 and Full Frame?

By Steve Huff

Last week as I was shooting the Olympus PEN-F and Pana/Leic 12mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH I realized I was in the same area/place/spot that I was in when I was shooting the Leica M-D and 28 Summuilux f/1.4 ASPH. I even snapped the same image, one with the Leica and 28 and one with the Pen-F and Panasonic 12mm. Same subject (Debby), same post (similar) but a couple of weeks apart, different light and a different day. BUT, these two shots do give a hint at what one can expect when it comes to sensor size.

As enthusiasts and pros and camera geeks like me (and many of you) know, Micro 4/3 cameras offers smaller than full frame or even APS-C sized sensors. In the world of Micro 4/3 users, well, I find them to be some of the most happy and satisfied camera users around. Why? Well, not 100% but I do know that these Micro 4/3 bodies are very FUN to use. They are fast, responsive, have great lenses available and give a wonderful quality that far surpasses any smart phone and they are small, light and powerful. They do have weaknesses that still persist today though and the biggest one for most that I speak with is low light/high ISO.  With M 4/3 this is not the best, usually topping off at 3200 for me, but I usually stop at ISO 1600 to be safe. In comparison, I can shoot ISO 50k on a Sony A7SII and be happy ;)

But then we have the larger sensors like APS-C, Full Frame, Medium Format…

The larger the sensor, the better things get such as low light performance/high ISO, dynamic range, depth of field control (can get super shallow if desired), richness and depth of file, 3D pop, and even color to some extent depending on lens used.

BUT with full frame sensors come other things some may not find desirable…like SIZE of lenses. Sure, we can get compact-ish bodies in the full frame world but the lenses, for the good ones anyway, always seem to be HUGE! So with the full frame benefits come larger size, heavier weight, and some find the shallow depth of field a negative as it can be tough, when using a fast prime, to get all of your subjects in focus. Many shoot wide open at f/1.4 on a micro 4/3 and get all of their subject in focus due to the DOF of micro 4/3 being larger, as in LESS BOKEH AND BLUR in the background. With full frame, one needs to stop down to f/2.8 or even f/4 to get their subjects in complete focus, and even at f/4 we can get some nice shallow DOF with full frame.

The HUGE Leica 90-280 Lens for the Full Frame SL. A Beast in Size and Weight but Amazing Performance. 

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So their are pros and cons to each, one of the biggest pros for Micro 4/3 vs Full Frame though is price. A full frame setup from Leica, Sony, Nikon or Canon can put a dent in that wallet, especially when adding great glass (which I feel full frame cameras need). With M 4/3 one can buy something like a Panasonic GX85, throw in a 15 1.7, 42.5 1.8 and 75 1.8 and have a very capable kit that will be small, fun and great to use and will not require a 2nd mortgage on your house to purchase.

Sensor Size…see Four Thirds (same as Micro) vs Full Frame. Way more real estate on that sensor for full frame. This leads to better low light performance, a more shallow DOF experience, greater dynamic range..and in the case of mirrorless, slower Auto Focus in general than smaller sensors. Micro 4/3 wins in size and speed, and fun factor,,,usually. 

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But let me get back to image quality and what you can expect from each, when shot at f/1.4, with a premium prime lens. Most here already know of all of  the pros and cons of each format, but some do not. Some stumble here to this website as a newbie, and many do not even know what Micro 4/3 means. So take a look below at the two shots of Debby. One with the PEN-F and one with the Leica M-D.

Full Frame Sensor. 28 mm at f/1.4 – Leica M-D and 28 Lux

CLICK THE IMAGE! This is a beautifully rendered image. The bokeh behind her is smooth and out of focus just enough to make her face appear to pop with a 3D realism. Click on it to see it larger as the larger you view it the better. The file looks full of life, rich and with great color. No complaints but the price of this kit is a mind melting $12,000. One could use a similar setup from Sony in an A7II for much less to get this full frame “richness”.

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MICRO 4/3 SENSOR – 12mm f/1.4 Pana/Leica at f/1.4 (24mm equiv)

CLICK THE IMAGE! Same shot, different day with the Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic 12mm f.1,4 (giving us a 24mm equivalent). As you can see, the depth of field (bokeh, blur, etc) is as shallow as  this setup can give as we are seeing the DOF from a 12mm lens, not a 24mm lens. Even though what we see in the output equals a 24mm lens on full frame, the depth of field will be that of a 12mm lens, much larger so less shallow-ness going on. Some see this as a weakness, some as a strength. Me, I find the M 4/3 shot much flatter when viewing it large. The Leica file, full frame, is loaded with life.

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Keep in mind this is not a lens comparison but instead it is a comparison to just show how much richer a full frame sensor can be, but it does come at a cost of $$, weight, and size. I enjoy Micro 4/3 and full frame cameras and I switch between them from time to time depending on what I want to photograph. For a fun family day, or trip, I usually like to use Micro 4/3. For more serious photos or low light shoots, I grab a full frame ;)

Have a great weekend everyone! Get out there and shoot whatever you have on hand and have fun, enjoy it, and live your passion. ;) See ya Monday!

Steve

Jul 222016
 

New Rokinon 50 1.4 For Sony E Mount Announced

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There is certainly NO shortage of 50mm lenses that can be used on the Sony A7 FE system. We have TONS of old vintage lenses from Leica, Voigtlander, Canon and Nikon that we can mount. We have Sony’s own native 50’s like the 50 1.8, 50 1.4 and 55 1.8. We have DSLR lenses we can use on the E System like Canon’s 50 1.2 L or Nikons 50 1.4. There is a 50mm flavor for anyone when it comes to using the Sony mirrorless and now we have another full frame fast 50, this time from Rokinon. This autofocus lens looks good, but how will it perform? At less than half the cost of the new Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4 and less than the Zeiss 55 1.8, it will be interesting to see how this one does, as there is always room for less expense with more quality. ;)

I’ll review this lens when I can get a hold of one, but to see more check out the link to B&H photo here. 

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