Tag Archives: Lens

Camera swapmeet – July 28th 2013

Here in Perth we are lucky enough to have 3 camera swap meets a year organised by the Perth Camera Club and the Northern Exposure Photography group. I try to make sure I get down to each one as there is always bargain to be had and gems to be found.

Yesterday morning was no different, we got there around 8.20am just in time to cue up before the doors opened. I must admit the cue this time did seem a little longer than usual, it is always good to see the word getting out and more people coming down to support the event, which helps to ensure it’s survival.

I was keen to get inside and see what was up for grabs, I had nothing in particular I was looking for but did have a general mental list prepared of things I would keep an eye out for. Something that was high up on that list was a home film development tank, as I have been shooting more and more film lately. It only makes sense for me to start to take the steps to start to develop and scan my own film, getting a dev tank was required to start this process. Upon entering the Leaderville Town hall where the event is held what should be the first thing I view, but a beautiful jobo/patersons dev tank in good condition, so I quickly grabbed that up and paid. I then continued my circle around the hall perusing all the tables with nothing much more on my mind that was urgent to grab. I got three quarters around my first lap of the hall, looking at all the tables and logging away all the goodies on display, seeing if anything took my fancy when I spied a table of nicely laid out old fixed lens rangefinders, then as if out of nowhere I spied this Minolta Highmatic E. I had been about to buy one of these on eBay only the month prior, however someone else beat me to the punch. I inspected the camera, all seemed in good condition and the price was right so I snapped it up. Purchase number 2 out the way. haha

Continuing a little further around the hall, very close to completing my first lap, it occurred to me I should keep an eye out for lenses. I have plenty of old manual focus glass and don’t really need more, but I always like to keep and eye out for oddities that strike my fancy. I instantly turned to my left after the thought occurred to me and saw a bunch of people huddled around a table, as were people at most tables. I reached through a gap in the throng and just plucked a lens from that table and started to inspect it. Low and behold it turned out to be a Vivitar 17mm f3.5, the very lens I had been watching on ebay just that week as I was looking for a super-wide that did not poses too much distortion of lines. The price was right so I snapped that up too. What are the odds hey? haha

I then went about doing another circle of the hall to see if there was anything else that struck my fancy that perhaps I had missed the first time round. I was not really on the look out for much now as I had already made some great finds, however I knew I had been looking for a 62mm uv filter for my Minolta 21mm f2.8, so I kept an eye out on the stalls for filters. Low and behold a few tables around and I found exactly what I was looking for, so I grabbed that too. By now my funds were getting a little low so I got out of there, as much to prevent myself from making any more purchases as to save what money I had left. haha. Here are my fantastic purchases:

All in all it was yet another great morning, the photo market never seems to disappoint. I hope to get some reviews of this gear up in the future. If you are in Perth around one of the three times a year it is held, I genuinely advise that you check it out. You will not be disappointed… though your wallet may be a little thinner by the end of it. haha

Until next time, happy snapping.

The Carenar 45mm f2.8 manual focus lens on Nex5n…and the old Atlantis ruins…

Ok, ok, I know it has been a loooooong time since I have written a decent post or review or anything on here, and I do appologise. I got very distacted by losing a bass player in my band and recruiting a replacent and training him up, plus I also did a short stint fronting a local band too. It has been winter here too, so the light has not been great, but I have still kept getting out to shoot as often as possible. I actually have much material to share with you all. I have had both my brothers and a mate from work all buy good cameras recently and take up photography. So it has been a very inspiring time.
Photobucket

My lens collecting addiction has certainly not gone away and neither has my passion for manual lens photography. I was also lucky enough to acquire two new digitals besides my Nex5 and KX for my birthday, a Nex5n and K30, but more on all this in a later article…

…For now, having taken time to reshuffle my priorities a little, I have had more time to get back to shooting more as of late and thus able to participate in more discussions about manual lenses. Recently while on one of my favorite forums, Manual Focus Lenses, I came across a post about a Petri 45mm f2.8. As I like to read about lenses, and having owned a 45mm f2.8 I clicked on the post and gave it a read. The lens pictured by the poster looked very similar to my Carenar 45mm f2.8, so I informed him of such and took a pic for comparison. They indeed do look identical, bar the brandings on the lens. We both now believe that this lens was produced by a third party. I already knew this about my Carenar as I had done research about it myself, however I was surprised to find an identical lens rebranded as  Petri. I have only been able to find a little about the Carenar brand but have no idea as of yet who the manufacturer of this lens was, however I have been informed that this is in-fact a copy of the Carl Zeiss 45mm f2.8 Tessar, here is the little I know about the brand:

This is as much as I have been able to find about the Carenar brand to date:

Quelle is a german company selling by command from a catalogue but also has shops in bigger german towns. They also had a chain called Foto Quelle for photogear and film but after being big in the 70s (older photographers toldme they were really good shops concurring with specialised photodealers) and declining at the end of the 80s they were closed in the middle of the 90s. The Quelle shops (selling from clothes to household and electronics) were also in trouble in the last years but some of them still exist and even have a little department of photographic gear and film development service.
The catalogue selling business still flourish as far as I know. Interesting side note, after the german postal market was liberalised and the Deutsche Post lost his monopol situation Quelle opened his sending channels used before to deliver the products from the catalogue to everyone, not only customers. They were for long time (and still are) the cheapest method to send things around in Germany.
http://www.quelle.de/ (Oh… the site says Quelle was sold. Seem they couldn’t avoid bankrupcy.)
Quelle (or Foto Quelle) had two lines of inhouse brand cameras: Revue or Revueflex (SLRs) and Carena. The corresponding lenses were labeled Revuenon and Carenar.
Behind this two names they sold anything they could get from GDR (mostly Praktica but I believe also some compacts and some 6×6 or 6×4,5 box cameras), USSR (ZTM and M42 Zenits, LTM rangefinders, TLRs, compacts, etc.), China (mostly Seagull TLRs but folders also), Japan (different producers, not only Cosina and Chinon also “better” names) and even USA (especially Polaroid instant cameras).
I don’t know why the two lines. It seems to me that Carena was introduced later but did not replace the Revue/Revueflex line.

After agreeing that my Carenar lens did infact look identical to his Petri, the poster then asked me if I had any shots with the lens I could share. I said I would get him some. I knew I had some from when I first got the lens but they were average and rather old now, so I decided it was about time I went out for a decent shoot with this lens and give it a bit of a review.

Deciding where to go for a shoot in Perth is always the hardest thing for and Lisa and I. It always seems as if there is not much here, which I guess can be true… this kind of led us too our location for today. There used to be many more big Theme Parks in Perth back some 20 years ago, however over the years most had all gone bankrupt and are now laying in ruin. Quite sad actually, when the whole state is crying out for more entertainment…. but that is another story. We decided to drive up to Yanchep and have a look around the old Atlantis theme park ruins and see if we could get some shots. It turned out to be quite a nostalgic trip for me as I remember visiting the park as a child and having fond memories of the visit.

The lens is of manly plastic construction it feels. It does not feel poor or flimsy however, no, it actually feels rather sturdy. The lens is very light though, and rather short, like most 45mm I find can almost be qualified as a pancake lens. It seems to have a very smooth and short turn to the focus diaphram, thus I am thinking it could be very good for video. My copy is a little scuffed up on the outside, but optically is in great shape. These are actually a little rare to find on E-bay.

I am quite happy with the sharpness of this lens. For something that I took a punt on E-bay for, and for how light and plastic-y it feels, it takes some great pictures. Good colour, and the compactness of the lens with how light it is make it quite a comfortable fit on the Nex5n for a walk around prime. Having the 1.5X crop of the APS-C sensor in the Nex the real lens focal length of 45mm actually becomes about a 67.5mm effective focal length, which is still not too bad for a walk around length. It only focuses down to about 80cm so it is not particularly close focusing, but still adequate for most shooting. I have done some 100% crops for you to peruse. As with all my images, please click on them to view larger and sharper. These were all shot at about f5.6

How’s the Bokeh? Could be a little distracting by some peoples tastes…. but could be characteristic to others.

 

As you can see, good colour representation as well as sharpness, I did however have to boost the contrast a little to compensate for a little glow, so I believe the coatings may be a little old.

 

I like that this lens seems to represent some decent 3D pop, as is demonstrated in this pic of this old abandoned trolley.

All in all I think this lens is a decent pick-up if you can grab it for around $50-$80. However I am noticing a trend of increasing prices in the second hand manual lens market as more of us start to realise their true value. I think this lens represent decent band for buck if you can pick up a clean copy for a reasonable price. It is light, and smooth, is pretty sharp, has good colour representation, if a little low on contrast and has some nice 3D pop. All in all I have to say I quite like this lens and will have to pull it out more often. Bellow are some more pictures taken with this lens from the same outing.

An Original Collaboration… A new adventure into video production!

I recently had a mate approach me to help him with a performance project for a Western Australian Performing Arts Academy assessment.
He was to produce the audio and he was to collaborate with a local visual artist of some kind to create the visuals to go with it.
He asked me if I would help him out.
He gave me some basic criteria of what he desired and off I went.

It is a layering of a couple of pieces of video I shot on my Sony Nex5 with my Asahi Takumar 50mm f1.4 manual focus lens and my Pentax KX with my Pentax SMC F 35-135 macro zoom lens. As well as stills shot on my Minolta X700 with my Minolta 50mm F1.4 manual lens and 50mm F2 lens on both Fuji pro 160s and Ilford XP2 400 B&W film along with B&W stills from the Nex5 with my Asahi Takumar 50mm f1.4. I also incorporated some simple effects I made in after effects and some transitions from my basic director compiling program.

The theme/story I was going for was nature overrunning urban decay and our retrospect from our future technological selves. I was trying to stick to the guidelines given to me…but the audio just kept giving me this alien kind of vibe. So I like to look at this as though you are viewing the decay of mankind and the reclamation of nature through some futuristic alien looking device. But that is just the feelings I got from this fun little project.

I am quite happy with the results as I am mainly a still shooter and only really dabble in playing with making video.

I like to see how other people perceive it too, so please give me your comments. Isn’t that the magic of art, perception?

