Friday, June 26, 2009


It's strange, but I think I know more people who live in Mississauga than anywhere else. Paul, in particular, loves Mississauga and won't want to live anywhere else. I sometimes need to leave Downtown Toronto and venture into Mississauga, usually not for leisure. All I ever remember for each trip to Mississauga was traffic, horrible traffic, maddening traffic jams.

Today we took the kids to the Playdium (Sega City) in Mississauga, to celebrate the end of school. As usual, on the way there, the traffic was bad, very very bad. I often wonder how anyone could stand the daily commute into and out of Toronto from Mississauga. But, Mississauga is nice. Clean, airy, wide streets. People often think Toronto is clean, but Mississauga is cleaner. Also, unlike Toronto, there is not a traffic light every 100 feet in Mississauga.

Despite the nice city, my feeling about Mississauga is, well, it's without character. Buildings/houses often have the similar looks, because they are so new. Around the Square One/Playdium area, new buildings are being built in a furious pace. Everywhere you look, everything looks so shiny!

Ok, I am probably not qualified to write about Mississauga, because I go there only a few times a year and often going to the same places, but that's my impression of Mississauga.

New buildings are being constructed everywhere -- G1 with JML 25mm f0.95

More new buildings -- G1 with JML 25mm f0.95

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Takumar SMC 17mm f4 Fisheye

I have owned this same lens, twice. A few years ago, I sold it since I rarely used it. About a year later, I bought it back from the same person who I sold it to. Interesting, isn't it. I figured it probably really belongs to me, so I have kept it since.

As with all screw mount Takumar lenses, this one was beautifully made, and focuses so smoothly like no other. Build quality is first rate, and most of all, optically quality is excellent. Very very compact but with good heft in your hand.

This lens has three built-in filters: Yellow, Red and 81A Skylight. Unfortunately filters can not be disabled. You are always using one of the filters. The indent for filters is too light and easy to move the filter, most of the time it's at the space between two filters. This is about the only complain I have with it.

Optically, this is one sharp lens in the center. One full frame, the edge is not well corrected, even when stopped way down. Very poor resolution and contrast at the far edges. On the 1D series (1.3x crop factor), this is about perfect, as the edge is outside of the imaging area of the slightly smaller sensor. At f4, the lens is barely usable in bright lights, but one stop down at f5.6, there is a marked difference. The sweet spot is about f8 to f11. Colour is excellent.

At one point, I shot with this lens and the full frame 1Ds for days straight, and then got so tire of looking at the distortion. The lens is again retired to its case and put on the shelf, for about a year now. I really ought to try it on the G1 to give me a mini wide angle.

With such wide angle, anything that normally looks ordinary immediately look interesting, but it's not a lens you would use often. Once in a while, it will give you some interesting pictures that other lenses wouldn't.

Interestingly, this lens makes me nauseous. If I look through the viewfinder with this lens on for about half of an hour of picture taking, I would feel dizzy, and want to vomit. At first I didn't know it was the lens, but the feeling came back when I started using the lens again. Even looking at the pictures taken with the lens would give me the same feeling, though in a lesser scale.

Most of these pictures below were taken with either the 1Ds or the 1D mark II.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More JML 25mm f0.95 Pictures

I had the luxury of one free hour all to myself today while waiting for the kids' music class to end. Walked around the music school's neighbourhood and eventually ended up at the Distillery District. Lots of photo opportunities everywhere. Used both the Kern Paillard Switar 75mm f1.9 and the JML 25mm f0.95, but ended up with lot more pictures from the JML. I am really taken by its sharpness wide open. It's not only usuable, but I like to use only at that aperture. It's truly a fun lens to use. You don't even need to Photoshop the vignette corners! It's naturally built-in :-)

All pictures were taken with the Panasonic G1 with JML 25mm f0.95 Lens. You can see more pictures taken with this lens here: JML 25mm Gallery

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Couple of Colour Pictures from JML 25mm f0.95

Took the JML 25mm f0.95 TV lens out today and shot some pictures in the evening light. Well, I think I learned a little bit more about what this lens can do. I shot mostly indoors with this lens before and at relatively high ISO and therefore the definition of the pictures were never really good, due to strong noise reduction on the G1. Under good lighting and low ISO, this lens performs admirably, wide open. In fact, I like to shoot this lens at wide apertures. It does create some nice and unique background blurs.

One of the things that I consider is a short coming, and I didn't mention before, is the somewhere long minimum focusing distance at 0.5 meters. For a wide angle, the minimum focusing distance is about 0.3 meters. Not a real big deal, just wished it were a little shorter for close up shots.

JML 25mm f0.95 TV lens @ f0.95 + Panasonic G1

JML 25mm f0.95 TV lens @ f0.95 + Panasonic G1

Friday, June 19, 2009

JML 25mm f0.95 TV Lens -- The Perfect Normal Lens for G1?

I acquired this lens by pure coincidence. It's one of the two f0.95 lenses I have and one of the fastest wide angle. The other one is the JML 50mm f0.95 TV lens. Frankly I wasn't expecting much from both of these lenses, thinking that lenses made for Television can't be that good, since resolution for TV is abysmally low. But I was pleasantly surprised. Both of these lenses are actually quite good. I was especially hopeful that the 25mm will be usable on the Panasonic G1, so that I can have a really fast normal lens.

