As a former Sony APS-C (A6000) and full-frame (A7 II ) shooter, I’ve had my fair share of experiences using excellent Zeiss lenses like the legendary Sonnar 55mm f/1.8, Distagon 35mm f/1.4, and the Sonnar 35mm f/2.8. I loved the contrasty colors and the sharpness of the lens and I once you’re accustom to such excellent optics, you can’t go back to the lesser (I say with confidence) lenses by Sony’s own in-house optics (not to take anything away from Sony, but the Zeiss lenses were superior).
Since I’ve moved away from Sony to Micro 4/3 (Olympus) and a full-frame Leica (Leica Q), I’ve been searching for the Carl-Zeiss equivalent of optics technology and I’ve found it with the Panasonic-Leica lenses for Micro 4/3. Excellent color rendering and very sharp lenses that anyone with M43 should have in their camera bag.
The Leica Q and its SUMMILUX lens cranked my lens satisfaction to another level.
Instead of typing out the word to explain to you how Leica has won me over with their lenses, let me show you some examples from a DPReview forum discussion: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4139186
The comparison was between the Carl-Zeiss (Sony) FE PLANAR 50mm f/1.4 (top) and the Leica SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 (bottom)
The two photos were shot with the same exposure settings.
The differences should be immediately apparent (at least to me) and show that the Leica has more dynamic range and micro-contrast compared to the Zeiss optic. I’ve also noticed that the Leica (my particular Leica Q) was sharper across the frame, wide-open at f/1.7 compared to my excellent Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 (the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 was soft on all corners and never really got sharp…at all, but it had amazing bokeh).
I’ve always thought that my photos with the Leica Q were more “3D” compared to my old Zeiss lenses and I can finally show tangible proof comparing the two lenses.
So when people talk about the “Leica look” in the digital world, you now know what to look for.
When Sony announced the G Master lineup last year (they’re Sony’s top of the line lenses – similar to Canon’s L II series lenses, but a little sharper), I knew I had to get them…but then I saw the price tags for each:
Sony FE 24-70 f/2.8 GM ($2,200)
Sony FE 85 f/1.4 GM ($1,800)
Sony FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM ($2,600)
If you felt a drip of sweat and caught yourself saying, “wow…” – you’re not alone.
These might be some of the sharpest and the most high tech lenses on the market today, but due to their price, they’re also out of reach for most amateur (even prosumers) photographers.
I eventually resigned them to “unobtanium” status like Leica cameras.
That changed however…out of sheer luck, when I happened to find an open-box 24-70 f/2.8 GM at my local Best Buy for a “mere” $1,500 ($1,400 if you include some discount codes I’ve been saving to use one day).
I was fucking ecstatic…
Telling you that I’ve seen the light (pun intended) would be an understatement. After a couple of months of using the 24-70 GM (Photos: Examples), I can easily say that this lens was worth every penny (especially at the price I got it for).
So the 24-70 GM was amazing, but what about the current topic in hand?
Sony FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM OSS
When the 70-200 GM was released, it was extremely hard to find in stock (even to rent) due to the complicated nature of building these lenses from the factory.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that these have been out of stock for over 6-8 months since their original release last year.
It was like trying to find the new killer toy coming out during the holiday season and the only way to get one was to stalk the shit out of your local and online stores.
It was that bad…
Not like I can afford it either, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to at least try it out.
Fast forward a year, I was finally able to rent one from the good people at LensRentals.com for a couple of days for my company’s charity golf tournament this past weekend.
Paired with my Sony A7II + the VGC2EM battery grip, I put the lens to work and pulled these images that day:
A few of us haven’t done a photowalk in a while so I thought it was a good idea to get together with the mirrorless team again today to take some pictures while the weather was on our side.
I didn’t exactly know what time we were planning on doing this since the idea kind of came up last night out of whim, but luckily I received a text about forty-five minutes ahead of the meeting time since I had just left the gym when I got the text.
Over some burgers and fries at our local Fuddruckers, we were deliberating on a location for the photowalk (like I said, this was planned all out of whim with no actual plan). The thought occurred to me during our planning that none of them had ever gone to the Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg.
So it was decided.
Apparently there was a strawberry picking event paired with a hay ride, so after each of us paid the $10 fee to walk the premises, we thought, “sure…why not?”
Like how most of these things go, there were a lot of kids with their parents, stuffing their baskets with ripe strawberries (for a fee of course).
There really wasn’t much to do for us since we weren’t interested in picking strawberries, so we rode the hay ride back to the main guest house and decided to explore the rest of the estate on foot.
Below are a mix of between my Sony A7II and the Olympus PEN-F.
A couple with the PEN-F:
Below are some Ninja shots that Chris took of me with his PEN-F (all JPEGs):
Got together with a fun Mother and Daughter team over the weekend for a Senior Portraits photoshoot for Lauren.
We originally had planned to do it on Saturday, but of course, the weather didn’t cooperate thanks to the rain.
