Tag Archive for camera

From Sony A to Canon EF or R

Way back in April 2018 I announced that I’d begin switching from my Minolta/Sony system to Canon. This blog post is a follow up to that, and to give Miles of Color some more details in my response to his question on Twitter. Well, making the switch was scary to do, but it’s mostly done. What’s the scary part? I had a great range of capabilities with the following gear (of course I’ve had other cameras and lenses, but this was the core kit):

  • Main body: Sony A99
  • Backup body: Sony A200
  • Film: Minolta A7
  • Wide angle zoom: Konica-Minolta 17-35mm
  • Regular zoom: Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 SP
  • Telezoom: Sony 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G
  • Low-light: Minolta 50mm f1.4
  • Macro / portrait: Minolta 100mm Macro f2
  • Funky fun: Lensbaby 50mm Composer Pro

Note, with this gear, everything was compatible with no need for adapters, which was one of the reasons I kept away from the E-mount cameras.

Sony A77 left, Minolta A7 right. My cameras with ribbons that take evil spirits away given during the Konomiya Naked Man Festival.

Sony A77 left, Minolta A7 right. My cameras with ribbons that take evil spirits away given during the Konomiya Naked Man Festival.

The thing is, my Tamron 28-75mm was on the front of my cameras about 90% of the time. The remaining 10% of the time was mostly the 70-300mm, then wide, then the others. When I traded almost all my Minolta/Sony gear, I guessed I’d get at best USD$800, but hoped for more. I’d need at least $1,300 for the 6Dmkii alone, plus I could budget another $1,000 for a new main lens. In fact, all I could get was $800 on trade in, and it turns out my main lens, despite the fantastic quality, is actually quite obsolete (think, no internal focusing motor, needing the in-body motor), and… it was full of dust. It’s been very, very well used. I kept a few things, especially for the Minolta A7 film camera.

The moment when I traded in my Minolta / Sony gear

The moment when I traded in my Minolta / Sony gear. It was an emotional moment.

Why change?

Sony has never really demonstrated any commitment to their pro & amateur photography community. They took years to establish a professional support system. Prior to that, we had to line up with kids who needed to have their Play Stations fixed. When they did establish their pro support, it was/is expensive, and with no real benefits. It still took over a month for a repair turn-around. Very uncool if you wanted to work in that month. Despite Konica-Minolta never releasing a 35mm sensor camera, it took Sony years to release theirs (later known as “full frame”). At that time, APS-C was assumed by KM, Nikon, Canon, and others to be the sensor we’d want, but it never was.

My Minolta / Sony gear drying after a day at the seaside

My Minolta / Sony gear drying after a day at the seaside. Photo taken on iPad.

Additionally, Sony have basically abandoned the Minolta AF / Sony A mount in favour for the E-Mount. It took Sony nearly ten years to release pro level e-mount lenses. Also, their first A-E Mount adapters did not support electronic communication. That means, a two-thousand dollar Minolta lens could only be used in manual focus. It took another year or so for them to “figure out” how to create an electronic communication system. Even their flagship store here in Nagoya Japan doesn’t stock the flagship A99mkii anymore, or any A-mount camera for that matter.

Lifestyle of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer.

Lifestyle of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer. Photo taken on Sony A99.

Frustratingly, it appears that Sony never or has stopped all lens production from the former Minolta factories in favour of their subsidiaries Tamron and Carl Zeiss. Minolta lenses were considered second only to Leica, and occasionally bettered the Red-dot brand. The whole point of me sticking with Minolta was for the quality of their glass. Consequently, there’s no point in staying with Sony. Furthermore, Canon, since the digital era, has developed some fantastic lenses. I’m still not sure how they compare, but all experiences so far suggest they’re better than Sony.

Lifestyle photos of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer.

Lifestyle photos of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer. Photo taken on Sony A99.

Finally, a point that everyone is talking about on social media is that the colour science of Sony is not so good. They’re too strong on the green hues so skin colours look off. I’ve not seen the greenish hue on my A99, but have struggled a bit to pull out natural colours. In contrast, the colours, saturation, and vibrancy of the Canon M6 is way, way, way better than the flagship Sony A99 and a bit better than the Canon 6Dmkii. It was the M6 that convinced me that it was time to ditch Sony. The only real advantage my A99 had was that it was full frame, and the variety of lenses I had, though in terms of focusing speed, they were getting quite obsolete.

