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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in mawz's LiveJournal:

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Friday, October 18th, 2013
9:14 pm
The Magic is Gone, and a few unrelated musings
High Falls
Olympus OMD E-M5, Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 II, MMF-2 adapter.

I'd sold off all my film kit when I bought my E-M5, as I'd lost my desire to shoot film and needed a break, I also sold off most all of my stocks of 120/220 film, but kept my 35mm since I assumed that I'd come back to film at some point. Well, I have come back and the results aren't good. I still enjoy shooting with a manual, mechanical film camera (Nikon FM10 in this case, an old favourite) but two things have become noticeable: I really like the handling flexibility that native Live View cameras provide when shooting, and I no longer have the patience for the post-processing requirements to produce high-quality digital files from film. The dev/scan/spot/edit workflow is simply too much of a PITA for me anymore. As such, I will be passing on my film gear and film stocks and moving purely to digital for the foreseeable future. The magic of film is truly gone for me.

The last couple of weeks have brought a bunch of interesting announcements:

Nikon's given us two lightly warmed over upgrades in the D610 and D5300, neither terribly worth looking at when you can get their predecessors cheaper. Nikon also gives us a high-cost but reportedly superb 58mm f1.4G AF-S, this being Nikon's exotic normal, with correction similar to the old 58mm f1.2 Noct-Nikkor. If it lives up to its promise it will be a gem, but at a high cost (around $1700).

Sony's given us two revolutionary bodies in the A7 and A7r, the worlds first FF mirrorless bodies, and also 5 lenses for them, 4 of which promise to be excellent, but they range from expensive (35/2.8, 24-70/4) to ridiculous (70-200/4G). I mean who is really going to buy a $3000 70-200/4? Seriously? The bodies look brilliant for adaptation and no doubt will be a hit, but for my uses I can't help but think the E-M1 would be a better choice for my uses, for a few reasons. First off, while the A7(r) bodies are sealed, they have only moisture & dust sealing, not to the level of the E-M5, let alone the E-M1 which is arguably sealed better than a D4 or 1D body (Showering is a viable cleaning method for the E-M1 with a Pro series lens like the 12-40), additionally a compact weather-sealed kit based on an OMD will remain significantly smaller than the equivalent kit based around the A7 bodies as the lenses for the most part will be far larger, particularly the zooms (my ideal 2-lens rough weather kit would be the Panasonic 35-100/2.8 and either the current 12-40/2.8 or the promised Pro series UWA, in either case these will be noticeably smaller than the ZA FE 24-70+70-200/4G).

And of course with m43 I can cross-pollinate between an ultra-compact kit, a do-everything kit and a rough-weather kit without having any lenses which are body-specific, a similar kit based around E mount would be an A7(r) plus a NEX-5 series body, and I'd have to juggle FF vs APS-C for my lens line, likely by having a couple NEX-5 only wides, that's annoying in comparison to pairing a PEN Mini or Lumix GM series body with an OMD body. Right now my compact body is the E-PM1, with the do-everything & rough-weather body being the E-M5, so I can go out with the E-PM1, m.Zuiko 14-42 II and Summilux-DG 25/1.4 as my usual compact walk-around kit, but if I need low-light performance and compactness I just grab the E-M5 sans grip instead of the E-PM1, or if I want an ultralight hikers kit I swap the 25/1.4 for the m.Zuiko 40-150 R. Since the bodies are almost fully interchangeable (incompatible batteries are the only difference) I can pick both bodies and lenses based on exact use case, something I never could with the mixed format systems I have had in the past (typically FF film+APS-C digital, which is little different from FF & APS-C Digital in this case).

Other announcements are the ultra-compact Lumix GM1 from Panasonic, with a similarly compact 12-35 kit zoom and an upcoming Summilux-DG 15/1.7 compact fast/wide prime. The body is remarkably small, and may be interesting as an eventual replacement for my E-PM1, but the real meat here is the lenses. The 12-35 is interesting if the MTF's are accurate, as they suggest that it will not only be the most compact zoom for m43 (when retracted) but also the best of the consumer kit zooms, with better MTF's than the original G Vario 14-45 OIS, the current holder of that crown. I'd happily replace my 14-42 II with the 12-35 if that proves correct. The 15/1.7 is the wide/fast Leica prime I've been waiting for to round out the wide end of my prime kit. A little wider and slower than I'd hoped (I wanted a 17/1.4) but still more than acceptable and it can be both a 28mm and a 35mm replacement for me, saving the need to buy 2 lenses instead (the 17/1.8 and 14/2.5). I just hope it arrives quicker than the Nocticron-DG 42.5/1.2 or the 150/2.8 X OIS (both remain vapourware).

Oh, and Fuji announced the X-E2, an update to the X-E1. I find the new Nikon bodies more interesting, the Fuji X system does absolutely nothing for me, being a bastion of poor ergonomics, wonky performance and serious workflow issues, although the lenses themselves are interesting in focal length and price/performance ratio.
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
9:29 pm
Finally, an Update
Fort George
OM-D E-M5, m.Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3

It's been a while since I've posted here. A busy summer for me, with a transition from a position with inconsistent but long hours back to an office job, and a major change for me, I've not worked in an internal IT role since 1998.

Despite that I've done a moderate amount of shooting, mostly courtesy of the Toronto Photo Walks group and their biweekly photowalks. I'm just shy of 5k on the E-M5. The verdict overall is that I like but don't love the E-M5, but I don't see anything better currently on the market. The upcoming E-M1 seems to fix most of my issues with the E-M5 and I expect I'll be upgrading to the E-M1 around years end, maybe a bit after. In terms of lenses I now have the m.Zuiko 40-150 f4-5.6 R, a surprising little telezoom, optically quite good and tiny, but plasticky. I've also swapped the m.Zuiko 12-50 for a Zuiko Digital 14-54 f2.8-3.5 II, a lens I'd owned previously with the E-30 and G1 and missed. It's a major upgrade from the 12-50 optically in most respects, although the 12-50 was remarkable in Macro mode and the 14-54 is merely quite good at close focus (it doesn't focus as close nor is it quite as sharp as the 12-50 in macro mode), but in any other regime the 12-50 was merely good while the 14-54 is excellent. I also retain the Summilux-DG 25/1.4 and my rarely used Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4 and Nikkor 300/4.5. At this time I do find myself in need of a wide solution, a 35 equivalent fast prime, a macro/portrait prime and something fast & long. Evenually I also need to replace the Nikkor 300, it's simply outmatched by the modern high-density sensors, I'd love an m43 300/4 prime for this. That said, I'm concentrating primarily on shooting with what I actually have, rather than going through kit. I'd actually like to stick to all m43 and 4/3rds lenses for once, rather than a grab bag of oddities, no matter how much fun oddities can be.
Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
8:49 am
A few more thoughts on the OM-D
The Rushes
OM-D E-M5, m.Zuiko 12-50 f3.5-6.3

With the new E-P5 released, I'd have to say the next OM-D model would be a sufficient upgrade if it only has the changes in the E-P5, namely ISO 100, a 1/8000 max shutter, the new viewfinder (2.4MP panel and FF-sized display) and focus peaking. Even better would be if they can improve anything else. I'm actually hoping that the rumoured 4/3rds solution is some sort of on-sensor PDAF solution for the next OM-D, that would make buying 4/3rds lenses viable for OM-D shooters and OM-D's viable for 4/3rds shooters. This would also provide some clear differentiation between the OM-D and the top of the PEN line (the E-Px bodies).

