Sony kind of soiled the bed with its early lens lineup for the NEX system. Producing the NEX-7 with only one lens at the pro/enthusiast level was much like making a Ferrari and providing bicycle wheels. That’s where the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN comes in. Consider it a nice set of All-Season tires for your NEX body. Not racing wheels, but not bicycle wheels.
At $199 – the Sigma 19mm f/2.9 sits right between the truly awful 16mm f/2.8 pancake and the pricey Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 offerings from Sony in terms of focal length and was clearly designed to provide a steady performance at a great price.
I’ll skip ahead… this is a no-brainer purchase for NEX users. Given early reviews with the 30mm as having slightly higher image quality, I’d say buy the set.
With Canon releasing the new 600EX-RT flash and ST-E3-RT trigger, questions about pricing are inevitable. $629.00 street price for a small on camera flash is certainly pushing limits of acceptability… but is it tempting high end consumers to find alternatives?
On April 4, 2011 I captured the first photo with my M8. It was the start of an aesthetic love affair that ended just days ago. While the Leica M8 was exchanged for even happier things, I can’t help but look back on the images and time spent shooting with Leica’s first digital rangefinder.
Street Detail. Morristown, NJ
The Leica M8 isn’t the best camera if you’re a numbers photographer. It’s finicky, has a noisy sensor, 1984 digital interface and a 2003 resolution. The colors can be baffling and without the proper filter, good luck photographing anything black. But…
Posted by Leica BOSS on October 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm
Film is not dead. It is not dying.
Dying implies that death is the assured outcome and to imply that photographic film will cease to exist is dumb.
I recently saw the best analogy about this – HORSES.
Horses. How do they work?
At some point, cars started gaining popularity. If the INTERWEBS existed then, “armchair” transportation experts would have loudly and proudly pronounced the use of horses as being dead or dying.
Yet, here we are, many years later… and horses still exist. They are used for pleasure, as pets, for passionate enthusiasts. Even in some areas, horses are still used for transportation. Horses can go where some cars cannot. Riding a horse can be fun.
The use of film has declined. It is not longer the “default” medium for photography. But it is fun, hands-on, unique, and has a lot of good qualities that no digital medium can touch.
So, Leica Boss, I would like to offer this video – a Film 101 course if you may that describes the many benefits and basic concepts that a budding film photographer may find helpful.
Film vs. Digital 101 – The Film [r]Evolution
The BOSS of BOSSES (Ken Rockwell) has written comically and extensively on this topic. He is a Boss partly due to his passionate advocacy of using film as a photographic medium. You can read more about it in his now almost-famous REAL RAW post.
P.S. If you really want the highest-resolution images possible, amazing quality, edible tones, and impress the ladies…
Posted by Leica BOSS on October 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm
Ok, so here’s a great free sharpening action for Adobe Photoshop CS5. It’s based on a technique shown by Calvin Hollywood. He’s a BOSS.
Many sharpening techniques can totally ruin an image by creating halos, gritty and noisy textures, killing shadow detail, and making little kittens cry (this can totally happen). This is an example of a bad sharpening job:
Bad Sharpening Technique
Take ACTION – see how to sharpen effectively using this free Photoshop sharpening action:
Some 5 Minute Photoshop tips on using this action?
Using this action is super easy, but here are some tips that you may find helpful:
Start small. Keep the radius down to a minimum you can always do another sharpening pass
Image size matters. You will have to use more aggressive sharpening settings on larger images to get the same sharpening effect as you would on a smaller image
50% / 100% – when sharpening make sure that you’re at either 50% or 100% view on your screen otherwise you may be seeing screen and graphics card sharpening and now your serious Photoshopping with this awesome free action
Masking – mask the hell out of your sharpening. There’s really no reason to sharpen the out of focus areas of your image – actually it’ll make your photos look worse. Don’t do it!
Color – this one is hard. Sharpening can change the colors or the relationship between colors in your document. Just be mindful when using the Freaky Amazing Detail action if you prefer a heavy-handed look to things
Posted by Leica BOSS on October 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm
So, here’s a photo of the beautiful and talented Danni Lowe taken the other night at a “lock in” at Unique Photo in NJ.
