Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunset with Hector

James Moriss #3 -- NEX-5 & Leitz Hector 135mm f4.5. Click to enlarge.

Actually, only half of Hector.  Went to the camera show today and picked up a few more bits of gear.  One of these is the front part of a Leitz Hector 135mm f4.5 (M-Mount or it could be LTM).  Funny thing is that when I saw this, I immediately thought of my home made NEX focusing helicoid.  Indeed, with a bit of work, I was able to use the lens in the evening.  Very happy with the optical quality.  As a matter of fact, I have not been disappointed with any Leica lenses I have had so far.  Anyway, I think it's $20 well spent.

Also picked up a Tamron 200mm f3.5 Adaptall, a Rollei QBM mount Voigtlander Color-Dynarex 200mm f4.  Would be interesting to see what difference there is between the Voigtlander and the Tamron other than 1/3 of a stop of light.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Black & White

Ryan - NEX-5 & Takumar SMC 55mm f1.8, T-MAX P3200 emulation. Click to see larger.

When I was in high school, I always wanted to try black and white film.  Eventually, I shot one roll in a shoot with friends Tony and Cliff.  That roll of black & white film not developed until many years later (possibly 7 or 8 years).  By the time I discovered the that roll of film, I didn't remember if it was already exposed, so I shot it again.  Got it developed and every frame was double exposed.  One other black & white roll that I ever shot was a Tri-X 400 with a Contax 137 and a Zeiss 35mm f2.8 Distagon.  Got it developed but didn't get what I was after.  Lost interest in shooting black & white film since, but not the B&W effect.  Always loved the B&W look and over the years tried a lot of fake digital version.  Now that there are  few companies making B&W film emulation filters, I guess it's the next best thing to the real thing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Give an Old Adapter New Life

If you are like me, who collects all sorts of junk related to photography, you will no doubt end up with many weird and potentially useless stuff.  Case in point, M42 to Canon FD adapters.  I have a few of these, and couple of them were actually made by Canon!  But, I no longer shoot film, and I don't have any Canon FD bodies, so these adapters have been sitting around collecting dust, until I got my FD-NEX adapter.

Basically, you can combine the FD-NEX adapter and the FD-M42 adapter and use M42 lenses on the NEX without having to buy a dedicated M42-NEX adapter.  Admittedly, an M42-NEX adapter is not that expensive, but why not make use of what you have?  Even though I don't like multiple adapters, but this combination actually works really well, because breech lock mounts are secured and when mounted, will not have any play at all.  Since my FD-NEX adapter has a very good and tight fit, this combo makes a very nice and solid fit.

Old FD-M42 adapters from eons ago.

FD-NEX & FD to M42 mounts.

Both adapters combined and mounted on the NEX-5.

Sample Photo with both adapters -- NEX-5 & Takumar SMC 85mm f1.8

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bronze Statues

Bronze Statue -- NEX-5 & Kodak Cine 63mm f2. Click to see larger.

I was hoping this lens would have a large enough image circle to cover the APS-C sized sensor, but it vignettes heavily.  Even at 63mm, it just barely covers the NEX sensor.  Kind of expected, but still a bit disappointed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kern-Pailard 50mm f1.3 -- An Indoor lens

Megan --NEX-5 & Kern-Bolex 50mm f1.3 Projection Lens. Click to enlarge.

I have grown quite fond of this little lens.  Ultra fast and yet very sharp, all wide open.  In fact, I am not able to make it stop down, yet.  There is too much purple fringing against strong lights for this lens wide open, but I found it to be superb for indoor shots, especially of people.  I have another similar projection lens, the Astro kino Color 50mm f1.5 , but can't seem to locate it.  Would be interesting to compare the two.  On the other end, there is a B&L 120mm f1.9 projection lens I am also trying to make into a lens.  So many toys, so little time :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweeping Panoramic Sample

Sony started this sweeping panoramic feature in their point & shoots, and later implemented this in their large sensor cameras, such as the NEX-5.  At first, I thought this was a gimmick, with little practical use, but after trying it, the sweeping panoramic feature is quite useful, but there is one drawback -- image quality.

