Slowly but surely I am upgrading the lenses in my kit to be full-frame compatible. Longtime readers of my site already know I sport a deep collection of Nikkor AI-s lenses, ones that I could easily adapt to a full-frame a9000 or the like. As time goes on, however, I begin to notice the problems the old optics exhibit almost universally: low sharpness/contrast wide-open, mediocre flare performance, and relatively pronounced chromatic aberrations at larger apertures. I’m starting to see the benefits that modern optical formulas can provide where vintage lenses can rarely match.
With the Laowa 15mm f/2, I have found my wide-angle option to cement itself as part of a full-frame-ready kit. Featuring a native E-mount optical design, the compact and fast lens feels right at home even on an a6500, and performs quite admirably all-around. Does the lens perform up to its steep price point compared to the competition? Let’s take a look! As always, if you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, check this post first! Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1000
Photography competitions and workshops can be a great way for photographers to hone their craft in specific ways, given certain guidelines, rules, and themes. For those more competitively-oriented, the possibility of some top prize or internet recognition can be all the motivation one needs to join in. But, for the more “casual” like myself, I tend to avoid the stress of the competitive scene in an art I am not currently pursuing for profit. Thankfully, not all contests are geared to the competitive persona! Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, T3.2, 1/30
Oops! It seems I am a tad late on April’s website update. Just a couple days ago I returned from a work trip to South Korea to perform with the Republic of Korea Navy Band (you can see some of our work on Facebook), and since then, have mostly sat in my room to relax. Hey, a guy’s gotta get some sleep when he can! Continue Reading
Koishikawa Korakuen Viewpoint
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/2000, 46 images stitched
Whew! I can definitely call this year’s Sakura coverage a success on my end. After scoping out locales in Yokohama and executing my photography plans at the right time, it was just a matter of a few more days before the area’s cherry blossoms would begin to fall to the ground, almost all at once! In an effort to get more of the “big-city” picture, I managed to catch time for one last trip for hanami-hunting, this time in everyone’s favorite megacity, Tokyo! Continue Reading
Matsu-no-ochaya (Pine Teahouse)
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/50
I have always been of the mindset that in late winter, if there’s no snow on the ground, most outdoor photography is just plain difficult. It’s still cold, most flora is dead or in hibernation, and days are short enough to limit time out and about. That said, it is hardly an excuse to stay inside. Gloves exist for a reason, not all plants succumb to the elements, and with some careful planning a photographer can still get many hours of adventuring in before the sun sets! Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, T3.2, 1/30
Another weekend, another couple days to write up a website post! Japan hosts an abundance of sights to see, and if you live anywhere near the world’s largest megacity, that goes doubly-so! In early December, right near the tail-end of Fall in my area of Japan, I took a midday trip to Minato, a small ward connected to Tokyo by Rainbow Bridge (fitting name, given the title photo…). The purpose of the trip was actually to have some fun at Tokyo Joypolis with a friend (think indoor amusement park/arcade galore), but I am very glad I brought my camera gear with me. There turned out to be a lot to see and photograph! Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/100
Well, day by day, I’m still editing and posting up what’s left of my previous photo excursions into the late November/early December time of year here in Japan. As the chill of winter starts to set in, the flora all around is slowly dying off, with colors fading and leaves falling to be swept up the next day. Pretty soon, the hum-drum of my least favorite season will take over for a few months, leaving me a bit more time to a) Sleep in more b) Work on some lens/gear reviews and c) Hopefully sleep in again some more! Of course, when the cold does get here to stay, I will make my best effort to get some snow shots, maybe even as far north as Hokkaido’s epic snow villages if I get a 3-day weekend.
But, if my current photos have anything to say about it, that time has not yet come! Right near the peak of Fall color in Tokyo, some friends and I headed on a late afternoon trip to the 143-acre Shinjuku National Garden to catch some late November sights. I did not realize just how impressively the park expands into about a third of the size of New York’s Central Park. As are many things in Japan, however, the park is very space-efficient and contains many smaller vistas and gardens for visitors to enjoy, in addition to vast stretches of open field for picnicking and recreational sports. At the super-reasonable 200¥ admission price, I’ll likely see myself coming back again later next year. All photos below with the NEX-7 and Rokinon 16mm f/2, Zeiss Touit 32mm, and Laowa 105mm T3.2 (the last of which I really, really am trying to find time to review!). Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/125
When you live near the most populous metropolitan area in the world, it pays to get out and experience all there is to see, as often as you can. When that city is also just an hour’s train ride away, there is really little excuse not to go! As I am always finding out, Tokyo is a city I will likely never be able to see all of during my stay here in Japan. Its sheer size and density makes planning out a day trip all the more difficult. Nowadays, when I do go to Tokyo, there is rarely a specific place in mind I try to go to. Instead, based on the weather conditions and local happenings, I vaguely plan my route as I am on the train ride over!
16mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/60
To say that there is a lot to do and see in Japan is a gross understatement. After living in this country for six months now, I am still surprised at how many fun sights and sounds there are to visit within a nation only slightly smaller than California. Even locally, I have the awesome opportunity to be an hour’s train ride from Tokyo, the megacity with near-countless things to do for everyone. Continue Reading