Zodiak-8B on A-Mount

addling down on the same interesting stream usually leads to exciting new waters. Last week I posted a blog on my Tayir 33, a wonderful 300mm Russian lens, brought to renewed life on my Sony Alpha A99V. This week I am going wide, focusing on the Zodiak-8B, a 30mm lens which equals 16mm focal length in 35mm format.

The first glance at this beast tells you that we are dealing with an impressive piece of glass here, weighing in at 1kg of pure evil  glass and iron, and without doubt one of the best constructed lenses from the Arsenal factories.

Three lenses almost the same, but not quite

The Zodiak-8B, MC Arsat and the Carl Zeiss 30mm Distagon from Oberkochen for Hasselblad bears a remarkable resemblance, but they are very different from each others. I guess their use drives the outer design,  so it would be difficult for them to look very much apart. Comparing MC Arsat to Zodiak, then the biggest difference is to be found in the coating. Zodiak is single coated, where MC Arsat is multi coated. It seems clear that the MC Arsat in many respects, from the coating to the rear cap is an improved design. Comparing the diagrams between the Arsenal Zodiak/Arsat to the Carl Zeiss 30mm Distagon also shows a big difference in lens design, the Russians did not simply copy the West German Zeiss Design

Studying distortion and sharpness frame to frame, then it is clear to me that Carl Zeiss Distagon outperforms both Arsat and Zodiak on both parameters. The question does it outperform it sufficiently to justify the price difference as well? There is a huge difference in price between the Carl Zeiss (ranging from 2000-6000 usd) and the Arsat/Zodiak (200-400 usd). To me, I wouldn’t spend the extra cash to gain this small advantage.

Shallow DOF and beautiful Bokeh

One of the trees i love most in my garden is a Chilean tree an Araucaria araucana. The leaves are thick, tough, and scale-like, triangular, broad at the base, and with sharp edges and tips. My wife might think I adore the tree, but in reality they are great for testing lenses.  This shot was late in the day, overcast, and really close up with shallow DOF. the Bokeh formes nicely and with round textures.




Very few objects is so captivating as a deflowered dandelion awaiting it seeds to be carried away by wind. I took this photo quite close, backlit and handheld with the intention to see how well the lens would handle flairs. You can see bubbles forming to the right, I was surprised I didn’t get more of them, given the reflecting light.



It is clearly impossible to attach filters to the front of a fish-eye lens without cutting off the edges of the frame.  The genius of this lens is that the filters is situated within/behind the lens.  I would have loved if Samyang had shown same ingenuity with their 14mm. The lens comes with 4 light filters: blue, orange, green-yellow and the fourth neutral (protective, already mounted on the lens); front and rear cap; protective leather case.


Colors and detail

I love this lens ability to go close. Combined with its sharpness and amazing colours is this really a fun lens to work with.


The quality of the lens is also remarkable, I was surprised to see how sharp it was at all stops


300mm f4.5 Tayir-33 lens on A-Mount

The huge price difference between Zeiss lenses and Kiev, Arsenal and other Russian made lenses makes the russian lenses to be an appealing alternative to expensive Zeiss lenses. The downside of Russian lenses is often their quality control. Optically is Russian lenses often fantastically superb, but then they can also be very bad if you get a bad edition.

Tayir-33 is a medium format lens for cameras the hasselblad 1000f/1600f screw mount. You can find other versions for Pentacon Six (usually with a B in their name) or V for Salyut. This blog post is about using this lens on A-Mount Cameras using the adapter I described in my last blog entry. a 300mm Medium format lens on a A-Mount is for practical measurements around 180mm on A-Mount.


I am not going to dive into comparing the lenses head to head, to prove my argument, but simply show you my love for his glass through some snaps ive taken. The absence of colour fringing from the TAIR at all apertures is very impressive. Where other lenses might show problems with fringing when shooting totally open, then the Tair has no restrictions.

The Tayir is not expensive, you will be able to find it at NatCam for 140$, it’s a bargain that yields hours of good photography.


Wow yes, we are talking a beast of a lens. Metal outside, glass within, and the weight confirms that with its 1875 g. I love the zebra design of this lens, and it does look well on the A99V body.


IMG_0472 (1).JPG

Kiev 88 to A-Mount

The first Kiev 88 has the same screw mount as the hasselblad 1000F/1600F screw mount later versions of the Kiev 88 was equipped with the Pentacon Six Mount. In fact the Hasselblad screw mount is so similar to the Pentacon Six mount that the screw mount can be modified to Pentacon Six with an Arax adapter ring.

