Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dynamic Range & Colour Depth of Current Sensors

Downtown Toronto in the evening
Downtown Toronto in the evening -- NEX-5N & Olympus OM 35mm f2

Couple days ago I was driving towards downtown Toronto on Eastern Avenue, and I commented to my wife on how beautiful and interesting the sun was behind the buildings. I stopped the car (no car was coming behind me) and took a couple of shots.  The picture above is one of the two, but it is not even close to the actual scene.  It was far more brilliant and colourful.  The sensor in the Sony NEX-5N is pretty good, but despite turning on the D-Range, the bright and dark range was still not captured large enough.  I think current technology is already there to increase the dynamic range and colour depth, but manufacturers are not willing to give it to us, at least not as much as we want.  The Canon 1DX sensor should be an indication of the trend that sensor makers are starting to make dynamic range and colour depth as new features, rather than high pixel count, which is encouraging.  I am sure in a few years time, sensors in digital cameras will be able to capture scenes closer to what human eyes can see.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dillon on Guitar

Dillon on Guitar -- NEX-5N & Astro-Kino Color IV 65mm f1.5.

Dillon has been learning to play the guitar on his own.  He did ask for an acoustic-electric guitar for Christmas and guitar lessons.  Well, he got the guitar, but not lessons, so he is learning by himself.  I must say I am quite impressed with his progress.  His rendition of Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven was very good indeed (with a few mistakes here and there).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rest In Peace, Mr. Yamaki

I am saddened to learn the passing of Mr. Michihiro Yamaki, founder and CEO of Sigma Corporation.  Sigma is one of the largest third party lens maker and I am a big fan of many of their lenses, old and new.  Sigma provides alternative lenses for the photographers with more affordable prices, and sometimes unique focal lengths that OEM lens manufacturers don't make.

Little known to most people, is their YS mount lenses (similar to the Tamron Adaptall mount).  The Y in YS stands for Yamaki, as in Yamaki System.  Though the mount was short-lived and not particularly successful, it was one of the few interchangeable mounts that competed with Tamron interchangeable mount.

Of course, Sigma was the only manufacturer who tirelessly pushes (and most likely not making much money from) the X3 Foveon (now Sigma) sensor, and was the first to introduced a pocketable digital camera with an APS-C sized sensor. They have my respect for trying so hard to make a difference in the camera business where everyone else uses a Bayer sensor.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Yamaki.  Thank you for all the nice lenses and cameras you have made (and will make).

Sigma YS Mount 55mm f2.8 Macro & Canon T2i. Click for larger size.

Streetcar on Queen & John Sts.

Streetcar on Queen & John Sts.
Streetcar -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.8 Exaktar Mount

The intersection of Queen & John streets are one of the busiest around the area, especially in the afternoon or evening.  I also like to come by this area on my lunch break as there always seems to be something to shoot here. CityTV (now CTV) is located on the south east corner and once in a while, you may see a celebrity making an appearance there. Lots of eateries everywhere surrounding this intersection.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Will Cell Phones Replace Entry Level Digital Cameras?

Megan -- Canon 1D Mark III & EF 85mm f1.2L II @ f1.6, ISO 1600

I have been going to my kid's school concerts for about 10 years.  At first, there were mostly film point & shoot cameras brought to the concerts by the parents.  Gradually, more and more digital point & shoots, and in the last couple of years, there are quite a few digital SLRs.  Today, I saw many parents were using their cell phones to photograph/video their kids.  Come to think of it, it's not surprising.  Cameras in cell phones are getting better and better, and some actually rival that of the dedicated entry level digital point & shoots.  The only advantage I can see for the digital cameras, are longer optical zoom ranges on the lenses.

In a few years, entry level point & shoot digital will mostly disappear and be replaced by cell phones.  This may not be a bad thing, as it will force the camera manufacturers to innovate and create better cameras to compete with cell phones.  Even more, Compact System Cameras (EVIL) will become much more popular with parents, as I have already seen at least three of them today, where a year ago, I didn't see any.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Over Joy

Joy Squared -- NEX-5N & Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.8 Exakta Mount

My experience with East German lenses is that most of them are optically pretty good, but their build quality leaves much to be desired; they don't age very well.  I have gone through many of them and majority of them have some problems.  Most common problem is very rough focusing, and the other is aperture issues.  The rough focusing is due to the grease drying up.  If you handle a Takumar lens, at about the same age, the difference is like, day and night.

