I'm converted

No, not like that.  Didn't join a cult, or new religion.  Converted my camera system from Sony full frame to micro 4/3.  I went in one day to Precision Camera to pick up some film and ended up speaking with the Olympus rep.  Super nice guy, checked out the prints he had at the store, and I was intrigued.  Then he started to show me the kit.  I was curious to the EM-5 as I had seen it hanging around the neck of some photographers I follow.  See Sean Archer, Juan Gonzalez, Jamie MacDonald

My curiousity led me to rent it from Borrowlenses.com.  They have a great selection and super speedy service so I grabbed the EM-5 and the 12-40 2.8 PRO M. Zuiko lens.   Immediately I could feel a weight difference between the Sony a7r II and the Oly.  

How does it feel?

Olympus equipment feels great.  Solid metal design, textured barrel, zoom, and focus rings.  Sealed bodies and lenses (PRO lenses) give me a comfort factor when travelling.  Virtually none of my Sony gear was weather sealed.  

Yes, but how does it feel?

Oh...weight.  Body weighs in at 410 grams, compared to 625 grams.  The 12-40 lens is really a 24-80 35mm equivalent, and comes in at 382 grams.  (Micro 4/3 has a 2x crop factor, unlike APS-C which is 1.5x).  Total net weight of 792 grams for camera and lens.  Sony 24-70 equivalent at 2.8 is a hefty 886 grams bringing the Sony 1 body and 1 lens to over 1500 grams.  1.5 kg for just one part of the kit.  I'd also be carrying the 70-200 (1480 grams) and the 16-35 F/4 (839 grams).  That's quite a kit and only 1 body/3 lenses.

My Olympus setup is as follows: 

  • 12-40 2.8 Pro (24-80mm equiv)
  • 45 1.8 (90mm equiv)
  • 75 1.8 (150mm equiv)
  • 40-150 (80-300mm equiv)
  • EM-5 Body

Total weight at:  2.03 Kg

I have a kit from 24-300mm, 2.8 aperture or less, and 1 body for the same as I would the 70-200 and a7r II.  That makes a huge difference.  

How much you got?

Next factor is price.  I sold the a7r II for a good price and was able to get 75% of the kit above at new retail price in turn.  The Sony selection is not only getting larger, but more cost prohibitive.  The 24-70 lens alone is more than the EM-5 and 12-40 put together.  Selling off 3 other lenses will net me enough to get the 40-150 and be fully recovered on the switch.  My range has extended from 35,55,14,85 to now having full coverage from 24-300 mm.  All with fast, pro glass.  

You're going to miss it

That's what I told myself.  "Don't do it, you already invested, it's great glass and superb mirrorless system."  I mulled this decision for the week I had the rental.  I looked at everything I could.  Here is what I will be giving up.

  • full size sensor (35mm)
  • small loss of depth of field (of which yet I can't find a noticeable difference)
  • Ergonomics - the EM-5 is smaller but I shoot with the Sony A6000, so i'm used to a smaller grip.  That is what my rapid strap is for :)
  • Internal 4K - didn't use this much at all, but it was beautiful
  • 42mp sensor - the files were big and lots of detail, but i haven't had any issues with the 16mp files from Olympus.  Plenty of detail still, little more noise if you pixel peep, but that is expected.  

Ok, so what do the shots look like?

Here are some shots I've taken thus far.  I've really enjoyed the flexibility of the kit.  

 

 

 

Does it shoot video?

You bet.  Here's a ttimelapse I shot the other morning.  I've also shot a couple of ad-hoc videos of the kids.  

Timelapse of morning sunrise

 

Verdict

Lightweight, compact, stunning photo and video.  I'm converted.  It is a rough feeling going thru a system change.  I changed to mirrorless the year before, moved over from Nikon.  I didn't get much gear when I moved to Sony.  Beautiful system but the move was mainly for me to get my gear moving.  Needed to be light, capable, and versatile.  I think I've found my system.  (watch me post a year later I'm with Fuji.....lmao)

Stay Focused

Capture One Pro for Sony

I recently picked up the Sony version of Capture One 9.  I have been frustrated with Lightroom and it's lack of tether support for Sony cameras.  I've had a Sony camera for over a year now and as I shoot studio the workflow in Lightroom was a joke.

