The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.3: Jannik Peters

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 Hi Jannik,
can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?

Jannik: I am an automotive engineer from Wolfsburg, Germany. I started out with an Sony Alpha 200 in 2008 but I discovered photography as my passion when the first Sony A7 came out. I preordered it and was fascinated by the ability to revive all the legacy lenses, that were “dead” for a long time. My first manual lens was a Canon nFD 1.4/50 which was an eye opener for me. At this time, I only owned the Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 kit lens and I was never really satisfied by it. The sharpness and the creative potential of the fast aperture combined with the bargain price (50€) were amazing. I added lots of Canon FD lenses soon and started to discover other systems like Olympus OM and especially Contax/Yashica as well. With some experience, I found the different rendering styles of specific lenses and I am happy that I can choose between several lenses depending on the look that I want to create.

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Sony A7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24mm | Na Pali Coast, Kauai
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Sony A7 | Samyang 2.8/14mm | San Francisco

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.3: Jannik Peters

User-Guide to wide-angle lenses for Sony a7 a7ii a7rii

Wide-angle lenses Sony a7 ii

We summarize our experience with all the native E-mount and a few manual lenses in the 20-35mm bracket to give you a compact resource for choosing the right wide-angle lens for your Sony a7.

We have no association with any manufacturer apart from occasionally loaning a lens for a review. Before any short introduction we tell you how long we have used a lens and if we have borrowed it from a manufacturer. But in most cases we have bought the lenses on the market. If you want to support our independent reviews please consider using one of the affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps us a lot.

This is the first post in a series, next will be super-wide-angles which is anything below 20mm.

If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.

Sony FE 4/16-35 ZA OSSZeiss 4/16-35

Status: Phillip reviewed a loaner from Sony and bought his own copy more than a year ago. He uses it regularly. Jannik owned but sold it in favor of the Loxia 2.8/21.

Jannik: A lovely lens with decent image quality and effective image stabilization. Personally, I tend to shoot always too wide with such a zoom lens although I miss it’s great versatility.

  • At f/4 the center is excellent across the zoom range, for best corners I would stop down at least to f/5.6, better f/8 where they are quite good.
  • Pronounced distortion at the ends, average vignetting and annoying ghosting for some scenes but fine most of the time.
  • This is neither a light nor a small lens but it isn’t huge either. Build quality is good.
  • A very versatile lens: It covers a very wide focal range with good optical quality and thanks to the stabilizer even on the a7 one can shoot before sunrise without a tripod. The price is significant but justified.

518g | $1348 | full review |  sample images

buy from Amazon.com | Amazon.de | B&H photo  (affiliate links)

Sample Image Sony 4/16-35 OSS

Continue reading User-Guide to wide-angle lenses for Sony a7 a7ii a7rii

The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.2: BastianK

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Hi Bastian,
can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?

Bastian: I am a bridge engineer from Germany and my lovestory with manual lenses began with the 50mm 0.95 Mitakon and the 12mm 5.6 Voigtlander used with the Sony A7. I couldn’t believe it being possible to get consistently sharp results with a lens like the 50mm 0.95 after I have so badly failed using an Ai-s Nikkor 50mm 1.2 on my D800 (which was even equipped with an EG-s focusing screen).  The 12mm 5.6 on the other hand was a total relief in terms of size and weight and so I was hooked. Right now I have sold almost all of my Nikon gear. If you are curious you can read the whole story here: my transition from Nikon to Sony.
It is also a matter of fact that by the time I was using manual lenses I realised I don’t need AF for most of what I am doing and so today I am confident enough to even shoot weddings without AF lenses.

bastian kratzke sony a7rii a7s photography aspects important introduction manual lenses
Sony A7s | Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/11.0 | higher resolution
bastian kratzke sony a7rii a7s photography aspects important introduction manual lenses
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 pre Asph | f/11.0 | higher resolution
bastian kratzke sony a7rii a7s photography aspects important introduction manual lenses
Sony A7s | Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/10.0 | higher resolution

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.2: BastianK

Review: Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D

Introduction

Sony A7rII with Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D and Sigma MC-11 adapter
Sony A7rII with Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D and Sigma MC-11 adapter

