*Olympus m.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens, a user review w/ @getolympus

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Ultra wide angle options for every system, tend to be expensive and/or compromised.  It can be difficult to optically correct and transfer light onto these digital sensors which are far less forgiving than film ever was, especially outside of the center frame.  Add to that, with various “crop” formats, the physical focal length needed to achieve these angles of view has to be remarkably short which provides other engineering challenges.  Panasonic saw the need for an ultra wide angle zoom lens from the very early stages of the Micro 4/3 format, and has offered a very solid 7-14mm f/4 lens for years, but many system shooters wanted both a faster option, along with one that was environmentally sealed for outdoor work.  Olympus answered that call with the m.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens.  A substantial, weather sealed, tank like 14-28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens (in light gathering you FF fanatic naysayers, you) that costs a pretty penny, especially considering the Panasonic Lumix option at close to half the price, it’s not necessarily one for the budget minded shooter.  It is however, a pretty damn stellar performer.  I have had this lens for the better part of the year, and I’ve just returned from a trip to Portugal and Holland where I used this lens on the GX8 for my travel documentation needs.  I have some other shots sprinkled in, but I want to give a bit of perspective when using this lens as a travel companion. C’mon in for some shots and thoughts…

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@Lensbaby Twist 60, rebirth of a classic, quirky, beautiful optic w/@SeeInANewWay

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Lensbaby’s optical engineers have done it again.  After moving away from the toy camera replication type lenses into more complicatedly designed optics with lenses like the Sweet 35 and 50, Edge 50 and 80 and the Velvet 56, they’ve replicated the swirly vortex of the old Joseph Petzval designed optic from 174 years ago with this new Twist 60.  Don’t dismiss this lens as pure kitsch, as it is remarkably sharp where you’d want it for a portrait lens (middle frame) and while, wide open you’ll see some pretty severe vignetting to go along with the twirly bokeh, this adds to its charm and vintage qualities.  Portrait painters of yesteryear used many different brushes to create their renditions, and this can certainly be seen as a wonderfully specialized brush for the portrait photographer, along with those looking to add some fun to shots of any kind. 

While perhaps not an effect to suit everyone’s taste, it is one that has found a place for certain portrait and fine art photographers looking to add in camera effects to visibly differentiate their look.  With other companies seeing the value in chasing this corner of the market with lenses like the Kickstarter Petzval clone and the Trioplan Soap bokeh lenses that are looking to be launched on the market, it’s obvious that there is some demand for these newer versions of throwback optical designs.  The question though, is how much are photographers looking for these optical effects willing to pay?

Priced at a very modest $280 for the Twist 60 Lens (optic and non-tilting metal lens body housing) available in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E mount, or $180 for the optic solely, the Twist 60 is certainly worth a look.  You can find it at Adorama HERE, B&H HERE or directly through Lensbaby HERE.

C’mon in for more example shots, some technical mumbo jumbo and my thoughts on this lens…

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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 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro Lens, User Review

Olympus m.zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro Lens review

Well, one mirrorless system has certainly put its big boy pants on.  Over the last year, Olympus has joined Panasonic in offering a professionally fast zoom range from wide through tele in a two zoom setup.  Traditionally seen as a working photographers “go-to range” the 24-200mm focal length run being offered in a reasonably fast, constant f/2.8 maximum aperture is arguably a necessity, and depending on who you ask, a must have range for many professional applications.  Olympus has taken that traditional range, and added to it on both sides with their series of “PRO” zooms, the recently announced and soon to be released 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO (14-28mm e-fov), their 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO (24-80mm e-fov) and this 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO  lens (80-300mm e-fov) offer system shooters the ability to shoot from a 14mm ultra wide equivalent through a 300mm long tele equivalent at f/2.8.

Today, I’ll have a look at the tele zoom in this series in the 40-150mm.  So, how does this lens stack up?  Well, if Canikon have been waiting for a warning shot, this might be seen as a nuke across the bow.  C’mon in for my thoughts on this lens.

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*MacPhun Black Friday has come early! 40% off the whole enchilada plus a $25 gift card.

IMG_1272 I’ve just recently come across the MacPhun software plugins, and have reviewed Tonality, their black and white conversion plugin.  It’s my go to for black and white image conversion now and I’ve been loving it.  Since my review, I’ve been in contact with the fine folks at MacPhun to do my user reviews on their other plugins here in the near future. If you’re a Mac user, I’d really suggest checking them out. MacPhun is offering their entire collection of plugins which include Tonality Pro, Snapheal Pro, Intensify Pro and Focus Pro for a whoppingly low $129 HERE. The collection at 40% off also includes a $25 gift card to either iTunes or Amazon as well!!! This promotion runs through December 25th, so I’ll do my best to write up some in depth reviews on the other plugins included in this deal, but if you’d like to see why I think Tonality Pro is the best black and white conversion plugin I’ve used, you can read more on that HERE. This also gives you plenty of time to download free trial versions HERE to test drive before buying. Stay tuned for more killer Black Friday software deals… Happy holidays and happy shooting, Tyson

*MacPhun Tonality Pro. The new king of B&W conversion?

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If I were to ask you, which black and white software do you feel is the best out right now, what would you say?  NIK Silver Efex Pro?  Alien Skin Exposure 6?  OnOne Perfect B&W?  Topaz B&W Effects?  While I can, and would make arguments for a couple of these, I have to say that this question for Mac users just got a whole lot harder.

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*Lensbaby Composer Pro for MILC Cameras, a system within a system.

April 2nd, 2012 – Lensbaby has announced it’s second MILC dedicated product which now gives the MILC (Mirror-less Interchangeable Lens Compact) systems, micro 4/3, NEX, and NX users access to every optic and add on in the Lensbaby system.  Where the Tilt Transformer  for Micro 4/3 and NEX cameras allowed for the Composer Front to be used, it was limited to the Lensbaby optics that were compatible.  Now, the Sweet 35, Fisheye, Edge 80, Macro Converters and all standard optic swap inserts are entirely compatible!  It’s like immediately gaining access to a bunch of new lenses for these young systems clamoring for more affordable and diverse options.  More after the jump…

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