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Apr 062017
 

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

By Steve Huff

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

VIDEO OVERVIEW OF MY 10 REASONS

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

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

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

The cheap 50 1.8 once again…

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

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

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

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

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

Using the Voigtlander 35 1.7 – an amazing lens!!

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

The Petzval 58 1.9 on the A7RII

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

The 50 Mitakon Speedmaster

The Zeiss Otus 28 1.4

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

Loxia Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend everyone!

Steve

Mar 292017
 

The Sony 85 f/1.8 Lens Review. All the 85 you may ever need!

As I get older, and move on in my years (am now 47) I start to realize that the small stuff, eh…doesn’t matter. What matters to me these days is that I enjoy life, love life, be happy, spend time with friends and family and in regards to camera gear, I go with what I love and also, what is “good enough”. Most camera systems today simply rock, and rock hard. Yep, it’s tough too get a bad camera or lens today, and with prices ranging all over the map what we pay for today is niche cameras and lenses. The new Fuji Medium Format of example. Fuji saw they really had no where to go with their APS-C line as everyone already loves what they have done, ad face it…today with cameras we are starting to reach the limits of what can be done with standard APS or 35mm formats. The newest models are fantastic and truly, what else can they do to keep selling new cameras every year? Exactly. Hmmm, so how about making a new Medium Format line? Yep, that is where we are headed. Today, most cameras in the APS-C, Micro 4/3 range and Full Frame range are as good as they can get in regards to image quality.

I’ll throw you a detail shot first from this new 85 1.8. Click on the image below, which was shot wide open at f/1.8. See the crazy detail in the 100% crop. If you are on a nice large display you will see this and be amazed. This is Sony’s “budget” 85 1.8. It’s good. Very good. Dare I say…”Too Good for the Cost”? NAHHH, NEVER! Too good is always good. 

As for lenses, we have all kinds to choose from no matter the brand we shoot with. Exotic glass like Leica that costs us a limb can be used on almost all formats via adapters, lenses from 3rd parties that give us crazy deals (Rokinon) and of course there is Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon, or whatever system you shoot. There are thousands of lenses out there to choose from when it comes to mirrorless systems. So what to choose? What do we need? What do we want?

MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE LENS!

I’ll admit, when it comes to photo gear, I usually (especially in the past) let my “wants’ come before “needs” and that is not always a good idea for my bank account, but hey, I have fun with it and for me, that’s a huge part of living life..having fun. As long as a purchase does not stress me out, and I want it, and feel it would fulfill my life in some way I usually get it if I can. But sometimes buying big exotic lenses, for me, is a mistake. If I spend $2k or more on a lens I usually start to regret it…(usually). Especially if it is for a focal length I rarely use. For example, the 85mm focal length is one I love but rarely use. While I loved the Sony 85 1.4 G Master for my Sony A7rII I knew it was overkill for my needs and use. As much as I lusted after that huge hunk O glass, I knew that if I bought it I would have remorse as my intelligence would kick in and say “Steve, you rarely use that focal length so why would you spend $1800 on a lens like this? Yes it is dreamy, creamy and one hell of a lens but there are other options, and especially NOW.

Debby  – Shot with the A7RII (My most used camera) and the new 85 1.8 from Sony. Click it for larger and better version .The Bokeh is smooth, and yes…this lens is a “cream machine”

Sony has just announced and released (March 30th 2017 release date) the new 85 1.8 FE lens. I have had one for the last two weeks and it’s small, it’s light and it’s DAMN AMAZING. While not up to the level of the G Master for color and deliciousness, it is not very far off. It is also close to the Zeiss 85 Batis in real world use (I do not do scientific wall shots or pixel peeper tests as those, IMO, have nothing to do with real world use). I have shot the G Master and preferred its rendering to the Zeiss Batis 85 1.8. See my review of the 85 G Master HERE. See my review of the Zeiss 85 1.8 Batis HERE. 

The 85 1.8 at f/1.8, converted to B&W using Alien Skin Exposure

While those two lenses are indeed nicer and can offer more micro contrast and pop than this “budget” 85 1.8 from Sony, which comes in at $599 or so, it is NOT that far off from those beauties and it is smaller, and just as quick to AF, if not quicker. Yes, this lens is GOOD ENOGH for 99% of users. It’s beautiful. I will be going over it and letting you know my thoughts after using it for the last coupe of weeks. I will also try to showcase what most like to see in a fast 85mm. BOKEH quality. So you will get plenty of those shots here. If the lens is sharp when wide open, you better believe it gets even sharper stopped down. With this lens I have seen no issues or negative problems. No distortion or CA and to me, that is pretty amazing in an affordable fast 85mm prime.

Beautiful color and Bokeh. Shot at 1.8

I remember many years ago when the Nikon 85 1.4 was all the rage. I am talking LONG ago, like Nikon D2 days. I owned a D2H and D2Hs and loved them. Everyone was raving about the 85 1.4 from Nikon and I purchased one back then for around $899 or so. I was not a huge fan of it, at first. Took some getting used to but that old version of the Nikon? I feel this Sony is much better for color, contrast and Bokeh. How times have changed. Since then Nikon has updated that lens and technology has improved but it goes to show that what was once raved about as the best 85mm lens ever made can now be surpassed with a lens that is almost half the cost and considered a “Budget” 85mm lens in comparison to the big guns.

I used that old Nikon for about a year and many did dub it the “Cream Machine” due to it’s shallow DOF and Bokeh quality. I made many memories with that 85 but today I am more of a 50mm guy so rarely use the 85mm focal length. Even back when I did, I was using it on an APS-H body, so it was giving me more than 85. But on the Sony A7RII, this new Sony 85 1.8 is indeed an 85. It is a full frame lens. made for full frame.

Two with the 85 1.8, both wide open. Look at the subject isolation in the 2nd image. Amazing and lovely. Almost, to me, looks very painterly. THIS is what I like. I am not a fan of perfection in lenses these days, and love some character. Not only does this lens offer us character, it does so while retaining sharpness and bringing a lovely quality that almost mends some vintage styles and modern styles. This lens is a gem in the Sony standard lineup. Click em for larger and better!

Many of us buy lenses and photo gear with our brain, some with our heart and then some who just want what is new. The good news here is with this lens, we can use all three because using our brain? This lens is a smart no brainer buy if you want an 85mm lens, or of  course “need” one. It’s affordable when compared to the G Master and Zeiss. It is smaller, lighter and fast to AF. The IQ is gorgeous (IMO) and it’s also a tad unique. It may not have the all out micro contrast and color pop of the Zeiss Batis, and it may not have the all out IQ and color/creaminess of the G Master but hey, for $599 (vs $1800 and $1200) it is much less explosive while offering a beauty all of its own. IN fact, if I were going to buy an 85mm for my Sony system? It would be this one. A smart buy all the way around and there would never be any “Buyers Remorse” with this one.

Two more with the 85 and A7RII

Now, if you want that extra bite of contrast, color, and micro contrast I recommend the Zeiss Batis. If you want ultra creaminess and color performance go for the G Master but remember, that G Master is HUGE and HEAVY. The Zeiss is lighter weight and more manageable but not as small as this Sony. I have become a fan of the bokeh and color of THIS lens. It reminds me of some classic lenses while also remaining me of the best of the modern day beasts, in performance. Use it carefully and with good light and BAM, you have some wonderful shots.

This 1st image below? A 100% crop from the A7RII using the 85 1.8 WIDE OPEN. This is a 100% crop, but looks like a normal full image. Click it to see the detail in the woman’s face for being a 100% crop. Amazing. The next two show some of the color you can expect from this lens on a Sony A7RII.

Sony has just been hitting it out of the park lately, for years now. They just keep pumping out products that are so good. This makes me very curious as to what is coming next from them. They have released a slew of lenses over the last two years. They have released high res and low light monster cameras (A7RII and A7SII) that have been very well received and even had some Canon and Nikon people switching. What Sony needs now? A PRO camera. They really do not have a pro body. Olympus has one (EM1 II). Canon and Nikon have them. Leica even has one (SL). Sony does not, and that leads me to believe that we will see a pro body from Sony sooner rather than later. They have stated they want to compete all out against Canon and Nikon, so they need one. I feel that when they do release one, it will be off the charts amazing. Build, speed, sensor…I think it will be pretty special and may have things we did not expect. Sony always pushes the tech envelope and I feel they may just about be ready to do that again. Hope I am right. They need something with dual card slots, pro build, great battery life, good built in IS, great video capability, and a knock out sensor, etc.

If they do this, I suspect even more will be going Sony over the big N & C.

This 1st shot of the Parrot we can see some of the bokeh may not be as smooth as a G Master lens but hey, it’s 1/3 the cost and size and for me, I like a little character in my Bokeh,

This 85mm lens could be used for just about anything. Normally, many feel 85mm is strictly a portrait lens. This is not true. While great for portraits, even almost being the perfect focal length for them, you can use an 85mm on full frame for just about anything where  you need a little distance from your subject. With this lens, I am seeing fantastic subject isolation and depth. I am seeing good but not “wow level” color reproduction. I am seeing great sharpness, even when wide open or stopped down. Early on in this review at the top I started it off with a Parrot image to show how sharp this lens is at f/1.8. Here is one more at f/1.8 and then 3.5…crazy sharp for what this lens is and what it costs…

Click on this picture of the camel to see the 100% crop and the detail it can provide. 

