Photography

Street Art in Linz

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links

Earlier this week, in the early morning before I went to work, I went to some subways in Linz to shoot pictures of the street art there. I took my Alpha 7, a Tripod and two Minolta Rokkor lenses (the MD Rokkor 45mm and the MC Rokkor 35mm 1.8) and took the tram to Wifi/Linz AG. There is a subway under Wienerstraße with really cool graffiti:

Subway Entrance Wienerstr. Linz - Alpha 7 with MD Rokkor 45mm/2.0
Subway Entrance Wienerstr. Linz
Alpha 7 with MD Rokkor 45mm/2.0 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 160

It was still very dark outside, so the only light was the street lamps and the neon light in the subway. I shot long exposures (mostly around 4 sek) to keep the ISO numbers down.

Graffiti in Subway - Wienerstr., Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Graffiti in Subway - Wienerstr., Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 125

Graffito in Subway - Wienerstr., Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Graffito in Subway - Wienerstr., Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 125

Subway Entrance, Skull - Wienerstr., Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Subway Entrance, Skull - Wienerstr., Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 200

Subway Entrance, Different Graffiti - Wienerstr., Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Subway Entrance, Different Graffiti - Wienerstr., Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 640

Smoking; 2013 - Wienerstr., Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Smoking; 2013 - Wienerstr., Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 125

Then I took the tram number 3 to Untergaumberg. There is another subway painted in graffiti. The sun was already rising, so the graffiti were not only lit by the neon lights, but also by some natural ambient light:

Graffito - Untergaumberg, Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Graffito - Untergaumberg, Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 3.2sec, ISO 200

Picture of man spraying a wall - Untergaumberg, Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Picture of man spraying a wall - Untergaumberg, Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 0.8sec, ISO 100

Braaaiiins - Untergaumberg, Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Braaaiiins - Untergaumberg, Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 4.0sec, ISO 100

Heads - Untergaumberg, Linz - Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8
Heads - Untergaumberg, Linz
Alpha 7 with MC Rokkor 35mm/1.8 at f/8, 3.2sec, ISO 125

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MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 on the Alpha 7

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links

The MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 is one of the "legendary" Minolta legacy lenses. It is a great portrait lens because of its shallow depth of field, and it is also very suitable for low light photography. I am using it on my Sony Alpha 7 using the Novoflex MC/NEX Adapter. Here are some test images and a mini review.

MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2
The MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2
Shot with MC Rokkor 85mm/1.7 at f/1.7

The depth of field of this lens is very shallow at f/1.2. The bokeh is soft and very nice. Manual focussing is quite difficult, even though the Alpha 7 has a great focus peaking feature and focus magnification.

Children's toy
Children's Toy: Bokeh is nice and soft when shooting wide open.
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/1.2

Because of its large aperture of f/1.2, this lens allows you to shoot handheld virtually in the dark:

Bakery Blaha - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/1.2, 1/80sec, ISO 3200
Bakery Blaha: Shot handheld with aperture wide open
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/1.2, 1/80sec, ISO 3200

At f/16 and f/18, the lens is nice and sharp. There are some flares in the pictures, but it's not so bad. I probably just got lucky, because in later pictures, you'll see that this lens is quite flare-prone.

Wienerstr. in Linz - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/18, 6.0sec, ISO 200
Wienerstr. in Linz
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/18, 6.0sec, ISO 200

Haltestelle Wahringerstr., Linz - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/16, 1.0sec, ISO 800
Tram station: Wahringerstraße, Linz
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/16, 1.0sec, ISO 800

Tram arriving at the station - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/16, 5.0sec, ISO 800
Tram arriving at the station
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/16, 5.0sec, ISO 800

Tram at the station - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/2.8
Tram at the station
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/2.8

At f/2.8 the result is already quite sharp. Again, I shot this picture without a tripod. I'm still amazed how good the sensor of the Alpha 7 is compared to my old camera.

Trees in the dark, Linz - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/2.8, 1/80sec, ISO 6400
Trees in the dark
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/2.8, 1/80sec, ISO 6400

In the next two images, you can see that the lens is quite flare prone. Both were shot at f/5.6. Still, the "Trains" image is one of my favorites from that night: I think the flare is not distracting. To me it looks like it even belongs there.

