*Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4 – Power, finesse, fashion and function. A user review…

Hello dear friends.  There has been no secret here on the bloggings, surrounding my desire to find the perfect 85mm lens.  It has become my own photo gear holy grail, and a fun journey it has been.  I’ve owned, sold, used, borrowed or rented at least a dozen different 85mm (or equivalent) lenses for a few different systems over my years.  It’s probably the single most fascinating focal length, for me.  The most popular classification for a lens of this focal length, is going to be portraiture.  It balances minimal distortion, with flattering spacial compression when working at traditional distances for portraits, and is a go to for many portrait photographers.  I do like a good portrait session, but a mid range tele lens like a nice, fast 85mm can offer much more than merely head and shoulder shots.  I want to look at this lens on its own at first.  How sharp is it?  Bokeh?  What kind of value does is present at its price point for a photographer like me, or you?  Later, I’ll be comparing this lens to a couple other fast portrait lenses that I have  here on the blog, but for now let’s see how this beautiful new Sigma Art lens stands on its own…

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*Micro 4/3 Portrait Lens Shoot Out! Leica Nocti vs Voigtländer Nokton vs Olympus

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Few systems can boast multiple, high quality portrait prime lenses.  Here I’m looking at three, very good lenses all in their own, respective rights.  Each, have their upside and for a given shooter, a very justifiable argument in favor of, over the others.

While there are two more proprietary portrait prime, focal length lenses with a micro 4/3 badge printed on them (the Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro and the new Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7) I have been able to justify buying all three of these for one reason or another over the last few years.  I must cull my quiver to make room (and provide budget) for new, fun things to review, so I need to decide which I’m going to hold onto.

C’mon in for some shots, and my thoughts…

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*Leica 15mm f/1.7 vs the Pana-cakes

panasonic lumix leica 14mm, 15mm, 20mm

Choice is good, and unless it is an important, multiple choice test, the more choices, the better I feel.  In this constantly growing camera system, we are continuing to get quality choices in the lens game.  From semi-wide through standard focal lengths, the micro 4/3 system boasts quite a few options and those options are increasing.

So, with the recent addition of the new Panasonic Leica Summilux 15mm f/1.7 lens, it begs the question, why?  With quite a few other comparable focal lengths in the lineup, why this lens?  Panasonic has already provided two, pretty comparable, adequately performing focal lengths in this space.  Come on in for a comparison between these three lenses to see which might be most deserving of your adoration and hard earned money.

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*Focus on this. MacPhun Focus 2 Pro on sale for 25% off w/ @wearemacphun

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I’ve slowly been crawling out from the pile of work I’ve created for myself and have gotten around to playing with MacPhun’s Focus 2 Pro.  The beauty of this program is it’s ease and remarkably intuitive skill set.  After playing with and reviewing Tonality Pro, I was very curious to see what else MacPhun had to offer.  If you are a Mac OS user, have a look, download a trial and play around with this fun program.  On sale through the 15th of March, you can download a free trial, or purchase it HERE.  Normally $39.99, it is on sale for 25% off, or $29.99 for the next 10 days.  Upgrades from Standard to Pro can be had for a mere $14.99 as well!  Come on in to see some of what you get with Focus 2 Pro.

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*Olympus 45mm f/1.8 vs the Contax G Zeiss 45mm f/2

olympus m.zuiko 45mm f/1.8 vs contax zeiss 45mm f/2 planar

I held off for a long time on buying a portrait focal length for the Micro 4/3 system and despite the stellar reputation and modest pricing of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens, I’d found myself more or less happy with my adapted Contax 45mm.

The Contax G Zeiss 45mm f/2 lens has a pretty amazing reputation of its own.  In its day, it was touted as being one of the sharpest standard lenses available, even garnering praise over some more illustrious Leica lenses in the same focal length neighborhood.  While I wish I had some Leica glass with which to test and back up that claim, let’s just say that the little Zeiss lens has done okay for itself and still goes for a decent amount of money now that the weird proprietary focusing mechanism has been worked around and this lens can be adapted to most any mirrorless camera nowadays.

So, how do these two compare?  Let’s see…

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*All Alien Skin Plugins are 50% off until the end of the month!

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If you’ve been waiting for an Alien Skin software sale, now may very well be the time.  I’ve not ever seen them offer any more than 50% (I don’t even remember seeing a half off sale in the past!) so it is as good as I’ve seen it!

I like the AS plugins a lot, and have been absolutely loving the new Exposure 5.  You can read my take on some of their plugins via the links below, and you can buy any of these directly from AlienSkin.com (click here). I get no kickbacks from Alien Skin, and have no monetary incentive to sell their plugins, I just really enjoy using them and for those who may also be interested, it won’t get much cheaper than this.  Go get you some.

Exposure 5, the best gets better

Bokeh 2, blur it out

Snap Art 3, release your inner artist

*Olympus 75mm f/1.8 vs Canon 135 f/2 L

the showdown

One of my absolute all time favorite lenses has been my EF 135mm f/2 L USM.  Before I’d acquired this lens, I was looking for a mid range tele lens that I could use for portrait work as well as use for events, sports, etc.  The 135L a few years back cost me exactly as much as the Oly 75mm f/1.8 does today.  Yes, the Oly uses much less in the way of materials, far less glass, and is actually a 75mm lens, not a 135mm (or 150mm to be more accurate) lens, but, for the Micro 4/3 format, it is as close to that magical piece of glass that the 135L is for the Canon system.  Both are metal, neither are weather sealed and they’re each their own system’s mid-tele master.  Even with the extra glass, the 135L is a noticeably faster focuser (I’d assume largely due to the USM focusing motor and a superior PDAF in the EOS DSLR’s) but as to the quality of the actual images…

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