For now, the two lens kit is working pretty well for me. Oddly I'm mostly using the Summilux 25 as my everyday lens while the 12-50 I'm using mostly as a combo of a 12mm prime and a 43mm macro, rarely do I use the 12-50 at any other setting. I do need some sort of tele solution though. Probably going with a 40-150, either by getting the Panny 45-150 OIS and trading with torfindra for her adapted 4/3rds 40-150 & 4/3rds adapter or by getting the m.Zuiko 40-150. After that I'll be looking at adding the 14/2.5 and the 60/2.8, I'm just shooting enough near-macro work that the 60 makes more sense to me than the 45/1.8. Long-term plans remain to get the 7-14 and 35-100 and pair with the 25 and 60 as my working kit, but that's a ways away.
Friday, May 24th, 2013
11:19 am
Still Kicking
The Waterfront
OM-D E-M5, Leica DG Summilux 25/1.4

Yes, I'm still around on LJ. Been a very busy couple of months for me and I haven't had time to post. I'll try and post more regularly though.

On the gear side, the NEX-7 kit is gone. I found that the OM-D simply handled what the NEX was good at (street/carry shooting) pretty well. I still prefer the NEX overall for that sort of work but I couldn't justify keeping it when the OM-D was more than acceptable at the same stuff. Conversely the OM-D was purchased specifically because the NEX-7 wasn't good at other stuff (tripod work, handling with larger lenses). NEX kit went and funded some network upgrades (better backup system) and a PS3 rather than camera kit. In hindsight I should have bought a 45/1.8 instead of the PS3.

The next question is my workflow strategy, specifically what software I use. I've been using Lightroom with the Nik plugins for my workflow for the last year or so (just LR prior to that). It's a great workflow but LR was producing mediocre IQ, I needed the Nik plugins to approach what CaptureOne could do with the same files. I'd picked LR because it quite frankly handled the DAM side very well, while C1 has issues with regards to file handling. But Adobe's recent cash grab and moves towards a subscription-only service kicked me to looking for a replacement for Lightroom. I've looked at a few options, Corel AfterShot Pro (Bibble Pro), PhaseOne's Media Pro & Capture One, Paint Shop pro X5, Photoline and a few others.

Aftershot Pro has the best UI and is reasonable as a combined DAM/RAW converter. But it crashes regularly and the IQ of the output is worse than LR. Media pro kinda sucks as anything other than an Archive Manager, but C1 produces the best IQ IMHO. PSP and Photoline both aren't really usable as RAW converters but could suffice as my occasional host for post-conversion editing (replacing PS CS3).

Frankly, I'm going to go with C1 for now, probably will get a Media Pro license and use that for Archive management (I get upgrade pricing as I took advantage of the free Expression Media 2 for C1 users). At some point I will also upgrade to C1 Pro as it has some very nice additional capabilities over C1 (and it will also get me from v6 to the current v7 at the same time). As I've got the Aftershot license, I may keep that around for quick & dirty editing. Luckily metadata changes come in automatically between C1 and Aftershot as they both support XMP sidecars.
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
10:31 am
2 Weeks Later
The Shed
OM-D E-M5, m.Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3

So I've had the OM-D for two and a half weeks now, and all my shooting for those weeks has been done with it as the NEX-7 went in for some minor service immediately after I got the OM-D (for the grip peeling issue which is common with well-used NEX-7's). So far the verdict is pretty good. Here's a summary of my experiences, starting with the lenses.

The 12-50's a nice lens, not superb, but pretty good. It's best at 12mm or in the 'macro' mode, which is good as that's where I'm most interested in using it long-term (my next lens will likely be the 45/1.8 or a telezoom, and my 25 Summilux covers the normal range). And of course the 12-50's weather-sealed which gives me my lens/camera pair for rough weather. A pity Oly doesn't offer us a companion telezoom, I'd love to see them come out with a 50-200 f4-6.3 with weather sealing, compact size and a 'macro' mode, it would make a great companion for the 12-50. Right now there is a distinct lack of weather-sealed lenses in the system, with Oly offering the 12-50 and the 60 Macro, while Panasonic offers the high-end 12-35 and 35-100 zooms (I suspect the upcoming 42 and 150 primes will be as well). I expect Oly's upcoming f2.8 zoom (rumoured to be a 12-40) will be sealed as well. But we still need a mid-range sealed telezoom at a minimum, and I'd love to see a fastish sealed normal, say oly, how about filling the 25mm gap in your line with a sealed 25/1.8?. Oh, and Oly? Hoods. Include the damned things with your lenses, because your competition does, especially the higher-end lenses. In the meantime, I'm buying eBay hoods because I won't be supporting Oly's hood habit.

My second lens in the system is the Leica DG Summilux 25/1.4. Jordan Steele describes this lens as possibly the best normal he's ever used. After a couple weeks of ownership I have to agree. It's very much a Summilux in character, although it has more 3D in its rendering than the current 50 Summilux ASPH (which I'm not over-fond of due to its sterile rendering). In terms of performance, think a nice cross between a modern Summilux's high optical performance and a Mandler-era Summilux's beautiful rendering character. It's quite compact, but hefty due to all the glass. A very nice square hood is included. Most of my shooting so far has been with the 25 Lux, it's that damned good and a system maker (much like the 24 Sonnar is for me in NEX-land). Panasonic needs to do some more of these with Leica, starting with a DG Summilux 17/1.4.

