We have been visiting the disco bar at Ocean Drive lately. It is a rather informal cabaret, with a few tables downstair and others on the balcony upstairs. The shoes start at 8:15Pm and keep going until 2:30AM. Great stuff, folks. You can see it from the bars or reserve a table, where cover charges and minimum comp. are required.
It is a great atmospheres, with very friendly personnel and beautiful decor.
Parking we soul advise to use the garages close by, since valet is really expensive in SoBe. You do not want your night end up with a surprise.
We used the Sony a7Rii with a few lenses, mostly one at a time, out of laziness. Unless you are at a table as we have been, it becomes awkward to be changing lenses. The mirrorless ISO and AF capabilities have not let us down yet. Lenses used are the Sony/Zeiss 55 f/1.8, Sony/Zeiss 16-35/4 and the Sony/Zeiss 35 f/1.4
They all AF, and we have tried different settings. I have to admit that the rotating color lights could work against you or make your shot. Just be patient, use you continuous drive and be flexible.
Giving the performers and occasional print will make them very happy and you will probably get eye contact the next time around. What goes around, comes around. Spread the joy and you will get some back!
So here are some the things that are available there, nothing difficult.
Sony just released their new family member in the mirrorless full frame family. First came the a7, followed by the a7r and now the a7II. Each being different and serving a particular need.
Adjusting to this new camera was easy since we had the a7r, purchased initially as a back up to the Leica M, then we started liking its potential, huge files and great quality. We did not keep the r model, switching to the a7s due to its fantastic ISO performance.
Fabs has an image taken at just over 100,00 ISO that needs to be seen to believe and I have one from the Hunted House at Disney, 64,000, that looks normal. Amazing.
Here comes the new family member, a7II, we got intrigued with the 5-axis stabilization plus 24 MP sensor and decided to give it a try. On the first time out we were not surprised. Well, there was one big surprise which was unexpected: ISO performance was much better than we thought. I have lots of 4000 and more that show little noise and good quality. Will be shooting many more images and posting results but with the two initial session, we could see it is a winner.
The exciting part is being able to use the Leica lenses. It does have some native lenses producing high quality images, all by Zeiss. The 55 f/ 1.8 is one of the sharpest around and the test reviews rank it among the best in the class. The 35 f/2.8 is also a great performer and worth adding to the collection. The 16-35 f/ 4.0 is also very sharp and has a close up focus capability, allowing interesting images with close up perspective, unique. Have not used myself, but have seen reports from the 24-70 f/2.8 and they do not match the quality of the just mentioned. I will probably rent one for a week and try it myself, it is a practical focal length.
Having the stabilization in camera, means all lenses will be stabilized and the system works well. My preliminary images taken at one second with the 16-35 have produced some critically sharp images. Shooting at ¼ second is routine with decent hand holding technique. As mentioned before it’s a perfect back up for the Leica M if you can’t have a spare M!!
The new camera is slightly different than the previous, being heavier, larger grip, top bottoms more ergonomically placed and a very nice dark finish. For using Sony as a system, I would go for this new one paired with the a7s, lethal combination.
By the way, one warning regarding this new offering, it will cause some problems with third party extreme wide angle lenses. The a7s sensor solved that problem and was usable with all including the Voigtlander 12mm full frame. You will find some light fall off on the corners which is no problem and also some purple fringing around the periphery but not as noticeable as the a7r model. This is easily corrected with an Adobe plug-in called Flat field converter. Easy to use, but one more step during processing.
Highly recommend this new camera, mirrorless is the way to go, they are small, good performers and will be taking over the camera sales yearly until being the dominant factor. Presently, they are not as good in the autofocus performance but this new offering is narrowing the gap considerably. It has 117-point phase-detection AF system with 25 point contrast-detection system being capable of capturing action. I have noticed the increase AF speed over the others but not tested the performance with tough/fast moving subjects.
Will be posting lots of image samples after our next shoot which should give you a visual representation of what this jewel is capable of doing.
All images are out of camera, opened with Adobe dng converter 8.7.1, no noise reduction, adjustments, and if you click on them, you will get the full resolution version, with our permission to download and edit them as trial.
After a long summer break, mainly due to the Florida summer heat and humidity, we decided to take a chance and visit Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival.
I still had the knee problem, so we rented an electrical scooter to move around. It was very cool and efficient, and it made our visit so much more pleasurable. Even though I had the carriage, I chose to go light on the gear and just carried the newly acquired Sony a7s and a couple of Leica lenses.
The little Sony is the youngest one of the a7 family. We had the a7r for while, but it was problematic with the Leica lenses because of purple fringing and vignetting. There is a Lightroom plugin, called Flat Field, that will handle that, but you need to take a control picture and we really did no want to go through the trouble.
This little gem does not have that problem, being a newer camera. At least, it worked perfectly on my 35mm Lux, which is my main lens when I use Leica.
The ISO capabilities are extremely good and pixels are very dense, except it only has 12MGs, which does not really bother me. My beloved Nikon D3 was that exact resolution and it was fine.
So here are some of the pics we captured, most of them with the 35 Lux. Only used the 24 f/2.8 for the fireworks, though I could have used the 35 after all.
I used the B&W 3X filter for some flowers or objects close ups. Be aware that you need to focus moving back and forth until you find sharpness exactly where you want it. I tend to use it wide open, but if you like more detail all around you can use a smaller aperture.
More to follow soon!
We love doing fireworks and Florida’s Disney World has three parks that offer nightly shows. You can choose from a variety of locations, using foregrounds to make the photo more interesting. Fireworks by themselves are kind of boring. Cityscapes under them usually work, but incorporating people or structures usually give you a stronger image.
