LensRentals.com

6 Things to Consider Before Finalizing Your Rental

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Part of my job here at Lensrentals is reviewing and building large video-centric orders before they’re shipped. To understand why this is important, it’s important to first understand a little bit about how our equipment inspection process works. Upon receiving an order back from a rental customer, each individual item is placed on a shelf with other like items. All of our Canon 5Ds, for instance, are stored and inspected together, same with all of our lenses, cables, lights, etc. Everything is checked on an individual basis to ensure that it’s performing up to our expectations. Once these items are inspected, they’re moved to a shelf location in our warehouse, where they wait to be rented, cleaned, and shipped.

This is the most efficient way to test all of our equipment quickly and thoroughly, but it does leave open the possibility for compatibility issues to be present in orders. A monitor, for instance, might work just fine under our testing conditions but, for whatever reason, end up not working well with a specific camera or cable. It’s also possible for orders, especially the large video ones that I work with, to be placed without an essential item like recording media. That’s where my spot in our assembly line becomes important. Orders with certain camera bodies, an especially high number of items, or pieces of equipment that need hands-on setup before they can ship come to me. I build everything in the order as if I were going to shoot with it, and then call the customer if there are any compatibility problems or possible missing items. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’ve noticed a pattern in the kinds of problems I tend to catch, so here are 6 things I think you should consider before placing your rental.

Media and Readers

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Since so many of our customers prefer to purchase their own recording media, it’s not included with any of our cameras in order to keep rental costs down. So it’s pretty easy, especially if you’re a first-time customer, to put together an order, forget to include a CF card or SSD, and then find yourself with a very expensive camera that you can’t actually record any video with. Same goes for card readers. We have available at least one type of reader for every card we carry but, in most cases, they’re not included with camera rentals because we don’t want to have to build in the cost for people who have their own. While many of our video cameras include USB cables and are able to transfer footage to a computer, I’d always recommend a standalone reader because they’re generally faster and more reliable.

Batteries and Chargers

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With very few exceptions, every device we carry that uses a battery will include one battery and one charger. If you’re unsure whether the item you’re renting includes a battery, check under the “Includes” tab of the product page. Under the “Specifications” tab, we also list typical battery life for each product. While this can vary based on usage factors, it’s generally a good tool to estimate how many batteries you’ll need for your shoot. My advice is to play it safe and always order more batteries than you think you’ll need. They’re generally pretty affordable, and it’s always better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them. A significant exception to the “one battery, one charger” rule of thumb is anything that takes disposable batteries: AA, AAA, 9-volt batteries, basically anything you would throw away when it’s dead. Make sure you have some of your own on hand, and if you’re confused about whether a certain item will require disposable batteries feel free to contact us.

Cables

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If you feel like you’re sensing a pattern here, you’re right. It’s easy to put an order together and have small but essential accessories slip your mind. Cables are no exception. None of our monitors or recorders include HDMI or SDI cables. In this case not only because it would be an unnecessary cost for people who own them, but we also have no way of knowing what kind of cables you need. We stock a ton of different sizes, lengths, and brands of HDMI and SDI cables for various uses. If you have questions about what type of cable will work best with your camera, or what cable length you’ll need for your support setup, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Support

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Now we’re branching out a bit from things people typically forget to the inherent limitations of renting equipment without having used or set it up yourself. If you’re, say, renting a shoulder mount kit and have concerns about ergonomics, let us know and we’ll do everything we can to give you a better idea of whether or not a certain product will work for you. We do our best to take informative and accurate product pictures, but there’s only so much you can tell about a product from a couple still photos, especially if you’re combining multiple accessories. Not sure about whether a shoulder mount will allow you to see the camera monitor? Whether the included rods are long enough to mount a matte box? Whether or not you’ll need a VCT plate? Let us know, and we’ll gladly set everything up and answer any questions you have.

Gimbal Weight Distribution

I know this sounds like a pretty specific compatibility issue for a list of the most frequent problems we catch, but it’s surprisingly common. We end up calling at least one customer per day about weight distribution on handheld gimbals. The DJI Ronin specs, for example, list a weight capacity of 15 pounds, so people who haven’t worked with that product before tend to think that anything weighing 15 pounds or less will fit. The problem is, depending on your lens choices, accessories, camera body length, and battery weight, your setup may be so front heavy that you can’t move the camera body back far enough in the camera cage to compensate. We carry the extended-arm DJI Ronin specifically to combat this issue. If you’re not sure whether your setup will work with the gimbal on your order, just give us a call, or request a check in the “Special Instructions” section of your rental form.

