For several months this year, I planned my way to this earthly paradise. It is fortunate that I found many local friends who were willing to help and accompany me during my stay there. With a lot of sites that have not yet been photographed, Kota Bima – as it is known in the Indonesian language – is a real hidden paradise for a travel photographer.
Many places are still untouched and can be visited without payment or going through tour agencies. For this trip I brought along the Sony A7RII and A6000 cameras as well as five ZEISS lenses: the full Batis range made up of the 2.8/18, 2/25, 1.8/85, and 2.8/135 lenses, as well as a pre-production sample of the new Milvus 1.4/25. With these gear, I had a wide range of set-up from ultra-wide angle to telephoto without too much weight. They were what I needed to capture everything from the beautiful people to the amazing landscapes.
I started traveling from Dompu and Bima Regency to Sape in Bima, which are almost 200km apart with winding roads and occasional severe road surfaces. Many places do not have actual paved roads, but my bizarre local friends from the Alpharian Bima Community are “trained” to drive through the potholes and bumps. Each stopover for photography opportunities and breaks feels exceptional. East-North as well as West-South of Bima boast of beautiful beaches, hills and mountains in addition to the lovely local folks. Most of the beaches are pristine and often you can spend an entire day without seeing too many people – one can probably find themselves alone there for hours. I was also truly amazed with the kind hospitality extended to me as an outsider. Bravo Bima Alpharian, “Anda Semua Luar Biasa” (translated to: you’re all extraordinary)!
I traveled during hot and dry weather that could go up to 42 degrees Celsius at times. As I was staying outdoor for 10 days, it was a necessity for my gears to be able to operate perfectly in the challenging weather conditions. I did not face a single problem with the lenses I had with me, and was not disappointed by the quality, reliability and build; the last point is especially true of the Milvus 1.4/25. Made of metal and glass, the lens has got significant weight which provide stability though it may feel too heavy for a small camera body to handle if you are walking around with the set-up.
In terms of image quality, I was pleasantly surprised with how the lens worked when adapted on a full-frame E-mount camera; I paired the lens with the Metabones IV on a Sony A7RII and the result was fantastic. The Milvus 1.4/25 offers strict control of color aberrations as well as sharp images and amazing colors. Beautiful bokeh is produced when shot wide open at f/1.4 though with a little vignette. While I typically work with the Batis lens family on my travels, I enjoyed this experience with the pre-series Milvus 1.4/25 which provides me with an advantage for low light shots especially.
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