Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Contax G1 with a Zeiss Planar 2/45mm

Friday, September 7th, 2018

This time a beau­ti­ful Con­tax G1 found its way to me, accom­pan­ied by three legendary Zeiss lenses. All parts are in good shape, so let’s see what comes out when the first film is pushed through.

On the one side, the Con­tax G-Sys­tem (i.e. the G1 and even more its sib­ling the G2) is said to be the world’s most advanced 35mm rangefind­er cam­era sys­tem. On the oth­er side its said that beside all its mer­its, it has its rough edges too. More on that later 😉

Here are the three stel­lar lenses I meant, start­ing with the Carl Zeiss Biogon 2.8/28mm …

… the Carl Zeiss Planar 2.0/45mm …

Contax Zeiss Planar 2/45mm

… and the Carl Zeiss Son­nar 2.8/90mm.

All three are rated as superb from a wide range of review­ers on the web — all far more exper­i­enced pho­to­graph­ers than I will ever be 😉

But now, film is loaded and on we go — an Agfa Vista 200 will do the job.

The Con­tax G1 body has been reviewed on sev­er­al web-loc­a­tions — just check my web­site to name some — so there is no need to repeat. There are some points which are widely cri­ti­cized — things like a hyper sens­it­ive shut­ter but­ton, a small view­find­er, too slow max­im­um shut­ter speed and an unre­li­able auto­fo­cus — so I’ll have an eye on these.

The first lens I’ll try is the Carl Zeiss Planar 2.0/45mm, which is said to be  one of the best lenses of all times.

Puh, … film is done and in the lab. In the mean­time I can talk about how it went, shoot­ing this combo.

To me, this cam­era is a little gem. It fits in the hand like it was made for … me. Reminds me some­how on its SLR sib­ling — the 159MM. All dials and switches and but­tons are simply where they should be. As I was shoot­ing in aper­ture pri­or­ity mode with auto­fo­cus, the only thing to adjust was the aper­ture.

First point, the max­im­um shut­ter speed of 1/2000s was nev­er an issue.

Shoot­ing ISO 200 film there is plenty of room for adjust­ments for play­ing with depth of field. Using film with ISO 100 or ISO 400 or even ISO 800 makes it easy to work when the envir­on­ment makes it neces­sary. I do not know how some claim this 1/2000s to be an issue — too slow and not fast enough. Dur­ing their time, 1/2000s was not that bad, when most SLR and Rangefind­er offered 1/1000s — and yes I know there were SLR offer­ing 1/4000s already … at least some.

Maybe com­ing from mod­ern DSLR or Mir­ror­less Cam­er­as (I really like this term as it describes an object with its miss­ing fea­ture) with their max­im­um shut­ter speed of 1/4000s or 1/8000s or even elec­tron­ic shut­ter with 1/32000s is some­how chal­len­ging for those old cam­er­as, but really .… it’s nice hav­ing it, but who need this?

Second point, the hyper sens­ible shut­ter but­ton.

When ‘half-pressed’, it trig­gers auto­fo­cus and auto­ex­pos­ure meas­ure­ment. To call this ‘half-pressed’ is some­what funny as you do not really need to ‘press’. I com­pare it more with the shut­ter but­ton of my Min­olta X-700, where a slight touch trig­gers the meas­ure­ment. That’s it.

You get used to it the more you use it. Is this not the same with all things you learn? Learn­ing to ride a bicycle is tricky in the begin­ning, but once you got it, it’s pretty easy for the rest of your life as you know how to keep the bal­ance.

Third point, the auto­fo­cus.

I can remem­ber my Yash­ica T5 which too has a cent­ral auto­fo­cus field only. Not hav­ing the inten­ded object in this focus field gives a missed focus … les­son learned.

