Shooting Film – The Olympus OMG

In a recent post I forecast the death of film photography. I still stand by that thesis. However that doesn’t mean I don’t like to play around with it from time to time. I am actually kind of happy that film didn’t become completely extinct around 2008-2010. That, however doesn’t mean I think it is here to stay in perpetuity either.

Since film cameras are reasonably inexpensive, though steadily increasing in price, it’s fun to use them occasionally. About a year ago I picked up an Olympus OMG. Now some of you that haven’t heard of this camera are going to laugh at the name and I assure you that OMG then didn’t mean what OMG does now.


feel free to skip ahead if you like…

The Olympus OMG was from Olympus’ amateur line or what we now call the consumer or entry level line up. All Olympus cameras with two digit model numbers; OM- 10/20/30/40, are from the amateur line. The pro models are, of course; OM-1/2/3/4. The OMG introduced in 1983 was an upgrade from the OM-10 adding a manual mode in addition to the aperture priority mode of the OM-10. Also added was a PC flash sync socket and contacts for an auto winder or motor drive. The OMG is a reasonably standard camera from the era. Features include a horizontally traveling cloth focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 – 1/1000 plus Bulb and with flash sync at 1/60 or lower. Like all Olympus cameras, the controls are placed differently than as is common on other cameras of the time. The shutter speed is controlled via a ring on the lens mount instead of the more common dial on the camera’s top plate. Because of this, the aperture ring is relocated to the front of the lens. The rewind knob is in the normal place on the left side of the top plate, but to engage it you use a switch on the front of the camera body instead of the more normally encountered release button on the bottom plate. It has an exposure comp dial on the right side top plate with an external ring to set ISO/ASA. The power switch is on the left side top plate with settings for AUTO/OFF/MANUAL/BULB and a position for battery check. Speaking of batteries, the OMG takes commonly available SR44/AS76 batteries, so there is no need for a special battery or adapter. However, the camera will become totally inoperable without batteries and will lock up. The view finder is a standard pentprism affair with a built in hot shoe for flash and internally it offers a split image focusing screen.

Back to the story…..

I paid around $45.00 USD for mine including taxes and shipping. When it arrived it was, typically, a little dirty, and the batteries were dead. It came with the inevitable 50mm f/1.8 lens as you would expect.

This is not my first time owning this model. In the early 1990s I found one in a pawn shop that included the camera with a 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko, a 75-150 zoom and a Vivitar 28mm, along with a bag, tripod, motor winder, and an assortment of filters plus a few other miscellaneous bits of kit Including an Olympus flash. All for $120.00 USD (About $217.00 today). A difficult deal to pass on at the time and I didn’t (ironically it would probably be about the same price today). Sure it wasn’t a real OM pro model but that wasn’t necessary as I wasn’t really an Olympus fan at the time. Aside from my main Canon EOS kit, I also owned a Nikon FG in addition to the OMG. I will tell you this, there is no comparison with the Nikon. In build quality, operation, and fit/finish, the Olympus OMG is a far superior camera to the little Nikon FG. 

I don’t know what ever happened to that camera, I am sure I sold it, I just do not remember where or when. Periodically, though, I thought I might like to own another one, then digital became the dominate format and the threats of a film apocalypse were real and present, and, anyway, I was pretty busy with life. So I forgot about it.

A couple of years ago I started browsing around the internet looking at old film cameras just for fun. I started looking for cameras that I used to own, thinking it might be fun to have a collection of the cameras I have owned in the past. So when I started looking for an OMG, I found there weren’t many to be had and the ones that were available were in terrible condition. I am sure this rarity is because they were relatively low end consumer type cameras not because of any sort of overt desirability or collectibility. I would imagine most were thrown out or sold at yard sales then thrown out, or still are packed away in someone’s attic or basement. 

I finally found and bid (successfully) on the one I currently own. Like I said, when it arrived it was in pretty decent cosmetic condition if a little dirty, and after installing new batteries, everything seemed to work as it should. On the other hand, the light seals were just goo, and someone tried tape to fix the problem. There was some funk of some sort in the lens and some sort of detritus floating around in the viewfinder.

I ordered and installed a light seal kit – a deceptively frustrating task that appears fairly easy at first look, and ends up being a bit more difficult but isn’t too bad, it just requires a certain amount of patience and dexterity to do right. Cleaning out the old seal material and installing the new seals took me about 45 minutes. The job is technically correct but could be better cosmetically.