Technical Complications

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This last one is pretty general, I guess, but it’s probably the most important. One of the advantages of renting equipment rather than purchasing it is that it can broaden your horizon. You have the ability to try things you wouldn’t have without access to more than just a camera and a couple lenses. The disadvantage, of course, is that every piece of equipment you add to your setup increases the chances of something going wrong or being forgotten. We include as much information as possible on our product pages, but if you’re trying something you’ve never done before, there’s really no way to know it’ll work without setting it up. People call us all the time with dreams of building Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions of switchers, HDMI to SDI adapters, recorders, wireless transmitters, batteries, extension cables, streaming boxes, all of which can either work flawlessly or halt a whole production depending on what else they’re working with. We’re always happy (honestly, it’s fun) to set up whatever we can in the office and let you know whether or not it works.

The common thread through all of these recommendations is to contact us if you have any concerns at all about whether you’re missing any important equipment or whether the equipment you do have will perform the way you need it to when it arrives. You can call, email, or add notes to the “Special Instructions” box when placing your order. Either way, a video or photo tech will gladly answer your questions or just review your order for missing items.

 

Ryan Hill

Lensrentals.com Video Tech

The Sony FE Lenses MTF and Variance Summary

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We’ve put all of this information out in other articles, but it was as we finished each one so it’s become scattered about. I wanted to simply put up all of our MTF and variance curves for Sony FE lenses in one place so you wouldn’t have to hunt and search for different articles to get the information you wanted. So there’s nothing new here, and very little commentary, just a single place where you can go to compare FE lenses.

Remember that each lens was tested at it’s widest aperture. The Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 has lower MTF than the Sony FE 35mm f/2.8, for example, because they were tested at different apertures, not because the f/2.8 is a sharper lens.

I also want to point out that the new variation curves we’re using now tend to minimize the difference between lenses a bit compared to the old ones. We think that’s appropriate since people were really splitting hairs with them before. But with these, when you notice a difference, it’s a pretty real difference.

FE Prime Lenses

Sony FE 35mm ZA f/1.4

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 35mm ZA f/2.8

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Zoom Lenses

For each zoom, we’ll show that results at 3 focal lengths: wide, center, and long end.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

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OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 24-70mm f/4

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Sony FE 24-70 f/2.8 GM

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OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

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Sony FE 70-200 F/4 G OSS

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

I’m not going to make any comments here, we’ve made them in previous articles. We just wanted to get all of the MTF curves in one place where you could find them easily.

 

Roger Cicala, Aaron Closz, Brandon Dube, and Diego Martinez

Lensrentals.com

June, 2016

 

Sony FE 16-35 f/4 & Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 Zoom MTF and Variance

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Many of you who have followed along as we beta-test our Sony FE lens testing have been asking where the FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS and the FE 24-70mm f/4  ZA OSS test results are. Well, the answer is they are here.

But your other question, why has it taken so long, has a more complex answer. Testing FE lenses are much more difficult than testing standard photo lenses. The electronic focusing mechanisms required us to make some major modifications to our testing bench. The baffles in FE mounts clips some data on the edges, making the testing process more difficult. FE lenses, having a short backfocus distance are more sensitive to the amount of optical glass in the imaging pathway. And, most recently, distortion curves and copy variation among some of these lenses made us question our results and testing methods, sending us back to redo a lot of data and taking up a couple of months of our time.

The end of all that is in sight, and we found, after a lot of internal retesting and questioning that the original results we got for these two lenses several months ago are valid and we’re publishing them now. During this process, we’ve also changed our variation graphs somewhat so they’re going to look a little different this time. That’s simply because these are new and better. We’ll be changing all of our other lenses to the new graphs eventually. (Don’t worry, I’ll have a follow-up article next week, putting the results of all the FE lenses in one place using the same graphs.)

Finally, no, we still aren’t quite done determining a ‘variation’ or ‘consistency’ number formula that we’re completely happy with, so there won’t be numbers for a while longer. You’ll also notice the FE variation graphs are different than what we’re using for other lenses. So first, let’s get a good look at what the two new zooms look like on the optical bench.

