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
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.