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Friday, 1 November 2013

Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013

I never got round to posting photos I took at this years balloon fiesta so here are a few! The weather wasn't kind to me the first day I went so things were a bit dull and overcast and then the second day while the light was beautiful it was too windy for the balloons to launch! Typical!

I'm going to make a few more posts consisting of mainly just photos and then hopefully some more reviews soon. I'm feeling a lot better recently and finding myself able to concentrate on photography related things without negative thoughts creeping into my head as often as they were so with a bit of luck normal service will be restored eventually!

All the fisheye shots were taken with my trusty NEX-5N and Samyang and the others were taken with my 60D and a combination of the Canon 70-300mm L and Sigma 18-50mm EX (the one that front focuses but at least it isn't soft on one side like the countless Canon 17-55s and 15-85s I've tried plus the Sigma 17-50!! STILL haven't found a decent standard zoom!)



Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2013

a quickr pickr post

Friday, 30 August 2013

Sony to release an NEX camera that will autofocus with ANY lens!?? This could be a game changer!


I had to make a post about this! Andrea at Sonyalpharumours has hinted that Sony are working on a camera that will enable users to achieve autofocus with Canon and Nikon lenses! This is an amazing revelation, this kind of cross format compatibility from an original manufacturer would be unique, adapters to use the lenses from other brands are usually the work of third party manufacturers and poorly implemented!

But there's more! And this is the really exciting part, Andrea hinted that autofocus may be achieved by SHIFTING THE SENSOR forwards and backwards! If this turns out to be true it will be a complete game changer and revolution for the users of manual focus legacy lenses, you could turn any lens into an autofocus lens! Imagine using old lecia primes with AF! Or M42, Pentax K, Canon FD, Contax/Yashica and even those weird and wonderful C-mount lenses!

It remains unclear if this is actually how the camera is going to work but if it turns out to be true it will be a very exciting piece of technology, even if you have to manually get a lens nearly in focus and then let the camera do the fine tuning by moving the sensor it would still be revolutionary!

I can barely wait to find out more!


Friday, 26 April 2013

My dear friends,

I apologise for the lack of new posts, things have been very difficult the past 6 months. My marriage has ended and after 7 years I suddenly find myself alone. I have a 2 year old girl who was 1 when this all started happening. The crazy thing is I thought my life was going great and I just never saw it coming. It has without doubt been the most difficult time in my life. The sense of loss I have endured over the past months has been hard to bear. I genuinely felt a happiness and love for my family that was at it's most powerful right at the moment this happened, it was like hitting a brick wall at a thousand miles per hour.

I am healing as time passes but I still feel a lot of negativity and a lack of enthusiasm and this has affected my photography greatly. It's almost unbearable being at the beach for example when all I see are young couples and happy families, it's like a punch to the gut every time and takes away the joy of photography. Many times I have ventured out now only to return home with my tail between my legs and no photos, weighed down by a heavy feeling of loss.

I had been hoping to take photos constantly as a form of therapy and to take my mind of things but the weather has been terrible in South Wales, snow, rain, wind, cold temperatures, everything except for the sun which is what I really want but even when the weather is nice it can be hard to empty my mind of negative thoughts long enough to actually enjoy shooting.

Hopefully the weather will improve soon.

I have taken photos a few times this year but not as often as I would like.

I fear I may be turning into a train spotter too, albeit an artistic one! :-P

Managed to take my old Tokina SZ-X SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 out for a spin on my NEX-5n a while back, a fantastic lens considering it was a budget optic when new, stop it down to F/5.6 and you will enjoy superb sharpness but more striking to me is the enthusiastic colour saturation!


Tokina SZ-X SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 270
Tokina SZ-X SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 270

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 rolling review part 3 the conclusion!




Overall thoughts:

I can find no fault worth mentioning with the build quality and finish of this lens, it's sturdy, reassuringly heavy and well finished with smooth and perfectly damped focus and aperture rings. I suppose if I was being really picky I would say the geared rings were a little hard on the fingers but let's not forget this lens is optimised for video use with a follow focus.

In terms of sharpness the lens delivers a surprisingly good performance wide open for the price with resolution remaining strong towards the edges of the frame. There is some visible purple fringing and contrast can very a lot depending on the lighting conditions but both of these can be countered quite easily with modern software.

The lens delivers smooth bokeh apart from point light sources that can have quite a solid outline, I think this is the best of both worlds and it reminds me a lot of the bokeh I see in movies where out of focus lights are used to stylistic effect whereas everything else is just a smooth blur. Thanks to the hefty aperture blade count out of focus highlights remain circular throughout the aperture range.



The lens can be coaxed into producing some extraordinary flare wide open which also reminds me of watching motion pictures and which will either be drool worthy or an eyesore depending on your tastes but as I said before you can literally turn this flare off by stopping down just a tiny amount. The lens becomes sharper and more contrasty as you stop down and already by T/2.8 the optical performance is very strong with crisp sharpness and a minimum of aberrations.

Overall the lens performs very well wide open considering it's price and fast aperture, there are some weaknesses but they can be countered quite easily with software. Once you stop the lens down to T2.8 and beyond the optical performance is very impressive indeed but be assured that the lens remains very much usable at it's maximum aperture.

The only other issue I noticed was some slight distortion but again it was simple to remedy with software when necessary.

