Photo Of The Day: “The Girls Of Summer”

So today is the last official day of summer here in the states. The year is two thirds over. Sometimes I wish I were in fifth grade again when summer seemed a lot longer. Then again though, the school year back then seemed torturously long, so I’m not sure I would want to go back to fifth grade! Anyway, I’m lucky to have summer all year round with these two 😘

The above photo was taken with a Sigma SD Quattro mirrorless and 30mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens. The photo was cropped, but still full sized and you can see that by double clicking the image. Check the baby’s eyelashes to see how the camera does on resolution. 

I have to admit the SD Quattro was not on my shopping list this year and even if it was I’d go for the SD Quattro H which is the larger sensor APS-H version.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, the cameras always seem to come to me! I spotted the camera while searching for something else. The product was in like new condition and the price was more than half off brand new. Couldn’t resist!

The 30mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens I already have. I’ve  had this lens in different mounts over the years and it’s one of my favorites. On the SD Quattro with its APS-C sized sensor, it’s more like a 50mm normal lens and I’ve always been a fan of the good old “boring” 50mm perspective.

I’ll have more to say about the camera in future postings. Let’s just say if you’re familiar with Sigma cameras at all, then this is pure Sigma. That is, great IQ but with a few operational warts. At full price, I’d have to think about it, but at the price I got it for…deal! 🙂

I don’t get cameras sent to me for review and I don’t get any kickbacks so the only way I can get these cameras is to buy, use, and sell. Most of the time, I have to sell. So far it’s too early for me to tell if the Sigma is a keeper. In a way, that last statement says a lot about how far we’ve come. I mean, ten years ago, a Sigma like this would be a keeper for sure. Today though with the choices we have, the choice is not so easy now is it?

Hope you all had a great summer and see you in the fall (which is like today haha).

Take care, Sam. 

Note: I’m ashamed to admit I’m having trouble with my computer again! Time to upgrade I guess. As such I’ve been posting from my phone and wouldn’t you know it, out of the computer problems there is a side benefit. From my phone, I’m able to now post larger pics to enhance your viewing experience. Thank you the readers for your visits, thank WordPress for the platform, and thank the iPhone for the liberation! 🙂

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Photo Of The Day: “Olive Oil”

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“Olive Oil” 2016. Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Ah olive oil. The not so secret ingredient to the much touted Mediterranean Diet. So good for you. So good for your body!

Now wait a minute you might say. Isn’t this site about cameras? Well yes indeed it is. And today, I just want to say a little about the 12mp camera on the iPhone 6/6s/6s Plus. In fact, this might apply to nearly all of today’s high quality cell phone cameras.

First, about the shot. It may seem like a fancy restaurant, but I took this shot at a local Singa’s Pizza. Good, maybe even great pizza, but the joint itself is far from elegant.

Anyway, I spotted this on the wall and the light was hitting it in that wonderful way that only light can.

After nearly six years of iPhone shooting, starting with the original 3G, then 3Gs, then the 4, then the 5, now the 6, I must say that the cameras on the iPhone have evolved to a point where I really don’t need any of my fancy point and shoots for nearly ninety percent of what I shoot, especially if it’s going to be in daylight or in good light.

The above photo, I think, is a good example. The color, the detail of the olives inside the bottles, and a wonderful balance on the shadows, highlights, and mid-tones.

But this is not a surprise to anyone who has been shooting iPhones. Most of us already know the wonderful qualities which makes shooting them such a pleasure. Deep rich color and tones, excellent sharpness, and super speedy shooting. The last part makes it perfect for street shots. Negatives? Can be mushy when viewed at 100 percent, especially on low light images. But that also happens on a lot of “real cameras.”

But one more very big positive. Of course, the ability to edit in camera and share your photos right away to your friends/fans on Facebook, Instagram or what have you, that seals the deal for most people. Yes, I know camera companies have incorporated wifi and sharing to their DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras, but the few I tried were very clunky in operation and not yet close to the smooth operation found in modern phones.

As great as I’m making it sound, there is still one BIG negative about shooting with an iPhone. The negative is just that; the fact that it’s a phone first and not thought of as a “camera” even if there is a very advanced camera in there.

