Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Samsung NX500: Unboxing and First Impressions

As I wrote last week, I found the Samsung NX500 to be impressive enough on paper that I ordered one.  Here is the unboxing:

I shot with it briefly today.  I'm still working on a preliminary review but here are my first impressions:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In a couple of hours, I will be on my way to UAE where I will be spending three days. I will be visiting both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I’ve never been there before, but I know that there will be excellent photographic opportunities there. So, instead of just taking the LX100 (which is a very capable camera, especially in video), I decided to take a more flexible setup. It has to be small, and it has to fit in my ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NX500 Puts Samsung on the Map

Some cameras have the power to change the conversation about its manufacturer.  The Olympus E-M5, Fuji X100, Sony RX1 and Sony a6000 are examples of cameras that have each dramatically altered public perception of their manufacturers.  I believe that the Samsung NX500, which was released just last week, will be the camera that puts Samsung on the map.
(Image by Samsung)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LX100 Auto Lens Cap

I want to show you here a few photos for installing the official Panasonic LX100 auto lens cap. There won't be a lot of text though, things are straight forward. In short, it works as expected, and the final camera thickness stays the same; so it still fits in my small Lowepro case. The only thing that wasn't straight forward is the amount of force needed to remove the existing cover first, just be brave and twist with a bit of force.
Click through for the rest of the photos.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review Part 1: Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 Macro (on MFT)

In this post I will give you a brief review on the Tamron SP 90 lens as a portraiture lens and as a macro lens when mounted on a Micro Four Thirds camera. In part 2, I will review how it performs on a full frame sensor.

P.S. Look how elegant the top plate on the E-M1 looks. Now compare that to the bland Sony A7II I showed you earlier.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Triggering a Camera and a Flash Simultaneously with the Yongnuo RF603

When Mohammad posted his review of the YN-560TX, there was a question from one of our readers about whether you can trigger a camera and a flash at the same time with the Yongnuo RF603.  The question has been asked on DPReview previously  .This capability can be useful for sports (to capture multiple angles of the same shot), or architecture / real estate, for example.  I have tried several combinations of Yongnuo triggers and flashes without success, until finally I got a combination that did work.  It was so simple that I was kicking myself for not having thought of it previously.

with one speedlight

Friday, March 13, 2015

First outing with the Sony A7 II and the Zeiss 55 f/1.8

I traveled on a one-day trip to Alexandria with a few of my close friends, and it was the perfect chance to get familiar with the new A7 Mark II and the Zeiss FE 55 f/1.8.

You can consider this post as a quick hands-on post on the A7II + Zeiss 55 combo. A first in a series of posts to cover all my impressions on the A7II specifically, and a few lenses along the way.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sony E 16 2.8 Review Part 2: fisheye and ultrawide converters

This is a continuation of our review of the Sony 16 f/2.8 for the E-mount (Part 1 here).  In this part, we will discuss the two converters for the 16 2.8: a fisheye converter (VCL-ECF1) and an ultrawide converter (VCL-ECU1). 

First, I will describe the two converters.  I will then discuss the rationale and performance of each converter, starting with the fisheye, then the ultrawide.

Before we go on to the review, I want to mention a couple of footnotes:

1. If you've tried cheap wide angle converters before, you may think that these converters are just gimmicks.  But these are entirely different and are very good quality converters.

2. When Sony announced their new lenses on March 4, 2015, they also announced "new" versions of the converters, the VCL-ECF2 fisheye and VCL-ECU2 ultrawide.  As far as I can tell, they are identical to the old converters, with the same specs and same optical formulae.  The only difference between the new converters and the old ones seems to be that the new versions are black (matching the finish of the 20 2.8) while the previous versions are silver (matching the finish of the 16 2.8).  The VCL-ECF2 and ECU2 are advertised as being compatible with the 20 2.8, but so are the ECF1 and ECU1.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Must-Have Lens Cap for Sony and MFT Pancake Zooms

