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Sony Alpha 7 IV Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Review

Sony Alpha 7 IV Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Review

Sony Alpha 7 IV
 

Quick Verdict

Billed as a “full-frame hybrid camera” the Sony A7 IV certainly lives up to its potential. Be it for high-quality stills, high-quality video shooting or streaming and connectivity it’s all there. This of course brings with it a certain level of complexity, so it takes some investment in time to understand and take full advantage of all the versatility that Sony has built in. This is time well spent though and the camera repays this effort in an abundance of functionality worthy of its status as the flagship of the A7 series.

+ Pros

  • Excellent stills image quality
  • Smooth high-quality movie shooting
  • Bionz XR Processor
  • Dust and moisture resistance
  • 5 Axis SteadyShot
  • Human, animal or bird Eye/Face AF tracking
  • Low noise
  • 10fps shooting

– Cons

  • Very complex menus that are not always intuitive
  • Full manual online only

 

 

Sony has an extensive array of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras, both in full-frame and APS-C formats. To their credit, new models can exist for some time alongside the older versions that they replace, enabling also a variety of price levels and options. The A7 range does not have the highest resolution of the options available but has instead consistently offered a bias towards movie shooting and low noise stills shooting. Technology is now such that the edges of demarcation are blurring and we can expect satisfactorily high pixel counts (33MP in this case) alongside fast frame rates (10fps) and huge buffers (up to 800 shots). Couple this with a very sophisticated set of movie specifications, and we have a true hybrid camera that can satisfy the needs of a wide range of photographers.

The review sample has been provided with the FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM zoom lens, fully reviewed separately, so let’s take this heavyweight duo out into the field and see what it can do.

 

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Sony Alpha 7 IV Features

Sony Alpha 7 IV
 

The A7 IV is a robust, impressively well-made camera body with dust and moisture resistance, inbuilt SteadyShot (5-axis, up to 5.5 stops) and a sturdy 658g in weight, including SD card and battery. The lens provided, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM, fits smoothly and without any hint of rotational movement when mounted. One interesting improvement is that when the lens is removed the sensor is actually covered rather than being fully exposed.

The camera is slightly bulkier than the A7R III that we usually use for reviewing Sony lenses. This can be accounted for by the deeper grip, which works well, and the vari-angle rear monitor that enables a forward view that vloggers will appreciate should they wish to film themselves.

Much of the button placement remains similar to previous models, but there are a few significant tweaks to the layout. The top panel has gained a rotational dial beneath the mode dial to select stills, video and S&Q (Slow and Quick). The exposure compensation dial has lost its engraving, gained a locking button at its centre and gained a full range of adjustment from -5 EV to +5 EV. The rear command dial has become a top operating dial. There is a new actuation switch, marked with a red circle, which starts and stops video recording.

The rear of the camera is no surprise, with the usual control dials and buttons, with a vast array of customisation possible for every one of them. This brings us to the menus which are quite complex by necessity, but perhaps not as intuitive as the previous style. This is, of course, a very personal choice and no doubt with continued use everything will become more familiar and much easier to use.

 

Sony Alpha 7 IV
 

The Quad VGA OLED EVF (1.3cm, 0.5 type) has no less than 3,686,400 dots, gives 100% coverage and offers 0.78x magnification with a 50mm lens at infinity. The EVF has truly come of age, offering a superb, flicker-free view that is totally usable without any trace of eye fatigue. The only clue as to its electronic nature is that we have to switch it on to use it, unlike an optical viewfinder.

The 7.5cm (3.0 type) TFT touch panel monitor has 1,036,800 dots and is equally useful. Menus are crisp and clean. If the touch screen facility is not required then it can be switched off.

Metering has a wide range of sensitivity, from -3 EV to +20 EV. Base ISO values are ISO 100-51,200 and this can be extended to ISO 50-204,800. The ISO performance is excellent, as mentioned later.

Sony Alpha 7 IV
 

AF is a hybrid system using phase detection and contrast detection. It operates from -4 EV to +20 EV and works very well indeed, being sharp, fast and accurate. There is an AF illuminator that is effective from 0.3m to 3.0m. Eye and face recognition AF works beautifully, and now we have the option of selecting Human, Animal or Bird.

Media are accessed through the usual side panel and this has gained an additional locking switch. The camera accepts SD cards (including UHS-I and UHS-II) and CFexpress cards type A. Some video functions are dependent upon using the highest specification cards, be it SD or CFexpress.

There is no doubt that the A7 IV is a highly specified and highly effective tool for both stills photographers and videographers.

