Viewing entries in
EQUIPMENT

Comment

C-Standing

 ©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

Matthews of Hollywood Century Stand

Yes, I know, it's just a picture of a box, but it's not just any box, it's a box containing a real, genuine Matthews of Hollywood Century Stand, or C-Stand for short. Why do they call it a C-Stand? Not sure really but I think it's because it will last for at least 100 years. This is the real deal...the same exact light stand that is used on every Hollywood movie set. Oh yea, I forgot to mention, it's just a light stand. You know, the thing you use to hold up your studio light in a photo studio. So why the excitement you ask? Because they are well built--true American craftsmanship and ingenuity all rolled up into one. Think Harley Davidson or Gibson Guitars. This masterpiece of solid steel is made to take a daily beating, last a lifetime and never fail to deliver for you. If you want a really great blog post on a C-stand, go over to Partick La Roque's blog to get not only great pictures, but a much better understanding what this thing is all about. He got the chrome version, which is the classic model, mine's black.


Comment

Comment

My First Sony Camera

 ©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

Sony NEX 5n w/Voigtlander Color-Skopar 21mm f/4.0 P Pancake Lens

This tiny camera was not only my first Sony, but my first Leica. Not really, but I thought so when shooting with it. At least it was closer to a Leica (in form factor) than any SLR or DSLR I've ever used or owned. At the time this photo was taken, late 2011, I had never owned a Leica, but since then my Leica days have come and gone, succumbing to Sony (see blog post below from last month). The attached lens is about a 32mm equivalent, all manual Voigtlander. It's a great lens, but made for a Leica M camera or a Voightlander Bessa--both cameras that employ the M-Mount. I also owned the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens, and remains one of my all-time favorite lenses to this day.

I really loved this little camera, took some great photographs with it and had a lot of fun. But at the time I didn't think Sony was ready for prime time so I sold it. A few of the reasons were that it didn't have a viewfinder, I didn't like the lens choices in the e-mount line and the menus were killing me. But the main reason was that this tiny Voigtlander lens, being adapted to the e-mount, had severe magenta color shifts in the corners as well as severe vignetteing. Not because it wasn't a fantastic lens, but because it wasn't "made" for the e-mount with such a shallow lens flange distance to the sensor. I didn't rejoin the Sony revolution until the release of the A7s in 2014 (which I learned about from Steve Huff), then sold everything and completely switched over to Sony for all my work. It took me about a year to completely switch to Sony.

I always regretted selling this set-up, so late last year I replaced it with an NEX 5T (basically an upgraded NEX 5N with some of the features of the a6000). I love the 16MP sensor in these cameras as it's capable of some amazing image quality. Besides that, it's tiny (about half the size of the a6000) and gives me an extra, viable, backup for even paid work. If you're interested in any Voigtlander lenses, the place to purchase them in the USA is Camera Quest.

 

shots Below taken with the NEX 5N & the Voighlander lenses

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

  ©2011 CRAIG LITTEN

©2011 CRAIG LITTEN


Comment

3 Comments

The Best Lens for the Sony a6000/a6300

f5.6

Sony FE 28mm f2

Using the "Sweet Spot"

If I were to recommend one single lens for the Sony a6000/a6300, it would have to be the Sony FE 28mm f2 lens. It's the perfect balance between focal length, size, weight and price, and as a bonus, it can also be used on the full frame A7-series cameras without cropping the image. I give it a 5-star rating and highly recommend it. All the photos in this post were shot with the Sony FE 28mm f2 lens on the a6000. For the images samples, I attempted to shoot a wide variety of situations, f-stops and distances from the subject as well as different lighting situations. I hope the samples give you a good idea of how nice this simple little lens draws a scene. If I had to say in one word how this lens renders a scene, it would be: "Beautifully."

  • F.O.V. - Field of View: It's a great focal length on the APS-C Sensor at just over 40mm. If you flash back many years, a great camera called the Leica CL came standard with a 40mm f2 lens. And only a few years back, when Micro 4/3rds was launched, the tiny 20mm pancake was all the rage. It too was a 40mm equivalent lens.
  • It's a full frame (FE) lens so it works at it's original focal length, 28mm, on the A7-series bodies and therefore can do double duty. This is extremely helpful if you're someone hoping someday to upgrade to the A7 bodies, or a pro who needs a good full frame lens but also wants an everyday lens for your a6000/a63000.
  • It's relatively small, and very lightweight and never becomes a burden to carry even all day.
  • You're using the best part of the glass when shooting on APS-C bodies. In other words, "The Sweet Spot."
  • It's a downright amazing piece of glass for the money and features crystal clear, sharp images, smooth, even creamy bokeh at wide apertures and a Zeiss-like 3D pop. Most of the reviewers agree and give it a high rating.
  • The price is right.

