Why Shooting Large Format Makes it So Hard to Go Back to 35mm

After shooting 35mm for a number of years I was intrigued by the higher resolution, and richer images produced by medium format cameras. I was a sucker for that ratio you get from a 6×7 negative too, but after seeing Joel Meyerowitz’ book Between the Dog and Wolf, my intrigue in larger formats began to build. “Why go medium when you can go large,” I thought? So I took the plunge, started researching eBay and the Large Format Photography forum (a great resource), and managed to find a kit for sale.

Continue reading…

Review: MS Optics 28mm f2 Pancake Lens (Leica M Mount)

The MS Optics 28mm f2 Pancake lens offering is a lens that should be permanently glued to a Leica CL if you have one. Now, don’t go doing that for real now, but more to the point, this is a lens that really should be glued on. Why? It’s incredibly small. The MS Optics 28mm f2 is one of the smallest lens offerings for the Leica M mount, with perhaps only Lomography’s Minitar 32mm f2.8 lens rivaling it. In fact, both of those lenses have unique image qualities to them as well as drastically different price points. Their operation is quite similar though due to their being this small.

One thing is for absolutely certain: mate the MS Optics 28mm f2 to your Leica M mount (or any M mount camera) and the package will be that much lighter and smaller than nearly any other lens you use with your camera.

Continue reading…

Canon Introduces New Trio of Tilt Shift Lenses with Macro Focusing Capabilities

Today, Canon is introducing a lineup of lenses that are surely doing something different from all the other options out there. The company is refreshing and introducing a number of new tilt-shift options–but these aren’t just any tilt-shift lenses. These lenses have macro focusing capabilities. We can say hello to a brand new Canon 50mm f2.8 L Macro, a 90mm f2.8 L Macro, and a 135mm f4 L Macro option. All of these lenses have tilt-shift and macro capabilities–and Canon is specific in saying that they’re true macro at 1:1. In addition to that, they all have 9 aperture blades. Even further, they’re all L lenses–but they obviously lack weather sealing as that’s very difficult to do otherwise.

Continue reading…

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.

Continue reading…

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

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

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.

Continue reading…

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.

Continue reading…

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.

Continue reading…