Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NEX-5N or NEX-7?

The net is abuzz about the NEX-7 but we have not really seen any sample pictures from it yet.  We can only infer from the A77 samples about NEX-7 image qualities.  On the other hand, the NEX-5N samples are available from many well known sites.  What I have seen, especially the high ISO samples, are nothing less than astonishing.  It almost rivals that of the 5D II.   Sony has finally caught up and perhaps surpass Canon/Nikon on clean high ISO image quality.  I really like what I see and can't help but thinking that if Sony puts the NEX-5N's sensor in the NEX-7, I will have no hesitation buying one, even at $1200 for the body.  Or, if the NEX-5N has a built-in EVF, I will not hesitate to buy one either.  Adding the external EVF to the NEX-5N will almost cost about the same as buying the NEX-7.  Why does Sony have to torture us like this?!?

I will patiently await tests on the NEX-7 when it becomes available.  If the image quality turns out to be at least as good as the current NEX-5 (not 5N), I will most likely buy one, although I really have no need for 24MP.

On the note of EVIL cameras, I think Canon has  missed the boat here.  Even Nikon is rumored to introduce one soon, but we have heard nothing from Canon.  EVIL camera segment is the fastest growing part of the digital camera business, and I don't know how Canon not see that.  By the time to do introduce one, it may be a bit too late to capture the lost market share.

Sony NEX-5 & Kodak Ektagraphic 50mm f1.2 Projection Lens. Click to see larger.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kodak Projection Ektagraphic 50mm f1.2 Lens

Pricked up another projection lens couple weeks ago.  This one was a Kodak Ektagraphic 50mm f1.2 lens.  Very similar to the Kowa 50mm f1.2 projection lens, but heavier, larger, and seems to have multi-coating which the Kowa does not have.  Due to its larger size, I could not make it part of my 52mm screw on lens for the Vivitar 2x focusing helicoid.  Luckily I have another one which I modified and fits perfectly.

Finally got a chance to tried it out today.  Very happy with the results.  Slightly sharper than the Kowa, and less purple fringing.  However, it vignettes a bit more at infinity focus but at close range, vignetting is not visible.  Strange, because the lens is larger than the Kowa, but vignettes more.

NEX-5 & Kodak 50mm f1.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

Depth of field of this lens is of course very thin, being an f1.2 lens.  Unfortunately, there is no aperture control on the lens so very thing is shot at f1.2.  For some situations, this is desirable, but of course you will get fatigue looking at too many of the same kind of pictures with very thin depth of field.

It's a great low light lens, if you could nail the focus.  Definitely worth trying on out if you always wanted to own an f1.2 lens.

NEX-5 & Kodak 50mm f1.2 Projection Lens.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Image Quality from the Sony 24MP Sensor

I am excited about the NEX-7, but unfortunately it's pricey and the image quality may disappoint.  I haven't found any sample pictures from the NEX-7, but I looked some from at the A77, which shares the same 24MP sensor as the NEX-7 and probably the image processing engine as well.  What I can see is that Sony is still one of the worst when it comes to jpeg image quality.  The A77 samples don't look very good.  Shadow noise is excessive at ISO 200. Why don't manufacturers understand that most of us want quality, not quantity pixels.  ISO 1600 looks ok, but lacks details.  I hope it's due to the jpeg engine and that RAW files will perform much better.  If not, I guess my NEX-5 will be with me, and I will end up with a 5D II instead.

New Building -- NEX-5 & Vivitar Series-1 28mm f1.9.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Sony NEX Kit Lens

I brought only the 18-55mm kit lens and the Canon FD 55mm f1.2 lens with me to New York this time.  The Sony NEX kit lens owners seem to be pretty harsh on the lens, and I read some of the reviews, which show terrible image quality even at f8.  Fortunately, my finding is slightly more favourable.  I find the kit lens to be pretty sharp, and the corners are acceptable at f8, but the distortion is horrendous at 18mm, which is the most useful angle on the kit lens.  At 55mm, distortion is much better controlled and image quality is quite usable wide open at f5.6.

