Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Infrared Photography - Restarted

I felt really guilty about the Infrared modified Canon 20D not being used much, so I intend to change that this year and take it out more often, perhaps even with different lenses. Currently, the Pentax-M 20mm f4 has been used on the 20D almost exclusively. I would like to try the Tamron SP 17mm f3.5 and other wide angle lenses on it and see if I can get different looks.

IR photography has fascinated me with its eerie, surreal quality, and false colours. I don't like the deep infrared pictures that do not show any false colours as much. The problem with IR pictures is that after you see them for a while, the pictures have the sameness to them. I am hoping I will learn alternative processing methods to make them look more unique.

All the pictures below were taken with the IR modified Canon 20D and the Pentax-M 20mm f4.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meyer-Optik Telemegor 400mm f5.5 - Photo Set

At one point I was crazy about East German lenses I went nuts buying them. Meyer-Optik and Pentacon lenses were my main focus, and the Telegegor 400mm f5.5 is one of them lenses that I still have. Though I like the lens, but like many of my very long lenses, it never gets used often and the reason I still have it, is because it's not worth much selling it. It's not a rare lenses by any means. I have seen variations of this lens in Exakta and M42 mounts a few times at the camera shows. The price has gone up somewhat but it's still an inexpensive lens.

Optically, it's not the sharpest lens you can find in this focal length, and wide open it's a bit soft and vignettes, as you can see in the first picture. There is a unique quality to this, and some other Meyer lenses. At wider apertures, the image exhibits a blend of sharp and soft quality, which in some pictures, looks really nice. In actual use, this lens, without a tripod, is very difficult. When I used it with my 1Ds or 1D II, it was much easier because I had a cross-split screen installed, but on the 5D II, which as a stock focusing screen, it's hard to tell in focus, or slightly off. Live-in is pretty useless in strong light. Another negative, is that the closest focusing distance is 6 meters (20 ft), so close-ups are out of the question.

So, it's a pretty inexpensive 400mm lens, which has good enough image quality for causal use. If you are a sharpness freak, the Canon EF 400mm f5.6 is your best option, if you shoot Canon, but what fun is that when the camera/lens does everything for you? Besides, there is practically no characters to speak of from images captured with modern lenses. They all look very similar, but not some decades old manual focus lenses :)

Weather Station - Meyer-Optik Telemegor 400mm f5.5. Click for larger.

Bird Dance - Meyer-Optik Telemegor 400mm f5.5. Click for larger.

Love Talk - Meyer-Optik Telemegor 400mm f5.5. Click for larger.

Tree - Meyer-Optik Telemegor 400mm f5.5. Click for larger.

The Giant and the Midget. On the right is a Pentacon 50mm f1.8.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm f1.6 Shoots Tommy Thompson Park

It took me a while, but I finally got the Visionar 109mm f1.6 mounted on the Yeenon Helicoid. This is one big lens with a non-standard filter thread around 77mm, but not quite 77mm.  The same is true for the rear mount; it's not quite 62mm, more like 63mm. I had to file the inside of the 62mm to 52mm step-down ring, and then use JB Kwik to welded it together, just like the 92mm f1.6 lens.

This lens has uneven illumination. One side is slightly darker than the other. This is more apparent when doing post exposure compensation. Although image circle covers the APS-C sensor (and maybe even 35mm full frame), the edge is very soft. This lens is suitable for certain subjects but not others.

I decided to ride my bike to Tommy Thompson Park (sometimes called Leslie Spit) and shoot with this lens but got up too late and by the time I went there, it was already 9:30. Too much light for a fixed aperture f1.6 lens. Consequently, most of the photos were over exposed. Good thing I shot RAW and was able to recover from the over exposure.

This is the bird migratory season and there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of birds of all kinds there. In fact, Tommy Thompson Park is one of the largest migratory ground for some of the birds. Talked to a birder and he told me few species of birds that were almost endangered have come back in good quantities, and he even saw egrets this year. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to go near the bird nesting ground, but if you have a very long lens, you can still get some good shots. If you have never been to Tommy Thompson Park, you should pay a visit, and go early in the morning. It's open only on weekends and holidays, though people go on weekdays too.