Kiev 88 camera has a reputation of being somewhat unreliable, it was because its focal plane shutter was a cloth curtain. However their opticks offers huge variety of excellent optics from Arsenal, Zeiss Jena and Schneider-Kreuznach.

I have tried various methods over the years, often with little to no luck. Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter – Kiev 88 SLR Lens to Sony Alpha A-Mount was a completely different and positive experience. Accurately made, high material quality and perfect fit. Obviously is this a manual adapter, so lens functions that rely on electronic communication with the camera body (autofocus, AE metering, image stabilization, etc.) will be disrupted.



Calculating what the equivalent focal length is for a lens use on a 35mm system coming from 645, 6×6 and 6×7 isnt all that easy. It has to do with ratio. Programs like FCalc can calculate this accurate and to the money. 35mm has a diagonal of 43.3mm, 6×6 has a diagonal of 84.8mm. 84.8/43.3 = 1.96


Personally I am excited about all these new lens options, and my next posts is going to be revolving about this area. My next blog post is going to be on the MC Arsat FISHEYE Lens 30 mm f/3.5. Until then…



Synology Crashplan Crashing

I got Code42/Crashplan running as a headless setup on my Synology 415+, and it has been working beautifully until lately. After the latest update, and with increased amount of files to be backuped CrashPlan started to crash in the mid of its scans… Very frustrating.

I tried to ready all the guides on the net trying to overcome this problem. Finally I stumbled on this article where the heap size is changed for large backups.

Following the recommended method didn’t help me one bit. Setting the heap size to 3M with the “java mx 3072, restart” had no effect. On closer inspection it appeared that Crashplan was crashing before the setting could be persisted and take effect.

So instead i did the change straight to the configuration file.

under the folder /var/packages/CrashPlan/target you will find the file syno_package.vars. This file needed another line, and the whole system a restart.



Next issue will be to upgrade the amount of memory the box has, Crashplan is really a memory hawk.








Be there, be Square

This blog is about my love for Square format compositions. I am going to tell you why I love this format, what it brings, and how I use it.  And No! you do not need to have a 120mm hasselblad to shoot square format 🙂

I recall a time, where we film shooters had to decide between 120-roll film format or Less expensive and smaller in size, 35mm (possibly other formats but i didn’t bother with them). Larger negatives meant better prints, possibly why professionals sought that platform while most us amateurs could only drool over the expensive brands like Hasselblad.

I couldn’t afford a Rolleiflex, Mamiya or Hasselblad, so I got myself a Hasselbladski. My edition was the greatly improved Kiev 88CM which features a Pentacon Six lens mount and a cloth shutter, yes it is heaven, but convenience was not strong with it. So it ended with being my Minolta that was my companion on my photo tours. Today I shoot Sony alpha A99V and my old faithful Kiev 88cm sits on the shelf looking at me, luring at me, almost like it’s blaming me for my wrong choices in life, it knows that I have a soft heart for its 120mm films.

To this day I still love the square format, and quite often crop my way to it in the post process, the reasons is many and I am going to elaborate on a few of them in this blog.

I like the way a scene is seen

Shooting square format is an entirely different beast, it challenges my perception, causing me to rethink composition in an entirely different way.  Even when shooting 35mm cameras, I try to imagine how the scene will be when cropped down from 3:2 aspect ratio to 1:1.  I do wish that Sony would put on the creative heat, and give us 1:1 ratio, but that is not very likely going to happen.  There is some 35mm cameras that features this capability, but remember it is only a visual aid and not the same as having the same resolution horizontally as well as vertically when shooting native 1:1. So yes the benefits of a simulated 1:1 format limits itself to composition, you achieve equal good if not better 1:1 ratios photographs in post processing.



I like the balance square introduce

I tend crop my pictures to 1:1 in the post processing, not only to cut away unwanted elements, but to create a balance in the photograph and it forces the way we look at a photography in an entirely different way.


Seeking a square format is not only relevant to my post processing, it is very much in play in my mindset when I am composing the photograph. I imagine the squared layout, this include avoiding putting my motives anywhere near the extreme corners. Not only does this make the post process cropping easier, but it also positively affects the quality. Using the center of the lens gives more sharpness, less distortion and obviously no vignetting.


I started out saying that 1:1 formats forces us to look at the photograph in an entirely different way than a 3:2 format do. If we take away other factors such as leading lines, varying texture, complementing colour, rule of odds and negative space e.g.  we end up with a very dominant factor,  format.  Rectangular frames forces the eye going from side to side or from top to bottom, depending on if the rectangle is landscape or portrait orientated.  This is so different from how a squared format affects us. Here our eye is lead into a circular movement, a kind of roundish pattern.


