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Lomography celebrates 25th anniversary with three limited edition cameras

by on Jan.29, 2018, under Reviews


To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Lomography has launched limited edition versions of three popular Lomo cameras, including the one model that started it all: The Lomo LC-A+.

In addition to Lomography’s original 35mm with zone-focus and auto exposure, limited versions of the LC-A 120 medium format camera and the LC-Wide 35mm camera with 17mm wide-angle lens are also available. All three cameras are clad in brown leather and come with Lomography’s motto embossed on the rear:

No Rules, Happy Mistakes, Analogue Love

For the LC-A+ and LC-Wide there is also a matching brown leather camera case as part of this limited edition.

All items can be ordered now in the Lomography shop, with shipping for the US and Canada planned for January 29th. The LC-A+ is $300, the LC-Wide will set you back $440, and the medium format LC-120 requires an investment of $480. The limited edition case by itself is available for $80.

To learn more, visit the Lomography website or go straight to the Lomography shop.



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Gallery and impressions: The Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 is light, sharp and stabilized

by on Jan.28, 2018, under Reviews


Shot on the Canon EOS 80D.
ISO 800 | 154mm | 1/200 sec | F5.6

The Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is a well-priced ($800) telephoto lens with a useful zoom range. Available in both Canon EF and Nikon F mount, this lens is useful on both full-frame and crop bodies, offering a 150-600mm equiv. field of view on the latter. We first saw it at PPE 2017 and were impressed by its reasonable size and weight given its reach – at 1.11 kg / 2.45 lb – it is the lightest lens in its class.

See our Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 sample gallery Optically, the 100-400mm is constructed of 17 elements arranged in 11 groups, including low-dispersion elements to correct for aberrations. It also features multiple coatings to reduce ghosting and flare, as well as a protective fluorine coating on the front element. Image stabilization is crucial when it comes to long zoom lenses and Tamron’s optical Vibration Correction system offers the equivalent of 4 stops of correction (CIPA rated).

Shown with the optional tripod collar attached, sold separately for $130.

Key Specifications:

  • 100-400mm zoom range
  • 150-600mm equiv. field of view on APS-C
  • F4.5-6.3 maximum aperture
  • VC Image stablization
  • Dust and moisture resistant
  • Silent AF
  • Florine coating on front element
  • Minimum focus distance: 1.5m
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 1:3.6
  • Filter thread: 67mm
  • Available in Canon EF and Nikon F mount

Wildlife and outdoor sports shooters can take solace in the fact that this lens is moisture resistant, with eight rubber gaskets, including one at the base of the lens mount. It’s compatible with Tamron’s TAP-in Console, allowing users to update firmware and/or fine-tune AF. It can also be used with the company’s 1.4X and 2X teleconverters. An A035TM accessory tripod collar is sold separately for $130.

Shot on the Canon EOS 5DS R.
ISO 200 | 100mm | 1/1600 sec | F4.5

Design and Handling

According to Tamron the lightweight design of this lens is mostly due to its magnesium alloy internal construction, though it is worth noting the outer shell of the lens is plastic (the lens mount is metal). The lens telescopes when zoomed, increasing in length about 50%. At its most compact it is about 20 cm / 7.8 in long.

Well-constructed, solid feeling and well-balanced, nothing rattles around inside the lens when shaken (my favorite test). Zooming from 100mm to 400mm requires a one quarter turn of the large rubberized zoom ring (located at the front of the lens).

Zooming from 100mm to 400mm requires a one quarter turn of the large rubberized zoom ring

‘Lens creep’ is an annoying fact of life when using telescoping lenses, fortunately it was not an issue during field testing. Just in case, there is a lock on the lens barrel (which can only be used when the zoom is retracted in to 100mm).

Toward the base of the lens barrel you’ll find an AF/MF switch as well as as a controller for selecting one’s VC (vibration compensation) mode: Mode 1 is for normal stabilization, Mode 2 is for use when panning. Users can also turn off VC completely, which useful if you’re on a tripod. Just below the focus ring is the focus distance scale window.

Performance

Hand-held at 400mm, shot using a 1/125 sec shutter because I live in Seattle and it is always dark outside. Shot on the Canon EOS 80D
ISO 800 | 400mm | 1/125 sec | F6.3

Tamron is pitching this lens as appropriate for sports and wildlife shooters, two groups that require reliable AF and effective stabilization. Fortunately, our real world usage shows the 100-400mm excelling in both areas.

The image stabilization system proved effective at helping to eliminate camera shake at shutter speeds I’d ordinarily not feel comfortable using, given the focal length used. The moment you engage AF the IS system kicks in – with one’s eye to the finder the effectiveness of the compensation is immediately apparent.

