Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ansco Xyton 100mm f4 - An Uncommon Lens

Seriously, I don't remember when I got this lens. It's got a weird mount that only fits the Anscomark M camera. According to the information I found on the web, this lens (and its camera) was made by Ricoh in Japan. One thing that really struck me when I first picked up this lens, is how beautifully it's made. The lens is not large, but very dense. It's shorter than the Minolta 100mm f3.5 but larger in diameter.

I was able to mount it on the Yeenon helicoid by sticking a filter on its rear. It actually looks pretty nice on the Sony A7. Unfortunately, its IQ doesn't match its good looks. No, it's not a bad lens, but I was hoping it would be better.

The lens is relatively sharp even at f4, but the long edges do not keep up with the sharp centre, even stopped down to f8, but it never get truly terrible. I kept thinking such a nice looking lens should perform better :)

The bokeh of this lens taken wide open is quite nice. I like it a lot.  Too bad it's so slow at maximum of f4. Nevertheless, there is a certain joy in using an uncommon lens to make pictures.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tamron SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 on Sony A7

Tamron made many Adaptall lenses; some very good primes with focal length ranges from 17mm to 400mm, plus the 350mm and 500mm mirror lenses, but strangely, I don't believe Tamron ever made a 50mm lens. One very unique zoom that Tamron made was the 70-150mm f2.8 Soft. It's a very fast zoom with Soft Focus capabilities. Hard to find, and very expensive, but produces interesting pictures.

The SP series of the Adaptall lenses were premium lenses that were better build and usually optically better than the regular non-SP series. I was, and still am, a big fan of Adaptall lenses. Still have a dozen of them, and among them is the SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4. It's a very large, long, and heavy lens. With the hood, and fully zoomed out, it could look intimidating. Many dismiss this lens due its slow maximum aperture at the long end, but with today's digital cameras, this shouldn't even be a concern, but when using long end at 300mm, it's not easy to keep the image from jumping in the viewfinder, and thus hard to focus. Cameras like the OM-D E-M5 or E-M1 are better for this focal length, but using a zoom lens with In-Body-Image-Stabilization is too cumbersome as you will have to change the focal length in the camera when you change zoom position.

I find the lens very good optically, even when used at full aperture. There is the unavoidable colour fringing at larger apertures, but it's not unique to this lens. Besides, it takes a few clicks to fix in Lightroom. Even after decades, the zoom is still very smooth and no severe zoom-creep.  I think it's a good value for range and its optically competent. A good choice if you need long reach and reasonable cost but with good image quality.

Mohawk helmet - Tamron SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 & Sony A7. click for larger.

Three Amigos - Tamron SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 & Sony A7. click for larger.

One legged seagull - Tamron SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 & Sony A7. click for larger.

"Get out of my territory!" - Tamron SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 & Sony A7

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Waterfront Night Market

Toronto has many food related events throughout the year.  Probably the largest of these events, is the Taste of Danforth, spanning many streets on Danforth for more than a mile.  And then there is Taste of Little Italy, Taste of Little India, and many others, including those in the Chinatowns. The Waterfront Night Market started five years ago by T&T supermarket, hosted on its parking lot at the Cherry Street store. This event draws a large crowd every year, and unlike other events, this one is three days long starting on Friday and ends on Sunday. It has been a nightmare for me each year because we shop there every Saturday and during this festival, finding a parking space is next to impossible.

My son Ryan joins the Lion Dance club at school and they performed the lion dance there yesterday. I went there a bit early to take some pictures before picking him up.  Even at near midnight, there was still a lot of people. The most distinctive food, either you hate it, or you love it, is the smelly tofu. In the the first year the smell almost knocked me out. I have heard of smelly tofu but actually smelling it is something completely different. I find the smell offensive to my nose, but I am sure many would consider it a delicacy. Oh well, horses for courses.

The Night Market is more than just food. There is live music performances, rides for kids, and many other happenings. It's good fun for the whole family, if you can stand the smelly tofu, which followed me everywhere I went.

All pictures below were taken with the Canon nFD 50mm f1.2 & Sony A7.

Cooking up a storm - Sony A7 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. click for larger.

Recording a concert - Sony A7 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. click for larger.

Corn Dogs - Sony A7 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. click for larger.

Lights - Sony A7 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. click for larger.

Sweeter than first love - Sony A7 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. click for larger.

