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)