Compression and Bokeh Fuji 90mm f2 vs. Mitakon Speedmaster 85. Prt.1 of two

Over the next couple of days I'm going to be testing the Fuji 90mm vs the Mitakon 85 sm, though the price may seem initially different the mitakon requires a speedbooster to adapt to fuji cameras bringing it up to just about the same cost of the 90mm which is 900 dollars at the time of writing. So now that they are in the same price bracket one would assume that they are only 5mm difference in focal length whats the point in testing them? Well one is a ff equivalent in otherwords it is truly a 85mm f.95 whereas the other is 90mm but in apsc terms this equates to a 135mm lense. Another big difference is sharpness and the use of autofocus. I had initially conducted a test with both lenses but I did not do a particularly good job of it. I was moving, changing the apertures and iso. To conduct a fair test i will do the test indoors at same distance, on a tripod with a shutter release with a static model. This post is rather a declaration of intent. Below is a few samples from each lense.

Speedmaster 85mm

Speedmaster 85mm

Fuji 90mm f2

Fuji 90mm f2

Speedmaster 85mm

Speedmaster 85mm

Fuji 90mm f2

Fuji 90mm f2

Fuji Xp2 Crops

Short post about resolving power of the X-Trans III. In the studio I decided to go for a more detailed approach with the Xpro2 then a artsy one and decided to stop the lens down to f2 ( Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm) and keep the Iso relatively low. When you combine these things with DR setting pumped to 200% you get magic... And quite a bit of resolving power. 

Full quality image.  

Full quality image.  

The picture above was taken at Iso 320, f2 and 1/550th of a second. The lighting used was a Fotodiox Flapjack Studio Xl. The lens used was a Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm with a Canon ef to Fuji x Speedbooster.

Huge crop in with lots of usable detail ! 

Huge crop in with lots of usable detail ! 

Not so daily blog #9

It has been a while and a busy couple of months. I have been learning alot of new techniques and working on pushing myself out of box to try new styles of shooting. I have done quite a few shoots in a studio environment with the Sigma Sd Quattro H and really tried to push its limits. I have also found new love with the Fuji Xpro2 when paired with ultra fast manual glass. 

When I first started shooting I thought best gear meant I could get the best shots. But then I would goto flickr and look what some talented people were doing great things with the same equipment I had or even less then. Thats when I realized I needed to start pushing myself and my equipment harder. So I made sure I had the basics which to me are a decent set of primes, a speed light and a led light. I also have two vastly different camera systems. The Sigma Sdqh and the Fuji Xpro2, both have great image quality but specialize in very different things. The Sigma offers unyieldingly wonderful image quality if you work for it, and the Fuji has very good quality and a good autofocus system when paired with native glass. 

 

Sigma Sd Quattro H

Sigma Sd Quattro H

Fuji Xpro 2

Fuji Xpro 2

As you can see the coloring is very different from the Sigma to the Fuji but both are beautiful in their own way ! 

The Ferocious Foveon

Over the past 6 months I have shot extensively with the Sigma Sd Quattro and H model and my conclusion is that it may be my favorite system to pull amazings shots with. It has its struggles one of which I have found to be microblurring but that is more a fault of my own then of the camera. It needs a tripod and or a steady steady hand. Usually I am able to provide a steady hand but when walking around with gear and a 4 camera setup it starts to get to you. 

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It's purpose was never street or urban portraits but I have pushed it successfully many times and when I do things right it delivers like a medium format camera. 

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I have used it quite abit in the portrait realm and for slow steady shootings it's really a beast. It has taken quite a few shots alot of people have really loved and with the Sigma's largest yet apsh sized sensor, the bokeh and depth of field have both been radically improved.

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Sigma Sd Quattro H Review- MegaPixel Monster or Mess

After a solid month of shooting with the Sigma Sd Quattro H which for the purpose of my sanity I will abbreviate to SDQH for this article, I can talk with with some useful knowledge about the pro's and con's of this camera.

Specs-

Lens Mount- Sigma SA

Camera Format- APS-H (1.3x Crop Factor)

Pixels Actual: 45 Megapixel
Effective: 44.8 Megapixel

Max Resolution- 25.5 MP: 6192 x 4128

Aspect Ratio- 3:2

Sensor Type / Size- CMOS, 26.6 x 17.9 mm

File Formats- Still images: JPEG, RAW

Bit Depth- 14-bit

Memory Card- TypeSD, SDHC, SDXC

Image Stabilization- None

Iso Range- 100-6400

Shutter Type/ Speed- Electric or Mechanical, 1/4000th of a sec

Flash Sync Speed- 1/180th of a sec

Size: 5.8 x 3.7 x 3.6 in. (147 x 95 x 91 mm)

Review-

Using this camera for mainly portraiture so I will review it as portrait camera, so far I haven't been able to use this camera for landscapes which I know it will succeed in that form as well.  This camera has been used for two professional shoots, one during a quite rainy day which to be honest terrified me, but with the sealing on this camera and the 85mm Art it held up quite well. That leads me to the issue of durability and build quality.