You won’t get a lot of cred for still shots, no matter how nice, taken with an iPhone or any other phone. People may say, “Ooh ahh” about the great pic you shot with your phone, but they are also silently saying…”Phone camera? Ah ok” then they move on. You simply won’t get a lot of photo-nerd love by using a cell phone camera 🙂

It may be bad, but in a good way, people still respect you more if the shots were taken on an actual camera, even if the cell phone cameras have blurred the lines on what a “real camera” is. To most people, even the ones who will like your pics, the cell phone camera is just too easy. They know it. So it’s also easy to dismiss.

That’s why film shooters still get a lot of cred. It’s film. It’s an old medium and yes, it does require a little (and sometimes, a lot) more work than it does with a modern DSLR, mirrorless or a high end cell phone camera.

But if you put all this aside, take it out of your mind, there will come a time when you’ll have to say, you know what? This phone takes pictures as good as any other digital camera I’ve used in the past ten years.

Again, not for every shot or every situation, but for ninety percent of what most people shoot, it’s perfect. No wonder more images are uploaded from the iPhone than any other “real camera” out there.

No my friends, I’m not trying to convince you that the iPhone is better than say, a Leica Q. And no, I have not lost my love for vintage cameras. I am and will continue to use them as long as film is around.

What I am saying is for me, I got to face reality. Shooting the iPhone may not be as cool as say, shooting a Ricoh GR, but it often will get the shots that under normal viewing distances, and certainly when posting small pics, will be indistinguishable from each other. That says a lot about how far cell phone cameras have come.

Have a good day my friends and don’t worry, there will certainly be more Camera Legend reviews! 🙂

***IN STOCK ALERT***

I have been notified by my good friends at Adorama that the Nikon D5 and D500 are now in stock!! If you’ve been waiting patiently for these awesome cameras, here’s your chance to grab one before they sell out the first batch. You may find them in the links below. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend and enjoy your new camera, I’d sure love to hear about it!

Nikon D5 (CF Version)

Nikon D5 (XQD Version)

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 with 16-80 f/2.8-4E VR lens

The New Leica SL (Typ 601) System

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The newly announced Leica SL (Typ 601). A 24mp, full-frame, mirrorless monster from Leica!

There’s a new Big Daddy in town! Leica has announced its 24mp, mirrorless, full-frame camera system and from the pics I have seen, it’s a MONSTER!! It’s called the SL (Typ 601). Leave it to Leica to give it one of these funky “Typ” names, sounds so serious 🙂

It looks like a Sony A7 series on steroids. Seriously, it looks like a beautiful monstrosity, just in time for Halloween 🙂

I’m hoping to see this thing in the flesh this weekend at the Photo Plus show in NYC. I will report back if I do see it in the flesh so stay tuned.

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The original 35mm Leica SL. Perhaps the best film SLR made by Leica. Image from 2008, CPG Productions.

The Leicaflex SL was introduced in 1968. While Leica 35mm SLR’s didn’t exactly set the world on fire the way their M series did, I do consider the SL one of the finest 35mm cameras of its time. Dials, knobs, a glorious viewfinder and pure manual focus goodness and unlike many of the R series cameras, the SL was actually designed and made by Leica.

I can’t foretell whether the new digital SL (Typ 601) will have the timeless appeal of the original SL, but I have no doubt it’s going to be an imaging giant!

Meanwhile, 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.

Despite its price tag, I’m sure this camera will SELL OUT almost right away, so if you got the cash, I don’t have to tell you…Don’t hesitate because that SL won’t wait! 🙂

This is going to be an awesome combo, no doubt, but it’s going to be WAY beyond my reach and wallet. I like cheap and this ain’t cheap…but I like it!

But I’ll tell you one thing…If you get this, YOU my friend will definitely be a CAMERA LEGEND!! 🙂

Here are the official specs and a pdf brochure on the SL (Typ 601) from Leica.

Technical Data – Leica SL (Typ 601) & SL 24-90

Memo 2016-33 Leica SL (Typ 601)

The First Canon Mirrorless: The EOS-M

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The original Canon EOS-M. Trying to look serious, but this camera is fun. Serious Fun! 🙂

With today’s introduction of the EOS-M10 I thought it would be a good time to take a look at Canon’s first mirrorless camera, the EOS-M.

The EOS-M is an 18 megapixel mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera introduced by Canon in 2012.

I got the “M” sometime in 2013 when they were having a closeout on these cameras with a huge price reduction.

IN THE HAND

The EOS-M is physically the size of any average digital point and shoot. It is remarkable that inside lies an 18mp APS-C sized sensor, possibly the same or a variation of the venerable 18mp sensor Canon has used in a number of cameras including the 7D and SL1.

