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!

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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.

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“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.

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“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.




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

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

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“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.

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

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“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.

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“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.

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“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 🙂




Flashback Friday: The Olympus M-1 Film Camera

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The Olympus M-1 35mm slr. Basically an OM-1 with a few external and internal differences. The most obvious give away is the “M-1” logo on the top plate of the camera. Otherwise, the M-1 and OM-1 are cosmetically and functionally the same.

The Olympus M-1 is a 35mm SLR introduced by Olympus in 1972. It is the original OM-1.

The M-1 was originally a part of the Olympus “M System” as they called it. They were all set to go, even having a full set of lenses made to support the M-1. Only one thing they forgot…Leica already had an “M System” out!

From all accounts, Olympus changed the designation of the M-1 to the “OM-1” because Leica protested the use of the “M” and “M System” as it conflicted with their M series rangefinders and their lenses.

The M-1 is basically an OM-1, which is among the finest and most iconic systems camera ever made. A modern masterpiece from the brilliant mind of the late great Yoshihisa Maitani, the genius camera designer of Olympus.

There are some differences between the M-1 and OM-1. Main thing you need to know is that the M-1 says “M-1” on the top plate and it cannot accept a motor drive.

There is a wonderful page that tells you everything you need to know about the M-1 if you google “Olympus M-1 film camera.”

As a camera, it has an all manual 1s-1/1000s plus bulb shutter and originally took a PX-13 mercury battery, which has long been outdated/outlawed. The battery is only needed for the meter and yes, the camera can operate without a battery. You can use a replacement battery and my recommendation would be the Wein MRB625 Zinc battery which at 1.35v is closest to the original mercury cells.

RARITY, PRICE AND COLLECTABILTY

This one is not as easy as it looks. While the M-1 is certainly not as common as the OM-1, I don’t think I would call it rare either. “Rarer” would be a better word I guess.

They don’t seem to come up for sale often, but you do see them at fairly regular intervals on eBay, usually by sellers who stress that it’s “RARE.” I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean 🙂

I got mine for $40. It is not in perfect condition, eyepiece and focus screen looks to need replacing, viewfinder needs cleaning, but the shutter works though I haven’t tested it for accuracy. It’s going to be a fixer-upper for me which should be fun.

I have seen people asking up to $500 for this camera, usually on eBay, but they ain’t getting $500! 🙂

Most camera lovers will know or search and find out that the M-1 is basically an OM-1, a camera you can get anywhere from $10-150 dollars depending on condition and how much you want to spend.

A more consistent and fair price for this camera I think is around $150-250 in excellent condition and preferably with a lens thrown in.

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“Zuikoholic” 2009. With the black Olympus OM-1 and 40mm f/2 Zuiko lens. As far as I know, the M-1’s were only made in chrome.

Of course, for a collector with money, and if you are a true Zuikoholic you probably wouldn’t mind paying extra just to have that “M-1” in the house 🙂

BOTTOM LINE

The Olympus OM-1 is one of my favorite manual SLR’s of all time. The beautiful styling, mechanical shutter and all manual exposure makes it a pleasure to use just for the pure joy of photography.

When I gave up on my Minolta X-700 from 1985 and after trying Canon and Nikon in the 90s, I settled on a couple of OM-1’s and it carried me through the rest of the decade giving me thousands of precious memories on film. And as the 90s came to an end and digital was dawning, my first digital camera was an Olympus C-3000.

The M-1 being the “rarer” version of the OM-1 makes it just a little more special.

These cameras live on in their OM-D incarnations although I think all the OM-D’s lack the true heft and feel of the classic film OM cameras. As imagers, I think the OM-D’s are great!

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“Generations” 2015. The Olympus M-1 film camera on the left and the OM-D EM-5 on the right. Yes, I know that OM-D needs a little dusting off 🙂

In closing, there is no doubt that the Olympus M-1 (and OM-1) is a true Camera Legend that inspired a whole generation of photographers and continues to influence photographers and camera designers, even today.



The Sony A7R: Is It The Ultimate?

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“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’ 🙂

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“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.

