#472. Ze Workshop day 3. Let biogons be biogons (plus Sony G-Master 85/1.4 preview)

By pascaljappy | News

Apr 10

Day 3, already. And what a day. As I write these few words, disorienting amounts of Gamay-tasting Shiraz molecules are disrupting my nervous system, making each keyboard stroke as easy as juggling in space.


We have just left legendary restaurant Bouillon Chartier to conclude a very unusual day of photography and I couldn’t be more chuffed.

Today was special. Due to exhaustion, some of us (me included, I am ashamed to admit) skipped the early morning session to focus on late (as in 8 AM) street photography, while the brave left at 6 AM to photograph sunrise at Le Louvre.

DSC00585We split the day into two parts. Freestyle in the morning, model shoot in the arvo.

While two very different stories unfolded during the wee hours (the braves reaping the colourful benefits of their early rise bravery, while we lazies roamed the interesting back alleys behind the Grands Boulevards) most of us pushed ourselves away from our comfort zones to tackle new styles of photography and tackle the environment in ways that feel unnatural and, sometimes, scary.

For me, that meant real street photography. Not the hiding-behind-a-long-lens type of shy approach but a close-combat 25mm Biogon way of the samurai. That resulted in a subtle blend of bliss and pants-threatening stress. This is me trying to emulate Paul’s natural close-up style. On the streets.


Interestingly, this was a re-uniting with a long-lost friend: the Zeiss Biogon 25/2.8 ZM. I owned and loved that lens in the days of my Nex-5n ownership, then sold it when the Sony A7 series was released because some wannabee Internet pundit declared it unfit on the new Sony full-frame cameras. While this may have been true with the A7r, I hope the photographs on this page (all of which, except those of our model, are made with that lens) help dispell the myth for the more recent generation of imagers.

It’s hard to overstate how much of a cookie that lens really is. It is remarkably affordable used, tiny, beautifully built and just *so simple* to use. It feels like having an autofocus that actually works, doesn’t hunt, and really knows where you (not a silicom brain with the IQ of an earth-worm) think the important parts of the photographs really are.DSC00645DSC00665DSC00683DSC00687DSC00688DSC00737DSC00756DSC00760DSC00762DSC00769For the afternoon, we headed to Palais Royal to tackle a type of photography very few of had any experience with: portrait.


Yay me, I have a pigeon on my head!

Our model was great. Our requirements were rather strict. Beauty alone was far from enough, we really needed a model who could handle herself without expert directions (although some of us turned out to be surprisingly good at that). She was just perfect! If you are ever in Paris and want to experience the thrill of fashion shooting in a fantastic setting, give her a call. Thanks to her!
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Before our final get together at Chartier’s, we headed to a vintage car exhibition held in Drouot and this lovely vintage Roller waiting outside Palais Royal was an unexpected bonus.DSC00889DSC00900DSC00907DSC00921

As usual, here are contributions (a tiny selection from a ton of superb shots) from the workshop members. Guys, thanks again for sharing.

But, before I leave you, here is a brief preview of a guest gear star we had today: the new Sony Master-G 85/1.4 lens. Here are a few sample shots with this during a brief test period. I shot an aperture series with my OTUS 85 and with the Sony to compare the two. Watch this space for more on the subject 🙂

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  • David says:

    Delightful series from Paris so far. Wishing I were there with you guys. Next time.

  • Sean says:

    Hi Pascal,

    A terrific, rewarding and interesting post here.

    I have been heartened to see that the (Zeiss) 25mm Biogon gets such a positive mention.

    I have the ZM version of the Zeiss 25mm Biogon lens and it’s one of the best I feel. Both my wife and I recently spent some time in Italy and Greece, and I can attest that this lens was used 99.5% of the time. The lens never failed to amaze in terms of practical usefulness and image quality. It’s proof positive that if a conscious decision is made regarding lens choice the resulting images will be spectacular and satisfying.

    This particular post is proof positive of what I have suspected and experienced from owning and using this fine lens.

    Lastly, it certainly appears that these DearSusan ‘Workshops’ are valuable, enjoyable and rewarding on all levels.

    Great work and a great read.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks a lot, Sean.

      It’s probably fair to say the biogon 25/2.8 ZM is not technically perfectly matched to the Sony cameras. But the look produced by this combination is so wonderful when the stars a lign, that I think it’s really worth tolerating a few fails.

      The workshop was fabulous (if I say so myself 😉 ) and hope we can meet on one such occasion.


  • Peter says:

    Hi, just wondering if the top series of model shots were taken with a Zeiss 85mm Batis, seem to look very different to the bottom series on the 85 GM?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Peter, one set of (my) model photos were made with an 85 GM and the rest with an OTUS 85. The GM looks slightly more gentle and pale. Hope this helps (more lengthy review in preparation).

      • Peter says:

        Thank you, the Zeiss renders much more pleasant to me. The Sony looks too clinical and edgy if that makes sense, though I don’t suppose I should draw any conclusions on just one set of images. Must say though the Otus ones are beautiful.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Any chance of seeing some of the meta data for the shots you’re all taking? So everyone can see what difference it makes, using different gear on similar subjects? Or is it too much of a pain, with everything else involved in the workshop?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Pete, Steve was using Olympus cameras and lenses only. Paul had a pair of Fuji cameras with a Zeiss Biogon 25 and two Fuji lenses. The Biogon wasn’t used during the model session. Philippe used exclusively his Sony A7r2 and Sony Master G 85/1.4 and I had the same camera with the OTUS 85 (except for the photos in the GM 85 section). Not as good as metadata, but I hope it helps 🙂

  • Melvin Whartnaby says:

    Thank you for the updates from Day 3 of LeWorkshop (although I hungered for more images from inside Bouillon Chartier as sensors mixed it up with Shiraz). I admired many images but my fav is Paul’s B&W photo of the shadowy figure on the side street and the distant woman etched in light. The photo feels timeless, just as easily shot with a Leica in the 1950’s as a Fuji today. Like exceptional street photography, the image suggests a story but doesn’t tell it. Is it Peter Lorre in “M”? Or perhaps the spy hasn’t yet come in from the cold.

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