Sailboat - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Bird Island - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Reflections - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Bird Paradise - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Guarding the nest - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 109mm f1.6.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6 Projection Lens

This lens, and the Visionar 109mm f1.6, are special. They came all the way from Cuba and was a gift from friend Ramon. These two lenses are very large and heavy, especially the 109mm f1.6, mostly due to the very large maximum aperture of f1.6. After so many years, they are still in pristine condition. I was able to quickly mount the lens to my Yeenon focus helicoid and they fit well together.

Visionar 92mm f1.6 on NEX-6. Note the large size, and how clean it is. Click for larger.

On Monday I shot some pictures in the afternoon, but it was sunny and very bright, and the lens has a fixed aperture of f1.6, thus most of the pictures were over exposed. No, I didn't have any ND filters. Yesterday, it rained, and was dark, perfect condition to use this lens. So I spent an hour in the rain, under the umbrella, and enjoyed myself with this beautiful lens.

Like most projection lenses, this one is very sharp at the working aperture of f1.6. Unfortunately, quite strong color fringing/CA is visible with contrasty/back lit scenes, as most projection lens exhibit this trait. Not as bad as others, though. So far, I haven't found any projection lens that produces very pleasing  bokeh. It was simply not a design criteria for a projection lens. This one, I would say is average. Not ugly or unpleasant, but not as nice as many dedicated picture taking lenses.

The hardest part of using this lens is finding critical focus. The extremely thin depth of field makes focusing really difficult. Nonetheless, I had a great time taking pictures with this wonderful optic.

Daffodil  - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Braving the rain - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Walking in the rain - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Speed Booster Alternative

Picture comes from here. Click for a larger version.

You can always count on the Chinese to come up with something cheaper, though not always better. When the Metabones Speed Booster came out, I wondered why no one else had done it before. Surely, the design  is not something new. Focal reducer has been around for decades. But I knew as soon as the Speed Booster come on the market, the Chinese version won't be far behind, and now there is the Lens Turbo, an alternative to the Speed Booster.

Specs for the Lens Turbo:
Multiplier: 0.726
Optical Construction: 4 elements in 4 groups with 1 ED element.
Note: Not compatible with all lenses. The Lens Turbo adapter is thinner than a normal adapter. Some lenses  with rear element protrudes more into the mirror chamber may not fit, and the aperture lever for the MD version may hit inside of the adapter, preventing the lens from mounting properly.

According to Dr. Liu, designer of Lens Turbo, its design is different than the Speed Booster. He said that Speed Booster concentrates the light more in the middle of the frame, and his design distributes light more evenly across. From early sample pictures, the speed gain seems dependent on focal length; the gain is less than a full stop in some cases. Some softness wide open. It's pretty safe to say that Lens Turbo is not as good optically as the Speed Booster, which is understandable. The difference in price is more than double. Also, Lens Turbo does not have any kind of electronic contacts; it can not control the aperture of EF lenses.
If you are interested, here is a thread in Chinese, talks about the user experience with the Pentax version of the Lens Turbo. If you don't read Chinese, you will need to translate it. Another thread by the designer of the adapter is here, also in Chinese.

I think this is a good start for the Chinese adapter. Competition is good for consumers. Hopefully both the Lens Turbo and Speed Booster will improve, and lower prices soon. Better yet, I hope there will be more high quality focal length reducers to come on the market.

EcoCabs - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Leica Summicron-R 90mm f2 - Couple of Samples

Very few consumer lenses on the market that rivals the combined build quality, handling, material used, optical performance of Leica lenses. If you own Leica lenses, you know what I am talking about. I am fortunate that I started out early and bought a few of them when the prices were still reasonable. Recent prices of new and used Leica lenses have been crazy. I regretted selling my Elmarit 90mm f2.8 E55, one of the sharpest and most contrasty lenses I had ever owned.

