PhotoPlus Expo Show Report I: Hands On With The Leica SL (Typ 601)

Ho! There she is…

photo-36 copy 3

Hands on with the Leica SL (Typ 601) and Vario-Elmarit 24-90mm f/2.8-3.5 ASPH at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC. As I handed the combo back to the Leica representatives, I thought of Biggie’s immortal words…”It was all a dream” 🙂

I’ve been going to PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo show in NYC every year since 2007 to check out the latest and greatest gear. High on my list of priorities this year was to get a glimpse and hopefully try out Leica’s new SL (Typ 601), their new 24mp, full-frame mirrorless system camera.

As I approached Leica’s booth, a little anticipation came over me. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the Leica name, mystique, “German Heritage” or what have you. I was a little worried that I, a mere peon, would be “snubbed” by the people representing this Camera Legend.

I need not have worried. The Leica reps were among the nicest people at the show! Certainly a lot nicer than the Nikon rep I ran into, but I’ll leave it at that for Nikon.

Anyway, I asked the Leica representative if I could try the SL and he handed the camera to me right away.

I actually picked up one with a smaller Leica T lens on it, and he said, “Take this one better” as he handed me the SL and 24-90mm f/2.8-4 Elmarit, which is their full-frame setup.

LOOK, DESIGN, FEEL AND USE

The camera, together with the zoom lens, felt very solid. It did look like a Sony A7 series, but was larger and felt much beefier.

The materials used to cover the camera body felt very nice to the touch, grippy and comfortable.

DSC01035Cams

“The Last & The First.” From left, Leica’s S (Typ 007) digital Medium Format system, the Leica R8 (mine!) and the Leica SL (Typ 601). I asked the Leica representative if I could put my R8 next to the SL and take a photo of them together. He said yes and liked the idea so much, he asked if he could take the same photo! Of course, I said yes 🙂

The design and controls are very minimalist, very Leica. There were some buttons which I’m not sure were labeled, which could be a problem in usage, and I’m not sure this was a pre-production model or not. If it is, I would hope they will have better labeling and indicators on their final production model cameras.

The view in the EVF looked great. Just like the Sony A7 series, it was very sharp and easy to see. The AF was very fast and accurate on first impressions and easy test targets. If I had more time with it, I probably could’ve selected harder to focus subjects, but time was of the essence so I didn’t have that luxury.

THE LENS

The Vario-Elmarit 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH was huge. If was big and beefy. You have to wonder why in today’s world, a zoom lens of this range has to be so large and heavy.

The zooming action was smooth and the lens focused very fast and accurately on the SL under the bright shows lights of the expo.

As I understand it, this lens has built-in optical stabilization which is always a great thing to have. The Leica representative stated that this lens could do macro mode on both ends of the zoom range, which is quite unique and something you don’t see in many lenses.

As a prime lens lover though, I did ask the Leica representative if they had any primes in the works for this camera.

He mentioned a 90-280mm tele-zoom, and then stated they were going to have a 50mm f/1.4 Summilux lens for this camera that will “set new standards.”

I said, ‘So you’re going after the Zeiss Otus?’ and the answer was “Yes.” Now this I have to see! 🙂

MY THOUGHTS

The camera is a beautiful monstrosity! Ugly, but beautiful at the same time. It feels great in the hand and the operations were smooth.

I think the SL is going to be a great camera, I don’t doubt that. However, at $7450 for the body and $4950 for the zoom lens, this is strictly for the hardcore Leicaphilles. I wouldn’t be able to even put a down payment for these 🙂

I suspect most people will opt for the Sony option, which offers similar and even better spec’d cameras at much lower prices.

Even though I didn’t ask the representatives outright, I do suspect that the SL and especially that 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit to be made by Panasonic.

The lens is very reminiscent of the Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 ASPH which they released in 2006 as a kit lens for the 7.5mp Panasonic DMC-L1 and Leica Digilux 3 cameras which were 4/3’s system cameras.

