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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NEX-7 and the SEL1018

I currently used the NEX-7 with the 16mm/2.8 + Fisheye converter with my NEX-7 so when Sony announced the SEL10-18/4 lens, I pre-ordered it.

I must say that when I took the first couple of shot, I was disappointed with the magenta cast.  At least there's no smearing of details or colour-shifting problem.

Here is the first photo I took with my NEX-7 + SEL10-18/4.  Sorry its just a quick snap outside as weather hasn't been really good here in Melbourne, Australia (and it should be summer!).

1/1600 @ f/4 - 10mm ISO 100
As you can see from the photo, there is some magenta casting but not that much and post processing (ugh!) will be able to minimise this issue.

Now to find a way to minimise this magenta cast;  first suspect was the AWB of the NEX-7. Why the white balance? I've noticed that when I converted the files to DNG in Adobe LR4.3 the Temp is around 5450 and the Tint always has a +3 towards the magenta side.

I went into the NEX-7 White Balance setting and instead of shooting AWB, changed it to Colour Temp/Filter, and dialled in the following setting;

  • Temp: 5400 
  • Filter : A-B:B1 and G-M:G1

1/4000 @ f/4.0 - 10mm ISO 100

You can still see some slight magenta cast but its not as 'bad' as the first one.

This is NOT a SCIENTIFIC test as I still am trying to find the best setting to at least reduce the magenta cast.  

This however highlights another 'weakness' of the NEX-7, the ability to save your setting :(  Come on Sony, at least give us one memory option to store our setting.

Using the lens indoors; the magenta cast is a non-factor.  Here is a quick snap sample (sorry as the photo is not that interesting).  

1/15 @ f/4/.0 - 10mm ISO1600

All I can say personally is that I can work with the NEX-7 + SEL10-18 combo.

I will be doing more testing on the SEL10-18 NEX-7 combo during the holiday period.   For now, I will be keeping my NEX-7 and the NEX-6 and decide which one to keep after the Christmas season.

Keep shooting! :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Sony RX1 - Rolling Review

Before I begin, let me tell you why I chose the RX1 over the A99. I have been a long time a-mount user and slowly gotten rid of it when the NEX cameras were announced.  And since I don't shoot professionally, the A99 will be too much (money and feature-wise) for an enthusiast who just loves taking photos and getting the best image quality.

When Sony first announced the RX1, the internet is abuzz with people that is for it and against it. The main reason is the price! People wanted more functionalities for that price tag.  For the same price, you can get the Sony FF SLT, the A99.

The main concerns of photo enthusiasts it that it should have a built-in EVF and an interchangeable lens.  Another lens mount?? We already have the A-mount and E-mount on the Sony lineup.  And the other thing that concerns other people is the branding, this camera is not under the Sony Alpha family but under the CYBERSHOT RX-series family.

Is the RX1 worth its price tag of almost AU$ 2999 ?? Personally, the answer is a resounding YES.

Here is a comparison of the NEX-7 with the Zeiss 35/2 Distagon and the RX1 with Zeiss 35/2

The lens used in the RX1 is specifically made for the RX1 sensor. Reports are that the rear lens element is just millimetres away from the actual sensor.  Now that is a technological feat on Sony's engineers.

Here is my first shot with the RX1; the rendering of the out-of-focus area is simply Zeiss :)   The sharpness / colours are spot-on.  I haven't gotten into customising the camera for my personal taste/preference so this is what it produced straight-out-of-camera.

Since it's almost Christmas, Melbourne City Christmas Tree;

I also took a photo of a family friend's daughter; again wide open and some cropping.

On the next part of this review, I will show some of the things that I don't like about the RX1 (mostly on the menu system). But it still is the BEST CAMERA I've ever own, bar none.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

a Busy weekend and week ahead - STAY TUNED

Hello everyone.  Sorry I haven't been updating this blog as much as I want to. 

But that is all about to change.

Yesterday my NEX SEL10-18 and the Sony RX1 :) was waiting for me on the front door.  Can't contain my excitement to be honest and there's more on the way..

I am still waiting for the NEX-6 from Sony Australia and hopefully it will get here by Friday (fingers crossed) as I have two Christmas parties to attend to on the weekend.

I will keep this short for now but here are the things that I will be testing (not scientific testing but more for what I need/want from a camera).
  1. NEX-7 with SEL10-18
  2. NEX-6 with SEL10-18
  3. Sony RX1
But before I go, I want to say a big thank you to Sony Australia. Appreciate everything and getting the RX1 to me a week ahead and the other things ;)
And now, here's a side-by-side pic of the Sony RX1 and its little brother, the RX100.