I am quite happy with the lens and I no problem taking it with me on trips.  It's very light, well built, although a bit large compared to my kit lens that came with the Panasonic G1, but not by much. Remember this is the lowest end and the cheapest lens the manufacturer can  make as a kit lens.  Other than the original kit lens that came with the Rebel 300D, I have had good experiences with kit lenses that came many of the camera bodies I have bought over the years.  They are optically getting better while built materials getting cheaper (except the Sony NEX, which has metal mount and lens barrel).  For any better quality lenses, you would have to fork out quite a bit more money for slightly better image quality.  The majority of NEX users will find the lens more than satisfactory in most cases, except low light use.

Subway Station -- NEX-5 & 18-55mm kit lens.

Ground Zero Revisited

I last visited New York city two months ago in June.  That was not my first time in New York, but was the first time that I actually visited with free some free time.  I went back last week for a few days for some more training sessions.  Stayed at the same hotel which has part of the view of Ground Zero.  As before, construction was going on feverishly from 6AM until 11PM each day.  They are trying to finish the 911 Memorial in time for the 10th anniversary of the 911 attack.

Looking at the construction site, it's hard to imagine the horror and destruction of the towers, unless you have seen what it was like.  Peace is not without its prices.

Construction -- NEX-5 & 18-55mm kit lens. Click for larger.

Construction II -- NEX-5 & Canon FD 55mm f1.2 SSC.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunset on Field of Green

Last Ray -- NEX-5 & OM 35mm f2. Click for larger.

I have had used the Olympus OM 35mm f2 lens for a little while now after swapped my SMC Takumar 35mm f2 with Adam.  Over all, I am quite happy with the lens.  Not a great deal of difference with the SMC Tak 35/2, but the Takumar is slightly smaller in diameter (49mm vs 55mm filter size) but longer lengthwise.  If I had to choose, I would choose the OM 35mm f2.  Not sure why, but I think it might be because I have had many many Takumars over the years, but hardly any OM lenses other than the 50/1.4 and 100mm f2.8.  In any case, I am having a blast with the OM 35mm f2.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Toronto Traffics

Under Construction -- NEX-5 & OM 35mm f2. Click to see larger.

If you live in Toronto, you will understand how bad traffics is, pretty much any time of the day.  Downtown, highways, you name it, it jams with cars all the time.  The picture above was taken while stuck in traffic on the Gardinar Express Way.  I am so glad I bike to work everyday and only need to drive on the weekends and occasionally weekdays.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canon FD 50mm f1.4 SSC Sample

Red & White -- NEX-5 & Canon FD 50mm f1.4 SSC. Click for larger.

The more I use the Canon FD lenses, the more I feel they are way under appreciated.  I especially like the starndard 50/55mm lenses, from FL to nFD mount and all of them are excellent.  Well made, optically excellent and all have very pleasing bokeh.  The problem is, there are so many variant on the  Canon FD 50/55mm lenses that just having one of each will cost a small fortune, not to mention the exceptionally good FD 24mm f1.4L, FD 85mm f1.2L, FD 135mm f2, and the jaw dropping FD 200mm f1.8L which was the brother of the superb EF 200mm f1.8L.  Perhaps, it's better to concentrate on the FD line than having so many other brands.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lazy August

Leaf -- NEX-5 & Kowa 50mm f1.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

This has been a lazy August for me.  Don't know if it's the very hot and humid weather, or I just want to take it easy.  The desire to go out and take pictures has been waning but I find it relaxing in a different way as picture taking is relaxing.  Most people take more pictures in the summer, but strangely enough, I am take more pictures in the spring and fall. Find the colour and subjects are better in those two seasons.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Window Sill Planter

Pretty Flowers -- NEX-5 & Kowa Prominar-16 50mm f1.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

