Alessio Michelini Photography

Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Review

27 July 2015

A few days ago I had the chance to test this lens, the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*  for the Sony full frame E-mount, which a very good friend of mine, Giuseppe Milo (check out his website), recently bought. Initially it was a test to compare that lens with my copy of the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, something similar to my previous test with the Canon 50mm f/1.4.
But unfortunately the lack of focus distance scale of the Fujifilm lens sometimes is a problem, and I didn’t notice that with the fuji I wasn’t on infinite focus, but it was focusing a little bit earlier, not by much, but still it wasn’t a reliable test anymore, and it has to be re-done (I know, it was very dumb, but that’s the price you pay when you do things on a rush).
Anyway, the test with the Sony Sonnar 55mm was perfect, and here I’m going to write my impressions, and a sharpness test.
To be clear, the test has been done on a Sony A7 camera, on a tripod and using a remote shutter to avoid any possible shakes, and I’ve done multiple shots from for any single aperture step, starting from f/1.8 and then passing for any of the standard single stops (f/2, f/2.8, f/4 and so on until f/22 which is the minimum aperture possible with this lens).
Here you can find a summary of the specs for this lens:

Focal Length 55mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.8
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Sony E (Full-Frame)
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 42.9°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.64' (50 cm)
Magnification 0.14x
Elements/Groups 7/5
Diaphragm Blades 9
Autofocus Yes
Filter Thread 49mm
Dimensions (DxL) 64 x 71 mm (Approx. 2.54 x 2.78")
Weight 281 g (0.62 lb)
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AC/DC @ Aviva Stadium

26 July 2015

I generally skip big concerts nowdays, 90% of the times they have ridiculous requests, where you have to sign down some outrageous photo releases where you give all your photos away and you can't even put it on your personal blog, while they can do whatever they fancy, and maybe you have to shoot from the sound desk or from just one specific point in the pit because the "artist" (or the diva I should say) doesn't want any photographer in front of him/she.
So most of the times I don't care about those gigs. But this time was different: AC/DC! Who whouldn't like to photograph AC/DC? One of the biggest hard rock bands of all time!
Plus, there are no photo release to sign, you shoot from the pit, and it was 100 meters away from where I live! How I could not ask for a photo pass?
Now, if you think that Angus Young is 60, Brian Johnson is 67, Cliff Williams 65 and Chris Slade is 68, and the youngest is Stevie Young (who replaced Malcom Young) which is 58 yo, you would think that they are just going to be the ghost of the band who used to be, or a softer version of AC/DC, well you are wrong, damn wrong. They absolutely rock on stage, absolutely brilliant live band, much better than many of band who had half or one third of their age.
Angus young still run from one site to the other of the stage, and it looks like this band didn't age much in the past 40 years, unlike the rest of the universe.
Simply a great band to see, period.

Now, keeping the fan inside me on a side, I have to be more pragmatic as a photographer, but to be honest the only bad thing I can say about this show, is the fact that the stage was really high, I think around 3 meters high, which is quite a lot, but they had to do that simply to allow everybody to see them, and fans are the first priority, so fair enough.
But unfortunately a so high stage made me impossible to shoot the other band members, and already a couple of friends told me ironically if I shoot only Brian Johnson and Angus Young on purpose, but unfortunately not, they were the only two I could see.
So if you are going to photograph them as well, be aware that you need a long lens, a 70-200mm, even if I'm not a big fan of those lenses, would be ideal in this case.
The lights were great, even if there were still plenty of daylight as here in Ireland in July the sunset is around 10pm, but overall a very good show to photograph, even if limited to the two main guys, and for me it was really hard to publish only the best photos, which are still a lot for my standards, as any shoot I took was at least decent or very good.
And as I said earlier, no copyright grabbing release to sign, and taking the fact that this is one of the greatest live band to photograph, the have all my respect for not asking it, and as a photographer it's just fun, fun, fun.

Anyway, as usual, down here some of the best shots I took that day, while on my flickr account you can find a beefy photo set with all the photos.