The camera feels light, but the body is surprisingly solid thanks to a magnesium alloy body.

The camera controls are spartan. On the top right by the shutter release you have a mode dial for play, camera, and video. There is no dedicated “P/S/A/M” dial they must be accessed through the menu. The menu thankfully will be a familiar one for EOS users. There is a hotshoe for dedicated flash units, but no built in flash.

The camera does feel a little slippery to the touch and could benefit from a hand grip. I don’t believe Canon makes one for the EOS-M, but you can get a hand grip for the camera from third party manufacturers.

PERFORMANCE

The main complaint people had about the original M is the slow autofocus, which they did not expect from a modern Canon digital.

Canon attempted to rectify this with a firmware update, which was version 2.02 which was to improve AF in one shot mode and also supported the new 11-22mm f/4-5.6 STM.

Yes, the people were right, the camera was slow. And yes, the AF did improve after installing firmware 2.02, but it is still slow by today’s standards. I would put its AF on par with the original Fuji X-100.

I originally thought this camera would work for my street shooting, but it’s a tad too slow for on the fly street work. I now use it as a fine stills and family camera 🙂

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“M Love” 2015. Canon EOS-M, EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. I originally intended to use the EOS-M as a street cam, and it’s fine for stills, but a tad slow for on the fly street shooting. I do love it for family pics if and when the kids are not on the move 🙂

One of the best features of the EOS-M is the touch shutter. This is a feature we’re used to on our phones, but still not quite the norm on “real” cameras.

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“Legend” 2015. Canon EOS-M, EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. Just a test of the EOS-M’s AF system. In auto, the lens would rack back and forth looking for a target due to the white background. But when switched to the touch shutter, it found its mark easily and accurately. Not super fast, but fast enough.

I became a big fan of touch shutter after using it on the Olympus OM-D EM-5. On that camera, it was incredibly fast and effective, especially for street shots. Sad to say, it’s not that fast nor as effective on the M, but hey it works.

I’m not knocking down the M, the AF is very accurate, but it takes its time and I’ve gotten used to that.

High ISO images are good to about ISO 3200 which is a bit grainy depending on the light, but still usable. Higher than ISO 3200 I would say is good for “artistic” purposes 🙂

Another feature I loved on the M are the built in creative filters. I’m not a big fan of novelty filters, but the filters on the M are quite effective and fun to use. The effects include Toy Camera, Fish-Eye, Miniature, Art Bold, Water Paint, Soft Focus and Grainy Black and White.

I got the M as a fun to use camera, and these filters are a big part of what makes the camera fun. It helps to negate the slow AF and other issues I might have with it. However, these filters are for photos I like to look at myself and not necessarily post because the novelty of these filters wear out quickly.

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“Hey You Mini Me” 2013. Canon EOS-M, EF 22mm f/2 STM. A shot using the “Miniature” effect, one of seven Creative Filters found on the EOS-M.

IMAGE QUALITY

The saving grace for the Canon EOS-M is this…

When paired with the EF 22mm f/2 STM, the image quality is excellent to superb, especially at lower ISO settings and favorable conditions. The lens which is equivalent to 35mm on full-frame is quite an amazing performer on the time tested Canon 18mp sensor.

At low ISO’s you can count on clean, colorful, and detailed images with this combo. The image quality is several notches better than the Nikon V1 (with its much smaller sensor) which I also reviewed some time ago. However, the V1 makes up for its sensor disadvantage by having much faster autofocus, which could make the difference between getting the shot or not.

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“AutM Leaves” 2015. Canon EOS-M, 22mm f/2 STM @ around f/5.

I have not tried any other lens with EOS-M. Actually, I believe I did try some manual lenses with it using adapters, but as the M lacks focus peaking it was neither fun nor productive which brings us to another complaint about the M, the lack of native lenses for it. As of this writing, the lenses available are the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, the 11-24mm f/4-5.6 IS STM, and the 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM.

To their credit, Canon makes an EOS to EOS-M adapter for using your EOS lenses. I have not used it so I cannot comment. I should have mentioned it earlier, but to be clear you CANNOT use standard EOS lenses on the EOS-M without this adapter.

BOTTOM LINE

The original EOS-M was discontinued and replaced by the EOS-M2 which was basically the same 18mp camera with faster AF and then the EOS-M3 which was much beefier and featured Canon’s new 24mp sensor.

