Friday, August 31, 2012

Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL - Set #2

Here is another set of pictures taken with the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 lens.  I am enamored of this beautiful lens.  It has the good looks and delivers the picture quality.  A gem among DKL mount lenses.

Lady with red hair - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger.

Street Crossing - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. 

Smoke break - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. 

Flowers - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bicycle Posts in Toronto

Bicycle posts in Toronto has been slowly increasing in number as more people are riding their bikes.  You can see them practically everywhere in public places.  For decades, they remained unchanged, like the one below.  A ring bolted to a post.  It's functional, if not boring.  Last year, a project was started to create more interesting bike posts, mostly designed by students.  Unfortunately, there aren't that many of them and most of bike posts are still the same old.

Bicycle Posts near Bellevue Square Park - NEX-5N & Canon FD 85mm f1.8 @ f1.8. Click for larger.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yet Another Sony NEX Camera, But No New Lenses

Once again, the rumor is spot on regarding the Sony NEX-5R.  Another EVIL camera from Sony, but where are the lenses!?!  This I do not understand.  Sony churns out cameras like clockwork, and yet they are not able to produce more decent lenses for the NEX.  The E-50mm f1.8 is a very nice lens and is in right direction, with stabilization and a fair price.  The Zeiss 24mm f1.8 is nice, but priced for the select few, not the masses.  We need more lenses like 35mm f1.8 (which is coming), redesigned 16mm f2.8, 20mm f2/f2.8, 28mm f2 and 85mm f1.8.  All these lenses should also work on the future Full Frame NEX.

Come on Sony, your NEX customers have waited long enough.  We deserve some good but reasonably priced glass.

NEX-5N & Pentacon 29mm f2.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL - Bokeh Samples

The Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 is by far my favourite DKL mount lenses, and I am sure for a lot of people who own this lens as well.  It's such a beautiful lens to hold and behold, not to mention the fabulous optical performance.  Went out with it today and shot some pictures to show the bokeh of this lens, for those who may want to know.

Bokeh #1 - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger.

Bokeh #2 - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger.

Bokeh #3 - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pentacon 100mm f2.8 Sample Picture

When I bought this lens at the camera show, I saw no action on the aperture, so I assumed the blades were stuck.  Later I disassembled the lens and found that there were no blades inside!  There are also some haze inside the elements, but for $20, I thought I would give it a shot and perhaps it can be cleaned/repaired.  But, without aperture blades, there isn't much can be done unless I can find the missing parts.

This lens should be the same lens as the Meyer-Optik Trioplan 100mm f2.8.

Anyways, took some shots with it today and sure enough, most of the pictures came out hazy, especially those shot against strong lights.  But, some level/contrast adjustments brings back some usable pictures.  But I guess I will be stuck with shooting at open apertures for a while.  Even at f2.8, the lens is very usable and quite sharp.  But the lens can not see any side light or strong lights, or it will become hazy.  I think a functional and clean version of this lens would be quite a nice lens to shoot with.

Crab Apples - Sony NEX-5N & Pentacon 100mm f2.8 M42 Mount

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shooting Wide Open with Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7

A while ago, I got a few lenses from the photo show with stuck apertures, and one (Pentacon 100mm f2.8) without aperture blades!  Naturally, these lenses are much cheaper and I was hoping to either find a place to fix them inexpensively or do it myself.  Well, there is always a question of time.  I haven't gotten any of them fixed, but decided to shoot with them anyway, wide open.  Today we have the Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7 in YS mount.

The YS mount looks almost identical to M42 mount, except the thread size.  It's 42mm x 0.75 whereas M42 is 42mm x 1.00.  For a few minutes I was puzzled by why it wouldn't be screwed in all the way, and then realized it's YS mount.  Luckily I have a bunch of YS mount adapters, so I used the YS-MD mount and shot with it for a couple of times.

This Carsen-Polaris lens was a house brand.  Like many retailers of the 70s and 80s, they put their name on some OEM lenses and sold them as their own.  Other similar house brands are JCPenny, Sears, and Spiratone.  I have no idea who made these lenses, but for some reason, it reminds me of the Minolta Rokkor 85mm f1.7, probably because they both have same maximum aperture, and are very well made.

In terms of optical quality, I can only judge for its wide open performance, and I must say it's not bad at all.  Not exceptionally sharp, like the Canon 85mm f1.2L, but it does render pictures very nicely, and as a portrait lens, bokeh is quite sweet.  Like most older lenses, purple and green flinging is quite bad, and flare control is not very good either.  This lens does not seem to have multi-coating.  I really would like to see how it performs slightly stopped down, but that has to wait until the aperture is fixed.

