12 images from 2016

Better late than never: We wish all of our readers a great and succesful year 2017! Thank you for reading our blog and for all your contributions and comments. This is our retrospective conclusion of the favorite images that we took in the passed year.

Phillip’s 2016

2016 was a very eventful year for me. Not all of those events were pleasant but photography was always a great compensation even in stressful times.

The blog is more about gear than about photography and I view my obsessions with gear and photography as two more or less separate hobbies of mine but it is also a pleasure (most of the time at least, the G 4/70-200 review which has been in the making  for months now has been very frustrating to so far ;)) for me to discover new lenses, to share my experiences and to receive the great feedback I get here.

In early 2016 I also made the lucky decision to invite Jannik and Bastian to join the team of this blog. In them I have found two soulmates who are as crazy about lenses as I am. Behind the scenes we constantly discuss gear, photos and articles which is a great source of motivation. And of course both have since then written many well received articles and together we can bring many more lenses to your attention than I could alone.

The Creek

I like this pictures because it shows a perspective I hadn’t discovered before on a route I had taken a hundred times before . While most of my images show nature without any obvious human interference nature has been cultivated by men for a very long time where I live. So 20 m behind where I stood when I took this image there is a smaller street and 200 m in front of me there is a large street but none the less I found this moment of beauty and calmness. There are few things as enjoyable as sunrise walk on a clear frosty morning with a lens as great as the the Pentax SMC K 3.5/28.
Sunrise

After a long winter I was very  glad when spring with it’s light and colors arrived. This image was taken with the Zeiss Makro-Planar 2/100 in a lush meadow maybe half an hour after sunrise.

Barmouth bay sunrise

I spent my summer holiday with my SO in Wales. We stayed a few  days in a great little hostel above Barmouth and fro here it was just 10 minutes by food to a great spot. So I usually got up around 5 AM, walked up the mountain and enjoyed the sunrise. This is a great way to enjoy some intensive photography when traveling with a partner who isn’t as enthusiastic about photography as you are. On that trip I also learned to appreciate the FE 4/16-35 more than I had before. It’s versatility is great when you explore a space you haven’t seen before.

Untitled

And it was winter again. So I did what I usually do, I went on a morning stroll near home with my repurchased Voigtlander 1.7/35 and discovered yet another subject I hadn’t seen before.

Bastian’s 2016

Being invited by Phillip to write articles for this blog definitely made all my lens testing (which I have done before already, but for mostly personal use) more worthwhile and useful 🙂

I had the plan to go somewhere I haven’t been before each month of 2016 – and luckily this more or less worked out in the end – so I got to shoot and experience many wonderful places. But this also makes picking just 4 quite the task, so I decided to pick the ones with special meaning to me.

The first one is a shot of the milky way from Tenerife. It was the first time for me being somewhere with almost no light pollution and such a clear view:

carl zeiss batis 18mm 2.8 sony a7s astro astrophotography astroscape coma milkyway milky way star stars
Sony A7s | Batis 18mm 2.8 | f/2.8 | ISO6400 | 20s | panorama from 4 shots

The second one was taken in Vernazza, Italy. It is special to me as it was pretty much the reason for me to fully switch from Nikon to Sony. To be more precise, the Zeiss Loxia/ZM lenses are the actual reason. For architecture, landscape and cityscapes I much prefer their rendering to everything the Nikon lenses ever gave me:

cinque terre italy vernazza blue hour spot
Sony A7s | Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0 | f/11 | full resolution

The third one shows the Queensferry Crossing currently being built near Edinburgh. The company I work for is part of the construction team and so I was visiting the site two times in 2016. In Scotland the weather is not very photographer friendly most of the time, so I was very lucky to capture this shot with the Voigtländer 10mm 5.6 a lens that literally opened up new perspectives:

voigtlander 10mm 5.6 filter nisi 150mm
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 | f/11

The last one is a portrait that stands as a represantation for all the wonderful people I got to know in 2016: Phillip and Jannik, Ray and the whole NiSi Filters team including ambassadors and  all the people that allowed me to use their photos in my reviews, especially Dori with her gorgeous selfmade costumes of which you can (partly) see one in this photo:

mitakon 50mm 0.95 zhong yi optical dark knight speedmaster a7 series a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a7s sony e-mount fe
Sony A7s |Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95

Jannik’s 2016

The biggest event that has happened in 2016 was definitely the birth of my lovely, beautiful, tough and happy son (on my birthday). That’s also the reason why I didn’t find the time to keep the review work up from may until 2017. It was a beautiful but also a very challenging time for us and it has definitely changed my life forever in a great way. I want to use this occasion to thank my wife Alexandra and him for everything that we’ve experienced together and for the unconditional support of my work and my art. Furthermore, I want to thank Phillip and Bastian to compensate my absence with many great and informative articles.

While my photographic 2016 consisted mostly of family photography (that I share no more than fractionally with the public), I want to summarize this year like a lens geek – with my favorite lenses of 2016:

Samyang 2/135: Although I didn’t keep this lens (I’ve just owned too many at this time), I miss it quite a bit. It’s sharp like a Japanese ninja blade and exceptionally well corrected for every kind of chromatic aberrations. The image “Frosty Branches” looks amazingly clean, and only a lens like this could have been able to take it in that way.