I managed to remove the focusing screen and extract the piece of whatever the heck it was, and reassemble everything. The last step was to clean the lens. I successfully got it apart and clean, but on reassembly, the aperture ring was stuck. That’s when I discovered I lost a tiny spring and detent ball during disassembly. So… I ended up getting another lens online for $35.00 (it came to about $48.00 with shipping). It’s not as mechanically perfect as the first (the aperture ring feels a little “spongy” when opening to f/1.8) but is perfectly clean internally and works fine.

At that point, with fresh batteries, everything seemed to work properly.

So I loaded a roll of FujiFilm 400 from Walmart and snapped a few shots around the house and garden and at the local park. Nothing fancy, just running a roll to check the light seals and see if the meter actually, really worked, and if it was reasonably accurate.

After a little hassle getting my film back from Walmart (I really cannot recommend them) it appears as if everything is in order. So that’s good news.

Surprisingly many of the shots have a strong magenta/purple cast that is easily fixable in light room. I researched the film and it doesn’t seem to be a problem with this film, and I have never seen a lens do this, to this extent. So I have to conclude this is a problem with the processing. I also noticed the camera overexposed one or two shots that were really contrasty with a broad dynamic range. I can’t really blame the camera – these older cameras cannot meter with total accuracy for that type of scene.  I will, at some point, run another roll and send it to a better lab in the future. Also, right now, I am running the same stock, as a test roll, through a Canon EOS A2. We’ll see what happens – I am not using Walmart this time.

Before with magenta cast and after with Lightroom adjustments

At the end of the day, I think this camera is a good choice for a basic film shooter based on its relatively standard set of features, even considering the oddly placed controls. It offers the tactile experience of a vintage camera while using modern batteries. All in, including the camera, new lens, light seal kit, and power winder, it comes to about $135.00 USD (Which would have been around $75.00 in the early nineties). Not bad for a camera you can have some fun with.

Stay safe and see the world you own way

thanks for reading.

5 Reasons I Shoot Sony and Maybe Why You should Too

In the modern world of digital cameras, there are myriad choices for the average photographer. The decision becomes more complicated every year with the release of multiple new camera models (and, indeed, new lenses) from the various manufacturers. So why choose Sony in 2020, when Canon and Nikon are seemingly surpassing Sony in the mirrorless camera space?

With the ever decreasing sales of digital cameras since about 2012 (coinciding with the increasing sales of smart phones) the camera companies have each endeavored to outdo the others in the performance of their respective models. Yet Sony still remains a driving force in the market.

Much has been made in the last few years about Sony not being a real camera company like Canon or Nikon, but rather just a consumer electronics company. This alone would seem to be one of the best reasons to buy Sony – the diversified product catalog offered by a consumer electronics company tends to offer a certain amount of corporate financial stability. Plus cameras are no longer just light tight boxes that hold and expose film. They are, now, effectively computers in a camera-like body. They are, simply put, electronic devices. If I am going to purchase an electronic device, I think I would be well advised to purchase from a “consumer electronics company”. Similarly Panasonic with its Lumix branded cameras seems to be doing well also, including its recent foray into full frame and partnership in the L-mount Alliance with Leica and Sigma. Leica seems to be doing well also, though as a real camera company, but as strictly a boutique brand with appropriate boutique pricing which puts them well outside of the normal paradigms.

We know that real camera companies are suffering. Olympus recently sold their camera division to a private equity firm for financial reasons, and their future as a camera brand is uncertain at best, at least for the time being. Currently the internet is rife with rumors regarding the suspected financial insolvency of Nikon and that Canon isn’t far behind. I have no idea how true any of these rumors are, but they do make some sense. Even though both Canon and Nikon have just come out with multiple new models each, both based on an entirely new ecosystem, it remains to be seen if this is the cure for their falling sales. FujiFilm is the only real camera company that seems to be doing well right now in the digital space. Sony originally went into the real digital camera space (as opposed to consumer point and shoot models) after purchasing the IP and engineering from Konica-Minolta. You don’t make this kind of investment without making a commitment to longevity.

Sony is not only reasonably healthy at the corporate level but in their camera division as well, and is often a top selling brand globally, doubtlessly due to their budget minded full frame offering we find in the second generation A7II which is typically available with a decent 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens for around $1k (or less on sale) USD. However as most of us know, their lens pricing has traditionally been at the higher end of the spectrum. Canon and Nikon are up there too with the new R and Z mount lenses (excepting one or two budget offerings). The only truly budget offerings in their systems are from the previous EF and F mounts used with adapters. The aftermarket (Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina, as well as others) have fully entered the fray and offer a wide variety of lenses for the Sony mirrorless system. I am certain that they will catch up with Canon and Nikon in the future, provided the market is there. Obviously you can adapt a plethora of vintage manual focus lenses to Sony bodies (as you can to pretty much any other mirrorless camera) giving yet another option.