As to the body, I had a few handling issues initially. Without the grip the body handles alright with gloves, but it just too small for me without gloves. I picked up the grip and have used it in both configurations, with only the base grip as well as with the base grip and the battery/portrait grip added. I mostly prefer it with the base grip only. The only downside to that is the base grip blocks the battery compartment (although thankfully not the SD card slot, which has its own door on the side, where it belongs) so changing the battery can be a pain. That's not a problem with the portrait grip as the camera can be set to drain the grip battery first and you can simply swap the grip battery and keep going without drawing from the body battery until all your spares are dead. A nice feature. With the grip, my only real complaint is the top-plate function buttons are awkwardly placed (and one of them cannot be duplicated on the portrait grip, which only has 2 function buttons so you lose the equivalent to the movie button), the fact that you can reassign the movie button rather than just disabling it is nice, ditto being able to use the rear 4-way as either a direct AF point selector or as a set of 2 additional function buttons plus a hard-coded third for AF point selection (I'm using the latter configuration). I also dig the touch-screen magnifier, although that should be more usable on a tripod than it is shooting hand-held (where it's nifty but mostly useless). Handling downsides come down to mostly the difficuly in pressing the Play and Fn1 buttons as they are small and partially blocked by the top of the display when it's folded in, and the rear dial being too close to the EVF, making it a little difficult to use. I've actually setup the camera to use the latter as a benefit, assigning exposure compensation to the rear dial in all available modes so it's easy to change but difficult to accidentally set (unlike on the NEX-7, where I bump it all the time). The OM-D is substantially more configurable than the NEX-7 (the NEX sadly doesn't share the reconfigurability of the comparable Alpha's). I also like the fact that I can pick JPEG modes without aversely affecting the EVF display (Sony solved that with the NEX-6) which keeps me using B&W mode a lot, especially since I have colour filters, a valuable option for B&W Sony forgot.

Right now the verdict seems to be that the OM-D is a better system camera than the NEX, but the NEX remains the better lightweight camera for an RF-style shooting experience with a small selection of primes. I consider the NEX-7 to handle notably better than the OM-D sans grip, although the OM-D is arguably a bit better with the grip, and superior when matched with the grip and larger lenses, especially if shooting in portrait orientation. The OM-D is also the better tripod camera as it offers a secure tripod mount on the body, an available wired remote release and a selection of options for tripod shooting to reduce the need for a remote (anti-shock release, touchscreen release and a Time mode alongside Bulb mode) as well as the option to update the displayed exposure periodically (with selectable update rates) during a long exposure.

Suffice it to say that if I was to choose a single system, the OM-D and m4/3rds would be my choice as it's simply a more capable system than NEX, and that isn't likely to change as Sony won't be introducing big f2.8 zooms or long fast tele's for NEX anytime soon as that's the Alpha's territory. But for a street-shooting camera or an ultra-light carry setup I consider the NEX-7 superior (and the NEX system in general to be superior, the compact PEN's and GF/GX series Panasonics are inferior in handling to any of the NEX bodies IMHO). Oddly, it's when used as a larger camera than the NEXen are capable of that the OM-D (and G/GH series Panasonics) acquire their advantage over the NEX bodies in my opinion, which I know is contrary to the received wisdom which is that the larger E lenses make the NEXen inferior to the E-PM or GF bodies. Admittedly if you want something truly pocketable the best option is an E-PM2 with the 15/8 lenscap or 17/2.8 pancake, but as long as you are using a jacket pocket or larger container, the NEX bodies come out on top for light carry, especially with the 16-50 or the 35/1.8 (or the upcoming 20/2.8 pancake). Sony does need a pancake tele though, something along the lines of a 60/2.8. The OM-D is for me a more capable replacement for my A33 and K-x, a compact, high-performance body which handles well with larger lenses (which the OM-D does better than either of those bodies, due to the portrait grip option).
Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
8:37 am
And The Verdict
Snowy Avenue
OM-D E-M5, m.Zuiko 12-50

And a decision has been made. It's not quite what I was considering but looks to be a solid option.

The decision is to have a m43 system alongside the NEX system. Why m43? It's the system which fits my overall needs the best, every other option I was considering would have relied on the NEX system to fill out part of my requirements, the m43 option fills all my needs.

Why keep the NEX? I like playing with adapted lenses. I like manual focus and the NEX does that best. And I just gosh darn love my NEX-7 and ZA E 24/1.8.

I've got the E-M5 and 12-50 kit lens, which were surprisingly fully-funded by selling off the majority of my film kit. Since film is a limited interest to me these days and the kit I sold is relatively easy to replace this is no big deal. What did I keep? The Bessa R, my 2 RF lenses (CV 35/2.5 and Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4), one Maxxum 7, the Sony 85/2.8 and the long-nose Nikkor 50/1.8 AI. The 50/1.8 and 85/2.8 will be primarily part of my NEX-7 kit.

What do I intend to do with the 7? I'm going to add the 16/2.8 and at some point replace the Nikkor 50/1.8 with an A mount solution so I can standardize on the LA-EA1 adapter. I'll probably look to acquire some sort of 35mm that's A mount compatible as well (so I can have a usable kit for the remaining Maxxum 7, 35/85 covers my basic needs just fine).

As to the m43 stuff, I plan on sticking to native, AF glass. And pretty much all my needs are covered there anyways now that Oly has a 17/1.8. First steps are a wide and a fast normal, probably the 9-18 (half the price of the 7-14 right now) and the PL25/1.4 (stupid cheap and doesn't duplicate the 24 on NEX). After that will be a tele, either the 75 or the 60 macro. I'll probably also grab one of the cheap Panny OIS telezooms to try and probably swap that to torfindra for her 4/3rds adapter and Oly ZD 40-150, she gets IS, I get a lens I rather like back.
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
9:51 pm
And Yet More System Musings
The View
NEX-7, Sony 16/2.8

Having been pondering the situation further, it appears I need to make a few decisions:

1. Do I need a single coherent system or can I live with a split across a couple systems

2. What lens needs do I have? Do I need zooms or can I live with a selection of primes. What ranges do I need covered.

3. What weight budget am I willing to work with.

1 is the biggest question, since it determines whether or not I can stick with the NEX system. In my opinion the NEX system works well in three cases, the first being as one side of a dual-system setup, where the NEX handles light carry and the other system handles big/fast/long/zooms. The second is if an RF style system is being chosen with only a small selection of high-quality primes in use, and the third is as a system for the adaptation of a large number of differing or difficult to adapt lenses as gummiebear does. If I chose a single coherent system without also choosing to live with a limited lens selection I'd pretty much have to look at either Micro-4/3rds or moving back to a DSLR or SLT system. The problem here is that I have conflicting desires, I like a more versatile system but I'd really like to have a single system that I can just grab the lenses and body I think I'll need that day without having to worry about cross-compatibility. A further option is to build a coherent system and just keep the NEX-7 and 24/1.8 as a point&shoot with APS-C quality.

2 is a bit of an issue. At a minimum I need to cover the normal range, and at least one lens needs to be fast. That could be with a zoom and a fast 35-50 equivalent, a trio or quadruple of medium to fast primes, or both. I'd prefer the primes for light carry but the zoom for versatility on photowalks et al. I also need an ultra-wide, which can be a prime or zoom but has to be in the 17-21mm-e range. I also need a close-focusing short tele, either a macro or something which can focus down to 1:5 or better. This can be the long lens of the prime set if it's not a macro (I find Macro's to focus too slowly to double as my general mid-tele). And I need a set of 3 longer primes, a single zoom or a combination thereof covering the 200-400mm-e range, the long end for airshows and the occasional bird/wildlife shooting, the shorter ones for general landscape. This setup tends to argue for either a Micro-4/3rds system or a DSLR system as NEX right now just doesn't handle all those requirements.

