Over the past few weeks, two new 100mm lenses have been announced and alarmingly stretched my zygomaticus : the super duper Zeiss Otus 100 f/1.4 and the intriguing Laowa 100/2.8 Macro Apo. In many ways the two are similar, in many ways they are polar opposites.
The Otus is a surprise because an 85mm version of the lens already exists. And, according to Ming Thein, myself and many observers, not only is that possibly the best of the 3 existing Oti, it’s also one of the best lenses out there, period. So it’s really difficult to understand the positioning decision for the 100. Who, unconvinced by the 85 would be swayed by it? And who already owning the 85 will elect to spend 5 large on the extra 17% of reach?
It makes you wonder whether focal length has anything to do with the new release. Zeiss marketing mentions robustness and reliability (which is not reassuring for owners of the previous 3, btw). It also alludes to medium format photography. And ultimate image quality. As exceptionnal as I’m sure the lens is in every conceivable way, it’s difficult not to find the launch a little confusing and defensive. Still, though, yum …
In the opposite corner, and at 10% of the price, the new Laowa 100/2.8 couldn’t have a more explicit core benefit : a 2:1 macro abilty. Apochromatic correction and high optical quality only contribute to make this new Venus Optics lens a very desirale proposition.
I’m seriously tempted. By both lenses, but more particularly by the Laowa. While the Otus 100 might push the optical quality of the 85 that little bit further, initial comparison tests online also make it look a little harder edged. The Laowa, on the other hand, appears to have the most poetic rendering. And, having recently fallen for small environmental portraints with my 120 Macro, the prospect of a 2:1 ratio is mezmerising.
So far, my requests for review loans have met with enthusiastic silence by both manufacturers, thank you very much, so this might be the end of that. But stay tuned, you never know.
A brief reminder to all about the May photo challenge entitled “Loved ones”. If you missed the announcement or my prose was unclear, here’s the gist of it again.
It’s easy for us to photograph plenty of stuff we love (a tree, a house, a person, a dog, a mountain …) but much more difficult to convey in the photographs that sensation of admiration and attachment. Viewers unaware of your bond might just think “yup, that’s a dog, that’s a tree, why am I looking at that, exactly?”. Even if the photograph is technically well executed.
When you are really attached to something or somewhere, the familiarity that has developed over time can sometimes make it through to the photograph. That’s what we are looking for in this challenge. And, again, it’s very difficult. Particularly to advanced photographers who have learned to recognise shape and composition and light and who could craft a good photograph rather than an emotionally charged one, like a beginner might. To be honest, I don’t know even where to start myself …
So let me once again refer to some of the happiest moments in recent years with a kitten before it was taken away from us too soon and too brutally.
You can also send photographs of loss. For example the stump of that loved tree, if it was chopped down. The same conditions apply: feelings count more than technique.
If you send photographs of people, please make sure you have their explicit permission to publish photographs of them and send it to me with the photographs. We live in a strange old world, these days. Otherwise, please send me (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) your photos of locations, animals, objects … anything that won’t cause trouble 😉
But, enough love around here! Let’s talk about important stuff, manly stuff. Let’s talk about pixels, while we pound our chests! Isn’t it great to know so many more are on their way? Pixels, that is, not chests. In a brief roundup of rumours, mirrorlessrumors recently revealed the full extent of the sensor inflation to come in 2019. Fuji and Hassy: +100%. Canon > 100% … Oh my! Time to buy Intel and Sandisk stock, I’m telling you. And Xanax.
Meanwhile, the megaton woolly mammoth in the room, the smartphone, only mentions pixels in passing, focusing on convenience, envelope expanding innovation, fun, ease of use, integration …
This is actually getting hilarious. The more photographers are leaving the room, the louder the dinosaurs are roaring their old routine: “pixels, pixels, we have pixels”.
In a few months, when the damage is done and the status quo is once again reestablished, ISO will again be the emperor’s new groove, then FPS, then AF speed, ’til we’ve come full circle again. Like it’s 2006 all over.
In the past, we have seen Kodak invent the technology that would bankrupt it, we heard of poor Edward John Smith and 1500 other people dying because of a snubbed iceberg and iffy rivets. We are now seing what coporate greed can do to airliners and their passengers.
But, in all that dark history, I don’t recall anyone actually begging so eagerly for a wall in which to slam at full blast. It’s almost amusing to watch it unfold, that slo mo crash. Or it would be if so many workers didn’t rely on those companies for food and shelter.
Oh well … I guess the quality vs quantity farce is here to stay a little longer 😉
A happy week to you !
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