Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Few More Pictures From the Distillery District

Walking on Stone House Walk -- 5D & EF200mm f1.8 @ f1.8. Larger Picture.

Tank House Lane -- 5D & EF200mm f1.8 @ f2.0. Larger Picture.

Sign of Autumn on Stone House Walk -- 5D & EF200mm f1.8 @ f1.8. Larger Picture.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

G1 Going for Repair Tomorrow

My G1 developed a symptom that after power down for about 10 minutes or more, then turn back on, the first picture is always over exposed, sometimes by as much as 3 stops. And, once in a while, I would get a message that says "Mode Dial not in correct position." although I know for a fact that it is.

I sent Panasonic a service request, which I got an auto reply saying that I would receive a reply in a few days. After 7 days, I received nothing. Sent them a complain mail and this time, I got a reply back in 3 days. They told me they could not find the request I sent.

Anyways, instead of e-mail, I decided phone call would be much more direct and faster. True enough. Phone was quickly answered. Support staff was very pleasant and helpful. In the end, they sent me a Canada Post XpressPost label I could print and send in the camera, on their dime. I have shot 15,7xx pictures with the G1 since April 3, 2009.

Panasonic promised the turn around time for repair is 48 hours after receipt. That's extremely fast. The last time Canon fixed my 1D Mark II, it took them 6 weeks (and two tries).

I have my fingers crossed.

One of the last few pictures taken with the G1 yesterday. G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 @ f1.6. Larger Picture.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sample Macro Shots from Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6

Took a few shots in people's gardens. The macro mode on the Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 is extremely good and versatile. A very welcome feature, since many c-mount lenses in this focal length have very long minimum focus distance.

Fall Leaf on car hood -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 @ f2.8. Larger Picture.

The Fly -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 @ f2. Larger Picture.

G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6. Larger Picture.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Distillery District

I am ashamed to say that I didn't discover the Distiller District until a couple of years ago. I mean I saw it, passed by it, heard about it, but never went inside. What a mistake that was, because it's a beautiful place with lots of photo opportunities. It has quite a few art galleries, and the restaurants, pubs, cafes, etc., are always packed, especially in the evenings. If you have a chance, do visit it. You can check out their web site.

Tank House Street -- 5D & EF 200mm f1.8L @ f1.8. Larger Picture.

Flowers In Window -- 5D & EF 200mm f1.8L @ f2.0. Larger Picture.

Lonely Chair -- 5D & EF 200mm f1.8 @ f1.8. Larger Picture.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hot Dog Stand

The more I use the Kodak Cine Ektar 25mm f1.9, the more I like it. It has by far the largest imaging circle of all my 25mm cine lenses. When stopped down, even the edge is very acceptable.

By the way, I have finally created a Pro account on Flickr. The image below is now linked to the first set of photos I uploaded. I have had enough with pBASE. Their downtime is way too often and not acceptable. After using it for the last 6 or 7 years, I will probably not renew it when it expires in 4 months.

Hot Dog Stand at King & University. G1 & Kodak Cine Ektar II 25mm f1.9. Larger Picture.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mellow Yellow

Possibly one of the most striking building around the downtown area, at least in terms of colour, Gino's Pizza repainted the building at the corner of Queen & Church when they opened the store a few years ago. I especially like the lighting in the evening sun light, like today.

Gino's Pizza Building -- G1 & Kodak Cine Ektar II 25mm f1.9. Shot in Vivid Film jpeg. Larger Version.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Evening Serenade

This man was playing at the south side of the Distillery District near the parking lot. Beautiful music for a nice evening.

Evening Serenade -- 1D Mark III & Carl Zeiss S-Planar 60mm f2.8 Makro. Larger Picture.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nikon Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Ai-S

For years, I have had more manual focus Nikon lenses I can remember, but never really kept them. Why?!? I have had the 58mm f1.4, 85mm f2, 35mm f1.4, 180mm f2.8 ED, 300mm f2.8, etc, etc. I have heard so much about Nikon lenses great quality and sharpness. With the exception of the 180/2.8ED and the 300mm f2.8 Ai-S, I can't see them any better than the Canon equivalent, or lenses from other major makes, for that matter. They are very well made, for sure, but I find them to be soft wide open. I also had high hopes for the 35mm f1.4, but this is no exception. Wide open it's just very low contrast and sharpness was only so so. It's usable to shoot people wide open, but to be really usable, it needs to be at f2.

Although not fair comparing it to the Canon EF 35mm f1.4L, since the Nikkor 35/1.4 was designed decades ago, and the Canon 35/1.4 is relatively new, but looking at pictures taken at f1.4 from both lenses, the sharpness and contrast on the Canon is remarkable. Even the cheaper Minolta MC 35mm f1.8 at f2 is about the same as the Nikon, and I actually prefer to shoot the Minolta than the Nikon.

