Monday, January 16, 2017

#21 New Shoots and a Move in Progress......

After I move, Jan 29th to a condo in Rancho Cucamonga (only 4 miles from where I am now in Ontario, CA) I'm thinking of starting my own YouTube show.....reviewing lenses, cameras, etc....

I've been thinking of doing this for a year or so...but I can set up everything the way I want at last. I'll have more room to work everything out. I'll stick to reviewing electronics that I've actually used so I can give everyone a first hand look at the equipment. Since I just switched to Sony (Mid 2016), I'll be able to go over some of Sony's cameras and lenses. I am still shooting with the Nikon  P900 superzoom for fun, but getting some amazing results!

I'll go over how to set up a photo shoot and what to expect and how to set up lights, camera settings, and the lighting gear I use.

Here is my current camera set up:

This is the Sony A7R2 with the 24-240 3.5-6.3 Sony OSS Lens.
I now go to model shoots with 2 A7R2's one with a Sony Zeiss 35mm 2.8, and the other with a Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8. That way I can shoot wide and get some background in the shots or go more normal tele with the 55. The 55 has some awesome bokeh at the wide open settings. I think it's as good as the much more expensive 85mm lenses. Plus you can use the lens for a bit more if you can back up.
These were shot with the 55 1.8 recently in my studio: 

And here are a few with the 35mm: 

Also recently this year 2017, shot up in the mountains about one hour north of Ontario, CA. Near Lake Arrowhead and Bluejay......a snow queen and viking shoot! Using my 2 camera set up outside for the first time.....

Sony RX100IV

Shot out of the car window with the Nikon P900 superzoom.

Shot out of the car window with the Nikon P900 superzoom.

Just the large beauty-dish.

Natural light.

Just the small speedlight with beauty-dish.

Using natural light.

Natural light.

You can see in this shot of the girl with axe where I used both the large beauty dish  as a front light and the speedlight off to camera right.

Large beauty dish. Fox added in Photoshop.

I had two lights. One was a large stand Paul C Buff Alien Bee Strobe with a beauty dish with a sock over the front to diffuse it. The other was a small stand with a speedlight and a foldable mini beauty dish. Sometimes I just used one or the other, sometimes if I had room, I used both. The small speedlight I used as a backlight or side light. 

More about my move, and the new location in Rancho Cucamonga, CA soon!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

#20 A7Rii with new Fotodiox Adapter

I did more research and got the Fotodiox DLX Series, Nikon (G) to E-Mount adapter. Right off the bat I tried out my Nikkor 70-200 VR 2.8 G lens.....and no luck. As with the much cheaper Fotasy N/G-A7II simply won't click into place. I starts to go on but will not turn to fit in place. So far both of these adapters will work with most all of the other Nikon lenses I have.

I recently got a Manual Focus 85mm F/2 Nikkor for cheap on eBay. I've seen where some sellers will have a ---Make An Offer--- option.....but in the past every time I tried making a lower offer they always declined it. This time it was Adorama company using eBay to sell this lens. I offered them $40 less and they took it! They were asking $160 originally. I'd been watching the 85mm F/2 lens on eBay for a while and they usually go for $200 at least. I did see one sell for $175 but was hoping to get one for less. Patience usually pays off on eBay. The lens is in great shape and works like a charm on the Fotodiox adapter. With the Fotasy adapter the lenses will go on but with some the aperture ring either won't turn or it will with lots of far with the Fotodiox the aperture rings work normally. The Fotasy was $16, the Fotodiox (from their web site) was $80.

Here is a shot I took with the Fotasy adapter and the 85mm Nikkor F/2 (This was a few days before I got the Fotodiox):

(as with all of the shots on this blog click on the image for a larger view.)

This was basically a lucky shot as very minimal Depth-of-Field here and manual focusing!
I think I'm really going to like this 85mm lens! Can't wait to try it out at one of my model shoots. 

I got to use my Sony A7Rii with the Sony 24-240 lens again in action at the San Diego County Fair for the second time this season. It was the last day of the Fair, July 4th. We thought the traffic would be horrible on the nearly 2 hour drive so we left really early and arrived about 30min before the place even opened. Fortunately we had some free vender passes so could go right in. (Pays to know people, such as my pal Dean LeCrone who was entertaining the place every day of the Fair I his steampunk character: Dr. Peepers!

I really can't be happier with the quality of the shots with this camera/lens combo! Sony A7Rii/Sony 24-240. I really do need to get a small flash to put on when needed. I do have lots of flashes I can try out in manual mode but it's always best to have at least one that is TTL for it to sync with the camera and give you the correct exposure with the flash. I only use on camera flash at events like this or weddings where you have times such as the reception where you are moving around a lot and need light. For 95% of the time I don't need the flash at events. At this one the camera was doing a great job. Even when the subject was partially shaded from the harsh sun the shot was great later when I brought it up on my monitor. Amazing. Here is a shot that was like that. Half of his face was shaded and I thought it would never turn out right. But it did. And no, I didn't save it in photoshop.
I keep waiting for all the problems with the A7Rii that I have been reading about but knock on wood I haven't. In fact 2 things they complained about were: No uncompressed RAW ability. And the overheating when shooting video at 4K after more than 10min etc....well.....Sony fixed both of those issues in their firmware update of 3.0. My camera came with 3.0 already on it since I've only had it a few weeks. I've not switched from lossy compressed RAW to uncompress RAW as it will make the already huge files way larger. I'm very happy with the files as they are! I've not texted out the 4K overheating issue as I've only used it for short clips so far. 