Phone snap of my ever-growing Sony system

Ultimately, corporate health is one of the best reasons to buy into the Sony system especially in light of the recent developments at Olympus. Many of the other criteria are much more subjective. There have been, for years now, arguments that Sony’s color science is inferior yet in several objective tests “experts”have been unable to discern the difference (much to their surprise). Even more subjective are haptics and ergonomics. Truthfully Sony’s ergonomics could be better especially on the original A7 and the A7II. I own and shoot an A7II – the ergonomics aren’t that good, but they aren’t that bad either. I do enjoy the haptics and the experience of shooting the camera despite those that say they are somewhat “soulless” and feel more like a computer than a camera, a statement that for me does not ring true. By the way, at the end of the day, it is a computer.

Many reviewers have voiced complaints regarding Sony’s menu system. for those who think it is overly complicated, please try Olympus’ menu. Otherwise it is just about like any other camera. Use it and learn it, and in no time it’s second nature. It is not, however, overly complicated.

Design language is another consideration. It forms the basic visual aesthetic of the camera. I, personally, appreciate the visual aesthetics of the standard full frame Sony cameras. The APS-C line with its more compact and rangefinderesque look is not near as appealing to me though I do own and shoot and A6000 too. Interestingly, this same compact design from the APS-C line has transitioned into Sony’s full frame line with the new A7C, a distinct departure from their previous full frame models.

I find the IQ to be exceedingly good and the raw files eminently useable. JPEGs are equally as good and offer options for in camera customization for contrast, saturation, and sharpness.

The only real shortcoming is the lack of weather sealing and dual card slots in some models. While Sony claims splash and dust resistance, they fail to include an actual rating which makes me somewhat skeptical as to the effectiveness. I am, however, reminded that once upon a time, weather sealing in cameras wasn’t even a thing. I am willing to work with this and can use a camera cover of some sort when needed. As to the dual card slots, that is an internet argument with no clear answer. For the working photographer though, it makes complete sense as redundancy is your best friend. Redundancy can be accomplished other ways though and dual card slots, or lack thereof, could be a deal breaker for some, or not.

All in all, Sony cameras are some of the best offerings in the digital camera space right now and have been for some time. They offer:

– Decently priced cameras with specs to fit just about any need.

– Good IQ from both RAW and JPEG files.

– Reasonable ergonomics and good haptics.

– Appealing aesthetics.

– Fully developed lens library with some reasonably priced lenses and excellent ecosystem of accessories with good support from the aftermarket.

Those are the five primary reasons that I have personally chosen to shoot Sony.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading

A Review of the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

The “nifty fifty” is a lens that every photographer should have in their kit. What a “nifty fifty” is, is a 50mm lens that usually has a maximum aperture of f1.8-f/2.0. This spec lens used to come with just about every new camera purchase as a kit. Over the years it has developed sort of a reputation as being sub-standard. In most cases, nothing could be further form the truth.

Sure  across the board there are other more expensive options in every camera manufacturers lens catalog. In the Sony eco-system there are of course the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 and the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8. By all accounts better lenses, only marginally though, and both at five to eight times the price. Of course there are various 50mm options from third party manufacturers, most notably Sigma. Again at a much higher price point.

So lets look at Sony’s “nifty fifty” – the SEL5018F according to Sony’s catalog:

50mm focal length

Full frame compatibility

6 elements in 5 groups

7 rounded aperture blades

49mm filter thread

47 degree angle of view

Weighs 6.5 ounces or 186 grams

All in all pretty standard. Note this lens does not have built in image stabilization, or Optical Steady Shot in Sony terminology, because most of Sony’s full frame cameras have in body stabilization (IBIS).

This is not a critical scientific review so I will dispense with MTF charts and the like.

In my experience, the lens offers an acceptable degree of sharpness and good image quality. However it is somewhat subject to flare, so use a lens hood or your hand if needed to shade the front element.

There is, in high contrast situations, especially against a light background, a decent amount of chromatic aberration mostly in the form of purple fringing.

Also the focus motor is a little loud so this would not be an ideal lens for video as you would probably pick up extraneous noise during focusing. The lens does not have an external Auto/Manual focus switch either.

