Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Tag: zeiss

The Exhibition at the old Hospital and the Zeiss Touit 12mm for X-Pro1

View of Val di Chiana from the Old Hospital

View of Val di Chiana from the Old Hospital

I’ll be honest, I’m not that much of a super wide guy. My preferred focal length is just a little wider than normal view. The 28mm to 35mm is pretty perfect for me. Back in May, I got two lenses from Zeiss to try out, the 35 1.8 and 12mm 2.8 Touit lenses. I walked with the 35 1.8 around NYC for a few weeks testing the lens before I passed it on to Gabe from Ruinism and wrote about it on my “Part 1” of the Zeiss Touit tests which can be found here in this earlier blog. I then began to shoot with the 12mm and actually had trouble making images I was excited about. It wasn’t that the gorgeous lens was anything less than a great optic, it was I who had issue with the lens. For those who follow my blog, its not just words, the images have to back up what I’m saying. The environments that I was testing the lens in were just not coexisting and the lens wasn’t working for me. Well, all that changed yesterday when I took the 12mm and mounted it on my trusty Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the aim of checking out some exhibitions at the Cortona On the Move Photo Festival in Italy. All of the images are shot using the 12mm 2.8 at ISO Auto 1600, color shots are Velvia Film Sim Mode unless I chose the B&W Y mode (I used film sim bracketing so I was able to capture it all).

Study in the geometry of Composition in Tuscany

Study of the geometry of Composition in Tuscany

This photo festival is really unlike any other that ever existed before. Taking place is Cortona Italy, a hilltop medieval city made famous lately by the Frances Mayes book, “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Mayes tells the tale of being an expat American and finding herself while rebuilding a Tuscan villa) the festival consists of a series of exhibitions that are found in odd locations throughout the city. By using spaces that are currently unused or abandonded, the festival curates photography with a theme of movement, travel and exploration. It’s a super cool way to explore the old city and see some photography and also, gain entry to spaces that would otherwise not be available.

The festival for the second time was able to procure the old hospital and transform it to a gallery featuring edgy and stimulating photographers as well as a retrospective look at the now defunct Newsweek magazine. For me, hospitals are associated with death, and I found it fitting that Newsweek (which ended publication in December of 2012) a perfect fit to showcase multiple news themes that it was known for, along with some of the brightest documentary shooters. Indeed, the exhibition is aptly titled, “An Autopsy”. RIP Newsweek.

Crowd sourced installation where readers of La Republica were asked to submit photos taken prior to 1999

Crowd sourced installation where readers of La Republica were asked to submit photos taken prior to 1999

I have a new hero, Zed Nelson, who over 5 years shot in 18 countries across 5 continents the diaspora of western concepts of beauty being exported as a new manifestation of aesthetic globalization. His work is akin to Lauren Greenfield and Erwin Olaf but has a technical savvy and execution I was moved by. The room that Zed is displayed in has wide-open windows that over look the city and the valley below. Visitors are torn between looking at glass jar containing fat taken during a liposuction procedure and a view to die for. The dichotomy is exquisite.

Sol Neelman is a North West photographer who couldn’t cut it as a jock, and became a photographer. His are larger than life shots of extreme and weird sports. The subject matter is instantly interesting and his timing for the camera frame impeccable. I look forward to purchasing his book of the complete project, the exhibition left me wanting more.

Salvatore Santoro documentary of his childhood home and despotic local of Campania was what I felt the weakest of the exhibitions, yet still the spirit of the festival pervades the curation of work. While Salvatore’s work is solid, the subject matter is sad and the locations simply run down from the effects of mafia and pollution. I preferred to look at weird sports and go back in history with the covers of Newsweek.

The 12mm super wide lets you explore space unlike a normal view.

The 12mm super wide lets you explore space unlike a normal view.

The crazy Italian photographer I met at Photo Show Milan, Antonio Manta led a workshop at the opening of the festival. This wild spirit and master printer always works with a quirky twist on his portraiture and his workshop embodided that spirt. He set up a red carpet with an inspired throne in front of the signature building in Cortona, the Palazo del Comune and had his class photograph tourists and while choosing the theatre location for the Cortonesi (locals) to be photographed. A selection from his class is on exhibit and shows the organic nature of the festival, work from students attending on display.

Charlatan

I loved how with the use of Newsweek large proofs the festival was able to make a political commentary on thier home country and the world at large. Seeing a Tim Hetherington print as well reminded me what a genius we lost in Libya and I lament that we can’t have Tim’s eye look at current events any longer.

fallensign

Walking the corridors of old hospital and looking at great examples of photography is inspiring, but doing so with the super wide 12mm Zeiss Touit was the icing on the cake. I wanted to take it all in, not just a slice. What better way to examine it all than with a larger than life lens? After all the trying with the lens, I found its home in my bag, as I travel. All the shots in the blog entry are shot with the 12mm, I’ll let the images do the talking.

View3

The super wide is great at taking it all in, and perhaps if Cortona On The Move festival is about travel going places, then its official lens should be the Touit 12mm.

B&W  w/ Yellow Filter Film Sim mode

B&W w/ Yellow Filter Film Sim mode

David Brommer on August 22nd and 23rd will be conducting a Composition seminar in Cortona that is part classroom, part portfolio review, and part photo walk. A trip to the old hospital will be in order!

