Snapshot Voyager is about my own personal photography journey. I am always looking to try something new, inquisitive as to how it works, and to the end results I might achieve.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Elmar Contrast

Here’s the same shot that I took with the NEX and the Leica 50mm f3.5 Elmar, the first one is as it came out the camera.  The second is with a significant increase in contrast.  Which is better?  Not sure, but maybe I increased the contrast a little too much.  What are your thoughts?

Friday, 30 December 2011

Leaf on the fence

OK, let’s get this straight from the start.  I put the leaf on the fence, and I don’t have any philosophical regrets.  Some photographers have been criticised for placing objects in places to increase the power of the shot, but I rarely feel this way.

At first I shot the fence without the leaf, and it was kinda boring, with no point of interest, so I added the leaf for some visual punch.  Many great photos have their environment slightly manipulated, whether it is setting up the photo, or in post production, to add impact.  However, unless otherwise noted, the only post processing my shots receive on this blog are resizing for web use, and that way I can get a better gauge of how well the lens and camera are working together.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The year of waiting – C’mon NEX-7! Are you lost again??

After shooting the NEX-3 most of this year, I was soon itching to upgrade to something nicer.  The NEX-7 was first shown in September, but got delayed due to Thailand flooding.  Initially it was thought late November shipping would take place, but now it looks like mid to late January, a similar timing to the Nikon D800.  It will be really interested to see how the electronic viewfinder, quick access menus and 24 MP sensor all work together on Leica M lenses.

Church at St Andrews - Sony NEX-3 with Voigtlander 21mm f4

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The year of waiting – Where’s the D800??

2011 was undoubtedly the year of waiting.  In June I sold my Nikon D700 as the used prices were very high as the tsunami in Japan had devastated supplies for Nikon’s pro cameras.   I decided to wait for the replacement, which most forums were tipping as September 2011.  A 3 month wait, I reasoned, was not a long one.   

Well, now it’s late December and the replacement still hasn’t arrived, though the current best bet is now mid to late January for launch, with likely availability 1-2 months after that.  If it isn’t too expensive (ie under $3000) I’ll probably buy the D800 replacement, though if it is much over this I’ll probably buy a used D700 again.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


My wife had put aside some clothes give to the Salvation Army inside a translucent, but brightly coloured shopping bag.   The effect was quite interesting, given the colours from the clothes already in there.  I used the NEX-3 with colours set to Vivid, and the Leica 50mm Summicron, and the combination of these two makes the colours really pop.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Ricoh GX-R and Fuji EVIL

The Ricoh GX-R is an unusual camera that has interchangeable sensors, as well as lenses.  For me the interesting part is the recent availability of the Leica M Mount module.  It features an APS-C size sensor that, crucially, doesn’t have an Anti-Aliasing filter, like a Leica M8 and M9.  These filters are put in most D-SLRs have to reduce Moire aberrations and banding, but result in a reduction in sharpness.  For Leica lenses, this allows them to display their legendary sharpness and rendering that makes Leica, well a Leica.

The only problem is that it is quite expensive.  The body plus the $649 M module makes it a $1500 proposition – more than a Sony NEX-7; but without the excellent viewfinder and other excellent NEX-7 features.  The GX-R is worth considering, but probably a bit too esoteric even for me.

Recently Fuji announced that they will produce an EVIL, so if it is anything like the X-100, I am sure it will be excellent.  I really like the idea of the hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder, and I am sure Fuji will have half an eye on those users who mount Leica M mount lenses to their cameras via an adapter.

Sony NEX-3 with Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Nokton @ f1.4

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Tree

Last year was the first year my wife and I put up a Christmas Tree, and the tree and ornaments made for some lovely photos.  The Nikon D700 is just the camera to have around for these shots as the low light capabilities are extraordinary.  This year the tree is up again, but I don’t have a D700 on hand.

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of Snapshot Voyager’s readers!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Sharpness from old Leica Lens

Old Leica lenses are fabulous, but don’t think for a second that they are sharp wide open.  If you want sharpness, save the $500 investment and find a $10 Fujica or Canon FD 50mm lens in a bargain basement bin in a camera store.   However, for their time in the 1940s and 1950s, they were the best 35mm lenses out there.  Like other lenses of this era, the older optical formulas and non-coated or single coated lens elements produce a completely different, somewhat dreamy result that is not attainable from modern lenses.

Recently I travelled though Eastern Ontario and attached the Leica 50mm f3.5 Elmar to the NEX.  This collapsible lens for the standard “kit” lens with most Leica cameras in the ‘30s, ‘40’s and early ‘50s, and mine, being a lens from the mid ‘30’s is uncoated.  Here’s a couple shots of barns and buildings, and the effect with this lens is great on these sorts of subjects.  The first was shot at f8 and has significantly better resolution and contrast than the shot below taken wide open.

I like both these images as the viewer has no idea when either of them were taken.  The subject matter, combined with the older style image rendering makes for a timeless photograph.  Despite being shot only week ago, it would not be hard to convince a viewer that these were taken 70 or 80 years ago.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The 4 Most Useless Accessories Many People Buy

Here's 5 popular accessories that I would either avoid altogether, or be wise in what you buy.

