*Sigma 56mm f/1.4 for Micro 4/3, holy crap…

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While Panasonic seemingly focuses on video featured GH cameras along with their new full frame platform, and Olympus hopes pros jump to its EM1X, I’m over here enjoying my now aged, and in my mind legendarily ‘just right’ Goldilocks GX8 with some new glass.  I’ve long blown the horn for Sigma’s full frame optics, providing industry leading optical performance at honest, realistic prices (every one of the half dozen lenses I’ve tested/reviewed and/or purchased over the last few years have been wonderful), I started to wonder why I’d not tried out their crop frame offerings.  Well, I have now, and I don’t know why I’m surprised, but the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens is another absolute gem.

I’m using the micro 4/3 mount option, which crops to a 112mm equivalent focal length, putting it right in that mid tele, portrait sweet spot between the traditional 85mm and 135mm focal lengths.  For the APS-C lot, this lens falls right into the more standard short tele ~85mm slot, which will certainly appeal to many (as it absolutely should).  I for one like the extra cropping as it starts to compete with my long standing, and stellar Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens for time on the camera when portraits or more isolated subjects, with bokehfied backgrounds come calling.

Weather sealed at the mount, compact, lightweight, fast and sharp as a tack, this lens is one I feel many system shooters can find great value in.  C’mon in to see my take…

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*Lensbaby Burnside 35mm, a unique dual aperture lens!

My long standing relationship with Lensbaby as a fan, and friend has rewarded me again with the ability to use and review the Burnside 35mm f/2.8 dual aperture lens.  I was asked to play around with the new Burnside 35, but as is always the case here, all my opinions are purely that.  Mine.  I don’t get paid (unfortunately) to do this, nor was it required that I write up a fluff piece, so while I do have a soft spot for the local, independent Portland based company, I’m also in no way contractually required to like their stuff.  As you’ll read, I don’t hold back criticism where I see fit.  Lensbaby tends to get the online readers divided based on perception that cameras and lenses need to test off the charts in all ways, and anything that isn’t trying to accomplish that should be burned at the stake.  If that’s what you’re after, feel free to argue scientific test charts somewhere else, also, I feel a little sorry that the joy of photography has seemingly evaporated in your life, assuming it was ever there to begin with.  I’m not saying you need to like the weird, wild and quirky, but you certainly don’t need to piss in the cereal of those who enjoy creating different effects in camera.  The true beauty of free will is just that.  We all get to decide what we like, and I often like in camera effects.  …okay, are all the curmudgeony troll pessimist chart nazis grumpy enough to have clicked away?  Good.

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*Lumix GX9, death of the GX line?

Hey everyone!  Look, the opinions are pretty polarized in regard to Panasonic’s newest m4/3 camera, and I feel that both sides are right.  On one side, we have those of us that are excited to see the form factor shrink a little bit with the cost coming down to a remarkably reasonable level.  On the other side, we have those of us that are lamenting the lack of ergonomics, weather sealing, fully functional, high spec EVF and general feel that the GX8 has been downgraded.  

As someone who has owned every GX model made (less the GX80/85 which I have shot with fairly extensively, however) I do feel I’m in a position to throw my opinion around a bit.  Not that you have to agree, nor even listen, but here’s what I think…

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*Voigtländer 17.5mm f/0.95 – Getting some time in with another m4/3 system gem.

Believe it or not, I’m still attempting to actively write, and after a very hectic year, I’m getting back into the game, kinda.  This article all started indirectly during the total solar eclipse this year.  A friend who also shoots micro 4/3 and I got to talking about lenses we like for the system.  We were taking turns using my adapted Sigma 150-600mm through a solar filter to snap shots of the celestial event, and we got to talking about the Voigtländer offerings.  I, having been the proud owner of the 42.5mm Nokton (review on that bad boy HERE), was excited to find out my friend was toting the 17.5mm version around with him.  Well, I’ll spare you the minutiae of the back and forth, but we decided to do a lens swap for a month or so, and here we are. C’mon in for some touchy, feely bits on my time with the Voigtländer Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 lens

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*TRP featured in Olympus Passion Magazine

Remember my portrait lens shoot out?  Well, it caught the eye of the folks over at Olympus Passion Magazine as they’d previously featured my article testing the Leica 15mm against the Panasonic pancake 14 and 20mm lenses on their website, and had asked to feature the portrait shoot out in the August edition of the magazine.  I happily obliged, and it can now be seen in the current issue of their beautifully curated, Olympus-centric mag HERE.

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*Lensbaby Trio28, embrace the weird, wild and wonderful world of imperfect. w/@seeinanewway

In an industry that provides me with my very favorite of hobbies, the idea of perceived perfection in performance is often the benchmark.  To this end, I too am guilty in that I often look for and test to make sure I have the best optics for whichever sensor I happen to have invested in.  Often times, when we as photographers focus on measurable optical metrics, we can lose sight of the artistic, creative outlet that visual art such as photography can provide us.  As the old adage goes as far as skill and creativity are concerned, sharpness is overrated.

I like to explore photography from a very large spectrum of angles, and find I enjoy myself most when I change my vantage from time to time.  I don’t feel photography is one thing, and certainly feel for me that if it only provided me with one type of result, I’d not be nearly as happy.  I like variety, I like difference, I like weird.  For those who’ve been around for a while, you’ll probably remember articles I’ve written about Lensbaby products, and how the company resides just down the road from me.  Back when this was a fledgling little blog, they offered me many opportunities to beta test new optics, and provide fodder for those looking for adaptable optics for their (at the time, young, new) mirrorless system cameras.

Say hello to the Lensbaby Trio 28mm f/3.5 lens.  Three unique Lensbaby optics, built into a single lens for mirrorless systems, and I’ve been loving it.  C’mon in for some examples and comparisons…

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*Olympus m.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens, a user review w/ @getolympus

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Ultra wide angle options for every system, tend to be expensive and/or compromised.  It can be difficult to optically correct and transfer light onto these digital sensors which are far less forgiving than film ever was, especially outside of the center frame.  Add to that, with various “crop” formats, the physical focal length needed to achieve these angles of view has to be remarkably short which provides other engineering challenges.  Panasonic saw the need for an ultra wide angle zoom lens from the very early stages of the Micro 4/3 format, and has offered a very solid 7-14mm f/4 lens for years, but many system shooters wanted both a faster option, along with one that was environmentally sealed for outdoor work.  Olympus answered that call with the m.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens.  A substantial, weather sealed, tank like 14-28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens (in light gathering you FF fanatic naysayers, you) that costs a pretty penny, especially considering the Panasonic Lumix option at close to half the price, it’s not necessarily one for the budget minded shooter.  It is however, a pretty damn stellar performer.  I have had this lens for the better part of the year, and I’ve just returned from a trip to Portugal and Holland where I used this lens on the GX8 for my travel documentation needs.  I have some other shots sprinkled in, but I want to give a bit of perspective when using this lens as a travel companion. C’mon in for some shots and thoughts…

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