Thursday, May 31, 2012

Observation Deck - Art Gallery of Ontario

Observation Desk/Stair Case -- NEX-5N & Kodak 102mm f2.7 Cine Lens

One of the common issues with c-mount lenses on the NEX or M4/3 cameras is the vignetting.  To me, vignetting is not always bad.  Sometimes they add to the picture to create the look that makes the main subject standout.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL

If you have never heard of a DKL lens mount, don't worry; most people have not either.  In truth, there aren't that many DKL lenses to begin with, and most of them are small aperture lenses with maximum aperture of f2.8 or f4.  The only exception is the Schneider-Kreuznach 50mm f1.9 Xenon, with a maximum aperture of f1.9.  There are many variations of this lens, and most popular in Exakta mount.  There might be a M42 mount of this lens as well, but it would be very rare.

Colours & Bokeh -- NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger

One other rather disappointing aspect of the DKL (and probably same for other mounts) is the pretty long minimum focus distance.  Even for most of the 45mm to 50mm lenses, it's something like one meter (three feet), and a 135mm f4 is 2.5 meters.  Again, the only exception, as far as I know, for the 50mm focal length, is this Schneider-Kreuznach 50mm f1.9 Xenon, with a 0.6 meter minimum focus distance.  This is the reason why the 50mm f1.9 Xenon is the most popular and sought after lens for DKL.  Of course, the great optical performance of the lens helps too.

Big Cat -- NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger

Originally, I used the DKL lenses with adapter for Canon EF, and with the EF to NEX adapter, I can also use it on the NEX-5N.  Unfortunately, the adapter has a maximum aperture support of f2, which means I could not use this lens wide open.  Remember, DKL lenses have their aperture settings on the camera body, and therefore all DKL adapters have aperture ring built-in.  This is why DKL adapters are more expensive than other adapters.

Yesterday I received a dedicated DKL to NEX adapter which supports aperture of f1.8 and I can now finally use the 50mm f1.9 with full aperture control.  Personally, I think a lens shows its best personalities at maximum aperture, especially its bokeh, and I love the bokeh of the 50mm f1.9 Xenon.  It's delicious!

Roses -- NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL. Click for larger

The 50mm f1.9 Xenon is indeed quite a nice lens.  The build quality is exceptional and the chrome finish is exquisite and beautiful.  After decades, it, like all my other Schneider DKL lenses, still looks stunning.  Most of the lens is made from brass and though small, it has a good heft and feels dense.  Even wide open, this lens is uniformly sharp across the frame on the NEX-5N.  I am sure the true corner is not as good in full frame, but it's excellent on the NEX-5N.  Fringing is actually quite well controlled, as is flare. Stopping down to f2.8, sharpness and contrast improve quite a bit.

Do I like this lens?  Quite a bit.  Be sure to look for the 0.6m minimum focus distance (MFD) version, as I think there might be versions exists with longer MFD.

Back lit leaves -- NEX-5N & Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm f1.9 DKL.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photoessay with Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8

Once or twice a week in the afternoon, I would walk south with my camera on John St. to King St., and then back to Spadina & Queen, where I work.  This area is very busy, especially during lunch hour in a nice day.  People would come out in full force; they would eat their lunch in the park bench, have a stroll with friends, line up for a hot dog or ice cream, or have lunch in one of the many eateries in the area.

Lining up for ice cream -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8. Click for larger.

There are many, many hot dog stands in Toronto, mostly in the downtown area.  Some will argue the hot dogs are not as good as those in New York City, or Chicogo, but that does not stop the hot dog lovers from lining up for one, barbecued right in front of you up on ordering.  Add your favourite condiments from the dazzling number of them available to you, and you will be in hot dog heaven. Bad for you?  Who cares?

Hot Dog Condiments -- NEX-5 & Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8. Click for larger.

One of the many complains people have about downtown, is the horrible traffic and hard to find parking spaces.  In Toronto, we have streetcars that run on electricity and tracks.  We call the streetcar the "Red Rocket".  It's been a symbol of Toronto since the 1920s.  One of the disadvantages of running on tracks is that a blockage will affect all the streetcars the follow.  In the picture below, the delivery truck broke down and could start, forcing all the street cars pile behind it.  The streetcars are quite reliable and you don't see this happening often, but does happen once in a while, either due to streetcar break down, or other vehicles blocking them.

All blocked up -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8. Click for larger.