3 is the other kicker. The NEX weight advantage makes a lot of sense when I'm carrying the camera plus a lot of other stuff. It's a lot less important for pure photographic outings. And my current situation is more similar to where I was in 2008 and before and thus a heavier system is more viable than it once was. That said, I still don't want to pay the weight budget of a full-up FF system. But an A77 or D7100 based system is quite doable on my current weight budget. I'd also really like to have a modicum of weather sealing given my liking for difficult weather and an increased interest in going out into the bush for landscape work.

Potential systems:
I could see the following systems work.

Sony A77
Samyang 14/2.8
DT 16-50/2.8
DT 35/1.8 SAM
85/2.8 SAM
70-300G SSM

Nikon D7x00
Samyang 14/2.8
Nikkor 16-85VR
70-200/4 VR
300/4 AF-S

Pentax K-5 IIs
DA 14/2.8
DA 17-70/4
DA 21/3.2 Limited
DA 70/2.4 Limited
DA* 60-250/4

Olympus OM-D
m.Zuiko 9-18
ZD 14-54 II
m.Zuiko 17/1.8
m.Zuiko 45/1.8
ZD 50-200 SWD

Panasonic GH3
m.Zuiko 9-18
ZD 14-54 II
m.Zuiko 17/1.8
m.Zuiko 45/1.8
ZD 50-200 SWD

The first three systems would work OK with my NEX system, so keeping the NEX-7 and ZA E 24/1.8 would be on the table, I'd have to buy an adapter for the Pentax, but that's no big deal. The Sony system could be put together piecemeal the easiest although it would be a little odd to be rebuying at least two lenses I've sold (the 16-50 and the 35/1.8, both of which I miss). The last two would probably result in a compact body being added and paired with the 17/1.8 as a replacement (a GX1 or E-PL5 most likely).
8:59 pm
The Frog
The Frog
EmbiggenCollapse )
NEX-7, Sony 85/2.8 SAM
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
11:48 am
Fire & Marine Station 334
Fire & Marine Station 334

EmbiggenCollapse )
NEX-7, Sony DT 16-50/2.8 SSM
Saturday, February 16th, 2013
10:46 pm
More System Musings
Red & Wet
EmbiggenCollapse )
NEX-7, Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AI (longnose)

In the last couple of posts I didn't really discuss why I wanted something to work alongside my NEX system. This is due to some of the limitations I've run into with the NEX-7. Overall I remain extremely satisfied with the 7 but there are some things about it which frustrate me occasionally or regularly. Most of these are either issues of form factor or simple design choices.

Form Factor issues:

1. Gloved handling. The NEX-7 is small enough that it does not handle well with gloves. And it gets cold enough here in Toronto that I can't shoot ungloved in the winter. Only real solution is to use a larger body.
2. Tripod handling. The base of camera is not a secure mount for a tripod. This is partially a design choice, Sony could have significantly increased the effective base area but even then it would be limited. Easy solution in the JimBuchanan grip though (also coming for the NEX-6). This is an issue when using lenses which are mid-sized and native or on adapters without tripod feet. Not an issue with lenses large enough to have their own tripod mounts or if adapted using the Sony A mount adapters which have tripod feet or other adapters with feet, of which only my Contax adapter has. My most-used adapter, the Nikon G adapter, gives up a foot to have an aperture ring for G compatibility.
3. Handling with larger zooms. I don't mind the real long-lens handling as the NEX functions like a handle, but for shorter but still large lenses like the Sony DT 16-50/2.8 SSM, the handling is simply awkward. And there's no native equivalents for these lenses. The big deal here is the normal and wide fast zooms, I've few issues picking an 85/2.8 or 135/2.8 over the faster equivalents like the ZA135 and ZA85 that also fall into this handling gap, but I have no option to replace the 16-50 in particular. Hopefully resolved with either the G or Zeiss zooms due later this year.

Design Choice issues:

1. No remote release. Unforgivable on a $1000+ camera. I have to use either a self-time or an IR remote which can only be used from in front of the camera. Solved on the NEX-6 & 5R via the PlayMemories App which turns a smartphone into a wireless remote release amongst other things. Even better would be non-battery-draining support for the classic Alpha cable releases
2. Insufficient configurability of Focus Magnification. I have the option to turn it off or to have auto-magnification with native lenses. I love focus magnification and have it configured to work with a button-press right under my thumb (the AE Lock and AF/MF button in AF/MF mode). I however dislike having the camera magnify if I touch the focus ring on a native lens. I cannot disable the auto-magnification without disabling magnification entirely, which is utterly stupid. This is probably my biggest issue with the NEX-7, and a major reason why I only own one native lens.
3. Read dial too sensitive. The rear (ISO) dial is just too sensitive, which regularly results in my inadvertent changing of the ISO. Needs to be stiffer or I should be able to disable it entirely. In fact I'd like to see all three control dials be assignable a la Pentax or Oly.

I'd also like to have Weather Sealing available, bad weather makes for great photography and the NEX-7 is just not a snowstorm kind of camera. I'd love for Sony to bring out a baby A77 in E mount, weather sealed and SLR handling but allows me one set of lenses across both systems.

This brings me to my third system option, sell everything and simply buy fully into the Micro 4/3rds system. With the new 16MP bodies it's clear that Micro 4/3rds can deliver the IQ I need, the OM-D could potentially replace both my NEX-7, and when configured with a grip it could handle the large body needs or a GH3 could be used for that (the GH3 is sized comparable to a Pentax K-5). And of course one reason why I was considering Nikon as my companion system was because torfindra shoots Nikon. She also shoots m4/3 with my old G1. The downsides would be giving up my beloved Zeiss 24/1.8 and and a system that is less suited to adaptation of manual focus lenses.

