Kathmandu, Nepal with the Sony A7s and the Mitakon 50mm f.95 by Judd Weiss

juddtitle

Kathmandu, Nepal with the Sony A7s and the Mitakon 50mm f.95

by Judd Weiss

These Nepal photos probably would not exist if not for this site. Steve Huff’s blog and wider sharing community has been the single largest influence on my photography. I don’t connect with the approach of most photography communities online. But this community of mirrorless enthusiasts has continued to inspire me and push me to keep going further with this photography obsession. I’m still relatively new to photography, starting about 4.5 years ago when I picked up the first Sony NEX-3. For about a year I treated it more like a higher quality point and shoot for parties. Since I’ve discovered Steve’s site, I’ve become a daily addict, pouring over the daily inspirations and user reports, trying to understand new perspectives, obsessively studying how you impressive bastards pull it off. I’ve never taken a real course in photography, this blog has been my photography school. It’s possible I might still be shooting glorified point and shoot style photos without it. And all the beautiful photos in my life that I cherish might never have been if not for the influence of the community here. So thank you Steve and everyone else who has contributed inspiring photos in guest posts here. I’m honored to offer my small contribution to the mix.

Despite all of my public statements at the beginning of 2015 that I’m going to tone down this photography obsession and focus more on business, I just can’t help it. I want to do everything at once. When you’re doing something you’re proud of and excited about, it feels like a crime to restrain yourself. And there was just no way I could turn down this trip to Nepal. I didn’t know anything about Nepal except that it’s north of India and that some very different world awaits.

nepal-2015-1002

nepal-2015-1003

I didn’t Google or Wikipedia anything about Nepal. Nothing. I didn’t want any movie spoilers, I just wanted the experience to be fresh. I was brought to Nepal to shoot a conference. I’m not a career photographer, I don’t market myself as a photographer or even have a proper portfolio site online at the moment. I’m not a professional, this is not my profession. I’m an enthusiast, I’m always obsessively trying to create beautiful compelling photos to the best of my ability. And that’s exactly what the conference organizers wanted. It’s a crazy expense to bring someone from the other side of the planet out to photograph your event in a 3rd world nation, so I knew I had some huge pressure to make sure I deliver.

The photos in this post are an album separate from the conference, purely the scenic photos of Nepal I captured outside of the conference.

nepal-2015-1004

nepal-2015-1005

nepal-2015-1006

I am hopelessly in love with my Sony A7s. The lowlight ability is not a leap in technology, this is some kind of magic voodoo shit. I don’t know what dark forces Sony has negotiated with to let us finally see clearly in the dark, but I’m not going to ask too many question. It’s amazing, and 12MP is actually still overkill when most of my images appear online and are seen at less than 2MP. I’m not limited by that sensor. On the contrary, the limits of light are pretty much gone. I only shoot with manual lenses. Most photographers don’t believe me when I tell them that using manual lenses is tremendously FASTER than autofocus but it’s the truth. Unless you’re center focusing ever shot, autofocus slows you down and limits your ability to compose a scene where the point of focus is anywhere but the dead center. Believe it or not, 1/3 of the photos in this post were shot from the front seat of a moving car. Autofocus would have slowed me down and outright prevented me from composing the shots the way I wanted while everything is literally speeding by me. Focus peaking, I can’t live without it.

I only brought 2 lenses, and almost exclusively used only 1, the Mitakon 50mm f.95. I suppose there may be snobs that don’t like that it’s not an $11,000 Leica, but what I do know is that this lens helps me produce images that make my heart skip a beat. I also use the Voigtlander 21mm f1.8, but rarely. I love the wide Voigtlander, and I plan to keep it even though I rarely use it. I suppose the way I often think about the lens combo is that I like to take a couple 21mm wide shots to establish the entirety of the scene. And then I go through with the 50mm and focus in on the details. I’ve taken many critical photos with the 21mm, but the Mitakon 50mm is my new baby virtually permanently attached to my camera (replacing the status previously held by my Voigtlander 35mm f1.2).