What did I change to?

Well, having seen the M6’s iPad and iPhone connectivity giving me so many advantages, the 6D Mark 2 was a natural choice for a main camera that is full frame.

The 2019 calendar Inside Japan

The 2019 calendar Inside Japan with the Canon 6DMkII with Tamron 24-70mm SP f2.8 G2 at the Foreign Artists’ Exhibition

My main lens for so, so many years was the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, which was meant to be a stopgap until I could afford a Minolta 24-70mm f2.8. It turns out that that Tamron lens was simply awesome. At that time in the camera world it was second only to the Carl Zeiss and Minolta equivalents. So, I thought the thousand dollar Tamron 24-70mm SP f2.8 G2 would also be good enough and high-spec enough. It turns out to be softer in the corners and with green-magenta slivers of chromatic aberration issues in unexpected places, so might only be marginally better than the older 28-75mm that is nearly two decades older. However, the G2 is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much quicker in finding focus. Further, I opted for the Tamron especially as other affordable Canon options were f4, which reduced my ability to be creative with depth of field. That is the main reason why I didn’t opt for the Canon R just yet. The Canon R main lens is an enticing 24-105mm, but off-putting f4. I considered I’d eventually go mirrorless, but I’d wait a bit until the R system is both a little more affordable (read, ‘available on the second hand market’) and mature (with a better lens selection, and lenses already on the second hand market). Besides, the adapters for EF to R seem way awesome.

The Mexican Team wins the 2018 World Cosplay Summit with their crowd stunning acrobatic Street Fighter performance.

The Mexican Team wins the 2018 World Cosplay Summit with their crowd stunning acrobatic Street Fighter performance. Photo taken on Sony A99 with Sony 70-300mm G lens. This photo went viral on Twitter.

For the longer lens, I opted for a second hand 70-200mm L lens. Since at longer focal lengths f4 is good enough for interesting depth of field, it’s lighter, and cheaper. The image stabilised version was only ¥10,000 (about USD$100) more, I opted for that. The experience I’ve had with the image stabilisation in the Canon M6 convinced me that in-lens stabilisation is so much better than the Minolta/Sony in-body stabilisation.

A snowboarder at Iimori Hakuba. Photo taken on Canon 6DMkii with Canon EF 70-200mm F4 IS lens.

A snowboarder at Iimori Hakuba. Photo taken on Canon 6DMkii with Canon EF 70-200mm F4 IS lens.

For a wide angle lens? I’m conflicted. My Minolta 17-35mm was rarely used, and when it was, it distorted the hell out of any picture that wasn’t taken gravitationally level. The only good options are perhaps the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 behemoth (it’s huge and heavy, very bad for a travel photographer), or perhaps the Canon 12-24mm at over USD$3000! Remember the 24-70mm was on the front of my camera about 90% of the time. I can’t justify either the back breaking weight or the massive cost. So, for the time being I’ll wait and hope for a Canon M-mount $300 equivalent to be released.

Other lenses? Not got them yet. Currently, I don’t feel a need for a new 100mm macro/portrait lens; if anything, I might get an 85mm as a portrait lens (v.low chance though). To replace the 50mm f1.4 I might consider a Tamron 35mm f1.8, as that focal length is more versatile than 50mm, whilst still giving me low light performance. The Lensbaby is a tough one. Should I get another Composer, the 35mm Burnside (gorgeous), or the 85mm Velvet (my eyes are watering as my mouth would for delectable food).

Two personal friends. Photo taken on Canon M6 with Lensbaby 50mm Composer Pro (with Sony A to Canon M mount K&F Concept adapter)

Two personal friends. Photo taken on Canon M6 with Lensbaby 50mm Composer Pro (with Sony A to Canon M mount K&F Concept adapter)

Should I consider Sigma lenses? Absolutely not! They had very serious quality control issues. A US lens rental company once announced that a third of their Sigma lenses were unusable fresh out of the box straight from the factory. Hence the “Art lens” rebranding Sigma did. Perhaps they’ve fixed these issues, but I’m not testing those waters.

Current sitch?

