Sunday, June 30, 2013

Colors of Image Sensors

One of the interesting things about digital imaging is that, each company's sensor have some unique signatures. I would say that most image sensors are not really that accurate. I mean, even if the sensor captures the colours faithfully, the RAW decoding software may have it's own interpretation of how colours should be decoded. On top of that, the users who controls the RAW decode would also interpret the colour differently. Sure, we have calibration hardware and software to help get accurate colour, but for the most of us, colour accuracy is not critical.

Over the years, I have used different sensors, including the Kodak SLR/C, which I like the colour very much; the Canon 1D with a 4 MP CCD sensor with vibrant colours; the garden variety of Canon CMOS sensors, with very please colour pallets; there is still the Panasonic LiveMOS, with similar colour signature as the Canon 1D; and of course the Sony CCD and CMOS sensors in various Pentax cameras and the NEX series.

Can't say I prefer one over the other, although in some situations, like skin tones, the Canon does look more pleasing to the eyes. All these sensors are a wonder of engineering, which allow us to capture memories with vivid details at the price so affordable that we could only dream of a mere decade ago.

Colours - Canon 5D Mark II & Air Ministry 8 Inch f5.6. Click for larger.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens - More Samples

I took the S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 lens for a walk at lunchtime to get to know it better. Some lenses, after the first few shots, you will know whether you are going to like it or not. This is one of these lenses. For one thing, this lens is surprisingly  photographic. By that I mean it's feels, and it renders pictures, like a lens designed to take pictures, not to project them. The bokeh is very nice, and the lens is sharp; even the corners are quite good at its working aperture. Clearly, this lens was designed to project larger than 16mm format film. The aperture is not very fast for a projection lens, but I actually like it this way. Sometimes too thin a depth of field is too much of a good thing. This lens has become one of my favourite projection lenses.

Chained - Sony NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

6-5-4-3 - Sony NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

Bike Posts - Sony NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

Crane - Sony NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens. Click for larger.

Anchor - Sony NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 Projection Lens Samples

The S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 projection lens is one of the three that David sent me from France. Last time I tried the Isco-Gottingen 85mm f2.8 projection lens, and it was quite good, though not as sharp as other projection lenses I have used, but definitely produces some interesting pictures. Today I tried the S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2, and it's a surprise. The lens is very sharp at the working aperture, but the best part is the very nice bokeh it produces. The pictures below were taken in the late evening, and you can see some noise in the pictures. The only thing I find distracting is that even with a very long lens hood, there is some "white out" effect, but some post processing eliminates most of it. In all, a very enjoyable lens to take pictures. Can't wait to try it in better light.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2

Bokeh #2 - NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2

Rose - NEX-6 & S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The French Connection

Before I started this blog, I could never have, in a million years, envisioned how generous some of my readers are. I am still awestruck with the Carl Zeiss Jena projection lenses that Ramon from Cuba, gave me, and now, David, a reader from France sent me three projection lenses and a Yashica rangefinder lens for me to experiment with.  All these lenses I have never used, or even seen before. I don't even know how to even begin to thank David for his selfishlessness and generosity.  I guess the best I could do, is to make pictures, and write about these lenses.

Friendship from France. Click for larger.

The Projection lenses are: Isco-Gottingen 85mm f2.8, Anastimat Benoist Berthiot 125mm f2.9, and a less known (by me) S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2. All these lenses have a long enough flange distance to be used on full frame. The rangefinder lens is a Color-Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8. This is one intriguing lens with three TWO aperture blades. The shape of the opening changes as it closes down. Unfortunately, the flange is too short to be used even on the NEX on a helicoid. Need to think of some creative ways to get some pictures out of this one.

On the other hand, I couldn't wait to put one of the lenses on the helicoid and see what kind of pictures it can produce. I chose the Isco-Gottingen 85mm f2.8, as it readily fits the "interchangeable" helicoid system I have. From the few pictures I took, the lens does not seem to be overly sharp, but it does produce relatively nice bokeh and handles the highlights very gracefully. It sort of reminds me of the Steihnheil Culminar 85mm f2.8. Would interesting to shoot them side by side and see how they differ. Of course the pictures will have to be restricted to f2.8.

Rose - NEX-6 & Isco-Gottingen 85mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & Isco-Gottingen 85mm f2.8

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Waterfront Festival 2013 - Tall Ships

If you live in, or close to, Toronto, and you are a lover of Tall Ships, be sure you don't miss the Redpath Waterfront Festival happening today June 20 to June 23.  Lots of activities for kids and big kids alike. There is the 1812 On Tour that gives you a taste of what life was life in 1812.  You can buy tickets and board the Tall Ships. On Sunday June 23, there is a Parade of Sail where all the Tall Ships will pass through the Harbourfront. Bring your kids, or yourself to the Harbourfront and have a good time!

Fair Jeanne - Canon 5D Mark II & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

Sailing - Sony NEX-6 & 16-50mm f3.5-5.6. Click for larger.

