So towards the end of March and during the beginning of April, you get all of the Cherry Blossom viewings in Japan. It’s just amazing. However, there are also plenty of places outside of Japan where you can see the amazing beauty that are flowers bursting forth due to the rain and change in weather. Delicate petals from all kinds of blooming plants are out and available for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
It’s been a while since I took up my Sony camera to go out and actually take some photographs with it. I’ve been using my Instax and my iPhone XS Max, mainly. So I decided to put in a fresh battery in my Sony Alpha A7Rm3 and load it up with a Sigma 135/1.8 DG/HSM/ART lens. This is adapted onto the Sony with the Sigma MC-11 Canon EF to Sony FE adapter. It works amazingly well.
The bokeh on the 135/1.8 lens is pretty phenomenal. Though I generally found the out of focus regions to be a bit busy when compared to the bokeh master that is the Sony/Minolta 135/2.8[4.5] STF lens. My main two grips with that lens are: weight and manual focus only. I also have the Sony Zeiss 135/1.2 lens, which does do AF, but it is an A-mount lens, so I need to use the screw drive Sony adapter. which means foregoing much of the advanced AF AI of the A7Rm3 body as well as adding an SLT component into the optical path. Oh, and it’s also heavy.
I shot Raw+JPEG because I like seeing how the camera does the in-body processing and it gives me an easy “ready out of camera” image as well as a wide latitude RAW file that I can tweak to bring out the subtle shades. While scaled down to 1200px-max images, it’s hard to see the amazing amount of detail captured in 42MP images, I’m always a bit blown away by the detail captured by the camera.
So while I love the shallow depth of field for isolated shots, when photographing something with planar elements, like this area of the floor with a smattering of fallen petals, being able to only get a slice of it in focus kind of loses something vs what I saw with my eyes. This is one of those shots that would have been better served with the 28-35mm range of lenses. The Zeiss 35/2.8 would be perfect for this shot. But I was trying to do the walk with one lens only, so maybe next time.
During my walk, I kept my eye out for any compositions that would present a good contrast of color. Fallen blossom petals resting on the leaves of other plants served this particular desire very nicely.
I found that amongst the green shrubbery, there were a quite a number of fallen petals nestled amongst the leaves, branches, and other nooks and crannies thanks to the recent rain and wind. With an on again, off again, overcast sky, I got some nice images with good saturation.
Some petals were not going solo, like this pair of petals, who also shared the leaf with a small twig! In this photograph, the background did a great job of being blown into a blurry oblivion. Something which was helped by some distance between the subject and the background. There happened to be a bit of a clearing free of branches.
When the relationship between the subject and the background is good with few specular light sources coming from behind, this lens does a great job of subject separation.
One more shot of a petal resting on leaves. In this case, with a couple of droplets of water. I went with black and white with this shot to emphasize the light and dark of the image. Aside from wishing I had brought the 35mm, I also wish I had brought one of the EF extension tubes so I could get in closer. The minimum focusing distance of the Sigma 135, like the other 135mm lenses leaves a something to be desired as I had found myself often needing to physically pull back or take a few steps back. With larger subjects, like human portraiture, this isn’t something that will come up. But with such small subjects, that MFD can feel limiting.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the blossoming flowers. And hopefully, folks have their allergy meds if they are allergic to the pollen…
Regarding The Sigma 135/1.8 DG HSM ART with MC-11 Adapter And Other Technical Notes
- Sony Alpha A7Rm3 Mirrorless digital camera
- Sigma 135mm/1.8 DG/HSM/ART lens with Canon EF mount
- Sigma MC-11 EF -> FE adapter
So the photos were shot with a Sony A7Rm3 mirrorless digital camera using the Canon version of the Sigma 135/1.8 DG/HSM/ART lens. The reason why was that the Canon version of the lens would work well with the MC-11 whereas the A-mount version of the lens may not… and that version wasn’t available.
The autofocus is snappy and very accurate. I put the camera through different modes of AF and the lock on was very tight, given that the wind was blowing the branches back and forth.
I found that with Flexible Spot AF, I got good lock on. I used medium for the spot/AF region size. I also made frequent use of the Sigma’s focus range limiter to help with the AF system choosing between different branches. When it suited the situation, I would toggle into MF mode when I was able to brace against a wall/neighboring tree and the wind was being kind.
Given the amazingly good light that was available, I left the ISO in auto mode, where it ranged between ISO 100 to ISO 12800. During the entire time, the focus operated very reliably. The only way it could be faster and more accurate was if the lens was a native EF lens with a very light weight AF lens carriage module.
I haven’t gotten around to updating the MC-11 firmware. I hear there is a near one out that makes the MC-11 even better. And I’m looking forward to the release of the new A7Rm3 firmware that brings some of the features that the A9 got recently… though I understand that it didn’t get ALL of the new features. ;_;