Admiring Light http://admiringlight.com/blog Photography Reviews, Photos, News and Musings Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:44:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Photokina Tidbits – Kowa m4/3 Lenses, Sigma DP1 Quattro, Zeiss 85mm Otus, Leica S and more http://admiringlight.com/blog/photokina-tidbits-kowa-m43-lenses-sigma-dp1-quattro-zeiss-85mm-otus-leica-s/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=photokina-tidbits-kowa-m43-lenses-sigma-dp1-quattro-zeiss-85mm-otus-leica-s http://admiringlight.com/blog/photokina-tidbits-kowa-m43-lenses-sigma-dp1-quattro-zeiss-85mm-otus-leica-s/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:31:19 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=4114 Well, my time at Photokina 2014 is at an end.  I’ve had a great time, and even took some time for myself to do some sightseeing and enjoy being in German culture again.  I lived in Germany for 3.5 years, between 2002 and 2006, and this is my first trip back since I returned to …

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Well, my time at Photokina 2014 is at an end.  I’ve had a great time, and even took some time for myself to do some sightseeing and enjoy being in German culture again.  I lived in Germany for 3.5 years, between 2002 and 2006, and this is my first trip back since I returned to the US.  It’s been great reconnecting with this country.  Anyway, I’ll have a Photokina recap coming soon with some very interesting observations concerning the visitors to Photokina, and how it relates to the current camera market.  Today, I’m going over a bunch of different things.  Sigma’s APS-C compact camera line, some new Micro 4/3 lenses, and some big stuff: The Zeiss Otus 85mm, the Leica S medium format camera and the Canon 400mm f/4 DO II.

If you’ve missed my previous articles covering all the new camera news here at Photokina, check out the links below:

So why am I lumping all this other stuff into one big article? Well, the rest of these items are cool things…but there’s not pages of discussion to be had at this time on each individual item.  So let’s dive into some of the remainder of my Photokina testing.

Sigma DP1 Quattro

Sigma certainly grabbed headlines with their bizarrely shaped new line of ‘compact’ cameras when they were announced last year, and the DP1 Quattro is the wide-angle version of this multi-camera line.  The DP1 Quattro features an APS-C Foveon X3 Quattro sensor with a 19mm f/2.8 lens and a bizarre body shape.  Now, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the DP1Q’s most essential feature: that 19 megapixel Foveon sensor, which should produce insane amounts of detail due to the three layer sensor arrangement.  I did, however get to test out handling, operational speed, focusing and so on.

The Sigma DP1 Quattro

The Sigma DP1 Quattro

If I had to sum up the DP1 Quattro in one word, that word would be ‘slow.’  If I had two words, it would be ‘slow, awkward.’  Yes, I found the DP1 Quattro to handle almost as poorly as it looks like it handles.  The balance is actually rather nice, but the overly long body is not going to fit into many small camera bags, and it certainly won’t fit in a pocket.  The grip is also quite awkward and uncomfortable to hold, at least to me.  I’m not quite sure what Sigma is thinking here.  I’m OK with strange-looking designs if they confer a benefit on the user, but the Quattro line doesn’t, at least on first impression, appear to do that.

I also found the change in depth from the four-way controller on the rear of the grip to the buttons next to the touch screen to be incredibly jarring to go between.  It’s only about a half inch, but these controls might as well be on different sides of the camera, as they simply don’t feel like one interface due to that depth gap.  It’s not good.  On the plus side, the quality of the rear screen is quite good.

The rear of the DP1 Quattro

The rear of the DP1 Quattro

I also mentioned slow, and indeed, it’s a slow camera.  It’s slow to start up, slow to autofocus (though not terrible), slow to take the picture, slow to write to the card, and, most infuriatingly of all, slow to allow you to take another picture.  Now, if you’re using this camera for landscape or other such work, those issues won’t pose a problem, but this is not a ‘decisive moment’ camera.  Still, Sigma has been making some excellent lenses as of late, and the Foveon sensor is known for its excellent low ISO image quality, so if the speed issues aren’t a bother and you can find a place to put this camera, it may still be worth a look.

Kowa Prominar Lenses for Micro 4/3

The Kowa 8.5mm f/2.8 on the Olympus E-M5

The Kowa 8.5mm f/2.8 on the Olympus E-M5

I stumbled upon the Kowa booth on day 2 of Photokina and had a quick look at the three lenses they recently announced.  These are fully manual lenses, including an 8.5mm f/2.8, a 12mm f/1.8 and a 25mm f/1.8.  These lenses are solidly built of metal and glass and operate very smoothly. They also come in multiple colors, including green! They are also rather large lenses (for Micro 4/3…they’re quite compact in the grand scheme of things).  The 12mm f/1.8 and 25mm f/1.8 are both notably larger than the similar specification autofocus lenses from Olympus.

