An Open Letter & Petition to Sigma Photo to Create a Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

Sigma DP3 Merrill

Sigma DP3 Merrill

Dear Awesome Sigma,

I’ve owned Nikons, Canons and Sony cameras. A few years ago I abandoned my Nikon DSLR equipment in 2008 and switched to the Micro Four Thirds standard. This mirrorless format has become the best go-to camera setup I have ever owned in my career as a pro photographer both because the technology is cutting edge, and it’s more of an open standard and cooperative between photographic companies which in turn benefits the customer, and the end user, allowing us to choose a wide variety of different lenses from different manufacturers. However, In between this transition, I owned the Sigma DP1 and DP2, which contained a Foveon sensor, which is completely different than the traditional Bayer sensor technology used in most digital cameras on the market. The Foveon sensor captured sharp details, better color and deeper dynamic range in a unique way that I had never seen before in a modern digital camera and in my opinion the Foveon sensor is a superior technology that goes unrivaled in the photography industry.

I feel Sigma could enrich the mirrorless community by developing an M4/3 mirrorless camera that contains a Foveon sensor. It would further enhance an already strong community of professionals and amateurs currently using the open Micro Four Thirds standard and give consumers a really strong third option when comparing and shopping for camera bodies.

This would be a dream come true for a lot of photographers, especially for me, which is why I decided to create a petition. Olympus and Panasonic are excellent companies as well, but I’m really a big supporter of Sigma’s progress and efforts and I feel that creating a system for the M4/3 format would be a step in the right direction for such an excellent company!

Click here to sign the letter at Petition.org!

My Love Affair with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm F2.5 Pancake Lens – Perfect for Landscapes!

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I want to share briefly my experience with the amazing, Panasonic Lumix 14mm F2.5 Pancake lens. It’s beautiful, ultra small and compact and a joy to shoot with. Combine it with the adventurous Olympus OM-D E-M5 and you have quite a professional and pocket-able mini-landscape combo! I’ve shot with this lens both on Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras; the G1, GF1 as well as the E-P2! The lens looks perfect on all these camera bodies and significantly smaller than the legendary Panasonic 20mm F1.7 Pancake.

My first impression of this lens, when I first got it in the mail, was how dinky it was in size and the feeling was somewhat bitter-sweet! However the lens quickly grew on me and I’ve began using it as my primary wide-angle because of the ease of use and it looks very streamlined with the Olympus cameras. I like it better than the Zuiko 17mm F2.8 Pancake that I have. BTW, the old Olympus 17mm got a really bad rap, but I really love the sharpness and quality of that lens. Maybe I’ll post another short review with image examples shot on the E-P2, since that lens has also created some superb landscapes with my talent, of course.

Yes, I did own the legendary super wide-angle Panasonic 7-14mm lens but it was real bulky and unable to accept screw-on filters which left something to be desired… It produced some stunning landscapes for me over a few years time and I loved it but ended up selling it on eBay while keeping the 14mm pancake! As a standard wideangle, it’s not super-wide, but it’s adequate for any landscape or architectural work. It is capable and adequate for professional work as well. I’m not the type of guy that buys into all the marketing hype and I’m definitely not a pixel-peeper either. The photo of my feet, wearing Chacos above the San Juan Goosenecks was captured with the same Pancake. This photo example was good enough to get accepted in a Santa Fe art gallery along with some of my other prints that will be on exhibition soon at the Jezebel Gallery in New Mexico. The great thing about the 14mm lens is that it’s a prime.  I prefer prime fixed focal length lenses versus zooms which is probably another reason why I chose to sell the Panasonic 7-14mm When I was shooting the Panasonic super-wide zoom, I was always shooting at the widest field of view; 7mm and I miss having that capability of course. What would be really cool is if Olympus or Panasonic could engineer a super-wide prime (not a fisheye) that could produce good outstanding results? I would invest money in such a lens especially at the 7mm focal length!

In this short post, I’ve included real world results of my work with this lens to demonstrate it’s characteristics and show you it’s capable of some serious work. I’m very happy with the results I have gotten so far and have taken many photos with it on my OM-D!

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For a pancake lens I was mesmerized by the quality of the glass. This is the San Juan Goose-necks near the Navajo (Diné) Reservation in the Four Corners region. This image was shot with a Panasonic GF1. The rest of the images below were shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. All the images were post-processed on an iPhone using Snapseed and Pixlr Express, and Instagram Filters. All photos were shot in Jpeg right off the OM-D with minimal processing except for using filters and lightening shadows in the dark areas of some of the photos.

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The following photos were below were during flash flood that took place in Zion National Park in July of 2013. while hiking with my best friend, Omar Hernandez. We got stuck in a massive cloudburst, and water started to come off the cliffs forming instant water falls. Back in 2008, I was stuck in a flood in Havasupai which gave me a lot of experiences under such dire circumstances and this definitely was not the first time I’ve been holed up by flash flooding. It was sure a beautiful day to take pics though out on the Angels Landing Trail.