 

Key Features

  • 33MP Full-Frame (35.9mm x 23.9mm) Exmoor R CMOS Sensor
  • Shutter speeds 1/8000s to 30s (stills)
  • Shutter speeds 1/8000s to 1/4s (movie)
  • ISO range 100 – 51200 (50 to 204,800 extended)
  • Metering range EV -3 to EV 20
  • Vari-angle 7.5cm (3.0type) TFT touch panel monitor with 1,036,800 dots
  • Quad VGA 1.3cm (0.5 type) OLED EVF 3,686,400 dots, 100% field of view, 0.78x magnification with 50mm lens at infinity
  • 4:2:2 10 bit 4K, 7K oversampling and UHD Video, H.264 and H.265 formats
  • Streaming/webcam capability
  • Bluetooth Ver 4.1
  • Wireless LAN 2.4GHz/5GHz
  • Hybrid AF – phase-detection/contrast detection
  • AF range EV -4 to EV 20
  • Media: SD card (UHS-I and UHS-II compliant), CF Express Type A
  • 10 fps, buffer up to 800 shots
  • SteadyShot (5.5 stops)
  • Anti-Dust
  • 658g with SD card and battery
  • Fully adjustable picture profiles
  • Creative looks: Standard, Portrait, Subdued, Vivid, Vivid + Enhanced clarity, Moody, Monochrome, Sepia, Custom

 

Sony Alpha 7 IV Handling

Sony Alpha 7 IV
 

Handling is pure Sony and from a slow start as cameras morphed from Minolta to Konica Minolta and finally, to Sony, the learning curve and development have been intense, relentless and very, very successful. We now have state-of-the-art performance, design and handling and with so many alternative models something for every style of photographer.

The A7 IV is the pinnacle of a line of development that has looked to cater for those who wanted low noise and the ability to effectively shoot movies, as well as the general need for stills. Thus we move ourselves, perhaps from being pure photographers or videographers to being content creators, a hybrid that needs a hybrid choice of cameras. It’s all in the A7 IV, including a plethora of connection and communication options. With a 33MP sensor, there is plenty of resolution for stills as well.

The only points I would raise are the menus and the instruction manual. The menu system may well be liked by many, but in my opinion, I find it not particularly intuitive, although as with all things this improves with use and familiarity and of course once a camera is set up then the process does not need to be repeated. The instruction manual for an undeniably complex set of options would be helpful in printed form as the online version is not perhaps the most convenient way of getting the information across.

However, to be fair, once set up for stills, and then set up for video, the actual operation is smooth and hazard-free.  

 

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Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM Lens Review

Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM Lens Review

Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM
 

Taking a step up from the exisiting very fine Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens, here is the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master. Featuring the largest extreme aspherical element ever produced for Sony E mount lenses and a groundbreaking f/2.8 maximum aperture, there is much potential here, as well of course as a significant price tag to go with it. The concept of a fast, bright f/2.8 constant aperture ultra-wide zoom is a tempting one, so let’s couple it up with the new full-frame Sony A7 IV 33MP camera body and see how it handles and performs.

 

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Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM Handling and Features

Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM
 

This is a very well made lens, no doubt about that, and it weighs in at 847g, so not a lightweight lens. However, it does balance well on the A7 IV body. It could also be used on the APS-C bodies, where the “35mm-equivalent” field of view would be 18-36mm, but the size and weight of the lens would put it out of all proportion. It is dust and moisture-sealed, but not 100% waterproof. The front element also has a Fluorine coating that repels dust, grease and moisture. This bulbous front element is protected by a fixed petal lens hood, as usual for ultra-wide lenses. There is no provision for filters here, which would be rather impractical, but there is a gelatin filter slot at the rear of the lens. The lens cap is a large plastic clip-on type that covers the front of the lens effectively.

Immediately behind the hood is the manual focusing ring, which is compatible with all the usual Sony features such as AF, MF and DMF (Direct Manual Focus) and these are all set via the camera menu. There is also an AF/MF switch on the lens barrel, plus a focus hold button. Manual focusing is ultra-smooth and AF is fast and accurate via new upgraded XD Linear (Extreme Dynamic) motors. It is also very quiet and unobtrusive. Focusing is down to 0.28m, 0.92 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.14x. The lens utilises floating elements to maintain performance at all focusing distances.

Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM

The zoom ring is also smooth, but more physical in that it moves the lens barrel forwards and backwards. The front element stays within the bounds of the petal lens hood, which is stationary at all times. There are clear markings at 12mm, 14mm, 16mm, 18mm, 21mm and 24mm.

Optical construction is 17 elements in 14 groups, including 3 XD (Extreme Aspherical), 1 Aspherical, 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) and 2 Super ED. The rounded diaphragm comprises 9 blades for improved, smooth bokeh effects. Sony also uses its Nano AR coating technology to improve light transmission and reduce flare.