One note about the Mitakon 50mm, I’ve been chasing wider and wider aperture lenses since I got started a few years ago, and now I’ve finally gone too far. f.95 is ridiculous. I usually don’t go beyond f1.4 as f.95 is just too insane, and not the kind of shot I usually want. I suppose I like the luxury of knowing that I can totally abandon reality and push completely into a dream world by going to f.95, but I would also be totally fine constrained to a maximum aperture of f1.4. The wide aperture chase is now over for me.

nepal-2015-1007

nepal-2015-1008

nepal-2015-1016

Most of these photos were taken in a single day devoted to exploring Kathmandu. I knew I wouldn’t have much chance to explore the city while I was at the conference, so I gave myself 2 extra days in Kathmandu to see and capture whatever I could. Unfortunately, due to some serious incompetence and dishonesty from a tour guide, an early morning hike out in the rural mountains surrounding Kathmandu turned into an all day affair that caused me to cancel my packed schedule of sights I planned to see in my precious remaining few hours on my last day in the country. Stuck all day in the middle of nowhere, I was furious to waste most of one of my only 2 sightseeing days, but it’s a lesson in relying on your common sense over and above the assurances of strangers who act like they know what they’re talking about when it doesn’t make sense. Even when you’re in a totally foreign land. But I digress. I did manage to get good shots of the rural mountain villages and some groups of cute kids after they got out of school for the day. I have no shame, I just go up to groups of random school kids and ask who wants to be famous. They get ecstatic when I show them nice shots of themselves and their friends in my camera. No one asked for my info to get the photos, they seemed happy just that these photos of them would be seen by people in America.

nepal-2015-1009

nepal-2015-1010

nepal-2015-1051

nepal-2015-1050

nepal-2015-1059

One thing I totally didn’t expect was the weather. I knew I was going to the Himalayas. In January. I packed for very cold weather (I remember surviving the coldest winter on record in Romania), but it wasn’t that cold in Kathmandu. Once I was there I was told that Kathmandu is the valley surrounded by the mountains, and that it’s relatively warm. No snow ever falls in Kathmandu. It felt more desert like, maybe a little chilly at night, but no big deal. I had full body thermal underwear packed, but I wish I brought sandals instead.

nepal-2015-1012

nepal-2015-1013

nepal-2015-1014

nepal-2015-1019

nepal-2015-1020

nepal-2015-1097

I didn’t have time to check out any other city, though I’m told there are some real treasures throughout Nepal. Kathmandu was both beautiful and gritty. The poverty is pretty extreme, people often live on $80 a month. There is trash everywhere. Los Angeles is not exactly a clean city, but it feels like a sterile sanitary clean room by comparison. I’ve seen plenty of stray dogs and cats in other countries, but all the stray cows was actually pretty cool. The warmth of the Nepali people was striking. Everyone was extremely friendly and graciously greeted me with a Namaste and a bow. I’m talking about the random strangers I approached with my camera. I learned to reply back “Thank you friend” in their language, which people enjoyed.

nepal-2015-1015

nepal-2015-1034

nepal-2015-1022

nepal-2015-1026

nepal-2015-1021

nepal-2015-1033

nepal-2015-1077

The temples swarming with monkeys was a highlight. They’re really cute until you get up close. I was warned repeatedly not to get too close, but I didn’t listen, and one angry monkey tried to grab my camera from me. I was ready to fight him to the death, he’s not taking that (I did get a powerful angry picture of him, see below). The monkeys are rude. They are all unfriendly little shits actually. I can see why our society has so many problems, if we evolved from these bastards. Adorable as they are.

nepal-2015-1017

nepal-2015-1018

nepal-2015-1021

nepal-2015-1027

nepal-2015-1043

nepal-2015-1048

nepal-2015-1060

I took a $200 sight seeing flight to Mount Everest with a few friends. I regretted it immediately afterwards. We didn’t get that close, I’ve seen mountains from a plane window before, I wasn’t that impressed, and I really could have used the sleep instead of waking up so early for a delayed and pointless flight. But when I got back to Los Angeles and saw the photos I took of these majestic mountain ridges, I’m glad I did it. I shot those mountains totally sleep deprived, wishing I was back in a bed instead of a freezing cold plane to nowhere, but I managed to still capture a few shots that are priceless to me.