However, the 8.5m f/2.8 is the most interesting of the three lenses, as it’s one of the widest primes available for the system, with a focal length equivalent to a 17mm lens on full frame.  This lens is large for Micro 4/3, but provides a nice angle of view and comes with a beautiful metal petal lens hood, which you can see on the image to the right with the OM-D E-M5.  The camera they had there with the lens didn’t have a card in it, so I couldn’t judge image quality on the rear LCD. These may be worth the look if you’re after a budget wide-angle or normal lens but still want excellent build quality.

The Kowa 25mm f/1.8

The Kowa 25mm f/1.8

Tamron 14-150mm for Micro 4/3

Tamron’s 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 has been out for a little while now, and offers a competitor to Olympus’ own 14-150mm.  The two lenses are quite similar and size, and the Tamron is a typical plastic super-zoom when it comes to build quality, though I have to say, they’ve done a great job with the zoom action, which was extremely smooth and simply felt great to use.  Early reports show tis lens to be pretty good optically, and it’s a good option for those ‘all-in-one’ types of shoots.

Tamron 14-150mm on an Olympus E-M5

Tamron 14-150mm on an Olympus E-M5

Photo Clam

I also passed by the Photo Clam booth.  If you don’t know of Photo Clam, they make a line of Arca-Swiss quick release compatible ballheads.  I’ve actually owned a Photo Clam PC-36 for about 3-4 years, and it’s been a fantastic head for my main tripod.  I started talking with them and I noted that my PC-36 had been great, though I hadn’t’ stressed it with a bunch of weight over time since I switched to mirrorless (though it’s held my 1Ds II + Canon 70-200/2.8L IS II). They then showed me their new Mirrorless Camera universal quick-release plate.

Why am I spending time talking about a QR Plate?  Because this is the first universal plate that I’ve seen that actually makes sense on mirrorless cameras.  It’s very thin, about half the depth of a standard QR plate (the dovetails are sideways).  This fits the body of my X-E2 very well (though since it’s universal, it obviously doesn’t have a cutout for the X-E2 battery door), and should work very well on most any mirrorless body.  I’ve been using a Really Right Stuff universal plate when I test new cameras, but this Photo Clam will replace it for me, as it just works better on the smaller bodies (I do own RRS custom plates for my X-T1, NEX-6 and a6000).  If you don’t want to shell out for a custom plate, but still want something that will fit your slimmer mirrorless camera, this is worth a look.  Photo Clam was nice enough to provide me with one, so thanks, Photo Clam!  They don’t have the new mirrorless plate on their website yet, but it should be up soon! (http://www.photoclam.com)

Photo Clam Mirrorless quick release plate

Photo Clam Mirrorless quick release plate

THe plate is narrow enough to fit most mirrorless camera bodies

THe plate is narrow enough to fit most mirrorless camera bodies

Now on to the big boys:

Continue: Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus, Leica S and Canon 400m f/4 DO II

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Hands On: Leica T http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-leica-t/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hands-leica-t http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-leica-t/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:39:54 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=4105 Yesterday was a sort of catch-all day for me at Photokina.  I’d hit the major focus for my readers on the first two days of the show, and spent yesterday going from booth to booth, trying out some interesting things here and there.  Tomorrow, I’ll have a catch-all article detailing those things.  Among them are the Sigma …

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Yesterday was a sort of catch-all day for me at Photokina.  I’d hit the major focus for my readers on the first two days of the show, and spent yesterday going from booth to booth, trying out some interesting things here and there.  Tomorrow, I’ll have a catch-all article detailing those things.  Among them are the Sigma DP1, some third-party lenses for Micro 4/3, a run with the new Canon 400mm DO, and some additional fun with Leica and Zeiss.   However, in the mirrorless world, the one major stop I did was at Leica’s large center, to lay my hands on the Leica T.

The Leica T - with 23mm f/2 Summicron

The Leica T – with 23mm f/2 Summicron

The Leica T has been out for a few months now, and some of you may have tried it, or even own it, but it is still a relatively new product, and a relative rarity for Leica: a new lens mount and lens lineup.  Leica did announce two new lense for the Leica T:  An 11-23mm ultra-wide and a 55-135mm telephoto, both with variable aperture ranges of f/3.5-4.5.  I had a chance to try both lenses and the 23mm f/2 Summicron.

First off, the body: The single milled block of aluminum that makes up the Leica T body does feel extremely high-end and solid.  There’s no doubt about that.  And despite the hardness, the camera is generally nice to hold, though I still prefer many other cameras to it in that department.  The edges are sculpted well and fit my hand fine, but they are a bit sharp, and so long-term ergonomics are a question mark.