AC/DC

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Vintage Trouble @ Aviva Stadium

20 July 2015

I don't generally shoot supporter bands, not because I don't like them (well, a couple of times I saw some awful bands), but mostly because I generally get to the venue when it's too late, and most of the times they don't get good lights as the lights are set for the main band, so I tend to skip them, but this time was at the stadium just around the corner from where I live, and I had to be there early anyway to collect the pass.
To be fair I didn't bother check who was the supporter band, and when I heard their name, "Vintage Trouble", I literally had no clue what to expect, I was guessing it was some sort of hard rock band perhaps, as it was the AC/DC's gig, but when a fellow photographer told me that they were some sort of blues/sould band, I was a bit surprised to be honest.

Well, let me tell you, they were damn good. Especially the singer, he was a tornado on stage, moving like James Brown (well, maybe not exactly like him, but pretty close), and I was a bit disappointed they were that far away as the stage was a good 3 meters high, because that guy was very good to photograph, I got dozens of good shots of him and it was really hard to pick the best ones. I would really like to see them in smaller venues, like the Olympia Theatre or Vicar Street, as they would be a cracking band to photograph.
There in the Aviva Stadium, apart the stage height, it was with the bright sunlight, and the stage lights where a bit weak, they add some depth, and some rim light, but that's pretty much it, and because of the stage I could photograph properly only the front man and the lead guitar, really hard to get the drummer and the bass player.
Again, if the band is playing in a venue near to  you, go to see them, they are just a great live band.

Anyway, as usual you can find the full set here on flickr, while down here you can see some of the best of the best photos I took that evening.

Vintage Trouble

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Alden Penner & Michael Cera @ The Hangar

06 July 2015

I want to specify a couple of things before proceeding with this post:

1) I haven't a clue of who the hell was Alden Penner and I went to this gig only because of Michael Cera as I wanted to see if he really plays the bass and in Scott Pilgrilm VS The World it wasn't just acting.

2) At the time I requested the gig it was planned to be played in Vicar St, a very good venue here in Dublin with very good lights generally.

Then things changed, and they moved the gig to the Hangar, which was the very first time I heard the name of that venue, only to discover afterwards that it was previously called Andrew's Lane. After I realized where the gig were going to be played, I felt like Admiral Ackbar:

 
And what it supposedly be an easy gig, turned into a nightmare.
Now I'm sounding very mean to the poor Alden Penner, Michael Cera and their mates. I don't want to be mean with them, they actually played a very good gig, and yes, Michael Cera is good to play bass, guitar and keyboards.
I'm just a bit disappointed by the venue, which the only upside was the fact that it was very eco-friendly that night, as they didn't turn on many lights, and especially the aircon, on one of the hottest (and vary rare) days in Ireland this summer (if we can call it with this name).
Essentially there were a couple of blankets on the wall, a few very static lights, some other lights that they didn't  bother to turn on for some fancy reason, and there were just a "virtual" pit, no actual barries, but just a couple of bouncers who did an imaginary space for photographers, which didn't last very long.
The pictures didn't turn that bad, well, they are acceptable, let's say that; and I have to thank to the engineers in Canon that allowed to me to shoot in low lights thanks to their full frame sensors and very fast prime lenses.
Again, don't get me wrong, the band was very good, it was just the venue that was completely wrong in my opinion, and the Alden Penner & friends really deserved a bigger venue.
Anyway, down here some of the best shots of that night, while here you can find the full set.
Michael Cera
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June 2015 in photos

03 July 2015

As you can easily imagine, last month I had a lot of fun with my new baby, the Fujifilm X-T1, and I put it to the test to see if it could be my only camera for travels, and so far it seems a big yes. The only problem is maybe I should get a wide zoom lens, or maybe another fix prime, like the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 or the Fujinon 23mm f/1.4, still not sure, but I'll probably buy before I go in holidays next month.
Anyway, this is the monthly post with my random photos, but if you are looking for the photos I took at the Dublin Pride 2015, there's a specific set for it right here, while the random photos of June are here.
Down here you can find some of the best :-)

Dublin

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Photo Release: Foo Fighters

02 July 2015

I love Foo Fighters since their debut in the 90s, I think they are a great live band, and it's one of those bands that I would really like to photograph.
Unfortunately between my desire to photograph and the band, there is a big wall represented by the photo release you see down here, which is one of the shittiest you can find if you are a music photographers, so unless they change their mind, I'll never photograph a Foo Fighters live show. Sorry Dave, but I can't really accept this contract, nobody should accept this, and I don't really undestand why a person like you ask to photographers this shitty release.