nepal-2015-1011

nepal-2015-1030

nepal-2015-1032

One night some of the conference attendees went out to a bar that had a local metal band playing. We were out on the patio where we could talk, which was my intention so that we weren’t drowned out by whatever crappy local band was set to play. But I was surprised and impressed with how good the local band actually was. I picked up my camera and started taking some shots of them, and damn did that amazing low light combo came in handy. They reminded me of some sort of a Nepalese Deftones. A throwback to 90s Numetal when it was still artistic, but driving and aggressive. And the guys were actually talented, the music was great, and fans were in a trance and pumped. I really didn’t expect that when I heard a local metal band was playing that night. I found the guitarist after the show and showed him a few shots I took, and he flipped out, immediately bringing me over to the singer to show him my camera screen. I promised they would eventually get these, and they invited me to share a joint with them. I got a picture of that too 😉

Pretty cool the places a little device in your hand will take you.

nepal-2015-1023

nepal-2015-1024

nepal-2015-1025

nepal-2015-1041

nepal-2015-1042

One of the craziest things I saw was a citywide protest that shut down all major streets on my last morning there, while I was rushing to get to the airport. Fortunately they were letting tourists through (the protesters don’t want to look like they’re cutting off vital income to the country). The protests were orchestrated by Maoists. Not Socialists, not Communists, but Maoists. With flags and banners of Mao. I’m just going out on a limb here, but it felt like it had to be China’s influence to me. Nepal is safe from out right occupation since it’s so closely linked to the massive India, but that doesn’t mean China isn’t going to meddle. Purely my speculation, but seeing very poor people that live off less than $100 a month carry around printed flags and banners of China’s Chairman Mao leads me to assume who’s funding this…

I WISH I had walked around and captured some compelling shots of the protests, but I was rushing to the airport, worried about catching my flight, and could only get a few imperfect shots as my taxi sped by.

nepal-2015-1035

nepal-2015-1036

nepal-2015-1037

nepal-2015-1038

nepal-2015-1039

Anyway, these pictures are worth more than any of my words. This is a landmark album for me, and easily the most exotic photos I’ve ever taken. I hope they help you get a better idea of the experience of this different world.

Full album and original post can be found on my blog here:

http://hustlebear.com/2015/03/12/kathmandu-nepal-january-2015/

You can follow me on Instagram at http://instagram.com/juddweiss

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/juddweiss

[All the rest of the images in order (excluding those already used and excluding nepal-2015-1029.jpg):

nepal-2015-1047

nepal-2015-1049

nepal-2015-1092

nepal-2015-1093

nepal-2015-1097

nepal-2015-1122

nepal-2015-1125

nepal-2015-1126

nepal-2015-1129

nepal-2015-1130

nepal-2015-1131

nepal-2015-1159

nepal-2015-1221

nepal-2015-1310

nepal-2015-1546

This final shot was a defocused cityscape take-off from my connecting flight in Guangzhou, China.

nepal-2015-1029

55 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your post! I think there were too many monkey pictures and too many ambulance shots but I think you were excited to share your trip with everyone. You have a good eye and I hope you continue to share your passion for photography on this site. A certain person made very ‘critical’ comments on your post that made me curious to his own techniques and understanding of composition, subject selection, and general style. Let me say this about his works on his flickr pages…Random shots, completely uninteresting through lack of subject isolation, poor composition, lack of spirit/passion, hell…lack of any subject at all. All pretty ‘point and shoot’ style which is really just no style at all. Doesn’t work for me.
    Keep up the good work Judd and don’t let people who enjoy being overly critical about your work sway you. If this person were half as critical with his own works he’d still only be half the photographer you already are. I will look for more posts by you, if this other person has posted or does post…doesn’t matter…I won’t be viewing unless I’m tired and need something to put me too sleep.

    Cheers.

  2. I am glad I didn’t go on to Kathmandu as there was a 7.6 Rita scale earthquake in Saturday morning some 2400 people died and still counting. You never know. This is what we call God’s act ! !

  3. Judd, I think your photographs are terrific. They really capture a sense of place. The Mitakon was the perfect lens to use. I love the richness of the way it renders scenes. The colors and contrast are sensuous and organic in a way I’ve rarely seen from any lens that doesn’t say “Leica” on it.. Thank you for sharing these.