Stopped down to f/3.5 (click to see 100% crop)

I have used so many lenses in this 75-90mm range. Most have been great. Ones that stick out? The Olympus 75 1.8 (but this ends up being more like a 150mm lens for reach, so not like a real 85mm FOV), the G Master Sony 85 1.4, the Leica 75 Summilux and 90 APO Cron, the Sony 90 Macro 2.8, the Canon 85 1.2 L (one of my all time fave lenses) and others. Almost all of the lenses I just mentioned cost more than this Sony 85 1.8, and this reminds me of another lens dilemma many have in life. The Canon 85 L vs the Cann 85 1.8. Those two lenses have been compared to death and one camp tells us the f/1.8 is just as good yet smaller and cheaper, yet I know better. That 85 f/1.2L is a beautiful lens. If I shot Canon I would own the 16-35 L III (and I do own this lens), the 35 1.4 L II, the 50 1.2L and the 85 L 1.2. All gorgeous lenses. When it comes to Sony though, we have the G Master 85 1.4 and this guy, the cheaper, smaller and quick footed 85 1.8 at 1/3 the cost of the G Master.

Take a look at my G Master review and see the differences in real world every day images. The G Master will bring you superior color, and a faster aperture at 1.4 (vs 1.8). It will bering pro build quality and just a richer image..that pro look. BUT, at the end of the day, what I see from this lens is almost as good. It may not be as refined as the G Master (it is not) or as good in overall quality but at the end of the day you have to decide if you need that extra 15-20% of quality that comes with the G Master.

I love that G Master lens, it is drool worthy but this lens is excellent, especially for the money.

PROS & CONS

PROS

  1. Small and lightweight for a fast 85
  2. Fast to AF
  3. Sharp when wide open
  4. Creamy bokeh that is not offensive
  5. Price is under $600
  6. Full frame coverage, so perfect for the A7 series

CONS

  1. Not weather sealed, nor pro build
  2. Color not as rich as the G Master or Zeiss Batis
  3. Af Can unt a little in LOW light

So there ya go. When it comes down to it, this lens is a sleeper. It’s something that some will pass on because it is not a G Master or ‘pro” lens but it is a pretty amazing lens for IQ and size. Perfect for the A7 Series and perfect as an everyday lens or whatever you ned it for. It can pull off portraits and anything else you throw at it. No CA, no distortions that I was able to see in my images. At $599 this is one of those “You MUST at least check it out” lenses. Sure, the Zeiss Batis is more exotic as is the G Master but sometimes we go where we do not need to in this hobby ;) I do it all the time. If I were in the market for an 85mm for my A7RII, this would most likely be the one I would buy. WHY? Well, I do not use 85mm too often, so with minimal use it would be a waste for me to buy the two other options and $600 is about right for what I would spend for a lens I would use a few times a year. BUT, Let us not forget about the Zeiss Lioxia 85 2.4. THAT lens was phenomenal as well but manual focus only. See my review of that one HERE.  If I were stepping it up that would be my #2 choice as it was small (thin) and easy to manual focus and I love the Loxia line from Zeiss due to the MF nature of the lenses.

So if you are in the market for an 85mm for your Sony camera, check out all of my Sony mount 85 Reviews:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

Sony G Master 85 1.4

Zeiss Loxia 85 2.4

and of course the one you are reading. This lens is fantastic, no way around it and while it will not give you the pop and color and all out snap as the $1300-$1800 85mm lenses, at $600 it’s damn good and punches above its price point. An enjoyable problem free lens that performs.

Buy the Sony 85 1.8 using the links below:

Amazon (prime)

B&H Photo


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Mar 262017
 

The LensBaby Trio 28 Lens. Super cool, super fun and affordable!

By Steve Huff

A Quick Look at the LensBaby Trio 28 (video)

 

You know, sometimes you just want to have fun with photography. Not everyone, every day goes out to shoot a masterpiece. Nor do we always need perfect glass, uber fast glass or any kind of perfection in our shots. In fact, I have always preferred character of a lens over perfection in a lens and while I admire both character and perfection, I use what is best for the job at hand. But after years and years of using high end glass, mid range glass and trying to find the best bang for the buck in lenses I recently stumbled upon something very unique and cool, if not quirky and nerdy.

CLICK ALL IMAGES IN THIS REVIEW FOR LARGER AND BETTER VERSIONS!

Using the “TWIST” setting this gives us some twisty swirly bokeh. It is actually based off of the Petzval lenses from long ago. But using this over a new Petzval is MUCH easier. It’s light, it’s small and easier to focus. 

The LensBaby Trio 28 f/3.5 lens is something different as it houses three switchable lenses. Just TWIST the front element which is cock eyed and off center and you can choose between TWIST, SWEET and VELVET. Each setting gives you a totally different yet still very LoFi look. This lens is all about character and fun, not sharpness and detail. It is more about making artsy lo fi images than anything yet at times, and depending on the situation, this can be pretty cool to use. I slapped on my E Mount Trio 28 to my Sony A7RII and made the mistake of going to a local “Color Run”.

The “SWEET” setting gives us an overdone Bokeh with blur on the sides and a sharp center. Notice Debby’s face is in focus but her arms are blurred. This is what you can expect with the SWEET setting. 

Another using SWEET

Loving the colors that come from this lens as well. Very punchy. If you click this one, you can see the separation this lens can give you at mid distances. I can see some very creative uses for this lens. 

Three girls decided to lay down in a street full of purple powder. 

A Color Run is when you walk or run or jog a 5K route and at several points during the route you get doused with colored powder. Somehow, someway, a person out there came up with a way to make a killing by getting people to exercise and get doused with 4 different color powders…ion the face hair and then in your car when you drive home. Amazing. Wish I would have thought of that as there were thousands at this run, each one paying $40 or so to participate (including me). Now, you may have caught where I said :I made the mistake of going”… I did not say that because the event was not fun, it actually was. But I should not have brought my A7RII as at the end of the run it was coated in orange, yellow and purple powder which creeped into every crevice and even the EVF. Now I have to spend a couple of hours cleaning it thoroughly. The good thing is the powder did not get inside where the sensor is, though the Trio 28 and camera were coated at times.

One of the people who were pumping out the color! She was nice when I walked by and told me “watch your camera”!!

Missed focus but you can see the swirl of the bokeh with the TWIST setting. 

Near the end we walked through foam machines shooting out bubbles of foam and this little girl was loving it. 

Now that I am home and dusted it all off and wiped out down, it is actually 85% good as new. So no harm came to the lens or camera though I would not recommend bringing a nice camera to an event like this if you are participating in it ; ) I knew this up front but figured I would just hold my camera out of the way or dodge the color, but no chance.

So as I walked the route I shot a few frames here and there and the trio 28 lens did interestingly well. While the look it is giving us is FUN, that is what it is designed to do. It’s a special effect lens, not a lens that we should ever expect a normal image from. So do not buy this lens if you want a normal image. If you want swirly bokeh or blurred sides or a smooth filter for portraits this lens is pretty amazing for the cost of under $300. I would have never even thought of this lens if LensBaby did not contact me for a review. Now that I have shot it I am happy to have tested it as now I am keeping it (have no choice really after getting it doused with colors, so have to keep it now). I used to write about fun lenses like this quite often, years ago. One of the first was the SLR Magic Toy Lens. It was cheap and gave a pretty cool loft image, again, it was a fun lens.

This one, the Trio 28 is much nicer though. It’s easy to use, easy to manual focus (it is manual focus only) and even if you miss focus by a hair, you still have a great LoFi image ;) Color performance is VERY full of POP when using my A7RII, and I like it. A lot.

Not something I would use every day, and something I would use the next time with more creativity (finding shots that would excel with the lens) but overall I like this lens. It breaks me out of the seriousness of everything and allows me to have fun and be carefree. At $279 it’s worth owning for anyone who likes these effects right out of the camera.  Minimum focus distance is 8″ and the build is nice, much nicer than the old toy lenses of past. LensBaby makes solid lenses, and while not a pro level build, it is perfect for its price point.

SWEET setting…

Very artistic results can be had in the right hands, and I suggest everyone try this lens as it can really bring some smiles out and create cool, fun memories that can stand out from the normal mundane shots. I loved the twist and sweet settings and rarely used the VELVET setting as it seemed more like a soft filter, which I am not so much a fan of unless I was shooting a close portrait. Below are the same shot with all three settings:

So HIGHLY recommended, fantastic fun little lens.

BUY THE LENS

You can buy this at AMAZON HERE or B&H Photo HERE. 

Mar 072017
 

The Sony 100mm f/2.8 STF GM FE Lens – IN HAND FIRST LOOK!

