Thursday, February 27, 2014

Second Day with the E-M5

The second reason I bought the E-M5, was to replace my dying Panasonic G1, which has a broken card slot, so that I can use some of my c-mount lenses again. The G1 has a 16GB Kodak memory card stuck in there permanently. Still works, but annoying to get the pictures out through the cable.

But, allow me to get a few things off my chest; things that bothers me with the E-M5.

The combination of a high base ISO of 200, and the limited maximum shutter speed of 1/4000s pose problems shooting with large aperture lenses during the day.  Version 2.0 of the firmware for the E-M5 added ISO 100 (as LOW) but this can not be used in auto-iso as default, which is stupid, me thinks.

Another oversight for the E-M5, I think, is the focal length of manual focus lenses are not written to the EXIF.  Seriously, the focal length is already there when setting up the Image Stabilization for manual focus lenses.  Why is this focal length not part of the EXIF?  The ancient Pentax K10D did it. It would have been very helpful in identifying what lens was used after the shoot.

The last gripe I have, is that the E-M5 favours higher ISO instead of lower shutter speed. I don't understand it, even with a focal length of 24mm, it chooses to use ISO 6400 with a shutter speed of 1/125s. The stabilization is so good in this camera, one can use 1/focal length and still get sharp pictures.

Sorry you have to hear my whining about the E-M5.  I want to get these out of the way so that I can start enjoy it from now on :)  I do love this little camera.

Bokeh - Olympus E-M5 & JML 25mm f0.95 TV Lens @ f0.95. Click for larger.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Toy - Olympus OM-D E-M5

Thanks to reader Ferdinand, who alerted me of an Olympus E-M5 for sale on Kijiji; I am now the proud owner of a mint condition E-M5 with roughly 4000 shutter actuations. The camera came in the silver/black colour though I would prefer it all black, but given the good price, I won't complain. Before buying this camera, I was debating whether to buy the E-M10 or a used E-M5, or the Fuji X-E1/X-E2. In the end, I decided that the 5-Axel In-Body Stabilization of the E-M5 is more important to me.

The camera immediately presented me with challenges.  I am so used to the NEX UI, especially the NEX-6 which I have been using almost exclusively for a year. Compared to the E-M5, which has one of the most complicated configuration options, the NEX-6 is a simple camera. It took me a while to find the magnify feature for manual focus lenses. The configuration options of the E-M5 is simply mind boggling, and confusing. But I was able to set up the fn2 button as the magnify button and it works reasonably well.  This is pretty much all I need for the time being.

Bokeh - E-M5 & Kern-Paillard Switar 75mm f1.9. Click for larger.

In some ways, I prefer how the NEX-6 works over the E-M5. For example, the magnify feature. On the NEX-6, press the magnify button, and the screen is magnified; on the E-M5, you have to double press the magnify button to activate it, and press it again to magnify. Frustratingly, if you access the menu, it needs the double press again to re-activate. Also, I think the "Play" button on the E-M5 is in the wrong place; I had to loosen the grip in order to press this button to review pictures. Furthermore, if I use the EVF for focusing and then take the picture, then remove my eye from the EVF, the review picture is gone, from both the LCD and the EVF. On the NEX-6, the picture stays on either the EVF or LCD for as long as it's set to, or until you press the shutter button. Very inconvenient if you do a lot of chimping, because you would have to press the "Play" button to review the pictures, which adds more grief due to the placement of the "Play" button. While I am at it, I despise the placement of the power button. It's more logical to put it where the shutter button is, like the NEX-6, because you can easily turn the camera on or off using one finger without loosening the grip on the camera.

Rust, out of camera jpeg - E-M5 & Kern-Paillard Switar 75mm f1.9. Click for larger. 

Overall, I find the NEX-6 as a more responsive camera then the E-M5, and it has a better grip which makes it a lot easier to hold, but there are a lot of things I like about the E-M5.

The shutter sound on the E-M5 is the most beautiful I have heard in a camera. Quiet, silky, soothing; like the voice of an angel. It instills an emotional bond that attaches to every picture I take, and adds joy to the process of picture making. Simply lovely. I don't know if I can stand the sound of the NEX-6 again, or the even more ugly shutter sound of the 5D Mark II.