Remember when we test FE lenses we get some clipped data because of the baffle in the lens so while data from the center to 14mm is an average of 8 measurements for each lens, the data at 18 and 20mm is generally 4 measurements per lens. It sometimes makes the curves look a bit odd at the edge, and we encourage you to not get overly analytical about the 20mm data.

FE 16-35 f/4 ZA OSS

MTF

We have some nice comparison lenses to use here: the Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR. Below are the MTF curves for each at 16mm, 24mm, and 35mm. As usual, Zach has done his magic so you can enlarge the graphs to see them better.

At 16mm, all 3 lenses are good in the center, with the Sony being better than the other two at higher frequencies. The Nikon develops ‘astigmatism-like’ patterns fairly close to center while the Canon and Sony hold together well till about halfway to the edge of the image. In the corners the Sony, while quite astigmatic, maintains sharpness quite well.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

At 24mm things repeat somewhat, although here the Nikon is doing better at this focal length and is in some ways better than the Canon here. There is an odd ‘bounce-back’ in the Canon MTF at 20mm. It looks like an artifact, but it’s repeatable and consistent copy-to-copy, so I really don’t know that we can accept those 20mm (edge) readings at face value; the MTF graph may be a bit better than the real world. But again, the Sony appears to be slightly the best of the three.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

At 35mm, the Canon is at it’s best. The Nikon and Sony aren’t quite as good here, although I want to be clear, these are all really good performances for wide zoom lenses.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

Overall we’d have to say the Sony has the best MTF at the 16mm, particularly at higher frequencies, while the Canon is a bit better at 35mm. The Nikon is at its best at 16mm but doesn’t hold up quite as well at longer zoom ranges. The Sony, as all Sony shooters have come to expect, is more expensive than the other two, although not hugely more. In this case, though, it’s at least as good, and in some areas better, than the others. It’s a really good lens.

Variation

I like to tell you my expectations pre-testing. In this case, I thought that wide-angle zooms tend to vary a lot, and Sony FE lenses tend to vary a lot, so I thought the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 would, duh, have a lot of copy-to-copy variation.

Before we get to the graphs, let me repeat that these are different than what we’ve used in the past. In the old graphs, we doubled the Y axis so we could show all 5 frequencies we measured. Now we’re leaving the Y axis from 1 to 1, just like the MTF graph and showing you 3 frequencies: 10, 30, and 50 line pairs/ mm. We think this gives a more intuitive picture of what the MTF of a given copy should look like. The lines in the center are MTF lines and should look the same as the MTF graphs, while the colored area is the range we expect typical copies to fall in.

Again, I want to emphasize we’ve tweaked the formula for our variation curves a bit so you’ll find some slight differences between the variation curves for the Canon and Nikon 16-35 f/4 lenses and our previously published curves. The lenses are the same, our math and graphing are a little different. (Again, you can learn how to read MTF charts here as well as Variance Charts here)

16mm variation

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OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

24mm variation

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

35mm variation

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

We know from previous testing that variation for the Canon and Nikon 16-35 f/4s are pretty good as zoom lenses go; not great, but good. The Sony 16-35 f/4 OSS has very similar to a bit less variation at the wide end and very similar to a bit worse variation on the long end. Overall, both from an MTF and a copy-to-copy variation standpoint, the Sony FE lens is as good as, and sometimes better than, the Canon and Nikon offerings.

FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS

The 24-70 f/4 has been a very difficult lens for us to test for several reasons. One of the major reasons was distortion. The distortion figures we got testing it on the optical bench were quite different than what is reported for it. I don’t know exactly why, and I don’t intend to speculate here. But most importantly, there was some copy-to-copy variation in distortion which is rather unusual. We finally ended up testing by running a distortion curve for each copy at each focal length, testing the MTF, then repeating. It made the testing really lengthy and drawn out.

I mention it to be clear that testing this lens irritated me and I am therefore predisposed not to like it. I also point out that because of all this I am a bit uncertain with our testing methods with this lens. We’ve repeated measurements numerous times and I’m comfortable that the results are reproducible. But whenever something is weird and I don’t quite understand why, I’m always hesitant about publishing the results. But people keep asking, so here you go. Just keep in mind that there’s something about this lens I don’t understand so we may be missing something.

