Monday, November 30, 2009

Canon 5D & EF 85mm f1.2L - Match Made In Heaven

Went to the Ontario Science Centre with the whole gang, to see the Body World exhibit. Ok, I didn't see it. Ryan and Dillon and the missus did. The rest of us went to see the Light Before Christmas short film on iMAX. While waiting in the lobby for the others to come out from the Body World, I found out that there is a perfect spot for some quick and dirty portraiture. A column located in the lobby, which is normally used for ads, is empty on one of its three sides. Essentially a nice light panel with defused light. Perfect for portrait. I posted the kids there and took some pictures for each one. The pictures turn out pretty good, at least for the black & white version. I was shooting RAW + jpeg with B&W filter, and didn't bother set a custom white balance for the fluorescent lights. Consequently, the colour version does not look as good as the black & white version.

Just want to mention that the Canon 85mm f1.2L is a perfect match for the 5D (or any full frame body). Not a lot of lenses are very sharp wide open at f1.2, but the 85mm f1.2L certainly is, if critical focus is obtained. Despite what many have said about the 5D auto focus system, I find it very accurate. It's not fast like the 1-series bodies, but accurate. The focusing speed is noticeably slower on the 5D than on the 1D III, but it's completely acceptable. I am extremely happy with the 85L. It remains one of my favourite lenses of all times, next to the 200mm f1.8L.

By the way, at the beginning of November, I wanted to see if I could post something each day of the month. I am very happy to say that I have succeeded.

Megan -- 5D & EF 85mm f1.2 @ f1.4, ISO 400. Larger Picture.

William -- Canon 5D & EF 85mm f1.2 @ f1.8, ISO 400. Larger Picture.

Dillon -- 5D & EF 85mm f1.2 @ f1.4, ISO 400. Larger Picture.

Ryan -- 5D & EF 85mm f1.2 @ f1.4, ISO 400. Larger Picture.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bargains on Used First Generation DSLRs

I still remember my first digital camera, the 3 MP Canon G1, cost me $1150. My first DSLR, the Canon Digital Rebel 300D, cost me over $1600. Ever since the 300D, the only new digital camera I bought was the Panasonic G1. Why? Used gears are so much cheaper.

Like everyone else, I would love to buy the latest and the greatest digital gear, but let's face it. New models comes out every 1.5 years or so, and they are usually incremental updates to the model they replace, with few exceptions. Witness the Canon 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D. Other than the live view, fast frames/second, and marginally higher resolution, there is no quantum leap in feature set, and the image quality pretty much the same in the normally used ISO range.

As each model is introduced, the first and second generation DSLRs have become unwanted victims. They are not any less capable than the day they were made, but the latest and greatest have eclipsed the old, or so the marketing department would have you believe that. Old DSLRs have become dirt cheap. My $1600 Digital Rebel 300D I bought in 2003 can now be had for about $150, less than 10% of its original value. I picked up an Olympus E-300 couple months ago for $125, with the intention to modify it to shoot Infrared. Another prime example of a bargain is the Canon 5D.

Ever since the 5D was first introduced, I have been drooling over it's full frame and amazing image quality. The acquisition of the Canon 1Ds somewhat lessen that desire, but the 1Ds was very slow, good only at low ISO. But the almost $4000CAD introductory price was a big put off. Now, one can get a used 5D anywhere from $1000 to $1300. For the image quality and capabilities of the camera, this is truly one of the best bargains in DSLRs. Just over 10 years ago, my Elan II film camera plus the 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 USM lens costs me about this much. Oh, and I just bought an Elan IIe for $20, to replace the Elan II I traded in when I got my digital camera, just for old time's sake.

The point is, I make it a requirement for buying gears that I would always first consider used ones over the new, unless I want something really bad and no used alternatives are available.

St Mary's Dormition Ukrainian Catholic Church -- Olympus E-300 & Pentax SMC 50mm f2.8 Macro.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Streetcar Picture

Streetcar -- Canon 5D & Voigtlander Skpoar 8.3cm f4.5. Larger Picture.