This particular Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.8 (zebra verison) is no exception.  The focusing is rough, and the aperture is starting to lose control.  It's a very good lens, especially its amazing close focus capability, right down to 0.18 meters!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Reflection -- NEX-5N & Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5 FD mount

Walking by a store on King street and saw these hanging things inside.  From a certain angle, the reflection of a tree on the outside makes for an interesting picture.  Two bad the power lines kinda destroyed it.  Perhaps I should do clean version with them removed in Photoshop :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Window Washing

Window Washing -- NEX-5N & Leica-R Summicron 90mm f2

Was driving to work today since it was raining pretty badly.  Stopped at the red light outside the Canadian Opera Company and saw these two men on the hoist cleaning the glass.  I was ready!  The camera was by my side and was able to take a few shots before the light turned green.  It's not a good picture by any means, but it captured a moment of the city that I love.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Curgagon 28mm f4 Revisited

Out Shooting -- NEX-5N & Schneider Curtagon 28mm f4.

Last time I wrote bout the Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Curtagon 28mm f4 when I used it on the Panasonic G1, and I didn't have much nice thing to say about it.  I decided to try it again on the NEX-5N and see if it fares better.  Well, indeed it seems to be slightly better at the corners, even on a larger sensor.  Still it's not a very sharp lens, but definitely good enough for a lot of people. I like the colours out of the Schneider DKL lenses.

Gooderham Flateron -- NEX-5N & Curtagon 28mm f4 @ f8.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Minolta MC W.Rokkor-SG 28mm f3.5

Most lens makers have at least two versions of a same focal length.  One priced as entry level, and the other as a premium model.  The common example is the 50mm lens.  We have the f1.8 version, which is much cheaper than the f1.4.  In the olden days, the most common focal lengths are 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 135mm.  Of the wide angles, 28mm is most popular.  For Minolta, it has at least four versions: 28mm f2, 28mm f2.5 and 28mm f2.8 and 28mm f3.5.  I posted some sample pictures of the MC W.Rokkor 28mm f2.5 a while back here, and here.  I like it a lot.  The f3.5 is of course the cheapest of them all.  It can be had for a very low price even today.

Crane -- NEX-5N & Minolta MC W.Rokkor-SG 28mm f3.5

The MC W.Rokkor 28mm f3.5 reminds me of the Takumar 28mm f3.5. Both are extremely well made, and feels great in the hand.  The Takumar is smaller and looks better in my opinion, not that the look matters much.  In normal use, the f3.5 and f2.5 version of the W.Rokkor is almost identical, since one would normally stop it down.  Both are very sharp lenses and frankly, at around f8, the difference is practically nil.  The f2.5 version is a full stop faster, so if do shoot wide open often, it may be worthwhile to get the faster one.  For most occasions where this lens is intended to be used, they don't make much difference. If weight is an important issue, you may like the f3.5 version better.

Walk in the snow -- NEX-5N & Minolta MC W.Rokkor-SG 28mm f3.5

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Changing City Scapes

"The only constant is change..." -- Isaac Asimov

If you live in one place for a while, you can't help but witness the changes; sometimes slow and small changes, sometimes fast and huge changes.  Here in Toronto, I have seen so much changes in the last two years, mostly in the area of construction of buildings.  On my daily commute to work, I used to be able to see downtown Toronto from the Queen bridge, but now there is an apartment building right in front of my view.  It's increasingly common to see nothing but building in front of ones eye in many places in Toronto.

downtown Toronto
Downtown Toronto - December 2010. NEX-5 & 18-55mm Kit Lens.

Downtown Toronto - January 2012. NEX-5N & Minolta MC 28mm f3.5

The West Don Lands, once a deserted space, is now under feverish construction.  Many apartment buildings will be built.  I guess this is natural progression as the population grows and living spaces must keep pace.  The views where one can look far before will no longer exist and instead, buildings will be there to block it.

