Hi Oliver, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you use manual Lenses?”
I am an industrial economist and live near Frankfurt, Germany. Photography has been my hobby for more than 25 years. When I started I was never satisfied with the image quality of analog 35mm film, so I turned to larger formats very soon. Most of my landscape pictures were taken with medium and large format cameras. Of course all lenses were manual focus, so I was accustomed to manual focus from beginning . 😉
With the Sony A900, I switched to digital cameras in 2008 and I was very satisfied with the possibilities of this new medium. At that time, the Sony-Zeiss 24mm SSM lens was my favorite and remained so for many years.
The next steps were the A7R in 2013 and, since last year, the A7RII. I switch slowly and flexibly (thanks to the LE-EA Adapter) from A- to E-Mount, also by reason of the fantastic Zeiss primes for E-Mount, lenses which I wanted to have for a very long time 😉 I use AF Lenses too, but for landscape pictures, I use them mostly by manual focus to get the best control of the depth of field. The Sony cameras are perfect for manual focus.
Can you give us a look into your camera bag and tell us a little about your gear?
- Sony A7R and A7RII – With both cameras it is possible to get outstanding image quality. My A7R is mostly on a tripod and the A7RII is perfect for all challenges, incl. telephoto with the fantastic image stabilisation.
- Sony Nex 6 – one of them is converted to infrared camera, two others are used for time-lapse. Since the introduction of the A6000 the Nex 6 cameras are a real bargain. 😉
My landscaping bag essentially consists of these lenses:
- Samyang 14mm 2.8 – for night sky shooting, Milky Way or northern lights in Norway this is unique. Unfortunately this lens is not really solid, and I got extreme problems over the years with the durability of nearly every sample that I have owned. I am hoping for a new Loxia 15mm, maybe sometime. 😉
- Zeiss Loxia 21mm 2.8 – It is a very lovely lens, small and light with a very high IQ from corner to corner and a good coma control. Excellent for night shots. I had been waiting for many years for such a beautiful lens. 😉
- Zeiss 25mm 2.0 Batis – It is an AF lens, but at night I always use it by manual focus. There are many critical opinions about the precision of the data on the OLED display. Really, it is inexact, but reproducible inexact. For example: In Norway, at temperatures of about 0 degree centigrade, the display advice of 25m is correct for my A7RII for astro photography, so I can find very quickly the correct focus without viewfinder control.
- Sony Zeiss 35mm 2.8 – A very small lens with good IQ; I have always space for it in my bag.
- Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8 – Very good IQ and a ‘must have’ for the Sony A7 series. I always use a ‘normal’ lens additionally for landscape.
- Sony 70-300 G SSM – A very good addition for longer distance in landscape or sometime to take pictures of animals. I use this lens with the LA-EA 3 Adapter.
- Samyang 8mm 2.8 Fisheye II (shaved) – I decided to use this APS lens instead of the 12mm FF Fisheye because of the better IQ at large apertures, better coma control and nearly 190 degree field of view. By using it with the ‘R’ cameras, the resolution is high enough for large picture prints.
- Sony 135mm 2.8 (4.5) STF – a truly unique lens, which I have owned for many years. I use it only rarely, but the resulting images are very special.
Do you have a favorite subject matter?
My favorite subject matter is definitely landscape photography. Travelling and hiking in the Alps or the Scottish Highlands for example and also in Norway, especially in winter conditions for landscape and, of course, northern lights. Another favorite of mine is black-and-white infrared photography for which I have a modified Nex 6.
Unfortunately, I am very busy in my job. Therefore, the photography is mostly limited of the vacations, but I try to make time for it as often as possible. 😉
Is there a photographer which has inspired you ?
When I started doing ambitious photography, I looked at many pictures from a large number of different photographers, but I don’t remember the names of most of them. However, there was one photographer who really impressed me at that time because of the completeness of his work and the way he realized his pictures: I am talking about the Scottish landscape photographer Colin Prior. His book ‘Highland Wilderness’ (1993) inspired me to take hiking tours in Scotland, wishing to meet him and the area where he lives. That was about 20 years ago.
Do you have a favorite lens at the moment?
Since I had it first in my bag, the Zeiss Loxia 21mm became very quickly my favorite lens. It combines unique characteristics of lights with excellent image quality for a wide angle lens. Since I started using 35mm digital cameras, I dreamed of such a lens. Before the Loxia, the Sony-Zeiss 24mm 2.0 was my favorite for many years, but the Loxia is much better in many ways, like coma and image quality at wider apertures. Therefore, it is not only perfect for landscape but also for astrophotography and northern lights.
What do you think is the best picture you have taken so far and why?
This is a difficult question. I have many favorite pictures, and my favorites change once in a while. 😉 But if I have to make a decision, my criteria would be for how long a picture hangs on our living room wall before we replace it. All the time, there are two pictures which are fixtures in our living room and have never changed.
One shows the skyline of Frankfurt, the area where I live. This picture was taken from the cathedral spire. I wanted to take this picture for a long time, but the spire was closed for renovation for many years. After reopening I was the first who could take this picture on a winter night and publish it. I prefer winter nights for cityscapes, because of the early darkness when many people are still at work and the houses are lit up. In summer the sun sets much later, so most houses are dark and seem lifeless. This is a pano-stich of two pictures.
My other favorite is this picture of the Black Mount in Rannoch Moor in the Scottish Highlands. It was a cold and windy autumn morning, the clouds were heavy and dark, and a little light came out and warmed things up a little. I was happy to be in the right place at the right time. Whenever I look at this picture, I am back in Rannoch Moor for a moment – far away from daily grind.
- The manual photographers series part 2 – Martijn Kort
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- Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 Review
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