I am happy to say that despite the fall I had yesterday, and the injuries on my hands/knees, I can still hold my camera and take pictures. It hurts a little when I have to turn my left wrist to focus, but it's bearable.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Danger of Cycling as a Means of Transportation in Toronto

I have been cycling to work daily for the last seven or eight years. I do this even in the winter. During these years, I have fallen three or four times. Two times with injuries. The latest fall was today, with some nasty injuries on my wrists/palms and knees.

Cycling in downtown Toronto is especially dangerous, due to the streetcar tracks in many major streets. This is in addition to other dangers such as crazy car drivers, obnoxious pedestrians, endless street constructions, and other inconsiderate fellow cyclists. Queen street, which I use daily to commute to work by bicycle, has street car tracks. Both of my very bad falls had to do with the tracks, and in wet conditions. The tires on the bicycle just skids on shiny metal tracks when it's wet.

Today I tried to go around a fire truck that was parked on the side of the street near River & Queen. Due to the very wide width of the fire truck, I had to use the centre lane to go around it. On turning back into the right lane, the front wheel of my bike skidded the track and I lost control. I fell face down but used my hands to cushion the fall, hence the very bad bruise on my palms, and I sprained my left wrist. Large piece of skin came off the right knee but he left knee survived with just a little scrape on the skin.

There are few streets in Toronto that has dedicated bike lanes, but unfortunately Queen street is not one of them. Converting streets to have bike lanes is a two edged sword. On one hand, it's safer and better for both the cars and the bicycles, on the other hand, addition of the bike lane means the reduction or elimination of a car lane, which means traffic is restricted. Unless the street is very wide, adding a bike lane is not always feasible.

I hope I am well enough to ride my bike again on Monday. Driving to work will drive me insane.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Red Rocket at Night

In Toronto, the Streetcar is called the Red Rocket.  Back in the olden days when the Streetcars were first introduced, they resembled a rocket with its pointy noise and slender body.  The modern Streetcars have no resemblance to a rocket, but the name remains.

Streetcar in the Beach area
Streetcar at night -- 5D & SMC Takumar 85mm f1.8 @ f2.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gooderham Flatiron at Night

Finally managed to take a few pictures of the Gooderham Flatiron at night.  Totally unprepared, and consequently, I got unprepared results.  All shots were handheld, at ISO 1600.  Maybe next time, I will bring a tripod.  One of the undesired aspects of shooting at rush hour is that there is too much light from cars, which drown out large part of the picture.  Next time, I will do it at a later time.


Gooderham Flatiron Toronto -- Canon 5D & Tamron SP 17mm f3.5.

Lights! -- Canon 5D & Leica-R 90mm f2 @ f2.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Few Pictures from the S-M-C Takumar 35mm f2

Dusted off the S-M-C Takumar 35mm f2 and took it out for a long overdue spin. I have always liked the 35mm focal length, and that's why I have so many 35mm lenses. The S-M-C 35mm f2 is a good match for the 5D. I like it better on the 5D than the 1Ds that it was used last time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chinatown at Spadina & Dundas

Spadina & Dundas -- 5D & Tamron 17mm f3.5. Larger Picture.

Always a messy intersection with lots of people crossing all the time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Love and Hate of Camera Shows in Toronto

We are fortunate (or unfortunate) that there are at least three used camera equipment shows in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) each year. For me, this is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I can usually find something interesting that's not normally seen in camera shops, and on the other hand, I tend to spend too much money on things that are not really necessary.

In that last few shows, it's increasingly harder to find stuff at reasonable prices.

Today is the last show of the year, and as usual, I spent more than I really should. I picked up a Summicron 90mm f2 E55 version, a Tamron SP 17mm f3.5 Adaptall lens, and some miscellaneous stuff.