I’m back! This time with a quick look (my 1st look) at the brand spanking new Sony 100mm f/2.8 GM “Smooth Trans Focus” lens, you know, the one with the “super bokeh”. Well, the lens arrived to me from Sony to evaluate and when I took it out of the box I was a bit confused. I did not do my full homework in this lens before it arrived and I assumed it was a normal 100mm f/2.8 lens. I was wrong! In fact, on the lens the fastest aperture we can set the lens to is T 5.6. Yep, T stops. So why on earth is Sony labeling this lens as an f/2.8 lens? That is what I had to find out.

What I do know is that Sony is marketing this pro line GM lens as one that will deliver Bokeh like nothing else out there for 35mm. Buttery smooth, no onion ring bokeh and no busy bokeh. But with the widest aperture being T5.6 how can this be? When I was taking test shots I knew from the get go that this is no lens for indoor use. I had to crank my ISO to 12,800 to snap a shot off in my home last night…BUT…this lens is not made for low light shooting in any way, shape or form.

In fact I believe this lens will be for portrait pros, wedding shooters and those who want the sharpest image with the most smoothest beautiful bokeh they can achieve. This is no every day street lens, nope. This is a specialized lens and what it is made to do, well, it seems to do it like nothing I have ever seen before.

In fact, check out these 1st few shots I took for fun. The detail is mind boggling and the bokeh, is indeed smooth as silk. You must click them to see full size crops embedded.

Click them for details, all wide open which shows 5.6 in the EXIF and that is where the lens was set…but why is this lens marketed as an f/2.8? Read on and find out…

So tell me about this lens Steve…

So according to Sony this lens, is as I said, made for wedding and portrait pros. While I am neither, I can appreciate a good pro lens built to a high standard and made to do a job and do it well. If I had a portrait studio or a wedding business this lens would be in my bag on day one of its release. Here are some details…

“Delivering both smooth bokeh and fine sharpness, the FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Lens from Sony is a short-telephoto prime featuring a unique, yet sophisticated optical design. Separating itself from other portrait-length lenses, this 100mm f/2.8 features Smooth Trans Focus technology, which uses an apodization filter to realize notably smooth bokeh with rounded out-of-focus highlights in both the foreground and background.

Contributing to a high degree of sharpness and clarity, the lens also incorporates one aspherical element and one extra-low dispersion element to suppress both spherical and chromatic aberrations. Additionally, a Nano AR coating has also been applied to reduce lens flare and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity when working in strong lighting conditions.

Complementing the optics, this lens also sports a robust physical construction that is dust- and moisture-sealed for use in trying conditions. It is also an apt performer, and utilizes a Direct Drive SSM to afford quick, quiet, and smooth autofocus performance. A ring-switch permits selecting between two focusing ranges, including a dedicated close-up range for working with subjects as close as 1.9′ away with a 0.25x maximum magnification. Additionally, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization further contributes to producing sharp images when shooting handheld by minimizing the appearance of camera shake.

Short telephoto prime designed for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, however it can also be used on APS-C models where it will provide a 150mm equivalent focal length.

Optical design incorporates an apodization element that helps to improve the quality of bokeh. This element, which resembles a radially graduated ND filter that tapers from clear in the center to more dense around the edges, produces more circular out-of-focus highlights for more pleasing selective focus and shallow depth of field effects.

An aperture range of f/2.8 to f/20 is available, however the implementation of the apodization filter renders this range as T5.6 to T22.

One extra-low dispersion element reduces color fringing and chromatic aberrations while one aspherical element controls spherical aberrations for improved clarity and sharpness. Optical layout has also been designed to reduce peripheral highlight distortion due to vignetting in order to achieve rounder out-of-focus highlights in both the foreground and background. A rounded 11-blade diaphragm further contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing shallow depth of field techniques.

A Nano AR Coating has been applied to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for increased contrast and color rendering in strong lighting conditions.

A Direct Drive SSM system and internal focus mechanism provides quick, quiet, and precise autofocus performance and also contributes to more natural, intuitive manual focus control.
Ring-switch allows you to choose between two focusing ranges: 2.8′ to infinity or a closer range of 1.9-3.3′, which also offers a 0.25x magnification at minimum focus for working with close-up details. Customizable focus hold button on lens barrel can be used to hold the focusing position, or can be set in-camera to control a variety of additional lens functions.

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake for sharper imagery when shooting handheld with slower shutter speeds. This stabilization system can also be combined with select camera’s sensor-shift type image stabilization for more effective control of camera blur.

Manual aperture ring can be de-clicked for smooth, silent aperture switching to benefit video applications. A dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions and rubberized control rings benefit handling in colder temperatures.”

So after shooting this lens for only a day and a half I have found no way to access any kind of f/2.8 aperture. In fact, for light gathering it kind of shoots like a f/5.6 lens, and my guess is that since this lens has a apodization filter which generally acts as sort of a ND filter that it is indeed an f/2.8 lens but is behaving like an f/5.6 for light gathering (Due to the filter in the lens)  yet giving us the DOF of an f/2.8. Correct me if I am wrong, as I have never tested a lens like this in my life. So it all makes sense when looking at it like this. The Apodization filter in this lens cuts the light gathering but delivers amazingly smooth bokeh.

I can say that so far just from my everyday shots that the Bokeh is indeed smooth as silk, and I have seen no issues with CA or flaws within the image, anywhere. It’s sharp as can be, reminding me of the sharpness of good APO lenses and the Bokeh is incredible. Just know that in low light the lens will be a non starter unless you crank that ISO up high, and the good news is that Sony cameras can do very high ISO very well. Even so, if you want light gathering this will not be the lens for you. If you want the best IQ and Bokeh and do not need low light abilities, this lens is looking like a monster for IQ.

A few more BOKEH and detail tests…click them to see the crop on the 1st one below..crazy detail!

I need to test this more in ways that benefit the lens strengths more, so will be using it over the next two weeks or so.

This is a Sony G Master lens, so it’s in the pro line and priced at $1498. IT IS SCHEDULED TO SHIP AT THE END OF MARCH!

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

More to come soon..

Feb 212017
 

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

By Steve Huff

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

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

SLOW APERTURE

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

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

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

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

Click for larger and crisper version

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

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

A selfie with the 10mm on the A7RII

Yep, MANUAL FOCUS!

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

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

10mm

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

But man oh man, what to shoot?

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK ‘EM!

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

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

One more with the 10mm

AT THE END OF THE DAY…

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

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

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

SIZE ON CAMERA

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

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

PRICE AND WHERE TO BUY?

The Voigtlander 10mm comes in at $1099 at Cameraquest

The Voigtlander 12mm comes in at $999 at Cameraquest

The Voigtlander 15mm comes in at $799 at Camerquest

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

The Voigtlanders are also available at B&H HERE. 

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

Thank you!


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

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

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

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Feb 162017
 

A Look at the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH on the Sony A7RII

by Steve Huff

With all of the Leica M10 madness all over this website as well as the rangefinder world I decided to take a breather from that camera for a bit (The Leica M10). So much has been said about it lately and dealers have a wait list up to 200 deep (depending on dealer) so getting one anytime soon is gonna be tough for those who want one. Yes, it’s a success. Many want an M10 but it’s gonna be a wait, so let’s talk about something else in the Leica world that has been well loved for many years now. A lens. Not just any lens, but a lens I have written about so many  times now over 8 years. It’s just so good I have to write about it again but this time with using it on the Sony A7RII.

Yep, I still own and use my A7RII every week without fail. It has been the one camera that has lasted for the long haul for me. Meaning, I have never owned one model of camera for such a constant long stretch without selling it (or rebuying it). Being a reviewer, and seeing so many amazing cameras come and go, I often get to see the next big thing, and I get tempted and buy them, and I do which means I sell off the old. But the old A7RII has lasted me.

The A7RII has lasted this long with me due to how versatile it is. With video, photos, low light, ability to use almost any lens made, etc etc. My main gripe with it after long term use is the dreadful battery life, especially when shooting video but no camera has ever been perfect I guess.

50 1.4 Summilux on the Sony A7RII at f/1.4

Before going any further here, the Sony A7rII is not perfect when using Leica M glass. Wide angle lenses will have soft edges and sometimes they just do not have that WOW that they can have on a Leica SL or M. But this is a 50mm, and for a 50mm it does fantastic on the Sony, or the M or the SL. Each camera gives a different feel to the images which is odd but I love them all (Though my fave for this lens is the Leica SL)

The lens is a beauty to behold. All manual focus, built so solid it feels like it is made of solid brass and glass and so smooth in operation that one may be surprised when using one for the first time. This is no Zeiss ZM or Voigtlander. This lens is a Leica. It’s built to the Leica standard and for that WE PAY. This lens comes in anywhere from $3800 to $4400 depending on the version you get. Both versions made today are the same optically but there is a special Black Chrome Edition that mimics the old school design of the Summilux past uses a 43mm filter instead of 46 and that is the version I own. It’s lovely and the only lens I would give it up for is the Noctilux f/0.95.

Two versions are sold today as of Feb 2017 – Click them to see more.

This lens has been around for many years over different versions. This one is the latest ASPH version and to me, I have a sort of emotional tie to it as it was my ver 1st real Leica M lens that I ever purchased. When I bought it NEW many years ago, the ASPH version was $2495. Goes to show how much these lenses can appreciate over the years. Unusual for camera gear or lenses but Leica M lenses seem to do that if you hang on to them for a long long time. Buy them used and you are usually guaranteed to never lose money if you decided to sell.