The camera itself is build like a tank especially considering it is only $1200 hundred dollars at time of writing. The fit and finish is top notch, the camera is made from a magnesium alloy and covered in a leather-est type of plastic that has a very pleasing feel. The camera itself is surprisingly light considering it's size, but that pleasant fact is negated quite quickly by the length and weight of the Art Series of lenses by Sigma. The camera is also very well sealed against the elements in the form of a seal around the lens mount and sealed ports as well as the battery compartment which I have heard described as a submarine door, it is a twist lock and seal which has very quality feel to it. The buttons have very solid feel to them and in my opinion is that they won't wear out easily. The dials have very definite clicks and are very well implemented on the body and are easy to reach. As to whether the body is comfortable to hold I had my doubts if it would be comfortable but i was pleasantly surprised as it was very comfortable to hold and shoot even after a relatively long shoot. 

Sigma Sd Quattro H with Pg-41 power grip by Sigma.

Sigma Sd Quattro H with Pg-41 power grip by Sigma.

Sigma Sd Quattro without grip and front view, Body has same specs as the H model

Sigma Sd Quattro without grip and front view, Body has same specs as the H model

The next thing i will address it the image quality of the SDQH, I'm not going to get into crazy specifics because I am trying to show the average person what the camera can do not specific bit quality or pixel size or the debate between foveon and bayer. To put it simply the SDQH is a megapixel monster of that is no doubt. You can zoom in well past 100% and still have remarkable detail, even under less then favorable light. The prints you can achieve with this camera are basically on par with the Pentax 645z for detail but the 3-d effect you achieve with a larger then 35mm format sensor isn't here though sadly. But for 5 thousand dollars and some change less can you really complain? I can't and won't. For the portrait sessions I have used this camera on I really haven't wanted to put it away and use my other cameras. It is good, and the files are scary sharp. If you shoot in mostly jpegs like I do ( I know I'm a fool don't have to tell me ) the bnw files come out to be around 20-25 mb's and the color files can run 25-35 mb. If you choose to shoot in .dng or .x3f the files are ridiculous. The ones i have seen have been in the 100 mb range and more. A simple snap of a scotch bottle in my room was a 141 mb .dng and that was not a well lit photo that would push the dynamic range of the file. Here are a few websized images from a few shoots I have done with the SDQH.

Bre by the Sea

Bre by the Sea

As you can see the camera makes awesomely sharp files and the bokeh from the Art series of lenses is quite pleasing to my eyes, it may not be to some bokeh-philes but for my purposes and to the average consumers it is quite fantastic. Now this brings me to the purpose of bringing up the lenses. They are central to this camera as are any lenses to any format or ecosystem of cameras, but for Sigma they are something special something a little bit above. The lens wasn't built to compliment the body, the body was built to compliment the lens. The lens are fantastically sharp and manage to create very pleasing images in terms of color reproduction and bokeh. 

Cons-

I promised to always be fair and unbiased in my reviews and as much to pains me to do this to a camera I love... I have to be true to you my reader. The auto-focus is accurate, but slow, and when I say slow I mean you can fall in love with your model, start a relationship, start a family and watch the grand kids play in the front yard before this thing focuses. That is my biggest complaint with the system, the high iso performance isn't great but that's expected with a foveon system because of the sensor architecture. The foveon is built in three layers of color instead of a mosaic patterned sensor. This means the light and color is more accurately reproduced but at the loss of low light performance. That was a trade off I was willing to make. That's also a choice you have to make if you want to experience foveon magic. Also a word to the wise have fun learning the off camera flash game with this camera. It has made me a better man that's all I will say.