Next to the Canon 85mm f1.2L, the Leica-R 90mm f2 Summicron is one of my favourites. The smooth operation of the lens has no equal, and I find the bokeh to be exquisite. Truly one of the best investments I have made, not in terms of return on investment, but return in joy. The best thing is, with proper care, many more decades of joy from this beautiful lens.

Bumped - Canon 5D Mark II & Leica Summicron-R 90mm f2 @ f2

Maximum 40 - Canon 5D Mark II & Leica Summicron-R 90mm f2 @ f2

Monday, April 22, 2013

From Cuba, with Love

OK, not the kind of love you are thinking of; love of photography and love for another human being.

Ramon, a reader and a film maker from Cuba, emailed and offered me a couple of projection lenses back in December of 2012. I was very touched by his generosity. I am sure photographic equipment is not easy to come by in Cuba, and yet, Ramon selfishlessly offered me the lenses, to an unknown person in another continent.

Today, Ramon's friend Frank the Professor, and I met up. He brought and gave to me Ramon's projection lenses, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR 92mm f1.6 and 109mm f1.6. They are simply gorgeous and in mint condition. Very obvious that Ramon has been taking good care of them. In return, to lessen my guilt, I gave Ramon a Jupiter-9 85mm f2 LTM, since I have two of them. I just hope that I won't disappoint both the lenses and Ramon. Stay tuned for pictures, as soon as I can get the lenses to mount on my camera.

Visionar 92mm f1.6 & 109mm f1.6 Projection lenses. Beautify, yes?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Takumar SMC 55mm f1.8 Revisited

The Pentax Takumar 55mm f1.8 M42 lens is probably one of the most common lens you can buy in M42 mount. It has a sister lens, the 55mm f2, which is essentially the same lens, but with the aperture intentionally set to maximum of f2, and marketed as a lower priced lens. There are many versions of this lens. The last version the SMC 55mm f1.8 with rubber on the focusing ring, and the previous version is the Super-Multi-Coated 55mm f1.8 with all metal construction. I believe these two versions are identical with the exception of the rubber ring. The exists non multi-coated versions as well, usually called Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8, and I could be wrong, but there may be another version called Auto-Takumar 55mm f1.8.

Last version of the Takumar 55mm f1.8. Note rubber skin on the focusing ring. Click for larger.

Let me say this: if you are just starting to play with manual focus lens, and you don't use a mirrorless camera or a Nikon, buy the SMC 55mm f1.8 lens, instead of a cheaper Minolta or Canon FD equivalent. The Takumars are beautifully built, very small, optically brilliant, and focuses like no other in its class.

Other than a bit "slow" with the maximum aperture of f1.8, I see very little fault with this lens. It's sharp, has good bokeh, and still relatively cheap. Even if you don't like it, when you sell it later, you will not likely lose money. Trust me, if properly kept, this lens will last many decades more.

Caddy - Canon 5D Mark II & SMC Takumar 55mm f1.8 @ f4. Click for larger.

Da Shoe - Canon 5D Mark II & SMC Takumar 55mm f1.8 @ f1.8

Graffiti - Canon 5D Mark II & SMC Takumar 55mm f1.8

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pancolar 50mm f2 on NEX-6

Mirrorless cameras have been a godsend for manual focus lens lovers. For one thing, they can take pretty much any SLR lenses (except the Samsung NX, which has a much longer flange distance). The other advantage is that viewfinder does not go dim when you mount a very slow lens, or stopping it down, because the electronic viewfinder/LCD screen compensates the loss of light by brighten up. The only disadvantage I see, so far, is that there is no affordable full frame mirrorless cameras on the market today. Hopefully that will change in a couple of years.

The Sony NEX-6, in my opinion, has the best balance between price, performance, and usability. It's very comfortable to hold, has most of the controls accessible without going into the menu, an excellent viewfinder, and most important of all, exceptionally good image quality. While I struggled with the Pancolar 50mm f2 on the 5D Mark II, it is a breeze using it on the NEX-6. If there is a full frame equivalent of the NEX-6 at affordable price, the world (OK, at least me) will rejoice.

