Sony Zeiss FE 35mm f/1.4 vs. Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 →

May 11, 2015 |

To round up today’s photography-heavy links, here’s an interesting lens comparison by Jordan Steele:

Ok, so this is one of those comparisons that really isn’t particularly fair. You’ve got a $1,600 Zeiss prime up against a $900 Fuji prime, and the test bed cameras aren’t the same resolution. There are lots of problems with testing like this, but I’m going to do it anyway. Why? It’s fun! Today I’m comparing the Sony Zeiss FE 35mm f/1.4, mounted on the Sony A7 II and the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4, mounted on the Fuji X-T1. Both of these lenses have approximately the same field of view, and they both have the same fast f/1.4 maximum aperture. They are also both highly regarded lenses for their respective systems, so let’s see how they stack up. And please, please take these tests with a grain of salt. This is a fun comparison, and both of these lenses are really quite excellent.

They are indeed. These are two of the finest 35mm-equivalent lenses available for any system, and both are compelling enough to be system sellers on their own. But how exactly do they stack up?

I said up front that this wasn’t really a fair test, and it really isn’t. The Zeiss was tested with a higher resolution body, and the lens itself is nearly double the cost. However, despite the resolution difference, it’s easy to see that the FE 35mm f/1.4 is exceptional. It takes an extremely good Fuji 23mm f/1.4 and makes it look mediocre in comparison. Zeiss has done something rather incredible with the lens.

Some of Jordan’s comparison shots are actually hard to believe, especially considering how well-regarded the Fuji lens is by every reviewer out there. Judging by the results, the Zeiss lens is truly in a league of its own, and may very well be the single best 35mm lens available today for any system, at any price.

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Canon announces new 50mm f/1.8 STM lens to replace “nifty-fifty” →

May 11, 2015 |

Great news from Matthew Gore over at Light and Matter:

However, this is not just the same old lens in new clothing. The optics have been updated and now carry Canon’s latest coatings for improved light transmission and reduced chromatic aberration. The new lens can focus down to 14 inches (.21x magnification), and while the old lens had only 5 aperture blades which created “unique” pentagonal bokeh, the new STM lens has 7 rounded aperture blades for smoother, more natural blur.

This is great. The new lens also appears to be slightly smaller in size, although a bit heavier due to its metal mount — the current “nifty-fifty” is an all-plastic design.

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 II is the best-selling lens in the world by a huge margin, so any improvements they can make — particularly without raising the price — will be extremely welcome.

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The 7 new Flickr features that David Pogue is not allowed to review →

May 09, 2015 |

Yesterday I noticed the Flickr app on my iPhone and iPad had been updated with a new design, but it wasn’t immediately obvious just how comprehensive the changes were. David Pogue — who works for Yahoo — has a nice overview of the new features, and there’s much to love:

All I can do is state the facts, coldly and clinically. For example, Flickr gives you 1 terabyte of storage for your photos and videos, for free; automatically backs up all your photos and videos, past and future, from all your computers, phones, and tablets, for free; permits access to those pictures and videos from your phone; permits instant redownloads of any group of pictures at original resolution; offers one-click sharing of albums by generating a custom Web address; and lets you search or group your photos according to what they’re pictures of.

This is exciting. I love Flickr, and it may have just become the best online solution for photos for the vast majority of people. And best of all, it’s free.1

As of today though, there are still two issues that prevent it from being a complete backup solution for me: it doesn’t store RAW files, and it doesn’t automatically upload photos from Lightroom. If, like me, you have lots of RAW files sitting in your Lightroom catalog, you’ll need to export them to JPEG first and then use the new Uploadr app to get them backed up.

Since I’m primarily a RAW shooter and frequently go back to make additional edits on some of my old pictures, this sadly means I have no use for the new backup features. That said, I still love the social aspect of Flickr, and I will definitely continue to upload my edited photos in JPEG format to share online. It’s not the complete backup solution I was hoping for,2 but it still works very well for everything else.

In any case, Flickr continues to be my favorite online photo service, and I’m happy to see that it is alive and well, and that they keep pushing to stay relevant. They still have a ways to go but it appears they’re on the right track, and we’re all better off for it.

  1. The included 1 TB of storage is more than any reasonable person will ever need.

  2. For a complete online backup solution, not just of your pictures but of everything on your computer, you really should be using Backblaze.

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Here’s a list of American TV shows that have been renewed for another season — and the ones that haven’t →

May 08, 2015 |

There are so many excellent TV shows out there these days that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of everything. I don’t know about you, but the way I manage is by selecting a few shows — no more than five — to watch as they air, and leaving the rest for later binge-watching.

That usually works well for me, but if there’s something I hate is spending a few weekends binge-watching a show and getting really into it, only to find out it was canceled later.1

So, if you were wondering, this might be a good time to start watching Marvel’s Agent Carter, and a really bad time to start watching Forever.

And yes, I chose wrong both times.

  1. Dracula, I’m looking at you.

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The Chemistry of Gin (and Tonic!) →

May 08, 2015 |

“Alcohol Chemistry” is an awesome series of articles and accompanying infographics over at Compound Interest:

Gin is a spirit that we’ve been making for centuries; although Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician and scientist, is often credited with its discovery in the 17th century, references to gin (or genever as it was also known) exist as far back as the 13th century. Sylvius originally conceived it as an concoction for the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, but its popularity as a recreational drink later soared.

Obligatory posting. And whatever you do, don’t miss The Chemistry of Whisky. I feel smarter already.

Via Coudal.

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Dan Moren on Amazon Echo →

May 08, 2015 |

Dan Moren, writing at Six Colors:

First and foremost is the idea of a computer interface that’s all around you at all times. This is Star Trek level stuff. Apple’s made a similar attempt with the “Hey Siri” feature of iOS 8, but given that it only works when your device is plugged in, I find I don’t really think about using it. The Echo is always plugged in, which means you don’t have to think about it at all. Asking Alexa for things has become second nature to me in a way that casting about for my iOS device to trigger Siri—or even using my Apple Watch—hasn’t.

The Echo’s hardware deserves a full share of that credit. The microphones on this device are impressive; even when I’m several rooms away, Alexa rarely mishears me. I’ve triggered it from my kitchen and from my hallway, the latter of which doesn’t even have line of sight to the Echo. And it’s not like I’m yelling at the computerized assistant either; I simply spoke in a conversational tone. Amazon’s spent a while tuning the “far-field voice recognition,” which uses seven mics and “beam-forming technology” to extend its range. And as much as that jargon makes me roll my eyes, you can’t argue with the fact that it works, and it works damned well. By contrast, I sometimes can’t get “Hey Siri” to trigger on my Apple Watch, even though it’s inches away from my mouth.

All big players in the tech industry are trying to crack the idea of an intelligent digital assistant: Apple with Siri, Microsoft with Cortana, Google with Google Now and now Amazon with Alexa. There’s no doubt these companies are competing at the bleeding edge of technology.

Judging from what we’ve seen so far, it appears that getting the computer to hear you only when you want, and every time that you want is one of the most difficult things to get right, and Amazon seems to be doing an excellent job in that area.

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MirrorLessons reviews the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 lens →

May 08, 2015 |

One of the best Micro Four Thirds lenses around gets the MirrorLessons treatment:

To love this lens, you have to love manual focus. From the solid metallic build to thoughtful details such as the de-clicking aperture ring and large, smooth focus ring, this lens is every manual focus lover’s dream.

The absence of electronic components also means that the lens is very precise. It is wonderful to use with either the E-M1’s focus peaking or magnification function, and can focus very close (15 cm) for a near-macro effect.

Street photographers will be glad to know that the lens also features a handy depth of field scale for zone focusing. All the apertures and distances are very clearly marked.

Like I needed any more reasons to crave this lens.

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Minimal Mac says goodbye →

May 06, 2015 |

Patrick Rhone:

This is the final post on Minimal Mac. This project contains what I believe in when it comes to a mindful and intentional approach to technology. After nearly 2,500 posts, I have nothing more to add to what has already been said. As I wrote in my book enough, saying no is actually saying yes to other things. It’s time to say “no” to this project so that I can say “yes” to others (or, in some cases, fully commit to agreements already made).

For those who have read and enjoyed this site at any time over the nearly six year span, I thank you and hope it has truly helped you in a meaningful way.

It’s impossible to overstate how important Patrick’s work on Minimal Mac has been to me, personally. It is no exaggeration to say that without Minimal Mac, Analog Senses would not exist as we know it today.

Patrick’s work played a huge part in the decision to start my own website back in 2009 — when we still used the word weblog — and he’s been a constant source of guidance and inspiration ever since. Today, I am proud to call him my friend, and I wish him nothing but the very best for what’s coming. If there’s one guy who deserves it, it’s him.

You did great Patrick, and your work will endure. You can move on without regret. Thanks for everything, and see you on the road.


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