Using this lens on the M10, I would often miss a few shots as focusing an RF when your eyes are starting to really fail you (As mine are) is TOUGH. When I had perfect vision just three years ago I could nail every shot with any lens, even the Noctilux when used on an M. Today, I see the effects of aging and me refusing to wear my glasses when I do shoot an M means missing some shots.

But for guys like me, who have failing vision (getting older) and do not like to wear glasses when shooting a rangefinder, the good news is that this lens can be used on other cameras such as the Sony A7 series and the beautiful Leica SL while still retaining the full frame character of the lens. When using an M lens on an APS-C or M 4/3 sensor camera you will lose character due to the crop. So I only use these lenses on full frame 35mm format sensors to retain the look, feel and beauty of what they were designed to do.

I feel the Leica SL is the best and easiest manual focus camera made today for full frame 35mm format. With that camera and this lens, you have a heavenly experience. With the Sony A7RII it is also a good experience but not as easy as shooting it on that SL (due to that huge clear SL EVF). Even so, for those with a Sony A7RII this lens is beautiful as it is SMALL, easy to focus and delivers unique Summilux rendering that no Sony lens can replicate. Though I will say the newer Sony Zeiss 50 1.4 gets very close..even though its like 6X the size of the little mighty Leica. (It’s also 3X cheaper)

50 Lux at 1.4 on the Sony A7rII

Click them for larger

While this lens is MADE for the Leica M series and fits perfectly with that system, it performs very well for most photography on the Sony. I mean unless you are shooting stopped down for high resolution landscapes, this lens will deliver the goods on the Sony, SL or M and IMO, it is meant to be shot wide open which is where Leica lenses are optimized. This lens is made to shoot at f/1.4 and it delivers the goods at this aperture. Shoot this lens for landscape perfection on a Sony though and you may be disappointed. It will not give you perfect sharpness on the Sony across the frame. But again, for shallow DOF work and shooting wide open it is lovely.

1st one is ISO 5000 in a dark restaurant. A7RII has this strength. It is great at higher ISO. No noise reduction here. Click ’em for larger!

B&W

A7RII, me and Debby  – 50 1.4

RUST – A7RII, 50 Lux 1.4

Shooting this lens on the A7rII is very easy. I use the Voigtlander M To E close focus adapter (see it here) and it also allows you to focus the 50 Lux much closer than its 0.7 meter limit (when shot on an M or SL) though I would not recommend that as the DOF gets crazy when shooting close up with this lens. Keep it at 0.7 Meters and beyond and you will be rewarded with gorgeous color, smooth Bokeh (though not Noctilux smooth) and that Summilux look.

But for me, I love shooting lenses like this on the Sony or SL because of the great EVF’s on these cameras, the small size of the lenses and the performance one can get from them.

The best performance I have gotten from this lens was with the Leica SL. I sold it to buy the M10 but I missed it so much I called Ken Hansen and ordered another. The Leica SL is FANTASTIC. I may soon test some Canon glass on it using the new Novoflex adapter. A 24 1.4 or 50 1.2 on the SL? Hmmm. WITH AF? Double Hmmmm.

These two from the SL with the 50 Lux. 

When shooting with the A7RII or SL you will never experience focus shift or mis focus due to a rangefinder being out of whack. What you see is what you get and that is HUGE. When shooting this lens on these EVF cameras I never have an out of focus image. When shooting on a M8, M9, M240 or even M10 I have had quite a few OOF images (again, either due to my eyes or an RF being out of whack). So these days, in my upper 40’s I think I will settle in with these nice EVF cameras for the long haul and next few years. WITH THAT SAID, Here are two using this lens on the M10, in color ;)

A couple from the M10

As for Sony, I expect them to have an update soon, as it seems like it has been a while (for Sony) and I smell an A7RIII coming, maybe even the long rumored A9 Pro. Who knows, but I can’t see them NOT answering the Leica SL (EVF, pro build) or Fuji GFX 50S. So I expect to see some new Sony stuff soon. It just seems like it is time.

A7RII with the 50 Lux, all 1.4

I have been using this lens for many many years now, on and off. I buy it, use it for a while, get tempted by a new lens, sell it and them miss it. I have bought and sold this lens around 8 times over 7-8 years but this time I am trying to hang on to this one. Not only is is a beautiful version (Black Chrome) it is a beautiful lens.

It CAN INDEED be matched and maybe beat by lenses like the new Sony 50 1.4 Zeiss (if using on a Sony A7 series body) but again, that lens is HUGE and still does not quite hit that Summilux vibe. But almost. It may be a more perfect lens (the Sony) but part of the Summilux charm, to me, are the slight imperfections, the less modern look, the slightly more dreamy rendering and of course that small jewel like build and the fact that we must work at getting the image using Manual Focus.

I dig it my friends, just as I always have. This one came from PopFlash.com (and they have a deal on the Black Chrome version right now) but you can also buy it at B&H Photo HERE or you can email Ken Hansen at [email protected]

YES IT IS EXPENSIVE, but again, these Leica lenses, especially this 50 Summilux ASPH has stood the test of time. Many memories have been made using this lens, many moments in time frozen and captured, many smiles have been created from this lens and many who own it call it their most used lens. Keep it for 10 years and you will never lose money on it. With a lens that brings this much joy, some would call it priceless. While it performs best on an M and SL, it does pretty good on an A7RII or even A7SII or A7II. So if you want a change of pace from those huge AF lenses, and have been curious about Leica this is one you may want to slap on your Sony and go out and make some memories. ;)

Feb 072017
 

New Sony 100mm f/2.8 G Master Lens Announced!

Today Sony has announced the new 100mm f/2.8 G Master lens and it appears to be a beauty. Promising gorgeous Bokeh this lens uses a new optical apodization lens element to deliver these results, along with an 11-bladed aperture. Looks like a fantastic offering once again from Sony. Their G Master line is truly amazing if you do not mind the size and cost. Top tier lenses here from Sony in this line and this one may be their best yet.

YOU CAN PRE ORDER IT AT B&H STARTING THURSDAY, FEB 9TH AT THIS LINK.

Hopefully I can get my hands on one of these to test out soon ;)

Press release below:

Sony Introduces 100mm F2.8 STF G Master™ with Highest Ever Quality Bokeh 

FE 100mm F2.81 STF GM OSS Telephoto Prime Lens

A specially designed mid-telephoto, full-frame prime lens, the new 100mm STF is built to produce truly unique, magnificent and beautiful bokeh while maintaining the exceptional standard of resolution that is showcased by Sony’s entire line of flagship G Master series lenses, making it a powerful photographic tool for any portrait, fashion, nature or wedding photographer.

These impressive defocus capabilities are made possible by the lens’ advanced optical structure, as it features a newly designed 11-bladed aperture and a unique optical apodization lens element. Similar to a neutral density filter that increases in density towards the edges, the apodization element creates beautiful transitions of in-focus to out-of-focus areas within an image, making for exceptionally soft, smooth bokeh that adds depth and dimensionality. This allows the subjects to stand out against beautifully defocused elements in both the foreground and background, producing an image that is naturally pleasing to the eye. The design of the lens also ensures that vignetting is kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring optimum image quality.

Additionally, the new 100mm lens supports both contrast AF and focal-plane phase detection AF2, and has a high-precision, quiet direct drive SSM (Super Sonic Motor) system that ensures exceptionally fast and accurate AF performance. The SEL100F28GM also offers up to 0.25x close-up capabilities with a built-in macro switching ring, built-in Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization, a customizable focus hold button, AF/MF switch, aperture ring and more. It is dust and moisture resistant as well.

Jan 202017
 

Leica M10 higher ISO tests vs Sony A7RII, Leica SL…Interesting!

So I decided to run a quick higher ISO test today with the new M10. Mine came in and along with the Leica brown leather half case it is a stunner for sure. I posted this pic in the post earlier today from Ashwin, but this case from Leica is the 1st one they have ever made for an M that actually fits correctly!

In any case, a few have asked me to compare ISO performace, from 1600-6400 between the new M10 and Leica SL. I also threw in a camera that I always felt had fantastic high ISO performance, the Sony A7RII.

I was surprised to say the least. Not only at the ISO performance of the M10 but the color and metering of the camera. It 100% has more pop and contrast than the SL and Sony. These are all straight from RAW with no sharpening, editing or ANYTHING. Zero noise reduction on all.

I am finding the M10 puts out punchy color (which I like) but also a nice snap to the images. So much different than the M 240’s output which was more bland (and most complained about it). Seems to me, with the M10 we get some of the fine points of the beloved M9 (for IQ snap) and the M240 (for live view and modern electronics) and now amazing high ISO capability as well.

Take a look the extreme difference in rendering between all three of these cameras.

