Jul 242015
 
DSC07398-Edit-Edit-2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Olympus EM1 + Sony A7s – Still my favorite Combo!

By Neil Buchan-Grant

Hi Steve

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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

grant2

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

grant3

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The Prado Museum in Madrid during a quick break – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 15mm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A late night bar in Madrid – Sony A7s Leica M 35mm 1.4 – available light

DSC06832-Edit

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Another shot of Hetty – Sony A7s Leica M 50mm 1.4 – window light

grant9

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The same building during the day – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A model in Prague – EM1 Leica DG 25mm 1.4 – window light and reflector

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

A corporate shoot in London – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO – Off camera flash

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Self portrait in the studio – EM1 12-40mm 2.8 PRO @ 35mm – continuous light through a 4 ft softbox and reflector

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another self portrait in my garden – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 10mm – available light and off camera flash

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A tree surgeon working behind my garden – EM1 40-150mm 2.8 PRO + MC-14 @ 420mm (effective length) wide open at f4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The same shot as above from the same spot, the tree surgeon is just visible – EM1 7-14mm 2.8 PRO @ 7mm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

http://buchangrant.format.com/workshops where you can join me in Berlin, India or China/Tibet over the next 10 months!

Jul 212015
 

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.”

andrew-suryono-orangutan-in-the-rain-1024px

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.

andrew-suryono-gala-dinner

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!

Until then, take care! If you want to learn more about me, feel free to visit me at: My Blog: www.photoseis.com My Photo Gallery: photoseis.smugmug.com

Jul 162015
 
titlesony12

VIDEO: QUICK REVIEW! A look at 12 Sony FE Lenses!

By Steve Huff

titlesony12

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 ;)

Posted Reviews:

Loxia 35
Loxia 50
Batis 25 & 85
Sony 90 Macro
Mitakon 85 1.2
Sony Zeiss 16-35
Sony Zeiss 35 1.4
Sony 28 f/2
Voigtlander 15 III (Yes, this is an M lens I use on the A7II)

Jul 162015
 

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!

Dear Steve,

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.

DSC04713-2

Thanks for looking!

Martin Bray

Jul 152015
 

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sunning it up with the Sony A7s and A7II

by Craig Litten

Hey Steve & Brandon,

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!

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

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…

… and the photos from that shoot can be seen here on my website: www.craiglitten.com/galleries/#sun-bum

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

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.

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

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.

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Sun Bum catalog shoot 2015 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo ©2015 Craig Litten/All Rights Reserved

Jul 142015
 
titlerx100ivr

title

Sony RX100 IV Review. The Original Pocket Rocket Blasts Higher!

By Steve Huff

You can order the RX100 at B&H Photo or Amazon!

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.

joshlouis

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.

See my RX100 Review HERE

See my RX100 III Review HERE

I skipped the Mark II as I felt it did not have enough improvement to warrant a full review. ;)

DSC08728

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.

DSC08709

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.

1436328000000_IMG_503626

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…

11700699_922537691131982_8223101062831454685_o

11057621_922537654465319_6423606544773605409_o

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:

20.1 MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor (stacked backside illuminated sensor)

BIONZ X Image Processor

Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8 Lens

24-70mm (35mm Equivalent)

2349k-Dot OLED Tru-Finder Pop-Up EVF

3.0″ 1229k-Dot Multi-Angle Xtra Fine LCD

Slow Motion Video at 960 fps

Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

Native ISO 12800 and 16 fps Continuous Shooting

1436328000000_IMG_503624

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.

You can order the RX100 at B&H Photo or Amazon!

“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.”

DSC08737

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!

6400joeg

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.

DSC08729

DSC08679

DSC08686

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..

fulljoeg

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.

DSC08723

The RX100 IV is NOW available and NOW shipping.

You can order it at B&H Photo HERE

You can order it at Amazon HERE

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.

Order the RX100 V1 – $448

Order the RX100 V2 – $598

Order the RX100 V3 – $798

Order the RX100 V4 – $948

DSC08814

DSC08838

stevedrive

DSC08817

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.

1436328000000_IMG_503636

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.

YOU CAN ORDER THE RX100 V4 AT B&H PHOTO HERE, OR AMAZON HERE!

——————————————-

HLPHH

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 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 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 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need 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!

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.

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. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

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 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, TwitterGoogle + 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 so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Jul 132015
 
Sakura and Mount Fuji

A Review of the Sony A7II from a Newbie to Photography

by Alex Foon

Sakura and Mount Fuji

Hi Steve!

First of all thanks for hosting such a wonderful, no-nonsense website that I’ve been religiously visiting every single day. The past six months had been a roller coaster ride for me (photographically speaking) and I just managed to find time, sit down and write a photography beginner’s review of the Sony A7 mark II.

Prior to 12 Dec 2014, my tool for photography had been limited to camera phone and then smartphones. Back then, I never understood why some of my friends were into this expensive hobby called “photography” – the hassle to carry DSLRs the size and weight of a bowling ball, lifting it up to your face, adjust the settings for what lasted like an eternity, and then fire in burst; when the simple action of whipping out the iPhone could seemingly produce similar results.

Fast forward to the fateful 12 Dec 2014, I touched down at the airport after a grueling business trip, in my mind I was thinking perhaps I could do a little shopping therapy and so I aimlessly walked into the Sony store. The storekeeper told me that their latest release was the Sony A7II (just launched that day) and 10 minutes later I walked out with the A7II kit bundle, not knowing better what I had gotten myself into.

Of course over the next few days I was quite excited about my new toy, I had absolutely zero idea about what was aperture, shutter speed, metering, exposure, depth of field and etc. (maybe I still don’t quite get it now). It was frustrating to have such a high-end camera and yet the images I captured were not up to my expectation. I started researching online about how to operate the camera and how to capture a photograph properly, and that’s when I chanced upon your review of the A7II. It was almost instinctive that I made another investment in a prime lens (FE Zeiss 55 1.8, still my favorite lens to date) instead of keeping the kit zoom 28-70 (not that it’s a bad lens either).

Marina Barrage Singapore

And then things started to get very interesting.

I suppose I needed to justify my impulse purchase, hence I brought the A7II with me everywhere I went, from daily grind in the office, to Penang, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Tokyo, Beijing and many more locales to come. The delectable combo of the lightweight A7II body coupled with solidly build FE lenses means it’s possible for me to carry them in my backpack all the time, and this allowed me to shoot whenever I find pockets of time in between.

Chinatown Singapore

Great Wall Beijing

The improved ergonomics of the second iteration of the A7 series body should not be underestimated. The grip is beefed up for a firmer one handed operations when needed, and coupled with the placement of the shutter button, this alone potentially allows an additional stop of stability over the corresponding mark I’s in the series. And you’ll be surprised that a 45 degrees slant of the C3 button (C2 in mark I’s) can really improve the functionality of the camera especially when using manual focus.

Speaking of focusing, having such a shallow depth of field in full frame bodies makes the autofocus unreliable at times, you thought you might have nailed the focus on the eyes but when you review it again the spectacles were in focus instead. So 90% of the time I opt to use manual focus. MF is made stupidly easy and some might even argue that it is faster than the AF on the A7ii, turn the focus ring and the image magnifies, press my assigned C3 button and the focus magnifier further zooms in for fine tuning.

