Canon 85mm f1.8 on the Sony A7ii

Like many other people i have taken the opportunity to adapt Canon glass onto the Sony A7ii. I struggled to find any credible documentation of the Canon 85mm f1.8 being used, so i hope someone else will find this brief review useful.

I own two adapters, a Commlite purchased from Amazon for approx £51 and Metabones IV which was purchased from Wex for £340.

My initial testing was with the Commlite, whilst this worked with the 20-35, 50mm 1.8 STM and many other of my lenses, the 85mm f1.8 was very disappointing. The Commlite seems to struggle to AF the lens at all whether in good or bad light it just hunts backwards and forwards and only in the exception (i’d sasy 1 in 100 times) gives any kind of autofocus.

The Metabones showed good initial performance with some shots taken outside in both daylight and the shade of some woods (see below)

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Canon EF 85mm f1.8 on Sony A7ii

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Once taken back inside however the Metabones displayed the same hunting as the much cheaper adapter which was incredibly disappointing and made it unusable in some situations.

I’m not certain exactly how the autofocus (which was set to phase detect) works on the Sony A7 but it seems to be linked to available light – in some situations even outside the metabones wouldn’t focus until i’d increased the ISO on the Camera and made the resulting image lighter – this is slightly alien to me coming from Canon which seems to AF in just about any situation. Furthermore i’ve also been testing a TechArt Pro  adapter and testing this using a Minolta 85mm f1.7 on in exactly the same light gave exact AF each and everytime. I contacted Metabones support and got a reply about 48 hours later. Aside from asking me to update to the latest firmware (it was already on v0.52 latest) they gave me some information on the different modes the Metabones IV supports  – it comes shipped in Green mode (so called i think because it saves valuable battery life on the Sony) and also advance mode, specifically designed for the A6300, A7ii and A7Rii. Instructions and more information is here…

Once the Advanced mode as enabled a huge difference in focus performance was seen. I was sat late at night with just light from the TV and focus improved to about 95% on objects in the room around me. Advanced mode on the Metabones turned the Canon 85mm f1.8 into a very viable lens on the Sony (*A6300 A7ii and A7Rii only)

 

More information

Canon 85mm 1.8 group on Flickr  – https://www.flickr.com/groups/canon85mm/

Ken Rockwell’s review – http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/lenses/85mm.htm

 

 

 

 

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Canon Lens on Sony A7ii Comparison 16-35 20-35

 

This comparison forms part of a wider test of Canon lenses used on the Sony A7ii. I hve been testing with both a Commlite and Metabones 4 adapter for Autofocus and general lens usability.

In this test I’ve been looking at the Canon EF 16-35L f4 mk2 and the much older Canon EF 20-35 f3.5-4.5. Both lenses work great with both the Commlite and Metabones adapter and both autofocus in relatively low light – which is a problem i’ve been having on the Canon EF 85mm 1.8 – which appears to hunt on the Commlite and Metabones in low light situations.

Aside from the stellar Contax Zeiss T* 28mm F2.8 Distagon i’ve been looking for other compact wide angle lenses to put on the Sony A7. My Canon 16-36L f4 is a fantastic lens, but pretty big (14cm tall) and changes the dynamic of a compact camera – the 20-35 on the other hand only stands 7cm tall and also has the advantage sharing the 77mm filter system thats seen on many L lenses

 

Left – Canon 20-35   Right Canon 16-35L f4

 

A crop of both images – the Canon 16-35L slightly outperforms the older lens in resolution, contrast and detail but there inst too much to separate them

Left – Canon 20-35   Right Canon 16-35L f4

I was pleasantly surprised by the much older 20-35 in comparison with the 16-35. Whilst i doubt i’ll be swapping lenses on my Canon 5DS, the 20-35 makes a for a good portable replacement on the A7

The full resolution file for the 20-35 can be found here https://www.flickr.com/photos/21519591@N05/29870095365/in/dateposted/ 

and the 16-36 here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/21519591@N05/29243669453/in/dateposted/

 

Other Useful Information about the Canon 20-35

DXOMark review / rating of the lens are here – obviously its been tested on a Canon – but i guess the 5Ds is closest to the A7ii in terms of resolution.

