Gearing up for a dress rehearsal.

Can't leave well enough alone. That's me in a nutshell. The above image was shot for Zach Theatre a year or so ago and I absolutely love everything about it so why, a year later, did I sell the 70-200mm lens I created it with? It was one of those weeks where it seemed so logical to purge everything and just commit to a micro four thirds system. And the lens was getting long in the tooth. And Sony was just about to introduce a new one, etc. etc.

At the time I felt certain that I'd fall in love with the Sony A7 or A7r and I'd want the new, native 70-200mm ex lens for its smaller size and newer glass. My brain is generally too optimistic. Either that or I just don't think through things very well.  After handling the new cameras I was pretty darn sure I'd be waiting for at least gen 2.0 on those puppies.

Soon after I sold the big, fast lens I engaged in a bout of small sensor hubris and photographed a dress rehearsal with the new Sony RX10. The client was delighted and I was pleased (overall) with the results but there's something bite-y about the above image that I didn't get out of the small camera. And, so here I am getting ready to shoot another dress rehearsal tonight and wondering what my wandering proclivities will serve up this evening.

The play is the musical, The Gospel at Colonus, and it's filled with great singers and wonderful costumes.

I'm shooting the dress rehearsal with a couple of a99's. I have no doubts about the wider angles. I've tested and tested the Rokinon 85mm 1.5 and the 35mm 1.5 (wide stage shots) and I love em. One or two stops down from wide open and they might as well be macro lenses....

But what about the longer end as represented by the above image? I've been thinking about this since Friday. My first thought was to borrow my friend, Frank's 35-100mm f2.8 and use the Panasonic GH3 but I wanted to keep all the files in the same color and tonality family. I could rent a lens but that seems like cheating to me...

But last night I was looking through the seldom used but much appreciated equipment drawer and I found a 150mm f4.0 Zeiss Sonar lens for Hasselblad sitting near the bottom smiling at me. And, in a sign from the photo gods it already had a Hasselblad to Sony Alpha adapter on it. I didn't want to depend on my last vague memory of the lens's performance so I spent some time this morning shooting around the studio and in the house. I've looked and looked and looked and what I see is a sharp lens with high contrast at f4.0 which becomes even sharper and contrastier at f5.6. Couple that with the clean ISO 3200 on the a99 and I think I'm ready to go. Yay! Focus peaking.

Of course, I could crash and burn but either way I'm sure you'll be reading about the adventure tomorrow.

I am also taking along the new Samsung NX30 and the 50-200mm zoom lens I wrote about last week. I'm anxious to put it through its paces and see how it handles both the focusing in contrasty stage light and the higher ISO's that the slower apertures will require.

Breaking with my traditional process I'll probably shoot the big Zeiss lens on a monopod. Not because I need the extra stability but because the thing is so damn heavy.....

Adventures in mismatched and eccentric equipment continue. Stay tuned.....


  1. A clerk at Kinko's once told me, "There's no such thing as cheating in art."

  2. I look forward to reading how this goes. I have an adapter with 3 Hasselblad lenses. Don't use them as much as I should but I do love what I have seen.

  3. Nothing to say about the lenses, but when done well _Gospel at Colonus _ is one of the most stirring shows I've ever seen. Enjoy, and if the Zach nail it good luck shooting through the goosebumps...


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