I have often wondered if I had only a body and a couple of zoom lenses, would I still be taking as many pictures I have been doing.  The answer is probably no.  I think new lenses/cameras encourage picture taking.  You've got to try out the new stuff, right?  Unfortunately, I do think, though, that often this makes me take pictures for the sake of taking pictures, instead of getting serious and think more of what or why I am taking pictures.  No matter, for me, the fun is often the process, and if the pictures turn out that I like, it's bonus.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Black Ninja

Ninja -- NEX-5 & Kowa Super-Prominar-16 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

So I have replaced the c-mount to NEX adapter on the Vivitar 2X macro teleconverter focusing helicoid with a 49mm NEX reversing ring.  The opening is now much larger than the c-mount's 25mm diameter.  The first lens that benefits is the Kowa Super-Prominar-16 projection lens.  This lens was not able to focus to infinity before because the c-mount was restricting the lens from going further into the lens mount (camera body).  Now that the mount is larger, infinity focus is possible.

It turns out that I like this lens a lot.  Sure it vignettes a bit, and there is purple fringing, but it's very sharp and the depth of field is so thin, even when shot from quite a far distance.  Perfect for low light or when thin depth of field is needed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Year of Sony?

Rumour has been flying over the net that August 23/24 will be a huge day of Sony announcements.  No less than four camera bodies, and a few lenses will be announced.  For me, it's the NEX-7 that I am looking forward to.  The spec looks extremely good, except I would trade high pixel count for better high ISO performance.  What I like so far of the NEX-7:
  • 3 Million Pixel ViewFinder -- Finally!  I am sold on this feature alone.  I already like the NEX-5, and the lack of a viewfinder has been a huge disappointment.
  • Faster Start Up Time -- I don't know about you, but I know of no other recent DSLR/EVIL camera has a  slower start up time than the NEX.  Even waiting for it to wake up from sleep is an excruciatingly painful. 
  • Base ISO 100 and higher ISO performance -- I really missed ISO 100 when using fast lenses in bright lights.  But, I am not holding my breathe on ISO 16,000.  I will be very happy if it can do clean ISO 3200!
  • Faster auto focus -- Let's face it.  The NEX is probably the slowest focusing EVIL camera out there, so anything better and faster helps
Those are my main concerns and they are enough for me to upgrade.  I am just worried about the price.  If it's over a grand for the body, then I will just have to wait until the price comes down.

Finally, I am very happy to see Sony is revamping they Interchangeable Lens camera line up.  The specs for the A77 certainly looks very impressive.  Wonder what full frame A99 will be like!

Sail Boat -- NEX-5 & Pentacon 200mm f4

Monday, August 1, 2011

Making the Leitz Varob 5cm f3.5 Focus to Infinity

Someone e-mail me about using the Leitz Varob 5cm f3.5 enlarging lens on the NEX-5, so I thought it might be a good idea to take some pictures of how I make it work on the NEX-5.  Simple, really, but I do need a thin focus helicoid.  I use a cheap Chinese made 17-32mm with M42 mount on the camera side, and a 52mm thread on the lens side.

If you want to know more about the lens, I wrote a bit about it here.
If you want to know more about the 17-32mm focusing helicoid, I wrote about it here.

First thing I did, was to cut the lens barrel closer to the rear element.  This ensures that the rear element is as close to the camera as possible.  Picture below shows the cut as well as the mounted filter ring:
Len Barrel cut close to the rear element.  Click for larger.

The lens is then mounted and glued onto a name ring of some generic lens which has the perfect opening.  This name ring also screws onto the 52mm filter ring:

Adding spacing rings. I need to add a couple of filter rings to make focus close to infinity, instead of way past infinity. Click for larger size.

Ready to be used with the 17-31mm helicoid. Click for larger size.

Screw the lens onto the focusing helicoid, and voila!  We are ready to take pictures!

Lens on helicoid. Click for larger size.

Lens on camera. Click for larger size.