How does this lens compare to offerings from other manufacturers? My only basis of experience is with the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM which I used to shoot on my canon DSLRs then adapted to my Sonys before getting the Sony version. I found the Canon to be sharper and more contrasty, while having a better overall image quality, and for half of the price. However adapted lenses never work as well as native mount lenses in my experience and the Sony version is not that far behind the Canon in the mentioned areas, and Canon has had much more time to develop their lens.

So, is it worth it? Absolutely. If you favor the 50mm focal length and want a fast aperture this is a great way to go. If you are an APSC shooter, it is a decent focal length for portraits, though you might be better served by Sony’s APS-C version that does have built in stabilization and slightly better IQ – though at a higher price point.

Let’s look at some images.

So, is it worth it? Absolutely.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 GMaster Lens

Ah, the sights and smells of summertime. New cameras and lenses are born into the world celebrating new life for the camera industry.

Yes, that was sarcasm. I am so over the semi-annual new gear introductions that are nothing more than incremental improvements, for the most part anyway.

So, Sony has announced. Their new FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G-master zoom which by all all accounts so far is a tour de force in optical design and engineering. An extreme wide angle 2X zoom with a rectilinear design that almost completely eliminates any of the normal distortion or “fisheye” effect that you would  get from such an extreme wide angle lens. At  f/2.8. The fast aperture itself offers moderate but good bokeh which, again, is almost unheard of in wide angle lenses that normally offer excellent depth of field characteristics. You don’t normally think of this type of lens as being any kind of bokeh beast. On top of all of that the lens has, effectively, no chromatic aberration or color fringing and almost zero noticeable vignetting. Amazing!


This could be an architectural photographer’s perfect lens and it probably has a lot of use for  landscape photography. Of course it could be used for photojournalism and documentary work with prudence and caution. Actually it could find a place in almost. Any photographers kit – except for the price. 


Wait what?

$3,000.00? That is just an absurd price – full stop. I do not care how “good” or “amazing” it is. I used to think Sony’s FE 24-70-mm f/2.8 G-master at over $2,000.00 (for what is essentially a “walk around” lens) was ridiculous but this far surpasses their previous idiocy especially since they also offer a 12-24mm f/4 “G” version for significantly less and is probably at least 90% as good as this lens.

Perhaps I am the wrong consumer for this lens because I don’t get the value proposition. If this were, say, a Leica lens, I would understand. I still wouldn’t be interested because I am not a Leica shooter but at least I understand their value proposition.

Sony is not Leica. Sony does not have a history of superior optical design and hand craftsmanship. Sony is, first and foremost, an electronics company that makes great digital cameras. Great in the sense that they work well, are well constructed and eminently useable. They offer a reasonably complete lens library and have a good amount of third party support.

In short, they have matured their camera division into a formidable force in the industry competing fully for market share with Nikon and Canon. This still does not merit a $3K lens. 

If that last bit sounded pretty cynical, well, it is. Even as a Sony shooter, who is familiar with their penchant for overpricing I am still surprised at this latest bit of ridiculousness. 

I doubt that sales figures for this lens will be stellar.

In the meanwhile – stay safe, see the world through your own eyes and thank you for reading.

Image Editing – Starting Out on the iPad Pro, an Overview

For a while now I have been looking for a truly mobile editing (and computing) solution, preferably in the form of a tablet. Mostly because I prefer the size and form factor of a tablet to a laptop as I’ve always been a fan of a smaller form factor when it comes to portable computing and technology. In the past, I’ve had a preference for smaller laptops in the 11”-13” category over their larger brethren, and, as laptops and notebooks have increased in size, my enthusiasm for owning them has decreased proportionately.

I’ve  previously tried a couple of different tablets running various Android and Windows systems, but there always seemed to be obstacles for my application that, while not insurmountable were, at least, annoying. Most of these issues involved getting images from the camera to the tablet. As far as other tasks, like word processing and email, well those were no problem. I just couldn’t get to where I needed to be with images.

Up until recently, I was running an old Toshiba notebook with a 15” screen as my primary computer. It was barely powerful enough to run Lightroom and Photoshop. When I bought it on clearance in 2014 it was already a little out of date, and I knew it, but I kept it for nearly five more years until the hard drive began to fail. Fortunately, I was able to save all of my documents and images before it went to the great blue screen in the sky.

I started thinking about portability and tablets again.

Which eventually led me down the Apple rabbit hole to the iPad. After a lot of research, and “tech specing” I settled on the iPad.  I found a decent deal (unfortunately I had to buy new because of my preferred specs) on a 10.5” 2017 256GB iPad Pro. I also bought an overpriced “camera connector” dongle and figured out that this set up would, indeed, make a pretty good mobile editing solution, and I was right.