I've effectively eliminated the Nikon systems from competition, there's just too many compromises, leaving my options as follows:

1. FF system plus NEX
- Preferred to match with film bodies
- Most expensive
- Speedbooster allows matching of FoV's on NEX.
- Big & heavy

Option 1: Canon
- Widest range of lenses, including adapted options
- Used by most of my friends who shoot
- IQ limitations, trades great high ISO performance for limited colour and DR performance
- I have historical poor luck with the system
- Smart adapter gives IS options, aperture control for EF lenses on NEX

Option 2: Sony
- EVF, flip/twist LCD
- Limited lens selection (no native normal's I like, limited 35mm options)
- Already own two lenses I like(17-35) or love(85/2.8)
- I know I'd be satisfied with the IQ, superb colour
- No Speedbooster
- AF/Aperture coupled adapters
- preferred film option

2. APS-C SLR plus NEX
- lens selection can be matched with NEX
- No need for Speedbooster
- Much more reasonable cost
- compact options available
- can match with film bodies, but not as ideal as FF

Option 1: Pentax
- Compact bodies
- Weather sealed, including full range of weather sealed lenses
- OVF sucks for MF
- great IQ, but limited to 16MP currently
- limited selection of faster primes
- best selection of APS-C lenses
- limited choices for normal zoom, especially if sealed
- no fully-coupled NEX adapter
- LX only film option I'm satisfied with

Option 2: Sony
- big bodies
- EVF, flip-twist LCD
- weather sealed, but only one lens is sealed
- superb normal zoom options, even if only 2
- limited selection of APS-C lenses, especially at wide end
- Same adapter options as FF Sony
- 24MP sensor with identical performance to NEX
- poor selection of native telephoto lenses

3. Micro 4/3rds
- Compact bodies
- weather sealed
- fully-coupled 4/3rds adapter allows use of wide range of sealed 4/3rds zooms
- great lens lineup
- larger body available for handling advantages
- coherent lineup, lenses would be fully compatible with both bodies (assuming small/large body selection a la NEX+big body)
- can share lenses with torfindra
Thursday, February 14th, 2013
8:03 am
Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
9:36 am
The Other Option

EmbiggenCollapse )

NEX-7, Micro-Nikkor 85/3.5 DX VR

Previously I discussed my system options with a view to going Full Frame digital as a companion to my NEX-7. This of course assumes that I need to go full-frame for some reason. I've long wanted an FF setup, but that has mostly been from the standpoint of a serious film shooter wanting his two systems to match up reasonably well, so I can both carry a single set of lenses and have a consistent field of view with each lens. Now that I'm primarily shooting digital and only dabbling in film anymore there is another option and that is to skip FF entirely and go APS-C all-round. This would mean that my systems would match and I'd simply adapt whatever lens I needed from the SLR system to the NEX if needed. The assumption here is that the SLR system would become my tripod/long lens system and the NEX would be used primarily for carry. In that case my SLR system would end up being a set of high-quality zooms covering wide/normal ranges, a few selected primes and some sort of tele solution, likely either a 300/4 or a zoom in that range. The system selection would be different as well as Canon is out as I do not consider any of their APS-C bodies to have a competitive sensor but Pentax is in with the excellent K-5 series bodies. I'd have to acquire a K adapter for the NEX, but I already have the correct adapters for Nikon and Sony

Lineups would look like the following:

D7000 (or replacement)
Sigma 10-20/3.5 or 8-16
Nikkor 16-85 VR
Nikkor 70-200/4 VR
Nikkor 300/4 AF-S
Nikkor 35/1.8DX
Nikkor 50/1.8
Nikkor 85/3.5VR or 105/2.8VR

Sigma 10-20/3.5 or 8-16
Sony DT 16-50/2.8
Sony 70-300G
Sony DT 35/1.8
Adapted Nikkor 50/1.2 or Zeiss 50/1.4
Adapted 90-105mm macro of some sort

K-5 or K-5 IIs
Sigma 10-20/3.5 or 8-16
Normal zoom? Not sure what's best in Pentax land. 16-50 DA* maybe
Pentax 50-135/2.8 DA*
300/4 DA* or 60-250/4 DA*
Leitax'd fast 35 or Samyang 35/1.4
55/1.4 DA*
D-FA 100/2.8 Macro WR


Easily available, no adaptations required
Excellent & inexpensive f1.8 primes
Can use my current Nikkor primes

Best NEX compatibility via LA-EA1 adapter, AF possible via LA_EA2
That lovely 16-50 I miss
EVF, flip-twist LCD, peaking
I already own batteries
Can Leitax some/all my current Nikkors
Can use my 85/2.8 SAM

Best ergonomics
Best size
Best selection for Leitaxing
Can Leitax some/all my current Nikkors
Weather sealing for most/all zooms.
DA primes


Worst ergonomics
Not entirely sold on the normal zoom, no standout options here
Lousy LV system
Very limited lens conversion, no adapters.
OVF mediocre for manual focus
no flip/twist LCD

Biggest body
1/2 stop of light lost to SLT mirror
tele & long tele options limited to either the good but slow 70-300G or the expensive, large & slow 70-400G. No good midspeed telezoom, no readily available AF 300.
Sealing limited to 16-50 only

Lack of fast & midspeed native primes aside from Samyang
medicore LV
No flip/twist LCD
OVF inferior to EVF for manual focus

Right here it looks like Pentax comes out ahead, with Sony in second and Nikon dead last. It's a tossup really on the lead between which lens options matter more, tele's or mid-range primes. Given my NEX-7 covers most midrange prime needs, that puts Pentax ahead slightly
Friday, February 8th, 2013
7:54 am
Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
8:10 pm
Waiting for the Car
Sony NEX-7, Zeiss ZA E 24/1.8

It's been a long time since I've posted here. Mawz.ca is no longer a photoblog, in fact it's not much of anything at the moment, although it will return as a portfolio site. Any blogging will happen here directly once again.

Many things have changed for me, on the personal side I left my long-time employer at the end of 2011 and also finished up the degree I'd been working on since 2008 so I'm out of school and working at a new job which is far more interesting but leaves less time for photography.

On the Photography side, I've moved my work primarily to digital, although I continue to shoot 35mm and Medium format film on the side. My main system is now a Sony NEX system, with a NEX-7, the native Zeiss 24/1.8 and a collection of adapted lenses, mostly Nikon in origin. On the film side I still have the Mamiya 645 system I've owned since 2006/7 and the Voigtlander Bessa R I bought a couple years later, both of which see regular, albeit light, use. For the 645 I've still got 55, 80, 150 and 300mm lenses while the Bessa retains the CV 35/2.5 and Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4 that I've used steadily with it. I'd had a fast CV 35/1.7 and a russian 85/2 but I didn't much like the 35/1.7 and the Bessa can't focus the 85 accurately wide open.

In terms of 35mm SLR's:

I retain my pair of Minolta Maxxum 7's although I'm down to 2 lenses for them, the Konica Minolta 17-35 f2.8-4 and the Sony 85/2.8 SAM. I'd discovered that the Minolta lenses just didn't give me the look I wanted. Lovely colour but I love the Zeiss microcontrast and the Minolta lenses were a lot more Leica-like than I liked. This system will likely be built back up over the next couple years with a mix of the late Minolta (D) lenses which I rather like as well as Sony and Zeiss lenses. I'll probably also convert some Contax/Yashica lenses via Leitax mounts as I'm unlikely to see a native 28/2.8 or 135/2.8 that really floats my boat and the new ZA 50/1.4 is likely to be well outside my budget for the forseeable future.

