As always, brew your favourite cup of coffee and enjoy these fine reads this Sunday morning. I think you’re in for a treat.
I’ve added a small addendum to this week’s Edition about my first chances to shoot with the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2.
No One Walks Off The Island — This piece about Yasiel Puig defecting from Cuba to play in the Big Leagues is one from Hollywood. The treason. The espionage. The murders. This stuff only happens in the movies.
This piece won awards last year for its incredible in-depth reporting and investigation, so you may have already seen it. Regardless, this could be my single favourite piece of investigative sports journalism ever.
Preparing For Life After Sports — On Maurice Clarett in an interview by ESPN:
It was a lesson he’d learned after failing to take advantage of the educational opportunities he might have had and sabotaging his football career by fighting with his coaches, among other missteps. Eventually he went to prison for armed robbery. Now he’s advising young male athletes to do as he says, rather than as he did.
Umpires Are Less Blind Than They Used To Be — If the level of scrutiny, technology, and statistics put on the backs of umpires were applied to officials of all sports, I believe the results would be similar: Referees make the correct call far more than any fan would like to believe, and their ability to adapt to the changing styles of their sport would be on the rise. Nobody is perfect in the officiating industry, but they are far closer to perfect than anyone would guess.
How Relay FM Proves That Podcasts Aren’t An Overnight Success — I love when great things happen to great people. It ensures the hope we all have: That work, dedication, and perseverance can — and often do — result in success.
Flying High Photographer Captures Bird’s-eye Beach Views by Hanging From Helicopter — If I could choose a super hero power, I’d choose to fly. I’d also choose to fly at great speeds and great distances so I could leave the airport behind. But I may be pushing my luck on that one.
Sony a7R II Hands-On Review — Kai likes it. As does everyone else.
More shallow depth of field with your Micro Four Thirds camera – Using the Brenizer Method — Interesting method to obtain shallow depth of field with wide angles. This looks like tons of work and tons of know-how in Lightroom.
I say buy the Leica Nocticron and skip the Lightroom part. As you’ll see, it’s not a perfect science, nor is it the exact same look, but I think the images from the Nocticron and images with the Brenizer Method look largely the same.
First contact: a walk around Plasencia with the Sony A7 Mark II — Álvaro’s new camera is probably as exciting for his audience as it is for him. Not only is he going to review the heck out of Sony’s cameras, he’s also going to shoot beautiful Spanish countrysides and cityscapes in the process.
10 Insanely Rich Pro Athletes Humbled by Financial Ruin — These athletes would be great choices for those old Capital One MasterCard “Hands In My Pockets” commercials. The shoe fits, and they could probably use the money.
Disney’s $4 Billion Steal — M.G. Siegler:
Based on nothing other than internet reaction, pent-up demand, and the fact that this new Star Wars cannot possibly be as bad as the last three, I’m going to go not-so-far out on a limb and predict that The Force Awakens makes over $2 billion worldwide at the box office. […] And if it does, that means that Disney will have brought in half of its $4 billion investment in just one film.
My lens spending spree reached its pinnacle two or three weeks ago with the purchase of the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2. Once again, I found a good deal on eBay.
This purchase is more of a trial run than it is a final decision. Canada doesn’t have any Micro Four Thirds lens renters that I’m aware of, so my next best options are to rent the lens Stateside and not declare my possession of the lens at the border, or to outright purchase the lens at the best deal I can find and resell it afterwards. Luckily, the Nocticron appears to hold its value pretty well, so I suspect this will end up costing largely the same amount as a long-term rental.
On to the lens.
My initial impressions are as good as I expected, but I have stumbled upon a few annoyances with the Nocticron that I haven’t experienced with other lenses.
Without a doubt, the Nocticron’s image quality is second to none on the Micro Four Thirds format. As everyone else on the internet has said, the Nocticron is very sharp right at f/1.2 and its bokeh rendering is so, so smooth. Most impressively, in my mind, is the lens’ ability to soak in light when the sun goes down. Pair the Nocticron’s f/1.2 aperture and the E-M5 Mark II’s incredible in-body stabilization and you’ve got a tool capable of taking extraordinary night shots.
The shot of the spinning “Round Up” ride at the local Corn & Apple Festival above was taken handheld at 1/6 of a second, yet the figures in the foreground are perfectly sharp. Brilliant.
It’s not all roses with the Nocticron though.
First off, the Nocticron’s incredible build quality results in a very heavy, very dense package. If you have this lens strapped to your hip with a shoulder strap, you’re going to notice it with each stride.
Secondly, the width of the lens causes small problems on my E-M5 Mark II body. With the E-M5 Mark II grip attached, there’s enough room to properly hold the grip if you have skinnier hands. However, I’m not 100% sure if a set of larger, beefier hands could squeeze their fingers between the lens body and the grip.
Further, the front function button on the E-M5 Mark II ends up being positioned in the angled crevice between the Nocticron and the camera body. I have this function button set to magnify an area in the viewfinder when using manual focus, and due to the lens’ overall girth, pressing that button — although not impossible — is far more difficult than I’d like. I suppose this is what happens when you use a Panasonic lens on an Olympus body.
And lastly, it goes without being said that the aperture ring doesn’t work on an Olympus camera body. This bugs me. I mean, why not? It’s a gimmick at best and an outright insult at worst. Olympus and Panasonic should be working together to further the Micro 4/3 format instead of whatever it is they are doing now.
With the acquisition of the Nocticron, my Panasonic Leica collection is complete.2 I’m curious to see if all my needs will be met with this trifecta.
What has become very obvious is the need for an update to the 25mm f/1.4. Clearly, one of the lenses in the above image doesn’t fit. The 25mm is the only Panasonic Leica lens with a plastic body and without an aperture ring. Further, it suffers from far higher levels of chromatic aberration and is the softest of the three lenses when shot wide open. If Panasonic were to give the 25mm f/1.4 a refresh, I’d hop on board immediately.
Now that this collection is complete, I’ve got some work to do. I’m looking forward to putting these lenses to the test and getting my thoughts on paper.