The 5-Axel In-Body Stabilization is fantastic, and rivals that of lens based systems. It's the main reason I bought this camera. I had a Pentax K10D, which also had an In-Body Stabilization, but I could not see or feel the effect, like I could with a Canon Image Stabilized lens, and therefore I could not gauge the effectiveness and was less confident about its usefulness. The E-M5 on the other hand, allows me to see the effect on the screen, just like the lens based ones do, and it minimizes the shake in the viewfinder, which in turn helps with long lenses when focusing.  This feature alone is worth getting the camera.

I also like the jpeg files out of the E-M5. Olympus has one of the best jpeg engines on the market. They look like they came out of a dedicated RAW converter. I will be shooting RAW+JPEG from now on.

I think I will get a long well with the E-M5.\

Blue Pails - E-M5 & Kern-Paillard Switar 75mm f1.9. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Minolta RF Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 - Another Look

I wrote about my first impression, and the second look, plus many photo samples of this Minolta RF Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 mirror lens over the last couple of years. It has proven itself for the purpose of its design: small, lightweight, and inexpensive. The inexpensive part does not apply any more because this lens is selling at a few times more than its original price, but it's truly small and light. This lens attaches to the NEX-6 and still fit in my coat pocket, even with its hood. The small size is less intimidating if you are taking pictures of people, especially strangers. The petite size makes me look like a tourist taking pictures :)

As much as I dislike mirror lenses in general, I am warming up to this little lens. It's not the sharpest lens in the world but it's excellent being a reflex lens. So many times I wanted to sell it to fund the upgrade of the camera, but could not pull the trigger. There will always be newer and better cameras, but a lens like this is getting harder and too expensive to buy if I regret the sale and want it back later.

One thing I do wish is in-body stabilization on the NEX-6. It would make using long lenses much easier, especially for focusing. This is the main reason I want an Olympus E-M1 or E-M5. For the time being, I enjoy using it and it can come in handy in many situations, like the pictures from yesterday's blog entry.

Sparrow - NEX-6 & Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens. Click for larger. 

Ongiara - NEX-6 & Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens. Click for larger. 

Little Richard? - NEX-6 & Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens. Click for larger. 

Donut Rings - NEX-6 & Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heavy, Wet Snow Aplenty

I was overjoyed this morning that the temperature will be in the positive territory, and I did have fun shooting with the Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 mirror lens. Just right before heading home, heavy and web snow started to come down, seemingly with a vengeance. It did, however, provided some interesting opportunities for photography. I stopped a couple times and shot a few frames. In a very short time, the lens, camera and myself were all wet. I was afraid the camera/lens might be damaged by moisture but everything turned out fine.

Man at work - Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens & NEX-6. Click for larger.

My Bike - Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens & NEX-6. Click for larger.

Fellow Cyclist - Minolta Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 Mirror Lens & NEX-6.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 - Photo Set

The temperature is now back to normal, hovering around negative single digits in celsius. This balmy weather has been a good incentive for me to go out during lunch and take some pictures, which I haven't done much since winter started. For some reason, I have been enjoying more black and white renditions of the pictures of late, probably because we have had so much snow so far.

I have had the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 mounted on the NEX-6 for the last few days. It actually looks very nice on the NEX-6, especially with its original vented hood; it's almost classic looking, a la film Leica M, and it balances very nicely. I like it as a walk around lens. The only thing that bothers me to no end, is the focusing lever. I am used to having a focus ring on lenses, but this one has just a lever on the side one uses to turn the focus mechanism. I was constantly looking for this stupid lever when I need to focus the lens. It's especially bad when using gloves.  Other than that, it's a very sweet and nice looking lens, with optical quality to match.

Dog Walker - Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 & NEX-6. Click for larger. 

Bike In Snow - Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 & NEX-6. Click for larger.

Observation Deck - Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 & NEX-6. Click for larger.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is Digital Full Frame the Holy Grail for the Masses?

I am no stranger to full frame, analog or digital. I shot 35mm film camera from early 1980s for almost 20 years, and have owned a few full frame digital, including the Canon 1Ds, Kodak SLR/c, Canon 5D, and currently 5D Mark II.  In the last few weeks I have been thinking about why, it seems, that digital full frame is the ultimate goal for a lot of people. Aside from a larger sensor that mates to the focal lengths of 35mm lenses 1:1, thinner shallow depth of field, and marginally better image quality, what makes people want to upgrade to full frame?