I hope you enjoy. 😀

Minolta 75mm E Rokkor on Minolta Zealox bellows on Nex 5 – The start of my fun macro kit!

Finally my M39 to Minolta SR mount adapter arrived in the mail…
…this is the final piece in what has been quite a long acquisition period to get this little kit together.

Here is my little rig. Please excuse my el’cheapo tri-pod. 😀

First I acquired my Minolta 75mm f4.5 E.Rokkor lens before Christmas in what I thought was pristine condition, but after close inspection today it is actually quite hazy and will need to be taken in for a clean. I can’t have been very thorough checking that upon arrival all those months ago. For those who do not know, an E.Rokkor lens is an enlarger lens, used in old copier machines for, funnily enough, making enlargements. Of course these enlargements needed to be as perfect as possible, so these lens are renowned for the sharpness corner to corner. The only problem is they have no focusing barrel, just an aperture ring, they never needed to be focused in their designed use, as they were designed for a set focal length. So to be used practically as a macro lens you need a way to focus the lens to some degree, this is where a bellows comes into play.
After much searching I managed to track down this Minolta Zealox bellows for a decent price on the Evil Bay. Great I thought, now I can shoot some great macro work. But alas my E.Rokkor lens was in a screw mount.
I must confess I forgot whether it was m42 or m39 for a while, so after a few different attempts I finally ordered the right adapter and it arrived yesterday afternoon. So of course I strapped it on my Nex5 and ran outside for a quick snap.
It was quite late and the light was fading fast so please excuse the high iso in my shots.

These first few are free hand, quite difficult actually, good challenge.
(as per usual click on images to see larger and sharper)

I used my stand for these, still quite hit and miss, just due to hand movement, will have to invest in a remote in the future.

I look forward to getting the lens cleaned and getting a bit more practice in with a few more interesting subjects in the future. I think for this to be practical I also need to invest in the remote for my Nex, so I may fire the shutter without actually making contact with the camera. Every minute movement of my hand would change the focus point while shooting these, ideally you would shoot with the camera setup via the remote. I also realise I need more light, so you must work in bright sunlight. These enlarger lenses have quite slow apertures thus they don’t allow in a lot of light, especially on a bellows.

I will continue to play with my new little rig, and report back to you with my results.

Till then, keep well and happy snapping. 😀

Film: a growing addiction… to try lower iso films?

After having GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) in my many other hobbies, namely music and fish keeping, my newly found love of acquiring old manual lenses to go in front of my Nex5 quickly led to my newly re-found love of shooting film on my growing collection of film cameras. At first just wanting to get out and shoot and not really too fussed about the results, I just bought general purpose 400iso film. Being the junky for comparisons that I am, I bought 10 rolls each of fuji superia, kodak ultramax& agfa vist. Haha
Wanting to shoot some b&w, I also procured some kentmere 400 b&w.http://www.metalforfishes.com/images/film_stitches/Perth_city_kodak400film_7imgstitch_web.jpg

This is 7 shots taken on my Minolta 700si using the 35-70mm auto zoom lens on
Kodak Ultramax 400iso film, then stitched together. (click image for larger size)

Now, I had the cameras and I had some film all I needed now was somewhere to get my film processed. I did the ring-a-round and found a local place that would develop my c-41 (standard 35mm neg. colour developer) film for me. Unfortunately I realised too late the kentmere was not c-41, so I ordered some ilford xp2.

I have now shot a few rolls of my diff. 400iso colour films, with some great coloured sunsets in the evening low-light, but they were rather washed out in broad daylight. The fuji had the finest grain, but is a little colder in palette. The kodak is warmer with chunkier grain and the agfa is down the middle if not a little burnt looking.

Examples can be found in previous posts:
A day of shooting: Kings Park on film cameras, digital cameras, even our phones!
Minolta X700: Unexpected great old performer.
Canon Ex-1 Auto: First test roll
Film: Roll 2 comes back… Fuji vs Kodak
Film: A return to a long lost love!

So, I ordered some slide film, a couple of rolls of Fuji provia, a couple of Fuji velvia, a few of Kodak elite chrome and a few Agfa precisia, I look forward to their results. However, knowing my local developer only processes c-41, I knew I needed to sort out somewhere that would do slide and b&w as well. So on the weekend I went out and shots some more 400iso colour, which confirmed my suspicions about it washing out in full sun, but I also shot a roll of the kentmere to force myself to find somewhere that could process it, so I could test it. After looking around I found somewhere, they are however a fair distance away and charge $31 for developing and scan to disc, compared to the $12 I pay at my local for c-41 developing and scan to disc. I will still use my kentmere and slide films…just sparingly as the development is over twice what c-41 costs me.

I then remembered I had seen examples of kadak ektar which was very sharp, vibrant and had fine grain. So I started looking into higher grade c-41 films for shooting and getting better results…in the end I ordered 17 rolls of Kodak ektar 100, 10 of Fuji pro160s, 15 of kodak prophotoxl 100 and 10 rolls of Kodak portra and of course some more xp2!!