Same for my Can­on AF35 MKII. Cent­ral auto­fo­cus field and if you miss your inten­ded object it res­ul­ted in a missed focus … les­son learned. Easi­est to be seen when shoot­ing two people, fram­ing that both are placed well and point­ing the cent­ral focus field in the middle between them. Wow … get’s the back­ground sharp and in focus then.

And yes, if you place ver­tic­al lines in this focus field it helps a lot. So there’s noth­ing spe­cial with it. Learn it and then do it — it’s like rid­ing a bicycle. That the pass­ive auto­fo­cus is not that good in really low light does not bear a big sur­prise. No con­trast, no auto­fo­cus. If you keep this in mind, auto­fo­cus works like always — and it’s fast enough.

If you come from the digit­al age with your DSLR and Mir­ror­less Cam­era car­ry­ing tril­lions of focus points spread over the whole sensor and work­ing with arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence like algorithms to auto detect everything … yes, then you per­haps might get a little bit lost with a single cent­ral focus field.

I learned, that many pro­fes­sion­al pho­to­graph­ers often deac­tiv­ate their auto­de­tect everything auto­fo­cus and use the cent­ral focus field only. Guess why?

Fourth point, a small view­find­er … can we please skip this and go to the next point.

Indeed it’s small — the smal­lest I’ve ever seen, besides some very old cam­er­as like my Zeiss Ikon Ercona II. Once you know how to best look through it (i.e. pos­i­tion your eye), you see all things neces­sary. The info pan­el on the bot­tom, the cent­ral auto­fo­cus field and the full frame (pun inten­ded). Noth­ing more is needed to frame and focus.

Shure, if the view­find­er would be like on a Min­olta Dyn­ax 9 this would be fant­ast­ic (more on that in a later post). But finally it shows what it should and its suc­cessor made it bet­ter with a lar­ger view­find­er — on the G2.

Next point … my con­clu­sion:

If you can find one — get one and enjoy it.

Point one, two, three and four show to me that you do not need to worry using this cam­era. Those were the most cri­ti­cized top­ics and none is a show stop­per. The oppos­ite is the case — this cam­era fells into hand as it was made for and it’s hand­ling is so easy.

Besides all that tech­nic­al stuff, this cam­era is a real beauty — as beau­ti­ful as a cam­era can be. To me, this is a won­der­ful piece of tech­no­logy and worth being used to take pic­tures without any doubt.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

P.S. Just to men­tion, the full film can be found on flickr in col­our and in black and white.

El norte de España — done

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Refer­ring to a former post star­ted in June, I now com­pleted pub­lish­ing a fine series of black and white images of our trip back in 2016 through North­ern Spain. You can find the full series here on flickr.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

Perseids Meteor Shower

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Anoth­er astro­nomy high­light was the Per­seids Met­eor Shower occur­ring in August and this year we were lucky, as it was new moon and so it was quite dark out­side, here in that rur­al region.

The max­im­um hit rate was announced for Monday morn­ing around 4:30 GMT, I knew that I’d not wait that long.
Start­ing around 23:15 CET by set­ting up the equip­ment — tri­pod, cam­era, beer, I thought the Olym­pus OM-D E-M1 loaded with the M.Zuiko 12–40mm f/2.8 should give enough width at 12mm to cov­er a nice area of the sky around Perseus con­stel­la­tion in the north-east­ern sky.

Try­ing some set­tings to get the most out of the night sky, I ended up with focal length 12mm (cor­res­pond­ing to 24mm FF), aper­ture wide open at f/2.8, between 10 and 20 seconds expos­ure time and ISO 1600. Fol­low­ing the rule of 500, stars start to move on an image when the expos­ure is longer than 500/focal length. So 20 seconds seemed to be the max­im­um here. The EM-1 makes it easy set­ting up shot sequences in cam­era, so I tried 99 shots each time. First set was 10 seconds and the rest were 20 seconds expos­ure time, so I had between 6 shots per minute in the begin­ning and 3 shots per minute in the rest of the ses­sion.