Finally together!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sony's New Shoe and Micro USB

Besides the new hotshoe that Sony will be incorporating on its new line of NEX and SLT's. 

The hotshoe according to the specs has 20-pin and uses Sony Intelligent signals and IS mechanically compatible with competitors accessory.  Does this mean we can use Canon/Nikon speedlites? If this is true, then this will be good news for Sony Alpha strobist.

Another technology included is a Micro USB Port, 15-pin and uses Sony Intelligent Signals and mechanically and functionally compatible with other manufacturers Micro USB accessory which are 5-pins.

What the Sony Intelligent Signal means are a bit vague at the moment, this might be them doing some translation of the signals from other manufacturers into Sony's own interpretation.

Whatever it is, it is a good time to be a Sony NEX / SLT user. No one has done more ground-breaking technology in the photography world than Sony.

Rumored NEX bodies

Just thought I'd share this news from Sony Alpha Rumors.  Sony will be launching two new NEX bodies; NEX-5R, an update of the NEX-5N and NEX-6, a more affordable NEX-7.


Like the NEX-5N, the successor still doesn't have any hotshoe.  This will probably have the same sensor used on the NEX-7 albeit smaller megapixel count.


The NEX-6 has an EVF, if this is as good as the NEX-7 then this will definitely sell, there is also a dial selection on top compared to the previous NEX where the Mode is selected using the MENU on the back of the camera.

This one have the new hotshoe that Sony will be introducing on the NEX and future SLT cameras.  Will this be the 'death' of the Minolta hotshoe? I think so and it's about time as Sony got 'stuck' on that old technology.

The movie record button has also been moved to avoid it being press accidentally. Personally, I prefer the Canon implementation where you have to switch the on/off to dedicated movie mode.

One thing that I like about the new NEX camera's is that they now have the Fn button next to the Shutter.  This feature comes from the NEX-7 and was well received because of the quick access it gives you.

September seems a long time but it's only a few more weeks and then we'll see what this cameras can deliver and more importantly, the PRICE!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RX100 Video Samples

I really am enjoying this point-and-shoot camera from Sony. It has so far exceeded my expectation when it comes to Image Quality and Video Quality.  There are some minor issues that I wish can be addressed by a firmware but it is for me, the best pocketable camera.

Here are some sample videos (full HD @ 50mbps), no editing, just downloaded the mts file straight into hard drive and uploaded to Vimeo.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

NEX-7 Precision Digital Zoom Test

Playing aroung with the NEX-7 Precision Digital Image Zoom.  This is not the same as on the newer Cybershots / SLT / NEX's cameras which Sony called Clear Image Zoom.

Here are some sample shots and I must say that it will do especially if you don't have a lens >100mm focal length.

Lens used is the Minolta AF 100/2 attached to the LA-EA2 adapter. Camera was set to AutoWB, Neutral and STD-JPG, f/8.0 and 1/125 shutter speed.

No Precision Digital Image Zoom

Zoom set to 5x

Zoom set to 10x

With a bit of sharpening in Photoshop (or editing software of your choice), you can definitely sharpen the images and bring out more details.

Personally, I won't hesitate using the Precision Digital Zoom if needed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

TV, Reborn!


I know this is not camera related but just wanted to share the good news to everyone in Australia.

Sony's Google TV has arrived!

Powered by Google Chrome browser, you can access optimised Android app for Google TV, Play Store and Sony's Entertainment Network (Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited).

Here's a video of some lucky Sony X'ers trying out the Google TV.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sony RX100 - More Sample Photos

Here are more photos taken with the Sony RX100. So far I am very impressed with this tiny camera.  All the photos are straight out of camera JPG.

Nice Colours

Flare Control is great!

Taken using the Clear Image Zoom and Digital Zoom

ISO2000 shot, very clean.  I have the High ISO NR set to LOW

Original Scene

Using HDR with 6.0EV brings out the details in the shadow

RX100 Sweep Panorama

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sony RX100 - Part 3 (Sample Photos - Portrait)

Photos are taken using JPG as Lightroom 4.1 still cannot read the RX100 RAW files.  Creative Style set to "Standard" and Aperture Priority-Mode.
No enhancement done except cropping and watermarked.

The RX100's shallow DOF allows you to take great portrait pictures and apply effects on it.  Most cameras would only allow you to do this with Mirrorless Interchangeable Lenses or a DSLR.

1/30 @ f/1.8, ISO800
The RX100 allows you to edit your photos in-camera.  At the moment there are only two options available, Watercolor and Illustration (Low,Mid,High).  I wish future firmware updates would add a B&W option.