Now, hopefully I should get much nicer results in daylight…however I am also going to have half a fridge full of film! Haha

Is anyone else as bad as me? If so what is your favourite of these more professional grade c-41 films?

I will keep you all posted on my results.

Here are some of the shots I took on various 400iso colour film down on the river fore shore and in Perth on the w/e:

This is the second stitch I took on this day:

http://www.metalforfishes.com/images/film_stitches/Perth_city_agfa400film_7imgstitch_web.jpg
 This is 7 shots taken on my Minolta 700si using the 35-70mm auto zoom lens on
Agfa Vista Plus 400iso film, then stitched together. (click image for larger size)

This is the first roll of Kodak ultramax 400 I shot. The last pic is from at home after loading the film, the rest are from the southern foreshore of the Swan River. This roll was shot on my Minolta 700si with the 35-70mm auto zoom lens.

This is the second roll of Kodak ultramax 400 I shot. The last 6 pics are from at home after loading the film, the rest are from the southern foreshore of the Swan River. This roll was shot on my Minolta 500si with the 35-80mm auto zoom lens.

This is the 3rd roll I shot. It is Agfa Vista Plus 400. This film is impressing me more and more, the longer I review the images. It’s colour is excellent, as is it’s grain profile for 400 speed consumer grade film. This roll was shot on my Minolta 700si with the 35-70mm auto zoom lens.

 

This is the 3rd roll I shot. It is Fuji Superia Xtra 400. This film is quite impressive too for 400 speed consumer film. However, I find it’s palette to be much cooler. This roll was shot on my Minolta 500si with the 35-80mm auto zoom lens.

 

I also shot a roll on Kentmere B&W film in my 700si about town, but until I can find a good non c-41 film developer. Those images will have to be shown another day.

I feel from these you can see what I was talking about by the colours being ever so slightly washed out and the highlights are blown in many of these shots taken under our harsh Aussie sun. I am hoping by trying a few of the nice lower iso films I will correct these two issues and create even better images. Though the 400iso did perform well in the lower light scenarios. It makes me beg the question as to whether I should also have a camera loaded with 400iso as well as another loaded with a lower iso, just so I cover all my bases.

I will share my results with you guys and I welcome any thoughts on films to try.

Tokina 353: Lens testing this old film auto zoom on my Pentax KX

I had the opportunity to acquire a Tokina 353 35-300 auto zoom in Pentax mount for $60 a couple of weeks ago. I did a bit of a Google before going to inspect the lens, however I found very little information about this lens online, and test shots were all but non-existent. I did however find a random thread which contained peoples opinions of the lens from their experience with it. The comments ranged from “this lens is excellent, really sharp!” through to “this lens is a coke bottle, worst lens ever made!”. So the lens could be either fantastic or reportedly one of the worst lenses ever made, how could I pass that up? I had to get it and give it a thorough review.

The next afternoon after work, I strapped it on the front of my Pentax Kx, put the dogs on their leashes and walked down the park to have a little test shoot. I first off just started just taking some random snaps around the park just to get a feel for the lens.

Iso 200, App. F8, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F10, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F4.5, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Focal length: 65mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 400, App. F11, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Focal length: 35mm

Iso 400, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

It actually performed better than I had anticipated from all the negative comments I had heard about this lens. I know I went into the test not expecting too much. So I know I was very critical about the lens seeming rather soft at first when checking my shots on the KX screen. Looking back they actually do not seem too bad, but I know when first reviewing my results I was neither impressed or un-impressed by this little known old lens.

So I did some crops to check how it was rendering detail. Now these are not comprehensive as I did not have the cam on a tripod so all shots were freehand and may effect the results a little as I may not have had the steadiest hands.

Iso 800, App. F10, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 400, App. F11, Sh.Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 210

100% crop

I was un-happy with these two tests as I feel I had maybe not been as steady as I could have been and I feel I had let the ISO change a little too much which could effect the 100% crop results too. So I set the Pentax to 200 ISO to rule that out and picked a fixed target to shoot a couple of 100% crops at a couple of different focal lengths to see how she performs through her range.

Iso 200, App. F8, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F9, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Focal length: 125mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F10, Sh. Sp. 1/640, Focal length: 70mm

100% crop

Now I know this is not the full focal range of the lens, but I feel it is enough to give you an idea of how it is performing. I was actually reasonably impressed looking back at the results, as there is quite good detail in that 100% crop from the street lamp at 300mm.
I had a bit more of a shoot around the park before I went home to review the results.

Iso 400, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 400, App. F14, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 400, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F5, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Focal length: 35mm

Iso 200, App. F9, Sh. Sp. 1/25, Focal length: 125mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/25, Focal length: 300mm

This shot actually highlights something I noticed about this lens, it’s auto focus seems to be ever so slightly off. Not by much, but enough to get it to focus on the wrong thing when two small things are close together. I have a feeling this lens will resolve a lot better if I was to manually focus it myself.  After this I went home and while reviewing the shots I had a thought. This lens supposedly has VR or vibration reduction built into it since it was made for film cameras that did not have IBIS or in body image stabilisation. I remembered reading somewhere that if a lens has stabilisation and the camera body has stabilisation this can effect your photos as they will both be throwing each other out.
So the very the next afternoon I took the Tokina 353 out again, but this time with IBIS turned off in my Pentax KX. Again I started off just by taking some random snaps.

