7.07.2013

The Sony Nex 7's go out for a July 4th Walk.

New Tree at Zilker Park. Austin, Texas
Sony Nex 7 with Sony 50mm 1.8

 Barton Springs Pool.  Austin, Texas
Sony Nex 7 with Sony 50mm 1.8

The Barton Springs Pool Spillway. 
Sony Nex 7 with Sony 50mm 1.8

The Barton Springs Pool Spillway. 
Sony Nex 7 with Sony 50mm 1.8

The Barton Springs Pool Spillway. 
Sony Nex 7 with Sony 50mm 1.8

The Barton Springs Pool Spillway. 
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 30mm 2.8

Whole Foods Watermelons. Austin, Texas
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 30mm 2.8

A Lobby Bar at the W Hotel. Austin, Texas
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 30mm 2.8

An Olympus Photographer at Caffe Medici. Austin, Texas
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 30mm 2.8

Austin Park Rangers Cut Down a Rope Swing on Independence Day.
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 30mm 2.8

"Take the steps up to the utility pole and then....."
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 30mm 2.8

Zilker Park. Across from Downtown Austin, Texas.
The modern accompaniment to any mass gathering...really bad food served by carnies.
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 19mm 2.8

Zilker Park. Across from Downtown Austin, Texas.
The modern accompaniment to any mass gathering...really bad food served by carnies.
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 19mm 2.8
Faux Texana as imagined by new people from out of town....

Zilker Park. Across from Downtown Austin, Texas.
The modern accompaniment to any mass gathering...really bad food served by carnies.
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 19mm 2.8

Zilker Park. Across from Downtown Austin, Texas.
The modern accompaniment to any mass gathering...really bad food served by carnies.
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 19mm 2.8

Downtown Austin as seen from the manmade hill on the south side of the river.
Sony Nex 7 with Sigma 19mm 2.8

Fourth of July is a dog holiday.
Sony Nex 7 and 50mm 1.8

Earlier in the week I thought about selling off my Nex 7's and my Nex 6 and all the lenses. I had my head down in projects that required stills and videos for most of June and the Sony a99 is such a naturally good camera for that kind of work. I've come to like the Rokinon lenses (fast 35 and 85mms) very much and it's very useful to have both a headphone jack and control over audio levels for external microphones right on the camera. In my quest to simplify I was trying to minimize my inventory, figuring that I'd use less brainpower switching between multiple menu systems and keeping all the lenses straight.

Almost as a test of my practicality versus my well documented and somewhat irrational equipment nostalgia I packed a small camera bag with two of the Nex 7 bodies and three lenses. The lenses consisted of the two, cheap Sigma lenses (the 30mm and 19mm) as well as the tried and true, 50mm 1.8 OSS. One stabilized and the twins just hanging out there on the end of the camera, going traditional.

As I walked around and shot I remembered that these have to be among the most fun cameras I've ever shot. They are ultimately stealthy and unprovocative and they weigh next to nothing. The controls, once mastered, are fluid and extremely logical (referring to the tri-navi set up) and once I'd been through the menus a few hundred times I made my peace with them as well.

My intention was to take a medium distance walk because our masters swim team ground through an intense workout from 7:30 am till 9:00 am covering around 5,000 yards (for those who keep track in a different way that's around 200 fast 25 yard lengths strung together...). For the masters swimmers among you here's what our main set (after warm-up) looked like:

800 swim freestyle = hard pace
4x100 swim freestyle (descend by 100's on a fast interval, my lane tries to hold 1:40)
600 swim freestyle = hard pace
6x100 swim freestyle (descend and shorten intervals by 5 seconds)
400 swim freestyle = pick up pace
8x100 swim freestyle (hold above freestyle pace...)
200 swim fast
2x100 swim with shortest interval (basically touch and go). Sprint the last 100.

When we left the pool most of us were well hammered. Sore and exhausted.