I had a Summicron 90mm f2 for a few years, but it was a 2 CAM version with the series VII filter thread. I found that lens very good, but not spectacular. I enjoyed it nevertheless, until I got a Elmarit 90mm f2.8 E55. The colour, contrast and sharpness from that lens is fantastic. Consequently I sold the 2 CAM summicron 90mm f2 and kept the Elmerit 90.

The 3 CAM Summicron 90mm f2 E55 that I got today wasn't exactly a good deal, but the lens is very clean and in excellent shape. A few test shots wide open confirmed that this lens is as good as the Elmerit, but a full stop faster.

This is the second time I have owned the Tamron Adaptall 17mm f3.5 ultra wide lens. I first got one two years ago but sold it due to lack of fund for other toys. Even on the 20D, the 17mm f3.5 is excellent and feels very wide. I saw one again today with all accessories, including the case, box and the extremely hard to find lens hood, which allows attachment of an 82mm filter to the front of the lens.

On the 5D, the 17mm Tamron is very very wide, but of course not as wide as my Sigma 15-30mm zoom at the wide end. This lens has a very close focusing capabilities at 0.25 meter. It's very difficult to focus a lens this wide, but if you use a smaller aperture, this usually is not a problem.

Megan -- Canon 5D & Tamron Adaptall 17mm f3.5. Larger Picture.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Franken Skopar Got Hooded

The other day I dismantled an old lens and salvaged the lens barrel for one of my future DYI lens projects, and got a left over tube whose diameter is almost exactly the same size as the Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5 lens' front element. The tube was a bit long so I cut off about half a centimeter, taped it on with electrical tape, and voila! A perfect hood! Although, now Franken Skopar looks like it just got a nose from Pinocchio.

Well, it's almost perfect. On non-back-lit scenes, the Franken Skopar no longer has visible white haze in the center of the image, although in many situations, this is still a problem but is now greatly reduced. I can now get many times more usable images than previously without the hood.

And, I have grown to like this little lens. Without saying what lens was used to take the pictures, no one can tell that it was from a cheap, old lens.

Franken Skopar with nose from Pinnochio -- Larger Picture.

This one was developed in RAW using the Landscape profile for more saturated colours. 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5. Larger Picture.

Megan. Great for black & white shots too. 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5 @ f4.5. Larger Picture.

Colour is equally wonderful -- 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5. Larger Picture.

It can focus reasonably close. Not common for old lenses. 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5 @ f4.5. Larger Picture.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cubing It

Rubik's Cube, one of the best selling puzzles in history -- Canon 5D & Nikon 35mm f1.4 @ f2. Larger Picture.

My son Dillon, who has gone crazy with the cube for the last few weeks, spends all of his free time trying to get the cube solved in under 1 minute. So far, his best score is 1 minute and 17 seconds. I promised to get him a cube of his choice if he could do it in 1 minute or less.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spadina & Queen, 2009

Spadina & Queen, 2009 -- 5D & EF 35mm f1.4L. Larger Picture.

Each year, for the last few years, I would take a picture of the south east corner of Spadina & Queen, from approximately the same location. Nothing really have changed at the corner for years.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dog in the Park

Walking the dog -- Canon 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5. Larger Picture.

Another picture from the Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5. You never know what kind of picture you can take with an 80 year old lens.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Macro Lens Atlernatives -- Extension Tubes & Focal Length Multipliers

Extension Tubes
Extension tubes are just empty tubes without optics. Their only function is to increase the space between the sensor (film) and the lens. They usually come in set of three. Usually 10mm, 20mm and 30mm sections, or thereabouts. Extension tubes are very popular choices for macro, because it can be used with pretty much any lenses in your system and depending on the length of the tube, and the focal length you use, it can achieve 1:1 or even higher magnifications. Because they do not have optics in them, image quality loss is not significantly affected.

Some older macro lenses that could not achieve 1:1 magnification ratio usually has an optionally matched extension tube which, when mounted, makes the macro lens capable of 1:1 reproduction.