Here’s what I currently have:

  • Main body: Canon 6D Mark II
  • Second body: Canon M6 with Canon 15-45mm f3.5-5.6
  • Film: Minolta A7 with Minolta 50mm f1.4 and Lensbaby 50mm
  • Wide zoom: x
  • Regular zoom: Tamron 24-70mm SP f2.8 G2
  • Telephoto: Canon 70-200mm L f4 IS
  • Low light: x (K&F adapter for Minolta A to Canon M and Minolta 50mm f1.4)
  • Funky: Lensbaby 50mm Composer with K&F Sony A to Canon M-mount adapter
  • Macro: x
  • Other: Canon EF-M Mount adapter
Andrew photographing autumn scenes at Gifu Park (self portrait)

Andrew with Canon 6D Mark II photographing autumn scenes at Gifu Park (self portrait taken on Canon M6). Note the brown ‘legacy’ Sony wrist strap.

Selling my telephoto lens

I’ve realised recently, that I haven’t used my Sony SAL 70-300mm G lens for a very, very, very, long time. I honestly don’t recall the last time I used it; possibly five years? I just don’t do that kind of photography any more. Consequently, I’d like to sell it. As you can see, it’s used, it’s in really good condition, and a “G” lens, which means it produces stellar quality photos. What I have been using instead has been my Minolta 100mm f2.8 macro and Tamron 28-75mm lenses; mainly for portraiture.

Sony SAL 70-300mm G lens.

Sony SAL 70-300mm G lens.

What I’d really like to do is get the Lensbaby Velvet f1.8 85mm, and upgrade my Tamron; mainly for use for portraiture. The thing is, do I really want to stay with Sony? I’ve been asking myself this for about three years now, and the answer is generally “no”. So, I’m considering a transition to Canon 6d or 5d MkIII. If I do that, then I might as well dump my whole Sony-Minolta kit.

Consequently, I’d like to sell the Sony 70-300mm lens first, and see how I do in selling it, and then consider moving over to Canon from there. So, any suggestions on where I should sell? Is there anyone out there who might consider trading gear?

Yashica vs. Nikon: Yashica wins

Every company wants news about them to go viral, but not like how it went viral for Nikon. I didn’t even know this, until FStoppers released a news story that had these points

  1. Nikon released the new and amazing D850 (Ok, I knew this)
  2. Nikon recently announced an all star team of photographers
  3. The all star team would promote the Nikon D850
  4. They are all men

I also noticed that the team exclusively consists of Caucasians, Central and East Asians. The main points I see is that there are no women, and it represents a racial profile that suits Nikon. It was also pointed out by a Twitter member (sorry, I forgot who), that the Nikon president doesn’t want to show women using cameras, as it would appear that the cameras would be too simple. Pure sexism. To be fair, in the global group they have one Italian woman included.

Image from FStoppers

 

In contrast is Yashica, this week hinted a new chapter in their company’s history with this video showing a young Japanese woman using a vintage camera, a smartphone adapting lens, and a hint of something new in the works.

#POTW Hieu in an ao dai

It has been quite a while since I’ve had time to do a Photo of the Week (POTW), and I apologise. Life gets a bit wild, busy, hectic, stressful, loaded, crazy, fun, and more. This photo was taken last year with a great model, Hieu, in Vietnam. For this others, and more like it see Hieu’s gallery in my PhotoShelter portfolio, and my agent’s website.


A young Vietnamese lady wearing an ao dai.

World Photography Day #WPD2014

Tomorrow, 19th August is World Photography Day. Though it’s an annual thing, this is the 175th year of photography, so it deserves special celebration. Photography contributes so, so much in our daily lives. We use it for sharing photos of family, for memory keepsakes of holidays and good times with friends, weddings, birthdays, for communicating in media, documenting crime scenes, documenting historical events, selfies, food porn, instagramming, and so, so much more. Photograph making devices are now so prolific, and are no longer confined to large, expensive, single function devices. Cameras can be found on computers, tablets, phones, door bell security systems, movie studios, handheld devices, drones on farms and military applications. Cameras are now so embedded in our daily lives that it is now hard or impossible to imagine our lives without them. In short, our society loves photography.

A model, Brooke, I’ve worked with before. This photo is available for licensing.

Be sure to check on discount coupons for photo licensing and purchases.

 

World Photography Day #coupon #WPD2014

The 19th August will be the 175th year of photography (World Photography Day), so in celebration you can get 10% off any photo purchase or licensing from my PhotoShelter portfolio. The coupon is valid until 31st August 2014, New York time, for unlimited uses with a USD$20 minimum purchase.

Coupon Code: WPD175

 

A young caucasian and a Japanese women taking selfies together at a wine bar.