The Flickr 20-35 user group photos can be found here – i’ve always found it useful comparing what other people have gotten out of a lens and i’ve been quite impressed with some of the photos in this group

Ken Rockwell seemed to quite like the lens when he reviewed it here – saying …

“Heading out for an around-the-world budget trip, or backpacking? This is your lens.”

“While I’d pass on this lens for older full-frame DSLRs, on my 5D Mark III , its low weight, fantastic ergonomics and correctable optics just made it my new favorite.”

 

Some further 20-35 f3.5-4.5 pictures

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Torquay Panorama

Just a very quick update with a panorama i created today using my 5DS – i think it went a little wonky on the right hand side, i perhaps didnt take enough shots and i’ve ended up with some handlebar moustache distortion whihc i’ve corrected the best i can. I think i should have also inverted the camera and taken it in Portrait – but i guess you live and learn. As it is this image is a whopping 23653 x 4552 pixels

 

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Voigtlander “Hyper” Wide

I have quite a few Wide angle lenses but when i see a new release of a lens called “Hyper Wide” 10mm on Full Frame my interest is definitely peaked. This is probably somewhat old news with an announcement in mid to late 2015 from Voigtlander, but as we draw close to the release dates i found myself pondering if i’m going to rush in and buy one. My widest lens to date is 14mm on full frame and this is in Canon EF mount – but can also be usefully adapted to use on my Sony A7. Aside from the 14mm i also have a Canon 16-35L F4 in my kit bag, which adds auto focus, which in some cases is useful, though i’ve found myself using AF on wide lenses less and less.

Voigtlander have announced 3 news lenses in their line up (or at least re-works of existing lenses) in Sony E-Mount. The big problem with the current range of Voigtlander 35mm film lenses that share the same focal lengths is that film is more forgiving than a digital sensor when it comes to the direction light hits it. If you can imagine a lens designed for film, the light can hit the film at quite a shallow angle, however a digital sensor it built up of several layers and is less forgiving and therefore people using the 12mm and 15mm current lenses have reported quite dramatic vignetting and purple / green fringing. This is exacerbated on the Sony A7R as the pixel density is greater and therefore the angle light can reliably reach the sensor even more acute. I believe there is some redesign by Voigtlander in the E-Mount range to help combat this. However it should be noted that much of this can be removed in post production or with Sony lens apps straight on the camera.

My dilemma is i’ve been trying to re-use my Canon lenses where possible on the Sony OR use reasonably priced manual focus film lenses such as Minolta or the stella Contax (Zeiss) range. Whilst 10mm is very appealing if there is a huge price tag associated i’m not certain if i will be getting one. At present we don’t have much more information other than the specification sheets shown below, but if you are like me and considering a new wide lens then release date and the RRP may help swing you one way or the other in terms of buying a used 12mm or waiting for the new Hyperwide 10mm.

 

I contacted the Voigtlander UK distributors  and the information they gave on RRP and expected shipping was as follows –

10 mm f 5.6 E mount expected price is £700.00 + Vat, delivery May
12 mm f 5.6 E mount price and delivery as yet unknown
15 mm f 4.5  E mount expected price £550.00 + Vat, delivery Mid- April

 

If you do decide to stick to the 12mm film version Philip Reeve has a good review of that lens on his site here

 

The main details of the new E-mount lenses are here – http://voigtlaender.com/e-mount.html

and the UK Distributor and main retailer are

Great Britain Flaghead Photographic Limited, t/a Robert White Unit 6 16 Alder Hills, Poole, Dorset BH 12 4AR www.flaghead.co.uk, www.robertwhite.co.uk

 

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What to look for in a wedding photographer

What you should look for in a wedding photographer

As a child I had a keen interest in photography, my teenage years got in the way, and so did sport and I sold all my camera equipment. Years later I’ve redeveloped a keen interest in photography, in between I also got married and went through the selection process for a photographer. Knowing what I know now about some of the aspects of my own photography and where I’ve seen the good and bad in commercial photographers I hope the following is a useful guide.