MTF

The logical comparison for the Sony 24-70 f/4 is the Canon 24-70 f/4 IS L lens. Unfortunately, I only have new-method results for the Canon at 24mm and 70mm, so you’ll have to cope with not having a 50mm comparison. But here’s the MTF curves for the Sony at three focal lengths, compared to the Canon at two.

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

As you can see, the Canon is clearly better at the 70mm end, and better at the 24mm end. The Sony, however, is at it’s best at 50mm in the center of its zoom range, especially off axis where it maintains sharpness with very little astigmatism all the way to the edge of the field.

For a slightly different comparison, below are the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 and Sony FE 24-70 f/4 both measured at 24mm. The 16-35 f/4 is clearly better.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

From an MTF point of view, the FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS is OK, but certainly not great.

Variance

We’ll start with the variance curves for the Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 at the three different focal lengths we tested. It really is pretty good at 24mm and 50mm, but there is a bit of worrisome center variation at 70mm. (Center variation is associated with an overall sharpness difference, where off-axis variance often indicates more of a tilt.) For a zoom, though, this isn’t a bad performance, as we’ll see below.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

The Canon 24-70mm f/4 IS again only has curves at 24mm and 70mm. As you can see in the graphs below, off-axis it has more variance than the Sony, but doesn’t exhibit the center variance at 70mm that the Sony did.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

 

The Sony FE 16-35 f/4 we saw earlier looks similar too.

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

OlafOpticalTesting, 2016

So the bottom line is while there is definitely some copy-to-copy variation among the Sony f/4 zooms, it doesn’t really appear worse than most zoom lenses.

Summary

I will say I’m pleasantly surprised. The Sony FE 24-70mm f/4, while not a great lens is adequate (note I didn’t say adequate for the price, I said adequate) and its copy-to-copy variation isn’t bad. The Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 actually is excellent for an ultra-wide zoom, and again, it seems to have decent sample variation. Would I buy them? Probably not the 24-70 f/4 unless I had no options, but I wouldn’t hesitate on the 16-35mm f/4.

I realize we’ve put out our Sony FE test results in bits and pieces, working through a lot of problems and figuring things out. That’s what this blog is about: trying to figure things out and showing them to you as we go along. But I also realize a lot of you want that information without having to Google 6 different articles to find the test results you’re looking for. So in the next week or so I’ll put out a summary article just showing all the FE MTF and variation charts in one place.

 

Roger Cicala, Aaron Closz, and Diego Martinez

Lensrentals.com

June, 2016

Roger’s Only Slightly Angry Father’s Day Gift Suggestions

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I will admit I’m a nightmare to buy gifts for. If I want it, I generally have already bought it. So my kids tend to dread Father’s Day because they have to find a gift that I want that I haven’t realized I want yet. Well, that’s how it should work in theory. In practice, they tend to usually just send me a text or throw donuts at me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with some donuts.

So now you’ll understand why I was surprised when Drew suggested I put together a list of Father’s Day gifts I’d think were cool. So I did that and sent him a list. To which he replied, “No, I meant write a blog post about stuff we rent that would make good Father’s Day gifts. You know, so people can give their dad a gift certificate and some suggestions.” So, here’s my first gift; some advice to all you fathers out there: don’t ever end up working for your kids. Let my life serve as a warning for you.

Then, just to rub salt in the wounds, Sarah came by and said, “Write about stuff dad’s would like. You know, like 28-300 consumer zooms and superzoom compact cameras.” Sarah is very young and doesn’t realize people over 40 still have reason to live. In fact, she’s so young and naive that she didn’t even realize how close she was to a near-death experience there in my office.

Actually, going through the Lensrentals site looking for potential Father’s Day gifts ended up being pretty fun. For those of you who don’t know, I only do repairs and quality assurance for Lensrentals these days, so the first time I see many new items is when they break. I really hadn’t spent time browsing our websites in a year. We have all kinds of stuff I didn’t know we had, and some of it is pretty cool.

So I’ll show you some of the things I found. And because I’m quite passive-aggressive, I’ll also show you the cool stuff that was on my original list that we don’t carry. You know, the stuff I went ahead and ordered for myself because, well, I can depend on me to give me cool stuff. Sarah probably told Drew I wanted a 28-300 zoom.

