Low-cost lens cavalcade BONUS!

This is not one of the lenses from the Great Deal. I bought this off ego-Bay before they branded me Public Enemy Number One and forbade all interaction. It wasn’t as cheap as the deal lenses on an individual basis were, especially not after having to buy an adaptor for it. What is it? It’s a Super Albinar 28mm f2.8 in Canon FD mount:

Odd lens out.

This is one of those “store branded” lenses made by who-knows-whom, in this case for photo retailer Albi’s. I originally got it thinking it could be adapted to the Canon T100, but to do that correctly requires an expensive adaptor with a piece of questionable-quality glass in it to get the focusing re-aligned to where infinity isn’t 2″ away. So I ponied up another $20 to fit it to the Sony and tested it alongside the other lenses.

As a ‘scene lens’ it does alright. Try to ignore the recurring spots on the image sensor.

I usually do not shoot with wide-angle lenses. Yet I seem to have collected up two 28mm ones, an M42 mount and this one in Canon FD, as well as a 24mm Vivitar. All three, it turns out, are perfectly good lenses. That’s the thing with store-branded equipment; you never know until you try it if it is any good. It could be made by a quality company but the price-point demands of the retailer can compromise performance. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.

Nothing to complain about here.

In this instance the luck is with us. Nothing wrong with the colour or contrast, and the controls work fine (even though the adapted mount is fiddly and you have to check to be sure everything is locked and the aperture actually stops down properly when you turn the ring). But is it sharp?

Full image
Crop 640 x 427 from 100%
Larger than life.

Uh, I think we’ll take that as “yes it’s sharp”.

Under some circumstances there is ‘fringing’ and other signs of chromatic aberration. But it is not a dominant characteristic that shows up all the time.

Odd tracks.

Over-all I’d rate this lens as very good and even though it’s not a focal length I typically use I have got some pretty good pictures out of it – some more of those coming later. Of course I’m going to keep it, because I can’t actually unload any of my surplus equipment now (thanks ego-Bay, may you rot in hell).

I would like to do some more ‘testing’ of some of these old lenses, but circumstances right now are extremely limiting and the future isn’t looking very good either.

Low-cost lens cavalcade #7

A new year and a ‘new’ lens. This time it’s the Vivitar 24mm f2.8:

Uh oh, it has fungus.

Yes it has fungus. That’s worrying but it isn’t on the glass and there’s no sign of it affecting the images. Yet. Someone skilled with lenses could no doubt take this apart and clean it up quite easily. That someone is not me. I’ve made some recent ventures in lens repairing and … best if I just leave this one alone.

This lens gets some ‘extra’ display shots here because it has some curious ‘extra’ controls which I can not figure out how they function. On the bottom is this tab with markings that doesn’t move even when you push the metal button in:

What is this for? How is it used?

And then the aperture ring has an ‘extra’ set of markings mirroring the f stops but all in green:

Probably some kind of camera-specific auto aperture control.

This is one of those lenses with the tiny button on the back that needs to be pushed in to get it to shift to ‘manual’ if you don’t have it screwed in to the right kind of camera body. (I think this is the Pentax ‘SE’ edition of the M42 mount.) I got it shifted (which means it can also work on the Canon, by the way) and took some shots.

Wide-angle it is even on a cropped sensor camera.

Oh look: I finally got the spots off the sensor! For now anyway. Speaking of it being wide-angle:

The mighty Nissan. This close you can just see some distortion.

Colours are spot-on and contrast is good with no sign of chromatic aberration. Let’s see how sharp it is:

Wild rose full size.
Cropped segment of the full image. This lens focuses to 9″!

That is a very sharp lens. The biggest problem I had was not being able to see well enough to focus at very close distances where depth of field dwindles at f2.8 – even on a 24mm lens.

To ‘correct’ this shot I would have had to adjust the trailer.

Despite the fungus this lens gets a ‘very good’ rating. If put up against the Super Takumar 28mm you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The only things against it are that I rarely use such wide-angle lenses and it has that ‘extra’ control function. Neither of those are a fault with the lens. I think this may be good for landscape shots if the 50cm of snow ever melts around here. Hey it warmed up above zero Fahrenheit for the first time in many days! Maybe there will be a Spring.

Spring? Not yet.

