Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Xmas

Merry Xmas from Bringing the Light.

In this case, the camera was brought (out) and the light was available. ;)

The following was taken with my Dad's X-700 Minolta with a Dimension 135mm 2.5 lens. The residence is my folks last house. Each year, since 1992, we have done floodlighting, and then mini-bulb lighting (starting 1999).


Friday, December 10, 2010

Canon success and fail

I've been shooting with my trusty little Canon rebel for 3 years now. It has served me well for the most part, however, at some point in the summer the focus point illuminators got mucked up.

I stupidly put off getting the camera looked at and only got to it 2 weeks ago. Suffice to say, thanks to extended warranty and quick service - the camera is back in my hands.

Canon replaced the focus screen, however that didn't take care of the problem. The rebel has 7 AF points in it. Five of them are fixed. I am NOT impressed. I took it in for the AF points to get fixed and they didn't fix all of them. I really don't know how the AF points work, but apparently the issue isn't with the focus screen. So, I can either go back tomorrow (ugh) or go back on Monday after work.

In other realms, some friends run a local rave promotion crew and it was their 3rd year this past weekend. I rented a 16-35L to take shots. Unfortunately, the 2.8 wasn't much good to me as it was really dark in there - and I suck at using flash now... far too long have I gone without using, that I've kind of lost my touch a little bit. Plus, aiming was never a forte of mine.

Anyhow... the 16-35 is a nice lens and all... but I'll reserve judgment on it's brother till I get the chance to try him out (the 16-35L ii). I have used the 17-40L and found it to be a great sundowner lens. The 15mm fisheye is a great indoor and festival/landscape lens. The 16-35 is... something else. Not sure what yet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lenses...

Been thinking about getting yet another lens. My travels and experience have shown me that I am in a great need for a focal length towards the wide end of things.

I've been reading reviews for stuff under $700 and, sadly, not many are coming up with good reviews.

Sigma 20mm 1.8 = crud
Sigma 24mm 1.8 = crud
Canon 20mm 2.8 = meh
Canon 24mm 2.8 = meh
Sigma 30mm 1.8 = not FF compatible

From what I'm gathering, for the most part at least, is that if I want a good wide angle, I'm best off to go with a 17-40mm. I've used that lens and I have to say, it's a fun lens... but it's slow.

Why don't I get the 16-35? cause I'm not made of money!

*sigh*

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Optical Slave...

I got myself a few items off Ebay recently. One of which, I'm rather displeased with, which technically speaking is due to my not doing the research that I needed to. But also at fault are the ebay sellers that sell this particular item because none of them can do something as simple as use a spellchecker and maybe find a friend that knows english.

The Brits controlled Hong Kong for HOW LONG? And you mean to tell me none of them over there learned proper english? Before you start thinking I'm being a racist arsehole... please read on. You'll see that my ire is bases upon stupidity/ignorance.

Anyhow... I'm angry because I gave benefit of doubt to a product because it's a stupidly simple device. It was only after I received the item and tested it that I discovered that to go optical on Canon, you need a slightly different product which works with the pre-flashing system of Canon's E-TTL.

However... I stumbled upon a rather hilarious discovery. I can use my Yongnuo RF-602's in conjuction with the SYK-3 optical slave hotshoe. It works with Cactus/GadgetInfinity/CowboyStudio triggers as well, if in case you were wondering.

Sorry... no pics.

Anyhow... This is done very simply

Step one: attach flash to camera
Step two: attach second flash to RF-602 receiver
Step three: attach RF-602 transmitter to SYK-3 optical flash
Step Four: place 2nd flash where need and place RF/SYK-3 combination somewhere conveniently out of the shot, but within the range of the camera on-board flash.
Step Five: Flash away!

Keep in mind that you should be shooting manually when doing this, because Auto settings will make the camera overexpose with that 2nd flash involves.

Outside of this, I'd like to once again iterate how much I appreciate how Yongnuo has been making themselves a bigger player in the market. They're doing it right by providing properly translated specs (for the most part) for their equipment. The manual that came with my RF-602's, while unfortunately very spartan, is easy to read. Very little instruction, well written, is going to always beat more information, poorly written, any day.

