Monday, April 27, 2015

A Walk Along the Keating Channel

I have been walking to work and back for the last three weeks, instead of biking like I have done for the last 15+ years.  The joints in my upper body is starting to hurt me, so I decided to walk for a month.  It takes about an hour each way.  Many would think this is nuts, but I rather enjoy the walk, except for the first few days when it was really tough.  The best thing is that I can now walk through sections of the of the road that I could not bike to, and this provides more photography opportunities and biking.

Today I decided to walk along the Keating Channel since I have been wanting to photograph it for a long time, but never made it a reality until today.  The south side of the Channel is not open to the public, and the north side borders on Lakeshore Blvd., and I wouldn't suggest anyone to walk the entire length from Cherry street to Don Roadway, as it kind of dangerous on some sections; you have to walk very close to the road, or very close to the channel.  You could get hit by a car, or fall on the channel.

In any case, I did take quite a few pictures along the channel, with the newly acquired Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar 5cm f2.9 lens from the Balda folder camera.  This lens has a good reputation, and I can confirm that it performs admirably, considering how old it is.  The most amazing part is that I didn't even need a hood for the lens, even though it's not coated, and flare was very well controlled, especially when stopped down.  At f2.9, the lens is very sharp at the center, and by f8, the edges are very good and at its best at about f11.  Contrast is a bit on the low side at wider apertures, but the bokeh is lovely.  With a bit of processing, the files come out quite nicely.

All the pictures were taken with the Sony A7 & Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar 5cm f2.9.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Voigtlander Lanthar 50mm f2.8 from Vitoret D

Scored 3 broken rangefinder cameras from the antique market on Sunday.  One of them is the Voigtlander Vitoret D with a Lanthar 50mm f2.8 lens, which I have been using for the last few days and I really enjoy it.

It's commonly believed that the original Lanthar lenses were made with glass containing lanthanum, a rare earth element that gives the glass high refractive index.  Later ones made by Cosina, like the Lanthar 90mm f3.5 and the 125mm f2.5, do not contain lanthanum, I believe.  Of course, lenses containing lanthanum does not automatically mean great lens by default.  The Color-Lanthar 42mm f2.8 that I tried was OK, but not great.  This 50mm f2.8 Lanthar, I like it quite a bit more.

The Lanthar 50mm f2.8 contains 4 aperture blades, as oppose to most of the old Voigtlander rangefinder lenses with 5.  This creates interesting bokeh, like the enlarging lenses I tried, here, here, and here.  But when shot wide open, the bokeh looks normal, of course, and it's quite nice in fact.

I also have no complains about the optical performance of the lens, given that it's not top of the line lens.  Wide open the center of the frame is acceptably sharp, but the outer edges are mushy, but improves as the lens is stopped down, but the edges are still not critically sharp until f16.  It's interesting how much difference between f11 and f16.  But of course the overall sharpness starts to suffer a bit at f16 due to diffraction limit, though still excellent.

To me, it's acceptable for a lens to have at least one aperture that provides uniform sharpness when needed.  My shooting style does not require uniform sharpness most of the time and when I do need it, I can stop it down to get it.

Overall, I think it's a very good lens for the money.  The Vitoret D I got was $20, and it was very easy to remove the lens.

All pictures below were taken with the Voigtlander Lanthar 50mm f2.8 and Sony A7.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

P. Angenieux 45mm f2.8 Lens from Tiranty ST280

Got the Tiranty ST280 last week, and the sole reason was for the lens.  I really don't care much if the camera body does not work, but I love French lenses.  All the French lenses I have used produce exquisite and beautiful bokeh, and this 45mm f2.8 is no exception.

I removed the main lens from the ST280, which was quite easy to do, but the aperture and focusing rings are another story.  I decided to just use my Yeenon 18-33mm focus helicoid instead, and it worked out quite well.

Went to Allan Garden yesterday and shot some flowers; wanted to see what the bokeh is like.  When I downloaded the pictures and looked at them on the screen, I was wowed and captivated by how beautiful the bokeh was.  The French sure knows a thing or two how to design lenses that produce mouth watering bokeh.  Wide open, the lens shows some astigmatism on distance objects, but I have not noticed the same effect with close up shots.  The center of the lens is reasonably sharp wide open, but with low contrast.  Stopping down improved sharpness markedly and the astigmatism is gone by about f4, at least at the middle of the frame.  The long edges aren't great even at about f8, but passable.  You will be disappointed if you care about the edge sharpness.  But I think the strength of this lens lies in its gorgeous colour and bokeh rendering.  Seriously, I could lose myself in it.

