A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad
By Adam Laws
I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.
Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.
The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.
Sony images 1, 2 and 3 –
However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.
So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.
I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.
My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.
I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.
Leica images 1, 2, and 3
This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.
The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.
Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3
This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.
Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.
Nikon 1, 2, and 3
The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.
The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.
Contax 1, 2, and 3
Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.
Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.
For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.
I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.
I’m not comfortable writing. Images, particularly photography are what drives me. Since very young Art was part of my life, I went from painting and waiting to be an architect to abandon everything for a life in the theatre, just to pursue a career in Jazz playing trumpet.
But at my twenties, I was struggling to make it and everyone was making sure I knew I had to earn money to be a successful individual. Money was never my interest, I’m passionate about Art, any form of it. But Photography had a degree of intimacy and control that I had never experienced.
I went to college to take a photography bachelor and complemented it with a bachelor in Fine Arts and a master’s degree in Visual Arts teaching, things went on for a while, drifting in teaching, corporate/event photography, restoration related jobs before I finally found the one area where I had complete creative freedom. A freedom that allows me to choose the gear that gives me pleasure while creating and expressing myself through Photography and eventually sharing my Vision.
Weddings are something that has been with society since we had the need to express our love for our life companion. Happiness is something that needs to be shared and celebrated with our loved ones. And that’s what I like about them, it’s all about family and friends making the most of Life. When I was in college, I did the whole course with only an Olympus OM 1 and a 50mm, since then manual focus is second nature to me, even when I had top DSLR’s AF never grew on me. But when I used the first serious EVF (Panasonic GH2) I knew what I wanted and what I wanted to see while composing. Eventually, when I step up to weddings I needed the best dynamic range and colour I could get my hands on it, so I bought a Sony A99 and a Nikon D800e to figure out my needs. After a year the Sony won me, not because it was superior to the D800e, it was Sony’s approach to photography that made it. The fully articulated LCD, I. S and Minolta’s heritage all over the place made the A99 a superior tool in my hands.
When the mirrorless Sony A7 appeared on the scene I had no doubts and bought one immediately with a set of Zeiss ZM and Voigtlander lenses with the VM close adapter. Since then, shooting has been a real pleasure. Nothing beats feeling your shots, even when we are capturing fleeting moments like kisses, exchanging vows/wedding rings or sharing a secret while on the dance floor at 4 am. Having a small, robust camera with the best glass in the industry makes me feel very confident and secure that when I get home, I have all I need to put together a body of work that reflect my vision. That’s the main lesson I learned, you really need to follow your own unique vision of things.
We are all different, but you really need to push beyond the limits to reach for that inner voice. Recently I added the amazing sigma Art 35mm f 1.4 to my set, the only complain is its sheer size when compared to my little Zeiss ZM 35mm f2. My workflow is pretty straightforward, I use B&W mode to concentrate on composition and focus while having red peaking and magnify to guarantee that every moment is in focus. For 75% of all my work, I use the 35mm focal length with my Sony A7 and take advantage of the articulated LCD from the A99 to get more discrete and intimate portraits with the 85mm, also from Sigma. Just a little detail, I removed the slt mirror from the A99 and use it in manual focus, so it’s basically a big mirrorless camera. I’m more of a guest than a professional photographer, at least that’s how I’m perceived by my clients, family and friends. A friend who happens to make a living from photography. I really try to enjoy the wonderful day, conscious that I’m very fortunate to be at a private party while making a living. I’m always the first to arrive and the last to leave, it’s after all a body of work and not just a staged kiss with the golden hour moment. It’s people that drive me, the concept of family and friendship not staged moments.
I’m looking forward to get the new Sony A7RII since it brings some new features like a new and stronger shutter that it’s better damped, the I. S, min. auto shutter, copyright embed info, better high ISO performance and even the silent shutter option although with some caveats.
“I hear the A7RII is the same size as the Nikon D810, so what is the advantage for me to go to Sony”?
“The A7RII is just as big as most DSLR’s, FAIL”
“Why is it SO BIG!?!? The A7RII offers no size advantage over a 5DIII”
I just shake my head and chuckle. Not sure what planet some of these people are living on but the A7RII is MUCH smaller and MUCH thinner than any full frame and 95% of APS-C DSLRs, and with a better sensor than any of them IMO ;) Take a look below at some size comparisons thanks to CAMERASIZE.COM
Starting with the Leica M. The M is longer but the A7RII is taller due to the EVF hump. The A7R II is also thicker, giving the Leica the “smallest full frame camera” award next to the Sony RX1 of course.
How about the “Small” full frame DSLR? The Nikon Df. The Df is taller, longer, and thicker. The A7RII gives better IQ and performance IMO.
