Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gear mania: Close focus Lens comparison test with Orchids: Minolta AF 50/1.7 Canon FD 100/2.8 Minolta 70-210/3.5-4.5

Click HERE for full resolution picture:
Full resolution picture (Zoom possible)

What do you do when your up at night
with no sleep in sight?
you do a lens test oh so bright :-)

I wanted to compare the image quality of these lenses when used at close focus instead of the usual infinity landscape tests.  Comparing a 50mm prime, with a more expensive legacy tele prime and with an average tele zoom lens should be interesting.

The lenses:
-- Minolta AF 50/1.7 manually focussed with cheap adapter on Nex 5n. My current low-light lens.
-- Canon FDn 100/2.8. Fresh at home.
-- Minolta 70-210/3.5-4.5 @100mm. This lens is best at longer focal lengths, at 70mm it is supposed to be not quite a performer.

All shots at ISO 100 except otherwise noted, tripod, 2 sec time delay. Normal wolfram indoor light with WB set to indoor. Pictures are OOC JPG, the raw files from ACR show further improvement in resolution.

Of course the longer lenses were setup at double the distance of the 50 mm prime. Focus was set to cropped orchid.

The outcome is shown in the composite picture. As expected, the 50mm wide open exhibits lower contrast, but the level of detail is still good. At 3.5 the IQ is very good, to be excelled only marginally at 7.1.

The Canon FDn 100mm starts at 2.8 and its IQ wide open is already very usable. Maximum IQ is achieved at 5.6 in terms of contrast. Manual focus is a dream with the smooth mechanics over 180° turn compared to the cramped Minolta AF lenses 100°.

The Minolta zoom starts at 4.5 at 100 mm when EVs are compared to the Canon prime. So its offical rating of 3.5 to 4.5 was more of a marketing. IQ is not bad, but I would guess that it lags about 1 EV behind the Canon prime in terms of contrast. So you would have to stop this lens down to the next aperture to reach similar IQ. At aperture 14, IQ has already dropped off, though this also might be due to ISO 200 used for this shot.
Still, for a zoom lens with the advantage that you can carry a range of 70 to 210 mm focal reach with you, it is quite acceptable.

So as summary, all lenses are very usable with the 50mm offering the best IQ, lowest weight and even closer minimum focussing distance (25 cm compared to 1.0 or 1.1 m). The Canon tele lens has similar IQ and better usability compared to the Minolta zoom because of wider aperture (1.3 EV), better IQ, and still handholdable focal length. The Minolta zoom's field of application is for airplane photography or other bright-light, long-distance setups.

Some further remarks on these lenses:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Silver lining....

Even in the gloomiest of weathers, there is still opportunity to find that spontaneous "Lichtblick" (glimmer of light).
"Escape Path" Nex 5N + Minolta AF 50/1.7

Friday, January 27, 2012

Olympic Center Munich

No business

BMW Tower

1972 to 2012, still modern
Ornamental people?
Some days ago I happened to be at the Olympic Center in Munich. The fleeting moments of sunshine allowed taking some pictures. The kit lens excels at this task because it is light, variable and small enough to fit into the jacket pocket to hide from snow or drizzle. The last picture shows the interior aesthetics of the Olympic hall. But aside from the playing together of form and color, I couldn't help but notice how the young women with the task of distributing infoflyers were also placed as ornaments.

FDn 100/2.8 is here, but the weather still is poor....

Silent guests

The right picture for this kind of weather..
Yesterday my FDn 100/2.8 as well as the adapter arrived. Had to wrestle a little till I understood the procedure of the FD mount. Am I getting old? I like this lens even indoors, but of course would prefer to shoot some pictures in the sun. Unfortunately, a blanket of grisly fog has settled and the forecast for the weekend is just more of the same....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A look at the moon.....

Seeing the moons surface always reminds me of Apollo 13 and about that longgone euphoria of interspatial travel. This was an absolutely dilettante attempt just for the sake of it: Handheld with manual focussed 210 zoom, spot exposure. Makes me long for an adapter to that telescope of my stepdad.......

Point of view: Architecture photography needs summer daylight or winter night

Berlin Industrial Heritage            

Power Plant
The sky
Nighttime is the right time

Suffering through the mixed, mostly bad weather of winter time just as many other amateur photographers, I have used some vacation days to experiment with nighttime photography. This helps getting over the problem that by the time you usually return from work, night has already settled and that the sky tends to be an indiscriminate grey on many of those autumn and winter days. When the motive is architecture, that also helps with the mandatory tripod/long exposures.