*AS ALWAYS WITH THESE ISO TESTS, I TEST IN A REAL WORLD WAY. IN OTHER WORDS, I TEST THESE AS THEY WOULD BE USED BY 95% OF THOSE WHO USE THEM. I LET THE CAMERAS EXPOSE THE SCENE WITH THEIR BUILT IN METERS, AWB,  AND ALL I DID WAS SET THE ISO. LENSES WERE ALL WIDE OPEN, SO THIS IS A REAL WORLD ISO TEST AND HOW I HAVE DONE THEM FOR EIGHT YEARS. AGAIN, WE DO NOT USE OUR CAMERAS IN A SCIENTIFIC STUDIO SCENE MATCHING EACH CAMERA TO THE OTHER, WE USE IT AS IT IS SO WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET*

ISO 1600 – WOW, LOOK AT THE POP AND SNAP FROM THE M10! Using the 50 Summilux for the M10 and SL at f1.4. The Sony had the Zeiss 55 1.8

CLICK THEM FOR LARGER AND TO SEE FULL CROPS

BTW, the POTATOES ARE A DOLDEN YELLOW IN REAL LIFE. NOT BROWN. 

OK, now ISO 3200

and 6400

and I added in 12,500 for the M and SL and 12,800 for the Sony

For me, the M10 sensor wins as does the metering. The color, ISO performance and overall vibe is what I like to see. The Sony fell flat here for me in color, rendering, etc.

More tests on the way ;)

BTW, the potatoes used here are GOLDEN, not brown…here is a photo on the web that resembles the potatoes I have here, though mine are not glowing quite this much. Also my stool is a blue/teal not a blue/brown. 

Dec 302016
 

Film, Sony, Fuji to the Leica Q. Documenting Protests

by Q Oliver

Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts on my new favorite camera with all of your readers. Your blog has certainly helped me with gear decisions in the past. I, like many others out there, have been on the hunt for that perfect photographic companion. With 2016 being such a turning point in our social and political climates, one could argue that having the perfect camera to document such a profound time is equally as important as having the right car in a snow storm or gas crisis. The camera that you can pick up for just about ANY situation and be happy to trust your vision to.

Now, I’ve shot 35mm and medium format film for most of my short twenty-eight years in this world and maybe I’m a bit set in my ways but I can never seem to settle on the “right” digital camera. My little AE-1 seemed to be all that I needed throughout high school but after graduating, I threw myself into a certain “art” school which gave students a Canon 5D Mark II with 24-105 f/4 lens as a part of the tuition. Within just a few months of using the Canon, I traded it for a Leica M6 TTL and a couple of lenses and never looked back. My professors were anything but pleased with my decision as the school had moved completely away from film and required students to submit EXIF data with each assignment. Being the bullheaded young artist that I was, I left art school and started my career as a fashion photographer (or at least I thought I would end up in fashion). Though I knew that sooner or later, the digital age would catch up to me.

(35mm-1) Leica M6 TTL + 50mm Summicron + Fuji Velvia 50

(35mm-6) Leica M6 TTL + 35mm Summicron + Kodak Portra 160

Fast forward to 2015 and I found myself flirting with the idea of taking digital cameras seriously. Despite my Instgram handle being @film_god and people calling me by that name on the street, I needed more modern workflow. Of course, we can argue film vs digital all day long but the truth is that now, as a professional, there really isn’t much of a choice in the matter. That year, I spent a bit of time in India with the Sony A7R II, which proved to be an absolutely remarkable little camera and travel companion. Not a hulking, clumsy mess like the DSLR’s many would have you believe are superior while still packing twice the punch in the resolution department and with quite respectable auto focus capabilities. The problem was that, for me, there was a very obvious “sterile” quality to the pictures. It was as if the Sony was TOO good! The pictures it produced were technically astounding but they just didn’t FEEL like anything to me. Also, of course, once you pair it with amazing lenses like the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 or current Zeiss 50mm f/1.4, it loses it’s size advantage. I needed a camera that was small and functional but more than just a tool that I shared no emotional connection with. Something that produced pictures that I didn’t feel needed to be heavily processed in order to get my point across.

(Sony-1) A7R II + Zeiss 55mm f/1.8


(Sony-3) A7R II + Zeiss 55mm f/1.8

(Sony-5) A7R II + Zeiss 55mm f/1.8


(Sony 2) A7R II + Sony 28mm f/2

After quickly losing interest in the beast that is the A7R II, I was faced with what seemed to be a life or death decision; What camera could I use definitively as my go-to camera to tell the stories I sought to share with the world? Well, I’m not a rich man by any means, so investing in a proper Leica M digital body was out of the question. There was, however, a “distant cousin” if you will. The Fuji XPro-2. A camera for those who can’t get enough of that iconic rangefinder street style but aren’t willing to sell the house, wife, and kids. I, of course was hesitant in selling my powerhouse full-frame partner in crime but I just couldn’t deal with the almost soulless and clinical rendering from the Sony. Based on everything I had read or watched, it was Fuji that could give me back that SOUL that I enjoyed while shooting film- or something close to it, anyway. The day it wen’t on sale, I got a call from my local camera store saying that a little Fuji had arrived. I rushed to the store like a kid running for an ice-cream truck.

It was a match made in heaven. Fujifilm’s lenses are fast and small, the ergonomics of the camera were something I was familiar with, and that 24mp x-trans sensor with it’s beautiful Acros processing… I couldn’t have asked for more. That is, until my city erupted with protests in response to this year’s consistent and tragic trend of police brutality against black people in the US.

(Fuji-1) XPro-2 + 16mm f/1.4

I’m a father, a husband, automotive enthusiast, and typical young black man in America- but above any of that, I am a photographer who has an affinity for photojournalism. When my city rose up to protest the way young black men have been treated by the justice system, I felt it was my duty to photograph the events regardless of any of my personal feelings and I was so glad to have the little Fuji by my side. I remember sitting on my couch in front of the TV with what was supposed to be my dinner one day when I got the phone call from a friend; “Hey! Get down here! There is a huge protest!” I left my dinner cold right where it sat, threw on my boots and darted out of my apartment with Fuji in hand

Fuji X-Pro 2

I feel that the photographs I made that night may be some of the most important that I’ve made thus far in my career but there was one problem. A big problem that hadn’t really bothered me until the sun went down and the protests continued into the night. You see, the little Fuji was great until the lights went off. The APS-C sensor just couldn’t hold up in low light. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the Fuji is by no means a slouch, but when it came to documenting and accurately depicting the events of those nights, I can honestly say that I had been spoiled by the full frame flexibility and clarity of the A7R II. Skin tones and shadows fell completely apart with the Fuji and I had to push those RAW files to the absolute limit to retain detail in shadows. I spent a great deal of time hating the pictures I made at night during those protests because of the diminished image quality at high ISO. I still hadn’t found “the one”.

Fuji X-Pro 2

Some months went by and I continued to grit my teeth and attempt fall back in love with the Fuji. I felt that I had truly been let down by what seemed like a great camera on paper. The love never really came back and just when I had given up hope on finding true love with a digital camera, a friend of mine calls me up with a few magical words. “Hey Q! I’ve got a Leica Q and it literally has your name on it. Come by and check it out!”. Well I know when not to say “no” to a good thing so I immediately headed to Wings Camera in Atlanta to drool over the little red dotted point and shoot.

The very first picture I made with the Q while driving home from the camera store

The owner, Mike, agreed to let me test it out for a while as I was not too keen on selling ANOTHER camera just to be disappointed by what I hoped was an upgrade. Ironically enough, only a few days had gone by before Donald Trump was announced as president and Atlanta erupted with protests once again. What a fitting occasion to put the Q through it’s paces. I mean, it’s a $4,000 point and shoot. Even if it is full-frame, there’s no way it could be any better than the Fuji, right?

Leica Q: 

Boy, was I wrong!

You really do get what you pay for with that camera! Pretentious piece of jewelry or not, the Leica Q was everything I needed and more. If you’re not aware, shooting protests at night can be difficult. With all of the different temperatures of light- fires burning, street lamps, police lights, and vehicle headlamps the Q’s auto white balance handled everything beautifully. On top of that, ISO 6400 was as smooth as butter next to the Fuji’s messy, smudged files at ISO 1600 and up. Even in the darkest areas of the city, the autofocus was spot on every time and I never missed a picture. On top of that, the files required little, if any, post processing work to really translate the drama and tension we all felt during those nights. I was holding my dream camera in my hands and with a fixed 28mm lens at that! A focal length that I had never seriously entertained, let alone considered permanently living with. I felt truly at home with the Q and would be willing to go into just about any situation with that camera by my side.

Leica Q

At this point, you may be thinking “he’s just a Leica fanboy” and the truth is, maybe I am (and I’m not ashamed of that) but I will always call it like I see it. I’ve used the Leica M240 I can’t justify spending $6k on a body and another $6k on a 28mm Summilux lens, despite available cheaper used options. $4,000 for the equivalent in the Q doesn’t seem too bad, though. Is it something that I would be willing to get rid of every other camera I own for? No.

Actually, I ended up selling the Fuji setup and going back to Sony for versatility’s sake but I have to be honest and say that after using the Q, nothing is really the same. The Sony collects dust on my shelf for weeks at a time between uses while my old trust Leica M7 has been my daily carry… at least until another Q finds its way into my bag. Now, if only I could get Leica to sponsor my photographic endeavors. -cough cough- but seriously, it’s pretty clear to me that Leica isn’t just about gimmicks. There really is some magic in there somewhere and it shows.

