Category Archives: camera

Review: Zeiss Batis Apo Sonnar T* 135mm f2.8

Introduction

The blogosphere melted down with frustration when the 135mm Batis was announced. Too slow and too expensive was the common verdict. But it’s also much lighter than the fastest medium teles, and faster and more convenient than the smallest. So is this lens the ideal compromise, or is it stranded uselessly between the fastest and the smallest? That will depend on performance, and handling. This review looks at just those issues.


Sample Images

Images can be seen and downloaded in full resolution here.

Continue reading Review: Zeiss Batis Apo Sonnar T* 135mm f2.8

Sony A6500 vs. Sony A7II comparison – which one is the smarter choice?

With the Sony A6500, Sony has entered the terrain of semi-professional crop cameras. The camera is significantly higher priced than other Sony APS-C cameras, and is directly competing with other smaller format flagship cameras like Fuji X-T2, Nikon D500, Olympus OMD-EM1 Mk2 or the Canon Eos 7D Mk2.

Furthermore, the Sony A6500 is now similarly (or even higher) priced than the Sony A7II. This leaves open the question for many people as to whether they should really spend that much on an APS-C camera, or if they should get a full frame body instead. The comparison is obvious, and legitimate, because the cameras share a few key specifications – like sensor resolution, mount, and sensor stabilization. Let’s check what sets these cameras apart from each other.

Sony A7II | Sony FE 1.8/55 ZA
Sony A6500 | Sony 1.8/24
Sony A6500 | Sony 1.8/55 ZA

Continue reading Sony A6500 vs. Sony A7II comparison – which one is the smarter choice?

Review: Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.2

Introduction

A super fast fifty millimetre lens can be a lot of fun. But arguably it’s not the best all around type of lens to have; it’ll be bigger and heavier than a more modest speed fifty, and likely not as good stopped down. It’s more of an occasional use specialty lens. So it makes sense not to spend vast sums for a Leica Noctilux. No-one makes a modern f1.2; and if and when they do it will no doubt be extremely expensive and very big and heavy. That makes the better  legacy 50mm f1.2 lenses well worth investigating.

This review is of one of the better contenders: The OM Zuiko 50mm f1.2. It has a reputation for being usably sharp in the middle wide open, and sharpening up to decent overall performance stopped down. Does it live up to this reputation? Read on!

Sample Images

High resolution versions of the samples can be found at http://www.davidbraddonmitchell.com/Varia/Zuiko1250/

Specifications

Continue reading Review: Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f1.2

Review: Zeiss Loxia Planar 2/50 T*

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The Zeiss Loxia Planar 2/50 offers all the benefits of manual lens: a great focusing ring, very solid build quality and a small size but it gets rid of most disadvantages like outdated coatings, adapters and you get full exif info.
09/07/17 Update by Bastian: I have just recently been looking for a fast standard lens to use for Milkyway stitching (see this article) and compared this lens and the Sony FE 55mm 1.8 side by side. Therefore I added a few bits from these comparisons.

A German version of this review can be found on phillipreeve.de.

Sample Images

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Zeiss Loxia 2/50 | Sony a7 | f/2 | full resolution
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Zeiss Loxia 2/50 | Sony a7 | f/2 | full resolution

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Zeiss Loxia 2/50 | Sony a7 | f/2

Continue reading Review: Zeiss Loxia Planar 2/50 T*

Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7

Okay, everybody is talking about how manual lenses work so well on the Sony a7 series but how does it actually work? And which results can I expect?
Read on if you want to know.

DSC00720a7 II | Zeiss 2.8/28 | f/11 | price: around $250

a7 II | Olympus OM 2.8/100 | f/2.8 | around $100
a7 II | Minolta MC 1.4/50 | f/2 | around $60

Why should I use manual lenses?

