Sony Lens


The sheer prodigality and variety of blooms in this part of the country amazes me – Spring in Maryland and Virginia is a cornucopia of beautiful blooms in succession and just when the dogwoods were peaking and the redbuds leafing out, I suddenly started seeing cascades of lavender-purple flowers tumbling over fences, drooping over country roadways – most of these are hard to photograph, since it’s hard to pull over in the heavy traffic conditions.

Even when one is able to find a good spot close enough to park and walk over, the lighting may be just plain bad. The subtle colors of the wisteria require just a bit of warming sun to bring out the purple, otherwise the flowers come out looking overly blue. The best time is morning or late afternoon light, when there is a tinge of red present…

The best way to ensure that the lighting is okay is to mark your spots, preferably where one can park safely for a few minutes and return at a later time when the sun is just right. However, one can get lucky, as I did a couple of days ago on my way back from work. I spotted these magnificent specimens on Glenview Road and on Travilah road in Gaithersburg, MD. I had the Sony Alpha with the Sony 18-200 and a polarizer, and the zoom range of the Sony lens allowed me take these without leaving the car.


Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April

Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700; Sony 18-200mm f/2.5-f/6.3 lens; Polarizer.



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

Mid-April is the time for flowering dogwoods and vast expanses of wild mustard growing in the fields all over Carroll County… later in the year, these fields will be planted with Soya beans or Corn, but for now, they are just a golden mass of flowers, gently swaying in the slightest breeze. The dogwoods are something to look forward to, as they appear just as the Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias are fading, and they are much more durable blossoms. April is also the time of heavy rainfall here in Maryland, and delicate blossoms like the cherry don’t hold up well. Here are some of the pictures I took in Gaithersburg, and along Rte 27 north of Mount Airy, on the road to Westminster, MD. Mostly flowering dogwoods and fields of mustard blossoms – and a few redbuds.


Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Redbud
Redbud
Redbud
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Pin Oak flower
Birch flower

Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Redbud
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Thistle
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Zoom lens. I used a Polarizer. Close-up of Pink dogwood photographed with a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 lens with Tiffen 812 warming filter



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

Colonial Beach is a little town on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, about 60 miles south of DC… it’s the second longest beach in Virginia (Virginia Beach is the longest). The town was founded in 1892, and served as get away for the residents of DC in the early years of the 20th century, especially in the years before the Great Depression. It was a favorite holiday spot, and it grew and thrived until the coming of automobiles and other transportation – vistors preferred to come on day trips, rather than leisurely vacations as before, and this led to the waterfront hotels closing down.

The town limped along, losing population and businesses until the 2000’s. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Hurricane Isabel pretty much destroyed the little waterfront town in 2003. The residents are a resilient bunch – they picked up the pieces and rebuilt again. The housing boom brought some prosperity, with developers taking interest in the town. However with the current bust in housing, the city may see some hard times again, but I hope it will recover easily.

The beach is a great place for a family visit.. it’s clean, and with good amenities – parking, restrooms, restaurants, beach shops etc are all located very conveniently, and there is even a Days Inn located right on the beach for overnight and weekend stays. Nancy’s Ice Cream is closeby, and I recommend the Chocolate Ice Cream soft cones.

This past Saturday 4/19 was beautiful, bright and warm in the 80’s so we drove down to Fredericksburg on I-95 and then east on Rte 3 until we got to Rte 205. We followed Rte 205 all the way to Colonial Beach, it’s easy to follow the signs. My daughter Sunayana had been asking to go to the beach since it started turning warmer, and we could not have asked for a better day to be at the waterfront.

I took the Sony Alpha 700, and after some deliberation, I took the Sony 18-200mm lens as it’s the perfect all-occasion lens, and fitted with a Tiffen Polarizer, perfect for beach and water photography. I took along some other AF and manual lenses, and never got around to using them. We got there in the late afternoon, and found parking under a large Willow oak just a hundred feet from the water.

The Sony 18-200mm SAL18200 is a pretty versatile lens, especially when you want to travel light and are reasonably sure of good light levels. It’s equivalent to 27-300mm in the 35mm format, and the huge zoom ration it affords pretty much covers any situation. The lens is a bit slow at the fully extended part of its zoom range (It ranges from f/3.5 at the wide end and f6.3 at the 200mm focal length), but on a bright day, it doesnt matter at all, since we’re generally shooting at much smaller apertures (f11 to f13) with polarizer.

Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA

Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR and a Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens and Circular Polarizer. I used the landscape setting and Auto ISO, with Sunny White Balance.



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

Ft. Armistead Park is a little out of the way location on the Chesapeake, quite close to the Francis Scott key Bridge. It has a great little boat ramp, and a brand new pier, and it’s hardly every frequented.

