300mm, ISO 400, f/4, 1/1600
Another week, and one step closer to a break. At least, that’s been my train of thought for the past month. As always, it seems, the times leading up to finals week (starting tomorrow) are always a killer in trying to find time for photography. In a way, however, writing posts on here is a way of taking a break from studying, though I do feel a bit productive at the same time. Besides, last week I couldn’t afford any time to do an update. Not today!
A lot has happened lately. Let’s get down to it. Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/640
Now that plants are starting to bloom (though this technically is a weed), I will be able to get much more sample shots for when I can make time for the 105mm f/2.8 Micro AI-s review.
To make a long story short, I am in a bittersweet mood about my NEX-7 finally being back in my hands. I’m happy I finally have a “real” camera again, but am a little disappointed that A)The sensor cleaning function still doesn’t seem to work and B)The rear LCD turned out to be peeling when I took the plastic off (when I sent it in, the rear LCD was immaculate). I believe Sony has sent me a refurbished NEX-7, instead of my own camera. Not too keen on getting back a camera in worse shape than when I sent it in for repair, so I’ll be contacting them this week to see what the deal is.
But in the meantime, I’ve been busy! I photographed everything from tiny flowers to the sky this past week and managed to shake off my “camera blues” from not having my NEX-7 for over three weeks.
First up, I learned a little bit more about light painting in my photography class. Though I feel this genre is overdone and cliqué in many ways, I tried to be as original as possible Continue Reading
Winter’s chilly grasp has taken hold recently. Combined with my sickness (which I’m almost out of the woods with), any photography outside of assignments has been mostly a wash this week. However! I did want to at least get one photograph with that 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor. Before I move on to the rest of the post, I’m working on a project 52 (speaking of which, I will share all of them upon its completion), and this week’s theme was “Still Life”. Being a college student, I do not have the luxury of drapes, wooden bowls, and picture perfect fruit at my disposal. Looking into the meaning of still life photography–that is, the depiction of inanimate subject matter usually as a small grouping of objects–I glanced around my room and got as creative as I could. I had one banana, a few chocolate turtles, and some paper.
Let’s combine them all.
105mm, ISO 100, f/8, 8 Seconds
Another week has come and gone and I still haven’t had the chance to take a close look at my Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AI-s Micro. Though I attribute that mostly to being sick with laryngitis and the busyness of school, that macro has just been breathing down my neck for a long time now. Hopefully soon, we’ll see.
In other news, despite my sickness and schoolwork, I still had many photo assignments to take care of, all of which were enjoyable to photograph. First up, this past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which my university participated in as the MLKJr. Day of Service. Around campus we had multiple stations with service projects for students and community members to volunteer to help out the community. These ranged from areas to make Valentine’s cards for veterans…
35mm, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/40
Now that school is back in full swing I will have to go back to my weekly update format for the near future. This way, I can have at the very least have a quality post every week filling you all in on my photography happenings. Special events and subjects (such as intermittent lens reviews and the like) will usually warrant their own post. For instance, in a couple weeks I’ll be doing a non-profit portrait session for a local organization that I will most likely be reporting back on here. Photos here and there (many of which will make it into these weekly posts) will be posted to my Google+ and Facebook pages, if you just can’t stand to go without photos from me every day.
But back to the update, I’ve used the 35mm f/1.8 OSS a little more now, and am still enjoying it thoroughly. I’m starting to be able to catch where the aberrations wide-open are, but for the most part I can edit them out, so it’s no big deal. The lens can work for full-body portraits if there is substantial distance between the subject and background, but you still won’t get near the subject separation like a 50mm f/1.4 will provide on a full-frame camera:
35mm, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/250
(If you are unfamiliar with this continuing series, please see this post first)
There’s a particular kind of photograph I have always wanted to make focusing on the importance of bokeh. I’m sure many of you are familiar with it, it’s the kind of shot that is completely out-of-focus, and the picture is of strands of small lights strung up along someplace like a fresco dining area. A few things have always prevented me from doing this. 1. Phones/P&S’s that I used to have with me couldn’t throw the background out-of-focus enough to get good bokeh. 2. The shots usually look best when taken at night to emphasize the balls of light—taking a picture at night with a P&S was never really an option anyway. 3. In my hometown, there aren’t any restaurants with this particular decor to shoot!
