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

sigma56

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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*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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*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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*12 days of Topaz with @TopazLabs

 

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If you have been looking to pick up a Topaz plugin or two, Topaz Labs is running a promotion where each day they offer one of their plugins at a 40% discount with a new plugin each day, running for three days.  You can read more about some of my favorite Topaz plugins that I’ve reviewed HERE.  I’ll add each day of the sale and the showcased plugins as they’re released, so stay tuned and come back to see what shows up!

Day 1 – 12/12 is Topaz Detail use code DETAIL12 (running through Thursday the 15th) Find Detail for 40% off HERE.

Day 2 – 12/13 is Topaz DeNoise (best NR I’ve used!) use code DENOISE12 (running through Friday the 16th) Find DeNoise for 40% off HERE.

Day 3 – 12/14 is Topaz Simplify use code SIMPLIFY12 (running through Saturday the 17th) Find Simplify for 40% off HERE.

Day 4 – 12/15 is Topaz Impression  use code IMPRESSION12 (running through Sunday the 18th) Find Impression for 40% off HERE.

Day 5 – 12/16 is Topaz ReMask (I love this one!) use code REMASK12 (running through Monday the 19th) Find ReMask for 40% off HERE.

Day 6 – 12/17 is Topaz Adjust use code ADJUST12 (running through Tuesday the 20th) Find Adjust for 40% off HERE.

Day 7 – 12/18 is Star Effects use code STARFX12 (running through Wednesday the 21st) Find Star Effects for 40% off HERE.

Day 8 – 12/19 is Topaz Glow use code GLOW12 (running through Thursday the 22nd) Find Glow for 40% off HERE.

Day 9 – 12/20 is Lens Effects use code LENSFX12 (running through Friday the 23rd) Find Lens Effects for 40% off HERE.

Day 10 – 12/21 is Topaz Texture Effects use code TEXTUREFX12 (running through Saturday the 24th) Find Texture Effects for 40% off HERE.

Day 11 – 12/22 is Topaz ReStyle use code RESTYLE12 (running through Sunday the 25th) Find ReStyle for 40% off HERE.

Day 12 – 12/23 and finally, Topaz Clarity (one of my absolute faves) use code CLARITY12 (running through Monday the 26th) Find Clarity for 40% off HERE.

Happy, Merry everyone.  I hope all is well, and here’s to finally getting 2016 in the rearview!

Happy shooting,

Tyson

*The Panasonic Lumix GX8 vs GX7 showdown. How much of an upgrade is it, really? Well… w/ @LumixUSA

gx7 vs gx8

Well, my friends, I have been enjoying the comparison between these two great cameras, and in this article I would like to present my opinions and findings regarding how they directly compare to each other in regards to performance and file output, once and for all (for my purposes, anyway).  Here’s my disclaimer… I don’t work for Panasonic.  I’ve always researched and purchased my own gear, and do these tests in an attempt to help others like myself see what I wish that I could have seen in cases before buying stuff.  Enjoy and I hope this shows you something you’ve not yet seen.

I’ve been looking at the comparison from the angle of one who is curious about replacing my historically favorite micro 4/3 camera in the GX7, with it’s intended upgrade in the GX8.  I’ve now had the GX8 for a couple months and have shot a few thousand images with it, so I have been able to get a good feel for how it handles, performs and how the files look when digging into them.  With the GX8, Panasonic has given us an increase in size, resolution and features, which have all looked good on paper, and I’m now wanting to really see that come through in practice, which in most cases, it has.

Here is what I’ve seen, and what I’ve found…

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*A Pana-Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 review – I never should have doubted you.

Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH OIS Lens Panasonic

Now, readers may remember a mere 6 months or so ago, I purchased the Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95 lens (see that review on a new page HERE) for my micro 4/3 system setup.  I’ve loved that lens, but since its announcement I’ve been curious about the Leica branded Nocticron, largely because I do really enjoy shooting two of the other Leica branded lenses for the system in the Summicron 15mm and 25mm models.  The asking price for this portrait lens was always high for my taste, which was why I opted for the Voigt to begin with (which isn’t cheap in its own right, but 2/3 the retail price of the Nocti).  Well, as luck would have it, an open box/like new Nocticron came up for sale at near the same price as the Voigtländer and my curiosity couldn’t be held back, and now I’m tasked with figuring out which one to hold onto.

Here are my initial impressions on this beautiful lens.

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*Olympus M.Zuiko MC14, 1.4x Teleconverter Review

m zuiko mc14 1.4x micro 4/3 teleconverter for 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

Olympus continues to add to its Pro lens quiver with the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14, available as a useful accessory to the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom lens.  Currently, the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens is the only lens that this teleconverter works with, but I’d assume that once we see the soon to be M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 PRO prime lens show up, that number will climb to two.

A teleconverter effectively multiplies the focal length of the lens it is coupled to, while decreasing the lens speed by one whole stop in the case of a 1.4x, or two stops when using a 2x tele converter (Oly, feel free to bust one of these guys out too!).  In this case, it converts the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens into a 56-210mm f/4 optic which translates to an effective field of view in full frame terms of 112-420mm.  Not a bad range, and one that for system users essentially turns the 40-150 (80-300mm e-fov) into two very useful lenses if we’re to look at it in Full Frame equivalency as a workhorse, studio portrait/event tele zoom akin to the various 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses as well as the more sport and light wildlife tele zooms of the world in the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 flavor, it begins to make a lot more sense as to why Olympus chose this range, as opposed to what would have been a more traditional 35-100mm (70-200mm) lens in the first place.  Hmmmmm…  Continue reading