Things from Lensrentals.com

Well, first of all, the simplest thing is to just get a Lensrentals Gift Certificate and let Dad get what he wants.  Unless you really know what he wants. But my life experience suggests that, no, you really don’t.

I’m a dad so I’ve limited this suggestions list to Dad Tested items; things I actually took home for a weekend and really enjoyed. And after the weekend, I didn’t feel a burning need to buy one and have it forever. I think that makes the perfect father’s day rental gift: he liked it, got to play with it, and saved about half a zillion dollars because he didn’t buy one.

What will he want to try out? Well, my usual suggestion is, when in doubt, go for the extreme. So a BAT (Big Telephoto) with an appropriate tripod is always a good choice. It’s early summer so whether it’s taking some amazing close-ups of the kids or grandkids playing ball, or the hawk nesting in a tree at the end of the road, there’s always a reason to rent a BAT.

Which BAT is kind of brand specific, but for Canon shooters, a weekend with an 800mm f/5.6 is always a treat.

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And Micro 4/3 birders are all atwitter (that was good, wasn’t it?) about the Panasonic 100-400mm lens, which gives them 800mm equivalence.

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Leica Q

The other extreme is small and light and probably Sarah approved as ‘Dad appropriate’. After all, it’s a Leica and most dad-aged people want to at least take a spin with a Leica. Even I do, occasionally. Plus this one has built-in WiFi so us dads can show the photos and video’s it takes to grand-kids and such. (Not to mention you get to say “Look at the video I took with a Leica”.) But honestly, mostly because this is a really good camera, quite different from anything else he’s shot with, and a fun alternative experience that’s really quite affordable for a long weekend or a vacation.

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A KIDS Video Package

KIDS is our acronym for Keep it Dead Simple, and these are perfect for a dad who is considering dedicated video cameras. The kits consist of a video camera, monopod or tripod, a microphone for good audio, with instructions that have you up and running in a few simple steps. Perfect for recording a kid’s recital, birthday party, etc. OK, full disclosure: this is one thing on the list I haven’t taken home myself. But Tyler, who is a triple uber dad, takes one home about twice a week it seems. Because three daughters mean uncountable numbers of plays, performances, recitals and such.

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A Medium Format Kit

OK, this is the kind of thing that I’d like for a few days. Because medium format, that’s why. It’s the perfect “It will be really fun and interesting and probably save you thousands of dollars buying one” gift. Personally, I love shooting with medium format and making some awesome huge prints. For about 2 days. Then I remember how much more demanding it is on my limited photography skill set and decide my SLR is all the camera I need for another 6 months.

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A Leica M-D

Ah, harken back to the day when men were iron, ships were wood, persons wouldn’t write scathing comments about my using a gender-specific pronoun, and cameras didn’t have any of those fancy LCDs for reviewing what you shot. Nope, you set the ISO and the aperture, take your picture and take your chance, like a real photographer. Except, well, it’s still digital so you can bracket the heck out of everything and be pretty sure to get your shot.

If you can’t tell, I don’t really get this one, but every millennial that works here is certain their dad would love it, so I added it to my list. I will admit the little ISO dial on the back looks pretty cool. And actually, the people who have used it really like it. So, I’m probably just being an old curmudgeon. And yes, this is another thing on the list I haven’t tested myself.

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A Lens Package

These are really pretty fun and come at a nice discount compared to individual items. No matter what Dad shoots, there’s bound to be a package that interests him. There are over a dozen Canon shooter packages, including packages for portraiture, wildlife, even newborn shoots. I think my favorite, though, is the Zeiss lens package, which sends four of the best Zeiss lenses in Canon mount.

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The same kind of packages are available in Nikon mount.

Cool Stuff I Want That We Don’t Have (but the internet does)

OK, those other things are pretty cool, but I already have most of them, and I can check the rest out for a weekend as the perk they give me to work here. But here’s the stuff would I want for father’s day if I hadn’t already ordered it when I first saw it. BTW – I have linked to some for your convenience, but no I don’t care if you click on the link because I don’t get $0.02 when you do.

 

A Wooden Keyboard

I think it’s mainly the perversity of a piece of beautiful wood being blue tooth enabled that appeals to me. But I find this incredibly cool, and at $150 bucks reasonably priced. I mean, just think how long it takes to whittle those little keys.