Getting Started, May 2010 -- Canon T2i & SMC Takumar 35mm f3.5.

Fundation, January 2012 -- NEX-5N & Minolta MC W.Rokkor-SG 28mm f3.5

The picture above, left side, you can already see the foundation of the building is already in place.  More will be built where the crane is.  In a few months, we will see nothing but buildings.  Is this good?  Is this bad?  Probably both.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Minolta MD 85mm f2 -- First Impression

Rise Up
Rise Up -- NEX-5N & Minolta MD 85mm f2

Got this Minolta MD 85mm f2 along with the RF Rokkor 250mm f5.6 mirror lens.  Compared to the MC-Rokkor 85mm f1.7, this lens is much smaller and half as heavy.  Very compact with a 49mm filter size but of course is a 1/3 stop slower than the f1.7 sibling.  Unfortunately, the focusing ring is a tad too tight, making it hard to adjust fine focus.  It's usable but annoying.  It needs to be adjusted.

As with most Minolta manual focus lenses, the image quality does not disappoint.  I haven't really gotten any really bad MD/MC primes yet. Practically all of the old Minolta lenses (no zoom) I have tried are excellent.  Many people like this better than the MC-Rokkor 85mm f1.7 due to its smaller size/lighter weight.  To me, I still prefer the all metal f1.7 version, not to mention the 1/3 stop of extra light coming into the sensor.  Perhaps, one day, I will find some time to do a comparison of these two very desirable lenses.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Conurus-Metabones EF Lens Adapter for NEX

Walking in the rain - NEX-5N & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2. Shot through car window.

Conurus is of course famous for the conversion of Contax Auto Focus N lenses to Canon EF bodies which retain auto focus function of the N lenses.  Now they have teamed up with one of my favourite Japanese lens adapter maker, Metabones, to produce an adapter for the NEX mount at allows the NEX cameras to control the aperture from the camera.  Auto focus is not available, unfortunately, but it's a huge step towards making EF lenses to work like E mount lenses, without the auto focus.  We all know that EF mount is all digital and there is no easy way to set the aperture, except to set it on the Canon camera, then press the Depth of Field Preview button while unmounting the lens.  This will retain the last aperture setting on the lens, but if you need to change the aperture again, you will have to remount the lens on the Canon body and repeat the steps again.

The price of the Metabones EF adapter is $399.  Not cheap by any means for an adapter, but for those who want to use the 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.0/1.2, or the famous 85mm f1.2 lenses, this adapter may be worth it.  However, my thinking is that if I already have these kind of lenses (which I do), why not just use them on Canon bodies?  $400 is  a lot of dough for an adapter.

I know of at least one other company in China is doing the same thing, to reverse engineer the communications protocols of the EF and E-mount camera/lens.  So far they have not succeeded in building an adapter that makes the EF lenses talk to the NEX cameras, but I am sure it will be a matter of time.  When that happens, a flood of other imitations will be everywhere and hopefully we will be seeing much cheaper versions.  I don't mind buying one of these if it's under $100.

No doubt it's an interesting product, but I don't see a lot of people will buy one at this price.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Canon nFD 50mm f1.2 and Its Siblings - Size Compared

Canon f1.2 Standard Lens Family - Picture taken with Panasonic G1 & Kit Lens

It seems, that newer lenses tend to be smaller for the same aperture, as seen above, but this does not apply to auto focus lenses.  The EF 50mm f1.2L is significantly larger and heavier, but I forgot to include it in the picture for size comparison.  The biggest and heaviest one is the FD 55mm f1.2 SSC, then the FL 55mm f1.2.  The nFD 50mm f1.4 is very slightly smaller than its f1.2 sibling.  Both the nFD lenses look very similar and the build and construction is nearly identical.  Both share the same 8-blade aperture.

If just for the look and feel, the 55mm f1.2 SSC is my favourite.  It's a big chunk of glass for a 50mm lens.  So far, I like the lens, but it's many times more money than the nFD 50mm f1.4, which I have used and like a lot.  If you are not addicted to f1.2, I would recommend either the nFD 50mm f1.4 or the FD 50mm f1.4 SSC.  Both are great and very sharp lenses.

