Photo Gear for the Landscape Photographer Who Wants to Carry Less

With fresh air and beautiful nature surrounding you, landscape photography can be quite rewarding. If you are a landscape photographer who desires to carry less, read on. 

Think of landscape photography as street photography in nature. The animals are not giving permission but we photograph them anyway, and the walk is good for you. If you’re like most street photographers, you don’t like to carry a ton of gear to make the photo. Check out our recommendation from smartphones to medium format digital.

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Essentials: 4 Budget Lenses for Your Sony FE Camera

What are the basic, essential lenses that every Sony Mirrorless Photographer could use to create their art? 

Photography is a wonderful thing; pick up any camera and any lens and with them you can capture the world, for just a moment, to be preserved as long as the medium which holds it survives. It is a timeless, though under appreciated, a gift to the future. But if you are new to photography, or maybe just new to having a dedicated camera (upgraded from your smartphone, for example) you may be wondering what lenses you need for your new Sony Mirrorless camera.

Well, it’s just your luck that this post is all about that; the essential lenses for your Sony Mirrorless camera system. So, if you are ready, let’s jump on into it… Continue reading…

The Interfit S1 Monolight is Now Compatible with Sony Cameras

A while back, we tested the Interfit S1 and found it to be a pretty good alternative to Phottix and Profoto though not as good as the Flashpoint option in some ways. Today, the company announced that the Interfit S1 is now available to work with Sony cameras that boast the multi-interface shoe. This boosts the options that Sony strobists now have by quite a bit overall.

These lights offer TTL, HSS, wireless flash control via a radio transmitter, have a pretty great build quality, and are overall quite solid. Some of the reliability issues have been fixed from what I’ve been told and so it’s shaping up to become an even better monolight overall. Yet at the same time though, it’s tough to beat the Flashpoint Xplor600’s price point. However, Interfit’s light modifiers are some of the best bang for your buck options out there: like with their parabolic umbrellas.

More specs are after the jump.

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Which Sony E Mount Camera Is The One For You? The Easy Answers

Sony’s mirrorless cameras are at the forefront of an ever evolving photographic industry, and in a market where product cycles usually range from three to five years, Sony has blown up that trend and regularly updated their A7 series cameras much more often than the norm. This has led to there quickly being six relatively new A7 full frame cameras, in addition to the APS-C based A6000 and A6300. This makes shopping for a Sony mirrorless a little confusing; and you’re bound to be asking yourself stuff and wondering if you need the latest model, do you need the higher ISO, or resolution or faster auto focus, etc. In today’s post we break it down and share our picks for which Sony mirrorless camera is right for you.

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Reports State that Pentax Full Frame Camera Will Have Sony A7r Sensor

The Pentax MX, one of the smallest 35mm film cameras

The Pentax MX, one of the smallest 35mm film cameras

We all know for sure that a Pentax full frame camera is coming this year, but Sony Alpha Rumors is adding some very interesting news. Apparently, Ricoh will be using a full frame sensor of some sort in the camera from Sony–specifically the same one in the Sony A7r that is also in many Nikon DSLRs. Essentially, that means that there are going to be more than one DSLR on the market with the same sensor and probably comparable image quality.

For what it’s worth, this is also probably a great move because the sensor works so well with older glass–which Pentax has lots of in the prime selection. This also means that the company may start to update even more of their older lenses like the 31mm and 43mm which are weird focal lengths but can be very nice to work with on a full frame sensor.

What we’re very curious about will be the autofocus interface. In many previous camera models, Pentax made it so that the user needs to specifically tell the camera to set the directional buttons to choose a focusing point or to set another parameter like flash and white balance.

But beyond this, we’re also wondering how the camera will overall fair at the end of the year with such an old sensor and what full frame lenses will be able to resolve that kind of detail–sans their newly announced zoom lenses. It’s going to need to be jam packed with features that are useful for editors to state something like “we should’ve had this years ago.”

Review: Sony 28mm f2 (Full Frame E Mount)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28mm f2 lens review product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Besides the 55mm f1.8 and 35mm f2.8, the only other compact autofocus prime lens that we have for the full frame E-mount is the Sony 28mm f2. It was recently introduced as part of the growing line of full frame E mount lenses. Targeted at street photographers, architecture shooters, candid shooters, and many more this lens is one of the few primes that also isn’t Zeiss branded.

With nine aperture blades, nine elements in eight groups, no image stabilization, and weighing in at 7.05 oz this lens has the potential to become a very standard lens for many.

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Reports State a Sony A7r Mk II with Better Autofocus is Coming

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7r first impressions (5 of 8)ISO 8001-60 sec at f - 4.0

One of the biggest problems with the Sony A7r is the autofocus. In fact, when it comes to autofocusing this camera has to have been the most frustrating camera to work with (in terms of autofocus performance) in the past couple of years. But according to a new blog post on Sony Alpha Rumors, that’s changing.