As far as editing software. I already had an Adobe CC subscription and use Lightroom Classic CC on the desktop. In this case Lightroom Mobile seems to be the best solution for me, and seems to work well enough.

On the Bar
Sony A6000 Telesar 135mm MD mount lens, Neewer MD-Nex adapter. Shot at F/2.8 ,1/60, ISO 640. Processed in Lightroom Mobile on iPad

After a little practice learning a new OS, the first real test came back in January when my wife and I took a road trip to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Georgia. As they had asked if I would take some family shots while we were there, I took what camera gear I thought I would use and my iPad.

With very little effort, I was able to shoot in RAW, transfer the selected images to the iPad, process them in Lightroom Mobile, then upload them to a local website and order prints. The prints were decent enough quality and ready in less than an hour.

So, from a morning shoot to prints in about 3 hours – that smells a lot like success!

What are the drawbacks?

  • Lightroom Mobile doesn’t seem to have all of the features that Lightroom Classic does, but they’re mostly there.
  • You have to import to the iPad’s camera roll and then import to Lightroom. This little process step is silly but necessary.
  • There is no mouse connectivity – I have not tried the Apple Pencil, and probably won’t,  a basic stylus works well enough. That said, I still find myself reaching for a mouse that isn’t there from time to time.

What are the positives?

  • A completely mobile editing set up that works from start to finish.
  • Once imported to the iPad I can have full access on the iMac or iPhone—even directly into Lightroom Classic through synced files on any other computer running Lightroom Classic CC, or Lightroom CC.
  • Easily work with both RAW files and JPEGs

The positives far outweigh the drawbacks – at least for me.

2017 iPad Pro with Lightroom Mobile.
My kitchen table editing environment!

 This has provided me with a completely mobile solution that is very useable and I would not hesitate to rely on it completely if I had to.

By the way, this entire post was written, then uploaded, formatted, and edited on my iPad  Pro, as were the images.

I’ll go into more detail about the exact process in the near future – stay tuned!

Thanks for reading.

Please like, comment, and share below.

“I don’t trust words. I trust pictures”

-Gilles Peress

A Review of the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4.5-5.6 IS II. Is it worth it in 2019?

The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 is considered by many to be, arguably, the best budget zoom lens in Canon’s catalog for their APS-C cameras. Many experts have even stated that the image quality is close to Canon’s fabled L series lenses.

There have been three iterations of this lens: the original version released in April 2008, the IS II version announced in June 2011, and the most recent STM version announced in 2013. The first and second versions are very similar while the STM’s main difference is adding a stepping motor to increase autofocus speed and reduce focus motor noise  (especially important in video use where focus racking can be picked up on internal audio). 

I recently picked up a used version of the IS II mostly to see if it lived up to its reputation and to see if it had a place in my workflow.

So let’s take a look at the specs.

  • 55-250mm variable aperture zoom lens (aperture range f/4-5.6 – f/22-32)
  • 12 elements in 10 groups
  •  7 blade circular aperture
  • close focusing distance of 1.1m (3.61 ft)
  • maximum magnification of 0.31x
  • 58mm filter thread
  • weight 390 g (13.75 oz)
  • original MSRP $299.00 US.

When I started as a photographer,  the long lens was the benchmark standard. If you wanted to be taken seriously, you needed a long lens. The most popular and basic option at the time was some version of the ubiquitous 70-210mm f/4-5.6 – this is the lens you absolutely had to have, and I had a couple of them over the years in both native versions and third party examples. 

Recently I sold a Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS II because, surprisingly, the focal lengths didn’t work for me anymore. On a crop sensor camera, the short end was often too long, and, more often than not, the long end was never long enough. I kept it for awhile, mostly because of the cachet of owning a white canon lens with a red ring, but it was rarely used.

I still have the idea, for some reason, that I need a long lens of some sort so, I already own a Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III. This lens has never been very well regarded (at least according to most of the various online reviews). Really the only faults that I have found with it are that it’s not very contrasty and in some situations it exhibits significant amounts of chromatic aberration (CA). That last point is one of the major faults mentioned in most of the reviews. On the plus side it is an EF lens, so it’s a full frame compatible lens, not an EF-S lens which is specifically designed for the APS-C sensor like the 55-250 is. On APS-C sensors, also, full frame lenses can show some edge softness, reducing image quality in some cases. Having muddled through all of that though it seemed to fit my limited needs for a long zoom lens.