Process for Lightroom CC:  Download a camera control app from Sony -> Launch app -> pick a folder to capture images to -> navigate to that folder in LR as a watched folder -> Plug in camera -> start a session from the Sony app -> snap image -> images show up in a collection in LR

Process for Capture One: Open C1 -> Start a session -> Name session -> fire up link for ipad for others to watch session -> plug in camera -> snap image -> image appears in app

Now that I have employed this, I wanted to use it for editing as well.  While the import is very robust and easy to use once you are accustomed, I have enjoyed LR over this process.  What drew me in was when I watched pros using it with the Phase One camera system and they would edit color, crop, sharpening, and export image.  I fell in love with the control they possessed and so I gave it a whirl.  

So far I'm impressed with the raw import as well as the corrections you can make.  What I'm lacking is a before/after hot key swap that I had in LR, but you can quickly create a variant of the image with a hotkey and hit Enter to do a quick compare side by side.  This is very handy as you make edits.  

Here is an edit that I started in C1, processed the telephone wire removal in PSCC, then saved back in C1.

removal of telephone pole/wire

variant left vs original right

I'll continue to evaluate it for large jobs and processing.  So far you can copy paste settings to other images just like LR so batch processing is a breeze.  The export function is nice with options for tiff/jpeg and sizing as presets.  That part just feels right out of the box.

Looking forward to posting more in the future.  Work has been crazy as well as a trip to Australia I took in May which set me back some time but I got tons of great images to post from there.  

- Stay Focused -

Vello autofocus adapter for Nikon to E mount coming soon

Here is a link to the B&H article with more detail.  The Vello autofocus adapter for Nikon to Sony E mount is coming soon! Looks like it's dropping in May 2016.  

 

After long wait, and selling almost all my Nikon lenses, we'll have an adapter soon that provides auto focus!  I'm sort of excited, a little upset, but mostly excited.  I sold all lenses but my Tamron 70-200 2.8 which I love.  I still use it manually at times, but a couple lenses I would have kept if they could have auto focus.  

This new adapter has a promise of bringing to life many lenses for folks that have made the swap to Sony E mount but have not yet sold off the old Nikon gear.  

Selling for $399, I'll be looking at some reviews from the testers on whether specifically the a7r2 can handle the autofocus with speed like the Metabones adapters do for Canon lenses.  

Look for more updates as I see testing come in.  

Dogs and Film and updates!

Let's start with Dogs.  I'm starting to open the doors to dog shoots this year.  They will be $250 at a location of choice or in studio.  I'll give roughly 5 images fully retouched via digital delivery and the session will generally last one hour at sunset if outdoors.  I'm doing this because it's special to remember your pets and having a killer shot to hang on your wall is always nice to have.  We have some wonderful ones on our wall and I'm so proud to have them because we just lost our first pet this year and I'd kick myself if I hadn't taken the time to get an intimate portrait done of Isabella.  

Beside my volunteer work with Austin Dog Rescue, these will be paid portraits for clients that I'll showcase here .   I'm excited to offer this in 2016 and hope that it grows in popularity as the weather gets nicer.  

 

Here above is Gus, my first endeavor this year.  He's a 3 year old Border Collie and an amazing subject.  He was very patient as I shot film on the Mamiya and digital on the Sony a7rii.  I was extremely happy with the results on both cameras.  The film was processed at Miller's Lab and they sent it back in 2 days.  Love working with them!  Color rendition was fantastic and I did virtually no editing besides cropping.  I got my scans back on CD for the price with negatives all bundled up nicely.  

Updates are...I'm open for business.  2016 is in hopes of being an even more successful year than 2015.  I had an amazing year in 2015, accomplished a lot, made some relationships, produced amazing images, tripled my Instagram viewers and added many to the blog and Twitter.  2016 will be the focus on the brand, and narrowing a focus area so I can manage my workflow.  

Looking forward to making new friends and images this year.  Hope your 2016 is spectacular.

- Stay Focused - 

Focus stacking in Photoshop people!

small <rant>, was using Edge, the new browser in Win 10 and everytime I'd go to youtube to grab the link to insert here, it would blow away my post.  First time I thought it was a glitch, second time I was just dumb and did it again.  So now back on Chrome < \end rant>

So let's do this!  Focus stacking...what is it?  In a nutshell, which most things are, is this: Taking multiple images of a scene at different focus areas using manual focus and using Photoshop to blend them together to one final image.  How to do this?  Great question.