1)       Screw in Fish eye lenses – Awful optics, terrible corner shading and strange distortions.  You’ll use it once, then throw it away.  Rent a proper fisheye when you really need it.

2)      Tripods – They’re useful, but honestly I don’t take mine out that much, and they are a true pain in the butt to cart around.  Beginners seem to buy the ones with plastic heads that aren’t at all stable, hence totally defeating the purpose.  If you really want a tripod, get a good one with a detachable metal head and stable legs.

3)      Remotes – You’ll use it once to take a pic of yourself in a group shot, and then it will get lost.  Useful for shooting a flighty creature’s nest or hideout by placing the camera nearby, then triggering the shutter remotely.

4)      Camera Armour – Probably useful on a mobile phone that is relatively light, but don’t think it will save your camera when it’s dropped on concrete.  The armour also makes the camera uncomfortable to use and the buttons hard to access.

Nikon D90 with Nikon 300mm f4.5

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The 7 most useful D-SLR accessories you can buy

Camera stores make tons of money by selling accessories to unwary buyers for stupid money.  Here’s 7 very useful accessories, and what to pay for them.

1)      SLR case – Get a case for a body and lens only.  This is very useful as a grab and go protective bag for your camera. May not fit a larger lens, so test fit before you buy.  Don’t spend more than $20

2)      Medium size camera bag – For body, 2-3 lenses, flash and other bits.  When you need to carry a few more bits and pieces for a shoot.  $25 should get you something really nice.  Alternatively, buy a backpack that has a padded bottom section for camera gear, and an upper unpadded section for whatever you want to stuff in there.  Perfect for overnight trips. About $100.

3)      Filters – There’s only 2 filters I’d buy for a D-SLR – a protection UV filter and a polarizer.  Protecting the front element is very important as a scratch or blemish will dramatically reduce the value of the lens (but not necessarily the performance).  Other filter effects you can recreate on Photoshop.  A circular polarizer is needed for some AF lenses for the AF to work, but most work fine with an ordinary, cheaper (linear) polarizer.  Pay $20 for a new 52mm or 58mm UV, or $40 for a 72mm or 77mm UV.  For a polariser, pay double the price of a UV filter.  I recommend sticking to Japanese name brands such as Hoya or Marumi.  The German ones, such as B&W and Rodenstock, are great, but hideously expensive.  Used filters can be really cheap, but look carefully for scratches.

4)      Extra battery – You don’t want to get ready to shoot and find the battery is flat and you don’t have a spare.  It is hard to get away from paying full MSRP for a second one, but don’t get 3rd party batteries.  I’ve always been very disappointed, and they’ve caught me out with a dead camera several times, making me very unhappy.

5)      Macro and reversing rings – This is a cheap way to create excellent macro.  You don’t need electronic coupled ones, just use manual exposure and manual focus.  A nice set with 3 different size tubes should not set you back more than $50.  Either a 3rd party or genuine Nikon revering ring is a great way to create ultra macro.  They work best in combination with wide angles, and you can use extension tubes with the reversing ring to increase the magnification.  This technique needs lots of light and a fair bit of patience, but it works well.  A used Nikon BR2 or BR2a reversing ring will cost about $20-$30, about the same as a new aftermarket one.

6)      Lens Hoods – These are great to reduce flare and retain contrast in your photos.  If your lens didn’t come with a hood, a screw in rubber hood is useful and cheap.   Rubber ones collapse, and often vary in how far they extend, making them useful for wide, standard and tele lenses.  Pay no more than $10 for a large diameter rubber hood.

7)      Lens cleaning solution and tissues – Essential to clean the grime off your lenses and filters. You don’t need anything special, just pay a $1.50 for a box of tissues at the supermarket, and $5 for lens cleaning solution at the camera store.  The solution lasts forever – I’m still on the same bottle I bought 10 years ago.

Sydney - Nikon D100 with Nikon 28-105mm

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Fuji X100 temptation

A few days ago I got offered a great price for a Fuji X100.  And boy was I tempted!  The seller was offering his nearly new X100 for $950, or $250 off new price, less taxes on top.  This camera has had excellent reviews, with an excellent 23mm f2 lens and a terrific hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder. In the end I decided to stick to my original plan and wait for the Sony NEX-7, with the deciding factor being lack of interchangeable lenses on the Fuji.

"MOvember" Sony NEX-3 with Voigtlander 21mm f4 Colour Skopar

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Country House

While waiting in line for some roadworks to let us through, I snapped this shot from the car window with the NEX and Leica 50mm Summicron f2.  I love shooting in rural Ontario as the old barns and houses are very photogenic. 

Sony NEX-3 with Leica 50mm Summicron Type 4

Monday, 19 December 2011

Night Street Shooting in Kingston

Kingston, ON is a city full of history, with a wealth of stunning heritage buildings.  At night the down town core is pretty quiet, but there was still plenty to shoot.

The NEX-3 and Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 is a stunning combination for night street shooting.  Most of my shots were wide open at 1,600 ISO, so it was pretty dark.  You can read about my series about how I came to purchase this combination on the links below.