@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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*The Panasonic Lumix GX8 vs GX7 showdown. How much of an upgrade is it, really? Well… w/ @LumixUSA

gx7 vs gx8

Well, my friends, I have been enjoying the comparison between these two great cameras, and in this article I would like to present my opinions and findings regarding how they directly compare to each other in regards to performance and file output, once and for all (for my purposes, anyway).  Here’s my disclaimer… I don’t work for Panasonic.  I’ve always researched and purchased my own gear, and do these tests in an attempt to help others like myself see what I wish that I could have seen in cases before buying stuff.  Enjoy and I hope this shows you something you’ve not yet seen.

I’ve been looking at the comparison from the angle of one who is curious about replacing my historically favorite micro 4/3 camera in the GX7, with it’s intended upgrade in the GX8.  I’ve now had the GX8 for a couple months and have shot a few thousand images with it, so I have been able to get a good feel for how it handles, performs and how the files look when digging into them.  With the GX8, Panasonic has given us an increase in size, resolution and features, which have all looked good on paper, and I’m now wanting to really see that come through in practice, which in most cases, it has.

Here is what I’ve seen, and what I’ve found…

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*A Pana-Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 review – I never should have doubted you.

Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH OIS Lens Panasonic

Now, readers may remember a mere 6 months or so ago, I purchased the Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95 lens (see that review on a new page HERE) for my micro 4/3 system setup.  I’ve loved that lens, but since its announcement I’ve been curious about the Leica branded Nocticron, largely because I do really enjoy shooting two of the other Leica branded lenses for the system in the Summicron 15mm and 25mm models.  The asking price for this portrait lens was always high for my taste, which was why I opted for the Voigt to begin with (which isn’t cheap in its own right, but 2/3 the retail price of the Nocti).  Well, as luck would have it, an open box/like new Nocticron came up for sale at near the same price as the Voigtländer and my curiosity couldn’t be held back, and now I’m tasked with figuring out which one to hold onto.

Here are my initial impressions on this beautiful lens.

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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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*Olympus M.Zuiko MC14, 1.4x Teleconverter Review

m zuiko mc14 1.4x micro 4/3 teleconverter for 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

Olympus continues to add to its Pro lens quiver with the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14, available as a useful accessory to the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom lens.  Currently, the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is the only lens that this teleconverter works with, but I’d assume that once we see the soon to be M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 PRO prime lens show up, that number will climb to two.

A teleconverter effectively multiplies the focal length of the lens it is coupled to, while decreasing the lens speed by one whole stop in the case of a 1.4x, or two stops when using a 2x tele converter (Oly, feel free to bust one of these guys out too!).  In this case, it converts the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens into a 56-210mm f/4 optic which translates to an effective field of view in full frame terms of 112-420mm.  Not a bad range, and one that for system users essentially turns the 40-150 (80-300mm e-fov) into two very useful lenses if we’re to look at it in Full Frame equivalency as a workhorse, studio portrait/event tele zoom akin to the various 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses as well as the more sport and light wildlife tele zooms of the world in the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 flavor, it begins to make a lot more sense as to why Olympus chose this range, as opposed to what would have been a more traditional 35-100mm (70-200mm) lens in the first place.  Hmmmmm…  Continue reading

*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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*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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