In other news it will be a few more weeks before my wife will return, unless they cancel that flight on her as well. Meanwhile I’ve got more medical tests to take, and the temperature is supposed to go down yet again. With more snow. No, we’re not quite to Spring.

Out and about

Plus a few random photography remarks.

I missed a few shots this past week (including a marmot) as it is impossible to grab a camera and turn it on and frame up the subject and take the picture while you’re driving down the road. Even if the road is a gravel logging path and you’re only doing 10 KPH at best. I did manage to stop upon hearing a rat-a-tat-tat noise in some dead birch trees, thinking it was a woodpecker. I spotted something red moving in the viewfinder and clicked, waiting to figure out what it was until later. It was this:

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Red-breasted sapsucker

This image was shot with the Canon T100 using the 55-250mm zoom at full extension. (This is a 640×480 view cropped from the full frame, not reduced.) With the crop factor this works out to about 400mm on a 135 camera. Why the Canon? Why not the famous Nikon P610? A couple of reasons. First, the Canon ‘fires up’ quicker; turn the dial and it’s ready (the Nikon works its way through some motor gymnastics before it’s ready). Second, the Canon’s optical finder is easier for me to see through. This is getting to be a problem, especially when trying to spot small subjects like birds in the distance.

Which brings us to point number three: optical and digital zooming. The Nikon can outdo the Canon optically by a factor of over 3X (1440mm vs. 400mm). This is because it has a smaller “2.3” sensor (which also reduces its effectiveness in low light). But the Canon has a slight edge in MP of about 12% so it’s better at post-shoot digital zooming. This has lead me to the decision that a T7 with its 24MP sensor would be even better for me – 50% better you might say. So in a weird way post-shoot digital zooming helps make up for my failing eyesight. Something to think about as the Nikon keeps producing out-of-focus pictures due to the loose lens (no, I can not tell if the image is in focus in the finder of any camer: I am dependent on autofocus and depth-of-field).

Now here’s a tiny butterfly. Not being a lepidopterist I don’t know what kind.

DSCF1225F

These were taken with the Fuji F80 EXR, of all things. Not really the camera for the job but it did it fairly well. The first shot is full frame, the second digitally zoomed (as is the third). You may notice a colour shift between the two shots as the camera tried to come to grips with the scene. The second image is somewhat washed out in the dried grass but the colour is better on the butterfly.

Now here’s what the Nikon did with a much larger version of what looks like the same butterfly (the first one was perhaps an inch long, the second closer to three inches):

The Nikon has utterly failed to focus a couple of times, usually when the lens is pointing down (which is telling). Here’s a shot that shows the motor-driven lens isn’t as quick as it should be. Look for the bird.

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Top of the frame

Of course if the subject will sit still, it’s fine:

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Duncan Dog wondering how long this picture business will take

Or if the conditions are right and you don’t need maximum magnification on one small object far off in the distance:

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One goes up, one goes down
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Raven again

And back to the Canon for a combination of maximum optical zoom with a bit of digital as well:

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Young mule deer doe

A discussion elsewhere about zoom lenses and whether or not you need them reminded me of an old movie camera I used to have: the Kodak Medallion 8. It took 8mm cartridge film, and had a 3 lens turret that allowed you to switch between wide-angle, normal, and telephoto just by pivoting the lens elements around (not while shooting of course). A cheap version of a zoom, and easier than changing the whole lens!

The difficulty with spotting a subject at the ‘normal’ focal length of your eye and then getting a camera fixed on it with a telephoto lens is sometimes aggravating. Being able to spot it with the zoom at wide/normal and then twisting a ring to close in on it is much better. Motor zooms are slow for moving subjects like birds. Sometimes even the fastest autofocus and shutter release is slow; birds can be really, really quick!

But I can see where if I continue shooting wildlife I would stay with the medium-to-long manual zoom lens, quick center-spot autofocus, optical finder, and as many pixels as possible to facilitate post-shoot digital zooming. This is not the best combination for everyone, of course; I just like shooting wildlife and that’s mostly best done from a distance. Even butterflies are reluctant to hold still while you move in closer.

Addendum: Since writing this I came across another blog wherein the author made a statement along the lines of “like many people I like the effect of limited depth-of-field”. Am I the last person on Earth who wants sharpness in photos? Yes sometimes it’s nice to blur the background, but not always! And if the whole of the subject isn’t sharp … well to me it just looks like someone did a bad job photographing it.

Shutting up now. Do what you like.