Monday, May 31, 2010

Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f2.8 Contax Mount

Back in March, I mentioned that I bought a Tokina 80-200mmf 2.8 zoom in Contax mount. This is the lens my friend Tony bought early 1980 from Broadway Camera beside Henry's. It was jaw dropping expensive. If I remember correctly, it was more than $700 CAD. Being a poor student, I could only envy Tony. That was more than 25 years ago.

Anyway, I thought it was a steal for $25. I have only taken it out today to try it, as I am not a zoom person, especially long zooms. As with most 80-200mm f2.8 lenses, this one is quite heavy. The built quality is exemplary, focusing action is smooth and easy. But, there is one really bad design -- the hood. It's a clip-on type that could get knocked and lost. In fact, I lost it today within 1/2 hour of walking holding the lens. @#%@#$!

The only area I find not up to the flagship status of this lens is the image quality. It's a little soft wide open. Although improved by stopping down, this lens does not give me that razor sharp image that I expect from an expensive lens like this. Although I have not used the Tamron AdaptAll version of the 70-200mm f2.8, I bet you a dollar that it's far better.

I sound very negative about this lens, that's only because I expected much more for the amount of money one has to fork out to buy one. It give you pictures at f2.8 where other slower lenses can't, but image quality could be a little better.

Harley Road King. Nice bike, friendly riders who waved at me as I took the picture -- Canon 5D & Tokina 80-200mm f2.8 at f4. Embiggen.

The Vespa Trio -- Canon 5D & Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f2.8. Embiggen.

The Hug Me Tree - Canon 5D & Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f2.8 at f2.8.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Orange Poppy

Poppy Core -- Canon T2i & Leica-R 28mm f2.8 Elmarit. Larger Picture.

You can see poppies everywhere in the spring, but at this time of the spring, most have already lost their petal. It's a different kind of beauty, I think.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Canon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS Lens - 3 Months Later

OK, I haven't been using the kit lens continuously for 3 months, but it's one of the most used kit lens I have had. I have shot about 1000 frames with this lens, so I think I can draw some conclusions.

Let's get the conclusion out of the way first. The 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens is totally worth the money. I am very glad that I bought it with the camera. It's far better than the non IS version that came with my original Rebel 300D.

The plastic built of the lens has actually held up well so far. The cheap plastic doesn't bother me too much, simply I don't focus manually with it. If I do, it would drive me insane. In fact, for the light weight, I quite enjoy using it as a walk around lens for day time shooting.

For a non-USM lens, it focuses very fast and quietly. I don't really have any focusing issues with the lens, possibly because I usually shoot at rather small apertures at f8 or f11. This is the sweet spot of the lens.

In terms of image quality, I find no faults, considering the low price paid, with Image Stabilization to boot. The lens is very sharp and contrasty. Adding a polarizing filter will make the colours come out much better than the naked lens. Strangely enough, there are six aperture blades, verses five for some lenses that are even more expensive. I consider the bokeh of this kit lens very acceptable. The Image Stabilization (IS) is quite effective and impressive, and this begs the question: If an effective IS can be built into a cheap lens like this, why not include it in all lenses? Certainly the cost is minimal.

The negative part of the lens, as we already know, is it's slowness at the long end. F5.6 is the optimal aperture for most primes, and this is the starting aperture for the kit lens at 55mm. It's almost impossible to use this lens at 55mm indoors without flash, which limits its usefulness. The other negative part of course, is the cheap built quality.

For most people, I suspect that they will be happy with the lens, and that many would be happy to have it as their only lens. Some of us buy it to get wide angle without forking out a king's ransom. It's a perfect complement to your primes, or when you want to go light with one lens in good light. It's one heck of a bargain.

Ontario Place -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & 18-55mm IS Kit Lens. Embiggen.

Tall Ship -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & 18-55mm IS Kit Lens. Embiggen.

The Marina Grille, Ontario Place -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & 18-55mm IS Kit Lens.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Purple -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & Pentacon 50mm f1.8 MC @ f1.8.