  4. I really like these photographs. They seem to have a texture and are interesting to look at. I can see your passion for the place in the pictures. Thanks for posting!

  5. Calf with pigeons is lovely composition.

    I like how you spotted the tangle of wires.

    Really it’s difficult to have different photos from the thousands
    who have already photographed similarly when visiting cultures.
    Instagram, Flicr, Photobucket are full of travel photos
    Probably in the millions.

    Still these are memories.

  6. capturing moments when you travel is what it’s all about… photography is subjective. enjoyed your post.. judd.

  7. Enjoyed this post, thanks. I’ve never been to Katmandu and had an idea in my mind of what it would look like – but these are nothing like I imagined. Hope to get there and beyond one day.

  8. There’s nothing wrong with a Dutch tilt here and there. 😉 Maybe you should direct the next Mission: Impossible or Indiana Jones films!

    Anyway, as usual, I liked your presentation. Obviously not every shot – in fact you need slightly tighter editing IMHO. Anyway, I look forward to seeing more of your work here (I use neither Instagram or Facebook).

    P.S. As far as formal training goes, don’t waste your time or money. Instead, use your time and money to improve and discover your photography. Just like you’re doing now. 😉

  9. Well, I expect to be hammered here but I have to say that there are far too many casual images that don’t strike me as being photographically arresting, singularly beautiful or specific in this group. That is not to say some of the images aren’t fine and interesting but there really are far too many that dilute the pool. I never concern myself with what lenses you used or what camera made the image. Just as I don’t go to a movie theatre and ask what film stock they used before enjoying the experience. But I would certainly notice when a film is overly long without providing new and exciting information to improve the story. A never ending scene can kill what began well. I guess I am speaking of economy of vision. What best tells the story and what detracts from the essay? Too many images here feel like variations on a theme and a brutal edit could pare this down do a stronger portfolio. Many people love what they do so much that they have trouble editing out the b and c frames. This can have an adverse effect on the whole. Convince us, the audience, why we are looking at so many muted and washed out photos of people on scooters and scenes from a plane landing and taking off? These explorations are for you but perhaps not for the viewer. We want to enjoy tour best efforts.
    Regarding composition, there is very little attention to the four corners of your frames. What is in and out seems very haphazard and loose to be gentle. I can’t help but feel many of these images were taking from the front seat of a taxi, thus limiting your access to what you might actually want. Put on some sandals, take a walk and press the flesh. Meet your new neighbors and see where they go. Essentially, get lost and enjoy finding your way back.
    Cheers. And as a final note, have you tried shooting from the back of a scooter while riding beside the other bikers?

    • Yes. “Get lost and find your way back.”

      I was in Beijing for a conference in November 1998 and took every opportunity I had to walk out of my hotel (the WTC iirc), FM2n, 2.0/35 and Fuji 200 colour negative in hand, turn right (not left), zone focusing, metering off the sidewalk and photograph what I saw. Finding my way back wasn’t always easy. The street signs were all Greek to me.

      The negatives are long gone, most of the prints as well. Some I had digitalized.

  10. Crazy thing about these photos is that I probably might not like any one on it’s own -but put together they are very interesting -cannot explain but it works !

    Another thing I have seen with beginner photographers is that they improve technically but lose that crazy individuality they had at first. Every photographer must try to stay true to their vision.

    Judd is being an individual in his approach, choice of equipment, subject matter etc. Michael 1953 said it is really difficult to produce interesting tourist photos-and I fully agree.Some work, others not, but great to experiment and keep going.

    Keep shooting Judd- I and many more like your images-some will not of course which just means their “aesthetic ” is different and should NOT be seen as bad or being negative.

    Best Wishes

  11. Awesome shots Judd, well done! I love how you use a shallow DOF to separate your main subject while still leaving enough detail to tell the story. Inspiring set!

  12. Lol dude, i thought in that one picture, maan this looks like a joint!
    Great story, was a fun and interesting read! And those pictures are amazing!

    • Thanks Dave. And that is definitely a joint. I smoked it with them, and I enjoyed it. 😉

  13. Judd, I love these photos, raw and full of passion and imperfections — just like life really is. I do have an A7s too, and during day I always have an ND6 on it – not sure if you use ND’s but I recommend it, especially if you like shooting wide open.

