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Sony, Leica and Zeiss in the Mykonos sun

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  In ultra-narrow streets, getting far enough away from the subject can be a problem. The shot would have been near impossible using a manual Leica with its 70mm minimum focus distance. Even if physically possible, it would have been hard to focus on a moving subject in the difficult circumstances. Taken with the Zeiss f/2.8 35mm Sonnar as the driver passed, just a few seconds after the oncoming shot shown below.
In ultra-narrow streets, getting far enough away from the subject can be a problem. The shot would have been near impossible using a manual Leica with its 70mm minimum focus distance. Even if physically possible, it would have been hard to focus on a moving subject in the difficult circumstances. Taken with the Zeiss f/2.8 35mm Sonnar as the driver passed, just a few seconds after the oncoming shot shown below.
  The narrow streets of Mykonos town are closed to all traffic except the odd delivery moped and a weird and wonderful collection of ancient and modern three-wheeled delivery trucks. This is one of the old
The narrow streets of Mykonos town are closed to all traffic except the odd delivery moped and a weird and wonderful collection of ancient and modern three-wheeled delivery trucks. This is one of the old ‘uns, driven by the unfailingly friendly Giorgos who passes me every day during my walk into town. He spends his day collecting and delivering through the narrow streets. This street is actually a fairly wide example for Mykonos old town, with ample room for tables as well as passing traffic . No overtaking, though, unless you want a plate of penne carbonara in your face

This Easter I packed light. Instead of a bagful of cameras and lenses I chose sparingly. I took the full-frame Sony A7r because it is a very light at 465 grams, lighter even than the Olympus OM-D EM-1 with its quarter-the-size Micro Four Thirds sensor. I wanted to finish my test of the Sony the camera and a two-week break offered the opportunity.

At first I decided to bring just the featherweight Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2.8 ZA lens—it tips the scale at only 120 grams. It is the only native EF-mount lens I have been able to sample. In the end I couldn’t resist adding the Novoflex E-M adapter and a couple of Leica primes: A 50mm Summicron ASPH and the great 90mm APO-Summicron. And, just in case, I threw in the tiny Leica C for those moments when I didn’t want to carry a big camera. It weighs nothing anyway. I am having a blast and have enjoyed getting to grips for the first time with the Zeiss Sonnar as well as giving the Leica glass a good run for its considerable money.

The choice of lenses turned out to be a good one. The lightweight f/2.8 Zeiss is a heavyweight in performance and, frankly I have not missed either the f/2 or f/1.4 Leicas, but then I haven’t been doing any low-light photography in these sunny conditions. Both the longer Summicrons have pleased, as always, with their sharpness and overall excellence. In fact, I see little difference between the results from these lenses whether they are used on Leica or Sony.

The Zeiss Sonar impresses. Autofocus speed is good, not as fast as the best such as that in the Olympus OM-D, but plenty slick enough for street work and for a photographer who is more used to leisurely manual focus lenses. I also appreciate the minimum focus distance of 35cm compared with the 70cm of the Leica 50mm Summicron and the 100cm of the APO ninety. In the header shot to this article, given the very narrow street, I would have been hard pressed to capture the profile shot of the three-wheeler driver as he passed.

 

  Nikos, barman at Porto Ornos, Mykonos. The 90mm APO-Summicron is a classic portrait lens and works well on the Sony A7r. Monochrom conversion of this shot in Silver Efex Pro. 
Nikos, barman at Porto Ornos, Mykonos. The 90mm APO-Summicron is a classic portrait lens and works well on the Sony A7r. Monochrom conversion of this shot in Silver Efex Pro. 
  Tourists from Japan and China seem to love the Aegean islands and invariably have some interesting camera gear to parade. This Canon-equipped snapper from Shanghai must have had a generous baggage allowance. Taken with the Zeiss 35mm and Sony A7r
Tourists from Japan and China seem to love the Aegean islands and invariably have some interesting camera gear to parade. This Canon-equipped snapper from Shanghai must have had a generous baggage allowance. Taken with the Zeiss 35mm and Sony A7r
  The compact and light Leica 50mm Summicron ASPH also makes a good fist of portrait photography and is the cat
The compact and light Leica 50mm Summicron ASPH also makes a good fist of portrait photography and is the cat’s whiskers on the lightweight Sony. Used on a Mircro Four Thirds camera, this lens would become a medium tele of 100mm
  Kyria Eugenia, a regular customer and chatty companion at my morning coffee stop in Mykonos old port (Zeiss Sonnar)
Kyria Eugenia, a regular customer and chatty companion at my morning coffee stop in Mykonos old port (Zeiss Sonnar)

Caught out with a 35mm lens (in this case the Zeiss Sonnar) when a tele would have been better? It always happens to users of prime lenses but a 36MP full-frame sensor can help dig you out of trouble. This pre-wedding photo session scenario is commonplace in China but something of a rarity on the rocks of Mykonos. The crop, which is one-eighth the size of the full frame, still makes a respectable photograph. Still, I couldn’t help wishing I’d had the 90mm Summicron mounted instead of the 35mm prime.

Party time and the shirt-pocket-size Leica C is just the tool for the job. It performs well in all conditions and copes well with backlit subjects. All these shots taken in aperture priority

  Finally, a bit of landscape, or seascape I suppose: The weekly delivery of oil to the island
Finally, a bit of landscape, or seascape I suppose: The weekly delivery of oil to the island’s power station (Zeiss Sonnar)