Dec 262016
 

Three portraits using my Sony A7RII

by Carl Fehres

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

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

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

Today my primary kit includes:

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

THREE FROM MY SONY A7RII

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

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

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

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

Carl Fehres

Nov 212016
 

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

By Steve Huff

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

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

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

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

More wide open Bokeh for you…

bluemoono

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

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

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

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-11-06-46-pm

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

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

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

Below are some specs from Zeiss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 092016
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

sonyiso1000f2-5

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

sony55iso1000drill

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

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

Do not believe me? TAKE A LOOK BELOW:

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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

Have a great day everyone!

Sep 122016
 

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The Beautiful Canon 50 L f/1.2 on the Sony A7RII. Wow!

By Steve Huff

*As always, You must click on the images in this review to see them correctly!

Hey everyone! I have had a great weekend shooting with the now kind of old, now well-known, and now mostly forgotten about Canon 50 L 1.2 lens. This lens came out YEARS ago, and has been reviewed hundreds of times by users, reviewers and anyone with an opinion. So why I am dedicating a post and short review to this lens? Because now that I have shot it on the Sony A7RII I have fallen in love yet again with yet another fast 50mm lens! It’s true, I have a 50mm addiction.. I think. To me, the 50mm focal length is just so right..so nice and fits my style perfectly and there are so many choices out there from old to new to uber old (vintage rangefinder 50’s) that can mount on the Sony A7 series bodies via adapters, so why not give it a shot on my A7rII? Besides, this lens has over 900 reviews on B&H PHOTO and is averaging around a 4 1/2 – 5 star rating (5 is max) so that says a TON about this lens and it’s beauty, capabilities and desirability.

The A7RII with the Canon 50 L 1.2 at f/1.2 and ISO 5000. While there, this man was tough to see. The lens soaked in all light and made it appear brighter than it was, a sign of a great fast prime lens. CLICK IT for better version. 

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TRUE STORY…

I used to own the Canon 50 L long ago. I shot with it on a Canon 5D, the original and MKII. I loved and hated it at the same time due to focus shift and focus misses (when used on the old 5D), and slower than average focus. It seemed that 1/4 of my shots using this lens were out of focus when shooting with a 5D so I eventually sold it many may years ago never to give it a 2nd thought…until about a year ago when I tried it on my A7RII at a photo event. Someone let me use their lens for a shot or two, and I loved what I saw from it out of the Sony.  Here are those two quick test shots…

The delicate but beautiful color, the way the focus falls off and the way the image is sharp where it is needed yet dreamy in other areas. All signatures of the 50 1.2 when shot wide open. A tad of glow helps to give it a dreamy look.

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The 2nd test shot. I wanted to see how it separated the subject from the BG at a medium distance from my subject. As I remembered, it has fantastic subject isolation, this Canon 50 L. 

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When I saw those two simple shots I was starting to crave owning it again, but I held off..and held back because I have a few 50’s and I figured it would end up on my shelf with the others, rarely used. So I saved myself some cash and pushed the thought aside..until now, a year later. I decided I wanted to give it a go on the Sony A7RII, and compare it to the new Sony Zeiss 50 1.4, that I found to be STUNNING (my review is here) and very Leica Summilux like in its rendering. I have the Sony Zeiss here for a few more days, so figured NOW WAS THE TIME to see for myself which lens I would prefer using on my Sony camera. You would assume that Sony would win but maybe not.

USER REVIEWS OF THE 50L AT B&H PHOTO LOOK GREAT!

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See, I always adored and loved the image quality of this Canon lens, and when it was in focus and “on”, it was truly “on”. It had a little bit of the Canon 85L mojo going on but was its own animal. Not many lenses are out there that can render quite like a Canon 85L 1.2. The 50 though, some do get close and some are sharper, but I have seen none that quite captures the color and realness of this lens…or the dreamy yet sharp quality it offers. The new Sony Zeiss 50 1.4, which to me renders quite a bit like a $4000 Leica 50 Summilux does offer a technically better performance but I sometimes like a lens that is not technically perfect. Sometimes I like a little glow as it reminds me of the old classic RF lenses that had glow and to me, that glow gave some of those old images character that is sometimes missing in modern day lenses.

Click them for larger…I love the Bokeh of the 50L when shot at f/1.2. It’s creamy and delicious

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The 50L Arrives…with Metabones MKIV Adapter

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So away I went…I managed to get a hold of a Canon 50 L 1.2 from LensRentals.com and when it arrived I was expecting this big, fat heavy lens. My memory from the early 2000’s was not very good obviously as when I opened the package I found the lens to be pretty small, when compared to the new Sony 50 1.4 that is. It was also lighter, and while it did not have a manual aperture dial (that is a huge plus on the Sony) it looked short, squat and even with the new Metabones MKIV Canon to E mount adapter, it was still smaller and lighter on the camera. My memory was telling me it was much bigger but I guess our memories can fade over several years, lol.

Now, I am sure many of you reading this, but not all, have experienced this lens at some point in your photographic life if you are a lover of fast prime lenses. Maybe it was one shot you took with it, maybe you owned it or maybe you just rented it like I did. Either way, after shooting with this lens over the past few days (and nights) I have found that this lens is SO MUCH more fun and easier to use on a Sony A7RII than the old Canon 5D I used to shoot with many years ago.

In fact, my 1st real test with it was when I attached the lens to my A7RII and away we went to shoot a local music performance at a VERY intimate venue that is always almost always near dark. Usually just one red light bulb in the back for light. I have shot in this room before with a Leica M 240 and it did not do so well due to the max ISO of 6400 (though I had a 50 APO f/2 at the time). I have shot with an A7S here and it did great. I shot with a Leica Monochrome, and it did good as well due to the higher ISO capability, shooting at 10k ISO. The A7RII and Canon did not even break an ISO sweat…

You have to click these to see them in good quality, as they will look bad if you do not ;) 

All shot at f/1.2 wide open – EXIF info is embedeed

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The A7RII with the Canon 50 L 1.2? It did so so so freaking good. Af was quick with the MKIV Metabones adapter (see the adapter details here), even in the lower light and I have no idea how that was happening as I assumed it would be dog slow or a failure in low light. So welcome surprise #1, it did wonderful as far as usability goes, even in lower light with the Metabones adapter. I mean, it was auto focusing in near darkness, which to me was amazing as the last time I tried this lens with an older adapter a year ago it focused slowly. The new Metabones adapter IV seems to be perfect with the lens.

My second welcome surprise was the IQ…just as I remembered it…beautiful. It has a way of rendering or drawing an image in a somewhat soft, yet sharp amazingly pleasing way. From the color, to the Bokeh to the detail at the focus point even when wide open, this lens delivers the goods better than it did on the old original Canon 5D and even the MKII version.

Wide open of course…

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To me, a lens like this is something you will either LOVE or HATE. Many out there hate fast primes like this as there are many photographers who just like shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 or even f/8 all the time. Then we have those who crave shallow DOF and unique rendering. It is my personal opinion that a lens like this is MADE and MEANT to be shot at f/1.2. Back in the old days of film, before digital, there was a different mindset. We bought lenses like this when we needed SPEED for low light situations. When using say Tri-X 400, we needed all of the speed we could get. When I say “speed” I do not mean Auto Focus speed, I mean the aperture. A fast aperture allows much more light to soak into the lens, allowing us to shoot at faster shutter speeds in low light with lower speed film.

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TODAY these lenses are mainly purchased by those who want the out of focus effects of an f/1.2 lens and we have so many to choose from these days. For the Sony A7RII I am shooting alone there are so many choices for 50mm, it is pretty crazy. We can use lenses from the 40’s through today all via adapters. So there is no shortage of 50mm choices. I like to break it down by the way they render, and for me, there are only a handful of fast 50’s that I truly adore for full frame..

  1. Leica 50 Summilux
  2. Leica 50 APO
  3. Leica 50 Noctilux
  4. Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4
  5. Canon 50 L 1.2
  6. Canon 50 0.95 Dream lens (only used sparingly though)
  7. Canon 50 1.4 Rangefinder Lens (vintage)

VS THE SONY/ZEISS 50 1.4

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So how does this lens compare to what I think is its main counterpart in the Sony world? Well, the Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4 which was released this year. The new Sony is gorgeous with a pro build, manual aperture dial, huge lens elements and a quality that to me, matched the Leica 50 Summilux lens. It’s crisp, has beautiful Bokeh and has NO glow but renders in a more correct way than this Canon. Even so, they are closer than one would expect. The Canon is basically a hair faster in aperture (f/1.2 vs f/1.4), will cost you $200 more over the Sony when you factor in the adapter, and is also smaller and lighter. The Canon will give you some slight ‘Glow” which is classic and looks nice, where the Sony will just deliver the goods in a very corrected and sharp yet beautiful way.

Here are a couple of comparison shots…

MUST click them to see them better!

