Vintage Film Camera Review: Pentacon Six TL (6×6 Square Format)

There are only a few cameras that have been coined “an SLR on steroids” in the medium format camera world, and one of those is the Pentacon Six TL. The Pentacon Six TL is a medium format SLR camera similar in style to its more famous rival the Pentax 67. It doesn’t use interchangeable backs but instead opts for one of the quirkiest ways of loading a camera perhaps ever. Shooting square format 6×6 images, it’s also prone to problems like frame overlap unless you’re careful. Though if you can work with its quirks, you’ll have yourself a solid SLR camera that is reliable otherwise.

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Useful Photography Tip #180: Spot Meter A Portrait For the Skin, Focus on the Eyes

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Here’s yet another quick portrait photography tip for lots of photographers who have been reading the meters of their cameras but getting the readings wrong. You see, light meters in cameras tend to read a scene and meter for what you tell it to meter for. So with that said, if you’re metering a portrait, the scene will be metered for the entire scene in the evaluative setting. Photographers have otherwise tried spot metering. Spot metering up until recently took a meter reading of the center of the image and then you recomposed based on that. But these days, you have the option to set the spot metering up with the actual focus point itself.

Now, if you’re spot metering, you probably won’t be metering for a person’s eyes necessarily because that can throw off an exposure. Instead, you’re going to focus on the eyes but you’re going to meter for what’s more important–their skin and clothing. To do this to your absolute best ability, I strongly recommend simply metering manually vs using something like aperture priority and overexposing by a stop. If I had exposed for the eyes of the subject in this post, the skin would have been much brighter.

For most camera systems this first requires you to check the metering of the spot that you’re working with–which should be the subject’s skin. Then set the metering manually. After this, simply move the focusing point to the eye, focus, and shoot. But with Sony systems you can focus on the face, take a reading, meter manually, and then activate the eye focus option to focus automatically on the subject’s eyes.

Pretty nifty, huh? Typically, if the light isn’t changing you’ll have the same reading over and over again.

Review: Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus (Canon EF)

The Milvus lineup of lenses from Zeiss are more or less their workhorses; and with the addition of the new Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus lens, I’ve never been more convinced that they’re the absolute best lens maker on the market. Yes, Sigma–that mean even above what you’re capable of. While Zeiss’s mentality has always been about MTF charts and curves, in the past few years they’ve been working on a transition that’s catering not only to that crowd, but also to those who care more about the stuff that can’t be measured in a lab. For example, Zeiss lenses have always had a special character about them–I’ve seen folks on our Facebook page talk about it fairly often when their optics come up.

So what’s even more appealing about the Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus lens is that they’re targeting at portrait photographers.

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Vintage Camera Review: Pentax Spotmatic (M42 Screwmount)

Pentax has has a number of great cameras over the years, but if you’re going to get something cheap and reliable, one of the best options has to be the Pentax Spotmatic. The little camera is one of the first options to offer a TTL (through the lens) light meter though otherwise is completely mechanical. With that said, it still truthfully doesn’t need a battery or the light meter to operate–which is a lot light many Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander rangefinders. That means that even if the battery dies, you can still shoot and get perfectly usable photos if you’ve got just a bit of light metering knowledge. The Pentax Spotmatic was designed during a time when folks typically shot photos in full shutter speeds vs 1/3rd options of today. So with that said, you’ll want to pay close attention to the film that you’re loading up and your own intentions when it comes to shooting.

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Review: Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8 (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

When the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8 was put into my hands a few months ago, I was really curious about this lens. The previous one coming in at 56mm was incredibly soft. Now, that’s all part of the charm of the Velvet series–but when it’s so soft that focus peaking sometimes won’t even work, then it can be tough to get anything in focus with the lens. But the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8 is different in a whole bunch of ways. It’s still soft wide open, but you can make that work for you in a number of ways: one of which is to work with a studio flash system.

With the announcement of the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8 available in a number of mounts, this only makes the choice of which 85mm lens to choose for the Sony camera system even more difficult.

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Review: Zeiss 28mm f2.8 ZM (Leica M Mount)

If you were to consider one lens for street photography and urban geometry, then there isn’t a fantastic reason why the Zeiss 28mm f2.8 ZM lens shouldn’t be on your list. The lens is designed for the Leica M mount, which means that it has a whole lot of versatility when it comes to mounting it to something else. So for the Sony a7 series shooter, it’s a nice addition. But it’s also nice to be in the bag of a Leica M shooter or in my case, with the Leica CL. Zeiss has always made some really stellar lenses, but when you also make them this compact, it’s easy to fall in love with their glass all over again.

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Lens Review: Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 (Leica M Mount)

The Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 is a lens that in many ways is bound to garner the love of many street photographers out there. One could easily think to themselves: why would someone go crazy over a small, slow prime lens? There are a lot of reasons beyond its more affordable price point. There’s the image quality–which is unlike anything I’ve seen from most modern lenses. Then there are things like the low profile and the fact that the fairly slow speed means that’s all you’re going to be using for street photography anyway. It’s a gorgeous lens if you’re into something smaller and a lot more classic–not only in the quality but also the operation.

And seriously, I have to hand it to Leica. The Leica Summaron-M 28mm f5.6 is designed more for the look: not to appease some DXO overlord.

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First Impressions: Lomography Neptune Convertible Art Lenses (EXCLUSIVE)

Today, Lomography is announcing a brand new series of unconventional lenses designed for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras; they’re called the Lomography Neptune Convertible Art Lenses. They’re a curious and extremely different system based on an older camera and lens system–which is right in line with what Lomography tends to do. The Lomography Neptune Convertible Art lenses are a three element system which all start with a mounting system. The aperture and focusing are built into the lens base unit that attaches to your camera. Then from there, you attach another optic. The optics are switched out when you want a different field of view and can also work with special shaped apertures.

I had a moment to head over to the Lomography Gallery Store here in NYC and took a look.

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