Castle Pines Walkabout with the Sony Nex-6 and 10-18mm Lens

I was up early this morning, about 5:30am, so I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.  These morning excursions usually involve two important decisions:  First, which camera and lens to take, and second, where to go for coffee.

Today, the first was one was easy since I have a new Sony 10-18mm f/4 wide-angle zoom.  The obvious choice was the Nex-6 so I could try out the new lens.  The coffee decision, while never certain until I walk in the door of the coffee shop, ended up being the nearby DazBog coffee shop, only about 1/4 mile away.  Of course, the three Starbucks are also always likely choices since they’re even closer.  🙂 The cool morning air was refreshing and just warm enough to hint at the hot day ahead, but still just the perfect temperature for a morning stroll around Castle Pines.

After getting my first “cup of Joe” and thoroughly diluting it with cream and sugar, I settled in to take a few images with the new wide zoom.  As I shot, it occurred to me how so much of the discussion on the photo websites these days seems to concentrate on fast, sharp lenses that can give you a paper thin depth of field (dof) and thoughts about which of these lenses produces the best, the smoothest, the most pleasing bokeh.  And I don’t disagree that these are important characteristics … for “some” subject matter.  But not all.

What I discovered with this lens, especially at the widest setting of 10mm (15mm FF equiv.) and an aperture of f/16, was that the dof was almost complete.  In other words, just about everything from the front of the lens to the back of the room was in focus, and bokeh was not even a factor.  Nice!  So for interiors, landscapes, and other subjects where you want just about everything in the image to be in focus, this is a great lens.  Some may say, “the f/4 maximum aperture is too slow”.  Well, with this piece of glass, it will probably be a rare occasion to use the f/4 max and much more common to have it at f/11 or even higher to take full advantage of the huge dof.  And since it has built-in image stabilization, you could probably hand-hold this baby down to some very slow shutter speeds.  Like maybe 1/5th of a second or slower.  I’ll have to test this.

As you can tell, I’m very pleased with the lens.  And the coffee?   …… Well, it was great, too.

BTW, if you’re shooting either the Nex-6 or Nex-5R or even thinking about it, check out our e-book about these cameras at:  www.FriedmanArchives.com

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Lens Filters for Protection – Maybe Not

I’ve always been almost fanatical about keeping clear filters (or UV, Skylight, etc.) attached to my lenses to protect the front element from dirt and scratches.  Especially my expensive lenses.  But I’m rethinking that idea, now.

A couple of days ago I was doing some product shots inside a retail store and came across this situation that you see below.  The first image was with a good UV filter attached to the lens.  As you can see, the strong light coming through the windows in the background caused a terrible flare, essentially ruining the image.  I know, a lens hood would probably have helped but I didn’t have one and it’s always a trick to hold up your hand and shield the light without getting your hand in the shot, too.

So, I just removed the UV filter and got the image below.  Not a 100% improvement, but I could at least probably salvage this photo.  So now I’m thinking maybe I’ll just remove the filters from my lenses.  Of course, this decision was made easier after reading Kurt Munger’s lens torture test.  Read on …

Kurt took a cheap lens that was optically fine and subjected it to a series of tests involving making the front element dirty, smudged, scratched, and eventually destroyed.  At each step of the process, he took a photo and looked for how the defects impacted the image.  It’s actually quite surprising how much he had to do before he could find any evidence of trouble in the image.  And it’s amazing how a destroyed and even missing front element could still yield usable, recognizable photos!  Check out the photo below.

