Thursday, October 01, 2015

Latest industry announcements

The pace of technological change seems to grow ever faster and it's hard to keep abreast of everything. Even if you try and focus on a narrow area, such as digital imaging, there are so many new announcements almost daily that it's a full time job keeping up with it all.

So, here are some recent announcements that caught my eye. First up is one from Sony (seeing as I am the proud owner of a Sony a6000).

α7S II E-mount Camera with Full-Frame Sensor

The α7S II is Sony's latest offering in its full-frame range and continues the gradual improvement in the features of the range that we have come to expect from Sony. The key features include:

Sony has made much of the sensitivity of the sensor in its full-frame range and the latest model is no exception. Still images: ISO 100-102400 (expandable to ISO 50-409600), AUTO (ISO 100-12800, selectable lower limit and upper limit), Movies: ISO 100-102400 equivalent (expandable to ISO 100-409600 equivalent), AUTO (ISO 100-12800 equivalent, selectable lower limit and upper limit)

4K movie recording now comes with full pixel readout and no binning. By using the XAVC S format,  4K recording at up to 100Mbps bit rate to capture detailed movies with minimal compression noise is possible. Files are saved in widely compatible MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format.

Image stabilisation has always been a strength of Sony's full-frame cameras and this model is no exception, coming as it does with 5-axis optical image stabilisation built-in. This gives (according to Sony) a 4.5-stop-faster shutter speed for stills, meaning you shoot at slower speeds hand-held and still be confident of getting a sharp image, especially useful in those low light situations where you don't always want to use the maximum ISO the sensor is offering.

Offering Sony's advanced Fast Intelligent AF featuring enhanced accuracy even in the dark and accelerated AF for movie shooting you can be confident of reliable focussing even in low light situations. Also, each of the nine central AF points are divided into 16 segments, helping to ensure accuracy. 

As well as still images benefitting from the Fast Intelligent AF System, movies also benefit from Pro-level features including Gamma (Movie, Still, Cine1-4, ITU709, ITU709 [800%], S-Log2, and S-Log3.

All in all, the camera is geared towards Pro-video as well as stills. You can read more about it at Sony's site here. Price in UK is to be confirmed and it should be available here in UK before end of the year.

Other announcements (in brief):

  1. Facebook launches 360 degrees video - read all about it here. It's here now in the News Feed.
  2. Lenses are already being announced for the forthcoming Pentax Full-frame camera (due 2016). Ricoh have announced the HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 ED SDM WR, due sometime this October and expected to be around £1000. Read about it here.
  3. Nikon European Film Festival 2015 - your chance to win the Grand Prize of a Nikon D810 film kit plus a trip to the Cannes Film Festival. Enter by submitting a short film of up to 140 seconds filmed in HD on any device. Submissions open on 13 October 2015 and close on 15 January 2016. Read all about it here.
That's it for now. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My new Photoblog!

Vintage Glass and digital

New Beltane Photography

Hi, I have started a new photoblog so please check it out! I will still be posting here in future as well but this will become a more general digital media and technology blog. My photoblog will focus specifically on my own photography and equipment, as well as software I use. It will also include tutorials and occasionally, some freebies (Lightroom presets I use, stock photos etc).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pentacon F1.8/50mm as a macro lens!

One thing you have to remember when using vintage glass on a modern camera is the effect of sensor size. As the Sony a6000 has an APS-C sensor you have bear in mind that a 50mm lens will act as a 75mm lens.

An interesting thing happened the other day. I had the Pentacon F1.8/50mm lens (M42) attached and was visiting Writtle College in Essex. Having noticed lots of nice flowers in the grounds (understandable as they have courses in conservation and horticulture!). I decided to take some pictures and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to get quite close to the subject.