That was also a beefy lens. The look, the lettering, everything screams Panasonic. Nothing against Panasonic, they make awesome cameras. In fact, if Panasonic released a twin of the SL under their own name, I’d be inclined to try it!

Leica has made their name as a premium brand, and they earned it. I totally understand that. But in today’s world, with SO many digital camera choices out there, I think they are doing themselves and their fans (myself included) a disservice by pricing themselves right out of the market.

Despite all I’ve said about pricing, there will be one thing I can predict with confidence…the SL (Typ 601) will sell out on its first run! 🙂

WHERE TO BUY?

If you’ve got serious cash to spend, you can pre-order the Leica SL HERE and the matching Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH HERE. It’s slated to be released for sale November 20, 2015.

If you get this camera, you’re a CAMERA LEGEND in my book and I want to hear from you! 🙂

Leica R Images

As a follow up to last night’s article on the Leica SL (Typ 601) mirrorless full frame system from Leica, tonight I am posting some Leica R images, both film and digital that I have taken over the years.

The Leica R system was Leica’s 35mm SLR system. Though it had its own large and cultish following, it never set the world on fire the way Leica’s M system did.

That said, Leica R lenses were every bit as good as their M system equivalents and at one time commanded much lower prices. But through online forums, the internet, and the popularity of alternative lens adapters, the prices for the R lenses have gone way up.

I had an almost complete collection of the “essential” R lenses, including the 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R, 50mm f/2 Summicron-R, the 80mm f/1.4 Summilux-R, the 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, the 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R and the hard to find 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R.

While I had to sell most of them when I hit rock bottom, the one I regret selling the most was the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R. I had a persistent overseas buyer who offered me twice what I paid for it. I needed the money. That was five years ago. I have yet to find another one as their prices have skyrocketed to the point where I don’t even consider it.

Still, you may find bargains in the R lens lineup that you won’t with the M lenses. So for your Throwback Thursday, I present you a small set of Leica R images that I hope will show some of the characteristics of these fantastic lenses. Please click on the images for a better view. Thanks for lookin’

Best Regards,
Sam

SLZoePepsiCAFA

“Blue Bayou” 2008. Leicaflex SL, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Kodak Portra film.

99388588.WRfjkUXc

“Lots Of Love” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2.

BirdJunC

“Bonnie & Clyde” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2.

CLeicaZ80C

“UFO” 2012. Leica R4, 80mm f/1.4 Summilux-R, Tri-X film.

TreeC

“Lonely Still” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2.

 

CZoeC

“Those Eyes” 2008. Canon EOS 5D, 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R

SL90Plants

“The Entrance” 2008. Leicaflex SL, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Fuji Superia X-Tra 800.

17600_10200941212084901_1335241629_n

“Ordinary Day” 2013. Canon EOS 1Ds, Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R. The focus was off, but I kinda liked it.




Some Film Images Part II

I had so much fun going down memory lane last night, I decided to do it again, one more night. This time the focus is on people and portraits. Back to reviewing cameras soon, I promise 🙂

Again, captioned with these images are equipment that I have profiled or am planning to profile. Most of the gear I no longer have, except for the negatives and memories I have of them.

And again, while I love reviewing equipment, I love the equipment even more if it helps me take a decent pic!

Also as mentioned in the last article, a lot of these photos were posted for photo sharing sites long before I started blogging on WordPress. As such, some were resized much smaller than I’d like, but it would take me forever to locate the originals and work on them again. I thank you kindly for taking a look.

141123443.euHZ8DVy.imgT3MamaQuilin243I

“Separate Your Colors” 2011. Contax T3, Fuji Reala. Manila, Philippines.