Photo from KurtMunger.comhttp://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N7433.148119.BLOGGEREN/B6627866.239630;sz=180×150;ord=%5Btimestamp%5D?;lid=41000613802463918;pid=62925;usg=AFHzDLvosBw6vp5QLOLvvJy6NaDy8Bprew;adurl=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.abt.com%252Fproduct%252F62925%252FSony-DSCRX100B.html;pubid=634552;price=%24648.00;title=Sony+RX100+Black+Cyber…;merc=Abt+Electronics+%26+Appliances;imgsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fcontent.abt.com%2Fmedia%2Fimages%2Fproducts%2Fl_DSCRX100B.jpg;width=110;height=84
Believe it or not, the image from the lens in this condition was usable, not 100%, but a good part of the frame was apparently unaffected.  Go take a look.
If you’re a Sony person, check out the rest of Kurt’s website, KurtMunger.com, and you’ll find loads of great information about virtually all of Sony’s Alpha and Nex cameras and lenses.
Now, quit spending so much time getting every little speck of dust and lint off the front of that lens and go take some photos!  🙂




New Images Posted at Four Thirds User

Are you, like me, trying to figure out which lenses you might want with your new Olympus OM-D E-M5?
Well, here’s a great place to start: Four Thirds User (By the way, their sample camera came with the battery grip … it looks pretty good!)
They have posted a large sample of full-sized images, RAW and JPG, taken with several different lenses and over the full range of ISO possibilities. All were taken using the Olympus E-M5.
I think the biggest surprise for me was the quality of the photos taken with the 75-300mm lens. Here’s a lens giving you the equivalent of 150-600mm, yet weighing less than a pound and a bit smaller than a coke can – amazing!  From their images, it looks like, even at 300mm, it still produces nice sharp images with good contrast.

Macro with the Sony NEX-7

I just recently acquired the Sony NEX-7 and I am loving the camera! Even more recently, I got the Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens to go with it. This is the E-mount lens and is relatively small and light (just under 5 oz.) so it fits nicely with the NEX-7.
After only a few shots, I am very pleased with the lens. It is very sharp with great color and contrast as you can see in the image of pins above, and the detail is truly amazing! These pins are of course very small to begin with, but in this image, you are able to pick out the tiny imperfections in the shafts of these pins.
Naturally, at 30mm, you must get very close to your subject in order to achieve the maximum 1:1 magnification … something less than an inch from the front of the lens. So it follows that it is not an ideal lens for live insects, plus you must be very careful of lighting since you can easily cast a shadow on your subject.
Build quality is excellent and the focus ring operates very smoothly. Focusing is very quiet and it also allows for Direct Manual Focus, which can be very helpful when shooting macro.
Overall, an excellent lens for a reasonable price at $250 (retail).

Photography 101…The Missing Piece

Sony E-Mount 16mm f/2.8

First, if you think you might learn something here, you’ll probably be disappointed. Sorry about that. 🙂

This is a camera lens. It sucks in the light from in front of the lens, flips it around upside down and backwards, and focuses it on a small area behind. We’ll call this area the sensor (could be digital – could be film).

Now, in this photo, you may notice that something is missing . . . you got it, the camera! More specifically, however, the missing piece is my “next” camera, the Sony NEX-7.

I used to have the NEX-5N and loved that camera. Like new lovers, every time I saw it I could hardly keep my hands off of it. ☺ It is very small and takes wonderful images, but I found I can’t live without a viewfinder. After using one for about 50 years, I may not be able to adapt to just using the screen for all of my photo work. . . but that’s just me.

Unfortunately, I had to sell the 5N to begin to raise money for my “next” camera. If you’ve known me very long, you would also know that I do that quite often. I’m sort of a borderline compulsive switcher when it comes to camera gear.

So, that brings us to my next camera, the NEX-7. There are several reasons I decided to do this upgrade:
    •    The viewfinder – electronic, but very well done.
    •    built in flash (plus a hot-shoe)
    •    better camera controls – Sony calls them “Tri-Navi”
    •    24 Megapixels
    •    Size – slightly larger than the 5N, but still very small

The sad news is – I probably won’t get this “new toy” for another month. I’ve been looking since before Christmas and was finally able to preorder it about 10 days ago, but still have some time left to “anticipate”.