Steps leading to multiple levels of the exhibition

Steps leading to multiple levels of the exhibition

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Do it, Touit! New Zeiss Lenses for the Fujifilm X & Sony NEX Mount Part 1

Detail with tree of Orly Genger's Red, Blue and Yellow installation in Madison Sq. Park, NYC. 32 mm lens

Detail with tree of Orly Genger’s Red, Blue and Yellow installation in Madison Sq. Park, NYC. 32 mm lens

Last week I was privileged by Zeiss to test out a new line of lenses made for two Mirrorless digital camera systems; the Fujifilm X, and Sony NEX mounts. Being keen to mount Zeiss lenses on my XPro1 from my experience as both a Contax shooter in the 90’s and a Hassalblad shooter in the 2000’s is an understatement. I love Zeiss. Carl Zeiss was a German who pioneered lens manufacture in the 1840’s and is responsible for classic groupings of optics that would advance the image resolution of photography. It would be a truism to say, photography owes something Zeiss.

at the Zeiss Touit launch, Standard Hotel, NYC. Iphone.

at the Zeiss Touit launch, Standard Hotel, NYC. Iphone.

The new lenses have the silly and catchy name of Touit, named after a tropical parrot. Thus far they have released two lenses, a 32 mm f 1.8 and 12 mm f2.8. The plans to expand the system with a third lens, a 50 mm f2.8 macro are eminent. Further lenses will certainly follow. By this time, many blogs and review sites have posted info on the Zeiss Touits and I don’t want to repeat what has already been published, so I’ll just take you through my observations and work while I put the lenses to the task. As Richard Schleuning from Zeiss explained, these lenses were targeted towards “those that make photographs as opposed to those that take photographs”. I’m sure we could geek out on what that’s supposed to mean, but can agree that we most likely want to make photographs. By nature I’m a giver not a taker so that sits well with me. Thank you Richard, and Carl.

Spring afternoon in Madison Sq. Park. 32 mm

Spring afternoon in Madison Sq. Park. 32 mm

The lenses can be categorized as “luxury” lenses. They are made with a tactile consideration befitting a high end product. Beautiful matte black metal barrels and rubberized and recessed focus and aperture rings. Not bulky like the Fujifilm lenses and much more solid than the NEX system lenses, you can feel the quality build in your hands as well as in your wallet.

Matt Hill onstage at Paper Burlesque. 32 mm

Matt Hill onstage at Paper Burlesque. 32 mm

The 32 mm 1.8 Planar is the standard lens providing you with a 50 mm view on the APS-C size sensors. Counter that to the Fujifilm 35 mm 1.4. As I said before, the lens feels and looks great on the camera. I found the focus to be as fast if not slightly faster than the Fujifilm lens. The 32 mm comes with a large plastic lens hood, I prefer the slick and small Fujifilm metal hood to the Zeiss. Richard explained they chose plastic to keep weight down. When I tested the lens I went sans hood, the hood adds about 2.5 inches and I feel if your going Mirrorless, then go small.

Detail of stall on St. Marks Place NYC. 32 mm lens

Detail of stall on St. Marks Place NYC. 32 mm lens

After I made this image I really found the figure in the baseball cap off to the right annoying visually. I shot it at 1.8 and figured what if I had made that image with the Fujifilm lens that is a 2/3 stop faster. Would I have gotten more pleasing bokeh and thus have “blurred out” the unwanted figure?

NYWraiths

So I conducted a test by putting the camera on my trusty Oben carbon fiber tripod and shooting this still life in my apartment between the two lenses. I have uploaded a very large image so feel free to pixel peep. Also please feel free to comment which of the two lenses produced the look you like the most. Me, I have to say I love more blur that is attainable with the Fujifilm 35 1.4, but the 9 blade aperture on the Zeiss certainly does have a smooth and pleasant blur. Notice the harder edges of the green plant in the back ground as well as the embroidered skull. I do like the slightly wider field of view on the 32 mm. I also notice a color shift between the two lenses. I had a Lastolite 30″ 5 in 1 silver gold reflector off to camera right acting as a warm fill. The Fujifilm 35 mm seemed to

lens_comparison

Macro is superb with-out really being a macro lens. The 32 mm can focus down to 1.21 feet. Please consider the background of a macro shot, I think it is easy to get all caught up in the subject and then make a mistake in the background. I saw this purple flower in front of the pattern like bark of the tree and really concentrated on filling the background with the texture of the bark and being careful to not get anything but the tree in the background. The flower was easy, but man, look at that soft out of focus mottling of the bark. Yum.

Great rendition in macro range.

Great rendition in macro range.

The 1.8 rocks in low light when combined with the amazing low light capability of the Xpro1.

Paper Bulesque by Mat Hill. Dancer- Rosabelle Selavy. 32 mm f1.8 - 1/50 sec. ISO 1000 Center Meter, Tungsten

Paper Bulesque by Mat Hill. Dancer- Rosabelle Selavy. 32 mm f1.8 – 1/50 sec. ISO 1000 Center Meter, Tungsten

Thus far I’m impressed with the lenses. They do cost about 1/3 more than the all ready fairly expensive Fujifilm X lenses. Are they worth it? Stay tuned for part two, where we will see more of the 12 mm lens and some low light tests. Please don’t forget to add your comments on the 35 mm Fuji vs. the 32 mm Zeiss comparison.

~David

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