Touting in Bangkok

Restocking in Chatuchak

With the OLED EVF, what you see is what you get! No more worrying about whether you nailed the exposure or the focus. The in-body 5 axis image stabilizer further supports the notion of WYSIWYG because I could be having seizure and still manage to see through the EVF and get a shot in focus. (alright, I promise this would be my only attempt in over-exaggerating, but you guys get the idea ;-D)

The short flange distance of the full frame A7ii camera body, working in tandem with manual focus assist tools and the IBIS, enable users to mount possibly every single camera lens ever made, as long as there is an adapter made to mount it. From my current favorite and affordable Minoltas, to the wallet breaking but absolutely fantastic Leicas, there is a lens for A7 users on any level of budget.

Shrine in Shinjuku

I understand that Sony had announced the lustrous A7RII, and how willing am I to sell a kidney for that one. Looking at it from another angle, I’m glad Sony had priced the A7II at almost half price of the A7RII. And for all the joy and memories it had brought me over past half a year, I think this was the best impulsive buy that I had ever made. Today, I hope I had at least learnt something about aperture, shutter speed and whatnots, and I might have found a lifelong passion in photography.

color

I will check out for now with 10 photos I had taken over the past 6 months with the A7II. Hope to finish my first roll soon on the Minolta SRT Super so I can send some entries in for Film Friday ;)

Till then, keep shooting.
Alex

Flickr: alex.foon
Facebook: facebook.com/sotongball
Email: [email protected]

Jul 062015
 
zeiss

The Zeiss Batis 25 f/2 and 85 f/1.8 Lens Review!

By Steve Huff

Here we are again with a couple of lenses made by Zeiss for the Sony FE (A7) system/series of cameras. As many of you know who have been following me for years, these days I really enjoy and love shooting my Sony A7II and A7s cameras. With so many amazing enthusiast and pro level camera out today, it is a tough choice on what to use, especially when you are a reviewer who gets these camera and lenses sent to you on an almost weekly basis!

LOVELY colors from the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2, up close focusing (Min 0.2 meters). Sony A7II, lens was at f/2. Must click on the image to see it correctly!

DSC08535

But even so, a couple things have remained constant for me. I love the new Sony cameras and lenses they have been putting out for 2-3 years now. I feel with the full frame sensors and fantastic lenses available they are the TOP Mirrorless system camera as of July 2015. For me, Sony beats all others for the mirrorless title with Olympus coming in 2nd place for me with the E-M1 and E-M5II. Lagging behind (for me) are Samsung (even though the NX1 is a phenomenal camera) and the others with Leica making a nice come back with the special and amazing Q. (my review of the Q here).

But today and all month I feel it’s going to be a Sony fest as the A7RII is coming, the new RX100 IV is IN HAND and the new Zeiss BATIS lenses have arrived to me and I have been shooting them for the last 1-2 weeks. My impression? Well, they are designed and look like mini OTUS lenses and perform 85% as well. The BATIS line for FE is stunning and with the electronic LED display that shows you focus distance when in manual focus mode, we are getting a special set of lenses for those who are very picky about the quality of their glass.

Must click for larger and sharper version! Another with the 25 at f/2 on the A7II

DSC08561

I remember when all the rage was the Zeiss Touit line for APS-C. This was not very long ago yet feels like it was for some reason. The Touit line was good, but not my favorite set of lenses. Then came the OTUS lenses for Canon and Nikon but for me, they are just too large for daily use. Pro use, 100%. Enthusiast? For this one, those are too large and way too costly. Then came the Loxia line and MAN OH MAN I love these. The 35 and 50 f/2 Loxia’s are manual focus only and as close as one can get to a Leica M mount for their Sony FE mount. Small, solid, smooth and gorgeous in build, style and rendering. The 50 Loxia may be my #1 fave lens on the A7 series.

So with the Loxias receiving critical acclaim, and the only complaint from some users being “it’s not auto focus” Zeiss decided to create the Batis line which would be Auto Focus Zeiss lenses, and these two lenses they started with are right here, the 25 and 85. The 25mm is a Distagon design and an f/2 lens. It is not as solid feeling as the little Loxia but it feels great anyway, with a nice OTUS like styling to them. The Batis lenses come with hoods and the AF on the 25 is rather quick. The 85 will hunt a little in lower light but overall it is pretty quick as well.

The 85 at 1.8 on the A7II, just a casual snapshot, she did not even know I was taking a shot until the moment I took it and the lens grabbed focus and nailed the color as well. 

DSC08577s

Another wide open at f/1.8…

DSC08570

..and another!

DSC08591

After shooting the 85 for a little while I started to adore the rendering. VERY sharp at your focus point and CREAM CITY after that when shooting at f/1.8. The color and contrast are 100% ZEISS with those bold yet gentle blues, nice yellows and a richness that comes from shooting Zeiss glass. I remember shooting loads of Zeiss ZM lenses on my Leica M8, M9 and M 240 and they all had this exact character that I see here. Much different from Leica or Sony’s rendering. It’s what Zeiss is known for and yes, all manufactures of lenses have a house “look”. From Olympus to Samsung  to Sony to Zeiss to Leica to Canon and Nikon.

Batis 25 at f/2 – never be afraid to ask someone if you can take their portrait. I have a 99.5% rate of success, and usually the subject is more than happy, and a little excited to let you take their photo. The girl below was pouring my beer and I said “do you mind if I take your photo” – she said “SURE!” but she did not look at me. So I shot one of her pouring and then asked her to give me a nice  happy smile, and she did. 

beergirl

Punching Bag with leaving the shutter speed slower to catch the motion/action of the shot. The 25 at f/2

jp

Glass is the heart of your camera system.

Many times I will get people asking me questions about what cameras to buy. They usually will insist on a kit lens of sorts even though they ask about more expensive cameras like the Sony A7 or Fuji X or Olympus E-M1. To me, if you are going to invest over $1000 in a camera, you should always invest in good glass, or lenses, for your system. Lenses are the paintbrush, the pencil, THE one thing that delivers the most change to the rendering of the image. WAY more so  than a sensor or internal processing. The lens you choose will decide if your image will be sharp, soft, colorful or dull, has high contrast or low or has a pastel like color instead of bold harsh color. Some lenses use cheap glass, some use exotic glass. The lens is the most personal choice one can make when buying a camera system, at least IMO.

DSC08622

glove

DSC08611

So if it were me, and I was going to shell out for a Sony A7II or A7RII, you can bet your bootie I would buy the Zeiss line of lenses (Loxia or Batis) or some of the better Sony FE glass like the 35 1.4, 16-35, or 90 Macro. I would avoid the kit zooms or lower quality zooms as you will never reach the true IQ potential of the system with cheap glass.