Squids on skewers - Sony A7 & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 - Sample Pictures

Mirrorless cameras have given new life to so many old lenses, including the Minolta MC/MD lenses, and the Sony A7/A7r/A7s restore the perspectives that these lenses were designed for.  I am a fan of Minolta manual focus lenses. They are (or were) very affordable with great optics and are well-built.

The Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 is quite a large and heavy lens. It's built like a tank. Optically, it's not bad, considering its age. Quite sharp from f5.6 on but lots of colour flinging in contrasty scenes. For a relatively cheap price, I think this lens is worthy to have a round, if you need a moderately long lens.

Fallen - Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 & Sony A7. Click for larger.

Best Friends - Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 & Sony A7. Click for larger.

Catch - Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 & Sony A7. Click for larger.

Taking a break - Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 & Sony A7. Click for larger.

Me Time- Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 & Sony A7.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sony Customer Service - Last Update

Sony delivered.  I wrote about the issue with Sony getting the missing items when I bought an open box A7 from the Sony Store. It took 4 deliveries and some back and forth email exchange with Sony to get the correct items, but they did it.  I got my lens hood for the Sonnar 35mm f2.8 and the body cap for the A7. I am extremely happy how things turned out. Sony has earn another loyal customer.

Bokeh - Sony A7 & Minolta MC Rokkor-QF 200mm f3.5 @ f3.5

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Minolta Auto Tele Rokkor-QE 100mm f3.5

Many would confuse this lens with the macro version of the Minolta MC Rokkor 100mm f3.5. This is a plain, vanilla portrait lens.  Very compact and very well built; just slightly (less than 1 cm) longer than the MC Rokkor-PF 58mm f1.4 and weighs about the same. Aperture stops are locked, like the Topcor 58mm f1.8. You must press a pin to change aperture. This is good in a way, that you won't accidentally change the aperture, but too cumbersome in actual use.

The lens is pretty contrasty for a portrait lens, but I guess it was designed for black and white photography in mind, as it predates the MC and MD Rokkor lenses. Very sharp stopped down, and completely usable wide open.  Minimum focus distance is 1.2m which is not too bad, but forget about close ups. The bokeh is actually quite nice, helped with an 8-blade aperture.  Overall a delightfully nice lens to use.

Three crosses - Minolta Auto Tele Rokkor 100mm f3.5 & Sony A7. Click for larger.

Bokeh - Minolta Auto Tele Rokkor 100mm f3.5 & Sony A7. Click for larger.

Ryan - Minolta Auto Tele Rokkor 100mm f3.5 & Sony A7.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

180 Degrees

I am not a big fan of fisheye lenses, though I own a couple. The exaggerated angle of view makes my head spin. But once in a while, it's kind of fun to shoot with one.

The Pentax SMC Takumar 17mm f4 is one of the fisheye lenses I have. The other is a Ricoh 16mm f2.8 in K-Mount, but that lens can not be focused to infinity, so the Fish-Eye-Takumar is what I alway use. This lens has very high center sharpness, but unfortunately the long edges fall apart. It is the same on the Canon 1Ds as it is on the Sony A7. Nevertheless, it's a fun lens to use if used in moderation :)

Gooderham Flatiron - Sony A7 & Fish-Eye-Takumar SMC 17mm f4. Click for larger.

Red Umbrella - Sony A7 & Fish-Eye-Takumar SMC 17mm f4. Click for larger.

Close-Up - Sony A7 & Fish-Eye-Takumar SMC 17mm f4. Click for larger

Mannequin - Sony A7 & Fish-Eye-Takumar SMC 17mm f4.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another Infrared Picture Set

I wanted a different place to take pictures yesterday so I ventured out further west on my bike and stopped at Ontario Place. Ontario Place was a great amusement park when it opened some 40 years ago, but it has remained pretty much the same for four decades. Consequently, the number of visitors had been down each year and it was closed couple years ago. That's what happens when you become complacent. Not really sure what they are going to do; improve it? Get rid of it completely?

All pictures below were taken with the 20D & Pentax-M 20mm f4

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

AGFA Apotar 85mm f4.5 - Few Sample Pictures

It seems like all I could find in the antique market these days is old folder cameras. Last week I bought a couple more of them: one with Agfa Apotar 85mm f4.5 and the other is the Kodak Tourist with an Anaston 105mm f4.5 lens.  Both lenses are coated and are in excellent shape. It's interesting that the Kodak is the third 105mm lens I bought in the last few weeks. Looks like this is a common focal length for folder cameras of yore.