Getting to it is a breeze – From 95 to 695 south and then Exit 1 to Rte 173. Once off the ramp, a quick right and a left (watch for the jug handle) and a left again near Cookies Cityline Diner will put you right on the road to the park – no where else to go, really. By the way, if the mid-morning hungries hit, the Diner serves a great tuna half-sandwich and soup of the day with if you’re feeling like a light lunch, just enough to keep up the flagging energy levels.

This is a great location to photograph the FSK bridge… I spent a little over an hour there in the morning, between 9.30 and 11 am, and the lighting was great. I had the Sony Alpha 700 and the Sony 18-200mm lens with a polarizer to cut the glare.

There’s no beach, really, just a strip of sand by the pier, where flotsam and jetsam from the Bay has accumulated over time. I even found an old Computer Monitor washed up on the rocks. The driftwood was interesting, though. The ubiquitous broken glass was everywhere, too, but work smooth by the action of the waves and sand, making them beautiful too. The views of the bridge are spectacular, and there’s plenty of waterfowl – ducks, gulls etc.

The pier has been rebuilt anew, since the old one was lost during Hurricane Isabel a few years ago.


Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park

Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park

And by the way, here are some pictures from Cookies Cityline Diner. The food is is great, prices reasonable and the service excellent.

Cookies Diner
Cookies Diner
Cookies Diner
Cookies Diner

Cookies Cityline Diner

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR, Sony 18-200 f/3.5-f/6.3 lens and Circular polarizer.



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

Ever since the first signs of Spring, I’ve been out with my cameras, not wishing to lose any of the magic of the Great Annual Awakening of Nature. Maryland’s topography is so varied that even though it is such a small state, Spring arrives early in the southern part of the State, especially around Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac – almost a full month before it arrives at the Northern regions – near the Pennsylvania border. The rolling hills and valleys of Carroll county are decidedly cooler than DC and the annual cherry flowering takes place almost a week after the Tidal basin flowering

This year (2008) the the Cherry Blossom Festival kicked off on Saturday, March 29 – the flowers began blooming a couple of days before that, and on the 29th, it was close to approaching the peak – and it was 50 degree weather the next few days are likely to be cold and rainy, and we’ll lose a lot of the blossoms. I’m hoping that the flowers last until next weekend. The Festival itself runs until April 13th – but I’m afraid the flowers may be all gone by then. Here are the flowers.. as usual, it was a family trip, but we got separated looking for parking, and never caught up with the other car (which, incidentally, had our picnic lunch). My group ended up snacking at the refreshment stall behind the Jefferson Monument. I was able to walk around a bit under the trees, and here are the pictures. The crowd was very heavy on Saturday.


2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival

2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 SAL18200 lens at Landscape setting and Auto ISO. I used a polarizer. The Shutter speeds ranged from 1/320 second in the Sun down to 1/50 second in the shade Here are the rest of the pictures.



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

I’ve been so busy testing all my Olympus mount Zuiko and Kirons and Vivitars as well as the Minolta AF, Sigma, Tamron and Phoenix lenses on the Sony Alpha 700 that I feel that I haven’t really had a chance to use the Sony lens that I bought along with the Sony A700 body. It’s the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, officially named the SAL18200.

Coming from the manual lenses world, I originally had some trepidation with regards to the extended 1:11 zoom ratio, but I have been pleasantly surprised. Prior to this, the largest zoom ratio lens I owned is the Kiron 28-210mm super-zoom (1:7.5 zoom ratio) for Olympus mount. The Kiron is an awesome lens, but it’s bulky and heavy.

There used to be a time when designing lenses with such large zoom ratios used to mean accepting that there would have to be a compromise in the performance, particularly at the shorter end of the zoom, but Sony has some how managed to make it work. Sony even has a lens with an even larger zoom ratio, the SAL18250 (18-250mm) which has a mind boggling 1:13.9 or 1:14 zoom ratio.

In 35mm format terms, this lens is equivalent to a 27mm-300mm zoom lens, which pretty much covers every shooting situation that one is likely to encounter in casual photography. It’s a very well built lens, but I admit I’d have been happier if the lens had a metal mount like all my beautiful Minolta AF lenses instead of a cheesy hard plastic mount. But such is life. Industrial plastics get tougher, lighter and stronger every year, so I’m not complaining too much, though.

The one thing I am really happy about is that the SAL18200 a Sony “Made in Japan” lens – I expect that the production will soon shift to their Chinese or Malaysian plant. The fact that the China plant didn’t pass the official Chinese quality inspection doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence in the facility, so I was happy to pony up the few extra dollars for the Japan made label. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but that’s me.

The brochure states that the lens has a close focus of about 18 inches, but I have found in practice that it can focus as close as 12 inches at full extension – that’s at the 200mm focal length (300mm) so it’s very useful for close-ups as well as any general photography.