Conclusion and Final Opinion-

The Camera is a MegaPixel monster as well as a hot mess, but that's ok with me. I like to think I am a fairly technical photographer and I like to shoot and re-shoot till I have a image I'm happy with and the SDQH is really great if you want a camera that challenges you but creates a fantastic image if you're patient. The system isn't a upcoming system as foveon and Sigma have been producing camera's since 2002, you would hope that they would have more complete ecosystem and it is fairly deep in regards to lenses and flashes, but I wish they would make off camera flash more universal so that wireless HSS and TTL were available. But all in all I really enjoyed the camera and its quite fun to pixel peep, if you're into that kind of thing. But then again who isn't. Overall rating 9/10. 

Sincerely, The Bird

 

Not so daily Blog #8

This has been a very interesting week it started in Houston and with me on a 72 hour work trip. On that trip I slept maybe 3 or 4 hours. But it gave me opportunity to take some city landscape photos of a big city during a lightning storm. 

City light and the sky Fight  

City light and the sky Fight  

I also am in the pipeline to review Sigma's nw 135mm Art along with reviewing their full portrait lineup 50mm Art and 85mm Art. 

I had also setup a shoot at a local fire festival but it unfortunately fell apart, on the bright side I made new friends with a radom family that was kind enough to let me borrow their wife and mother to use as a model. We did a cross themed shoot on the local sea wall and I believe it turned out beautifully!  

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Not so Daily Blog #7

My life has been amazingly hectic the past few days and I have been mulling over expanding my hobbies quite significantly. I have always loved cooking and meal prep and after having some inspiration I have decided to take up cooking again.

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Not so Daily Blog #6

Had a wonderful portrait session this morning with a good friend, we were testing the sigma lens on the Fuji body there is wonderful bokeh due to the super bright f1.4 aperture but it unfortunately is not terribly sharp at center is a rather prone to mis-focus but that may be a user error more then a testament to the lens. The Fuji 90mm f2 is rapidly becoming a favourite for me in the tight headshot category. 

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Sigma 85mm f/1.4 on Fuji Xpro2

I also broke out the 50mm Art on the Sigma Sd Quattro H and had some wonderful results ! 

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Daily blog #5

For the past 2 days I have been trying out adapted Sigma Art lens on the Fuji X-Pro 2 with a adapter from Pixco. It has been a interesting experience. Will update with a full review and testing. For now is some sample images. Ps it is manual focus only and a fixed aperture. 

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Daily Blog #4

Today was a relatively unproductive day. The only thing good that happened was I learned a new lighting setup and I replaced a soft shutter release. Also cooked for the famly a traditional Japanese dish called Sukiyaki. I liked it, they didn't. All is well though. Tomorrow I have a shoot in the morning with a model i had previously worked with and who I had good results with. So tomorrow will be a good day, also will have a student working with me to learn about composition and hss lighting so that shall be a interesting experience. 

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Daily Blog #3.5

Life for a semi-professional photographer is difficult. It's a constant struggle to balance a emotionally draining job with starting a business and then familial responsibility. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. It has given me a appreciatation for alot that my generation takes for granted. It has made me more fiscally aware of what things cost and the impact random circumstances have on a budget. It has also made me more observant about my surroundings. I travel around my town quite a bit and meet really interesting people and I can't wait to meet people from the surrounding communities and cities as well. People are what makes this possible profession so attractive. Peace for today. 

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Daily Blog #2.5

I missed yesterday's blog due to real life taking up all my time. So today shall be a inbetweener (you can laugh now). I have been seeing alot of poetry floating around the web, it almost feels like a tumblr takeover. Me personally I like descriptive poetry that has to do with resilience and self-empowerment. The issues of loss, moving on, bad romance, loneliness and hope and coping with those things appeals very much to me as a person. What bothers me is the quality of the literature that we consume daily and that we take at face value. Its all condensed and opinionated, usually leaning towards perpetual victimhood. I can understand the beginning of a book or a poetry compilation dealing with the negative or morose but I need alittle conflict resolution. Real life doesn't have enough of it, seems the world is constantly about to spin out of axis accordingly to everyone. When I frame my work with words I always want to inspire the same way other writers or artist inspired me. We need a little light in this darkness. Some good reads below.