Hope you had a great 4th of July!

One last thing....Yesterday was the last day for my Inland Empire Models & Photographers MEETUP group. The Meetup company are closing their model shoot groups. They made up a more strict policy about shooting models that seems to now include every type of model shoot you can think of. So they gave me a week to get my notices out.  And I did message all 1200 members that it was closing. And I messaged them again about how I'm moving the group to and on Facebook at

We already have two shoots lined up! One July 30th and one August 6th! If you are in the SoCal area join up (It's free to join!) The two shoots above are Oceanside Beach and Rialto, CA.  We cover pretty much all areas from Rancho Cucamonga to San Diego! And some of Orange County!

Friday, June 3, 2016

19 -More Tests and Some Sample Images with Sony A7RII

More testing of the Sony A7RII. I'm really starting to get the hang of it. Having the focus set in the center and recomposing seems to be working fine for static objects. 

I have set up my custom buttons:  C1: White Balance, C2: Metering Mode, C3: Focus Mode, C4: Shoot Mode ISO AUTO Min.SS (This I've set to 1/125th as my slowest shutter speed setting when ISO Auto is on. Though so far it doesn't seem to be working. I saw in the manual that if the camera thinks it can't take the shot in the minimal settings you have put in, it will override them. This seems to negate the reason for setting this.) The round wheel I've set the down push to go right to where I can move the focus point around like I used to do with my Nikon cameras. There are limits to a lot of the settings. If you want to shoot with Face Detection you have to have the focus mode on AF-C for continuous, etc...same for Eye Detection.

I have the AF/MF button set to go to Eye Detection. Some photographers like to have that button to override the shutter button from setting focus. I tried it. I took off that ability from the shutter button. It would just fire the shot, no half press to focus. Then I set the AF/MF button to focus the shot. It works in the studio, but when I'm in the car trying to grab fast's too much trouble to focus with that separate button. You see I'm trying to shoot with one hand most of the time while driving (I know, not recommended!) So I switched it back to the usual half press of the shutter button to set the focus, then full press for taking the shot. Too many years to re-train myself I guess. But I did give it a try. You see in theory it makes sense. If you use two hands. One holds the camera and then you push the AF/MF to grab focus. Then shutter button to shoot. You see if the object or model is not moving much, then you just keep hitting the trigger and not worrying about the focus. That is the reason they set it up that way. With the Nikon system and the lenses I used I could turn off AF on the lens, and shoot action etc...after I'd focused. Now since some lenses don't give you that button, you have to lock focus with the AF/MF button if you don't set it up the way they like to do it. 

Shooting in studio tips:

Set your Live Display  ---Setting Effect OFF (Before I did this the camera was trying to show me the scene in the viewfinder or LCD as very dark...since I had my setting for the strobes! Turning this to OFF fixed the problem and I can see the scene as I would see it with an optical viewfinder, not as it would be with all my camera settings. Now I have to set it back to ON when shooting without strobes if I want to see the image reacting to the exposure settings I'm changing. Which is a good thing to have that my Nikon systems never had. 

Set your White Balance to FLASH. With my Nikon cameras the Auto White Balance was so darn good, I never changed it to anything else! Really! But with this Sony camera I have to change it off auto or it's all blue. 

Shoot in Manual Mode (just like usual). 

Shutter Speed is best at 1/160th of a sec. You can shoot at 1/200th, but from the videos I watched 1/160 seemed to be the sweet spot here.

I'm going to try and set the studio settings up in the 1 or 2 buttons on the mode dial top of the camera. If that works, I can just switch to one of those numbers and presto, I'm ready to shoot in the studio....I'll let you know after I read the manual!

My triggers worked fine. I've yet to try out any flashes as I don't have any Sony compatible ones yet for the hotshoe. I'm sure my Nikon and 3rd party flashes would probably go off but not TTL, etc...

I'll get back to all that later after I test it out more.

Click on these images to see a larger view. (In this case a much larger view as I uploaded them full size JPG files.) The one strobe was an Alien Bee 800 set about 5 feet off the ground and aiming down hitting the items from camera left. It has a barn door flap head and can take color gels. For these shots in studio I just had a white diffuser gel on it.
3 Old Cameras: Shot with Sony A7RII with Sony 24-240. 1/260th, F/20, ISO: 100

1/160th, ISO: 100, F/6.3, outdoor natural light.

Nikon Df, Nikkor 24-120. Modeling light from strobes (ambient light). 1/125th, F/5.6, ISO: 16000

Nikon Df, Nikkor 24-120. One Strobe firing off to left. 1/160th, F/16, ISO: 100

Nikon Df, Nikkor 24-120. Modeling light from strobes. 1/125th, F/5.6, ISO: 6400

Sony A7RII with Sony 24-240, Ambient light from above. 1/125, F/4, ISO: 160. Looking up the stairs to cathedral ceiling.