    And if you allow me a more critical comment: for many photos like these, f5.6 or even f8 would have been really beautiful, simply because it allows the ‘freedom’ you captured (and that you experienced while shooting these images) to be carried over to the viewer. It’s a full circle thing and it’s nice for the viewer to be part of this and be liberated by f5.6, especially when so much life is going on in a shot. Sometimes, f0.95 or f1.4 feels like a straightjacket, for example the shot with the pigeons and the woman. The next shot with the monkey however, shows how beautiful f0.95 can be in certain shots.

    Anyways, keep up your good work and having fun!

  14. Great series and story to go along with it. Nepal is on my bucket list and this post only feeds that desire. But I have to ask, why are so many of your horizons crooked?! In my opinion, nearly all of them would be just as visually interesting (if not more so) if the images were straightened.

  15. Thanks so much, Judd! Loved them. Wild picture of the man on the scooter with a shotgun over his shoulder! Really appreciate the photos and notes of an area I am unlikely to ever get to visit!

  16. China funded Nepalese Maoists – nope! The last thing China wants again is Maoism either at home or in the neighborhood.

    Wonderful photo’s!

  17. I love your shots. The subject matter is fascinating, but you’ve enhanced that – great framing, color, choices of DOF. Really pulls the viewer in and gives it energy. (I love the Mitakon too.)

  18. Random shots, made interesting through non-leveled horizons, colour saturating and desaturating, sepia layers or similar b&w treatment, under- and overexposure, and of course dysfunctional insanely shallow depth of field. All pretty haphazard, no discernible style. Doesn’t work for me.

    And yes, it is difficult making interesting tourist shots.

    • I’m sure your shots would not work for him. We all have different tastes and I see AWFUL photography without any passion or soul that gets praised in so called “street photography” books. These shots, I can tell were made with passion, fun and yes, even skill. I disagree with you 100% but this is what makes the world so unique…we are all different.

      • Thanks for the backup Steve. Yeah, we all have a different eye. But this guy Michiel has a history of really disliking me. And that’s just fine, I don’t want to interrupt his fun 😉

          • It’s all subjective, that’s the beauty of photography.
            Each has his own style and vision.
            in Michiel’s defence, he does praise stuff he likes and gives justifications and reasons too for his opinions and doesn’t “troll”.

          • I think Michiel just tells it like he sees it, honestly.

            My Auntie Ethel used to say “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” ..but would any of us learn anything that way? ..We’d get simply praise or just nothing.

            Michiel says “..Doesn’t work for me..” ..But, of course, it may work for others. We’re not all alike in the kinds of photos we enjoy. But I think it’s worth reading varying opinions on the variety of photos posted here.

          • I am the same way in life. I am BRUTALLY honest. But we all have different tastes. What he dislikes, I may like. But I do know he is usually negative but never shares his work. But I love these shots. If I didn’t I would say so.

          • Steve, I submitted my “work” some years ago, and never even got a reply.

            I’m perfectly willing to give it another try (there are several subjects I’d like to tackle) and am open to any criticism.

            Just say the word.

          • Nice images Judd esp the monos. I too have the A7s which I got through Steve’s advice on this site and love it to bits. Keep shooting the way you like, to please yourself and nt how others want you. Any comment is always good whether pos or neg, at least you have been noticed. Wish I was with you in Nepal, must have been a stunning experience. Good luck.

          • When having your work critiqued, whether it be photography or as an artist, the words we don’t want to hear a judge say is that they like or don’t like the work. Too many judge with the criteria of whether they would want to own the work themselves. That is, whether or not they would hang it on a wall in there home. When people are assigned to judge art start by saying that they “really, really like” something the judging that follows will seldom be fair. We can still appreciate what we don’t like. Michael acknowledged that it was difficult to make interesting tourist shots. But there was more. The photos were there to document and support, not as stand alone works of art. Perhaps Michael missed the story. Judd had only a limited time to take these pictures. Doubtful that he had time to consider waiting for perfect lighting, etc…I read every word that Judd wrote and was drawn to the excellent supporting photos. I thought it all worked beautifully together.