Compared to other options:


Thanks to the generous trade in scheme a lot of people will be upgrading from the SLR magic 35mm f/1.7 lens and will be wondering how much of an improvement this lens really is, I can comfortably say that you will instantly see a huge improvement in all areas, the sharpness wide open is a lot better and on the T1.4 this applies to the entire image and not just a tiny little blob in the centre of the frame as with the f/1.7. The new cine lens has no field curvature in comparison so subjects can be sharp at the centre and the edge of the frame at the same time. You will also find the bokeh to be much smoother and that it will remain circular because the T1.4 has many more aperture blades.

The 35mm F/1.7 remains a great little lens for the money and gives very unique and often pleasing results but as a serious tool for still photography and filming alike it just isn't on the same level as the new T1.4 lens.

The same applies to users of the fujian 35mm f/1.7 CCTV lens with which the SLR Magic F/1.7 shares a common ancestry and is an improved version of, the T1.4 lens is superior in every way and can be considered a "real lens" whereas the CCTV lens while capable of producing great images is very much a toy in comparison.

You may also be considering the Jackar 34mm f/1.8 lens but despite it's elaborate finishing and packaging, this lens also found it's beginning in the Fujian 35mm CCTV lens and simply can't hope to come anywhere near to the SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 for optical performance or build quality, it's just in a different league!

In conclusion I found this lens to be very well made and capable of delivering a high level of performance. The image quality is obviously at it's weakest wide open but is still very good and very usable with decent sharpness and a perfect balance between smoothness and character when it comes to bokeh. The lens just gets better and better as you stop down and from T2.8 onwards it performs on a very high level comparable to lenses costing a lot more.

I quickly became accustomed to being pleased with what I saw on the computer screen after a shooting session and the lens constantly impressed me with it's performance/price ratio.

For the price there is really no significant weakness, the lens represents amazing value for money and would make a great choice for still photographers or film makers alike!


 


PROS:

Decent sharpness wide open that extends well into the edges of the frame.

Very high overall image quality in all areas when stopped down to T2.8 and smaller.

Bokeh that strikes a perfect balance between smoothness and character.

Highlight bokeh remains circular throughout the aperture range thanks to the hefty aperture blade count.

Very solid all metal build quality damped focus and aperture rings.

Warm and vibrant colours.

Very cool looking lens flare that can be used to great effect and which disappears quickly upon stopping down (Perhaps a con to some but not me!)

CONS:

Purple fringing can be strong in some circumstances but quickly dissipates upon stopping down.

Contrast can be quite weak wide open under certain lighting conditions.

Distortion.
 


Bottom line:

To cut a long story short, the lens is excellent value for money and performs very well even wide open, it has character without being a novelty item like CCTV based lenses. You can absolutely use this lens as a serious tool for picture and film making. In this price point the pros outweigh the cons several times over.

I highly recommend this lens for anyone needing the best balance between price and performance!

The SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 is available in Sony E mount, Fuji X mount, Canon EF-M Mount and Micro four thirds mount. The lens is not yet available on the website or their ebay shop but you can get ahead of the queue by ordering direct, just send an email to support@slrmagic.com








You can find my Flickr photo set of sample images HERE

You can find Part one of the review HERE and Part two of the review HERE

Thursday, 6 December 2012

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 rolling review part 2


Time for the next instalment of the SLR Magic 35mm review!

I used this lens quite a lot yesterday and once again I was pleased with the images I got. I have started to realise the lens has two personalities in a way, when the lens is wide open you can coax the type of flare from it that is fitting of a blog entitled lens porn, In my humble opinion it's some of the most awesome looking flare I've ever seen and the really great thing is you can eliminate it quickly by stopping down just a TINY amount, I'm talking before you even get to T2, it's like having a switch for the flare.

Taken at T1.4
SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

There's some aspects of shooting wide open such as the flare and purple fringing that are somewhat "lo fi" but on the other hand I find the lens to be reasonably sharp at this setting and consistent across the frame, I would have expected the resolution at T1.4 to drop off severely towards the edges but it doesn't. The bokeh wide open is very nice too, it's mostly relatively neutral apart from some types of light sources such as xmas decorations where the light discs have an outline effect which I find quite cool but most of the time the bokeh is just nice and smooth.

The following shots are taken at T1.4
SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

The sharpness gradually increases as you stop down and by T2.8 things are already bitingly sharp, certainly enough to provoke some moire here and there with my Sony NEX-5n which is usually a clear sign of high resolution.

Current thoughts:

The more I use this lens the more I like it, when it's wide open you can use the shallow depth of field and crazy flare to get some funky looking effects but that's not to say it can't be used seriously wide open, with some care you can get shots from the lens that belie it's relatively modest price tag. Don't forget this lens with it's T1.4 maximum aperture will be available for around $349 with a $50 rebate and additionally owners of the SLR Magic 35mm F/1.7 will be able to trade there lens in and get an additional $90 discount. Consider that a Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 will set you back $1800 or a Leica Summilux $5000 and you begin to realise how reasonably priced this lens is, obviously the SLR Magic isn't going to be as good optically, to claim that would be foolish but proportionately I would have to say it offers much better value.

First shot taken at T2.8, the rest taken at T1.4
SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

SLR Magic 35mm T1.4

You can now find the final part of this review here

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