Category Archives: photography

Best lenses for Sunstars

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Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/11 | 10 straight blades

The shape and appearance of sunstars is very important for landscape and architecture photographers. For some of them, they are even a defining element in their photos. Sunstars can appear around strong point light sources under certain circumstances, in this article I will talk about how to get them and how certain lenses (being more specific: number and shape of aperture blades) can influence their rendering.

Sample Images

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Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/5.6 | 10 straight blades
sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0 | f/11 | 10 straight blades
sunstar sun sunburst blendenstern diaphragm stroke 10 7 8 14 18
Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4 Distagon | f/11 | 10 straight blades

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Project: $1500 camera with just one $25 lens for one month – updated

I am a gear head. How do I know? Because I own about a dozen normal lenses.

Usually I enjoy the choice I have but I was asking myself what would happen if I had no choice and could use only one lens for a whole month?  There is only one way to find out and so I decided that I would limit myself to the Minolta MC Rokkor 1:1.7 55mm which is 45-years-old and cost me $25.

When I started the project I was curious how it would affect my photography. I have always progressed the fastest when I was outside of my comfort zone and I expected that this project would give me many experiences outside my comfort zone.

In this post I will recapitulate my experience so far.

Day 1: Black and White

On day one I decided that the lens alone wouldn’t push me outside of my comfort zone enough so I decided to give myself additional challenges each day which would make the project more interesting.

For day one this was photographing in black and white only because color is usually essential for my pictures. I think it worked quite well as did using 55mm for zoo images.

Day 2: Unknown territory

Continue reading Project: $1500 camera with just one $25 lens for one month – updated

Making of series part 2: “Vernazza” with Zeiss Loxia 2.0/35

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On the Easter weekend 2016 I was rather spontaneously visiting famous Cinque Terre in Italy. The weather forecast was quite alright, but as I was only on a two night stay, I had very limited time (and blue hours) so I had to make the best of it…

In the Bag

As usual when on a trip I was using my Mindshiftgear rotation 180 panorama* backpack. In the belt comparment I was carrying my A7s, Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G, review sample of the Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm 1.5 and the Leica Summicron 90mm 2.0. In the upper compartmend I also carried a Nikon Ai-s 180mm 2.8 ED which I didn’t use once on the trip (therefore sold now).  I also carried a small Gitzo traveler tripod, a mini tripod and a few filters. With the small lenses the backpack still has some space left for water and food. Now even more, as I won’t carry a longer tele anymore…

A german version of this article can be found here.

Continue reading Making of series part 2: “Vernazza” with Zeiss Loxia 2.0/35

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

Continue reading 12 images from 2016

Making of series part 1: “The Path” with Olympus OM 3.5/28

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When I took this picture in late August I was working all day on some papers for university, so after many hours behind the desk some sport and photography was well earned.

In the Bag

I packed my small camera bag* with the lightest lenses I could find in my cabinet: a Olympus OM 3.5/28*, Zeiss C/Y 1.7/50* and Olympus OM 2.8/100.* Since I had some strenuous cycling before me I didn’t want to carry any unnecessary weight and I knew that I could capture about anything with this little setup. Of course one is always a bit limited by just three lenses. But I think it is a good exercise to be limited and to be out there is much more important than to have the absolutely best gear anyway.

*=Affiliate link

Continue reading Making of series part 1: “The Path” with Olympus OM 3.5/28

The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.3: Jannik Peters

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 Hi Jannik,
can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?

Jannik: I am an automotive engineer from Wolfsburg, Germany. I started out with an Sony Alpha 200 in 2008 but I discovered photography as my passion when the first Sony A7 came out. I preordered it and was fascinated by the ability to revive all the legacy lenses, that were “dead” for a long time. My first manual lens was a Canon nFD 1.4/50 which was an eye opener for me. At this time, I only owned the Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 kit lens and I was never really satisfied by it. The sharpness and the creative potential of the fast aperture combined with the bargain price (50€) were amazing. I added lots of Canon FD lenses soon and started to discover other systems like Olympus OM and especially Contax/Yashica as well. With some experience, I found the different rendering styles of specific lenses and I am happy that I can choose between several lenses depending on the look that I want to create.

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Sony A7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24mm | Na Pali Coast, Kauai
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Sony A7 | Samyang 2.8/14mm | San Francisco

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.3: Jannik Peters

The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.2: BastianK

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Hi Bastian,
can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?

Bastian: I am a bridge engineer from Germany and my lovestory with manual lenses began with the 50mm 0.95 Mitakon and the 12mm 5.6 Voigtlander used with the Sony A7. I couldn’t believe it being possible to get consistently sharp results with a lens like the 50mm 0.95 after I have so badly failed using an Ai-s Nikkor 50mm 1.2 on my D800 (which was even equipped with an EG-s focusing screen).  The 12mm 5.6 on the other hand was a total relief in terms of size and weight and so I was hooked. Right now I have sold almost all of my Nikon gear. If you are curious you can read the whole story here: my transition from Nikon to Sony.
It is also a matter of fact that by the time I was using manual lenses I realised I don’t need AF for most of what I am doing and so today I am confident enough to even shoot weddings without AF lenses.

bastian kratzke sony a7rii a7s photography aspects important introduction manual lenses
Sony A7s | Nikon AF-S 20mm 1.8G | f/11.0 | higher resolution
bastian kratzke sony a7rii a7s photography aspects important introduction manual lenses
Sony A7s | Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 pre Asph | f/11.0 | higher resolution
bastian kratzke sony a7rii a7s photography aspects important introduction manual lenses
Sony A7s | Loxia 21mm 2.8 | f/10.0 | higher resolution

Continue reading The Manual Photographers Series Part 0.2: BastianK

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

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

Filters for digital Photography

Introduction

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Sony A7s with Loxia 21mm 2.8 and Hitech 67mm Filter System

In the film era a vast amount of filters was needed to alter the colours, the temperature or to add certain effects to the photos. In digital photography many of these filters have become pretty much useless as they can be recreated in post processing with the added bonus of more control over the effect without any disadvantages.
But there are also some useful filters which can’t be fully recreated in post processing and still have a place in digital photography and these are the ones I’m going to talk about.
Update 09/27/2016: at Photokina 2016 in Cologne I checked out all the big filter manufacturers and have updated some sections accordingly. I am also working closely with NiSi filters now – not just because I think their filters offer the best quality – but because they listen to their customers and I hope to be able to help them develope the first holder I find nothing to complain about 🙂

Continue reading Filters for digital Photography