Normally we do the fireworks with a tripod mounted camera and slow shutter speed to have light trails common in this type of image.
I will have to give credit to my husband for the idea of trying high shutter speed and ISO to experiment hand held firework images. I happily went along, since we travel to the parks a few times a year. Nothing to loose but a night of shooting.
There is a great element of luck capturing fireworks, even if you are familiar with the show. Even if you do fast shutter speed, there are no guaranties of getting a good image.
The Sony 7r is a great camera, but it has an DSLR sensor, which becomes a problem with Leica wide angle lenses. Anything under 50mm and even the, you get vignette and a color cast. Leica lenses are range finder lenses, not totally compatible, except for the WADE lens, Tri-Elmar 14-16-18mm, because of it being a new design. There are still way to go around this, using Lightroos free plugin called Flat Field, which calls for you to take a control picture through a clear white balance filter, and the software will use both pictures and correct the problem.
We didn’t have to do this, because the sky was going to be dark anyway.
At the beginning of the show, I was trying the 50mm Noctilux, further away from the people. Mid show, there is a laser show and some talking, and I sued the time to change lenses and go wider.
Instead of standing up to eye level, I decided to kneel on the ground and look up, getting more space in the sky.
I set the camera to Aperture Priority, Auto ISO, f/4 and -1 Ev compensation, to avoid burning the white lights. Normally, at the end of every show, the intensity of the fireworks is much bigger than before and many times a lot lighter, so it is a good idea to move your aperture to a smaller one or your shutter speed to a quicker one, and you have more chances of getting a better exposure.
Since our lenses are manual focus, we either focus on infinity and go back a point or two, or in the case on the structure, we use the magnifying feature of the camera and make sure the borders of the structure are sharp. My suggestion is, if you use AF, to lock the focus and then turn the lens to MF to avoid AF jumping as you shoot.
Here is an example of slow shutter speed on the same show and location. This time, I used the Leica M240, 24mm Elmarit ASPH at f/4, ISO 200 (This Leica’s native ISO is 320) and a shutter speed of 1/500. A three stop neutral density was used to be able to extend the capture time.
Your camera may have long exposure noise reduction. On the Leica M240, you cannot disable this, but on the Sony A7r you can. The bad part about noise reduction is that it takes a while to process, as long as your exposure time, affecting the amount of images you can take during the show. My advise is that it is worth keeping it on. Best to have less picture with a clean sky than many with artifacts and posterized darks.
You can clearly see the difference it makes. This is a traditional approach to fireworks and what most people expect to get. Nothing wrong with that, but trying something different is also good. A cable release was used to avoid camera movement in the long exposure. No mirror up needed, Leica does not have one.
Here is another example of hand held fireworks:
You get a lot of smoke when you do fast shutter speed, which may be an asset getting what we call the nebula look.
Since this was an experiment, we did not know it if was going to work or not. Some of the images were very interesting, getting a complete different look, almost like galaxies in the sky. Most of them we will not keep, but we did get a bunch of interesting images not available with longer shutter speeds.
Scout location if you have the time and try to get there early to secure a good spot.. If you are using a tripod, be careful of somebody tripping on it or moving it while you are capturing a long exposure.
Try to include other elements, like structures or people in your image, they add interest.
Try to include other elements, like structures or people in your image, they add interest.
If you only have one night of fireworks, you can try to do one camera in a tripod with long exposure, and another hand held for fast speed hand held. This requires quick reflexes and the ability to multitask.
I have since processed a lot more images from the trip. Didn’t really get to the Cezky Krumlov lot, but at least from from Prague. Captured with Leica M9-P and mostly 24 Elmarit ASPH and Voigtlander Nokton 35 f/1.2
Hope you like them.
As promised, some more of the pictures that have been processed for web. As most of the rest, they were captured with the Leica M9-P, and mostly wide angle lenses, the ones at night, obviously tripod mounted. We use the Sirui, carbon fiber with the added Sirui bullhead. Not the 12 inch light one, but one a little sturdier where we don’t necessarily need a cable release for long exposures, since Leicas don’t have a mirror.
Hope you enjoy them and more to come!
Santa’s Enchanted Forest is a seasonal fair that operates every year between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. I had only been there the first year they opened and was not terribly impressed with it. But I could see the improvements from the highway as the years passed.
Last Friday we decided to give it a try, and had our good friend Lianett Fernandez pose as our model. We took along a portable LED light, DIC, where you can regulate the brightness and temperature of the light. We are probably getting a second one. In this case, it was used hand held by us, since the place was packed with people and felt it was not safe to have the light and tripod on the way. In fact, I think we used the tripod only a couple of times, for fear of someone tripping over it.
Tripod is a SIRUI small little thing that folds under 12”, carbon fiber and Al will be writing a review on it.
So most of the pictures you are going to see here were hand held, al high ISOs, which was the idea, putting the NEX-7 ability to handle those once more.
While waiting for our friend, we went for pics of the rides and people riding as well as some of the performers.
The pictures have been edited in LR, with some presets, others with Nik Color Efex Recipes and a couple adding selective blurs in CS6.
We didn’t do too many candids because it’s kind of touchy photographing children, and the light didn’t help to take quick ones, but there are always some irresistible moments.
Needless to say, the little gem came out shinning in this adventure and can only wait for the arrival of the sister camera RX-1, but that will be another entry.
Capturing action is no news for me, but it is new in this context, and especially when there is hardly any ambient light.
Contrary to what I do with DSLRs, I kept myself in Aperture value and use the very convenient live histogram to judge the needed compensation. If I wanted to blur something, lower the ISO and close the aperture. Otherwise, go for the gusto and use f/1.8. Lots of fun, experimenting unchartered territory. The joy is in the ride, not in the destination!