To keep things as fair as possible all of the following pictures were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i set to neutral picture style and are straight out of camera “fine” JPEGs at 18 MP.

The images below were shot minutes apart with the 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 III at 300mm. Note the CA – in the form of purple fringing on the tree branch to the right side of the Cardinal – and the absence of significant or notable chromatic aberration in the squirrel shot.  Typically, as in this case CA occurs at its worst in backlit, light background situations.


Squirel Abilene State Park

Both of these images are completely acceptable and the CA can be completely removed (even from a JPEG) in Photoshop.

So, then, why buy the 55-250mm ? Well, because most of the reviews tout it as being a much better option than the 75-300mm III, especially regarding image quality and, based on that, the price was really right for a used copy at $60.00 USD out the door and, probably, a little FOMO.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that if you combine it with the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 and the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens (in any of its iterations), you have the APS-C version of the “Holy Trinity” of zooms with continuous focal length coverage from 10mm to 250mm (16-400mm full frame equivalent).

The following images are examples made with the 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II. The same camera and the same picture style (for consistency’s sake as mentioned earlier). Again photos a few minutes apart, but at varying focal lengths. 




I found it reasonably sharp and contrasty with no obvious fringing, but image quality was nothing really that special, at least not really approaching L glass standards. Granted the subject matter was not exceptional and it was mid-day with really flat light, but the results were still a bit underwhelming compared to this lens’ reputation, in my opinion.

So, what do I think, overall, regarding the 55-250mm?

Well, for one the build quality does seem on the cheap side, and its not just the plastic lens mount either. I own the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-4.6 STM with a plastic mount that seems more substantial and better built, if not by much. The 55-250mm IS II seems kind of flimsy. Whereas the 75-300 III seems a little more substantial in the hand.

On both lenses, the front element rotates during focusing, which is not ideal, and can be problematic when using certain filters like circular polarizers. I believe this issue has been resolved on the STM version of the 55-250mm, but I’m not certain.

The 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II seems to have a significant amount of focus breathing. This is especially apparent at the short end of the focal range when attempting focus at minimum distances; the image becomes large enough in the viewfinder that you have to recompose for close shots. I have not noticed this on the 75-300mm III, to this extent at least.

The 55-250mm IS II is somewhat shorter and lighter overall, making it a slightly more compact package than the 75-300mm III.

Lastly, I have a first generation Commlite adapter for my Sony A6000 and both of these lenses work with it, even if focusing is very slow – so there’s that.

I am kind of conflicted. I definitely do not need both of these lenses and one has to go. The 75-300mm III gives me a little more reach on the long end, but the 55-250mm IS II focal lengths fit well in the general order of things. 

I just wasn’t really “wowed” by either lens.

Truth be told, I may just sell both. One of my favorite APS-C lenses is the Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM. It has great image quality, good build quality, feels substantial in the hand, comes with a metal lens mount, and with the crop factor gives a 28.8-216mm full frame equivalency. 

IMG_0046 copy
EOS 50D/EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 STM

Is the 55-250mm f4.5-5.6 IS II lens relevant in 2019?

It does seem to have decent image quality, focuses reasonably quickly, and is relatively compact while giving you a good range of focal lengths at a reasonable price. So if these are your parameters, then yes.

On the other hand, if I hadn’t acquired it, I don’t think that I would have missed all that much.

Thanks for reading

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer”

Ansel Adams

A Visit to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and How I Missed the Shot.

Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan, even on the spur of the moment. At the last minute they can fall apart. Sometimes the unexpected becomes the better result and finally as someone once said, “luck favors the prepared mind”. 

So this is how I blew it.

During a visit to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Ft. Worth, Texas, a trip I’ve wanted to make for some time as they have a very large curated photography collection, I almost caught a reasonably good photo, but due to my lack of mental preparedness, it became, let’s say, less than average.

First a note about photography in the museum. When I visit a museum or gallery I try to check their website to see if they actually have a photography policy. As it turns out this particular museum does. It is not really extensive but you definitely get the impression they would prefer no cameras at all. They do not seem to have a problem with smart phone photography though. It seems they just want to do everything to prohibit any type of commercial photography, which is understandable and they do encourage you to share any photos on social media using the #amoncartermuseum hashtag. 

So, I thought this would be a good time to work on my iPhone photography skills (I have an iPhone for this very reason).

As my wife and I are walking around the museum (they really do have some nice pieces in the collection), I became interested in the hallway that currently goes through the photography exhibit. It has some nice squared off passages, and if you are in the front lobby, the opposite end is a sort of great room affair with lots of marble and a statue as the centerpiece on the end wall (sorry, I didn’t get the name of the piece). I was looking at the whole situation as frames with leading lines and a center focal point -you know, from a photographic perspective.

The only problem with the composition was a tour guide (Docent) standing near the statue. I made the image anyway.

After I made the image, with sort of a lackluster attitude, a series of events took place that made me chuckle to myself and still gives me a smile – thinking how I nearly completely blew it.

Here is the first shot.

The first lackluster try. #amoncartermuseum

First the tour guide (Docent) moves out of the frame. Then, as I raised my phone to get the picture, this guy, from somewhere, enters the frame from the right side. As I start to lower my phone because someone’s in the frame again, I realize that this guy is framing himself in the passageway and that he is dressed in all black, wearing a beret, and we’re in an art museum! I quickly raise my phone back up and make the image just before he exits the frame to the left.

Here’s what my thought process was:

Cool there’s no one in the shot.

Crap who’s this guy and why is he in my shot?


Unfortunately the whole image is about as crooked as can be and no amount of transformation, leveling, or cropping in Lightroom can fix it to my satisfaction. 

So here it is in all of its “glory” …. ugh.

The best I could do at the time. #amoncartermuseum

So, the lesson here would seem to be the old saying “be prepared” and “expect the unexpected”

For certain, patience is a virtue and if I hadn’t been so impatient, I would have been in a better mental space to take full advantage of the circumstance. Also – know your equipment. If I had been more practiced with my phone, the ensuing fumbling may not have taken place. So, ultimately, I didn’t think – about anything, really. 

Lesson learned, and after all, there will be other days and other images so I’ll just chalk this one up as one that got away.

As to the museum itself? They are currently remodeling the second floor so this does limit their display space but they do seem to have quite an extensive collection. I would, of course, like to have seen a larger photography exhibit (duh). So for your enjoyment, here is an original Margaret Bourke-White print from 1927-1928.

Margaret Bourke-White #amoncartermuseum

Of course they have works from other mediums like this oil on canvas painting by Georgia O’Keefe made during her time in Taos New Mexico.

taos adjusted
Georgia O’Keefe #amoncartermuseum

All in all a worthwhile experience and best of all, admission to the museum and exhibits is free. I highly recommend a visit to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art if you are in the Ft Worth, Texas area. Check their website for hours and policies here.

Thanks for reading.

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do” 

 Andy Warhol

A Sony A6000 in DFW

The Sony A6000. By some peoples definition, an obsolete camera. Yet it is also a foundational mirrorless camera and I own one.

A couple of years ago, I became interested in mirrorless cameras. Mostly for their smaller size and form factor. So, I shopped around a little bit looking at just about everything on the market and one day while walking around in my local  Best Buy, I picked up a Sony A6000 that was on display and fooled around with it a bit.

What I liked was its small size, but more importantly, its heft, especially in relation to its size. It was a solid feeling camera which is somewhat unusual at this kind of price point in today’s “plastic fantastic” era where light weight is prized but often seems to come at the expense of build quality. The first tactile impression was of a solid, well built, and serious camera in a small form factor.

Of course, at the time the photo world was raving over Sony cameras and Sony seemed to be releasing a new model every month.

Then, it was being offered at Best Buy and several online retailers for generally around $550.00 USD with a battery, USB cable/wall charger, and 16-50mm power zoom kit lens. 

It took me a couple of months or so to decide that I really wanted one so, I sold a Canon lens that I didn’t use much and began to really consider buying one.

Then, one Saturday morning after dropping my wife off at her favorite local fabric store to do some shopping, I decided to visit one of my favorite local pawn shops to do a little shopping myself. Well you can guess what happened next – they had a Sony A6000 in nearly new condition with the extras, but no box or manual, for $450.00 USD.  After a little haggling, I walked out with it for a total of $427.00 USD including tax. I know that prices have dropped since then, but at the time it was a pretty good deal on a nearly new camera.

So being a “Canon guy” and trusting my DSLRs implicitly, it took me a while to begin shooting this little camera seriously. I soon came to accept that Sony’s lens ecosystem is not as developed or, as budget friendly as I would have liked. So after a little shopping around I found some legacy lenses in Minolta and Pentax mounts, bought some adapters on Amazon and began shooting, but always as a second camera, trusting my more serious results to one of my DSLRs. Recently, I’ve also purchased a first generation Commlite adapter that allows me to sort of use some of my EF lenses as well.

I have since begun to use this camera with confidence and more often. 