A young Caucasian and a Japanese women taking selfies together at a wine bar.

Future of cameras

After many years I think I’ve learnt a few useful things. 1. Camera bodies become obsolete. 1a. Digital camera bodies become obsolete very quickly. 2. Lenses are often usable on many more camera bodies than vice versa. 3. An old joke: How do you make a million dollars in photography? Start with two million.

Trey Ratcliff on his blog, posted via Google+, and replied to by David La Spina on his blog both feel that the future of camera bodies in photography is not in SLRs. I argue that the “future of cameras” is not the discussion to be having, but a very different one.

Firstly, what cameras are there? Trey uses the term ‘3rd Generation’, which he essentially means mirrorless like the Leica cameras (old and new). Of the mirrorless camp, there’s the Sony Nex series, the Nikon J1 and V1, the Olympus Pen (old and new), the Canon G series, Leica’s (film and digital), the Fujifilm x series et al. These are very good cameras, and the quality of images they are capable of almost parallels current high-end cameras, and these mirrorless cameras can produce images that exceed what the first professional digital SLR cameras could produce, including (in order of appearance) in 1987 Minolta SB70s, in 1995 Minolta RD175, in 1999 Nikon D1, and Canon (whatever they had). There’s also mobile phones, which will be briefly discussed below. Of the high-end camp, currently there’s the very new Nikon D4, very new (not yet released) Canon 5d MkIII, and there’s the current Sony A900, rumoured replacement Sony A99 (rumoured to be announced later this year), and Sony A77 cameras. To you, perhaps strangely, there’s more: there’s still film also to discuss below. There’s my favourite Minoltas, as well as Leicas, Rolleiflexs, (cringe) Lomo, and more.

However, there are some points that both Trey and David are missing out on. Whilst this week Kodak has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, Ilford (now owned by Harman Technology) and Fujifilm are still financially viable. Why is this? There are still some professionals that still use film for aesthetic reasons, and practicality (there currently are no large format digital sensors commercially available for landscape and architectural photographers), as well as hobbyists. Interestingly, Rolleiflex, Hasselblad, and Leica film cameras still sell quite well and still fetch a good price on eBay. Ok, so there is a niche market for film. That is to say, film and film cameras hasn’t gone away, and isn’t going away (yet).

So, could the traditional SLR format and camera shape disappear? It could (or will eventually). Take for instance the TLR format camera which is no longer being made (that I’m aware of), and despite its former ubiquity. So, the digital SLR will of course disappear, but only eventually, but does that make put them on an endangered species list today? I don’t believe so.

 

Mirrorless

When the Sony Nex system was released I hated the idea for several reasons. Firstly, it didn’t use a lens mount system that was available at the time, but the new E-mount. For alpha-mount users (Minolta & Sony auto focus mount), like myself, this could be seen as a death-knell. The brief history is that Minolta created the MA mount system, which was eventually replaced by the MC mount, a few years later that was replaced by the MD mount (I have this still), and a few years later the first auto focus system and a new mount for it: the Minolta Auto-focus mount (later, on Sony take over, known as the “Alpha-mount”). All of this updating meant having to replace lens systems. A photographer a generation or two before me would have bought a 50mm lens four times. As for me, I still have a 50mm f1.8 on the MD, then a 50mm f1.4 on the Alpha-mount (Minolta then Sony), and now I face the prospect of having to move to the E-mount. All this re-buying means less money for me, and more money for the camera companies; and of course I have a range of lenses that would need replacing.

Secondly, the ergonomic format of the mirrorless cameras (like the Sony Nex) to the film & digital SLR cameras (like the Minolta 7, Sony A900, Nikon D4, Canon 5d.MkII) are quite different. The modern SLR cameras have shutter speed, aperture and iso controls placed so they are very easy and quick to adjust (except apparently the iso & white balance settings on the Canon SLRs), so the user does not need to take their eyes off of the subject to make adjustments. This means that serious photographers (professional, semi-pro, or amateur) can quickly adjust settings to more accurately control exposure as required in even difficult changeable lighting situations. Often, I find that I am not happy with the Shutter or Aperture priority settings the cameras suggest, so I most often use Manual, and thus require the ability to make quick adjustments. The problem with the mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras is that to adjust these same settings, you would need to take your eyes away from the subject to see what adjustments you are making, often having to rummage through the menu system of these cameras. The Sony Nex 7 has separate control dials for this, but currently this is more the exception. Further, the Nex 7 has the two dials side by side, rather than for easier thumb and finger control, and these dials are smooth, so use with gloves is not possible. Also, Japanese manufacturers are designing products that suit their own local customers rather than international customers. Often the mirrorless cameras are quite small, and the buttons can be difficult for people with large hands and fingers. There had been many complaints by non-Japanese users about the Sony A200 to 500 range on this ergonomic issue.