Music Stand
Music Stand -- NEX-5N & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2 @ f1.2

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Ryan - NEX-5N & nFD 50mm f1.2 @ f1.2

Took some more shots with the Canon nFD 50mm f1.2, but haven't really done any real comparisons.  From what I can tell, image quality is similar to the 55mm f1.2 S.S.C.  In other words, it's usable for most situations but needs at least a stop down to be tack sharp.  I took a pictures of the the nFD 50mm f1.4, nFD 50mm f1.2, 55mm f1.2 SSC and the FL 55mm f1.2 as a size comparison.  Will post it tomorrow.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter in the City

Streetcar in the snow -- NEX-5N & Canon nFD 50mm f1.2

Today we have finally had a more winter like day with some snow.  It wasn't bad, but was the most amount of snow we have had so far in Toronto.

Finally got the Canon new FD 50mm f1.2 fixed.  It had a stuck aperture.  I intend to complete the collection of all the f1.2 Canon manual focus standard lenses.  So far, I have the FL 58mm f1.2, FL 55mm f1.2, FD 55mm f1.2 SSC and the newly fixed nFD 50mm f1.2.  I think there are two more: 55mm f1.2 Aspherical, and the 50mm f1.2L.  These latter two happen to be the most expensive and sought after versions of the fast low light lenses. My favourite so far is the 55mm f1.2 SSC, but I haven't really done any comparisons with the nFD 50mm f1.2.  Hope it will be better than the 55mm SSC, as it's a lot smaller and lighter.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 Sample Images

Hot Dog Stand
Hot Dog Stand -- NEX-5N & Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5

I downloaded the Fuji X-Pro 1 sample pictures today and I am quite impressed with the image quality, especially the 18mm f2, with excellent corner sharpness.  The ISO 1600 sample of the macro shot is ridiculously clean with good deails. One thing I am not sure about is if these were shot and processed RAW or in-camera jpegs.  If these were from RAW, this APS-C size sensor indeed rivals the full frame sensors in terms of image quality.

Regarding the sample images, I think a few of those pictures were not well chosen.  The first and third image shot on the 18mm f2 lens were slightly blurry.  Some subject matter of other pictures could be better too.

In short, very impressive hardware of the body and lenses.  This camera will set the bench mark of high image quality from the APS-C sensor.  Other companies, such as Canon, has some catching up to do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5 - Second Look

Streetcar -- NEX-5N & Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5.

I heard/read that Tokina was founded by ex-Nikon employees.  Not sure if this was true.  The early Tokina lenses were pretty good.  I have had the 17mm f3.5 for some time, but haven't really used it much.  It's got a Canon FD mount, hence I can only use it on my NEX-5N or the Panasonic G1.  Naturally, I use it on the NEX-5N.  It's a wide angle lens after all, because the focal length would be equivalent to 34mm on the G1, but on the NEX-5N, the focal length is 25.5mm; still pretty wide.

Table for two -- NEX-5N & Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5.

Ultra wide angles and very long telephoto lenses have same problem: they are very hard to focus.  The Peaking Level feature on the NEX-5N helps tremendously in both cases, making it much easier to focus.  I used this feature extensively today and it was great. When properly focused, the 17mm lens is actually VERY sharp when stopped down a couple of clicks.  The edge is very good, though I am sure on full frame it's still a bit soft, but on the NEX-5N, it much better than the kit lens.  I have grown to like it, although I am not really a very wide angle guy.

Found a Vivitar wide angle hood for it (come to think of it, I believe Vivitar has its own version of this lens, made by Tokina, essentially the same lens).  The metal hood fits perfectly; makes the lens look very nice and more "professional".

In all, I think it's a very decent lens.  Well built, focus very smoothly, and reasonably sharp for an ultra wide angle lens.

