Review: Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f2.8 Compact Dreamer (Sony E Mount)

The Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f2.8 Compact Dreamer is quite the weird lens, but it’s the wide angle option Sony needs.

If you attach the new Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f2.8 Compact Dreamer to a Sony a6500 camera, then you’ll see that while it’s a weird lens it’s also a lens that Sony really needs for their system. It’s billed as a lens with really low distortion–and it indeed doesn’t have a whole lot of it except around the corners. Designed for APS-C sensors, I also feel like this lens isn’t necessarily a big winner for Venus Optics. Many of their lenses have this beautiful character to them, but this one feels flat in many ways and that means you’re going to surely rely more on what the sensor is capable of doing. That’s fine, but I’ve never been so lukewarm about a lens from Venus Optics.

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Lens Review: 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 (Leica M Mount and Used on Sony FE)

The 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 is a lens with character and beauty

I’ll fully admit that I’ve become incredibly smitten with Leica M mount lenses from various manufacturers and the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 is no exception here. Though I’m not always in love with crazy super shallow depth of field necessarily, I’ll admit that when it has both super creamy out of focus areas, lens flare, and it isn’t overly sharp, that I’m pretty head over heels. Call it perfection in the imperfections, hipster, or that analogue look (which isn’t really true); but the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 is highly capable. It looks just like most other Leica lenses in almost every way but the true differences only come out when you start to hold it. It’s not a truly massive lens, but it is surely well built in many regards and with a few exceptions.

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REVIEW: Olympus 45mm F1.2 PRO (Micro Four Thirds)

Is the Olympus 45mm F1.2 PRO the ultimate portrait lens for the micro four thirds system? Maybe.

Probably the most common form of photography practiced by the general public is portraiture, people wanting to take pictures of their kids, family, etc. But everyone is looking for that shallow depth of field, that ‘professional look’ and in the micro four thirds ecosystem, it takes some extreme lenses in order to achieve that. But knowing this, Olympus has really stepped up their game lately with the addition of many F1.2 PRO lenses, and while not cheap, these lenses do their best to compensate for the differences between the micro four thirds system and its larger competition.

It started with the 25mm F1.2 PRO, has continued with the latest 17mm F1.2 PRO, and the topic of this review, the 45mm F1.2 Pro. Of all three of these lenses, probably the aptest for that coveted pro portrait look is the 45mm F1.2 PRO. So, let’s have a look and see how it stacks up.

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First Impressions: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art

Sigma finally adds weather sealing to an Art Series lens!

For the longest time, it has been a bit of a pain for photographers wanting that unicorn-esq combination of fast aperture and ultrawide field of view. Their only real options were in the form of extremely expensive lenses from Canon or Nikon, or third party options that offered questionable image quality, build quality, or had some sort of usability issues that made them not ideal choices. Well, as Sigma has been known to do, they want to blow that dynamic up, and they are doing so in a big way with their new 14-24mm F2.8 Art.

This is a lens that offers that now legendary Sigma Art lens aesthetic that combines excellent image quality with great build quality in an affordable package. But Sigma has also upped the ante with this lens, adding weather sealing on par with their Sports designated lenses making this lens an excellent choice for those looking to shoot outdoors in less than ideal conditions.

We had a chance for some quick hands-on time with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 Art at WPPI 2018 in Las Vegas and today we have some initial hands-on impressions for you. So let’s get to it… Continue reading…

REVIEW: Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO (Micro Four Thirds)

F1.2 is an aperture that turns heads, and thats exactly what the Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO does. But is it worth it?

There are a lot of really impressive things about the Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO, one of them being obvious – that f1.2 aperture. It is something not many OEM brands are doing these days – breaking that F1.4 barrier. In the case of Olympus it’s likely more about necessity than actually wanting to do it (in order to compete with the look of larger sensor cameras Olympus must push their optics to the extreme).

But is the Olympus 17mm F1.2 PRO simply a gimmick to grab the headlines in hopes of bringing in more business, or is this lens one that stands on its own merit and deserves to be in the kit of serious Micro Four Thirds photographers? Let’s get into the review and you can see for yourself.

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Review: Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 (Sony FE)

The Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 has vignetting control. And that’s really cool!

To say the Lensbaby Burnside 35mm F2.8 lens is an unusual lens would be an understatement. In an age where many photographers focus heavily on the speed at which the latest cameras and lenses can track and maintain focus on a subject, and whether or not the images produced are tack sharp from corner to corner, it’s nice to be reminded of the joys and challenges that come with photographing with manual equipment. This has always been what made Lensbaby lenses so interesting to use. While some photographers may find shooting with manual lenses challenging, it has never been easier to photograph using manual glass when it is paired with the latest camera bodies with advanced image stabilization capabilities built in.

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Review: Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 (Sony E Mount, FE Bodies)

Perhaps my favorite of the lineup, the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 may be the first Loxia lens that many pick up

The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 is a lens that when you look at it, it seems to be very much like most of the other Loxia lenses on the market. And in accordance to design standards that just makes sense. The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f2.4 sports an all metal body, weather sealing throughout the lens, a manual aperture ring, and focusing ring, and is one of the first lenses from the Zeiss Loxia lineup that you’d genuinely consider at both the price point and the featureset. It’s targeted to street photographers, landscape photographers, architectural shooters, and more. I love it for candid shooting and when combined with a solid camera body like the Sony a7r III, there isn’t very much to complain about.

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Field Report: Using the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Lens on the Sony a7r III

Or: Why I missed the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Lens

When I used to use DSLRs a whole lot, my Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens was my go to. To this day, I don’t consider it to be the sharpest 35mm lens out there but I surely consider it to be the best. It has a great balance of sharpness, bokeh, color, and just an overall gorgeous look and rendition to the scenes it shoots. I don’t want to say it looks like film; that would be absolutely foolish unless you know how to work with and develop medium format film in just the right way. But the reason why I missed it so much is that I’ve moved away from DSLRs for a number of reasons.

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