Zeiss Loxia Lenses Score for Manual Lens Aficionados

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A few months ago, Zeiss announced its Loxia line of lenses designed for the Sony FE mount and full frame sensors. Two lenses joined in the introduction, a 50mm f/2 Planar and a 35mm f/2 Biogon. The Planar is already shipping, the Biogon is apparently a bit delayed.

Zeiss lent me both lenses for a review a few weeks back and I’ve been using them a fair bit, alongside my Olympus gear with the new 40-150mm lens which I’m also trying out (and the Canon 7D Mark II, which I covered yesterday).

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Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 Review: Sweet Colossus

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A few days ago Carl Zeiss announced the second lens in its Otus series, the 85mm f/1.4 companion to the 2013 1.4/55 Otus. The first Otus got raving reviews, including on this site. The company introduced the Otus line with the aim to build lenses without compromise, in quality, construction, size, weight and cost.

The 85mm follows the same pattern. It’s large (10 cm wide), it’s heavy (1000+ grams), it’s solid and it’s costly ($4,500).

The question is if that combo once again delivers pure goodness.

Here’s the quick summary:

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In Search of Color with Sony A7R & Nikon D800e

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Sony A7R with 35mm f/2.8 lens – 1/100, f/6.3, ISO 200

Hello, I’m John and I’m a fair-weather photographer.

You look at my Lightroom folders, organized by month and – boom! – as soon as the weather turns cold and gray, my shooting volume drops. Put me in sunny weather and I happily wander around. Turn off the sun, add some drizzle, dampen the colors and the cameras stay in the closet.

Except that taking pictures is now a bit of a job. I have cameras to review. I need images to adorn this site. I got stuff to compare. So, out I went the one nice day last week that I still had a rental lens to do some comparison shooting between the new Sony A7R and its dedicated 35mm f/2.8 lens and the Nikon D800e and a rented Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART lens.

I live in the northern suburbs of New York. I gave myself the challenge of finding photogenic colors in this wintry suburban area. The leaves are gone. Everything was coated in that grimy layer that’s left after some snowfall. With the exception of road signs, some cars and school buses, it’s all some shade of grey, white or black. This time of the year, color is not exactly abundant in this part of suburbia.

It’s freaking cold too. At some point, the most colorful sight were my knuckles, red from the cold as I decided to hold two metal objects without any gloves. But I’m not complaining. Once I go North of my little town, the area gets a bit rural, the roads get winding and, you know, I drive one of those German cars that love curves. [Read more…]

Leica M Lenses on the Sony A7 & A7R – Confusion Galore

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When Sony first announced its 24 megapixel A7 and its 36mp A7R in full frame and with a NEX mount, poor Leicaphiles everywhere rejoiced and danced in the streets. I exaggerate a bit, but let me just state that many people who love and/or own Leica M mount lenses but were unable to or uncomfortable with shelling out $7,000 for the latest Leica M camera to put those lenses on, now saw light at the end of the tunnel and drooled over the possibility of putting those sweet lenses on a much cheaper full-frame camera. Okay, the drooling part might still be an exaggeration, but the rest is just about right.

But since the internet takes up more time for most photographers than actually taking pictures, it was not long before the second-guessing started. On the web, we can never be happy. Otherwise, we have nothing to talk about.

So, the questions emerged: Will these lenses actually perform up to their expensive standards on these Sony’s? Which adapter will be best? Is any adapter good enough? What about color shifts? How will the Sony sensors deal with wide angles, known for vignetting and distortion? Which camera is the better one for Leica lenses, the A7 or the A7R? Lots of sleepless nights, no doubt. [Read more…]

The Sony A7R Arrived

FedEx just delivered my new Sony A7R. I used to be excited when I got new stuff, but no more. Ever since I started this endeavor, I order new cameras to try them out and write about them and reserve my judgment for a later date. Unlike before this site, I now don’t order cameras because I necessarily want them.

So it is with the Sony. I’m pretty sure it’s going to impress me with image quality, but I have no clue about the rest and I have enormous doubts about adopting a camera with so few native lenses available for it, especially from a brand that hasn’t been known to stick with a model line for eternity.

Anyway, I unpacked the Sony. Packaging is okay, but nothing to write home about for a camera costing $2,300. Apparently the manual is as bad inside as it looks on the outside. I’ll find out. Sony gives us the pleasure of receiving a new camera with a depleted battery. And without a standalone charger, about as cheap a move as Olympus shipping expensive lenses without hoods.

The USB cable from the adapter to the camera is short, very short, so I had to put the camera on either a bathroom or kitchen counter to be able to charge it without having to search for an extension cord. But now my camera is charging. If I keep the camera, I’ll buy a standalone charger and extra batteries.

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Funny thing was that Sony and FedEx had notified me that the camera was going arrive yesterday, but that was before the lens was shipping. Then I got an email from both that the lens was shipping and suddenly the camera was delayed by one day. But at least I did get the 35mm f/2.8 lens at the same time as the camera it fits on.

My current plans are to shoot with that 35mm on the A7R and also try the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH I got recently. I’ve rented the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART lens for my Nikon D800e to compare the output of that combo against the Sony. I’ll write about my findings here.

For now, while the camera is still charging, I continue working on my post dealing with the online confusion on how well or how badly Leica M lenses are performing on the Sony A7/A7R. That post should appear later today or sometime tomorrow.