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!

On the Panasonic GH2 – Porst 55mm F1.2 Lens (Poor Man’s Noctilux!)

Porst 55mm F1.2 Lens

This is the newest addition to my Micro Four Thirds kit; as you can see in the pic above, the Porst is a super fast lens for low light. I just wanted to share a a few thoughts on this setup as I am really enjoying it. The Porst 55mm F1.2 lens is a K-mount lens requiring a special adapter to connect it to an M/43 camera but once attached if feels natural. I’ve tested the sharpness of the lens wide-open and it’s adequately sharp at F/1.2. In fact I am surprised at how sharp it is!! However, I am new to shooting a lens this fast and it is a treat but it’s not without its challenges. The other afternoon I took the lens out for a quick photo-shoot around Cedar City to get the hang of it and discovered that it is quite difficult to nail the focus when shooting wide-open at F1.2;  it’s literally paper thin! At first, I though the lens was just not sharp but when testing it on a tripod, it was much easier to nail focus with some stability.

What I like about the lens is the insane bokeh that I’ve been able to cherry pick out of thousands of images on Flickr from a variety of F1.2 lenses and I’m pretty convinced that the Porst 55mm F1.2, the Tomioka 55mm F1.2, and the Cosina 55mm F1.2 are all similar designs and render very similar bokeh and sharpness and behave very similar. The three lenses I just mentioned are all worthy of investment as well as the Yashinon Tomioka 55mm F1.2 lens.

This lens constitutes a Poor Man’s Noctilux. While I don’t think it can really beat the Leica Noctilux in sharpness wide-open, I actually prefer the bokeh from from the lenses I’ve mentioned above, especially the Porst. If I were to buy a second lens for the same speed, I would invest in a Cosina 55mm F1.2 lens. The Tomiokas are excellent choices but I their going prices for used condition on the market are way jacked-up, in fact – I’m not convinced that the Tomioka’s are worth a going price of $1,200 on eBay which is what the “buy-it-now” auction are asking for. I was able to get my Porst for about $379 which was much more reasonable and the lens was shipped clear from Cyprus in mint minus condition.

The Porst 55mm F1.2 lens is a lot of fun though and I will share more thoughts as time moves on!

Solving the Problem of Flimsy Plastic Lens Hoods!

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So I’ve always had these problems with liking cheap plastic lens hoods on digital camera lenses. So instead of getting frustrated, I went out and bought an $18 dollar can of truck bed liner and it works like a charm. What I do is leave the lens hood on full time and it feels so much better when it feels this tough! This is a simple trick and tip for you guys. I would love to hear your thoughts!? :)

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…

Sunrise at Toroweap in the Grand Canyon

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Beauty is all around out in the Grand Canyon south of the Utah Border. You take a dirt road from Colorado City, 67 miles across the rugged Arizona Strip before getting to this spot. The dirt road is so primitive that a lot of people are not willing to take the risk. This area is a hot sport for serious landscape photographers who are familiar with the Southwest. I photographed this with an emphasis on the porous sandstone bathed in early morning light.

The Farmer's Sprinklers

This is funny; it usually takes me a few weeks to figure out the characteristics of a lens to determine if I like it or not. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the Micro 4/3 Panasonic Lumix Vario 100-300mm lens. I took a couple dozen more photos similar to this with the same lens and the bokeh isn’t too shabby for a telephoto lens. The out-of-focus areas are really nice and different here and there’s a lot of dimension in this composition. So I think it was a wise choice to invest in this lens. Last week I sold my 45-200mm lens to fund the purchase and I’m happy I did. This lens seems much sharper than it’s little brother and I think the bokeh is noticeably better!

Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm Lens Test – This is Amazing!

A few days ago I replaced my Micro 4/3 Panasonic 45-200mm lens for a 100-300mm lens. In 35mm film format this is the equivalent of 300-600mm long. Let me tell you, this is a completely different beast than the previous lens! I have to hold this one much more steady to get good shots but I tested the lens for the first time today and it performed beautifully. I can certify that this lens is tack sharp and will kick butt and will require some getting used to. How does it perform? It will definitely do its job. The only drawback that I don’t like about this lens is the construction where the rear element isn’t enclosed and can allow dust to get sucked into the lens internals while adjusting the focal lengths. Other than that, I can foresee this lens becoming my main shooter because it makes me feel like the Paparazzi! :-)