I have to ask myself that same question. Other than what's listed above, I can't think of any other reason. After using different (and concurrently most of the time) sensor formats, I am so used to adjusting myself to see and capture pictures through the viewfinder, regardless of what size the sensor is; Point & Shoots, Micro 4/3 (and 4/3), APS-C 1.5 (Sony), APS-C 1.6x (Canon), APS-C 1.7x (Sigma, yeah I had an SD-9, but it suffered from electrical problems so it was short lived), APS-H 1.3x (Canon 1D, 1D II, 1D III). I am as comfortable with a 50mm lens on a 1.5x crop camera as a 50mm lens on full frame. When I look through the viewfinder, my mind automatically compensates. I can't say I prefer shooting with full frame over APS-C or M4/3, although I have a preference to what lenses go with what camera.

Big Tree - Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f2 & NEX-6

So, do people just want full frame camera because it's full frame, and they can say I shoot with a full frame camera?  In most shooting circumstances, the size of the sensor is all but irrelevant, given the right lenses. I can't deny there is a certain amount of influence of that, but the most important reason has been image quality. Full frame back then was the pinnacle of digital sensors, but how times have changed.

Even the M4/3 format sensors have achieved amazing image quality not possible just a few years ago. The Olympus E-M5/E-M1 sensor is as good as most APS-C sensors and may even be better than some 18MP sensors that's been around for more than five years from a certain manufacturer. But the most amazing low light sensor is in the Fujifilm X-E2/X-T1. If you compared the RAW output (on dpreview), it's on par, or even better than the Sony A7 full frame sensor. I am always attracted to weird and unique features and that's why I had a Kodak SLR/c and Sigma SD-9.

For the last few weeks, it has been a struggle for me deciding which camera to upgrade to. The Sony A7 is my top of my list with great image quality and using all the legacy lenses as they were designed is an alluring feature.  Then there is the Olympus E-M5/E-M1 and the Fujifilm XE-2/X-T1. These two cameras keep distracting me from firmly committing myself to the A7.

The E-M5/E-M1's In-Body-Stabilization is something I have always wanted, and I want to replace my dying Panasonic G1 so that I can start using those wonky c-mount lenses again. The Fujifilm X-E2/X-T1 for its amazing image quality, especially high ISO. Besides, the sexy look of the X-T1 gives me wet dreams; I can not shake its image off my mind! This is a camera with retro done right.

So, full frame digital is not the ultimate and the end all of camera quest. To some, unique features like in-body-stabilization is more important than full frame. If I get any camera other than the A7 in the near future, it also means full frame is not as important to me as other camera features.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Where Are You, Canon?

As a long time Canon user, I was attracted to its products that were innovative and features that were a cut above its competitors. The original 3.2 MP G1, with its fast f2.0 lens, swivel screen and "low noise", got me into the realm of digital photography, despite the $1200CAD price tag. Then came the 6 MP digital Rebel 300, that got me into the DSLR "hell". For more than 10 years, I stuck with Canon, and accumulated many of its finest L lenses, and went through a variety of camera bodies from Rebels to 1D series. At the current count, I still have a 20D (IR), 5D II, and a 1D III.

When the competition overtook Canon in image quality, low noise, and other areas (hello Nikon D700), I believed Canon would be back with competing and affordable products. But no, we have seen the same 18MP crap [that's not a spelling error] sensor iterating itself over and over again for years, with poor dynamic range, poor high ISO and generally poor image quality compared to the competition. The 1Dx and 5D III is better, but most cannot afford.

Ducks - NEX-6 & Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5

The recent product introduction is even more telling. All the underdogs, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and even Sigma, are introducing innovative products. What did Canon bring us? Rehashed G1x as the G1x II and Rebel T2i in the form of T5. Compared that to the sexy Fuji X-T1, 4K Panasonic GH4, highly praised OM-D E-M1, mouth watering Alpha A7/A7r, and even the Sigma DPx Quattro with its unique Foveon sensor, it's not hard to see that the competitors are not sleeping at the helm, as Canon seems to be.

I guess Canon is no longer interested in making cameras for the photo enthusiasts like me; someone who likes better image quality, smaller body, with features that depart from the ho-hum. Luckily for us, there are so many other choices.