1st up, the Canon 50 1.2L at 1.2 (EXIF will show f/1.3). Due to being slightly faster at f/1.2 your “Bokeh Balls” will be slightly larger with the Canon…

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The Sony/Zeiss will give you a more crisp and sharp image and different colors. I always thought the Canon had a pastel like color pallete many years ago. Look at the red Bokeh ball to the left of the Beer in both images. The Sony looks red, the Canon looks Magenta. Which is correct? The red. 

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So as you can see above, both of these lenses are beautiful and offers some slight character differences. Both auto focused about the same here, and the Canon, to me, is simply “gentler” and more dreamy but it’s slight.

How about this one? This will show the sharpness difference up close and personal with 100% crops…

I did this test three times to be sure but this is what you can expect in the sharpness dept from each lens…

The Canon at f/1.2 is softer than the Sony is when the Sony is at its widest Aperture of f/1.4. Click them to see the difference. It’s quite striking in the crop but when looked at as a whole the Canon just looks a tad dreamier..

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So you will not get biting crisp sharpness with the Canon at f/1.2 but you will get that biting sharpness with the Sony when wide open at f/1.4…

So at the end of the day, these two lenses are alike but very different. Depending on your tastes, wants, needs, desires and preferences you may prefer the Canon or the Sony/Zeiss. Again, the Canon is smaller, lighter (even with adapter) and focuses great on the A7RII with the MKIV Metabones Adapter. The Sony/Zeiss is a modern-day masterpiece of lens design but it is larger, it is heavier and it will give your arm a workout with an all day shoot. BUT it will also give you crisp snap and details, even when wide open at f/1.4. It seems Sony has finally figured out how  to get Leica quality though at a size disadvantage of course.

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I enjoyed shooting the Canon, and there were moments where I said “I will buy this lens”…and who knows, I may but I am not sure. Lately I have used some killer 50mm lenses. The Zeiss Otus 55, The new Sony 50 1.4, the Leica 50 APO…and now this Canon 50 1.2L, which is already a legendary lens.

If one wants a dreamy creamy rendering for their Sony A7 series body, the Canon 50 1.2 L is one of the best there is. Period. Where this lens can be preferred over the Sony is with portraits. Where the Sony will render with brutal honesty, exposing every pore, every flaw and every wrinkle the Canon will be kinder to your subjects and go a little bit softer on the lines, wrinkles and imperfections. For that reason, some may prefer the Canon for portraits. But with the Sony we get a more precise and sharp rendering along with the great creamy Bokeh and a Leica Summilux style of rendering with a crisp sharp subject and a creamy dreamy blown out background if shooting wide open. They are close in price, and in performance the Sony edges out the Canon for the detail wide open but the Canon is smaller, even with adapter attached and the Canon gives off some of that classic glow of lenses past.

The Canon 50 L f/1.2 is for those who are artistic, who enjoy uniqueness, who want something different from everyone else and who wants speed (aperture), some dreaminess and a solid well made piece of glass that really renders like no other. But perfect it is not.

Truth is, there is no perfect lens. Until the day comes where we have a 50mm lens with a few buttons on it that allows us to transform or mimic famous 50mm lenses, we may just have to be stuck buying them all, lol. ;)

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WHERE TO BUY?

You can buy the Canon 50 1.2 L at my recommended 100% awesome dealers below…price is $1349

B&H Photo

Amazon (PRIME)

You can buy the new Sony 50 1.4 as well:

B&H Photo

Amazon (PRIME)

A few more shots with the 50L and A7RII….

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

Hello to all! For the past 8 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has 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 receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

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.

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Sep 052016
 

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The Uber Hot Sony 70-200 f/2.8 G Master Lens Review with the A7RII

by Steve Huff

Hello to all! Hope you had a great Labor Day weekend! Mine was fantastic and spent with family and friends. Over the past couple of weeks I have had the new 70-200 f/2.8 GM lens from Sony on hand to test and try out. While it was not my 1st go round with the lens, it was a longer love affair than last, and I was able to get to know it much better. One awesome feature I enjoyed time and again was the fact that it can close focus to 3 feet. Nikon’s 70-200 can only get to 4 feet 6 inches. The Canon 70-200 f/2.8? Around 4 feet. So the Sony is a close focus wonder, and for a 70-200 f/2.8 lens, sort of unheard of. Very cool right off the bat. At $500 more than the Nikon or Canon, it is a pricey tele zoom, but one worthy of the GM name and price as I feel it is the best 70-200 made for a full frame system today.

The Sony 70-200 f/2.8 G Master lens is Sony’s top-tier telephoto zoom in the ever important 70-200 range. This is a lens that is meant to go toe to toe with the likes of Canon, Nikon and truly, not only to go toe to toe, but to meet and exceed those lenses in quality. The GM line (G Master) is Sony’s best glass, and most expensive…but it offers those like me and you (the quality obsessed photographer) amazing quality for our Sony systems. Wether you shoot an A6300 or A7RII, this lens will deliver the goods to you when you need a bit more reach than your 50mm will give you. Sony uses the best most exotic glass for their GM lines and they are made for those who obsess over the “best” for their camera systems.

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I was able to test this lens out recently (a couple of months ago), before it was even announced or launched, and truth be told, I did not spend a TON of time with it as I was too busy drooling over the new 50 1.4 Lens from Sony and Zeiss. Even so, when I did use this lens I was immediately impressed with its sharpness, color performance and even Bokeh (though now I feel the Bokeh can get a tad busy depending on your background) and knew and felt it was a step up from the 70-200’s that we know and love from other manufacturers. It was yet another step to show that Sony means business, and Sony is going after not only the enthusiast but the professional with the ongoing support and improvements of their A7 system. This system has matured more than most understand. From the bodies to the mass amounts of lenses available now. Seems like it was just yesterday that Sony had few lenses for this system, now we have an overload! (But choice is GOOD).

Yep, this is slight OOF (my fault) but I wanted it to be this way. Was going for an artsy dreamy silhouette ;) It was so easy to frame it up with the 70-200 range. 

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GOING LONG…

I am not really a telephoto shooter but I seem to be in the minority here as everyone else I speak with LOVES a great 70-200 yet I have not owned one since I had a Nikon D700 and at that time I had the fantastic Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 which at the time, was VERY popular. Most love a good telephoto with some reach, and most do want great performance from Auto Focus speed and accuracy to great color and sharpness as well as image stabilization. The good news is that this Sony has it all, more than we could want, and it truly has no flaws that I have found. NONE. In fact, the IQ, color, contrast, IS, build, feel and performance are all above what I have seen from any other 70-200 but truth be told, if you own a Canon or Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 you also have an amazing lens and they are up there with this Sony. I just feel the Sony offers a tad more in the IQ than the others, but it should. It’s $600 more than the others.

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Today, writing reviews for high end lenses and cameras has become a challenge because they are all SO SO GOOD! It is rare for me to see a shoddy quality lens or camera when the price is $500 and up. In this range (THIS LENS comes in at around $2600) the lens better be excellent, and I am happy to say it is beyond excellent. Yes, beyond. This lens is also UBER HOT right now, and many are scrambling to get one. I am seeing some shops mark this baby up a few hundred to take advantage of supply and demand. Something I have not seen in a long time.

The ability to capture light like a good Leica lens is what I am seeing here. The way the lens renders the scene is gorgeous, and this is a straight from camera shot. EXIF is embedded in all images here and you must click them to see them correctly.

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In some cases, as with ANY lens, you may get busy bokeh. This background was all netting and trees behind the netting. This created a crazy busy bokeh, but in most situations the Bokeh from this lens is some of the best and smoothest I have seen. 

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With a 70-200 in hand on my Sony A7RII, I go from having to get close to my subject with my usual 50mm to being able to take a step back, or a few steps back if shooting at 200mm. This affords one the ability to not startle their subject. Shooting at a zoo is not very challenging. Just sit, wait a few moments, and snap when you see the shot you want. I am against zoo’s for many reason, but also enjoy the goods ones, who truly take care of the animals and help them with great environments and activities.

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I have been to this zoo many times over the years, and have shot here with anything from an 8mm fisheye to a 300mm prime. Shooting with the Sony 70-200 GM was a treat as the Auto Focus was quick, and spot on accurate. Only twice did the camera focus on something BEHIND my subject when using the lens, and that’s not bad at all. Some lenses like this miss much more often, so right off the bat it was a great start. It was also pretty damn quick on my A7RII.

VSCO Mono filter added, so that is where the grain came from…

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One thing I noticed immediately with the G Master was the quality of color and contrast. Just like a great Leica lens would do, this GM offers a striking contrast and solid beautiful color. The sharpness is very good, so it makes your subjects pop a bit from the backgrounds, and this is what creates that 3 dimensional look and feel we love so much.

Shots from my 1st go round with this beautiful lens that show Bokeh, Pop, Color, Contrast, Depth and overall vibe of the GM 70-200. 

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Sony A7 System with only Two Lenses? 

Many Sony FE/A7 shooters would be happy shooting a 24-70 G Master and this 70-200 G master as their only lenses. WHY? It offers us coverage from 24mm to 200mm, with prime lens quality. It’s like having an f/2.8 prime at every focal length from 24-200. While we only get f/2.8 I doubt many would find that to be an issue. With the G Master lenses, we do get that kind of quality we do NOT see in the standard line of lenses. For example, if we take  the 70-300 from Sony and shoot it side by side with this G Master, we would see quite the difference in color, contrast, pop, etc. So if you are looking for a versatile telephoto with as high of quality you could ask for then this is your lens. Without question or hesitation.

