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.
One of the most unique features of the Sony mirrorless platform is its ability to mount, and in many cases autofocus, almost any legacy lens. I’ve written in the past about the Techart Golden Eagle (CONTAX G) and Techart Pro (Leica M) adapters. Next up is the Fringer CONTAX N/645 Sony E mount adapter.
Thursday, July 14th marked another milestone show in the storied history of Antone’s in Austin, TX. Celebrating its 41st anniversary, the venue hosted a surprise family get together featuring Gary Clark Jr and Barbara Lynn, as well as Don Leady & his Rockin’ Revue, featuring Jack Montesinos. With Susan Antone in attendance and a sell out crowd lucky enough to share the intimate evening with TX music greats, the new space on E 5th felt just right. Half way through his set, after commenting on how damn hot it was, Gary Clark Jr. recognized the uniqueness of the night – both points agreed upon by all in attendance.
These days Sony users are feeling the love from Zeiss with the company’s highly regarded Batis lenses and the smaller rangefinder style manual focus Loxia line. While the Batis and Loxia (Zeiss names their lens lines after bird species – due to their visual acuity) are excellent native options, the beauty of the Sony mirrorless system is that we can mount nearly every lens developed for a 35mm sensor. So when I was looking for a 21mm loaner from my friendly Zeiss rep at Precision Camera, he advised that I give the new Milvus 21/2.8 a try.
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.
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Blasphemy be damned, I’m going to admit that I wasn’t all that excited about the a7R II prior to its release.
I’m a simple stills guy so the 4k video is wasted on me; I also like my fat pixel 12mp a7S files just fine, thank you and I dreaded having to deal with both the processing and storage requirements of a 42mp image. Furthermore, I already enjoy the refreshed body style and IBIS on the a7 II and I’m not a switcher – been shooting Sony for a few years now and sold all my Canon L lenses long ago.
My prior detachment aside, the release of this camera is a watershed moment in the mirrorless epoch. The a7R II spec sheet reads like something out of the future, a no compromise piece of kit that is both evolutionary and revolutionary at the same time. Who wouldn’t be interested in this camera? As professionals or even enthusiasts, we desire the best and this camera promises to be that at a great many things. Even if it falls short in a single category like low light (little brother a7S still reigns supreme), its second best still trumps most everything else on the market.
So yeah, I want the best and I want it compact and rugged and efficient and with a great compliment of lenses. I know it will eventually be eclipsed by something newer and greater but at this point in time, I can with a good conscience state that it is the best digital camera I have ever owned.
Don’t expect this to be a well controlled, thoroughly tested discourse on the new Batis lenses. I literally had each lens for about five minutes at Precision Camera here in Austin, TX where the store was hosting a dealer day. Lucky me when I strolled up to the Sony display and there they were, the new Batis lenses – apparently the only copies in N. America.