          • Nothing better than a civilised discussion!
            In terms of opinion, we can all give our opinions, likes and dislikes, Photography isn’t an exact science and that’s what I like about it.
            I look forward to seeing Michiels stuff – he always says nice things about the tat I post so I like him! 🙂

            As for Judd’s work, great write up and I really enjoyed it! I have been planning to go to Katmandu – well, to see Mt. Everest actually, but by way of Katmandu, and this series has whet my appetite.
            The photography itself – the snapshot style and the sylised imagery seems to break most of the rules I’ve been taught, very adventurous and different – I’d be too afraid to venture here, as it takes balls, sometimes it works, other times it wont – hence the contrasting opinion expressed here.

          • Hi Ibraar! Why people (that I don’t know at all) think I dislike them because I utter some form of criticism on the images they post is beyond my feeble powers of comprehension. Anyway.

            Your images are not “tat” (good solid English expression that!) at all, and you know that full well. You also have a love of cameras that I admire.

            As I have mentioned before, my Flickr (sadly neglected) is Michiel953, and I always invited criticism. Never got a response of course.

            I look forward to posting some images here. Working title “Light and contrast”, ha ha.

            Cheers, Michiel

          • Hi Ibraar! Nothing “tat” (good solid English expression that) about your images, and you know that full well.

            Looking forward to posting here. Working title “light and contrast”, ha ha.

            For anyone interested: my Flickr is Michiel953. No prizes for guessing what the 953 means.

          • I agree with Steve, and I would also like to say that I REALLY like these photos. The color, the contrast, the subject matter…all very well done. You have a great amount of skill and talent! This is actually one of the best sets of photos I’ve seen in quite some time.

            Well done, Judd.

      • This syte is authentic. I almost feel and smell the place. It is provoking memories about own journies to the dense cities of emerging asia. This shooting style does not violate but emphasize the scene. To get such a variety of impressions with one lens only shows enthusiasm and creativity, the camera and lens disappear and act as the photographers eye. By looking at your pictures I want to be there. No clue about M.953′ motivation. Somebody else might have another approach, does not matter however, photography is no science. It needs kind of empathy to get inspired and dive in. Hope to see more from judd. Thanks!

    • Besides most of the shots being non leveled, interesting ‘tourist shots’ are subjective and I think these photos are great. As far as the randomness as you call it, well do you travel at all? When I travel I like to walk around and get lost and explore and when you do that, what you get is randomness. I like to take it all in and snap pictures of random things I see to remind me of all the different sites and sounds I experienced. To me that’s what travel is about. I guess he could’ve just shopped the whole time and see a million different museums and taken uninteresting photos at those places just for your viewing pleasure.

  19. Spectacular images!! Really impressive… And I love the character of this lens. Also looks like a really amazing trip.

  20. I have a question for the Sony manual focus shooters. For focus peaking do you turn off the zooming function so that you don’t need to move the focusing point?

    • I don’t turn off the zoom function: it’s easier to get sharpest focus with both the zoom on and the peaking on. I don’t “..move the focusing point..” ..I move the camera so that what I want in focus shows in the centre of the finder.

      • I’m sitting here with an A7S and a variety of lenses: Sony’s (autofocus, electrically-linked) 55mm f1.8; also, a (completely manual, no electrical connection) Leica 24mm f1.4 (and M-to-full-frame-NEX adaptor); a Zeiss Contax (electrical connection, autofocus) 90mm f2.8 with an electrically-connected Techart Contax-to-NEX adaptor; a Zeiss 21mm f2.8 (as above); and an Olympus OM (purely manual, with no electrical contacts) 50mm f1.2, with a ‘Commlite’ electrical connection Canon-to-NEX autofocus adaptor and a ‘dumb’ no-electrics Oly OM-to-Canon adaptor ring.

        All these lenses (and appropriate adaptors) work very well with the A7S.

