Monday, February 24, 2014

Fujifilm X-E2 Review

If it looks like a rangefinder, feels like a rangefinder works like a DSLR, then it must be a Fujifilm. The X-E2 builds on the success of the X-E1. Even though the X-E2 is a mild upgrade, it nevertheless keeps Fujifilm at the forefront of the mirrorless revolution. To wit: even though the X-T1 is the de facto flagship of the X-System lineup (X-Pro1 not withstanding), the bulk of the cameras purchased will be down the price spectrum at the mid-high price level. To that end, even though the X-T1 is the halo camera that attracts all of the attention, it's the X-E2 that matters the most to Fujifilm's bottom line.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nikon Df with AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D

Many DX Nikon shooters accumulate FX lenses for a possible jump to full frame sometime in the future. For many people, that day never comes; FX being more affordable than it used to be, is still more expensive than what most DX shooters can justify. However, some lenses are comfortable doing double duty on either format, and that is certainly true of 50mm primes, which are often used as portrait lenses on APS-C cameras.

The AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D is one lens that is widely owned by many DX Nikon shooters, and is a prime candidate for renewed life as a "normal" prime on full frame. However, as a f/1.4 lens, the rendition isn't quite up to expectations of modern shooters... it has a reputation for being soft wide-open, which isn't exactly the case. Charitably, the rendition could be described as having the "dreamy" look of the old film era lenses when used wide open, whereas the modern Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G version produces a more "perfect" rendition that many shooters have come to expect. 

To that end, a lens with a design dating to the film-era would naturally fit well on a film-era throwback camera, the Nikon Df.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART Review

It used to be a joke that the pronunciation of "Sigma" was with a silent "t."

Those days are gone.

Though there are lingering vestiges of the brand as we knew it, it's no longer the case that the value of a Sigma lens was that it is more or less as good as the OEM lenses for less money. It's now more true to say that the best Sigma lenses are equal or better than their Canon/Nikon/Pentax counterparts, and they cost less. This is certainly true of the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM. For some, the price difference to the other f/1.4 35mm primes would be enough to change sway their purchasing decision, but brand loyalty is not built on price competitiveness alone. As is often the case, lasting brand growth is product lead and not sales driven. For Sigma, it would appear to be a strategy of cultivating photographers who love not only the lower prices, but the lenses themselves. That seems be the case with the 35mm.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G ED Review

When it comes to focal lengths, 35mm serves two purposes: as a "normal" perspective for APS-C cameras and as a mild wild-angle for full frame shooting. Theoretically, one good full-frame 35mm lens is all that a photographer needs; it could be mounted on a crop-frame camera as a normal and saved for the presumptive day when the jump to full frame is made. That's certainly what many people did (or tried to do) with the Nikkor AF 35mm f/2 D, but that strategy won't work quite so well in the age of the D800. To that end, Nikon has now made a FX and DX version of the same lens, and it would be tempting to think of the FX version of the 35mm f/1.8 as the "keeper lens", but in reality, these are two different lenses for two different purposes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fujifilm X100s Review

All the world loves a Leica. The next best lovable thing is Leica-like styling, which the Fujifilm X100s has in spades. However, a camera can't stand on it's own if it's sole purpose is to be reminiscent of something else,so to that end, is the Fujifilm X100s merely a poor man's Japanese Leica M, or is it something more?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Focus and Recompose

(...And Why it Might Not Matter So Much!)

Many beginning photographers (and so seasoned ones as well) are in the habit of only using the center autofocus point of their DSLRs. This is understandable given how much simpler it is to simply focus and recompose as opposed to the multiple button presses it takes to position the active AF point over an off-center subject. The problem with this is that it degrades the focus accuracy.

Even for people who should know better, there's a strong temptation to only use the center focus point because the difference can often be subtle and... well, you know, the laziness thing. However, for quality photography it's the difference between a nice image and a stunning one. You can't achieve razor sharp images if you don't place your focus point precisely, so to that end, all the reasons why focus and recomposing should be something to get out of the habit of: