Photoblogs.org Is Returning! – Help Us Build It!

Photoblogs.org is Returning

For veteran photographers like me, Talking Tree, we started out posting photographs through a photoblog between the years of 2004-2010 and then came Instagram. Since corporations have started clamping down on organic social reach – people like myself are returning back to our roots and this comes as GREAT NEWS!!!

Some of you caught hints of this already! – This is Brandon Stone’s official announcement:

He’s bringing back Photoblogs.org! Brandon had this to say:

I need your help. This is a big deal for me. It affects my livelihood and the decisions I’ll be making for my future. I rarely ask anyone for anything, but I am right now. If you have ever wanted to see photoblogs succeed, now is the time to help. I’m ready to build something cool and I’m looking for your support. I can’t do this without you.

We had such an amazing community of photobloggers back in the day and I would like to see if we can make something new that can at least capture some of what once was.

I have a lot of ideas for how to make independent photoblogging as easy and simple as Instagram and this is just the first step toward that greater goal.

Thanks to all of you for being my friends over the years. You are all such a great group of people. Here’s the fund drive link again. Any amount will help and if you could spread the word, that would definitely be appreciated. Thanks again!

Here’s the link to the fund drive page: photoblogs.org/fund-drive

Also, if any of you are on Twitter, it would be really helpful if you could RT this: twitter.com/LBStone/status/789136814955257856

Voigtländer Heliar 15mm F4.5 Superwide for Sony E Mount – Test Drive

Voigtlander Heliar 15mm Test Drive

The other day I had the opportunity to take the new Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III Lens for Sony E for a test drive using the Sony A7R. The results were pretty otherworldly for amazing landscapes. The sharpness of the lens, all the way into the extreme corners, passed my professional scrutiny. What is really pleasing is the fact that the Sony E-Mount version of the Voigtländer communicates all necessary EXIF data to the camera. It also automatically engages manual focus assist when you turn the manual focus dial on the lens.

I had to trade out several legacy lenses in order to raise enough money to cover the cost of this lens. Here’s a few more test examples from the same shoot, below.

Other thoughts regarding the Voigtlander…

All-in-all this lens really nails everything I need in a ultra wide for landscapes. When I finally switched to Sony Full Frame a few months ago from Micro Four Thirds – I was completely surprised by the unexpected learning curve that came with moving back into full-frame. The truth is, legacy glass works well on cropped sensors because the small sensor cuts out the imperfect corners of most legacy lenses while only utilizing the best part of the lens in the center. Switching up to a 36 megapixel sensor on a Sony Alpha A7R amplifies the smallest flaws of old 35mm lenses. So the HUNT for decent wide angle turned into quite a chore.

Bad Experiences with Samyang vs Voigtlander!?

There are a few legacy lenses that work nicely with the Sony but when shooting with Micro Four Thirds, I was used to shooting super-wide for landscape work. So my initial choice was the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens. The first copy of this 14mm lens turned out to be a de-centered piece of trash aka a $300 dollar paper weight. The whole right side of the frame was terribly blurry. I ended up trying three times to get a decent copy of the lens and finally gave up. When I tried to reach out to Samyang /Rokinon about this negative experience, they ignored me and deleted my comments on their Facebook fan page. That inspired me to do some research which led me to Voigtlander’s offerings. I was able to secure a near-perfect copy of the Heliar 15mm III on the first round despite the fact that Cosina/Voigtlander has had some manufacturing issues with the 15mm, as well,  resulting in this thread on Fred Miranda. However the latest copies of Heliar III  (as of Sept. 2016) seem to be totally fixed and I got my copy from one of their latest production batches.Yes, I also heard about the new Rokinon 14mm F2.8 Auto Focus Lens for Sony E-Mount. It was announced while I was investigating the Voigtlander.

Long Hunt for a Superwide Finally Settled! 🙂

With Cosina’s ability to listen to customers, fix any quality control issues they may have, as well as having a long history in the camera business; I am decidedly in favor of Cosina/Voigtlander and their high quality products. I’m happy with this iteration of the classic Heliar 15mm Super Wide lens. It reminds me of the days when shooting with Voigtlander’s 35mm Best-L camera with a 15mm Heliar attached. I miss those old film days and I’m glad to be shooting landscapes with a Sony Full Frame.

Painting Camera Lenses with Rubberized Truck-bed Undercoating

One thing not a lot of people know about me as a photographer is the fact that I paint my camera gear on occasion. It’s mostly cheap lens hoods but also occasionally camera lenses and I do so to make them more tough and durable. Pictured above is the Panasonic Lumix 100-300 and the Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm Nocticron!

I wouldn’t advise this if you are planning on re-selling your gear. However, I’m pretty invested into the Micro Four Thirds format since I sold most my Nikon DSLR gear in 2008 to make this major switch to M/43 and since then, I have never looked back.

The only reservation I had about my mirrorless gear is the fact that some of my lenses felt pretty plasticky including the cheap lens hoods that came with some primes.  After thinking long and hard about it, I felt like things should have some extra protection implemented. So I took the liberty of painting my lenses in rubberized undercoating to toughen them up a bit and it really works like a charm! These two lenses aren’t the first to get this sort of treatment.

One of my favorite lenses to be released by Panasonic was the 42.5mm Nocticron which is built solidlyand I used it on a 14,500 mile photography journey around the Desert Southwest last April and May. What I didn’t like about the Nocticron though was the oversized metal lens hood which seemed to scuff up the outer edge of the Nocticron barrel. I ended up retiring this hood and buying a generic 67mm lenshood that I could screw onto the UV filter up front making it look much more stealthy. I then painted the lens including the outer barrel as you can see above.

Not all paint coatings and rubberized undercoatings are created equal. Some rubberized undercoatings are downright CRAP and you should avoid the cheap brands at the local Autozone or else you run the risk of destroying your lens. I’ve had quite a few years of trying this and experimenting and the best recommendation that I can give is to use Evercoat Automotive Premium Rubberized Undercoating for a real heavy duty job. This is by far the toughest paint for protecting expensive lenses if you want to go down this route and give it a try. This may sound utterly insane, but if I owned the Leica Noctilux, I might be tempted to try this method on one of those!

The end result is this; It will also make cheaper plastic lenses feel much more durable and weather resistant. It seems to help my equipment hold up much better under heavier usage and stay new longer.

All I used was electrical black tape to cover up areas that I didn’t want exposed to rubberized undercoating and it takes about an hour to dry and 24 hours to completely set before the smell starts to fade after the paint job is completed. Sometime I put a second coat on to be extra safe but be careful not to over-do it! I’ve had this undercoating on some of my equipment going on 5 years now and it’s still looking new. I just like it because it makes me feel like I have something nobody else has ever really tried and I thought maybe this would be of interest to you. I’ve had people asking me to post something about this, so here you go.