The Photoshoot took place at their friend’s house in Mclean, VA where they had a massive 6 acre estate with similarly massive gardens (plural – more than one). The weather was slightly cloudy so it wasn’t too hot or bright out, but it was definitely a bit humid. Heat and humidity weather will always be challenge for any outdoor activity, especially for photography. The biggest challenge of taking great pictures is to patient with your external surroundings (hot/cold weather, traffic, people, etc).
The Mom, Lynn, was energetic and excited to get shit done. The model, Lauren, didn’t look as enthused but that changed after a couple of photos. We were pretty much all laughing and having a great time. I was fortunate to have a fun team to work with because having fun is half of the photography experience in my opinion.
I had Lynn take care of the reflector work on top of doing other “motherly” things like fixing Lauren’s hair, straightening out her dress, etc. You know…the touch ups.
With that, below are some of my favorites from the day:
I was double-fisting both the Sony full-frame and the Olympus Micro Four-Thirds bodies, both serving different purposes. With the Sony, I mated the body with the Zeiss 55 for those personal up-close photos while the little Olympus and the 75mm combo was used for that “compression” look with the subject further away.
The legendary Zeiss 55 is probably one of the sharpest lenses ever made. With a camera with a good megapixel sensor (24MP in my case), I could take a photo 50 feet away from the subject, crop it, and it still look as sharp as if I took the photo 15 feet away (photo above).
The above photo is definitely one of my favorites due to the composition and the good lighting we were able to achieve (thanks to Lynn’s awesome reflector holding skills on the right of the frame). This also shows off the Zeiss “pop” that the company is known for.
Gotta love Olympus’ color rendering, which I prefer over the big boy Sony, even in RAW. I was also really impressed with how much dynamic range I had to play with on the 20 MP sensor on the PEN-F.
However, the photos from Micro Four-Thirds sensors will look “darker” compared to a bigger sensor like the full-frame Sony because it’s just not gathering as much light. This is where you can’t fight physics, despite how far technology had progressed. You can compensate for this by cranking down the shutter speed (and let the 5 Axis IBIS help you out) and slightly increasing the exposure by turning the exposure dial.
If you look at the photos and their exposure settings, you can see that the photos taken with the Olympus consistently had a higher ISO than the Sony in similar outdoor environments.
This is a perfect example of having that background compression you can only get with a telephoto lens, in this case, a fast prime. The 75mm on a Micro Four-Thirds give you that 150mm equivalent look on a Full-Frame camera. The lens was magical and you can see the subject “pop” from the environment.
I might fanboy over the Olympus 75mm, but the legendary Zeiss 55 still reigns king.
The 55mm paired with the Sony’s fantastic Facial Recognition focus, I was able to nail the focus with their faces, even with the aperture wide open.
This was a fantastic experience and I want to thank both Lynn and Lauren for being a lot of fun to work with.
Fellow blogger and Olympus aficionado ATMTX posted an interesting read this morning about how DSLR cameras will ultimately lose.
If you are an avid follower of Digital Imaging technology or photography enthusiast, you surely will have noticed that more and more strides that are making headlines (whether from sensors, auto-focus speeds, size and build quality) are all coming from Sony, Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic: major players that currently dominate the mirrorless market, not including Leica or Hassleblad (ballers).
But…not so much from Nikon or Canon. Seriously, when was the last time you heard any buzz from those two? The only buzz I’m hearing from these two giants are negative news: Nikon is on a decline, Canon’s 5D MkIV missed the mark with fans, etc.
Now anyone that knows me will tell you that I’ve been a firm believer in the mirrorless market since picking up a Sony A6000 back in September of last year, but the transition was not as smooth as people think. Not due to any technological restrictions, but mentally I had to go over the hurdle that these little cameras were going to be the future.
DSLRs have always been a staple in “pro” photography as long as I’ve been doing any enthusiast level photography 8 years ago. We have been marketed to death that DSLRs are the “future” and that professionals are shooting nothing less than a big flapping mirror.
I was one of those believers since I started using the Nikon D40, my first DSLR, for my trip to Italy during the Summer of 2009. Actually, you can take a look at those pictures now and see how much I’ve matured as a photographer since then: Italy 2009
We can go over the years of photos I’ve taken with the D40 and then the D60, but fast forward to 2014 when I picked up a Sony RX100 Mk I “point and shoot” camera.
Spoiler Alert: the image quality was so good from this little one inch sensor, that I sold my D60 because I was thinking, “why do I need to lug this crap around when this little pocket camera takes better photos?” (this was also the same time when I’ve become acquainted with the German lens company Carl-Zeiss, but I digress).
This transition ultimately led me to where I am now: the Sony A7II and the Olympus PEN-F.
I’ll eventually post a story of my transition to mirrorless, but go ahead and read this article because I feel that ATMTX nailed it on explaining everything: link
I’ve never been to the National Arboretum in the city so I made the effort to make the drive out there with my friend Ben.