The trusty Nikon D810, which one person told me was the same size as the A7RII. The Nikon is MUCH taller, longer and MUCH thicker.
The D4..well, no need to comment on size here.
Now the 7D Mark II, which is smaller than the 5D III…AND an APS-C sensor, so this one is not even full frame!
..and the 5DIII…
..and for giggles, the Canon 1Dx. WOW!
So this should verify that the A7RII is smaller than just about any DSLR, and all of full frame DSLR’s by quite a bit, it also beats out all of these on most things such as IQ, usability, fun factor and low light abilities (again, IMO).
Amazing what Sony have done here and I hope Canon and Nikon have a plan! I have been shooting the A7RII all day and this is one hell of a camera. It is small compared to these beasts but feels amazingly solid and nice in the hand and never overbearing or too heavy. AF is speedy and with a Leica lens, mostly all Sony FE lenses or a Zeiss Loxia I feel like I can shoot ANYTHING I want, anytime, without worry or problem. This is the only camera I have used or tested that I would possibly call “and end game” camera for many years to come. Besides moving up to Medium Format, it’s hard to fathom what could get better here for 35mm. This weekend look for tests with the Leica 28 Summicron and 35 Summicron, up close and infinity tests. Then a review of the A7RII to follow!
Many h ave been asking me to do a high ISO comparison with the Sony A7RII vs the all time high ISO king, the Sony A7s. The Sony A7s is a special camera for a few reasons, one of them being the extreme low light capabilities which came about due to Sony using a 12MP sensor. The less MP on a full frame sensor usually means better low light or high ISO performance. With the new resolution monster, the A7RII, any were expecting high ISO to be mediocre. This is not the case. In fact., it looks DAMN good against the A7s. Think about it..12MP vs 42MP and the 42MP sensor is not far off. AT ALL.
As always with my ISO tests I let the camera choose exposure as this is how 99% of people use these, either in A mode, S mode or even AUTO mode. In other words, very few manually expose these cameras, so here is the output from each as exposed by the meter in each camera. What you see is what you get.
Also, these are from RAW and all noise reduction was off. Sony made some claims saying the A7RII is a NO COMPROMISE camera due to the new sensor design, Meaning, you can have high res and great high ISO all in one. Now imagine when they redo the A7s with the new sensor tech..this is when I think we will hit ISO 1 million and have it be usable. ;) My older A7s review is HERE if you missed it! Also, before you ask, the grip on the A7RII above is the JB Designs A7RII wooden grip.
Click each image for larger view and full 100% crops! I will go all the way to the top ISO in my full review which will be up within 2-3 weeks!
Earlier this year I took along the FE 16-35mm as the go-to lens with my A7S and traveled around the beautiful Tasmania, Australia. The 16mm focal length came in handy for landscapes and interior shots, and I find it more fun to use than the 24-70mm. As I shoot videos, the zoom lens came in handy and coupled with the APS-C function gave an effective coverage of 16-50mm to play with. Here are some images and video from our travel around Tassie. As usual keep up the awesome site guys!
Blasphemy be damned, I’m going to admit that I wasn’t all that excited about the Sony a7R II prior to its release.
I’m a simple stills guy so the 4k video is wasted on me; I also like my fat pixel 12mp a7S files just fine, thank you and I dreaded having to deal with both the processing and storage requirements of a 42mp image. Furthermore, I already enjoy the refreshed body style and IBIS on the a7 II and I’m not a switcher – been shooting Sony for a few years now and sold all my Canon L lenses long ago.
My prior detachment aside, the release of this camera is a watershed moment in the mirrorless epoch. The a7R II spec sheet reads like something out of the future, a no compromise piece of kit that is both evolutionary and revolutionary at the same time. Who wouldn’t be interested in this camera? As professionals or even enthusiasts, we desire the best and this camera promises to be that at a great many things. Even if it falls short in a single category like low light (little brother a7S still reigns supreme), its second best still trumps most everything else on the market.
So yeah, I want the best and I want it compact and rugged and efficient and with a great compliment of lenses. I know it will eventually be eclipsed by something newer and greater but at this point in time, I can with a good conscience state that it is the best digital camera I have ever owned.
I’m not going to do a detailed review, many others are far better at that, but I can share some thoughts and photos that I hope will be helpful. All images have been edited from RAW to my personal taste.