The most popular place people go to in the afternoon, is restaurants and all kinds of eating places.  Almost all of them are packed with people.  What economic crisis?  You certainly will not see any signs here.  People just want to go out and have a nice lunch with friends/colleagues and enjoy themselves, and away from the (busy) workplace.

Lunch with friends -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 - Another Sample

Poppies -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8.  Click for larger.

When I got the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8, the focusing was stiff and coarse, but I have got it re-lubed and cleaned and it now works beautifully.  Very smooth focusing and the lens itself is very well built.  Like all Tessar lenses, this one is very small, though not as small as the 50mm f3.5 Tessar.  I very much like the bokeh. Even stopped down, the bokeh still looks very nice, due to its circular aperture.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sign of the Times

It's an increasingly common sight: people are using their iPad or digital tablets to photograph or record video in place of the normal camera/cell phone/camcorder.  The first time I saw someone taking pictures using an iPad, I thought it was weird; it's just strange to see a person holding a 10 inch device taking pictures.  But, after seeing this a few times, I said to myself "why not?".  The iPad/Tablets are no different than a cell phone or digital camera.  It's just bigger.

iPad as a camera -- Canon 1D III & EF 85mm f1.2L @ f1.2

Megan at the recital -- Canon 1D III & EF 35mm f1.4L @ f1.6

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Women and Bicycle

I always find that women who ride bicycles are incredibly attractive, especially when they deck themselves out with a nice bike outfit on a racing bicycle.  Simply irresistible!  I think the bicycle has a way of making women look beautiful on a bike.

Downhill -- NEX-5N & Birns & Saywer (Tewe) 200mm f3.2. Click for larger.

Uphill -- NEX-5N & Birns & Saywer (Tewe) 200mm f3.2

Friday, May 25, 2012

Girls at the Graffiti Alley

Girls -- NEX-5N & Leica-R 90mm f2.0 Summicron @ f2.0

I was strolling through the Graffiti Alley today, looking for some photo opportunities.  I have photographed enough of the actual graffiti and I wasn't really trying to take pictures of more of them.  Then I saw these two young women dressed as colourfully as the graffiti itself, and took a few shots.  I really like the colourful dresses they were wearing.  They blend perfectly with the surrounding art work, but I had no idea what they were doing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bell & Howell 76mm f1.6 Projection Lens

After a couple of weeks free of Projection lenses, I was itchy to take out the Bell & Howell 76mm f1.6 projection lens that I used briefly before with the original NEX-5.  Found it to be very sharp, but fringes badly. It seems to work even better on the NEX-5N.  Very very sharp at the working aperture of f1.6.

Colourful Window -- NEX-5N & Bell & Howell 76mm f1.6 Projection Lens.  Click for larger.

This lens only works with helicoids 32mm or shorter.  With a 17-32mm helicoid, it will focus to infinity as well as being able to focus pretty close.  If you are thinking of trying projection lenses, but still sitting on the fence, I would suggest that you give it a try.  Right now projection lenses are still very cheap.  It's a ton of fun shooting with one, not to mention the confusion you see from some people's face when they see what you are shooting with!

Afternoon Reading -- NEX-5N & Bell & Howell 76mm f1.6 Projection Lens.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tamron Adaptall 28mm f2.5 - Sample Picture

Sunrise on Queen Street -- Canon T2i & Tamron Adaptall 28mm f2.5

The Tamron Adaptall 28mm f2.5 lens is very small.  It's almost like a pancake lens.  The front element is tiny for a lens with f2.5 maximum aperture.  Quite well made but the front edge is very easy to dent. One of the most common Adaptall lenses and you should be able to find out easily and cheaply.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Canon FL 58mm f1.2 - Some Notes

Dillon and I went for a relatively long (about 30K) bike ride today along the DVP and all the way to the end of the Taylor Creek Trail.  It was fun but lots of people as today's weather is amazingly nice.  Brought along the "finally" EOS-converted Canon FL 58mm f1.2 with me.  This lens was a failed attempt to convert to EOS, long ago when EVIL cameras were not yet on the market.  So it has been sitting idle and last night I went ahead and filed the FL mount down until it's short enough to focal to infinity on the 1D Mark III.  It's a cruel job, but works OK.  Now it works on my Canon as well as the NEX/M43 cameras.

Cruel conversion -- The lens was JB Welded to a Rollei QBM-EOS mount.