The Good -- Image quality not severely affected. Cheap (relatively), high magnification ratio.

The Bad -- Loss of light (stops depends on length of tube used), can not focus to infinity.

Matched Extension tube & General Purpose Extension Tubes. Larger Picture.

Focal Length Extenders
(or Teleconverters)
Teleconverters are by far the most popular and usually the first choice for many. Teleconverters serve two purposes: Multiply the focal length & increase macro capabilities of a lens. Teleconverters usually comes in 1.4x or 2x multiplication ratios. 1.4x is the most popular as the light loss is equal to 1 stop, whereas 2x converters loses 2 stops. Also, good 1.4x teleconverters has mimimal image quality loss when mated to a good lens, and 2x converters usually have visible quality degradations. One of the most desirable aspects of a teleconverter is that it allows the lens mated to it to focus to infinity. As with most things in life, good teleconverters are very expensive, sometimes equal to a good macro lens.

Older teleconverters sometimes has a focusing ring that varies the magnification. Most of them allows a 50mm lens to get 1:1 reproduction ratio.

The Good -- Can focus to infinity, 2x the macro capabilities when using a 2x converter, minimal quality loss using a good 1.4x converter

The Bad -- Expensive, quality degradation when using a 2x converter, light loss

Canon 1.4x Teleconverter. A new one costs more than $400. Larger Picture.

A 3x teleconverter with variable macro capabilities. Larger Picture.

To conclude -- you don't have to shell out a lot of cash to enjoy macro photography, but if you are serious about macro, be ready to spend some money for quality accessories, and may be a real macro lens.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Macro Lens Atlernatives -- Close-Up Filters/Lenses & Reversing Ring

If you have been looking for a macro lens, you know they are expensive. Auto focus version ranging from a few hundred dollars to around $1500 for a longer focal length. Even used manual focus macro lenses are not cheap. What to do when you want to try macro but don't want to shell out a stack of cash for a true macro lens? Well, there are many alternatives.

Close-Up Filters
The simplest and cheapest way to archive some sort of macro, is using close up filters. They come in all sorts of sizes and usually in sets of three. +1, +2, +3 or +4. Larger number indicates higher magnification. Using them is also straight forward. Just screw them in the front of your lens. As with all macro accessories, you can not focus to infinity once you have close-up filters in front of your lens. One down side to these filters, is that you will need different size filters for different size lenses.

The good -- Close up filter sets are very cheap and easy to use. Usually a 58mm set of 3 can be had for under $30. The cheaper one are un-coated. No light loss. You can stack multiple close-up filters to achieve higher magnifications.

The bad -- Image quality or the lack of. These filters produce acceptable images in the center of the picture. The corners are usually pretty bad, especially on full frame. Also, they are usually not optically corrected and no coating on the glass. You may not like the colour of colour fringing if you shoot back lit scenes.

Close-Up filter set -- the garden variety that is cheap but easy to use. Larger Picture.

Better Close-Up Filters -- Close up lenses
Like many products with different grades of the same thing, close-up filters also come in more exotic and expensive forms. They are usually called Close-Up Lenses because they are multi-element designs. Almost all of the these more expensive close-up lenses are coated, and most of them are multi-coated. Most of them have some sort of optical correction and some are achromatic. Older macro lenses usually has only 1:2 magnifications and they sometimes offered an optional 1:1 close up attachment filter. Many older Sigma macro lenses have this option. One of the best close-up lenses is produced by Canon -- the 500D.

The good -- Multi-Coated and optically corrected, which in turn produce much better quality images than the close-up filters. Some of them are matched to a specific lens, but that does not stop you from using it on any lens as long as the filter size are identical. Close up lenses also does not reduce the amount of light going through your lens, hence no light loss.

The bad -- Expensive. For example, the Canon 77mm 500D close-up lens costs about $250CAD, half the price of an entry level macro lens. Also, most close-up lenses do not product results as good as a true macro lens.

Variety of close up lenses in various sizes. Larger Picture.