25mm Batis at f/2 – A7II

HH

The Zeiss Batis line, being Auto Focus and gorgeous in all aspects of image quality, would be some of my top picks for most A7 users, and especially for those who ordered the A7RII as that camera is BEASTLY. It’s a resolution monster, a video monster and will be one hell of an amazing enthusiast or pro camera. These lenses would compliment that A7RII perfectly, and I for one can not wait to try these lenses on that body (of which I should have very very soon).

batis

During my time with the Batis lenses, I had no issues with focus, feel, build, or performance. The only niggle I had was when taking the 85 1.8 out in the night, as the focus would hunt a tad in low light. That is when I switched it over to manual focus and shot. Using manual focus works very well due to the nice EVF in my Sony A7 cameras as well as the smooth action of the Batis focus ring. The on board OLED display also will show you a distance scale, electronically. Yep, pretty cool if you ask me!

Video Look!

My video on the Batis Lenses. See them on the camera bodies and hear my thoughts!

Details?

No point in discussing sharpness with these guys, they are SHARP. Plenty sharp.

These were out of cam JPEGS! Click them to see  the crops wide open. 

DSC08460

DSC08465

Compared To?

With Sony FE we now have a few great semi wide angle lenses to choose from. The Sony/Zeiss 16-35 F/4, the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, and the Sony 28 f/2 are all great lenses with the 28 f/2 being the cheapest of the lot, and while it has some distortion that needs fixing (which is done in camera for JPEGS) the Sony 28 f/2 is fantastic in IQ. I will say that it does not quite have the micro- contrast, color and pop of the Batis 25, but even so, at $450 it is around 3X less in cost than the Batis 25 which comes in at $1299. THAT is a pretty big price difference but you do see it and feel it with the Batis.

Sony 28 FE and Batis 25 side by side

Below is a side by side between the two..and you may not see much difference in this shot, but it is there. Click on the image to see them larger and you can see much more micro contrast in the Zeiss Batis shot, more detail and an overall more crisp and distortion free image. The Zeiss is better, but if it is $800 depends on you ;) I’d say if you want the best of the best for your Sony FE, in a wide angle lens then take a serious look at the Zeiss.

25f2can

siny28f2can

The Sony/Zeiss 16-35 is more of an ultra wide and at f/2 will not give you the aperture speed of the Batis. The Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 is MUCH larger and heavier and is not nearly as wide as the 25 Batis, so I see these two as different tools.

For me, the best IQ you can get as of July 2015 for your Sony FE system in a native mount and in a semi wide-angle (between 21 and 28) is the Batis 25 f/2 and because it will focus as close as 0.2 meters you can get pretty close to your subject, creating some Bokeh effect and you subject will be sharp.

The next FIVE shots are all from my fave of the Batis lot, the 25 f/2. I say it is my fave as I used it more as I found it more useful. I enjoy getting close to my subject and while I feel 21 is a tad too wide and 28 is getting close to 35, I am finding the 25 to be perfect for my style of shooting. I used to own the Zeiss 25 ZM for Leica mount and reviewed it here YEARS ago. Loved that lens which is probably why I love the Batis version. 

CLICK THEM FOR BETTER VERSIONS!

DSC08599

johnbw4

ketch

DSC08473

DSC08609

The Batis 85 f/2 vs the Mitakon 85 1.2

Another lens choice for the native FE mount is the Mitakon Speedmaster 85 1.2. I reviewed that lens a week or two ago HERE. It is larger, heavier and goes to f/1.2 BUT the Zeiss is a better lens with better color and pop. Even so, the Mitakon is not so bad, not at all. So may even prefer it! ME? I prefer the Zeiss for the smaller size and lighter weight. I feel Zeiss did a great job with the design and keeping them more short than long. But take a look at the comparisons below, click them for the full 100% crop to be seen.

batis85red

mitakonred

ZEISSKID

MITAKON KID

My final word on the Batis line of lenses? 

When I heard Zeiss was sending me these two lenses for review I was excited, and believe me, today after 7-8 years of writing these reviews full time, it takes a lot to get me excited. Many of you may not be aware but I get SO MUCH stuff sent to me for  review that never gets reviewed because it just doesn’t excite me or motivate me. I end up not reviewing many items because if it does not motivate me to go shoot, I can not recommend it to my readers here. While most sites would just go write a negative review, I just skip as I am not about negativity or spending hours writing to tell you I do not like a certain product.

So if I review it, it means I love it and really enjoy it.

As for these lenses, they deliver on the hype and promise, the really do. I have not used a finer 25mm lens and in the world of 75-85mm lenses, the choices are plentiful, no doubt. Even so, the Zeiss 85 f/1.8 Sonnar is up there with the finest I have used and my faves in life have been the Canon 85 1.2, Nikon 85 1.4, and Zeiss 85 f/2 for Leica Mount. This 85mm delivers the detail, creaminess, nice colors and perfect contrast for those portrait sessions where you want that Zeiss WOW.

OF ALL the lenses I have here for Sony FE, and I have a load of them, my daily driver would be the Zeiss Batis 25 and Zeiss Loxia 50. I’d throw in the Batis 85 for portraits and use my Sony 16-35 for my ultra wide. That would be all I would ever need, and all of these lenses are top notch 100%. I may also throw in the 35 1.4 Sony/Zeiss for when I wanted that 35mm FOV with some magic.

The Batis line rocks my friends. If you need Auto Focus, the are the way to go. If you would prefer a smaller lens, the Loxia line is stunning as well but manual focus only. Either way, you will get that Zeiss POP and BAM!

1st Three from the 85 f/1.8 all at 1.8

DSC08500

DSC08587

DSC08574

Next few all from the 25..

DSC08469

DSC08516

DSC08618

DSC08567

DSC08607

Words from Zeiss on the Batis Lenses:

On the 25 f/2

“Pairing the tested Distagon concept with contemporary functionality, the Batis 25mm f/2 Lens from Zeiss is a wide-angle prime designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras. The innovative design of this lens features an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range for quickly recognizing your focusing parameters, and its autofocus performance is benefitted by linear motors for fast, smooth performance. Four double-sided aspherical elements within a floating elements design help to control aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing range and contribute to even edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination, and a T* anti-reflective coating reduces flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color neutrality. Ideal for architecture, landscape, and interior photography, this lens’ 82° angle of view pairs with a 7.9″ minimum focusing distance for producing creative perspectives and unique close-up imagery. Additionally, for working in inclement conditions, the lens also features a dust- and weather-sealed construction.”

On the 85 1.8

“Updating a tried-and-true optical design for use with full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, the Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens from Zeiss is a portrait-length, short telephoto lens featuring a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture for greater focus control and enhanced low-light shooting. The innovative design of this lens features an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range for quickly recognizing your focusing parameters, and its autofocus performance is benefitted by linear motors for fast, smooth performance. Pairing the Sonnar concept with a floating elements design, this 85mm f/1.8 is also particularly adept at controlling aberrations throughout the focusing range, while a T* anti-reflective coating minimizes flare and ghosting for ensured color accuracy and heightened contrast. Rounding out the feature-set, this lens incorporates optical image stabilization to minimize the appearance of camera shake when working with slower shutter speeds and a dust- and weather-sealed construction lends itself to shooting in less-than-ideal environments.”

Yes, the 85 1.8 has Image Stabilization built in. 

DSC08487

DSC08463

What about the negatives?

During my use I had nothing but fantastic results with focus, image quality and overall results. Never had distortion issues or CA issues or any issues. Really.

