Thursday, October 13, 2016

Little idea for camera firmware engineers

Use face recognition/face AF to warn a photographer if there is a person in the frame that has their eyes closed. At least, be able to indicate this for the already taken photographs so as to assist chimping...

Just saying...

Monday, June 13, 2016

United colors of Mitakon (Speedmaster 25/0.95)

Informal lens review

Intro and stuff

Having entered the m43 system, specifically Olympus, I couldn't stay for long without a fast standard prime lens. My favorite focal length (in terms of 35mm format) is 50 mm. Generally, if at all possible, I prefer my fast standard prime to be as fast as possible.

Given these requirements (software engineer speak here), I went out to the web to find one such lens. Soon enough I found this little gem: Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25 f/0.95. I admit, there was a bit of uncertainty here. The manufacturer is obviously less known than Cosina Voigtlander. And Voigtlander Nokton 25 f/0.95 is quite a contender.

However, the main reason I went m43 was small size and light weight. So, Mitakon won hands down.

I contacted the factory directly and let me tell you - they are very fast to respond.

So the lens arrived a week ago.


Ergonomics and materials are excellent. The only plastic I could find were rear cap and pinch-type front cap. The lens markings are printed. More about the markings later.

Both aperture ring (stepless) and focus ring are very smooth. This lens is very pleasant to work with.

Image quality

In my eyes, this lens punches well above its very modest price point. You could look up prices on the net, but let me show you some pictures. They were processed to taste in Adobe Lightroom and Nik Color Efex Pro.

Wide open at day light:

Tree trunk and some leaves:

Some out of focus rendering:

At infinity at bright day light:
Almost against the light:

I am yet to try this lens at low light, but judging from the kind of portraits of my daughters I was able to make under the room lighting, I have no doubts in ability of this little fellow to produce excellent images.

Some quirks

Infinity focus

No lens is perfect, really. This one is not an exception.

According to the web, early samples had some issues with infinity focus. Mine has the following point that I should keep in mind. The hard limit of the focusing ring seems like just a fraction of a hair in front of infinity. Initially, I thought that I would have problems with that. However, as it turns out - this is virtually a non-issue. When I tried not to set it to infinity blindly but rather, do the work and focus properly - the infinity focus is accurate and the lens is very sharp in the center of the frame.

At this time, I tend to explain this by the fact that the printed markings on the focusing ring may be just a tiny bit inaccurate. Absolutely not a problem for me and my Olympus EM-1 - the magnification, focus peaking, and excellent viewfinder make it extremely easy to get properly focused images.

Misc image quality issues

There are just a few of them;
  1. The image borders at infinity even stopped down to f/6.3 or so are a bit soft. Nothing dramatic, but ever so slightly soft.
  2. Under some very high contrast I got a bit of a purple fringing. Fixed with a flick of finger in Lightroom.
  3. This lens does not like light sources to be in the frame - it flares. Given that it has 11 elements in 9 groups of optical formula, I can readily excuse that minor misbehavior. Even mighty Olympus 12-40/2.8 pro zoom catches flare every now and then.

Final words

In one sentence - I cannot possibly recommend this lens strong enough. Small, very fast, smooth to operate, surprisingly sharp in the center of the frame wide open. What's not to like about it?

The quirks are minor and none of them poses a serious limitation. At least for the kind of photography I am doing. 

So, for now the lens will stay mounted on my camera and I will be looking forward to giving it a low light workout.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 #16 - Etude

For some completely inexplicable reason, I realized that I wanted to process this photograph in a way that my memory tells me is similar to the illustrations from Jean-Henri Fabre's book "La Vie des insectes" that I read in Russian translation at least 30 years ago back in Moscow.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Murielle Street Art

Taking a day off and driving to Tel Aviv to spend a leisurely day with my wife and also taking pictures... We settled down for a cup of coffee somewhere in Nachlat Binyamin. Then I spotted a young lady making a street art drawing on a wall...

It turned out to be Murielle from Murielle Street Art:

We had a friendly chat and I added Murielle to my modest list of friendly sites. Be sure to check out her web site and her Facebook page.

Friday, April 01, 2016

New title

Since I bought into Ricoh GXR-M system, Pentax has taken secondary role... Now, that I've switched to m43, keeping old blog title would be outright silly.

So, this blog has been renamed. I'm keeping the sub-domain name for now, so that if you have bookmarked my blog, the link does not break.

More photos and gear talk to come.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 #12 - King of his domain

This very nice guy is selling freshly squeezed juices and juice cocktails just across Tel Aviv city hall. Highly recommended!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Enter the Olympus

It turns out I might have chosen a rather limiting name to this blog. Some time ago I mostly switched from Pentax K-5 to Ricoh GXR-M as my tool of choice. However, AF and other advantages of K-5 have their use.

Unfortunately, recently it has become progressively more difficult to use my K-5. With DA* 16-50/2.8 lens, even not taking into account battery grip and sometimes flash, it weighs 1.3 kg, which meets very strong opposition from my wrists.

So, after a bit of research, deliberation, and general doubtfulness, I have decided on my next move. Pentax K-5 is about to be retired. Instead, I have bought into micro four thirds (m43) with Olympus E-M1 and Olympus 12-40/2.8 zoom lens.

It seems to me now that this combo is just the right tool for my needs whenever I need AF, zoom, touch AF, flip out screen, and other modern goodies. 

The operating of the camera is different, though the responsiveness of E-M1 is excellent, focus is accurate and very fast. All in all, in terms of camera operations, this is a good step up from K-5, though it will take me time to fully get used to it and to sync to its rhythm. 

The lens is very sharp even wide open, and in terms of size, it balances very nicely on a largish EM-1 camera body.

As far as IQ goes, K-5 has less noise and more room for error in the dark tones department. However, EM-1 compensates rather nicely by being smarter than me and exposing to the right, but not too right. 

So, I am a happy camper in the process of learning my new gear.

To be continued...

P.S. I am not changing the name of my blog. By Pentax Ways is certainly making a turn or a twist...

2016 #10 - Brush stroke

2016 #09 - Kiss