*ZY Optics, Zhong Yi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 lens for Micro 4/3 user review

ZY Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95

Small, sharp, fast, relatively light and comparably inexpensive.  All things I love in a lens.  ZY Optics has produced yet another ultra fast option for micro 4/3 shooters, but a first option available in a dedicated mount, faster than f/1.4, new for under $400. 

The question now stands, how does this fit in with all the other standard/normal lens offerings within the micro 4/3 landscape?  Well, more easily than you might think.  While not perfect, it definitely has enough going for it to justify a look.  C’mon in for my thoughts and some tests against the Pana-Leica 25mm f/1.4 Summilux…

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*New Aurora HDR Pro for Mac OS from @wearmacphun

AuroraHeader

While the practice of merging exposures is a topic of much debate, I don’t really care.  If you’re not into it, I totally understand and respect that.  I too enjoy capturing and processing final images using single frames for 90%+ of my own photography.  For the other stuff though, I do love me a nicely balanced, merged exposure and have for many, many years.  I find the ability to bracket and merge in post a valuable tool when needing to be in and out of a space in a shorter amount of time (as opposed to setting up multiple lights for each and every shot which can limit the total amount of finished shots in the same time period).  I’d like to say that clients will happily pay for 4 or 5 hours while you set up and shoot, but I’ve not found many that will A) have that much down time to shoot unless I want to shoot at 3 in the morning, which I totally don’t) or B) have the budget for, or see the value in a photographer that takes that long to shoot a space.  Time is money, and the more I can save myself (and price my time to the client accordingly) the better off I’ll be. 

Over my personal journey with HDR, I’ve used quite a few programs (HDR Soft/Photomatix, Everimaging HDR, HDR Efex, Photoshop…) and when Macphun and Trey Ratcliff recently announced Aurora HDR for Mac users, I was very interested.  Much of my actual paid photography work falls into the interior design and hospitality realm, working with that wonderful group of folks at the ELK Collective.  

My goal has always been a natural representation of light and space, which as many know, can be tricky when tonemapping images through an HDR program.  When shooting an interior space, I want to take advantage of the actual dynamic range, getting detail in the highlights and shadows when and where I feel necessary, not just tone mapping for a more dramatic effect.  Well, I chose to process my most recent shoot using solely Aurora HDR Pro, and here’s what I found out about that program along the way…   Continue reading

*Topaz Texture Effects, updated and on sale through the end of the month.

topaz labs texture effects on sale

For those who may have missed the introductory sale a few months ago on Topaz Texture Effects, it’s back, and includes 42 new textures, and 15 new effects along with performance enhancements.  Topaz has added to and updated the plugin, and is offering it for $20 off (available for $49.99, normally $69.99) through January 31st.  Updatable for those who already own Texture Effects, downloadable for those interested in a full free trial, or for purchase on sale via the Topaz website HERE, and if purchasing, use code “EASYTEXTURE” to get the sale price at checkout.

I reviewed Texture Effects when it was released HERE, and have continued to use and enjoy it.  Not an everyday plugin, but a great one if wanting to create a series of images, or enjoy adding some of that textured moodiness to an image or images.  Like all Topaz plugins, it’s intuitive, fast and creatively powerful.

Find me and share your results with us via the socials, via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram. If you would like to receive email notifications as I post new articles, please feel free to add your email address at the top right of the page here as well.  Thanks for the read, and let me know if you have any questions on this new plugin, I’d be happy to try and help. 

Happy shooting,

Tyson

 

*Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art Lens on the Sony a7II and Canon 5DII, a user review w/ @adorama

 

Sigma Art EF 20mm f/1.4 Lens review

Happy new year! I’ve been having a wonderful holiday season, largely thanks to Adorama for lending me this beaut of a lens.  The Sigma Art 20mm f/1.4 is the widest, f/1.4 full frame lens, and is the newest addition to the much vaunted line of f/1.4 Sigma Art Primes available in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sigma mounts.  In this article, we’ll explore a bit of the more measurable aspects as well as the more touchy, feely parts of interacting with this lens.  I shot this lens on both the Canon EOS 5D mkII and the Sony a7II via the EF>FE Metabones MkIV smart adapter, and it performed equally as solid on both cameras.  Is this a viable option for full frame system shooters for fast, ultra wide applications?  Well, seeing as there has never been a full frame compatible lens this wide, this fast, it’s forging new ground for many shooters, and that is pretty rare in this day and age.  C’mon in to see some example images and read my rambling thoughts…

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*Topaz End of Year Sale, anything and everything 35% off w/ @topazlabs

Topaz Super Sale!