Downtown Buildings - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50mm f2 @ f8.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Exakta to Canon EOS Adapter that Allows Infinity Focus

I feel weird to write about an adapter that has no name, because if you want to buy one, I can't tell you want brand it is. But this one looks very different than most other EXA to EOS adapters. Do a search on eBay and you should find one. Mine cost $18USD with free shipping from Hong Kong.

I had two Exakta to EOS adapters which I bought few years ago, and both of them could not make the lenses focus to infinity, despite what the seller claimed. I decided to give it another try when I saw an ultra-thin adapter, which arrived very promptly from Hong Kong few days ago after I bought it from eBay. Few of of my Exakta mount lenses have shutter button arm on the lens and the arm prevents the lens from mounting flat on the adapter. Some lenses with longer arms, like the Topcor 10cm f2.8 and the 5.8cm f1.8, can not be mounted on the Canon DSLRs at all. What a pity. For those with shorter arms, like the Pancolar 50mm f2 and the Flegtogon 35mm f2.8, I had to file the raised portion on the arm to mount the lens on the adapter; see picture #3.

It turns out that the new adapter can in fact focus the lenses to infinity, but at a cost. It's very thin and mounts more towards the mirror box than other EXA-EOS adapters, and on the 5D Mark II, it catches the mirror and you can't use it with the optical view finder. I must un-mount the lens/adapter, turn on live-view, flip up the mirror and then mount the lens/adapter. When the mirror is disengaged, it will just rest on the rear of the adapter and that should be OK. Whenever I need to take pictures, I will need to flip the mirror up and use it like a mirrorless camera without a viewfinder.

The new adapter mounts VERY tightly to the lens. Because it's so thin, you can't mount it without using a rag or towel to cushion the edge, so that it won't cut you as you apply force. Unlike most adapters, the locking mechanism is not spring loaded. This means you have to keep an eye on the locking pin as you mount the lens and when the locking pin on the lens is at the center of the notch on the locking mechanism of the adapter, you have to push it down to lock it; see picture #4 below. To un-mount the lens, you would have to manually flip up the locking mechanism to unlock, and then un-mount the lens.

Here is the good news if you don't use a 5D/5D II. This adapter works with my 20D (1.6x), and 1D Mark III (1.3x). The mirror on these two cameras did not hit the lens/adapter even at infinity focus. I would assume all crop-sensor Canon are OK, and possibly the 1Ds series of full frame bodies are also fine. So, perhaps, only the 5D/5D II (don't know about the 5D III) have problems. Also, the adapter is quite precise. If you set the lens to infinity, it's in focus. This means you don't have to check focus if you are going take pictures far away; just set the lens to infinity and you know it will be in focus.

New adapter on left, old adapter on right. Notice the old (silver) one is larger, which is not good as it will interfere more with the arm on the lens.

Thickness test - new one is 0.68mm, old one is 1.04mm. Anything thicker than 0.7mm will not attain infinity focus.

The raised portion on the arm has to be filed flat in order for the adapter to mount flush.

Mounted - Note the manual locking/unlocking mechanism.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trying out lenses on 5D Mark II

I have been trying out some of my favourite lenses on the 5D Mark II, because few of them were never mounted on a full frame camera before.  Just wanted to see what the pictures are like compared to those captured with an APS-C sensor. I am generally quite happy so far with the lenses I have tried on the 5D II. The results are better than I was hoping, and some lens characteristics can not be duplicated with a cropped sensor. Frankly, there is something else that I have missed, and that's the c-mount lenses. Most of my c-mount lenses don't work well on the NEX, and that's one of the reasons I so badly want a Micro 4/3 camera (OM-D EM-5).

Self Portrait - Canon 5D Mark II & Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.8 [Zebra]. Click for larger.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50mm f2 [EXA] - Some Observations

Let's just say that it was not easy making this lens to work on the Canon 5D Mark II. I will explain this in another article when I talk about the new adapter I got, which allows infinity focus for Exakta lenses on the Canon EOS full frame bodies. But, all the trouble was worth it. I love this lens on full frame.