Mak­ing nearly 375 pic­tures between 23:30 CET and 01:39 CET I found exactly ONE shoot­ing star on my images … hmm, I should prac­tice 😉

What I found a lot, were blink­ing air­plane trails, as the loc­a­tion seemed to be on the flight path from Nürn­berg to Prague — busy night.

Both pic­tures are JPG out of cam­era.
Dur­ing the time the E-M1 did its job, I saw many more shoot­ing stars in the east­ern to south-east­ern region of the sky — most of them at the end of my ses­sion. Unfor­tu­nately the cam­era was point­ing to the north-east.

My con­clu­sion: Had a nice time in the dark out­side at 12 °C with a won­der­ful night sky. Next time I’ll try the 7–14mm lens to cov­er a lar­ger por­tion of the sky … and hope­fully cap­ture some more of that beau­ties 😉

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

The Beauty and the Beast III

Friday, August 10th, 2018

From time to time I take a pic­ture show­ing two cam­er­as side by side where I think it’s worth it. The first and the second image can be found here, show­ing two Can­on bod­ies (a Can­on EOS 3 vis-a-vis a Can­on EOS 5D) and two Con­tax bod­ies (a Con­tax Aria vis-a-vis a Con­tax AX).

This time two Min­olta bod­ies found their way into my focus. They both make a very good job as pho­to­graph­ic tools and both still look like new.

The Min­olta X-700 was the end­point of the manu­al focus SLR from Min­olta and served many years as my pre­ferred cam­era dur­ing the 80s. Besides a manu­al mode it offered aper­ture pri­or­ity mode and a pro­gram mode. It is equipped here with my goto lens — a MD Rokkor 1.4/50mm.

The Min­olta Dyn­ax 9 was Minolta’s final film auto­fo­cus SLR. An extreme pro­fes­sion­al body with tons of premi­um fea­tures nev­er matched by any of the  com­pet­it­ors. Some say it was the best film auto­fo­cus SLR ever made. It is equipped here with an AF Macro 2.8/50mm lens.

They are both excel­lent tools from two dif­fer­ent peri­ods in the devel­op­ment of cam­era tech­no­logy — manu­al focus vs auto­fo­cus.

Just to men­tion … the shot was taken with a Sony A7R2 and a Con­tax Carl Zeiss Planar 1.4/50mm lens attached.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

Once in a mankind — Lunar Eclipse with Mars

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

My first thought was … argh … there will be mil­lions of beau­ti­ful, sharp and frame filling pic­tures on the inter­net already nano­seconds after this event has star­ted. Then I thought … let’s have a look … and I saw the dark brown moon rising over the south­east­ern hori­zon.

Hm, … I fetched my bin­ocu­lar and enjoyed what I saw … frame filling … oh my dear.

Well, to make a long story short … I went inside and fetched my work­horse — guess what I mean — moun­ted the longest lens I have for it — the M.Zuiko 75–300mm lens (which cor­res­ponds to 600mm on the long end) — moun­ted it on a tri­pod and star­ted tak­ing some pic­tures. Some­where I read that this spe­cial event will occur again in around 100.000 years … wow … and I was watch­ing it now … live.

The small dot in the lower right is Mars — the red plan­et.

Well, that’s it … ah … this time there is no black and white ver­sion 😉

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

Inspiration is the motor for improvement

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Did I ever tell the story, … why I love a spe­cial kind of city sky­line images?

It was some time ago, when I was look­ing for some­thing wide, some­thing quite wide, some­thing quite large and some­thing … quite old.
I found a Zeiss Ikon Ercona, a 6x9 tech­nic­al won­der from the early fifties — last cen­tury. This gem uses a large format in a small body — it is a fold­ing cam­era using a 105mm Zeiss Tes­sar lens. Soon after, I found a spe­cial image on flickr … from the Swedish pho­to­graph­er Gust­af Emanuels­son. It was an image of the Copen­ha­gen Sky­line. The image is mind-blow­ing. I do not include the image here — simply a link to the flickr loc­a­tion.

