Saturday, November 8, 2014

5-in-1 M42 mount lens review: Asahi, Pentacon & Sigma

From left to right: Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar 55mm f2, Pentacon Auto 29mm f2.8, Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar 28mm f3.5, Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5, Sigma Pantel 135mm f2.8

Here are five M42 mount lenses that I'm about to sell shortly. If you've mainly shot with just a kit lens, M42 lenses are an inexpensive way to experiment with different kinds of lenses, perhaps to get a better idea what kind of shooter you are before spending a lot of money on a lens that is specifically designed for your camera system. Even though I own lenses that cost more and I'm perfectly happy with, I find it hard to resist a bargain priced M42 lens.

None of these are exceptional but they can usually be had for cheap and they are capable of some pleasing photos if you put in a bit of effort. I won't write too much on each one and let the images speak for themselves.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This is why I haven't been posting

NEW CAT! Okay that's a bit unfair. It's mainly due to laziness that I haven't been posting. And it's partially because of the colder weather (this seems to happen every year, I become less active during winter). I'm actually posting now because of the new cat.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife's friend and the friend's housemate (a vet at the St George Animal Hospital) told us that they had two cats that were about to be put down. They felt really bad and were hoping to find a nice home for them so we went for a visit on Saturday, September 20. We liked her a lot and we ended up adopting her a couple of days later on September 22.

Her name is Indy Baker. Indy (short for Indiana Jones) because she loves to explore and Baker because she likes to knead things. She's friendly and affectionate and loves to be around us which is great. Plus I like how I'm able to test out my various cameras and lenses on her.

Below are some photos of her during her first week and a bit with us. More pics are available at my flickr site.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

This is what I've been up to

Long time no see! It's been about 1.5 months since I last posted anything. Here's what's been happening...

#1: I sold off most of the C-mount lenses that I've reviewed recently. Part of the reason I reviewed them is because I was planning on selling them. I have way too much and I want to just hang onto the really good ones. I still have a few left but I may sell it once I get back from holidays.

#2: I sold my Olympus Pen E-P3 & VF-2 electronic viewfinder.

Nice combo but the shadow/low light performance was a real letdown. It's excellent though when you have plenty of light. I did not sell the 45mm f1.8 lens pictured above. It's too good to part with.

#3: I bought a Sony NEX 3N with 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses.

I'll be getting a Sony A7 soon and I'm toying with the idea of having an APS-C body to go with the full frame lenses. I'll sell off the lenses and possibly sell the camera too if I feel like it won't get much use.

It's an okay camera but not as fun to use as the one below...

#4: I bought a Panasonic Lumix GX7.

It's been a long time since I used a Panasonic camera as my main camera. I still have my GF1 but I converted it to shoot in infrared/full spectrum so I haven't been using it much. I recently gave my GH1 to my parents but even before that, it was never my main camera. I've mostly been shooting with Olympus for the past few years and it's so good to be back with Panasonic.

I've been spoiled by the in body image stabilisation (or IBIS) which is a feature of all the Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras so I once again have to concentrate on proper shooting technique which is fine by me. The GX7 has IBIS but not as effective as Olympus so I get a bit of a help but I still have to focus on how I shoot things. Best of both worlds.

#5: I bought a Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f0.95.

Okay now we're getting into "do I really need this" territory. The price was right so I found it hard to resist. After a few weeks of shooting with it, I can say that I mostly don't need it but it is a great performer when I need that extra light gathering ability. This thing sees in the dark! It also gets you close to that full frame look without having to get a full frame camera.

It's very nice to use even though it's a manual focus lens. It's actually a joy to MF with it since MF is easy though on the GX7. You can get pretty close to your subjects too. It may be as close to macro as you're gonna get using a Micro Four Thirds lens (excluding actual macro lenses of course).

I have a feeling I'll sell this off sooner or later, possibly after I get my Sony A7 (which is a full frame camera). I don't need it. I like it a lot though.

#6: I bought a Kowa 2x Anamorphic lens for Bell & Howell.

I definitely do not need this but I've always wanted to try shooting in anamorphic since I love the look. See below for a video I took within hours of getting the lens.

Shot using the Panasonic Lumix GX7 and a Minolta MC Rokkor 85mm f1.7 lens with the anamorphic lens attached to the front. First time shooting with an anamorphic lens and also first time editing an anamorphic video. Mostly done as a test. It's not a straightforward process but I like the results so far.

I'm not a video guy but I'm going to try to put together some videos when I get back. My flight to Manila leaves in under 24 hours and I still have some things to take care of before departing. I still need to make some additions to this blog and fix up the main website and upload pics but that'll have to wait until I get back. There's always something else to do...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saturday Morning in Sydney: Panasonic 7-14mm, Olympus Pen E-P3 & others

[Photos originally taken on March 15, 2014]

I haven't done this in a while. And by 'this' I mean going out at 4 in the morning to take pics.

