Category Archives: Kit

Husk

Ok so I thought I would go out into the back garden and play around with the extension tubes for a bit. So I happily snapped away for a bit and then retreated within the house to have a look at the results.

Well once imported into lightroom it was apparent that they were quite blurry or rather soft.  Why? Well in some cases the speed just was not fast enough, and in others the aperture was to wide.  With the extension tubes on (only the 16mm in this case), the depth of field is very narrow so a small aperture is needed, and given that shallow depth of field every tiny hand movement can throw the focus off, therefore a fairly high speed is needed.

Therefore I headed back outside to take the same shots but with the camera set to manual with an f stop between 16-20, and speeds between 1/125 and 1/250,  letting an automatic ISO of between 400-3200 compensate for the small aperture high speed combination.

The results – success – below is a shot of the empty seed head of some grass.

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Pentacon auto 2.8/29

Well I was browsing amazon during my afternoon break the other day and I saw a Pentacon 2.8 29mm M42 mount lens for sale.  Well it was a ridiculously low price so I thought I may as well have it.  I had front and rear caps and a hoya skylight, well you really could not go wrong for the price.  At 29mm its very nearly a 45mm on a APS-C sensor, so its very close to the field of vision of the human eye.

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So how does it perform?  Well not bad, I’m not blown away, but I didn’t expect to be for the price, and I have only walked around the back garden with it as yet.  I am looking forward to taking some shots of architecture with it though.  So here are some shots with it attached to the front of the a6000.  The first is straight on the camera. I am not sure I like the bokeh that is being produced, I guess I will have to wait until I use the lens with some stronger light sources behind.

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The second is with both 16mm and 10mm extension tubes as well.  I quite like the way the lens has rendered the background in this picture.

DSC01137-EditeditAnd finally with only the 10mm extension tube.  Its not regarded as being the sharpest of lenses, but its sharp enough for playing around with given I am only using the center of the lens on an APS-C.

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Macros here I come

Well last week I thought I would buy myself some cheap macro extension tubes from amazon, to get myself that little bit closer.

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I have some macro filters, but have used them rarely and with little success.  The new extension tubes have pass through contacts, so they record all info to exif, I get to set fstop, and I get autofocus if required.  They are plastic, but I don’t aim to treat them that badly, and to buy tubes with metal mounts would have nearly doubled the price.DSC01126

So how do they perform.  The shots below were taken at 26mm, that being the lowest zoom where I could use both tubes, and the shots were performed handheld.  The macro shots are not that steady and I will need to use a tripod or be in bright light.  I lost between 2-3 stops of light, however this increases with the need to stop the aperture down to gain more depth of field, as this is very narrow with the lens so close to the subject and the aperture open.

So here are two shots without and with the tubes.

Plant:

DSC01127Dead Butterfly:

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So now I have just got to find some time to get out and take some pictures.

Mayer-Optick

DSC00738well I thought I would take another of the old M42 lenses out for a play today.  This time it is a Mayer-Optick 2.8/50 that has been lying around on the front of an old Practica nova 1B that a friend gave me a number of years ago.  It was a nice clean lens so I did not have to take it apart to clean theDSC00737 elements, I am not sure I would manage with this one either.  The only thing I had to do was disable the auto aperture thus turning it into a manual aperture lens.  This was achieved with the usual off-cut from a cotton bud and a lot of fiddling with a pair of tweezers.

Well I nipped out into the garden and took a couple pictures, I have posted two below for your delectation, its not the sharpest of lenses, but I really like the colour that this lens captures.  It is a 50mm lens therefore on the a6000 it is the equivalent of a 75mm, so I am looking forward to a portrait or two with this to see how much it warms skin tones up.  The photos below where taken with in one case the aperture fully open at f2.8, and in the other fully stopped down at f22. Perhaps a walk around the town with this is called for.

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Helios 44M-4

DSC00595Well I thought I would get one of my old M42 lenses out and give it a bit of a try.  It is a Helios 44M-4  2/58 which has sat on the front of my trusty old Zenit 11 since about 1985.

It was a bit dusty so I disassembled it, and
gave the lenses a good clean, and disabled the auto apertureDSC00594 so I could set it manually.   This was not as scary as it sounds, though in the heat we have had recently I did sweat a little.

So once the 44M had had a good overhaul, I strapped the adapter on to the a6000 and headed outside to take a few snaps.

DSC00585 DSC00587-EditDSC00584-EditSo here they are in lieu of this weeks picture of the week, I have to say I love the speed of this lens on this camera. Below is a close crop of one of the caterpillars in “Two” just to give you an idea of how nice this cheap Russian lens is. DSC00584

 

Sensor size

One of the main reasons I bought a new camera was to move to a larger sensor size.  The ability to gain better depth of field, less noise at higher ISOs and sharper less noisy prints at larger sizes were all contributing factors.

So how does a larger intermediate DSLR sensor compare to a sensor found in  a point and shoot, or bridge camera.  I will take my new a6000 and compare it with my old HS20exr.

The Sony Alpha 6000 has a 24 megapixel, 23.5×15.6mm Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor.  A diagonal of 28.21mm, a surface area of 366.60mm², and a pixel density of 6.65MP/cm².

The Fuji HS20exr has a 16 megapixel 6.4×4.8mm EXR CMOS sensor.  A diagonal of 8mm, a surface area of 30.7mm², and a pixel density of 51.93MP/cm².

So what do the actual sizes look like?

Print

Looking at the specifications its easy to see that the a6000 is going to be getting a whole lot more light per pixel, the pixel size is greater and they are less densely packed.  That is going to mean a better image with less noise, and the ability to crop down much more without loosing definition, so I should not miss the ‘superzoom’ that much.

