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 This Month's Newsletter


Neptune Photo Newsletter


January 2020 Volume 96
by Steve Zimic




Laowa Lenses

This company is making some mighty fine glass that you may not have heard about. None of their lenses have any electrical contacts or auto focus, which is perhaps why they’re so reasonably priced. They seem to be making lenses that fill a vacancy that other manufacturers have missed. One example - which I happen to own - is their 7.5mm f2.0 for micro four thirds, their first lens. This tiny little gem is a true work of art in my opinion. The build quality and optical performance is outstanding, and it’s the world’s fastest ultra wide rectilinear lens for micro 4/3. One of their latest lenses is the 15mm f2.0 for mirrorless full frame cameras. This lens is only available in Sony FE, Nikon Z or Canon RF mounts. And then there’s the 12mm F2.8 available for any DSLR which claims to have virtually zero distortion and is so named Zero-D. There’s even a dedicated 100mm square filter holder specifically designed for this lens that sells for only $70. If you’re into intense macro, there’s a 25mm f2.8 ultra macro for any DSLR that goes from 2.5 to 5 times life size for $399. If you’re a micro 4/3 user and would like to experiment with a true circular fisheye lens, they just released the 4mm f2.8 fisheye for a mere $199. I received mine last week and again, the build quality and optical performance are stunning.

There are lots of other unique and interesting lenses to explore on the Venus Optics website. There’s even up to a $100 instant rebate on some of their lenses so ask your Neptune representative to order one for you soon - by Jan 4th 2020.





The Quickest Way to Improve your Photography


Join a camera club. Long Island is filled with camera clubs, close to 20 in both Nassau and Suffolk. I struggled with my photography until someone I met while out shooting at Jones Beach suggested I join a camera club. That was 35 years ago and I’ve been a member of one club or another ever since.


Sure, you can post your images on Facebook or wherever and get a bunch of likes, but it’s rare to get any constructive criticism that will help you make better images. A camera club allows you to share your images and get constructive criticism from someone likely to be more experienced than yourself. Plus you’ll get to see what other members present and why their images work well or not. Maybe you’ll see a style of image that you’re really taken with. Just ask them how they did that. Most members are more than willing to share their techniques either in capture or in post processing. Plus if you have an issue with a particular feature of your camera, you can just ask who might be able to help you - easy. In addition to sharing images there’s usually a monthly meeting devoted to entertainment or instruction on a specific genre by one of the more experienced members.


For the cost of a couple of filters you get to join for a whole year, which is guaranteed to deliver the best bang for the buck in improving your photography. Plus, you might make some really good friends, which is great for the soul. You can find a list of most Long Island clubs on the Photographic Federation of Long Island website.





Is the DSLR Dead?


With Nikon and Canon both finally entering the realm of full frame mirrorless cameras, one has to wonder what will eventually become of mirrored DSLRs. 


The design of the SLR was first patented in 1861 but didn’t become mainstream until the 1960s. Unlike the popular rangefinder camera, you could now put any lens on the camera, accurately focus and compose while looking through the lens - wow. The only downside was that you never really knew how the image turned out until the film was developed. The digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera of course solves that problem with its instant playback.


The physical difference between a DSLR and the film version is minor, so manufacturers used the same lens mount when switching to digital. However when you remove the mirror from the camera, that changes the physical constraints entirely, since now the lens can be attached much closer to the image sensor. That difference allows lens designers much more freedom to create smaller lenses in some cases, and better optical performance. Both Sony and Olympus realized this early on and changed to a new lens mount . Sadly, both Nikon and Canon waited way too long to make the change.


Auto focus has been around for quite a few years now, but mirrorless cameras focus differently than their DSLR counterparts. The auto focusing is incorporated into the image sensor, rather than using a less accurate separate focusing sensor found on DSLR cameras. Up until quite recently the king of accurate auto focus with subject tracking was held by the DSLR. This feature alone made the DSLR the camera of choice for action photography. However Nikon, Canon and especially Sony have made huge advances in this area in their mirrorless cameras, to the point where there’s little difference if any. I think improving the auto focus performance in mirrorless cameras is where you’ll see the biggest change going forward, even if it’s just via a firmware update. A case in point is that Nikon has announced development of a mirrorless version of their top sports camera, the D5. It wouldn’t surprise me if they call it the Z5.


Only time will tell how many DSLRs we’ll see in the future, but I venture that their days are severely numbered.


Firmware Updates


Canon EOS R - version 1.6.0 - Adds support for the new 85mm f1.2 L USM DS lens, along with a fix for a number of bugs.



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