72199654.3VurRO0j.BNwaPB

“The NWA” 1990. Minolta X-700, miscellaneous brand 80-200mm. No this is not Dr. Dre and the “West Coast” NWA. This is “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and the original NWA 🙂

1186234_10201381547813019_1521540462_n

“The Young & The Restless” 1988. Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 MD lens. Los Angeles, California. I was at the Farmer’s Market in L.A. and checking out magazines at a newsstand when I spotted two (then) very popular soap opera stars, Tracey E. Bregman and Doug Davidson, who were also checking out magazines. They must have been on a break from their show which was being filmed at CBS Studios nearby. I asked them for a photo and they graciously obliged. I was most impressed that they had no movie star “issues” and smiled for a geeky teenager with a camera 🙂

10924621_10205004028452771_2700291808193830651_o

“The Gentle Giant” 2011. Nikon F4s, 28mm f/2.8 AIS Nikkor, Kodak Portra 160. I ran into NYC icon Louis Mendes, a photographer well known for his old school Speed Graphic camera and sharp retro outfits. Lou takes unique Polaroid portraits and has made a living and a legend out of it. I’ve bumped into Mr. Mendes a few times over the years and he has always been a willing a gracious subject for my cameras. Thanks Lou!

CPBrideC

“Bangkok Bride II” 2005. Olympus Stylus Epic, 35mm f/2.8, Kodak High Definition 400 film. Bangkok, Thailand.

160432330.BUW2hQF2

“Native New Yorker” 2015. Leica M4P, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in D76. NYC is a melting pot of cultures. No matter where you come from, you can quickly transform into a New Yorker!




Some Film Images Part I

No dear friends and readers, I have not run out of Camera Legends to profile for you. However, from time to time, I’d like to put up some images I’ve taken over the years, if only to remind myself that I still love photography and also so that readers of this site can see that I actually DO use the gear profiled 🙂

Like many of you out there, I really love cameras and lenses. But just as importantly, I love the equipment more if it helps me take a decent picture.

The photos below are a random sampling of the gear and the photos I’ve taken with them. Some of the cameras used to take these shots have been profiled. Some are previews of possible future postings.

They are not masterworks or anything. Many are from my attempts to learn or test equipment. Most were taken for just the pure joy of photography.

I thank you for taking a look. And not to worry, I have more great gear to profile and review for you coming soon 🙂

Note: Most of these images were posted elsewhere on the web years ago, long before I knew anything about WordPress. As such, some were resized to dimensions much smaller than I’d like to show you, but as I cannot find the originals at this time, this is what I can post. Sorry about that.

139139642.TI4xz9k1.MomDC

“Mom in DC” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. This image represents one of my earliest attempts at photography, at least the ones I could find. Shot with the long defunct and defiled Kodak Disc Camera, a camera that was bashed by critics and consumers alike. However, I have to say, I really loved that camera and this image brings back a lot of memories.

80259812.xfdWo77e.JoeLit150Pba1

“Ghetto Blaster” 1985. Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 MD lens. My brother and father with our Cutlass Supreme which we called the “Ghetto-Blaster” with its missing hubcap 🙂 Thirty one years in time, but I’ll be darned if that golden light on the print doesn’t still look as golden as the day I took this shot.




86420863.ICEBHFzI.CPhotogPBase

“Bangkok Bride” 2005. Olympus Stylus Epic, 35mm f/2.8, Kodak High Definition 400 film. Shot in Bangkok, Thailand.

80650042.mP0bUQUa.LotusPba

“Holy Petal” 1995. Contax G1, 28mm f/2.8 Zeiss Biogon, Fujichrome Velvia. Taken at a temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

80067916.oS3X1lKl.AddictOM1Pba

“Portrait Of An Addict” 1997. Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, Kodak Tri-X. An attempt to self document one man’s horrible addiction to cigarettes. This photo was accepted to Flickr’s “Film Is Not Dead It Just Smells Funny” group, which is quite a selective bunch so I was honored by their acceptance of this pic.

72203117.MOYkwQ46.BMannequinsPbase1

“Mannequin Fantasy” 2006. Ricoh GR1, Fujicolor Press 800.

99388588.WRfjkUXc

“Lots Of Love” 2008. Leica R8, 90mm f/2 Summicron-R, Ilford XP2. I was honored that this image was profiled on Leica’s LFI “Analogue Masters” Gallery a few years ago.