4am might be my favourite time to shoot since almost everyone is asleep. You may see one or two people going for a run and there may be some jobs that start at that time (clean up, trash collection, construction) so some are already working. As you go on, the number of people around you increases and it's even better on a weekday since you really start to feel the city come alive. I love being around for that.

This latest early morning photo session is probably my first in about 4 years, maybe more. I've been putting it off for a long time mainly because I work full time and while it's not stressful, it does tends to take a lot out of me. So most of my non-work time is spent recharging my energy reserves.

I've been meaning to go back and recreate a shot of the Opera House that I did several years ago, but this time with my current gear. I found myself wide awake at 3am which is rare so I thought I'd do another of my 4am photo shoots.

Camera: Olympus Pen E-P3
Lenses: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f4, Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f1.7, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f4-5.6 R

After going through my pictures, this is what I realised...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Double Review: Cosmicar 6mm f1.2 & 25mm f1.8

Based on my last few posts, it would seem like all I shoot with are C-mount lenses. I swear I shoot with other lenses too! I just thought I'd get these out of the way since I'll be going overseas not too long from now and it should be all Micro Four Thirds when that happens. I may even be jumping into a new system but I don't want to jinx it so I'll keep my lips sealed for now. 

My main reason for doing this 2-in-1 review is that I feel the same way towards both of these lenses. I'll get this out of the way now... Neither the Cosmicar 6mm f1.2 or the 25mm f1.8 are spectacular so if that's what you're after, you can pretty much skip this review. They aren't on the top of my list of favourite lenses to use although not because I think they're horrible. They're okay, I just have better options in my arsenal. But if any of these lenses happen to fall into your lap or you're able to get a good price on them then it might be worth experimenting with. And to be fair, you can do far worse when delving into the world of C-mount lenses.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Pentax 16mm f1.4 C-mount CCTV lens - tested on Micro Four Thirds & Pentax Q

Back in January I bought a bundle of 12 C-mount CCTV lenses from eBay. (The ad actually said there were 13 but the guy forgot to send me one of the lenses. Oh well.) I paid $85 for the lot and included were 2 copies of the Spacecom H3.5mm f1.6, 6 copies of the Rainbow S4.8mm f1.8, 1 copy of the Pentax 6mm f1.2 and 3 copies of this lens that I'm about to review, the Pentax 16mm f1.4.

I've seen a few C-mount CCTV lenses from Pentax (some are manufactured along with Cosmicar) being used on mirrorless cameras but I've only had a chance to shoot with about a handful of them. Some aren't so good on modern digital camera sensors while others are excellent. I wouldn't call the Pentax 16mm f1.4 a standout lens but it's one of the better C-mount lenses I've used, at least on the Pentax Q. Your opinion may vary if you're expecting to use this on a Micro Four Thirds camera.

(One of the lenses that I consider to be excellent (at least when using Micro Four Thirds cameras) is the Pentax Cosmicar 25mm f1.4 which I should do a review of at some point. Far from perfect technically but great in the areas that matter to me and the images look gorgeous. But anyway, we're here to talk about the 16mm f1.4!) 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: Rainbow S4.8mm f1.8 on a Pentax Q

I recently did a review of the Spacecom H3.5mm f1.6 lens and you can pretty much copy whole sections from that review paste it here. I'll be doing some of that so you may get a sense of déjà vu if you've read that other review. Both are C-mount lenses designed to be used on CCTV cameras and there are a lot of similarities between the two, from their strengths, their weakneses and my approach to shooting with them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Pentax Q & 01 Standard Prime Lens (8.5mm f1.9)

This review was originally posted on my tumblr blog towards the end of November 2012. I did not originally plan to write as much as I ended up writing but I guess I had quite a bit to say about the camera and lens combo.

When I bought it I thought I'd try it out, take some nice pics, take it to a holiday or two, then sell it and hopefully make a bit of a profit. Even if I don't make any money from the sale, I thought I wouldn't lose too much since I got it for a good price.

Here we are, 1.25 years later and I'm still loving it. These days I mainly use it to shoot with C-mount lenses that I can't use on my Micro Four Thirds cameras. I'm too cheap to buy a proper fisheye lens but I have a nice Kowa CCTV lens that works pretty well as a fisheye lens on the Q. I don't use the 01 Standard Prime all that much these days but when I do, I continue to be amazed at the image quality even though the sensor is small compared to my other cameras. 

Reading this old review again, I find myself disagreeing with some of the things I've written and I must say that I like this camera a lot more now than I did back then. I really didn't think I'd be with the Q system this long but I'm actually now interested in adding the Pentax Q7 to my collection which has a slightly larger sensor than the Q and the Q10.

Anyway, on with the review!