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Topics - NormanBates

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Lenses / Having fun with a couple of 100-years-old lenses
« on: January 20, 2013, 07:02:46 PM »

I've got a nice collection of very old cameras:
* Kodak 3 Folding Pocket Model G (USA, 1910)
* Kodak Vest Pocket (USA, 1913)
* Ernemann BOB OO (Germany, 1917)
* Kodak Retina 1 A (Germany, 1951)
* Taisei Koki Welmy SIX E (Japan, 1952)
* Kershaw King Penguin (England, 1953)

And I've done some lens whacking with a DSLR: you hold the lens in front of the camera, without attaching it, and shoot video like that, moving the lens forward and backards to focus, and tilting/shifting it by hand, letting light leak in through the sides, etc.

So, why not mix those two? I took the two cameras that will allow me to put my NEX-5N where the film usually goes (that would be the Kodak 3 G -pictured above- and the Ernemann BOB OO), took away the back side, and placed them safely on a bench or similar. Then I took my Sony NEX-5N, took the lens away, and manually held it inside the bellows camera, looking at the screen while moving around the NEX in order to get good focus and take a still.

You can see the results here:

My take: they look so good that it doesn't even feel that they were shot with such old lenses! (specially the Kodak: click on the first image to see it at full resolution: that 100-years-old f/4 prime is surprisingly sharp!)

I have to decide between APS-C and full frame, and one of the things to look at is sharpness.

With APS-C, as opposed to full frame, you're only using the central portion of the image circle, the sweet spot: you're not using those blurry corners, and this should lead to sharper pictures. On the other hand, because the sensor is smaller but final image resolution is the same, you're blowing up the analog image that the lens projects on the sensor; this is bad, because every defect will be magnified. Which force is bigger?

I ran some tests trying to find out, shooting stills with a 5D2.

My conclusion: as a general rule, a lens will always be sharper on full frame than on APS-C, both in the center and in the corners.

You can see the tests and read a bit more about them here:

Lenses / Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 on full frame: it's actually quite good!
« on: January 20, 2013, 06:10:15 AM »
Not only does it work on full frame (as a 15-16mm f/2.8, unless you want a hard vignette in your image), but it is actually pretty sharp!

Check my tests here:

My test chart is not huge, so with such a wide angle lens this is a very short focus test. In these conditions, it's not the sharpest lens in the test, but even in the extreme corners it is better, for example, than the Canon 24mm f/2.8, and similar to many other lenses, including my beloved 35mm f/2.8 (which I regard as a very sharp lens even in the corners).

Trouble is, a lens can be very sharp when focusing one foot away, but blurry when you focus at infinity. I'll have to test the Tokina in the field, but based on these results, I'm already quite impressed. If it keeps its sharpness when focused at infinity, this may be the best bang-for-buck 16mm f/2.8 prime you can buy for a full frame camera.

I haven't still read this in detail, but it looks incredibly interesting:

A few things I've learnt here already:
* Nikon still designs some of its own sensor. The one in the D800 is a Sony model, but the on on the D4 is a Nikon design manufactured by Renesas.
* Sony uses the most advanced manufacturing process by far: Sony=180nm, Renesas = 250nm, Canon=500nm
(I think it was in 2000 that a 500nm process was state-of-the-art for manufacturing CMOS image sensors)

EOS Bodies - For Stills / 5D3 vs D800 sales numbers
« on: May 14, 2012, 05:59:40 AM »
I know supply is limited for both cameras because neither Canon or Nikon can get enough cameras out of the gates to satisfy their customers, but anyway...

my theory is that, once manufacturing issues are solved, Canon will have to lower the price of their 5D3 because of low sales numbers, given that the D800 is so much better for stills in nearly every image quality metric, and its price is significantly lower too

it's happened before, in the 5D2 vs D700 battle, and in the D7000 vs 60D battle:

* July 2008: Nikon launches D700 at $3000
* Sep 2008: Canon launches much better 5D2 at $2700
* Dec 2008: D700 has fallen to $2320, 5D2 still $2700

aug-2010: Canon launches 60D at $1400
sep-2010: Nikon launches D7000 at $1200; it's better in some areas (noise, DR, color) but worse in others (mpix, video, swivel screen)
oct-2010: 60D has fallen to $1250, D7000 remains at $1200
since jan-2011: 60D almost always cheaper than D7000

so, here is amazon's list of best selling DSLRs

when it started shipping, the D800 spent about a week in the top position, even if they never actually had it in stock
in the last week, the D800 has been hovering at 4th-5th, while the 5D3 climbed from 18th to 9th, and is back down to 16th now

EOS Bodies / Leica M9 – A Second Opinion
« on: October 15, 2011, 01:30:25 PM »
(sorry if there's already a thread for this: I didn't find it)

I think I know how to describe the different feeling of shooting with a tool such as a Leica M9: the camera makes you work to get your pictures, giving you just enough help so you can be successful, but not too much so that it is easy; and that makes you work harder to get your pictures, and think harder about them while you're shooting; and in the end, it makes you feel you take the pictures, not the camera

of course, I can't get myself an M9 either, but I live the "Leica experience" in a low-budget way by using vintage Leitz glass on my Canon DSLR; because my theory is that it is not the camera that creates that experience, but the (amazing) glass and the extra work and love required to use it

maybe someone with experience with both setups can chime in and confirm if the glass is the most important part, and how many extra nirvana points are actually supplied by the body

my recommendation to anybody seeking that "experience" without having to spend a small fortune: get yourself a vintage  Leitz Elmarit-R 35mm f/2.8 (if you camera is APS-C) or a Leitz Summilux-R 50mm f/1.4 (if your camera is full frame); they should cost between $400 and $800 each
(yes, I like the Elmarit-R 35mm f2.8 better than the faster but softer Summilux-R 35mm f/1.4)

that 35mm gets a lot of praise whenever I post any videos shot with it, usually while talking about different aspects of the image; last time, talking about the color-correction tools, then, out of the blue, someone posts: "I’m loving that 35mm lens. Looks so pretty."

see it in action, for example, here (for the bits in the mountains):

edit: keep in mind, in any case, that vintage glass is always a lottery, you may get a lemon; I've got 2 bad lenses, plus 2 that could have been better, out of 11 vintage lenses bought on ebay and on a specialty online shop; I think that means I've had pretty bad luck. but in exchange for that I've gotten quite good at repairing vintage lenses :)
see what a lemon means here:

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