Saturday, July 27, 2013

Is Hasselblad Still a Camera Company?

I read Michael Reichmann's Wretched Excess on Hasselblad's dress ups of the NEX-7 and RX100 and sell them for an insane amount of money. Beyond the basic cameras that's made by Sony, everything else is bling-bling.  I don't doubt there are lots of people out there with so much money they don't know what to do with, and won't blink an eye and drop seven grand on a NEX-7, er, I mean the Luna, but to the majority of us who actually use cameras to shoot pictures, all this makes no sense. I fully get where Hasselbling is going. They target a very small group of people who buy these cameras as fashion accessories, or as a show-off piece. There are people who are addicted to acquire stuff that are out of the norm. Just think how many "special edition" Leica models has been introduced and you know there is a market out there.

I will shamefully admit that I am addicted to camera gear; I am addicted to using old lenses to take pictures; I am addicted to weird optical stuff that can be made to take pictures, and now dangerously on the verge of bicycle addiction. I don't blame those who buy Lunas and Stellars, but the tactic employed by Hasselblad is simply wrong. It ruins the reputation of a company often associated with great photographic equipment, prestige, and the mark it has left in the photographic history (images taken from the moon). Perhaps, Hasselblad wants to be the next Hermes and LV, selling excessively expensive accessories. What a shame.

Shot from the backyard - Sony NEX-6 & Elgeet Cine Navitar 2 inch f1.5 @ f1.5.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shooting Around the Keating Channel

One of the best things about working downtown, is that I can be a few kilometers away around the lake or any direction (except south) in a just minutes on my bike. I have been taking advantage of this and biking to the Cherry Beach, all around Harborfront, and even back to the Spadina & Queen area occasionally, to visit my wife. Today I decided to do some shooting around the Keating Channel at Cherry St. & Lakeshore Blvd.

The Keating Channel connects Don River to Lake Ontario. It is approximately one kilometer long. Because the mouth of Don River flows into the channel, the water has always been very muddy and dirty. The channel took 8 years to build and was completed in 1922. The channel is not exactly a picturesque scenery, but I want to to takes some pictures anyway, perhaps as a form of documentary.

There are three or four boats like this that always seem to be docked at the channel on the south side - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 50mm f1.4. Click for larger.

The big attraction is the Keating Channel Pub & Grill on the south side - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 50mm f1.4. Click for larger.

Looking west from Lakeshore Blvd, and you can see the Essroc cement factory - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 50mm f1.4. Click for larger.

On the north side of the Channel is Lakeshore Blvd - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 50mm f1.4

I don't know what this crane-like thing is. It has always been there as far as I can tell - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 50mm f1.4. 

Looking westward and you can see downtown Toronto - Sony NEX-6 & Carl Zeiss Planar HFT 50mm f1.4. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Music in the City

People who strolled by the Dundas Square this late afternoon were treated with wonderful pan flute music from two musicians performing in the square.  When I came to Canada in the early 80s, the area in the Dundas & Yonge streets were basically rundown buildings that sold clothing, craft and other stuff. The new Dundas Square has revitalized the downtown core and it's now much nicer and more beautiful. The Square is always full of activities. Unlike the Time Square in New York, the Dundas Square is much more relaxed. There are chairs and tables for anyone to sit and enjoy a break. It can be crowded at times, but not crazy like Time Square and you don't see police cars all over the place. It's a wonderful change from the old.

Pan pipe performer - NEX-6 & A. Schacht 100mm f3.3 @ f3.3.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Elgeet 2 Inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar Sample Photos

I went to the now annual event of Outdoor Photographic Trunk Sale at the Soccer Centre hosted by the Photographic Historical Society of Canada, very briefly.  I was there for less than half of an hour and bought the Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar and the $10 Soligor 500mm f8.8 mirror lens.  The mirror lens turns out to be, well, worth about $10. It forms images, and that's about it. Not even close to be comparable to the Minolta RF 250mm f5.6. The Elgeet, on the other hand, is a lot more interesting.