The minimal controls of the Leica T - Two dials, a power switch and a move record button

The minimal controls of the Leica T – Two dials, a power switch and a move record button

The interface, as you may know, is configured with two dials on top and a touch screen.  That’s pretty much it.  No buttons (aside from the shutter button and a movie record button), no switches (aside from power), nothing.  When I first heard about this interface, I was very much put off by it, but having used it in practice, it’s actually very well engineered and quite smooth to operate.  If you need to change a parameter that isn’t on the dial, press the icon on the side of the screen, and select the parameter to adjust.  Mode is handled this way as well.  It does amount to multiple screen presses, but they’re quick and fluid and simple.  While I’d still prefer dedicated buttons for most things, this interface does work quite well.  It’s simply something quite different from what I’m used to.

One thing about the Leica T that isn’t so great, however, is speed. It takes a little while to start up, and the autofocus, especially with the new 55-135mm, is rather slow.  I also noticed a slight tendency for the focus to be slightly behind where I put it, but that’s something that is hard to pin down as part of the camera, or user error with such a small window of usage.

The rear touch screen of the Leica T

The rear touch screen of the Leica T

Overall, the camera is fairly nice.  It’s beautifully built and works fairly well.  The rear screen is clear and sharp, and image quality, at least looking on the back, appeared to be quite nice.  The two new zoom lenses are quite small and well-built, with the 55-135mm being particularly compact for the focal and aperture range.  It’s quite a nice tiny kit.  However, these lenses don’t feel quite as solid as Leica’s M or S mount offerings.  Then again, they also don’t cost what those M and S mount lenses cost.  One thing sorely missing from these lenses, especially on the telephoto zoom, is image stabilization.  Leica has moved into the modern camera world with the Leica T, and in this market, a telephoto zoom lens without stabilization of any kind is a big letdown.

Is the Leica T worth the huge premium?  I’d have to work with it quite a bit more to be sure, though on paper it looks to be quite expensive for what you get.  However, the build quality is excellent, especially on the body, and it does provide a nice small autofocus capable kit.  I’m going to try to get a review sample of the Leica T at some point in the next few months to give it a more thorough run-through.

 

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Capturing the Postcard Photo http://admiringlight.com/blog/capturing-postcard-photo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=capturing-postcard-photo http://admiringlight.com/blog/capturing-postcard-photo/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:40:29 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=4091 With Cologne’s great cathedral stretching high into the sky, any shot that represents the city typically features this well-known (and quite beautiful) landmark.  There is, however, one spot where the ‘quintessential’ photo of Cologne is typically made: across the river to the left of the bridge at sunset. There have been tens of thousands of …

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With Cologne’s great cathedral stretching high into the sky, any shot that represents the city typically features this well-known (and quite beautiful) landmark.  There is, however, one spot where the ‘quintessential’ photo of Cologne is typically made: across the river to the left of the bridge at sunset. There have been tens of thousands of photos made from this spot, and for good reason: the bridge with the cathedral and the light behind the cathedral at sunset or just after makes for a fantastic composition.  Of course, it’s been done before.  Over, and over and over.  If you go to a souvenir stand, you’ll likely find multiple post cards with slightly different variations of the same photo, depending on framing, light on that particular day, etc.

Cologne at Night – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 @ 48mm, f/9, 6 sec

So naturally, last night I went to go make the same photo.  Why?  Because it IS a beautiful spot to get a photo of the city.  And frankly, I didn’t care that it wasn’t great ‘art’ since it’s an extremely cliché view: I wanted my own version of that shot…well, just because.  With Photokina in town, thousands upon thousands of photographers are here in the city, and, of course, quite a lot made the same trek for the same shot. I’m sure the results will be different, as people will frame things differently, or go in close on the cathedral, or go super wide, and so on, but we were generally congregated in a similar area.  I took several different framings and several different focal lengths throughout the hour I was sitting there.  I also had a great chat with another photographer.  I got the shot I was after, above, but just as interesting was watching the people take pictures.  There were far more photographers here than are shown…some above on the plaza up and to the right, some below and behind me on the steps where I was. All capturing the same shot.  And why not?  It’s a beautiful city.

Photographers Shooting the Cologne Cathedral – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 @ 40mm, f/14, 20sec

Photographers Shooting the Cologne Cathedral – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 @ 24mm, f/9, 8 seconds

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Interview with Fujifilm’s Torben Hondong http://admiringlight.com/blog/interview-with-fujifilms-torben-hondong/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=interview-with-fujifilms-torben-hondong http://admiringlight.com/blog/interview-with-fujifilms-torben-hondong/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:58:25 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=4084 I had a chance to speak briefly with Torben Hondong of Fujifilm Germany today about the recently announced Fujifilm X-Series lenses and the future of the lens lineup at Fuji. Stabilization in the 16-55mm f/2.8 I asked Mr. Hondong the question that everyone’s been asking: Why does the new 16-55mm f/2.8 not feature an image …

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I had a chance to speak briefly with Torben Hondong of Fujifilm Germany today about the recently announced Fujifilm X-Series lenses and the future of the lens lineup at Fuji.

