Photo Plus Expo 2015: Tidbits from the Show

Wandered the PPE 2015 floor today at the Javitts Center in New York City, together with a multitude of other photography fans including all those bloggers and YouTubers we’ve grown accustomed to.

I’m getting a bit tired of gear news, as you might have noticed from the lack of it on this site recently, so I only focused on the stuff I’m personally interested in or intrigued by.

Before I share the stuff I can share, I must add that despite my sense that we’ve reached a plateau in the market, I’m still excited about some of the stuff that’s likely coming over the transom. But that was all eluded to off the record, so no specifics yet.

Here are the tidbits I can share:

  • the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 will tentatively be priced at around EUR4500, including VAT;
  • Zeiss will add a new Batis to its line in the spring of next year, no word yet on its focal length;
  • production of the Batis 25mm f/2 is expected to finally catch up with demand by the spring.

Moving to Olympus:

The upcoming 300mm f/4, which has a lot of people excited because it’s a 600mm f/4 equivalent in full frame, will apparently boost features that no other lens has. The rep refused to tell me anything more, leaving me as befuddled as you are what they could possibly be doing with this lens. All I hope for is that the OM-D E-M1 successor will be a camera to match the needs of the bird and wildlife photographers who would buy this lens.

To Sony:

The new Sony RX1R II is one sweet little camera. I’m not a fan of rangefinder style viewfinders, but the little pop-up EVF on the left side of the camera is a nice feature and altogether it’s one sweet package. A bit expensive. Also, the models they had on display were pre-production, so no sample images could be taken.

To Leica:

I had not yet made acquaintance with the Leica Q, the closest competitor to the above fixed-focal-lens Sony. In short, it’s another beautiful camera with a great lens, delivering crisp images. I prefer the Leica’s 28mm over the Sony’s 35mm and if it wasn’t for the price, the Q would be mine. I fear it never will be, though.

Then there’s the Leica SL, the new kid on the block. The camera by itself is large for a mirrorless camera, but not uncomfortably so. I found the grip to both look good and feel good, so while my initial impression was that form had trumped function, after holding it, I think the two mesh perfectly.

I can’t say the same thing about the first lens produced in this line, the 24-90mm f/2.8-4. It delivers great quality, but it’s one large piece of gear.

And handling the camera reminded me of stepping into an Ferrari Enzo at a car show some years ago. While I had driven cars since my late teens, that Ferrari left me dumbfounded with its Formula 1-style controls. Likewise, while I’ve handled cameras for even longer than I’ve driven cars, the SL left me utterly confused about how to change basic settings. Usually, I pick up a camera and can shoot with it at different settings. Here, a friendly Leica rep had to help me out every step of the way. In this case, form does seem to trump function.

Leica SL & 24-90mm Lens at 90mm f/4, 1/80s, ISO 2500, heavy crop, no other adjustments

I’m still not sure who Leica built the SL for. Their media materials emphasize it as a professional camera, which would take aim at the top Canon and Nikon bodies, but the Leica lenses aren’t there to make for a compelling case for a pro who usually would pick up a Canon 1D X and a few f/2.8 lenses. And while the SL shoots at 11 frames per second, that goes down to 7 fps if you use continuous focus. In short, while I think Canon and Nikon have a lot to worry about, this Leica ain’t it.

Punters say Leica is taking on the Sony A7-series, but if they did that, why would they build a so much better body than the A7-series but not offer a higher-megapixel sensor? And why price it at more than double of the most expensive Sony A7-series?

I’m sure true Leica aficionados with a range of R-lenses in the closet will like this camera, but I have no clue who else is going to buy this at $7,500. Hopefully Leica knows.

Finally, B&H is running a host of show specials. Some are worth real money, so check it out.

The show is on for two more days.

Barcelona with the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Lens: A Review

Gothic Cathedral at f/2.8

Lots of doubt had surrounded my taking the new Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro to Barcelona with me. For one, it’s a pretty heavy lens. For two, it’s a pretty large lens.

As such these aren’t problems, but large and heavy is just not part of the Micro Four-Thirds ‘gestalt’ and certainly wasn’t my idea of having a fun time shooting in a hot and humid city.

I had even bought the much smaller and lighter Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 lens to take along with me, so I could leave the 7-14mm behind and take to the streets with a lighter wide angle zoom.

Now, after four days in Barcelona, I find once again that life is full of ironies: I haven’t used the 9-18mm at all. It’s been sitting in the bag, untouched. And I haven’t used the 7-14mm wide open in the cathedral I most wanted it for, instead stopping it down for more sharpness.

Ok, moving on.

[Read more…]

Packing Photo Gear for Barcelona, Spain, and the French Countryside

IMG_3003

Just when I have the most time for and interest in photography is when I’m most limited with the gear I can take. That’s the quandary facing me now that I’m about to leave for five weeks in Europe.

Part of the trip will be spent with my family in my hometown. The other part will be a road trip from Holland via France to Barcelona, Spain, and back. I’m spending about a week driving, with stops for photography, and a week in Barcelona.

So, it’s a great time to try new gear that doesn’t get much use at home.

[Read more…]

Kipon EOS – MFT AF Review: New Adapter Fails the Test

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Excitement quickly replaced disappointment a few days ago as I tested the eagerly anticipated Kipon EOS to Micro Four Thirds adapter that promised us fast autofocus performance with Canon lenses on MFT cameras.

I had ordered my copy from China on eBay and got it in the mail Saturday morning. A little later, I mounted my Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II via the adapter on my Olympus OM-D E-M1 and headed out to the Hudson to give it a shot. Since the MFT system has plenty of good short glass, what I really want is to be able to use Canon’s long lenses on my MFT cameras.

At first, things looked okay. Focus wasn’t stellar, but it was acceptable at 400mm with the camera set at single AF and the large or small center point used.

Weird

But quickly weird things started happening:

[Read more…]

Photographing the New York Dance Parade

20150516-_VR_1846-2

There are times I love, absolutely LOVE New York City. Saturday May 16th was such a day. The 9th Annual Dance Parade held that day combined some of the best things the City has to offer: spectacle, exuberance and international and cultural diversity. Add some colors and you’ve got a great photographic opportunity.

Consider this an evergreen article. It’s written after the parade, but hopefully helpful for photographers wondering what to keep in mind when shooting this parade and similar ones in the coming years. Next year, I’ll give a heads up before the parade actually happens.

The Route

20150516-_VR_2847

[Read more…]