The first thing that gripped me was how beautiful the bokeh is from this lens. It almost has that cinematic feel to it. When focused close and wide open, it exhibits slightly swirling background which is not as apparent when used on the NEX-6 with a smaller sensor. I absolutely adore the bokeh and I think it's wonderful. One of the reasons I missed full frame was seeing the full image as the lens was designed to capture, rather than just a the middle of it with cropped sensors.

Wide open, the lens has very severe vignetting of at least 1.5 stops. The last picture shows the exposure difference between the center and the corner. For you pixel peepers, you can see that the edge is no too shabby at f2. The far corner is not as sharp as the center, but is very respectable. Stopping down to f8/f11 does improve quite a bit, but still not as sharp as the center.

I don't mind the vignette at all. In fact, I prefer it. Usually, if you shoot wide open, you want the subject, usually near the middle, to stand out, and the vignette helps in this regard. Besides, it's completely gone by about f5.6.

Is this why people pay more money for a Pancolar than say, a Pentacon 50mm f1.8? I know the Pentacon 50mm f1.8 does not render pictures like this. The signature is certainly unique for this Pancolar.

Bokeh - Canon 5D Mark II & CZJ Pancolar 50mm f2. Click for larger.

Orange Bike - Canon 5D Mark II & CZJ Pancolar 50mm f2. Click for larger.

Reflection - Canon 5D Mark II & CZJ Pancolar 50mm f2 @ f11. Click for larger.

100% Crop sample. Need to click on the image to see the actual pixels. You can see that vignetting is pretty sever. I would say it's a difference of at least 1.5 stop.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Milestone - 1000th Post

This post marks the 1000th entry for the Lens Bubbles blog. When I started this blog back in June of 2009 (and three months earlier with LiveJournal), I completely did not see it would go this far. My original plan was to have a space to share my experience with gear that I use, which is mostly old lenses, and a place for me to immerse myself in, and temporarily forget about life's worries.

Today, oldlenses.blogspot.com has received more than 600,000 page views since it started, with a current average of about 800 page views per day, and there are currently 126 followers to this site. I think for a site with such narrow interest, it has been quite successful. This site generates no income for me, but I am happy to see so many people resonate with my passion. What gives me so much joy, is that some of the posts provide useful information to fellow photographers/gear addicts. The best of it all, is that I have learned so much from the readers, and get to know some of you, and even met a few who live in the same city!

The most popular posts are lens related reviews, especially comparison reviews. I hesitate to call my posts reviews, as they are really not. I don't have the time and resources to do full reviews, so I mark most of them as impressions, observations, etc. Most of the posts are short, and that is done on purpose. I don't know about others, but I don't like reading very long posts unless they are really interesting or contain information I seek. I typically spend less than 20 minutes writing a post, a bit longer for those that involve instructions.

Thanks to you, my readers, for making this blog enjoyable for me. Hopefully I will have the energy to continue updating this blog for years to come, and that it will provide useful information to you.

The Pain of Adapting Lenses on Canon Full Frame Cameras - Part II

In Part I of this two part series, we looked at the general problems facing the use of manual focus lenses on Canon full frame cameras. This time, we will look at some specific examples.

Generally, the longer the flange distance of a lens, the fewer issues it will have with the camera's reflex mirror.  M42, Nikon, OM, Leica and Contax lenses usually have no problems with a few exceptions, usually with wide angle lenses. For those lenses affected, much has to do with the way the lens was designed. But on the 5D Mark II (and probably the 5D Classic as well), some of the lenses that worked on full frame Canon 1Ds and 1.3x Canon 1D III don't work with the 5D. Below are some of the lenses I have tried and don't work with 5D/5D II at infinity:

M42: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8, Meyer-Optik Primoplan 58mm f1.9, Takumar 50mm f1.4, and quite a few others.

Yashica/Contax: S-Planar 60mm f2.8 Makro, Distagon 35mm f2.8

Rollei QBM: Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.5 HFT - won't focus to infinity and hits mirror when lens is turned to infinity focus. I think the Rollei 50mm f1.8 won't work either.

Exakta: On the adapter that can't focus to infinity, most lenses seem to work fine, but with the new adapter I got (I will have a separate post for this), the adapter itself will hit the mirror on the 5D II. It only works with Live View.

