Nov 122015
Glen Coe Valley

Scotland in Medium Format with a Phase One DF+

By Andrew Paquette

For my autumn holiday this year I had wanted to do a fashion shoot at a nearby ruined castle. However, I wasn’t able to find the right models or styling for it, so I opted to go to Scotland instead. This is something I’d wanted to do since seeing Skyfall when it came out, and my interest was only enhanced when I saw Albert Watson’s photographs at the Isle of Skye. I mentioned this to a photographer I knew in Edinburgh, Laurence Winram, who helped me find a good assistant (a great assistant—Stuart McMillan) and loaned me a lightstand and incidental gear for the trip.

I shot all of my serious shots with a Phase One DF+, an IQ250 back, and an SK 80mm LS lens. In addition, I brought a Sony A7R, Leica 35mm Summilux, and a Zeiss Alpha 135mm lens. The Sony was there to take video of the excursion, though it did get used for some incidental shots. Everything was shot tethered. This made things a bit more complicated in the rain, but some of these shots wouldn’t have been possible any other way so I’m glad we went to the extra trouble of bringing a laptop, tray, and stand for the computer. All photos were processed in Phase One’s Capture One Pro v. 8.2.

It rained off and on throughout the trip, at times quite heavily, but for hours on the second day it was clear. A surprise to me was how important my new waterproof hiking boots would be. I didn’t know anything about Scottish bogs until I got there, but after walking through a few, am grateful to my wife for insisting I get a new pair of boots. It was like walking on wet sponges—and this was true almost everywhere we went.

Because the monumental rock formations of the Isle of Skye have been extensively covered by other photographers, I tried to avoid them (though I was curious to see them). Instead, we focused on the inner portion of Skye Isle, and the less obvious places around Glen Coe valley. As Stuart said at one point, almost at our last stop ‘Look! That’s the first tripod we’ve seen so far—we’ve done well’. He explained that if we’d gone to some of the more famous landmarks, we would have seen dozens of photographers with tripods.

On my first shot I managed to snag my trousers on a thorn bush, which tore out a huge section of the backside. I didn’t notice, but apparently it was pretty obvious to Stuart:

‘Looks like you’ve torn your trousers there’
‘Is it bad?’ I asked.
‘Yep, it’s pretty bad.’

I took a look and was surprised at the extent of the damage. Luckily I was able to obtain a sewing kit at the hotel to sew them up. It looked like I’d been the victim of a shark attack, but under my rain gear, it was invisible. Apart from that mishap, everything went pretty well.

My primary goal was to make photos that resembled some of my watercolour paintings that have a strong Chinese influence, as seen in this example I made at Yosemite:

Figure 1 Lee Vining, watercolour on paper, 37″ x 54″ 2002


Here are some of the shots, along with comments:

Figure 2 Waterfall near the town of Calender ISO 800 f/2.8 1/1000

This was the first major shot I took, on the way up to Glen Coe. It is also the shot I ripped my trousers to get. The goal was to get something that would resemble Chinese paintings from the Song dynasty of big dark boulders in rivers or fast moving water. To get that effect, I wanted the water sharp, so we spent most of our time balancing ISO, f-stop, and exposure to get what I wanted.

Waterfall near the town of Calender

Figure 3 Mini bogs ISO 100, f/10, 1/200

On the way to Glen Coe, we passed a big lake that had a number of small islands topped by small trees. I wanted to shoot them, but didn’t have the time at that moment, so we came back and got this on the way back to the airport at the end of the trip. I wish I’d had a longer lens for this, but I didn’t have one, so this is a crop, making it one of the smaller images from this excursion. Because the IQ250 produces such large images though, it is still larger than most full frame DSLR images.

Mini bogs

Figure 4 Cuilnacnoc Gate ISO 100, f/16, 1/80th

Stuart and I spent at least an hour at the top of this hillside, engaged in an effort to capture the vastness of it. However, none of the pictures were able to do the job, so we hiked down. Not wanting to get trapped at the wrong spot, I took note of this location and then we continued to the bottom before deciding to come back up and get this shot. It is about four images stitched together in Photoshop, one of the largest of the stitched images I made on the trip.

Cuilnacnoc gate

Figure 5 Glas Bheinn Mhor ISO 100, f/20, 1/25th

We stood on a huge spongy mass to get this. The primary difficulty was waiting for the light to peek through the clouds and hit this mountain. We waited about a half hour or more after this was taken, hoping it would get better but it didn’t so I finished with this. It is one of the few images that is inspired by a British rather than a Chinese painting. In this case, I recognized the mountain as one painted by the British watercolourist Francis Towne (one of my favourite artists), so I was quite keen to get it.

Glas Bheinn Mhor2738

Figure 6 Glen Coe Valley ISO 100, f/14, 1/8th

This is one of the first shots taken at Glen Coe. It was a tough hike (for me) to get up the slippery moss and rocks while carrying about 15 kg of camera gear, but we made it up and were rewarded with beautiful views in every direction. It rained quite hard at times, but all of the equipment performed without malfunction. That said, by the end of the day, everything in my bag was covered with condensation moisture and needed drying off.

Glen Coe Valley

Figure 7 Glen Coe Bog ISO 100, f/12, 1/20th

When I first saw this it looked like a field of lumpy grass like what I frequently saw around Phoenix. When I suggested going out for a photo, Stuart warned me that “it will be wet”. It turned out this was a bog and it was very wet, just as he said. All of the plants you see here are growing straight out of water, and beneath that, soil. The mystery question is “how deep is the soil?” In most cases the water was only an inch deep, but in others your whole foot could get swallowed by one of the red spongy growing things they had all over out there.

Glen Coe Bog

Figure 8 Glen Coe 2 ISO 100, f/8, 2.5s

This image is one of the few that really looks like a Song dynasty painting to me. It is shot straight across the Glen Coe to catch the lowering clouds.