1429675200000_IMG_488332

MY STAR RATINGS:

Many have asked me to start doing ratings for my reviews so I will start here with a BANG. BUT keep in mind, if I rate a Sony FE Mount lens, that rating is compared to other similar FE mount lenses, in this case the Sony 28 FE, the Sony 16-35 FE and the Mitakon 85 1.2.

BATIS 25: I will give the Batis 25 f/2 FIVE STARS as to me it is the best semi wide/wide I have used (28 and under) for the Sony FE system. The IQ, color, sharpness, size and weight are all phenomenal. Add in the weather sealing, the OLED display, dour side aspherical elements and it’s close focus capability, along with its dust and weather resistant design and this guy gets FIVE STARS! Yes, it is expensive at $1299 but for me, worth it in every way, and hey, it’s a Zeiss.

STARS

BATIS 85 f/1.8: I gave the 85 1.8 4 1/2 stars and that is due to the only weakness I found, the AF gets slow and hunts in lower light, as in club lighting or low level concert lighting. Other than that this is a a beautiful 85mm lens and the IQ and color stand out to me and is up there with the best 85 fast primes ever made for 35mm. Image stabilized and loaded with all the good stuff, this is one hell of a portrait prime. Sure there are loads of 85’s you can convert to use on the Sony but the Batis is a better option for me, as I always will prefer NATIVE lenses when there are good options.

Where to buy and How Much?

The Zeiss 25 f/2 comes in at $1299, and you can pre-order/order it at B&H Photo or PopFlash.com 

The Zeiss Batis 85 f/1.8 comes in at $1199 and can be pre-ordered or ordered at B&H Photo or PopFlash.com 

I also highly recommend the Zeiss Loxia line HERE. 

——————————————-

HLPHH

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 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 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 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need 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!

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.

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. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

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 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, TwitterGoogle + 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 so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Jun 192015
 

Love my Sony A7II…it inspires me!

by Jens Niedzielski

Hello Steve!

I’ve been reading your website / blog quite a bit lately, as I have become an avid user – and fan – of the Sony A7 (Mark II). After following your experiences with the A7 and A7s, and trying the A7s myself during a shoot in the Maldives in March, I decided to get the A7ii, and I am using it extensively ever since (darn, they just announced the A7R Mark II…).

I’d say the Sony really makes me want to take photos so much more than any other camera before – one reason being the fact that I can throw an endless array of vintage MF lenses on it. Lately I shoot almost exclusively manually, even fast-moving objects (kids (haha), horses etc). And I got hold of really nice vintage glass, from Canon FD lenses, to old Nikkor lenses, Rokkor, Takumar, Zeiss Jena, Jupiter, Industar, MIR, to name a few.

Anyway – thanks for pointing me in the right direction :) Attached please find 3 recent photos taken, and I hope they are somewhat inspiring… All taken with the A7II.

1. GO.RIDE – I am currently residing in Thailand, and some of my friends are some of the very few people in the country who are into horse trail riding. Outdoor, no strings attached. Most people who ride are staying in the safe and sound environment of horse riding clubs and rings – but these guys and girls are going out rinding in forests, farmland and so forth. The real deal, so to say. They often abuse me to take their pictures LOL, but I also feels it’s quite a privilege as this is a really rewarding subject to photograph.

The photo was taken with the A7II x Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens (Silver). That day I decided to challenge myself by shooting horse riding with a portrait lens, while keeping it under control otherwise thanks to AF (as the other day I shot arena / ring horse riding with an MF portrait lens, which despite the fact that they were waaaaay slower in there still was really difficult). The setting should be ISO100, f/2.8 which I chose as a sweet spot of shallow depth of field combined with ‘getting something in focus’.

GO.RIDE_1500

2. LAST LIGHT – this is an ‘after sunset’ / blue hour shot across Bangkok’s high rises. This is one of the very few unobstructed views into sunset direction in Bangkok, and literally was shot during the last seconds of having noticeable light that day; it went dark after that even for the A7II (I guess the A7s would have had a fun time after that).

For this one, I had paired the A7II with a Tokina 17mm f/3.5 RMC. Taken at 50 ISO, f16, about 30sec exposure I believe.

LAST LIGHT_1500

3. THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION – this shot was taken inside Bangkok’s iconic Hua Lamphong train station. That day I went inside late at night to avoid people ruining my photos :) It turned out that the station is very heavily and brightly lit inside making it difficult to show the vintage look and feel of the station due to cold, bright and clinical light.

THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION_1500

Apart from taking some great shots in b/w and of the old trains that night, I decided to try some creative shot around the empty tracks that would give me the feeling of an empty old train station, or a station late at night, without resorting to more common techniques like b/w.

This was once again shot with the A7II x Tokina 17mm f/3.5 RMC.

P.S. I am aware / really quite a bit into post-production of images, but I am not using ‘filters’. All post processing is done only in LR and PS. Whenever I shoot, photos or VDOs, apart from trying to capture a really nice shot, fun for me starts when working the RAW files or VDO clips in post to see into what direction I can tweak them. Any photo, given the circumstance, inspires me to give them a certain treatment based on my perceived mood and tone of the moment. It may not be everyone’s taste, but it’s mine :)

Thanks a lot and best wishes,

Jens

INFO:

J (Jens Niedzielski)

Bangkok, Thailand

http://www.krop.com/jphotography

Jun 172015
 

New Sony A7RII, RX100IV and RX10II up for PRE ORDER NOW!

Hey guys! Sony opened up pre-orders today at all dealers for the new A7RII, RX100IV and RX10 II! You can use the links below at my preferred place to buy Sony, B&H Photo!

The cool thing about Pre-Ordering? You are not charged until the order ships (from Amazon and B&H Photo) and you can cancel anytime before it ships if you change your mind. So if you see something come out you do not like about the cameras, you can cancel before it even ships. If you have an issue with the camera AFTER it arrives, refunds are quick and easy with B&H Photo and Amazon, all automated. It’s a win/win situation if you think you really want a new camera that comes out later as you will be the 1st to get it as well.

The A7RII – Pre Order it HERE at B&H Photo

Pre Order it HERE at Amazon

image002

The RX100 IV – Pre Order it HERE at B&H Photo.

image004

The RX10 II – Pre Order it HERE!

image007

Jun 102015
 
a7rii

a7rii

Sony Creates a MONSTER! The new A7RII..see my hands on report!

I am writing today from NYC at a Sony Event held in the beautiful Le Parker Meridian Hotel. Myself and loads of other journalists, bloggers and camera geeks all packed into a meeting today with Sony to see what they were revealing. Not only did they reveal the A7RII, they also announced the new RX10II and RX100IV. ALL THREE are spectacular cameras with some amazing new tech that was very cool to see. Mirrorless cameras have matured..big time and Sony is leading the way without question.

Pre-Order the A7RII at B&H Photo HERE. Available to pre-order on June 17th..so get ready ;) 

DSC08282

ILCE-7RM2_wFE2470Z_front_top

DSC08321

DSC08320

My brain, heart and soul instantly fell for the A7IIR  – as it is an entirely new beast from the old A7r..I mean, entirely new.

