Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm on the Sigma Sd Quattro H

While I love Sigma and their relentless pursuit of image fidelity and quality they slightly have shot themselves in the foot with their choice of mount on their new cameras. The cameras themselves are excellently built, rugged and capable studio and location shoot tools. Sigma capture pro is coming along nicely and allows for tethered .x3f and .dng shooting though I wish Sigma would allow for scaling the program for users with 4k screens. This brings me back to mount choice,the SA mount is very similar to Pentax K and has only a bayonet difference and it has the same registry distance as canon ef (44mm) . The problem lies in that only Sigma makes glass and while they have a rather fleshed out lineup I find myself wanting more specialized glass ie ultra fast apertures, trioplan style, more artist focused lenses. If they were to copy the Sony-FE mount or make something with a short flange distance the ability to adapt glass from various other mounts would make the system a whole hell of alot more viable to the average photographer. But there is one mount that is adaptable quiet easily M42. From m42 you adapt a few different style of lens like Pentacon and 6x6 lens. For the purpose of this review I used a Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm f2.8 lens paired with a unknown pentacon to m42 adaptor, then with a Kipon M42 to SA adaptor. The lens is obviously manual focus and with the focus peaking available by default with the Sdqh it is not terrible to use. I do recommend good lighting or the use of flash because the liveview of the sdqh becomes quite mushy and grainy without good light. 

 

 First shot with Zeiss Jena, Godox ad360

First shot with Zeiss Jena, Godox ad360

As you can see in tbe above photo the Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm really leans towards the green spectra in terms of color, it also has a high amount of chromatic aberration when paired with the foveon x3, but renders quite a bit sharper then what I was expecting from a very old lens. 

 

 Low light night photography

Low light night photography

Now the real question is, how's the bokeh? It's Tony the Tiger levels of great to be honest. Bokeh balls are round and soapy, compression is fantastic and dof is 3d-ish.

I'm truly happy with this lens particularly and with how it pairs onto the Sigma.  

Down to some specs, 

Aperture: f/ 2,8 - f/ 32

Weight (gr): 1350

Length (mm): 120

Filter Ø (mm.): 86

Aperture blades: 9

Min. focus distance (m.): 1.7

It has a super smooth focusing ring and very audible and noticeable clicks on the aperture ring. 

 

 Paired with the SDQH

Paired with the SDQH

 f2.8, 1/800th Iso-100 with ad360

f2.8, 1/800th Iso-100 with ad360

Since the SDQH already isn't fantastic in low light even when paired with 1.4 primes it obviously is gonna need artificial lighting frequently to which I pair the Sigma ef-630 flash and the Godox Ad360 it has tons less abberations then when only paired with natural light.

 

 f2.8, 1/1250th sec, Iso-100

f2.8, 1/1250th sec, Iso-100

As you can see in the above picture the way it renders is very  3D-ish with alot of compression and a very sharp fall-off it renders reds, greens and blues very beautiful but over saturates purples, but thats just my opinion. The bokeh... is friggin fantastic. Its very round and very soapy which I really like. It can be a tad busy on occasion but It's one of those things thats a matter of taste. Also remembering that the sdqh is utilizing a aps-h sensor (26.7 x 17.9mm) while the lense is made for 6x6 film which is 56 x 56mm so you are basically only using the center of already high quality lense which is normally the sharpest part of a lense.

 f2.8, 1/800th sec, Iso-100

f2.8, 1/800th sec, Iso-100

 Iso-200, 1/320s, f2.8

Iso-200, 1/320s, f2.8

So in all I think the journey of adapted lenes will be a beautiful path to travel down.

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

 

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