A company called Oree Artisans makes them and is worth a visit, if only because they have some of the most nauseatingly syrupy ad copy I’ve seen since the last time I visited the Leica pages. Stuff like, “Built to endure; the patina of use will only reveal its timeless beauty.” Could be a Leica camera, could be a wooden keyboard. Pretty interchangeable.

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Image: Oree Artisans

 

Nova LED iPhone Flash

I’m like everybody else. I end up leaving the camera home and then wanting pictures from my iPhone. They’re generally fine for putting on social media except for, well, light. Nova is an LED flash that connects to your phone via blue tooth and using its own app, helps you get all those great night time selfies. And actually some other pretty cool shots.

Plus your iPhone can control up to 10 Nova flashes, which lets you do some pretty interesting lighting. OK, I wouldn’t do any real lighting with a 10-light array controlled by my phone. But I can think of, oh, about 32 pranks that I would do.

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Easy Model Release App

More useful than cool, but really handy and quite good. Your model signs on your iPhone or Android, it emails the release to you and them, and it’s approved by most photo agencies.

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 A Remote Shutter Release for Your Phone

This was overdue. Like most dad-aged people, I have some pride. You are not, I promise, ever going to see me sporting a selfie stick. Walking stick, maybe. But never a selfie stick. But a remote shutter release for my phone? OK, I’ll do that. And actually, be in a picture. It’s small enough to fit on your key ring and works with about every possible phone. One downside, this brand ships from Hong Kong so it may take a while if Amazon is out of stock, but there are several similar devices on Amazon. Because you didn’t read this till it was almost Father’s Day, did you?

 

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A Snap Cam

This is more for Dad’s with smaller kids, but a 1.5″ wearable camera that clips on a child’s shirt and streams video to your phone is awesome. Everybody’s got home movies of their kids, but not many have it from a kid’s eye level. Sure you could use a GoPro, people do all the time, but let’s face it, your kid looks pretty silly at the playground with a GoPro strapped to their head. This will fit in your pocket and has a nifty little magnetic clip so when the opportunity arises you just clip it to the child’s shirt and off they go. And honestly, years from now I bet it would be cool for your grown up kid to have a video talking to you, looking from their eye level.

SnapCam-Versions

 

 

And I Saved the Best for Last: Some Light Bulbs

Yes. This is it. The ultimate bestest father’s day gift. I think. For full disclosure, I haven’t used all of them yet, but I just spent the bulk of my kid’s inheritance buying about 30 of these for my new house. Sure, I know, everybody’s got ‘Wi-Fi controlled mood tinged LED lighting’ cool all through your house these days. But do you have ‘battery built in the bulb so if the power goes out it keeps working for hours’ cool? Do you have ‘Wi-Fi stereo speaker built into the bulb’ cool? Do you have ‘wireless HD video security camera built in the outdoor floodlight cool’? Do you have ‘Wi-Fi extender hub built into the bulb’ cool? Do you have ‘built in motion detector so the lights turn on when you walk in a room cool’? Yeah, I thought not. But LED lights from Sengled do. While I do think these are ultra awesome, I would caution that the video camera light, as you might expect, doesn’t work quite as well as I would hope. Yes, once again my life serves as a warning for what you shouldn’t do.

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So there you go! If your Dad already has everything on this list, then get him a card. But he doesn’t. Unless you’re Drew.

 

Roger Cicala

Lensrentals.com

May, 2014

 

A Look at the New Sigma MC-11 Lens Adapter

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We’ve recently received the Sigma MC-11 Sony E to Canon EF mount adapter which promises full autofocus functionality for 15 Sigma Art Lenses on Sony E-mount cameras. What the Sigma MC-11 brings to the table is the ability to use face detection, eye recognition, and the use of continuous phase detection autofocus in video mode. This means being able to use a third party lens just like you would a native FE mount lens, which is a new luxury that makes e-mount cameras even more versatile. It’s great news for Sony users that want a larger lens selection for video and stills but are not attracted to the limited capabilities and high failure rate of the Metabones adapters.