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In conclusion, I would highly recommend this lens for any dedicated Micro Four Thirds user. It is a wonderful little lens at a dirt cheap price that you cannot beat being that it’s a prime. It’s perfect for adventurers and hikers who want to travel light. I got my lens on eBay, brand new for around $150 dollars. That’s unbeatable! You get excellent image quality in a compact package. It’s a joy to shoot and reinvigirates my excitement to do photography every time I shoot. I love the Micro Four Thirds camera system and the variety of lenses available for the format. I was first introduced to Micro Four Thirds while attending the 2008 PMA convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. It prompted me to sell off my Nikon equipment. Stay tuned for more interesting posts…

Winning a Leica M9 Monochrom & $20K!

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I did a crazy thing today and spent a measely $20 dollars on an incredible black and white photo contest in the hopes of winning an $8,000 dollar Leica M9 Monochrome and $20,000 in cash. This was a good deal. Mind you, this is the first time I have ever entered a photo contest of any sort, The fact that I love Leica so much is what pushed me over the edge. If there’s a snowballs chance in hell that I win, I would put some of that money towards a Leica Noctilux-m 50mm f/.95 lens. My brother tends to disagree on how good Leica is. He says they are a bunch of hype and I should know better but Leica isn’t just a Red Dot brand for rich yuppies, it is one of the oldest and most respected companies in the history of photography. I’ve done the research, frequented enough technical forums, and have always been impressed with the quality images that come from Leica users . So I plan on getting one someday. Until then, I’m stuck shooting the poor-man’s Leicas: My trusty Olympus E-P2 and OM-D E-M5.

The dead cow photo above is what I chose to submit, not in hopes of winning, but because it represents my vision. As an artist making an honest assessment, It’s my worldview when shooting Landscape Photography that not everything in nature is pristine. I’m chuckling as I write this because it’s a statement against some of the nature photographers in general that like everything untouched and undisturbed before they can compose a picture. It’s ludicrous when in reality, nothing is unscathed even in the national parks. What’s wrong with airplane trails and power-lines being apart of the intended wilderness? Embrace them. In my humble opinion human-kind is apart of the wild and cannot be removed from it. I wonder how this dead cow would have been rendered using Leica glass? Trust me, German glass is superior!

Of course, you don’t have to believe me. Everyone swears by certain brands but some are simply more endearing that others to use. Leica is my favorite company of choice because their whole system is dedicated to the advanced art of manual focusing and the red dot is simply amazing! I won’t go so far as to claim that only real photographers shoot Leica, but I will say some of the most serious street photographers and world famous photojournalists have used Leica since the early days. It’s a serious tradition. Life is short and you may as well go the whole nine yards! So cheers to my favorite brand.

 

Converting to Manual Focus & Learning Lens Repair

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This is one way to gain an edge on the competition amongst professionals in the photography business… Learning to repair one’s own equipment in case of a stuck shutter, or a lens with sticking aperture blades, as was the case with this Minolta 58mm 1.4 lens. I disassembled it and put it back together again after re-lubing the aperture with rubbing alcohol and cleaning the excess dust from between the elements making it look brand new. I paid $10 bucks for it at the local thrift store!

Many of the lenses that are being made these days are auto-focus and highly calibrated and much harder to fix. Learning to fix these old lenses allows me to collect broken ones from eBay, or elsewhere at a much cheaper price. The demand for manual focus lenses is going up though, because people like me have discovered the joy in having complete control over every aspect of their photography. The art of manual focusing has a learning curve and could be considered by some to be a sub-field within the trade of photography. Learning to repair these old lenses though gives me an opportunity to really enjoy my equipment, building a bond between me and the tools.

I’m surprised how popular these old manual lenses are getting. The demand for vintage lenses is skyrocketing because of the new mirror-less technology that many camera manufacturers are implementing in their latest digital cameras. My personal equipment consists of mirror-less cameras made by Olympus in the Micro Four Thirds format. I highly recommend these cameras and those made by Sony under the label; NEX. All these cameras can utilize these old manual focus lenses with special adapters that can be purchased relatively cheap. Anyone who is half serious about photography should learn the art of manual focusing because it develops a skill set that can set you apart from the soccer-ball mom crowds who use Canon as their brand and refuse to move beyond the zoom-lens.

I have no problems with soccer-ball mommies if they are willing to learn the process of photography before calling themselves pro. I also advise people to avoid the zoom lenses, because they stifle the creative process. Fixed focal-length lenses are the best for mastering photography, because they force your feet to become the zoom and you begin thinking more about composition. I also prefer shooting with medium telephoto primes because of the tighter crop factor with allows the photographer to really isolate the subject matter.

These are just a few thoughts on my mind for tonight. So stay tuned for more tips! :)