Pink Flower - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Wall-E's Evil Twin? - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Purple Flower - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Young Sun Flower - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Afternoon Reading - NEX-5N & Carsen-Polaris 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shades of Gray

Dark Clouds over Port of Toronto - NEX-5N & Olympus OM 35mm f2. Click for larger.

All my pictures are shot in RAW, and naturally, in colour, but I also love black and white (technically, gray). With certain subjects, the elimination of colours seems to add more impact and power.  Unfortunately for me, I am not very good at converting colour to black & white, so most of my black and white pictures are converted with pre-sets in Lightroom or filters in Photoshop with some slight tweaks.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Set of Pictures with Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 Enlarging Lens

Even though I am not a big fan of the Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 with the square aperture, I decided to take it out again for some general shooting as a normal lens.  Found that it's not overly sharp at infinity, though it's not bad, except the corners is fairy bad, compared to other enlarging lenses I have used.  At close range, the sharpness is excellent.  Of course, this could be due to the mounting of the lens that created unevenness.  Overall, it's definitely an interesting lens to shoot, especially the weird bokeh.

Reflections - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 Enlarging Lens. Click for larger.

Close up - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 Enlarging Lens. Click for larger.

Grocery Shopping - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 Enlarging Lens. Click for larger.

Disturbing Bokeh - NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 Enlarging Lens. Click for larger.

Please Pray for obakesan's Wife

Fellow blogger obakesan, who's wife is fighting for her life at the moment, as stated in his latest blog post. Please send your prayers and well wishes to help him through this difficult time.  I am praying for her to a complete recovery.  As you know, there is power in numbers.  Please, let us all pray for her, and let obakesan know that we care.  Leave your comments at his post.

Thank you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Full Frame Sony NEX

The Sony Alpha Rumor site has a posting about the up coming full frame Sony NEX with a SR5 (highest) rating. Generally, posts with SR5 rating are almost always correct.  This is indeed an excellent news.  The only rangefinder style full frame camera is currently made by Leica: the M9 and M9 Monochrom.  Most of us mortals can not afford such expensive cameras.  A full frame rangefinder that can auto focus and thousands of dollars less than the Leica?  What's not to like?

The only question is: How will it be implemented?  The current E-Mount, from the look of it, does not seem to be able to accommodate a full frame sensor.  So a new mount or a modified E-Mount maybe possible.  For me personally, it's not a real problem, as I only have two E-mount auto focus lenses, and I am willing to accept a new mount.

If Sony can pull off this feat with a full frame sensor in an NEX style body, I bet many people will forgo their current big full frame DSLRs.

Interesting and exciting times.  Can't wait for the official announcement.

I see pixels -- NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Componar 50mm f4.5 Enlarging lens with 4-blade aperture at f5.6 or f8.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Minolta MC W.Rokkor 28mm f2.5 Close Up Samples

Most wide angle lenses are designed and optimized for mid distance/infinity, yet at the same time, they offer very close minimum focus distance.  Generally, the wider the lens, the closer you can focus.  There are exceptions, of course.  This particular Minolta MC W.Rokkor can only focus to 0.5 meters, whereas most 28mm lenses can focus to at least 0.35m.  0.5m is what most 50mm lenses will focus down to.  In any case, I am sure there is a good reason for this rather long minimum focus distance for the Rokkor 28mm f2.5, but I will never know exactly what.  I decided to test how it performs at close distance anyway, and I found it to be quite good, actually.  I especially like the bokeh, which is much better than the OM 35mm f2 wide open.

Royal Enfield Motorcycle - NEX-5N & Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 28mm f2.5. Click for larger.

Upside down - NEX-5N & Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 28mm f2.5. Click for larger.

Umbrella - NEX-5N & Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 28mm f2.5. Click for larger.

Bokeh - NEX-5N & Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 28mm f2.5. Click for larger.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Slow August

I can't explain it.  I am least photographically productive during the July and August months.  Maybe the heat makes me want to stay indoors, or I simply find the strong sun/lighting not ideal for taking pictures, or, I just want to take a break from taking pictures. I am sure I will resume my normal schedule of updating this blog comes September, when the temperature turns cooler and colours of tree leaves become more interesting.

Death of a flower - NEX-5N & Olympus OM 35mm f2.0

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Is Acceptable Optical Quality?

Many people, including some readers of this blog, find the NEX kit lens 18-55mm and the 16mm f2.8 lenses to be optically unacceptable.  Yet, many, including me, find these lenses optically acceptable, given the price point.  What constitutes lens quality as acceptable?  Obviously, everyone has their own level of acceptance.

