Sometimes I think buildings are just something to offset beautiful skies. I was out shooting the sky around Austin the other day and this building was near my starting and ending point. I'm not sure I like the architecture especially well but I don't dislike it. I keep coming back and shooting it because it seems to attract those beautiful cloud swirling blue skies that seem like something out of an old western movie done in Technicolor.
I was shooting with one of the cameras that keeps me from buying esoteric new toys like the Olympus OMDEM5 or the Fuji Pro 1. It was the Sony a57 and it was sporting a 50mm 1.8 DT lens. If you've read the blog for any amount of time you probably know that I really have an affinity for the classic 50mm lens in any of its permutations. And it's no different now that I'm shooting primarily with the Sony crop cams.
When I use a 50mm lens on a full 35mm format camera it's pleasant and neutral. When I used it on an APS-C crop frame it's burrowing into the "nice portrait length" territory. When I use it on a Sony a57 or a77 camera it becomes something even more flexible and special and I'd like to explain why.
There's a Jpeg-only option on these cameras called smart telecon. It's a digital teleconverter. On the a77 it gives you a choice of 1.4x and 2.0x magnification. The effect in the finder is seamless and there's no additional light lost as there would be with an optical teleconverter. The camera essentially just zooms in on a crop but the finder shows the crop as a full frame in the finder. We wouldn't have used something like this in the 6 megapixel days but with the a77 I've got pixels to burn. When you set the camera to use the 1.4x setting on the smart telecon it drops the overall resolution to "M" which is still a big, healthy file.
One touch of the smart telecon switch makes my 50mm into an 84mm which is the angle of view equivalent (on APS-C sensors) of my all time favorite portrait lens, the Nikon 105mm 2.5. If there's a drop in quality I sure can't see it.
On the a57 the control works as a digital zoom and allows a continuous range of magnifications, from the existing focal length up to 2x.
I didn't use the telecon settings on the photos above. I changed size and perspective in a very old fashioned way. I moved my feet and brought myself and the camera closer to the building. It worked well. I'll have to teach a workshop about it someday to all the people who were raised on zooms.
Why do these cameras keep me from buying other cameras? Well, there seems to always be another setting or feature I have yet to discover and I find the files to be really nice. The way we used to think about the colors in Olympus Jpegs. All the stuff works well but the real reason is that I am curious to see what their next full frame camera will be.
My most trusted source in the camera industry (hasn't been wrong in over 20 years...) tells me that the full 35mm frame Sony is a "done deal" and should arrive this Fall. If they do a great job with the sensor I'm ready to snap the 70-200mm 2.8 G lens on the front and get cooking.
Reading the freakin manual is a great way to unlock the astounding secrets of your camera. Any camera. I knew that this feature was there but I thought, "amateur." It was only when I explained the feature to Ben that I got, in a flash, why it was so cool for me.