Yes, an Olym­pus OM-D E-M1 with its M.Zuiko 12–40mm is not 6x9. Nev­er­the­less I tried the image of the Mel­bourne sky­line with that mas­ter­piece in mind. Yes, this res­ult is lightyears away from what I had in mind … but this means there is room for improve­ment and … fur­ther images.

The image was shot using the equip­ment men­tioned above and it was slightly cropped and post-pro­cessed to get a de-sat­ur­ated col­our ver­sion and a b&w ver­sion.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

Prague w/ a Contax 159MM

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Spend­ing a day in Decem­ber in Prague, that town fam­ous for its light, its mood and its old archi­tec­ture. This time I choose a Con­tax 159MM to come along with me.

As we only had one day, it felt like speed dat­ing with this town. As it was end of the year, it was ugly cold here. So we decided to vis­it the main attrac­tions like the Hrad­schin with the castle, the cathed­ral, the Golden Alley then down to the Charles Bridge, the old town and then use the rest of the day strolling around and enjoy­ing the atmo­sphere. Cold, sunny and a lot of people around.

Unfor­tu­nately, my Con­tax 159MM seemed to have a light leak … show­ing on all images. Nev­er­the­less, the pic­tures taken have their own charm. I repaired the leak in the mean­time and the cam­era is await­ing its next run. All images can be found in my flickr album.

Do I have some­thing to say about this beau­ti­ful cam­era?

Well, the whole tech­nic­al stuff can be found on my web­site and numer­ous reviews can be seen on the inter­net — I lis­ted some on my web­site too, so there is no neces­sity to repeat it here.

Indeed … pick­ing up this little gem, it imme­di­ately falls into hand. I have rarely used a cam­era with which I felt so famil­i­ar with from the first con­tact. Com­pared to the older Con­tax 139 Quartz — besides some improved tech­nic­al stuff — it has a slightly pro­trud­ing hand­grip, which simply feels com­fort­able and the meter­ing is activ­ated by half-press­ing the shut­ter but­ton. A ded­ic­ated on/off switch, faster min. shut­ter speed, pro­gram mode (with all Zeiss MM lenses) and a bright, clear and huge view­find­er are some oth­er niceties. Size­wise, it plays in the league of the OM-1, so you do not need to worry about first book­ing a gym.

My con­clu­sion: The Con­tax 159 MM is one of the best cam­er­as I ever had in my hands. This little gem thrills.

Maybe you’re ask­ing, how I found my way to these Con­tax gems?
There is one, who inspired me with the Con­tax Vir­us — its Dan James with his won­der­ful blog 35hunter. One can find loads of appre­ci­ations for these tech­no­lo­gic­al mir­acles.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

Hiking the Lerautal with a Canon A-1 and a FD 1.4/50mm S.S.C. — Part II

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

As prom­ised in the first part of this Can­on A-1 attempt, I have fin­ished the first roll of film — it’s again an Agfa Vista 200 — and it’s back from the lab, so it’s time to show some images.

A couple of images were made dur­ing a hike in the Lerautal — a val­ley with a small creek — the Lerau. The path fol­lowed first the hill up to the old castle ruin of Leuchten­berg (built in the 10th/11th cen­tury … and sorry, no pics here … maybe next time) and went then down into the val­ley of the Lerau. This val­ley is mainly covered by forest and the Lerau is mean­der­ing through it.

This time, I post-pro­cessed the col­our images slightly with Col­or­FX by apply­ing some kind of de-sat­ur­a­tion magic — the Agfa Vista is nor­mally show­ing more vivid col­ours. They can be found here. As I’m always see­ing scener­ies also in black and white, a b&w ver­sion can be found here.