Symmetry, Centering, Diagonal and Negative Space

If you have had time to see some of my former blog posts, then you know I am a great believer in deliberate compositions.

Everytime I see a scene with heaps of symmetry I start to think of square compositions, maybe the reason is that the square itself is symmetrical.

I like elements that can attract the eye, elements that distracts its path around the photograph, that being a strong diagonal that bisects the square into two equal triangles or a dominant center object, that fixates the eye.

When cropping a photograph to a square format I always pay attention to the negative space. Sure you can enhance a photograph by eliminating excess space, is it still important to keep the balance.  Perhaps is the negative space ability to define the subject the most difficult element to master when you are on the path to an understanding of the square format.

Rule of thirds

You might have heard that Rule of Thirds doesn’t apply for square formats. It is nonsense, it applies equally little and equally much as it does in any ordinary photograph. It all depends, so many factors goes into a photography, and rule of thirds is just one. What I have observed is that Just central subject placement and symmetry works really great for square photos, so well that is easily overrules the basic composition rules such as the rule of thirds. I like to find the The rule of thirds in a squared photography whenever I am doing landscape photography, or anytime where the subjects at at large.


Adapt to Vintage Glass

As you may have realized from my previous blog posts am i a huge fan of old vintage lenses. This love has grown so strong that I decided to completely switch from Sony A-Mount to Sony E-Mount. I sold my A77II, which I enjoyed for the past 2 years. But after I bought the A6000, the 77II found its place in my cupboard.

The reason for this step from A to E is the way shorter flange focal distance of an E-Mount Camera. The flange focal distance describes the distance between the last (rear) glass element of the lens and the sensor or film of the camera. As you can see in

the picture the flange focal distance of a conventional A-Mount (or any other camera with a mirror or translucent mirror) is way longer. The mirror and the flipping mechanism need space.


Flange focal distance

In this list, you can see the flange focal distance of several mounts (Full list can be found here). I personally use Minolta MD, Minolta A, M42 and Exakta EXA on my Sony Alpha 6000. If you want to adapt old or just different lens mounts to your camera without any effect to the infinity focus or the quality its important to always keep an eye on the flange focal distances. If the distance of the lens you want to  adapt is at least 1mm longer than the one you need on your camera you may be able to find an adapter in the WWW.

Sony E-Mount / Sony NEX 18 mm
Sony A-Mount / Minolta A-Mount 44,5 mm
M42 x 1 45,46 mm
Exakta EXA 44,7 mm
Minolta MD / MC / SR 43,5 mm
Pentax Q-Mount 9,2 mm

Some examples:

“I want to adapt a M42 lens to my Sony E-Mount Camera” à No problem. Look for an M42 to E-Mount adapter. Have fun.

“I want to adapt a M42 lens to my Sony A-Mount Camera” à Maybe a little problem. There are really thin adapters to buy. Make sure to buy a “good” one that has the exact measurements. Otherwise when it’s a little bit too thick or too thin you lose your infinity focus.

“I want to adapt an Exakta EXA lens to my Sony A-Mount Camrea” à There is no way to adapt the EXA Lens to A-Mount without either losing infinity focus or dealing with an extra lens inside the adapter. It’s possible but you either lose quality and light or the infinity focus.

“I want to adapt an Exakta EXA lens to my Sony E-Mount Camera” à No problem. Look for an EXA to E-Mount adapter. Have fun.

“I want to adapt a Pentax Q-Mount lens to my Sony E-Mount Camera” à There is no way to adapt the Q-Mount Lens to A-Mount without either losing infinity focus or dealing with an extra lens inside the adapter. It’s possible but you either lose quality and light or the infinity focus.

As you can see in the examples it’s always possible to adapt a lens. The only thing you might lose is quality and light or infinity focus. There are even some “smart adapters” which you can use to use autofocus lenses (Nikon, Canon) on your Sony E-Mount Camera. (Need to be the newer models to deal with the autofocus).

Photo examples

Meyer Optik Görlitz Primoplan 58mm f1,9

  • Camera : Sony Alpha 6000
  • Adapter : EXA to E-Adapter


Minolta AF 50mm f1,4

  • Camera : Sony Alpha 6000
  • Adapter : Sony LA-EA4 Adapter


Minolta MD 50mm f1,4

  • Camera : Sony Alpha 6000
  • Adapter : MD to E Mount Adapter


Adapt schema


I hope you enjoyed this post

I hope you enjoyed this little post like I did writing it. If you want me to review a special lens out of my portfolio of vintage lenses please comment here.

Kind regards,


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This blog mainly focus on my daily life, my passion for Information Management, Photography and Food.