In the pro column, the camera is mature. Sony has had time since the release of the a7 (their first full frame mirrorless system camera) to evolve and improve on many aspects of the platform. The menu system is by now second nature to me but more importantly, with the release of the a7R II, Sony has vastly expanded the level of button configuration. Virtually every physical control on the camera has some level of customization. This means that for all but the most arcane settings, there are direct physical controls. We’ve all seen the comments labeling Sony products as computers or gadgets, compared to other brands’ “real cameras”. The truth is that all modern digital cameras, yes I’m looking at you too Leica, are electronic, computer controlled devices. With the a7R II, I can hide that electronic menu interface for 99% of the photography I do while still harnessing secondary features like IBIS, focus magnification or display options with physical buttons. The closest example of this type of physical control from the golden age of the 35mm film world was the Minolta Maxxum 7 (also known as the a-7!) which was laden with physical controls for every imaginable setting. For the uninitiated, Sony purchased Minolta’s camera and lens line in 2006 – check out this report from way back then – Farewell Konica Minolta.
The a7R II is the second camera in the line to be blessed with IBIS or SteadyShot, also a Minolta invention. Once you’ve used IBIS there’s simply no going back. Hand holding a 135mm lens at 1/5th is doable with IBIS and good technique – amazing. For some of the photos here, I used the lovely Batis 85mm which has its own optical image stabilization that works in tandem with IBIS for even greater control. The jittery view of a long lens simply melts away to calm when IBIS kicks in. Sony saves battery life by engaging the IBIS function only when the shutter is half-depressed so you can see the effect in realtime, before and after you engage focus.
The original a7R suffered a heavy shutter action that was quite loud. Having never owned that model, I can’t comment but I will say that the a7R II has one of the sweetest sounding shutters I have heard. It sounds something like this: shhtiiiickkk. Really, take my word, it is wonderful – quiet and refined. Some people have even confused the normal shutter sound with the silent shutter feature which is incorrect as the silent shutter is just that: silent. And on the topic of the Silent Shutter setting, yes there are some compromises such as a restriction to single shot mode but come on, the use cases for silent high speed shooting have got to be minuscule.
Another aspect of the camera that impresses me is the new EVF magnification. At .78 it is the largest magnification of any modern camera, DSLR or mirrorless (the Nikon D810 comes in at .70) which results in a large comfortable view of the scene with excellent eye relief. This feature did have me excited and I’ll have a hard time looking through a view with lesser magnification now.
The autofocus speed seems on par with the a7 II but tracking looks to be improved thanks to the 399 on-sensor phase detect points. I’ll need to do more shooting to be sure and I also want to do some concerts in low light, but for now I’m very pleased. Using the gorgeous new Zeiss Batis lenses for these first shots in Ogunquit, Maine resulted in quick, sure focus on the 25mm, with the 85mm a bit slower (common for longer focal lengths moving more lens mass) but still speedy. I’m finding that the Batis 25mm truly shines on the a7R II – sharp, sharp, sharp right to the corners with manageable distortion and excellent color. The ability to dial in hyperfocal setting in 2 seconds using the OLED is a nice feature that I used often on some of these tourist landscape shots. If you are looking for a top quality standard wide for the a7 platform, this is your lens. Overall, I’m very pleased with this combination and look forward to more options in the Batis lineup.
One of the big features of the new camera is its claimed compatibility (with an adapter) to Canon EF lenses. The previous a7 models also had this compatibility but the AF speed left much to be desired. With the a7R II, Sony is taking a broad shot across Canon’s bow, claiming much improvement, approaching native AF speed using EF lenses. Since I don’t have any Canon lenses I can’t comment with any authority but there seems to be a consensus in early reviews that the performance claims are accurate. Since the a7R II will be the first Sony camera for many Canon switchers I can only implore them to enjoy the compatibility with their existing lenses but do not ignore some of the class leading native FE lenses that are now available.
Back to the a7R II – what about all of those pixels? The good news is that I’m seeing nothing but sharpness, no shutter shock or blurred details – and my MacBook Pro seems to be chugging along just fine so far. I get a longer delay when rendering a 100% view but for standard editing I haven’t noticed any speed bumps. The level of clarity and detail from the combination of this 42mp sensor and the Batis lenses has been simply astounding and will eclipse the performance of many Medium Format systems. Dynamic range has also been top notch and I expect it to be measured in the 14+ stop range at base ISO.
Shadow boosting and highlight recovery is child’s play with these Sony sensors and the a7R II doesn’t look to be compromising dynamic range or low light performance for high resolution. Check out the before and after sample below illustrating shadow boost at base ISO.