This was one of those kind of run-n-gun events with a bunch of lights, models, and props. So the shot setup and capture was about 120 seconds of GO GO GO.
Two flourescent lights were set up semi-clamshell style:
Wetcott TD5 in a non-gridded stip box was placed above the model’s hair, angled down and at about 10 o’clock from the model’s point of view. It was close and soft, and provided most of the light. You cannot see a catchlight from it – as it was pretty high
Some other no-brand flourescent was placed very low at about 3 o’clock from the model’s perspective, pointed up
I stood on a shaky stool with my Canon 5D Mark II and EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS.
Settings were interesting – with very smal movements of the model or the lights, you could lose more than a stop in a heartbeat – and I didn’t have a lot of time. So I went with ISO 1600 and f/5.6 in Aperture priority mode. This gave me anywhere from 1/320sec to 1/800sec – enough to be shake-free and get the eye sharp.
First off – where’s the noise?!? This is ISO 1600!
I’m impressed every time I use this lens – it’s not Canon’s *best* optical formula, but it’s very sharp wide open even at the long-end of the zoom range. This one was at 200mm or so. The IS is spectacular – kicks my 24-105mm L’s ass.
Processing was mostly done with curves and a few tricks here and there – no heavy-handed skin softening was needed but I did take care of some “grunge” using a trick from Scott Kelby that I’ll be sure to post one of these days.
Posted by Leica BOSS on October 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm
So, my Flickr account is kind of a graveyard for photos that I kind of like but don’t necessarily love. This video gives a little insight into some recent images and the story behind their capture, processing – why they work and why they don’t.
This video discusses strategies for using long focal length lenses for nature / wildlife images, two kinds of portrait lighting for higher key images, a case for shooting with film and some strategies for bird wildlife photography.
I’m still amazed at how a physical 35mm slide from 15 years ago blows my Canon 5D Mark II away in terms of dynamic range.
Oh – and skip to about 6:30 for one of my favorite tips for posing models for portraits – particularly the eyes.
Posted by Leica BOSS on August 4, 2011 at 10:27 am
Confidence. Confidence. Confidence.
Some photographers find a way find beauty in ordinary things. That makes sense. But what do you do when faced with a subject that possesses immense inherent beauty?
I was recently faced with this question after encountering what I could only describe as an impossibly beautiful woman. You know what I’m talking about – the kind of person who always lights up a room, turns heads, possesses almost unnatural grace, and seems nearly lit from within. The photographer inside me asks:
How could I possibly add something of value as a photographer?
How could I possibly do anything but detract from the natural grace and beauty I’m seeing right now?
Part of this, of course, comes down to confidence. But part of it is strategy. Do you really approach beautiful subjects the same as you would ordinary ones?
So I look to George Hurrell. He was the original “glamour” photographer in an age where beauty was something more classic and intrinsic than today’s plastic-fantastic, trashy-as-beauty aesthetic.
Surely, he had a special approach – that his photography and delicate images of the world’s most beautiful people were born of some special approach that we can all learn from. Well, maybe not so much. Here’s a favorite quote from old George:
Its all so simple – no one believes me … you strike a pose, then you light it. Then you clown around and get some action in the expressions. Then, you shoot. – George Hurrell
Old George at "work"
Damn. The Leica Boss thinks too much, right? Chemistry, confidence and an appreciation for the things that make a subject stand out. That’s all you need.
So – with that – here is a small gallery for your inspiration. Not all Hurrell, of course. And remember – I don’t always shoot film, but when I do – I shoot Leica. Stay thirsty my friends!
So, as we continue this series on using Lightroom for black and white conversions, we look back to an old concept – previsualization. This video takes one image and presents it in a number of different ways – all achieved using Adobe Lightroom 3.
Yes, Leica Boss. Mommy & Daddy are fighting. Ken Rockwell shoots… RAW? Say it ain’t so!!!
It was Saturday May 7th 2011. Mark this day down. The BOSS OF BOSSES posted a photos taken with the Leica M9 – and describes a RAW workflow. (more…)