Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part IV Ė Paired with the Sony E-Mount 50mm F1.8 (SEL50F18)

Like I said in the previous parts of this ongoing review, I bought the NEX 7 primarily for use with my Leica lenses, but when Sony came out with a cheap, fast 50mm prime I couldnít resist giving it a spin. Manual focus lenses are great for when your subject isnít moving around much, but thereís times when autofocus makes your life a whole lot easier. The lens sports an all metal body, circular aperture blades and built-in image stabilization; I was prepared to be satisfied with even mediocre sharpness in a lens with all these features and a price tag thatís comparatively easy on the wallet. After playing with it for a couple months now, Iím giving this lens five stars, a gold sticker and two thumbs up. Continue reading “Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part IV Ė Paired with the Sony E-Mount 50mm F1.8 (SEL50F18)”

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Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part III Ė Paired with the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Heliar

The main reason I bought the Sony NEX 7 was to use with my Leica M kit, even though many reviews that said the NEX 7 sensor has a serious flaw that makes it unsuitable for use with wide angle rangefinder lenses. The NEX 7 sensor has a layer of micro-lenses, these micro-lenses focus the light hitting them from the lens onto the photo-receptor sites of the sensor. On the NEX 7 theyíre built with SLR type lenses in mind that sit much farther from the sensor than rangefinder lenses, the light coming from SLR type lenses striking the sensor at nearer to perpendicular angles. Rangefinder lenses, especially wide angle ones, have rear elements that extend much closer to the sensor, causing the light they focus to hit the sensor at much more oblique angles the further they strike from the center. The micro lenses of the NEX 7 sensor canít seem to handle light hitting them at such extreme angles which leads to color shifting and lowered sharpness at the edges and corners. I wonít dispute this makes the NEX 7 less than optimal when paired with such lenses, the question is: ďIs less than optimal still good enough to take good pictures?Ē The first lens Iíll be taking a look at with this in mind is one of my favourites, the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Heliar. Continue reading “Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part III Ė Paired with the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Heliar”

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Street Photography Tutorial #4: All the Small Things

Photography is an expensive hobby; besides the big stuff like cameras and lenses thereís an endless hoard of little gadgets and gizmos weíre told we canít possibly live without. Iím usually a bit fan of buying local, but for some things I just canít justify the ridiculous mark up. At some point someone decided that since weíre willing to shell out a thousand dollars for a lens, we wonít shirk at the $80 price tag on an official lens hood for it (which should be included on all lenses anyways, but donít get me started on that). Take the example of the Canon ET-65B lens hood for my 70-300mm: eBay from Hong Kong is $4.23 and the price at the local photo storeÖ wait for itÖ $74.95 for what amount to three cents worth of moulded plastic! Like I said, I like to shop local and official but come on, a price difference like that is just insulting. Hereíre a few indispensible accessories you can get on the cheap on eBay that every street photographer should add to their bag.
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Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part II – 18-55mm Kit Lens Performance

Yeah, yeah… I said I wasn’t going to do a write up on the kit lens on the Sony NEX 7, but after the shoot at the Old Howard Smith Paper Mill I felt I had to speak up for this little gem. I’ll be honest, I never really gave it a chance when I got it along with my NEX 3. I played with it a bit when I first got it then quickly put it on the shelf, because hey, real photographers don’t use kit lenses, right? Well damn, is my face red. Continue reading “Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part II – 18-55mm Kit Lens Performance”

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What’s In The Bag: Bringing a Camera is Only Part of Being Prepared

Time for another look at what’s in the bag! Last weekend I was invited along to a shoot at the Old Howard Smith Paper Mill in the outskirts of Montreal. This was my first trip to the location, so I didnít really know what to expect; itís situations like this that make my days in Boy Scouts really pay off. When youíre getting ready for a shoot, a photographerís first instinct is to think about camera gear: lights, lenses, cameras, memory cards and tripods. These are all necessary, but often not the most important things youíll bring to a shoot. In then end a camera is just a tool to record an image; if youíre too tired, cold, hungry, wet or blind to use it, no amount of camera gear is going to get you the shots you want. Most of us have sunk a small fortune into our photography bag, luckily you donít have to win the lottery or hit it big on Partypoker to put together a decent support kit with whateverís left in your wallet. If youíre heading out to shoot on location, especially an unfamiliar one thereís a few essential youíll want to bring.
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Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part I – First Impressions

