A little over a year ago when I formed this website, one of my promises to you all, my readers, was to go the “quality over quantity” approach in my blogging. Instead of uploading photos after photos, snapshots that only clutter my site’s library, I’ve always tried to cull through only the best of my photographs and write in a style that is frank, concise, yet still sports a touch of my personality. Continue Reading
…and your first impulse is? Make photographs of flowers!
Fair enough. Flowers are pretty, colorful, and chock-full of photographic opportunity. They’re also a macro subject that’s much more forgiving than bugs; provided it isn’t windy, they’ll stay perfectly still for as long as you need them to be. The problem is, coming from your kit or prime lenses that have a limited close-focus distance, you’re used to only making straight-on, centered photographs like this:
Technically speaking, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this photograph. There’s a lot of cool detail on both the anthers and petals from the thin depth of focus and droplets from a rainstorm. Exposure is accurate, and the white balance is correct by metering from a gray card.
Other than that, this photograph is kind of plain. Aside from the thin field-of-focus, there’s no sense of depth or perspective, composition is awkwardly centered, and some of the background leaves are pretty distracting. This photograph isn’t making use of what a macro lens can do. In fact, this shot was purposely taken at about the same close-focus distance that most 100mm lenses end up at. As such, just about anyone can make this photograph with just about any lens. I’d be willing to bet a shockingly similar photograph to the one above is somewhere out there on the internet.
You bought a macro lens, didn’t you? Why not take advantage of its closer-focusing capabilities? Continue Reading
***October 2017 Edit: I have used this lens for over four years now, and it is still my go-to choice for a “normal” APS-c lens. Firmware updates over the years to both Sony bodies and the lens itself have made all focus accuracy issues go away, though the motor itself is still noisy. Regarding sharpness, the lens performs better on the more recent a6500 due to a better on-sensor microlens design. Throw in the in-body image stabilization the camera sports, and it makes the Zeiss another clear winner.***
Click here for my first impressions of this lens. IMPORTANT! If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference THIS POST first! If you are only interested in my comparison of this lens to the Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS, scroll down to the bottom of this page. 🙂
Well it’s about time! Ever since Sony released the specifications for the E-mount in April of 2011, NEX photographers have longed for attractive alternative lens offerings from third-party lens manufacturers such as Tamron and Sigma. Sony liked Tamron’s more-compact 18-200mm so much, it was rebranded as the SEL18200LE. Sigma’s low-cost, zero-frills 19/30/60mm f/2.8 primes all provide outstanding image quality for their price. Even Rokinon/Samyang/Bower/(you name it) surprised everyone with their surprisingly affordable and high-quality 8mm f/2.8 fisheye!
It’s better to arrive late to the party rather than never at all though (the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 is a Sony-branded lens so it doesn’t count), and Zeiss decided 2013 was the year to introduce their new “Touit” (pronounced like “too-it”) line of lenses for both E-mount and X-mount. In addition to the 32mm f/1.8, a super-wide 12mm f/2.8 is available now, and a 50mm f/2.8 Makro-Planar (how Zeiss spells “Macro”) should be available by fall. These lenses are all designed with the serious mirrorless shooter in mind, providing optics that are lightweight and compact, yet powerful enough to resolve fine detail across the large APS-C sensors found in the tiny camera bodies.
What many wonder though: are these premium lenses worthy of the Zeiss name, usually associated with outstanding overall optical performance, loads of micro-contrast, and stellar build quality? I can’t say much about the 12mm f/2.8 (other than that it looks very nice), but let’s take an in-depth look at its more “normal” brother! Continue Reading