Pentacon lenses deserve more respect than they currently have. Some are truly excellent, like this MC version of the 50mm f1.8. Will talk more about this lens in a later post.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meyer-Optik Domiplan 50mm f2.8

If there is an M42 lens that is common, cheap, and has mediocre reputation, the Domiplan 50mm f2.8 is probably the prime candidate. You can still buy one for the cost of a lunch today. This East German lens has a few versions, and was available as Exakta or M42 mount. I personally have two versions of them: a pre-set aperture type, and a automatic aperture type. The one with the pre-set aperture does not work -- a very common aperture problem with this lens.

Doesn't matter from which angle you look at it, the Domiplan is a cheap lens. Designed to be cheap, made cheap, and feels cheap. Add to the fact that it does not have a manual aperture setting, using it on DSLRs is a challenge, unless your adapter was designed to handle this kind of lens. This is the reason my copy of the Domiplan was sitting on the shelf for a good five years, until I got a new M42 adapter with confirmation chip, which surprisingly, supports automatic aperture lenses.

[Update Oct-8-2010: The Domiplan is in fact a Triplet design.  Thanks for all who pointed this out.
The Domiplan has a Tessar design, which, in theory, should be pretty good optically. Invented almost a hundred years ago, the Tessar design is very common and was adapted by many manufacturers. The major advantage is the small size that can be made from this design. Most pancake lenses, such as the Pentax-M 40mm f2.8 and the Contax 45mm f2.8 employs the Tessar design. Zeiss refers to the Contax 45mm f2.8 pancake as the "eagle eye of your camera". Many just called it the "Eagle Eye", referring to its excellent sharpness.

The disadvantage of the Tessar design, is that it can't be made very fast. That's why most have a maximum aperture of f2.8. Another minor short coming is the minimum focus distance is relatively long, compared to other designs for the 50mm focal length. For the Contax 45mm f2.8, it's 0.6m, and the Domiplan is 0.7m.

OK, enough bubbling, I am sure you want to know how bad it is, no?

I didn't use the Domiplan on the 5D, so at least for the time being, we are not going to talk about the far edge performance, just the area covered by the 1.6x sensor of the Canon 550D (T2i). But even then, I can tell you that don't expect miracles at the corners, even stopped way down.

You maybe surprised, but I found the lens to be quite decent, again, if you don't need sharp edges. It has that Meyer-Optiks signature at wide apertures which I like a lot. Even at f2.8, it's more than usable at the center of the image. Here is the 100% crop of one taken at f2.8:

Wide Open @ f2.8, 100% crop at the center. Notice the slightly luminous, low contrast quality, but at the same time, very sharp and shows good details -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & Meyer-Optik Domiplan 50mm f2.8. Larger Size.

Stopping down improves the sharpness as well as contrast. I would even rate this lens very sharp at the center. For the money of a lunch, it's not bad, eh?

The bokeh is a little wonky for my taste, but it's a subjective thing. I am sure some will find it pleasing. It's not horrible by any means. Just not great to my eyes.

Bokeh at f2.8 -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & Meyer-Optik Domiplan 50mm f2.8.

So, I wouldn't mind using this lens, but certainly not for landscape work, where edge sharpness is desired. I find that despite its somewhat bad reputation that it has, it can indeed capture some nice pictures. My copy has very coarse focusing, probably due to the lubricant dried up, but for the money, I would not complain.

I love summer, oh wait, it's not summer yet! But who cares? - Canon 550D & Domiplan 50mm f2.8.

To conclude, if you overlook it's cheap looks, rough built quality, and it's blurry edge, and for how little you pay, it's a big bang for your buck!

Bang for your buck -- Digital Rebel 550D & Domiplan 50mm f2.8.  Larger Size.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Small Milestone

The last entry marked the 300th post I have written since I moved from LiveJournal and started on BlogSpot. I never expected that I would update the blog as often as I have. I am happy to say that writing for this blog motivates me to take more pictures. Almost daily, I would go out at lunch time and shoot a few pictures around my work place. Yes, I apologize for the same subjects that turns up over and over again. The good thing is, even the same subject can be photographed many times and still look different. This is the beauty of photography.

