Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quantaray 500mm f8 Mirror Lens Sample Pictures

One lens I bought from the camera show this past Sunday, but failed to mention, was the Quantaray 500mm f8 mirror lens. This is a very cheap lens and when I bought it, I already expected it to be a dud. Besides, I don't even like mirror lenses, especially the ones with f8 aperture. But the price was too good to resist, and it came in M42 mount, so I caved it.

The lens is actually well made, and focuses very smoothly. As it turned out, I was surprised that it's quite decent. Maybe not as good as the Minolta Rokkor 250mm f5.6, but it certainly is not a dud. In terms of sharpness, it's passable for a mirror lens, if you can focus it properly. You may notice that all the pictures below are kinda grainy, that's because I had to set the shutter speed to around 1/1000s to maintain safe shutter speed. At that kind of shutter speed, even in broad daylight, the ISO is around 1600. This is one reason I don't like mirror lenses. The 500mm focal length (750mm equivalent on NEX-6) is way too long for most purposes. Holding it to my eyes, I feel like suffering from ET; the view jitters so badly that focusing becomes a problem.  Seriously, I don't know what good a lens like this is for. It's too slow for action shots/birds, too long for most uses, and putting it on a tripod is almost mandatory. The only positive I see is the very light weight for the focal length.

I shot quite a few pictures, but the keeper rate is rather low, due to blur. I am sure if used on tripod, it will perform much better, but I am not a tripod guy. Maybe a camera body, like the E-M1 or E-M5, with in-body-stabilization, will make it easier to use.

All pictures below were shot using a NEX-6 & Quantaray 500mm f8 mirror lens. Except for the third picture, all were taken through very thick glass from 17th floor.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Toronto Winter Camera Show

Each year, Toronto is blessed with 3 to 4 camera shows, or more appropriately, flea market for used camera related stuff. Today was the winter edition of the show and I decided to go after the absence from the last few shows. The venue for this show was decidedly bad. The show was hosted in a hotel's conference room which was too small and the tables were way too closely arranged that it was very difficult to walk around without bumping into people. I hope they will find a better place next time.

I bought quite a few Russian lenses today, including one I have been looking for in the last few shows but none at a reasonably good price: the Zeiss Sonnar 5cm f1.5 in Leica LTM mount. Well, what I got is a clone of the Zeiss Sonnar 5cm f1.5; the Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5. I will have to order an LTM-NEX adapter, since mine was given away.  Can't wait to try it out, especially on a full frame A7.

Other Russian lenses I got were much more reasonable at $10 each, included a Asart H 50mm f2 in Nikon mount, and three Zeiss Ikon Contax mount lenses: 2x Helios-103 53mm f1.8 and a Jupiter-8M 50mm f2. I already have a Jupiter-8M that converted to use on a helicoid and the NEX and I really like the rendering of pictures. I figured it's not bad for $10 a pop.  Will be interesting to see what difference there is between the Helios-103 and the Jupiter-8M.

Another lens was the Vivitar 50mm f1.7 with VMC coating.  I have had many Vivitar lenses but never a 50mm. Again, for $10, I don't mind trying it out.

One last lens worth mentioning is the Voigtlander Color-Skoparex 35mm f2.8 in Rollei QBM mount.  This is a Zeiss Distagon 35mm f2.8 clone.  In fact, it even looks like the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 Distagon I have, also in QBM mount. Will see how it performs.

Overall, it has been a worthwhile drive to the show. Got some stuff cheap to play with.

Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5 in Leica Thread Mount.

Vivitar 50mm f1.7 in M42 mount.

Helios-103 53mm f1.8 (top) and Jupiter-8M 50mm f2 (bottom)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Little Ice Breaker

During extreme winter temperatures, part of Lake Ontario, here for example, in Toronto Harbourfront, would freeze. This creates a problem for small boats that must travel along this water. There are three ferries that carry passengers from Toronto to the three islands nearby everyday. To make it easy (or possible) for these boats to travel, a small Fire Rescue boat, doubles as an icebreaker, would travel between the three islands and break up the ice. The red colour of the boat really stands out in a bed of white ice, especially when snow is on the ice.

Little red icebreaker - Canon 5D II & EF 70-200mm f4L IS.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rainy Day and a Thought on the Sony A7

After some of the coldest days I have experienced in Toronto, with a -40c on Tuesday with wind chill, and today, we have got rain. Yup, around 7c above zero. In fact, today feels more like a spring day than a winter day. However abnormal, I welcome the warmth. However, I do worry that if the snow is not melted completely in the next couple days, we will have icy roads again when the water freezes up.

A side from the weather, the Sony A7 has been on my mind. No, I DO NOT NEED IT! But, I can't help it, regardless of how much I tried to talk some senses into myself. I think I will get one eventually, probably in the spring. Winter has never been very productive for me photographically. I think this Taylor-Hobson 75mm f2 would be very nice on the A7. It would cover the full frame sensor, though the edges aren't that great. But then again, I do not need sharp edges with a 75mm lens. Very few situations would necessitate sharp edges from portrait lenses with my shooting style.

Can't wait.

Park Bench - Sony NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 75mm f2 TV Lens. Click for larger.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Deep Freeze Continues

The temperature in the Toronto area continues to drop. The forecast for tomorrow morning is -21 Celsius, or around -35c with wind chill. If you are crazy like me, who still bikes in this temperature, please take precaution and dress very warm, with a face mask and warm gloves. If you ride on bike paths, please do not ride if it's icy. I fell twice on my way home today and am still aching. It might be better to take the main roads as they are plowed and salted much quicker than bike paths. Be safe.

Snow, snow everywhere - Canon FD 35mm f2 S.S.C & NEX-6. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Biking in Extreme Weather in Toronto

Sunset - NEX-6 & Canon FD 35mm f2 S.S.C. Click for larger.

We have had very extreme weather this winter. After the severe ice storm that put hundreds of thousands of households in the dark, the temperature has been very cold. On Friday, when the picture above was taken, temperature was around -30 degrees Celsius when factored in the wind chill, but it was actually colder than that when biking.  The cold is not the big issue for biking; the biggest challenge is the slippery, icy road. The City is doing a good job at salting the bike paths, but during the snow, it's quite dangerous if the ground is frozen. I fell a few weeks ago on my road bike; the small, thin tires are just not very good at gripping the road. I have now switched to a mountain bike/dirt jumper with much better tires. The main streets are actually safer to bike, as they are the first to be cleared of snow, but then you will have the traffic/cars to worry about.

The other annoying thing is the wetness on the boot/shoe/pants from the splash. Fenders are a must in this kind of weather, but unfortunately my dirt jumper does not have provision for fenders, front or back. I can attach a mud guard to the seat post for the rear, but can't do much about the front. My solution is to wear a pair of rain pants, which covers most of boots.

Yes, I know. It would be much easier to drive, or take public transit, but once you get used to getting to work in 20 minutes on bike, versus more twice the time driving (including parking, and walking to the building), and no traffic to fight, you wouldn't want to get to work any other way!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Lens Bubbles would like to wish its readers a very happy new year.  May the new year bring you and your family good health and good luck. Be safe and please do not drink and drive.

Bells - Sony NEX-6 & Rollei 50mm f1.8 HTF @ f1.8