No camera is perfect and I expect there to be a few niggles here and there but as I mentioned earlier, the a7R II is remarkably mature. As a photographer with some manual focus rangefinder lenses I do find that the new larger EVF has an unfortunate downside that lessens the shimmering effect of the older displays. This effect was from edge artifacts and could help the photographer determine when they had manual focused accurately without relying on focus peaking. The extra EVF magnification eliminates those edge artifacts making it more challenging to determine manual focus accuracy without entering one of the focus magnification modes. Now to be clear, Sony never advertised or even hinted of this EVF shimmering effect as a tool for focus, this is simply a trick that I and others have used for our benefit so we can’t berate Sony for eliminating what some may have thought was an annoyance.
Aside from my gripe about manual focusing with the new EVF, I’ve discovered no significant faults that impact operation or lessen my enjoyment of the camera. My initial impression is that Sony has set a new high bar with the a7R II – a camera that will suit many, but of course not all styles of photography. For those that specialize in landscape, architecture, wedding or portraits, as well as the run and gun videographer, this could well be the one and only camera that you need in your bag. And let’s not forget, that bag is going to be a lot lighter.
Many have asked to see how the new A7RII sensor handles shadow recovery. Below is a quick example. 1st one is out of camera how it was shot, and below that one is with shadow recovery. Notice how the details of the tree come out. Click on them for larger size, and if you are on a retina display, these are Retina Ready!
CLICK THEM FOR LARGER 2000 PIXEL WIDE VERSIONS
More later as I am leaving portland today and heading back to AZ! My A7RII review unit will be here next week so my full long form review will be started then.
Day 3 With the Sony A7RII. Just some quick Samples..
So day three with the A7RII here in Portland just ended, and I am tired. So tired that I am now in my pajamas laying in bed and dozing off as I write this. Because I am so beat, I will keep the text short and let the images speak for themselves.
Also, for those who have been asking, I will post full res files in my full review in 2-3 weeks. I will test certain Leica lenses on the camera as well. So stay tuned for that.
For now, just a few more images from today. Myself and almost everyone here is loving this camera. Was speaking with some well known camera reviewer names today and they agree that this is a phenomenal camera. From its snappy AF, to excellent tracking C-AF to it much better build, quieter shutter, superb high ISO performance and great video it is so much different than the 1st gen A7 bodies…AND THIS IS GOOD.
Stay tuned for my full review soon.
For now, take a look at some images from today and yesterday afternoon with various lenses.
Yesterday I posted my very 1st views and thoughts on the new powerhouse Sony A7RII camera. After shooting with it all day today for the past 6 hours I have more images and thoughts and they are all GOOD.
I am currently on a bus with 30-40 other journalists and Sony as we had to Mt. Hood for more shooting (in snow) with the A7RII. Since we have a 2 hour drive I decided to use my iPhone 6 as a hotspot and update you guys on how it went this morning with the camera.
One test I wanted to try was to shoot the Voigtlander 15 4.5 VIII on the A7rII as I was hearing rumblings about how the new sensor design fixes most of the issues with wide-angle Leica M glass. I have the 15 III on me, so more Leica tests will happen next week when I am home but for now, the 15 is looking AWESOME on the A7RII.
click image for larger…
As I walked around the Japanese Garden this morning with the A7RII, 15 III, Batis 85 and Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 and 24-70 I was BLOWN AWAY at the camera. This is without a doubt, the BEST A7 camera EVER made. In fact, since I am in the honeymoon phase, I feel it is one of the best, if not the best camera I have ever used. SO many reasons why. Will I feel like this in 2 weeks? I think so, but who knows. I am just so excited by what this camera is giving me I look at it sitting here next to me and say “I WILL NEVER NEED MORE THAN THIS”.
I mean, I just want an A7RII and some AMAZING glass to go with it, and there is TONS of glass you can shoot on the A7RII. Thousands of lenses from all manufacturers can be mounted with the right adapters and with the new sensor design, man… this is one powerful tool.
Even with its 42 MP the camera is responsive, quick and never feels sluggish. Manual focus is a breeze with the large clear EVF and low light is so much better than I thought it would be, I mean..it seems to be better than my A7II at high ISO, nearing the A7S (but not quite).
THIS CAMERA excels with out of camera quality. These are all from camera JPEGS, look at the color, the depth and the incredible medium format like IQ…click them for larger!
It has been a lackluster year for cameras so far. I mean, we have had some amazing cameras come out..the Leica Q…a few others..but THIS is a game changer and when something like the A7RII comes along, it excites me and that excitement translates to these pages and the words I write.
I have shot with everything over the years and believe me when I say, so far, from two days with this A7RII, it is a special camera that has capabilities that far exceed my skill set. The video capabilities alone are incredible. The sensor is outstanding. They did their homework and listened to A7 users, and then they delivered this. THANK YOU SONY!