(source: washingtoncitypaper.com)

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Black Stone Cherry @ The Academy

30 June 2015

I said it in the past, and I'll say it again: you never fail with metal bands. Even if I knew just a couple of songs, when I saw there were going to play in the Academy, I just put my name down to request the pass, as I knew it was going to be a cracking gig to photograph. And guess what, I was right.
The Academy recently went under a new management, which decided to spend some money to renew that venue, which with the previous promoter was let down a bit, mostly because they had bigger venues and I guess they didn't care much of that place. Now the Academy it can be a really good venue to see and photograph gigs, and this gig showed all the potentials in my opionion.
I don't think the band itself brought any lights, and I think they just used the venue lights, but there were brilliant. And the band itself was a brilliant band to photograph, really dynamic on stage, and it was a pleasure to shoot this show, really good live band and I totally recommend to go to see them.
Anyway, as usual you can find some of the best photos down here, while on my flickr account you can find a beefy photo set of 59 (!!!) photos.
Black Stone Cherry

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Photo Release: Manu Chao

26 June 2015

I didn't need to see this photo release to discourage myself to even think to ask for a pass for this "artist", but this photo release is quite bad, and I never expected to see  something like that from him. Anyway, right grabs, they say that they can do whatever they want with your pictures and you can simply go to hell, damn photographer.
Thank you, but no thanks.

 

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Canon 50mm f/1.4 VS Fujinon 35mm f/1.4: the battle of the normals

25 June 2015

In the past year and half I was divided by two cameras, like a “ménage à trois” romance, on one site I had the old school guy, the Canon 6D, a solid full frame camera, that you can always trust, yeah it’s bulky and heavy, but it delivers stunning quality, especially at high ISO, I already have plenty of lenses with that, it’s solid as hell, with integrated GPS and WiFi. It’s the camera that you take when you need to get the job done, even if I’ll probably have a very sore neck because it’s essentially as heavy as a brick.
On the other side I have the new kid on the block, now a Fuji X-T1, until a month ago the Fuji X-E1, different cameras for some features, but similar in weight and size, so it’s the same story at the end. The Fuji mirrorless are small & light, which are perfect to carry around without the need to see a physiotherapist after a while, even the lenses are tiny compared to the Canon ones, and they still pack a very good IQ. Yeah, the AF is not as fast as the 6D, the High ISO performances are not that good as well (even if they are quite close until 3200 ISO), and the body is not as tough too.
At the end, you can’t really compare apples with oranges, these two cameras have different purposes in my opinion, in some cases the best camera for you is a DSLR, in some other a Mirrorless camera is the best fit for you.
But for a while I wondered, these two very different cameras, with two lenses with a similar angle of view, who is the best and who is the worst? Is the image quality of the big one always the best?

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Hudson Taylor @ Olympia Theatre

20 June 2015

Hudson Taylor is an irish folk duo, composed by the two brothers Harry & Alfie. The gain quite a bit of popularity here in Ireland and in the UK as well recently, especially because they have a more "pop" approach to folk music, and adding that they are quite good looking, it's not hard to imagine that their main audience is mostly composed by young ladies.
I think they are a quite interesting band, and I was hoping on the 'pop' thing to be a interesting to photograph as well, so I gave them a chance and I asked for a pass, and to be fair the fact that my previous gig was a while ago helped me to take this decision.

But while they are becoming more and more popular, they are still quite new to the showbiz, so while I was expecting a well lit gig, I wasn't expecting much more than the basic venue lights system, and I was almost right. They just added some large but not very powerful lights on the background, something I've seen before with artists like Kings Of Leons (if we can call them artists), which they are nice to see and they added a nice rim of light to the artists silhouette.
Probably this minimalistic approach to the stage lights it was done on purpose, folk music is generally quite minimalistic as well, where everything is just to the bare bones of music, just voice and a guitar, no special effects or "decorations", so I think it was fair enough at the end.
So overall, while the guys delivered a solid performance, photographing the gig was okay, not bad photos, but at the same time they are nothing special, or at least to me, but I'm sure that the ladies will probably have a different opinion.
Anyway, down here some of the best shots, while on my flickr account you can find the full set, and as always, thank you for reading.

Hudson Taylor

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