Hot on the heels of the Complete Collection Cyber Sale, Topaz Labs is offering anything and everything for 35% off.  If you’ve been waiting to try, grab or buy a Topaz plugin or two, now is an awesome time to do so.  You can find the sale on the Topaz Labs website HERE, and use code “TOPAZ2015” to get 35% off of anything that Topaz offers through the end of the year.

If you’d like to see more about my personal favorites, click the following links to my reviews.  I use many of the Topaz plugins, very often for personal stuff, along with most all my paid projects.

Topaz Adjust (reg $49.99, now $32.49) – the flagship Topaz plugin, and a great companion to high dynamic range photography.

Topaz Clarity (reg $49.99, now $32.49) – My go to for beautiful image definition through contrast without haloing.  Simply awesome. 

Topaz DeNoise (reg $79.99, now $51.99) – In my experience, this has been the best noise reduction plugin, hands down.

Topaz Glow (reg $69.99, now $45.49) – If ever you’ve searched for Fractalius, this is like that, only way better.  Fractalized and beautifully surreal effects.

Topaz Impression  (reg $99.99, now $64.99) – Adding a touch of hand painted flair, or going full blown Picasso, Impression is an awesome multi media simulation software.

Topaz ReMask (reg $69.99, now $45.49) – I might use ReMask more than any other plugin (topaz or otherwise).  If you use a layer based editor like Photoshop, and you’ve ever needed to select something (like oh, I don’t know, HAIR!), save yourself an amazing amount of time and try this out.  

You can try any and all of the Topaz plugins for free.  I really suggest that you do.  Don’t take my word for it.  Download the free trials via Topaz HERE, and give them a go.  If you do want to buy them, and you do so before December 31st, 2015, you can get 35% off using code “TOPAZ2015”!

Share your results with us via our Flickr Group HERE, or find me on the socials;  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram.  If you’d like to receive my reviews, tutorials and sale posts as I release them, feel free to add your email to the top right of the page here and you’ll get them emailed as soon as they’re posted.  I’m currently working on a couple fun lens reviews along with a full frame vs micro 4/3 sensor comparison which should be showing up soon after the new year.

If you’ve got any questions, fire them off.  Thanks for the read and I hope that all is well, wherever you are.

Happy holidays, and happy shooting,

Tyson

*TRP Vector Straps, now available through Mettle Cycling!

Mettle Cycling

I’m teaming up with my good friend, and fellow photographer, Randall (owner of Mettle Cycling) to offer the TRP Vector camera wrist straps.  We chose the Vector in particular, as a great option for those who like to tote their cameras along for the ride because they’re light, easy to get on and off one handed, and while on, they’re comfortable and secure.  I’ve been using the Vector straps, almost exclusively on my various cameras lately because they are comfy, and very low profile.

Vector Straps

Available now in all 4 colors, go and visit Mettle Cycling HERE to see the camera straps (available with free shipping for the straps by using FREESHIPPING at checkout), along with tons of beautifully handmade, cycling goods.  If you’re into journeying on two wheels, or just like to see great velo-photography, have a look at the Mettle Blog HERE.  Great insight into various goings on here in the Pacific Northwest, along with different projects like Leave It On The Road, where a great group of folks raise money to fight cancer doing what they love, to help support those they love.

Happy Holidays to all, and I hope this entry finds you and all of yours, well.  Keep on keeping on, and for the other TRP straps, you can always find them HERE.

Stay tuned, and up to speed with stuff here by adding your email to the top right of the page, or find me on the socials;  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram.

Thanks for the read, and happy shooting,

Tyson

*Goal Zero, clean, portable, endless power for a digital world.

PanhandleGap

Does that sound like a commercial pitch?  I’m sorry, I’m just trying to be creative with these articles and the idea of writing about batteries, or rechargeable, storable and portable power might not tick too many boxes for those of us looking for a humorous review on the latest, greatest camera gear.

With that said, I can’t even begin to count the times over the past few years that I’ve been frustrated by low shot volume lithium ion, camera batteries.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing technology, and the lifespan on many of these batteries is so far beyond what older batteries were, but with all the power hungry features in todays cameras, combined with the ever growing desire to see these machines not only become more powerful, but smaller and lighter, power is going to be compromised.  Anyone shooting an Olympus EM5/10 or Sony alpha camera can relate, I’m sure.

Enter Goal Zero, a solution for those of us who travel, shoot in the field or enjoy having some of the creature comforts while out in the wild, wild world.  A very cool company producing some very cool products.  C’mon in to read and see more…

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