Gas Station - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/5.6, 2.5sec, ISO 200
Gas Station and traffic lights
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/5.6, 2.5sec, ISO 200

Trains - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/5.6, 1.6sec, ISO 400
Trains
MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 at f/5.6, 1.6sec, ISO 400

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Arca Swiss Plate for the Sony Alpha 7

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Last week I got the Arca Swiss quick release plate from Really Right Stuff for my Sony Alpha 7. "Arca-Swiss" is a system for quickly mounting a camera on a tripod or attaching other gear:

Sony A7 on a tripod (Arca-Swiss)
Sony Alpha 7 mounted on a tripod using an Arca-Swiss clamp from Really Right Stuff

I ordered two clamps with the plate, one for my tripod and the other for my SunSniper camera strap. They came in a simple envelope. There is no fluff. My first impression after unpacking them was: "Wow, those are really quality pieces". Here are all the parts before I mounted them. In the front, you can see the camera plate (center left) and one of the clamps.

Parts before mounting
Parts: SunSniper camera strap, Sony Alpha 7, Arca-Swiss camera plate, Arca-Swiss clamp, Threadlocker

First I mounted the camera plate on the A7. The plate can stay on the camera, so I put a few drops of medium strength threadlocker on the tripod screw [Update: Really Right Stuff just told me that they do not recommend thread-locking on camera]. I have also used some threadlocker on the screw of the camera strap when I mounted the clamp.

Mounting the Camera Plate
Mounting the camera plate: Threadlocker

Alpha 7 with the Arca-Swiss camera plate
Alpha 7 with the Arca-Swiss camera plate from Really Right Stuff

Here is a picture of the camera hanging on the SunSniper strap. You just have to turn the knob of the clamp slightly, then you can slide the camera out of the clamp. But when you fasten the knob, it holds really tight. You can also turn the clamp around so the knob is not in the way when taking pictures.

Sony A7 on the SunSniper camera strap
Sony Alpha 7 mounted on the SunSniper camera strap using the Arca-Swiss clamp

Both the camera plate and the clamp have a laser-engraved mark where the sensor is. This allows you to perfectly center the clamp:

Sony Alpha 7 mounted on a tripod using the Arca-Swiss plate+clamp
Sony Alpha 7 mounted on a tripod using the Arca-Swiss plate+clamp

The Arca-Swiss system is absolutely awesome: Now I can wear the SunSniper camera strap at all time and quickly attach and remove the camera as I need it. This makes the SunSniper strap even more useful. I can also quickly mount the camera on my tripod. After using the Arca-Swiss quick release system for just a few days, I can't imagine not having it anymore. The plate and the clamps are not really cheap, but they are totally worth every penny. Strongly recommended.

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Alpha 7 ISO Noise

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Yesterday morning I took a couple of pictures of our neighborhood here in Linz to compare the sensor noise of the Sony Alpha 7 at different ISO levels. Here is the picture at ISO 100 - It also shows the three areas where I made 100% crops for the comparison:

Overview: Areas for ISO comparison
Areas for ISO comparison
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 15 sec, ISO 100

I used the "Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2" manual focus lens, attached to my Sony Alpha 7 with the Novoflex MC/MD NEX Adapter.

I shot all pictures as RAWs and I set sharpening and noise reduction to 0 in Lightroom, so the result should be pretty close to what the sensor recorded. I used the same aperture for all shots (f/5.6) and let the camera choose the shutter speed for a given ISO value.

Click on the pictures to navigate to flickr, where you can get the sample photos in their original size.

From ISO 100 to ISO 400, noise is barely noticable:

ISO 100: 100% crops
ISO 100: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 15 sec, ISO 100

ISO 200: 100% crops
ISO 200: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 8 sec, ISO 200

ISO 400: 100% crops
ISO 400: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 4 sec, ISO 400

At ISO 800 and 1600, noise begins to show in the wall of the house and the sky (please note again, these images were converted to JPEG with 0 noise reduction). The twigs of the tree, the car and other details still look pretty good. At this level, I think you have a good chance to remove the noise without loosing too much detail. The in-camera noise reduction should still work pretty well too.

ISO 800: 100% crops
ISO 800: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 1,6 sec, ISO 800

ISO 1600: 100% crops
ISO 1600: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 0.8 sec, ISO 1600

At ISO 3200 and 6400, there is noise in every part of the picture. ISO 6400 is the highest level the camera will choose in Auto-ISO mode. It is probably still OK for small prints or photo books.