Initially, I thought this lens was a clone of the Wollensak 2 inch f1.5 Cine Raptar, but I was way off, despite both being c-mount, same focal length, same maximum aperture, and similar build. The Elgeet has a much smaller image circle and vignettes heavily on the NEX, whereas the Wollensak has only slight vignette on the NEX. The Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar is possibly the "swirliest" lens I have used. It's very similar to, but more swirly than the Kodak 50mm f1.6 Cine lens. Of the three cine 50mm f1.5/1.6 lenses, I like the Elgeet the least. It's just too much swirl for me. If I knew it was like this, I would not have bought it. From what I can tell, it probably works best on the Micro 4/3 bodies, or even the Nikon 1. But then again, some people like the swirl. The lens itself is quite sharp, even at full aperture, and it's in such great condition. Well, judge for yourself and see if you like the way it renders pictures.

Tiger Lily - NEX-6 & Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar. Click for larger.

Swirl - NEX-6 & Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar. Click for larger.

Roses - NEX-6 & Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar. Click for larger.

Colours - NEX-6 & Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar. Click for larger.

Rose - NEX-6 & Elgeet 2 inch f1.5 Cine-Navitar. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

More Infrared Pictures

I surprised myself this year by taking so many infrared pictures with the modified 20D. Last year I was contemplating selling it, as I was not using it much. I am liking it more when the pictures were converted into black and white. With some subjects that do not have planation in them, they look just like ordinary black and white pictures, but with trees and grass, etc, the pictures take on a whole different look and I really like that. Again, the Pentax-M 20mm f4 is still the best lens for IR on my 20D. Wide enough but not so much that makes composition difficult, and it's sharp as a tack.

Abandoned Railroad Tracks - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Click for larger.

Tall Ship & Sailboat - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4. Click for larger.

Sailboat  - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4

Monday, July 8, 2013


After shooting some infrared pictures at the dock with the Pentax-M 20mm f4 lens, I thought there might be a few more pictures that may look good using a longer focal length, as the 20mm lens was too wide for some of the shots I want to make. So today I went back there at lunch, and shot a few frame with the Soligor C/D 80-200mm f3.5 lens. I am quite happy with the turnout.

The Soligor C/D series of lenses are like the Vivitar Series-1; lenses with the C/D designation are their top of the line lenses. This particular lens is very good for a zoom. It's probably on par with the Vivitar Series-1 70-210mm f3.5 (there are at least two versions of this lens, 62mm and 67mm filter size), which became a cult classic. I like the build of the Soligor lens, which is all metal. This lens has a separate focus ring and a zoom ring (two touch zoom), which some hate and some love. I am neutral about this, but often turned the zoom ring to focus, for some reason. Maybe I am not used to shooting with zooms.

Life - NEX-6 & Soligor C/D 80-200mm f3.5 [MD]. Click for larger.

Tied up - NEX-6 & Soligor C/D 80-200mm f3.5 [MD]. Click for larger.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Color-Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8 Rangefinder Lens

The pictures in this article is made possible by the generosity of David of France, who sent it to me, along with other projection lenses for experiment. This lens has a very short flange. On my Yeenon 18-32mm focus helicoid, the usable focus distance I can get is about 2 feet from the front of the lens. It is possible to make it see further without the helicoid, which I have not done yet. All these pictures, except the lens picture, were made by holding the lens on the helicoid with one hand, because I couldn't get it held down on the helicoid without sacrificing the already short usable focus distance.

The pictures turn out to be interesting. If you think the square bokeh is weird, this lens trumps it. There were only two aperture blades in this lens, and the shape changes as you stop down. By f16, the opening of the aperture looks like a cat's eye. On larger apertures, the shape resembles a spaceship, but it reminds me the shape of a ghost; not that I have seen one before.

The lens is very nice and sharp, and definitely interesting. If I had a lathe, it's probably possibly to make it fit on a thin helicoid and it would be almost a pancake lens for the NEX.

Thanks again, David, for the very interesting lens.

Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8 Rangefinder lens. Click for larger size.

Spaceship bokeh - NEX-6 & Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

"Normal" bokeh - NEX-6 & Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

Nice as a close up lens - NEX-6 & Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

More bokeh. Check the picture below. It was shot wide open and looks normal.

Normal Bokeh - NEX-6 & Yashinon DX 35mm f1.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

Photo Book Update

I don't know how to say this, but the book I have been working on is gone. The pictures that I picked for the book are still here, but the design has vanished. It's another lesson learned. It all started with my user profile in Windows that got corrupted (again) and I wasn't able to log back in Windows any more. I reinstalled Windows on a new drive, but kept the old boot drive in the system so that I can copy the files to the new drive. Everything worked as expected, and I downloaded and installed BookSmart on the new drive, and that's when things got screwed up. For some reason, when BookSmart is being installed, it searched for existing installations of the itself, and found the old copy on my old boot drive, and install wiped out the files there. Book is gone. I had a copy I exported, but BookSmart wouldn't import it back.

