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The lust for Zeiss….

nex7w24mmThe problem with getting a new camera, especially the 24megapixel monster of the Nex-7 is that you start to find the dual kit lenses for the Nex systems is a bit crappy.  Yup, it’s true.  When the sensor is that packed and dense with photo sensing silicates, the inferiority of the lens bloody shines too . 
Okay, ignore the above crappy excuse, I just buy because I simply lust for Zeiss.. LOL.
Some people might call it a brand thing but hey, all of us do it in a way right?  I remember my first Zeiss was the 50mm f/4 Flektogon (Praktica) which I bought an adaptor to use it on my A mount.  It’s cheap and although slow, it’s a damn solid lens.  I gave it away later and started to try out some other Zeiss M42 lenses.  Most of them are pretty decent at the price point and the resale value was there.  So I just bought and sell and tried various series of Zeiss glasses and so far none of them were duds.
Then came the Sony – Zeiss co-operation and I got the 135mm Sonnar 1.8.  Whoa!  That is my greatest purchase of all time for this killer lens I dare to say.  I would say a perfect score for me, especially if I mount it on my FF A900 and shoot any portraits.  I always find I need to soften the image a little just to remove some skin “defects” that should not be captured in the first place.  And it is also one of the lens that I love so much that I still hold onto my a900 too.  The other being the 85mm Minolta G, 50mm Macro and the 16mm FE. 
After the prime, I sold off my Minolta 28-135mm f/4 which I a bit regretted and got the 24-70mm Vario Zeiss.  That became my working lens for quite some time.  Mainly for events and it was a great and versatile lens.   It was also on my Dynax 7 film camera frequently when I shoot film.
The other great thing about Zeiss is the colours it renders, the T* coating is not just a marketing thing, honestly because I shoot slides very often and Zeiss lenses just gives a much boost in contrast.  Most of my shots with the most vibrant slides are from Zeiss glass.  I have compared my MF shots that I took with my Hassy and Mamiya  and Zeiss wins hands down in the colour department.  Mamiya Sekor is a bit flat but its damn sharp.   
I stopped shooting events nowadays so I sold my only zoom lens and got the lighter 24mm Distagon recently.  So far, to be honest, I have not used it extensively.  The main reason is that I prefer to shoot film with my Press for landscapes and that 24mm is a bit neglected, even my 135mm as I’m not at home in Thailand.
Anyway, back to the Nex system.  I was using some VC lenses on the Nex7 and was really very please with it.  But the widest VC I have at the moment was the 35mm Color-Skopar.  It’s good but as I have mentioned in my post recently, I am currently into wider lenses and was planning to get a wide angle VC or something to complement my shooting style on the 7.  The 16mm is good on the 3 but it just starts to suck on the 7.  Especially if I started to compare the files with my VC lenses.  So within a month of my Nex 7 purchase, I was looking through a local photography forum, looking for a good bargain of a M mount  wide angle lens.  Then, I saw a post,  Someone selling the 24mm Zeiss E-mount at a very good price with a good filter and 5 months warranty left.  On the APS-C , it will be a 36mm equivalent.  Wide enough for my taste and it has AF too.  Jump on it and it’s attached to my 7 now.
I spent only 2 days with the lens and I would say the lens is a bit overpriced at its retail street price of 1.5k  or 1.4k SGD.  It’s good of course, but just not good enough to justify at that price point.   I think a fair price would be 1k at most.   No weather seal and hood is plastic.  No optical stabilizer.  The  lens does not feel heavy and dense like other Zeiss glasses I have before.  Maybe, it’s designed that way to keep the weight down but the Aluminium body just don’t feel that it will last as long as those old Zeiss lenses .  Focusing manually is smooth and it’s fly by wire like the Fuji system but the travel is much much much better then the Fuji one..  Kudos to that part.  I still like it but I might sell it if there is a wider M mount lens available for me.  The 7 with its peaking function is really a god bless for manual focusing.  And if you shoot RAW, try this setting.  Change the Image setting to Black and White with peaking colour set to Yellow at Mid range.  Bloody bloody good.
And finally a rant to SONY, please stop making BLOODY bodies and solve your lens production issues!!  This lens is well sought by thousands but its out of stock since June in every major retail or web store!  What’s the use of coming out new bodies when there are no lenses available?  And now you are coming out a Nex 6 or 5R… WTF….
Here are some shots taken with the 24mm Zeiss and 7. 
Little India Streets

The “7” is complete!

IMG_20120813_211443As I mentioned in my previous post before on one of pet peeves about the 7 is the grip of the camera.  It’s just a bit tad too small for my fatty fingers so I was looking around for a case until I saw someone posted this grip at a rangefinder forum.  I followed the link and it led me to this website by Jim.  By just looking at the pictures, I know its something that is well thought off and designed.  It even sports a dovetail like plate for Arca Swiss type lens release system. 

Anyway, to cut the story short.  I ordered 1, price is a bit steep but if it helps in making better pictures, then its a worthwhile investment.