According to the site, the Sony A7r Mk II will have the same 36MP full frame sensor and enjoy better high ISO performance due to a new processor. Additionally, the autofocus will be improved and there will be 5-axis image stabilization built in. The latter will help a lot with the slightest of camera shake providing the IS is used correctly.

If you hated the very loud shutter on the A7r, then you’ll be happy to know that the site is also claiming that a silent shutter mode is coming to the A7r Mk II. To be honest though, the loud shutter reminds me of a solid medium format camera and the loud thud that happens satisfies the nostalgia buff in me.

This all some great news if it’s true. Not many cameras make us write, “The A7r’s autofocus at times made me want to scream and beg for the bloody murder of kittens, corgis and baby bunnies to the Sony gods to ensure that it would focus.”

And at this rate, it looks like we can expect refreshes every two years.

Review: Zeiss 35mm f2 Loxia (Sony Full Frame E Mount)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Loxia review product lead images (1 of 2)ISO 64001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Our introductions to lenses tend to bit a bit of a nice padding to our reviews, but in this case we’re going to get straight to the point in an analogy.

Imagine if you will for a second that you think that you’ve met the love of your life. Though both of you may not know it yet, you’re perfect for one another. At the time that you two meet and mingle and do the whole dating thing, one of you needs to break it off. Years later though, you find one another again–and after a very passionate and wonderful moment, you truly find one another.

This is what the current Zeiss and Sony relationship is like: except in this case it’s Zeiss that’s perfect and Sony that still has some self-discovery to do.

The Zeiss 35mm f2 Loxia lens is in many ways the one for Sony–the absolutely most perfect 35mm lens designed for mirrorless cameras that we’ve ever come across. For shooters like us, using it is very much like second nature. It takes some of the best of external designs like those of Zeiss classic and modern Fujifilm to create a lens that is one that you’d be stupid not to go after.

And again, it’s not Zeiss that has us in a fit about using the lens. A problem with Sony full frame cameras that has been around for a while is what’s breaking our hearts.

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Review: Sony Zeiss 16-35mm F4 OSS (Sony Full Frame E Mount)

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 16-35mm f4 product photos (5 of 7)ISO 1601-50 sec at f - 4.0

Wide angle zooms are amongst some of the most sought after lenses by the photographers that love to shoot wide. Combine that with a constant aperture and you’ve got a photographer that will be happy for days. So when Sony announced their 16-35mm f4 OSS lens for the E mount system, we knew that it was going to be a hit. Due to the company’s collaboration with Zeiss for many years, the two have worked together to produce better and better lenses.

But while this lens will be highly sought after by many photographers, it probably shouldn’t be in everyone’s camera bags.

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Review: Metz 64 AF-1 Flash (Sony Alpha E)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Metz flash product photos (1 of 10)ISO 6401-50 sec at f - 4.0

Editor’s Correction: In an earlier version of this article, we called the flash the 54 AF-1. It is indeed the 64 AF-1. We apologize for this mistake.

Metz believes that the future of the flash is very…touchy. To be specific, we’re talking about a touch screen. So when the 64 AF-1 was shown to us around Photokina 2014, we were quite intrigued. The flashes are available for Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Sony and the Micro Four Thirds world. It tries to be futuristic with its massive touch LCD screen. Metz has been long known in the industry for having a more affordable alternative to the camera manufacturers, but in recent years they’ve stepped back to Phottix, Lumopro and Yongnuo.

The Metz 64 AF-1 otherwise is like many flashes on the market: it can rotate around and tilt its head. Unlike Sony’s flashes, the 64 AF-1 isn’t a cobra head design. But like many of Sony’s flashes, some of the settings can be controlled via the camera thanks to its interactions from the multi-interface shoe. This means that it will work with the NEX 6, A7, A7s, A7r, A7 Mk II, A99, A77, A77 Mk II and a couple of others.

The flash is also one of the first designed for the new Sony shoe since the company introduced it a couple of years ago. While it’s a good first attempt, it fails in certain aspects.

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Zeiss Announces New 35mm f1.4 Lens for M Mount Cameras

The new ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM for professional reportage photography Das neue ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM für die Profi-Reportagefotografie

There were rumors of a new Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Otus lens floating around the web, and if you’re a forum lurker hoping to bite your lip and close your eyes to the chart readings then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. The reason for that is because the new Zeiss 35mm f1.4 ZM lens was designed for Leica M mount cameras. It has been unveiled today at Photokina 2014.

As it is though, 35mm f1.4 lenses are very highly sought after in the M mount world with Leica releasing a redesign of theirs a couple of years ago. The new Zeiss 35mm f1.4 ZM lens features a T* anti-reflective lens coasting, 10 blade aperture, 1/3 stop adjustment, and ergonomic finger rest,

We’re very curious about how this will perform on cameras like the Sony A7r or the Fujifilm XT1. But at $2,290 this is a bit more than we can swallow. Tech specs are after the jump.