John and King Sts -- NEX-5N & Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 EVIL Camera

The long leaked Fujifilm X-Pro1 mirrorless interchangeable camera is announced today.  There is much to like about this camera and Fuji knows what the target audience of this camera want: fast and small primes!  The camera is introduced with three fast lenses: 18mm f2, 35mm f1.4 and 60mm f2.5 macro.  A good range of lenses for this kind of camera.  But, I am more intrigued by the 16MP sensor, and the fact that the X-Pro1 has the shortest back focus distance of all the EVIL cameras announced today: 17.7mm; shorter than Sony's 18mm.

The sensor in the X-Pro1 will have no low pass filter, like most traditional digital cameras with a Bayer array sensor to remove false colour and reduce moire, and instead, false colour and moire is avoided by using an interesting 6x6 colour filter array.  Low pass filters reduces resolution/sharpness of the pictures, so in theory, this sensor should give you sharper pictures than those with low pass filter for the same lens used.  Fuji claims this sensor rivals that of the full frame sensors.  I guess we will have to wait and see.

The only drawback is the price.  At $1700 for the body only, the price is a bit on the high side.  When you add a lens, this would be at about $2200, making it one of the most expensive mirrorless cameras around (except the Leica M9, if you count that as an EVIL camera).

2012 will be an exciting year for digital cameras, especially mirrorless.  Canon has said that it will introduce a mirrorless camera system this year, in addition to the near APS-C sized sensor Powershot G1X (what's with the X in the camera name anyway?!? Everybody is using it.  Does it have magical properties or something?)  I hope Canon wont disappoint.

Cactus Flower -- NEX-5N & Zoomar Kilfitt 90mm f2.8 Makro Killar 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Minolta RF Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 - First Impression

I have had a few mirror lenses in the last few years, but have never kept any except one cheap Makinon 300mm f5.6, which I keep for occasional, for the same reasons that people don't like mirror lenses: smaller aperture, hard to focus, dark view finder (with DSLRs), no aperture control, and usually unsharp.  Yesterday I received the Minolta RF Rokkor-X 250mm f5.6 so I went out with it today and gave it a try.

Lamps -- NEX-5N & Minolta RF 250mm f5.6.

This Minolta RF lens is very light, and very small.  It's about the size of the Vivitar Series-1 28mm f1.9, but much lighter.  The build quality is excellent and it focus very smoothly.  One of the best features I like, is that there is a protective glass on the front of the lens.  Most mirror lenses have exposed mirror surfaces, and mirror surfaces are very easy to scratch, therefore, extreme care is needed when cleaning it.  You can clean this lens like a normal lens since has a hard glass surface.

Park Bench -- NEX-5N & Minolta RF 250mm f5.6.

As far as mirror lenses go, this one is the sharpest one I have used.  Sure, the Zeiss Mirotar I am sure will be better, but it's much harder to find and more expensive.  This lens, like most older lenses, suffer from purple/green fringing on high contrast areas, though not as bad as many other lenses.  As the signature of all mirror lenses, the out of focus areas highlights are seen as doughnut rings.  Some people like them, but many don't.  I don't mind them, actually.  Doughnuts can make some interesting backgrounds.

Chains -- NEX-5N & Minolta RF 250mm f5.6.

The most frustrating aspect of long lenses is the very narrow angle of view, and thus it amplifies every small movements of the lens, making it extremely hard to focus.  I shot all the pictures handheld today, with a Speed Priority setting it to 1/320s, which is still too slow, but often good enough thanks to the very excellent NEX-5N's very short shutter lag.  The ISO is often at 800 or even 3200 even in the middle of the day, depending on how much light the scene has.

Some mirror lenses, such as the Tamrons, has a very close focus distance of 1.7 meters and magnification ratio of 1:2.7.  This one does not have a claimed macro mode, but the minimum focusing distance is 2.5 meters, which is not too bad.  Not sure what the magnification is, though.

After one day of use, I can understand why people want this lens.  I never had this much luck before using a mirror lens and get so many in-focus pictures.  The shorter 250mm focal length is part of the reason, but I think the small size and easy hand holding contributes to the fact.  Most of all, it has very good optical quality as a mirror lens.

Lamp -- NEX-5N & Minolta RF 250mm f5.6.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Allen Gardens -- Winter 2012

Bugs -- NEX-5N & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 Cine Lens.

