Tag Archives: lens

Another lens – Samyang 135mm f/2

Hoping this doesn’t really become a habit, but more gear! I’ve been eyeing one of these Samyang 135mm’s for a while, never got one when shooting Nikon because manual focus without any guides is pretty difficult.

One of the great selling points of Sony is easy access to focus peaking which allows lights up the viewfinder of the in-focus areas making manual focus a breeze. This meant no hesitations with buying a manual focus lens.

First impressions were, “this is a lot bigger than expected” (that’s what she said).

It’s a pretty hefty lens, and you’d assume so given the focal length and aperture but at the same time it’s a lens that retails for only about $700. Since I’m unlikely to be shooting portraits professionally for a while I couldn’t justify paying so much so it’s been months of hunting for a used one, less than $400 was the goal. They don’t pop up very often and a few came up in my price range without any bids but I had forgotten about them and missed the auction :(.

Using it does take some getting used to, the focus ring spins about 180 degrees to go from minimum to infinite focussing distances but it’s silky smooth and precise. There’s no electronic aperture control and also no contact with the body, you’ll have to see the focal length for in-body stabilisation.

The results? Damn, this thing is sharp and blur blur everywhere (out of focus blur that is). If you think a nifty fifty creates great blur, this thing just spits it out left right and centre. Here’s a shot 1.2m away at f/2, the background just melts away.

At a cost of about $300 for this lens? I’m absolutely thrilled, hoping it gets a lot of use!

A new Sony lens – 28mm f/2

Not surprising that it had barely been a month before getting my Sony A7 and 35mm f/2.8 that I’ve decided on another lens (and a half, sort of). Next purchase was the 28mm f/2 lens with the idea that it would be my walk-about lens.

So why the quick move away from the 35mm? Two reasons, one was my original hesitation of being a f/2.8 lens, I ended up finding in reality that I was pushing the boundaries of the cameras low light and stabiliser limits and not getting enough light in. Secondly the minimum focussing distance on the 35mm was a bit long, made taking photos of food at the table a little difficult at times.

In comes the 28mm, size-wise it’s just as compact and light as the 35mm so still makes a great combo to carry everywhere. The minimum focussing distance is 5cm less, which doesn’t sound much, but it’s the difference between having to lean back for a photo and not.

It’s goes a fair bit longer with the hood. The 28mm has a standard petal hood where the 35mm has an odd cap kind of hood, not a huge biggie for me.

Performance wise I’m pretty satisfied, focus is quick and the bokeh is quite nice. Sharpness I’ve got nothing to complain about but Ive accepted that as a sacrifice if I’m to stick with compact lenses.

The last reason I wanted the 28mm is because of some optional attachments, Sony make 2 wide angle converters. The first turns it into at 21mm ultra wide at f/2.8 and the second turns it into a 16mm fisheye at f/3.5. I bought the former. First impressions were that it’s a lot heftier than expected. It’s got 4 glass elements and feels really well built. Attaching it to the lens is snappy and secure and really feels like one unit.

The really nice thing Sony has done is being able to detect the presence of the attachment and updating the lens data as appropriate.

Photo quality is pretty okay with the attachment, I think it’s a worthy trade off for not having to physically unmount a lens and the flexibility between 21mm and 28mm. Really happy with this combo for travelling, it fits into my little Crumpler Pleasure Dome (m).

Next lens I’m trying to find is a long-ish fast lens. Have my eye on a Samyang 135mm f/2 but not really wanting to pay $600+ for one since there’s no electronic aperture control or contacts.

Latest toys

Been purchasing a few tidbits lately, probably more than I should be, but when they come up for a great price, how can anyone say no? OzBargain is a curse and blessing in itself!

The first purchase was the lovely Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens, a lot of hype around this lens as it was announced and stock was hard to come by in a Nikon mount. Purchased for $810 when DigiDirect had 10% off excellent price for essentially the first batch to Australia. Continue reading Latest toys

Sony NEX-5R twin lens kit

An opportunity recently came up for me to procure myself one of these Sony NEX mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and what better time than right around the corner from Christmas? Main reason for wanting this sort of camera? First, a HUGE sensor relative to the size of the camera (1.5x crop like most DSLRs) and fantastic video abilities. Without further adieu, I present to you the latest Sony NEX-5R(Y) with the Y denoting the twin lens version.

For a small camera, it comes in a decently sized box which is quite packed, so what’s inside? At the top of the box is multiple manuals (differently languages), warranty/support cards and software CD. Lifting the top flaps reveals 3 compartments, the left contains the Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS zoom lens. The middle compartment contains the NEX-5R body itself attached to the Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens and the final compartment on the right containing a host of power cables, microUSB cable, desktop charger, battery pack, shoulder strap and detachable flash.

