The Sony A7II with the Zeiss C Sonnar f1.5 50mm ZM lens

This is just a quick post to share my experience with the above combination. The Sony A7II is the second iteration of a very successful line of mirrorless full frame cameras. Main improvements over its predecessor are: a larger grip – thus better ergonomics, at least for me; a more robust build (the camera features more metal in its chassis); and of course, IBIS (image stabilization via the sensor, so all lenses can benefit). Two things are a bit of a let-down: loud shutter noise, and lack of touch screen.

But most importantly, the camera handles beautifully in the field, where it counts. I use it for documentary, street, and travel photography, with a trusty Zeiss C Sonnar f1.5 50mm ZM lens. This is Leica M mount lens, and as such, it requires an adapter to be used on the A7 (I have opted for the Novoflex adapter, solid and reliable). Much has been said about this lens, basically people hate it or love it; I am in the latter camp, otherwise I would not be using it, right?

The lens renders in its own special way: (near) wide open it delivers a “softer” and “dreamier” look in the areas that are not in focus, with a rapid and smooth transition between your subject and the background. Stopped down, the sharpness increases over the image area, but in the corners, the image is perhaps not sharp enough for “sharpness crazies”. To me, it is more than enough, and I am quite happy with it.

Of course the lens is not auto-focus, but manual focusing with the A7II is a breeze, thanks to some assisting tools. These are focus peaking and zoom/magnification of the user selected focusing area. The lens itself has a “true” manual focus ring, smooth as butter, plus an aperture ring; really “old school”.

Finally, I post some images taken with this combination, from Lisbon, Fatima sanctuary, and Batalha monastery.

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The Grand Mosque of Muscat, Oman

The Grand Mosque in Muscat (Oman) is one of the “must see” spots of the city. The best times to photograph are at dawn and dusk, but these do not overlap with public visiting hours (8 – 11 am). So, when the light is more interesting, you are limited to take photos from the outside; this is still interesting, and makes for some nice photographs.

To photograph the interior of the Mosque, as well as its environs (gardens and surrounding complex), it is better to arrive at 8 am, to still have some interesting light (during winter), and avoid the crowds. Inside the Mosque, there is a pathway that you must follow, but still, some interesting photos can be taken. Also worth documenting are the various archways (which provide interesting viewpoints) and the several styles of ceramic tiles. It makes for a very interesting learning and photographic experience. A wide angle lens, or wide angle zoom, is recommended to photograph the Mosque.

At the end of the day, you can then relax and unwind in the beach front of the city, even trying your luck at football!

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