Glen Coe 2

Figure 9 Loch Long Cliffs ISO 100 f/11, 8s

Another of the ‘Chinese’ images. We were headed to Loch Anna, but couldn’t find access, so we stopped at Loch Long instead to shoot this at the end of the day, at sunset or a little after. It was a real surprise to me how Chinese the landscape looked because I hadn’t expected it at all.

Loch Long cliffs

Figure 10 Maligar homes ISO 100, f/20, 2.5s

This was shot in the early morning of the first full day of shooting. It was quite windy, which led to quite a lot of motion blur in the grasses—and in almost all of the photos I took on the 3 days of shooting that we had. This scene reminded me of Edward Hopper’s watercolours of New England homes in the U.S. The way it is shot here though, it looks more like watercolours by Winslow Homer from his time in England and then later near Boston.

Maligar Homes

Figure 11 Maligar Phone Booth ISO 400, f/4, 1/6th

I had just finished telling Stuart about a shot I didn’t get in Thailand—of a phone booth in the middle of nowhere—when we ran into this phone booth in the middle of nowhere. Stuart was kind enough to be the model for this, using the reflected light of his pocket torch to illuminate his face.

Maligar Phone Booth

Figure 12 Portree Harbor, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/3s

This is easily the most difficult shot I got on the trip. We were driving back to Maligar for a second look at the houses, when I thought it might do just as well to stop in the town of Portree and shoot a church I’d seen there when we stopped for lunch earlier in the day. After getting out of the car with the equipment, we discovered that we didn’t have a good angle on the church. However, the harbour looked interesting, so we walked down there. As soon as I saw these boats, they reminded me of the watercolours of Paul Klee in the way they were arranged with very little overlap and simple colours. The boats were moving quite a lot as they bobbed on the water and there was very little light—less than it seems here because when we started the moon was not visible. We started by shooting at ISO 6400 to get the focus. The viewfinder was useless for this because it was almost pitch black, but the tethered computer allowed us to check focus there. Once we had the focus, we walked back the ISO until the graininess wasn’t an issue. After that, we did the same thing with aperture and f-stop. Then, the moon came out and we had the picture, complete with rays of light.

Portree Harbor

Figure 13 Sligachan Waterfall ISO 100, f/8, 1/3s

This is another of the Chinese compositions, near some of the most famous landmark rock formations on the Isle of Skye. Naturally, we didn’t see those or photograph them. To get this, we mounted the camera looking down a steep rocky defile. The terrain was quite spongy—giving me the feeling that I’d slide over any moment, but we got the shot okay and then headed back toward Portree.

Sligachan Waterfall2

Figure 14 Upper Ollach ISO 100, f/18, 1/6s

The original vertical composition for this image had a very Chinese feel to it, but I thought it looked better as a horizontal composition and cropped it. Now, it reminds me a bit of a van Gogh painting of windswept rocks that I saw in a catalogue for a show of his work in New York City.

Upper Ollach

Nov 082015

A month with a Leica Q

by Nico van Malssen

Leica Q_Production_2_cmyk

I am a seeker. In more than one way. But this is about cameras, so I’ll focus on that. Over the past 5 years I have owned more than 30 different cameras. I buy them (mainly second hand), use them, sell them to buy new ones, etc. Sony (A7, NEX 5 & 6, RX100), Fujifilm (X-E1, X100s, X20), Panasonic (GM1) and the occasional Nikon, Canon and Sigma. And Leica. Lots of Leica: IIf, Leicaflex SL, M4, M6, M8, M9, X2, and X Vario. That doesn’t mean I am a dentist, or an architect, or rich, or drive a BMW or an Audi. I am an archaeologist, don’t have a car, live in a small house and have just one hobby: photography. I sold most of my books, LPs/CDs, guitars and a collection of Roman coins to finance this hobby.

From the moment I used a Leica, I was spoiled. Not by the IQ per se, but by the way they feel and handle (haptics). The build quality of the Fujis I used is iffy at best, that of Sony is better. Panasonic is good, and Leica is absolute top quality, especially the M. You can feel it when you pick one up. I can’t explain why, but it feels good. I kept picking up my M9, not just to take pictures, but to hold it… it’s crazy. But picking it up leads to taking pictures, so it’s a win-win situation. I never do that with other cameras. Having said that, I recently traded my M9 (and a Summicron 35mm) for a Q.


While the Q doesn’t have an M-feel, it’s a great camera in its own right. Not too big, not too small, it fits in my ONA Bowery snugly. It’s well balanced and easy to operate. For me, that is the essence of a good camera (sensor-wise most cameras are good, so that’s not an issue): the less menus/options the better. I don’t need (and therefore don’t want) a lot of in-camera options. I want to be in control. It has to be me who takes the pictures, not the camera. I shoot DNG, set the aperture and ISO manually (I usually select ISO before I go out and leave it like that during a shoot), and focus manually. I leave WB and shutter speed up to the camera, most of the time that is.

Versie 3

About the 28mm on the Q: Do I feel limited by it? No, not at all! Bokeh is excellent (you can also shoot decent enough portraits with it), I don’t mind getting close, and I like to have a lot of things going on besides the main subject. I love to crop, so one shot sometimes has enough in it to create more than one photo out of it! You could say it has broadened my view instead of limiting it. Before the Q I preferred 35mm. I did have a 50mm Summilux, which is a great lens, but 50mm is too narrow for me. I never use anything over 50mm.

Versie 2

In other words, I use the Q like I used my M. And it works great, in some ways even better than an M. Focus peaking maybe cheating a bit, but it’s bloody easy and convenient! As much as I like the M9, I was not able to fully use the flexibility of the M-system, i.e., one body and 3 or 4 lenses. I can afford just one lens, and there is no way I can ever buy more. That means the Q was an excellent option. IQ is on par with the current M (240), it has a lovely lens, great built quality, is easy to operate, I mean, what’s not to like?