Reversing Rings
Have you even looked through a lens in reverse, or used it as a magnifying glass? Most lenses, when viewed from behind, have a magnifying affect. The reversing ring allows you to mount your lens backwards to your camera. Reversing rings were, and still are popular choices to achieve very high magnifications. Basically, you mount a lens in reverse -- the front of the lens now becomes the back. Best focal length is the 50-100mm. Reversing rings are just like filters. They come in different sizes.

The good -- Exceptional image quality and very high magnifications.

The bad -- awkward to use, and not very good if the lens is heavy, as the filter thread on the lens was never meant to support the weight of lens. Prolonged use may put too much stress and damage your lens. Also, focusing is not possible.
Another bad thing, unlike close-up filters or lenses, reversing rings are mount specific. You have to get a specific mount for your lens.

Pentax M42 reversion ring. Larger Picture.

We will talk about Extension tubes and focal length multipliers next time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5 Update 2

Discovered that the haze in the middle of the image is mostly caused by stray light entering the lens from the front. Today I shielded the lens with my palm and there are huge improvements. It's understandable that this should happen, as the lens itself is uncoated and is very prone to flare and side lights. So, as inconvenient as it is, I will have to bring a hat, a shade, or mini-reflector with me to shield off the side lights.

I see great potential in this lens. It could make some very fine images. It's also just great fun to make picture with lenses this old. I am sure I will be using it more often.

William -- 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 83mm f4.5 @ f4.5. Larger Picture.

Autumn Leaves & Tai Chi. This pictures was developed using the Landscape profile in CS4, hence the very saturated colours. You can still see the haze in the center of the picture, just much reduced -- 5D & Voigtlander Skopar 83mm f4.5. Larger Picture.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gooderham Flatiron Again

Gooderham Flatiron Toronto -- Canon 5D & EF 100mm f2. Larger Picture.

Did I say this is my most favourite photography spot? I just realized I haven't got a picture of the Flatiron at night. Also haven't tried a fisheye version of it. Perhaps the by the end of the year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ricoh GXR Modular Camera System

It seems to me that Ricoh is an oddity in the digital camera market. They are not mainstream, and they do not sell a great deal of digital cameras in North America. Yet, they makes some very nice and unique point & shoots when everybody else is make "me too" models. So when they introduced the GXR system, it was no great surprise.

Many people do not understand why the lens is welded to the imaging chip as a bundle. For one thing, the lens and the imaging sensor are the two most exensive components of a camera. By bundling them together, it is difficult to produce cheaply. It would make much more sense if the sensor and the lens are separate units.

I have a different take on this. The two lens/sensor at introduction is just the tip of an iceburg. The possibilities of this modular design is endless. You can have a different kind of sensor, such as black and white, IR, UV, whatever. There is no reason they could not make a sensor module without a lens, but a mount on it, just like a normal interchangeable lens camera. You can buy a M-Mount module, EOS-Mount module, Pentax K-Mount module, etc. Or, they could make a sensor module with a generic mount and produce an adapter mounts for it. Perhaps, Ricoh is a big fan of RED, whose digital video cameras are very modular, and they are trying to do the same thing as RED but with a digital modular camera!

Personally, I think this system has potential, if they survive people's initial resistence of this radical design. They do need to produce something that nobody else has to offer, such as a sensor module that only does black & white. Kodak made one, but did not sell in great numbers. I am sure the market is large enough for a B&W sensor camera.

We will wait and see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Panasonic G1 & 45-200mm f4-5.6 OIS. Larger Picture.

Tried out the "new" Panasonc 45-200mm f4-5.6 O.I.S lens. I now have two zooms that would make a good travel camera system - the kit lens 14-45mm and this 45-200mm. As with the kit lens, this one is superb in sharpness and colour. The O.I.S works really well. Just wish it were a bit faster. F5.6 is very slow, even with stabilization.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

End of One Week Cycling Break

Waving Goodbye -- Canon 1D Mark III & EF 135mm f2. Larger Picture.