(click photos to see larger)

f2

f3.5

f2

f2

f2

f5.6

f7.1

f4.5

f2

f2

f2

f2


3 Comments

1 Comment

A Thing of Beauty: Rotolight ANOVA V2

 ©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

Having your cake and eating it too

There are times when you need high-powered strobe lighting when shooting in bright sunlight, etc., such as a Profoto B1. But call me old school; I prefer “hot lights” and I always have. Why? Because you can actually see the light and it’s so beautiful. In fact, at one of the two photo schools I attended (a few decades ago) they didn’t even have strobes at all in the studios, but real hot lights.

Today, with the advancing technology of LED lighting we can have our cake and eat it too. Enter: Rotolight ANOVA. These lights are bright, super bright, but do not heat up at all. In fact, they stay so cool that there is no fan, and they run completely silently (great for you video shooters out there). The light the ANOVA produces is clean and beautiful. I got mine from RTS, the official US distributor.

I’ll be putting it through its paces soon, so please check back.

SIZE COMPARISON: Rotolight NEO, left, & the Rotolight ANOVA V2


1 Comment

Comment

TESTING THE SONY FE 28MM F2 LENS

SCOOPED

I have enjoyed shooting with the Sony FE 28mm f2 lens in the last few days. I especially love that it's so light that you forget that you have a camera on you. All of the positive things I've read and heard about this lens are true. It's razor sharp, has a nice smooth bokeh, fast focus, is small and light, and very pleasant to shoot with. I think it's the perfect companion to the Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8, and all I may need for most shooting situations--an ideal set-up to have while carrying two camera bodies. More to come, so stay tuned.


Comment

Comment

Testing the Sony FE 28mm f2 Lens

©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

Hop-a-Long

I was out at my usual hot spot today testing the Sony FE 28mm f2 lens. All of the positive things I've read and heard about this lens are true. It's razor sharp, has a nice smooth bokeh, fast focus, is small and light, and very pleasant to shoot with. I think it's the perfect companion to the Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8, and all I may need for most shooting situations--an ideal set-up to have while carrying two camera bodies. More to come, so stay tuned.


Comment

Comment

Sony FE Lens Size Comparison

©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

The Lineup

Sony FE 70-200 f4 G  •  Zeiss FE 35mm f1.4  •  Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8  •  Zeiss Batis 25mm f2  •  Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8  •  Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8

 

The purpose of this post is to simply give an overall size comparison between six of the most common Sony and Zeiss FE lenses. Note that the last four lenses do not have native lens hoods on them, but smaller metal hoods that I supplemented for a much better fit into my camera bags, plus they are more compact while shooting. The alternate hoods protect just as well, in my opinion, but are not as deep so they may not be as good for protection against lens flair. Personally, I've never been bothered by flair, in fact I kind of like it, and it's a rare occurrence anyway because the Zeiss coatings are so good.


Comment

Comment

Hey 'Mate

Photo ©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

LENSMATE Silver Thumbrest

The brand new Lensmate Silver Thumbrest (LM A6000) exclusively for the silver Sony a6000.


After owning a pair of Fuji X-Pro1's, and a digital Leica M8.2, I got used to the increased stability and security of using a thumbrest or thumb grip on my cameras, so I proceeded to look for one for my Sony a6000 from the usual manufactures such as Thumb's Up, but I had no luck and couldn't find one. During my search though, I stumbled across a wonderful company called LENSMATE, and I'm so glad that I did.

Lensmate is a company who specializes in digital photo products that enhance the usability of a wide variety of digital cameras; especially mirrorless cameras and small digital cameras such as the Sony RX100 series. At the time, late 2015, Lensmate only made a black thrumbrest for the Sony a6000. Unfortunately my a6000 is silver, but as you know much of the trim on the silver a6000 is black, so I thought that a black thumbrest would look just fine, and it did.

