News from the 3rd Dimension

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Willkommen in der neuen Dimension

Laowa 7.5mm - world's widest rectilinear f/2 mFT lens

Just arrived - the latest prototype of the world's widest rectilinar f/2 Micro Four Thirds lens - the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 mFT.

During Photokina 2016, Venus Optics presented first prototypes of two new ultra wide angle lenses - the Laowa 15mm f/2 for full frame and the Laowa 7.5mm f/2 for mFT. Although I left mFT some years ago in favor of full frame, I still appreciate mFT in situations where more compact and lightweight gear is required - e.g. when recording 4K footage on a drone. I found the Yi M1 quite interesting (see my review here) but had to recognize, that it uses only a crop of it's 20 MP sensor for 4K video which makes it quite hard to find lenses that provide a very wide angle even in 4K mode. Before the Laowa appeared, you could find in this focal range only fisheye lenses or the heavy and expensive Lumix Vario 7-14mm zoom. It is also worth mentioning that you can use standard filters with a filter thread of 46mm (an earlier prototype shown on the Photokina used 49mm but 46mm will be the final diameter) and the lens hood is removable.

This is, how this little 170g gem looks on the Yi M1 mirrorless:

But before putting it on a drone, I took it around for some photos in Hamburg's Hafencity and it's new town landmark, the "Elbphilharmonie", where it could demonstrate it's extreme viewing angle of about 110° combined with good low liight capabilities and even some potential to play with depth of field. In all following photos there was not any electronic correction for distortion, chromatic aberrations (CAs) or vignetting used. If you click on the photos, the flickr photo page will open so that you can see EXIFs and select higher resolutions including full size.



Filmed in Nazaré, Setubal, Arrábida, Cabo Espichel, Lagos, Fuseta and Praia da Marinha, Portugal using a Sony A6300 on DJI Matrice 100. Music composed and performed by Lars Rühmann. Original file available as download on Vimeo if you have an account there. Please switch player to full screen mode and choose next higher (compared to your physical display) available resolution by clicking on the "HD" symbol, e.g. "2K" for a full HD 1920x1080 display.

For more information on aerial applications, please visit www.KopterKraft.com.


ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 - Another Jewel in the Batis Crown

If you are looking for a lightweight full-frame lens with very wide field of view, fast autofocus and large aperture for landscape, astro and architectural photography, the third member of the Batis family may be the ideal lens for you. On top you get dust and spray protection.

After the felicitous Batis 25 and Loxia 21, I was very curious to see, what level of excellence ZEISS can deliver in the 18mm focal length range. As you may already know, Batis lenses are developed specifically for the short flange distance and filter stack of Sony's mirrorless full frame E-Mount cameras, the Alpha7-series. In contrast to the Loxia line, the Batis line comes with fast autofocus and an OLED display providing information about distance and depth of field when using the manual focus option. The Batis 18 incorporates a Distagon floating elements design with 11 elements (several aspherical and special glass). Despite that complexity it comes in a compact housing and weighs only 330g. Click here for further details.

ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 on Sony A7RII


Usually I start my reviews with a deeper look into sharpness / details. This time I will focus on bokeh first, as there are not many super wide angle lenses starting with an f/2.8 aperture. Despite other ultra wide lenses like the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 or the Zeiss FE 16-35 f/4, the Batis 18 still provides some options to play with depth of field arranging an object sharply in the close-up range with a nice background blur.

A first example you can see already as title image fo this article, here are further samples at f/2.8:


Sony World Photography / Zeiss Photography Awards Winners 2016

Right: Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Winner of Zeiss Photography Awards; Left: Michael Schiehlen, Senior Director Sales & Marketing, Camera Lens Division, ZEISS

London, 21 April 2016 - The winners of the Sony World Photography Awards and the ZEISS Photography awards have been announced in an awards ceremony.

The Sony World Photography Awards (SWPA) is the world’s biggest photography contest and in 2016 the new ZEISS Photography Awards runs alongside, both organized by the World Photography Organisation (WPO). The SWPA has five competitions with categories across all genres of photojournalism, fine art and commercial photography.

Awaiting the Sony World Photography Awards 2016 in London


Laowa 105mm f/2 STF - another Bokeh Dream!

If you remember my article from 2014 about "Bokeh Dreams", you may have noticed the unique bokeh of the Sony 135/2.8 STF. Now Venus Optics, an ambitious lens manufacturer from China, designed a new "smooth trans focus" potrait lens, the Laowa 105 mm f/2 STF.

STF stands for "Smooth Transition Focus" and was intruduced by Minolta in 1999. It means an optical design with dual diaphragm and an apodization element as shown in this schematic diagram:

Comparing conventional design with smooth trans focus design (source: Venus Optics)


4K UHD Aerial Test with Sony A6300

Testing the Sony A6300 on DJI Matrice 100...

Shot in Super35 4K mode with 25 fps, interpreted for playback as 30p (20% speed increase). Original file available as download on Vimeo if you have an account there. Please switch player to full screen mode and choose highest available resolution by clicking on the "HD" symbol.

Some wannabe" tech-gurus" say, the A6300 suffers from strong moiré as it has no 4K optimised low pass filter. I can not confirm this as long as you use the Super35mm 4K mode which downscales the 4K from approx. 6K.

I also read complaints about overheating issues and short battery life from people, which mean this prohibts "Pro" use. Well, let me tell you that not every "Pro" use needs recording times significantly longer than 20 Minutes per take or hours of battery life. The A6300 has priority for lightweight and compactness and if you need longer recording time, use an external power supply on the USB port. It will also keep the camera cooler as the internal battery will not add heat.

For more information on aerial applications, please visit www.KopterKraft.com.


Fresh Twenties - Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21, Otus 1.4/28, Sigma Art 20/1.4 et al

End of 2015 / early 2016 a couple of new (ultra) wide angle lenses entered the full frame market. Time to compare them to some candidates you might already know by yourself or from an earlier review on this site. Comparison was done using the Sony A7RII:

From left to right:

  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f/4 (M-mount adapted using Novoflex adapter)
  • Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 ASPH (M-mount adapted using Novoflex adapter)
  • Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 (in the background, ZF.2 version adapted with mechanical Novoflex adapter)
  • Sigma Art 20mm f/1.4 (Canon EF mount, adapted using Metabones IV adapter)
  • Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 (native FE-mount, new Distagon design)
  • Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS used at 21mm (native FE-mount)

To warm up with this focal length, let's see some examples. Clicking on the images will open the corresponding photo page providing higher resolutions (including full camera resolution):

Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 @ f/5.6

Sigma Art 20/1.4 @ f/1.4


China Selection (4K)

Please select fullscreen and highest available solution in the player's button bar for best viewing experience.
Download available in full 4K resolution for Vimeo members.

Hong Kong, Guangzhou (Canton), Kaiping, Guilin, Li Jiang, Shanghai, Beijing.
4K online-player version available as well at: youtube.com/watch?v=02_BfT2TSEk

Equipment used: Sony A7RII, A7S, FE 16-35/4, FE 2.8/35, FE 1,8/55, Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, Zeiss Milvus 2/100


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