Tuesday, April 21, 2015

1946 Leica Summitar / 1953 Leica Summicron / side by side / taken by Sony RX1 @ f4

Just got the Summitar. Its Aperture dial was stuck. These lenses can be cleaned and lubed with a little care and the help of our friends on the internet. Unscrewed the lens top. Removed two set screws. Removed the adjustment ring. Cleaned the inner and outer ring surfaces with alcohol and applied thin film of Teflon impregnated bicycle lube and reassembled. Since I mount these lenses on various digital cameras, it is important to note that the Summicron's retraction distance is quite a bit less than the Summitar's. As you can see, the distance marking's on the Summicron are in meters and the Summitar's are in feet. One was designed to be sold in Europe, the other in the US. The Summicron has detents and clicks into place at each aperture stop marking, F2, 2.8, etc. The Summitar flows freely with no such clicks. Both are retractable, even though Leica did offer a rigid version of the Summicron beginning in 1956, three years after this one was made, in 1953. It is interesting to note that the serial number for the Summicron lists it as a 1952 model, even though the lens was introduced in 1953. Apparently the factory assigned numbers prior to production. It's also interesting that the Summicron was co-terminus with the M3 intro, yet this lens, as there are many others, was not an M mount, but rather a 39mm screw mount, to be used on the model III, etc. Both lenses are coated, which is typical for post WWII.
Summicron is a bit yellow from radioactivity.

Both fully extended here. When retracted, the Summitar protrudes rearward about twice as much. Both lenses, are shown here have been fitted with screw on, aftermarket M mount adapters, to allow mounting in the the M8, R-D1 and others. Otherwise you'd see the screw mounts below.

Pentax K-5 / SMC DA 35mm f2.4 / University of Arkansas campus candids

All shot RAW. Most of are processed a bit, cropped, sharpened, etc. The K-5 is a rapid shooter.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sony NEX 6 / 16mm pancake / wide angle / Big Sky Cloud Drama

I've always admired large format photography. Photographers lugged big cameras with tripods and large plates in an attempt capture the vast beauty of nature. Think Ansel at Yosemite. I can and do cheat with digital by shooting a series of images vertically then stitching them together. PS knows to turn them 90 degrees as it makes it a seamless picture. I shoot these all the time and post those I like best here. The sky is a constant source of drama. Changing weather patterns display cloud formations of varying density from shades of white to shades of gray. The sky adds the contrasting blues in the background. The sun lights it all up to heighten contrast. I can't always do the scene justice but I keep trying.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sony Nex 6 / 16mm prime / Clouds hanging on Miller's Mountain / HDR

Normally you must use a tripod if you're going to take a three shot exposure bracket for hdr blending. With the Nex 6, the thing shoots so fast they're almost instantaneous and you can hold it steady and shoot without ghosts. Early morning clouds were being called up by the sun and we got a nice cloudy period of transition over Miller's Mountain this morning. Photomatrix Pro used to blend and tone. Topaz used to brighten.

Without Topaz below:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Canon G7 / landmark p&s cameras

The G7 is a take along camera.

From the G1 Canon intended to create a enthusiast quality compact camera. You'd like to think that just like Chuck and the boys at Warner Bros., who didn't make cartoons for kids but for each other, Canon's engineers made the G series as a camera they'd like to own themselves. I hesitate the use the word "professional" quality but the G series was purchased by photographers who wanted a take with camera when an SLR wasn't appropriate. The G series improved with each iteration. I have owned several in the series, beginning with the G1. Each I purchased used at a greatly reduced rate. All in the series have good build quality, reasonably fast, sharp lenses, and manual controls. Image Quality improved steadily through the G7. The G6 was the best of the breed prior to the black series, which started with the G7. The G5 was black and a looker but the G6 kicked dirt on it. The G7 produced outstanding IQ, was compact in size and had an amazingly good build quality for the price. All subsequent Gs, through the 16, have been similar in style. The series is outlined well here:


I personally think the G7 marks a point of little increasing return going forward. I loved the G10 and the G15 is a really good camera but just looking at IQ OOC, build quality, ease of use, size, etc. the G7 is plenty good enough and for me, a landmark in "take with" cameras. Here are a couple of pics. The cameracides presented here are representative of shots I take from all my cameras to see skin rendering, lens sharpness, white balance, etc. If a camera can nail a face shot OOC, in ambient light without flash, I begin to sit up and take notice because it likely will produce overall good quality pictures. The first two shots above were included to demonstrate that a small coat pocket-able camera can be handy to have with you for incidental photography. The old saying is the best camera is the one you have with you. The amazing thing about the G series is how well they photograph almost anything anytime.