Now... closing remarks about the optical slave
Pros: cheap [$5], works with Nikon, small
Cons: Doesn't work with Canon, poorly described, no english instructions come with.

FYI: They do make a Canon-friendly version, but it's $15-20. At that amount of coin, it'd be wiser to spend a few more and get another transmitter if you're using PT-04s or RF-602s. Just sayin!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sensor vs. Glass vs. Mpx

This is a quick rundown of how best to show why the sensor matters just as much as the glass you put in a camera. It's also a demo of why high mpx should not be your reason for getting one camera (or cellphone) over another. It's also a cavaet to you to avoid a certain electronics manufacturer.

This is no where near my best flower shot... but instead is probably the best shot I took with my phone... before it slipped out of my hand and hit the ground really hard. Ever since hitting the ground, my cellphone has been sketchtastic and shuts off at the slightest bit of a medium shake or jarring. Suffice to say, I'm not happy cause it was the first time I dropped my cell and meanwhile, I know iphone users who have dropped their phone 99times before the screen cracked [the 100th drop does it in]

The LG KC910 which has a Schneider-Kreuznach lens, has a sensor that yields 8.2mpx.


The amount of mpx is moot of course, because, it's inability to capture basic images without heavy tweaking is rather, scary. How LG thought slapping this poor example of a phone together being a good idea, is beyond me.

Good glass is good to have, but means nothing when the sensor is crap! What I find extremely annoying about this phone is that LG was smart enough to allow auto and manual focusing, but they didn't include aperture control... or at least, include a simulated version.
There are ISO settings, and the phone has exposure bias, but the flash is overpowered and the exposure bias goes between -1.0 and +2.0 (yeah, i don't get that either)

Suffice to say, I'm probably going to give in and get an iPhone, which means going on a contract with my service provider, which is something I've wanted to avoid for a while now. I suppose it's my best bet right now because I need a phone that doesn't die on me when it's martini'd.

I'd like to also point out that this is my 3rd LG phone. And suffice to say, I am not at all impressed and I will likely not be buying LG ever again. Their stuff is utter crap, easily disquised with shiny plastic. F*** YOU LG!!


Back on topic -

MEGAPIXELS.
Megapixels don't matter if the following conditions are low-grade: sensor and glass.
There... I said it. Now stop buying f***ing crap cameras and taking photos of yourself in mirrors. You can easily get a camera that has high megapixels but a low-grade sensor and worse glass and take pictures, but they won't be good.

Sensor -- Many companies make cameras. Few make good cameras.
To put things into perspective, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Samsung, et al., all put their best sensors into their DSLR cameras. But they also do trickle down... that is, after a sensor has proven itself in the latest release, chances are that it will get put into a lesser model is high - albeit with tweaking for price-point and cost-effectiveness. Having said that, Canon does this with their line-up to an extent. The 1D series gets best, then comes 5D, then 7D, then xxD (50/60d). Eventually, the Rebel line gets the tech from its bigger brothers. After that, the G-series... then finally the A-series. [Okay, yes... I know that's a rather glib way of stating it and that's not how it really works, but it might as well be the way it does.]

At the very least, any image taken with the latest A-series, is likely to be just as good as any shot taken with an older Rebel series camera.


Now... Glass...
Here's the fun part. The more you pay, the better it is. E.g. Canon's L-series line-up.
There are weird little discrepancies in this rule of thumb, and the biggest one is the well-known problem with the 70-200 F4L and the 70-300 IS. The 70-200 F4L is my telephoto option of choice. It's a great lens and it cost me at the time $700cdn (after exchange and taxes). The 70-300 IS lens on the other hand, would have cost me $750+ if i had bought it in either Canada or the US.
So, why did I go with the 70-200? Well, the extra 100mm wasn't important to me, and to get IS meant getting a variable aperture. With the 70-200, I get constant F4, which is good for DOF effects when at 200mm - not that I really have done shots with that combination, but i can! At 200mm on the 70-300, would have me at an aperture of probably 5.0. Not only that, the glass in the 70-300 isn't as good and that lens is a bit heavier. It really doesn't make any sense to get the 70-300IS when you know these details. I prefer a light-weight system. It makes my shoulders happy.

