Tag Archives: SEL55F18Z

The Mighty Fifties – Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 vs Loxia 50mm f/2 vs Sigma 50mm f/1.4

The 50mm is not only nifty, it is mighty. It is a standard normal prime, meaning it gives a close approximation of our eyes’ field of view. This lens comparison will feature Disneyland, an $650,000 original Banksy piece, a beautiful model on a Malibu beach, a Shepard Fairey mural, and this peacock.

“Yippee ki yay.” Shot by a Loxia 50mm f/2.

The 50 is also the favorite focal length of the legendary street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. As he explained it when asked why the 50mm lens was his favorite,

“I worked with a 90. It cuts much of the foreground if you take a landscape . . .The 35 is splendid when needed, but extremely difficult to use if you want precision in composition. . . [the 50] corresponds to a certain vision and at the same time has enough depth of focus . . . .”

This comparo will again be broken into 5 rounds:

  1. Build quality
  2. Sharpness
  3. Vignetting and Flare
  4. Bokeh and 3D Pop
  5. Real World Handling

The Contenders & Their Specs

mighty nifty fifty lens comparison test
The Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 (left); Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar (center); Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art with a Commlite autofocus EF to E adapter (right). Note: the Commlite adapter did not autofocus with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. Only aperture and exposure could be controlled.

On the left, weighing in at a welterweight 281g with a $998 price tag (grey market $740), is the standard setting Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8. In the middle, weighing in at 320g with a $949 price tag, is the brand new Zeiss Loxia T* 50mm f/2 Planar. On the right, weighing in at a morbidly obese 810g with a $949 price tag, is the highly acclaimed Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art DSLR lens,

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Introduction to Studio Photography

bwDSC00657 The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was “do one thing a day that scares you.” It pushes you out of your comfort zone and lets you experience undiscovered things that life has to offer. I’ve tried to follow this motto and it has been very rewarding along the way. While portraiture and fashion shoot isn’t something new to me, I have never shot in a studio until yesterday. I must admit that I approached the shoot with a little anxiousness. Sure, the basics are the same, light, exposure, composition, but there are key differences to this type of photography. I imagine it must be similar to shooting on location versus shooting on staged-sets in cinema. Here are some of my first impressions on this new experience.

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The 3D “Pop” of the Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8, plus the Color Rendition and Exposure of the Sony A7

Zeiss SEL55F18Z @ F/1.8, Iso 160, 1/200s

Halfway through my shoot on Acorn St., I switched over from the Summaron to the Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 and followed up on my first impressions of this lens. The familiar “beep-beep” came ringing in again as I once again had autofocus. The available light on Acorn St. was challenging, a lot of contrast between harsh sunlight and shadows, but the A7’s AF had managed pretty well the whole afternoon. I missed one shot of a lady sweeping the floor from about 50 meters away because the camera had focused on a gas street lamp instead. Otherwise, the A7 held its own.

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First Impressions of the Sony A7 and Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 Combo in New York City


A quick four day trip to New York with my family gave me a chance to try out the much acclaimed Sony A7. First impressions were very positive.

“Look ma, it’s like a point and shoot!”
The full-frame A7 is easier to use than traditional DSLRs. You can compose either with the viewfinder or the back monitor, and the rear monitor even tilts so you can “shoot from the hip” inconspicuously or held high above your head to get over crowds. Can’t do this with most DSLRs. Autofocus was fast and accurate even at night, albeit night near Times Square isn’t really all that dark. Overall, the A7’s responsiveness is just a tad below the Canon 5D Mark II. Main problem is waking the camera from power-save/sleep mode. It takes a good 1-2 seconds whereas the 5D2 is instant. Please fix this Sony.

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Goodbye Canon 5D Mark II. Hello Sony A7!

After 6 years of faithful service since it first came out in the spring of 2008, I am finally retiring my trusty Canon 5D Mark II camera. In fact, I am completely switching systems from the Canon EOS to the Sony Alpha system. Here’s my brief writeup and initial impressions.

My Back is Gonna Thank Me
While the Canon could have lasted another 6 years without becoming completely obsolete since it was so ahead of its time, I decided to switch to the Sony A7 mirror-less full-frame because, well, it’s the future. Biggest problem with the Canon was its size and weight. I bring my camera gear for all of my travels and on average, the camera body with a few lenses in a backpack weighs about 20-30lbs. The Sony is tiny compared to the Canon and weighs about half as much. I think just as film was replaced by digital a decade or so ago, mirror-less cameras have now caught up to DSLRs and will no doubt exceed them in the future. I am convinced that mirror-less cameras will replace DSLRs over the next decade and the Sony A7 is the first affordable full-frame mirror-less camera.

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