Both these cameras and the new M10, I imagine would offer better AF performance than the original M. However, I like cheap, and the original M is probably your best chance to get a Canon mirrorless cheap 🙂

Used prices for the original M or M2 are trending at $200-300 and they are usually bundled with the 18-55mm zoom or 22mm f/2 STM. If you’re lucky, you might find the body alone for around $150-175.

Although the M and M2 are older models, you can still find them abundantly either used, refurbished, or if you’re lucky, new old stock.

Canon (and Nikon as well) have not shown, until recently, a great dedication to expand or promote their mirrorless division which is why you don’t really think of Canon or Nikon when you think of mirrorless.

The original Canon EOS-M is an enigma from Canon, one of the Camera Legends of photography. On one hand it offers slow and sometimes frustrating AF and ergonomics. On the other hand it offers superb imaging possibilities.

Mirrorless was a relatively new market to Canon and the original M shows that even a giant like Canon will make some mistakes when entering a market pioneered and dominated by Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony.

However, based on the image quality I have seen with the EOS-M, I believe they have just scratched the surface of what they could achieve in this market with a little more love and dedication. If Canon got into this market full throttle, I believe they could have a best selling mirrorless Camera Legend on hand and that would be a great addition for all of us camera lovers.

WHERE TO BUY

You can pre-order the new EOS-M10 with the 15-45mm IS STM lens in BLACK or SILVER. Or go all out with the EOS-M10 plus 15-45mm IS STM and the 55-200mm IS STM from our friends at ADORAMA. Actually, if you’re looking for the original EOS-M, profiled in this post, you might want to check out their “USED” section. There’s a good likelihood that the camera would show up there.

You can also preorder from everyone’s super-store AMAZON with their wide selection.

Anyway you do it, I believe any variation of the EOS-M will bring lots of FUN to your life and a good reason to leave that bulky DSLR home 🙂

Note: I will be updating this post later with more pics from the EOS-M. Just so much to do and so little time tonight. Thanks for stopping by!

The Rise Of The “Cheap” Brand Lenses

There was once a time, not so long ago, when brands like Samyang, Rokinon, Bower, Quantaray, Promaster, etc, etc, were laughed at by more “serious” enthusiasts and pros.

Well today, some of them may still be laughed at, but not many are laughing at the lenses being released by Samyang, and also sold under the brand names of Rokinon, Bower, or Vivitar. I’m sure the “Big Boys” of camera lens makers are not laughing at these lenses 🙂

In the past few years, Korean lens maker Samyang has been producing some amazing lenses from ultra-wides to fast telephotos that rival or exceed equivalent lenses from Canon, Nikon, or Sony.

And these lenses are also sold under a variety of other formerly “no name” or “cheap” brands such as Rokinon, Bower, and Vivitar.

Many of these lenses use exotic glass, aspherical elements, and special coatings that were once only seen on lenses from Canon or Nikon. And the best thing? Their prices are significantly lower than the Big Boys. For example, if you look around, the original 35mm f/1.4 Samyang can be found for a little over $300, whereas the Canon equivalent is over $1000.

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“Not Funny” 2015. Sony A7R, Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC. Baby Zay, quite serious and not finding me amusing any more, just like the “Cheap Lenses” from Samyang, Bower, Vivitar, and Rokinon are offering serious performance for the money and no longer something to be laughed at 🙂

But there is a hitch. Well, maybe a few. First of all, these lenses are not built nearly as well as the Canon, Nikon, or Sony equivalents. Not to say the build quality of the Samyang/Rokinon lenses are bad. They’re quite good actually, but I’m not sure how durable they will be. Secondly, as of this time, the lenses being offered are manual focus only. That’s not a problem for me and many others, but surely some would prefer autofocus. And lastly, there have been reports of sample variation and quality control issues.

Still, on the whole, people seem to rave about these lenses. If you get a good copy, you will be pleased. My copy of the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 is excellent and really surprised the heck out of me when I got it. I was a skeptic at first, but not any more.

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“Superfly” 2013. Sony Alpha A99, Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC. Please double click to see best quality.

This is truly the “age of the people” where nearly everyone can have access to great equipment, not just pros or the “elite” 🙂

Two new Rokinon lenses have been released for those using mirrorless systems, including an incredibly fast and wide 21mm f/1.4 and a super fast 50mm f/1.2. The prices for both are $499 which is really quite a feat. I’m sure their optical performance will be amazing and I hope some of you report back if you get one of these lenses before I do.

Thanks to Samyang and all the “cheap” brands. Power to the people 🙂