Does this mean I have finally found what I was looking for? Maybe. The lure of the M remains as strong as ever. So much so that I recently traded my Summilux for an M2 with Summicron lens… :)

(See Steve Huff’s quick review of the Leica Q HERE)

Nov 062015
Venus 15mm


Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro Lens on the Sony A7RII

by Dierk Topp

Hi Brandon and Steve,

This is about a very special lens, the Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro from Venus Optics in Hefei/Anhui in CHINA.

To explain the specialty of this lens here is a quote of a short description from Venus Optics:

“The new Laowa 15mm f/4 1:1 Macro lens features an ultra wide angle of view of 110 degrees with 1:1 maximum magnification. Photographers can focus very close to the subject and let the foreground dominates in the photo but at the same time, have the background telling viewers about where and how the subject lives.”


” A shift mechanism is added at the rear end of the lens with a maximum adjustment of +/- 6mm, which is extremely useful for landscape/architecture photography for distortion correction.”

I love wide and super wide lenses and preordered it after it was announced. My lens has the serial # 761 :-)

The reasons for me:

I ordered the Sony E-mount version, Nikon and Canon mount is available too
the specs looked very interesting and the price for it even more
the main advantage of the lens is, that I can get a very close foreground and environment background
it could be a universal super wide angle lens
the design is for DSLR and color shift in the corners are not expected
of course it has a manual aperture
it does not have clicks for the apertures
the shift mechanism may be a bit soft, not like a tilt/shift lens

This is not supposed to be a review!

I don’t dig into CA and soft corners. I just want to share my experiences with this special lens with you and your readers.
If you are interested in full resolution test images, you may find them here on my flickr.

From the practical use I can say, it works great. If you really use it close to 1:1 you have to take off the sun shield but still may get problems with the light and/or shadows of the lens over the subject. The following picture of the lens attached to a Sony A7RII shows, how close you are in these situations.
And I would like to mention, that the aperture has no clicks, the following images are “about” f/11. The shift mechanism is a bit soft too, but it works.

Find the following images and some more here on my flickr album.

The lens mounted on the Sony A7RII

Venus 15mm

Comparison of the sizes: Sony Zeiss 16-35/4 – Laowa 15mm/4 – Sony Zeiss 24-70/4
(it is the E-mount lens, the DSLR lens will be much shorter)

Venus 15mm

On this picture the object distance is set to 1:1,  You see, that this is only useful for very specific situations! You will have problems to get enough light to your object!

on 1:1 there is no chance to get any light on this object
Ok. here are some examples of the practical use of this lens

On the architecture images below vertical lines have been corrected in PP the used aperture on most images is “about” f/11, you never know exactly, when you stop down while watching the focus magnification. Even with f/11 the DOF is very small at 1:1

All images made with Sony A7RII full format camera
On the following images the distance to the front lens is about 5 to 10cm! (I know, it does not look like this, but it is a 15mm lens :-) )

Venus 15mm

on the sample images of the vendor for this lens you find images with mushrooms seen from the below the mushroom, I had to try that as well :-)
(this may be difficult with a DSLR with a fixed screen)

Sony A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

town hall of my home city

Reinfeld Rathaus

Venus 15mm

it seems to be an interesting lens for certain product shots:

Venus 15mm

FNT Seegeberg

FNT Seegeberg

The following two images with the use of the shift function. Both are stitched two images, one full shift down and one shift up,  you see the problems in the corners, the images are not cropped.
With stitched images I usually use the full shift and crop later. Again the foreground is a few cm away!
(no info of shutter and ISO in the EXIF)

Venus 15mm

Venus 15mm

Venus 15mm

The following images may show the normal use as a super wide lens
vertical correction in PP

from a visit to Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg City

the Hamburg Rathaus (town hall)

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Hamburg Rathaus

Venus 15mm vs. leica WATE vs. Sony/Zeiss 16-35

and last but not least:
the gate was closed and I heard the train coming, I focused on the gate.
The ICE passed me at a distance of about 5 meters and with more than 100 km/h – I got it :-)

Sony A7RII with Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide-Angled 1:1 Macro

I hope, that you got an impression, what this lens can do.

Thanks very much for looking


more of my images:

Oct 272015

Sony A7II plus Leica lenses meet Mexico City

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Hi Steve,

One more I found myself writing to your blog, this time I wanted to share with you and your readers a few pictures from Mexico City, taken with the A7ii and Leica Lenses.

I wasn’t contemplating buying an A7ii, but after a recent trip to San Diego and your posts about the camera, couldn’t escape the GAS bug :)

The camera is quite easy to handle, fast, and has great image. I have other cameras so this is not my main camera but indeed is fun to use and the results are satisfying.

I still prefer the experience and results with my Leica M240, but its easier carrying the Sony instead of the Leica in Mexico streets.

I am using a Voigltander adapter, (not the close up one) with Leica Lenses and a Metabones for Nikon.

Off all the lenses I have, the 35mm and 50mm, both 1.4 pre asph, as the 75mm 2.0 asph work like a champ on the Leica. I also have a 28mm 2.8 asph and a 21mm zeiss 2.8 which are beautiful on the M240, don’t really work as good in the Sony. All the Nikon lenses do work great.

Enough talking, here are some picts from Mexico. Hope you like them :)

All taken with the 35mm 1.4, except the one of the cars and the portrait of the person with the cowboy hat, which were taken with a 28mm 2.8.










Here in my blog you can have a look at more picts from Mexico., and here is my flickr.


AI’s Photography
AI’s Photograpy Blog

Oct 272015

The terror of the Studio | Shooting Alice

By Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve and Brandon what a wonderful summer of review and inspiration by your site and community!

Here I am again but with something different from my usual Street Photography.