130716115.ggt0qYRJ.3994821952_832dcc1cda_z1

“Rainy Day Blues” 2009. Leica CL, Canon 50mm f/1.2 LTM, Kodak Tri-X 400 developed in HC-110. I was sloppy and something went wrong with the development and I got the blues after seeing the ‘damaged’ roll . But since photography is such a subjective, sometimes emotional thing, I developed a liking for the look of some of the ‘ruined’ images.

995636_10204084737871081_7481577152814577026_n

“Masked Shooter” 2008. Contax RX, Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 lens. The man with the clandestine figure, the Masked Shooter, has probably shot nearly a thousand cameras 🙂




The Minox DCC 5.1

The Minox DCC 5.1mp digital camera from Minox. Let’s make no mistake about it, this is a toy camera and I only got one for my collection as it is cute as a button 🙂

The Minox DCC 5.1 is a 5.1 megapixel camera introduced in 2010 by the famous miniature camera maker Minox.

While it obviously mimics the looks of the legendary Leica M3, an M3 it is not. This is pretty much a toy camera, pure and simple.

The camera is clunky to use and the image quality is quite bad. You can forget about shooting it at night or in low light unless you have the accessory flash. Over the years, I have been known to take cameras to their low light limits, and if the camera is half way decent, I can get something usable out of it. But this one, for low light shots, I said “Fuggedaboutit” 🙂

Sure, you might if you are so inclined, get some cool effects with it, but it’s a novelty, not an everyday camera.

There will be no “official” reviews on this one. In fact, everything you need to know about it, I just wrote it in the sentences above.

I got it for under $50 and it’s purely for my collection as a camera buff. One thing I will say is that, just like the model holding the camera, it is cute as a button…which is why I got it 🙂

As bad as these cameras are as a “camera” they still have their appeal as collectibles and in that respect, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these “Leica” Minoxes end up as an interesting footnote in the Camera Legend of Minox.

Although the Minoxx DCC 5.1 is an older model, there are a couple of other similar cameras Minox put out, including the last 14mp model. Although I still think they are very much toy cameras, if you’re interested you may be able to get one at a good deal on here for Minox cameras.

 

The Sony A7R: Is It The Ultimate?

DSC00513SamCamI

“The Dream” 2015. The Sony A7R, when introduced in 2013, represented the pinnacle in digital camera technology. Seen here with the Canon 50mm f/0.95, it is a “Dream” combo for me. I played around with some “Pop Art” type settings for this shot 🙂

The Sony A7R is a 36.4 megapixel mirrorless digital camera introduced (along with the 24mp A7) by Sony in 2013.

Now think about it…a mirrorless camera with a whopping 36.4 megapixels on a full-frame sensor. You might call the A7R an instant Camera Legend!

Note: With the exception of the first two photos, I have included some larger than usual photos especially for this camera. You may have to double click on the photos to see them at their intended sizes.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

While the camera looks like a miniature DSLR, it is indeed NOT a single lens reflex. Instead, it is a mirrorless camera that does not rely on a reflex mirror as in traditional SLR cameras.

You have the option of using the back LCD, as in all digital cameras, or the built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF has a resolution of 2.4 megapixels and is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The camera is small, but feels good in the hand. Solid, light but with a nice heft to it. The right hand grip feels comfy and secure to me, but might not for someone with larger hands.

When I first handled the camera at the PhotoPlus show in NYC in 2013, my impression was that the camera looked and felt a lot like my Olympus OM-D EM-5, only stronger and not as light as the OM-D. I would say it is like the EM-5 ‘grown up’ 🙂

ZLipsC

“Pucker Up” 2014. Sony A7R, Voightlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical, first version. Lipstick, ear-rings, kids jewelry…growing up way too fast! 🙂

It is not the prettiest camera in the world, but not the ugliest either. It feels like a ‘machine’ or a computer with a camera that Sony put together, in essence that’s what it is, but I kinda like that. And this machine is made for image making. It is not here to win any beauty contests, it is here to work. And it is an excellent worker.