These ergonomic problems are not unfixable. It won’t take much to redesign a mirrorless camera to be ergonomically better (the Fujifilm x1 Pro looks quite usable, so too the Leica M9), additionally the menu system can be made more user-friendly. So then, could the high-end digital SLR bodies become mirrorless? My guess is that Sony will be the first to do this (they already have pellicle cameras like the A77). If so, then it’s a matter of time that the Alpha-mount becomes properly irrelevant, and the new E-mount the standard. Of Nikon and Canon? We still haven’t seen what serious contenders they can put up against Fujifilm, Sony Nex, and Leica. We don’t know if mirrorless is a niche that Nikon and Canon wish to aggressively pursue (at least yet). And let’s face it, the Nikon J1 and V1 are embarrassing. Shops here in Japan target these Nikon J1 and V1 cameras to 20-something year old girls who have a bit of disposable income and love to blog about the food they eat in restaurants near their offices.

 

Mobile phones & homogeneous aesthetics

Regarding mobile phones, it makes me cringe to consider mentioning these seriously. Realistically, for a mobile phone to match the quality of mirrorless and SLR cameras, the phone ought to be supplanted with a camera with phone functions built in. That is, all the hardware (sensor, processor, and external controls) needs to be of suitable competitive quality, and the controls need to be easily available to the user. Ok, so a mobile phone can take a photo in a variety of light conditions, but the dynamic range of these cameras is quite poor. Being able to adjust (even quickly) the controls to focus on the right subject, control the exposure for the right aesthetic is still not easy for the camera’s on-board computer. Photographing a castle is different to creating a shallow-depth of focus portrait or macro shot. We humans know what we want to see in a photo, but a mobile phone computer can’t do that (yet). However, face-focusing and smile-recognition systems being integrated. Though, it needs to be said, these technologies are replacing human creativity, reducing chances of accidental exposures that turn out to be pleasing, and dispreferring deviant exposure settings, whilst homogenising photographic quality and aesthetics; have you tried to use the Nikon J1? What advantages are there in having a high-end camera when you can just use a cheaper, multi-functional mobile phone? Well for professional purposes there’s image quality. I’m yet to hear of a fashion photographer shoot for a magazine using his iPhone. I’m yet to hear of a mobile phone that has been connected to a studio light set up. I’m yet to hear of a mobile phone that can be mounted on a tripod to do slow-shutter speed photos of waves curling around rocks. If you really want an inexpensive camera that can do these things, go to film. Seriously, high-end, fully capable SLR film cameras can do all these things at a fraction of the price of a new full-frame digital camera. And if you consider cost of processing compared to the cost of updating digital cameras, film is still cheaper for many people. Also, if you consider aesthetic look, you can save a lot of time spending moments creating a whole batch of shots on a film camera that look like they’ve been taken on a film camera, rather than shooting digital and then spending ages manipulating them all to look like they’ve been taken on film! And still, a keen eye can recognise the difference between a shot taken on film, and one manipulated to look as such in PhotoShop. Of course, plugins for PhotoShop can speed up the adjustment process, but all your images will have a homogeneous fake-film look. The problem that I have with More Lomo, and PhotoShop Express on the iPhone, and iPhonography in general, is that the pictures lack dynamic range control, darks are too heavy, highlights are blown, colours are overly saturated and tonal bands appear in the sky, rather than having smooth transitions (even on the small images I see other people posting). I do use my iPhone camera function, but for social events and recording the covers of books I might consider buying later.

Conclusion

Consequently, to me, the future of cameras is not the issue, but the future of photographic aesthetics. For quality and variety, we need to retain the use of film, retain the ability to have accidents, make purposeful deviant exposure decisions, and we need to be able to change exposure settings on the fly. To me, a good photographer should have a repertoire to use, making full use of his photographic palate, using film (SLR, TLR, or mirrorless), small digital (like point-and-shoot or mirrorless), and purpose built SLRs (film and digital). We should be experimenting and using the right tool for the right job.