A $400 lens kit for your Sony a7 series camera

Five years ago I was a broke student and manual lenses were a way for me to get much more creative freedom and image quality for my very limited money. This post is aimed at people just like my 5-years-younger self who have a very limited budget but want to get the most out of it. I think that manual lenses are a smart way to deal with a limited budget since I wouldn’t know another way to get image quality on that level for a similar budget. Sure, manual focus can be a limiting factor for some applications but most people are surprised how far they can get with manual focus.

When I started with manual lenses there was very little reliable information about manual lenses available so I had to spend a lot of time to tell apart the good from the bad lenses. Now 5 years later I have reviewed several dozen lenses and gained a good oversight which I would like to share with you in this artice.

Continue reading A $400 lens kit for your Sony a7 series camera

Voigtländer 40mm f1.2 Nokton Aspherical: An In Depth Review

Introduction

40mm. One of my favourite focal lengths. Long ago the Voigtländer 2/40mm Ultron was glued to my Canon. Even longer ago, the Zuiko 2/40 was a favourite on my Olmpus OM film gear. The 40mm equivalent 20mm Lumix was my favourite lens on the M43 gear I used to use for travel and hiking. So naturally a native 40mm full frame lens for E mount has me very excited.
That slightly wider than standard lens look (close to the theoretical ‘normal’ focal length of 43mm) gives a lovely, natural perspective that leaves the photographer, rather than the angle of view, in charge of the image. But of course the cost of the slightly wider angle of view is less potential for bokeh; the nice, isolating, out-of-focus blur that people prize in people photography. That’s why the speed on this lens is potentially so great. Perhaps f1.2 sounds extreme, but the actual blur potential is about the same as f1.4 on a 50mm lens. So in order to keep up with a 50mm lens in terms of blur, you really do want a bit of extra speed on moderate wides. 40mm is a great length for portraits which place people in a context: but you don’t want that context to dominate, so being able to see the context but have it nicely blurred is a fantastic combination. But what price do we pay for that? Is the IQ on this surprisingly small and fast lens good enough? Thanks to Mainline Photographics  who are the Cosina Voigtländer distributors in Australia, for the loan of a review copy.

A Few Samples

Continue reading Voigtländer 40mm f1.2 Nokton Aspherical: An In Depth Review

Review: Canon FD 300mm 1:2.8 L

The Canon FD 2.8/300 L was one of the most highly regarded manual super tele lenses in the 80s. Today it can be had for much less money and in this review I evaluate how it performs today on a modern mirrorless camera.

Image Samples

You can find all images shown in this image in full resolution in my Canon FD 300mm f/2.8 L flickr album.

Continue reading Review: Canon FD 300mm 1:2.8 L

Review: Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L on Sony a7rii

Introduction

canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII with Sigma MC-11 and Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L USM

The Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L is one of the most extreme tele lens designs and while almost 30 years old it hasn’t been surpassed in terms of speed since. Also known as the “Eye of Sauron” it has already become a legend, so let us find out what is so special about this lens…

Sample Images

canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII | Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L | f/1.8
canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII | Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L | f/1.8
canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII | Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L | f/1.8

Continue reading Review: Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L on Sony a7rii

The Team’s favorite lenses – October 2017 Edition

Half a year has passed and much has changed, not only in our camera bags. With David from Australia we have a new author (as you may have noticed already), who will support us, so that we can cover more lenses and other interesting topics.

David’s favorites

Hard to know what a favourite lens is. Is it the workhorse that gets use all the time? Is it that exotic piece that just occasionally gets used, but is thrilling and irreplaceable when it is? I guess any of these. My list will just contain three optics that I find to be very special in different ways.  Of course that’s not the same thing as three I’d necessarily recommend together as a kit.

Voigtländer Macro Apo-Lanthar 2/65

This is not a lens I’ve reviewed: Phillip reviewed it here, and that was one of the reasons I purchased it. A manual focus lens, fast but not that fast, an unusual focal length, and macro but, well, not all that macro – it focuses only to 1:2. So why is it on my list?

Simply it’s the finest production lens for the 135 format that I’ve ever used, and possibly the finest ever. It’s incredibly sharp wide open – enough so I can see aliasing at f2 on a 42 MP sensor! One stop down and it’s even better, and the corners have gone from being great to being super great. This brings with it creative possibilities: when f2 is so sharp, you can create images with a remarkably sharp subject set against a nicely blurred backdrop.

But sharpness is not even its big party trick. That’s colour correction. It has less LoCA and spherochromatism than any optic I’ve used. Those nice backgrounds seem to be full of light and space because they are so clean: the white highlights are, well, white, and it’s surprising what that can add to the image. Add to that lovely sunstars and excellent performance against the light.

It’s not even absurdly expensive. A definite pick!

Continue reading The Team’s favorite lenses – October 2017 Edition