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“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 🙂

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

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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” 🙂

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“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.

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“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

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“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” 🙂

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“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.

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“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.

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

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“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.

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“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!

The Olympus Pen F/FT Series

The Olympus Pen FT with the 35mm f/2.8 Zuiko pancake lens.

Classic half-frame camera from the brilliant mind of legendary Olympus camera designer Yoshihisa Maitani.

The camera takes two frames on one 35mm frame. That’s why it’s called a “half-frame” camera. So on a 24 exposure roll, you get 48 shots.

You might be inclined to think that this would lead to inferior quality photos as compared to a full sized 35mm shot.

However, in my experience, the quality of the Zuiko lenses for the Pen F film system were so good that you really can’t tell the difference.

Mr. Maitaini was such a brilliant, brilliant camera designer and his Pen F/FT creation lives on in the Olympus Digital Pen series of cameras.

Note: Sorry this was meant to be a short post. I will be updating this with images from the Pen film cameras in the near future. Thanks for stopping by!

The 4mp Canon EOS-1D

Introduced in 2001, the 4.15 megapixel EOS-1D is a digital camera legend.

While they had collaborations with Kodak before with the EOS-D2000/Kodak DCS 520, the 1D was the first “all” Canon pro “1” series body that continues today with the current 18mp 1DX of 2011. Today, the 4mp 1D is also known on the web as the “1D Classic.”

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“Camera Nut” 2009. Canon EOS-1D, Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-R

I got my first copy in 2004 and really loved the body and files from the 1D. I remember spending my time with the 1D trying to eek out as much quality as I could from those 4 megapixels! I shot, I printed large, I tried Genuine Fractals (anyone remember that program?).

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“Portrait Of Midi” 2007. Canon EOS-1D, EF 50mm f/1.8

As many 1D owners can attest, the camera is capable of producing very sharp files with really nice color, a combination of a great Panasonic sensor, and what I like to call “PHAT” pixels from the lower resolution.

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“My Adidas” 2004. Canon EOS-1D.

The 1D was a hit with sports photographers and photojournalists, as well as enthusiasts like myself and many others. The camera could do 8 frames-per-second, though I never used it at that rate. Couldn’t stand to blow the shutter that fast, even if the camera could take it 🙂

The 1D Classic is plentiful on the used market and they can be had in good condition for around $200 and up. Lower priced samples are usually in rough shape. Remember, a lot of these cameras were in professional hands and probably have high mileage although the 1D shutters have been documented to have gone well into the hundreds of thousands.

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“Tribute” 2004. Canon EOS-1D, EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5.

Other negatives include poor battery life, which can be remedied if you buy one of the newer aftermarket batteries. The color can also be off at times, most notably images will sometime take on a greenish cast, especially in jpegs. All this can be fixed with some work in post-processing. The camera is also a heavy, bulky beast!

The positives are fast and accurate AF, great sharpness, and 4mp files that are a joy to work with, especially if you’re now used to 18-36mp files (Sony A7R, D800, etc, etc). And just the “feel” of the 1D series body will make you want to shoot it more, even if you don’t necessarily want to carry it around all day long.

In the 2014 world of 40+ megapixel cameras, it’s hard to imagine enjoying a 4 megapixel camera! However, I can tell you that the files from the 1D, when they’re good, they’re awesome. There is a reason why this camera has a cult like following.

The Canon EOS-1D Classic is indeed a digital classic and today, a great bargain entry into the wonderful world of the giant “1 Series” pro bodies from Canon. For the prices that they go for these days, the Canon EOS-1D Classic is a smokin’ deal for a Camera Legend!

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“Smokin” 2004. From my “Portrait Of An Addict” series. Canon EOS-1D, Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.8

PROS: Superb build quality; Fast AF; Sharp files with the right lenses; Bargain prices in today’s world for a 1 Series Canon

CONS: Battery life; low resolution in today’s world; Greenish color cast, at times

Prices: As of today, trending at $75-300 depending on condition, accessories, and where you buy from.

Note: I’m sorry that I do not have full sized or larger images from the 1D to share. I lost most of my original files from this camera some years back.