Thanks to all of you who read my blog. Your comments are appreciated. Hopefully I will continue my enthusiasm and keep the blog updated often.

Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8 Macro YS Mount

Before Sigma has the EX series for their auto focus lenses, it had the XQ series, mostly for the YS mount. Like the Ex series, the XQ series of lenses are a premium line that should perform better than the normal, no-XQ lenses.

The Simga XQ 55mm f2.8 lens was produced in the early 1970s. It has a 1:2 magnification ratio. Sigma didn't call it a macro lens, but a macro focusing lens. Technically, any lens that does not have a 1:1 reproduction ratio is not a true macro lens. Most macro lenses from that era have only 1/2 life size capabilities. Canon 100mm f4, Minolta 50mm f3.5, Nikon 55mm f3.5 and the 200mm f4, for example, are only capable of 1:2 ratio. They usually come with an extension tube or close up filter to achieve 1:1 macro.

Like the Vivitar 55mm f2.8 macro, the Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8 has a 62mm filter size. The Sigma is slightly larger lens, but the Vivitar is a true macro lens that can do 1:1 macro. Typical of old lenses, the build quality of the Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8 is excellent. Focusing is very smooth, although the focus ring does not travel as long as other macro lenses. At minimum focus distance, the front of the lens almost touches the subject being photographed.

In terms of optical qulity, well, there are very few bad macro lenses. This one performs as expected: Sharp! Even at f2.8, the lens is very sharp. Maybe I haven't shot enough with it, but the bokeh is not as nice as I had hoped. But the colour is quite nice.

YS lenses are relatively cheap, especially those without mounts. They can be bought for a few dollars, since finding the right mount would be difficult. Most people don't even know what a YS mount is. If you can get them cheap, you may be surprised by how good some of them are.

Barb wire & Onion flower - T2i & Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8 Macro. Embiggen.

Iris -- T2i & Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8.

Puppy -- Canon T2i & Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8 Macro.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SigmaYamaki System (YS) Mount

Half Withered Puppy -- Canon T2i & Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8. Embiggen.

Back in the good old days, lenses were all mechanical. They didn't contain gazillions of computer chips and motors. With simple mount change, one lens would work on a different camera. For this reason, there were quite a few interchangeable mount systems. The obvious benefit of an interchangeable mount, is that if you own more than one camera brand, or you have just switched system, you only need to buy a different mount to use your existing lens, instead of buying another.

Many interchangeable mounts started in the 1960s. The original T-mount, TX-mount, Tamron's AdaptaMatic mount, and of course Sigma's Yamaki System (YS) mount, among others. Of all the interchangeable mounts, only the Tamron Adaptall evolved, and eventually survived to became Adaptall-2. But, the YS mount did enjoy a brief period of prosperity. There were few companies that made YS lenses besides Sigma. Accura, Sun, Soligor, and Vivitar, Spiratone were among them. YS mounts were available for all major cameras of the time. I have collected the M42 (two versions), Minolta SR and MD, Yashica Contax, Nikon F (there is also an IA version), Konica KR, Pentax K, Leica R, and I am sure a few others.

The YS adapter derived from the T-mount, but provided auto aperture function, whereas T-Mount lenses invariably have a pre-set aperture. This allowed lenses to have an open aperture metering. I believe the thread size is the same as the T-mount. Changing the mount is like mounting an M42 lens. The mount can be unscrewed, and a new mount can be replaced. Very straight forward.

Over the years, I have had a quite a few YS mount lenses, including the Vivitar 18mm f3.2, Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8 macro, Acurra Diamtic 35mm f2.8, and a few others. Next time we will talk about the Sigma XQ 55mm f2.8.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Robotic Silver Elvis

Silver Elvis -- Canon T2i & Fujica EBC 50mm f1.4 @ f1.4.

Silver Elvis has a new outfit. Last time I took a picture of him in April of 2009, he was completely silver, which actually looked better than the current silver and black.

Silver Elvis is a robot, and he is activated by the sound of money. I mean, activated by the sound when coins hit the money jar, for about 5 seconds. Then he will stand very still until more money hits the jar.