Autofocus is both silent (hello ultrasonic drive) and fast (powered by two processors). Acquisition is nearly instant in AF-S and it’s equally fast and impressive in AF-C. Users can expect it to maintain focus on the moving subjects they point it at, assuming their camera body is up to the challenge.

Image Quality

The lens is sharp through the zoom range, out of focus areas are also inoffensive. Shot on the Canon EOS 5DS R.
ISO 400 | 400mm | 1/500 sec | F6.3

Though this lens has a slow maximum aperture and is best used for daylight shooting, all signs point to it being optically very good. Our copy of the 100-400mm was well-centered and universally sharp across the frame at all focal lengths we shot. Ghosting and flare are rare.

[It is] universally sharp across the frame at all focal lengths we shot

Chromatic aberration is also really well controlled, though it does appears in some images. Lateral CA is easy to correct in Adobe Camera Raw and other Raw processing programs.However axial CA, which you can see in this shot, is much more difficult to correct for. We also noted some vignetting when used on full-frame, but that is also fairly easy to correct in post.

Bokeh is about what we would expect for a complex telephoto lens. It can look nice toward the longer end, when there’s good subject separation, but closer to 100mm, it can look a little busy, as is the case in this shot.

Conclusion

For travel photographers looking for a casual, lightweight telephoto lens to explore with, the Tamron 100-400 F4.5-6.3 is a solid choice. Shot on the EOS 5DS R.
ISO 400 | 143mm | 1/1250 sec | F5

The Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 is a great telephoto lens for daylight photography, whether your subjects are moving or not. It offers fast, silent autofocus, good stabilization and is optically impressive at all focal lengths. All that comes in a weather-resistant package that also happens to be the lightest in its class.

We feel comfortable giving it our recommendation

Priced the same as the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM, the most obvious difference between the two is the Tamron is faster on the wide end, F4.5 vs F5 (and it’s also a hair lighter). That aside, the two offer very similar features like image stabilization, multi layer coatings and special elements for dealing with CA. We’ll have to revisit the Sigma to see just how well the two compare. But having spent a good amount of time with the Tamron, we feel comfortable giving it our recommendation.

What we like:

  • Sharp, versatile zoom range on both APS-C and full-frame
  • Lightest lens in its class
  • Moisture and dust resistant
  • Impressive image stablization
  • Silent AF is fast and accurate

What we don’t:

  • Slow aperture range
  • Pricey tripod collar sold separately
  • Vignettes on full-frame (though easy to correct)

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Sunset, golf and a false nuclear missile alert: Four days shooting in Hawaii

by on Jan.27, 2018, under Reviews


Sony a6500 | 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS @ 95mm | ISO 100 | F6.3

Being a child of the Midwest a hike, in my mind, is more or less walking across land that is mostly flat. There are trees, usually a dirt path, and maybe the occasional hill. A hike in Hawaii, I came to learn recently, can mean something vastly different.

I was in Hawaii on a Sony-sponsored trip along with a handful of other photography journalists, on Oahu for two vastly different shooting experiences: shooting pro golf with the a9, and trying out a new 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 zoom for the a6000-series. I was armed with a TSA-approved 3.4 ounces of sunscreen, a handful of memory cards and a pair of running shoes that prove to be woefully outmatched by the “hike” we’re about to embark on.

My first clue should have been when one member of our party put some spiky, chainmail-type overshoes on top of her street shoes. We walked across a parking lot toward the “trailhead,” a rocky slope where a faint suggestion of a path disappeared into some trees. What followed was 30 minutes of scrambling up a steep incline, grabbing at roots, tree branches and rocks for support. Oh, and did I mention I have a slightly weird thing about heights?

Suddenly, I was quite grateful for the a6500 and the lens’ small size. The whole kit fit easily into a low profile backpack and didn’t provide an extra physical challenge to overcome. Along the way we found a couple of points to stop off, breathe, and take a few photos. Every time we stopped I considered chickening out on the rest of the climb. Nobody would judge me, and I’d get perfectly nice photos from halfway up.

Sony a6500 | 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS @ 18mm | ISO 100 | F4.5

Maybe the morning’s events made me feel bolder (more on that later). Maybe being the only lady journalist on the trip made me hungrier to prove my grit. Maybe it was just the beer I had at lunch giving me some extra courage. I kept going whatever the reason, and I’m pretty darn glad that I did.

Insert your favorite inspirational quote / rap lyric about making it to the top here.