And the bokeh, not sure why, Nikon lenses don't seem to have very good bokeh.

I really, really wanted to do a comparo between the Nikkor 35/1.4, Canon 35/1.4, Leica-R 35/2, and the Pentax SMC 35/2, but man, it just takes so much time that I don't have.

I know. I have only used the old stuff, and the new designs from Nikon are probably like day and night compared to the old, but I like old stuff. I really want to like this 35/1.4 Nikkor, and other Nikon lenses, but, somehow, me and the Nikkors just don't jive.

I guess I will never be a Nikon man :)

William -- 5D & Nikkor 35mm f1.4 @ f1.4. Larger Picture.

Eco-Cab -- 1D Mark III & Nikkor 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

Chained Table and Chairs -- 1D Mark III & Nikkor 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

The Immaculate Conception -- 1D Mark III & Nikkor 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Checking Street Car Power Lines

TTC workers checking the Street Car power lines. Looks like a dangerous job to me.

G1 & Kinotel 3 inch f2.5. Larger Picture.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sign of Autumn

Wouldn't you know it. Summer flew by at supersonic speed, and autumn is fast approaching. I am actually not complaining. I do enjoy the cool and colourful season, though may not be as much as I like summer.

I have been enjoying the 1D Mark III. The high ISO performance is amazing. I am sure a D700/D3 or 5D II may be better, but I am completely happy with the clean images at those ISOs that I could not get with my 1D II. I have one picture below taken at ISO 2500, and you can hardly see much noise (at the web resolution, of course, but even at 100% crop, it's very clean).

Yellow Leaf -- 1D III & Carl Zeiss Makro 60mm f2.8. ISO 400. Larger Picture.

Wilted -- 1D III & Carl Zeiss Planar-S Makro 60mm f2.8. ISO 2500. Larger Picture.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Murphy's Law

One of the more colourful and unique buildings in the Beaches area. Incidentally, there are other Murphy's Law Irish Pubs in other countries. Not sure if they are all owned by the same owner. Never been inside, but I would imagine it's a busy business. The building was once a bank, but in recent years, most banks have downsized the number of physical branches. The building looks really nice in the twilight.

Murphy's Law Irish Pub -- 5D & EF 50mm f1.2L @ f3.2, ISO 640. Larger Picture.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 C-Mount

This lens reminds me of the Dallmeyer Speed 1 inch f1.5 c-mount lens I once had. The very high center resolution and sharpness and swirling background when taken wide open. However, there is one very nice little feature that I like very much - macro.

This lens has a macro feature that allows you to focus extremely close. If you look at the picture of the lens, there is a little knob on the lens barrel. To focus closer than the normally 0.6 meter (2 feet) minimum focus distance, just lift the knob and turn the focus ring to the left and you can focus as close as a few inches. Come in handy for the occasions when you need a macro lens but don't have one.

This copy of the lens I have is considered in very good condition. The focusing ring is very smooth, and the aperture ring turns nicely as well. Total joy to use.

I am, however, annoyed by the swirling background. It's interesting for a little while, but it really gets to you after some use. The focal length of 50mm (100mm on the G1) is perfect as a portrait lens. It's sharp enough (actually very sharp) wide open to be used regularly. Like the Dallmeyer, even when stopped down significantly, the edges are not very sharp. No doubt because it was designed for 16mm film, and may be fine used on its intended device -- movie camera.

The lens is non-coated, but colour from it is fantastic. You would never guess that the picture is taken with a lens many decades old, if not for the swirling background or blurry edges with some light vignetting.

Compared this lens to the Kodak Cine Ektar 63mm f2, both are very sharp wide open, but the 63mm produces a more traditional, normal looking picture with exceptionally good bokeh. The 50mm f1.6 is great for occasional use, especially in low light shot in black and white.

The last thing I want to point out, is that the native mount on this lens is not c-mount, but a proprietary Kodak S mount. I found a c-mount adapter for it, which was not easy and very hard to find one.

Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 -- G1 & Kodak Cine Ektar 63mm f2. Larger Picture.

Yonge Street -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 @ f1.6. Larger Picture.

Reflection -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6. Large Picture.

Window of a class room -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6. Larger Picture.

Bench in evening sun -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 @ f1.6. Large Picture.

Untitled -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6. Larger Picture.

Ryan -- G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 @ f1.6. Larger Picture.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4

Of the four or five 25mm c-mount lenses that I have, this one is by far the smallest and best made. Despite its petite size, the lens feels substantial in the hand. Typical of lenses made by Kern-Paillard, this one was engineered like a piece of jewel. The focus is so well damped that when turning the focusing ring (or the aperture ring), you can feel the care and consideration the lens designers put into creating this fine lens.

