Tag Archives: #A99V

Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.8 (Part 2)

‘back to the future … Part 1

Tthe Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon (CZJ) is an old lady, produced  between 1955 and 1961. It has 6 elements which is placed in 5 groups.

its imperfections gives a wonderful potential. I am of cause talking about how it is prone to flair, how depth of field lens effects the light and gives crazy Smooth Bubbles. The lens is produced in different versions, this one has 9 aperture blades, but there is rare versions with 12 blades as well. Great center sharpness and it’s really sharp all over from f/5.6 and above.

IMG_0539I like the fact that this lens is prone to lens flare, for some it might be seen as an undesirable effect on the image. I see it differently, for me it is often the element that brings emotion to my picture. It could be an effect of romance, life, depth. My advice is to seek to use them deliberately, rather than being annoyed by these what technically just is diffraction artifacts. It is true lens flare can show itself in more than one way, as long as it only manifests itself as visible artifacts in the shape of the lens iris then I do not mind. It can also appear as a haze across the image and in such situations am I the first to head down in my camera bag to retrieve a lens hood to avoid that washed out look with reduced contrast and color saturation. Diffraction artifact becomes especially interesting in digital cameras, When the sun is shining on an unprotected lens, a group of small rainbows appears. This artifact is formed by internal diffraction on the image sensor, which acts like a diffraction grating.

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Using the CZJ 35mm f/2.8 with a extension tube

Extension tubes is perhaps one use-scenario which I had overlooked the most, and which I am totally nuts about. All the qualities of the lens comes to life combined with a really close macro experience. Do notice how the understated colors is still in play, and the sharpness right on the money, not looking overly sharpened yet very well defined. This shoot of the flower is straight out of the camera, shoot handheld and with no postproduction with no Photoshop magic or cropping

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I’ve had more people suggesting me to look into M42 bellows rather than using extension tubes, they usually sell for similar prices and give both greater flexibility and a wider range of magnification.  I got my extension tube practically for free, but should I purchase one for the full price, my choice had possibly tipped the other way, while the bellows is both easier and more flexible to use. Finally, and not to be considered lightly, bellows are WAY cooler looking than tubes! Impress both friends and strangers!
the math is simple:

  • magnification_change= extension_change/focal_length short lens = big magnification.
  • working_distance_change = focal_length(1/new_magnification-1/old_magnification) long lens = big working distance.

 

 

Волна on A-Mount

My love for russian glass is growing and not without reason, they are performing much much better than I expected at first, their sharpness is unquestionable, their bokeh smooth round not too dominant, their colors vibrant and well defined and not at least their handling is wonderful. This is my third entry on russian lenses on A-Mount, not counting the first entry on the adapter needed to put the Kiev/hasselblad screw mount lens on to this Sony Platform. The first two articles was at each of the ends of my typical use scenarios, at 30mm and at 300mm. Both really awesome lenses, sharp, good quality and with a nice Bokeh.

I am going to stay on this Russian subject matter for a while, so I sincerely hope you will learn to love it as much as I do. This time I am here with a treat for you guys, the high-quality multicoated kit lens MC Arsat-C/MC Volna-3 80 mm  f/ 2.8 (Russian: “Волна”) . This piece of glass is very versatile., it generates rather beautiful and flexible images with a volume, sufficient sharpness of key areas and noble bokeh. By many photographers is it considered the safe choice, it is generally perceived as a predictable and reliable lens when it comes to the final result.

I got great plans in the coming time for this lens, plans that reaches further than just using it on my Sony Alpha A99V; I want to explore its bokeh, and use it as a portrait lens, I am still thinking of how to do this right in the same frame. Also I am being particular interested how it performs compared to my Minolta 50mm f/1.4. I am also very keen to see how much base in reality the rumor has with its woundability towards sidelight. Should you be interested in Russian lenses then this one is particular easy to find at a relative low price on the flea market, and generally at a high production quality.

I have not personally experienced the downside of this lens, but apparently it has todo with side light. I guess this can be corrected with the hood.