Three weeks ago, for the first time , I received an assignment to shoot one young model approaching the fashion system, the term seems to be “new faces”. I was honoured to be chosen for such work but at the same time my experience in shooting in studio was really limited. But when chance appear to let it go is not so clever. I had something like two weeks to prepare my self for the shooting and that time was used to look at the Studio, understand the light, read books and chat with the Make Up Artist to give a direction to my shooting.

I have to admit that nothing can help a photographer more than a good book and the web : those can unlock the imagination of anyone around the world and helped me so much to understand how to do what I want to do. The terror I had at the beginning day by day start to disappear as much I got confidence studying lighting books, watching video on youtube and following some lessons on platform as or

But there was another problem the last problem, the BIG problem: THE CAMERA. I never used a medium format camera, never used a digital back. I took the chance to go one week before to try the camera hired by the studio and hold an Hasselblad H2 with Phase One P40+ digital back is really incredible and when I saw the first testing shoot in the studio I freak out. Yes today, 40Mp are going to be the “standard” on 35mm camera as Sony did recently but on a medium format camera is still something so beautiful to to see. The H2 is a great camera, so easy to use and with so many feature, When you hold it on the hand you understand it was created for the studio. Yes it is big but not difficult to handle, with the gear where you expected to find it. It was a surprise for me but at the end the last problem was fixed.

For the lighting I choose a simple set up with one light over the model and one for the background and some light modifier to reach the style I was looking for. All the rest were done by the Model, the MUA and the lens.

Here some shot I took in studio, wishing is liked by you all reader!


attractive_face_AliceAlice full face


Some more here:

Oct 272015

Hi Steve,

I shoot available light. Always have, always will.I have owned and used a “Dream Lens” (Canon 0.95- but you know that) for years. It was modified for use on my M6 and M3  (by the way I had to modify the M3 to use it).


When I switched to m4/3 because that format would let me use my “legacy” Leica Glass, the Canon Lens had an efl of 100 mm and weighed almost as much as my DSLRs. That weight defeated my purpose. Using the Canon lens on Lumix digicams, the lens results on m4/3 were excellent. Lugging it around was quite another story. Imagine my delight, therefore, when I learned of the Mitakon 25mm 095 (efl 50mm). The lens was supposed to be released to consumers in late October- well, it’s late October and my supplier had no idea when he would be receiving the lens. Frankly, I couldn’t wait so I picked one up at PhotoPlusExpo for $399 the day before yesterday.I had to pay cash as they had no credit card  machines at the “China Pavillion”.

I used the Mitakon at the show but only at 0.95. Some of the results are attached. The lens is very tiny (comparatively speaking). It is even smaller than my Leica 25mm Summilux. The results are quite good. I also shot at the show with the Canon 0.95. I have provided one image for comparison.The images are limited in scope but you might find them interesting.

All images below are from the Mitakon except the last one, which is from the Canon 50 0.95. Digicams were 2 Lumix GX1s and a Lumix G3. The images were produced with my usual post processing.




The Canon Dream Lens…

CANON 0.95

Oct 152015

The Race of Gentlemen (with Fuji X and Canon 70D)

By James Conley

Every October, tattooed and heavily bearded men (and a few women) gather in Wildwood, New Jersey, and take over a section of the beach. With beer on tap, loud music, and louder motorcycles and cars, this motley crew waits for the tide to recede and then grinds up the sand racing antique vehicles down a quarter-mile. Known as The Race of Gentlemen, the event at first seems to be one of the most wrongly named.

Since the event was a spectacle, and I didn’t have to worry about being discrete, I set out to observe the event with three cameras: a Fuji X100s, XE-1, and a Canon 70D. Although “motorsports” often brings to mind long lenses and monopods, my interest in the event was more about the people than the racing. Thus, my lenses were almost all wide. I relied heavily on an older Canon L Series 17-35mm on a 70D, with the X100s outfitted with the 50mm Teleconverter. The XE-1 had a support role with the 55-200mm. I find the Fujis easier to work with in bright light, because exposure compensation is obvious. But the speed of the Canon can’t be beat.




Wandering through the crowd, what at first appears to be a lawless takeover by various biker gangs is anything but. The dress code is the first clue. High, laced boots, paired with jodhpurs. Pilot and horseback riding helmets. Knit jerseys lettered with race events seven decades past. The women sport short bangs with long hair, beehives, and Rosie the Riveter styles, paired with high-waisted, pinstriped shorts.

Then there are the bikes. These aren’t the Harley-Davidson’s you’ve seen on television. They are long. And old. Very old. Mixed in is the occasional Henderson and a smattering of Indians, all with huge engines. The cars are likewise all American: Mercury, Buick, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, Ford, and Chrysler. Model A’s, coupes, and roadsters. Each one a piece of moving history, and each one with a driver or rider whose knuckles show the years of effort it took to rebuild these machines to working order.




Then there are the smiles. Broad and warm, the smiles are constant. Every face is marked with joy, even when the car won’t start, even when the bike doesn’t turn over.

Then it becomes obvious that this isn’t a random gathering of ne’er do wells. This is an effort to capture a specific time in history, and to relive the best parts of it. The cars are all American made, 1953 or older. The bikes are all American made, 1947 or older. The clothes, helmets, and goggles are also antique. And so is the definition of “Gentlemen.”




This gathering is, in fact, about being a gentleman. Those who build, enter, and race their machines exhibit the good, courteous, and polite conduct befitting the title. Despite the sand, the grease, the noise, the competition, and even the alcohol, each racer stays true to gentlemanly form: quick to lend a hand, always with a charming smile, undisturbed by adversity, and always stylish. It is a set of values not of the present time, and the strict rules for entering the race make perfect sense: The Race of Gentlemen is not about racing cars and motorcycles down a beach; The Race of Gentlemen is about recapturing the American can-do spirit, the generosity, the love of life, and the camaraderie that come from choosing to be part of the human race, as a gentleman.