The Metabones adapters give a tempting promise of being able to use the larger Canon, Nikon, and Sony A- mount on smaller mounts like the micro 4/3 and Sony E-mount. Many times they work and provide aperture control and support image stabilization, but we have routine problems with these adapters that can be quite frustrating. The most common being a loss or lack of electronic connection between lens and camera, sometimes creating errors and freezing in the camera. The adapters also regularly have screws coming loose and other functional issues. We state a warning to customers on the individual product pages discouraging against relying on the adapter for the success of the shoot.

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We would like to find out how well the new Sigma MC-11 performs for video and stills shooters, and how it holds up over time. If it’s built well and works well shooting Sigma Art lenses we are happy. That alone really triples the number of fast AF primes. And when I asked Roger what he wanted from the adapter he told me, “I just want to be able to shoot a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 on an A7RII.” The Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 has a lot of sample variation and tends to be tilted, and Roger’s eyes are old and tired.  It also costs more than the Sigma 35mm and Mc-11 combined. Similar stories for the rest of the lineup, Sigma is beating out Sony either in optics, price, or selection, so the chance to use these on the Sony cameras is quite exciting.

Build Quality

The Sigma MC-11 is solid. The release knob is in a convenient and easy to reach spot and seems very well built. The adapter mounts to both camera and lens with ease and there is little no wiggle when a camera, adapter, and lens are all attached. Common problems we have had in the past with the build of the Metabones adapters are mount wiggle and failure of the release knob. The Sigma already seems to be a bit more rugged.

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Features

The MC-11 is compatible with 15 Sigma art lenses, and with these lenses the autofocus works much like if you were using a native E-mount lens, utilizing all focus points and face detection. Here is the list of compatible lenses from Sigma’s website:

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In the video below you can see a comparison between a Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 on an a7RII and a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 + Sigma MC-11 adapter on the same camera using the same settings. The autofocus on the camera itself isn’t the best for video, but both setups performed about the same, with the native mount lens coming out slightly ahead.

We also explored the exciting new opportunity to fill the current gap in the Sony FE lineup of super-telephoto length lenses. One of our photo techs, Nick, tried the adapter with a Sony a7RII camera and a Sigma for Canon 120-300mm. We again found that the adapter could keep up with the potential of the lens and camera’s capabilities.

Note: Because we have not had the adapter for very long we cannot give a realistic failure rate or say for sure that it won’t have the same connectivity issues that the Metabones has. You know the ones: no electronic connection, “please clean contacts”, no irising, oops now your entire camera has shut down. But, we haven’t had any problems so far.

Can I Use My Canon Glass?

Sigma states that the adapter is only to be used with Sigma brand lenses, but out of curiosity I tested a few Canon lenses to see what the adapter would support. I took a handle full of popular lenses and put only one copy of each on the adapter so the results I got may be different from what may happen with someone else in another situation.

I found that autofocus worked on all of the AF lenses that I tried. The focus modes and focus points were limited though, and the camera would not go into flexible one-point focus to use any of the points on the outer edges of the frame. The AF speed was good, and face detection was active. The image stabilization also worked fine with all three relevant lenses. I also tried a tilt-shift lens in full tilt and shift positions to check for vignetting and all is good. One lens that did give problems was the Canon 50mm f/1.2. The metering was way off causing the images to be overexposed. After going back later with a different copy of the lens the metering was fine, but I did notice that the aperture only opened to F/1.3. Same deal with the Canon 85mm f/1.2. And checking the Canon 50mm f/1.8 I found it opened up to f/1.7.

Why would this be? We aren’t really sure. Siggy just being weird. But in short, we can’t recommend you try anything but Sigma lenses with this adapter.

Sigma MC-11 or Metabones Adapter?

If you are shooting with Sigma glass the answer is pretty clear that you would want to use the MC-11. You may even want to switch to Sigma glass just to use it. The build quality is better, it supports the full range of AF modes, and with limited use but a trust in the Sigma brand, this adapter will likely be more reliable.

What I Liked

  • Full AF functionality
  • Opens up more super-telephoto options to E-mount shooters
  • Solid release lever and overall build quality

What Could be Improved

  • Limited compatibility

 

The Sigma MC-11 is an exciting companion to the impressive Sigma Art Series lenses. The technology is great, and would be even more useful if made compatible with other brands. It’s built well, brings more lens options to E-mount users, and seems to work really well. I’m excited to see what future firmware updates bring, and for now this will be my choice adapter.

 

Sarah McAlexander

June, 2016