I sold off the Contax/Yashica kit in early 2012 and replaced it with some Nikons, yet again. Currently I've got an FM in need of a CLA, an F801s (my standard) and an FM2 (sans n) and a set of lenses covering 24, 28, 50, 100, 105 and 300mm, all Nikkors. I also retain my Tamron 17/3.5 and 90/2.5 Macro Adaptall-2 lenses although I need to acquire a second AI-S mount as my 17's mount was damaged and I can't swap mounts on it easily. I intend to fill this system out with another 85/1.8, a 135/2.8 and 200/4 or 180/2.8 and probably a 20/3.5, 35/1.4 and 50/1.2. These lenses are also my go-to lenses for my NEX system and an F mount Speedbooster from Metabones is a distinct possibility.

I also have dabbled in Canon EOS of late, having acquired a EOS Rebel Ti and also an EOS A2e, the latter for free but requiring the mode dial fix (which I'm capable of). The reason for this is the Metabones SpeedBooster, which in EF form gives me fully-coupled EF compatibility with me NEX-7, raising the potential of thinning the herd down to one set of 35mm SLR bodies and adapting all the lenses I'd want/need.

The arrival of the Speedbooster had complicated my plans. I'm strongly considering adding a FF body this year and had been considering either a Nikon D600 or a D800 (if I got lucky) or a Sony A900/A850 or A99 (if I got lucky). The issue stopping me was lens compatibility, on Nikon I didn't wnat to give up the option of using Nikon's lovely new f1.8 G primes, but they don't work on my film bodies and of the two best options for film bodies with G & VR compatibility one (F80) doesn't support any of my current Nikon lenses and the other (F100) is huge and heavy.

-On the Sony side the issue was what lenses to pair it with, the A99 in particular plays VERY well with Leitax-converted lenses, but the A mount lenses I like are primarily the Zeiss ZA lenses which aren't exactly cheap. There's a couple exceptions like the Sony 85/2.8, but Sony is somewhat lacking in a consistent lens line. All the bases are covered but there'ds a mix of old-fashioned Minolta rendering like the 20/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/1.4 and 50/1.4, modern Sony stuff like the 70-300G and 70-400G and the Zeiss stuff like the ZA's and the 85/2.8 (which is derived from the Contax 85/2.8 design even if it lacks the Zeiss label), and of course those lenses would ideally have to play well with my Maxxum 7's. The biggest hold-up on the Sony side is that converting my Nikon lenses would render them unusuable on my Nikon's unless converted back, and additionally only two of my lenses are convertible (the 24/2.8 and the 100/2.8E) although the others are quite easily replaced with convertible lenses. Frankly I could see just converting/replacing a few and leaving myself with a basic 28/50/85 kit in Nikon-land. other advantages are the fact I already have batteries (for both the A900 and A99) and cards, as well as a remote release and the A99's flip/twist LCD is just awesome for tripod shooting. Oh and the manual focus experience is superb via either the A900's gorgeous finder and M focusing screen or the A99's EVF with peaking and magnification.

-On the Nikon side the big deal turns out to be the bodies. I've traditionally liked Nikon ergonomics but the current D600 and D800 just don't fit my hand well. The D600 in particular is just awful in terms of ergonomics, the grip is seemingly designed for a person with tiny hands, my already small hands find the grip too small. And also as the new Nikons lack replaceable focusing screens using them for manual focus is not a great experience. Oh and a poor Live View implementation as well. A big turnoff to a system that would otherwise be my leading option. I'd also need batteries and a remote release (which would be incompatible with my current Nikon bodies)

-And up comes the Canon side. I can use all my Nikon lenses on Canon via adapters, the two A mount lenses are either available (Tamron's 17-35 is the KM 17-35D's twin sibling) or a close analog (I can replace my Sony 85/2.8 with the Contax lens it was cloned from). I can also use Zeiss ZE lenses natively and readily adapt Contax lenses, covering essentially all my bases and of course I can rent all sorts of nifty stuff like T/S lenses, and with replaceable focusing screens on the 5D, 5DmII and 6D (but not the 5DmIII) focusing is a lot easier than in Nikon-land. The downsides are metering issues with stop-down metering (which only the A99 is immune from) and the more limited focusing and LV capabilities of the Canon DSLR's, especially versus the native LV of the A99, and the IQ trails the A99 and Nikons although it's still pretty darn good. Still would need batteries and a remote release as well. If I went this way I'd probably replace my current Canon bodies with an EOS 1V and Elan 7N pair to maintain as much commonality in accessories as possible. The SpeedBooster is what makes this so interesting though. I could get one (and maybe a standard Smart Adapter as well) and get IS with Canon lense as well as the ability to get the DoF and Field of View of a lens on FF on my NEX-7. The downside is the SpeedBooster isn't perfect and it costs you some corner performance even stopped down. But would I really be comfortable shooting Canon? And would my previous bad luck with the brand re-occur?

Essentially Nikon's been knocked out of the running, too few advantages for me, too many flaws for either likely use scenario; ie the NEX-7 remains my primary camera, the FF body is my tripod/specialty camera or the FF body becomes my main and the NEX-7 is demoted to my light carry camera. The question seems to be do I go with the native AF lineup and preferred body (A99) in Sony, or stay MF and use a mixed selection of lenses on Canon, maybe eventually standardizing slowly on ZE's. A side question remains just how much of a native NEX system will I acquire, I'm strongly leaning towards keeping my NEX lens investment minimalist but very good, rounding out my ZA E 24/1.8 with a couple of the upcoming Zeiss primes (the 12 and the 50 Macro)
Saturday, July 30th, 2011
9:55 am
Two Systems Enter, One System Leaves

Assorted Trash
Yashica FR-1, ML 50mm f2, Delta 100

The OM kit didn’t work out for me, essentially I just never quite gelled with the OM bodies and the lenses don’t really render the way I like. Functionally the bodies were on the small side, which proved a bit of an issue. I do have quite a liking for carrying smaller kit, but there is a lower limit on size just as there is an upper limit. It appears that the lower limit is the size of the Cosina bodies which I like so much. Ideal size for me for a manual focus SLR looks to be around the size of a Nikon FM or FE series body. IE smallish but not too small. The bottom end is the Cosina bodies with the upper end being around the size of a F100 or EOS 3. And thus both the OM-1 and OM-4T are just too bloody small. Frankly at a certain size controls get too fiddly, this wasn’t an issue with the OM-1 since it’s got the minimal controls of a manual, mechanical camera but the much more complex controls of the OM-4T were rather fiddly to use, especially the spot metering. I found the shadow/highlight metering to be unusable for this reason and spot metering to be awkward. It didn’t help that the viewfinder display on the OM-4T is somewhat non-obvious, especially in manual mode and dim as well. The much vaunted OM viewfinders are also rather over-rated. Yep, they’re big & bright, but they lack contrast and there’s little tooth in the focus screens, give me a smaller, dimmer viewfinder with more bite and I can focus much easier. I actually found both inferior to the OM2000′s viewfinder for exactly this reason. Don’t get me wrong, overall both bodies are good bodies. Just a little fiddly and one of the major strengths most claim is in fact a weakness. I also found the bodies somewhat unrefined. I may have been spoiled by my Nikons (and Contax/Yashica bodies) but I’ve found most other systems to be unrefined, mostly due to rough wind-on and catchy shutter speed dials. Higher-end Nikon’s are super-smooth, the wind-on on an F3 is like butter. And there’s just the right amount of tension on a Nikon shutter dial. I found the Contax & Yashica bodies to be pretty good in that respect as well (I had other issues with the 137MD and the FR and I categorize the FX-3 as a Cosina body rather than a C/Y body).