I just love the way this lens renders. It SO reminds me of a good Leica lens. The roundness, the pop and color are just fantastic. It’s easy to see Sony sourced some great glass for their GM line. 

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Features of the Lens

The new 70-200 GM lens from Sony offers users the following features (I highlighted the good stuff in bold)…

Characterized by both its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture and inclusion of OSS (Optical SteadyShot) image stabilization, this lens is ideally-suited for handheld shooting of distant and fast-moving subjects. Equally refined, the optical design incorporates a trio of aspherical elements, including one XA (extreme aspherical) element, and six extra-low dispersion elements to minimize spherical and chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range. A Nano AR Coating has been applied to lens elements to reduce flare and ghosting and the front element also features a fluorine coating to guard against smudges and markings from adhering to the glass surface. Pairing a versatile reach and sophisticated design, this professional-quality telephoto zoom is well-suited for a variety of working conditions.

Benefitting performance is an apt autofocus system comprised of a dual linear motor actuator to drive the rear groups and an SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) system to control the front groups for quick, precise, and quiet AF control. Further complementing handling and focus is a dedicated focus hold button, focus range limiter, and an AF/MF switch, and the included tripod collar has a rotating design for easier switching between horizontal and vertical shooting orientations. Additionally, the lens sports a dust- and moisture-resistant design for use in trying environmental conditions.

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A constant f/2.8 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range and also lends greater control over focus position for shallow depth of field techniques. Of the three aspherical elements incorporated in the lens design, one is an XA element with superior surface precision to effectively reduce astigmatism, field curvature, coma, and other monochromatic aberrations from imagery.

Four extra-low dispersion elements and two Super ED elements are featured in the lens design, too, and help to control chromatic aberrations and reduce color fringing for increased clarity and color fidelity. A rounded 11-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing selective focus techniques.

A floating elements system benefits image quality when working at the 3.15′ minimum focusing distance with 0.25x magnification. Dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions. Removable rotating tripod collar permits quick switching from horizontal to vertical shooting orientations. Focus range limiter and focus hold controls offer more intuitive handling and faster performance when photographing moving subjects.

So as you can see, this lens offers many things to improve its quality for imaging and performance. It has it all in one awesome package. It is the best 70-200 f/2.8 made today IMO and that is just by looking at the specs alone. In use, I stand by that statement even more. It truly is a special 70-200 f/2.87 lens.

Some B&W conversions. One can get artsy with this lens due to the close focus. The 1st shot here was pretty close and allowed me to completely blow out the background and even the neck of the bird. I converted to B&W using a VSCO filter..

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One more B&W conversion

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During my use with this lens I was secretly wishing that I had $2600 laying around with nothing to do as I wanted to buy this lens. I wanted it badly. Not because I need it, or would use it every day but because I have a thing for quality glass and cameras. I know one day I will wish I had this lens for a trip, vacation, specific shoot I am doing or just to have an amazing 70-200 on hand. If I were indeed a zoom guy, I would have ordered this one months ago when it was first made available. It’s a no brainer to anyone who loves this focal range and are looking for a top tier 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Sony’s GM line is stunning, all of them. The 24-70, the 85 1.4 (a drool worthy lens) and now this 70-200 f/2.8. OMG, I just realized that all three of these would offer up the best of all worlds.

The 24-70 for a stunning quality all around daily driver, with the same IQ traits as this one when it comes to color and contrast and performance. Then the 70-200 2.8 for your longer reach images and the 85 1.4 for those WOW kind of shots.

Here is one shot each from the 24-70 and 85 GM lenses..

The Sony 24-70 GM – Miami FL

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Sony 85 1.4 Gmaster at 1.4 – Mr Chris Gampat of The Phoblograoher

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SIZE MATTERS

No matter what anyone has told you all through life, SIZE DOES MATTER. Sony has tried to make small versions of some of these amazing top tier lenses. The Sony Zeiss 24-70 f.4, IMO is lackluster when compared to the new GM (which is why I never reviewed it). The new GM 24-70 is 2X the size it seems, so small does not always equal best quality, even in Leica land where today most of these fancy lenses from Sony, Nikon and others are matching and beating Leica M glass, which I always praised as the best in the world. Today, Leica has competition for IQ but not for size. There is just NO POSSIBLE way to get the quality of these GM lenses in a smaller format. We have a full frame mount, AF motors, exotic glass, built in IOS and all kinds of features. No way they can be small.

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While Sony offers a choice between smaller and larger, great to astounding IQ, we make our choices by our needs and wants. Do you want the best IMAGE quality you can get in 35mm format? Then it is hard to beat the Sony A7RII with a trio of GM glass. Do you want smaller size and are willing to sacrifice a tad on quality? Then go for ANY number of lenses for the Sony system that are much smaller. We have tons of choices for Sony from Sony themselves, Zeiss, and other third parties. In fact there is no other cameras made today that offer more versatility when it comes to what lenses one can mount on their camera…for that, the Sony A7 system wins hands down. There is no Nikon, NO Canon and NO camera other than the A7 series that offers full frame qualities with almost any lens being able to be mounted.

So with Sony, we are getting so many choices these days.

As for this 70-200 GM, it is the finest 70-200 I have ever shot with from build, feel, IQ, color, image stabilization, contrast, pop/depth, etc. There is no question to this len’s quality. Shoot it in the desert heat, shoot it in the Seattle rain. It will deliver the goods.

A few more random shots with the 70-200 GM. Click ’em for larger!

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And one detail shot at f/8. Click it to see the crop. 

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BOTTOM LINE

What else can I say? When you have a lens that is THIS GOOD, and THIS AMAZING then there is a challenge to truly say anything negative about it. BUT if I could change a thing or two, I would do this:

  1. Offer it in black or white. I prefer black as white just sticks out and looks much too Canon to me. Yea, it helps with heat but for many of us, we would take a black one over white.
  2. ID LOVE to see this quality in a lens half this size, but understand it is just not possible, so not really a change I could make ;)
  3. It would be awesome if it were $2000 and make a statement to N & C that not only can Sony do it better, but they could for the same price.

While those three things are just silly things I forced myself to come up with as a negative, there really are no negatives with this lens. It is large and in charge, it is heavy but beautiful and if quality is yuor #1 concern or need, look no further than the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 G Master lens. Mount this beauty to an A7 series body (highly recommend the A7RII) and you will have a beautiful, artistic, life long lens to use and admire. It truly is that good.

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WHERE TO BUY?

I highly recommend B&H Photo for this lens. It has been my most shopped store for photo needs for over 20 years now. NEVER one issue in those 20 years. B&H is also a sponsor of this site, so if you use my links to order this lens or ANYTHING else, I get a few pennies on the dollar and that is what helps keeps this website going and moving along (for 8 years now).

So if you want to see more, see if it is in stock or see user reviews CLICK HERE to go to the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM page at B&H Photo.  

BELOW: Few more snaps with the 70-200 f/2.8 GM

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

Hello to all! For the past 8 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has 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 receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

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 (250 hours a month, and about $3000 per month).

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

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

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

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

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

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

Aug 042016
 

28 vs 28. Mirrorless vs Mirrorless. Sony vs Leica. Just for fun ;)

JUST FOR FUN! We are out of town on a little getaway in the pines of Northern Arizona and in my bag I have the Sony A7RII, and the Leica M-D 262. I also have the Sony 28 f/2 and the Leica 28 Summilux. I walked out of our rental cabin this morning and snapped a few shots, side by side, just to see the color differences and even detail and overall “vibe”. This is not a tech or scientific test, at all.

These were all shot as RAW and were not edited, so they are as they came out of the camera in regards to color, contrast, etc.

What I found was the Leica had more out of camera POP in the color and contrast, and I would mark that down to the lens. Keep in mind, the Leica 28 Lux is a $6200 lens, the Sony is a $450 lens. When you look at these comparisons in that light, then the Sony is looking mighty good! As for shooting experience, I am still enjoying the heck out of the Leica M-D 262. The Sony is quicker, easier and WYSIWYG due to the EVF, but the Leica has more charm.

You can click the images below for larger versions!

1st up, just a snap at f/2 with both cameras and lenses. The Sony is more “mellow” with lighter color, less contrast and gives off a very workable file. The Leica is more about contrast and pizazz. 

YELLOSONY

YELLOWLEICA

Again, the Sony comes out of camera a tad dull. The Leica, brighter, more colorful and more pop. Both could have had the highlights recovered. The Leica has much more detail in the wood grain as well (stool)

SONYSEAT

LEICASEAT

Both at f/5.6 here, must click to see full 100% crop. The Leica is sharper and has more detail here without questions. It also has that brilliance that I am so used to seeing with most Leica glass. 

SONYDETAIL1

LEICADETAIL1

How about BOKEH? Let’s see…

WOW, the little Sony is holding its own here…click ’em for better versions. The Leica is more crisp but also has vignetting, 

SONYSTARS

LEICASTARS

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