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Voigtlander says the new 65mm F2 E-Mount macro is one of its finest lenses ever

by on Jul.24, 2017, under Reviews


Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has just introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says, “rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer.” The Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2 Aspherical is designed to cover full frame sensors, and allegedly boasts exceptional correction of chromatic aberration.

While the lens is manual focus, it has electrical contacts so exposure information can be recorded in the camera’s EXIF data, and distance measurements can be used to assist in-camera image stabilization systems. The contacts also allow focus peaking to be activated.

Macro enthusiasts will be able to focus down to 31cm to achieve a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2, while a ten-bladed iris should provide at least attractively rounded out-of-focus highlights. The lens weighs 625g/1.4lbs, measures 91.3mmx78mm/3.6x3in and takes a 67mm filter.

The Voigtlander Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm f/2 Aspherical will go on sale from the 1st of August and will cost £750/€1,000/$1,060.

For more information visit the Voigtlander website.

Press Release

MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical

Announcing the release of the Voigtländer MACRO APO- LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, a Sony E-mount macro lens for full frame sensors incorporating an apochromatic optical design and inscribed with the designation “APO-LANTHAR”

We announce the release of the Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, a Sony E-mount macro lens for full frame sensors. The APO-LANTHAR designation is given to especially high performance lenses in the Voigtländer lens lineup. The legendary APO-LANTHAR lens that continues to enthrall photographers with its outstanding imaging performace and beautiful rendering was born in 1954, but its origins can be traced back around 120 years (see additional info about the APO-LANTHAR below).

A need for apochromatic optical designs that reduce the longitudinal chromatic aberrations of the three primary colors (RGB) of light to practically zero arose with the increasing popularity of color film. Now, with the current range of high- resolution digitals sensors, this need for extremely high-level control of chromatic aberrations is even more pertinent than when film changed from monochrome to color. So rather than just being for already solved old technologies, apochromatic optical designs are indeed a subject requiring serious consideration in the digital age.

The Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, which inherits the designation “APO- LANTHAR”, is a high performance manual focus macro lens optimized for the imaging sensors of Sony mirrorless cameras. The optical performance of this lens, which provides an image circle capable of covering a full frame sensor, rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer. Sharp imaging performance is obtained from maximum aperture where you can enjoy blurring the background, and by utilizing a floating mechanism this lens delivers outstanding image quality for subjects from the minimum focusing distance of 31cm (reproduction ratio of 1:2) through to infinity. This lens is a manual focus and manual aperture design, but also features electrical contacts that enable the lens settings at image capture to be included in the Exif information of the image data. Furthermore, the lens is installed with a distance encoder to enable support for 5-axis image stabilization on bodies with this feature, for example by providing distance to subject information used in X,Y shift compensation. Focus peaking while manual focusing is also supported.

Main features

  • Full frame Sony E-mount with electrical contacts
  • Apochromatic optical design that eliminates chromatic aberrations
  • Enhanced high performance utilizing aspherical lens surfaces
  • Optical design optimized for digital imaging sensors
  • Extremely solid and durable all-metal barrel
  • Manual focus for precise focusing
  • Maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2 at a minimum focus distance of 31 cm

Additional info about the APO-LANTHAR

The history of the APO-LANTHAR begins with the HELIAR invented by Hans Harting in 1900. Despite its simple optical configuration of five elements in three groups, the HELIAR was a lens with superb depictive performance. As an example of the HELIAR optical formula still being valid in the present day, it is used in the currently available HELIAR Vintage Line 50mm F3.5, a lens known for its superb depictive performance. Furthermore, a HELIAR is recorded as being the lens used to take imperial portraits of Emperor Showa, and it is said the HELIAR lens was extremely highly regarded for its beautiful depictive performance and even treated as a family treasure by portrait photography businesses during the Showa period.

Moving forward about half a century from the birth of the HELIAR to 1954, Albrecht Wilhelm Tronnier developed a lens using the same five-elements-three-groups configuration as the HELIAR utilizing new glass types to achieve performance that exceeded the HELIAR. That lens was the APO-LANTHAR. The APO in APO- LANTHAR indicates an apochromatic optical design. The main characteristic of such a lens is that longitudinal chromatic aberrations caused by the different wavelengths (frequencies) of the three primary colors (RGB) of light are reduced to practically zero to achieve high-level color reproduction. Color film slowly gained popularity after its release in 1935, and one reason why the APO-LANTHAR was developed was to address a growing need to capture light more faithfully than possible with monochrome film.

The first camera to be fitted with an APO-LANTHAR lens was the 6 x 9 roll film rangefinder camera representative of post-war Voigtlander, the Bessa II. There were three different lens variations of this camera: APO-LANTHAR 4.5/100, COLOR-HELIAR 3.5/105, and COLOR-SKOPAR 3.5/105. The APO-LANTHAR 4.5/100 variation has red, green, and blue (RGB) rings indicating the apochromatic optical design engraved around the front of the lens barrel to differentiate it from the other versions as a special lens. Due to the rarity and high performance of the Bessa II fitted with APO-LANTHAR lens, this camera has become a legendary camera traded on the used market at high prices and the envy of camera collectors.

As homage to the RGB colors that differentiate the APO-LANTHAR from other lenses beginning with the BESSA II, the MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical also features three colored dashes indicating the RGB colors at the front edge of the lens barrel.