  • The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas
  • John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  • The Complete Works of Lord Byron 

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Daily Blog #1

In my daily blog I want to talk about the philosophy of photography and my thoughts on certain relevant issues. This blog will never be anything other than photography, there is other place to think and discuss those matters. Here is a place for art and my musings. Today's musings have to deal with individualism in the world of modern art. In a world driven by egotism and personal image art has largely started to reflect that. Artist create grandiose images that say very little about themselves as a artist and are more of grinded images in the sense that they are crowd pleasers. I am by no mean's innocent of that, everyone gives up a little artistic freedom to make art more marketable. But that doesn't mean that we should ever stop innovating as content creators. We should make art that inspires other to action or to try their hand at a new craft. Art should be framed by words so as to drive a narrative of your creation. The beautiful thing is anyone can look at a piece of art and find something different tp love or dislike, but when you express your thoughts and feelings to accompany the art people understand art as a extension of you. As always that's simply my opinion but I think people are ready for a refresh in the way we consume works of art. JT the Bird  

Faceless on the Rocks  

Faceless on the Rocks  

The History, From Chemical to Digital, Prt.2

Last week i discussed how the first commercial photo processes were created, first the daguerreotype process as well as the calotype process. The daguerreotype process was printed onto polished metal whereas the calotype produced a type of early negative. Since the very first photo was taken people and scientist have been questing to give their photos color. The problem was that since pictures were created by long exposures the color was very light sensitive and even under dim light the colors would soon dissipate. The first color photograph that had color that did not fade or was considered durable was taken by Thomas Sutton in 1861 for Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell. His idea was to take three identical exposures with a blue, red and green filter which would after be projected through the identical corresponding color projection film . This was comparable to a modern day foveon type of sensor, which instead of a mosaic type filter being overlayed onto a sensor the foveon has three varying colored silicon layers that translate all light into a sensor. The problem with that way of creating color was that it was very inaccurate and didn't provide very clear details.

The next major invention in the world of color photography was the autochrome plate. The autochrome plate was truly revolutionary in the world of photography as it created accurate color using a mosaic pattern using dyed starch grains to create a color photograph. It is basically the same process that the bayer type sensor uses to create images now. The autochrome was created by the Lumiere brother in France and marketed in 1917 and was in use till the 1930's when the first color film was invented and put into general use. The process was done by separating variously dyed starch grains by size and organizing them onto a glass sheet that was covered in adhesive. To make the mosaic more conducive to light transmission the plate was then pressed with over 5 tons of weight to flatten and align the pattern. To put into prospective how many starch grains were required, the was 5,000,000 gpi (grain per inch) ratio used to produce the autochrome plate. Even with all these advances in technology there was no way that was fast enough to capture quick shots or to make handheld photography viable.

Microphoto_of_Autochrome_plate.jpg

The last major innovation in the advances toward modern color photography was colored film and advent of Kodak's widely popular #1 model. The camera came with a 100 shot roll of film pre-loaded, the idea was to take 100 shots and return the camera to the factory to have the film exposed and a new roll of film loaded into the camera to use. With Kodak's popularity increasing and being a cultural phenomena at the time it allowed for Kodak to work towards creating a colored film which was finally debuted in 1935 and truly revolutionized the industry it was known as Kodachrome. It captured red, green and blue colors in 3 layers of emulsion, and with this process colors like magenta and cyan are captured in the layers. While Kodak would popularize film and colored film in general it wasn't until 1913-1915 that 35mm cine film became popular for use in still photography.

While the 35mm format had been around since 1908 the format didn't achieve it's legendary status until 1925 when Leica released the ur-leica camera body which used 35mm film natively. This soon spawn several competitors like Contax and Ziess. The competition between these 3 companies jump started the photography industry and led to the eventual development of notable brand such as Canon, Nikon, and Fuji. All this innovation and the war of competing technology led to the Reflex type camera. With the advent of the Reflex patterned camera the industry soon advanced towards digital media. Which I will discuss in detail in the next blog post. Thanks for sticking around and listening to what i believe to be a fascinating history of photography. Full reviews and sample photos from the Panasonic Gx8, Sigma Sd Quattro and Sd Quattro h, FujiFilm X-Pro 2, and Olympus Tg-4 are upcoming along with lens reviews from each ecosystem.

The History, From Chemical to Digital. Prt 1 of 3

Part of the reason I became interested in photography is the science of it and the history that has accompanied the process of going from chemical to digital photography. The first year that photography became viable commercially was in 1839, It was the development of the deguerreotype process by Louis Deguerreo that truly made photography doable and repeatable as before this process it was a hit and miss science. With the D.P. process it only took minutes to process a exposure and it was surprisingly clear and crisp for the time all things considering.

"To make a daguerreotype, the daguerreotyp-ist would polish a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish, treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive, expose it in a camera for as long as was judged to be necessary, which could be as little as a few seconds for brightly sunlit subjects or much longer with less intense lighting; make the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; remove its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment, rinse and dry it, then seal the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure." (excerpt from Wikipedia).

