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
I may have stated in my last post that there would be no “weekend update” post today. Though that is technically the case, I was able to make some time to go on a much-needed photowalk with a friend downtown yesterday with my NEX-7 and trusty 105mm macro to get some more impressions on the lens for all types of photography. Just as I wrote about my “first” impressions with my 300mm f/2.8, I’ve had this wonderful macro for many months now, and it has been my go-to lens for product shots and “serious” macro work for its crazy edge-to-edge sharpness stopped down (just exactly how sharp remains to be determined via formal testing). However, with it’s fast f/2.8 aperture (providing the same shallow depth-of-field control as the 100mm f/2.8 Series-E), the 105mm f/2.8 can be used for anything from sports to portraits, if need be.
I hope to do some testing on this lens for the next few weeks when I can make some time, so don’t hold your breath for a full review by next weekend. All of the following taken near sunset through a walk in the city with the NEX-7 and this macro, handheld. First up, for most of the photowalk I had this strange fixation on seeing and capturing patterns. I’m not sure why, but so many stood out to me:
105mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/400
I always look forward to hearing from readers on my site, whether they like a post, have questions regarding photography, or are even excited to get into “higher” photography by moving away from the P&S snapshot style.
Victor Hernandez is one such reader. We’ve been in contact for a little while now and through some constructive conversation we’ve settled on the NEX-6 to help jumpstart his journey into photography. He’s still getting used to focus peaking, balancing colors, and composition, but things can only improve from here. Here’s a small excerpt from our recent talks:
I’m BohemioVic and have been following your blog avidly…. You might recall I recently got a NEX-6 and have been asking you various questions… Thank you so much for your responses and advice… I’m digging photography so much!!!! Just a lil background of myself: I have over 17k pictures on my Mac that I have taken with P&Ss through the past 7 yrs… YES, I love photos and specially the memories… If you recall from your blog and our conversation, the NEX-6 was my big jump to real photography! Your blog has been instrumental on my approach.
This past Friday I finally received my legacy lenses; a Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 and MD 50mm f/2… Yesterday I got the Fotodiox Pro Minolta MD-Sony… Took a few shots and have been getting use to the Focus Peaking feature that the NEX offers…Here are some pics I took with the new lenses:
50mm, My friend and her daughter
50mm, My step-son
58mm, My pregnant girlfriend
Keep it up Victor, I hope to hear from you again soon!
P.S. To my readers, there will probably not be a weekly update this weekend. I’ve been bogged down with exams, an out-of-town conference, and an overall lack of sleep. As always though, I will post when I can. Take care guys and gals.
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
First off, a HUGE thank you to Mike Sims for sending me this brand new optic to test out–especially for allowing me to shoot with it for so long. I can’t do much to thank him except to suggest you check out his Flickr, 500px, and Google+ accounts! Click here for my first impressions of the lens.
IMPORTANT: If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference this post first!
f/.95. Wow! It goes without saying, but that’s fast for ANY lens. Technically, this aperture delivers over four times as much light to a sensor as a standard 50mm f/2. But let me get this crucial fact out of the way, the Noktor HyperPrime 50mm f/.95 does not give a photographer ultra low-light capabilities as much as the aperture value suggests. Any additional light-gathering power stops at around f/1.2-1.3; wider than that, and an APS-C camera simply doesn’t meter any faster shutter speeds. I have read on multiple forums that this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. Some photographers, when using a lens with an f/1.2 maximum aperture report that the camera’s metering doesn’t change even from wide-open to f/1.4. A reader has informed me this is due to a documented condition where a sensor’s microlenses cannot transmit any more light to each pixel than that microlens’ f/stop, regardless of the larger lens’ aperture. Keep in mind that in regards to depth-of-field, f/.95 is definitely true–we’ll examine that later.
The Noktor is a lens that doesn’t exactly establish itself as a normal prime: on APS-C, it gives a field of view similar to that of a 75mm f/1.4 lens on 35mm film (if such as lens has ever existed?). In other words, the Noktor is a short portrait prime capable of extremely pleasant subject separation even at a distance. In all honesty, images shot at f/.95 really have that “full-frame” look simply because of this “pop”. But does this very shallow depth-of-field advantage come at a cost? Let’s find out! Continue Reading