There is a wealth of information on the net regarding lens compatibilities. I have only listed a small selection of the lenses that I have tried that don't work on full frame Canon 5D/5D II. The best way to find out, before buying lenses for your 5D/5D II, is bring your own adapter/camera to try it, if possible.

If you are using the old 5D Classic, there isn't a lot of options to go around this, other than shaving part of the reflex mirror. With the 5D II/III, you can avoid this problem by using Live-View. It's not a perfect solution, but works. I shot with the Exakta mount Pancolar 50mm f2 yesterday, and it was manageable. I will have another post about the Pancolar 50mm f2 on the 5D II in the near future.

Sweet and delicious Bokeh - Canon 5D Mark II & Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50mm f2 @ f2

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Pain of Adapting Lenses on Canon Full Frame Cameras - Part I

For those of you who never had to use your manual focus lenses on DSLRs, especially Canon full frame DSLRs, consider yourself lucky. Before there was mirrorless cameras on the market, the Canon EOS mount was the most adaptable digital SLRs for manual focus lenses. It can take Nikon F-Mount, Pentax K-Mount/M42-Mount, Olympus OM-Mount, Leica R-Mount, Rollei QBM-Mount, Exakta EXA-Mount, Contax C/Y-Mount, most medium format mounts, and possibly others. In theory, all the lenses of these mounts should work without problems, but like everything else in life, there are exceptions.

The Canon EOS mount can take other lenses is due to its shorter lens to sensor flange distance at 44mm, which is shorter than all of the mounts listed above. For example, M42 mount has a flange distance of 45.46mm. This means that if an adapter with a thickness of 1.46mm or thinner, is used to mount the M42 lens to EOS mount, the lens can focus to infinity. Some mounts, like the Exakta and Rollei, have a flange distance of 44.7mm and 44.6mm respectively, which means the adapter must be less than 1mm in thickness. Most of the adapters on the market that claim you can focus your Extaka and Rollei lenses to infinity are lying; none of the ones I bought could do that, except one I just got yesterday, which I will get to later. An adapter that's thinner than 1mm has at least two limitations: 1) it's hard to make it strong enough, 2) very hard to mount it on the lens without it cutting your hand with it's sharp, thin edge.

Adapters are just one of the issues. Even if you manage to get your lens to focus to infinity, for some lenses, there is another problem: the dreaded mirror blockage. What happens is that the rear of some lenses goes deeper into the mirror chamber than others and the mirror would hit the lens, especially at infinity focus. The worse Canon camera bodies with this issue is the 5D classic and 5D mark II. 1-Series of bodies are better, and cropped sensor bodies are the most compatible with the least trouble on manual focus lenses. In order to use their favourite lenses, some people has gone as far as cutting part of the reflex mirrors on their 5D/5D II! If you want to see an example of this, check out this link and scroll down until you see the 5D with its mirror shaved. Or, just image search on Google for 5D Mirror Cut. Personally, I wouldn't go this extreme. The good news is that newer cameras with Live-View partly solve this problem, by flipping up the mirror and shoot like a mirrorless camera.

Next time we will look at some of the lenses that won't work with the full frame Canon 5D/5D II.

Bokeh - Canon 5D Mark II & Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50mm f2 @ f2. Click for larger.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Make Your Own Topcon Mount Adapter

Since I got the Topcor lenses from the camera show, I have fallen in love with these lenses. I do have other Torcor lenses before these ones, but they come in a completely different mount; not the modified Exakta mount, but one that has aperture control on the camera body, a la DKL. This particular mount, like the Exakta, does not provide a secured and tight fit when a lens is mounted; except it's worse than Exakta. The lenses themselves are well made and I have been scratching my head for months on how to mount them to my camera. As far as I know, nobody makes a mount adapter for it.

The other Topcon - very similar to the DKL mount. Aperture control is on the camera body.