Iso 200, App. F5.6, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Focal length: 125mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh.Sp. 1/250, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F4.5, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Focal length: 65mm

Iso 200, App.F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/250, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/50, Focal length: 230mm

I of course decided to do some crops. However I shot a less static target today, more out of whim than anything else, though I wanted to test it’s detail in a situation where it’s max focal length would be used.

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

I then continued having a bit more of a shoot, just wanting to make sure I felt I had enough material to compare with shake reduction on or off.

Iso 200, App. F8, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.3, Sh. Sp. 1/640, Focal length: 38mm

Iso 200, App. F5.6, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Focal length: 125mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.3, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Focal length: 210mm

Iso 200, App. F6.3, Sh. Sp. 1/160, Focal length: 210mm

Iso 200, App. F5.6, Sh. Sp. 1/60, Focal length: 90mm

All in all after reviewing these test results I’m not entirely convinced that turning the Shake Reduction off gains you anything in this instance. I think the lens may have performed just as well in both tests, but I would very much like your opinions. Do you think you can see any differences I am missing? Please comment and let me know.

Overall though, I have to say this lens is not as bad as some of the reports I had read. It seems to be an average performer, but then again it covers such a large focal range from 35-300mm. I do not think this lens is any kind of stellar performer and would not be in the league for sharpness as a Tamron 70-300mm or the Sigma 50-300mm lenses. However both these lenses do not give you as much versatility in focal range and both will set you back at least $200aus brand new. So if you can pick this lens up for around $50-75 aus I think you will have a pretty neat little versatile lens for those times when versatility is paramount. I also do not think this lens is not without character. Being an older lens the images that come from it have a character about it and you also get that trade mark Tokina bokeh. Being slightly soft may actually lend this lens to being a decent portrait lens, It does seem to have some haloing, this is something I will have to test. The corner sharpness is not great, especially out at 300mm but again what do you expect from an old 90’s lens that is as versatile as this, without being huge. Although back around the wide end this lens is actually quite surprisingly sharp.

I think this lens has a place for those that are willing to make exceptions for what it is or work with it’s limitations/characteristics. I am happy to have this in my kit bag for those occasions when this lens may lend it’s unique character, odd as it may be sometimes, and I do not think it deserves it’s reputation as the worst lens ever made. I definitely think this lens will also shine more for you if you are prepared to take the time to shoot it manually.

 

Canon Ex-1 Auto: First test roll

Some of you may remember my post a few weeks ago talking about my re-found love of shooting film again and how I looked forward to shooting the Canon Ex-auto as one of those cameras. Well Lisa and I finally finished the roll of film last Saturday and I finally have the first test roll of Fuji Superior back. I was just hoping the shots worked at first and was not expecting anything special. But having a quick peruse now I am pleasantly surprised. The colour rendition seems quite good for a 1972 camera and it still shoots and focus’ great. It does seem to have a little trouble with anything a significant distance away and also things that are reasonably close. I would not say this camera is exceedingly sharp, but I would not say it is soft either. However it does seem a tad slow for a 50mm 1.8 lens, which it has mounted. The battery I also believe was dead, which is no big deal except that all these shots then were taken wide open. I look forward to shooting another test roll in the future with the battery replaced and compare the outcome when I can stop it down a little.

These shots were taken around Joondalup and the last few from up past Butler. I think this camera would be excellent for portraits.

 

Unexpected acquisition: Pentax Kx first look

It was quite a nice day on Sunday, so Lisa and I decided to go to ‘Kings Park’ and take some photos. We had not been there in years and I really wanted to shoot some stitches. I will cover this in more detail when my films are developed, hopefully tomorrow afternoon. As I eluded to in the previous sentence, I shot some film as well as digital, so after we were done we went to our local ‘Fuji’ booth to drop the films off for developing. While there I noticed there was a special sign in front of the Pentax Kx’s. I had been thinking about picking one up since I recieved a nice Pentax 30-80mm auto zoom which I had just taken to Max to be serviced. These normally retail for about $700-799, however not this week. Upon closer inspection of the special sign they were on special for this week at $360 with 18-55m zoom lens! How could I pass this up? I had to buy it.

Upon first inspection I am very happy with the build, it feels very sturdy in my hand. I however noticed that the LCD screen was unprotected, so the first thing I did was put one of those sticky Iphone screen protectors over it to protect it from scratching. I turned it on and flicked through the menu, set it to store in Raw plus Jpeg and went about test shooting wanting to see how it performed out the box, before I went and made all my customary settings changes. Right off the bat I was impressed with how quick the auto focus was. Having been shooting both my Minolta 500si and 700si film cameras all day along with my Sony Nex digital, I was craving the viewfinder of my film cameras. That was the first thing I fell in love with about the Pentax Kx, it felt more like shooting a film SLR. The lenses seemed sharp and contrasty and the sensor seemed to render very nicely. The LCD on this however, is nothing in comparison to that of the Nex, no contest. The Nex wins hands down. This is not the point of the screen on the Kx however, it is intended solely as a review screen to see if you captured the shot ok. You can shoot in live-view however this is very slow, again nothing in comparison with the Nex, but again this is not the intended usage of the Kx. Having knocked out just an initial test shoot around the house, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the shots, this is a very good camera.