The lens is short – about 4 inches or so, with a 62mm filter, so its about 3 inches thick at its widest point. It’s short enough that the lens barrel doesn’t obstruct the on-board flash even when focusing close. The lens gave me a petal hood as well, which mounts very easily, and I reverse the hood on the lens body for easy transport.

The lens has focal length markings at 18mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm (APS format) which correspond to 27mm, 52mm, 75mm, 112.5mm, 150mm, 202.5 and 300mm in 35mm format.

Here’s a series of photographs taken at each focal length detent mark. These pictures were taken at Christman Park in Gaithersburg.

Sony SAL18200 18mm (27mm)
Sony SAL18200 35mm (52mm)
Sony SAL18200 50mm (75mm)
Sony SAL18200 75mm (112.5mm)
Sony SAL18200 100mm (150mm)
Sony SAL18200 135mm (202.5mm)
Sony SAL18200 200mm (300mm)
Sony SAL18200 the Menhir

Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park

Photographed with a Sony A700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5 –f/6.3 lens



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

I headed off to the Great Falls park last Saturday (02/02/08) to hike along the river and photograph the falls. It was beautiful out there… about 50 degrees – perfect hiking weather, although the trails and towpath were still muddy. I was carrying my Sony Alpha 700 and 2 lenses – a Sigma AF 28-80mm and the Tamron 70-300mm. The Tamron was for closeup views of the raging waters. The Sigma is a recent acquisition, and I was trying it out.

It’s still early in February, and we’ve already had a lot of rain in Montgomery county – the average rainfall for February is about 2.85 inches here, and by the 2nd, we already had about 3 inches… which means, every stream in the county is overflowing and that the Potomac is running full already. Normally, we’d have to wait until the Spring thaws.

Since my intent was to photograph the falls, I did not mind lugging along the heavy Tamron, but on my way over there, I was thinking about the most desirable characteristics for a hiking lens – good zoom range, rugged, light, cheap, close up capability etc. At the same time, the optical characteristics of the lens should be good enough that you don’t regret the quality of the pictures when you get back.

The more I thought about it, the Sigma I was carrying seemed to be the perfect fit. After all, it had a zoom range of 28-80mm, which is a 42-120mm on the Sony A700. Besides, it has a plastic body, which makes it lightweight. Great optical quality with multicoated aspherical lenses, very cheap so it would not matter if it was damaged or lost – and it has a 1:2 Macro capability, for those occasional very close-up shots of interesting grass or moss or little critters that I might come across.

I would have liked at least 35mm at the wide-angle, but I’ve found that in the open woodlands and hilly areas of Maryland , even a 50mm is sufficiently wide, since one can always step back a few paces to include more of the scene. The Sigma 28-80mm definitely qualified as a Cheap Awesome Lens. Some may complain about the “cheap” build quality – it’s plasticky – but one can’t fault it optically for the price.

The 1:2 macro capability is only at 80mm f/5.6 (120mm f/5.6 on the Sony Alpha 700) and is is a matter of moving a switch on the lens from Normal to Macro position to lock it. Now, f/5.8 is pretty slow, I was able to get decent images even at 100 ISO. I’m not complaining, since I can always increase the ISO to compensate. However, in Winter, with no overhead tree canopy and bright sunlight, it beats carrying an extra lens for the rare occasion one might want to take a real close up.
Here are some of the pictures at the Falls and along the Towpath. The river is very impressive this week.


The Tamron is a beast on the Sony Alpha 700 – it’s equivalent to 105mm-450mm and fairly fast for such a large focal length f/3.5 at the shorter end, and f/5.6 at the 450mm end. Fast enough to handhold at 100 ISO on a bright day. It’s a macro lens as well, and goes to 1:4 along the entire focal length range, which is pretty impressive. This is another Cheap Awesome Lens.Tamron 70-300mm– Potomac River and Towpath.


Potomac River

Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River

Potomac River 1/5 sec exposure
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River

Sigma 28-80mm – Potomac River

Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River 1/5 second
Potomac River 1/5 second
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River

Sigma 28-80mm Canal and Towpath

Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath – macro
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath

Sigma 28-80mm Great Falls Tavern

Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Gate at Widewater
Great Falls

Sigma 28-80mm – Great Falls Tavern

Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern

Sigma 28-80mm – Canal and Towpath

Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath

Sigma 28-80mm Macro Photos (approx 8-10 inches)

Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro

Tamron 70-300mm


Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls

Tamron – Wildlife

Wildlife
Wildlife
Wildlife

Tamron

Lichens on Rock
Lichens
Wildlife

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-f/5.6 Aspherical Macro 1:2 and Tamron 70-300mm f/3.9-f5.6, ISO 100, Circular Polarizer.



Creative Commons License
olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

Next Page »