Using the Can­on A-1 more often, some of the quirks I men­tioned in my earli­er post do no longer both­er. Still, the combo is quite heavy and still the multi-func­tion wheel is some­thing one needs to get used to. Tech­nic­ally, the Can­on A-1 worked flaw­less with its 1.4/50mm S.S.C. lens and so one can more focus on the import­ant part — see­ing scener­ies.

One thing, com­par­ing to let’s say a Con­tax 139 Quartz, a Con­tax 159 MM or even the Olym­pus OM-4Ti is, that the film advance works … not so smooth. This is some­how dis­ap­point­ing with a premi­um mod­el, but it may simply be caused by aging. So let’s not over­rate it here. I simply find it aston­ish­ing how dif­fer­ent the tact­ile feed­back of this mech­an­ism feels with dif­fer­ent cam­er­as, where it is always the same tech­nic­al pro­cess behind.

My con­clu­sion: It was inter­est­ing shoot­ing my old dream cam­era, but … I’m sure that I will not use this cam­era fre­quently. It’s def­in­itely no bad cam­era — under no cir­cum­stances, but it does not thrill me as much as I thought it will, dec­ades ago.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.

Olympus OM-4Ti and Ricoh GR II

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

After hav­ing back the Olym­pus OM-4Ti from repair, I took it on a short trip to Frank­furt. Equipped with a Zuiko Auto-T 2.8/100mm and loaded with an Agfa Vista 200, I was keen to see, if the prob­lem has been cured at the OM-Dok­t­or in Ham­burg.

 

… and here the right lens.

 

We had two full days — one in Frank­furt and the oth­er in Mainz — and besides the Olym­pus OM-4Ti, an iPhone 6s and the highly respec­ted Ricoh GR II were on board. Olym­pus OM-4Ti was used in Frank­furt, the Ricoh GR II was used in Mainz.

First of all, why did I use the OM-4Ti only in Frank­furt but not in Mainz … it’s because the lens appeared to have a slightly bent aper­ture pin, which pro­hib­ited the OM-4Ti’s aper­ture sim­u­lat­or to work at the end of the first day. So sad! In the mean­time I have repaired this (thanks to a phone call with the OM-Dok­t­or), but on the second day in Mainz I’d bet­ter switched to my Ricoh GR II.

Second, my impres­sion on the OM-4Ti is two­fold.

On the one side I’m massively impressed.

  • it worked flaw­less after repaired by the OM-Dok­t­or in Ham­burg
  • the  tech­nic­al spe­cific­a­tions of the cam­era are superb
  • the size and weight are pretty stun­ning — one of the smal­lest and most light­weight (pro­fes­sion­al) SLR bod­ies
  • it simply rugged
  • the view­find­er is large, bright and clear
  • and so on …

On the oth­er side, I do not really get warm with this body (tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion also the OM-2sp I used dur­ing my trip to South-Tir­ol, which shares the same body and very sim­il­ar con­trol lay­out). Unfor­tu­nately I can­not name the reas­on for — it’s some­how a feel­ing only. Com­pared to a Con­tax 139 or even more a Con­tax 159, it simply does not feel like it fits in the hand.

Flaws … maybe some.
It has no on/off switch, which always makes it pos­sible to release the shut­ter acci­dent­ally when cocked. A second one, it’s meter can­not be switched off. It shuts off after some seconds auto­mat­ic­ally (15s if I remem­ber right), but when touch­ing the shut­ter but­ton (even by acci­dent), it starts again — which might drain the bat­tery. You have to switch the aper­ture to “B” or the emer­gency manu­al “1/60”, this deac­tiv­ates all elec­tron­ics, just to be sure when pla­cing it in the bag. How­ever this also makes it not a quick star­tup cam­era out of the bag.

I think I will have to use it a little bit longer, as the whole world praises the OM-line and so it must be me.

I have uploaded two albums, one is the Agfa Vista 200 col­our ver­sion and anoth­er is a b/w ver­sion.