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Luminous Landscape Says Sony A7S Image Quality Rivals Medium Format

Sony A7s sensor

We knew that Sony’s new A7S would be a low-light monster. We knew it would provide outstanding image quality due to its super large pixels. We knew that it would put pretty much any other full-frame camera to shame. What we didn’t know is that it would even rival medium format systems in terms of pure image quality. Or at least, that is what Michael Reichmann with The Luminous Landscape claims.

Reichmann has just posted his first-impressions review of Sony’s new 4K-capable full-frame mirrorless camera, and he seems to be quite smitten with the product. Thanks to its large pixels, which are twice the size as those of the A7, and three times the size as those of the A7R, the camera produces not only super clean high ISO images, but also renders a certain look that Reichmann likens to that of medium format cameras.

Compared to the 36MP A7R, Reichmann finds that the A7S produces superior images at ISO settings beyond 1,600. And while the A7R’s output becomes pretty much unusable (in his opinion) at ISO 12,800, the A7S holds up well until ISO 51,200 “with some moderate noise reduction.” As for dynamic range, Reichmann claims he does not see a difference between the A7S and A7R, but admits that this may need further testing.

Another aspects that he likes about the camera, apart from the possibility to record 4K video, is its electronic front curtain shutter, which helps make the camera virtually silent during exposure. This is something that wedding photographers, among others, might find to be a great benefit, as it helps take pictures more stealthily.

After reading Reichmann’s first impressions over at The Luminous Landscape, we can hardly wait until our own review unit comes in and we can put it through its paces.

Via Sony Alpha Rumors

More Full-Frame E-Mount Lenses to Come in 2014, Including Zeiss Manual Primes

julius motal the phoblographer sony a7 product image

When Sony’s full-frame E-mount system was first launched last year, it comprised four dedicated lenses for the A7 and A7R cameras. These were the two primes, the FE 35mm f2.8 and FE 55mm f1.8, and the two zooms, the FE 24-70mm f4 and the FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6. An FE 70-200mm was also announced along the cameras, and will be available soon. While five lenses is quite a solid setup for a brand-new photographic system, these particular ones offer too little choice for demanding photographers.

The good news is, though, that Sony has been promising more lenses for the system, including a wide-angle zoom, another fast prime lens and a macro lens. Zeiss also announced that they are working on new lenses for the full-frame E-mount system, and theirs will be manual primes just like they made for various DSLR systems in the past. Another fast, manual prime lens has recently been announced by Chinese manufacturer Mitakon and should also soon be available.

Sony Alpha Rumors now heard from an anonymous source that over the course of this year, a total of fourteen lenses for Sony’s full-frame E-mount system will become available. This means that in addition to the five lens previously announced by Sony, there will be nine more coming this year including the ones from Sony and Zeiss that we mentioned above. Together with the Mitakon lens, these will make for a total of 15 lenses.

That’s actually not too bad for a system that by the end of the year will be just over a year old. Also, among these 15 lenses, there should be enough choice for most photographers that are contemplating switching to the A7, A7S or A7R. And let’s not forget, because these cameras are mirrorless E-mount cameras, you can adapt almost any full-frame lens to these cameras, and even use autofocus with some when you have the right adapter. So overall, the lens choice for these cameras is already pretty huge.

Sony Announces Improved Autofocus Speed for the A7r/A7 in New Firmware Update

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7 A7r RX10 Zeiss Lenses (15 of 31)

Sony’s A7 and A7r are both two of the hottest cameras currently available on the market. But they just got even better. Sony’a A7 is already the better focusing camera of the two, but now it’s become even better. In the new firmware announced today, both cameras get boosts in AF speed performance but the A7 can use Fast Hybrid AF–which makes the focusing on Sony’s cameras even faster–or at least with certain lenses.

They’re also stating that the image quality has improved, though they’re not clear on exactly how that has changed. Additionally, the NEX 6 and many of the 5 models are enjoying updates.

Full links and information are after the jump. But also consider our reviews of the Sony A7 and A7r.

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Report Hints at New Full-Frame E-Mount Cameras Coming for Photokina

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7 A7r RX10 Zeiss Lenses (11 of 31)

Every other year, one of the world’s biggest photography fairs is being held in Cologne, Germany. We’re of course talking about photokina, which was last held in 2012 and is scheduled again for September this year. Since there was no photokina in 2013, Sony instead chose Photo Plus Expo in New York as the place to show off its brand new duo of 35mm full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. Now reports are coming in that around photokina this year, Sony will introduce two more full-frame E-mount cameras.

