Yesterday I bought a Sony A7ii. I was a little unsure about the purchase, but I knew I needed to change my current carry around camera solution. What I had was undependable, absolute crap at autofocusing, and very slow at manual focusing. When it worked, it worked well, but there was always a certain anxiety about shooting with it, because of the focus problems that my workflow did not allow a margin of error or the time for. As you may have guessed, I am writing about the X100s. It is truly a wonderful piece of industrial design, but it does not lent itself to my needs as a Photojournalist. The only reason I still took it to jobs was the leaf shutter, which allowed me to overpower the sun with a speed light. That was great!
The other camera I am currently using is the D800E. The files I can make with this camera are incredible. The dynamic range still surprises me and, at times, takes my breath away.
The autofocus is also breathtaking, but in a bad way. It gets in the way of me making the images I want. I am often shooting at f 5.6 and lower in order to have enough depth of field to compensate for the undependable Autofocus. For the time being I have no choice but to live with the limitations of the D800E because the files are too delicious to live without. The alternative I would have is to move up to medium format, but that would mean more weight and a slower workflow.
I started out with an X100, but it broke before I had a chance to though it against a wall. The promise of great improvements made me buy the x100s. It was better. I really loved using it. If you see my tear sheets form the Turkish Syrian border, most of the images in the hospitals were shot with it. It is a very quiet and discrete camera, and as I said, when it works, it works well. The straw that broke the X100s’ back happened a week ago, when I was at the 50th birthday party of a friend, who was having a reunion of his punk band. I tried shooting a portrait of a friend there, who lookd amazing, but the AF faild. When I noticed I switched to MF and was unable to nail it, even with peaking switched on. The best of the set was not good enough.
That was the end of my Fuji adventure, for the time being. I was looking in to the XT-1, but I think I will wait a few generations before going there again. The Glass is amazing, and the cameras feel good to use. But that AF…
Full frame was attractive and mirror-less is cool because you are looking at an image directly from the sensor. With good and clear focus peaking, I felt I may be able to manually focus some of my old lenses.
I took the plunge, and decided not to wait for a higher resolving camera without an anti aliasing filter. The camera cost as much as two years of depreciation on the Leica I was eyeing. I bought a 50mm f 1.2 as well as an 85mm f 1.4 (both Nikkor ai-s manual focus lenses) used, for very little compared to the AF versions, as well as a Leica M adapter.
I went to town today, after playing with the camera and lenses at home a bit, and wanted to see how hard it would be to manually focus my 35 Summicron M. Using this lens is a very intuitive process. It was very familiar, though it has been 10 years since I used it last.
Normally when I go out with a camera for the first time, I know to keep my expectations low, but I am vey happy with what i came back with today.
Please have a look through the gallery below.
All in all I am very impressed with this camera. I don’t think I have ever had such a successful day shooting on the first day out with a camera. (well more like the first 30 minutes out). The resolution and presence of an AA filter have made themselves felt, but I will only be able to really make a verdict on that once I have made some prints. I was a little worried about the noise levels I was seeing while pixel peeping, but I think strong content trumps a little noise.
I will definitely integrate this system in to my professional workflow, and will write about my experience doing so, soon.