If you have a Sony 16-50 OSS or Panasonic 14-42 PZ (and possibly the Panasonic 12-32 or Olympus 14-42 EZ), you have to have this lens cap!  I'll let the video speak for itself.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I'll point out the advantages:
  • Protects the lens from dust and scratches
  • Much faster and easier than using a regular lens cap.
  • Never lose or drop your lens cap.
  • Never forget to attach your lens cap after using your lens.
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Matches the look of your lens
On the last point, the build quality of this auto lens cap is surprisingly good.  Yes, it's plastic, but the plastic isn't as cheap-looking as the generic 3-leaf auto lens cap that I have.  The leaves close fully, with no visible gap.  The JJC auto cap also has grooves on its sides that are similar (but not identical) to the grooves of the focus ring on my Sony 16-50.  Finally, the face of the JJC auto cap has very fine concentric grooves that give the cap a sheen, without making it look cheesy.

To be fair, there are some disadvantages:
  • Not as protective as the original lens cap.  The leaves that will cover your lens are only plastic, and about as thin as the automatic lens covers commonly found on point and shoot cameras.  They won't give way even when pressing them, but they won't protect your lens from a strong impact, or from a diagonal impact that could push away the leaves.  I would recommend storing your camera in a camera bag when not using it, or possibly putting a slip-on/push-on cover over it.
  • Can't use a lens hood.  The Sony 16-50 and Panasonic 14-42 PZ don't come with hoods but some people use a screw on lens hood, which you can't use with this auto lens cap.  A minor complaint is that I wish the auto cap for the 16-50 had a rectangular opening, like the auto cap for the Panasonic.  A rectangular opening would decrease the chance of flare.
  • Difficult to use a filter.  If you attach a filter to your lens then put this auto lens cap over the filter, the button that closes the lens cap will be too far from the body of the lens, so the auto cap won't close properly if you have a filter on your lens.  It is theoretically possible to put something on the lip of your lens body so that the cap's button will still be pressed even with a filter in between, but I haven't tried it.  A more practical solution is to use square filter, handheld.
  • Covers the labels on the lens; no brand visible. This lens will cover the labels printed on the front of the lens.  Also, unlike the original lens cap, it doesn't have the brand stamped on it.  This is hardly a disadvantage but I just wanted to mention it. 
JJC has two versions of this auto lens cap - one for the Sony 16-50, and another for the Panasonic 14-42 PZ. The Panasonic 14-42 PZ has a filter size of 37mm, as do the Panasonic 12-32 and Olympus 14-42 EZ.  It therefore seems that the Panasonic version of this cap might also work on the Panasonic 12-32 and Olympus 14-42 EZ but I haven't tried it.

Update: for the Olympus 14-42 EZ, you can get the Olympus LC-37C lens cap which is similar to this lens cap.  The LC-37C has been confirmed to fit on the Panasonic 12-32, which makes it more likely that this JJC auto cap would also work on those lenses, and vice-versa.

I got mine on eBay.  Most sellers seem to sell it for around $20.  I got mine for $15 from seller Rainbowimaging (we're not affiliated with them and receive no commissions).  Considering the advantages, I think the price is very reasonable.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What's New? BFP Index Update and Future Posts

Mohammad and I have resolved to update the Better Family Photos Index.  It's a huge task because the index hasn't been updated since September 2011, so we're going to do it a few months at a time.  We're also slightly reorganizing the index.  Today's update adds articles from all of 2014 to March 4, 2015.
Meanwhile, we have a huuuuuuuuge number of posts planned.  We need your help to let us know what kinds of articles you would want us to prioritize.  Here are just some of them:
  • Camera reviews (Sony A7II, Panasonic LX100, Sony a6000 long term, full frame vs. Micro Four Thirds)
  • Lens reviews (Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-mount, adapted lenses)
  • Lighting (technique and gear)
  • Technique (shooting, postprocessing, etc.)
  • Video (shooting and editing)
  • Accessories (Sekonic light meter, spydercube, filters, etc.)
Please let us know in the comments which ones you'd like us to prioritize.  Please let us know as well if you have any photography-related questions that you'd like us to cover.  Have a great weekend!