    • They can be very cheap, you can get a great 1.4/50 lens for $50. For most applications such a lens will give you 90% of the performance of a $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55 FE. For the $1000 you would have to pay for that Zeiss you can buy an excellent set of five lenses from 20 to 300mm.
    • You have a huge choice between thousands of lenses ranging from exotic ones with lots of “character” to some of the very best lenses available.
    • There are 30-year-old primes with better image quality than many modern lenses. Of course progress has happened in recent years but still even cheap primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
    • Old lenses are usually beautifully built and more reliable than modern lenses which are full of electronics and very complex designs, both of which make them more likely to fail.
    • They also hold their value much better than modern lenses. With some patience you can sell most manual lenses without a loss but with new lenses you can expect to lose 30% in the first year.
    • Manual focusing can be very enjoyable. This certainly depends on application and personality but I for example enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with any AF lens. Check out our manual photographers series to read other photographers stories.
Sony a7 | Minolta MD 2/50 | f/2 | ~$25

Continue reading Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7

My transition from Nikon to Sony

Introduction

transition from nikon to sony a7rii d800

As many of you may have noticed when reading my reviews I am a former Nikon DSLR-user. In the past I had a D40, D5000, D300, D700 and still have a D800 (which is also for sale right now).
I was never unhappy with the results I got from these cameras and I think the Nikon engineers are the best at getting the most out of the Sony sensors. Still I ended up selling most of my Nikon gear. In case you are interested to find out more about this story be welcome to read on!

Continue reading My transition from Nikon to Sony

Review: Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5

Introduction

Sony A7s with Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)
Sony A7s with Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)

The Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 is actually a copy of the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm 1.5 and was produced in the UDSSR after WWII. The Jupiter lenses belong to the very few “lowcost” rangefinder lenses, but what do they have in store in terms of optical quality? Read on to find out.

Sample Images

jupiter-3 zenith sonnar sony a7s bokeh
Sony A7s | Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 | f/1.5 | full resolution
jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 sony alpha 7s bokeh portrait women head black and white
Sony A7s | Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 | f/1.5 | full resolution
jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 sony alpha 7s bokeh blue hour citylights vespa
Sony A7s | Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5 | f/2.0 | full resolution

Continue reading Review: Jupiter-3 50mm 1.5

Review: Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G

Introduction

Sony A7s with Metabones Nikon G -> Sony E Adapter and Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G
Sony A7s with Metabones Nikon G -> Sony E Adapter and Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G

This is a review of Nikon’s latest fast wideangle lens and how it performs on Sony’s A7 series. It may come as quite a surprise, as I usually prefer using (and reviewing) rangefinder lenses on my A7s. Still, I almost always carry this lens with me, so read on to find out why.

Sample Images

Sony A7s | Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/1.8 | 3 shot panorama |
Sony A7s | Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/1.8 | 3 shot panorama | higher resolution
sony a7s nikon 20mm 1.8g blue hour sunstar
Sony A7s | Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/11 | full resolution
sony a7s nikon 20mm 1.8g black and white mustek prague
Sony A7s | Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/2.8 | full resolution

Continue reading Review: Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G

Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M

Introduction

sony a7s a7 series a7r ilce-7s pre asph summicron m leica leitz 90mm 2.0
Sony A7s with Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M (pre Asph) and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)

The Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 in the version reviewed here has been Leica’s top of the line portrait lens from 1980 to 1998.  In search for a decent yet fast and small portrait lens for the A7 series I decided to give this one a try, so read on to find out how it fared and if it can still be found in my bag.

Sample Images

venice sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7 reflection
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/8 | panorama from 4 shots | full resolution
sony a7s summicron-m 90mm 2.0 a7s portrait wedding men groom husband
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | full resolution
bokeh summicron-m 90mm 2,0 f2 sony a7s leica leitz
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron M 90mm 2.0 | f/2 | full resolution

Continue reading Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M

Review: Voigtländer 12mm 5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar

Introduction

ultra wide heliar a7 series 12mm 5.6
Sony A7s with Voigtländer Ultra Wide Heliar 12mm 5.6 and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)

The Voigtländer 12mm 5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar is actually one of the lenses I bought a camera from the A7 series for in the first place. It is worth to mention though, I am reviewing the old M39 version here. The newer Leica M version is optically the same, although there are other differences – apart from the lens mount – which I will talk about at the end of this review.

Sample Images

castle mannheim a7s 12mm 5.6 voigtländer ultra wide heliar
Sony A7s | Voigtländer Ultra Wide Heliar 5.6/12 | f/11 | full resolution
maulbronn monastery unesco world heritage 12mm 5.6 voigtländer a7s
Sony A7 | Voigtländer Ultra Wide Heliar 5.6/12 | f/11 | full resolution
abstract disneyland 12mm 5.6 ultra wide heliar voigtländer sony a7s
Sony A7s | Voigtländer Ultra Wide Heliar 5.6/12 | f/8

Continue reading Review: Voigtländer 12mm 5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar