Making the move from Fuji to Sony about 8 years ago was one of the best moves I’ve made in photography. The images that I got from the Fuji were great, but the increased sensor size of the Sony A7 is something else. The images are incredibly detailed, sharp and have a huge depth of colour.
The Sony A7 was matched up with a manual Voigtlander lens. It was the perfect set-up as it took up almost no space, and I could get pictures I had previously struggled to take. Previously, on the Fuji, my autofocus lens would frequently hunt back and forth, looking to focus the image. After an age of to-ing and fro-ing, it would be focused, but the moment had passed. And, in photography, it is all about the moment. At first, adjusting to the slower pace of manual focusing took some time. Still, soon I discovered the immense control and creative freedom it offered.
Embracing Manual Focus
Using manual focus has forced me to slow down and be more deliberate with my compositions. This new approach has led to a deeper connection with my subjects and a better understanding of the nuances of photography.
Having used the Fuji X-Pro for a few years, I was impressed with these new mirrorless cameras. They weighed less and made a lot less noise when taking pictures. As street photography was something I was interested in, as well as taking photographs of landscapes, moving to Sony and its full-frame cameras, I could take even higher quality images.
The reason for moving to a manual lens was down to a couple of features that stood out, and they were: Focus Magnification and Focus Peaking. Making one of the custom buttons a focus shortcut lets you quickly zoom into the image. With the help of focus peaking, you can see what parts of the image are in focus. The Fuji could do this, but it seemed that the Sony had taken it to a new level. Also reliability issues with the Fuji, with both problems suffered with the lens and the body, helped reinforce the decision to switch.
But the Sony was a step up from my Fuji X-Pro1. However, a year or two later, Sony was bringing out its next iteration, meaning the original A7R was now discounted. And with a couple of eBay sales of various bits of lenses and old film cameras that I was no longer using, I was able to pick up a new Sony A7R.
The Journey to Loxia Zeiss
All was well with the Voigtlander lens, and having a camera that took super high-quality images that didn’t require a suitcase of attachments to be dragged around, was a bonus. The only drawback was that the lens didn’t give me any EXIF information about the lens settings. The camera would tell me the shutter speed, but I have no record of the f-aperture or lens length for all those images I took with the Voigtlander.
The Loxia Zeiss lens is specifically designed for Sony’s E-mount mirrorless cameras, like the Sony A7R. It offers exceptional image quality, build, and ergonomics. On the Loxia range of lenses, when you start to focus the lens, the image automatically zooms to allow precise focusing without setting up a custom shortcut button. Making the workflow faster again. But the selling point for me was that the lens information is transferred, so the f-aperture and lens length is captured and written into the EXIF settings.
But, buying brand new Zeiss Loxia lenses isn’t cheap, and these retail for £1250+. Buying from eBay wasn’t an option. I’d bought and sold for years, and a single fraudulent transaction where I was duped out of a sale of a computer encouraged me to look elesewhere, especially as PayPal sided with the guy who committed the fraud. I’ve not used either eBay or PayPal since. I then found www.MPB.com, a site specialising in second-hand lenses and camera equipment. I saw on their site a Loxia 50mm lens that was less than half the price of a new lens. It came with a 6-month warranty and a 14-day return. So, I bought a 50mm lens, which looked like new when it arrived. I guess manual lenses aren’t for everyone.
The Results Speak for Themselves
The image quality produced by the Loxia Zeiss lens is truly remarkable. The sharpness, colour rendition, and contrast have taken my photos to a new level. The lens’s ability to render beautiful bokeh and emphasise my subject has allowed me to create previously unattainable images with my autofocus lenses.
Purchasing a second-hand Loxia Zeiss lens for my Sony A7R has been a game-changer in my photography journey. The combination of outstanding image quality and the challenges and rewards of manual focus has profoundly affected my image capture approach. I am now more mindful of my compositions, more in tune with my subjects, and more capable of producing striking photographs. If you want to elevate your photography and develop a deeper connection with your art, give a manual focus lens, like the Loxia Zeiss, a try.