In 2004 we got married in November, being involved in a bridal shop, my wife’s dress was sorted long before anything else.  To say we were relaxed about the whole wedding planning thing was an understatement. We’d decided on the venue (Dartington Hall in Devon) but hadn’t really thought about other aspects of our big day.

Most (good) Wedding photographers get booked up weeks and months in advance and I soon found this out as I started ringing around the local photographers. Our wedding was set for November, but still we struggled. By chance we found Janet and John, we made an appointment to go around for a chat. They had obviously done many weddings and as they asked us about the style of photography we wanted, ideas we had and what time each part of our big day was going to happen, we realised we didn’t have a clue! Most worrying was our timings I can’t stress how important it is to work out a plan for the day, arrival at church, leaving church, journey to venue, time of meal, etc . etc. In the end Janet and John almost ended up project managing our wedding, and with good reason.

A good wedding photographer costs money but until I analysed just what Janet and John did for us, I hadn’t really reconciled how that money was built up. The following is a guess at what they did for us…

  • Appointments, we had two (or three) consultations prior to the wedding lasting about an hour to an hour and a half each. During these we gave information about our church and venue, we picked shots and drew up a shot list of posed shots we would like – Parents, family, Bridesmaids, Ushers, Friends etc. etc. We also got a really good idea of timings, some of our shots were pre wedding, during the wedding and at the venue. In total ½ day of time
  • It became apparent on the day that Janet and John had been to both the church and the venue. If you’ve shot somewhere before it gets easier but if you are unfamiliar with the venues that a scouting mission is going to help with the quality of shots on the day. Again this must have taken ½ day to do both venues.
  • On the day Janet and John spent much of the morning and well into the afternoon with us (in fact due to a cancellation they stayed for dinner) but effectively they have written off a day to cover a wedding.
  • Afterwards we had a further appointment to view the shots from the wedding and pick the ones for our album. With 40+ shots there has to be a large element of post processing, even if this is just cropping pictures. If your photographer is retouching the photos or adding special effects then that time can escalate pretty quickly. With basic cropping I’d say it was at least half a day to provide a short list of shots, following this, work to produce the album and finish the pictures was probably another half day. If you went for retouching then you could probably add another couple of days!
  • Finally someone has to physically make the album, frame pictures, upload proofs to websites etc. etc.

 

 

Types of Wedding Photography

We went for a more formal style of wedding photography (as was the fashion) with mostly posed shots, throwing in a few candid shots thought-out the day. One word of warning about this style is that posing shots can take time, it can have a big impact on your day, you get a much better memory for you, but you can be AWOL from your guests for a long time if you aren’t careful.

There’s a fuller article here about the different styles you can choose from http://www.wikihow.com/Choose-Between-the-Different-Wedding-Photography-Styles

 

So what should you look for in a wedding photographer?

When you meet them, or before, be sure to take a long look at their previous portfolio, style of photography and ask for recommendations.  The last thing you want is someone turning up with a  £50 DSLR they purchased from Currys operating on a wing and a prayer.

Find someone that really knows their trade and someone that is going to put the work in prior to your wedding to do their research, work out where the sun will be and at what time and research the venue to find the best shots to make you look good. Whilst there are probably a few people with the skill of Michael Angelo the best shots, even candid are probably planned long before.

Look for someone with a good reputation and longevity. We attended a friend’s wedding, I’m not sure I remember the end result, but what I do remember is that their Photographer was very hard to get hold of after their wedding,  they eventually tracked their photographer down to the channel Islands and got their photos almost a year later!! I don’t think they even paid fully upfront, he just lost interest. That said, pay enough to cover the photographer’s time on the day, but make sure that you have some leverage to get your prints. I think from memory we paid 50/50

Finally this is going to be your good day, there’s a good chance that you’ve spent months in the gym or starving yourself to look fantastic, make sure that you get someone you trust to capture your big day with the style of photography that you can look back on and evoke the fabulous memories of the day.