Sony a6500 | 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS @ 18mm | ISO 200 | F5.6

I wouldn’t have wanted to carry a lens/camera combo much bigger than the a6500 and 18-135mm on that hike. For its size, it proved to be a pretty versatile kit. The lens was wide enough for a sweeping view of sunset in the valley, but long enough for a quick shot of a helicopter in the distance when it swooped by unexpectedly. Your standard kit zoom wouldn’t have provided quite as many options.

Did you instinctively start humming the Jurassic Park theme when you saw this image? No? You’re a liar.

Sony a6500 | 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS @ 90mm | ISO 100 | F5.6

I tend to gravitate toward wide lenses and like the convenience of carrying lightweight primes, but I was very happy to have the variety that the telezoom offered. When you’re standing on one 3′ x 3′ rock scared to move left or right for fear of falling to your death, you don’t have too many composition options with a 24mm prime.

As it turns out, that hike wasn’t the only time I contemplated my own mortality that day. Let me tell you about the events of that morning.

We all know now what happened, but when you’re woken up by your phone buzzing with this message (special attention to the part that says THIS IS NOT A DRILL) it makes for a very strange start to the day. The short version of my story is that I spent about 15 minutes in a semi-panic, and having only the tornado drills of my youth to call on for guidance, huddled in my hotel bathroom with a single bottle of water. Not exactly your best shot at surviving a nuclear attack.

I wish I could say I had some kind of profound experience when I found out it was all a mistake. In reality, I just put on some shoes and went downstairs for coffee and a yogurt, and more or less just went about my day. I made time to get into the ocean. That was nice.

A couple of days before the threat of nuclear warfare appeared on my phone, I found myself in a very different state of mind as I tried to photograph professional golf.

Sony a9 | FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS @ 121mm | ISO 100 | F5.6

Golf is a mysterious game. As opposed to the tennis tournaments and baseball games I’m familiar with, the action happens all around you. I’ve thought of it as a game with a leisurely pace, but trying to photograph it for the first time, I’m amazed at how quickly the action unfolds. You have to get into position, pray that a caddy doesn’t step into your way at the last moment, and you only have a few seconds to get your shot before it’s all over. Oh, and you have to keep in mind the direction of the sun, ugly things like trash cans creeping into your backgrounds, and woe betide you if you make even a peep as a golfer prepares to swing a club – you’ll be swiftly escorted off the grounds.

“Game changer” has become sort of a joke around the office since it’s a phrase that’s been used to death and rarely lives up to its meaning. But if you’re a golf photographer, you really could consider the a9 to be a game changer. Plenty of resolution, 20 fps and silent shutter – particularly that last bit – is huge for a sport where silence isn’t just golden, it’s mandatory. Jeannette Moses noted this revelation when she photographed the Presidents Cup last year with the a9. I’ve seen it firsthand too, and it really is strange to be so close to a professional golfer raising his club to strike the ball while firing away at 20 fps.

Sony a9 | FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS @ 100mm | ISO 100 | F5.6

Sony’s making a clear appeal to pro sports photographers with the a9, and before we set foot on the golf course we got a primer on the company’s efforts to bolster its offerings with Pro Support. If you aren’t familiar, this is a program for working photographers that aims to put Sony on even footing with Canon and Nikon.

Sony Pro Support members pay a $100 annual fee that entitles them to 24/7 phone and email support and access to service centers in Los Angeles and New York. If you need to send a product in for a fix, Sony claims a three-day turnaround with free loaner gear to cover repairs that take longer. To qualify, photographers must own at least two full-frame Sony bodies, three lenses and must be actively earning income from their photography.

For comparison, Nikon uses a point system and requires at least two camera bodies and two lenses. The system is tiered, but all levels include priority repairs, repair loans and discounts on repairs. Canon also uses a point-based tiered system, but doesn’t require a certain number of lenses or bodies.

I’m by no means a pro, and shooting golf proves to be a much more challenging experience than I was anticipating. An afternoon carrying two camera bodies, one of them with a sizable 100-400mm lens attached, was a fairly taxing endeavor. I also put my finger on the shutter too gingerly a few times, and with 20 fps silent shutter it’s easy to end up with hundreds of photos you didn’t mean to take. From over 3000 (!) images, I managed to scrape together a handful I feel comfortable putting my name next to. Not exactly a stellar hit rate.

Sony Open gallery

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I have a renewed appreciation for the tough job pro sports photographers have, and a respect for Hawaii’s lovely-yet-dizzying hiking trails. I also jump out of my seat now when my phone buzzes too loudly and I’m finally getting serious about putting together an earthquake preparedness kit. But my feeling of having stretched myself as a photographer, and I suppose as a hiker, outweighs my sense of distress over the whole thing. And if you’re going to survive a fake nuclear missile attack, there are worse places to experience it than Hawaii.

Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS sample gallery

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