The Agfa is interesting because it very small but beautifully made. The focusing ring is stuck, as is the M/F switch. Doesn't really matter for my purpose, as I won't be using any of the functions of the lens except the aperture ring. The lens has a very nice coating.

I thought the Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5 was soft wide open, but this one is even more so, but usable. The low contrast at wide apertures makes the lens very hard to focus because without contrast it's difficult to tell. Stopping down to around f16 the edges are quite good, but still not as sharp as the centre. I like the shorter focal length of this lens, which is easy to work with and much more versatile than longer focal lengths.

Overall, an interesting first Agfa lens I have own. I will be using it more later on to get a better sense of what this lens can do.

Clouds - Sony A7 & Agfa Apotar 85mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Out there - Sony A7 & Agfa Apotar 85mm f4.5 @ f4.5. Click for larger.

Toronto skyline - Sony A7 & Agfa Apotar 85mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Hole in the sky - Sony A7 & Agfa Apotar 85mm f4.5. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Leica-R 28mm f2.8 Elmarit on Sony A7

It's been quite a few years since I have had this lens and I have been using it on and off on various cameras, including Canon full frame, APS-H (1.3x crop; Canon 1D, 1D II, 1D III), and many other APS-C sensor cameras and none produced satisfactory results. The edges were just mushy, even on small sensors.

Imagine my surprise when I put this lens on the Sony A7. It was nothing like the pictures before and even the edges are very sharp. I don't know why this is. Perhaps the A7 has some edge enhancements on the sensor, or the lens just works better. Frankly, I don't really care how it's done, but I am very happy that this lens is working so well on the A7. I do wonder, how it is on the A7r.

f2.8 - Sony A7 & Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Metal Art - Sony A7 & Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8. Click for larger.

The Duke - Sony A7 & Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Gooderham Flatiron - Sony A7 & Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5 Pictures

Shot some more pictures with the Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5. For landscapes, and general photography, the CZJ Tessar 105mm f4.5 is more suitable. The Voigtlander has to be stopped way down to get very sharp corners where the Tessar can do it with ease. But I do like its other qualities, like bokeh, tones, and it's great for portraiture. I think it's amazing that such old lenses are still fantastic image makers.

Toronto in a net - Sony A7 & Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Bokeh - Sony A7 & Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Ferry formation - Sony A7 & Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5. Click for larger.
Royal York Hotel - Sony A7 & Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5 - Couple of Sample Pictures

Last Sunday when I visited the antique market, I saw this Voigtlander folder camera but I didn't ask how much it was, as usually these kind of cameras are being sold at the price I really don't want to pay, especially those vendors who don't know much about photo gears but think that anything looks old must be worth a lot of money.

I biked to the antique market again this Sunday, looking for something interesting, but there was next to nothing on photographic that's worth checking out. Out of boredom, I asked how much they wanted for the Voigtlander while checking out the camera. The shutter curtain wouldn't open and the lady said something fell out of the camera :) At the end, the deal was done, at $20, which I was willing to try something I didn't have yet. Besides, I really like the old Voigtlanders.

A real beauty. Click for larger.

When I got home I removed the lens from the camera, which was very easy to do. I then open the lens and just removed the two shutter curtain blades, and the lens now allows me to change aperture and will never close its curtain on me, like the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 105mm f4.5 I bought last week. Interestingly, both lenses are 105mm in focal length.

Took some sample pictures and found that the edges, even on 35mm full frame, aren't good at all. Remember this lens covers 6x9cm negative. But when stopped down to f22, the whole frame is very sharp edge to edge. This is unlike the Tessar where it's uniformly sharp at most apertures.

Like the Tessar, this one has very clear optics and no haze. In fact, the lens has better flare resistance than the Tessar. Even without the hood, some pictures actually turn out acceptable, but a hood makes a world of difference.

After I took some pictures of Megan, I quickly forgot the bad edges. This lens produces nice looking skin tones and the bokeh is beautiful. It's as if this lens was designed for portraiture. Very addictive. Too bad Megan was not cooperating (too busy, she said). I will have to get her to model for me for some more pictures.

Megan, taken without hood. You can still see some hazy effect, but usable - Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5 & Sony A7.

Bokeh - Voigtlander Velostigmat 105mm f4.5 & Sony A7