My bike Bumble Bee - Canon 5D Mark II & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

BeaverTails - Canon 5D Mark II & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

Man made beach - Canon 5D Mark II & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

Fair Jeanne and Bumble Bee - Canon 5D Mark II & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II. Click for larger.

Wood Lathe - Canon 5D Mark II & EF 16-35mm f2.8L II.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6 - Photo Set

My Cuban friend Ramon generously gave me two of this prized Carl Zeiss Jena Projection lenses. The 92mm f1.6 is one of them. These are absolutely gorgeous lenses, both in built quality and optically. I believe these lenses are uncompromised design using the then latest techniques and material. The large aperture and size of the lens would make these lenses extremely expensive to make. Perhaps, these lenses were made for theater projections, but that's just my guess. In any case, they are beautiful lenses no matter how you look at them, and they produce very pleasing pictures.

Little House in the Forest - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6. Click for larger.

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

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

Maple Flower/Seeds - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6. Click for larger.

Daisies - NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Jena Visionar 92mm f1.6.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wollensak Raptar 50mm f1.5 C-Mount - Photo Set

The Wollensak Raptar 2 inch (50mm) f1.5 is the last c-mount lens I purchased, and that was last year.  So, I have been pretty good at NOT buying a lot of lenses. I figured I really should use more of what I have already got. Most c-mount lenses vignette severely on the NEX cameras, including this one. In many ways, that's one of the charm of this kind of lenses; it's a hardware based vignette feature and no Photoshop is required :)

I really like this lens. Not only because it's optically interesting, but the build quality is first rate. The chrome finish looks gorgeous; decades passed and it is still beautiful. Very happy to have this lens. In fact, I like this one more than the Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6, even though it does not have the close focusing capability as the Kodak. Both lenses are superb but the excessive swirling of the Kodak sometimes drives me crazy.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & Wollensak Raptar 50mm f1.5. Click for larger.

Bokeh #2 - NEX-6 & Wollensak Raptar 50mm f1.5. Click for larger.

Glenpine in Black & White - NEX-6 & Wollensak Raptar 50mm f1.5

The Jay Walker - NEX-6 & Wollensak Raptar 50mm f1.5

Friday, June 14, 2013

Black & White Pictures from Old Lenses

I have noticed that most old, uncoated lenses have very nice tones, especially when converted to black and white, there are just so much details. These old lenses were designed for black and white film, so it kind of makes sense.  The lower contrast of these lenses gives the pictures smoother tonal transitions. If you are a lover of black and white pictures, you may want to give these old lenses a try.

Relaxing by the lake - NEX-6 & AM 8 Inch f5.6 @ f5.6. Click for larger.

Willow - NEX-6 & AM 5 Inch f4 @ f4.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Air Ministry [Ross Xpress] 5 Inch f4 More Samples - Part II

This is the second part of the sample pictures from the cheap but wonderful Air Ministry (A M) 5 inch f4. All taken with the NEX-6 and the lens mounted on the converted Vivitar 2X Focusing Teleconverter.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Air Ministry [Ross Xpress] 5 Inch f4 More Samples - Part I

I have been shooting with the Air Ministry [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 lens for the last few days. I am very taken by the interesting rendering style of this lens. As I said before, wide open the contrast is low, but is very sharp. Pictures taken at any aperture show an amazing amount of details and it's very "malleable" in post processing.  By f8, the lens is extremely sharp with excellent definition. Who would have thought that a lens about 60 years old, and so cheap, can produce such nice results? I am enjoying it immensely. This is part one of the samples. I will post more next time.

One thing I want to stress, if you are going to make this lens useable, is to use a very long lens hood. Without the hood, the lens is very prone to flare and you will get "white out" effect. The hood should be at least 120mm long to be effective. Try it. Take some pictures with and without the hood. You won't believe they come from the same lens.

Birds of a feather - NEX-6 & AM [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 @ f4. Click for larger.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & AM [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 @ f4. Click for larger.

Ferry - NEX-6 & AM [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 @ f8. Click for larger.

Another Bokeh sample - NEX-6 & AM [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 @ f4.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Love of Old Lenses

People who use auto focus lenses exclusively have a hard time understanding our obsession over seemingly useless old lenses. What's the point? My usual answer is "it's fun!"

Yes it's fun, but there is something more fulfilling and tangible - the unique characters that some of these old wonders wove into the images that make them so enticing and attractive to look at. They provide an alternative to the modern, sharp, contrasty, and highly corrected images that look perfect, but lack characters. Many very old lenses are usually full of "faults" of one kind or the other. They vignette badly, they flare like crazy, they have low contrast, they may have horrendous distortion, they have bokeh so horrible that make your skin crawl, and so on. Well, is your partner perfect?  Do you want a partner that looks/acts the same as everyone else? We like our partners because they have characters and traits that stand out from others.