Stabilization in the 16-55mm f/2.8

I asked Mr. Hondong the question that everyone’s been asking: Why does the new 16-55mm f/2.8 not feature an image stabilizer?

Mr. Hondong stated that the main concerns were to do with size and weight. To keep the high quality they wanted, the lens with a stabilizer would have been too large, both larger in diameter and length, as well as weight. He thought that the lens would have enough performance to be useful to photographers without having a stabilizer.

The new 90mm f/2

The new 90mm f/2

Large Lens Size

Noting that the 16-55mm did not include a stabilizer due to size concerns, I asked Mr. Hondong about the larger size of the 90mm f/2 and 140-400mm mockups that are shown at Photokina, especially the 90mm f/2, which seemed very large for a 90mm f/2 lens.

Mr. Hondong stated that the lenses shown at Photokina are only mockups for the direction they are moving in for these lenses at the moment. The mockups are not a final size for the lenses. They could be the same size, or they could be smaller. He also noted that any larger size of these lenses would only be to give the best possible picture quality.

Lens Lineup in the future

I asked Mr. Hondong whether Fuji planned to continue catering to the high end shooter solely, or if they also planned on releasing cheaper, smaller and slower lenses in the same range.

Mr. Hondong noted that Fuji would be doing both. Plans are to fill out the lens lineup fully for both advanced shooters as well as on the consumer level.

I asked if there were plans to add any specialty lenses to the system, such as tilt-shift lenses, fisheye lenses or so on. He stated that the 56mm f/1.2 APD is the first step in a more specialized lens. They’re going to see how the market reacts to the more specialized optics before deciding on expanding in that area, since these specialty lenses are very low volume.

I asked if there were plans to release any long prime lenses, and he stated that there were no plans for that at the moment, but perhaps it would be reexamined when the 2016 roadmap comes out.

Finally, I asked if the rumors of a replacement with a faster focus motor for the 35mm f/1.4 were true. Mr. Hondong replied that he did not know if there were plans to replace the 35mm. He thought it was possible it would be looked at in the future, but he had no knowledge if it was being pursued right now.

X-Pro 2

Finally, I asked Mr. Hondong about any news on the long-awaited replacement for the X-Pro 1.

Mr. Hondong said that it was difficult. Shooters of the X-Pro 1 desire the hybrid optical finder, and they are thinking of ways to bring something like the EVF of the X-T1 into a hybrid finder, but that this proves challenging to fit into a body that people expect. To be clear, he wasn’t confirming that an X-T1 sized finder would be in an X-Pro 2, but that the fact that the X-T1 exists makes designing the new finder challenging due to expectations. He mentioned the X100s and T improving on the hybrid finder of the X100, and that Fuji would see how the response to the X100T was to consider the options for any potential X-Pro replacement.

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Hands On: Panasonic LX100, GM5, Voigtländer 10.5mm f/0.95 and more http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-panasonic-lx100-gm5-voigtlander-10-5mm-f0-95/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hands-panasonic-lx100-gm5-voigtlander-10-5mm-f0-95 http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-panasonic-lx100-gm5-voigtlander-10-5mm-f0-95/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:35:08 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=4063 Continuing the Day 2 coverage of Photokina, we’re off to Panasonic, to se what they’ve put together for this year.  There were a number of releases from Panasonic, though nothing earth shattering.  Or was there?  Let’s dive in with the LX100 The Panasonic LX100 is Panasonic’s foray into large sensor compact cameras.  The LX line …

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Continuing the Day 2 coverage of Photokina, we’re off to Panasonic, to se what they’ve put together for this year.  There were a number of releases from Panasonic, though nothing earth shattering.  Or was there?  Let’s dive in with the LX100

Panasonic's New LX100 with 4/3 sized sensor

Panasonic’s New LX100 with 4/3 sized sensor

The Panasonic LX100 is Panasonic’s foray into large sensor compact cameras.  The LX line has always had good quality, but used smaller sensors.  Meanwhile, Sony with their RX100 line and RX1, Fuji with the X100 series and Sigma with their APS-C compacts have been staking out this niche.  Panasonic responds by skipping the 1″ sensor and sticking a 4/3 sized sensor in the camera.  In order to keep the camera as small as possible, they’ve made the lens cut off a bit of the sensor and used a regular 4/3 sensor as a multi-aspect sensor.  As such, the camera has a 2.2x crop factor and a bit more than 12 megapixels.  Still, the image quality should be stellar.  Of course, I was unable to use my memory card in the LX100, but I did spend a significant amount of time with the camera.

The body is magnesium with a small but comfortable grip on front.  It feels rather nice in the hand.  It’s not a super small body, being a fair bit larger than an RX100, but it should still easily fit in a jacket pocket.  This is all the more impressive considering the range and speed of the lens.  The camera features a 24-75mm equivalent lens with an f/1.7 to f/2.8 aperture.  On a sensor this large, that will allow for very good image quality in dimmer light and even reasonable subject separation and shallow depth of field.