This picture doesn't look as good as one taken with the Konica 57mm f1.7 and the G1. For one thing, the crowd is larger so it was hard to isolate him, even when shot at f1.4. I have had the EBC 50mm f1.4 for a few years, but never really used it much. It's just too "common" LOL! But, the EBC 50mm f1.4 is one fabulous lens. Even sharper than the SMC Takumar at f1.4. The coating is fantastic. Little wonder the EBC lenses have a cult following.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wear the Pants

Wear the Pants -- Panasonic G1 & Cooke Ivotal 1 inch f1.4 c-mount lens.

The G1 has one of the better black and white filters than most other cameras I have used. Frequently better than what I can achieve with Photoshop and my limited knowledge.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ontario Place in IR

Ontario Place -- IR Modified Canon 20D & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Larger Picture.

Went to the Ontario Place on Saturday, I think it was the opening day and what a mistake! The place was jam packed with people. I guess the $5 play all day pass was too much to resists for most people, including us. The wait for the ride could be more than an hour. The kids just went to Soak City and play with the water instead. Good thing it was a nice sunny day, but not hot enough. Perfect to take pictures.

I took the Rebel 550D with kit lens and the 35L, 50L and 135L, and the IR 20D with the Pentax-M 20mm. In reality, I really only used the kit lens with the 550D and the 20mm lens on the 20D. Next time I will know better.

I must say I am very impressed with the optical performance of the 18-55mm IS kit lens. It's very sharp and produced pictures indistinguishable from L lenses when shot at the sweet spot of f8 to f11. With a polarizing filter on a sunny day, the colours are excellent as well. Also, I have grown very fond of the Pentax-M 20mm f4. It's just so perfect on the 20D and Rebel, giving a mini wide angle of 32mm, close to my favourite focal length of 35mm. This lens works especially well on the Infrared 20D because I almost always set the focus at infinity and left it there. I am glad I have kept it, after a couple years of sitting on the shelf (because it didn't work on my 5D/1D III).

Surprisingly, I have not used the IR 20D as much as I had anticipated. I think the weirdness of IR wears away after a little while, but when used occasionally, I enjoy it, very much.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Primoplan 58mm f1.9 M42 Mount

My first Meyer-Optik lens was 50mm f2.8 Domiplan with a Tessar design. It didn't have a manual A/V switch and I didn't have an adpater that worked with it, so never really used it. Then at the extreme end, I got a monstrous Meyer-Optik 400mm f5.5 Telemegor, which I used a few times and enjoy its unique qualities. In the previous camera shows, I got a couple of Primoplan 58mm f1.9 V in M42 mount.

From what I can tell, the Primoplan 58mm f1.9 seems to be well liked by many. Not the most common lens in the used market, but definitely not rare or even hard to find. These lenses have some common problems.

One is the coating. If you clean your lens with lens paper or fiber cloth, and do it hard enough, the coating will come off. It could also come off by itself. One of my Primoplans suffers from the coating problem.

The other is dust inside lens. This is not particular to this lens, but is common to all old lenses. In most cases, some dust does not affect the image quality, unless there is a layer of very fine dust that make the lens look hazy. This haze will reduce sharpness, contrast and flare resistance. The lens needs to be cleaned if it has a hazy coating.

Yet one more common issue is stiff focusing. This happens when the grease that lubricates the focusing mechanism has dried up, making focusing stiff, or rough and uneven. For this, you need to take the lens apart and clean/re-lube it.

There is much to like about the Primoplan. Like the 400mm f5.5 Telemegor, it has a painterly effect on pictures at wide apertures. It's soft and sharp at the same time. I would imagine this lens is perfect for portraiture. Got to try it later. The bokeh is different from most lenses I have used. Many also like the swirling effect when pictures are shot wide open.

The sad fact is that this lens does not work at infinity with the 5D. The butt hits the 5D's mirror at infinity, but works fine on non-full frame bodies.

In all, a very inexpensive (around $25) lens that offers some unique qualities. Be sure not to pass on it if you see one at low price. You won't be disappointed. Sure, it's not a lens for all occasions, and flare could be a big problem, but if you avoid its short comings, and use it where it shines, there could be pleasant surprises to be had.