My wife had a one week seminar and I had to drive the kids to school and then drop her off at the subway, so haven't been biking to work for a full week. I hate driving to work, especially now that Queen street, Richmond Street, Dundas Street, and pretty much all major streets where I need to take to work are under construction at certain sections of the street. It's always a frustration. I am glad it's over and I can bike to work again.

There are some benefits for driving the kids to school. I could take pictures of them. This one was taken this morning.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Voitgtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5 Update

Two updates actually. One on the Voigtlander and the other on the Ultra Achromatic Takumar 300mm f5.6.

I didn't get around to the paint store to get some matte black spray paint to spray the internal barrels and mounts to make them less reflective. As it turns out, the Franken Skopar problem with bright center/haze is caused both by light entering the lens and internal reflection on the mount/barrel. I used a black permanent marker to paint over the inside, and this actually made some improvements. There is still excessive light/haze in the center of the image, but it's reduced. After some processing, the images are actually usable.

Next thing I am going to try, is to make a hood that goes over the lens. This should help with the flare from the front, but no doubt will make the already Franken Skopar even more ugly. But, if it works, I am willing to try it.

On the image quality department, the Skopar is quite respectable, considering it's uncoated, and at least 70 to 80 years old, with some heavy dust, and other "stuff" stuck inside the lens elements. With some patience, I am sure it can make some fine pictures.

I did the same kind of treatment for the Ultra Achromatic Takumar 300mm f5.6 lens. This lens suffers from the the same problem as the Franken Skopar. The darkening of the lens mount helped a little, but still very visible. I am not sure if this lens has been modified or it was like this. The internal of the lens elements are very clean and there is no sign of tampering. We will see after I get some matte black spray paint and make the mount even more black. Hope that will help.

One the way to school -- 1D Mark III & Ultra Achromatic Takumar 300mm f5.6. ISO 800. Larger Picture.

Streetcar in the evening -- 1D Mark III & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5. ISO 1250. Larger Picture.

Tree Trunks -- 1D Mark III & Ultra Achromatic Takumar 300mm f5.6. Larger Picture.

Old & New -- 1D Mark III & Voigtlander Skopar 8.3cm f4.5. ISO 1600. Larger Picture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gooderham Flatiron in November

Gooderham Flatiron -- Canon 5D & EF 35mm f1.4. Larger Picture.

One of my all time favourite photography spots. This old beauty looks good in any weather, at any time of the year.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More Cheap Lenses -- Tamron AF 70-300mm f4-5.6

Today's weather in Toronto is gorgeous. Warm, sunny, breezy and the air is fresh. It's almost like summer again. Perfect day to shoot some of the last of fall colours that's still hanging around before winter sweeps them away.

Henry's Outlet store is having some fire sale on some of the older lenses. I got a used Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 (172DE). The whole lens feels like it was made of plastic. Looks cheap, feels cheap, very noisy and slow focus, but hey, it's only $40!!! I shouldn't complain!

Despite being cheap, both price wise and materially, the lens is quite sharp. I found most Tamron AF lenses are quite sharp, even the cheap ones. Even the colour is quite nice, but bokeh looks unremarkable and boring, but did I mention it was cheap?

If you plan to use this lens for sports, forget about it! The focusing is excruciatingly slow in AI Servo, not to mention the noise. But, I think as a travel lens, this will actually be very good. It's almost feather weight compared to my Canon EF 100-400mm f4-5.6 IS lens. I would not hesitate to bring it on vacation.

Fall Colours - 1D Mark III & Tamron AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 @ f5.6. Larger Picture.

Blue Mini - 1D Mark III & Tamron AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 @ f7.1. Larger Picture.

Untitled -- 1D Mark III & Tamron AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 @ f7.1. Larger Picture.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 45mm f2.8 DKL

Tried out the DKL Schneider 45mm f2.8 Xenar today on the 1D III. I had a much easier time with it, due to a number of factors. First the weather was much better today. Second the lens is one stop brighter than the Tele-Arton, and lastly, the split screen on the 1D III really helped.