Panasonic has laid out the controls in a manner that is quite different from other Panasonic cameras, but will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s used a Fuji X camera.  In fact, the controls are almost identical to the Fuji X-E2 or X100T.  There is a shutter speed dial on top, an aperture ring and a dedicated exposure compensation dial.  Third stop shutter speeds are selectable by using the rear dial.  I personally love this control scheme, so I enjoy seeing on more cameras, though Fuji may be casting a disapproving glance at Panasonic.  That said, it’s not like Fuji patented these controls..they’ve been around for decades on older film cameras.  There is also a switch on the lens barrel to switch between manual and autofocus modes, and I did find this switch difficult to engage due to its close proximity to the body.

LX100 from the top, showing the lens extended and the contrls

LX100 from the top, showing the lens extended and the controls

The camera features an electronic viewfinder that is fairly large, but unfortunately is lower quality than the ones found in, say, the GX7.  It appears similar to the viewfinder in the GH2, though it’s a 16:9 aspect ratio and as such will show bars on the sides when shooting in 3:2 or 4:3.   Despite not being up to more recent EVFs in Panasonic bodies, it still is a nice finder, especially in such a small camera.

Manual focus is a breeze

Manual focus is a breeze

The LX100 is responsive and focuses quickly.  The only slow thing about the camera is that zooming with the toggle switch is quite leisurely. Manual focus is a breeze with the auto enlarging patch and focus peaking.  It’s easy, clear and accurate.  I can’t judge absolute image quality due to not seeing full resolution files, but looking at the rear LCD, the lens on the LX100 seems to be very good, with excellent contrast and color and good sharpness.  Use with flash is also great, as it has a sync speed of 1/2000s with the lens’ leaf shutter. The sensor quality is a known entity, though, and should be similar to other recent Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras.  The LX100 has the potential to be a great all-in-one small camera.

The side of the body, showing the lens retracted and the AF/MF switch

The side of the body, showing the lens retracted and the AF/MF switch

Continue: Panasonic GM5, Voigtländer 10.5mm f/0.95 and Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6

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Hands-On: Sony 16-35 and QX1, Zeiss Loxia Lenses and More http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-sony-16-35-qx1-zeiss-loxia-lenses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hands-sony-16-35-qx1-zeiss-loxia-lenses http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-sony-16-35-qx1-zeiss-loxia-lenses/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:42:06 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=4028 It’s day 2 of Photokina, and I made my way over to Sony first thing this morning to take a look at their new offerings. Specifically, the new FE mount lenses and a few extra things. Later in the day, I tried out the new Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/2 for Sony FE …

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It’s day 2 of Photokina, and I made my way over to Sony first thing this morning to take a look at their new offerings. Specifically, the new FE mount lenses and a few extra things. Later in the day, I tried out the new Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/2 for Sony FE mount.

Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS:

Sony has used Photokina this year to establish their full-frame mirrorless camera lineup by introducing a few new lenses. Among the most important is their first ultra-wide for the FE mount, the Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 OSS.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS

The lens is built like most of the newer Sony Zeiss lenses, and feels solid and well constructed. It’s got a fair bit of glass inside, as there’s a good bit of heft to the lens body. It’s not a small lens by any means, being roughly the same size as some of the smaller full frame ultra-wide zooms for SLRs, though it may have a small size advantage there. I tried it on an A7s, and it handled quite well.

Sony 16-35mm

Sony 16-35mm

The 16-35mm has extremely quick autofocus and focuses to just under a foot, which allows you to get nice and close for exaggerating perspective. As I couldn’t take home image samples, I had to simply look on the rear LCD, and things looked quite nice, though I’m sure the 12 megapixels of the A7s weren’t exactly stressing the lens. Sony definitely has a potential winner on their hands here.

Sony 28-135mm f/4 PZ

Sony 28-135mm f/4 PZ

Sony PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS

Sony’s second quickly available new lens is their new video-centric 28-135mm power zoom lens. This is a lens that can operate well for both stills and video, but I’d imagine very few still photographers will want to pack this lens in their bag. It’s an enormous lens, though amazingly very light.

It has this size in order to provide for easy and smooth focusing and aperture control, and has geared rings to interface with modern video rigs. The focus switches easily with a clutch mechanism between manual and autofocus, and the aperture clicks can be disabled with a simple flick of a switch. Zoom can likewise be switched between manual and power zoom.

The Sony representative noted that the 28-135mm has been engineered to cater to the needs of the video crowd. The lens is par-focal and is made to exhibit little to no focus breathing at any focal length. Again, the size precludes most use for still shooting, but I’d imagine many videographers would love to have this versatile lens on their Sony camera.

New roadmap FE lenses.

In addition to the 16-35 and 28-135mm, Sony added several new lenses to their FE mount roadmap. These include a 35mm f/1.4, a 90mm f/2.8 Macro, a 28mm f/2 that takes wide angle attachments and a 24-240mm super zoom.