Sally bought brand new Canon T3i for Christmas.  I must say it's a really nice camera.  The swivel screen is probably the best improvement from the T2i that I had last year.  I thought it was time to see some colours instead of all the gray and bare tree branches outside. Along with Dillon, we went to Allen Gardens and did some shooting.  I brought my 1D III with the EF 180mm f3.5 macro lens, as well as the NEX-5N and a few lenses.  Ended up shooting mostly with the NEX-5N.  If it was not for the occasional fast action shots for my kids' sports, I wouldn't even need this camera.  A light full frame and the small pocketable camera like the NEX will probably satisfy me.

Unknown Flower -- Sony NEX-5N & Kifitt 90mm f2.8 Makro

I find it more fun and relaxing using small and light gear.  The Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 Cine lens and the Zoomar Kilfitt 90mm f2.8 Makro were two lenses that I used.  Strictly speaking, the Kodak is not really a macro lens, but has the close focusing feature which I really like.  It's insanely sharp, but unfortunately has the swirling effects when shot wide open at moderate distance.  At macro range, the swirling is not really visible.  The Zoomar Kilfitt 90mm f2.8 Makro is one of my favourite macro lenses.  It's very low contrast at large apertures renders the pictures with dreamy but not unsharp quality, but when stopped down, it's very sharp.  The wide apertures are perfect for portraiture.  The Kilfitt is one of those lenses that I likely will never sell.

Communication -- NEX-5N & Kodak Anastigmat 50mm f1.6 Cine Lens.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Don River in Winter

Don River with new Bridgepoint hospital in distance
Don River -- NEX-5N & Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 28mm f2.5.

Today we have an unbelievable 6c above zero in Toronto.  I do not recall a winter this warm in January.  No, I am not complaining, but it's just very unusual.  In previous years at this time, the Don River would be frozen or partly frozen.

Got to say that the Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 28mm f2.5 is indeed a very nice lens, and is still very cheap today.  If you are looking for a good wide angle lens for your NEX or M4/3 body, be sure to check this one out.  This lens reminds me of the Pentax-M 28mm f3.5, but a stop faster.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sony's E-mount 16mm f2.8 - Don't Get No Respect?

Snow Fence -- NEX-5N & Sony 16mm f2.8 Pancake Lens.

Thanks to uv who left a comment in yesterday blog, and I have decided not to use any colour profiles at all for me web pictures.  This seems to have solved the over-saturation issue I have had.

A lot of people seems to have a dislike for the Sony 16mm f2.8 pancake lens.  Yes, the edge could be better but the price is right.  To me when stopped down to f8-f11, the even the edge is acceptable.  Where this lens shines is low light capture.  With such a wide angle, you don't need a very high shutter speed to get sharp pictures.  I don't use this lens much, but I would hesitate to use it when I need to capture something wide.  It's simply the cheapest auto focus 16mm wide angle lens out there for the NEX system.  Hopefully, they will have a 15/16mm wide angle with better optics.  I don't mind it being bigger.  Better performance is more desirable than smaller size, to me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Corrupted User Profile

Ducks a Lot
Ducks -- NEX-5N & Olympus OM 24mm f2.8.

I logged into Windows and found that my normal user profile can not be loaded.  Tried to restore/fix but to no avail and was forced to delete and recreate the user profile.  This causes all my settings in Windows to be lost, including the settings in Photoshop.  Even though I set the colour profile to sRGB, and the colour looks normal in Photoshop, but after uploading it to Flickr, it's become over saturated, like the one you see above.  Since I am not a Photoshop guru, this will likely take me a while to fix.  Frustrating!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Fence -- NEX-5N & Angenieux Speciale Cine 210mm f2.8 @ f2.8. 