So yes. It's worth the time to make those odd-ball lenses usable on the digital cameras; to endure the disgusted look of some people looking at my ugly Franken Lenses. Because we love our old lenses and the kind of pictures that they can create.

Sailboat - NEX-6 & AM [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 @ f5.6.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Your Favourite Photography Place

While reading Thom Hogan's description of his current picture on his site, and I can't help but smile.  I think most people have favourite objects/place/person etc to photograph, but don't even know or think about it. I have a few favourite places that I take pictures of whenever I go there. I am sure you see recurring pictures of the same place often in my blog.  One particular place I always seem to have an urge to photograph is the front garden across from my sister-in-law's house. I often have to pickup/drop off her kids for swimming/music lessons, and when I do, I usually bring my camera with me, in case the lighting is good.

The garden is not just wonderful to look at, but  is also harmonious with its environment. The choice of tree, shrubs, flowers, etc, arranged in a way that reflects the beauty of the changing seasons.

I am particularly attracted to the white birch.  The bark, with interesting texture, often peels and curled, creating shapes, when combined with the light, that just makes me get out of the car to photograph it. Next to the tree is an old garage with rusty sheet metal on the outside. From certain angles and lighting conditions, they look so good together. The interesting thing is that it looks different depending lighting and season, so even though I have photographed it many times, I still find that I haven't photographed it enough :)

White Birch - NEX-6 & AM [Ross Xpress] 5 inch f4 @ f4. Click for larger.

Winter Colours - Panasonic G1 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2 @ f2. Click for larger.

Curled Bark - Sony NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Componon 50mm f4. click for larger.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 Classic - Couple of Samples

By most people's standards, the Cosina Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 Classic in M-mount is a desirable lens; small, sharp, well-built, and good looking. It is especially well suited for mirrorless cameras like the Leica Digital Ms, NEX and Micro 4/3 (sorry Samsung NX, your designers really screwed up by designing the sensor to lens register just slightly too long for M-Mount lenses).

Dillon has had this lens for a while, but I doubt he used it much. It's really a shame the lens is not used more often. After the death (at the moment any way) of the EF 200mm f1.8L, I have a new appreciation of manual focus lenses; it's better to invest in good quality manual focus lenses than AF lenses, in the long run, unless your must have AF do to the job. The mechanical nature of these lenses are far more likely fixable than AF lenses decades hence.

Old, New, and Newer - Sony NEX-6 & Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4. Click for Larger

PINEGLEN the ship - NEX-6 & Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The L Tower

The L Tower is one of the more unique building designs I have seen in Toronto recently.  Most other new high rises are traditional looking, but this one is eye catching, even before it is completed. The picture below does not show the true uniqueness of the building as it's looking at the flat side. From other directions you can see the interesting shape of the building. The official site for the L Tower gives you a better look with a rendered picture. Note the construction crane is outside of the building, whereas almost all other buildings the crane would sit where the elevator shaft would be.

The L Tower as seen from the 17th floor - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 30mm f2.8 @ f9.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sigma 19mm f2.8 - Another Look

Despite being extremely cheap for a wide angle lens, with auto focus to boot, the Sigma 19mm f2.8 for Sony E-Mount has garnered some good reviews from its users. I fully understand there are some with clear distaste for Sigma lenses, and Michael from Austria comes to mind :)  Seriously, Sigma is winning me over with their new company direction. Excellent optics at very reasonable prices. What's not to like?

Sometimes I forget that my camera is capable of auto focus, because I use mostly manual focus lenses on it. It's a nice surprise once in a while I shoot with a lens that focus itself. No need to worry about checking focus; even a slight focus error for this lens would not cause too much concern, as the the lens of such wide angle has lots of depth of field to cover minor focus errors. The aperture is set on f8 or f9 and I just composed and shot. It's not as sharp at the corners as the 30mm f2.8 but good enough for me. I have decided not to complain or even mind about the slightly softer corner, given it's low price, compactness and light weight. I just want to enjoy it, and make pictures with it.

I visited Canada's Sugar Beach today. It's a little oasis in the city. Sugar Beach is a small man made beach, converted from a parking lot. Its name was derived from the next door Red Path sugar refinery. There are beach umbrellas and beach chairs available for anyone to sit and enjoy. I intend to take advantage of it in the coming months when the weather is hot, I would spend half hour of my lunch there to soak up some sun and Vitamin D as byproduct :) It's only a few minutes away from my work.

Relaxing in the sun - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 19mm f2.8 @ f9. Click for larger.

Beautiful path along the lake - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 19mm f2.8 @ f9. Click for larger.

The Corus Building - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 19mm f2.8 @ f9. Click for larger.

Sugar Beach - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 19mm f2.8 @ f9. Click for larger.

Note Red Path sugar refinery in background - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 19mm f2.8 @ f9. Click for larger.

Downtown Toronto - Sony NEX-6 & Sigma 19mm f2.8 @ f9