For the most part, like with the new Fuji announcements, these lenses are not small. In fact, in most cases they are as big or bigger than their SLR counterparts. The 90mm f/2.8 macro appeared to be similar in size to many pro-grade 100mm macro lenses for SLRs, and the 35mm f/1.4 is simply huge.  In a nice twist, the 90mm Macro will have optical stabilization. The 24-240 is approximately the same size as the 35mm f/1.4, which isn’t too bad given its focal range, but the 35 and 90mm lenses look a bit oversized for their focal lengths.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4

Sony FE 24-240mm

Sony FE 24-240mm

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro OSS

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro OSS

The 28mm f/2, which Sony announced as the “first affordable prime lens” in their lineup, is actually quite nicely sized. If it’s optically nice, it’ll be a good lens to have. Unfortunately, the wide angle and especially the fisheye attachments for this lens are quite large, and turn the lens into an extremely large 21mm and 16mm fisheye.

Sony FE 28mm f/2

Sony FE 28mm f/2

The FE 28mm f/2 with Fisheye Converter on an A7

The FE 28mm f/2 with Fisheye Converter on an A7

Continue: Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/2, plus Sony QX1

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Hands On: Samsung NX1 http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-samsung-nx1/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hands-samsung-nx1 http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-samsung-nx1/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:59:14 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=3998 Samsung has made a few waves in the mirrorless world with the introduction of their new flagship NX1 camera. This SLR-styled machine is aimed at action shooters with fast focusing and extremely fast 15 frame per second burst mode while tracking focus. I spent about 40 minutes with the NX1 today, so here are my …

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Samsung has made a few waves in the mirrorless world with the introduction of their new flagship NX1 camera. This SLR-styled machine is aimed at action shooters with fast focusing and extremely fast 15 frame per second burst mode while tracking focus. I spent about 40 minutes with the NX1 today, so here are my first hands-on impressions.

The new Samsung NX1 (with their 85mm f/1.4)

The new Samsung NX1 (with their 85mm f/1.4)

The first thing you notice about the camera is that it’s very much in the style of the Panasonic GH3 and GH4, as the NX1 is an SLR-Styled camera that is almost the size of a standard SLR. The grip is large and feels fantastic in the hand. The camera is just small enough that my pinky is on the borderline of staying on the grip or sliding under, but overall it felt great in the hand.

The controls are fairly well laid out, with two main command dials accessible by your index finger and thumb, a standard mode dial on top and a sort of ‘hub’ of controls on the top left. This includes a drive dial with a push button lock that must be depressed to change drive modes. This dial has great clicks and a bevy of selectable modes, but the manner in which one must depress the button and turn it is a bit fiddly. It’s something I’d imagine you get used to after shooting with the camera for a while. On top of this dial sit four buttons controlling AF, ISO, metering and white balance.

There is a four-way control dial and several more buttons on the rear of the camera. While the camera can be programmed to set any number of functions to your liking, I was unable to find a way to control exposure compensation using the rear dial in any of the priority modes. In aperture priority, both dials control aperture, while EC is accessed by holding the EC button and adjusting one of the dials. I’m hoping it’s simply a setting I couldn’t find, though the Samsung representatives also had difficulty finding a way to switch this functionality.

NX1 Top controls

NX1 Top controls

The EVF in the NX1 looks great. It’s bright, has excellent contrast and is very clear. Repsonse time in decent light is outstanding, with very low lag. In dimmer light, the EVF does slow down its refresh a bit, so there can be some lag present there, but the viewfinder maintains good clarity in darker environments.

Autofocus seemed very quick to me (using the new 16-50mm f/2-2.8 zoom) in good light, and passable in dimmer light, though it does slow down a bit in darker environments. The setup they had for testing the NX1 was a model on a swing, and it performed fairly well. The NX1 can track while rattling off a crazy fast burst of 15 frames per second. When I shot with the 50-150mm f/2.8 Samsung lens (which is small for the range and very well-built, by the way), the camera was able to get about 50% in perfect focus on the swing (which even then is 7 frames per second sharp).  Now, that’s not an amazing hit rate, but it’s not bad for the changing acceleration on a swing…and indeed a bit better than many other cameras I’ve tried.  Of course, I’d need far more testing and the ability to actually review the images on a computer to ultimately judge image quality

The 15 fps burst mode is quite impressive. When shooting in JPEG mode, the NX1 can rattle off 70 frames at that ultra-high speed burst rate, and over 20 frames in RAW mode. When the buffer fills in JPEG mode, the camera will keep shooting at a lowered burst rate of about 3-4 frames per second.  In RAW, that continued burst is about 1.5 frames per second.