All lenses below were taken with the Angenieux 45mm f2.8 and Sony A7:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Gift From John

I am extremely fortunate, and very blessed, to have "met" so many wonderful people in my life around the world; some I have never actually met and only interacted through the internet, and others I actually met face to face.  John was one of those that I have met.  He bought my Canon 1D III, and he brought with him an Aires 4.5cm f1.9 rangefinder lens to give me as a gift.  He knew me through my blog.  I am very grateful to John, and all who have been so generous to me.

The Aires Coral 4.5cm f1.9 lens has a proprietory lens mount, and the focus, presumably is on the camera body since the lens does not have it.  The aperture does not completely open at maximum.  Perhaps that may have caused the strange looking, but still interesting bokeh.  The lens is quite sharp, especially when stopped down.  It has decentering problem, no doubt caused by my home made adapter.  In all, an uncommon lens that produces interesting results.  Thanks John!

Aires Coral 4.5cm f1.9.  Click for larger.

All pictures below were taken with the Aires Coral 4.5cm f1.9 and Sony A7

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Goodbye Canon. Hello Nikon!

Last week, I sold my last Canon body (1D Mark III), and for the first time since 2001, I do not have a Canon camera, except the infrared modified 20D.  After a long relationship with Canon, I have found the Canon cameras of late are getting stale; same iterations over and over again without much in ways of innovation. It's time for a change.

The Micro 4/3 and Sony mirrorless have been my primary camera system for the last few years, and the Canon was only used two to three times a year for swimming shoots, and occasionally used by Dillon for his school sports.  It was pure coincidence that I ended up with a Nikon D810, which was never even on my radar screen but after handling the camera, I found myself really drawn to it. This camera oozes quality but the one thing that sold me was the shutter. It's light, quiet, but with authority that instills confidence.  The 6 frames per second in crop mode is fast enough for my occasional swimming shoots.  I decided to buy it, essentially replacing my Canon 1D III.  But this has brought with it a dilemma for me.

I only have a few Nikon mount manual focus lenses, mostly Tamron Adaptall lenses plus the Sima 100mm f2 soft focus, Vivitar 24mm f2, and the Nikkor 105mm f2.5 in original F-mount that I bought from the camera show last year.  This camera really deserves a few nice fast primes, and hence the thought of selling some or all of the Canon lenses to fund the Nikon lenses.

Despite my less than enthusiastic feeling towards recent Canon cameras, I love the L lenses currently still in my possession.  Some of these lenses have no Nikon equivalent, like the 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L, and the 180mm f3.5L Macro.  So I have decided to sell the Canon zooms and I will just get a smaller set of Nikon mount AF lenses: wide zoom, Sigma Art 50mm f1.4, and a tele zoom(probably a 70-200mm or 80-200mm f2.8) which will allow me to do the occasional swimming shoots if needed.

So far, I have no problems with the D810.  It really is a nicely balanced camera that produces exceptionally good image quality.  I do hope that I will use it more often than now departed Canon 1D III.

Sony A7 compared to Nikon D810 in size.  Click for larger.

Fire Hydrant - Nikon D810 & Tamron SP 90mm f2.5 Adaptall.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Voigtlander Color-Skopar X 50mm f2.8

I am a big fan of the original Voigtlander lenses.  I would buy them whenever the price is reasonable.  There are many, many Voigtlander lenses out there, from large format, folder, to 35mm format.  They made a series of lenses in the DKL mount.  This Color-Skopar X 50mm f2.8 is one of them, which was used in some Voigtlander and Kodak reflex cameras.  The lens itself has a modified Tessar design and is very well corrected for chromatic aberration (colour fringing).  Quite amazing for a lens designed in the late 1940s when you compare it to today's modern lenses and many of them show heavy chromatic aberration.

The lens is very small, but made beautifully, like most lenses in DKL mount.  Sharpness at the centre of the frame is excellent even at f2.8.  Stopping down to f11 and the edges are also very good at the slight loss of sharpness.  The bokeh produced by this lens is exquisite and pleasing.  Colours tend to be more saturated than many other lenses from the same era.

The only negative, is the rather slow maximum aperture for a standard 50mm lens.  However, it should be considered an amazing feat to produce such a small lens with an f2.8 aperture more than 60 years ago.

Overall, a very enjoyable lens that produces nice results.

All pictures below were taken with the Voigtlander Color-Skopar X 50mm f2.8 & Sony A7