Note. This lens also comes in Exakta mount.

Note interesting bokeh. Shot wide open -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D & Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9 V. Embiggen.

Art? Sorry but I think it's disgusting -- Rebel 550D (T2i) & Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9. Embiggen.

More "art" -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D (T2i) & Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Third Party Camera Batteries

My first non-OEM battery was a Lenmar battery for my then state of the art, early 90s' Panasonic mini DV camcorder (yep, at $3,500 and it was used). Since then, I have used third party batteries on most of my cameras from the original Digital Rebel 300D to the 1D Mark II and everything in between. Many people worry that cheap batteries will ruin their expensive camera, but from my own experience, the occurrence is rare.

Why third party batteries? One word: cheap.

Let's do a bit of math. The original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) battery for the 1D Mark II was roughly $250 plus taxes. I ordered TWO third party replacement batteries for under $50, including shipping. These batteries lasted much longer than the Canon equivalent.

The LP-E8 battery for the Rebel 550D (T2i) is $85CAD plus taxes. I ordered TWO third party equivalent, for the price of $12USD (yes, two batteries for twelve dollars), and that included shipping. Again, these batteries last longer than the Canon batteries. Yesterday, I shot 375 RAW files, plus a few minutes of video, on the third party battery. At the end of the day, the battery meter still showed full. I shot another 130 RAW files today, and the battery still shows 2/3 full.

For the price paid, I am more than happy with the results. Are there any really bad after market batteries? For sure. I ordered some for the PSP, and they were a piece of #$%@%. Those were from dealextreme, which I find most stuff I bought were horrible.

I need another battery for the Panasonic G1, and the OEM price is $90CAD. Panasonic disabled support for unauthorized third party batteries, but guess what? Compatible batteries are available from many eBay sellers, fully compatible with the latest firmware. I think it was just greed on the part of Panasonic, trying to force everyone to buy their overpriced battery. If they were concerned about third party battery damaging the cameras, they should just state clearly in their manual that damage by third party battery is not covered under warranted. Let the user decided and take the risk. Can you imagine your car manufacturer says that you can not use third party engine oil on your car?

Sorry Panasonic, I won't be buying your overpriced battery either.

Batteries for the Rebel 550D. They are almost identical except writing on the battery.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Using Linear Polarizing Filter on Auto Focus Lenses

Aside from removing reflections from water and glass, there is nothing that makes your colour pop, and your blue sky more blue than a polarizing filter. Polarizing filters are among the most expensive filters, except the old linear kind, which I believe nobody makes any more, but are available in abundance in the used market at very low prices. As anyone who knows the difference between a linear and circular polarizing filter will tell you, using a linear polarizing filter with auto focus cameras has the side effect of unreliable metering and focusing. I don't doubt that linear polarizing filters affect auto focus cameras, but how, or how much?

I decided to give it a try today. I mounted a Hoya linear 58mm polarizer on the Canon EF-S 18-55mm kit lens, and headed to Ontario Place and give it a try. I have taken over 375 RAW pictures and a few minutes of HD video, and here is what I have found.

For the most part, AF and Metering are not affected, and if it did, I didn't see much difference to notice. The linear filter produced the same effect as the circular version. Through out the day, I had only encounter focusing hesitations near the end of the day, where I was taking pictures with the sun shining directly into the lens. The lens did managed to achieve focus at the end.

So, my understanding is that under certain situations, linear polarizing filter does affect the focusing. But for 99% of the time, it works fine with auto focus cameras.

Cinesphere -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D (T2i) & 18-55mm Kit Lens. Embiggen.

Reflection -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D (T2i) & 18-55mm Kit Lens. Embiggen.

Wheels -- Canon Digital Rebel 550D (T2i) & 18-55mm kit lens.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Eric Limeback 3x3 Cube Solve at 8.34 seconds

Once again, Eric Limeback stole the show at the Canadian Cubing CUBEcentric 2010 with the fastest 3x3 solve at the competition. He also won first place for the average of 5 solves at the speed of 10.53 seconds. Congratulations Eric!