The Xenar has soft corners until it's significantly stopped down. Not sure if this is a copy variance. I have another one of these so perhaps I should try the other one and see. The center of the the image, however, is very sharp on larger apertures. Again, the colour from the Schneider lenses are fantastic. As I mentioned before, the 1 meter minimum focusing distance is very long for a normal lens. But then again, most very old lenses have this attribute. Perhaps it was harder to design a lens to focus closer.

The last one of the Schneider I have not tried yet, is the Tele-Arton 85mm f4. I am sure it would perform very close to that of the Tele-Arton 90mm f4. We will see.

Autumn in the city -- 1D Mark III & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 45mm f2.8. Larger Picture.

Frosty Leaves -- 1D Mark III & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 45mm f2.8. Larger Picture.

More Autumn Colours -- 1D Mark III & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 45mm f2.8. Larger Picture.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Schneider-Kreuznach Tele-Arton 90mm f4 DKL

The Kodak DKL mount lenses are not very common, although not really rare either. Mostly used on Kodak Retina interchangeable lens SLRs. The three major lens makers of this mount were Schneider, Rodenstock and Voigtlander. Most of these lenses fall into the love/hate category. At least for the Schneiders that I have, the 45mm f2.8, 85mm f4 and 90mm f4, all of them are small aperture lenses, and their minimum focus distance is long. About a meter for the 45mm and almost 2 meters for the 85mm and 90mm. The Voigtlanders and Rodenstock lenses are more sought after because some of them offer larger apertures and wider angles.

Being very small aperture lenses, they are very difficult to focus. Add to all this, the DKL-EOS adapter is relatively expensive, until recently. The first time I was looking at the adapter last year, it was well over $120USD, but I bought one couple weeks ago on eBay for around $60. This adapter includes an aperture ring (DKL lenses do not have aperture rings. Aperture is controlled on the camera). I am hoping that the relatively few DKL lenses I have is worth buying the adapter for.

Today was the first time I used this adapter with the Schneider Tele-Arton 90mm f4, and it proved difficult. In the morning when I dropped the kids off to school, the sky was very dark with some drizzles. I had to set the ISO to 1600 in order to get an acceptable shutter speed at f4, the lens' maximum aperture. Luckily, the weather turned better and I was able to take some pictures at ISO 400, and even 250 later in the day.

One thing I can tell you, the colours from this Tele-Arton lens is incredible. Take a look the pictures below that shows the newspaper boxes and the streetcar. I don't remember other lenses with such strong colours, especially the red. When critically focused, it's very sharp too. Haven't got a chance to try the bokeh. With such small maximum aperture, and long minimum focusing distance, it may not be easy to achieve that creamy bokeh that many craves.

This lens, like so many others, hits the mirror on the 5D at infinity. The 5D is perhaps the worse Canon AF camera for manual focus lenses. The compatibility with manual focus lenses isn't good. I will try again with the 1D III and the split screen later.

Is it worth getting into DKL lenses? Sorry, I don't know yet. After all, it's only the first day. But, if you are tired of your 24mm f1.4, 85mm f1.2, 200mm f2 IS etc, it's quite a lot of fun try something that's old and different. Besides, it's peanuts compared to the prices of these lenses!

Stay tuned for more pictures from the DKL lenses.

Schneider-Kreuznach Tele Arton 90mm f4 on 5D. Larger Picture.

One the way to classes -- 5D & Schneider Tele-Arton 90mm f4. ISO 1600. Larger Picture.

Colours!! -- 5D & Schneider Tele-Arton 90mm f4. Larger Picture.

Adam Beck in the autumn -- 5D & Schneider Tele-Arton 90mm f4. Larger Picture.

Queen & Yonge Streets -- 5D & Schneider Tele-Arton 90mm f4. Larger Picture.