CONTROLS AND FEATURES

The controls are well laid out with the mode dial, on/off dial, and exposure compensation wheel at the top. The inclusion of the “Fn” or function button on the back makes it easier to access key features such as ISO, drive mode, flash, focus, etc, etc. This is certainly a lot better than some of the lower end NEX cameras I have used where you have to use the scrolling virtual menu to access these features.

The menus are typical Sony and any NEX user will be familiar with most of it. You can customize this camera to do a lot of things, but I suggest you read the manual to have it do what you want.

As mentioned earlier, the EVF is wonderful, amazing really. I was always an old-school optical viewfinder guy, but the EVF on the A7R has won me over. Combined with the focus peaking, I have been able to get sharp shots in situations where it would almost be impossible. It’s that good.

There’s a lot more features to this camera than I care to write about. All I can say is that you can do almost anything you want with it 🙂

AUTOFOCUS

I can’t say much about the AF because I have mainly used manual legacy glass, i.e., Leica M, Olympus OM, Nikkors, etc, with this camera.

I did use a kit lens from the cheap Sony A3000 on the A7R and it focused fast and sure. Note that if using AF lenses from the APS-C NEX series, the A7R automatically switches to its 1.5x crop mode at a still respectable 15.4 megapixel resolution.

The two AF primes most users rave about when using the A7R/A7 series are the Sony made Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 FE and the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 FE Sonnar lenses. I have yet to really desire these, due to the lack of funds, and my simply having no problems getting sharp shots with my legacy glass. One day I hope to get around to one of these fine AF Zeiss lenses, and the 55mm f/1.8 is the one I’d get first.

MANUAL FOCUS

As mentioned, I have been using the A7R almost exclusively with legacy glass. This is the best camera I have used for this purpose.

I set the focus peaking to red, mid level, and just focus away. Focus peaking allows for the camera to highlight (in red, yellow, or white) the edges of your subject when the camera determines that you’re in the focus zone. Sometimes, you may have situations where you can’t really get a good ‘peaking’ but the EVF is clear enough where I can make the focus most of the time.

DSC00383RPC

“Twilight” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens” at wide open, ISO 800. Please click on the photo for a much larger and better view.

Focus peaking is easy to use and a very effective tool for using manual focus lenses on your camera. As mentioned earlier, the implementation on the A7R is one of the best I have used. It makes you wonder how we took all those nice photos on film SLR’s all those years without it 🙂

Don’t get me wrong. You’d probably still get a better hit rate with the autofocus 55mm f/1.5 FE, for example, but I’ll be darned if don’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to see how well I could focus my old lenses.

DO I NEED 36 MEGAPIXELS?

This is probably one of the main questions people have when deciding whether or not to buy the A7R. For some, it is the reason to stay away. For others, it’s reason enough to sway them to give in to their G.A.S. “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” 🙂

I’ve been using this camera for almost a year, got it last May, 2014. Here’s my take on this…

Probably 99% of the time, 99% of us won’t need 36 megapixels. We get the A7R because we WANT it. There I said it 🙂

Back in 2004 and 2005, when we had 5 megapixel and 8 megapixel cameras ruling the digital camera world, I obsessively printed up 13×19 and 20×30 prints from cameras like the Nikon D1X and Canon EOS 20D and the results looked great. Even a 13×19 from a 4mp D2H looked pretty awesome.

It may seem silly now, but you have to remember in 2004 and 2005, this digital stuff was still a relatively new game. With each increase in megapixels, we were ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ and going bonkers with the latest and greatest. Today, 20+ megapixels don’t even make eyes blink anymore. Maybe some realized that after 10 megapixels, it was “good enough.”

So since printing billboards with an A7R is no problem, anything printed smaller will be a piece of cake for this camera.

Initially I did not intend to get the A7R, partially due to its price and partially because I didn’t need 36 megapixels for what I do. I do mostly street and portraits. I’ve done weddings and had a few shots published in a magazine, but professional photography is not my thing. Like many of you, photography is my passion and I prefer to keep it that way.