Today it dawned on me that I had a broken Topcon body. Why not make an adapter from the original mount? Why didn't I think of that before? Well, in fact, I tried this with a Kodak Reflex with DKL mount, but no cigar. The mount is too intricately intertwined with other parts of the body that it was difficult to separate the mount with the aperture control intact. But, what have I got to lose? It didn't take long before sweet success arrived! The mount is much simpler than the DKL and aperture control stays unaffected after mount is removed from the body.

Gruesome body parts. The mount we want is on the right.

After the mount is removed, I JB Welded a 58-49mm filter ring (don't have a 58-52mm handy) to the rear of the mount, added a 49-52mm step up ring, and mounted the adapter to the very thin focus helicoid. Very unfortunately, I can't use my favourite Yeenon helicoid as the mount is about 2mm too thick. How I wish I had a metal lathe to shaved off these two millimeters. But, this will do in the meantime. The mount adapter is not perfect. the filter ring I glued/welded on is slightly jagged and is not completely flat, cause the left side of the picture to be slightly softer than the right side. I will need to find a better solution for this. It's workable for the time being.

UV Topcor 35mm f3.5 with mount on helicoid. Note the filter rings.

The other Topcors: Mount, 53mm f2, 35mm f3.5, 135mm f4.

Gorgeous, eh?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kinoptik Speciale Cine 210mm f2.8 - Another Sample Picture

Of the few cameras I have tried on, the Kinoptik Speciale Cine 210mm f2.8 produces best images on the Canon 5D and 5D Mark II. Didn't like the images very much on the 1D IIn or 1D III, or the Sony NEX cameras, or Panasonic G1. This lens seems to love a full frame sensor, especially on wide apertures below f4. Pictures seem to have that look of creamy but not soft, sharp but not harsh, nice color but not over saturated. In other words, all the elements nicely balanced. Is it specific to cine lenses? I see some of these qualities on the Tewe (Birns & Sawyer) 200mm f3.5 and 150mm f3, but the Kinoptik is by far my favourite cine lens, so far.

Megan - Canon 5D Mark II & Kinoptik Speciale Cine 210mm f2.8 @ f2.8.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

From the Why Bother Department...

Believe it or not, I don't have any truly expensive manual focus lenses. The Kinoptik 210mm f2.8 Speciale cine, which while expensive, is not truly expensive. The reason is that I buy lenses to satisfy my own curiosity of how each lens renders pictures, but unfortunately, I don't have a lot of disposable income, so expensive lenses are out of the question. In a sense, I am not really a photographer, but rather, a camera/lens user. What excites me, or, if you like, what has driven me near the edge of insanity, is finding new ways to make pictures. Besides the garden variety normal lenses, I also use projection lenses, enlarging lenses, copy lenses, printing lenses, ground glass magnifier, or, just the front element of the a dismantled lens, to take photographs. Sometimes I would spend days, even weeks, trying to find a way to mount some odd ball glass to the camera so that I could use it to take pictures, just want to see how the pictures are rendered, from lenses not made for this purpose. Now, you tell me. Does a normal person do this? Most would spend the time on how to take better pictures, no?

Anyway. Few years ago I bought some Kodak printing lenses from a camera show. These lenses have odd focal lengths like 63mm and 93mm, etc. and they all have a fixed aperture. Like enlarging lenses, the front and rear elements can be unscrewed easily and if needed, a different aperture disc can be inserted to change the native aperture value. They came with brass tubes which are then mounted inside commercial printing machines. Yesterday, I finally found a way to mount the 63mm f4.5 Printing Ektar lens to the helicoid, and today I had a chance to take some pictures with it. The lens captures an amazing amount of detail. Just like the Schneider Componon 80mm f5.6 enlarging lens, this one also has limited use, but it feels great to be able to capture images with it, and with very good quality.

Kodak Printing Ektar 63mm f4.5 with helicoid - Picture taken with 5D II & Tamron AF 90mm f2.8

Lens holding Brass Tubes - Picture taken with 5D II & Tamron AF 90mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Out of action derailleur - Sony NEX-6 & Kodak Printing Ektar 63mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Details - Sony NEX-6 & Kodak Printing Ektar 63mm f4.5

100% crop from picture above. Some softness with jpeg compression.