The A7RII now has a 42.4 Megapixel full frame backlit sensor which allow the camera to do all sorts of things. 40% faster AF (and yes, it is much quicker than the old A7r and even the A7II it seems), ISO up to 102,000 (we are talking A7s territory in a high res sensor), Tweak 5 Axis IS so the images are stabilized in body with ANY lens you attach, Full 4K video shooting with an option for Super 35 shooting that offers double the res of standard Super 35. Full pixel readout without pixel binning.

DSC08307

DSC08325

It also boasts the world’s highest viewfinder magnification at 0.78. Let me  tell you, the EVF in this guy is amazing. Like a window. Of course it gas WiFi, NFC, and is compatible with all the Play Memories Apps but this A7RII is giving us the BEST of the A7II, A7s and old A7R.

We have the super high resolution of 42.5 MP..and usually there are drawbacks with this such as slow AF speed and not so high ISO capabilities. Sony changed all of that with the new sensor and processing and we get it all. Fast AF, high ISO capability and JAW DROPPING AMAZING photo quality and video quality. It has it all, and will be the most amazing A7 camera ever developed.

ILCE-7RM2_front

Data output is 3.5 times faster than the old A7r and with technology like copper wiring layers, Sony has been doing their homework.

One other awesome feature is the new Reduced Vibration shutter along with a totally silent mode that we had in the A7s.

I had some hands on time with the A7RII, was able to shoot it, handle it, check it out and I was very impressed. By far the most complete A7 to date. Not sure how they do it but Sony keeps upping the game and they created a beast with the new A7RII. Will be great for pro video, pro photo, and give you the NO COMPROMISE features and capabilities you have always wanted.

No longer do we have to substitute high res for low light abilities. It does it all!

ILCE-7RM2_rear

Before you ask where the images are…well, we were not allowed to shoot with our own memory cards, in fact, the SD slots were all taped up as these are not final production cameras. So no images yet but I will have a full review unit available to me soon I am sure.

The price for all of this tech? $3198, shipping in August. Just a couple of months away. Exciting times…I mean..this camera is pretty incredible, and I have just seen huge prints and 4K video from it that were astonishing. Using it was a joy as well. This is nothing like the old original A7r. BTW, it has the new A7II body style.

BRAVO AGAIN to SONY for pushing the envelope and making the best sensors in the world (IMO).

So to sum it up, $3200, available in August and pre-orders will start on June 17th. I CAN NOT WAIT to review this camera. I will have more on the other two new releases, the RX100 4 and the RX10II in the next day or two, stay tuned!

————————————

Here is the official press release from Sony on the A7RII:

 

Sony’s New α7R II Camera Delivers Innovative Imaging Experience with World’s First Back-Illuminated 35mm Full-Frame Sensor.

Sony’s Flagship Mirrorless Camera Features 42.4 MP Back-illuminated CMOS sensor, In-camera 5-axis Image Stabilization, Internal 4K Video Recording, Silent Shooting, Fast Hybrid AF and more

NEW YORK, Jun. 10, 2015 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their new flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the α7R II (model ILCE-7RM2).

The new α7R II interchangeable lens camera features the world’s first back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor1, which realizes high resolution (42.4 MP approx. effective megapixels), high sensitivity (expandable up to ISO 102400)2 and high speed AF response up to 40% faster than the original α7R thanks to 399 focal plane phase detection AF points.

The camera also includes a 5-axis image stabilization system borrowed from the acclaimed α7 II model and can shoot and record 4K video in multiple formats including Super 35mm (without pixel binning) and full-frame format, a world’s first for digital cameras1. Additionally, it has a newly refined XGA OLED Tru-Finder with the world’s highest (0.78x) viewfinder magnification3.

“Sony continues to deliver game-changing imaging products that are changing the way imaging enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals can see and capture the world,” said Mike Fasulo, President of Sony Electronics.

Kimio Maki, Senior General Manager of Digital imaging Business Group for Sony Corporation, added “By harmonizing high resolution, sensitivity and speed, we’re delivering a high-level full-frame imaging experience unlike anything else in market today, with Sony’s newly developed, world’s first back-illuminated 35mm full frame CMOS sensor.”

High Resolution, High Sensitivity and High-Speed Response

The newly developed 42.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor is the most advanced, versatile and highest resolution full-frame image sensor that Sony has ever created, allowing the α7R II to reach new levels of quality, sensitivity and response speed. In the past, many photographers have been forced to choose between high-resolution and high-speed or high resolution and high sensitivity when selecting a camera. The new α7R II eliminates that sacrifice thanks to its innovative image sensor.

The 42.4 MP sensor combines gapless on-chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s glass seal to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range. This allows the camera to shoot at an impressive ISO range of 100 to 25600 that is expandable to ISO 50 to 1024002.

Additionally, the sensor’s back-illuminated structure, with an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design, enables faster transmission speed and ensures content can be captured in high resolution without sacrificing sensitivity. Data can also be output from the sensor at an approximately 3.5x faster rate compared to the original α7R.

An ideal match for Sony’s extensive collection of FE lenses (35mm full-frame compatible E-mount lenses), the new α7R II features a high-speed BIONZ X image processing engine that allows images and video from the camera to be captured with supreme details and low noise. There is also no optical low pass filter on the camera, ensuring that scenery and landscapes are captured in the highest possible resolution and clarity.

The α7R II has a new highly durable reduced-vibration shutter that realizes 50% less vibration from shutter movements compared to its predecessor, and has a cycle durability of approximately 500,000 shots4. The camera can also be set to Silent Shooting mode in order to shoot images quietly without any sensor vibration or movement.

The new image sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor1 – that work together with 25 contrast AF points to achieve focus response that is about 40% faster than the original model. The α7R II utilizes an advanced motion-detection algorithm combined with this Fast Hybrid AF system to achieve up to 5fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.

Additionally, the focal plane phase-detection AF system on the α7R II works well with Sony A-mount lenses when they are mounted on the camera using an LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 mount adapter. This allows users to enjoy the wide AF coverage of 399 focal plane phase-detection AF points, high-speed response and high tracking performance with a wider range of lenses. This marks the first time that the AF system of a mirrorless camera can achieve high performance with lenses originally designed for DSLRs.

5-Axis Image Stabilization Optimized for 42.4 MP

The new flagship α7R II model is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity. Similar to the system launched on the acclaimed α7 II model, this advanced form of image stabilization corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) that tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects video recording. This camera shake compensation system is equivalent to shooting at a shutter speed approximately 4.5 steps faster5.

Additionally, the 5-axis stabilization works cooperatively with Sony α lenses with optical SteadyShot™ (OSS) to provide maximum stabilization and clarity, while also performing admirably via a compatible mount adapter with Sony α A-mount lenses6 without on-board stabilization . Effects of the stabilization can be previewed via live-view on the LCD or OLED viewfinder of the camera.

Unrivaled 4K Movie Shooting Performance

The impressive video credentials of Sony’s new α7R II camera include the ability to record movies in 4K quality (QFHD 3840×2160) in either Super 35mm crop mode or full-frame mode.

In Super 35mm mode, the camera collects a wealth of information from approximately 1.8x as many pixels as 4K by using full pixel readout without pixel binning and oversamples the information to produce 4K movies with minimal moire and ‘jaggies’.

In full-frame mode, the α7R II utilizes the full width of the 35mm sensor for 4K recording, allowing users to utilize the expanded expressive power of the sensor. It is the world’s first digital camera to offer this in-camera full-frame format 4K recording capacity1.