As it turns out, the lens is a mixed bag. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the image circle is a little smaller than the G1's sensor. Therefore, vignetting is rather severe. On the other hand, even at f0.95, images are usable, though Depth of Field is paper thin and focusing has to be critically precise to attain sharp images. The lens itself is physically small and light, which is a nice surprise for a lens this fast.

The build of the lens is all metal and has a nice heft when held in the hand. Focus is relatively smooth and aperture has no clicks which makes it difficult to gauge without looking. For some reason, even though the lens is made of all metal, it does not give me a sense that it's well built, like you would with an Angenieux 75mm f2.5 or Leica lens. But, we are talking about an inexpensive lens here, so let's not get carried away.

I have only used this lens indoors, and only a few times. It's hard to say if I like it. Because of the artificial lighting indoors, it's also hard to judge the colour. However, I am happy that I could capture some of the images with relative high speed and low ISO.

There will probably be an update once I use this lens more. For now, it's not a perfect normal lens for the G1, but a unique lens that's incredibly fast, and the price is an order of magnitude less than the equivalent Angenieux 25mm f0.95.

All the pictures taken below are shot at f0.95

This picture was taken with the JML 50mm f0.95 at f0.95

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SOM Berthiot Lytar 25mm f1.9 C-Mount Cine Lens

Unlike the Dallmeyer 25mm f1.5, this SOM Berthiot Lytar 25mm f1.9 does not cover the G1's sensor completely, and hence the vignetting. The vignetting gets more severe as the lens is stopped down further. On f22, the vignetting is severe enough to create an image within a dark circle.

Like the Dallmeyer, the Lytar is very sharp wide open at the center. The edge is quite soft and has some swirling effect, but not as much as the Dallmeyer. Very pleasing colours and nice bokeh. Let me say that again, I love the colours that come of this lens. When stopped down, on clear skies, the sky has the polarizing affect without using the polarizing filter.

Most c-mount lenses have the aperture ring towards the front element, and the focusing ring behind the aperture ring. This creates a huge problem for focusing on the G1 with small lenses, because the c-mount adapter for G1 is recessed, and the outer rim of the adapter interferes withe the hand and thus makes it difficult to focus. This particular lens has a very thin focusing ring, making it even harder. One way to ease this problem is to put a rubber band on the focusing ring.

In short, I like this lens a lot. It's not as well known as the other cine lenses, but it surely holds its own, especially love the colours.

The Olympus EP-1 -- Nice but No Thanks

The EP-1 is probably one of the most eagerly waited camera from Olympus, although specs and pictures of the camera leaked long before the actual announcement date. Being a Panasonic G1 user, I was naturally curious about the Olympus version of the micro 4/3, that was based on the Pen-F. After pouring through the officially announced specs, this is not the camera for me. why?

No View finder -- Absolutely the deal breaker for me since I use manual focus lenses about 99% of the time on a camera like this one. On the G1, I only use the rear LCD for checking focus and review pictures. It's much more accurate (and easier for me) to use the view finder for focusing, especially when in the magnify mode.

LCD Screen -- What was Olympus thinking? 230K resolution on a 3" screen? This is so yesterday. For a "premium" camera, this is just not acceptable. Even the lowly Canon T1i has a gorgeous VGA 3 inch screen. Another minus is the non-swivel screen. On occasions when you want to shoot low angle or over the head, an adjustable angle LCD screen is invaluable.

other than the points above, the EP-1 looks like a sweet little camera. Pocketable with the pancake 17mm lens. It's a dream travel and go anywhere camera that won't sacrifice image quality with small size. Not to mention that it shoots HD video, and interchangeable lenses. Best of all, built-in body image stabilization.

Way to go, Olympus! I am waiting coming models with built-in hi-res view finders.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dallmeyer Speed Anastigmat 1 inch f/1.5

Up until few months ago, I have never heard of a name Dallmeyer. One tiny c-mount lens, called the Dallmeyer Speed Anastigmat 1 inch (25mm) f1.5 came with a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff I bought. Didn't pay any attention to it as I could not use it on my DSLR. After I acquired the Panasonic DMC-G1, I started to look at lens options, including the c-mount lenses. To my surprise, I already had a few c-mount lenses. One of which is the Dallmeyer 1 inch cine lens.

Dallmeyer was an English optical manufacturer that made optical instruments, lenses, cameras, etc, from 1860 until the company disolved in 1993. Dallmeyer produced lenses with exceptional built and optical quality. My 1 inch f1.5 lens is at least 80 years old, and from the look of it, you would swear it looks like it was made 10 to 15 years ago. The only hickup is the rather tight focusing ring, due to grease dried up. Everything else works perfectly.

Optical Quality -- If you are the type that demands a lens to be sharp corner to corner, this is not your lens. The lens produces images with swirling backgrounds. The edges are not sharp at all, and stopping down does not seem to help either. The sharpness at the center, though, can put many of today's expensive lenses to shame, even wide open. Remember, we are talking about a lens that's around 80 years old.

Although there is no marking on the lens that says this is a macro lens, it can focus as close as a 18 inches. Surprising, really.

The quirky part? If you want your subject to be sharp, you have no choice but to put it smack in the center. Remember, the edges are not sharp at all. The lens vignettes on the G1 with its original hood. Not really the fault of the lens.

To be sure, this is not a lens you use daily. You will get rather tire of the swirling backgrounds. In deed, I get headaches looking at the pictures for an extended period. But, if you are looking for a lens with unique signatures, great built quality, and excellent sharpness (in the center), do get one if it can be had at a reasonable price.