This is not intended as a full review just now, more just a first look at how it performs out the box. Here are a few of my first test shots:


Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/60, Ap. F7.1, ISO 1600

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 23.1mm, Sh. Sp. 1/60, Ap. F5, ISO 1600

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 47.5mm, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/1000, Ap. F8, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/2000, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 42.5mm, Sh. Sp. 1/1000, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/80, Ap. F7.1, ISO 1600

Shot using the 35-80mm @ 80mm, Sh. Sp. 1/160, Ap. F8, ISO 800

Shot using the 35-80mm @ 80mm, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Ap. F8, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/30, Ap. F5.6, ISO 1600

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Ap. F6.3, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 40mm, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Ap. F4.5, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Ap. F5.6, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/2500, Ap. F7.1, ISO 200

Shot using the 18-55mm @ 55mm, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Ap. F8, ISO 200

After this initial test shoot I am very happy with this camera and it will always be in my kit from now on. Stay posted for the full review in a few weeks when I have had a thorough test.

Here are the specs of the Pentax Kx:

Image Sensor
Sensor Type: CMOS
Sensor Manufacturer:
Total Megapixels: 12.9
Effective Megapixels: 12.4
Sensor Format: APS-C
Sensor Size (dia.): 1.11″
Focal Length Multiplier: 1.5
Color Filter Type: RGBG
Self-Cleaning: Yes
Sensor-shift Stabilized: Yes
Image Capture
Image Resolution: 4288 x 2848 (12.2 MP, 3:2),3936 x 2624 (10.3 MP, 3:2),3072 x 2048 (6.3 MP, 3:2),1728 x 1152 (2.0 MP, 3:2)
Image File Format: JPEG (EXIF 2.21), 12-bit RAW (.PEF, .DNG)
Video Capture
Movie Mode: Yes
Movie Resolution: 1280×720, 640×416
Movie Frame Rate: 24, 24
Movie Audio: Yes
Movie File Format: n/a
Optics
Lens Mount: PENTAX KAF2; KAF3/2, KAF, KA
Kit Lens: smc Pentax DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL
Focal Length (35mm equivalent): 27 – 84 mm
Zoom Ratio: 3.00x
Aperture Range: f/3.5 – 22 (W), f/5.6 – 38 (T)
Normal Focus Range:
Macro Focus Range:
Optical Image Stablization: No
Digital Zoom: No
Digital Zoom Values: n/a
Filter Thread: 52mm
Auto Focus
Auto Focus: Yes
Auto Focus Type: SAFOX VIII TTL phase-detect 11 point (9 cross) AF: 11 pt auto, 5 pt auto, AF pt select, center/spot
Face Detection: Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light? Yes
Manual Focus: Yes
Optical Viewfinder
Optical Viewfinder: Yes
Optical Viewfinder Type: SLR type; fixed eye-level pentamirror, 96% coverage, 0.85x mag., -2.5 to +1.5 diopter
Display
LCD Viewfinder: Yes
LCD Size (inches): 2.7
LCD Resolution (pixels):
Articulating LCD: No
Max Playback Zoom: 16.0x
Exposure
ISO Settings: Auto (200-6400), 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800
Auto ISO Mode: Yes
White Balance Settings: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent (D, N, W, L), Flash, Custom
Shutter Speed Range: 30 – 1/6000
Bulb Mode: Yes
Exposure Compensation: +/- 2.0EV in 0.3EV steps
Metering Modes: 16-segment Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Program AE: Yes
Aperture Priority: Yes
Shutter Priority: Yes
Full Manual Exposure: Yes
Creative Exposure Modes: Auto Picture (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene Portrait, Picture (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night Scene Portrait, Standard Flash Off), Scene (Night Scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stage Lighting [JPG], Night Snap [JPG]), Sensitivity Priority
Self Timer: 2 or 12 seconds
Time Lapse:
Flash
Built-in Flash: Yes
Flash Modes: On, off, redeye, slow sync, slow sync w redeye, slow sync w trailing curtain, wireless
Flash Guide Number (ISO 100): 11 m / 37 ft.
Flash Range Description: Depends on lens
Max Flash Sync: 1/180
Flash Exp Compensation: -2 to +1 EV in 0.5EV steps
Ext Flash Connection: Hot Shoe
Image Storage
Usable Memory Types: SD / SDHC
Memory Included (MB):
File System: FAT32
DCF Compliant: Yes
Connectivity
Composite Video Out: Yes
NTSC/PAL Switchable: Yes
Video Usable as Viewfinder: No
HD Video Out: No
HD Video Connection:
Built-In Wi-fi: No
Computer/Printer: USB 2.0 High Speed
PictBridge Compliant: No
DPOF Compliant: Yes
Remote Control: Yes
Remote Control Type: Optional IR
Other Connection: AC adapter available
Power
Battery Form Factor: 4 x AA
Usable Battery Types: Lithium, Alkaline disposables; NiMH rechargeables
Batteries Included: 4 x AA Alkaline disposables
Battery Charger Included: No
CIPA Rating: 420
Software
Included Software: CD-ROM
OS Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista/7, MacOS-X 10.3+
Miscellaneous
Notes & Features: Sensor-shift shake reduction, 720p HD video capture, Live View with face detection. Available in black or white.

