El norte de España — done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

Leitz Summaron 3.5/35mm

June 27th, 2018

This beau­ti­ful little lens just arrived and I placed it on the Sony A7R2 using a Foto­di­ox Pro M39 to NEX adapter.
Next stop will be the m4/3 test on an Olym­pus OM-D E-M1 and then I’ll try a film in a Bessa R or the Zorki 4k.

The lens was built in 1958 and des­pite it’s age — 60 years, it’s mech­an­ics work flaw­less. One thing I found is that the glass has haze inside, which seems to be a flaw of this lens type. You can see it when light­ing a torch through the lenses.

This first test shots show that I can­not focus to infin­ity using the Foto­di­ox adapter — hmmm.
The first series was focused to infin­ity with an aper­ture of 3.5, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.
All shots are shot hand­held and JPEG OOC w/o post­pro­cessing.

f/3.5

f/5.6

f/8

f/11

f/16

In the second series I used focus peak­ing at about 1m — the min­im­um focus dis­tance of the lens with an aper­ture between 5.6 and 8.
The images are shot hand­held and slightly cropped — oth­er­wise JPEG OOC w/o fur­ther post­pro­cessing. This second batch seems to be reas­on­able sharp.

100% crop …

100% crop …

100% crop …

100% crop …

I’ll update this post when I can provide fur­ther res­ults.

In case you’d like to com­ment, it’s appre­ci­ated … and maybe, you want to check out my web­site too!

Enjoy

P.S. … and don’t for­get my flickr page.