20120813_212120It took more than 2 weeks to arrive but it was here today!  The initial impression was that it was  very well machined and the metal feels solid. Although it was CNC machined out of a block of aluminium.  There were no rough at all along the edges on the grip.  Everything was smooth which means Jim really took the time to have it finished off nicely.

I took out my 7 and tried the fitting and it is a snug fit.  The black colour may not match exactly but the fitting was just great.  I could easily access the battery cover and taking out the battery.  However, I do have some difficulty taking out the SD card with the additional height of the grip but its not that bad.  It’s already a bit tough without the grip so naturally it’s tougher but not a big deal for me as I rarely change cards.   The speaker for movie playback or camera “beeps” is working fine too as there is a hole just beneath the speaker.  I tried low lit handheld shots and this time I could easily and confidently shoot at 1/10 with the grip.  Previously it was not even possible to do it at 1/30.  And finally as a bonus, check out this photo below..


Yea!  Its a camera lens plate too.  No need to have additional lens plate and moreover, you can still attach non Arca Swiss plate below the grip as it has a standard tripod screw threads just below the dovetail plate.

Like the Thumbs up grip for Leica Digital and Fuji X series, the Jim Buchanan Palm grip totally changes the handling of my Nex 7.  Yes, you might want to wait for the cheaper China clone but I think this grip is just worth that $99USD.  Totally!

There goes my long weekend.

I was suppose to have a long 4 day break on the day of National day. (9th Aug) and was looking forward to go out and shoot some pictures or meet up with some friends.  But during the last night shift I started to develop a flu like symptom followed by an unrelenting cough.  It got worst when I cycled home from work and I couldn’t sleep well as I spent most of my energy wheezing and coughing my lungs out.  Horrible horrible experience.  Even when my colleague called me up for an OT I rejected outright (not myself usually) as I have not been able to sleep for the past 24hrs.  I’ve drank some cough syrups and managed to get some sleep finally on Friday, spending the whole day in bed.  Lucky me, I got better today after managing to sleep non-stop for more than 6 hours.

Anyway, I was suppose to write up a short bike trip and a short review on my Nex 7 that I took with me.  The photos are over here in my fb page.   The last 2 photos were taken another day during a night cycling trip with a friend from Bedok to Marina Bay.  I would say the 7 is a great upgrade from my 3.  I was more at home with the viewfinder and the controls as they resemble more of a SLR rather than a PnS like the 3.  There is however, some flaws to the camera.  The first being the size of the camera.  It’s just too small for my fat fingers.  I have trouble gripping it and without an inbuilt Anti Shake system means I have trouble shooting it handheld at anything lower than 1/30.  I think I need to get a grip or a case soon to solve this issue.  The other major F**k up thing is the bloody video button.  I think most who have read the reviews knows what I’m talking about.  It’s just stupid to have the button so easily triggered.   I think this are the 2 major problems I have with the camera.  Other then that, the camera serves my purpose well and I am seriously considering dumping all my SLR gear if and only if they come out a Nex with FF sensor… : P 

I will try to pound out my bike trip later.  Need to rest more.

Birthday Gift–Nex 7


Those who followed me on FB or Instagram will know I bought another camera : P.  I was thinking of pampering myself this coming Aug since I had work hard for the pass few months.  Especially on June and July where I clocked a great amount of OTs.  I was thinking of getting another lens to my arsenal but was put off by that idea as I just recently acquired my 24mm Distagon and I did not find I had enough time (or purpose) using it as often as I wished   : S.  And I already have (almost) all the focal lengths I required at the moment anyway.

So I decided to look around on the web when I discovered the retail price of the Nex-7 body in Thailand was only 39,900 Baht inclusive of tax.  Now normally it’s not that attractive but this time, due to the strong SG dollars.  The converted price was less than $SGD1,600.  Way below the retail price in Singapore.  Moreover I get to have my 7% VAT refund if I buy it in Thailand. 

I decided to go take a look in Bangkok (still not decided to buy yet)which I had over 6 hours of waiting for my next domestic transit.    I already played with the camera before and I quite like it on my first impression.  Just that the price at that time was just not that attractive to me.  Moreover I am still enjoying  my Nex 3.

The “look” and “see” became a “buy buy buy” immediately when the salesman at Sony Store Paragon told me they are having an annual promotion.  10% off the retail price!  And can pay by Credit Card some more…. KNS…. I ask him about the VAT refund and he say I could claim that too…. so in the end, it’s 10% off retail and less 7%.  After my calculation, I paid $1370 for the brand new camera with a year Tourist warranty (covered in SG).   Really good bargain (The last time I asked, SG retail best price is 1700 wor…) 

I’m not sure whether the sales is still on going but for those hunting for Sony gears.. It’s a good time to visit Bangkok now.  Will post more later… Now need my beauty sleep.  Just finished my 3rd night shift and I have 4 more to go… : P