Anyway, I ended up with the A7R about half a year into its introduction because I was able to get one brand new through a friend for $500 less than the store prices. I can’t resist a bargain, so the savings were enough to push me over. Of course, I had to get rid of some cherished items to come up with the cash 🙂

Besides saving $500, I thought the A7R would be the ultimate solution for my legacy lenses. And indeed, the A7R has really turned out to be that camera.

Here’s the best excuse you need for wanting those 36.4 megapixels: If you come across that once in a lifetime shot, and assuming you actually get the shot, you will have the peace of mind in knowing you took it with your best camera. Simple as that. If in that dream world, MOMA wanted an exhibition print of your shot, they can have it with the A7R, again assuming you got the shot. Worst case (and more likely for me) scenario, you have some beautiful large prints in your home 🙂

DSC00266A7RTrees1C

“Quadpods” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical, ISO 100. Check the image below for a 100% crop of this image.

DSC00266A7RTrees2

A 100% crop of the image above. The A7R provided excellent resolution with the classic Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens, but also reveals some chromatic aberration from this classic aspherical lens as well. You’d probably never spot it on prints up to 13×19 and even if you did, would it be a problem? 🙂

PERFORMANCE

The A7R has really impressed me with its results. When the Nikon D800/D800E came out in 2012, I read so many things about how 36 megapixels would require “super” photo techniques, tripods, the best lenses or otherwise you’d end up with blurry useless shots. Ten years ago, they said the same thing about ten megapixels so I took that with a grain of salt.

While it is true that if you used those “super” photo techniques, you could get the best out of the A7R, it is NOT necessary to get consistent sharp results out of the A7R. They may not always be “tack” sharp, but unless you’re shooting landscape exhibits or advertising campaigns, it should be sharp enough.

I do a lot of night and low light shots. I’ve always kept the camera in Auto ISO and it’s one of the few cameras that really does the job at this setting. I only adjust manual ISO if I specifically want ISO 100-400 or anything above ISO 800. With fast lenses and in low light, the A7R tended to choose the lowest ISO values it could get away with, thus providing better quality images with these lenses.

DSC00502StompC

“STOMP” 2015. Sony A7R, Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical, first version at ISO 320. I actually shot this out of a moving car, pre-focused and a little off on the focus plus car movement, but I still like it. Driving by shooting can yield interesting results, but I do not endorse it 🙂

I generally turn off the noise reduction on my cameras, but with the A7R I keep the noise reduction at its “Normal” default and it does a nice job with ISO’s as high as 6400 providing a good balance between detail and noise. I only use RAW on this camera if there is difficult lighting or if I have the camera on a tripod. Otherwise, the “Fine” or “Extra Fine” jpegs are good enough for me.

DSC00479CILobsterBoxC

“Lobster Box” 2015. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95, ISO 100. As mentioned in the article, the Sony A7R in Auto ISO mode chooses the lowest ISO values possible with fast lenses in low light to provide better image quality.

DSC00490ZoeC

“Flying High” 2015. Sony A7R, Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Aspherical, first version at ISO 100. First day out in the park and swinging higher than I’d ever seen 🙂

Many of my legacy lenses cannot out resolve the A7R sensor. Even many modern lenses cannot out resolve the 36mp sensor. However, don’t let that dissuade you. Even my vintage Canon “Dream Lens” 50mm f/0.95, a lens known for its soft ‘dreamy’ quality wide open, is surprisingly nearly as sharp as a modern 50mm when stopped down to f/5.6 or so.

DSC00380ZoeDreamLensC

“Bundle Up” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens” at ISO 1000. Shot at around f/1.4 and processed to minimize the well known aberrations that have endeared this lens to its owners. Please click on the photo for a much larger and better view.

DSC00354A7RZoe1ZC

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95. Please click on the photo to see the details of the 100% crop inset. The crop is from the zipper of the jacket on Baby Z’s left side. At first it might seem ‘standard’ fare for a 50mm lens until you realize this is the Canon “Dream Lens” often thought of as soft. As you can see, it kept up amazing well with the A7R’s 36.4 megapixel sensor, better than I thought!