I had a bizarre experience with the buffer flushing, however.  The first NX1 I tried was horrifically slow at clearing the buffer.  As in, after I stopped shooting for 10-15 seconds, I could only shoot 2 frames before it filled again.  That’s really bad.  I have to just think the memory card was bad or very slow, because when I tried it later in the day (to get a timing on the slow buffer, ironically), it was very fast to clear.  VERY fast.  So, I have to chalk up that initial experience to something off with the card.

The NX1 with Samsung's prototype 300mm f/2.8 OIS (which looked beautiful through the viewfinder)

The NX1 with Samsung’s prototype 300mm f/2.8 OIS (which looked beautiful through the viewfinder)

The NX1 also shoots 4K video.  While I didn’t get to put it through the paces with regards to video (and, as I note in my reviews, I’m not the guy to talk about that anyway), they had some sample footage up on one of the Samsung curved 4K TVs.  The footage looked quite impressive, though there was a bit of oversharpening.  Still, the well-lit scenes looked fantastic.  The high ISO scenes looked fairly good with regards to tonal range, though it was rather obvious there’s heavy noise reduction going on, as fine detail is gone at high ISO, at least in the sample footage.

While there are some quirks, the NX1 seems to be a very impressive camera body. Samsung is fairly new to the camera industry, but they’ve built a nice and somewhat impressive lens lineup and the NX1 seems positioned to leverage that lineup for great results. I look forward to reviewing the NX1 in the coming months.

NX1 with the Samsung 50-150mm f/2.8

NX1 with the Samsung 50-150mm f/2.8

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Hands On: Fuji Booth (X100T, 50-140mm f/2.8 and more!) http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-on-fuji-booth-x100t-50-140mm-f2-8-and-more/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hands-on-fuji-booth-x100t-50-140mm-f2-8-and-more http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-on-fuji-booth-x100t-50-140mm-f2-8-and-more/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:47:22 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=3995 Fuji at Photokina this year has some really nice releases, even though they are missing what most Fuji fans have been waiting for since the system was introduced: a new X-Pro. While the X-Pro 2 will have to wait, there were a few very interesting items at the Fuji booth, so let’s dive in. X100T …

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Fuji at Photokina this year has some really nice releases, even though they are missing what most Fuji fans have been waiting for since the system was introduced: a new X-Pro. While the X-Pro 2 will have to wait, there were a few very interesting items at the Fuji booth, so let’s dive in.

X100T

The new Fuji X100T

The new Fuji X100T

This relatively minor refresh of the X100s includes some really nice features, especially when it comes to the viewfinder. The rest of the camera is very similar in operation and appearance to the X100s that came before it.

The X100T feels great in the hand and the focus ring on the front has a new knurled finish that I quite like. Operation was quick and snappy, though there’s not much to distinguish it from the S that came before it. So what is improved? The viewfinder. Fuji improved both the EVF and the optical finder on the X100T.

The Electronic viewfinder sees improvement in magnification and responsiveness, falling somewhere between the X-E2 and the X-T1 as far as how it looks. Overall, the EVF looks quite nice, but the star of the show is the improved optical finder. The OVF is bright and clear, and it shows a wider field of view than the lens captures. Because the viewfinder is offset from the lens, the exact framing of the image will change depending on how close you are focusing. To account for this, a white digital frame appears when you’ve focused, showing you exactly where the cut will be for the final image.

However the coolest thing is the small EVF patch that can be superimposed on the optical finder to give you an enlarged view of the focus point, which appears in the lower right corner of the finder. This digital view makes manually focusing with the optical finder work brilliantly (the split-prism focus aid can also be put in this corner, though I though the full color view was easier to see and nail focus). This is a really brilliant bit of engineering which brings one of the best things about EVFs to a very nice optical finder. This patch can be brought up seamlessly by using the viewfinder toggle switch on the front of the camera, and pushing it away from you to bring up the overlay patch.  See below for how it looks through the OVF with the overlay on (taken with my iPhone pressed to the viewfinder, so pardon the quality.

The X100T's OVF, showing the parallax correcting frame line and the focal point ovrelay in the botom right

The X100T’s OVF, showing the parallax correcting frame line and the focal point ovrelay in the botom right

You can see theEVF overlay rectangle in the corner of the OVF.

You can see theEVF overlay rectangle in the corner of the OVF.

The X100T may be simply a refinement of what came before, but it’s a camera that is really reaching full maturity at this time.

Silver Graphite X-T1

The silver graphite X-T1 with the new 56mm f/1.2 APD

The silver graphite X-T1 with the new 56mm f/1.2 APD

The Silver Graphite X-T1 was on display, and it looks as good in person as it does in pictures. They’ve done a beautiful job with this finish. It looks almost creamy, which is an odd term to use to describe a camera body, but it’s the best I can do.

The new firmware features were on display and the electronic shutter is truly completely silent. The new, much higher 1/32,000 maximum shutter speed is accessed by selecting 1/4000s on the dial and using the front command dial to adjust the shutter speed higher from there. Overall, that’s fairly well implemented.

