Tag Archives: Zeiss 55mm f/1.8

Breaking the Rules – Street Photography with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8

We’d normally use ultra-wide lenses for two reasons: (1)  to capture something very big (i.e. landscapes, buildings, stars in the sky); or (2) to create a sense of space in a place where there is none (i.e. real estate photography). Portraits are generally a big no-no because its inherent visual perspective creates a sense of unease. But then again, a cinematographer like Masanobu Takayanagi can use it masterfully in Silver Linings Playbook to subtly bring out Bradley Cooper’s troubled mental state in front of Jennifer Lawrence.

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Ian Norman over at The Lonely Speck uses this Rokinon to great results for his astrophotography

I bought my Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 on a whim and while it was on sale. At $339 MSRP, it is one of the most affordable lenses in the Sony E Mount line up. But as neither a landscape or an astrophotographer, I had no real need for an ultra-wide. And I suspect for real-estate photographers, who incidentally have the highest average salaries out of all photographer types, they won’t be relying on this bargain basement lens with wild barrel distortions either.

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The Rokinon is also labeled as the Samyang. When mounted to the A7 series, it is absolutely humongous. Not the ideal street photography lens then, but fun to use nonetheless.

One day, over better qualified candidates like the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and as if to defy the camera gods, I decided to bring this lens during my recent trip to China for Lunar New Years since Asia, in general, is great for street photography. So, I challenged myself to use a 14mm ultra-wide on the streets and this is what I’ve learned.

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First Impressions of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 and 25mm f/2 Lenses

We first broke news about Zeiss’s new range of Batis lenses in April 2015. We were very excited, not only because they were the world’s first lenses fitted with OLED distance and depth-of-field indicators, but especially because they were available in the 85mm and 25mm focal range.

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Fresh on our doorsteps. The new Zeiss Batis autofocus primes with the world’s first OLED distance and depth-of-field scale.

Zeiss USA has been very good to us. It all started when we first tested their brilliant Loxia 35mm f/2 in front of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Since we are not paid by Zeiss to advertise their gear, we maintain our objectivity and have the creative freedom to structure our tests however we like. It has worked very well as they are some of our most traffic articles.  We’ve developed a beautiful partnership.

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This past Monday, we received an email from the Marketing Manager of Zeiss Americas offering us their first batch of North American Batis lenses to test and review. We were ready to go and here are our first impressions.

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Cinematic Photography by “Variety of Light”

The is something about the look and feel of movies that’s captured the public attention for over a hundred years. Maybe it’s the size of the silver screen that makes its stories and emotions larger than life. Maybe it’s the unforgettable characters that become a part of our lives. Or maybe it’s the way we see the world through lenses and film.

Photography has always been a rival sibling to cinema. While blockbuster movies gets all the glory and attention, a single still frame can be hauntingly more powerful than we can ever imagine. So when somebody combines the best of cinema and still photography, the effect is that much more powerful.

iLHP is proud to feature Herbert from Variety of Light and his cinematic still photography. There is a melancholic beauty to his images. We spoke with the man and tried to understand the inspirations behind his beautiful photographs.

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iLHP: Hi Herbert, thank you for speaking with us today. Could you please tell us about yourself? 

Herbert: Hi Ed. I grew up in Germany in a family full of photographers and so it was inevitable that I’ve learned that stuff right as a child. My very first camera was a Voigtländer Vito B and I started with black and white film which our father developed in his darkroom.

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I’ve used that camera quite some years until my interest shifted a bit when I was a young man. Later and when digital photography emerged and since the introduction of mirror-less cameras, photography gained my attention again and today it’s my hobby and passion.

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iLHP: I first came across your work via your website called Variety of Light. Your works are gorgeously cinematic in terms of composition but especially tone and color. How did you develop your style? 

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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.

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“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

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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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3 Detailed Reasons Why it is Still Too Early to Switch to a Full Frame Mirrorless System

It’s  been more than a year since the debut of the world’s first full frame mirrorless system and just this past month we’ve already seen the second generation Sony A7 Mark II hit the shelves (and our first impressions are here).  We are pretty much past the honeymoon phase along Roger’s Law of New Product Introductions (new products being mirrorless full frame systems). Early adopters have adopted. Initial nonbelievers are recanting. Now comes the point where the mainstream consumers are thinking whether or not they should ditch the DSLR and switch over to the mirrorless.

It isn’t an easy decision. Investing in a system is expensive and learning to use it takes time. My colleague Christian gave us 10 Reasons to Switch from a DSLR to a Mirrorless System. I present you with 3 key counterpoints as to why the mainstream should wait. This article will focus on full frame systems rather than APS-C. It is geared towards prosumers seriously invested in their gear and professionals who make their living with their cameras.

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