Daily Inspiration #397 by Gilles Vanderstraeten

Hi Steve,

I watch your website each morning before beginning working. Your review of the Nex-7 help my decision to buy one 12 mouths ago. After +6000 shoots, I’m still fan of it mostly used with the Sigma 30/2.8. This lens produces gorgeous images and blows the optical quality of my Sony’s 16/2.8 and 50/1.8 out of the water. Mr Sigma, please make a 24/1.4 and a 30/1.4 at an affordable price.

From 8th to 22th of February, to walk a 150 miles / 12 days long trek in the Jordanian desert, I down the weight of my daily bag and sick at heart decided to only take one lens attached to my Nex-7 and finally choose the 16/2.8 that I think the most versatile. I ordered a flexible waterproof case (Dicapac) to prevent sand damage but this product has proved to be inappropriate because I was unable to access any button or selector. Always ready to shoot out of my bag, the Nex-7 had  to cope with a lot of dust (very thin orange sand) in the wind. Hopeless, we walked in a stone desert without any wind most of the time. Today, the gear is clean and still works well even the focus ring which was very exposed. Nex-7 is well-built and resistant !

The small group I was in encountered nobody (desert is desert) during the entire trek except some Bedouin people who live there year round. I focused on some of these furtive encounters.

Coming back was hard because I now know that I love the desert. So I will plane a new trek ASAP.

Thanks for your great work Steve and come home when you travel in the south-west of France, you’re welcome you and your brand new Leica M !

Gilles Vanderstraeten, French enthusiast photographer

Portfolio : www.simorre.net

Aroun le bédouin

Abu Saba'id

Abu Saba'id

Le chapelet

Le chauffeur de bus

Le marcheur


  1. HI Gilles,

    Good day to you! I enjoyed watching your wonderful pictures in your portfolio, they are all so good!! Really good!!! It seems you really love your Sony NEX-7 so much ha? For the BW pics posted here in this article, did you shoot raw then performed Post Processing?
    Thank you and happy shooting!!


    • Hi, thanks for your encouragement !
      Yes I love my Nex-7. It is my first digital camera and it came after a Nikon F3-T which gave me a lot of good pictures during 20 years. You see, I’m not a compulsive consumer…
      I set the Nex-7 to only record raw file. So, I use Lightroom for hours on end. For the ease of the work-flow and for small editing process : fine adjustment, small crop, BW conversion… that’s all because I understand nothing with Photoshop.

  2. Bit illogic. You say Sigma 30 blows 16 out of jordanian sand yet you used 16 for the picts. How about changing the lenses in the desert? A 18-55 would be the best bet in sandy environment I guess. I use much underrated GXR and there`s no problem changing 18 and 33 lensors in the blowing sandstorm
    ( these are sealed units of lens and sensor). I write this because the lack of capped sensor ( which I have on GXRs m-mount taking lenses unit ), while changing the lenses was one of the factors that put me off the idea of acquiring otherwise fine Nex cameras. We all are waiting for a compact mirrorles system with weatherproofed bodies and lenses.

    • Hi Stanis,
      Yes, I do not mention that point in my story but the risk of sand entering the body and reaching the sensor was the main point (most that the weight or volume) for carrying only one lens. I do not have any zoom because of their small aperture. However, I agree, in this case of travel, a zoom is perfect (except in the early morning and evening).
      For a while, I was interesting by the GXR but no more : the Sony sensor of the Nex-7 is the best I never saw. However, I agree that the manufacturers have to fix the problem of dust remaining on the sensor whatever the actual solutions (ultrasonic…) which are not enough efficient. Count me in your “we all”.

  3. I like the choice of subject and composition here. Nitpicking aside (which is never very helpful), I don’t think the camera matters a lot for these. Also, on my iPad, the sharpness (having clicked through to full resolution) leaves a bit to be desired. Maybe I should check again on a better screen.

  4. Nice! I like #1 the most…gives a great sense of place. Liked the images on your website too.

  5. Number three is stunning. Did you really do this with your 16mm and no cropping? I thought it was “against the rules” to use wide angle for portraits!
    I was interested in your comparison between the Sigma and the Sony 50 1.8 as I was thinking my next step would be to get the Sony 35 1.8 – stabilisation and more light but fairly similar equivalent focal length to the Sigma 30 2.8. Would be interested to know what you think if you have time.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi John, Clint, all the images were shoot with the Sony 16/2.8. The sharpness is high at the center but the corners are sadly soft. The both square images are cropped – obviously – but just to get a square from a 3:2 horizontal frame, no more. The last one is cropped from 3:2 to 1:2.35 which is the Cinemascope frame that I like a lot as you can see in my portfolio.
      I like shooting some portraits with a 24mm equivalent : when the lens is maintained horizontal, the distortion is moderate and the perspective of the wide angle generate an intense feeling of proximity : you are as close as me when I shoot, about 1.2 ft from the man.
      I’m also interesting by the new Sony 35/1.8… but I’m so disappointed by the low quality of my Sony lenses. I wait for a review before buying it. The Zeiss 24/1.8 is certainly the best choice but too expensive at this time. I definitively have to wait, enjoying the gear I still have.

      • Many thanks for your comments, Gilles Very useful – and money-saving for now! I’ll experiment a bit more with my 16mm and my Sigma 35. John.

  6. Hi Gilles,
    Thanks for sharing…..I enjoyed my desert visits when I toured Maroc in the 80’s. Jordan looks
    like an interesting trip….
    from BC

    • Hi Bruce, happy to share photos with this community.
      We began walking 40 miles north of Petra we reached the 4th day. Then, after one day visiting the antic city, we walked 8 days to the south, 20 miles east from Israel border. Then we reach the Wadi Ram situated 30 miles north from Saudi Arabia and 50 miles west from Egypt.
      In my portfolio, photos are precisely geotagged (by a standalone GPS, not the Nex-7 which does not include one) so you can click the location “Jordanie” just under the title top-left and you will be redirect to GoogleMaps.

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