I’m happy to share with you this brief photo-essay of a day of vintage racing.

More images can be seen on my website:, and on Instagram: @philatawgrapher

Oct 052015

Canon EOS M Review (Or Why I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Camera)

By Jonathan Acierto


Hello Steve and Brandon,

The Canon EOS M got a lot of bad reviews when it first came out. It was basically dead on arrival due to all of its shortcomings and perceived lack of effort on Canon’s part to design a camera that could rival the other mature mirrorless system cameras from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji. So when it came time to choose a mirrorless camera to carry around to replace my Sony RX100 compact, I chose the Canon EOS M. Why on earth would I choose the apparently worse mirrorless offering? I’ve been using it for a little while now and, even with all its shortcomings, let me explain why I’m happy with the EOS M.


When the EOS M was first released, it was originally priced for retail at about $800 for the kit with the 22mm f/2 pancake lens. Ever since the camera flopped, the price has been dramatically reduced to about $379 for the same kit on Amazon, and even less for the body only. You know what that means: really low used prices. Heading over to the fantastic KEH, I was able to get an EOS M with the 18-55mm kit lens for under $300, less than I paid for the RX100. Even compared to the entry level m43 cameras, the EOS M is a steal. Kudos to all of you who have enough disposable income to buy top of the line mirrorless cameras and glass from Leica, Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, etc. Reading headlines of people who have multiple mirrorless cameras and can buy f/-1.0 lenses for all of them makes me jealous. But for the rest of us folks who have a limited amount of disposable income, price is and always will be a major factor.




While the photographic community has shunned the EOS M, the video community has embraced it and it has become somewhat of a cult video camera. I was originally looking to get a camcorder, but entry level enthusiast camcorders with relatively larger sensors start around $1,000. I simply wasn’t interested in getting a consumer grade camcorder due to the small sensors, hence the lack of DOF control. Entry level HDDSLR’s and high end superzooms (like the Sony RX10) have become a great value for getting professional looking video, but they are still relatively bulky and the ergonomics aren’t the best for video. Action cameras are tiny and can withstand all kinds of abuse, but they are just not designed for shooting everyday videos of your kids (unless your kids are surfing or riding a dirt bike and you want to get footage from their point of view).

The EOS M has became a popular camera to use for video because it has a large sensor which enables it to get the same DOF control as HDDSLR’s, it has a mic input so you can get better audio by connecting a much higher quality mic, and it is very compact and light weight, perfect for run and gun video shooting. Years ago I had a Canon Rebel T1i and I loved using it for video, but it didn’t have autofocus or tracking focus in video mode, so I had to manually focus. After a while, manual focus became a real chore. If I was a DP or first AC, I’d probably do a better job with manual focus, but I’m just not that good. The EOS M has auto and tracking focus in video mode. It’s not perfect by any means, and other mirrorless system cameras have better auto and tracking focus in video, but the EOS M is still better in most situations compared to my crappy mannual focusing. Keeping the aperture closed down a bit to get a deeper depth of field helps too. While having a razor thin DOF in a still photo is all the rage nowadays, having a razor thin depth of field for long lengths of time in video footage is now cliche and tends to get really monotonous and hard to watch. Video is a whole different art compared to photography, all you have to do is pay attention to what you see in movies and on TV. In the video world, shallow DOF is used very sparingly.



Operational Speed

Trying to use the EOS M like a DSLR or enthusiast camera sucks, and sometimes it can be painful (sounds like the complaints about the original Fuji X100, doesn’t it?). I’m used to just pointing the camera towards the subject, half pressing the shutter button to acquire focus, and pressing the shutter button all the way down once the camera gets focus. With the Sony RX100, I’m able to get focus and snap a photo or 2 of people on a sidewalk while I’m in a moving car. Letting the EOS M decide what to focus on is a crap shoot, it could focus on the correct subject fairly quickly, or it could take a while to hunt for focus. The slow focus is the main reason why the camera has been criticized so heavily.

Then I had a revelation: the EOS M was designed for regular consumers who are used to a smartphone touch interface. This may be obvious at first, and many reviewers mentioned this, but it’s easy to forget if you’re an enthusiast or professional who normally uses a DSLR, mirrorless system camera, or other more advanced camera. Once I started using the touchscreen to focus, the camera felt much quicker to use. Using the touch screen to focus, then pressing the shutter button to take the photo, works much like my iPhone. The EOS M also does a fairly decent job tracking the subject once you acquire focus via the touch UI. It’s also much quicker to change settings (white balance, ISO, etc.) using the touchscreen compared to using the physical buttons and wheel to dive into menus. People always complain that camera interfaces are stone age, but Canon designed a pretty good touch interface for the EOS M, and reviewers complained it’s too touch oriented for more serious photographers. Go figure.

The biggest slow down after getting over the touch UI focusing seems to be after pressing the shutter button all the way down. The camera takes almost a full second to write to the memory card. I’m not entirely sure why this process is so slow, as the camera can write 1080P video at 30fps to the card without any slowdowns. Is it annoying? It can be, especially when I’m trying to fire off 2 or 3 shots quickly as I do with the Sony RX100 or Canon 6D. Does the slow write speed stop me from shooting the moments I’m trying to capture? No. I actually think the slow write time helps slow me down and be more selective of my shots. With my Canonet QL17 GIII 35mm film rangefiner, I have to wind the film after every shot, so I’m used to not being able to take shots in quick succession. With the EOS M, I’m shooting more in the Cartier-Bresson, wait for the decisive moment style, rather than spraying and praying.