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Ten expert tips for successful macro photography

by on Jul.23, 2017, under Reviews


Thomas Shahan’s tips for successful macro photography

Thomas Shahan is a macro photographer and artist from Tulsa Oklahoma who specializes in entomology and traditional relief printmaking.

Thomas’s interest in macro photography began when he started watching jumping spiders in his backyard. After studying art at the University of Oklahoma, he left for Oregon to work in the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s entomology lab. There, he worked as a digital imaging specialist, taking high magnification focus-stacked photographs and SEM images of arthropods – good practice for macro photography.

In this article, Thomas shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals. Click through for his top tips, and be sure to check out the video we made with Thomas recently, embedded at the bottom of each page.

All images by Thomas Shahan, used with permission.

Tip #1: Bugs are everywhere

Wolf Spider – sp, hogna, shot in Norman, Oklahoma using a Pentax 50mm F1.7, reversed on tubes at ~F16 equiv.

You don’t need to travel to exotic locations to take pictures of bugs – they’re everywhere. A few minutes spent turning over stones and logs in your back yard, or local park will reveal plenty of creepy-crawlies.

Bugs are most active in the middle of the day but they can be found at any time, even at night.

Tip #2: Learn about your subjects

A jumping spider – sp. psecas, shot in Peru with a Vivitar 55mm F2.8 at ~F10 equiv, on a 2x teleconverter.

Sure, to begin with you might just explore your yard and see what you come across, but the more you know about bugs and insects, the more likely you’ll be able to find them, and get the shot that you want.

Perhaps you live in a part of the world where a certain species is particularly common. Perhaps the particular spider, or fly that you want to photograph only comes out at a certain time of the day, or likes to hang out in a particular kind of environment. The more you know, the better your chances of finding it, and getting a great shot.

Tip #3: You don’t need expensive gear

We were using the Fujifilm GFX 50S for our recent shoot in Idaho, but you don’t need such expensive equipment to get great macro shots. Thomas’s usual setup (pictured here) is centered around a midrange Pentax DSLR, and a collection of second-hand lenses and extenders.

A newer camera with a good live view mode and a dedicated macro lens will certainly make life easier, but they’re not essential to getting great shots.

Tip #4: Use diffused light

A bess beetle – sp. passalid, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Many bugs, like this bess beetle are glossy, so try to shoot them under diffuse light, to avoid distracting ‘hot spots’ on their shells. Experiment with different kinds of diffusion material for both natural and flashlight.

Tip #5: Small apertures increase depth of field

A tarantula, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Shooting at small apertures will give you more depth of field, meaning that more of your picture will be in focus. This is essential when taking pictures of very small insects and bugs, but also useful with larger animals, like this tarantula (shot at F10).

The downside of shooting at small apertures is that it cuts out a lot of light, so you should experiment with using flash as your main light source. A relatively low flash output should work in daylight and it won’t scare away your subject.

Tip #6: Shoot Raw, at low ISOs

A bearded dragon, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Shooting in Raw mode will let you get the best possible resolution out of your camera, and keeping your ISO sensitivity as low as possible means that you won’t need to worry too much about noise levels. Shooting Raw also gives you a lot of scope for post-capture tonal adjustment.

Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to crop

A bess beetle – sp. passalid, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Don’t worry if your lens can’t focus super close – if you’re working with a high megapixel camera, you can always crop in afterwards. This image of a bess beetle is a pretty heavy crop from the GFX 50S’s 50MP sensor, but the output resolution is still very good, at around 15MP.

Tip #8: Focus manually

A jumping spider – sp. Habronattus americanus, shot in Oregon with a Vivitar 55mm F2.8 at ~F16 equiv, on a 2x teleconverter.

If you are working at very close distances, turn off AF and focus manually, then bracket focus by moving your camera slightly back and forth.

Tip #9: Experiment with color and contrast

Madagascar hissing cockroach – sp. gromphadorhina, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Experiment with color and contrast. Simple colored backgrounds can be very effective. Here, a bright red piece of cardboard contrasts with the warm tones in the carapace of a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Tip #10: Take a lot of pictures!

Horsefly – sp. Tabanus, shot in Tulsa OK with a Vivitar 55mm F2.8 at ~F10 equiv, on a 2x teleconverter.

Macro photography is fun, but it’s tough – especially when it comes to flies and other small, fast-moving animals. Increase your odds of getting a great shot by taking lots of pictures!

Thomas Shahan’s tips for successful macro photography

We recently spent a couple of days with Thomas down in Ketchum Idaho, to get a feel for how he approaches one of the most challenging kinds of photography there is – macro shots of bugs and small animals.

Check out more of Thomas’s work on Flickr


This video is sponsored content, created in partnership with Fujifilm. What does this mean?



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Behind the scenes with Nat Geo and 'The Last Honey Hunter'

by on Jul.22, 2017, under Reviews


This month, National Geographic Magazine ran a long piece on the Kulung culture in Nepal, detailing the dangerous work of so-called ‘honey hunters’ as they set about harvesting large quantities of psychotropic honey. The process is harrowing, requiring hunters to scale large rock faces using ropes and little else, subjecting them to stings by the world’s largest honeybees and, if they’re not careful, certain death.

Accompanying the editorial is a gallery of images taken primarily by photographer Renan Ozturk, one of the subjects of a newly released behind-the-scenes video (above) showing the honey hunters in action, as well as the lengths Ozturk went to photograph them.

At about 9 minutes in length, the video is a short but raw look at the process and all the work that went into capturing this incredible photo essay. Enjoy.



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