The FL 58mm f1.2 was the first f1.2 lens Canon made for its reflex cameras.  It works on Canon FL as well as FD bodies, and now Digital.  Compared to the FD 55mm f1.2 S.S.C and the Canon nFD 50mm f1.2, this 58mm f1.2 lens is softer at f1.2, which is expected.  It would have been a failure if the next generation lens is worse than the lens it replaced.  There is a bit of blooming and purple fringing wide open, again expected for a lens this age and class. One stop down makes a huge difference, both in terms of sharpness and bokeh.  I find the bokeh more pleasing with the 55mm f1.2 SSC and the nFD 50mm f1.2 than this lens.

Wild flowers near Taylor Creek -- NEX-5N & Canon FL 58mm f1.2 @ f1.2. Click for larger.

I am sure this lens was not designed to take pictures at f1.2 in the middle of the day, which was what I did.  In low light situations, it should perform better.  So far, I didn't do much testing with this lens.  The corner performance is not yet known.

Dillon. He did wear a helmet but took it off for the picture -- NEX-5N & Canon FL 58mm f1.2. @ f1.2.

Yours Truly. Picture taken by Dillon -- NEX-5N & Canon FL 58mm f1.2 @ f2.8.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Takumar SMC 35mm f3.5 - A Mini Review

If you read this blog, you know I am very partial to the 35mm focal length.  I have a collection of them from various makes.  The Takumar 35mm f3.5 SMC is one of the earliest manual focus lenses I acquired and it was used quite often, before other larger aperture 35mm lenses came into my regular use.

This jewel like lens is so small (for a 35mm focal length lens), and so well made that even just playing with it without taking any pictures, it will put a satisfied smile on your face.  But, the good qualities go deeper than just aesthetics.  For such a good lens, I don't think I have ever given it any write ups.

Gino's Pizza -- Canon 5D & Takumar SMC 35mm f3.5. Sadly, Gino's Pizza has closed its door.  This is one of the most striking and different building than any other in the area. 

For some reason, this lens is not as popular as the Takumar SMC 28mm f3.5, or the SMC 24mm f3.5 (which hits the mirror on the 5D at infinity).  Possibly has something to do with the focal length?  Or is it because the coating does not look as nice as the 28mm and 24mm sister lenses?  If you look straight into the lens, it's hard to notice any coating on the lens, but it's multi-coated as indicated on the lens.  The 35mm f3.5 is also much cheaper than the 28mm f3.5.

Kids -- Canon 10D & Takumar SMC 35mm f3.5.

When used on the full frame Canon 5D, it's sharp across the frame at f8-f11. Even at f3.5 the center of the frame is very sharp.  It's probably not an indoor lens in low light, but the good optical quality makes up for the slow maximum aperture and when used in good light, it rewards you with excellent image quality.

I have used both the SMC 35mm f2 and this 35mm f3.5.  If not used for low light, I actually prefer the f3.5 version.  Both lenses are quite small, but I like the f3.5 version better.  It seems to have more "bite" to the pictures than the f2.0 version.

Moss Park -- Canon Rebel 550D & Takumar SMC 35mm f3.5.

Sadly, this lens isn't very good on most recent Canon crop bodies.  On the 550D, the details and sharpness really suffer.  For this reason, I will not buy another non-full frame Canon camera until they improve the image quality on the APS-C sensor.  If you find that your old lenses don't produce the sharpness and image quality you expect on you Canon crop bodies, try the lenses on some other cameras.  You may be very surprised at the difference.  The NEX-5N sensor makes the T2i/7D ancient in comparison.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Small Milestone

This is the 800th post of my blog since I moved from LiveJournal to Blogger in June of 2009.  I would never have thought that I could get this far.  This blog gets about 800 page views per day on average, and most readers arrive here by search engines, but there are quite a few returning visitors, and for those, as well as my followers, which now at 89, I thank you.

This blog serves as my photography companion that pushes me to try harder, take more pictures, and share useful information with anyone on older lenses.  It is also a gateway for my passion of photography, a place where I can temporarily immerse myself in, and relax.  Kind of like a cheap shrink, if you will.

In June of next month, it will mark the 4th anniversary of this blog, but I am sure I will forget about it, as I did every previous year.  It's simply not important to me.

Thank you for reading.  I do hope you will find at least some useful information within the 800 posts so far.  I appreciate all the comments, critics, and suggestions that you have done left on my posts or emailed to me.  I hope I can keep this going for another four years.