I had high hopes that this one would not vignette, and it does very little wide open, but as you stop down, the vignetting is more pronounced. I think this is common with c-mount lenses in this focal length. The only one that does not vignette is the Kodak 25mm f1.9. However, this could be a positive when you need emphasize your subject at the center. It eliminates the need to Photoshop in the vignetting.

As with most Switars, you can't really find fault in image quality. The one I have is the later RX version that has nice multi-coating. Center sharpness is very good on wide apertures, with blurry surroundings. On the Micro-4/3 cameras, this will create a very nice mood when used as a portraiture lens, especially used at f1.4 to 2.8. The bokeh is smooth and delicious. In fact, it has one of the best bokeh of all the c-mount lenses I have used.

In all, a lens worth collecting and using. It's too bad that the price has been steadily climbing for this and other Kern-Paillard lenses.

We will look at its sister lens, the Kern-Paillard Switar 75mm f1.9, in a later date.

Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4.

Yamaha Virago defocused -- G1 & Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4 @ f1.4. Larger Picture.

Daisy -- G1 & Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4 @ f1.4. Larger Picture.

Wilted -- G1 & Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f 1.4 @ f1.4 or f2. Larger Picture.

Looking Downtown -- G1 & Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

Monday, September 14, 2009

King Meets Queen

King Street ends here at Queen Street near the Don Valley Parkway. For all its green/environmentally friendliness, the overhead wires that provide power to the street cars, which run around Toronto, are extremely messy, especially at the intersections where street cars run on both streets. I guess it's something that we as Torontonians have to get used to it. The street cars have been part of Toronto for more than a century.

End of King Street -- Canon 5D & Zoomar Kilfitt Makro Kilar 90mm f2.8. Larger Picture.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yamaha Virago Motocycle

This motorcycle has been my photo subject for the last two years. It's usually parked outside the music school where my kids take piano lessons.

Virago -- G1 & Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

The C-Mount Lens Craze

C-Mount (C stands for Cine) lenses, once exclusively used with 16mm movie cameras, TV cameras, and sometimes triocular microscopes, has found a home with a growing number of micro 4/3 digital camera users. With a very short flange focal distance, c-mount lenses were not usable on anything else other than 16mm and TV cameras. The introduction of Micro-4/3 mount has changed that.

Panasonic G1 with Kern-Paillard Switar 25mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

Like the c-mount, Micr0-4/3 mount also has a short flange focal distance of approximately 20mm. In theory, this is still longer than c-mount and therefore c-mount lenses should not be able to focus to infinity. But, due to the mirror-less design of the Micro-4/3 camera, a Micro-4/3 adapter for c-mount lenses can extend and allow c-mount lenses to mount closer to the sensor, allowing them to focus to infinity. Of course, there are limitations. Larger c-mount lenses usually can not mount close enough to the sensor, and those will not focus to infinity.

C-Mount Adapter for Micro-4/3 with a 25mm lens mounted. Larger Picture.

C-Mount Lenses -- Pros

Small Size
-- Most C-Mount lenses are small, compared to 35mm lens equivalent. A 25mm lens can be 2x to 4x smaller than a 35mm lens with same maximum aperture, due to smaller image circle of the c-mount.

Size Comparision -- From left to right: Canon EF 35mm f1.4, Angenieux 75mm f2.5, Kern-Pillard Switar 25mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

Very Fast Maximum Aperture -- With few exceptions, most c-mount lenses have very large maximum apertures. For example, you can often find 25mm c-mount lenses with f0.95 maximum aperture. Even 50mm f0.95 is not uncommon in c-mount.

Example of a very fast 25mm lens -- JML 25mm f0.95 TV Lens. Larger Picture. More Samples here.

Well made -- All the c-mount lenses that I have seen are made of metal and glass. I haven't gotten one that has any plastics. OK, so I am old and I am partial to stuff that's made of metal, and in real practical terms, there's probably not a bit of different whether a lens is made of plastic or metal. But, these lenses are all well made.

Imaging characteristics -- Many of the c-mount lenses have unique imaging characteristics, especially the bokeh. Some lenses, such as the Dallmeyer 1 inch f1.5, and Ross 25mm f1.9, have swirling out of focus backgrounds. Often, wider angle c-mount lenses from 25mm down, do not have very good corner performance, because they were designed for a much smaller image circle of the 16mm film. To me at least, I use these lenses especially for this kind of characteristics. Longer lenses from 40mm or longer, have much better corner sharpness.

Distinctive Image Characteristics -- Dallmeyer 1 inch f1.5. Larger Picture. More Samples here.

C-Mount Lenses -- Cons
Severe Vignetting with wide angle lenses -- Most lenses 25mm or wider exhibit vignetting when mounted on Micro-4/3 cameras.