The camera utilizes the advanced XAVC S7 codec during video shooting, which records at a high bit rate of 100 Mbps during 4K recording and 50 Mbps during full HD shooting.

Additionally, the α7R II model features a variety of functions to support a professional video workflow including Picture Profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, 120fps high frame rate movie shooting in HD (720p), time code, clean HDMI output and more.

Enhanced Design, Operability and Reliability

The new full-frame α7R II has an upgraded XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with a double-sided aspherical lens that delivers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification3 of 0.78x for crystal clear image preview and playback across the entire display area. ZEISS® T* Coating is also utilized to reduce unwanted reflections that interfere with the shooting experience.

The camera has an extremely solid, professional feel in-hand thanks to its light, rigid magnesium alloy design, and has a re-designed grip and shutter button compared to its predecessor. There is also a new mechanism to conveniently lock the mode dial, and an expanded range of customizable functions and buttons to suit the most demanding photographers.

The new α7R II camera is Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application available for Android™ and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps™, which add a range of creative capabilities to the camera. For example, there is more creativity available now for time-lapse photography thanks to a new “Angle Shift add-on” app allows users to easily add pan, tilt and zoom to time-lapse images without any additional shooting equipment or PC software required. Learn more at www.sony.net/pmca.

Sony has also introduced a new LCD monitor model CLM-FHD5, an ideal companion to the α7R II for video shooting. A compact 5.0 type Full HD (1920x1080p) LCD monitor, the CLM-FHD5 features enlarging and peaking functionality for precise focusing, false color and video level marker for adjusting exposure and S-Log display assist to assist S-Log shooting.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α7R II full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in August for about $3200 at www.store.sony.com and a variety of Sony authorized dealers nationwide.

The α7R II is compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α -mount lenses, which now totals 63 different models including 12 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 8 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 20 lenses and the overall α -mount assortment to 70 different models.

 

 

Jun 092015
 
rx1-marfa-bunny-1

rx1-marfa-bunny-1

The Sony RX1 maintaining its relevance

By Chad Wadsworth – His website is HERE

Two years can feel like a lifetime in the digital camera market, with fresh faced models seemingly delivered on a frantic six month schedule. But that’s roughly how long my RX1 has been in service – two full years. It was the golden child back then, always with me, consistently impressing with the sweet render of its Zeiss Sonnar 35/2 and the jaw dropping dynamic range from the 24-megapixel sensor. But new interchangeable lens models were released by Sony and the RX1 would often be relegated to the drawer. The newer Alphas boast faster AF, built-it EVFs, higher resolution or better low light performance, and the ability to mount nearly every lens ever made for the format.

2013-ca-summer-vacation-49

2013-ca-summer-vacation-50

shelving-rock-falls-18

Funny thing though, the RX1 still deserves a place in the current stable and an argument can be made that it represents something wholly unique and special that can’t be duplicated by its siblings. It is the camera that I grab when I want to travel, go out with friends or just don’t want to think about lens options. There is a power in simplicity and limiting yourself to a single, classic 35mm lens. I rarely feel restricted with the fixed field of view and find that it is well suited for intimate scenes, landscapes and even portraits.

Given this ongoing admiration for the RX1 I decided to break down what makes the camera relevant today:

denver-tourney-sun-31

vail-shootout-mon-and-zip-52

vail-shootout-mon-and-zip-89

The Lens

Like the legendary Hexar AF film compact and its Summicron killer 35/2, the heart of the RX1 is its fixed prime lens with silent leaf shutter. When the RX1 was released, the review sites gushed over the Sonnar that Sony had literally shoehorned into the frame to achieve the compact stature of the camera. With no less than three physical rings – aperture, focus and macro – the all metal Zeiss looks and feels the part of a classic rangefinder optic. Today, that lens is no less sharp, tactile or well built. You won’t find any test charts here but I’ve never been disappointed with the Sonnar’s resolving capability and its lovely rendering of out of focus areas. At times I’ve flirted with switching to the R model with no AA filter for improved resolution but photography isn’t solely about sharpness or resolution and there is a coherence inherent in this lens sensor combo that consistently satisfies.

With a leaf shutter, the lens is nearly silent and allows discrete shooting that lends itself to street, movie stills, sound recording environments or any other application where a silent shutter is a necessity. I often forget about the importance of having this ability until it is required.

The Sonnar does have its minor faults, but unless you are using an Otus, what lens doesn’t? Most notably, there is some CA that will need to be cleaned up on occasion, as well as distortion and vignetting that is magically erased in-camera. I never worry for a second that the lens is somehow hobbled or deficient. I would rate it as one of the finest 35/2 lenses made, equal to the Leica Summicron (king of bokeh), and Hexanon, better than the Minolta AF.

Relevancy today (10/10)

sam-13th-16

2013-ca-summer-vacation-306

The Body

When released, the RX1 was a clear shot across Leica’s bow. It is considerably smaller than the digital M bodies with a similar level of build quality, yet houses a modern full frame sensor with exceptional capabilities. It truly was the first of its kind and has yet to be eclipsed. You often read words such as “exquisite”, “finest”, “teutonic”, “brick” or “tank” to describe its build and design. Nothing has changed over those two years, in-fact time has proven the validity of those early claims. The detents on all of the metal control dials and rings remain as firm as the day I unboxed the camera. Some mild brassing on the focus ring is the extent of visible wear, although I have encased the camera in a leather half case made by Ulysses in Japan. The camera comes from the factory with a small patch of griptec type material on the front right hand side and a modest thumb grip on the rear. These two features provide just enough surface tension to make single hand holding possible but there are many first or third-party options to improve the ergonomics if desired. The case I purchased provides a nice little leather grip integrated into the design and retains access to the battery and SD card.

Controls are decidedly manual, with the aforementioned aperture ring plus an exposure compensation dial with 3 stops of adjustment +/-. When shooting full manual or shutter priority, shutter speed is assigned to the rear thumb dial. Personally, I prefer this setup to a shutter speed dial on top of the body and find that the combination of physical dials and rings to be ideal for controlling aperture, shutter speed and exposure comp.

The display is perhaps the most contentious component of the design. In an apparent attempt to keep the body as compact as possible, the RX1 was delivered without an OVF, EVF or tilt-screen. You get a nice LCD with good visibility in bright light (on the Sunny Weather setting) but that’s it. Many refused to purchase a camera where you are required to use the stinky diaper technique of composition. Sony does offer an optional OVF or EVF solution but both are pricey and alter the compact form factor of the camera. Personally, I chose to purchase the EVF and find it to be an effective add-on that not only allows for eye-level viewing, but with its articulating eyepiece, you get a right-angle finder, rendering you less intrusive to subjects on the street.

It is remarkable to think that in many ways this CyberShot branded camera remains Sony’s finest design. I know I’m not alone in hoping that a new model will eventually be introduced that retains the same level of build quality along with the retro rangefinder aesthetic and maybe a few improvements. If not for the lack of a built-in viewfinder I would rate the body a 10/10 today.

Relevancy today (9/10)

Backstage at The Mohawk as part of the Red Bull Sound Select in Austin, TX, USA 13 August 2013.