Let me say that this could be just me, since I have only used this feature a few times, but all of the panoramic pictures I have shot have very blurry quality to it.  Personally, I think it's due to Sony's sub par jpeg engine.  Never did like the jpeg pictures that come out of a Sony camera.  Another reason might be that processing and stitching so many frames into one panoramic picture takes a lot of CPU cycle in the camera; higher quality jpeg compression might be too much for the camera's internal computer to handle.

In any case, it's better than nothing and when you reduce the size, it does look quite all right.  To get maximum quality, one still need to shoot RAW and stitch them together using dedicated software.

Life Guard Station in Kew Beach -- NEX-5 & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Click to see larger.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winterscape at Kew Beach

Decided to take a walk at the beach this morning.  Haven't been there for a while and I thought perhaps there might be some photo opportunities, as I am tire of the pictures I have been taking on my way to work or home.  It was cold this morning -- a chilling -16 degrees Celsius, plus the wind chill factor at the beach, which probably made it feel like -30.  A mistake I immediately realized I had made: didn't dress appropriately.  I wore running shoes and within 20 minutes, my toes started to numb, and I didn't wear a hat, so heat escaped pretty quickly from my head.  After about 45 minutes, I had to call it quits.

But it was worthwhile.  The grey clouds were interesting and the sun was shining through them.  It'a a mixture of warm and cold, both in terms of temperature and colour.  I shot around three hundred frames in the 45 minute time frame.  My prefer to use the Speed Priority shooting mode which usually shoots two to three frames in succession. Find this to have more keepers from lack of camera shake, especially in low shutter speeds.

I am quite happy that I got five or six frames that I consider better than my average photos.

Life Guard Station on Kew Beach -- NEX-5 & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Click to enlarge.

Life Guard Station from a different angle -- NEX-5 & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Click to enlarge.

Friday, January 21, 2011

JML 50mm f0.95 Low Light Sample

William & Mom -- NEX-5 & JML 50mm f0.95 TV Lens.  Click to enlarge.

There are a number of features I like about the NEX.  I already mention the low light performance, which is much better than the G1 I have.  Another feature I like a lot is the D-Range Optimizer.  This feature automatically brighten up the dark area in a high contrast situation and best of all, works with RAW files.

I am loving the JML 50mm f0.95 lens.  It's focal length is equivalent to 75mm on the NEX, much more versatile than on the G1, which translates to 100mm.  I am shooting the NEX like a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) at waist level.  Strangely, I find it surprisingly natural shooting like this.

A super fast lens allows me to shoot at low light in low ISO to get the best picture quality possible.  The picture above was shot at around f1.0/1.2, ISO 500 at 1/80 of a second.  I really have no complains about this lens, given its low cost.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

JML 50mm f0.95 on NEX-5

The JML 50mm f0.95 lens has a c-mount, but the lens barrel is way too large to fit either the M43 or NEX mount.  Luckily, the mount is removable.  I did modify the mount by taking out the original mount and glue a c-mount to M43 adapter to the lens, so that it would work on my G1 and achieves infinity focus.  You can see more details here and here.  Now that I am using the NEX-5 more and would like the JML 50mm to be used on a larger sensor, so I removed the M43 mount from the lens, and stuck on the NEX-C-Mount adapter.  It now works beautifully on the NEX-5 and able to focus to infinity.  The lens vignettes pretty heavily at f0.95 on the NEX, but that was expected.  Even the Leica 50mm f0.95 vignettes wide open.

The lens is amazingly good wide open, given its cheap price.  It's very sharp at the center of the frame, but shooting wide open at point lights produces some bizarre effects -- the point lights sources have a fan like shape.  Check out the BMW Dealership building in the first picture.  But, by about f1.4, it's largely gone.
Widen Open -- NEX-5 & JML 50mm f0.95. Check out the shape of the lights.  Click to see larger.

Waiting -- NEX-5 & JML 50mm f0.95 @ f0.95. Click to see larger.

At F2 -- NEX-5 & JML 50mm f0.95. Click to see larger.

Antiques in Display Window

Antiques -- NEX-5 & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Click to see larger.