The Ricoh GR II is a whole dif­fer­ent story.
I use it more fre­quently as my every­day cam­era and so I get used to it more and more. Besides the fact that I felt imme­di­ately famil­i­ar with it from the first day, it impresses me every time I use it. I’ll I add some pic­tures from the Ricoh GR II in my Frank­furt trip album on Flickr.
Here too, a col­our ver­sion and a b&w ver­sion exist.

This time I also tried some street shots using the snap-focus, where the AF gets  pre­fo­cused on a defined dis­tance. This avoids hav­ing to focus when hit­ting the shut­ter but­ton and you can hold the cam­era with one hand on arm length without look­ing on the mon­it­or. Totally unob­trus­ive. All pic­tures were crappy and … I have still to prac­tice that way of shoot­ing.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish

Pentax ME Super … or another version of the never-ending hunt for the Holy Grail!

Friday, June 29th, 2018

In a galaxy far, far away … I’d like to tell the fairy-tale of a nev­er-end­ing hunt for a Pentax ME Super, which took me more than a year and four attempts until get­ting one finally.

It was Jim Grey in his won­der­ful blog Down the Road who made me curi­ous about this beau­ti­ful little SLR from Pentax. The Pentax ME is one of his favor­ites — if not THE favor­ite — and in sev­er­al posts he talks about his fun and fas­cin­a­tion with this cam­era. In posts like Pentax ME or Anoth­er Pentax ME I learned a lot about what to like using this cam­era.

As I was keen on hav­ing the suc­cessor with its 1/2000s shut­ter speed, I star­ted my hunt for a Pentax ME Super.

One might think that the Pentax ME Super was one of the mod­els for the mass mar­ket and that there are tril­lions of these cam­er­as out there. One might be right in this assump­tion and yet it is tricky to find one in good work­ing order for a reas­on­able price.

My hunt star­ted more than a year ago where I bought my first used Pentax ME Super.

Sud­denly, after a couple of shut­ter releases, the mir­ror hung and the shut­ter does not close. Search­ing the inter­net, I found loads of inform­a­tion about Pentax ME (Super) issues like that. Try­ing all the magic tips and tricks and finally … noth­ing worked. I put it in an old shoe­box. I was frus­trated!

Two months later and frus­tra­tion gave way to desire and I star­ted anoth­er try. Long story short, this time, after a couple of shut­ter releases, the shut­ter is not cocked when push­ing the film advance lever. The film spool rotates, but no shut­ter cock­ing. I put it in the old shoe­box. I was frus­trated!

Two months later and frus­tra­tion gave way to desire … again … and I star­ted anoth­er try. This time everything seems to be fine besides a very stiff mode dial. You nearly can­not rotate it. Nev­er­the­less I gave it a try. After some time, the shut­ter does not alway fire when hit­ting the shut­ter release but­ton. Some­times it does and some­times it does not. I put it in the old shoe­box. I was frus­trated!

Shall I men­tion, that all were sold  in “fully work­ing order”.

Some months later and frus­tra­tion gave way to desire … again … and I took my old shoe­box to the next cam­era repair work­shop and asked for a price. To be hon­est … for that money I can play that damned game for a very long time. I took my old shoe­box back home. I was frus­trated!

But guess who’s a win­ner? The one with a shoe­box … no, the one stand­ing up after being frus­trated … again and again and again! Last week num­ber four arrived … and up to now it seems as if it’s work­ing. Can’t await put­ting the first film in it. As soon as a film is pushed through, I’ll post some images on my flickr page … keep­ing fin­gers crossed.

Did I already men­tion that Jim Grey from Down the Road loves this cam­era (well, the Pentax ME) and that he even wrote a book about it? You can find all info about that book here: My first book! Excep­tion­al Ordin­ary: Every­day Pho­to­graphy with the Pentax ME.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to vis­it my web­site or my flickr page too.

So long … and thanks for all the fish.