Here is a shot with the Canon 50 1.2 EF lens at 1.2. What is really incredible? Myself and all here agree, this lens focuses faster on the A7RII than it does on the Canon 5D series. Faster and more accurate. I borrowed this lens from someone here and now will go buy one as it is amazing on the camera. click it, and yes, this is an OOC JPEG.
What I have been enjoying most is the rich color, deep IQ and lovely transitions. This sensor is just “WOW”.
So here I am still on the bus and with my laptop battery draining and my hotspot racking up data feeds I will close this out now with a couple more images from today. Tomorrow I will post more from this evening and tomorrow as we have so many events planned to use these cameras. I will also have a look at the RX10II as that is also sitting in my bag beside me.
Believe the hype my friends, the A7RII is a take no prisoners camera and I see nothing out there that can do all it does, how it does it and do so with amazing and fun usability.
You can order the A7RII below from my recommended and trusted Sony dealers:
I thought I’d share some new images with your readers. I’m still loving the Olympus EM1 and Sony A7s although I have to say, since the Olympus 40-150mm zoom and the new 7-14mm zoom came out, the Oly has had more use. I also recently bought the Oly MC-14 1.4x tele converter for the big zoom and for me its performance in terms of resolution and sharpness underlines the big range now offered by the Olympus system. These 3 PRO zooms give me pretty much all I need for general travel work and the 12-40mm has all but replaced my wide primes with no loss of image quality. I still only tend to get the A7s + Leica M 35mm or 50mm f1.4 Summilux’s out when I’m out at night or I’m shooting low light work but with these lenses it still offers something a bit special.
My friend a few weeks before giving birth – EM1 – 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 25mm – available light and off camera flash
My friend and her baby girl who had just had another lifesaving operation only days after her birth – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – mixed available light
My friend holding it together by reading Winnie the Pooh to her baby girl who was still gravely ill only one week after her birth – Sony A7s – Leica M 35mm 1.4 – mixed available light
My work here is a mixture of commissions and personal shots ranging from an architecture job in Oxfordshire, corporate portraits and a trip to Wimbledon tennis championships to some intimate portraits of my friend Scarlet and her baby, Frida. The baby had a traumatic and complicated birth and had to be resuscitated several times in her first few days. Thankfully she’s doing brilliantly now and is thriving! Thanks again for the opportunity to share these with your readers and keep up the great work! If anyone is interested, I have a new, short program of workshops on my website here:
My friend and her baby Frida who was finally out of harms way and seemed to be enjoying her new world – EM1 – Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Frida just a few days ago, now 2 months old and currently my favorite model! – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light
The Prado Museum in Madrid during a quick break – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 15mm
A late night bar in Madrid – Sony A7s Leica M 35mm 1.4 – available light
A studio portrait of the actress Hetty Baynes Russell, who was married to Ken Russell the British film director. – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – continuous light through 4ft softbox
Another shot of Hetty – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – window light
A photograph of a rather special Barn design in Oxforshire at dusk – my friends Arthur and Kate were the architects who designed it – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm
The same building during the day – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm
A model in Prague – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light and reflector
A corporate shoot in London – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – Off camera flash
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Self portrait in the studio – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 35mm – continuous light through a 4 ft softbox and reflector
Britain’s number one female tennis player Heather Watson winning her match at Wimbledon – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO with MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4
Another self portrait in my garden – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 10mm – available light and off camera flash
A tree surgeon working behind my garden – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO + MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4
The same shot as above from the same spot, the tree surgeon is just visible – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm
Winning 1st Place in The World’s Largest Photo Competition!
By Andrew Suryono
Hello Readers, My name is Andrew Suryono. I won 1st place in this year’s Sony World Photography Award, Indonesia National Award. Below is my winning photo, “Orangutan in The Rain.”
This year 173,444 images was submitted from 171 countries, making Sony’s photography contest the largest in the world. Winning 1st place in this competition means a lot to me. Not only because this is the largest photo competition in the world, but also this is my first ever international award. I’m an avid reader of Steve’s site. I sent an email to Steve asking his permission to share my experience from winning the competition with you and he replied to me with a resounding YES in less than 5 minutes.
I’m super excited to share my experience with you here. Here we go! I’m sure many of you already have a question in mind: “What’s the prize of winning this competition, Andrew?” Did I read your mind correctly? :) Sony gave me a Sony A7s, a Carl Zeiss 24-70mm lens and a flight ticket to London (return). They also took care of my hotel accommodation, meals and transport during my 5 days stay in London. During this trip, Sony organized a photography tour where I can try all kinds of Sony’s new camera and lenses. I tried the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 lens, the Sony 28mm f/2 lens and the Sony 90mm Macro lens. Sony also did a photo exhibition to showcase of all the winners’ photos and finally end it glamorously with a gala dinner for the awarding ceremony. Here’s a picture of me holding the trophy during the Gala Dinner ceremony.