Just because you’re not using all those 36.4 megapixels doesn’t mean its wasted. You still get the benefit of being able to crop small sections of the files and still get usable pictures. And of course, you can print larger.

Wide lenses, such as my Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar, do not work well on the A7R resulting in vignetting and color cast around the edges and blotchy spots. You could probably use correction software to fix these issues, although I haven’t tried.

The A7R sensor (same Sony sensor as in the Nikon D800/D800e) is also well known for its superb dynamic range. I can pull out great shadow detail in underexposed images and rarely ever get blown highlights with this camera.

DSC00107BabyJP1C

“Lifehouse” 2014. Sony A7R, Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar M mount, ISO 100. Note the vignetting and color cast around the edges. Please click on the photo for a much larger and better view. Not pretty (except the couple, of course!), but it can be corrected to some degree with software. Or you can be happy and look at those issues as a “Natural Instagram” 🙂

BJPC

“Baby Beach” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 at wide open, ISO 100.

For the A7R, I generally stay in the 28mm range for wide angle where it works just fine.

The camera also does 1080P Full HD video though as mentioned in other articles, I’m not a video guy. My home videos from the A7R look nice though 🙂

BOTTOM LINE

I love this camera! It’s as simple as that. It has become my go to camera if I think I’m going to be shooting something worthwhile. It’s fantastic at low ISO’s and excellent at high ISO settings.

If I were doing it all over again today, for the same money, I’d probably get the A7II with its 5 axis stabilizer, but I haven’t really needed image stabilization because I equalize the A7R’s lack of IS by using fast lenses.

If shopping for the A7R, the price for new as of today (B&H) is $1898, and I’ve seen them sell used for as low as $1200 which is a screamin’ deal.

The A7R is a wonderful and very versatile camera, capable of opening up a whole new world of photographic fun and exploration for you. As mentioned earlier, the Sony A7R became an instant Camera Legend the moment it was introduced.

DSC00478ZayC

“A New Zay” 2015. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens.” It is indeed a new day with Baby Zay and the Sony A7R in the house! 🙂

Is it the “Ultimate?” Well, let’s say it didn’t stop me from wanting other cameras. It did however fill me with the thought that I didn’t need other cameras, I just want them because I love cameras! Anyway, this is not a camera I would use for events where fast AF and rapid fire is needed. It is kind of overkill for street work, which is what I love. However, at its best you can’t deny the image quality of the Sony A7R. It is among the best, and it is a Camera Legend standing high above its mirrorless peers.

Sony A7R

PROS: 36.4 Megapixels (you want it!); Possible Medium Format look in 35mm digital package; Superb EVF; Superb dynamic range; Excellent focus peaking for manual lenses; No AA filter for potentially sharper images; Lightweight, but sturdy; Great colors; Usable high ISO performance; Makes fantastic large prints

CONS: 36.4 Megapixels (you don’t really need it); The need for bigger memory cards, more processing power from your computer; Color cast and other issues with wide angle manual focus lenses; No AA filter, potential moire; Limited AF lens lineup; Battery life; Feels like it might be a bit fragile for long term durability, only time will tell I guess.

My first choice if buying an A7R today would be to check the competitive prices at Amazon through their affiliates. You can find some very competitive prices from the link below. I’d also recommend Adorama and B&H, never had a problem with either of these camera super stores. Buying from these dealers through these links helps to support this blog and helps me add to its content. It will cost you nothing and you’d be buying from the very best dealers. Thanks for your time reading this article and thanks for your support.

Amazon’s list of competitive stores selling the Sony A7R.




The Olympus E-1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Cuckoo” 2014. Olympus E-1, Zuiko Digital 25mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Sorry for the funky treatment…one really did fly over the cuckoo’s nest 🙂

The Olympus E-1 is a digital slr that was introduced by Olympus Corporation in 2003.

It was their first digital interchangeable lens slr and an attempt to tap into the prestigious pro digital market that was dominated by giants Canon and Nikon.

The E-1 was also the first dslr to sport the new “Four Thirds” or 4/3’s sensor that was heavily promoted at that time by Olympus and Panasonic.