There is no OSS (Optical SteadyShot) in the lens, instead relying on that built into Sony camera bodies. There is also no compatibility with any of the teleconverters.

The lens mount is smooth and slick, fitting perfectly with no hint of any rotational movement when clicked into place. At the back of the lens, as mentioned, there is a baffle and a filter slot for gelatin filters.

Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM
 

Using ultra-wide lenses does need some care and thought, as there could be a tendency to simply shoot images that are from the usual distances, resulting in very small distant objects in the frame. This can make distant mountains, for example, extremely disappointing. The key is to get in close, then closer, to make the most of dramatic foregrounds and perspective. Interiors obviously can be photographed to advantage, making spaces look vast and spacious. Landscapes need foreground interest. Even portraits are possible though, and one of the advantages of the 12-24mm is that at the longer end we have a perfectly viable choice for reportage/street photography. This makes for an extremely versatile lens.

 

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Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Lens Review

Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Lens Review

Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
Claimed as a first in its class to sport a constant f/2.8 aperture, Tamron introduce a new wide-angle zoom lens for Sony APS-C format cameras, a “35mm-equivalent” field of view of 16.5-30mm. This makes for a very useful ultra-wide to wide standard lens that partners well with the matching 17-70mm lens already released. We now have a close look at how the new lens handles and performs, coupling it up with the 24MP Sony A5100 body and see whether it could be the ideal travelling companion.

 

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Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Handling and Features

Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
 

We might expect an f/2.8 wide-angle zoom to be quite bulky and heavy, but in fact, the new lens weighs in at a surprisingly light 335g. Clearly, there is extensive use of plastics, but this is not a negative observation and the lens appears to be nicely put together.

There is a provided petal lens hood and this bayonets positively onto the front of the lens. Within this bayonet, fit is a conventional 67mm filter thread, the same size as Tamron’s matching 17-70mm lens. The objective here has been to produce a set of light lenses for those who wish to travel light. The front element has a Fluorine coating to repel dust, grease and moisture and the lens is weather-sealed, a boon for the travel photographer.

The manual focusing ring is electronic and, as usual, impeccably smooth in operation. It supports the usual Sony focusing methods, including AF, DMF (Direct Manual Focusing) and MF. DMF enables manual focus tweaks to be made to the focus position whilst AF is still active. All focusing options are controlled from the camera body.

 

Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
 

AF is driven by a stepping motor, the RXD designation deriving from “Rapid eXtra silent stepping Drive”. This results in fast and accurate AF that is virtually silent. The system is compatible with Sony’s Fast Hybrid AF and Eye AF.

Focusing is down to a MOD (Minimum Object Distance) as follows:

  • Wide 0.15m, 5.9 inches, maximum magnification 1:4
  • Tele 0.24m, 9.4 inches, maximum magnification 1:7.6

This is really the opposite of the ideal, as a closer focus with the tele setting rather than the wide one would give a better working distance. The closest wide setting also shows quite a bit of field curvature, so the edges fall out of the sharp plane of focus. This will work much better with 3D subjects rather than flat documents or test targets.

Optical construction is 12 elements in 10 groups, including 2 glass moulded aspherical, 2 LD (Low Dispersion) and 1 XLD (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 7 blades.

Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
 

The zoom ring is the only other control on the lens and this does extend the length as we zoom towards 11mm. There are clear and accurate indications at 11mm, 14mm, 16mm, 18mm and 20mm. The action of the zoom ring is just right, not too loose and not too firm.

Mounted on the A5100 the lens is chunky, but not out of place in that it is light and handles well. The combination would need a large jacket pocket but in any event, the lens is certainly unobtrusive to handle. It can also be mounted on full-frame Sony cameras, but will not cover the full-frame area so will need to be used in crop mode.

Either with or without the matching 17-70mm lens this is potentially an excellent travel option – light and fast to use. It has no OSS (Optical SteadyShot) which is a shame, but the saving grace may be that this is less critical with ultra-wide lenses rather than with longer telephotos.

Let’s have a close look now at the performance.

 

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Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2 Lens Review

Nikon Nikkor Z 40mm F/2 Lens Review

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2
 

Nikon’s Z system of cameras and lenses is steadily growing and now offers a very strong range that consistently nails it in terms of quality. Some of the lenses, especially the premium S range, are expensive, but now some new, very affordable optics are emerging. The Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE has already been reviewed and found to be superb, and hot on its heels we have the Nikkor Z 40mm f/2, similarly compact, light through the use of plastics, but this time without the overtly retro styling. It will be fascinating to see if it proves to be as good as the 28mm, so let’s couple it up with the full-frame 45MP Nikon Z7 II and find out.