On top of all that, I got tons of publication requests. My winning photo was featured in big sites such as CNN, National Geographic, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many more. I view photography as my hobby and I never thought I could make it this far. Hopefully my winning photo and achievement can inspire you or at least light up your day!
Just did a fun video showing 12 lenses I have on hand for the Sony FE system! With the incredible Sony A7RII coming VERY soon, many will want a quick overview of these lenses, so here you go! Mostly all of these have had reviews done by me on this very site (see links below), but this is just a quick look at all of them at once! I will be doing more YouTube video work this year and next year, getting some new equipment in to up the quality level SOON, so stay tuned.
For now, take a look at the 12 lenses in about 8 minutes ;)
READER QUICK SHOT: Sony A7 and Vintage Leica 35 Summilux
By Martin Bray
From Steve: This “Quick Shot” will be a new series much like the daily inspiration but with ONE SHOT only. If you have ONE SHOT that you love, send it to me with a description of the shot, what you used to take the image and why you like it. I may post it as a “Quick Shot”! Send to me at [email protected].
I love the shot below as I am a huge fan of Environmental Portraits. Seeing this man in his workspace tells the story of his daily life and routine. I think it is a fantastic image, and captured with one of the coolest lenses ever, the old vintage 1960’s Leica 35 Summilux!
I drop into your site every few days to find out what people are up to, especially with the Daily Inspiration, many of which prod me to get out and about with a camera. This week I was doing some local town shots for a friend who has a gift shop and wants to start a small gallery. I was taking a picture of an interesting door when the owner appeared and invited us in to what turned out to be his goldsmith studio. I took this image on a Sony A7 with a 1960s Leitz Summilux 35mm f1.4 (ISO 2000, 1/60 sec, f4 – natural light only) – I just like the look of the man in his studio with all the organised clutter that you get in these places.
And hello to all of the followers of Steve Huff Photo! I’ve totally switched over to the Sony system late last year, and have been loving the system since then. I have your review of the A7s to thank for getting me really interested. I have now shot about four big jobs with the Sony’s, and they have performed nearly flawlessly so far. I own the A7s and the a6000, but have rented the A7II and the A7r trying to decide which body if a good fit, and I may just go with the newly announced a7rII. Attached are a few shots from my latest shoot with my Sony a7s and a rented Sony a7r along with the Sony/Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8 and Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8. lenses. I really love the size and rendering of the FE 35mm f/2.8!
I also like to keep it simple: two bodies, two lenses, a bunch of batteries and memory cards and normally zero lighting. But this shoot was different. It was a catalog shoot for Sun Bum (www.trustthebum.com); makers of sun products and a hot new company who is sweeping the industry. The company started in surf shops, but are now nationwide in Target as well as other stores. I shot their last catalog two years ago…
Since Sun Bum is a sun-based company, the plan was to shoot all day in the bright sunlight, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and we had two days of rainy weather as a big storm passed by in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. We had models coming in from everywhere, and Sun Bum staff members coming from California (the company is located in Cocoa Beach where we did the shoot), so scratching the entire shoot would have been very expensive. Besides, we also rented a house on the beach, so we had to improvise. My background is as a newspaper photojournalist (since 1991), so part of that job description was to make something out of nothing daily.
I also hate using strobes, and no longer own any lighting gear, but prefer to shoot in natural light. So one of the assistants went to Home Depot to purchase a couple sets of 500 watt halogen lights costing $35 each. These are the kind of lights that you utilize while working on a car in your garage or use at a construction site, but they were a perfect solution and created what I call “liquid sunshine” giving the gloomy day the warmth it needed. We still have to reshoot to supplement these photos with “fun in the sun” photos, but they were pretty happy with the results.
Wow, time has sure FLOWN by since the original RX100 Mark I was released and in my hands. I remember that camera arriving to my house for review like it was yesterday. Small, fast, a 1″ sensor that performed like a larger one and the video capability that made it a perfect go anywhere small high quality camera. That RX100 did very well for Sony, so well in fact that today in 2015 we are already on the Mark IV version of the RX100. While it looks 90% the same as the old Mark I, and 100% the same as the Mark III, the new Mark IV is the best of the RX100 series to date, and while the improvements from the III to this new IV are small, if you are looking for a pocket camera, the Mark IV may be the best out there today.
Before you start to read this review, please take a look at my previous RX100 reviews as most of what is in the Mark IV is in the Mark III so I will only be sharing some photos and some experiences I had with the new IV after mentioning the new improvements from the III. This will be a short review as I have said most of my praises in the previous reviews of this dynamite camera.