A crop

A hint at my next landmark p&s post

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sigma DP1 / landmark p&s (consumer) digital cameras / Lego Creator series 4996 Beach House

I'm going to start a thread about what I'm calling landmark p&s digital cameras. These are cameras aimed at consumers, not professionals. They are generally categorized as point and shoot (p&s) because they are fixed lens cameras and are not SLRs. Many of these were relatively expensive when introduced and could be considered as enthusiast grade cameras. High build quality. Some professionals, looking for something small to carry around would often choose this grade of camera, as well. A later post will cover the Canon G7, which is of a line of high grade consumer cameras starting with the G1. This post is about the first Sigma DP camera, the DP1, introduced in 2006. It has two claims to fame. A foveon sensor (1) which was APS C sized (2). It was the first such small, large sensor cameras to be built. It was pocket-able, all metal construction and had full manual controls (along with options for auto). Here's a picture of my current DP1:

The reason it's covered in gaffer's tape is it's a slick camera, easily dropped. Even though it's metal, it will dent up pretty quickly. As you can see, the lens sticks out a bit making it less pocket-able. I've mounted an auto expand/contract lens cap to replace the original mount and twist cap for convenience.

The camera is made by a lens manufacturer. It sports a prime lens (28mm effective) with maximum aperture of f4. It is ruthlessly sharp wide open. There is no need to stop it down for reasons of sharpness.

The sensor renders reality in a unique way. A combination of the sharp lens and the Foveon sensor creates images you want to examine for a long time. Again, quite unique.

The camera is slloooow to do just about everything. It's Jpeg engine is poor. Images must be captured in RAW and developed in Sigma Photo Pro, bundled with the camera and available for free download from Sigma. It writes RAW files slowly. I upscale Jpegs x 2 when I develop RAW to JPG. It's high ISO performance is miserable for color, which goes away the higher the ISO. It gets noisy. The sensor renders a yellow cast in some situations. You can see photosites in photos when it flares. One reason you shoot RAW is the auto ISO is often off a bit. Weird stuff. It has many, many flaws but most are correctable in Photo Pro. I've grown to love it, not for its flaws but for its strong capabilities. It is a strong camera. A small, blocky, weird little thing with a big heart. Most of the time I can't wait to see its output. Something I can't say about most competent cameras. They render well saturated, low noise pictures that are great. They are generally boring. The DP's shots are different and deserve development time and care.

I have purchased and sold used DPs over and over and at last have a couple of DPs (quoting Lawrence Welk, a one and a two) I likely will never sell because they aren't worth much any more. One day I'll get a Merrill version as I know I'll like it. I just need to let the savageness of the used camera market reduce the value enough until I consider it of more or less salvage value so if I want to resell, I won't take much of a beating. It's getting closer every day.

Here's a monochrome example. All examples are RAW converted in Photo Pro with minimal to no post processing, which is saying a lot because I always fool with images after the fact and these are so interesting to me. I leave them alone:
I like the DP2 better than the 1 but it's incremental. I like the 40mm f2.8 better than the 28mm f4 but if you want or need wider, the DP1 works fine. The s and x models of the two cameras show improvements but they generally cost more. The base versions work and are cheaper.

Here's a sky shot:

Next are a few shots of the wife's Lego house taken around Christmas of a few years ago. The greens and yellows are shouting (maybe cursing?). The lens sharpness is excellent. The shots, wide open, in natural, very low light are pretty good/weird/different. The sharpness and IQ is great. I scratch my head over the yellows and the greens, which are always a bit weird in the DP1. The DP2, not so much. The DP1 had a yellow issue.

 The first shot of the camera came from the G7, which I'll cover tomorrow, in this series.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ricoh GXR / Leica Summar / Couple test shots with PS treatment

Well you shoot legacy lenses for effect. Then you run it through Photoshop (auto tone, auto contrast) and boom, there goes the legacy effect (usually caused by age, haze and lack of coating). Then you sharpen it up and there goes all the legacy effect. Except the bokeh stays about the same. Here are a couple of shots from today with examples of OOC, then with auto tone and contrast from PS, then with additional sharpening.

OOC from GXR w/ 5cm Summar @ f2. PS versions to follow at bottom.

It collapses on mine without damage, your mileage may vary.