 

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Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 Handling and Features

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2
 

The lens is light, weighing in at 170g, made possible by the extensive use of plastics including the mount. Construction quality is excellent and there is some dust and water sealing that will enable use in more situations. Nikon qualifies this on their website by saying water sealing is not guaranteed under all circumstances. This leaves us making a judgement as to how much rain, for example, is too much rain, but it has to be better than no sealing.

Intended for both full-frame (FX) and crop sensor (DX) Nikon Z cameras, on the crop sensor the “35mm equivalent” field of view equates to 60mm. This leaves the lens being a “wide standard” on full-frame and a short telephoto on APS-C. Both options are useful and in fact, 40mm lenses seem to be making a bit of a comeback.

Starting our tour of the lens at the front, there is no provided lens hood, always a shame, and for what it would cost including one would be a nice touch. There is a standard 52mm filter thread. Looking into the front element, the 9 bladed diaphragm can be clearly seen, making a very smooth rounded aperture.

There is only one control on the lens, the smooth electronic manual focusing ring. In fact, this control ring can be programmed by the camera and there are several function options. Focus, in AF or MF, is the default and we have the alternative options of aperture adjustment, exposure compensation and ISO. Not all may be available with all camera bodies.

 

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2

 

Focusing is down to 0.29m, or 0.96 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.17x. AF is driven by an impressively quiet stepping motor that is no slouch in finding the point of focus. Accuracy appears to be good, so the image snaps into focus efficiently.

Optical construction is just 6 elements in 4 groups, including 2 aspheric. We might expect from this a lens showing high contrast images and very little flare. There is no VR (Vibration Reduction) built into the lens, so we rely on VR in the camera bodies. Not all the Nikon Z bodies have this.

The lens is so simple to use that it becomes a simple extension of our eyes and the 40mm focal length gives a natural view of the world. It is very close to the theoretical standard lens for 35mm-format, which would be 43mm, calculated using a measurement of the diagonal of the format. If used on APS-C, then a 60mm-equivalent field of view is a slightly different beast, but still very useful. Of course, very early f/2 standard lenses were often 58mm, so a 60mm is not too far away from that.

Apart from the aesthetics of the image, the lens also has the merit of being extremely light and easy to carry for as long as it takes without fatigue. We are into the realms of compact travel lenses and there is much to be said for travelling light.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 40mm F/2
 

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Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T

 

Quick Verdict

The Xiaomi 11T is a mid-range smartphone that sits in a very busy area of the smartphone market where it has a lot of competition in spec and price. What this means is that even though it can capture good photos and built quality is great, most other smartphones at this price point also do the same and the Xiaomi 11T isn’t doing anything to stand out. Is the Xiaomi 11T a decent mid-range smartphone? Yes, it is, but with so many mid-range smartphones now available, you’ll need to compare specs carefully so you purchase the right smartphone for you but overall, the Xiaomi 11T should be on the ‘consider’ list. 

+ Pros

  • Good screen 
  • Good image quality 
  • Lovely bokeh in images
  • Fast charging
  • Good battery
  • Great build quality

– Cons

  • Zoom could be better
  • No headphone jack

 

 

The Xiaomi 11T is one of two smartphones found in the Xiaomi 11T Series which also features the Xiaomi 11T Pro. The new series sits firmly in the mid-range smartphone market but with so much competition? Can these smartphones grab our attention? 

 

Xiaomi  11T Features

The Xiaomi 11T smartphone features a triple rear camera, 4K video capture, 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay and a 5000mAh battery. The cameras, which are obviously at the top of our interest list, line up as follows: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF. The selfie camera is a 16MP f/2.5 shooter that captures video in 1080p @ 30fps. Rear camera photography features include a night mode, 108MP mode, slo-mo and a portrait mode which has adjustable apertures, a beauty filter and the ability to add cinematic effects as well as filters.

Available in 3 colours (grey, white and blue) the Xiaomi 11T is available now from Amazon priced at around £480 for the 256GB version. 

 

Xiaomi  11T Key Features:

  • Triple Rear Camera: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF
  • Front Camera: 6MP f/2.5 
  • Display: 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay
  • Zoom: 2X
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • Pro mode
  • Video: 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120fps with gyro-EIS
  • Type-C USB
  • 5000mAh battery with fast charging
  • 128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM
  • Dimensions: 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 203g

 

Xiaomi 11T Handling

Xiaomi 11T

 

The Xiaomi 11T balances screen size and handling size really well with the smartphone fitting comfortably in the hand. It’s a bit of a stretch trying to use the device one-handed, though. Construction feels solid with a glass front and back wrapped in an aluminium frame while the almost bezel-less design combined with rounded edges/corners makes the device look more expensive than it actually is. The front 16MP f/2.5 camera sits cut out of the screen top centre but it doesn’t impede screen viewing as we’ve all got used to seeing this camera design on smartphones nowadays.  As for the display, it’s an AMOLED 6.67-inch screen that’s bright and sharp but did look a little on the cool side when viewing images. 