The setup is easy.  Put the camera on a tripod and focus on the closest item in the shot, your subject.  Then just adjust the focus a little farther out on each shot, turning the focus ring and taking shots until you get to the end of the focus limiter.  (infinity mark)

Can you take as many shots as you want?  Of course.  Can you use any f stop? sure, for this I used f/1.8.  Shutter speed and ISO are irrelevant but if you need a starting point I was at ISO 50 on the sony a7rii and 55 1.8 Zeiss lens using the Joby Gorilla Pod as my tripod.  It's great for getting those close to the ground shots.  The mode on my camera was aperture priority so shutter speed varied a little.  

I took 7 shots to compose this focus stack, and the tutorial is in the video below.  The final image is posted just below the video to see exactly how this turns out.  Also a gallery of the original images for reference is embedded as well.  

Final image - 7 image composite


Said goodbye to an old friend

The first camera you really sink your teeth into is the hardest to let go.  Some readers may know I've been testing the Sony E mount series for a few months now.  I immediately fell in love with the size and weight of the camera, yet keeping the 35mm sensor.  So I kept looking for those projects where I'd go "Oh, I need the Nikon for that job"...days went by.  Weeks, now months.

The lucky young man on craigslist who inquired about it over the weekend walked away with it and 2 of the best lenses I had. 

Nikon D610 full frame 35mm sensor with 24.3 megapixels

The two lenses were the 85mm 1.8D and the 50mm 1.4G.  I bought the 85 first and the first picture I put on facebook got so much attention.  I hadn't shot at wide apertures with any camera before.  The picture was very silly, my wife holding our hairless dog with a toy in his mouth.  But it was so sharp and the falloff and bokeh were amazing.  I hope this kid loves it like I did.  The 50mm was a solid contender as well.  Sitting 1/3 stop faster at 1.4, I felt it was not very sharp until around f2 or 2.2.  That being said, you lose a little when you have to stop down a lens to effectively make it sharp, losing the edge of buying a faster lens.  (faster i.e. lower f stop or more light hitting the sensor)

Now on to the exciting news, I'm getting a new camera!!  The a7r II is out and I've had it on order for a couple months anxiously awaiting the ship date.  I've been watching the shipments follow the sun and with great excitement the US finally has dates!  Like..yesterday.  So...I may get batch #2 or 3 from B&H but it's going to ship soon.  Some Best Buy stores have them already and are selling out quick.  I may end up going to get it so I can use for my beach trip next week.

Sony a7R ii


Brian Smith has been posting some great images and new features on his blog.  He's one of the best sources when it comes to all things Sony.  Brian Matiash has been testing it out as well as the new highly acclaimed Batis lenses. He took the 25/2 to Iceland recently. 

Below are the product highlights: (Courtesy of B&H Photo)

Product Highlights

  • 42 MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • 0.5" 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
  • 3.0" 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • ISO 102,400 and Silent Shutter Mode
  • Durable Reduced-Vibration Shutter Design
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

The speed of the autofocus has been significantly increased.  5 axis stabilization in body means that you can use manual lenses or non optical stabilized ones and get up to 4.5 stops of shake correction.  That's incredible as I've used some old Minolta lenses down to 1/20 of a sec and not had shake. 

For landscape shooters like me, shooting bracketed is something we love to do and combine exposures to get the most out of the dynamic range of a scene.  The a7r II supports 9 brackets up to 1 stop in difference.  This will make for some amazing HDR. 

I've already come to realize that Wi-Fi is not a big feature to tout on a camera these days, but it's still standard as is NFC.  I like this because I can send an image to my phone for backup or to my ipad for larger viewing. 

Internal 4K recording is something I'm looking forward to.  I'm excited to work with video and without an external recorder, most cannot produce 4K to the card.  Sony has made this a feature in the new body so you can scale it directly to your SD card.  As monitors, content, and TV's all move to 4K, 8K, 16K and beyond, it's nice that Sony is keeping up and making a stills camera capable of shooting UHD formats. 