During my photowalk in the city a couple of days ago to get some great shots for the Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS review, I came across such a restaurant. They were closed (oddly, being a Friday night and all), but the light strands were still on and bright. The motivation for this shot also stemmed from one of the first few assignments I have for my photography class, to capture a scene completely out of focus. At first glance, I was pretty disappointed:
Straight out of camera, no wonder this shot didn’t make it into the final review. It’s just a bunch of boring strands with a crushed-dark background!
However! I remember seeing much more detail in the background when I captured the shot. Knowing the awesome dynamic range of the Sony NEX-7, I wondered how much I could push the exposure to bring out the shadows and darks in Lightroom 4. Much to my surprise, with exposure/white balance/saturation adjustments later, I realized I had captured a photograph that combined both circular and angular geometry with multiple splashes of color!
35mm, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/15
Now that’s more like it. I need to remember to not be so hasty in dismissing my shots! It’s easy to forget how well Lightroom 4 can save an exposure—when shooting in RAW, you truly can “shoot first, expose later” to a certain extent.
That’s all for this quick post guys and gals. Thanks for dropping by!
IMPORTANT: If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference this post first!
I knew I would come around eventually to buying an autofocus lens for the NEX system. The only problem was that all the autofocus lenses that have been released up to now from Sony have been zooms (large and/or slow apertures), primes with “O.K.” image quality (16mm f/2.8, 30mm f/3.5 macro), lenses I already have focal lengths well covered for (50mm f/1.8 OSS), or crazily overpriced optics (Zeiss 24mm f/1.8).
What I was waiting for was a cheap(er), high performing lens that would give great performance at most settings in a small a package as possible—in other words, one that fit with NEX shooting style. Well, it seems Sony has finally done it, releasing their new 35mm f/1.8 for E-mount. With the field of view of 52.5mm in 35mm format, this is the only first-party “standard” solution for the camera apart from using their alpha-mount lenses via a relatively bulky adapter. At $450, it’s not cheap, either. In fact, in my first impressions of the lens, I had my doubts as to whether or not Sony was deliberately price-gouging when compared to the Nikon/Canon equivalents. But a few of my readers brought up great points. Not only does optical stabilization make lenses more expensive than I thought (looking at Canon’s brand-new 35mm f/2 IS), but I am totally incorrect in comparing an SLR lens to a mirrorless lens. With their inherent design differences—mainly, working with a MUCH shorter flange distance—it simply costs more to design compact lenses that cover a whole APS-C sensor without severely compromising optical quality.
Instead, the 35mm f/1.8 should be compared to fellow mirrorless equivalents. A couple to look at, the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 and the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 XF R. All three lenses have essentially the same field-of-view, and are close in aperture speed (the Sony only 2/3 a stop slower). The Panasonic/Leica lens runs at about $500, while the Fuji is a whopping $600. Seeing as neither have optical stabilization, the $450 asking price of the 35mm f/1.8 could be argued to be the better deal!
But a cheap(er) lens shouldn’t merit praise on its own, does the 35mm f/1.8 stand up to the power of the NEX-7′s huge 24MP sensor? Let’s take a look! Continue Reading
(Note: This is not a full review. I label these posts as “Impressions” as such since I typically do not perform formal testing on lenses until after I have shot with them in the real-world for a while)
I have owned and shot with the Sony NEX-7 for about 9 months now. Until last week, most of my lenses were old, reliable, and still optically great Nikon AI-s’. The Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS is the very first autofocus lens I have ever shot with for the native E-mount. As such, expect for near-future impressions on factors such as focus speed, OSS effectiveness, and vignetting to be subjective, since I have no other Sony E-mount lenses to compare with, and my manual focus AI-s Nikkors are designed to cover a full-frame sensor.
