And now for something completely different: The 85mm Samsung NX lens on the new-ish NX30 camera.

I was weighing one final equipment change for now. I wanted to pick up the 7-14mm Panasonic lens (I've borrowed one on and off) to add to my GH4 system. I think at that point I'll feel a sense of (at least) temporary completion and stasis with my new m4:3 system. I'll I have equivalent of the holy trinity of zoom lenses that professional photographers always seem to amass for Nikon and Canon system. High quality zooms that effectively cover the range from 14mm to 200mm (in 35mm speak). But I'm being cautious with cash and to make the final acquisition and achieve temporary system stasis I feel like I need to peel off more excess gear. The orphans around the studio now are the Sony a850 and a few attendant lenses. 

I had some hesitation about letting that stuff go because (I rationalized) there may still be times I crave that very narrow depth of field that larger sensor cameras do so well. While I was pondering and dithering about the whole roundabout deal a thought slammed into my consciousness: Would I be happy with the performance and the look of a fast, longer lens on APS-C? Especially the look and performance of a lens I already have; the Samsung 85mm 1.4? So I grabbed the Samsung NX 30 APS-C mirror free camera body (20 megapixels, at least as nice a noise profile as the bigger Sony) and headed out the door to see what's what.  That's what these images are all about. 

The camera is not image stabilized and though a number of the Samsung zooms feature I.S. the 85mm 1.4 SSA does not. The trade off is, of course, a very fast max aperture which goes a long way toward delivering higher, more handhold-able shutter speeds. I shot with the lens wide open and the center 2/3rds of the frame are very sharp while the outer areas are more typical of the fast primes from other makers. 

I stopped down to f2.8 and the lens got very sharp and very well behaved. I think that when it comes to zero depth of field portraits the camera and lens are a very good combination. Having done this test makes me a bit more confident about moving on from the Sony full frame Alpha stuff and into the ever bubbling pot of micro four thirds. The 85mm+the Samsung NX30 will be hanging around the edges like a bokeh lifeguard for those moments when nothing will do but eyelashes in razor focus with earlobes soft and fuzzy. 

One more step forward in the world domination by m4:3s, with the Samsung 85mm as an ally in the wings...

Oh goodness. An almost total immersion into micro four thirds. I may have to give up my Professional Photographer's Decoder Ring...


  1. Kirk,

    Interesting as always to follow the (reported) workings of your mind and undermind.
    I find myself somewhat drawn to the Samsung system (lenses and all) in part because the company is an outsider and struggling to get further into the market and is trying out a few different roads. And the underdog vibe is attractive.
    I hope you don't feel it impertinent, but would you care to share your opinion so far on the NX30?


  2. You can always trade up to the "I don't need a camera with more buttons and more complicated to use than the helm of the star ship Enterprise and needs four Sherpas to tote since it's the camera that works for you and the final image that counts Professional Photographer's Decoder Ring..."

  3. Kirk,
    An interesting process that you're going through. I'm sort of echoing it myself. After a frustrating morning along Embassy Row in DC manually focusing an adapted Konica 40mm on my GF1, I decided I do not need adapted lenses, and I'm going to sell them all, and their adapters. ALL. (Well, maybe I'll keep one or two just to play with.) Then pick up a couple very good M43 ones, starting with the 25mm PanLeica.

  4. and of course you will want the Olympus 75 f1.8 and the Panasonic 42.5 f1.2.............

  5. Hi Murray, I'll put a review of the NX 30 in the cue. Not a lot of people clamoring to know yet but I think that as the price stabilizes it's going to be a real contender. The best part of the camera is the lenses and that's probably how it should be for most companies now that all sensors are good enough.

  6. Shallow depth of field. Got it. Ah well, at least you're not posting shots of USAF resolution test charts.

  7. So happy to be able to explain it all well enough. Thank you for getting it.

  8. It won't be long before shooting FF will seem as quaint as using a Speed Graphic is today.

  9. The pendulum siwngs. Forth, then back, then forth again, etc. Been following your blog maybe three years now, and I wouldn't be surprised the FF bug comes back to bite you some day ;)So far *mirrorless* FF (Sony alphas) are not too mature, but give the concept a couple of extra years and see how m4/3 stacks up to that ;-)

  10. "While I was pondering and dithering about the whole roundabout deal a thought slammed into my consciousness: Would I be happy with the performance and the look of a fast, longer lens on APS-C?"

    BTW, if you're using that FF body for (well lit) studio shots mostly, an ordinary Bayer-style APS-C is not your only option. Not even the ideal option.
    If you haven't ever tried a Sigma camera (aka a camera with a Foveon sensor), you might want to give it a try. The way the Foveon sensor can reproduce all sorts or fabrics, for example, is hard to beat with any ordinary Bayer sensor camera, even with a full frame one. When you've seen the subtle yet clear difference in details like clothes, it's hard to go back to ordinary Bayer. Except for video.
    Just saying.

  11. If you haven't ever tried a Sigma camera (aka a camera with a Foveon sensor), you might want to give it a try.

    Kirk, don't do this to yourself. I've switched from Sigma to Samsung and never looked back. Yes, the current Sigma sensor has fantastic resolution but colours still aren't right and the workflow in the only available raw convertor is a big PITA even on a fast computer.


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