Lets have some crop comparisons at different ISOs.  In all cases the shot was at roughly 50mm full frame equivalent, and at f5.6.  The a6000 shots are on the left and the HS20 on the right, jpegs straight from the cameras.

ISO100100

ISO400400

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It is easy to see just how much better the a6000 is as you loose light, the HS20 gets very grainy.  So am I pleased – oh yes.

New Kit

So what else have I bought since getting the camera?

DSC00349Well I had a couple of old M42 lenses knocking about so an M42 to nex body adapter was a must.  Of course I might end up buying a few more M42 lenses as well as they tend to be dirt cheap on ebay.  And I am not afraid of manual focusing.

DSC00347I have a few filters with 58mm threads that I used on the HS20 so I got a couple of step up rings so I could use them on the A6000 lenses.

DSC00351I realised that I would probably lose the lens caps from the SELP1650 and the  SEL55210, I actually had dropped one one the floor and had to go back and look for it within the first few days.  So I purchased this nifty device.  You attach it to your camera strap and the Caps just clip in like they would on the front of the lens.

DSC00345The SELP1650 does not come with a lens hood so I got a 40.5mm threaded hood.  There is a bit of Vignetting between 16mm – 18mm but that may be due to the added depth of the UV filters I also purchased for the lenses.

DSC00346Finally an e mount end cap and body cap, as the a6000 and SELP1650  package deal do not include them,  the SEL55210 did as it was not part of the package.  Also a couple of end caps and lens caps for the M42 lenses I own.

So I better quit writing and go and take some photos.

Why I chose the a6000

So why the a6000?  Well I had been wanting to make the move from my Fuji HS20exr for some time, wanting to move up to a larger sensor size.  I had been looking at all the usual suspects in the DSLR world the Canon 70d and Nikon D71000 being top of the list, but suddenly found myself wondering if I could find an APS-C size sensor in a smaller body.

Well there are lots of four thirds systems out there at the moment but as far as I could see that was a compromise on sensor size,  I mean I would really like a full size sensor but the purse just wont stretch that far and  I wanted decent control over my Depth of Field. So eventually the choice came down to the Sony a6000 or the Fuji X-T1, in the end I just could not warrant the extra cost of the Fuji, as the Sony is such an exceptional deal when you compare its price to its features.

Main reasons explained:

  • 24mp Leading class APS-C size sensor – The sensor size I wanted, and the ability to crop down in (Digital zoom) or out of camera and still get a decent image.
  • Rangefinder size body -I found the HS20exr slightly to bulky, and it is smaller than most DSLRs, after a long day with it around my neck it became a pain, getting a DSLR would not have solved this.  I also wanted something less conspicuous, something small with. . .
  • Fast autofocus – The focus on this is great and couple that with a blisteringly fast 11fps, well so what if a few are out of focus, even if it droped to 50% in focus (which it does not) that would still be 5.5fps in focus, thats better than some DSLRs!
  • Rear tilt screen – after having the tilt screen on the HS20exr, I just could not live without this.  Shots taken low to the ground without having to lie down, tick.  And also for what Karen calls my “Stalker shots”, that is sitting down with the camera on my knee with the screen tilted, and taking shots as life goes by. Oh and of course . . .
  • Wi-fi -I wanted the ability to control the camera to some degree via my ipad, and to have an immediate method of sending the photos from the camera to the ipad, which the a6000 does, it can also send directly to facebook should I wish it to.
  • Electronic View Finder – Well I rather like the idea of  wysiwyg, live view, the ability to see what you are going to get.  Yes I know you get this on the rear screen of DSLRs these days, but I like using a viewfinder, the HS20exr was a let down in this area, it was like looking at a very small picture at the end of a tunnel.  In good light the a6000’s viewfinder is exceptional, far better than some of the DSLRs viewfinders, only in very poor light does it begin to fall behind a through the lens model,  with noise appearing in the viewfinder, but still very usable.
  • Manual lenses – With the sensor so close to the front of the camera body it is possible to get an adapter to mount nearly any lens to this camera, and if you want to fork out on a metabones adapter you even get electronic data throughput from AF lenses.  I have a couple of old M49 mount prime lenses, and am so looking forward to trying them out.  To those that scoff and say but you will have to focus manually, and maybe even meter manually, I say well I always did with my old film cameras – and this camera has the ability to use focus peaking on the manual lenses, and focus zoom, so I should stay sharp.
  • Does everything most other cameras do – to be honest there are some compromises with all cameras, no one camera has all the functions at a given price point that we want.
  • A hundred and one other plus points – whats not to like?

Whats missing from this Camera?

  • Battery life – The battery life is poor around 350 shots, you can almost see the battery draining when using continuous focus and the powerzoom lens.  Well that is why I bought a second battery, might have to buy another though.
  • GPS – No inbuilt gps, a good thing given the battery life.  Its no problem given I usually cart the ipad around.
  • Creator/Copyright name on Exif – You cannot enter it in camera, oh well Ill just leave it as a default to edit it it when I upload to Lightroom.

Probably other niggles, but nothing that has made itself apparent yet.  Watch this space for the good and the bad.

New Camera

DSC00315-Edit-EditWell I finally took the plunge and bought the new camera, Karen had endured weeks of what she called “Ken looking at camera porn”, while I was deciding what to buy.  On Thursday 26th June 2014, I nipped out of the office at lunch time to Jessops.  On my return to the office I had a shiny new Sony a6000 mirrorless camera, and two lenses, a SELP1650 – 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Powerzoom lens and a SEL55210 – 55-210mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens.  I also bought a second battery and charger.  Let the fun commence.