Sony Alpha cameras (and NEX as well) have two very nice features that make manual focusing a pretty effortless exercise. The first one is focus peeking, where the areas in focus are highlighted in a selected colour, and the other one is MF assist.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 22.48.31The way MF assist works is that when the camera is in MF mode, the preview screen on the LCD display or EVF is magnified, making it very easy to see when the subject is in focus. Once the MF assist is enabled, all you need to do is to turn the manual focus ring on your lens and the magnification kicks in.

However, if you are using third party lenses with the lens adapter in manual focus mode, the screen magnification doesn’t work. You can turn the focusing ring all day long, you will only have the benefit of focus peeking but not the MF assist.

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Sony SEL1018 F/4 10-18mm Wide-Angle Zoom Lens was made for the E-mount APS-C range of cameras, e.g. NEX-6,  Alpha 6000 (A6000) etc. Normally, using this type of a lens on the full frame cameras, such as A7, would cause a very heavy vignetting where the image, unless seriously cropped, would be pretty much useless.

Here is an example of using Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens on the full frame camera.

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The E-mount APS-C lenses work fine with the full frame E-mount cameras when the camera runs in the crop-mode, but at cost of a reduced resolution.

However, the Sony SEL1018 f/4 full frame sensor coverage is surprisingly good, with the vignetting being a real issue only at the ends of the range. When using the lens between 12 – 16mm, the vignetting can be very easily addressed in post processing.

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Color Efex Pro 4 by NIK software is a plugin that provides an excellent set of enhancements for color correction, retouching, and creative effects. The plug in works with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements,  Lightroom and Apple Aperture. Color Efex Pro 4 is available in Complete edition with 55 filters, or Select edition with 26 filters.

The interface is pretty simple, yet very intuitive. On the left side is the Filter / Recipe panel and on the right is the  adjustment panel, both of which can be toggled with the Tab key.  Once the image is “exported” from Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperture the default filter is applied – Professional Contrast.

Applying a filter to your image is fairly simple, select the filter from the list and it’s immediately applied to the image. You can preview the image in three ways; single image view (after), split preview with slider and side by side view (which can be viewed either side by side or above and below).

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Once the filter is applied you can make your own adjustments in the adjustment panel on the right. Each filter has different options, ranging from the intensity, tonal range, area, shape, to the filter opacity.

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