Here are some example shots (all at F8):
Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000

Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000
Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000 (100%)

Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000

Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000 (100%)

Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000

Pentacon 1.8/50 (M42) on Sony a6000 (100%)

On the whole I am impressed with this lens. When you bear in mind that none of these images have been retouched in Photoshop etc (not even for exposure or sharpness) I think you'll agree that its a sweet little lens. I am especially with the bokeh and the colour rendition. Not bad for a lens that cost a few pounds!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Rolleinar MC F3.5/200mm lens

The Rolleinar MC F3.5/200mm lens is another lens I picked up on eBay from exposurelock (for £75).

Rolleinar MC F3.5/200mm lens

The lens is pretty substantial but not overly heavy. It is 180mm long (200mm when integral hood is extended). I found it comfortable to use hand-held although for prolonged use I'd probably want to use a tripod. Its certainly one of, if not the heaviest lens in my rapidly expanding collection. However, I am very happy with it's performance. Here is an example of an image I took with it:

Elderberries in Highwoods Country Park, Colchester, Essex

In particular I think it has a nice bokeh and is capable of capturing fine detail, as can be seen in the 100% detail below:

Rolleinar F3.5/200mm 100% detail
 Bearing in mind that I was standing over a metre away from the subject, the fine fibres (spider's web) attached to the leaves and berries are clearly visible. These are very fine fibres, thinner than a human hair!

The image has not been corrected for chromatic aberration and you can see a modest amount around the edge of the berry at the top left of the image above. The only corrections done were small adjustment to exposure and clarity (Auto Tone and Boost in LR6).

Exposure 1/350 sec, f8, ISO 640.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mamiya Sekor 50mm F2 lens on Sony a6000

Continuing my experiments with vintage glass attached to modern digital camera (namely my recently acquired Sony a6000), I took some test images with a Mamiya Sekor 50mm F2 lens. Below you can see some images along with 100% detail sections. First up is an image I took of raindrops on our kitchen window during some heavy rainfall.

Mamiya Sekor 50mm F2 - window with raindrops

Mamiya Sekor 50mm F2 - 100% detail
As you can see from the detail, the image has not been edited and you can see the colour noise. Even at this pixel-peeping level I think the image is pretty sharp, bearing in mind that it was raining heavily so the drops were running down the window pane pretty fast and 1/60 sec may not have been quite fast enough a shutter speed. The image was shot at F8. Using a manual lens on a digital body means the camera doesn't record the aperture.

Next up is an image of a mechanical digger, shot locally on an out of town shopping complex which is having some construction work done.

Mamiya Sekor 50mm F2 lens on Sony a6000
100% detail
As you can see the image is sharp and the colours are true to life. Again, the image has not been retouched, not even for exposure of colour rendition. Pretty impressive in my book!

Finally, here is a grab shot of my MacBook pro laptop screen. It was taken in dim ambient lighting and focused using Focus Peaking and the manual focussing magnification option.

All in all I am very impressed with the quality of the lens and shall be keeping it as a portrait and general purpose lens.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vintage glass - more steps on the journey

Today I managed to grab some close-ups of my daughter's face with two of the lenses I recently bought:
  1. Carl Zeiss Sonnar F2.8 90mm (Contax G fitting)
  2. Fujita F4.5 135mm (Exakta fitting)
Here are some test shots I took on both. You can see from the two images that the Carl Zeiss has better colour rendition, something to be expected when you consider that even though both lenses are second-hand, the Carl Zeiss cost me almost six times as much! The Fujita is also an older lens and simpler design. It's also very tiny!

I have also included 100% details from each image.

Carl Zeiss Sonnar F2.8/90mm
Carl Zeiss Sonnar F2.8/90mm
Carl Zeiss Sonnar F2.8/90mm
Carl Zeiss Sonnar F2.8/90mm @100%

Fujita F4.5/135mm
Fujita F4.5/135mm

Fujita F4.5/135mm
Fujita F4.5/135mm @ 100%

Personally, I think they are both sharp. Each image was taken at F8 and 100 ISO. I will be posting some more images later.