A day with the 2020 Mazda CX-30

I recently had the privilege of testing out the new Mazda CX-30 in beautiful Santa Barbara with an awesome group of creatives. We had a blast test driving and capturing content from sunrise to sunset in a beautiful piece of machinery. 

It worked out that I was paired with Can Ahtam, who is an awesome photographer originally from Turkey and currently resides in Los Angeles. We met the night before shooting the Amtrak train running through the pristine Rosewood Miramar Resort, which hosted the event. There was lovely sunset at the resort’s private beach followed by a welcome gathering with the other creatives and folks with Mazda.

After a 4 am wakeup call, we made it to the coffee shop before they opened… so naturally I started taking long exposures of the CX-30 in the middle of the street with Can (pronounced “John” as that is what it translates to in Turkish) behind the wheel. 

It was still dark outside and the city of Santa Barbara was engulfed in fog. With a team-first mentality, Karl Shakur, dropped us a pin to a spot in the mountains above, so we quickly headed there thinking it might be the best and only option to get ‘good light’. We pulled up to two other CX-30’s as we knew Karl was in one, but not yet knowing that Matthew Miller and Steven Onoja where in the other. We found that golden light and the group filled with excitement enjoying such great conditions as we eventually found a couple cool spots for photos.

Matthew and Steven both looked dapper as well, making for awesome subjects to compliment the style of the CX-30. Collaborating with the crew we had that morning was very inspiring and set the tone for more teamwork throughout the day.

After breakfast, Can, Steven, Matthew and I explored in and around Santa Barbara looking for cool locations to pose the two CX-30’s that were metallically painted ‘Machine Grey’ and ‘Soul Red Crystal’. The design and features of this SUV really standout, from the visually smooth lines and integration of Apple CarPlay, Can and I were jamming in style the whole day with plenty of room and comfort. When behind the wheel, the driver is indulged in a silky smooth feel while hugging turns like a champ - plus you can feel the boost with Sport Mode holding the RPM’s a bit longer.

We had a memorable day that ended back in the mountains above Santa Barbara and the fog that was creeping in again from the coast thanks to another pin drop from Karl. It was almost time to get back for dinner which included a Q&A with the legend, Jimmy Chin, when Karl  turned to me and said, “Hey Drew, hop in. Let’s see if there’s a better spot up the road.” I knew we still have a good drive ahead of us and possibly in commuter traffic, but I hopped in the car just trusting that Karl knows his stuff when getting “the shot” and let’s just say he “road tested” the CX-30 which handled like an absolute champ around those curvy mountain road. 

We made it back for dinner just a few minutes late and Mr. Chin had a great talk answering questions from the larger crew of creatives. He sat down and had dinner with us afterwards and shared some stories of his adventures. It was a great event hosted by a company that cares about making a vehicle the consumer will feel equally as good to be in, as they do to drive.


Zeiss Batis 18mm Lens Review

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 1/100 sec f/4 ISO 1000

The Zeiss Batis super wide-angle lens manages to fit everything into the frame without sacrificing any detail or depth. Weighing in at a meager 11.6 ounces, less than a pound, it is a premium choice for shooters looking for a compact and quality lens.

Design

It caught me off guard a bit seeing how short the lens is and how it dramatically narrows in towards the body of the camera. I find myself grabbing the camera by this lens more often than any other because of how it naturally fits your hand. It also looks very sleek with lens hood on, which fits perfectly and the firm click lets you know it is locked into place. The smooth metal that makes up the majority of the lens is offset by the smooth rubber focus ring that glides continuously.

Sharpness

My favorite part about this lens was the sharpness from corner to corner, especially for being so wide at 18mm. It doesn’t miss a thing and the clarity is tremendous if you zoom in to inspect - not to mention the lens flares are easy on the eyes. I joked with my wife about the photo below because if you zoom in on the SUV in the lower right corner, you will see her waiting for me to be finished taking long exposures on a walking overpass in downtown Los Angeles. Be right there, hunny!

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 30 sec f/14 ISO 50

Bokeh

For being so wide, the lens creates considerable depth and bokeh when objects or focus points are closeup at f/2.8. It certainly is a nice feature to have for wide portraits when you want to show people in the whole scene. Having the OLED display on top of the lens is very helpful because you can precisely set the focus distance or depth of field - this is great for manually focusing for astrophotography as well.

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 1/3200 sec f/2.8 ISO 2000

True Color

This lens does a great job of keeping the darkness in the shadows even in harsh light conditions. The color rendering is solid, not too punchy, and I didn’t have to adjust colors too often and/or very much in post-processing. Also, there wasn’t any noticeable banding in my low-light photos like has happened in other lenses I have tried.

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 10 sec f/10 ISO 200

Overall Performance

The Batis 18m is a great overall lens as the overall quality is surely up to the Zeiss standard both in the construction and photo quality. I would recommend getting this lens because you can take it anywhere as it basically fits in a large jacket pocket, yet can capture so much quality information in one photo.

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 20 sec f/11 ISO 320


To buy the Zeiss Batis 18mm lens you can use this link… https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1243591-REG/zeiss_2136_691_batis_18mm_f_2_8_lens.html/BI/20832/KBID/16655


Zeiss Batis 85mm Lens Review

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 13 sec f/11 ISO 100

Compression comes at the cost of having a more narrow field of vision, but the reward is paramount when referring to the Zeiss Batis 85mm lens. The moderate telephoto lens first hit the market in 2015 and is still a highly regarded because of the exceptional photo quality.

 Design

 With a compact and sturdy construct, it almost feels like you’re holding a really smooth grenade in shape without the lens hood on. It weighs in a just under a pound (15.9 oz) and looks very professional on the camera with a sleek overall design.

Sharpness

I was amazed at the level of sharpness in the pictures and it is my favorite thing to obsess about when it comes to photography. There is nothing betting in my opinion then getting a great subject focused so crisply that it becomes the first and only thing that draws the eye in. This lens does it perfectly and I can see why others say the photos have a 3D quality to them.

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 1/640 sec f/2.2 ISO 640

Bokeh

On top of being razor-blade sharp, the bokeh rendering is silky smooth and very round. Some of the edges are a little jagged and the bokeh could be a little less transparent in certain areas, but this is only if you are nitpicking. You will be very happy with the depth it creates.

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 5 sec f/11 ISO 50

True Color

The vivid colors and rich contrast stand out right away as being exceptional with very little color correcting needed when editing. If anything, I found myself turning down the saturation slider a touch while slightly boosting the vibrance to achieve the look I wanted in most photos. That ‘Zeiss Pop’ is certainly in full effect with this bad boy.

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 1/2000 sec f/4 ISO 100

Overall Performance

This lens made its way onto my camera more often than any other since owning it and for good reason - it is phenomenal and so much fun to use! You really just need to use it for yourself to fully grasp how great it is, but every portrait photographer needs this lens and landscape folks like myself can get very creative with compression and depth. 

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 10 sec f/14 ISO 160

You can buy the Zeiss Batis 85mm lens by using this link… https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1140833-REG/zeiss_2103_751_85mm_f_1_8_batis_short.htmlBI/20832/KBID/16655

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