The Fuji representative I spoke to confirmed the new firmware bringing the silver X-T1 features to the black X-T1 will be arriving in November.

Continue: Fuji 50-140mm f/2.8 and new lenses!

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Hands On: Olympus Booth (40-150mm f/2.8 and more) http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-olympus-booth-40-150mm-f2-8/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hands-olympus-booth-40-150mm-f2-8 http://admiringlight.com/blog/hands-olympus-booth-40-150mm-f2-8/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:56:55 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=3992 It’s day one of Photokina 2014, and the Koelnmesse is buzzing with thousands of photographers and press. I stopped by the Olympus booth to check out their new , long-awaited 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens. The lens is, given the focal range and aperture, rather large for a Micro 4/3 lens, but it’s fairly compact for …

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It’s day one of Photokina 2014, and the Koelnmesse is buzzing with thousands of photographers and press. I stopped by the Olympus booth to check out their new , long-awaited 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens.

The Olympus 1.4x Teleconverter

The Olympus 1.4x Teleconverter

The lens is, given the focal range and aperture, rather large for a Micro 4/3 lens, but it’s fairly compact for a fast zoom covering a longer than normal range. The lens has a field of view equivalent to an 80-300mm lens on a full frame camera, with even more reach possible by adding the 1.4x teleconverter, which will be available with the 40-150mm in a kit. The lens features the same build quality as Olympus’ already established 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, though this lens is completely internally zooming, so there’s no externally moving parts. Along the side of the lens is Olympus L-Fn button, which can be programmed when used with any of the more recent Olympus camera bodies. The broad zoom ring sits quite a bit forward on the lens, and operates fairly smoothly, though it’s not quite as nice a zoom feel as something like the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8. The tripod collar is a fairly standard design, and turns easily, though it’s a bit grittier than some of the best collars, though I doubt it will make much difference in real world shooting. The lens hood for the 40-150mm is of the same design as the one for their 60mm Macro lens. It attaches bayonet style, but slides up and into place, negating the need to reverse it. On the down side, the hood is huge, and makes the lens look far larger than it is with the hood off.

The 1.4x teleconverter that can be mated to the 40-150mm f/2.8 is very small, adding less than an inch to the length of the 40-150, and creating a very high quality 56-210mm f/4 zoom. Autofocus with this lens is extremely fast. When I tested it on the E-M1, the focus snapped right on nearly instantly. This is true even with the 1.4x on, and I was in less than stellar lighting conditions. Very impressive in this department. Because this is a pre-production lens, I was unable to get full size samples with the 40-150, but when shooting and looking at the LCD and through the EVF, it looks to be very sharp wide open, even with the 1.4x TC. Of course, I’ll have to wait until I get my hands on one for review before I can speak definitively about the final image quality this lens can produce. However, the overall package appears very impressive at first blush.

The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 with hood extended

The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 with hood extended

The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 with hood retracted

The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 with hood retracted

The lens with hood removed

The lens with hood removed

Olympus 300mm f/4 and 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro

These two lenses were unfortunately only on display behind glass, rather than available for perusal. The Olympus employee noted that they were only mockups, rather than working lenses. The finish on these two lenses appears identical to the other two Olympus Pro lenses, and the 300mm f/4 looks to be roughly the same size as the 40-150mm, which isn’t too bad at all. The 7-14mm is rather large in comparison to the slower Panasonic 7-14mm, but otherwise looks to be well-built and functional. The images below will get you an idea of their aesthetics, though Olympus put them behind perhaps the most reflective glass imaginable.

Olympus 300mm f/4

Olympus 300mm f/4

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8

I also took a quick look at the new Silver E-M1, and I have to say, I’m not a fan. The dials are polished metal, and are very bright, while the rest of the paint is a bit duller. The silver just doesn’t mesh well with the slightly more modern looks of the E-M1, in my opinion, but you be the judge. I’ll likely have more from the Olympus booth, including an in-depth report on the E-PL7, later in the week.

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Alone in the Great Cathedral http://admiringlight.com/blog/alone-great-cathedral/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=alone-great-cathedral http://admiringlight.com/blog/alone-great-cathedral/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:29:58 +0000 http://admiringlight.com/blog/?p=3989 Just a quick post with one of my favorite personal pictures from yesterday here in Cologne.  On the way back to my hotel, I popped my head in the giant Cologne Cathedral, which I have visited several times in my life, but I’d never been inside at night.  I managed to snag this capture.  I …

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Just a quick post with one of my favorite personal pictures from yesterday here in Cologne.  On the way back to my hotel, I popped my head in the giant Cologne Cathedral, which I have visited several times in my life, but I’d never been inside at night.  I managed to snag this capture.  I am really happy with this image.  (Now off to day 1 of Photokina!)

Praying in the Cathedral, Cologne, Germany - Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

Praying in the Cathedral, Cologne, Germany – Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

 

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