For peace of mind, the Xiaomi 11T has IP53 dust and splash protection and you also get a free clear case to pop on the smartphone to stop fingerprints appearing on the body and to protect it from scratches. The case also makes the smartphone much more grippy and prevents it from sliding off surfaces. It does make it feel a bit bulkier, though, but you soon get used to it. 

The colour options are very modern and shiny to the point you can see your reflection on the back of the smartphone but this doesn’t stop the device looking great.

 

Xiaomi 11T
 

The buttons and ports are all where you expect them to be but there’s no headphone jack and the memory can’t be extended with a memory card. There’s no on-screen or in-screen fingerprint sensor either, this is found on the side but as your hand naturally lands on the power button, the device unlocks pretty quickly. 

On the back is the camera unit which features:

  • Wide lens – 108MP, f/1.75 (26mm) with PDAF
  • Ulta-Wide lens –  8MP, f/2.2
  • Telemacro lens – 5MP, f/2.4, (50mm) with AF, 2X magnification

In the camera app, you have access to a few features but there aren’t quite as many as you see on some other smartphones at this price point. Built-in modes include Night mode 2.0, 108MP mode, Portrait mode with effects and aperture selection, Pro mode and Time Lapse. The app itself is like any other smartphone camera app with modes, shutter button etc. all where you expect them to be. To access the zoom range after the 2X offered by the telemacro lens you have to tap the 2x icon which brings up a scale to select from along with 5x and 10x buttons. 

Video wise, the Xiaomi 11T captures 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps. 

Battery life – The 5000mAh battery is really great and you’ll easily get a full day’s use out of the smartphone. Plus, fast charging is supported should you need to boost the battery. 

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Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 With K & F Concept A To E Mount Manual Adapter Vintage Lens Review

Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 With K & F Concept A To E Mount Manual Adapter Vintage Lens Review

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

There are so many beautifully made lenses out there, no longer used because they are perhaps manual focus or belong to a camera system that is discontinued or out of favour. Many of them can be used though, either in their native form or via some sort of manual or even fully functional adapter. Here we look at a mint example of the Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 lens, intended for the Minolta/Sony A mount, but for the purposes of this review used via an adapter on the Sony A7R III  42MP mirrorless body. This loses the AF, but let’s see if the lens remains a viable option and how it handles and performs.

 

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Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 Handling and Features

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

Before we set off on our tour of the lens, first we need an adapter to use the SLR lens on a Sony mirrorless E mount camera. There is actually such a beast in existence, the Sony LA-EA4 AF adapter, but this is sadly discontinued. Examples could also set us back several hundred pounds on the second-hand market. Instead, the K&F Concept MAF-NEX manual adapter costs £34.99 from Amazon, is well made in metal and does the job, albeit without AF. We also lose the aperture control from the camera, but there is an unmarked aperture ring on the adapter that offers the appropriate apertures without markings. It is just necessary to count them off, but the job can be done. The adapter is well made and does not disgrace itself alongside the beautifully engineered Minolta lens.

On to the lens itself, which is metal and weighs in at just 235g. This version is the original Minolta f/1.4 AF lens that was available from 1985-1990. It can be identified by the red AF on the front ring and the red IR focusing index on the depth of field scale. Starting at the front of the lens, we have the conventional 49mm filter thread and a small pull out lens hood. The hood is a nice gesture, but really only a gesture as it is very fiddly to grip and pull out and so small that its effectiveness will be extremely limited. However, as it’s there it would seem rude not to use it, so it has been dutifully pulled into position every time.

There is a very thin manual focusing ring, not surprising as this is of course an AF lens. It is commendably smooth without being as slack as so many are. An excellent bit of engineering with just the right amount of resistance. Behind this is a clear plastic window that reveals the distance scale, marked clearly in feet (yellow) and metres (white). There is also a depth of field scale provided, including an Infra-Red index mark at the f/4 position. When using IR film the lens would be focused normally and then the focus ring moved to the IR mark to correct the focus point. Lenses of the day were not corrected for IR light, which would focus at a slightly different point to visible light.

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

Focusing is down to the expected 0.45m, or 1.5 feet. The optical construction is again traditional, being 7 elements in 6 groups. The diaphragm consists of 7 straight blades, so no attempt is made to consider bokeh, which was not a term familiar to photographers of the era.