If you want to get into all the technical aspects for the 4/3’s sensor, just go to the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Thirds_system

Basically, 4/3’s is a sensor smaller than full-frame or APS-C, but still much larger than any point and shoot camera in 2003. The sensor has a 2X factor, meaning for example, a 50mm lens will translate to a 100mm lens on the E-1 and other 4/3’s cameras. Olympus definitely went against the stream on this one, as they did many times in the past. I’ve always been an Olympus fan, so this is one for the “little guys” 🙂

TheFlyPBaseSC

“The Fly” 2005. Olympus E-1, Zuiko 90mm f/2 macro.

The E-1 used a 5mp Kodak sensor, back in the days when Kodak made some amazing sensors. In fact, one of the main reasons for the E-1’s cult-like following is due to what Olympus enthusiasts like to call “those Oly colors” and of course, a large part of that is due to the Kodak CCD in the camera. The mount was also highly adaptable to use with “alternative” lenses and I greatly enjoyed using the camera with various Leica, OM, and Contax lenses.

E1ZC

“Evergreen” 2009. Olympus E-1, Leica 90mm f/2 Summicron-R. My little girl used to pick flowers for me. How I miss those days 🙂

The E-1 had superb build quality utilizing a magnesium-alloy, “splash-proof” body. I found the ergonomics to be great with the controls nicely laid out. The AF was sure and speedy in daylight, but struggled a bit in low light conditions. The ISO range was from 100-800 with ISO 1600 and 3200 available in the settings as “ISO BOOST.” I tended to stay within the 100-800 range as I found the “boosted” settings too noisy for me.

OlyE1FlowerC

“Sprouts Of Life” 2005. Olympus E-1, Zuiko 90mm f/2 macro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Fields Of Gold” 2007. Olympus E-1, Panasonic 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 Vario-Elmarit, ISO 800. Note the “noise” beginning to show. I don’t find it objectionable, but some might.

The E-1 also had one of the most quiet and smooth shutters I’ve ever used in a camera, and one of the most effective dust reduction systems. I’ve never seen a speck of dust in my E-1 images and I’ve used these cameras a lot over the past ten years.

If you’re looking for one of these, prices are trending at $65-200, with the average around $100 or less for the body alone which I feel is a killer deal for a fantastic camera.

Masterkiller1Cam

“The Kill Master” 2005. Olympus E-1. For less than $100, the E-1 is a “killer” deal for a Camera Legend.

Around 2004, I was in the (sadly) now defunct J&R electronics store in lower Manhattan. There were a lot of beautiful prints hung up on the wall of their photography department. Still a firm believer in film at the time, I was marveling at the prints and saying to myself…wow, look at what people are giving up by not shooting film! Guess what? All those shots I admired were done with an Olympus E-1 🙂

It’s hard to believe that the Olympus E-1 was introduced almost twelve years ago. It still remains a favorite among Olympus fans for its great color, superb build, and reliability. Although 4/3’s is now a dead system, it doesn’t mean you can’t use those cameras and lenses to take great shots.

The Olympus E-1 was the first of its kind and it has left a legacy that continues today with its successful Micro 4/3’s offsprings, which became the true fruition of what 4/3’s was supposed to be. The Olympus E-1 is a classic and will go down in history as a digital Camera Legend.

Pros: Superb build quality, splash-proof; Colors; Good AF in good light; Cheap in today’s world, a bargain!

Cons: “Only” five megapixels; Slow start-up; Slow write times to CF card; Digital grain begins to get objectionably “noisy” at ISO 800 and up; Part of the now dead 4/3’s system.

Important Note: While they share the same sensor size, please remember that 4/3’s and Micro 4/3’s are not compatible. For example, if you have a mirrorless OM-D EM-1 or EM-5, or a Panasonic Micro 4/3’s camera, you CANNOT use your Micro 4/3’s lenses on a 4/3’s body like the E-1. You CAN however use the 4/3’s lenses on Micro 4/3’s with the right adapter. Thanks for stopping by!