Lone Walker - NEX-6 & Helios-103 53mm f1.8

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Black & White Photo Set with Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5

I really like the Jupiter-3. It's compact, looks nice, and optically interesting. When mounted on the NEX-6, the set still looks small due to its L39 mount. It's actually a tiny bit longer than the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4, but thinner. I can put the NEX-6 with the Jupiter-3 in my coat pocket without trouble.

Despite its age, the lens renders very nice pictures with good tones; I especially like the black & white pictures from it. Lots of details in the captures. The most amazing thing is that this lens is very sharp, to the corners, on APS-C sensor. Even at f1.5 wide open, the corners are very respectable. This is something I didn't expect.

This lens makes me want the A7 even more.

All pictures below were taken with NEX-6 & Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5. Most of them stopped down to f8.

Bokeh and flare test @ f1.5

Monday, February 10, 2014

More Helio-103 53mm f1.8 Sample Pictures

When I first did the adapter for the Helios-103, I had to use it on the generic 17-32mm helicoid, because it wouldn't focus to infinity on the Yeenon 18-33mm. I redid the adapter yesterday using the correct thickness of filter rings and was able to make it focus to infinity on the Yeenon. I shot some samples with it and had a much better shooting experience than the last time with the cheap helicoid that had a lot of play. The problem with softness on one side of the picture has improved on re-make.

Overall, this lens is very sharp stopped down from about f4. At wider apertures, from 1.8 to f2.8, it's a tad soft with loss of contrast. There is almost no vignetting on the NEX-6. Still, I am not a big fan of the bokeh from this lens. I think it's not very pleasing, to me. Your mileage may vary, of course.

All pictures below were taken with NEX-6 and Helios-103 53mm f1.8 Lens.

Bokeh @ f1.8

How to Make an Adapter for Your Helios-103 53mm f1.8 Lens for Sony E-Mount - Part II

Last time in Part I, we covered what we need for making the adapter. In Part II, we are going to test all the parts to make sure we can focus the lens to infinity before we make everything permenant.

  1. Remove the glass from both the 49mm and 52mm filters if not already done so
  2. Screw on the 52mm filter ring on the helicoid
  3. Place 49mm filter on the 52mm filter ring, with female thread side towards the 52mm filter (opposite to each other, see picture)
  4. Slip the lens onto the 49mm filter ring.  Hold them together and mount the loosely packed adapter onto any NEX camera.
  5. Turn the helicoid to the fully retracted (thinnest) position, and point the camera at a spot that's very far away (infinity focus).
  6. Adjust the focusing ring on the helicoid. If you can't get a clear picture, the two filter rings together are too thick. You need to get one or both of them with thinner rings. 
  7. If you can focus past infinity by a large margin, get thicker filter rings. The more you can focus past infinity, the longer the minimum focus distance will be.  It's ok if focus goes past infinity by a small amount. We are not trying to achieve perfect focus at infinity here.
  8. If you can't achieve infinity focus with the two filter rings, get thinner filter rings and repeat steps 1 to 6 until you can focus to infinity.  I find that with the 17-32mm helicoid, it's much easier to achieve infinity than the 18-33mm. Yes, one millimeter makes a huge difference!

The picture below shows the order and orientation of the filters in relation to the lens. Note the two filters are mounted opposite of each other.

When correctly put together, the adapter should look like the picture below. The 49mm filter should almost disappear into the 52mm filter ring.

If everything checks out and you have infinity focus, it's time to make it more permanent.  Please refer to the first picture above for reference while following the steps below:

  1. Clean the filter rings and the lens barrel with lens cleaning tissue or mild soapy water.  Allow the items to dry before proceeding further.
  2. Mix the epoxy according to manufacturer's recommendations.
  3. Apply the epoxy liberally to the inner threads of the 49mm filter ring.
  4. Slip the lens into the 49mm filter ring from the rear of the filter (male threads towards the lens) and push firmly against the filter.  Make sure the filter ring is sitting on the lens evenly.
  5. Apply epoxy on the inner threads of the 52mm filter ring.
  6. Slip the 52mm filter ring, female thread towards the lens, on top of the 49mm filter ring. The 49mm filter should go inside the 52mm filter. Ensure that all of them are evenly seated.
  7. Place the lens face down, with the filter rings resting on it.  press the filters firmly together on the lens, and ensure they are all seated evenly.  
  8. Mount the adapter on the camera, and rotate the lens until the aperture index is on top and in the middle of the lens relative to the camera.
  9. Unmount the adapter, making sure you don't move the lens position. Let it set and cure over night.
  10. With the Yeenon 18-33mm helicoid, the Helios-103 53mm f1.8 lens focuses as close as 0.3m from the sensor, or about 12 inches. Very handy for close ups.
Complete lens with hood. Click for larger.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to Make an Adapter for Your Helios-103 53mm f1.8 Lens for Sony E-Mount - Part I