Glowing Bush -- NEX-5N & Birns & Saywer (Tewe) 200mm f3.2. Click for larger.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tamron Adaptall 135mm f2.5 [03B] - Sample Pictures

Over the years, I have had many Tamron Adaptall lenses.  The Adaptall system was probably one of the most successful of all adaptable mount system out there, and there are many.  The original T-Mount, T2, T4, TX, Komura, Sigma YS, and of course Tamron Adaptamatic, Adaptall, Adaptall II, among others.  The purpose of the interchangeable mount is to allow you to use the same lens on other camera system, by just using a different mount.  Unfortunately, the proliferation of AF lenses basically killed off all the interchangeable mount system.  There are still some very nice lenses with interchangeable mounts, and the Tamron Adaptall lenses have a huge following, due to the large number of them sold over the years.

Reflections -- NEX-5N & Tamron Adaptall 135mm f2.5. Click for larger.

The Tamron Adaptall 135mm has a few variations.  The Adaptall 135mm f2.8, which is the most common, and there is also a white coloured 135mm f2.8.  These two lenses have different coating on them, an indication that they were made in different periods.  And of course this 135mm f2.5, which is a higher end of the 135mm lens.  Tamron engraves "Close Focusing" on this lens to indicate close focusing capability, which has a 1.2m minimum focusing distance, where as most 135mm lenses are at 1.5m. This feature does come in handy for some quick close-ups.

Maple Seeds -- NEX-5N & Tamron Adaptall 135mm f2.5. Click for larger.

Like most earlier Adaptall lenses, which are very well made.  This is no exception, with very good material used.  Optically, I think the Pentax SMC 135mm f2.5 has a slight edge in sharpness, especially at wide open aperture.  The Pentax is also a heavier lens and a little bigger too.  Wide open, there isn't much to write home about; it's about average, but stopping down a little improves sharpness nicely.  If you are not pixel peeping, you shouldn't have any complains.

The Pipe -- NEX-5N & Tamron Adaptall 135mm f2.5 @ f2.5. Click for larger.

The 1/3 of a stop of more light isn't really a big deal compared to the f2.8 version, especially with today's digital cameras with Über high ISO capabilities, but since manufacturers made this lens as a premium lens in the 135mm focal length, the build and material used is better than the cheaper, slower f2.8 counterpart.  I think it's a good lens for the 135mm focal length since it's relatively cheap, and you can adapt it to pretty much all digital camera systems with the right mount.

Sample of close focusing -- NEX-5N & Tamron Adaptall 135mm f2.5.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Downtown Towers

My colleague Ian and I attended a Microsoft workshop on Azure, which is an interesting product.  Everyone wants to be in the "cloud" these days.  The conference room was on the 16th floor which has some nice views that I normally would not get.  Of course I wouldn't let this opportunity slip through my finger, so snapped a few pictures.  The one below is one of them.  Again, the Tokina is quite a nice lens for the NEX.

Towers -- NEX-5N & Tokina 17mm f3.5 FD

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Set of Jupiter-8M 50mm f2 Pictures

When I first got this lens, which I don't even remember where and when, I thought it was some sort of disassembled part of a lens, because it has no focusing ring.  It's like an enlarger lens.  Turns out that this is a rangefinder lens used on some Russian rangefinders and is also compatible with the Contax rangefinder mount.  The focusing part of the lens is on the camera body.

There are adapter specifically made for this lens and the NEX/M4/3 but they are pretty expensive at over $100.  It's much cheaper to mount it on the helicoid and use it that way.  With the 17-32mm helicoid, it's just barely short enough for the lens to focus to infinity.  Unfortunately, the Chinese made 17-32mm helicoid is very badly made and it has some play between the parts of the helicoid when new.  And now it's basically unusable.  I used this lens on the 12-17mm helicoid.  Though works, but the minimum focus distance is a lot longer and it has the same problem with its longer brother - bad workmanship.  In contrast, the Vivitar 2X macro teleconverter is smooth and solid.

School Bus -- NEX-5N & Jupiter-8M 50mm f2. Click for larger size.

Tiger Lily -- NEX-5N & Jupiter-8M 50mm f2. Click for larger size.

Streetcar -- NEX-5N & Jupiter-8M 50mm f2. Click for larger size.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Minolta MC-Rokkor 85mm f1.7 Bokeh Sample

Creamy Bokeh -- NEX-5N & Minolta MC-Rokkor 85mm f1.7. Click for larger.

