First Impressions: Irix 11mm f4 Lens

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One of the latest companies to hit the scene is Irix. They’ve been around for a few years, but the Swedish company is gaining more and more recognition for some carefully thought out new features and attention to details. Their manual focus lenses are focused on the DSLR customer, but they state that offerings for mirrorless cameras are on their way.

Recently, we had the chance to play with the company’s new 11mm f4–and there is a whole lot here that everyone should be paying attention to.

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Tutorial: Zone Focusing With Super Wide Angle Lenses

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One of the biggest strengths of manual focus lenses and the reason why so many photographers love using them has to do with a process called zone focusing–and Zeiss Milvus lenses like the 18mm f2.8 and 15mm f2.8 lens themselves well to this. For years the methods around zone focusing are what has allowed many photographers to outdo the fastest focusing autofocus cameras and lenses. Street photographers, landscape photographers, and many others have used the technique to ensure that they get sharp photos. When film photography was king, lots of photographers did this to ensure they got “the shot.” Digital photography and its inherent nature requires photographers to get even sharper photos.

When you’re shooting landscapes and architecture, you really want the best you can get. With manual focus lenses, sometimes the best thing to do is to use zone focusing.

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Review: Zeiss 18mm f2.8 Milvus (Nikon F)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 18mm f2.8 product images (1 of 6)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.0

Along with recent announcement of the 135mm f2 and 15mm f2.8 Milvus lenses, we were also treated to the Zeiss 18mm f2.8 Milvus lens. This lens is the company’s offering in-between their 15mm and 21mm focal lengths that are supposed to deliver architecture, Real Estate, Cityscape and landscape photographers a different experience. Like the others out there, this lens is weather sealed and characterized with the blue ring towards the back of the lens–which aids in weather sealing overall. Additionally, it boasts manual focusing, a rubber focusing ring and an all metal body.

Indeed, it’s one heck of a lens designed for the outdoor photographer.

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Review: Zeiss 135mm f2 Milvus (Canon EF)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 135mm f2 product images (1 of 6)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.0

If you had to think about some of the greatest lenses out there on the market right now, you’ll most likely think of Zeiss; and today the company is upgrading one of their best lenses to date in the form of the Zeiss 135mm f2 Milvus. Like the rest of the Milvus lineup of glass, this lens offers weather sealing, a solid metal exterior, a large rubber focusing ring, and above all else is promising, class leading optical quality. With 11 elements in 8 groups, this lens has a lot to prove to justify a $2,199 price tag for Canon and Nikon DSLR shooters.

But the big question is whether or not it really is worth the upgrade over their already fantastic 135mm f2. To this day, that is still one of my favorite portrait lenses.

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Review: Venus Optics Laowa 105mm f2 Smooth Trans Focus Lens (Sony E, Full Frame)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Laowa 105mm f2 lens review product images (7 of 10)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

When you look at the landscape of portrait lenses available for the full frame Sony E mount, you’ll see that they’re growing at a high rate–and the Venus Optics Laowa 105mm f2 lens is only one of those options. This lens is very special due to the design incorporating an apodization element to produce images that the company claims will give you “smooth and creamy bokeh while maintaining excellent sharpness at the focal plane.” To that end, it loses some light gathering abilities and has a T rating of T3.2–meaning that the photographer loses more than a full stop of light.

In practice, you indeed do get incredible images. But as with every manual focus telephoto lens, you’ll need to be very careful.

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Review: Leica M-D

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica MD product images (7 of 12)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 3.5

The Leica M-D is a crazy idea–seriously, who decides to remove the LCD screen from a camera? It makes no sense, right? Honestly, you’d be amazed at how wrong you are. The Leica M-D is the closest thing that Leica has that fuses both digital and film. Indeed, it’s the true film photographer’s M camera. Scoff all you want at this camera, but after three weeks of time with it and the wonderful 24mm f1.4 Summilux, I genuinely started to understand it. You could indeed call it the Anti-Instagram camera, but I personally see it as one of the most important M cameras that they’ve released since the original M9 and the M Monochrom.

If you’re a true photojournalist or documentary photographer, this could be the only camera you’ll ever need. And before you sit there and hate on all the things about Leica cameras being so expensive, at least hear me out.

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How to Use Zone Focusing To Make Capturing Photographs Easier

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer X3 ND filter six stop review sample photos (5 of 8)ISO 4001-2500 sec at f - 2.0

There are times and moments where even the best autofocus from the most advanced cameras won’t be able to deliver the image that you really want from them. In a situation like this, more advanced photographers often opt for a different method: zone focusing. Way before autofocus was even a concept, this is the method that was tried and true from many photographers out there. Lots of the world’s most iconic images were taken using this method and what you’ll find overall is that this old way of doing things can greatly help you out.

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Review: Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 product images (4 of 16)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 4.5

Personally speaking, film camera reviews like those of the Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 are the most fun for great reasons–there is no pixel peeping, no RAW file versatility, none of that stuff that people bitch and complain about in forums. Instead, it’s all about the moment and capturing or creating it. Then there are the lenses, the experience, and knowing that the photo you shoot is a one of a kind.

The Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 2.0 camera’s biggest upgrade is its brighter viewfinder over the predecessor. This is a proper TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera with aperture priority control, exposure compensation, manual focusing, a flash, accessories, and an overall solid build quality. Most importantly for many of us, there are glass elements in the lens. Considering that Instax Mini basically covers a 645 area, this is important.

This can be a tough camera for many of us to learn; but at the same time you’re bound to have fun doing it.

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