The video was recorded with the Canon Digital Rebel 550D and EF 50mm f1.2L at 1080p.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Under the Don Bridge on Queen

Under the Don Bridge at Queen - Canon 5D & SMC Takumar 35mm f3.5

The SMC 35mm f3.5 is one of my all time favourite lenses. Very very small. Focuses so smoothly like no other, and it's insanely sharp. The SMC 24mm f3.5, SMC 28mm f3.5 and the SMC 35mm f3.5 are three of the best SMC Takumars that are affordable and produce great images, not to mention how well made they are.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sony's EVIL NEX-5

When I first saw the NEX-3 and NEX-5, the word "Ugly" came to mind immediately, especially the NEX-5 which is slightly smaller than the NEX-3. The picture of the NEX-5 with the kit zoom lens looks like something only a mother would love. It's ugly. As my colleague remarked, they have resemblance to the CybleShot F-717/F-828.

The seemingly huge lens mount takes up more than half of the body, and the mount itself is actually taller than the body. This is what makes the camera look so ugly. But, horses for courses. I am sure some will find it sexy and irresistible.

Ugliness aside, I think this camera/system has potential. The very short lens to sensor register of 18mm, 2mm shorter than the micro 4/3 system, will be of interest to manual focus lens lovers. Unfortunately, due to the larger sensor, most 16mm c-mount cine lenses will not look very good on this camera. I am sure they are mountable but most will produce a round picture with huge dark area, due to the small image circle of the c-mount lenses. On the other hand, M-Mount and Contax G-mount fanatics will rejoice, especially for wide angle lenses. A 24mm lens will still be usable as a mini-wide 36mm, not a 48mm normal lens on the micro 4/3 system.

The price is one area where people will likely find it attractive. It's cheaper than the EP-1 and GF1.

Now where are those uber fast and sharp auto focus Zeiss primes?

Banksy Left His Mark in Toronto?

Banksy Art? -- Panasonic G1 & Cooke Ivotal 1 inch f1.4. Larger Picture.

Rumour has it that famous graffiti artist Banksy has visited Toronto. It just happens that one of them is one building away from where I work. Yesterday I saw a lot of people taking pictures at this location and was wondering why. Well, now I know.

Monday, May 10, 2010

EVIL Cameras Are Coming!

It is rumored that Sony will introduce not one, but two Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) cameras. The hugely popular and successful Micro 4/3 cameras, such as the Panasonic G series, and Olympus Pen series, are hard for other manufacturers to ignore. Samsung is now selling the NX10 EVIL cameras, though the specs are nothing earth shaking, but their planned lens line up looks interesting.

Sony could make a very big impact in the EVIL camera market. This is the fastest growing segment of the market at the moment, and competition is less fierce than the SLR or P&S markets. If Sony plays the cards right, they could do a much better job than the SLR division and corner a larger market share. One of the key to success, in my opinion, is a line of fast and small prime lenses. This is what Olympus and Panasonic should have done. I am especially disappointed that Olympus, of all the manufacturers, did not make nice, sharp, small and exceptionally great primes like they did with the OM system. If Sony can leverage the Zeiss name and make some fantastic small and fast primes, I will jump on and buy one.

I see other manufacturers jumping on the EVIL market. Pentax will likely be next to introduce an EVIL camera, and I am really hoping that this will happen. Pentax will no doubt make some great pancakes. Sigma and Fujifilm will also be getting into this game. Sigma, especially, is already half way there with the large sensor DP1 and DP2. Both Sigma and Fujifilm will likely join the micro 4/3 crowd.

Somehow I can't see Canon and Nikon getting into this market, at least not until the EVIL market matures. More often than not, the smaller companies are more willing to venture into an unknown market than larger companies like Canon and Nikon. A shame really.

This will be an exciting time to be in digital photography. We have more choices than ever before. Exciting times, indeed.

The Beast -- Panasonic G1 & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 c-Mount Lens. Embiggen.

