D850 and Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4

Looking at my photographic days in Tokyo I need to discuss the combination of the Nikon D850 camera with the Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 lens, particularly for motion blur photography.

I have to admit that I had a difficult and problematic relationship with this 50mm lens. 50mm is not my favourite focal length. For street photography it appears to narrow for me, it does not cover the scene sufficiently for my taste and thus deprives me of creating compositions that I like. For portrait the lens is too wide. I prefer staying a little further away from my model which I find less intimidating for the person at the other end of the lens. Working with 85mm or the 70-200mm zoom also gives a nicer background bokeh.

In Tokyo I used initially the 70-200mm lens for motion blur street portraits. But I realised that due to the narrow focal length I missed quite a few shots and depended a lot on luck and serendipity. And later when watching the pictures on my computer I realised that the shots with this lens looked a little smeary to a degree that I disliked the results.

For the second part of my stay I changed the lens and used the Sigma 50mm instead. And man, this was a revelation. The rendering of this lens is crisp, motion blur causes beautiful lines, the colours are also beautiful and easy to work with. And doing the blur stuff was of course much easier with this wider lens than with the 70-200mm zoom. So I am really smitten with the Sigma lens and it seems that our relationship has good chances to recover.

A word to the D850. I have praised it already just a few days after buying it. This camera is incredibly versatile. You can try anything with it and the results seem to be very convincing. I love shooting portraits with her, results are predictable and reliable. Same now with my motion blur attempts. The files are great, I can process them easily, they never fall apart, even if I try extraordinary things in pp. I can clearly confirm my first impression. This camera is amazing and in hindsight I bless my crooked old D800 for having given up its spirit.

I will use bothD850 and Sigma Art 50mm in combination in the future and I am looking forward to the results.

Capture One

I had enough of Lightroom. After the recent upgrade to LR 6.2 I could not work with this software anymore. The laptop got completely stuck and each single processing step took ridiculous 3 to 5 minutes. And it also felt as if the computer slowed down in other programs too. I have to admit that my MacBook is now 8 years old and certainly not the fastest computer on earth. But this kind of slow-down was new to me.

Taking a look at the web and viewing articles of hundreds of frustrated users confirmed my suspicion. Lightroom is a bulky piece of software that gets harder to utilize with every upgrade they make.  

To get my computer going again I deleted LR from my MacBook, removed also the two older versions that I had accumulated over the time and went to Phase One's website and uploaded a trial version of their Capture One software. First impression when uploading - it's sleeker than Lightroom, it has 400MB instead of 1400MB that LR has. And thus it's running clearly faster and smoother.

I had read about C1 some weeks ago and that many people who have enough of LR consider this as a very valid alternative. And not only because it's quicker and less bulky but first of all because of better image quality, particularly in colour images.

So now I am reading the instruction and I'm trying to get my head around how to use it. To me it's not counter-intuitive as many people have written. However I still need to understand its workflow and idiosyncrasies.

My first impression is that I can work with it. The structure of the software makes sense to me. I don't know about image quality and the final results as I have not done a whole processing cycle yet.

What I clearly miss is a history panel where I can go several steps back and start at a point of my processing history that I can define. C1 does not seem to have this tool.

It would be great to hear from people who use C1 and who can compare LR and C1. What do you prefer? And why? Please write me either a comment here or an email (Flickr email or c_ms@gmx.de) or send me a Facebook comment.

My Old Canon Camera

For many years I owned a Canon EOS 10D camera. And I have to say that I never really developed a relationship with her. I found her too technical, too bulky, with far too many buttons that I didn’t understand how to use. So she lived her life mainly on a shelf. Until some months ago. 

Over the last months I realised that my photography is lacking one component. With my current cameras and lenses I can’t get closer to my objects. I am not able to shoot details. And I can’t compress images to enhance the effect of my objects. And I currently don’t have the money for a tele lens. :-)

So I remembered my old Canon camera with her 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 tele zoom lens that I had bought some time ago. And I took her from the shelf, checked if the batteries were still working (and to my surprise they were) and took some test shots. And I liked what I was seeing. So I took her with me to some photo shootings and I started using her more regularly. And i have to say that I love the effect of the tele lens. These pictures are very special to me. 

And of course is this camera technically completely outdated. 6 MP sensor. Every point and shoot has more nowadays. And ISO doesn’t go higher than 1600 and if I use it at that level the camera creates incredible noise. But converting the pictures to b&w and using the noise as a stylistic element doesn’t let it appear too distracting. I can even crop pictures a little. And as long as I am not trying to print them I am fine. And after having used other cameras in the past few years that have similar technical features (that feel exactly the same redundant as the ones on my Canon) I didn’t find her too daunting anymore. And I use her regularly and I thoroughly enjoy the effect of pictures shot with a tele lens. 

And maybe one day when I have saved enough money I will afford a Leica M camera. For simplicity. And peace of mind.


I'd like to write a little about my Sony RX1 camera. This website is certainly not intended to be a gear review site. There are thousands of others doing this and I am not the right person to follow them suit. But I'd like to tell my story with this camera and why I am using it now again. 

The RX1 was the first camera that I bought after I had re-discovered photography some two years ago. Steve Huff (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com) had written enthusiastic reviews on this camera and I found the concept appealing. Small, light, full frame, versatile and with a real good Zeiss f2.0 lens. So I bought it. And tried it. And kind of failed. 

A 35mm lens is very universal. And I wanted to use it for multiple purposes. I was particularly keen on trying it as a street photography camera. And honestly - as such it sucks. AF is much too slow, screen reflections are awful in bright sunlight, you can't turn off magnification on the screen when you focus manually. It is a disaster. And Sony are bold enough not to update the firmware to allow us simple and normal manual focussing. I was flabbergasted. This thing was really expensive and it fails in such details. 

For landscape 35mm often is not wide enough. So I found the camera not very fit for that purpose either. And portraits with a 35mm lens - hm, you can do that, but there are certainly better ways of pointing out the beauty of your models' facial lines. 

After all I didn't know what to do with this camera after some months and so it ended up in a drawer very much to my annoyance. 

Until - well until I had this camera with me when I went out for a night photoshoot some few weeks ago. Winter is coming in New Zealand and the days are much shorter now. So it's night photography season again. 

And all of a sudden I realised what a beautiful night shot camera this is. You can bump up ISO to 6400 or even 12500 and shoot it hand-held.  It creates an interesting grain that you can easily work with in processing. Colour rendering is nice and interesting in the dark. And the lens gives amazing details that you can use very nicely when you process the shots. 

So after all it turned out that Steve was right when he praised the night shooting qualities of this camera in his reviews. (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/10/09/night-time-street-shooting-with-the-sony-rx1-amazing-high-iso-samples/) It took me only two years to find that out.... :-)  You can certainly call it luxury to have a "night-shot only camera" available. And I would certainly not buy this expensive thing for that purpose only. But as I am having it anyway I will use it and enjoy taking pictures in the dark. 

Please take a look at my recent colour night shots on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisrsouthland/) and in the "urban" section of this site. They are all taken with the RX1.