Optical quality is more than just sharpness. Distortion is probably the biggest concern for many people after sharpness.  Then there are other aspects such as vignetting, colours, rendering style, bokeh, flare resistance, and possibly others that affect our perception of optical quality. Personally, I think I have a pretty low standard of optical quality acceptance, when price of the lens is weighted it.  I am easily satisfied.  You might think that after using so many lenses, I would become a lens snob, but that's not true at all.  I always evaluate a lens from its target audience.  One should not expect the same optical quality from a kit lens from those that costs a thousand dollars or more.

Glass Stairs - NEX-5N & E-16mm f2.8. Click for larger.

In the case of the Sony 18-55mm kit lens for NEX, it's on par with most other manufacturer's kit lenses, though I think the original Panasonic 14-45mm (metal mount) is one of the best kit lenses I have used, but they all have their short comings, especially in the distortion department.  Manufacturers are increasingly relying on in-camera correction for lens design flaws.  I think this is a bad trend, especially when you are paying hundreds of dollars for a nice prime lens; you want a lens that's well designed from the beginning, not a patch up job by software afterwards.

Different kinds of horses - NEX-5N & E-16mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Adventure in New York City with Sony Kit Lenses

We have been planning to visit New York City for at least two years.  Last year, just before our planned date of visit, there was the hurricane (or was it a tornado?) in New York City and we had to cancel it.  This year, one day before we would leave, I got sick, and had to cancel the hotel room, but I felt better later so we decided to stick to our plan.  Of course, re-booking the same room cost more!

Driving there was uneventful.  We took a 45-minute break half-way in the trip, and arrived in New York City in approximately 9 hours from Toronto, as there was some traffic jam.  I had been to New York City a couple of times, but each time it was short and for business, so didn't really have much time to explore the city.  Three words jump out of my head about New York City: Big, Busy, Chaotic.  Regardless of time of day, at least where we stayed (West 32nd st. and 6th Ave), people are everywhere.  It was even worse around Time Square.  Definitely a huge change from the relatively tame and slow Toronto.

On the phone -- NEX-5N & Sony E-16mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Hot Dog Vendor - NEX-5N & E16mm f2.8. 

I brought five lenses with me: E-16mm f2.8, E-18-55mm Kit lens, OM 24mm f2.8, OM 35mm f2, and Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4.  I ended up using only the two Sony auto focus lenses, but mostly just the 18-55mm kit lens.

I find the 16mm f2.8 lens more enjoyable to use, especially in low light (night time).  It's perfect for street shooting, though it's slightly too wide for this purpose.  To me, the optical quality is quite acceptable as a travel lens.  On the other hand, I am less happy with the 18-55mm kit zoom lens.

Tiles for America - NEX-5N & 18-55mm Kit lens. Click for larger.

The distortion at the wide end on the kit zoom lens is horrendous, if you shoot RAW and don't have the lens profile (correction) turned on.  The wide end, unfortunately, is the most used focal length in travel.  When I first looked at the pictures I shot, I couldn't below how bad they are.  Fortunately, Lightroom has a lens profile for this lens and it corrects the distortion quite easily.

Lower Manhattan - NEX-5N & 18-55mm kit lens. click for larger.

At the long end, the distortion is not as objectionable.  The lens is actually quite sharp, but the distortion really destroys it.  Even with lens correction, it's not perfect.  There are other good qualities this lens has: small, light, and has image stabilization.  It's a good choice for travel, but I think (or hope) the 18-200mm ultra zoom is better for travel and should be optically better, at least (hopefully) better at distortion control.

Statue of Liberty - NEX-5N & 18-55mm kit lens.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pan Alive! 2012

Pan Alive! is an annual steel pan competition in Toronto. This year, the event was held at the Lamport Stadium.  My older sons Dillon and Ryan joined the steel pan camp this summer and they were playing in the Jesse Ketchum Pan Vibrations.  It was fun and the music was great.  If you like steel pan music, be sure not to miss next year's competition.

Steel Pans - Canon 1D III & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

JK Pan Vibrations Playing -- Canon 1D Mark III & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

Energetic Player - Canon 1D III & EF 85mm f1.2L II & f1.4. Click for larger.

Player for the Metro Dome Group - 1D III & EF 85mm f1.2L II @ f1.4

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Loving the Rollei HFT 50mm f1.8 Planar

Bike -- NEX-5N & Rollei HFT 50mm f1.8 Planar QBM Mount

I have been shooting with this lens for the last few days.  Not a lot of pictures, but have taken it with me when I am out and about.  Amazingly sharp lens with beautiful colours.  It's truly a bargain for a Zeiss designed lens.  It's well made too.