Sony Alpha Rumors has received word from ‘multiple trusted sources’ that the launch of two new E-mount cameras with 35mm full-frame is planned within the next 5 to 6 months, which would put the announcement sometime between mid-August and mid-September, just ahead of photokina 2014. Which means that it is very likely that both cameras will be shown there. Whether or not visitors will be able to touch them remains to be seen. At photokina 2012, the then-new full-frame compact RX1 was hidden behind plexiglass.

As for details, little is known about the two new shooters, except that they are not going to replace the A7 and the A7R. This could in theory mean that we’ll either get to see higher-end models, presumably labelled A8 and/or A9, or lower-end models, or both–that is, one higher-end camera and one lower-end camera. What is certain is that the new full-frame Alphas will feature a more advanced hybrid autofocus system similar to that in the new A6000.

So, what kind of full-frame E-mount camera would you like to see? Do you dig the SLR-style of the A7 and A7R, or would you rather have a rangefinder-like A6 in the style of the NEX-6/7 and A6000? Or something entirely different? Let us know, we’re curious!

Review: Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus (Nikon F)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus product photos (5 of 5)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 2.8

“Do whatever you need to,” was the response given to me by the other editors of the Phoblographer when asking about budget for the review of the Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus lens. When we were calling it for review, it was also decided that I’d handle it–afterall, this is probably the single most important lens that anyone has created this year (with Sigma’s 18-35mm f1.8 being a close contender.) Then you add in the fact that we only had this lens for 10 days (we usually test a lens for an entire month before publishing a review) and you’ve got one of the most challenging reviews that we’ve ever done.

When Zeiss created this lens, they decided that it shouldn’t have a single compromise on the image quality. It was also designed for high megapixel DSLRs. The image quality is reflected in the price tag–which is just under $4,000. Indeed, it isn’t a lens that we believe everyone will go out and buy.

And while our thoughts on the lens are overwhelmingly positive, we encountered a couple of situational problems that made the lens’s functionality somewhat tough at times.

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Samyang/Rokinon Retrofits a Bunch of Lenses to Full-Frame E-Mount

Samyang Full Frame E-Mount Lenses

When the Sony A7 and A7R full-frame E-mount cameras were first announced, the’re wasn’t really a huge number of lenses available for the system. Granted, both cameras work with E-mount APS-C lenses, but those don’t provide the large image circle needed for the full-frame sensor. So what many early adopters did was to adapt lenses from other systems to the A7 and A7R.

In order to address the lens shortage issue, Samyang/Rokinon, as one of the first manufacturers, has now come up with E-mount versions of some of its full-frame DSLR lenses. In order to make the lenses fit the A7 and A7R, Rokinon added extension to the lens barrels that make up for the difference in flange distance between the mirrorless E-mount and regular DSLR mounts. Hence why the lenses look like they’ve been mated to an adapter.

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Review: Sony Zeiss 50mm f1.4 (Sony Alpha)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 50mm f1.4 product photos (5 of 5)ISO 1001-100 sec at f - 4.5

Sony’s older 50mm f1.4 lens was really a rebadged Minolta, and the company has been overdue on creating their very own version for the system. Earlier this year, they announced it. And Sony’s new 50mm f1.4 is really as glorious as we thought it would be to start with. The lens has been co-designed with Zeiss and features autofocusing, dust resistance, and a very sleek body.

But man, is it expensive.

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Review: Sony 55mm f1.8 (Full Frame E Mount)

julius motal the phoblographer sony 55mm 1.8-3

The Sony 55mm f1.8 lens is one of the companies first full-frame offerings for the A7 and A7R. One of the advantages it has over its 35mm f2.8 sibling is that it has a faster aperture. The sheer power of the A7 and the A7R left many wondering why the initial lens offerings aren’t faster, but with time, the lens options will grow. The 55mm f1.8 performs very well when paired with the A7, and it delivers some beautiful bokeh thanks in no small part to its nine aperture blades. And it’s weather sealed, too.

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Review: Sony A7r

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Behold: the single mirrorless camera that is probably making Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm shake with fear. Sony’a A7r is a beauty and a beast at the same time. Every time you fire the camera, you’ll hear its loud shutter. If you’re a medium format camera lover, this will come as a welcome relief. Overall, the camera is also quite excellent in its design and image quality, but there is really just one massive flaw to it.

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Review: Sony 35mm f2.8 (Full Frame E Mount)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first prime lens for Sony to release for the new full frame E Mount cameras is the 35mm f2.8. And it’s so far received some very mixed criticisms. If you’re a bokeh fiend, you may say that this lens has too slow of an aperture. But then on the other hand, some folks might want something a bit more compact. Ergonomics aside though, this lens is also about some serious performance.

With seven aperture blades, weather sealing and one of the most mind boggling lens hoods in the industry, this is a lens that you’ll most likely fall in love with due to its pure performance in the right situations.

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