About the beast

The brand ‘Volna’ is for many a equal to good characteristics, and MC Volna 3 fully lives up to this. The original lens was among others designed for Kiev 90. My lens is the MC Volna-3B has slightly been modified to suite the Salute and Kiev 88 (Pentacon six and Hasselblad screw mount) . On medium format is the focal length 80 mm, but adapted to my Sony Alpha A99V it is more in the range of 50mm.

Build quality is high, and even the focus ring is of metal. I like the fact that it rotates about 300 degrees, because it makes focusing very smooth and not least accurate. The minimum focusing distance is 0.6 m, obviously is that distance halved on my adapted setup. The short focusing distance is an advantage to me, while it allows me to shoot small objects. When focusing, the front lens does not rotate, this could come in handy when using gradient filters, but be aware that the trunk moves forward for 2-3 cm.

The lens has a good DOF even at F/2.8. The DOF scale goes from F/2.8 to F/22.0. It has 6 aperture blades. The Optical scheme consists of 6 elements in 3 groups

Spherical Aberration

I was surprised to find this imperfection in the lens. Spherical Aberration is more common to find in more complex lenses such as superzooms. In compound primes as this one they are usually not seen as much. Personally I don’t mind that effect much, it could be it is related to the use of an adapter or it could be intrinsic to this lens. The lens can come over slightly soft at F/2.8 maybe it is due to the same spherical aberrations. It seems that the lens doesn’t cope with light sources in the frame. On the other hand is contrast and color reproduction are good. There seems to be no distortion and vignetting. and the lens bokeh looks rather good if not fantastic.

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Knockout victory – Minolta vs Volna

In the following i am going to compare the MC Volna-3 80 mm f/ 2.8 (LEFT)  to Minolta 50mm f/1.4 (RIGHT) (stepped down to f/2.8).  It is not going to be an in depth comparison but just an opinionated statement on the visual differences of two pictures which is taken with the same aperture. Sadly there is other factors such as taking the photos at the same time giving the same setting sun and a change in viewpoint not allowing the light to fall the same way on the subject. I am sorry I did not eliminate these factors and I have to admit that it impacts my argument to some extend.

With these obvious flaws in my comparison, I still think the message still stands clear.

  • sharpness, there is no argument here, the Minolta is noticeably sharper than the Volna which comes over with a more soft expression.
  • The color balance is slightly off on the left picture, yet the colors and dynamics seems far better on the Volna. The minolta gives a more contrasty color less play. I was debating the photo with my friend Claus Møller, and as he said Volna delivers what I understand as Minolta Colors.
  • DOF and Bokeh, the DOF is sort ok at the minolta, honnie cubed bokeh, not really pleasing. Where the Minolta was ok, the Volna gives a epic result with a beautiful round the bokeh .

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Sidelight

In this Juxtaposition am i trying to demonstrate the sharpness of the lens and how well it handles sidelight without a hood. Its clear to me that the coating of this lens is not up to modern lenses. the light coming in gives a flat expression to his face.

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If you press on the the picture below it will take you to the Aarhus Pride where i used this lens.

Here is a few snaps from European culture capital 2017, the pictures is clickable and should take you to a high resolution edition.

 

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.

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Backlit

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.

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Filters

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Warm on a Cold Night

This time I am going to share an small experience with you, and also how we solved it cheap and easy, no more cold freezing cameras and lenses.

A few nights ago we was out shooting The ride of the Valkyries, it was a blistering cold night -25c. My two sons who both was shooting Sony Alpha A65, quickly had their cameras freezing up to the point where they couldn’t take any pictures, my Sony Alpha A99V was more faithful and kept on shooting, yet still I ran into trouble. My Samyang 14mm F/2.8, did build up a thin layer of ice on its dome.

Everything looked pretty hopeless, Aurora dancing over the skies and no mean to capture the beautiful scene. Then I remembered that I had some Hand Warmers which I previously had bought with the intent to keep in a inner pocket to help keeping us warm. I used one at each camera and secured it to the lens by tying it to the lens with a microfiber cloth. To my surprise, one was enough to warm both camera and lens for 6 hours,  keeping both functional.

From now on these small heaters is going to be a standard part of my aurora hunting equipment.

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Cheers, Guldmann