Backstage at The Mohawk as part of the Red Bull Sound Select in Austin, TX, USA 13 August 2013.

Latasha Lee and the Black Ties - Portrait

Latasha Lee and the Black Ties – Portrait

Backstage at The Mohawk as part of the Red Bull Sound Select in Austin, TX, USA 13 August 2013.

Backstage at The Mohawk as part of the Red Bull Sound Select in Austin, TX, USA 13 August 2013.

caputo-reunion-dinner-2013-15 2013-ca-summer-vacation-311

caputo-reunion-dinner-2013-13

The Sensor

As of the the date of this article, the RX1 sensor is the second highest rated in a Sony body, higher than any Canon camera and higher than any Medium Format system sensor – per DXO ratings. Pretty impressive for a two year old model. With 14.3 stops of dynamic range (widest range of all the Sony cameras), the ability of the sensor to hold highlights and recover shadows is truly astounding. I routinely overexpose when shooting in daylight at f/2, 1/2000 and have no trouble pulling back the highlights. High ISO performance is excellent and as a concert shooter, I have no qualms about using 3200 or even 6400 in a pinch. I rarely rely on software noise reduction as I find the noise pattern to be acceptable and even attractive in a film grain sense. Compared to the sensor in my newish a7II, I feel the RX1 sensor to be absolutely equal if not slightly advanced.

Relevancy today (10/10)

wilco-1

wilco-stubbs-6

wilco-stubbs-23

User Interface

All new alpha cameras use an updated version of the RX1’s interface. Comparing those new menus to the RX1 can be a bit of a letdown. The RX1 menus are spartan and lack many helpful features found in the more recent models. One example is the inability to assign a function to the rear control ring – on the a7 models I keep ISO programmed to the ring for immediate control. On the RX1 you must program a custom button to first access ISO and then select the desired setting from the menu. There is potential for significant interface improvement so it is disappointing that firmware has not been upgraded to better synch the interface design with the current models.

Relevancy today (6/10)

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Middle Creek Ranch

Processor

Along with Interface, this section is where the RX1 most shows its age. Autofocus performance has been greatly improved in the newer alpha cameras so living with the older contrast detection system in the RX1 can at times be frustrating. On the upside, AF is generally very accurate, more so than my DSLRs ever were, it just takes the camera a bit longer to get there. Things are generally fine in good light but the hunting begins when the light goes down or in strong backlight conditions. Switching over to manual focus is always an option but the fly-by-wire mechanism requires its own form of patience and skill. Still, to put things in perspective, I have used the RX1 in extreme concert lighting conditions with solid success, just don’t expect it to provide the speed of today’s advanced systems.

Relevancy today (6/10)

acl-rx1-5

acl-rx1-6

acl-rx1-4

acl-rx1-2

acl-rx1-1

acl-rx1-3

The band Tobacco performing at The Mohawk as part of the Red Bull Sound Select in Austin, TX, USA 13 August 2013.

The band Tobacco performing at The Mohawk as part of the Red Bull Sound Select in Austin, TX, USA 13 August 2013.

A True Classic?

Given the frequency of product advancement in the mirrorless space, a photographer needs to be at peace with their purchase decision. Many agonize over the right time to buy or upgrade, scanning the rumor sites for hints at what is coming next. This cycle of advancement and obsolescence can paralyze or infuriate. With a camera like the RX1 I knew when I purchased it that there would be improvements in later models, specifically to the AF speed and interface. The question I had to ask myself was whether the things that made the camera unique were enough to warrant the considerable cost of the RX1. I did not buy the camera back in 2013 for the AF performance or the interface/menu controls, I bought it for the lens, sensor and body design/build and of course for its compact form. On its introduction the RX1 was the smallest full frame camera you could buy and two years later, continues to hold that title. Sony didn’t just make the smallest full frame camera in the world, they blessed it with arguably one of the finest sensor and lens combinations available and they wrapped it in a beautiful metal retro shell with manual aperture and exposure compensation controls. Due to its compact size and its handsome design – I’ll admit a bit of vanity here, I want to carry the camera with me all the time, confident that I am not compromising anything when it comes to the images it will help me produce.

Tomorrow Sony may announce a replacement with a faster lens, better AF and interface, maybe even an integrated EVF, but when it comes to the quality of the images, we are reaching a point of diminishing returns. What the RX1 produces today is without doubt at the top end of the spectrum, so good that I seriously worry whether a new model would “mess with success”.

Sony achieved a rarity when they designed the RX1 – they produced a camera that many will claim has already reached cult status, which in the throwaway and upgrade world of digital cameras, ensures its relevancy for many years.

2013-ca-summer-vacation-31

2013-ca-summer-vacation-34

2013-ca-summer-vacation-248

2013-ca-summer-vacation-10

2013-ca-summer-vacation-293

Leave a comment below if you still own an RX1 or would like to.

Jun 082015
 
darnight

darnight

The Mitakon Dark Night 50 0.95

By Isi Akahome

mitakon_announcement

Hi, my name is Isi, and I’m a bokeholic. It all started when I first shot with a rebel t2i in Target, and I fell in love with blurred backgrounds. Ever since then, I’ve chased after the widest aperture lenses. I remember drooling over the Leica Noticlux 50mm 0.95 when Steve and Digitalrev did their reviews on the lens. I wanted one, but unfortunately, the acquisition cost was laughable. My favorite lens on my old Nikon D800 was the 50mm 1.4, and then mirrorless cameras came out and that opened up the opportunity to get even wider apertures on a full frame sensor. Last November, I got the AMAZING Sony A7S and I started looking into moderately priced manual lenses with good optics. The thought of manually focusing was scary, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. The first lens I got was the Canon fd 58mm f/1.2, but it wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked and didn’t provide the amount of contrast I was looking for. This image below is a perfect example. The lens does render bokeh quite nicely.

img1

Then the Mitakon lens was announced! 50mm f/0.95 for under $1,000? It was like a dream come true. I remember scouring the internet for reviews and sample images for weeks. The comparison Steve did with the Noctilux was very helpful, because the difference in performance wasn’t nearly as close as the difference in price. In fact, in my opinion, it was negligible. After a lot of contemplation, I decided to get one. I found a demo copy on eBay for $750. The packaging was exceptional. It made me feel like I just purchased a priceless work of art. The box the lens comes in is quite spectacular, and the lens has a nice heft to it. It looks very well built, and for the price, I have no quibbles about the build quality. I decided this was going to be the lens I would use for most of my assignments. It seemed like it would be up to the task. I just had to master focusing with the lens wide open with that razor thin depth of field. The results have been nothing short of amazing. The subject isolation I was getting was just so unique that I was only shooting at f/0.95.

img2

img3

Getting sharp focus accurately and consistently is quite challenging, but focus peaking comes in quite handy, and my accuracy has gone up substantially. Sometimes I just move a couple of inches back or forward as my subject(s) move, instead of turning the focus ring, and that makes a world of difference in getting shots in focus. When the focus is spot on, the sharpness wide open is very good, especially for portraits. Here a few shots I did for clients in varying situations.