The Watercolor Effect, the RX100 does a superb job on applying this effect especially that there is a face involved.  I can't wait to try this on a Landscape photo with plenty of colours.

Watercolor Effect

100% crop

The Illustration Effect, you actually have 3 options when applying this effect.  The highest option shows good constraint on the RX100 side as it didn't turn the whole photo into a comic-like drawing.

1/30 @ f/1.8, ISO640

Illustration Effect : High

Friday, July 13, 2012

Minolta 58 vs Voigtlander 58

I recently got a Voigtlander SLII 58/1.4 Nikon mount but converted to A-Mount using Leitax adapters. The Voigtlander lens retails around $499.00 USD (Nikon Mount) and instead of modifying the mount, you can just buy a direct Nikon-to-NEX adapter.  The only reason I went with a chipped mount was so that the aperture value will be recorded on the EXIF but it doesn't on the LA-EA2 adapter.

Here's what it looks like on the NEX-7 with the LA-EA2 adapter

Both are manual focus lenses and require an  adapter.  The MD-NEX adapter were used on the Minolta MD 58/1.4 and the LA-EA2 adapter on the Voigtlander 58/1.4.  Photos were lighted using 2 x 125W on both sides.  No post processing was done except cropping.

And since I already have a Minolta 58/1.4, might as well see how this two lens compare.

Camera settings used were JPG - Standard, Neutral Picture Style, ISO100.

  1. This is not a scientific test and is purely based on what I personally look for in a lens. The other reason I am doing this test is to see which one has to go.
  2. And since its been cold and wet the past few weeks, the shots were taken indoors. Will be doing an outside shoot for comparison
  3. The reason for different field of view is because both lenses are focus using their MFD (Minimum Focusing Distance)

Minolta MD 58 @ f1.4
Voigtlander 58 @ f1.4

Minolta MD 58 @ f2.8

Voigtlander 58 @ f2.8

The bokeh is clearly 'creamier' on the Voigtlander. The Minolta MD 58/1.4 can still hold its own despite the fact that its a 20+ year old lens with no special coating that are used on newer lenses.

Overall I am happy with the Voigtlander output but I will soon change it back to it's native mount and use a Nikon-to-NEX adapter instead as the LA-EA2 adapter makes it a bulky combination.  How I wish I didn't sell my LA-EA1 adapter.

Using the NEX-7 with either lens really shows the resolving power of the 24mp CMOS sensor that Sony incorporated on the camera.

If you are looking for a f/1.4 lens, I would recommend the Voigtlander if you are after the creamier bokeh, the price is a bit on the high-end. If you already own a Minolta 50/1.4 AF or the Sony 50/1.4 then these two lenses would be more useful with the LA-EA2 as they both auto-focuses and render almost similar bokeh.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sony Cybershot RX100 - Part 2 (Initial Impression)

I've only had the camera for about 10-hours and shot with it about 2-hours today. I will be using the camera extensively this weekend and will post the pics taken afterwards.


Being used to holding the NEX-7 with its grip has me fumbling around on how to steadily hold the RX100. Basically you support the camera around the lens (where you have the function ring).  That's the way I do it as I find it hard to shoot using one hand only.

If you place your left index finger on the left side of the camera you end up holding down the flash. This is the same 'issue' as with the HX20 and other high-end Cybershot cameras.

Pressing the 'Playback' button on the camera (while it is off), turns on the camera but not for shooting but only for viewing photos / videos recorded. But the only way to turn the camera off is to press the On/Off switch twice!

Menu System

The menu is very similar to any Alpha SLT/SLR or NEX cameras, user-friendly and intuitive.  Although there are some settings that I wish are also on the NEX-7. I will only list the setting that I think should be on the NEX as well. The rest are pretty standard settings.

  1. Aspect Ratio. The RX100 allows you to choose up to 4 aspect ratio. They are 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1.  
  2. Auto ISO, you can set the lower limit to ISO125 and the upper limit to ISO6400
  3. ISO AUTO uses the Multi Frame Noise Reduction algorithm of the camera where it takes multiple shots (around 4-shots) and then gives you a 'cleaner image'. ONLY WORKS IN JPEG.
  4. Memory Recall. This allows you to save up to 3 user defined settings that you can easily access without having to go through the menu system and setup each setting. The newer Cybershots have this functionality and yet even the high-end NEX camera doesn't have it. 
  5. Steadyshot. These setting can be found on both the Still section and the Movie Setting section of the menu.  On the Movie section, you have 3 options; Active, Standard or Off.  On the Still section, you only have On and Off.
  6. Drop Sensor. This function has been carried over from the Handycam where the camera detects if it is falling to protect the internal harddrive, maybe it also locks the OSS / lens retract to its housing as well.
the annoying stuff...
  1. The Audio Signals setting, well what it does is it turns AF confirmation sound
  2. Picture Effect. Found on two sections of the Menu, one on the Still Shooting Menu and the other on the Playback Menu. The difference between the two is that on the Still Shooting Menu, it gives you the normal Toy, Rich B&W, Miniature, etc setting while the one on the Playback Menu allows you to apply either ILLUSTRATION or WATERCOLOR Effect on any photos taken (JPG ONLY).