It is a very interesting time for wide angle junkies like me: after the smallish Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 and 15mm 4.5 I now get the chance to review the fast Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D. It is the fastest rectilinear lens wider than 14mm and the widest rectilinear lens as fast as f/2.8 and I am very curious to find out about the optical qualities!
Last Update:
Review finalized, Longitudinal CA, Bokeh, Alternatives, preliminary conclusion added (08/09/16)

Sample Images

sony a7 a7rii a7rm2 laowa venus optics zero distortion wide angle 12mm 2.8 fast coma bokeh mercedes museum stuttgart
Sony A7rII | Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D | f/8.0 | full resolution
sony a7 a7rii a7rm2 laowa venus optics zero distortion wide angle 12mm 2.8 fast coma astro astrophotography
Sony A7s | Laowa 12mm 2.8 | f/2.8 | ISO6400 | 25s | full resolution
sony a7 a7rii a7rm2 laowa venus optics zero distortion wide angle 12mm 2.8 fast coma bokeh
Sony A7rII | Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D | f/11 | full resolution

Continue reading Review: Laowa 12mm 2.8 Zero-D

Comparison: Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55

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In todays post I compare two super fast lenses from the late 60’s. The Minolta MC 1.2/58 is a legend and priced as such while the Canon isn’t to popular and one of the most affordable f/1.2 lenses out there.

Sample Images

The following three images are processed with identical settings.


Full resolution: Minolta | Canon


Full resolution: Minolta | Canon


Full resolution: Minolta | Canon

Continue reading Comparison: Minolta MC 1.2/58 vs Canon FD 1.2/55

Review: Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)

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Venus Optics is a new player in the field of high performance manual lenses. Their new Laowa Smooth Trans Focus 105mm F 2.0(T3.2) has a special apodization element which should give this lens extraordinary bokeh. That’s the theory, in this review I will put it to the test.

Sample images

Most images in this review are linked to the full resolution, just click on them. There is also a Laowa STF 105mm F 2.0 flickr album.

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Continue reading Review: Laowa STF 105mm F2.0 (T3.2)

Tripods for Mirrorless Cameras

Introduction

tripods mirrorless cameras velbon gitzo manfrotto sirui rrs kirk markins a7rii a7s

When it comes to tripods mirrorless cameras have different requirements than DSLRs and so you can often get by with a lighter tripod. Unfortunately there are many manufacturers to chose from and even more commercial claims which are often misleading. As I have not only used quite a few myself but also witnessed the joy and frustation people experienced with their tripods during my workshops, I want to share my experiences with you.

Continue reading Tripods for Mirrorless Cameras

The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.1: Phillip Reeve

This is the first part of a new series in which we portrait amateur photographers just like us who inspire us and who share our passion for photographing with manual lenses.

We decided to test our concept on ourselves first, initially we didn’t intend to publish it but since we liked the product we decided to publish it. So don’t be surprised by me answering my own questions ;).

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Hi Phillip,
can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to use manual lenses?
P: I am a student from Germany and I bought my first DSLR in 2006. In September 2011 I bought a used Nex-3 for a little over 100€ to use some of the cheap Minolta Rokkors I owned on a digital camera. I fell in love with my manual lenses instantly. Suddenly I could afford really good primes while before I was limited to slow, cheap zooms! So much more creative freedom.
I also enjoyed the new, slower but more conscious process and I saw a very quick progression in my own skills at that time. I hardly touched my Canon after that.
I was a gear-head before but now I could discover so many thousands of manual lenses no one had really tested on a digital camera ever before so I started my quest to discover learn as much about those manual lenses as possible. First I published my findings in forums until I started my own blog in early 2014 which has taught me a lot.

Here are a few images from when I started to use manual lenses back in early 2012:

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The Minolta MD 1.4/50 was my first standard lens, I bought it for less than 50€.
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I got the Minolta MC 4/200 for 26€ back in 2011 and it was sharper and faster than any zoom I could have bought.
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Minolta MD 4/100 bought for 80€, I used it for landscape and macro photography on this trip with very good results but I wasn’t a fan of the handling.

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.1: Phillip Reeve