img4

img5

img6

img7

img8

img9

img10

The one advantage that’s rarely mentioned about wide aperture lenses is the amount of shadow detail you get in situations when the subject is backlit. The faces of subjects are much brighter than with any of the other fast lenses I’ve used. Even in this photo with the harsh backlight from the sunset, the amount of shadow detail is quite impressive.

img11

Wedding season is about to start, and I’m both nervous and excited to use this bad boy to shoot full weddings. I think the difference between f1.2 and f0.95 is noticeable, it could be due to the fact that the lens has a certain look and character that makes the images unique to my eye. I don’t really have any complaints, except for the distracting bokeh rendering of foliage or busy backgrounds I sometimes get.

img12

I also shot the lens at smaller apertures because I had to in studio conditions, and it performed just as well as I would expect. These were shot at f5.6.

img13

img14

I am very pleased with the results I have been getting with this lens. Even for random shots, it works fantastically. I took this as our plane was taking off from New Jersey.

img15

Mitakon has done something special with this lens. It is such a bargain considering what the lens can do. I would recommend this lens to anyone looking for a fast 50mm lens for their Sony A7 series camera, or other bokeholics who just want the shallowest depth of field with the added benefit of a versatile focal length. It’s a lot of fun to use, and you get all the bokeh you can handle. Don’t worry about manually focusing either. With focus peaking, it’s a breeze, and it almost forces you to compose your shots with more thought, purpose, and precision.

Thanks for reading. You can see more samples of my work on: www.isispiks.com.

Keep up the awesome work Steve! You’re a rockstar.

Isi Akahome

Jun 042015
 
portrait-2

SEEING RED! The Redhead Days Festival

by Ori Cohen

Hi Steve,

My name is Ori Cohen and I have been following your website for many years. I am an avid photographer, a computer science Phd student, and a graphic artist, but first and foremost I am a redhead, a redhead married to a redhead. As you well know redheads are usually singled out most of their lives and the and it may come as a surprise to everyone, but redheads share this unexplained bond; to a point where you walk down the street, lock eyes with another redhead and instantly there is some connection. You can probably guess why I married a redhead.

Once a year at the beginning of September there is a special weekend for all redheads. In the town of Breda, Holland, thousands of redheads from around the world gather in the redhead days festival. Our first time was two years ago, we went to the festival in order to see for once, how does it feel to be the same as everyone else around us. It is hard to explain the first shock of seeing so many people who kind of resemble you, and in many ways it is intoxicating. In the festival I had the opportunity to photograph a lot redheads; many became our friends and today we have a growing community of redheads on facebook. In fact, last year while travelling abroad, we randomly met a redhead that recognised us from the festival.

Photography wise, I like carrying as little gear as possible. I usually carry several small near-weightless primes. On our first visit I brought my trusty Sony A300 and a Minolta 50mm f/1.4, and on our second visit I had a Sony NEX-7 Sony 16mm\F2.8, Minolta 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and a Minolta 50mm f/1.4. For portraits on a crop sensor I tend to use 30mm, 35m, and 50mm as they allow me to shoot in situations when people are around me. For group shots, crowds, and In doors I used the 16mm or the 24mm, which allows me to get a better sense of the atmosphere in the room.

The festival holds several main events: the pub-crawl, the opening ceremony, and the gathering in the park. There is an atmosphere of friendliness all around, and I can shoot anyone without asking for permission. I usually just aim the camera at random people and they stop for me, for as long as I need.

The pub-crawl provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know new people and capture some of the conversations and playfulness that happens after dark when people are drinking A LOT of beer, and it’s also a wonderful opportunity to get to know new people from around the world.

pub-1

pub-2

During the ceremony I try to find a spot on the balcony, which overlooks a crowd of several hundred redheads, while trying not to lose sight of my wife. I usually don’t need to worry about losing my wife in a crowd, but when everybody has the same hair color as her, I need to keep a watchful eye :). You will be surprise to learn that there are many types of “ginger” genes out there, not just for fair skinned people, even dark skinned people can get a reddish hue in their hair, as seen in some of my photos.

opening-2

Immediately after the ceremony, people walk slowly toward the park for the annual record-breaking count of redheads. Two years ago we even broke a Guinness world record. While crammed in one spot, it is a perfect opportunity to shoot portraits of people. My wife thinks that I only shoot pretty redhead girls, but I actually try to do as many portraits as possible (of everyone!).

gathering-1

gathering-2

portrait-1

portrait-2

portrait-4

portrait-5

portrait-6

portrait-16

portrait-17

The festival is not only for redheads but also for their friends, anyone who wishes to participate can come, in fact the city is crawling with photographers and videographers from all around the world. Everyone is welcome!

Thank you for reading.

My facebook photography blog: https://www.facebook.com/oricohenphotography

Jun 032015
 

NEWS: Sony kicking booty! The #1 Mirrorless brand..DSLR sales decline

a7iiv

Today Sony sent me over a new blurb that validated and verified what I have been saying for the past few months..that Sony is now leading the camera market..and for good reason, they are one of the only TWO pushing the envelope and forging ahead with new and exciting things. Olympus would be the other company I feel is really pushing the Envelope. (Though I am using the Samsung NX1 that is also quite special). DSLR sales are down, mirrorless is up and Sony is leading the way.

Take a look at their blurb and charts they sent over…

————–

The Mirrorless Movement: Sony Boasts Record Growth in Expanding Mirrorless Digital Camera Market

SAN DIEGO, Jun. 3, 2015 – Sony Electronics – an overall leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer – is experiencing record growth in sales of mirrorless cameras, a rapidly expanding segment of the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) business.

According to The NPD Group, overall mirrorless camera revenue has grown 16.5% over the past 12 months, with DSLR sales declining approximately 15% over the same period. During this time, Sony has experienced a robust 66% boost in their company’s mirrorless camera sales, strengthening their dominant position as the #1 overall mirrorless brand, a position they have held for 4 consecutive years. 

“Growth in the mirrorless segment shows this new technology and form factor are resonating with consumers,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, The NPD group. “Going forward, mirrorless will continue to command a greater share of the interchangeable lens camera category.”

On top of the sales momentum, InfoTrends’ customer surveysdemonstrate how strong innovation in the mirrorless space is continuing to attract a younger and more photo active ILC customer. The latest data shows that over 61% of first time ILC buyers are under the age of 35, up from 54% approximately two years ago. Key motivating factors for their photography include travel and family..

“First time buyers in today’s ILC market will play an integral part in future growth of the segment, especially considering the increasingly younger customers that are buying into new systems,” said Ed Lee, group director of the Consumer and Professional Imaging group at InfoTrends.

This news comes on the heels of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) decision to recognize “Mirrorless” as the official term for interchangeable lens cameras that do not include a mirror mechanism.

“This information shines a spotlight on where the mirrorless market has been, where it is today, and the bright future it presents,” said Neal Manowitz, director of the still image business at Sony Electronics. “Our business continues to thrive based on strong innovation and the unique value propositions we are delivering with products like the α7 series and the α6000. Their impressive imaging credentials allow photo enthusiasts, hobbyist and professionals to capture content in ways they never before thought possible.”

Supporting charts / data:

image001

image002

image003

image004

Please follow #SonyAlpha on twitter for the latest α camera news.

© 2009-2015 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

Skip to toolbar