Hagerstown Road Trip 10-3-2015 - 1 of 1

Image Quality

It’s good, what more do you need to know? Just look at the photos. We’re at a point where any camera with a sensor 1″ or larger can take fantastic photos, the only limitation is the quality of the lenses. While the native EF-M mount lenses aren’t professional L glass quality, they’re good. I’d even say they’re better than the older, pre-STM Canon DSLR EF-S mount crop sensor lenses I’ve used. The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM (35mm full frame equivalent) is certainly as good as any of the mid level Canon EF USM prime lenses, it’s about 1/4 of the price, and it’s tiny. Putting this lens on the M makes it almost as compact at the Sony RX100. I don’t plan on using the EF-M 18-55mm IS zoom lens much for stills, but it’s more than good enough for shooting 1080p video. The image stabilization really helps to eliminate vomit-inducing camera shake.

Huntington Pioneer Festival 9-27-2015 - 1 of 1

Closing Thoughts

For all the talk of the convergence of stills and motion in one camera, it still hasn’t quite happened yet in the enthusiast/professional space. In the consumer world, I think the iPhone and smartphones have become the only camera normal people need for stills and videos, making smartphones true convergence devices. That leaves pros and enthusiasts as the only people left who are willing to spend money on a separate camera and/or camcorder.

Mirrorless system cameras have changed the stills world and HDDSLR’s have changed the motion camera world, so it makes sense that the newest convergence cameras will be a combination of those two devices. Mirrorless system cameras are gaining better video capabilities all the time, but Canon started the HDDSLR revolution, so they are coming at the mirrorless world from the opposite direction of taking the HDDSLR video capabilities and cramming them into the EOS M. They did a good job, all they need to do now is match the stills photography performance of their entry level DSLR’s. I think they’re getting there; the reviews for the third generation EOS M3 have been very good. Canon has had plenty of time to improve the M since the original was released 3 years ago. The reviews of the M3 have been so good that Canon decided to release the M3 in the US after initially announcing they wouldn’t. A couple more iterations of the EOS M and they’ll not only catch up to the other mirrorless cameras, but they may even surpass them. In the meantime, I’ll have my EOS M in hand, capturing fantastic videos and photos and having a blast.

All the photos included with this review were shot with the 22mm f/2 EF-M STM lens. For more of my photos, please visit my Flckr page:

Jonathan V. Acierto

Sep 302015

A Hot Summer in Rome

by Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve how are you!

I am here in Rome waiting for the autumn looking back at what I shot this summer and I would like to share with you all my roll of film done with the Leica M2 and a great Tri-X. So refreshing to shot with a so simple camera.

Rome in August can be very hot and the city is a bit empty and lonely but so interesting because something that is hidden became more visible. The people in Rome are so incredibly surrounded by masterpieces that sometimes you forget the living ones to focus on what was done by the ancient inhabitant of this city.

Something of the beauty of this city is fading away so do not miss the chance to visit soon.

more if you like there :

I wish you can enjoy :-)










Sep 292015

The Sony A7R (Mk 1) in Japan

by Michael Morris

Dear Steve and Brandon:

I have been reading your site daily for the last few years and have enjoyed reading your reviews and guest posts. I started my venture into the mirrorless world from Nikon with the purchase of the Leica M9 and 3 Leica M lenses in 2010. I tried micro four thirds and APS –C sensors and came to the conclusion that I am a full frame shooter. Over the last year I made some changes in my list of cameras. I sold my Olympus OMD–EM5, my Fujifilm XT-1, and my Leica M9. I now have a Nikon D800E, which I use for portrait work and sports, and a Sony A7R which I use for travel or when I want to travel light. I am anxiously waiting for my A7Rii to ship.

I recently traveled to Japan and brought my Sony A7R with the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f 1.8, Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm f 1.4, Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO, Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 (borrowed), and my Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8. I strongly considered purchasing the Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm for the trip. In the end I decided to bring the Nikkor zoom despite its size, and use something that I already owned. I used Novoflex adapters for both the Leica and Nikkor lenses.

Here are some sample photos.

Shibuya Crossing – Sony A7R with Nikkor G 14-24 mm f 2.8 ISO 200 1/250 sec


Sumo Wrestling Close shot – Sony A7R with Leica M 90 mm f 2.0 APO – ISO 1600 1/640 sec f 3.4


Sumo wrestling – Wide shot – Sony A7R with Leica Super-Elmer 21 mm f 3.4 – ISO 1600 1/100 sec f 3.4


Leica Store Tokyo – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/100 sec f 5.6


Mount Fuji taken from the Shinkansen Nozomi at 170 mph Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 – 1/200 sec f 4.0


Lobby of Ritz Carlton Kyoto –Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 200 1/4000 sec f 2.0


Maiko – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 6400 1/250 f 4.0


Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) Kyoto – Sony A7R with Sony/Zeiss FE 35 mm ISO 400 1/640 sec f 4.0


Michael Morris MD

Ocala, Florida USA

Sep 282015

USER REPORT: A7RII + Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE: A weekend in Connecticut

by Jesse Hsu

Hi Steve,

After falling in love with the A7s and using it extensively for the past year, I was curious about the A7RII’s low-light capabilities as well as its stabilization to see if it was worth the purchase. ​ Borrowed the A7RII for a weekend trip to Connecticut to assess its performance. I only used the Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon FE lens.

This shot was taken in the backseat of a car going 75mph on the highway. I wanted to test out the 5-axis stabilization and took a quick snap of the biker in the lane next to us. Not the sharpest obviously, but not bad for a handheld shot.

1 - Biker

Went out to the backyard and snapped this photo. After opening it up in Photoshop later, I was blown away by the clarity and level of detail. Leaves and tree trunks were sharp and I was able to recover some shadow with ease. Note: No additional sharpening in post.

2 - trees

Went grocery shopping at a local farm for dinner and snapped a sheep who was patiently posing for me. Again, impressed by the clarity of the blades of grass as well as the wool of the sheep when zoomed in.