I immediately fell in love with the look, feel and comfort of the LM A6000 Thumbrest, but I especially love the design and functionality of it. It makes holding and shooting with the a6000 better and more secure-feeling. Also, If you notice in the above photo, the thumbrest pivots to allow easy access to the a6000's mode dial, which is a genius design in my opinion. When I first read about this design feature, I though it was really interesting but wondered if it would weaken or cheapen the thumbrest. It doesn't. The LM A6000 Thumbrest has a quality feel, is smooth to the touch, locks into the hotshoe tightly, and feels very solid and sure. And an added bonus is the nice silicone patch right where your thumb actually rests for added comfort. It's very functional and much more comfortable that the Match Technical Services (Thumbs Up) version for the M8/M9 series, which is actually painful to use in my opinion, so I sold mine.

I enjoyed the black thumbrest for a month or two, then started to wonder if Lensmate would be releasing a silver thumbrest for the a6000. I noticed that they had silver thumbrests for some of the Fuji models, so I contacted the company. I ultimately connected with Susan Doel, which began several months of back-and-forth emails as Lensmate considered making a silver version LM A6000 for the Sony a6000. The one pictured in the photos in this post is the very first one, and I was privileged by Lensmate to test it out and photograph it to see how well it matched the silver paint on my a6000. I'd say that it's spot on!

The silver version is the exact same version as the black, only in silver. It seems like this would be a very simple process right? Just dip it in silver coating and ship it out. But it's not that simple, and lots of testing and re-testing took place over the last several months to make sure it was perfect. This speaks volumes for the type of company Lensmate is, as they care very much about the quality of their products. Their thumbrest is their own, in-house design not some cheap Chinese copy. And as you can plainly see from this article, they listen to their users, consider new ideas and actually answer your emails. That's a lot more than I can say for the competition, Match Technical Services, who never responded to my inquiry. Thanks Lensmate to a job well done!

If you don't own a Lensmate thumbrest for your black, and now silver, Sony a6000, what are you waiting for? Rumor has it that the upcoming Sony a6100 is the same design, which would ensure that your purchase is future proof.



Comment

2 Comments

Just Touit

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

Crisp & Clean, No Caffeine

I was out between raindrops today testing the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 on my Sony a6000. It’s equivalent to a 48mm or standard lens. I won’t waste any time, and immediately tell you that I love this lens, and have since it was first released several years ago! PopFlashPhoto was kind enough to send me the Touit 12mm and 32mm for testing on my Fuji X-Pro 1’s (back when I shot Fuji), and I fell in love with them both. I couldn’t justify the price of the 32mm (it was $900 at release) as I already owned the stupendous Fuji 35mm f/1.4, plus I didn’t need another standard lens. I really liked shooting with the 12mm too (18mm equivalent), but I rarely if ever shoot super wide lenses, so I wasn’t even considering it.

This tiny Zeiss Touit 32mm has been on my mind, or should I say heart, for quite some time

This tiny Zeiss Touit 32mm has been on my mind, or should I say heart, for quite some time, and I wanted to add it to my kit. With the recent price drop from $900 to $499, I finally decided to get one. After my first day of testing, I think it’s definitely a keeper. It’s not just sharp, lots of lenses are sharp, but it’s crisp and it renders fine detail amazingly well. It also has that Zeiss dreaminess (that’s what I call it)—sharp yet it has a certain glow to it (depending on the subject), and of course, the Zeiss 3D pop where subjects actually look three dimensional rather than flat and two dimensional like so many other lenses. Whatever that intangible quality is, this lens has it. This is why I love Zeiss lenses. I don’t know how I went so many decades without using them. I give credit to Steve Huff, who first made me aware of Zeiss and Leica lenses—thanks Steve! Leica lenses are just as lovely, but in a different way. The problem is, Leica lenses don’t autofocus nor do they have a Sony E-Mount.

 ©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN


Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 on Sony a6000

2 Comments

Comment

Step Into Liquid

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

Surfing with the Zeiss Batis 85mm

Last Friday I finally received my Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 after four months of waiting. So today I set aside some time to test it out on my Sony a7II. I never intended to shoot surfing though, as 85mm is not nearly long enough, but I couldn't resist since there were about a dozen surfers out on Jupiter Beach this afternoon. To my surprise, the a7II had very little trouble tracking the wave riders, and the Batis 85mm kept pace without a hiccup.


Comment