So I waited a bit and drank a bunch of water and headed out for my walk around one in the afternoon. I parked at the club pool with the intention of walking to Zilker Park and back which is less than three miles, roundtrip. But I became so beguiled by the great feel of the Nex 7's in my hands that I photographed at the Springs and then kept going. Over to Whole Foods (where I paused to taste a nice Cabernet Sauvignon) and then off to Congress Ave. to grab a cappuccino at Caffe Medici and then over to IH 35. Usually I return via the same path but this being a holiday I decided to amble across the river and come through the south side of the park instead. At some point the heat started to get to me and I stopped into a restaurant to get a very large iced tea to go. That sustained me on my journey back through the park and up the gruesome series of hills to the club pool in Rollingwood. When I got back to my car around 6:15 pm I estimated that I had walked about eight miles and shot about 450 frames.

The Nex 7's performed very well and I've renounced any intention of moving them along. If anything I'll flesh out the selection of lenses a bit and try to press the system into service more often. If I can operate them with ease after a brutal workout and a tromp in 100 degree heat for an afternoon just think what I might be able to do with them in rare moments of pure rationality...

I loved the image quality I got in Jpeg. The recent improvements in firmware make this camera a moving target for evaluation. It just gets better and better.






















Images from the Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens on the Sony Alpha 850.

Spring Condominium.

I like to photograph the Spring Condo building. My friends, Perry Lorenz and Robert Barnstone, developed the property and I like the way it works from many angles in the Austin skyline. I also like this view from the corner of 5th St. and Lamar Blvd. because of the bizarre maze of power cables and telephone lines that run through the intersection. Mostly though I like the building as a foil for the clouds...

You may remember from yesterday's post that I picked up a new copy of the Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens. I did it because the lens is currently being rebated (verb invention) and the price of $399 seems just right for a good, fast 50mm. If it delivers. After I picked up the lens at Precision Camera I headed downtown to pick up a couple bottles of wine and some razor blades at Whole Foods Market. Razor blades at Whole Foods Market? I wanted to experience organic shaving at least once in my life...

I shot a couple images of the Spring building and later I did some pixel peeping to see how the lens was at near infinity, f5.6. I think it's pretty nice but I've also attached an enlarged section to show how it handles detail. So far I'm happy. Now I'm waiting for some low light opportunities to shoot some available light portraits at the more adventurous apertures. I'll probably have some opportunities at a dress rehearsal at the theatre tonight around 8:30. I'm documenting the performance of a new Janis Joplin production. Of course, most of the capture glory will end up going to the 70-200mm but that's just because of its reach.

Section from Spring shot above.


This final shot is a display on the walk outside Whole Foods. I like the way they do their folksy, handmade-esque signage. It's so well done you'd almost believe that they had someone back in produce paint the sign by hand, out on the loading dock. Too bad I didn't bring an on camera flash, I could have nuked the hell out of those shadows and really opened them up. (sarcasm alert).

I'm happy I got the new lens. It's big and stout. So far it's proven to be very sharp and well behaved. I'll post more when I've had a chance to use it closer to the extremes. The 50mm 1.4 Sigma is also available in Canon and Nikon mounts. With the Sony cameras it can take advantage of the in body image stabilization. But sometimes I turn it off, drink three espressos and see what I can get away with......





















Testing the limits of overexposed RAW Sony files. Unintentionally.

 Accidentally overexposed by about a stop and a half in the camera.

Two stops of "pull" in Aperture.

I'm always curious to see how various cameras handle over and underexposure. In digital we probably fear overexposure more because when there's no detail there's nothing left to recover in post production. I don't do tests where I intentionally screw up files. I screw up enough on my own. So when I came across this file instead of trashing it I saved it in my "bloopers" folder and just today decided to take a look at what could be done to save it. Well, I moved the exposure slider to the left. And there you go.

File taken with a Sony Alpha 850 camera and the cute, little Sony 85mm 2.8 lens. Very nice lens, and dirt cheap. I know the file wasn't totally blown but a couple of generations ago I wouldn't have even considered the file to be salvageable but now I guess I'll look at anything that doesn't appear pure white on the screen.