At about the same size as the Pentax-M 50mm f2, the Pentax-M 20mm f4 lens is so small it can almost qualify it as a pancake lens.  What a wonderful little lens it is.  Sharp as a tack and easy to take anywhere.  It works very well on the NEX-5 giving a 30mm focal length equivalent.  Wide enough for most occasions.  The only down side is the apparent distortion is pretty bad if the lens is not align to the focal plane.

On the other note, I am quite happy with the NEX-5.  It's got a good sensor which I am happy with IS 1600.  The only complain I have is that an EVF is not available.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Sample from Paillard-Bolex 50mm f1.3 Projection Lens

William -- NEX-5 & Paillard-Bolex 50mm f1.3 Projectioin Lens

So I tried taping an aperture disc made from thin black plastic and placed it at the end of the lens.  Didn't seem to affect the depth of field much or affect the image quality much either.  The position of the aperture disc is probably not the right place for aperture control, but unfortunately, it's either in front or at the back of the lens.  Perhaps I shall try it in the front instead, like the Sima 100mm f2 soft focus lens.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kern-Pailard Switar 50mm f1.4 AR C-Mount - Part 1

I couldn't use this lens on the M43 bodies, because the back of the lens is too thick to fit inside the mount.  In fact, I can't even mount it on the adapter.  I was really hoping that with the larger Sony E-Mount, this lens will fit without problem.  As it turns out, the lens could be mounted on the NEX, but not able to focus to infinity.  The in-focus distance is about 3 meters, or roughly 10 feet.  Enough for some portrait shots.  I think there is hope that with a different adapter, this lens may be able to focus to infinity.  For the time being I will just have play within the focus distance it provides.

Like many old lenses, flare is a real problem, and this one is no exception.  Stray lights entering from the front of the lens causes the picture to have a hazy effect.  I am sure a proper lens hood will help immensely, but the thread seems like an oddball size of around 40/41mm, and I don't have the original.  So, flare resistance is next to nil.  You should avoid flare situations unless it's the effects you are looking for.

The lens has no vignetting on the NEX, but edge is still pretty bad, as it was designed for 16mm movie film.  For those of us who like old cine lenses, edge to edge sharpness is not one of the criteria we are looking for.  Bokeh, image rendering characteristics, and the fact that you can use a decades old lens that was not even designed for this purpose, on a digital body and make images with it, is kind of exciting to look forward to.  Let's face it, modern lenses are so common. Anyone can go to a shop and buy one.  Image characteristics from the modern lenses is the same as your next neighbor's lenses.  What we are looking for is something different.  We are not talking about image content, of course, just how the images are rendered.

Most cine lenses are very sharp in the center, and this 50mm f1.4 is no exception.  I like how the images are rendered.  Very smooth transitions for highlights without abrupt clipping. I have always been very partial to Kern-Paillard lenses for the bokeh.   The Switar 25mm f1.4 was one of my favourite lenses and the bokeh on that lens is sweet and arresting, and I am VERY sorry I sold it and this is the reason I don't like selling  my lenses.

I am hoping I can find an adapter that can make this lens focus to infinity, in order to use the full capability of the lens.

Switar 50mm f1.4 on the right, Pizar 26mm f1.9 on the left. Click to see larger.

Bokeh -- NEX-5 with Kern-Paillard Switar 50mm f1.4. Click to enlarge.

Ryan -- NEX-5 with Switar 50mm f1.4. Click to see larger.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bikes in Snow

The first C-Mount to NEX adapter I received was used to make the NEX mount focusing helicoid, so I didn't have much of a chance to use it on actual lenses.  Received two more couple days ago that I ordered last week from a US vendor.  Tried various c-mount lenses on the NEX, and as expected, most wide angle lenses (less than 50mm) have severe vignetting.  Even longer lenses, some of them also have dark corners.  Most disappointingly, the Kern-Paillard Switar 50mm f1.4 still does not fit, and thus can not be focused to infinity, at least with the adapter I have.  Perhaps I can understand why.  The center ring was purposely made to mate with m42 mount lenses on this adapter.  So, in theory, you can use M42 lenses with this adapter if you add enough extension tubes.  More importantly, M42 mount focusing helicoids can be mounted to this adapter.  This will open up some opportunities for experiments with some specialty lenses.

