A New Lens: Laowa 85mm f5.6

I recently acquired a new lens. It’s a Laowa 85mm f5.6. I already have two lenses, so why not use one of them. Well, I have been using them and they don’t really meet my need.

My first macro lens was a 7Artisans 60mm f2.8. There’s a review of it here. Note that a newer version now available. Review here. I bought it because it was inexpensive, reputed to be quite sharp, and well made. I was just getting started with macro photography and didn’t to spend a lot in case I didn’t like it (as it turned out I did). I bought it to use with my then newly acquired Sony A6000. Unfortunately this combination didn’t work for me. The lens was everything I thought it would be, but it was also something I stupidly had not thought about: it’s heavy. Or at least it’s too heavy for me. It’s also very front heavy on the A6000. I should say that I have quite weak arms so this may not be a problem for others.

My second macro lens is an old Minolta Maxxum AF 50mm f2.8 macro. I like this lens a lot and use it mostly in manual focus mode. It’s quite small and light. There’s a review here. I enjoyed using it. So what’s the problem. Actually there are two: first it’s 50mm focal length means that I have to get very close to take a picture. Second it only works on my Sony A-mount (and of course Minolta film cameras) cameras. Nowadays I mostly use Sony E-mount cameras including the Sony A-6000 and my fairly recently acquired Sony A7IV. While writing the above I realize that I actually could use it with an adapter on the E-mount cameras. I’d lose the shot metadata and would have manual focus, but since usually use manual focus for macros that would be no great loss. You live and learn.

Anyway I bought the Laowa 85mm f5.6. It’s well made, smaller and lighter than the 7artisans and has a longer focal length than either of them allowing me to stand father back from my subjects. It also has something that neither of the other lenses has: a 2:1 magnification ratio rather than the 1:1 ration of the other two. You might think that the f5.6 minimum aperture is a limitation, but since I’m usually shooting around f8 with flash it really isn’t. I haven’t used it much yet, but so far I like it. There’s a review of it here.

Taken with a Fuji X-E3 and Fuji XC 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS II

Some macro photography

It was very hot and humid today and I was a little frustrated. I’d been sitting in front of a computer for most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday (Thursday) I had lunch with a friend but other than that I stayed home. I really wanted to get out and take some photographs. But I’d already taken the dog for a walk, was feeling a bit tired and didn’t feel like walking around much in the hot weather. Then it occurred to me that I could do some macro photography. I wouldn’t have to go far – just into the wooded area across the road. I’d be sure to find something – and indeed I did.

Above: A tiny wasp (or at least that’s what I initially thought it was). It really was very small (somewhere between 1/8 and 1 inch). Then the more I thought about it the more I started to think it wasn’t a wasp (the head didn’t look right for a wasp) so I did a bit more research. It’s a Hover Fly.

“Hover flies are true flies, but they look like small bees or wasps. They are the helicopters of the insect world, often seen hovering in the air, darting a short distance, and then hovering again. These beneficial insects are valuable tools in the fight against aphids, thrips, scale insects, and caterpillars.

What are Hover Flies? Hover flies (Allograpta oblique) go by several other names, including syrphid flies, flower flies, and drone flies. Hover flies in gardens are a common sight throughout the country, especially where aphids are present. The adults feed on nectar as they pollinate flowers. The female lays her tiny, creamy-white eggs near aphid colonies, and the eggs hatch in two or three days. The beneficial hover fly larvae begin feeding on the aphids as they hatch. After spending several days eating aphids, the hover fly larvae attach themselves to a stem and build a cocoon. They spend 10 days or so inside the cocoon during warm weather, and longer when the weather is cool. Adult hover flies emerge from the cocoons to begin the cycle again.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Hover Fly Information: Plants That Attract Hover Flies To The Garden.

Dandelion Seeds

Detail of a bird feather I came across.

Pine Cone.

Some kind of yellow flower. I don’t know what kind. I love the tiny bugs. I can see three of them. I didn’t notice any of them when I took the picture.

Broken/hatched birds egg.

Taken with a Sony A77II and Minolta 50mm f2.8 Macro lens