I want to caveat and say that the weather wasn’t on our side so we were taking a gamble of going out there with a good chance of getting rained out, but surprisingly we were able get two solid hours of photos before it started to pour.
However, this post isn’t about the arboretum…oh no.
It’s about paying attention to your photos, especially for water spots.
I took this picture above after some minor editing in Lightroom and I was able to get most of the water spots on the left out of the photo, but I completely overlooked the water spot on the top right corner.
It wasn’t until I posted my picture on Reddit than someone pointed this out to me. It was embarassing to say the least in what should have been a pretty awesome photo.
I felt like this was a good time to test out my new mobile photo editing rig, so I pulled out my new iPad Pro 9.7 with the Apple Pencil and went into the Adobe Photoshop Fix app and fixed the problem.
So now after spending about 5 minutes on the iPad Pro, I got the result I was happy with:
So the lesson here folks: pixel peep before you post!
If you’re a photography hobbyist (or any hobby really), then you need to check out “Meetup“, a website that show all local get together spots based on your favorite hobby.
I signed up for a meet up at the NGA (National Gallery of Art) earlier last week, curious about the experience, but unfortunately the weather turned for the worse.
The weather was pretty much crap (freezing rain, cold) but a handful of people came to the meet, mostly with DSLRs and their kit lenses, but one or two people had full-frames like the Canon 5D Mark III (attached to a 50mm 1.4).
The person that organized the meet basically had everyone introduce themselves and then sent everyone on their way to do their own thing.
Not very “groupy” about this photo meet, but I didn’t care…I attached my Sony Zeiss FE 35 f/1.4 and took off on my own.
The new East Building houses the Gallery’s collection of modern and contemporary art. The renovation was recently completed, which added 12,250 square feet of new exhibition space within the existing footprint of the building, including two tower galleries and a rooftop terrace for outdoor sculpture that overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue. The number of works on view from the collection has increased from 350 to 500.
I don’t know anything about art, but the new addition to the museum afforded them new acquisitions from the Corcoran Collection and recent gifts from the Collectors Committee, Virginia Dwan, Agnes Gund, the Hakuta Family, the Al Held Foundation, the Patrons’ Permanent Fund, Arnold and Joan Saltzman, Victoria and Roger Sant, Deborah and Ed Shein, as well as artists Glenn Ligon, Jenny Holzer, David Novros, Kenneth Snelson, and others. (I’m literally reading this off their site)
They’ve also included photography, works on paper, and media arts exhibits in addition to painting and sculpture tells a more expansive story of modern art. They also added two new staircases and an elevator that permit easier access to all levels of the building.
The original plan for the East Building began in 1968 — on a site set aside by founder Andrew W. Mellon in the 1930s for the Gallery’s future expansion. The cultural significance of modern art was on the rise, and the Gallery had begun to acquire works by living artists, therefore you don’t have to dead before becoming a famous artist. A very morbid prerequisite.
Their historical collection dating back to the twelfth century is displayed in the West Building.
One crazy thing I’ve experience in the museum was the backpack rule:
“For the protection of our artworks, suitcases, large umbrellas, large bags, and large backpacks are not allowed in the galleries. Smaller backpacks and bags are permitted, at the discretion of the museum’s security officers, if they are hand-carried. Backpacks may not be worn on the back, but must be carried on the side, under the arm, or on the front of the body. These limitations help us protect the artworks from accidental damage.”
I had one of the security people ask me to sling my backpack over one shoulder instead of using both.
Around noon, I took a trip upstairs to their Terrace Cafe and got some brunch that consisted of coffee, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a piece of toast, and a cup of fruits. All at a cool price of $15 – what a rip.
It was also the perfect place to finally meet up with Oliver since our several attempts in the past ended failure, either due to scheduling or commute.
First part of photography 101 consisted of the following:
We tried to get through as much as we can for the 1.5 we had until my 2:00pm meet at Union Station, but I think Oliver got some of the basic understanding down.
I had to leave the museum to make it to my next event on time, so Oliver and I walked over to Union Station.
When we arrived, Oliver left to explore on his own and decided to meet up later.
I on the other hand met a group of friendly enthusiasts of all ages.
The purpose of this event was to better understand Black and White photography and when it’s the best time to use it.
We also went over why it’s good to use this type of photography:
Black and white allows you to begin to think about the key elements (lighting, composition, elements in and out of the frame) that you might otherwise not focus on as much when you’re thinking about making colors work together, or pop.
You’ll See Light Differently
What you lose from not being able to capture beautiful golden hour light, you’ll gain back in focusing more on the direction, quantity and quality of light around you. Learning how to read and play with different elements of light in this way is a fantastic skill.
It Helps Emphasize Emotion
The Timeless Quality From Black And White
Anyways – after a long day of taking photos, Oliver and I trekked over to Capital City Brewing and met up with Jillian for dinner.