When this lens was in use on the SLR cameras of its day the AF would have been the primary method of focusing, but if necessary it would have been manually focused using optical viewfinders, the best of which would use silver-coated pentaprisms. Less expensive bodies would use aluminium-coated pentaprisms, which would not be as bright. The point of focus would probably vary considerably with the amount of care the photographer used, the acuity of vision and whether or not any dioptre correction lenses were used on the viewfinder. This was before the days of built-in dioptre correction. So focusing was more of an issue at wider apertures in particular than many of us might have thought. Now, using this lens for manually focusing on the Sony A7R III proves an absolute breeze, providing the focusing magnification is used. If not, then accuracy can be poor, but taking the time and hitting the spot is the way to really very sharp and satisfying images.

Nail the focus and the lens is great to use, with a tremendous, quality feel to it that can be translated into fine images as well. Great fun.

 

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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Lens Review

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Lens Review


Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)
 

Panasonic has clearly been giving much thought to their new range of light, reasonably priced prime lenses for the Lumix S full-frame system. The 24mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses are now joined by the 35mm, all matching in terms of size, weight, fast f/1.8 aperture and 67mm filter thread. The recently reviewed 24mm and 85mm lenses have been very impressive, being Highly Recommended and Editor’s Choice respectively. Now it is the turn of the Lumix 35mm f/1.8S, again coupled with the 24MP full-frame Panasonic Lumix S5 camera. Let’s see how it handles and performs and whether it can match up to its look-alike siblings.

 

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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Handling and Features

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)

 

This dust and splash resistant lens weighs in at a svelte 320g and matches up with the S5 body to give us a combination that is unusually light for a full-frame camera. It all balances well. As well as the weather resistance, the lens is also freeze-proof down to -10C.

The generously sized round lens hood bayonets securely into place and, like the other lenses in the quartet, now has the improved locking catch that does not have any tendency to become accidentally dislodged. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 67mm filter thread, a consistent size across the range of four matching primes.

In terms of controls, we have utter simplicity. The electronic manual focusing ring is, as expected, as smooth as silk, and the AF/MF switch is self-explanatory. Focusing is down to 0.24m, or 0.79 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.19x. This is usefully close. AF is snappy and accurate and has no difficulty locking on to almost any subject. Accuracy when focusing on the eyes is excellent. The focusing ring is active in AF and can be used to tweak the focusing point after AF has locked on. In MF the camera switches in focusing magnification that is very positive and easy to control and magnify from 0.1x to 1.0x. It works well.

The Leica L mount is substantially made and there is no play in the lens fit when seated. There is the usual gasket around the lens to ensure there is a good seal against water splashes.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)
 

Optical construction is 11 elements in 9 groups, including 3 Aspherical and 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 9 blades giving a circular aperture to enhance the bokeh of the lens.

35mm lenses are, in full-frame terms, a “wide standard” and have always commanded a keen following with those photographers who feel the 50mm lens is too tight. So groups portraits may be easier, depth of field is slightly greater and we have the possibly ideal lens for reportage/street photography. Corrections are expected to be of a high order. Subject matter suitable for such lenses extends from environmental portraits to architecture, landscape, still life and, as mentioned, street photography. With the fast AF provided here, the Lumix 35mm f/1.8S is a very reliable companion for a wide range of styles and subjects.

 

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Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T Mid-Range Smartphone Review

Xiaomi 11T

 

Quick Verdict

The Xiaomi 11T is a mid-range smartphone that sits in a very busy area of the smartphone market where it has a lot of competition in spec and price. What this means is that even though it can capture good photos and built quality is great, most other smartphones at this price point also do the same and the Xiaomi 11T isn’t doing anything to stand out. Is the Xiaomi 11T a decent mid-range smartphone? Yes, it is, but with so many mid-range smartphones now available, you’ll need to compare specs carefully so you purchase the right smartphone for you but overall, the Xiaomi 11T should be on the ‘consider’ list. 

+ Pros

  • Good screen 
  • Good image quality 
  • Lovely bokeh in images
  • Fast charging
  • Good battery
  • Great build quality

– Cons

  • Zoom could be better
  • No headphone jack

 

 

The Xiaomi 11T is one of two smartphones found in the Xiaomi 11T Series which also features the Xiaomi 11T Pro. The new series sits firmly in the mid-range smartphone market but with so much competition? Can these smartphones grab our attention? 

 

Xiaomi  11T Features

The Xiaomi 11T smartphone features a triple rear camera, 4K video capture, 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay and a 5000mAh battery. The cameras, which are obviously at the top of our interest list, line up as follows: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF. The selfie camera is a 16MP f/2.5 shooter that captures video in 1080p @ 30fps. Rear camera photography features include a night mode, 108MP mode, slo-mo and a portrait mode which has adjustable apertures, a beauty filter and the ability to add cinematic effects as well as filters.

Available in 3 colours (grey, white and blue) the Xiaomi 11T is available now from Amazon priced at around £480 for the 256GB version. 

