Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC on a Sony A7

Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC on a Sony A7

When I was looking at cashing in my trusty Pentax dslr cameras and buying one of these new fangled Sony A7 things I spent some time searching the interweb for a usable ultra/super wide angle lens. I already had a Sigma 10-20mm (on a PK mount) but didn’t know if this crop sensor lens would be any good. After much ebay activity, frustration, crushing disappointment and a small amount of attempted fraud (not on my part I hasten to add) I sold nearly all of my equipment apart from the Sigma. So I ponied up for the appropriate adapter (in this case the Fotodiox PK to NEX with aperture control!) and carefully shoved it onto the front of my (nearly) brand new Sony.

The first few shots were terrible. Huge vignetting, smeary corners, terrible contrast and a small feeling of self loathing for selling my perfectly functional Pentax.

But after some extremely accurate, scientifically based guessing I found some okay images in amongst the ruins…

 

As you can see, stopped down the corners have some smearing but focus is pretty good from foreground to the horizon. The colours tend to be washed out and contrast is low in difficult light. Wide open the colours and contrast are better.

I think the sweet spot as far as focal length goes is between 14 and 17mm. The vignetting gets horrible beyond those points and below 14mm the distortion looks like you’re slipping into a time vortex.

 

 

Here’s a before and after lightroom. This is at 15mm at f22 to get the best sunstars available on this lens. There is always some cropping to be done but in these middle focal lengths it is pretty sharp and easy to remove.

 

 

Overall I think the results are okay. The downsides are lack of specific aperture control (the Fotodiox is well made in my opinion but the aperture ring has no clicks or marks so it’s a bit of guess for anything that isn’t wide open or closed up). Focus to infinity seems fine but the corners do get a bit more smeary than on the Pentax (they were never crystal).

In conclusion: I love the Sony A7 for many reasons, mostly when using it with lightweight, vintage lenses (such as the Asahi Pentax 28mm/f2.8 and the 50mm/f1.7) which I will get into in a later post. I think I will keep hold of the Sigma until I can afford to try something smaller and lighter (see Phillip Reeves’s blog for lots of great ideas). Also: less lens weight in your bag means more room for chocolate muffins, especially good in emergency ‘hangry’ situations…

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Surf city Portugal

Surf city Portugal

Peniche is definitely one of the wonders of the surfing world. Beaches that look to three points of the compass, the incomparable Supertubos, the learners paradise of Baleal and the ‘North Shore’ with a thousand strips of reef pointing straight out to sea. There is always a wave and very often an offshore wind.

 

Having said that, it is also a zoo. Hundreds of hungry surf students all gagging to catch their share of the wave selection. Dozens of surf schools, hire companies and surf ‘camps’. The carnage in the water can be frustrating and at times dangerous.

But if you get up early enough, walk far enough and stay fit enough you can still find a wave to yourself…

 

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By the roadside…

By the roadside…

Poppy season has been and gone. A fleeting burst of scarlet that lines the roads of central Portugal. Every year I say to myself – “I must stop and take some pictures!”

 

Either I have no camera (see ‘Photography for Dummies’ page 1 for advice on that.) or I’m ‘in a bit of a rush’. No time apparently just to stop for a few minutes and engage in the wonder of nature and try and capture that beautiful splash of amazing colour and form with the technological miracle that is the digital camera.

 

So it was definitely time to stop and smell the roses. Metaphorically speaking.

This one isn’t a poppy. But it does have a nice bug on it…

 

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When life gives you lemons…

When life gives you lemons…

 

There are a thousand articles out there in the great wide web-world about ‘what to do when you lose inspiration with your photography’. How do you find your photo-mojo? Where can you find the source of that elusive element that helps you click that button?

Most of these articles will include the phrase ‘look in your own backyard’. This could lead you through the kitchen, past the utility area, out of your back door and into an introspective journey into the motivational attributes of your daily search for the perfect capture of light, life and the very soul of photographical representations of the World around you.

Or (alternatively) you could see a nice lemon.

I haven’t lost my inspiration but I have just looked in my own backyard. The spring crazed wisteria is pushing out tiny leaves like crazy, last years lemons are ready for picking, slicing and soaking in their gin and tonic bath and this years are coming on nicely.

 

Also the freaky spider (featured image at top) that lives in the middle of the lemon tree has decided to opt for ‘new lemon green’ as this years ‘regalia de rigeur’.

Not only has it changed colour to suit the new crop but seems to have developed ‘lemony’ dimples to make it even more difficult to spot.

Nature is pretty weird and inspirational…

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The colour of spring

The colour of spring

After an easy start to the winter the garden was briefly conned into thinking that it might be time to wake up from its slumberous state. Then storm Imogen (a formidable beast) rattled through bringing an onslaught of precipitation based pestilence followed by some beautiful cold, clear days. At the moment most of the intrepid blooms are still hanging in there. Personally; I’m going inside to put on my thermal pants and some kind of woolly hat device…

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The pigeon lady

The pigeon lady

This wonderful lady takes up residence on the steps of ‘O Mosteiro dos Jerónimos’ (Jeronimos Monastry) every day to feed the pigeons and relieve the tourists of a few euros.
Most of them are too busy waving their selfie sticks around to notice her but a few catch her eye and help with the bird feed fund.

This is a photo from early last year but I thought it deserved another outing to help the new blog look a little less scantily clad…

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Surfers at Lagide in Peniche

Surfers at Lagide in Peniche

I’m not the best surfer on the planet: I started exceedingly late in life (the spritely young age of 32 years – at least 30 years too late) and have somewhat stifled my surfing ‘career’ by carelessly living in the mountains.

None of this means that I don’t love throwing myself in the sea whenever the opportunity arises. However it does slightly limit my abilities and reduce my general ‘surf’ fitness levels (there are only two things that keep you fit enough to surf. And one of them is surfing).

So, when the surf is exceedingly large and scary I like to get my camera out and shoot the real surfers launching themselves down the front of big mountains of water. Storm Imogen has just hit Portugal and Lagide (on the ‘Silver Coast’ of Portugal) was the only place sheltered enough to get some makeable waves. It was a wet and moody day but that didn’t stop my friend Toby (some of my best friends are bodyboarders!) from paddling out…

 

The next day, when things were getting slightly out of control weather wise we decided to take a short drive up the coast to Nazare (a World renowned big wave spot) to see if anybody was crazy enough to take it on. Sure enough Mick Corbett (he’s Australian!) was in the water…

 

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