Now the original NEX series cameras came with the 18-55mm F3.5 which was pretty big when mounted on the NEX type cameras (similarly sized to a crop body 18-55 equivalent lens from Nikon or Canon), this made the camera unpocketable. This new 16-50mm is definitely much smaller and retracts when powered off, another additional feature is the power zoom; there’s a little rocker type switch on the left hand side which allows you to zoom in and out like a regular point and shoot, some will love it, some will hate it.

It has a similar hinged screen to the 5N, however slight improvements have been made to allow it to flip backwards so you can get the perfect self portrait, bear in mind however, if the flash is attached, the screen can’t be flipped all the way up. A little nice touch is when the screen is flipped for self portraits, a 3 second timer is automatically activated.

The screen tilts upwards and downwards to allow easy high angle or low angle shots.

Upward tilt
Downward tilt

It’s also touch sensitive, but I do believe it isn’t of the capacitive type and isn’t too sensitive which severely reduces its effectiveness. I was hoping a phone style interface with gestures but alas, it wasn’t meant to be, it does help access some features, but I have a feeling it won’t be used for proper shooting.

Now, the lenses, as mentioned the new 16-50mm which shipped with the camera does retract when powered off, below are some comparisons of size, note that the 16-50mm ‘waves in and out’ from wide to tele, i.e. longest when wide and zoomed all the way in and shortest when in the middle, also note the 55-210 is ridiculously large when mounted onto this camera.

16-50mm retracted
16-50mm extended
55-210 at 55mm
55-210 at 210mm

Unlike the NEX 6 though, the 5R doesn’t have a standard hotshoe, this small proprietary connector serves multiple purposes but has the problem of only serving one at a time, that means you can use the flash and not the optional microphones or viewfinder at once, personally won’t be a big deal, but an integrated flash like the 6 would have been that little bit better, especially for travel.

The integrated WiFi combined with the PlayMemories apps does make for a nice touch, but I do feel it’s still in its infancy. This combination allows for new applications to be downloaded and installed and at this time, there’s currently a Time Lapse ($10), Pro Bracketing app ($5), Cinematic Photo app ($5), Multi frame noise reduction ($5) as well as a few free ones; Direct upload, Photo retouch, Picture Effect+ and Smart remote control.

I personally don’t think the paid apps offer much and should actually be standard features, maybe for the exception of ‘Cinematic photo’ which allows you to create a hybrid stills/video leaving some areas still and others moving. The Smart remote control app is very basic and allows for a live view image to displayed on your smart phone and the ability to trigger it remotely, in this situation, the camera acts as a hot spot.

This has been a brief intro opening and I’ll try to report back with my feedback after it’s used for a few outings, so far it is pretty impressive and it does feel like a solid camera. The autofocus is pretty quick, still not as quick as D600 or D700, but definitely plenty fast for a holiday situation. For the price I paid (and definitely if I get rid of the 55-210 lens) I don’t think anything could have matched it, just need to get myself a Nikon F mount to Sony E mount adapter and I’m set.

Another one to the collection

Just picked up another prime lens, something which will hopefully suit a more casual shooting style and a bit more versatility than the ‘nifty fifty’ (which is a lot more nifty on a full frame camera).  It’s Nikon’s AF 35mm f/2D (the 1.4 beast is ever so slightly out of my price range).

35mm f/2D

Felt pretty good with the purchase, been contemplating one of these for a while and it came up for the right price and I snapped it up straight away. Excellent condition and Aussie stock too! (nice surprise, didn’t know when I bought it).

Nikon AF-S 24-120 f/4G ED VR N ;)

So in light of my trip to Japan, I decided I needed a new lens for my travels as I don’t have anything that you could consider to be practical or versatile for travelling purposes. I also needed a ‘normal’ lens and decided on this rather than the well re-knowned 24-70 f/2.8G despite it not costing much more.

Pics of the new toy:

My thoughts?

The lens is solid, it has a nice weight to it and the zoom rings feel very nice, however, it’s not as nice as the 24-70 which again has a sturdier feel, most likely due to the differences in the zoom mechanism as the 24-120 uses the regular extending barrel. Image quality wise, it performs very well, very sharp beyond 35mm event at f/4 and still sharp below 35mm. Definitely very high performing and very close to the 24-70 in sharpness. Only down fall of the lens is distortion at the wider focal lengths 24mm to about 30mm and some rather significant light fall-off at 24mm. The falloff is somewhat comparable to what’s seen on the 24-70 and when shooting test shots can be somewhat unnerving, real world performance should be stellar.

The bokeh (background blur) of the lens is very smooth and creamy and the vibration reduction (VR) performs quite well, easily shooting 1/4 at 24mm and 1/15 at 120mm without too much effort (on full frame). Autofocus is pretty quick, not as quick as the 24-70, but by no means slow.

Overall I think it’s a great lens, it does have some draw backs, but the extra range over the 24-70 and the VR makes this lens more appealing to me as a lens to keep on the body at all times.