On the subject of the lenses, I found the 24/2.8 to be optically excellent, the 35/2 was a bit behind but still very good. The 50/1.4 was merely good, but it’s an early version and the OM 50/1.4 was pretty steadily upgraded through its life. The main issues I had with the lenses was lack of contrast. They’re sharp and offer a great tonal range but at the cost of contrast, both microcontrast and macrocontrast. Essentially this is a matter of taste and the Zuiko’s are not to mine.

When I was considering what to go with as my small system last fall it came down to either OM or Contax/Yashica. The OM’s won, mostly because I found an OM-1 for a good price before I ran across a similar C/Y body. Well a couple weeks ago I tripped over two Yashica bodies and a 50mm lens (there was also a 35-70 zoom, but that was the Cosina rebadge and not worth paying for so I skipped it). The bodies were the FR-1 and the FX-3 Super 2000. I’ve owned a FR before and didn’t really like it, mostly because the gimping in comparison to the Contax RTS it was derived from showed. The FR-1 is essentially the FR with the gimping removed. It gets the Aperture priority AE and a better metering readout that justifies being battery dependent along with a more traditional shutter speed dial location. As to the FX-3, it remains my least favourite of the Cosina bodies but it’s still eminently usable. And in terms of size, the FR-1 is just about the same size as an FM, so it’s near ideal. The ML 50mm f2 is a nice little normal, nothing special but thoroughly competent. So I dug out my C/Y adaptall mounts and the much-ignored 28/2.5 Adaptall-2 and put together a nice little working kit. The kit is pretty much this: 28/2.5, ML 50/2, 135/2.5 and either the 90/2.5 SP Macro or the 28-80 SP zoom. Once the 17/3.5 SP is repaired it’ll go in the bag as well.

As to the OM kit, I’ll miss the incredibly well damped mirror and shutter of the OM-1, it’s remarkably quiet. And I always did like the front-mounted aperture rings on the lenses. But aside from that I suspect I’ll be pretty happy sticking to the Contax/Yashica kit instead. And I can always feed my Zeiss dreams that way as well.

Sunday, July 17th, 2011
9:46 am
And We’re back

Clothing Donation
Yashica FR-1, Yashica ML 50mm f2, Delta 100

Mawz.ca is up and running again after resolving a database crash. Hopefully this won’t reoccur anytime soon.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011
9:05 am
Flower Bath
Mamiya 645 Super, 80mm f1.9 C, Fujifilm SuperHG 100

So far this year is lagging in terms of shooting, at least compared to last year. I'll probably exceed my rollcounts for 2009 though, I'm almost there in 120 and about halfway in 35mm at this point. 2010 does seem to have been a highwater mark for me in terms of rollcount, but 159 rolls of film is a fair amount. Only time will tell, I could end up going on a tear for the rest of the summer. I'm still shooting a reasonable amount though, rollcounts are ahead of 2009 so far.

Note mawz.ca is currently down, the database is broken. Hopefully it's repairable but it will be down for at least a couple more days. Posting is going to be restricted to LJ for now.

I've found the replacements for the OM kit. Got a couple Yashica bodies on the cheap. Another FX-3 Super 2000 and an FR 1. The FX-3 may be my least favourite of the Cosina bodies but it's still a nice little body, all its missing are a couple of the updates my preferred Cosina bodies had (mostly the nicer shutter release and release lock). The FR 1 is the bigger brother of the FR I had a few years ago and the small number of changes are a real improvement. It gets Aperture Priority AE and a nicer viewfinder display. My copy's also in better condition than the FR I had although the self-timer is broken (Which I never use anyways). Right now I've got cheap little Yashica ML 50/2 and the Adaptall-2 kit for lenses. I'll be getting an M42 adapter shortly and once the OM-4T's sold I'll grab another native lens or two. Zeiss will come next year after graduation.
Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
10:35 am
A Little Diversion

Long Branch
Sony A33, Minolta 24mm f2.8, ISO 100, 1/320, f8

I’ve been doing a little shooting with the A33 over the last week, mostly travelling light with just the 24/2.8, 35/1.8 and 50/1.4 in the bag. It’s reminded me that the A33 really is a great little camera, especially for street shooting. I’m a little over 5800 exposures on the clock, over a period of 10 months which is right around average for me on digital. Unusually I’m not feeling any real need to upgrade it. I’d sort of like to add a second body to my kit, but only to add capability rather than replace the A33 as it really does handle my digital needs quite well. I’m not going to be shooting digital primarily anytime soon though. It’s just not my bag.

On the film front I recently acquired 400′ of HP5+ for a low low price due to damaged packaging. It’s not expired, dated 5/14 in face, just has water-damaged outer boxes making it unsellable for the retail price. That will keep me in B&W film through the end of the year and possible longer. I’ve still got somewhere around a half roll of Tri-X in the loader and around 15 rolls of Delta 100 that’s unshot, so that’s right around 100 rolls of 35mm B&W film floating around for a guy who shoots around 80-90 rolls of 35mm a year. The 7′s have been my go-to cameras this year, I’m just not shooting that much with the 645 Super of late. It’s lying in my bedroom in a forlorn state. I really do need to drag it out and shoot some E-6, if only to get it out of the fridge, I’m drowning in 120 E-6 and C41 right now.

