Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kiron 28mm f2 Photo Samples

Kiron made some very nice wide and mini-wide angle lenses in variety of mounts. Two of my favourites are 24mm f2 and 28mm f2. Being consumer grade lenses, these little gems do not have the sharpest corners but much better than the zooms of the same era. I have two or three 28mm f2 in different mounts and they all suffer from oil getting into the aperture blades.  My 24mm f2 is now so bad that the aperture blades are all stuck. This is a common problem for Kiron lenses and you may want to make sure yours does not have a stuck aperture.  I won't consider a little bit of oil on the blade is a deal breaker if the aperture can be opened and closed smoothly, but if you see excess amount, sooner or later, you will have problems.

Aside from the oil issue, there is much to love about this lens. It's very well built and small, and it focuses smoothly. Optically very good for just a little bit of money.

Converging lines - Kiron 28mm f2 [MD] & Sony NEX-6. Click for larger.

Yellow and Red - Kiron 28mm f2 [MD] & Sony NEX-6. Click for larger.

The old soap factory - Kiron 28mm f2 [MD] & Sony NEX-6. Click for larger.

Sunset in the city - Kiron 28mm f2 [MD] & Sony NEX-6

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Other Hektor

This one is actually a projection lens - Hektor 120mm f2.5. As usual, it's mounted on a focusing helicoid, this time on the Vivitar 2x Macro Teleconverter that I made into a helicoid. This lens is actually pretty sharp, as good as the Hektor 13.5cm f4.5 that I used yesterday. The only negative is the contrast being pretty low. Being a relatively fast lens without aperture, this is expected. It also shows quite a bit of purple fringing on high contrast, backlit scenes. The bokeh is not bad at all, and the lens is quite a bit easier to focus than the other Hektor.

Well, another fun lens to shoot with :)

City of Toronto - 5D Mark II & Leitz Hektor 120mm f2.5 Projection lens.

The fountain - 5D Mark II & Leitz Hektor 120mm f2.5 Projection lens.

Scooter - 5D Mark II & Leitz Hektor 120mm f2.5 Projection lens.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leitz Hektor 13.5cm f4.5 on Canon 5D Markk II

I know what you are thinking - how can you use an M-mount lens on the Canon?  Strictly speaking, it's no longer an M-mount lens. I got this one from the photo show that came on an Visoflex extension tube. The Hektor's lens group can be detached from its focusing tube. I mounted it on the Yeenon 18-32mm focusing helicoid plus a couple of thin 52mm filter rings and it's slightly past infinity focus on the 5D II. The tiny lens looks funny on a big camera like the 5D II, as you can see below.

Hektor 13.5cm f4.5 on Canon 5D II. Click for larger.

This is probably one of the cheapest Leica M-mount lenses you can buy, and for a good reason; it's not the sharpest lens, especially in the corners. I do have another Hektor that is a complete lens and I used it on the NEX and the result is similar. This one is probably much worse, the way I mounted it on the 5D II, with glue, filter rings, and all. But, it's how much fun you have shooting it that matters!

Fall Colours - Canon 5D II & Leitz Hektor 13.5cm f4.5. Click for larger.

One thing that I notice is that the Canon has a much stronger, more vibrant colours without much processing. I kind of like it as I prefer vibrant colours; much more pleasing to my eyes. One advantage of mounting the lens on a helicoid, is that it lets me focus much closer than otherwise possible. Being able to focus close is one of the attractions for me, as I do a fair bit of close up pictures.

Seagull - Canon 5D II & Leitz Hektor 13.5cm f4.5 @ f4.5. Click for larger.

I certainly enjoyed shooting this lens, and was nice not having to worry about adapter tolerance, as I am sure mine is way off the chart. There are times when sharp corners are needed, but many pictures are simply enhanced by the lack of sharp corners.

Sign of Autumn - Canon 5D II & Leitz Hektor 13.5cm f4.5 @ f4.5. 

Texting - Canon 5D II & Leitz Hektor 13.5cm f4.5

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ultimate Precision Adapter Material - Duct Tape

I am joking about the duct tape having the ultimate precision, but while many people are debating the merits of adapters on the Sony A7/A7r, and how a few microns of tolerance could affect the edge sharpness, I was having a blast shooting the S.F.O.M 100mm f3.2 projection lens held together to the focusing helicoid by duct tape. I used this lens on the Sony NEX-6 a few times (here and here) and really like the way the pictures were rendered, but I want to see how it looks on full frame. I mounted the lens the opposite of how I did it on the NEX; I mounted it on the 5D II with the front of the lens toward the sensor because it's the only way it can focus to infinity.  Maybe I will try it again on a shorter helicoid next time.

I had high hopes, but the pictures didn't turn out as good as when shot with the NEX-6. It seems to have more internal flare, and less sharp. I think the inversion of the lens makes the difference, or the focusing using optical viewfinder makes it much harder to get critical focus. I definitely enjoy using the NEX-6 over the 5D II when it comes to shooting with manual focus lenses, and that's why I eagerly await the arrival of the Sony A7/A7r. The bokeh is still interesting with a bit of weirdness though today I did some torture test on bokeh (see last picture). Naturally, all pictures were shot wide open at f3.2 since there is no aperture control on the lens.

All the pictures below were shot using the S.F.O.M projection lens mounted on the Vivitar 2x Teleconverter converted to a focusing helicoid.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Photo Set with Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 200mm f2.8

Maybe I am getting old, but I don't like to lug big heavy lenses for shooting anymore. This Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 200mm f2.8 is huge compared to a modern Canon AF version, and at almost twice the weight. Strangely, it balances much better on the bigger Canon bodies than the NEX camera. I even get reasonably good in-focus ratio using the optical viewfinder to focus.