Frosty Branches | Sony a7ii | Samyang 2/135 | f/2

Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21: Long term readers of this blog remember, that I have struggled with the review of the lens (which was my first review here) due to decentering. After the bug got fixed, the lens has become one of my all time favorites and rewards with sharp, contrasty, mostly flare-free and colorful images. Although the sun stars are one of its best aspects, my favorite shot with this lens of 2016 is sun star free 😉

The Sub | Sony A7R | Loxia 2.8/21 | f/8

Sony FE 2.8/24-70 GM: This is my new swiss knife,  a versatile, very high performing zoom lens. This is my most important lens at the moment and I have built my current kit around it. It gives me the ability to switch quickly between family and landscape photography without making too many compromises. In the shot “The Concert Hall”, I used a smoke bomb to emphasize the rays on the window and to give the shot a mystique character. I didn’t know how the smoke will behave and with the zoom function, I framed it ideally before the smoke was gone again.

The Concert Hall | Sony A7II | Sony FE 2.8/24-70 GM | 24mm | f/10

Sony FE 1.4/85 GM: Although I didnt’ review it yet (coming in first quarter of 2017), I have used this lens quite extensively in the last quarter of 2016 and it has quickly become one of my most used lenses. Users of this lens will know what I mean when I say that it has some kind of a “special flavor”. The gentle rendering can be quite the opposite of the poppy Zeiss rendering in some situations and even this stopped down shot shows this (although the light plays an important role too):

The Piano | Sony A7II | Sony FE 1.4/85 GM | 85mm | f/16
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The Team

The team, that are three gearheads Bastian, Jannik and Phillip from Germany who all like to use manual lenses.

17 thoughts on “12 images from 2016”

  1. Great images!
    And thanks for your dedication and willingness to share.
    Since I also try to publish some of my findings about my lenses, although on a much lover level than you, I’m aware of the effort and time you have entered into this.
    It’s much appreciated!
    Wishing you all a great 2017!

  2. A heartfelt thank you to all three of you for publishing great content about a pursuit we all share. Your posts have helped reignite my passion for photography and a curiosity for the beautiful subtleties different lenses lend to image making.

    Please keep up the good work in 2017.

  3. Love the work you guys do but i think the reviews of the higher end lenses is a bit so-so because it’s just so much more fun with what i would call “sleeper lenses” — lenses that might look like crap but performs 90% of something being $1500 more expensive. 🙂

    There are quite a lot of these lenses out there, one of my favorites being the Contax G 90. Coupled with the A7r II the sheer resolution can be quite astonishing and it’s a *TRUE* Zeiss for just around £130 that easily can be found in great condition (this last bit being quite important).

    Some samples mostly at wide open or at f4:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommiehansen/25874267333/in/album-72157667142999286/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommiehansen/26212403740/in/album-72157667142999286/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommiehansen/26485227595/in/album-72157667142999286/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommiehansen/26485213415/in/album-72157667142999286/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommiehansen/25875908403/in/album-72157667142999286/

    The reviews of the higher end and new lenses does make it easier to do comparisons though.

    1. We have a Contax G 2.8/90 review: https://phillipreeve.net/blog/review-zeiss-sonnar-2-890/
      The reason for the low price is the questionable handling in my opinion. I wouldn’t call it a sleeper since it’s optical quality is well known.

      Nevertheless, I understand your wish and we will review many legacy lenses this year. I have a few Konica, Olympus and Contax lenses here although the latter ones belong more to the high end category.

      1. Thanks for the reply Jannik!

        I do know that you have reviewed the G90, i was more talking about it in regards to being a ‘sleeper lens’. Its qualities is well known as you say, but what i personally feel is less known is the price/performance ratio of the lens.

        This is what makes it, in my opinion, fitting to call it a ‘sleeper lens’. It isn’t awesome at 2.8 (fringing in some situations) but it’s probably one of the few cheaper lenses one can get that actually matches a camera like the A7r II in resolution at lower f-stops.

        I’ve read most reviews here at PR (Philip Reeve) but i’ve yet to come across any other lens that is <€150, can be found easily and doesn't need f5.6+ in order to match sensors like the a7r II. A contender might be the "Zuiko MC" 24 2.8 (old newer version) or the H.Zuiko 24 2.8 (blacknose). The "Zuiko MC" (it literally has "Zuiko MC" written on it; the worst version just have "Zuiko") is quite hard to find though.

        According to the test done by 16-9.net it's close in performance to newer glass such as Canon L 24mm which is quite astonishing. 🙂

        http://www.16-9.net/lens_tests/24mmcup/final/24mm_final1.html

        1. Well the G90 alone is cheap. But once you add an adapter to the equation it is quite a bit more expensive.

          I have the Olympus OM 2.8/24 MC and while it is a solid performer it isn’t much better than other manufacturer’s 2.8/24 lenses, only smaller.

          1. Yeah, the adapter thing is unfortunate.

            So the OM 24mm MC isn’t better? That’s odd since it quite clearly beat the others in the “24mm World Cup”. I’ve been on the lookout for a “cheap:isch” 24mm that not only works but works *well* on higher MP bodies and doesn’t got the typhical softness at 2.8 3.5 and doesn’t suffer a lot from abbrevations like many of the older lenses do.

  4. Thanks for the reviews!

    I really appreciate your site and your lens reviews. The beautiful imagery and thoughtfull text make reading them a clam and relaxing experience, this on a internet full of hyperbole and antagonistic nonsense.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Apart from the mere nuts and bolts comparisons of lenses, would you be willing to divulge your shoot-to-post procedures for the awesome early morning, wide dynamic range images you display? Holding shadow details without highlight burnout is a tricky task for the lot of us. Pretty please?!

  6. Hi. What’s wrong with the FE 70-200 F4? Seems to be a very popular and harmless lens with quite expected performance :>

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