I skipped the Mark II as I felt it did not have enough improvement to warrant a full review. ;)
So let me start by saying the RX100 IV is still as beautiful as ever, but now we get some new improvements that keeps it as the premier pocket “do it all” camera. Sure we have the Ricoh GR and new upcoming GRII, with a larger APS-C sensor and all but this RX100 IV will deliver some amazing features such as 4K Video shooting, Slo Motion 960 Frames shooting, 1/32,000S Shutter Speed for those bright sunny days and a new stacked sensor that offers the best IQ and ISO performance yet.
While in my hand it feels, looks, smells and operates just like the RX100 III. We still have the pop up and out EVF that is very small nut useful on Bright Sunny days, and the swivel out LCD that gives us the best way to take selfies ;) Let me just say right now that this is almost the perfect selfie camera. I do not care what anyone says, SELFIES are HUGE! If I am out and about in a big city shooting I see maybe 100-200 selfies being taken during the day when I am out. It is every where and we have social media to blame for this new phenomenon. It’s crazy but a reality so I love the way Sony has implemented the Selfie Mode in the RX100. Flip up the back LCD so you can see it from the front, smile, press the shutter and the screen will countdown from 3 to 1 and then snap the shot.
You can turn off the countdown but if doing a group selfie everyone will know when the shutter will fire! So it’s a cool feature to have even if you will never use it. I messed around with the selfie mode combined with the High Contrast B&W mode…
With the 24-70 built in f/1.8 – 2.8 lens we get wide angle with a bit of mid telephoto and at the wide end we get f/1.8 aperture speed, so we can use this little guy in all kinds of light. As I said, it is basically the RX100 III with some enhancements to the sensor and video. Here are the specs of the Mark IV Rx100:
So we know have a backside illuminated sensor which is giving us the native ISO capability of 12,800. We are also getting 16FPS continuous shooting and as well as slow motion video capabilities at 960 FPS. This is so cool to have in a little pocket camera. 4K video clips up to 5 minutes are now possible as well.
“No line skipping or pixel binning and with minimal moiré or visual aliasing. The XAVC S format is utilized to maximize high-bitrate shooting up to 100 Mbps for professional-quality video. When recording in either the NTSC or PAL video standard, creative potential is further extended with the ability to capture Super Slow Motion High Frame Rate movies at up to 40x slower than real time. These slow motion clips are recorded at 960 fps, 480 fps or 240 fps and can then be played back at 1920 x 1080, in 60p, 30p, or 24p when the camera is set to NTSC. When set to PAL, slow motion clips are recorded at 1000 fps, 500 fps, or 250 fps and can then be played back at 1920 x 1080, in either 50p or 25p. At resolutions below 4K, including Full HD 1920 x 1080p, movies up to 29 minutes in length can be saved.”
So with the new capabilities the RX100 IV is a treat and joy to use. Below is a shot taken at ISO 6400, with standard NR in an OOC JPEG. This was shot in a pretty low light environment and when I saw this on my iMac screen I was pretty impressed. Yea, there are some tell tale signs of noise reduction but this is ISO 6400 JPEG in a small tiny pocket camera!
As I used the RX100 IV in my travels from Phoenix to Atlanta to South Florida recently the camera never gave me one issue. From the desert 110 Degree heat of the desert to the 95% humidity in Florida the RX100 IV just worked. The AF was fast as it always has been with this camera and the accuracy spot on. When I would pull it out of my pocket it would power on quickly and be ready to shoot within moments. It just worked, and worked well it did. The IQ is not going to be anything like what I get from my A7II and 50 Loxia lens but at the same time, it is much better than what my iPhone 6+ is giving me so I am happy to carry it with me. With WiFi and NFC on board it is simple to get the photos from the RX100 IV to my phone of choice.
Click images below for larger size to see how they were meant to be seen. These are all OOC Jpegs with the bottom two images using the cameras built in High Contrast B&W Mode.
Below is a full size OOC file using HC B&W, click it to see what came out of the camera in regards to detail and rendering..
Slow Motion Video – 960 FPS
The one feature I thought was cool on this camera is the Slow Motion video feature. I remember being teased by this super slo motion YEARS ago with the original Nikon V1. While it was allowing us to record slow motion it was playing it back in a super low resolution. With the Sony RX100 IV we can play back 960 FPS video in super slow motion in full HD. It’s a pretty cool thing. Below is a sample of how slow 960FPS shooting actually is after I talk a bit about the camera:
Press play below to see my RX100 Video including the slow motion samples!
