Category Archives: F707

Getting to Know You!

One of the things I love about the Eastern Sierra is how familiar it has become.  In some ways, it almost feels like I’m going home every time my wife and I head out and up.

Silver Lake Reflections

The scene above was taken during my month long vacation last September/October.  During that time I was able to walk along the lake every day.

Although I’ve been to the Eastern Sierra many, many times, it was during my last visit that I really began to feel connected to the area.  There were patterns that I began to notice, such as when the sun would rise above the tall mountain peaks and bathe the lake with beautiful golden light.  Another pattern was the mist that would rise on the water shortly after sunrise, every morning.  I found this knowledge very helpful when planning my photo outings.

Every morning I would walk along the lake with my 2 Cairn Terriers.  They were always eager companions, and we had a lot of fun.  I always had a camera with me, and they were very patient when we stopped for a picture.

Silver Lake Sunrise

The photo above was just after sunrise, and except for the dogs, I had this scene all to myself.

Silver Lake, Blue Skies

The photo above was taken on one of my many walks along the lake.  This one was taken mid-morning, an hour or so after sunrise.  In addition to the beautiful scenery, fishermen were out on the lake, adding an interesting element.

Stormy Skies, Silver Lake

The scene above shows how the trees turned into their Fall Colors.  There is also an early Eastern Sierra snow storm brewing.

Getting to know this small piece of the Eastern Sierra allowed me to begin to understand what a wonderful place it is.  Although I had always thought I knew that, I really paid more attention to the details this time.  Maybe it was because I had enough time and wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere.  I was already there!  When I was out on my walks, I would really try to stop and take it all in, trying to live in the moment.

As for cameras, I did mention that I always had one with me.  I brought 5 cameras with me, and it really didn’t matter which one I used for my daily walks.  Sometimes I would bring my Canon 60D, other times it would be my 10 + year old Sony F707.  It wasn’t about the camera, and I really didn’t care if I had 16 mega-pixels available or just 5.  My intent was to simply capture the moment, and if I was lucky, maybe even a little of the emotion that I felt.

My hope in sharing this with you is to get you to slow down, take it in (wherever you may be), and live the moment.  If you have a camera with you, use it.  Try to capture the feelings you have for that special place and if you’re lucky, others with feel it too when you share your images with them.

That’s it for now.  If you’d like, share that special place with us here.  Tell us why it was special and what you were feeling when you tried to capture that moment.

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

The SLR Magic Lens

While I was browsing the goodies for my Sony NEX3 at Adorama (one of my favorite online Camera stores) I came across a lens called the SLR Magic.  There were a couple of them, but the one that caught my eye was the 35mm F1.7.

I was very curious about this lens that I’ve never heard of.  So, I started searching online for some information.  One of the websites that popped up in my google search was Steve Huff Photo, and he had done a review of the NEX5 with the SLR Magic 35!  After reading Steve’s review I was hooked and went back to Adorama and pushed the button.

After a few short days my package arrived, and I was surprised at how small it was (it actually fit in our small mailbox!  After opening it, I could see why.  The box containing the lens was small, and so was the lens itself.  Small yes, but it had a solid feel to it.  I quickly mounted it on my NEX3 and went into the menus to get it set up for a test.

The SLR Magic Lens is completely manual, no autofocus, no auto anything!  I had to set the camera to be able to fire without a lens attached since it didn’t recognize the SLR Magic.  The NEX3 also has a feature called Manual Focus Assist.  This will enlarge the picture on the LCD and make it easier to get the focus just right.  I assigned the MF Assist to one of my 3 soft buttons making it very simple to use when needed.

Here’s what the SLR Magic looks like mounted to my NEX3:

Here’s what the SLR Magic looks like compared to the Sony 18-55mm lens:

Just to give you another a different view and sense of the size of the NEX3 with SLR Magic, I placed it next to my Sony F707:

One of the questions you may be asking is why go back to a manual focus lens when I have all of this technology at my fingertips?  Good question, maybe I’m starting to go soft in the head!  Actually I was looking to shrink my photo equipment footprint, and stumbled upon the SLR Magic.  Using it was like stepping back in time, when there were no autofocus cameras, no image stabilizers, no auto exposure, no auto anything!  You actually had to stop and think about how you wanted to capture the scene, and how to set the camera to make it happen.  Having to manually focus and set the aperture gave me a taste of that simpler time, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed it!

Before I show you more samples from the NEX3 and SLR Magic 35mm I want to touch the subject of a smaller footprint again.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe I’m getting a little lazy, but whatever the reason, I’m very interested in shrinking the size of my photo equipment.  It really hit me in the back of the head during my month long vacation to the Eastern Sierra.  I had 5 cameras with me, and all of the bags and other crap to go along with them.  This takes up quite a bit of space in the motorhome.  And then when I actually used my larger DSLR Canon’s, I started to resent them a little.  At 7,500 feet, carrying anything for any length of time starts to become a chore.  When I started hiking (up to about 8,500 feet), I really started to dislike my heavy, bulky DSLR!  Small, quick, easy to carry; that’s what I’m interested in now!  The Sony NEX3 meets those requirements nicely!  I’ll talk more about shrinking equipment in another post.

Back to the NEX3 and SLR Magic 35mm.  Overall, I’m pleased!  The SLR Magic 35mm gives me another option that I didn’t have before (specifically F1.7).  Using F1.7 really blows out the background, something that isn’t as easy to do with my Sony 18-55mm lens.

