Sunday, November 9, 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.

Wednesday, October 1, 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.

Friday, May 2, 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...

Tuesday, March 18, 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.

Tuesday, March 4, 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!) 

Wednesday, February 26, 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.

Tuesday, February 25, 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!

Monday, February 24, 2014

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

This was originally posted on my tumblr blog on November 2012. Photos were taken between November 19-20, 2012.

I had a really fun time shooting with this combo during our 3 day trip to Melbourne. Very easy to use and it’s super small so you can bring it along even when you’re shooting with another camera (which I was). Plus the size meant that people don’t notice it too much when you’re taking pics with it. Although everyone and their dog was out shooting with a DSLR in Melbourne (which I really liked) so being noticed wasn’t too much of an issue. I think people over there are used to it by now.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: Spacecom H3.5mm f1.6 on a Pentax Q

Just a bit of a disclaimer before I get started since this is the first of these kinds of reviews on this new blog of mine (although I may eventually transfer some of my older reviews over).

I don't do proper reviews. Or maybe I can't. At least not in the way that other reviews do with all the comparison pics and test charts and whatnot. I'm not a very technical photographer. I grab my gear and take it for a spin. Then I post pics and my thoughts on how it feels to shoot with it and what I thought of the pics. If I'm interested enough then sure, I may do some further in depth testing. But I usually don't.

Okay, let's do this. Spacecom is a company that makes CCTV lenses for surveillance cameras. Those cameras don't usually require super perfect lenses since they'll mainly be used for video and not even artsy type videos at that. Just surveillance. Keeping an eye on your property, making sure no one's doing anything suspicious and hopefully identifying them if they are doing suspicious stuff, etc. So keep that in mind as you read more of this post.

Spacecom seems to have a huge lens line up and they may even have lenses that perform well on digital stills cameras. I'd love to get my hands on some of their other lenses especially their f0.95 lenses. But just so I don't waste anyone's time, I will say now that if you're after a high quality lens that's sharp across the frame, you may want to stop reading.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Let's try this again...

Canon EOS 300D & 18-55mm. Date taken: 2008-11-13.

In the beginning... No wait, that sounds weird.

I started off with a Wordpress site which went through a couple of overhauls but it never seemed quite right. I like it as a portfolio page (it may end up becoming as that depending how this goes) but it didn't have the sense of immediacy that a blog has.

Update Nov 9, 2014: Wordpress site is now gone. I've cancelled hosting and the domain name now points to this site.

I then set up a Tumblr page which looked nice enough and it had that sense of immediacy as well as being able to connect with others. But I was never satisfied with how posts were composed. It felt limiting, like it only really wanted you to post a pic and a brief description then you gotta move on. It's kind of a pain too going back to old posts and making edits. I haven't touched it for a year and I'm not even sure if I'll return to that, maybe I'll just hit the self destruct button on it.

During all this, Instagram decided to make user pics viewable on an internet browser so I dusted off my old Instagram account and decided to post more on there. But it's not really a proper site and I mostly post pics taken using my phone or pics that aren't the artsy fartsy variety.

I also had an old Flickr account that I never used but after learning that they increased the storage limit quite a bit, I thought I'd give it another go. I'm still trialling it, not sure what purpose (if any) it'll serve in the long run.

So here we are to my new Blogger page. If my previous sites are any indication, I'll be excited about this initially and post quite a bit then neglect it for months/years. Hopefully that doesn't happen but you never know.

Canon EOS 40D & 24-105mm f4 L. Date taken: 2008-11-07.

The two photos in this post are a couple of high dynamic range (HDR) photos I've taken around Sydney. I was talking to a friend about HDR photography last week and I remembered these. The first one featuring the Sydney skyline was taken during sunset and the one directly above is the Opera House at sunrise.