One reason why the Helios-103 and Jupiter-8M Contax RF mount lenses are so cheap, is because they don't come with any sort of focus mechanisms. The Kiev rangefinder camera, which these lenses are mounted on, has focusing built into the camera body.  This may sound strange, but it was actually quite common. Some of the Topcon cameras were made like this, as was the Kowa 35mm body, among others. This simplifies the lens design and make lens manufacturing much cheaper and easier to make.

This is both good news and bad news for us lens addicts. Good news is that it's very cheap, often about $10 to $20 for a very good lens, and the bad news is that a lens that can't focus is not very useful.  Fortunately, it's not difficult to add focusing capabilities to these lenses.  In fact, it's more advantageous to roll your own.  Why? depending on the helicoid you use, the lens can focus closer than what it's designed to. In part I of this series, We will talk about the materials you will need for the Helios-103 53mm f1.8 lens. The procedure for other lenses should be similar, but you probably need different sized filter combinations.

What you will need:

  • A focus helicoid with a range of about 18-33mm (or 17-32mm, the more common and cheaper ones on eBay) with E-mount on one end, and 52mm opening on the other
  • One 49mm filter ring (more about this later)
  • One 52mm filter ring (more about this later)
  • J-B Weld or J-B Kwik or any kind of epoxy that can bond with metal
  • Helios-103 53mm f1.8 Kiev/Contax RF mount lens without focus helicoid

The helicoid I use, is the Yeenon 18-33mm M42-52mm. I have had this helicoid for more than a year and it has held up well with very regular use. The more common, and cheaper helicoid you can buy is the 17-32mm that almost everybody else sells. It's probably good enough to get started.

For filters, you will want to use the thinnest ones that you can get. As you can see, filters come in various thicknesses. The thinner ones gives you better chance of achieving infinity focus. When it comes to focusing, 1 mm means you can focus to infinity or not.

The trickiest part, is finding the right kind of 49mm and 52mm filters. The good news is that the 49mm filter ring will fit the lens almost perfectly, provided you have the right one. For 49mm filter, you will need one that the glass is fitted from the bottom, and for the 52mm filter, you will need one where the glass is fitted from the front. Below are pictures to help you understand what the heck I am talking about:

In the picture above, the filter on the right has the glass fitted from the top, and is held in place by a thin ring that screws on top of the glass. You will need the 52mm filter like this one. The filter on the left with glass fitted from the bottom. Note the space that extends from the rim where the glass sits on; this space is what stops the lens barrel from falling through on the 49mm filter and this is the reason why we need this kind of filter for the 49mm.  To recap: 52mm filter needs to have the glass fitted from the top; 49mm filter needs the glass to be fitted from the bottom.

To remove the glass from the filter with top fitted glass, you turn the notches (circled in red) with a spanner wrench counterclockwise until the it comes off the filter. The picture below shows the filter with glass fitted from the bottom. The glass is usually held in place with a thin metal spring. Use something thin and small to prick the spring outwards to release it. If you do not see a spring, you will need to break the glass. The safe way to do this is to put the filter in a small plastic bag, and then break the glass pointy and heavy. This way the broken glass will be inside the bag.

The reason we have spent so much time talking about the filters is because if you don't have the right kind of filters, it would be difficult to focus to infinity with the 17-33mm focus helicoid.

Next time we will talk about how to test all the parts together to make sure you can focus the lens to infinity.

Part II is here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Photo Samples - Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5

My L39 to Sony E-mount adapter came within a week after I purchased it and shipped from the US. It's great to be able to buy adapters cheap from the US because the shipping is usually 2 to 3 times faster for a very reasonable cost of under $2.