Let me address the elephant in the room right away: for a “standard” prime (giving a 52mm field-of-view in 35mm format), the 35mm f/1.8 ($450/€342) seems overpriced compared to Nikon’s DX 35mm f/1.8 ($200/€152) and Canon’s 35mm f/2 ($290/€220). What advantages are immediately apparent to the Sony, though? Well, it’s smaller in every way (the Canon is a bit smaller in diameter, however), it’s lighter by about 3 ounces, has a very nice shiny metal* finish, and has optical stabilization. I wouldn’t think these advantages by themselves would be worth $150 over the Canon or $250 over the Nikon. This probably means one of two things: 1. Sony is ripping off its NEX photographers or 2. Optically, this lens is top-notch compared to the Canikon offerings. Unfortunately, I do not own either of the other 35mm’s, so I’ll never know for certain which reason drives the price of this lens so much higher.
*After some mix-ups with figuring out what exactly the Series-E lenses were made of, I’m not going to give any definitive answer on what this lens is made of for now. Continue Reading
Another quick post for today. When I stepped outside after the last game of the tournament I shot last week, I passed by multiple berry trees (probably not the right name) on my way to the car. These familiar trees ripen their berries for months before birds start to pick them off for the winter. I happened to come across a feeding frenzy of THOUSANDS of birds on this particular day (first day after the winter solstice, actually). Starlings and robins made up the majority, but peppered in the mix were a number of other more exotic birds I don’t typically see out and about.
Unfortunately for me, the longest lens I brought along was the 105mm f/1.8 AI-s; in other words, I was grossly ill-equipped for birding. Thanks not only to the “cropability” of the NEX-7′s sensor, but also to the birds’ ignorance of me, I was able to get close enough for some interesting shots. Because of the cold, however, my battery ran out on me while I was shooting. I believe it’s time to purchase a second battery soon…
105mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1250
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1250
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/400
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/160
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/200
That’s all for this post guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! Still working on that Noktor review. Should have it up pretty soon.
What a pleasant surprise it was to see my new 35mm f/1.8 OSS arrive Christmas Eve! After a few months of waiting, this highly anticipated optic is now in my hands for testing. The 35mm f/1.8 OSS fills a crucial gap for many NEX owners looking for a fast, optically great, and truly “standard” (the field of view on APS-C is 52.5mm in 35mm-format terms) lens. It just so happens this lens is also tiny, as well as coming with optical stabilization. That last part was actually the very first thing I wanted to look at with this lens–not only can it help drop shutter speeds without motion blur and lower the ISO in stills photography, but it makes handheld video extremely smooth and free from normal handheld jitters. To test this out, I brought along this lens and the NEX-7 to a Christmas Eve celebration where my sister was performing one of her contemporary worship songs. All was recorded at f/1.8 in the 24p mode at 1/25th shutter speed, with the ISO at a low 400. The obvious parts of camera shake were user error (adjusting my grip on the camera), but even then, they aren’t as jerky as they would be with a non-stabilized lens. 1080p for best quality.
Seeing as I have only had the 35mm f/1.8 OSS for a day now, I won’t call this post a true first impressions. This is more of an “early look” of sorts. One photo I do want to share from the lens is a shot of our Christmas tree. For a bit of originality this Christmas, I decided to print off some 8x10s of my photos over the past year to give to the family. Avid readers on this site will recognize all of these shots!
Under the Tree
35mm, ISO 400, f/2.2, 1/2 second (handheld!)
That’s all for this post guys and gals, I hope everyone reading this has a Merry Christmas or is enjoying whatever holiday they are celebrating with family and friends. The next “big” post should be that 50mm f/.95 HyperPrime.