 

 

 

 

Sony Nex-5 = My advancement into interchangeable lens photography

I know that everyone on some level loves to take photos. You just have to take a quick peruse through any social medium, to see that digital photography and the sharing of photos on-line, is alive and well.
With the advent of the mobile phone with the digital camera, portability and the ability to capture that moment at any time became reality for most of us.
However there were always still those of us who chased the higher image quality and pixel resolution of a dedicated camera, compared to the grainy, colorless photos of our early 2-6mp digital phone cameras. I remember it was for this very reason that we purchased our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S650 7.2 Mega pixel digital camera, it took perfectly good photos for the day and was a great for our step out into a dedicated digital camera. I wanted to find the old thing for the purpose of this review, however it seem to have gone missing. Hmmm…
Not having the camera anymore means this image will have to suffice.

Having by this time become heavily into fish keeping and starting to get out more with the band again, we were starting to want something that could produce much higher quality photos under more demanding situations. Everyone we spoke to said we needed a DSLR, however looking around at the time proved them to be rather expensive so we put that idea to bed for a later day.

It was a few months later and I was collecting a Behringer  tube compressor I was trying out for the possible purchase for the studio. It turned out the guy that was selling it had previously been into music and was into photography, and now managed the camera store in town. In the end I decided I did not want the compressor (had a faulty left side) so I went to return it. Now, being that Lisa’s birthday was only a few weeks away and I knew she had been quite into photography in high school , I thought maybe it was time for the old camera upgrade. So upon returning the compressor I asked him what was a good camera in my price range that would give me the kind of results we wanted. His eyes then lit up as someone has obviously just asked him to talk about a topic he knows very well, he then reaches for the nearest camera catalogue, confidently flicks a few pages and says, ‘well I’m going to buy this!’ and points solidly at the brand new Sony Nex 3& 5 cameras. So I did the quick internet perusal on my phone to see if I could find out more about this camera, there seemed to be very little out there other than that this was brand new mirror-less DSLR technology that meant small camera with DSLR like image quality, since it had a sensor only one size down from the big full frame mirror DSLR cameras. A lot of this was over my head at the time, but being the gear nut that I am, that was enough for me and that was the one I suggested we get for Lisa’s birthday.

So I gave Lisa the money that I was going to spend on the compressor and a bit more, she pitched in the rest from her savings, and she went about searching for the best price while I was at work. We had decided that we wanted the Nex-5 over the Nex-3 mainly because it was made from a metal alloy body as opposed to the plastic of the 3 and the 5 also did full HD footage and had a slightly higher rated internal cpu. Being newer to photography we of course knew we wanted zoom, you know the old ‘well how much zoom has it got?’, so we decided to shell out the larger amount to get the body with the 2 kit lenses, both the 16mm prime and the 18-55mm zoom lenses. Lisa and her mum drove all over town and ended up right back at the store in town buying it of the bloke I had initially spoken to.  Would have been fantastic had Lisa not then returned home to find we had been broken into and robbed! So after we dealt with that, called the police, fixed the windows and got over the fact that we had been robbed, we then took a moment to unpack the camera and have a play, in fact I think the first photos we took with the camera was of the damage.

Here is our Nex-5 with the flash attachment on and the 16mm prime attached. (taken with Lisa’s I-phone, how far phone cameras have come!) Of course here you can see it is a little beat up from good love and wear and tear.

Right off the bat we were very happy with the images compared to our old camera (who wouldn’t be, the frame size jump along with a double in mega pixels to 14.2 is a rather significant leap) However upon up-loading to the web we were sometimes disappointed at our results compared to that of some of our peers. So that was it I was on a quest to discover why we could not achieve that same ‘pop’ I saw in others photos with cameras of similar specs. After hunting around the internet and doing a bunch of reading of peoples opinions, it seemed the general consensus was that the lenses were letting down this potentially phenomenal camera, after manual lens owner had used adapters to put some of these on the front of their Nex’s with stunning results. Being daunted at the time of the concept of manual lenses and adapters I decided to steer clear of this concept and instead put the matter to bed again for a month or 2, but once again being frustrated at not being able to achieve the exact results I wanted I again returned to hunting around the net, because surely some new lenses had been released by now.


This is the 16mm auto kit prime lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

This is the 18-55mm auto kit zoom lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

This is the 2 together to give an idea of size (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)
 

 

 

This new line of inquiry then led me to wiki, which on their page held the news that Sony had released the proprietary information for their Nex dedicated lens mounting system the E-mount and furthermore lens manufacturer Slr magic had now released two all new manual lenses native to the e-mount system. I was gobsmacked. Where had I been? This was fantastic news, so I started doing the old Google for the new Slr magic lenses wanting to know more about them, were they priced out of my range? were they any good? This in turn led me to Steve Huff’s blog where he had very recently done the preliminary reviews for these 2 brand new lenses. The news was good, if you were out for having a play with 2 great creative lenses, I must admit I also liked what I saw of the test shots, knowing they had come from my camera.

