Top Golf, Top Camera

We are officially on Christmas break at the Wadsworth house so it was time for some well deserved R&R. Yesterday we grabbed grandpa and headed out to Top Golf for some fun at this very cool driving range. Lately I've been using the new Sony A7 almost exclusively with a manual focus m-rokkor lens, but this time I wanted some speedy autofocus. Lucky, the A7 can be mated with the Sony LAEA-4 adapter featuring translucent mirror technology, otherwise known as SLT. The translucent mirror allows for fast phase detection autofocus with Sony and Minolta A-mount lenses, effectively turning the A7 into a mini A99. For the handful of us that shoot professionally with A-mount lenses, this opens up some really great lens options in addition to the new FE lenses made specifically for the camera. No other platform can boast autofocus Zeiss lenses such as the 85/1.4 or 135/1.8 and the Minolta lenses from the 80s and 90s are just as good if not better than their Canikon equivalents, at a fraction of the cost.

Mated with a Minolta AF 50/1.4, the combo I used at Top Golf was plenty fast, deadly accurate and handled both the motion and hard shadows really well. The little Minolta was tack sharp at f/2 and dreamy wide open. Comparatively, I took the RX1 to Top Golf earlier in the year and other than winter vs. late summer light, and the difference in FOV, I would be hard pressed to tell between the cameras. That's high praise for the A7/Minolta, given how well regarded the 35mm Zeiss on the RX1 is. 

Grandpa put the high score up on the board but the jrs. made an impressive run. The A7 continued to impress as well, earning it my top camera award of 2013 (watch out DPReview). From my seat, no other camera offers what the A7(r) can - top of the class full frame sensors, compact form, great build quality and the flexibility to shoot almost every lens made, combine to obliterate our expectation of what a small camera can do in 2013.

Happy holidays to all and happy shooting. Hope to see you back here in 2014. 


Sony A7: The modern Leica CL?

Sony A7 with Minolta M-Rokkor 40/2 - November 2013 

Many a photographer from the old timey days of chemical processing, has a soft spot in their heart for the "mini" M; otherwise known as the Leica CL, or its cousin, the Minolta CLE. The CL was famous for shrinking the M in both physical proportion and price, making it a very popular entry into the M world. So popular that you will hear whispers claiming Leica killed the CL project to protect its M sales. To my knowledge, to this day, the CL and CLE remain the smallest and lightest interchangeable M-mount film rangefinders.


First paid work with the Sony A7. Red Bull Sound Select

I've been itching to take the A7 out and shoot a show and got the chance last night at Empire Control Room in Austin TX for the December Red Bull Sound Select show featuring The Clouds are Ghosts, Ishi and the Ton Tons. All three bands were amazing and Red Bull pulled off another killer SoundSelect show supporting emerging artists. So stoked to be working with this team.

I committed to using the Minolta M-Rokkor 40/2 lens on the A7 to test how difficult it would be to manual focus a show in both extreme low light and with supplemental strobes that I set up on each side of the stage. Additionally I used the Minolta AF 35/2 and the Zeiss 85/1.4 on my A900 body.

It was a tough shoot, with multiple projector screens flooding the stage as opposed to traditional stage lighting so my strobes had trouble balancing with ambient. Some mild shutter drag helped on occasion but I mostly ended up shooting with available light or full strobe.

Enough tech, on to the photos.

Sony A7 with M-Rokkor 40/2 and Minolta AF 35/2


Sony A7 Hands On Review

Christmas came early yesterday when the FedEx man delivered the hotly anticipated Sony A7 to my front door, direct from DigitalRev in Hong Kong. Much has been written about the 24 megapixel full frame A7 and its big brother, the 36 megapixel A7r so I will assume you are mostly up to speed on what these cameras are about and we will treat this piece as a hands on.

Sony A7 - they crammed a full frame sensor in there

A little background: I previously owned the highly regarded Sony RX1, as well as several NEX cameras and still shoot with a trusty Sony A900 SLR so the A7 was a must buy when I first heard it announced. Because the A7 looks to be so versatile, my intention is to use it as both a compact, everyday/travel cam fitted with the relatively small new full frame lenses (FE) and rangefinder legacy lenses, as well as a second body to the A900, fitted with the very cool Sony battery grip and LA-EA4 adapter for Alpha SLR lenses.


Fun Fun Fun

Three days of punk, hardcore, rap, metal, pop, indie, comedy, wrestling, skate, bike and twinkies on the shore of the Colorado river in Austin, TX. Here is the proof...


In Brett We Trust

Last night I went to church to hear the preaching of northern California singer songwriter Brett Dennen. Hushed and reverent, Brett's fans lined the pews and filled the balcony to hear his sweet brand of pop folk. Launching his tour in support of the new album, "Smoke and Mirrors", the lanky red head had his fans enraptured throughout the set.


Limited Edition

As a quick follow-up to my previous post that featured photos from the Ricoh GR, I wanted to thank my local Pentax/Ricoh sales rep for providing me with this limited edition red trim ring when my original black one went missing.

Ricoh GR with Limited Edition Red Ring

The camera may not be quite so stealthy but I've always longed for one of these rings that usually are only available in Japan.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question about the GR or its film ancestors!