3 - sheep

As night fell, my friends were getting the grill hot and ready on the porch outside. A great opportunity to test the low light capabilities. There was one light source, an overhead lamp but the sensor performed with no issues as it captured the flames in action and preserved the details of the charcoal piled high in the chimney starter.

4 - grill

I took the next shot as the branzino began to crisp. Notice the criss-cross pattern of the fish scales as well as the powdery soot all over the grill.

5 - fish

Cornish game hens slathered in miso and gochujang were next on the grill.

6 - hens

The next morning we heard some chirping and found some baby birds camped out in the backyard gazebo. The wonderful minimum focusing distance of the 35mm 1.4 allowed me to get pretty close to the subjects and shoot wide open at 1.4 for a heaping of creamy bokeh.

7 - birds

Few friends came by for a dip and the fast boot up time of the camera allowed me to quickly freeze a moment in time. Note the cascading water droplets as clear as day.

8 - swim

Water-skiing in the late afternoon meant another great opportunity to test stabilization. All of the shots were taken on a boat going pretty fast and I was happy that there wasn’t much blur. No tripod used, all handheld. I shot some 4k video but haven’t had a chance to check out the footage in Adobe Premiere.

9 - lake

Conclusion: After putting the A7RII through its paces, I was happy with the results. It preserved amazing detail in low-light scenes and situations where there was considerable movement. I will be ordering the A7RII soon!

More photos (mix of A7, A7s, A7rII) here:

Sep 282015

Traveling Light – Big Fun with little cameras!

By Rob McKay

Hi Steve and Brandon, as always great work on the site! I love these tiny pocket cameras so figured I would submit some snaps from them to your fine website.

Ricoh GR

This has to be my all time favourite pocket camera. I love the ergonomics of it, the size is perfect, the layout in my opinion is also perfect. Keeping the body clean, and the lack of external dials, buttons and knobs means I rarely screw up a shot due to something getting moved or switched on or off.
A few snaps with Ricoh balancing on some rocks.



Sony RX100 III

Another awesome pocketable camera, and after looking at a few snaps I made with it, I am kind of missing it. Tiny powerhouse of a camera, but I ended up selling it because it was cutting into my Ricoh time. But thinking I might need the IV!



Sony a6000 + E 16mm 2.8

Obviously the a6000 is a system camera, but it is pocketable as long as you have the right lens on it. In this case the cheapo 16mm.




Rob McKay –

Sep 242015


The Sony RX1R around the world

by Dick Hoebee

Hello Steve,

The subject of this write-up is the magnificent Sony RX1R and some of the places I’ve taken it so far. Every photo you see here was shot in RAW and edited in Adobe Lightroom.

Positive points and general comments

Going to New Zealand was something I wanted to do for a very long time, and in late 2013 I finally had the means and time to do it. My trusty Canon Eos 450D was becoming unreliable after five years of heavy use, and I took this opportunity to go out and get a new camera. The logical choice would be a new Canon, as I had accumulated two nice lenses and a great flash. Mostly thanks to the raving reviews on this site, I checked out the Sony RX1R as well, and ended up buying it, to my own surprise.


It was either this camera, or an EOS 5D Mk. III. That’s not an easy choice to make, but I’m ultimately glad I went with the Sony. I was a little anxious about limiting myself to one lens, especially for the monumental price tag that the camera has (I bought it when it just came out, too), but that turned out to be unwarranted, as I never enjoyed a camera more than this thing.


New Zealand was the maiden voyage of the RX1R for me, and boy was I glad I took the plunge before going. This country has many sights that are truly awe-inspiring, and I recommend anyone visiting it at least once in their lifetime. I felt very small there many times. It is a humbling, unforgettable experience.


Besides the incredible image quality of this camera, I absolutely love this thing for its size and weight (or rather, the lack thereof). It is also built like a tank, which gives confidence to carry it all over the place. And I do. Because it’s so easy to take everywhere, I take it everywhere. I left my EOS 450D at home many times when I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t feel like lugging it around, and that’s even a small DSLR. Another advantage about its size is that it is an unintimidating camera to subjects. When you point a big, professional-looking camera with a large lens at people, they sometimes get self-conscious. The RX1R looks more like a cool-looking hobby-camera than the full-frame monster that it is. The shutter is completely silent, too. Most people have no idea what it is (including those who have nice cameras themselves), and some even think it is an analog camera. An older gentleman I met commented that it looked like his Leica M6.






At low to medium ISO settings, photos are incredibly clean. That said, the high ISO performance of this camera is one of the reasons I fell in love with it. I can take it out at night, and take hand-held shots without having to use flash in pretty much any situation. The results are great, and photos still look alive and punchy at ISO 6400 and even 12800. Things naturally get more grainy once the ISO goes up, but it’s nice-looking grain, almost film-like. I leave luminance noise-reduction completely off in Lightroom. With a tripod and long exposure + low ISO, it really shines, too.

I use the RX1R for landscapes, portraits, and as a walk-around camera. The dynamic range is really something else, and it’s possible to achieve some amazing results. Colors are wonderful, and black & white is rich and deep. It’s easy to pull tons of detail out of shadows and highlights, and I’ve never felt the need to pull tricks like multiple exposure HDR. RAW files have an incredible amount of headroom. After having owned and used the RX1R for two years, I still get blown away every singe time I load the files in Lightroom. The image quality is absolutely staggering, still in 2015.



Settings & usage

I shoot in Aperture Priority (the ring is nice) or Program most of the time, and I use Manual for long exposure shots and stitch-panoramas. The exposure compensation dial on top is a useful tool for quick adjustment. I assigned the little C-button on top to ISO-settings, which I usually leave on auto with a range of 100-6400. Sometimes I lock it when I want to go for a specific look. All 5 buttons are programmable, as well as the four-way buttons under the wheel on the back. I set metering to multi-metering, and it is generally accurate. The auto-focus does a great job most of the time. It sometimes has a little trouble in the dark, but it usually catches what I want after a try or two. I set it to one focus point in the middle. Focus speed isn’t super fast, but fast enough for me.