Many people like the 75mm-100mm focal length, because this medium telephoto is perfect for portraiture, and as a portrait lens, they usually have very nicely rendered out of focus backgrounds, or bokeh.  My experience with these lenses is that pretty much all of them produce nice bokeb at wider aperture, and render pictures very pleasing to the eye.

Still haven't done a comparison between the Minolta MC-Rokkor 85mm f1.7, and the MD 85mm f2.  From the handling point of view, I prefer the 85mm f1.7, because it's so well made and feels nice in the hand.  True, it's much heavier and bigger than the MD 85mm f2.  Hopefully I will get a chance to do a simple comparo this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Guitar Player and His Fan

Faithful Listener -- NEX-5N & Meyer-Optik Primoplan 58mm f1.9 M42

This guitarist has been playing at the Distillery District for a number of years.  I don't think he does it for money.  I think he just likes player there for his own and other's enjoyment.  I first saw him in 2009 and took a picture of him with my 1D III and Carl Zeiss Contax 60mm f2.8 Makro.  He plays beautiful music.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

One More Samples from Vivitar 28mm f2.5 [MD]

Shadows -- NEX-5N & Vivitar 28mm f2.5 [MD]

I think that quite often many people just ignore lenses that are priced very low in the market, thinking that low price equal low quality.  This is not always the case, especially with older manual focus lenses.  The Vivitars, Soligors, Hanimex, Spiratones, Makinons, etc, all have some quite competent lenses.  Of course, not all of them are great, but many are very good value for the money.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vivitar 28mm f2.5 [MD] Sample Images

There are quite a few variations of the Vivitar 28mm f2.5, and from different OEMs for most mounts.  The common one is the Kiron version (serial starts with 22) with a 62mm filter size.  The one I have is all metal and quite large for a 28mm lens.  It's half a stop faster than the f2.8 version.  The lens is very well made and focuses very smoothly.

Art -- NEX-5N & Vivitar 28mm f2.5 [MD].  Click for larger.

The lens is a bit soft at f2.5, but sharpens up nicely after f4.  I find it very enjoyable to use, as the focusing ring is very large and easy to turn.  Definitely a consideration if you are looking for a mini-wide angle lens that doesn't cost you a lot of money.

Clocks at Distillery District -- NEX-5N & Vivitar 28mm f2.5 [MD]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Makinon 24mm f2.8 [MD] Sample

I seem to have quite a few Makinon lenses; all of them are really cheap.  Couple of 28mm f2.8 (two versions), a few zooms, and this 24mm f2.8 in Minolta MD mount.  Makinon was (and may still be) a real company that made (and may still do) lenses.  They were one of Vivitar's OEMs.  Most of the the Makinon lenses I tried are just average, but they do perform acceptably when stopped down.  The picture below was taken with the 24mm f2.8 today and it looks quite good at f8.  Makinon lenses are available in most major mounts, including M42, MD, PK, among others.

If you are starting out with manual focus lenses, and you want to try some wide angle primes, I suggest trying the Makinon, because they are very cheap, and practically nobody know who they are, and they perform acceptably.

Roger's HQ -- NEX-5N & Makinon 24mm f2.8 @ f8

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No Tankers

Went out for a walk at lunch time and there was a gathering going on at the Metrocentre.  Lots of people were there to protest against tankers and pipelines.  Just as well, for whatever reason, I decided last night that I would bring my 1D III & EF 135mm f2 lens to work today and this kind of events are always good for the 1D III.  Too bad I didn't bring anything wider but the 135mm focal length is good for individual shots.

No Tankers -- Canon 1D III & EF 135mm f2 @ f2. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4 vs. Auto Chinon 55mm f1.4

The Tomioka 55mm f1.2 and its sister lens, the 55mm f1.4 are some of the more sought after Japanese made standard lenses.  What many don't realize, is that Tomioka made many of these lenses for other manufacturers.  I had two Chinon 55mm f1.4 lenses, both are exactly the same in terms of appearance and optical quality.  One says Chinon (Tomioka) and the other simply says Auto Chinon (the sample used here against the Mamiya).  I sold the one that says Tomioka on Ebay, for about three times more than a normal Chinon 55mm f1.4 would get.  The 55mm f1.4 lenses were available from many Japanese companies, including Petri (non M42-mount), Chinon, Yashica, Mamiya Sekor, Cosina, Ricoh, among others.  With the exception of the Yashica, which I never had, I used the 55mm f1.4 lenses from the mentioned manufacturers.  Are there any significance in optical performance?  Let's look at the Mamiya Sekor and Chinon and find out.