Vignetting when stopped down -- SOM Berthiot Lytar 25mm f1.9 @ f16. Larger Picture. More samples of this lens here.

Ultra Wide Angles Not Usable -- Most C-mount lenses made for 16mm movie cameras from 16mm or wider have an even smaller imaging circle and what you will see on your camera is an image with black surroundings, sort of like a circular fish eye lens effect.

Haze, Dust, Focusing Issues -- After many decades, many of these c-mount lenses have accumulated a fine layer of dust inside the lens, giving them a soft focus effect when used near maximum apertures. Also, due to grease dried up in the focusing ring, many of these lenses are difficult to focus, or feels choppy when focusing. Finding a shop that can clean and lube these lenses have becoming more and more difficult.

Image Circle
Since 16mm film is smaller than the Micro-4/3 sensor, most c-mount lenses with a focal length of 25mm or wider will vignette, sometimes very severely. There are exceptions, of course, but finding out which one will, or will not is difficult until you have tried it. In my experience, most 25mm lenses will barely cover the Micro-4/3 sensor wide open. As you stop down the lens, you will see more vignetting. Any lens from 16mm down, you will most likely see the image in a dark circle, because the image circle is reduced as the lens gets wider (but still usable on 16mm movie cameras.)

C-Mount lenses above 25mm seems to cover the Micro-4/3 sensor without problem.

Lens Choices
Being a universal mount like the M42 lenses, c-mount lenses also have many choices in focal length from different manufacturers.

Focal Lengths -- For 16mm movie cameras, you can find lenses as wide as 10mm, or even wider. Often, very wide angle lenses do not have focusing rings. They simply do not require focusing from about a meter to infinity. Most popular and usable focal range used on Micro-4/3 cameras is from 25mm to 75mm. The longest lens I have come across is a Kodak Cine Ektar 152mm f4. I am sure there are longers ones.

Manufacturers -- There are many c-mount lens manufacturers. Most popular and famous ones are made by Kern-Paillard for its Bolex movie cameras. Angenieux also made some fantastic optics for C-Mount. The British made some exotic and sought after c-mount lenses. They include Dallmeyer, Ross, Cook/Taylor & Hobson, just to name a few. The Japanese also made C-Mount lenses. They include Kinotel, Pentax (Cosmicar), Canon, Sony, and others.

A selection of c-mount primes from 25mm to 154mm. Larger Picture.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that most c-mount lenses are used and very old, with the exception of Closed-Circuit TV c-mount lenses, because I don't believe they still make new c-mount 16mm movie lenses any more.

I have many more sample pictures from various c-mount lenses. You can brows them here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kodak Cine Ektar 63mm f2

Now that I have had a chance to try out the four Kodak Cine lenses: Cine Ektar 152mm f4, Cine Ektar 63mm f2, Anastigmat 50mm f1.6, and the Cine Ektar II 25mm f1.9. My favourite is the Ektar 63mm f2. This lens produces fabulous images that are sharp with great bokeh. Too bad, as all too common with old lenses, the focusing is not very smooth, which takes away some of the fun out of taking pictures.

All pictures taken with the Kodak 63mm f2 Cine Ektar lens & Panasonic G1. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waiting on Red

Taken with the Kodak 25mm f1.9 Cine Ektar lens. I have had five 25mm cine lenses, and this one has the largest image circle of them all. Very little vignetting even when stopped down (stopping down on wide cine lenses actually increases vignetting). The Dallmeyer 25mm f1.5 was a close second. The Kodak is a very sharp lens even wide open. Unfortunately, like the Dallmeyer, and most others old lenses, the focusing is quite stiff. Hopefully it will loosen up with use.

Also picked up a 1D Mark III today to replace my trusty 1D II.

Waiting on Red -- G1 with Kodak Cine Ektar 25mm f1.9. Larger Picture.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Few New Toys

Testing out a few Kodak C-Mount Cine lenses I have recently acquired. The pictures here were taken with a Kodak Ektar Cine 152mm f4 lens. Very long for a Cine lens. Difficult to focus in magnified view since the focal length is so long (approx. equivalent to 300mm in 35mm terms.)

Birds on wire -- G1 & Kodak Ektar 152mm f4 lens. Larger Picture.

Leaf on roof -- G1 & Kodak 152mm f4 Cine Lens. Larger Picture.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Window Painting

I was taking a picture of this guy painting just below him with my G1, just outside of Shopper's DrugMart, and this security woman came out and told me that I could not take pictures of the store. I asked why I could not take a picture of the store in a public sidewalk, and she said it's copy right stuff. True, if I were to sell pictures that had their store in my picture, they might have a case. You give someone a security guard uniform, and they think they had the power to the world. Clearly they have no idea about photography law.

Window Painting -- 5D & Contax Carl Zeiss 135mm f2.8. Larger Picture.