As I wrote before, this lens is best used on large sensor cameras, or on low density sensors. The 5D II is a good match for lens. If you need a long lens that gives you thin depth of field, and works on pretty much most camera systems, this one is a good choice, and it's quite a commonly available lens too.

All pictures below were taken with the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 200mm f2.8 on Canon 5D Mark II.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sony A7 and A7r - Game Changing Cameras?

Sony today unveiled the leaked, and much anticipated full frame cameras in a small mirrorless body. Reactions have been mostly positive around the net, myself included. This is the camera I have been waiting for a long time. Small, full frame, and most importantly, with a mount that has short flange distance which will take pretty much all kinds of lenses. I think Sony has a winner here, especially when it's priced below its main rivals, the Nikon D610 and Canon 6D, but I think Leica has the most to worry about. For me, it's a Canon full frame replacement.

The EOS to NEX smart adapters is on its second generation and fully supports the EF lenses: AF and IS. Yes it's a bit slower but to me it's not a deal breaker. With the A7's phase-detect capabilities, it will only be a matter of time before the AF speed and accuracy will improve for the Canon EF lenses. In the mean time, I can get rid of my 5D Mark II, which I like, but not as often used as I had hoped; I tend to grab the NEX-6 on the way out because my backpack is often very heavy with a laptop, bike lock, lunch, etc., and with the 5D II thrown in, it becomes too much. I am eagerly waiting for the A7's arrival on November. I don't much care about the A7r's higher resolution. 24 MP is more than enough for me and A7's better image quality is icing on the cake.

The only thing I wish the A7 would have, is in-body stabilization, preferably with the capability of Olympus' EM-1, but it's a minor issue for me.

One thing I think Sony is making a mistake is Zeiss branded lens prices. I know they are quality lenses, but $1000 for a 50mm f1.8?  That's ridiculous, unless the lens barrel is made of 24K gold. I hope the NEX 50mm f1.8 OSS won't vignette severely. How much better will the Zeiss version be, over the NEX version, besides the fact that it covers full frame? The pricing will put off many people who want to use the A7/A7r with AF lenses.  Sony should make at least one inexpensive, but good prime lens, like the NEX 50mm f1.8 OSS at introduction. But again, it's a minor issue for me as I will be using this camera with mostly manual focus lenses.

Good job, Sony. Your competition should be worried.

Lone man & bird - Canon 5D Mark II & Olympus OM 35mm f2.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How Will the NEX Full Frame Affect the Leica M?

The imminent release of the Sony NEX full frame A7 and A7r will be the only rangefinder style full frame cameras besides what Leica has been offering. I am sure, other than the Execs at Leica, many people would also like to know, what kind of impact will these two cameras have on Leica M sales?

In the past, many other companies also made rangefinder cameras to compete with the Leica Ms; they even use the Leica M-mount!  Minolta CLE, Konica Hexar and the Russian clones were all pretty popular and capable cameras, but didn't affect the sales of Leica Ms much. I believe people who buy Leica cameras are buying more than just a photographic tool; they might be buying Leica for prestige, as investments, and maybe even as a status symbol. This may change slightly in the digital age for camera bodies; I don't know of anyone who will pay full price of a used M8, or M9, when the newer cameras are more capable and in some cases, cost less.  Lenses are different, and this brings us to the question: Why buy a Leica body when you can buy the NEX full frame and use Leica M lenses for a lot less?

No doubt, many will still buy a Leica instead of the A7/A7r, for various reasons, but for the majority of us who want a small full frame camera with a short lens registration, will no doubt buy the Sony. True, most of us will probably never buy a Leica regardless of Sony making the A7/A7r or not, but for those who can afford the Leica, but are sitting on the fence because of justification for the higher Leica price, the NEX A7/A7r maybe sway them to buy the Sony. So yes, for those who can afford a Leica, and actually use the camera to make pictures rather than using it as a status symbol, it would make no sense to buy a Leica, unless the build and handling is more important than image quality, when there is now a much cheaper alternative.  How large is this group I have no idea, but if I were a Leica Exec, I would be worried.

Fall leaf - Sony NEX-6 & Leica-R 90mm f2 Summicron at f2.  Click for larger.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Afternoon Walk with the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL

At my last job where I work, I routinely went out and shoot pictures during lunch hour, and didn't feel much resistance most day. In fact, I rather enjoyed it, possibly because I worked on the first floor of the building and it was easy to just go out. But, this job I work, if I have to go out, I would have to wait for the elevator, then go down 17 floors, and finally outside. Maybe it's an excuse, but I find it has become one of my obstacle to tackle every time I wanted to go out and shoot at my lunch hour.

The Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL is one of my favourite 50mm lenses. I especially like the bokeh it produces, but it also performs excellent as a normal lens. Extremely sharp, and well made, and I think it would be wonderful on the NEX full frame :)

All pictures below were taken with the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL mount and Sony NEX-6.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The NEX Full Frame - Getting Closer

According to SAR, the Sony full frame NEX cameras A7 and A7r will be announced on October 16. The best news?  It's around $1700 for the 24 MP A7 with Phase Detect autofocus. I am excited. I will sell my Canon 5D II and buy this camera as soon as it's available, though I will still keep the 1D III for action shots. With an intelligent EF-NEX adapter, Canon autofocus lenses will be usable on the NEX full frame, albeit slower.

Think about the possibilities. All those Minolta MC/MD, Konica-AR, FD, and other lenses mounts that have too long a flange to be usable on Canon, will be supported on the NEX with full frame coverage. If Sony actually sells the A7 at $17000 Canadian dollars, I don't think they can make enough to meet demand.

Can't wait.

Fall Colours - Canon 5D Mark II & Olympus OM 35mm f2 @ f2