This is part one of my ongoing review of my new toy, the Sony NEX 7. Over the next couple months Iíll be posting my thoughts on the camera paired with various lenses, I didnít buy it to get into Sonyís E-Mount lenses, itís primarily to compliment my Leica film kit so Iíll be talking about it with those lenses in mind. Sonyís own lens offerings arenít amazing so far, I may pick up their new 50mm this summer, but thatís about it. Thereís been a lot of controversy over this camera in the rangefinder circles; it was hoped that the NEX 7 would be the Leica killer, a camera the average user could afford that overcame all the little issues weíve all be complaining about with other mirrorless cameras. Itís got a nice big sensor, gorgeous EVF, lots of manual control nobs and buttons, built in flash, articulated LCD and offers tons of different ways for the user to customize control. On paper itís almost the perfect camera, but conflicting results with wide angle rangefinder lenses had many people worried. Iíll get to that later, but first letís start with first impressions. Continue reading “Sony Nex 7 Rolling Review: Part I – First Impressions”

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Hawk’s Factory Close Focus Adapter Review

The Hawkís Factory Close Focus Adapter is a marvelous little piece of engineering that many people wonít care about, and those that should care, probably donít know about. One of the biggest limitations of any rangefinder system is close focus ability. Rangefinder bodies and lenses just arenít designed for it; parallax error makes focusing closer than around a meter very difficult with mechanical rangefinders so there was never really any reason to build a lens that could focus closer than that. Using a rangefinder lens on a mirrorless camera avoids the issue of parallax error, but the lenses still canít focus any closer than they used to; enter the Hawkís Factory Helicoid. Not only does it allow Leica M lenses to be mounted on a Sony E-Mount camera, itís got a built in helicoid to move the lens out a few more millimeters from the sensor. So what… a few millimeters, what does that give you? Quite a bit actually…
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Thoughts on the Fuji X-Pro1

 

When the mirror-less cameras started coming out a couple years ago, most serious photographers said, ďMeh, interesting, but no thanksĒ. The idea was sound, but the features just werenít there. The smaller sensor size, and resulting crop factor kept most people sceptical, and the lack of viewfinder scared the rest away. Panasonic made some progress with their G series, but it still wasnít a serious workhorse; at best the Micro 4/3rds cameras were considered nice snapshot tools to take on vacation when you didnít want to lug around your Canon or Nikon gear. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Fuji X-Pro1”

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A Word on the Lytro: Technology Vs Creativity

Last week saw the release of yet another technical marvel in the world of photography, possibly one of the most important photographic inventions since the digital sensor. Behold the Lytro, the worlds first commercial camera capable of recording depth in a photo, allowing you to change the plane of focus after the shot. Iím not going to go into details on how this little gadget works, thereís a ton online already for those that are interested. It doesnít really matter, letís call it Wizards and forget about that for now.

At the moment the technology is too knew to be even considered for professional work. It hasnít been confirmed yet as the Lytro company has been pretty dodgey about releasing actual technical specs for the camera, saying only that it has an ď11 Mega-RayĒ sensor, which is exactly what it sounds likeÖ techno-babble to confuse the masses into buying into a big number in front of an ďMĒ, because no self-respecting consumer would buy a digital camera with less than 10 MísÖ Mís are good right? Thatís where the Jiga-Pixels come from right? One of the pro-photogs that was given a pre-release sample said the actual resolution is somewhere between 1-2MP, so good enough for the web or a 4X6 print. †I knew something smelled fishy when actual resolution numbers where nowhere to be found in any of the press material. Continue reading “A Word on the Lytro: Technology Vs Creativity”

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Street Photography Tutorial #2: Tools of the Trade

Last tutorial I talked about the two main types of street photographer: Hunter or Gatherer. This time I’m going to go into the tools of the trade. My street photography kit is very different from my working kit in many ways; my usual working kit contains everything I think I’m going to need for a job, a lot of things I’ll probably need and many things I’ll never need but feel better for bringing. My street photography kit however is usually only about half of what I would like to bring on a given day. The reason for this is simple, on a job I have to be ready for any possibility I can think of and be prepared for the fact I didn’t think of everything. Less is more however when it comes to street photography; I could be walking around for hours so the less I’m carrying the better, and the fewer lenses I bring the less I’ll be inclined to focus on lens selection instead of watching whatís going on around me. There’s many reasons to keep your street photography kit small, which I’ll get into as I go, but first things first, lets talk about the foundation of any kit: your camera and lens(es). Continue reading “Street Photography Tutorial #2: Tools of the Trade”

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