There is something special about some cine lenses that drive so many people to snap them up at increasingly unacceptable high prices.  Angenieux cine lenses are some of the most sought after lenses for the beautiful rendering of pictures.  I was fortunately to have acquired the Speciale Cine 210mm f2.8 at a relatively affordable price compared to the mark value, and it has become one of the favourite lenses.  Very difficult to use on the NEX-5N as the angle of view is very narrow.  It's much more usable on the Canon DSLRs that I used it on before, as it balances better than the NEX-5N.  It takes some practice to get acceptable results, but it is well worth the time and frustration.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Clouds -- NEX-5N & Minolta MC Rokkor 85mm f1.7

We are finally getting some winter weather here in Toronto.  The temperature has dropped below 0c today and with bone chilling wind.  Despite the cold, Dillon and I rode our bikes to the Ashbridge Bay for some much needed exercise and some picture taking.  There were some really interesting clouds today and I have a thing with clouds; I love clouds!  Pictures with clouds always seem to add impact and interest.  Clouds can be the subject of the photo too.

I have recently expanded my Minolta manual focus lens collection since 2011.  I have the popular MC Rokkor 58mm f1.2, 85mm f1.7, and there is a couple more coming: the MD 85mm f2 and the very small and hard to find Rokkor 250mm f5.6 mirror lens.  I am really not a mirror lens guy, although I briefly owned the Tamron 350mm f5.6 and the 800mm f8 that were really good and sharp.  The only problem with them is that the maximum aperture is rather small and hand holding them is a big issue.  I still have a very compact Makinon 350mm f5.6 mirror lens that I use occasionally, but it's optically not in the same league as the Tamron.  Then again, it was only $10.  I have read many good things about the Minolta 250mm RF lens.  Hopefully I will like it, but if not, eBay it goes.  Can't wait to try it, and the 85mm f2 out.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goodbye 2011. Hello 2012!

When I started blogging at Live Journal on April of 2009 as MFLensJunkie, it was my alternative to the picture a day project that I started on PBase account but didn't get very far.  I just wanted to know how long I can keep the blog going.  My goal was to post once or twice a week and share my experience on the manual focus lenses I have used.  I would have been very happy if I could do this for a year.  I later started blogging on Blogger and it has been more than two and a half years and I am still updating the blog.

In year 2011, I have 253 blog entries, which averages about 4.8 posts a week.  That's a lot more than I originally planned.  Admittedly, most of them don't carry much content but the blog has motivated me to take more pictures.  In fact, I have taken more pictures in 2011 than any other year.  I went out more during my lunch break to take walks and snap pictures.  Very happy about that.

There will be changes in the coming year.  I have used my PBase account and Flickr account to link to my pictures I posted in my blog.  This works out well, but I will no longer update my PBase account, since there is a limit of 1GB of space for the yearly base subscription, and I have maxed it out and paid twice the price (about $46USD a year).  This morning I went through many of my galleries and purged about 70MB of pictures to make it just meet the 1GB limit.  For this reason, some older posts may have broken links, but I was quite careful and it shouldn't be many.  I need to figure what to do with the pictures on PBase and will close this account once I do.  I renewed my Flickr account and all my pictures will go Flickr since there is no limit on the amount of space used.  I still like the way PBase organizes the pictures, but PBase needs to change or it will eventually lose most of its user base.

Also, 2012 will be likely my last year I work at my current location.  IBM has bought the company that I worked for for the last 13 years, and some of us were given a year before our employment with them terminates.  At the end of 2012, I will be looking for another job, barring any changes with my current employment.  I am not really bitter about this, as things change and we need to adapt.  Hopefully I can find a new job close to downtown Toronto.

Photographically, I am hoping my skill as a photographer will improve in the new year.  In terms of gear, what I want will be minimal: a full frame camera (most likely a used 5D Mark II or 1Ds II), and the Sony 50mm f1.8 E-mount lens for my NEX-5N.  I have decided not to upgrade to the NEX-7.  Very happy with 5N.  I want to spend most of my spare time on taking better pictures and not get all tangled up with gears.  I have more equipment than most people will ever have and getting more will be insane.

In terms of projects for 2012, I want to finish two photo books: one of pictures of my kids, and one of pictures I have taken which will contain some of my favourite pictures.   I think it will be a nice gift for my kids to have a photo book of them.

I want to wish all my readers a successful 2012.

Toronto Old City Hall Tower
Toronto Old City Hall Tower -- NEX-5N & Chinon 55mm f1.4.