I never really use the flash (not needed) or video mode (I’m a photographer, not a video guy). The only accessories I have in my bag these days are a GorillaPod and an extra battery. It really feels like everything I need now.




The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens is incredibly sharp at every f-stop, and it seems to be at its sharpest at f/5.6 and f/8. The photos are so sharp in fact, that Adobe Lightroom’s default sharpening-setting of 25 is too high and creates harsh edges. Usually I end up setting it around 10-15. Having a 35mm prime lens is easy to get used to, especially when it’s as great as this one. I love primes in general; they force you to get creative and walk around to find a good angle.





The battery-life is not great. I immediately turn the camera off after I’ve taken a shot, and I don’t spend much time reviewing photos already taken. I have an extra battery, but since Sony doesn’t include an external charger (at this price point, I’d say that’s strange), I need to switch them around while the camera is hooked up to charge them. The camera has a standard micro-USB port for file transfer and charging, which means it is compatible with pretty much every standard phone charger out there, which is convenient.




Manual focus is useless without a viewfinder (save for forcing infinity focus), as focus-peaking only works with a magnified view. I don’t know why this is, as the Sony A7 cameras are able to do this on the overview view. Another little quirk is that the camera always returns to infinity focus when it wakes up or turns on. This is something I’d like to be able to lock when I’m waiting to take a shot of something that moves. Both these things are fixable with a firmware update, but Sony doesn’t seem to do those with this camera for some reason.

I miss having an infrared shutter release. That seems like a more logical choice to build into this camera than an external mic-input.

The prices for accessories are ridiculous. I’d like to have the viewfinder (partially because using a circular polarizing filter is almost impossible with the LCD screen), but I’m not paying 500 bucks for that. Even their simple metal lens hood costs 200 bucks (check eBay for knock-offs for 1/10th the price). The only official Sony accessory I bought for it was the leather case. Although that hurt my wallet, I’m glad I got it. It provides good protection, and it really emphasizes the old-school cool look.



I’ve never been this happy about a camera, or any electronic device I’ve ever owned. It is not perfect (no camera really is), but the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The more I use it, the more I love it. The Zeiss lens, overall image quality, build quality and size, make the RX1R nothing less than a masterpiece.

I would probably still love this thing if it gave me an electric shock with every photo I take.

It is that good.

If you liked this write-up and my photos, check out my personal portfolio and blog. I update it constantly.

I also have a Facebook-page. Give me a “Like” and tell your friends, it always helps!

Or, follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing.

I will visit Australia in the near future and many other places after that, so keep an eye on my website and social media pages for new photos soon. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments, I’m always more than happy to talk.

Many thanks again, Steve, for allowing me to send this in. Keep the website going, I enjoy the hell out of it.


Sep 232015

Leaving Mexico City

by Alejandro Ilukewitsch

Hi Steve,

Soon I will be moving out of Mexico and wanted to share with you and your readers some of my pics from my stay in this wonderful country.

Mexico is great city for street photography, people is warm and definitely like their portrait been taken. It’s a huge city, in which it only takes a bit of luck to bump into something interesting to shoot. I focus mostly in street portraits, but also managed to get some other things :).

I used different kinds of cameras Nikon DF, Sony A7ii, and Leica M240. No specific reason for the cameras, I just love all of them :)

Exif data should be intact. Hope your readers enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed Mexico, and if anyone is thinking of passing through here a few days, please don’t doubt it, you will be surprise how great it could be.

DSC_9732 (1)







L1008370 (1)



L1006586 (2)








Sorry for posting so many :)

More of my pictures can be seen in:

Thanks for looking!

Sep 212015

A night of Post Processing

By Dirk Dom

What a night!

I did ten black and white shots of my San Francisco trip.

At first, I got all crazy about printing big and I wanted drum scans made. Since that, and printing four feet would see me bankrupt, I used my own scans and enjoyed these.

I’ll print 12 x 18 inches, 30 x 45 cm, on Baryta paper. With my own scans I can go to 24 inches, 60 cm at 300 DPI.

This was a night of calm creativity and intense concentration.

Ansel Adams, the greatest printer that ever lived, said: “the negative is the score, the print the performance”. I performed tonight.

I’m deeply grateful I can do this.

The tools I use would make any Photoshop specialist laugh so hard he’d get cramps, but I use them until I can’t make the print any better. I do burning and dodging, a little bit of levels, mainly to check if I reach the black and white limits (ALT key), that’s all. Of course the images need spotting. Photoshop is as refined as you want, no limit.

Usually I have a very vivid idea about the potential of the print and what I want it to become, getting there is usually not difficult but takes lots of time.

Well, here they are, I didn’t include shots of the city because buildings don’t fit in this series.

This one I made very high key to offset the jet black charred stump and the rest of the Redwood forest.


Here I think I got the range of light in the forest.


Another jet black stump.


The bank of a creek in Ukiah. This shot is so sharp you see every thread of moss on the trees. It screams “Enlarge me BIG!!!”


My son.


One afternoon, the clouds were just magic in Ukiah. I was out for hours watching it all evolve.





Finally, I include this city shot, because of the nice sky: San Francisco from Bernal Heights. I think that’s the best view of the city.


I’m so glad that last year I decided to go for film and not for digital black and white. There are always beautiful structures in the negative, often totally unexpected.

Like the cloud in the San Francisco shot:


No way you can get such a thing digitally! (Does Nik software emulate this? I’d like to know) Such structures make a print glow. A print shows this sort of detail, to discover and enjoy.
I think there is nothing more beautiful in photography than fine black and white.

Well, enough.



If it doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it’s no good.




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