Recently, when my wife and I went on  a weekend trip to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, I took the Sony and I finally made the commitment to it as a primary camera. Of course I brought a selection of lenses and extra batteries plus chargers etc…

We went to the downtown Dallas historic district on a cold and gloomy Sunday morning.

Starting in Deep Ellum – lots of live music and art venues.


Then took a look around the historic downtown.


Great architectural details almost everywhere.


Of course the Giant Eyeball statue.


Then we met  some folks on the street who offered us a mini-tour of their art deco apartment building including a trip to the roof. I won’t mention their names or the building, but the lobby has a wonderful Art Deco ceiling.


Also a pretty spectacular rooftop that was a cool blend of modern style and Art Deco.


You got a pretty good view of the neon Pegasus on top of the Magnolia building too.


Like I said, a dreary day but, well, a great view!


So, as it turns out the only lens that I used was the 16-50mm PZ kit lens and it seemed to hold up pretty well. Unfortunately, I did  shoot RAW and edit without thinking that it might be nice to post some straight out of camera JPEGs. Rest assured, the edits are minimal – warmed slightly as it was an incredibly dreary day, slightly straightened and, that’s about it except for maybe tuning up the vibrance and contrast a bit.

The accessories that I used were minimal, I attached a Meike battery grip to help the ergonomics a little and extend the camera’s notoriously short battery life. I also used an adapted metal lens hood and a simple strap.

All in all I think the camera performed quite well and the kit lens seems to be beyond acceptable. I am fairly certain that I will be using this camera more in the future as I begin to purchase more lenses and perhaps even ween myself from DSLRs.

Do you own or shoot any of Sony’s aps-c mirrorless cameras? If so what do you think about them?

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Thanks for reading!

Essentially what photography is, is life lit up”

– Sam Abell

Sony A6400

Sony just introduced a new camera! The A6400. Which is kind of surprising. Not surprising that Sony dropped a new camera – they seem to do that with incredible frequency – but they introduced a new APS-C camera. It has seemed, for a very long time that they had all but completely abandoned their APS-C line in favor of their multiple models and frequently released iterations and updates of the A7xx series of full frame cameras.

a6400 screen


Not to say that a new APS-C camera hasn’t been expected. The internet has been very busy with rumors of a new Sony APS-C camera for a while now, but most expectations were for an A7000 or A6700. In other words, some form of a successor to the A6500 not only in model designation but in evolution.

So, is the A6400 an evolution? Well, no and yes. It uses the same short life W battery and the same 24.2 megapixel sensor as other members of the Alpha series, specifically the A6300 and A6500. It has the same ergonomics and the same 921,000 dot LED screen as its APS-C brethren. New is the Bionz-X processor along with 11 FPS continuous shooting (with 8 FPS max in silent, electronic shutter mode). For video shooters and vloggers they have added the flip up screen from the old A5100 (not full articulated a’la Canon or Panasonic), and an external mic input (though no headphone jack for audio monitoring). I would not call this camera an evolution as much as an attempt by Sony to address some of their previously perceived  shortcomings.

Auto focus claims to be the fastest ever with a purported focus acquisition time of 0.02 seconds. The A6400 also offers the first continuous subject tracking focus (definitely useful for sports and action photographers) made possible with 425 focus points which virtually fill the entire viewfinder from edge to edge and top to bottom. 

The coolest new feature on the A6400 seems to be “Auto Eye AF”. It’s pretty much accepted that Sony has the best eye AF in the industry and has traditionally been a feature that was activated via a custom function button. The new “Auto Eye AF” works in conjunction with Sony’s facial recognition.  It’s active the entire time a subject is in the frame, and works cooperatively with continuous subject tracking. The new focus modes work for both video and stills which, is some fairly impressive tech.

Coming soon, supposedly, is “Animal eye AF”. I suppose this would be useful for wildlife photographers – if the Sony APS-C line of cameras was well suited to wildlife photography. However, it isn’t, mostly due to the lack of affordable good, fast, long glass for Sony crop sensor cameras. Actually, “Animal Eye AF” is supposed to be in a firmware update that is also applicable to the Alpha series of full frame cameras, including the A9 (which could be a good wildlife shooter).

Overall this isn’t the new camera we were expecting. It does show that Sony still has some interest in supporting their APS-C line and is priced attractively at about $900.00 USD (body only).

My impressions are based on what I’ve seen and read as I’ve not had the opportunity to go hands on with this camera.

So, should you buy it if you already own an A6500 or A6300?  Maybe, if the focus features are worth it to you otherwise, I think it’s kind of a non-starter. Me? I’ll pass.