This process actually created in a sense a 3-D image as the picture appeared to float on the surface of the of the metal creating a feeling of realism that is hard to capture even now. For more then twenty years this process was the only way to make photograph reliably.

Daguerreotype of Louis Daguerre in 1844 by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot

Daguerreotype of Louis Daguerre in 1844 by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot

The next real innovation in photography was actually several hundred years in the making. Angelo Sala in 1614 observed that silver nitrate blackened when exposed to sunlight but was dismissed by his peers. It wasn't until 1717, 103 years later, that Johann Heinrich Schulzes a professor accidentally learned about making a image imprint when he left a piece of silver nitrate on his window seal and observed a white line surrounded by blackened silver nitrate. Upon examination he found a thread hanging in his window that would have cast a shadow effectively not exposing part of the silver nitrate. William Henry Fox Talbot would be the man to harness this process to create what we know as a calotype.

"The light-sensitive silver halide in calotype paper was silver iodide, created by the reaction of silver nitrate with potassium iodide. First, "iodised paper" was made by brushing one side of a sheet of high-quality writing paper with a solution of silver nitrate, drying it, dipping it in a solution of potassium iodide, then drying it again. At this stage, the balance of the chemicals was such that the paper was practically insensitive to light and could be stored indefinitely. When wanted for use, the side initially brushed with silver nitrate was now brushed with a "gallo-nitrate of silver" solution consisting of silver nitrate, acetic acid and gallic acid, then lightly blotted and exposed in the camera. Development was effected by brushing on more of the "gallo-nitrate of silver" solution while gently warming the paper. When development was complete, the calotype was rinsed, blotted, then either stabilized by washing it in a solution of potassium bromide, which converted the remaining silver iodide into silver bromide in a condition such that it would only slightly discolor when exposed to light, or "fixed" in a hot solution of sodium thiosulphate, then known as hyposulphite of soda and commonly called "hypo", which dissolved the silver iodide and allowed it to be entirely washed out, leaving only the silver particles of the developed image and making the calotype completely insensitive to light. The calotype process produced a translucent original negative image from which multiple positives could be made by simple contact printing. This gave it an important advantage over the daguerreotype process, which produced an opaque original positive that could only be duplicated by copying it with a camera." (Excerpt from wikipedia)

The calotype could have been far more popular then it was at the time but due to Talbot's patent on the process it slowed down adoption very drastically as he would sue willly nilly anyone who used the same process. Even with his legal aggression the calotype still forms the basis for modern film photography. 

 

 

Willy smiling by Mary Dillwyn

Willy smiling by Mary Dillwyn

The desire for pictures arose in the Industrial age from middle class workers and from the rich and wealthy who didn't like to wait or have the time for a oil painting to be completed and delivered. With a photo using the daguerreotype method the picture could be had in just a few hours with prices ranging from 50 cents to over 10 dollars. Doesn't sound like much but if you factor in inflationthat would be 15 dollars to almost 300 dollars per shot. Since it was so hard to produce and store daguerreotype prints eventually people started to turn to calotype photography due to the fact that negatives could be used to produce multiple prints.

That is all for today guys, tomorrow I will discuss how color came into popular use and how the first transportable cameras came about. But as for today have a wonderful evening and a great day ! 

Sincerely, The BIrd.

Start of a Journey

This website and the ideas have been in development for quite a while now.I wanted to be sure i would have a audience to discuss an art form that I am passionate about. That art is photography, the original meaning of photography meant to write or draw with light, to be able to see the changes and still be able to participate in a century old art is something I love. I am by no means a expert but one day i hope to have helped people understand photography and their gear a little better while still producing beautiful art along the way. This blog will include everything from gear reviews to travel reviews in relation to photography. Photography has such a wide spectrum of inclusion now it wouldn't be fair to not try to understand all the different forms and uses of it. My goal is to never have a equipment bias regardless of how much money I personally shelled out or didn't. I want to be honest in all things. Please feel free to help me along in my journey it is for you the reader after all. Depending on the success of this blog and whether I can continue to be a professional photographer and reviewer I may start a YouTube channel to provide a visual element to my adventures and reviews. As in all things I will give you my best and do my best to be informed and updated. The reason I have named the account Bird is the Name is that I feel like a bird hopping from idea to idea, and I have always chased freedom and I think that with photography and travel you can attain a certain kind of freedom. So now that you understand what I am trying to do, maybe you'll help me along the way to becoming successful. Thank you in advance and have a wonderful 2017. Sincerely, The Bird

Caged Grace

Caged Grace