 

Xiaomi  11T Key Features:

  • Triple Rear Camera: Wide 108MP f/1.8 26mm with PDAF, Ulta-Wide 8MP f/2.2 and a Telemacro 5MP f/2.4 50mm with AF
  • Front Camera: 6MP f/2.5 
  • Display: 6.67″ AMOLED DotDisplay
  • Zoom: 2X
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • Pro mode
  • Video: 4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120fps with gyro-EIS
  • Type-C USB
  • 5000mAh battery with fast charging
  • 128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM
  • Dimensions: 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8mm
  • Weight: 203g

 

Xiaomi 11T Handling

Xiaomi 11T

 

The Xiaomi 11T balances screen size and handling size really well with the smartphone fitting comfortably in the hand. It’s a bit of a stretch trying to use the device one-handed, though. Construction feels solid with a glass front and back wrapped in an aluminium frame while the almost bezel-less design combined with rounded edges/corners makes the device look more expensive than it actually is. The front 16MP f/2.5 camera sits cut out of the screen top centre but it doesn’t impede screen viewing as we’ve all got used to seeing this camera design on smartphones nowadays.  As for the display, it’s an AMOLED 6.67-inch screen that’s bright and sharp but did look a little on the cool side when viewing images. 

For peace of mind, the Xiaomi 11T has IP53 dust and splash protection and you also get a free clear case to pop on the smartphone to stop fingerprints appearing on the body and to protect it from scratches. The case also makes the smartphone much more grippy and prevents it from sliding off surfaces. It does make it feel a bit bulkier, though, but you soon get used to it. 

The colour options are very modern and shiny to the point you can see your reflection on the back of the smartphone but this doesn’t stop the device looking great.

 

Xiaomi 11T
 

The buttons and ports are all where you expect them to be but there’s no headphone jack and the memory can’t be extended with a memory card. There’s no on-screen or in-screen fingerprint sensor either, this is found on the side but as your hand naturally lands on the power button, the device unlocks pretty quickly. 

On the back is the camera unit which features:

  • Wide lens – 108MP, f/1.75 (26mm) with PDAF
  • Ulta-Wide lens –  8MP, f/2.2
  • Telemacro lens – 5MP, f/2.4, (50mm) with AF, 2X magnification

In the camera app, you have access to a few features but there aren’t quite as many as you see on some other smartphones at this price point. Built-in modes include Night mode 2.0, 108MP mode, Portrait mode with effects and aperture selection, Pro mode and Time Lapse. The app itself is like any other smartphone camera app with modes, shutter button etc. all where you expect them to be. To access the zoom range after the 2X offered by the telemacro lens you have to tap the 2x icon which brings up a scale to select from along with 5x and 10x buttons. 

Video wise, the Xiaomi 11T captures 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps. 

Battery life – The 5000mAh battery is really great and you’ll easily get a full day’s use out of the smartphone. Plus, fast charging is supported should you need to boost the battery. 

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Lens Review

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Lens Review


Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)
 

Panasonic has clearly been giving much thought to their new range of light, reasonably priced prime lenses for the Lumix S full-frame system. The 24mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses are now joined by the 35mm, all matching in terms of size, weight, fast f/1.8 aperture and 67mm filter thread. The recently reviewed 24mm and 85mm lenses have been very impressive, being Highly Recommended and Editor’s Choice respectively. Now it is the turn of the Lumix 35mm f/1.8S, again coupled with the 24MP full-frame Panasonic Lumix S5 camera. Let’s see how it handles and performs and whether it can match up to its look-alike siblings.

 

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Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35) Handling and Features

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)

 

This dust and splash resistant lens weighs in at a svelte 320g and matches up with the S5 body to give us a combination that is unusually light for a full-frame camera. It all balances well. As well as the weather resistance, the lens is also freeze-proof down to -10C.

The generously sized round lens hood bayonets securely into place and, like the other lenses in the quartet, now has the improved locking catch that does not have any tendency to become accidentally dislodged. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 67mm filter thread, a consistent size across the range of four matching primes.

In terms of controls, we have utter simplicity. The electronic manual focusing ring is, as expected, as smooth as silk, and the AF/MF switch is self-explanatory. Focusing is down to 0.24m, or 0.79 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.19x. This is usefully close. AF is snappy and accurate and has no difficulty locking on to almost any subject. Accuracy when focusing on the eyes is excellent. The focusing ring is active in AF and can be used to tweak the focusing point after AF has locked on. In MF the camera switches in focusing magnification that is very positive and easy to control and magnify from 0.1x to 1.0x. It works well.

The Leica L mount is substantially made and there is no play in the lens fit when seated. There is the usual gasket around the lens to ensure there is a good seal against water splashes.

Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8 (S-S35)
 

Optical construction is 11 elements in 9 groups, including 3 Aspherical and 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 9 blades giving a circular aperture to enhance the bokeh of the lens.

35mm lenses are, in full-frame terms, a “wide standard” and have always commanded a keen following with those photographers who feel the 50mm lens is too tight. So groups portraits may be easier, depth of field is slightly greater and we have the possibly ideal lens for reportage/street photography. Corrections are expected to be of a high order. Subject matter suitable for such lenses extends from environmental portraits to architecture, landscape, still life and, as mentioned, street photography. With the fast AF provided here, the Lumix 35mm f/1.8S is a very reliable companion for a wide range of styles and subjects.

 


MPB Start Shopping

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
Amazon UK,
Amazon US,
Amazon CA,
ebay UK

It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

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Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 With K & F Concept A To E Mount Manual Adapter Vintage Lens Review

Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 With K & F Concept A To E Mount Manual Adapter Vintage Lens Review

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

There are so many beautifully made lenses out there, no longer used because they are perhaps manual focus or belong to a camera system that is discontinued or out of favour. Many of them can be used though, either in their native form or via some sort of manual or even fully functional adapter. Here we look at a mint example of the Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 lens, intended for the Minolta/Sony A mount, but for the purposes of this review used via an adapter on the Sony A7R III  42MP mirrorless body. This loses the AF, but let’s see if the lens remains a viable option and how it handles and performs.

 

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MPB puts photo and video kit into more hands, more sustainably. Every month, visual storytellers sell more than 20,000 cameras and lenses to MPB. Choose used and get affordable access to kit that doesn’t cost the earth.

Sell the kit you’re not using to MPB. Trade in for the kit you need to create. Buy used, spend less and get more.

Buy. Sell. Trade. Create.


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Minolta AF 50mm F/1.4 Handling and Features

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

Before we set off on our tour of the lens, first we need an adapter to use the SLR lens on a Sony mirrorless E mount camera. There is actually such a beast in existence, the Sony LA-EA4 AF adapter, but this is sadly discontinued. Examples could also set us back several hundred pounds on the second-hand market. Instead, the K&F Concept MAF-NEX manual adapter costs £34.99 from Amazon, is well made in metal and does the job, albeit without AF. We also lose the aperture control from the camera, but there is an unmarked aperture ring on the adapter that offers the appropriate apertures without markings. It is just necessary to count them off, but the job can be done. The adapter is well made and does not disgrace itself alongside the beautifully engineered Minolta lens.

On to the lens itself, which is metal and weighs in at just 235g. This version is the original Minolta f/1.4 AF lens that was available from 1985-1990. It can be identified by the red AF on the front ring and the red IR focusing index on the depth of field scale. Starting at the front of the lens, we have the conventional 49mm filter thread and a small pull out lens hood. The hood is a nice gesture, but really only a gesture as it is very fiddly to grip and pull out and so small that its effectiveness will be extremely limited. However, as it’s there it would seem rude not to use it, so it has been dutifully pulled into position every time.

There is a very thin manual focusing ring, not surprising as this is of course an AF lens. It is commendably smooth without being as slack as so many are. An excellent bit of engineering with just the right amount of resistance. Behind this is a clear plastic window that reveals the distance scale, marked clearly in feet (yellow) and metres (white). There is also a depth of field scale provided, including an Infra-Red index mark at the f/4 position. When using IR film the lens would be focused normally and then the focus ring moved to the IR mark to correct the focus point. Lenses of the day were not corrected for IR light, which would focus at a slightly different point to visible light.

Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
 

Focusing is down to the expected 0.45m, or 1.5 feet. The optical construction is again traditional, being 7 elements in 6 groups. The diaphragm consists of 7 straight blades, so no attempt is made to consider bokeh, which was not a term familiar to photographers of the era.

When this lens was in use on the SLR cameras of its day the AF would have been the primary method of focusing, but if necessary it would have been manually focused using optical viewfinders, the best of which would use silver-coated pentaprisms. Less expensive bodies would use aluminium-coated pentaprisms, which would not be as bright. The point of focus would probably vary considerably with the amount of care the photographer used, the acuity of vision and whether or not any dioptre correction lenses were used on the viewfinder. This was before the days of built-in dioptre correction. So focusing was more of an issue at wider apertures in particular than many of us might have thought. Now, using this lens for manually focusing on the Sony A7R III proves an absolute breeze, providing the focusing magnification is used. If not, then accuracy can be poor, but taking the time and hitting the spot is the way to really very sharp and satisfying images.

Nail the focus and the lens is great to use, with a tremendous, quality feel to it that can be translated into fine images as well. Great fun.

 

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
Amazon UK,
Amazon US,
Amazon CA,
ebay UK

It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

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