Sigma 19mm DN Art f2.8 Amazing Lens with a Video Auto Focus Problem.

The very first lens I bought for my Sony a6000 was the 19mm Sigma DN Art f2.8. For under $200 you get a lens that is super sharp. According to most reviewers, dollar for dollar, it outperforms the competition.

Flag over Washington (Half Mast)I have been very happy with it. I’ve taken some great pictures. On an APS-C sensor, the 19mm is a handy focal length for catching pictures of kids inside the house. It’s not too bad for wider landscapes. Or shots like the one above.

There is a problem, however, when you use it with AF turned on for video recording.

I didn’t notice it for a long time. If you’re running hand held, you might never notice it. On Youtube it’s not easy to see, unless you’re looking for it. And I wasn’t. The I pulled up the footage on my computer. How could I miss this?

But now that I’ve seen it, I can’t look at any footage on a tripod or slider without seeing it. What is it?

Here’s a video that shows the issue very clearly. Watch the edges:

Slowed down like this, the jitter on the edges of the frame is very visible. I pulled down a few videos I shot with it. (But not everything.) But every video I’ve checked has the issue. I’ve used the lens for several videos, but none were reviews of the lens. All were about something else, so I didn’t notice. they look fine where the center of focus is, where your attention is drawn. I don’t “pixel peep” with most of my gear. The center of the lens is sharp, and looks great. But with the autofocus on, the edges shake and jitter.

When I was researching this lens, every review was positive. I didn’t find one mention of this issue. Now there are a few posts about it. Some videos like the one above. I’d hate for someone who wanted this lens for video to not know about this issue, so I’m doing my part.

I love this lens for pictures. But I can’t recommend it for video.

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Sony a6000 Waxy Skin Bug and Overheating Videos

I love my Sony a6000. It’s a great inexpensive body with a lot of features. It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but I like it.

Two things I do not like about it are the ‘Waxy Skin” bug and the reputation for overheating the body has.

Overheating:

Many people have complained about the tendency for these small mirrorless Sony bodies to overheat after a few minutes of use. Some even say that they can’t record past 5 minutes. I was on a Facebook group thread and had just read another person warn off a potential Sony convert about this issue. I hadn’t ever run into any overheating issues, so I decided to test it. My tests were somewhat surprising.

Waxy Skin Bug:

One issue with the a6000 that I have had trouble with is the “waxy Skin” bug. Basically, the a6000 has a feature that can smooth the skin of the faces of people in the frame. I suppose you can find a use for that with photos, but generally you don’t want that look in video. The “bug” comes when you turn off the smoothing feature, but the camera will still apply the effect while recording video- if the autofocus face tracking is on.

Basically, the bug renders one of the strongest AF features of the camera useless. That means in order to use AF in video you have to rely on object tracking.

I hope that someday Sony fixes this bug with a firmware update. Another fix is to engage the “Clear Image Zoom” which is similar to- but not- digital zoom. It basically crops the image. Once engaged, the camera cannot do face detection. This method allows you to record to an external recorder without the waxy skin bug. But it does crop the image a bit.

Testing the Sony Alpha a6000 Video Capability

UnknownI have been enjoying the a6000 quite a lot. With every new piece of gear you have to learn it, so I have been shooting and testing. I made a few videos of the video capabilities.

First, as soon as I got the camera I tried some low light, slo-mo shots:

Then I wanted to see if my new Sigma 19mm DN f2.8 Art lens could handle AF during video. So I tried it with the Sony’s great face tracking:

And then I tried tracking objects:

Overall I’m very happy with what the camera can do, and I’m eager to try it out on a real shoot.

Considering New Cameras: Canon EOS M3, 70D, Sony a6000

old videoI’ve got a┬ájones for a new camera.

It all started when I was blindsided by the Europe/Asia release of the new Canon EOS M3. It’s not being released in the US, so I didn’t know it was out until a few overseas posts began slipping into my feeds. I own the EOS M, which is still the cheapest and easiest way to get into an HD camera system with great lenses.

Used, the bodies are selling for $180 now. $250 for one with the very nice 22mm f 2.0 for the EF-M mount. It shoots basic HD video resolutions with a great image quality. You can get some great depth of field and basically learn everything you need to know about lamming with this little camera.

And, besides the Canon lens eco system, because it is mirrorless, you can adapt a lot of older manual lenses to it. I came from a Pentax background, so I know some of the great old glass out there for cheap. I use a Pentax 35-70mm F4 and a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F3.5 (both in K mount) all the time. I could never afford glass this good if it was modern Canon EF or EFS mount.

And mirrorless cameras are small. I can slide the EOS M with the 22mm lens into a loose pocket and forget it’s there. A DSLR can’t be handled that way. So the EOS M3 was very attractive, on paper at least. You can get them online from overseas places. It offers a lot of upgrades from the EOS M. They have updated almost everything except the basic video resolutions available. So that got me in the mood to swap cameras. If you remember, I changed up my camera strategy a while back.

