All posts by Phillip Reeve

I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

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)

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

The STF Duel: Laowa 2/105 vs Sony 2.8/135

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There is only a hand full of lenses which incorporate an apodization element which improves bokeh at the cost of light transmission. Today I will compare two of them. The Sony STF 2.8/135 was released 1999 by Minolta and is known for it’s uniquely smooth bokeh. The Laowa STF 2/105 is a new lens released this year by Chinese newcomer Venus Optics. In this post I will see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

Continue reading The STF Duel: Laowa 2/105 vs Sony 2.8/135