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.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The sharpness mystery of UV Filters

Over the past years I've mainly  shot with some sort of filter on most of my lens, mostly to prevent the front element from getting scratched.  I learned the hard way once, when a lens that had no filter on, my Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6, made solid contact with a door handle on the front element as I was rushing out of our hotel room in Spain.  This incident left a permanent mark, more of a coating mark than a scratch, and while it didn't at all affect lens performance, it did affect its resale.

However, much has been made about the reduced sharpness and performance of lenses with filters fitted, so lately I have been shooting my new Sigma lenses without filters, but instead regularly fitting the lens hood.  These lenses have taken some of my best photos in a while, with excellent sharpness, so there maybe something is to be said.  It also could be suggested that lens manufacturers don't design their lenses with filters in mind, and extra optics, ie the filter, may cause a deterioration n quality.

On the negative side to that argument, I had been using a crappy filter on my Tamron 24-135mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens, yet it can still out resolve the D600 sensor at f8.  The same can be said about both the Sigma lenses on the NEX5n.  Weird.  The jury is still out, but I have decided that it I can get away with not using a filter and still offer some protection for the front lens element, then I probably will.

 Fuji X100 with old, crappy Toshiba 49mm UV filter fitted

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Close up Bokeh study - Leica 50mm f1.5 Summarit with Hawk's Factory helicoid adapter

Earlier this week I took the Sony NEX out in the back yard for a couple quick snap shots with the Leica 50mm f1.5 Summarit and the Hawk's Factory helicoid adapter.  Interestingly, I have two of these lenses, the first in LTM that came with my Leica IIIf, made around 1950 and a later M mount one made in 1957.  
Both are essentially identical other than the mounts, though the M mount is a slightly cleaner example.

For something different, I decided to try my LTM version out with the helicoid adapter, primarily as I wanted to get a little closer to some flowers, and also just to see how it rendered photos at maximum aperture with when the helicoid was set to close focus.

Turns out beautifully, as long as objects behind are some distance away.  If not, the rendering becomes quite swirly, almost as if the camera was twisted around the in focus object.  Some like this effect, but I don't particularly care for it.  Like most lenses of this era, it shows a little fringing but it does have that 'glow' about the pictures that modern lenses with multi coating don't have.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The wonderful and very weird Nikon 35Ti

Recently I purchased a Nikon 35Ti compact film camera.  Its Nikon's high end pocket camera from the early 1990's and features an ultra sharp retractable 35mm f2.8 lens, titanium construction and the world's most awesome analogue camera display.  Just the display alone makes it look expensive, and when it was released almost 20 years ago, it was indeed expensive at $1000+ MSRP.

It's a very weird and quirky camera with an automatic flash that you can't turn off automatic mode, though it has two override buttons, one to switch the flash on or switch it off, if it decides to come on.......or not come on. Follow me?  These buttons, located on the front of the camera are so small and inset, that the tiniest fingers will have difficulty selecting them.

You also manually have to select red-eye flash mode via a button on the side of the camera, and the panoramic mode is very easy to accidentally select.  Fortunately there is an icon in the finder to warn you of this.

If you like vintage analogue watches, the dials are a whole lotta awesome.  There is a dial for aperture, focus distance, a counter and for exposure compensation.  For some weird reason, the one I bought is out by one stop when showing the aperture.

The viewfinder display is actually quite good, being bright and displaying tons of information.  It also has a frameline that corrects for parallex for close up photos, similar to the Fuji GA645i I also have.
The film I have shot though it is still being develped, but I am expecting the results to be good.  I shot E6, so I am hoping that the meter is accurate enough to not ruin the shots.

Overall - this camera is an interesting study in weirdness, especially in operation.  If I didn't know I was shooting Nikon, I would have thought it a Fuji, as the X-100 is also a bit like this.  The test will remain when I get the film back to see just how good the shots are.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Nikon 28mm f1.8 AF-S - Review

After purchasing this lens as an impulse purchase a few months back, I have actually been very pleased and impressed with this lens.  Compared to older Nikon 28mm f2.8 AF-D which I also have, its bigger, focuses closer, is much sharper, has a smoother bokeh, has 1.3 stops faster aperture and costs 2.5 times the amount.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

I'll address all these issues more closely.

Size - In terms of volume, the 28mm f1.8 is close to double the size of the 28mm f2.8.  But it is certainly not double the weight.  The 28mm f1.8 is unusually light.  In fact it is just over 50% heavier - 205g vs 330g.  An extra 125g on a D600 is hardly noticeable.

Focusing - Actually the specs say it is the same, but as the front of the lens is closer to the subject on the longer 28mm f1.8, it certainly feels closer.

Sharpness - I haven't done a detailed comparative study, but subjectively this lens is amongst the sharpest I own, even in the corners, and well ahead of the 28mm f2.8

Bokeh - Sure, you'll say that the bokeh has to be better as the new 28mm f1.8 is almost a stop and a half faster than the f2.8; and while that's true, the f1.8 really impresses with its buttery smooth bokeh.  Very impressive for a wide angle lens.

Maximum aperture - Where this really comes into its own is in very dark surroundings.  Its amazing how dark you can shoot with this lens on the D600 and still get a perfectly usable image.  A fast wide angle allows you to shoot almost a stop darker than a 50mm and not get shake.  Handholding at 1/25th of a second is not an issue. 

Downsides?  None that I can think of, especially if you like shooting a 28mm lens.  Perhaps size may be a concern to some buyers, but if you're shooting a heavy full frame D-SLR already, a 100g extra won't kill you.

Recommendation - If you find a deal on this lens, buy it!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

End of the V - Hasselblad 503CW discontinued

As much as I probably knew this day would come, I am disappointed that it finally has, the distinguished Hasselblad V series camera is now no longer being made.  I have owned 3 V series in my time, two 500C's and a 500C/M.  They are all the same camera, though the later 500C/M had an interchangable mirror, and confusingly, so did later 500C's of which one of mine could do.  Two of them had the 80mm f2.8 standard lens, one had a 150mm f4 portrait lens, and I also had a 50mm f4 wide angle, which was the later CF FLE model.

The 500C is a completely manual camera, that requires you to think.  It is almost completely useless as a street camera, as it is too bulky and not 'quick on its feet' like a Leica M is.  However, when you get it right, the results are incredible.  Those huge negatives are just magic and capture so much detail from those great Carl Zeiss lenses.  V series, I'll miss you.

Sony NEX 5n with Sigma 19mm f2.8