Then I read a review from someone who had actually used the M3 to shoot video. Focus peaking, EVF, AF and more are in. But video quality has apparently taken a dive. So I looked to the Canon 70D. Again. I had decided not to get one before, but now?

It’s an APS-C DSLR with usable autofocus in video. They have come down quite a bit in price. Used ones can be had for $800. But I still┬ádon’t want to go there. The new build of Magic Lantern allows you to shoot RAW on the 70D. You can use Pentax K Mounts on these as well, with adapter. Turns out, I like the small mirrorless cameras.

2 of these little guys are regarded very highly in the world of indie filmmaking.;The Panasonic GH4 for image quality and features and the Sony A7S for low light capability. Still these bad boys will set you back quite a bit of cash. GH4- $1500, A7S- $2500 (new). All well and good, but at that price (for the A7S), I’m not far from a “real” video camera, with built in pro audio, ND filters, etc…

Then I stumbled onto the Sony a6000. It has all the features the EOS M3 has, plus better video quality and options. And can be bought for about the same price. Of course this means leaving Canon for the Sony E Mount. And those lenses are not cheap. But you can still adapt all that great old glass to it. And the built in AF looks very good.

Oh, man. I’ve already rounded up a bunch of old tech and gadgets to sell. I’m definitely going to do something. And It seems like I want to stay with a small camera. There are so many with great features now.

Geeking Out vs. Creating

I’ve been looking for a new mid level HDSLR. So I’ve been reading the internet a lot. There’s a lot to read.

One thing that strikes me is that there are tons and tons of videos available on Vimeo and Youtube that compare the features of one video capable DSLR to another, but there are not that many simply creative videos that tell a story. Do a search on either site for any major HDSLR and you can see all the video reviews you want. But there are far fewer stories for your viewing pleasure.

It’s easy to geek out on tech specs, and shoot test videos. I’ve done it, I’ve enjoyed it. But it is much harder to carry a creative idea to completion.

My challenge to anyone reading this is to not get tied up in the technical so much. Learn to use your tools. Make them do what you need them to do. But move past the tech to using those told to create.

Don’t just Geek Out. Tell your story.

Fighting Fire with Bluefire: Beat the Cost of eBooks

While the various eReader companies battle it out, you may be thinking about scooping up a deal on one. You may be surprised to find out that while eReaders are coming down in price and up in features, eBooks are actually not. There is quite a bit of controversy stirring about the cost of eBooks. This article from Macworld outlines some of it. do a quick search on Google for “Amazon 9.99” and you can see a lot of people are not happy about paying $14+ for an eBook.

I have a real problem with paying more than $10 for an eBook. I have a problem with paying as much as a paperback for books that have been out a while. I know that publishers need to recoup their investments, but there should be some noticeable discount for those who forgo the actually paper and ink. I have only bought one eBook, and paid $9.99 for it. I would have bought more but, I won’t spend more than it costs to buy the actual book.

Luckily for those of us who read and want the convenience of an eBook without the cost, there are ways to get access to books for free. Both Kindle and iBooks offer titles that are free, and that’s a great place to start. You can read a ton of classics and a few newer novels downloaded direct from your choice of supplier. You can also find some web sites out there with DRM-free ePub books available for free download.

Loading these books can be easily done on most eReaders. For the iOS user, simply connect your device, in iTunes select the App tab, and then scroll down to section file transfer section. Pick your app and your book and then sync.

That is great, but you may be like me, and looking for some more recent titles. Check your local library. Many offer digital copies of books to check out. The accomplish this by using Adobe Digital Editions to handle the loan period. This allows you to download a DRM protected copies of an eBook for free reading. On your computer or a device or app that supports Digital Editions. You cannot just take the file and read it, because of the DRM. That is what allows libraries to let us read them for free. In just a few weeks, the copies disappear off our Adobe library.

It took me a little while to find an app for the iPad and iPhone that supported Adobe Digital Editons, but Bluefire does, and it’s free. It will allow you to buy books in the app from several sources, most notably Book A Million. But the app really shines in that you can authorize it to access your Adobe Digital Editions.

My library allows me to check out up to 20 eBooks for 21 days. I currently have about 6 out, and have loaded them onto my iOS devices running Bluefire. Use the same method of loading them into Bluefire that you use to load DRM-free epub books. The interface with Bluefire isn’t as nice as Kindle or iBooks, but it is perfectly readable. My only complaint is that the app seems to really drain battery life.

As long as eBooks are available from the library I will be checking them out. If prices come down for purchasing eBooks I will be more likely to buy them. Until then I will keep looking for free books.