Sony Cybershot RX100 - Part 1

Being a long time NEX-7 user, one of its (personally) disadvantage is that it is not pocket-able, I've decided that I need a P&S camera that I can bring with me any-time and anywhere. After much debate on whether to get the new Sony Cybershot HX20, I've opted to go with the recently announced Sony RX100. The 1-inch sensor and the shallow DOF are the main reason why I chose the RX100.

The RX100 is a whole new line of Cybershot cameras and it fills the gap between the Cybershot and the NEX cameras.  

Here is the NEX-7 and the RX100 camera side-by-side for comparison.

What's IN THE BOX:  The box does not include any CD, PlayMemories Home is on the camera (which installs on your PC once you plug it in). PlayMemories Home is not compatible with MAC. I hope Sony will address this issue.

Contents: 1 x Power Adapter, 1 x Cord plug (depending on your country), 2 x small lanyard (to connect it to a neck strap (not included)), 1 x wrist strap, 1 x USB cable (to be used for charging either direct on PC or using the Power Adapter).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Bad Case of CA

I've read some reviews about the Zeiss 24/1.8 having some CA (Chromatic Aberration) issues at wide open but mostly on the corners and not smack in the middle.  I've had some time to finally use the lens after having it since January and I am a bit disappointed specially for the price I paid for it.

Before writing this blog, I sent a copy of the photos to Sony AU for their technical support team to have a look at.  In fairness, they did say that until they can test it themselves. Anyway the lens has been sent to their Service Centre for testing.  UPDATE: I was informed that they will just replace the lens. I don't know why but it is another 2 week wait.

I must admit that the lighting conditions are tricky and I probably should not be shooting at wide open but I never expected this from a $1200 USD lens!

Here are the photos I am talking about and you be the judge.
100% crop on top right corner of image below

100% crop centre of image below

Saturday, April 14, 2012

SLRMagic Bokehmorphic Lens for NEX

First, let me just say a BIG THANK YOU to SLR Magic for the very professional customer service experience. I did not receive the first delivery of my lens and upon informing them, they called me up (overseas call) and told me that they will be shipping a new one (express) to my hotel as I was in a work conference. This kind of service are rare these days so keep it up guys!

I've always been fascinated by those beautiful bokeh shapes that you see in photos. Most of them are achieved by simple DIY projects but since I really don't have the time to do those kind of projects (i'm just lazy!) because of family and work commitments. I pre-ordered once I've heard that SLR Magic is releasing this lens. Price is affordable and the build quality is excellent. I own the SLR Magic 35/1.7 lens and comparing the two, the 28mm Bokehmorphic lens is a better built compared to their 35/1.7.  It is thicker compared to the Sony SEL 16/2.8 lens. 

What's in the box?

NOTE: Missing rubber colour bands.  My copy didn't contain one but SLR Magic has sent one already so I should be receiving it soon.

Sample Photos using the Shapes Bokeh

It lacks a bit of contrast for my taste. I had to boost the contrast +15 on these pics on Lightroom 4.
Heart-shape Bokeh
Sun-shape Bokeh
Star-shape Bokeh

As a Normal Lens

One of the choices you have is a 'circle-shape' which should mimic the  bokeh shapes of normal lenses. Here's a couple of shots taken with it.  I must admit that centre portion of the image, sharpness is acceptable.  I actually like the 'character' that this lens produce especially when using it with the NEX-7 Rich B&W Picture style.  These two pics are unedited!

Rich B&W of the NEX-7


I enjoy using this lens. Price-wise it is affordable. Like previously mentioned, it can be used as a normal lens and with Sony NEX's Focus Peaking, it is easy to nail the focus.  Trying to get the bokeh to appear will teach you where to place the subject against the background.
This lens might even come in handy if you are shooting weddings, birthdays or any family event.  Would you use it for paid professional work, why not? I'm sure couples would love to see a background of 'heart-shape' lights during the reception or church shots.

If you are looking for a 28mm FL lens and at the same time you have an option to change the bokehshape (without adding anything in front of the lens) then this is for you.

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