Last week, Sony unveiled their new campaign, entitled “Be Alpha”. For the uninitiated, the term “Alpha” is a brand holdover from the legacy Minolta days and their line of ground breaking Alpha SLR cameras. When Sony purchased the Konica Minolta camera business in the mid 2000s, the Alpha product name came along for the ride.
Across the world, the communal experience of gathering with thousands of like minds to celebrate your favorite bands has become an annual rite. Music festivals have become larger and more popular, with no sign of slowing down. And while the largest of the festivals offer much of the same – large grassy fields, mega crowds and hundreds of acts scheduled over a long weekend – the smaller, boutique festivals are making their mark and winning fans by providing something different.
A few weeks ago I received a message from Sony Artisan of Imagery Gene Lower, team photographer for the Arizona Cardinals. Gene is one of those guys that gives freely of his knowledge and has been offering up very special opportunities to shoot NFL games to his fellow Sony Artisans. As an advisor to the Tokyo based product team, he was also an unsung force in the development of the acclaimed Sony a9. So when Gene presented the chance to shoot the Cardinals at their away game in Houston, I didn’t hesitate.
You know that moment when it’s time to pack your camera bag and you can’t decide what to take so you grab everything? I know this feeling well but this time I committed to the simplicity of one camera, one lens.
My default vacation lens kit usually consists of a traditional 35mm, 50mm and 85mm combo. To pare down to one lens, I would choose either the 35mm or the 50mm; but, what if there was a magical fov somewhere in between, say a 40mm? And what if that 40mm was also super fast, like f/1.2 fast? Luckily, the new Voigtlander 40mm Nokton f/1.2 manual focus lens does exist and it graced my doorstep just a few days before leaving for a quick recharge at Hotel San Cristobal outside Todos Santos, Baja California Sur.
This is how it happened – three days of love and music at El Cosmico in Marfa, TX.
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July in Central Texas, 14 days of triple digit temperatures with no break in sight and someone had the bright idea to throw a music festival. It may sound like a level of Dante’s Inferno, but the Float Fest producers have it figured out, with a leisure float down the cool San Marcos river, on-site camping, a carnival, helicopter rides and stages headlined by Cage the Elephant, Weezer, Zedd and MGMT.
With each new digital camera release we move further away from the dirtier elements of photography. No longer do digital sensors struggle with anemic dynamic range and poor low light performance. Everything is “clean” these days.
At the same time, lenses are being polished and aligned, exotic elements added and AF systems improved until they are the ultimate in optics. Sony’s GM line (or G Master) is their play at this high-end of lens design. I was lucky enough to get some pre-release time with their newest entry in the GM line, the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM. The questions I wanted to answer were whether this new lens was going to be too clinical, or was there going to be some glaring deficiency that I couldn’t overlook.
The upside to having an eleven-year-old that is plane crazy is that I get to relive my own childhood love of aviation. A couple weekends ago we headed out to a vintage car and airplane show in Georgetown, TX with cameras in tow. My son had a little Konica A4 loaded up with some Kodak ProImage 100 while I grabbed the RX1RII and the a7RII with Touit 12mm. Click through for a gallery of our good times.
I stopped by to see my friends at Zeiss during this year’s Photo Plus Expo in NYC. I wanted to show them the old Zeiss Planar 45/2 (Contax G) that I was shooting adapted with AF on the a7R II. They had a booth model posing so I snapped a few shots to see if this old lens was a good fit for portraiture compared to a more recent optic like the Loxia 50/2. I don’t have a comparison but I was very pleased with the results. No touch-ups here, just some color and b/w editing.
Click through for a small gallery… Read More