I couldn't wait to mount the Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5 lens on it and try it out.  One thing was immediately apparent, and disappointing, is that the minimum focus distance is ONE meter, even worse than the Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton, which is 0.7m. Oh well. This is normal with range finder lenses, unfortunately. With that aside, I like the this little lens. Reasonably and sharp enough for portrait wide open.  In fact, I like the pictures taken at f1.5 quite a bit. Yes it's not bitingly sharp but it's quite acceptable. This lens is perfect for shooting people in low light. I can see why so many people love the Sonnar 50mm f1.5, Zeiss or not.

William, not liking his picture taken - NEX-6 & Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5 @ f1.5. Click for larger.

William - NEX-6 & Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5 @ f1.5. Click for larger.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Helios-103 53mm f1.8 Kiev/Contax RF Mount - Sample Pictures

The Helios-103 53mm f1.8 lens in Kiev/Contax RF mount does not come with a focus ring. It's like an enlarging lens. The focus mechanism is on the camera body. There are mount adapters for the Sony E-mount, but is very pricey.  I am cheap, so I decided to make it mount on my focus helicoid instead of buying one. Paying more than $100 for an adapter to mount a $10 lens does not seem justifiable. I fully understand the tolerance will be much worse than the commercial adapter, but I can live with it.

The lens turns out to be exceptionally sharp when stopped down a bit. slightly soft with loss of contrast wide open, but still usable. I think it will be a very nice for low light/indoors.  One side of the lens is slightly softer than the other, I am sure this is due to the home made adapter. One thing I do not like much, is the bokeh. It's less than pleasing to my eyes. But, this is the first time I shot with the lens, perhaps I shouldn't conclude so hastily.

Helios-103 53mm f1.8 on the NEX-6. Click for larger.

Bokeh - Helios-103 53mm f1.8 & NEX-6 @ f1.8. Click for larger.

Man at work -  Helios-103 53mm f1.8 & NEX-6.
Old & New -  Helios-103 53mm f1.8 & NEX-6

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Arsat H 50mm f2 Nikon Mount - Sample Pictures

The Arsat H 50mm f2 doesn't look or feel like the older Russian lenses that I know; it's more like a 1980s Japanese lens in terms of build and feel. Very well built with a good heft.  Focus is smooth with very long travel. This is an entry level lens, but does not feel or built like one.

I haven't used enough to pass judgements on many areas of the lens, specifically the bokeh, but so far, I think it's optically competent. Definitely no worse than most Japanese manual focus lenses in the same focal length and aperture. I like the long focus travel; it makes precise manual focus so much easier. But to me, f2 is a rather slow aperture for a 50mm lens; it's not so much as too slow but more to do with more shallow depth of field to isolate the subject.

Will update when I use it more.

Arsat H 50mm f2 on NEX-6. Taken with 5D II & EF 100mm f2.8L IS.  Click for larger.

Angry Birds - Arsat H 50mm f2 & NEX-6. Click for larger.

Snickers - Arsat H 50mm f2 & NEX-6. Click for larger.

Noise Curfew - Arsat H 50mm f2 & NEX-6. Click for larger.

A Walk in snow - Arsat H 50mm f2 & NEX-6

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Voigtlander Color-Skoperax 35mm f2.8 QBM

The Color-Skoparex 35mm f2.8 in Rollei QBM mount was one of the lenses I bought from the camera show last Sunday.  I took it out today and shot a few frames.  Side by side, the Skoparex and the Zeiss Distagon look almost identical, except the name ring and the coating. The Skoparex has a newer, multi-coating on the elements and you can see from the picture below, that it has much less reflection than the Zeiss. Physically, the two lenses share the same design.

Looking at the pictures from the Skoparex, there is no surprise here.  It performs nearly identical the the Distagon 35mm f2.8. In other words, it's not a bad lens, but on the NEX-6, the edges are not quite as sharp as the center although at f8, it's quite good. I would imagine the edges would not be as good on the A7 full frame, but then I could be wrong. It all depends on how the sensor reacts to the lens.  Some lenses, namely, Leica M lenses, perform so well on film, but don't fare too well on the A7/A7r.

On the NEX-6, the center of the lens is excellent, even at f2.8, but as stated above, the edge is less than optimal. It's unfortunate that none of my QBM to EOS adapters can focus the lens to infinity, or else I would have tried the lens on the 5D II and see how the true edges are.

All the pictures below were taken with Sony NEX-6 & Voigtlander Color-Skoparex 35mm f2.8.