ISO 3200: 100% crops
ISO 3200: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 0.4 sec, ISO 3200

ISO 6400: 100% crops
ISO 6400: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 1/4 sec, ISO 6400

At higher ISO values, the noise is everywhere. It's even clearly visible at 800 pixels width. You will lose a considerable amount of image detail when you try to remove the noise from these images.

ISO 12800: 100% crops
ISO 12800: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 1/8 sec, ISO 12800

ISO 25600: 100% crops
ISO 25600: 100% crops
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 1/15 sec, ISO 25600

ISO 25600: Full image at width 800 pixels
ISO 25600: Full image at width 800 pixels
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 1/15 sec, ISO 25600

I really like the sensor noise behavior of the Alpha 7. Even at 3200 and 6400, noise is OK and can be removed to a certain degree. With a fast prime lens (like the Rokkor 58/1.2), the Alpha 7 enables me to shoot handheld virtually in the dark and still get good pictures:

Tree in the dark
Tree in the dark (handheld)
Sony Alpha 7 - MC Rokkor 58mm/1.2 - f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 4000

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MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 on Sony Alpha 7

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links

Since I got my Alpha 7 I have re-discovered shooting with very old Minolta Rokkor manual focus lenses. This is really fun but still quite difficult for me. So some days ago I went on a short walk to test my "Minolta MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8" wide angle lens. I use a Novoflex MC-Nex adapter to mount the lens on my Sony Alpha 7 camera.

MD Rokkor 28mm 1:2.8
The MD Rokkor 28mm 1:2.8

The weather was not really good: It was a little foggy so the sky was a featureless grey. But it was not foggy enough to get nice fog shots. Anyway, I wanted to try this lens, so I took a couple of pictures.

First I made some deep focus pictures because this is really easy with a wide angle lens. Although everything in the next picutre is in focus, the picture is quite blurry and a lot of details are missing (click on the picture to go to flickr, where you can get to the full resolution image). I still include the picture here because all of the photos of this football field turned out to look like this.

Nobody is playing - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/22
Nobody is playing: Blurry, little detail
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/22

Maybe this was my fault. Maybe I shook the camera. Or maybe the JPEG lost some details (the JPEG conversion of the A7 received some harsh criticism on other sites). Or maybe it's because wide angle legacy lenses don't work well on digital sensors. Or maybe the lens does not perform well at f/22. This is not a comprehensive test, so I assume it was my fault. But I don't know. Anyway, next time I test a lens, I will shoot in RAW mode.

The lens produces very nice pictures wide open. The bokeh is a little bit nervous in high contrast areas, but still OK - at least in my opinion.

Closeup of Ivy - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/2.8
Closeup of Ivy: The out-of-focus twigs have double silhouettes.
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/2.8

Closeup of a wild rose - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/2.8
Closeup of a wild rose: Nervous Bokeh
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/2.8

When stepped down a bit, the bokeh is really nice. Also, the pictures are quite sharp. I think I shot this at f/5.6 but I am not 100% sure anymore.

Rusty Lock - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8
Rusty Lock: The Bokeh in the foreground and background is OK
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8

Here is a shot with lots of colors and contrast. It also has some out-of-focus twigs in front of the scene. I can't remember the exact aperture anymore, but it was neither wide open nor completely closed.

Mini Golf - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8
Mini Golf: More colors, more contrast.
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8

I bought this lens on ebay for 30 Euros. At this price point, it is a really nice lens. Even though some images where rather blurry and the bokeh is nervous in high-contrast areas. The build quality is solid: Metal, Glass, a little bit of rubber. Yet, it is quite small and light. Manual focussing is really easy with this lens (and focus peaking & magnification on the Alpha 7): The depth of field is relatively shallow, so it's easy to "hit" focus. And contrast is good enough for the peaking to work well - especially when you stop the lens down a bit.

It is a moderate wide-angle lens, very well suited for landscape and city photography. And for 30 Euros, I would buy it again - but I guess I would not pay much more than this.

Here are some more shots from the photo walk.

Graffiti on an old wall - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/8
Graffiti on an old wall: Colors and details are OK in this shot.
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8 at f/8

Flower Power - MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8
Flower Power: "Der Himmlische Garten"
MD Rokkor 28mm/2.8

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My name is David Tanzer and I have been working as an independent software consultant since 2006. I help my clients to develop software right and to develop the right software by providing training, coaching and consultanting for teams and individuals.

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