The sample images I've seen so far look amazing.  Very sharp, crisp, and detailed.  We are bordering on medium format in a compact package with a  35mm price tag.  With all the features and hype, the early release has indicated this camera will be one to beat this year. 

That's it for now.  Inspiration Tuesday resumes next week and then I'm off to vacation for a few days.  A little beach R&R.  And maybe an R ii :)

- Stay Focused -

Happy Saturday!  I'm here in Sugarland Tx shooting an event for the Texas state florists. It's a convention hat happens every year and I'm shooting the design show elements before they go on stage.  

its a pretty cool gig. The designers are from all over the world and you can see some amazing art pieces.  The images can vary in size and I had to build a set that would accommodate the designs. 

 

image.jpg

There's about 7 or 8 ft clearance here and I've used every inch so far. I may get to post some shots next week but I'll be on the road for my regular job.  

May not get to post again until next week.  

Have a great weekend and stay safe  

 

                            - Stay focused -

Minolta ROKKOR-X 1.7 MD Lens review

Picked up my second Rokkor lens the other day and I'm loving it.  It's an excellent copy and has no haze, fungus, purple fringing, or other flaws that I can see.  

Buying lenses used you have to look for these things, as well as testing the aperture ring since that part is manual.  Look through the back of the barrel and check out the inside to see if you can spot anything on the glass.  Older glass may have some dust but if it wasn't kept in a cool, dry place for long then it will show signs of fungal growth, haze, and worse inside the barrel.  

I was very excited to get this from the local camera shop for $25.  Some of these go for $50-$100 on ebay and other resale sites.  The only thing needed is a MD-NEX mount adapter that you can get from Amazon.com for cheap.  Mine is the FOTGA MD-NEX as you can see from the picture.  

Some of the images I've taken are seen below in the gallery.  These are at f 1.7 and ISO 125 straight out of the a6000.  

I'm still working on nailing the manual focus.  At 1.7 you don't have much room to miss so a couple of these are not super sharp but it's my fault.  (You can really appreciate optical stabilization in the newer OSS lenses!) However, you can get the idea of the depth of field you can bring in with this lens.  Everything falls off beautifully in the background.  There is a nice circular bokeh as well.  I'm using these on a crop sensor and I get no vignetting even with the adapter which is a huge plus!

These lenses are a very cheap way to get into using your Sony camera as a walk about without having to spend $700-$1000 on lenses like the 24mm E mount or the 55 1.8.  Yes they are sharp, yes they are autofocus, and yes they are 50x the price of this lens :)

I am now just awaiting the a7rII so I can get a full frame and really see how much depth of field I can produce.  

Stay focused

Sony cameras for the light traveler

I've been using Sony for about 2 months now and I'm impressed with the quality and build of the cameras and lenses.  The system I have right now is the APS-C a6000 24MP small form factor camera with the 50mm OSS 1.8 Lens.  

The lens is sharp and autofocus is very accurate.  I primarily shoot wide open so primes with wide f-stops are very important.  I can let in more light and keep my ISO down.  I've not had any issues with the a6000 and high ISO though.  The Sony sensor not susceptible to noise and allows you to turn it up when needed.  

I have Nikon glass as well so I wanted to use that in my Sony camera.  Fotodiox makes a handy little adapter that attaches to the body of the camera and a Nikon G lens for a full manual experience with your existing glass.  On top of the adapter you'll find an aperture ring that allows you to dial it down for an "A" mode shooting experience. 

 All you need to do is adjust the ISO and shutter speed.  Doing so on a Sony EVF or Electronic Viewfinder is a simple task.  The back of the screen is WYSIWYG, in other words, you see the exposure you are going to make before you take the picture.  Similar to Live View on a Nikon or Canon.  All for around $59 USD you can keep using your existing glass from Sony/Nikon/Pentax/Voigtlander/etc

The folks at Borrowlenses.com have Sony kit and right now it's all 15% off your rental.  Just use the link below and add items to your cart then use BLEVERYTHING15

I'd recommend either the Sony a7r, a7II, or the a6000 and a light lens like the Zeiss Loxia 35/2

Save 15% on All Rentals - Two Days Only

hope you get a chance to try them out.  It's a really enjoyable experience.