Bicycles in snow -- NEX-5 & Kodak 63mm f2 cine lens. Click to enlarge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time: And a Clock

The Queen Street Bridge is one of the more unique bridges in Toronto.  This bridge has part of the art work by Eldon Garnet, who created it in 1990.  The art piece is called "Time: And a Clock", which is spread out in three parts.  All have to do with time.  The part on the bridge with the words "This river I step in is not the river I stand in" is the most prominent part. 

The second part is at the corners of Broadview and Queen.  Each corner has a phrase made of metal sunk into the concrete.  The following are the phrases: Distance = Velocity X Time; Time is Money, Money is Time; Too soon Free from Time;  Better Late than Never.

The last part of the artwork is at the corner of Empire & Queen, with four stainless steel poles with banners made from metal.  Each banner has one of the following words: Coursing; Disappearing; Trembling; Returning.

This bridge is probably one of the most photographed bridges in Toronto.

This river I step in... -- NEX-5 & Leica-R 35mm f2

Sunday, January 9, 2011

James Morris - Toronto #2

James Morris Toronto -- NEX-5 & Canon nFD 100mm f4 Macro. Click to enlarge.

Went grocery  shopping again at T&T near the Port of Toronto.  Naturally I brought my camera with me.  This time with a Canon New FD 100mm f4 macro lens.  This lens has been sitting on the shelf for more than a year and used only a few times on the Panasonic G1.  Since I bought the NEX-5, I basically stopped using the G1.  In so many ways, the G1 is a better camera, especially when it comes to using manual focus lenses on it.  In this example, the sun was shining and it was next to impossible to see the screen clearly on the NEX-5.  It would have been a breeze on the G1 with its fantastic Electronic View Finder.  But, I am getting used to the NEX-5.  The manual assist button is much better implemented on the NEX than the G1/GF1.  On the G1, you would need two key presses to enlarge the scene, whereas the NEX can be assigned a dedicated MF Focus Assist function, and requires only one click.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snow in Toronto

Snow in Toronto -- NEX-5 & nFD 50mm f1.4. Click to enlarge.

We are already into January and we have not had a significant amount of snow in Toronto so far.  Not really complaining.  I am pretty sure we will get our share of it soon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crane at Dusk

Construction Crane -- NEX-5 & Leica-R 35mm f2.0. Click to see larger.

The Leica-R 35mm f2 remains one of my favourite lenses in 35mm focal lengths.  The other two are Canon 35mm f1.4, and Carl Zeiss 35mm f2.8 Distagon (both the Rollei mount and Contax mount).  All of them are very well made (with the Canon the least good), and are optically superb.  If you like this focal length, be sure to check out one or all of them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 Projection Lens -- Another Sample

Took a few more pictures with the Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 projection lens.  Unfortunately the lens is not perfectly centered and therefore one side is a bit blurry on the edge.  But, it's amazing sharpness is incredible. Be sure to check out the 100% crop of the picture below.

Water Fountain -- Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 Projection Lens & NEX-5. See below for 100% crop.

100% crop from above picture. You can even make out textures on the brown water wheel. click for larger picture.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 Projection Lens

After making my own NEX Focusing Helicoid, I dug out some projection lenses I have collected and tried them on.  The Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 projection lens stood out and struck me with its sharpness wide open.  Like most short projection lenses, this one has a very short lens to film plane distance, making it almost impossible to be used on most DSLRs.  I was able to make a lens out of it using the helicoid I made, but even with the NEX, the lens is very close to the sensor.  Of course, projection lenses do not have apertures.  I took a few shots around the house and I am very impressed with the lens.  It's bitingly sharp at full aperture.  I can't imagine how much sharp the lens will be by stopping down just a little.  Unfortunately, I will probably never be able to find out.  Even as the way it is, this lens can make some wonderful images.  I am sure I will use it more in the future.

Megan -- NEX-5 & Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 @ f1.3. Click for larger picture.

Bokeh -- NEX-5 & Kern-Paillard 50mm f1.3 @ f1.3. Click for larger picture.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish everyone a happy new 2011!  May all your wishes come true in the new year.  Keep fit and keep shooting!

Wishing Sticks -- Wollensak 75mm f1.9 & NEX-5. Click to see larger.