I continued to search and it lead me to 3 videos, one by a french cinematographer who had shot a lovely, upbeat sunset scene on a beautiful busy beach strip in France, it was beautiful, it invoked feelings of happiness, joviality, it made me yearn for warm summer nights and drinks with friends. The next was by a Japanese amateur film maker who filmed his trip to Greece with friends. He shot it all in black and white, and again it filled me with the feeling of good times, and yet this odd melancholic feeling, you got the sense he fancied a girl in the group as he followed her more than others. The final and third was the one that probably put the nail in the coffin, it was footage from a young fella from eastern Australia and his trip to Melbourne. He filmed his friends in the city heart, skateboarding and doing back flips and generally running a muck through the CBD. Like I said this was the nail in the coffin. I had been totally gobsmacked by the power of film. The insight into peoples lives, the power to tell a story, the power to make someone yearn for your way of life. This was a life changing moment and it effected me for weeks. I had always had a need to extract as much out of this life as I can before I bite the dust, but now I also yearned to capture it, to effect someone in the same way I had been effected.

Needless to say I then went to the Slr magic eBay page and promptly purchased both the 28mm and 35mm primes and adjustable focusing native e-mount macro tubes. For under $500 dollars I could get 2 reputedly ok lenses,  that was a chance I was willing to take… and not knowing manual lens photography, well that would be something I would figure out when the lenses got here. haha

This is the 35mm Slr Magic manual prime lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)
 
This is the 28mm Slr Magic manual prime lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)
Here is the 2 together to give an idea of size (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

The lenses arrived rather promptly, within 2 weeks, which was good since they were a birthday present to myself. I was very keen to get in a play with them. I first threw on the 35mm lens and was amazed at how easy it was to pick up shooting manually on the Nex-5 with the aid of it’s focus peaking and manual focus assist (a 7x and 14x touch button finder zoom for checking if you have nailed the focus) while still being a little slower than shooting with an auto lens I quickly realised that when you nailed it manually, you really nailed it. The second thing I noticed was how much nicer these lenses rendered colours. It now takes slightly longer to shoot moving subjects such as my fish, however the satisfaction you get when you nail it and the results you get in the end make it feel so much more worthwhile. I very quickly fell in love with manual photography, I was now getting the results I had dreamed about.

I shot with these 2 lenses almost exclusively for 3 months, I got to know the 35 for being awesome artistically for portraits, having such soft corners. I found it particularly useful when shooting band shots for ‘From Isolation’, as the vignetting it has at the corners gives a slight swirling to the bokeh which gives a feeling of movement. The 28mm I struggled to fall in love with as much at first. It just did not give me the same enjoyment when out shooting that the 35mm did, however this always changed when I got back to my comp and loaded the full size shots up there, lens is actually quite sharp and renders colours very nicely.

Here is a shot of all 4 to give an idea of their relative sizes. (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

Of course after all this testing I now wanted more again. I had remembered about using old manual lenses and adapting them to the Nex and this now peaked my curiosity as I had gained more knowledge and confidence with the camera. So I turned to e-bay and started googling the net for good lenses from the past and finding that due to the short flange size on the Nex I could adapt almost any lens I wanted from the past, I salivated at the thought. I first settled on lenses from Minolta as the mount adapter seemed readily available and the lenses were still reasonably priced. I then stretched out and bid on m42, l39, nikon, vivitar, sigma, tamron etc. etc. from manufacturers ranging from east Germany to Russia to USA to Japan and places in between. We still use the auto kit lenses, however mainly just for the applications where these excel, for low-light, action, such as live band photography. I intend to purchase the native Sony 50mm auto lens for the Nex as it is quite fast, with an aperture of f1.8 and as I have found in low-light, due to the native auto lenses having in built image stabilisation, this makes them almost twice as fast as the equivalent f aperture manual lens.
I now have a collection of manual lenses and adapters over 55 strong and growing! I have become completely addicted to manual lens shooting and now collecting and shooting with classic antique lenses adapted to the front of our Nex-5, it is just magic, this phenomenal little camera just translates whatever you put in front of it.

Over the coming weeks and months I hope to do some testing and reviews of some of my lenses for you, both old and new, so it may be of some help to fellow Nex users as to whether acquiring these lenses is a worthwhile enterprise. I have also come to learn there are also some settings you can tweak on your camera to get a little more punch out of your baby too.

Here are just a few of my favourite pics taken with the Slr Magic manual focus prime lenses:

This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
(These sample shots were all taken from camera Jpegs as there was no way to process the Nex Raw files at the time. this has since been rectified)
 

I hope you enjoyed this little run down on the Nex and the first native lenses I have had the pleasure of using. In summary I feel that the Nex series of cameras offer the perfect solution for amateur photo takers that want to step up to a higher quality small auto camera that can do great results, and for those that want to get a bit more serious and play with manual glass. This really is the perfect compromise between amateur user and pro-sumer.