Here are a few more photos.  These are from an outing to the Los Angeles Arboretum.

Orchids, Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F1.7

Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F1.7

Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F16

Sony NEX3 & SLR Magic 35mm @ F2.8

Time to wrap this up!  My final thoughts on the SLR Magic are positive.  No, it’s not a perfect lens.  While it does feel pretty solid overall, the fit and finish are just ok.  The focusing ring has a rubber ridged grip that is crooked.  It doesn’t affect operation but looks sloppy.  Trying to nail the focus down even with the MF Assist feature of the NEX3 can be a bit tedious at times.  That’s not the lens fault, but some may not enjoy the challenge.  And even when it is properly focused, it will probably not be as sharp as other high end lenses such as Canons L series.  But the cost of SLR Magic is a whole lot less (only $139), so I’m ok with it’s imperfections.  If you’re looking for a simple, light weight lens with a big aperture, then the SLR Magic may be for you!  Check out Adorama and see if they have one for your camera!

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

My New (Old) Camera

I’m back!  It’s been a fantastic month-long vacation in the Eastern Sierra with my wonderful wife and 2 Cairn Terriers.  In addition to a lot of fishing, I was also able to use 4 of the 5 cameras I brought along, including my latest addition – the Sony F707.

Aggie and Cairn Terriers

Aggie, Mulligan & Sullivan – Sony NEX3

For a camera that’s at least 10 years old, the F707 has some pretty impressive features.  These include:

  • 5.24 megapixels
  • Zeiss F2.0 Lens
  • Swivel Body
  • Exposure Bracketing
  • Burst Mode
  • Center Weighted, Multi-Segment, Spot Metering
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene Modes
  • Night Shot Mode
  • Viewfinder and LCD

I’m not going to attempt a full review in this post.  That’s already been done and you can read about it here:  DPReview, Sony F707

What I am going to do is talk about using this camera, and contrast it to something more modern.  I actually had a camera very similar to this one (the Sony F717) when it first came out, and loved using it.  In fact, that’s what started this little project.  I was looking through my files and came across photos I made with the old F717, and was reminded of just how good that camera was.  Don’t get the wrong message here, the photographer creates the image, the camera is just a tool.  What I mean is the quality of the photo includes color, contrast, noise, and sharpness.

Back to the vacation.  We were camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort on the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierra.  This was the perfect location for photography with easy access to beautiful lakes, streams, trails, wildlife, and one of my other favorites – Mono Lake.  I’ll talk more about Mono Lake and some of the other Eastern Sierra locations in future posts.

With all of the photo opportunities just outside my motorhome’s door, I got busy quickly.  Unless we decided to go fishing, I had at least 1 camera with me, usually 2.  The F707 was one of the 1st cameras to go around my neck.

The F707 has a nice feel to it.  Just enough of a handful to feel solid, but not so much as to be a pain to carry around.  The large barrel that houses the lens and some of the controls is also a good place to grip.  There was a little lag time from the moment I turned the camera on until it was ready to shoot.  The tiny LCD was also interesting, but not totally useless.  I did end up using the viewfinder more, and for an EVF (electronic viewfinder), it wasn’t bad, although it didn’t come close to the viewfinder in my Canon DSLR.

The camera that I spent most of my time comparing to the F707 is my Sony NEX3.  The NEX3 isn’t classified as a Point and Shoot (P&S) or a DSLR, but rather an Interchangeable Lens Compact (ILC).  My NEX3 is the 1st generation of ILC by Sony and has a small rectangular body, large articulating display, and 18-55mm lens.  The other most notable feature of the NEX3 is that it has an APS-C sensor, the same size as the one in my Canon DSLR.

During my unscientific in-the-field shoot out, I’d have to give the nod to my NEX3.  The NEX3 has 10 years of technological innovation in it’s favor.  While the startup time isn’t that great, the camera is faster overall, very versatile in different lighting situations, and it’s image quality is outstanding.  One of the things I really like about the NEX3 is how well it works in low light.  The feature that I use a lot while in Aperture Priority mode is Auto HDR.  I just love how it captures much more of the detail in lower light without blowing out highlights.

In the F707’s favor, I have to say that it’s image quality is outstanding considering it’s age.  Even with a smaller sensor, the images are clean, contrasty, and colorful.  And if you keep the ISO low (100), there’s no image noise to speak of.  In order to more fairly compare to the NEX3, I did use the Auto Bracketing function quite a bit.  Processing the images was as simple as importing into Photoshop and running them through the NIK HDR Efex Pro plugin.

There was one area that the F707 came out ahead in, and that’s battery life.  The F707 is a power miser compared to my NEX3.  I’d go through two NEX3 batteries to one F707 battery.  One of the nice features of the F707 is that it displays battery life in actual minutes instead of the little bar.  This would be a feature Sony should consider bringing back!

In closing, I’d like to say that it was fun to use the F707.  If it was all I had to use, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it everywhere with me and use it until it wouldn’t work anymore.  I have to admit, I get caught up in the hype and sales pitches for all of the new cameras.  It’s a vice, I just love cameras.  Having said that, I still hold to this statement – the best camera is the one you have with you!  Use what you have, and use it well.  Learn all of its functions and features so it is second nature and you won’t miss that once in a lifetime shot because you were fiddling with the dials.  You may be surprised at the quality of your images!

Here are some images from both cameras.  Let me know what you think.  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Carson Peak, Sony F707

Carson Peak – Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Rush Creek, Sony NEX3