In the case of the 7′s, I’ve solved my 35mm conundrum. The problem was that I do like having a 35mm as a walk-around lens. I use the 24/2.8 for this on the A33 and the Color-Skopar 35/2.5 on the Bessa R. On the OM’s I’d had a 35/2 which worked well. In A mount I have the DT 35/1.8 SAM which is a stunningly good little lens but it doesn’t cover full frame, there’s hard vignetting in the corners, I’ve also got a Super-Takumar 35/3/5 which is very good and extremely compact but slow, too slow for some of my uses (slow film in poor weather). What I needed was a 35mm in the f2-2.5 range which covers 35mm. The f1.4 options were all out, even the $500 Samyang was beyond the budget since the budget was essentially ‘What I could get for my OM 35/2). After some discussion on FredMiranda.com’s Alt Lens forum I’d settled on either the SMC Takumar 35/2 or the Carl Zeiss Jena 35/2.4, both in M42 mount and therefore easily adaptable to A mount. So I posted a want ad on Craigslist and Yu-Lin responded that he had a SMC Takumar complete with case & hood to trade, so he’s now got the OM 35/2 and I’ve got my 35mm itch scratched. This means my only real remaining hole in my film system is my lack of a good 85, and that will be solved by an 85/2.8 at some point (either the Sony or the very similar Contax after a Leitax conversion. Both are quite reasonably priced). Hopefully that will be funded by selling off the last of the OM stuff.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011
11:12 am
Tilting at Windmills

No Standing, Snow Route
Contax 137MD, Zeiss Planar 1,7/50, Ilford HP5+ @ EI 3200

I’ve long had a thing for the Contax system. The bodies are interesting (if generally less than reliable) and the lenses are generally superb. I’ve owned a few bits of Contax gear over the years, a beat up 137MD, the 50/1.4 Planar, the 28-70 f3.5-4.5 zoom and I currently own a 50/1.7 Planar (that’s in pieces needing reassembly). I’ve also owned the Yashica FR and FX-3 Super as well as a ML 28/2.8 and DSB 50/1.8. To this day I regret selling off the 50/1.4, it remains my favourite lens at that focal length.

I have to admit, I really didn’t like the Yashica stuff. The FR kinda sucked, being essentially a gimped RTS and the gimping showed, and the FX-3 lacked all the ergonomic improvements that made the other Cosina SLR’s such cheap gems (Improvements like the larger shutter release, the shutter lock built into the wind lever, the improved wind lever, the ergonomic grip, etc). The 28 was a dog while the DSB 50 performed well but unexceptionally, ironically the 28 was an ML series lens, Yashica’s higher-end line while the DSB line was their cheap budget stuff. The Contax kit I liked a lot better, I found it to be a great fit for me and I quite liked the ergonomics of the 137MD.

Unfortunately I seem to have the same curse with Contax/Yashica gear as I do with Canon. Every body I had except the cheapest and crappiest ended up failing on me. This actually even crossed over to my Canon curse as the last Canon I owned was purchased specifically to use with the 50/1.4 Planar I so loved. That body, an EOS A2, ended up eating a battery every couple days which is a real issue on an electronic camera which takes $15 batteries.

On another side of things I’m still seriously ambivalent about my OM stuff. I really liked the OM2000 and 50/1.8 MiJ combo I used to own and I’m quite liking the OM 24/2.8. But the rest of my current OM stuff comes down to like but not love. The ergonomics of the bodies are OK and while I really like the front-mounted aperture rings on the lenses the optical performance of both the 50/1.4 and 35/2 are merely good. Frankly it’s a system I could live with but not one I’ll ever love the way I love my Minolta kit. Which begs the question of ‘Why keep it’. I could just get a Maxxum 5 as my light carry camera, I had one briefly and quite liked it, only a failed AF drive caused me to return it. But even then I’m dealing with a viewfinder that’s not up to spec. I did like the size and the fact there’s a whole lot of camera packed into a tiny package (the 5 is extremely highly specified for its class, with 1/4000 max shutter, 1/125 sync, 9 point AF with a cross sensor, 3fps winder and a large for its class OVF). And of course Minolta kit allows me to use M42 lenses, which you can’t on OM.

So to summarize, I want/need a compact SLR kit for use when the Maxxum 7′s are just too big/conspicuous. The system should be comprehensive, but I would only be looking at having a small selection of primes (28, 35, 50 and 85/100) and would prefer to be able to use my M42 lenses as well on it. Which brings me back to the Contax system. There’s a good selection of compact bodies from Contax, especially the Aria. I already know I love the glass. M42 lenses are readily adaptable using a Pentax-style adapter which can be had even cheaper than the usual $8 adapters for A mount. The downside becomes the cost of entry. Assuming I can readily repair my 50/1.7 Planar (which is likely) I’d be able to fund a body and 1-2 lenses from selling my OM gear. Ideally I’d get an 85/2.8 and I’ve got my eye on a 139 Quartz body with a 45/2.8 pancake for a reasonably low cost. I could then use my Takumars for the wides until I am able to afford some more lenses. The other issue is even simpler, what if I decide I like the system too much? The RTSIII is remains the last camera on my ‘must own someday’ list and I’m a known sucker for Zeiss glass. In this case I’d probably just demote my Minolta kit to backup once I’m done with school and add an RTSIII and some higher-end glass to my system.

Oh, and just because I’m perverse, the idea of using current Zeiss ZS lenses on an RTIII appeals to me. They’re readily adaptable, but limited in selection (25/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 only). Would be a fun setup to share between the Minolta kit and a hypothetical Contax setup.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011
1:05 pm
Film Fads

Cedarvale Creek
Olympus OM-4T, Zuiko MC 35mm f2, Portra 800

The one thing that worries me about film’s longevity is how much of the current film market is being driven by the ongoing fad for Toy Cameras which is being driven to a great extent by Lomography et al. While I know several superb photographers doing work in this vein, most of the core of this genre is being driven by popularity-driven twenty-something hipsters with a love for anything lo-fi and cheap and eventually they’ll die out as the core market shifts to the next big scene. I’m not going to comment here on the aesthetic but rather the simple issue the eventual death of the fad has for film shooters.

That issue isn’t what I normally see acknowledged. It isn’t availability of new film cameras since they’re shooting cameras that most of the film world doesn’t bother with anyways and it isn’t a drop in film sales as aside from Lomography, essentially nobody is selling them fresh film as shooting expired film, especially E-6 for cross-processing is a core part of the lo-fi aesthetic. The issue is labs. Once the fad dies film processing labs are going to see another drop in film processing. And that’s going to kill even more of the already beleaguered minilabs. The minilab business is already pretty marginal, most serious film shooters deal with pro labs, either local or mail order, in order to avoid the risks of having undertrained staff processing film via questionably maintained minilab machines. The disposable market is drying up as cameraphones kill it off and the only people shooting consumer style anymore on film are senior citizens. That really leaves the terminally cheap, kids just getting started shooting and hipsters using the minilabs. The loss of hipsters will put a lot of these labs out of business.

The plus side is that this will be good for pro labs, they’ll pick up the remnants of the minilab market which can’t hurt their bottom line. But while that’s good for me, Pro labs tend to be rather much more expensive, especially if you want scans. Cheap minilabs and their low-rez scans are a lot more affordable for a kid on a limited budget.

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