        [1] With the Sony all-electric 55mm f1.8, a half-squeeze on the shutter button focuses the lens. I have the small upper rear-panel up/down switch (which is labelled ‘AF/MF’ in the upper position and ‘AEL’ in the lower position) operating (as default?) in the UPPER position, so that when I squeeze the button in the CENTRE of that toggle-switch it (a) turns on focus peaking AND (b) shows a zoomed-in magnification (as well as the peaking) when I turn the focus ring on the lens. This lets me confirm – or adjust – the focus which the autofocus provides. (I find the autofocus always nails it, and I don’t need this magnified manual focus unless I purposely want to vary – which I normally DON’T – the precise focus which the A/F has automatically given me.) (Incidentally, I use just ONE small central focus point in the middle of the viewfinder, or rear screen.)

        [2] With the manual 24mm (or Voigt 21mm) on its dumb adaptor – or with ANY manual-only lens – I use the toggle-switch DOWN, and then each press of its central button (just under my thumb) then gives me a zoomed-in clearly-magnified central section of my image, with focus peaking. This lets me manually focus with accuracy. (Incidentally, the larger central button, lower down, inside the adjustment dial or ring on the back of the camera, does the same thing – by default, I think – but it’s not so naturally under my thumb as the little button in the centre of the upper toggle-switch.) The little button inside the toggle-switch does NOT magnify the image when the toggle-switch is set to its UPPER position. But these are choices I made, I think, in the ‘cog-wheel’ (Custom Settings) Menu setting 6, under ‘Function Menu Set’ and ‘Custom Key Settings’, etc.

        [3] With the manual Oly 50mm and its adaptors (dumb Oly-Canon adaptor ring and ‘intelligent’ (electric-contacts) Canon-to-NEX adaptor) everything works exactly the same as [2], because – despite the Canon-to-NEX adaptor having electrical contacts – there is NO electrical info passing from the purely manual-only Olympus lens to the A7S.

        [4] With the electrical-connection Zeiss Contax G2 lenses (via the electrically-connected ‘Techart’ adaptor) everything functions as AUTOFOCUS lenses (with the autofocus motor in the adaptor, and the focus-sensing electronics in the camera), so pressing the little button in the centre of the toggle-switch (when the toggle is DOWN, in the MANUAL position) just brings up a message “This operation or setting is not available as follows: ‘Focus Mode’ ‘Single-shot AF'”, and exactly the same happens if I press the larger button in the centre of the rear adjustment dial. But if I switch the little toggle UP – to the position I use for Sony’s autofocus lenses – that turns on focus peaking while I hold it in, and I can then manually focus using the little wheel on the side of the adaptor if I want. (But simply turning that wheel to adjust focus manually will automatically enable focus peaking anyway.)

        Unlike Judd, I don’t use the C1 button for Focus Magnifier, as that means I’d have to take my index finger OFF the shutter release to press it – and instead, I use my thumb on the little button in the centre of the little toggle-switch ..so that I can use both finger AND thumb at the same time to enable magnifying and shutter release.

        The ‘Manual Focus Assist’ (automatic magnification while manually focusing) works with electronic lenses, like Sony’s 55mm f1.8, when the little AF/MF toggle switch is set to the UPPER (AF/MF) position AND the little button in the middle of that switch is held IN. Then, while you adjust focus manually, the image zooms in – and also gives focus peaking – for maximum clarity. The image DOESN’T automatically zoom in with non-electronic, manual-only, lenses – as Judd says.

    • Manual Focus Assist only works on lenses with electronics as far as I’m aware. It doesn’t not work on totally manual lenses. And that’s for the best! I could not handle the lens automatically zooming in every time I turn the focus ring. Automatically throwing off my framing like that means I’ll miss too many fleeting shots.

      The much better solution with the A7 series is to set the custom C1 button to Focus Magnifier. So when you do need to zoom in for critical focus you can double tap the C1 button right next to the shutter. Or triple tap it to magnify even further.

      This is a powerful tip. I think all A7 series shooters should set the C1 button to Focus Magnifier.

      • I do exactly the same for the exact same reason as you say!
        Love your style, very cinematic.

      • Try C3 when using totally manual lenses. Single, double and triple tapping works the same. You might find it easier that way when framing.
        Amazing pics, great job.
        Roger

        • Typo error from my previous post:
          Try C2 (not C3) when using totally manual lenses. Single, double and triple tapping works the same. You might find it easier that way when framing.
          Amazing pics, great job.
          Roger

Comments are closed.