Rest In Paradise

Rest in paradise - Canon Digital Rebel 550D & Vivitar Series-1 28mm f1.9.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Little Oasis in the City

Garage (barn?) -- Canon T2i & EF 100mm f2. Larger Picture.

Met Kimberley and her husband Terry today. Two of the nicest people I have ever meet. They live in a little oasis in Leslieville -- Ashbridge Park. Ashbridge Park is part of the Ashbridge family estate, now belongs to the Ontario Heritage Fundation after the last surviving member of the Ashbridge family passed away. On their front yard is a European Beech tree believed to be more than 200 years old. They both love this huge, stately tree. Well, I would call this place a paradise.

Thanks Kimberley for the Calendar, and Terry for showing me around. Your generosity is very much appreciated.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Canon EF 100mm f2.0 - An L Lens Without the Red Ring

Sometimes you have to hand it to Canon for the effort in making some unique auto focus lenses. No one I know makes an auto focus 100mm f2 lens (the 100mm f2.8 macro lenses don't count). The other unique auto focus lenses not available from other manufacturers are: 85mm f1.2, 200mm f1.8, MP-E 65 macro lenses that has a magnification ratio of up to 5x, and finally, let's not forget the monstrous 1200mm f5.6.

The Canon EF 100mm f2.0 lens is a neglected lens. Many people who are looking for a portrait lens almost invariably choose the slightly faster sister lens, the EF 85mm f1.8. I choose the path less taken, so to speak, and bought the 100mm f2 instead.

I can't tell you how happy I am with this lens. Talk to anyone who owns this lens, and they will tell you how good this lens is. It's compact, light weight, fast (both focusing and brightness), very nice bokeh, and very sharp with excellent colour and contrast. I have had it since 2003 when I got Digital Rebel 300D. It was my favourite lens until I got the 85mm f1.2L. But, even then, I take it out once in a while, to re-kindle the original love I had for this lens.

What many people may say about this lens is that it's not very sharp wide open. I say these people either got a bad copy, the camera has focus issues, or are not using it properly. This lens is very sharp wide open at f2. I did notice that a better body gets more keepers. On the 5D and the 1-series of Canon bodies, this lens performs brilliantly wide open. Even on my Rebel 550D (T2i), it was very good at f2.

There is very little not to like about this lens. Very well built with ring-type USM motor for accurate and silent focusing that also offers Full Time Manual (FTM) focus adjustment, which means you can adjust focus by hand at any time, unlike the Arc Form Drive lenses. If I have nick pick, it's a bit long indoors, especially on crop bodies. Be sure to get the hood for this lens. It makes the lens look good, and helps to protect the lens if you drop it hood down.

My friends had asked me why I still keep this lens when I already have the 85mm f1.2L. I am keeping it because it's a great lens. A lens I enjoy using when I don't need the f1.2 aperture.

Megan - Canon 300D & EF 100mm f2 @ f2.8. Larger Picture.

Little Angel -- Canon T2i (550D) & EF 100mm f2 @ f2.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

AGO Observation Deck

Observation Deck - Canon T2i & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Embiggen.

Never noticed this new addition to the back of the Art Gallery until today. Very interesting design.

Blue House

Blue House - T2i & Vivitar Series-1 28mm f1.9.

Took a walk north west of Spadina & Queen yesterday lunch time. Never went that way before and it was nice to see some new places.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Petals on the Widewalk

Petals on the ground - Canon T2i & SMC Takumar 17mm f4 Fish Eye.

After a windy night, and by early morning, you can see a blanket of petals lining the sidewalk section of Leslie Street between Queen & Eastern. There are pink, yellow, and white from different trees that is beautiful to behold.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sparrow on Fence

Sparrow on fence - Canon 5D & EF 180mm f3.5L Macro @ f4.5. Larger Picture.

Took out the long neglected Canon 180mm f3.5L macro lens today to shoot the crab apple trees behind Marigold Gardens. There are two red and one white ones and they are in spectacular blossom, as you can see in the background of the picture above. This picture above turns out to be a better picture than the crab apple tree blossoms.

The 180L is an insanely sharp lens and one of the best made L lenses. Really should use it more often.