Before we start, let me be very clear: this is a non-scientific test.  Everything was done handheld.  So, take it with a large pinch of salt.  The lenses were used on the NEX-5N with an APS-C size sensor, so the edge we talk about here, is not the true edge of the lens in full frame. Please keep this in mind.

Chinon 55mm f1.4 on left. Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4 on right. Click for larger image. Note file marks on the Mamiya on the aperture ring.  

Note similar coating on both lenses. Click for larger image.

The Chinon 55mm f1.4 has a slightly larger lens barrel with a 55mm filter size, whereas the Mamiya Sekor is a bit smaller with a 52mm filter size.  The Mamiya lacks a A/M switch to allow manually setting the lens aperture.  You would need to buy an adapter that has a ring at the rear that pushes the aperture pin, or like I did, glue the pin down so that aperture can be selected.  Also, the Mamiya has a proprietory locking mechanism, which prevents the aperture ring from turning when mounted on the adapter.  I had to file that ring off so that the aperture ring can be turned.

From f1.4 to F8

Center of Image. Click to see 100% Crop

Far Edge of image. Click to see 100% Crop

As you can see, there isn't a significant amount of differences between the two lenses, especially when stopped down a little, and the bokeh is nice.  Both are very sharp, though contrast is a bit low at f1.4, but improved a lot by f2.0.  These lenses are fantastic choices for low light shooting.  The ambiance and atmosphere is hard to recreate with a smaller aperture lens. No, they won't replace the auto focus lenses for action oriented shots, but with practice, one can shoot with relatively good accuracy and reasonably fast in many kinds of situation, especially with the aid of Focus Peaking of the NEX cameras.  Even better, with an EVF.

Bokeh -- See any difference?  Click for larger picture.

So, why would you pay more for the equivalent of a Tomioka 55mm f1.4?  I guess some just like to own a lens with the Tomioka name on it.  If you are looking for a lens for your own use, with the same image quality as the more expensive Tomioka, the Chinon, Mamiya Sekor, or Cosina versions are significantly cheaper. The choice, of course, is yours.

Below are couple more sample images from the Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4.

Bokeh -- NEX-5N & Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4. Click for larger image.

Statues -- NEX-5N & Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4 @ f4. Click for larger image.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Zeiss Ikon Ernostar 110mm f1.9 Projection Lens

Unknown to many, the Ernostar name is quite famous.  Ludwig Bertele created the world's fastest still photography lens with a maximum aperture of f2, and used by the Dr. Erich Solomon.  Dr. Solomon captured some of the world's most engaging and unforgettable photos, often without the subject knowing that he was photographing them.

Ernostar was derived from the equally famous Triplet design, and in turn, the Sonnar design was derived from Ernostar.  The Canon EF 135mm f2L lens that I and many love, is a derivative of the Ernostar.  With this history, I had high expectations when I tried out the Ernostar 110mm f1.9 projection lens.

B&L Cinephor 120mm f1.9 on the left, Zeiss Ikon Ernostar 110mm f1.9 on the right.

The Ernostar 110mm f1.9 has nice multi-coating.

This is a very large lens, similar to size and weight as the B&L Super Cinephor.  It has very beautiful multi-coating, which is quite unusual for old projection lenses.  However, the very short flange focal distance makes it hard to focus to infinity even on the Sony NEX-5N.  I had to use a very short 12-17mm focus helicoid.  In actual use, the lens performed better than the newer B&L 120mm f1.9.  Purple fringing is surprisingly well controlled.  It's almost as good as modern lenses.

Green -- NEX-5N & Zeiss Ikon Ernostar 110mm f1.9. Click for larger.

The lens is sharp with very good contrast.  I would rate it excellent at its working aperture.  If only I could stop it down a tiny bit, I am sure the sharpness will be even better. As is, it's completely usable but the thin depth of field makes it hard to focus.  Again, the EVF helps a great deal here.

Bokeh -- NEX-5N & Zeiss Ikon Ernostar 110mm f1.9. Click for larger.

I promise this will be the last of the weird alt lenses that I will post with regularity.  I know lately I have been overly enthusiastic on these kind of lenses, which I am sure very few people actually would use, or find it useful, but I enjoy making them usable and using them to take pictures.

Next time we will look at a couple of 55mm f1.4 lenses: Mamiya Sekor 55mm f1.4 and Auto Chinon 55mm f1.4 M42 mount lenses.