Olympus XZ1 - A farewell, and Hello, Nex 5N

                                           Finland lake in the afternoon

I bought an Olympus XZ1 last year after my good ol'  Sony P150 had exceeded 13.000 exposures and I didn't wanted to risk being in the midst of a vacation with a failing camera. Needless to say, I searched the web, browsed through forums such as DPREVIEW and then finally made the decision. At that time it was the best decision for my requirements.However, the XZ1 delivered splendid colours in OOC JPG while sometimes the camera turned fine detail in a foggy mush. Using Raw uncovered the extreme high resolution of the lens but though I used Adobe, the colors frequently were hard to get right. So you could wrestle some exceptional pictures from the camera, but it involved more work as I expected when buying a "deluxe" P&S.
The above picture is such an example I still am not entirely happy with.

 When first I encountered the Sony Nex 5, I made several test series comparing it with M43, the Oly, Sony A55 and others. It just didn't cut it in terms of resolution, sharpness, color etc. Strangely, when the 5N arrived on the market, the pictures looked so different. So I bought ANOTHER camera in that year. And boy, I haven't regretted it yet. In my experience, this camera renders JPG pictures straight OOC as I see the world with my eyes. Editing the pictures is a breeze, cropping easily possible. There is so much quality in those photos that it sort of sets you free to enjoy photography again.

The XZ1 had tickled me with the hint of playing with low DOF. Using a legacy prime 50 mm 1.7 from my old film SLR, I enjoy this even more with the 5N. So after noticing that the XZ1 continued to lay around unused (my family never warmed up to it), I gave it to my mother as birthday present. In hindsight, I guess I have learned a lot about Photoshop thanks to this camera. So farewell to you.

With the 5N, my creativity took off  I have had my first picture used by a newspaper and have created a photobook a company is willing to order in a small series. Taking the camera into my hands is a joy since the technical uncluttered design is the right thing for me. Retro camera or the most M43 aren't to my liking but I respect others who beg to differ.

This is not to say that the 5N is perfect. The usual complaints are:

Menu system: After customisation, I have no problem with that, apart from damning the Sony engineers for not being able to turnoff/on Raw file creation automatically when the user turns Auto HDR on. The Oly changed that on its own when Raw was not possible with some option and even notified you about that.
No flash socket: I built myself an optical trigger connected to a wireless Yongnuo trigger and have not much problems with that, though I think it is a shame not providing it.
Either flash or EVF usage: Strange as it seems, but I have used the flash only for very rare cases. The low light capability of the 5N coupled with a prime lens is so good that I rather use natural light instead of the flash. Except of course for strobist setup :-)
Lens quality: The kit lens, especially with camera-internal correction is quite fine compared to other lenses I compared it with. It is a little weak at 50 mm, and has a high minimum aperture there, too. But for portrait use I use my prime anyway. And the SEL50mm is already preordered :-)
Clicking: Tested one in a shop, clicked like hell with minimal movements. Ordered mine from Amazon due to its liberal return policy and it is silent as a stone.
Other stuff I noticed: With the EVF mounted, battery drain is quite noticable. But then the EVF is really great for MF focussing, sunlight scenes or to shoot things from bottom up. Though, I do not need it as much as I expected it to.

                                           Orchids in bright winter sun

Apple-free Zone....

Warning: If you are an enthusiastic Apple-owner, do not read further.

Yesterday I glanced through several photobooks with which my sister, living abroad, helps my mom keeping up-to-date. The newest two have, as last page, "Made on a Mac". Now I am sure this has been added automatically by the software which she used.

But honestly, how far can this Apple-mania go?

I accept that currently Apple products are so "in" that first-grade pupils without  an Iphone qualify for psychological counselling. But in my experience, most Apple products were not only overpriced but also failed soon after warranty expired. Examples:
The G5 of my sister-in-law started forgetting it had a DVD drive after 3 years. Reinstalling the OS helped for some months, then it happened again. She sold it and bought an I-Book. Needless to say, it haid this ominous bug and failed after 2.5 years. SInce the recall action of Apple had not (yet) extended to include her serial number, Apple refused to repair it for free. I advised my father-in-law to write a letter to Apple and after some back'n-forth they finally did repair it. In the meantime, needing the computer for professional use, she already bought a new I-Book. That has already failed, too. Another desktop Mac of an aquaintance refuse to recognize any USB stick, even the one bought from the Apple store. Solution? She bought a new Mac. I too already have seen a shattered screen of an I-phone.
As contrast, a colleague broke his ribs in a bike accident. I recovered Fujitsu Siemens laptop whose case was shattered at several places and the entire back side with the connectors was bent in 4-5 mm. Just inspite powered it up and it booted and worked just fine.

I have to confess, in my personal opinion Steve Jobs was as negative a person as Bill Gates still is. It sort of upturns my stomach, remembering the 80s with activism against apartheit, LiveAid concert and the like, to witness that after Jobs died people worldwide put flowers into the Apple shop windows as if he were some sort of guru.

To me, this seems as if our society has lost connection what is really important and mindless idolising of anyone exceeding the average, whether in good, bad or irrelevant aspects, is the norm.

Enough rambled, the content of this pages has been prepared entirely WITHOUT the use of any Apple product.