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
IMPORTANT: If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference this post first!
Ahh…back to writing another lens review. It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote my last one back in January. Though I can attribute most of this delay to a lack of free time, another part of it is due to the fact that old man winter decided to hang on a little past his welcome this year. As a macro lens, the Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 AI-s has a penchant for taking close-ups of flowers and what-not—with plant life just now starting to come back to life, the photographic subjects are slowly increasing.
But the neat thing about a macro lens is that they tend to be well-corrected at all focus distances. Combined with its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, the 105mm micro might be a strong performer for landscapes, portraits, or even sports. The question is, can it deliver outside its forte of close-focusing? Let’s find out! 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
I must apologize for being a day late on my weekly update, the time got away from me this past weekend. Nonetheless, I do have some news on my experience with Sony Laredo Repair regarding my NEX-7. Unfortunately, as most of you know, Sony decided to overnight my NEX-7 the night that I left for Spring Break. I got to Florida, while my camera arrived at my university. Tough luck for me. At any rate I picked it up today and found to my surprise that Sony seemed to give my NEX-7 a makeover. It almost feels like a new camera (it’s not though, I remember a few scratches unique to the camera)! The viewfinder is spotless, the screen has either been replaced or heavily cleaned (a protective film was over it), the entire body was wiped down, and the IR glass filter in front of the sensor is brand-new (the reason I sent it in). With everything covered under warranty, and the sensor brought back to essentially new condition, I am—finally—a pretty happy camper. I can’t wait to get back in the swing of all things photography: I’m learning some techniques for light painting this week, photographing a few sporting events, and will make time for a photowalk if the rain/cold briefly clears up.
Plans aside, last week down in sunny Florida was a blast. I chose the stress-free option for break, staying far away from any sort of partying. Instead, relaxing on the beach and catching up with/making new friends took up the majority of my time. That little Canon point-and-shoot I brought along did an O.K. job, at least for a 5 year-old camera. I definitely had to take a step back and focus on getting exposure, white balance, and composition right: with only 8 megapixels of low-quality JPEG to work with, there isn’t any leeway for post-processing!
Pardon the dust/sand.
As I mentioned last week, this PowerShot has a nice macro mode at the wide end, allowing for some SUPER close focusing that gives me some good control over depth-of-field. As such, there’ll be a lot of macro shots in this post. To work out your own equivalency in focal length/field-of-view, this camera’s 6-60mm lens covers the 36-360mm field-of-view in 35mm-format terms. Simply take the mm’s listed in the following picture’s EXIF data and multiply by six.
6mm, ISO 80, f/2.8, 1/160
It’s been another busy (and cold) week here in Lexington, but not one where I have neglected photography. Allow me to get you caught up.
All of the following taken with the NEX-7. First up, Valentine’s Day was this past Thursday. I hope you all were able to spend it with your special someone!
105mm, ISO 100, f/4, 6 Seconds
Apart from holidays, I also took the stellar 105mm f/2.8 AI-s Micro Nikkor along for another photo-walk downtown. This one had to be cut short due to biting winds, but I still managed to find some interesting subjects and patterns along the way.
105mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/200, 1:2 Magnification
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
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
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.
I’m nearing the home stretch. This coming week is the last week of classes, and the next week consists of one final exam after another. After that? Christmas break! I hope to use this time not just to laze around for three weeks straight: I have all the technical pictures needed for writing the 70-210 f/4 E review, I have been shooting with the 50mm Noktor f/.95 for a while now and hope to thoroughly test it out, and I will post pretty regularly for the duration of the break.
That said, here and now I am still taking photographs, albeit not too many of the “artsy” style I like to capture. Here’s some from this past week I’d like to share. First up, from a Jazz/Percussion concert. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that my 180mm f/2.8 was set to f/4, but the stage was lit well-enough:
180mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/100