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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Review: Rokinon 135mm f2 ED UMC (Canon EF)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 135mm f2 review product photos (6 of 6)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.5

Many years ago, Rokinon wasn’t as much of a household name amongst photographers as they are moreso today–and I would never have thought that they’d come out with a 135mm f2 lens. They were associated with the likes of Vivitar–and indeed it took a long time for them to erase that history. Today, they’re regarded amongst the photography community as being synonymous with a budget Zeiss option.

In fact, that’s kind of what the Rokinon 135mm f2 performs like.

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The Deliberate Nature of Manual Focus Lenses

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Manual focus lenses (5 of 13)ISO 4001-250 sec

Autofocus is incredible; and the technology has come a very far way with it–but I personally really enjoy manual focusing my lenses despite an astigmatism that causes legal blindness in my left eye. When I first purchased a Sony A7 a while back, one of my concerns was finding a way to get more lenses for the system. I’ve got a Metabones adapter that lets me put my Sigma DSLR lenses on the camera, but the experience is just not the same as what I get with my manual glass. Again, the experience is not the same.

For years now, I’ve been a collector of really nice and interesting pieces with some of them sadly being sold off. But there are so many reasons why I prefer to manually focus.

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How Manual Focus Lenses Make You a Better Photographer

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Model: Natalie Margiotta

This isn’t a love letter to Zeiss as much as it’s a love letter to manual focus lenses, but I’ll admit that Zeiss had a bit to do with it. At the moment of writing this piece, I’m in the middle of testing a ton of manual focus lenses. In my personal work, which I haven’t had any time to pay close attention to in the past two years, I’ve always used manual focus lenses. the reason why is because there are a wealth of reasons behind the idea of how they make you create better images.

Again, they don’t take better images–they make you create better photos.

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Review: Zeiss Milvus 35mm f2 (Canon EF)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Milvus lens product images (1 of 4)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 2.8

When it comes to lenses, one of the most legendary lens manufacturers is Zeiss. Most recently, the company announced its brand new Milvus lineup of lenses that are designed for DSLR cameras. The Milvus line falls between the standard DSLR lens lineup and the creme de la creme: Otus lenses. As a result, these lenses are weather sealed, well constructed and exhibit the best of what I’d always expect from Zeiss.

So when the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f2 first came to me, I was a bit confused. Why f2? Why couldn’t they go all the way to f1.4? It made no real sense to me, though I decided to just roll with it.

And as I found during the testing period, it’s quite the beautiful lens despite its very high price tag.

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