In total I’d guess Janet and John spent at least 2-3 days working on our wedding. You may think wedding photography is money for old rope but a good wedding photographer will  put the effort in to make your photographs look spectacular   -make you sure you pick wisely

One final thought, 10, 20 years past your wedding; it may not be just a reminder of your big day but the people that attended, in my case my dad who has now departed – I look back and remember how much fun he had and how proud he was, for me one of the most endearing memories Janet and John captured was my dad’s joy on my big day.

Dad at wedding

 

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ransomware

Cyber Security

Ransomware is undeniably a growing threat to businesses and home users alike. Specifically if you store lots of data at home without backup, you are at risk of loosing lots of data or having to pay criminals hundreds or thousands to decrypt your computer.

Ransomware can arrive in the form of an e-mail or be downloaded from a website. E-mails may appear to come from a friend or business you already deal with, whilst websites are not just limited to those more shady sites, adverts or “click bait” may take you to what looks like a legitimate site or a legitimate site may have been infiltrated.  I recently visited the European Youngnuo Flash manufacturers website and ended up being passed to a less than savory porn site.

We have become complacent about Antivirus protection, by day i work as an IT professional and we have seen a significant increase in cyber attack and ransomeware over the past few months. This weekend another high profile organisation that probably spends millions on IT security became the latest victim – Article here

A significant increase in zero day threats means that our once effective Antivrius programs are becoming similar to antibiotics in their diminished effectiveness. Whilst there are some tips to reduce the risk of ransomware, mostly involving a little bit of thought and the ethos of “DON’T CLICK” unless absolutely necessary, ultimately we should all prepare for the worst and that may mean completely wiping your Cryptolocked machine and starting again. In which case as a lowest common denominator in terms of protection, BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP

When many of you think about backup, you probably think of a USB stick or portable hard drive, this may be partially effective, but aside from Ransomware, what would happen if your property burned down? Backup Backup Backup is a concept which includes off-site backup. How many of you automatically backup, let alone think about automatically backing up to the cloud?

I wrote a previous article about the Synology Disk Station (here), this is a network device that sits on your home network, you can either copy files from your local machine, or work from a network share. The great thing about the Synology for photographers is the ability to automatically sync files to the cloud. You could choose your Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, but i subscribe to Amazon Prime – £69a year not only gets me digital TV content and music, but there is also UNLIMITED photo storage that includes RAW files. I have my whole home network set to automatically push files to the cloud for peace of mind. A great side effect of this is that i can access all my files and content from anywhere in the world by accessing my Amazon cloud drive. This could probably be achieved using other manufacturers, but i havent seen anyone offer a more effective and easy to setup way than Synology as yet.

Synology cloud sync

So back to protecting yourself from getting ransomware in the first place – here are some tips…

  • don’t assume that an e-mail is safe just because your Antivirus hasn’t detected anything
  • don’t assume that a mail from someone you know or a company is safe, they are probably Spoofing a supplier or friend – exactly the person you think will be safe
  • don’t open attachments unnecessarily – if you wern’t expecting an e-mail even if its from someone you know, stop and think first
  • Treat even more suspiciously if the attachment requires macro’s to run (hopefully you already have macros DISABLED by default)
  • Treat every e-mail as a threat (even if its from your Great Aunt Doris) and get in the mind set to challenge everything you receive
  • Backup, Backup, Backup – if you do get infected, chances are your hard drive will be encrypted by the criminals and you wont see you pictures, tax returns, etc etc again… restore from backup will be your only option
  • If you do think about paying them… DONT… you will be marked as an easy target

If you dont know how to disable macros – there are some helpful articles on Microsoft, Windows 10 is here

Hopefully none of you will need this!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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