So there yo go. The new RX100 IV is a super pocket rocket that will not disappoint. It is nice to look at, nice to hold, nice to use. It is responsive and fast just as the RX100 always has been and the image quality is about as good as it gets in a small 1″ sensor. This Sony delivers the goods yet again and for me, would be my pick for best pocket camera in 2015 EVEN THOUGH there are others with larger sensors. For me, this Sony offers me a little of everything so when I want video, I have it. When I want Slo Motion I have it, when I want super fast AF and great IQ I have it, if I want a great selfie, I have it.
If you do not need the new features like the new sensor tech, the new 4K video features, the 960 FPS shooting or 1/32,000S shutter speed then maybe you should consider the RX100 III, II or I as ALL are still in production and being made. Sony is offering us a level of pocket camera, so we can choose whatever we desire. I thought this was quite cool as from Version I to IV, all are fantastic and highly capable pocket cameras.
ME, if I were buying one RX100 today for my pocket needs I would go with either Version I or IV. Version I is great as well and while it is missing the pop up EVF, the backside illuminated sensor, 4K video and other new modern day bells and whistles it still takes an amazing photo for a pocket camera. Version II and III are slight upgrades but you get the most bang going from I to IV. All are fantastic and Sony has proven that a pocket camera with a small 1″ sensor can really deliver the goods. 10 years ago this type of thing did not exist and if it did it would have cost $3000.
Can’t wait to see what we have 10 years from now ;)
My Final Word on the RX100 IV
What you will read below is pretty much what my final word on the V III was, but updated for the Mark IV:
The newest RX100, or what I call it, “the Super Pocket Rocket 100″ (RX100 IV) is a real deal masterpiece of a point and shoot. From the design, the build, the pop out EVF, the full swivel up and down LCD to the fast lens and punchy color and pop from the files, the RX100 IV is a joy to use and shoot with. Once again Sony hits it out of the park here, as they have been doing for years now. Sony is surpassing companies like Nikon, Canon, Leica in many areas with some of their recent cameras and they are showing no signs of slowing down or stopping. With cameras like the A7RII on the way any day now, Sony is delivering mirrorless cameras from the starter range (RX100 series to mid enthusiast range (RX10 II) to the Super Enthusiast and Pro Range (A7RII). Lenses are now plentiful with more and more coming soon.
Keep in mind, the RX100 IV will not and can not replace an APS-C or full frame camera (get the same results) as you just do not get the dynamic range, ISO performance or depth of field possibilities with the smaller sensor RX100. What you do get is a camera that is perfect for family use, vacations, world travel, and every day shooting. I have seen images from the RX100 (original) that blew away images I have seen from large DSLR’s, but that was from a VERY talented photographer. It seems that if you really know what you are doing then the RX100 of any variety (1, 2, 3, or 4) will reward you with its capabilities. I have noticed the DR is not up there with larger sensors as highlights can get blown, but it is not a big deal or deal breaker. The files from the RX100 IV are sublime and as good as you can get from a camera of this sensor size.
The lens is fast with a versatile and normal 24-70mm range. With an aperture starting at f/1.8 and slowing down to only 2.8, the camera is highly capable even in low light. The EVF works great and stays out-of-the-way until you need it. It is not the largest thing ever but it works and works well. The design is genius! The RX100 IV also has a built in ND filter which will automatically activate when needed though with a 1/32,000S shutter speed, you may never need it. You have all of the Sony usual tricks here as well like panorama, color modes, art modes and intelligent auto modes. This camera can be used by amateur and pro alike. In other words, Sony makes it easy to either pick up and shoot in full auto or delve into the camera and use manual features.
With the new sensor tech, the new 4K features and the new Slow Motion features and added high ISO capability this is the best Rx100 to date, hands down. What is really cool though is Sony is keeping all four models current and in production, so if you want to spend less, get an RX100 V1, want the best of the lot, spend a bit more for the IV!
VS Go Pro? I was recently going to purchase a new GoPro 4 and the full setup with camera, accessories, extra batteries, charger, etc was going to cost me around $800. After using this Sony RX100 IV I realized I may be able to use this camera for my on the go video needs and would have better quality footage, better audio, more features and a much nicer camera for stills. Sure, I lose the small GoPro design, the underwater capabilities and ultra wide lens but I gain IQ, Features, Sound Quality and Capabilities. What this tells me is that the RX100 V4 is pretty damn cool and able to double as a still camera, blogging camera, and even high quality B roll video footage capture to compliment my A7II and A7s.
All in all, this is indeed the best pocket camera ever made in the digital world. The price is steep at $950, but if you want the best/most feature packed and capable P&S available and do not want to mess with lens swapping and larger bodies, this is one way to go that will leave you satisfied. Another winner from Sony.
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