Partly, this is my fault. I should have finished it long ago but didn't. I should have taken better care to backup the files, but assumed too much. I will redo the book, but this time, I will just make it simple with pictures only. I don't think I can go through and redo all the writings I did for each lens.

Rain drops - NEX-6 & Kiron 28mm f2 [MD Mount] @ f2. Click for larger.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Infrared Photo Set

I am happy to say that this year I have used the Infrared camera much more often than any other year. I have found that using it as a black & white camera can produce some pretty nice results. Of course, I still find false colours interesting. It's the best of both worlds because I can get either or both. Very different looks.

Can't get over how great the image quality is for a nine year old camera. At ISO 100-400, there is almost no noise, and the image is solid with exceptionally good definition, when matched to a good lens. On the other hand, I find the new generation of Canon APS-C sensors wanting, especially at lower ISO. I hope the new Canon 70D's sensor will be better, though I am not holding my breath. 40 MP (two photodiodes for each pixel, used for phase detect AF) for an APS-C sensor? That's crazy. But then again, technology matches on, and some time it will surprise you. Let's hope it will be good.

Truck at the dock - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4 @ f8. Click for larger.

Metis and CN Tower - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4 @ f8. Click for larger.

Ropes - Canon 20D IR & Pentax-M 20mm f4.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Primotar 180mm f3.5 - Close Up Samples

Normally, the Meyer-Optik Primotar 180mm f3.5 (Exakta mount) has a two meter minimum focus distance. Not exactly good for close ups. But, I put this lens on the Yeenon 18-32mm focusing helicoid and is able to shorten the minimum focus distance by more than half, while still retains infinity focus capability. I like the results quite a bit, though it's not an easy lens to use, due to the size and weight.

This lens has a single coating of bluish colour, while my other Primotar 18cm f3.5 lens, that's meant to be mounted on a lensboard for medium/large format cameras. Interestingly, both lenses are Primotar but obviously they are physically different, and it's not just the missing lens barrel. I haven't gotten the barrelless version of this lens to work well on the home brew barrel plus helicoid. The Exakta version is just so much easier to work with.

All pictures below were taken with the NEX-6 and the Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Primotar 180mm f3.5 with helicoid.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stand on Guard

There were two coastal defence vessels parked beside the Sugar Beach. One of them was the HMCS Kingston, as pictured below. I think they were open to the public, as I saw many non-uniformed people onboard, but I didn't ask. Perhaps I should have. Never been on one of these kind of ships before and I think it would be interesting to see what it's like, when one is actually on it. I will stroll by again tomorrow, but I doubt they would still be there.

Stand on guard - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson 75mm f2 TV lens.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tommy Thompson Park - June 2013

We often overlook, or don't spend enough time to seek out the the beauty around us. We get so used to our surroundings that we take everything for granted. Case in point, Tommy Thompson Park. I have been to this park many times, but most of the time just bike there during the day. Occasionally I would get up early and go there and take pictures. The park is a peninsula made from construction debris since the 1950s. Even today, trucks continuously dump building debris to expand it, and for this reason, the park is normally closed on weekdays and is only open to the public on weekends and holidays. It's one of the most successful projects the City of Toronto has created. The park is home to many local plant species, and wild animals such as rabbits have a large population and they can be seen often, and even coyotes have been sighted.

From the park, the Toronto cityscape can be seen, and depending on the time of the day and weather, it can be beautiful. Yesterday was one such day. I am so happy to have witness it.

The iconic CN-Tower - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 3 inch (75mm) f2 TV Lens. Click for larger.

Downtown Toronto - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 3 inch (75mm) f2 TV Lens. Click for larger.

City and nature - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 3 inch (75mm) f2 TV Lens. Click for larger.

Ducks - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 3 inch (75mm) f2 TV Lens. Click for larger.

Rabbit - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 3 inch (75mm) f2 TV Lens. Click for larger.

Flare. The purple light you see is actually internal flare. Normally flare is bad to have, but in this situation I kind of like it. I have another shot at a slightly different angle without the flare, and it doesn't look as nice - NEX-6 & Taylor-Hobson Ortal 3 inch (75mm) f2 TV Lens.