Hi Juriaan,can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses? Juriaan: I’m a hydrobiologist from Ede in the Netherlands. In the beginning of 2012 my photography journey started out with a Fujifilm bridge camera. In 2013 I bought my first interchangeable lens camera, a Nikon D7000 including a 10-20 and 18-200. While using this camera I improved my skills quite a bit and I discovered my love for astro photography.
However, size and weight bothered me a lot, as did the average quality of my lenses, especially the annoying autofocus and bad manual focus implementation made me switch to an A7S in 2015. I got the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm T3.1 and the Loxia 2/50 along with it. The manual focus experience of the Loxia hooked me up on manual lenses. I found some old m42 primes, including the Pentacon 1.8/50, which I could use with an adapter. I liked working with those lenses a lot so I started to collect them at thrift shops which resulted in quite some nice lenses over the years. This way I could discover a broad range of (bokeh) rendering for little money. As I hated the from factor of the Samyang 14mm I added the little Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 to my kit. Using manual lenses helped me to improve my photography a lot in a short period. Being unable to just point and shoot I had to overthink things much more which is the best way to learn quick. To everybody who starts with photography I can only recommend to get one or two cheap manual lenses, it will help you to understand the exposure triangle quickly, and it slows you down which makes you think more about things like composition.
Last two years I already visited (by airplane) the Balkan countries Montenegro and Albania for a hiking vacation with my girlfriend and a photography trip with my photo buddy Rick. The wild nature of the Balkans attracts me a lot. As the Balkans are not well known yet, and a lot of people from West Europe think its still dangerous there (most area’s are safe nowadays), you can walk around in the mountains without seeing anyone for a whole day.
The Balkan countries also have very nice, often old cities at the Adriatic coast which are touristic, but not nearly as those in e.g. Italy.
Below you can find a few pictures from my trip last year, which convinced me to go back again this year. Most photo’s of this year can be found in high resolution here. The timelapse video my friend Rick made is also worth checking.
You are going into the mountains for three nights. This is not a dedicated photography trip, but an adventure with friends or family. You have packed your tent, your sleeping bag, warm clothes, cooking gear and food. Your pack is now pretty heavy, but you say something that astonishes your hiking (or bushwalking as we call it in Australia) buddies: you are prepared to add 1.5kg of cameras and lenses to that! As they watch incredulously, you put into your pack……what?
We don’t know what you would do, but we can tell you what we typically pack.
User Characterization: You are a Sony a7 series user enthusiastic about landscape photography but you work on a very limited budget. You look for lenses with a great bang for the buck ratio and good characteristics for landscape photography.
In this post I give you my top picks and a few alternatives for affordable landscape lenses. These where my criteria for this list:
Very good across the frame sharpness at smaller apertures like f/8 or f/11.
High contrast and good flare resistance.
Lenses should be less than $200.
I see manual focus lenses as preferable for landscape photography.
I would like to have nice sunstars but at this budget this is quite difficult if not impossible.
Small size is a bonus.
This is the fourth part of a series on the best landscape lenses for the Sony a7/a9 series in which we explore sets of landscape lenses for different user types.
The very affordable Pentax is as sharp as good modern lenses at f/8 or f/11 and it maintains high contrast with good flare resistance which is rare for a legacy wide angle lens. Stopped down to f/14 it even draws a pleasant sunstar. But of course there is a catch: the Pentax is pretty rare and not easy to find. The best alternative I see is the more expensive Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28 which isn’t better but more easily available.
User Characterization: You like landscape photography but you need a kit that can do more than just that. You look for the best jack of all trades with an eye on the budget and you appreciate autofocus.
The typical casual landscape phographers are people who shoot landscapes as well as portraits, parents on vacation (me for example 😉 ) or people who just don’t like to different lens kits for different use cases.