Now, there is a small oddity in the Canon world, when it comes to great glass. It's the 50mm 1.8... also known as the nifty-fifty or plastic-fantastic. For reasons similar to the Helios 44, the 50mm contains gaussian optics and renders really nice background blur. The 50mm 1.4 is a great lens too, but at 4x the price, few amateurs can justify it. The 50mm 1.2L on the other hand, is closer to 15x the price, and while worth every penny, is not easily justified by anyone not shooting professionally. Even still... from what I gather, most pro's go for the 35mm or the 85mm. (L-series in each case)

Fast lenses rock... that's why they're so damn expensive. ;)

I'm rambling... I'm done.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harvest Festival!

Every year for the past decade almost, hundreds -if not thousands-of young men and women have made a trek to parts outside of the city of Toronto, every September. They drive northward, away from the hustle and bustle, to get down and hustle to groovy beats in a land way off.

They leave the comfort of the city and its clubs and bars, for a cool night under the stars, where a collective of DJs and promoters throw together a festival that combines music, art, camping and good old fashioned fun. They gather for what is called Harvest Festival.

For the past 4 years, I have gone and enjoyed the amazing sights and sounds. This year, aside from a couple of hours that I lost to being alcoholically comatose, was filled with magic and wonder. In those moments that I was conscious and in the mood to use my camera, I captured some amazing pics - at least, in my humble opinion they're amazing.

This time around, I had my 5D and a rental 17-40 F4L. While the lens was rather slow (the 16-35 would've been better suited to my needs), the colours it rendered were amazing - with my lightroom skills only able to make them pop a little more.

Here are a few select pics. Enjoy!












Saturday, September 18, 2010

Upgrading... and admiring. [not in that order]

One thing I don't do, as a photographer - amateur or otherwise - is claim myself as a strobist.

Really, I don't. With great irony, I don't.

I love all the work that
David Hobby has put into his website, and I love the way he has created a following on such a basic principle. He has brought a beautiful technicality to that part of the equation that it is, if anything, nothing short of awe-inspiring.

I suppose, to a small degree I am trying to do the same [with this blog], but I am not methodical (nor professional) enough to lay down a gauntlet, in respect to photography. Although, I could probably do so with working with Alternative Glass and building a database like pBase [but more informative]. I certainly have quite a few (lenses) in my possession, and through creating a formulae, I'm sure I could build up a nice single-contributor pbase rival for that purpose. If i do that, I may have to rebrand this blog again! [insert perfunctory LOL here]

The inherent problem with the title I chose is that, in talking about Lens, i am not talking about lighting, and through virtue of extension, not bringing light to anything. Perhaps, i'm shedding light on subjects rarely discussed? [insert strong LOL here]

I ramble too much. [insert annoying LOL here]

Having said that, for the last 9months, I've been working with the Canon 5D. A magnificent camera that has yielded some rather awe-inspiring photos every so often, for me. I also upgraded my flash system, returning the well loved SB-28 back to it's rightful owner, my de facto mentor - Scott [aka Thinkincolor], and acquiring a Canon 430EX for my primary flash system. The Quantaray QF30 remains, as before, my backup flash - on the ready with fully charged Eneloops in it's bay, just in case the 430EX or its batteries fail. This is, by no means, a plug for the QF30. It's a crap flash that is only redeemed by the fact that it is dedicated and TTL. Unfortunately, the former works against it as it cannot be used with off-camera wireless flash systems, such as the Pt-04 "Cactus" triggers, or the Yongnuo RF-602 trigger. The RF-602's were a small upgrade for me as well, this past summer.

Also, acquired for my kit... A DECENT TRIPOD! I got an
Induro cx-114 last month, and my chances to use it, have been so far, very limited. It is a great tripod, nonetheless. I just don't have a tripod head for it yet, so i've been stuck with using it only when i bolt the camera on directly, which is never ideal. But at least, I haven't been forced to lug around a heavy tripod. Thank god for Carbon Fibre!

...But I digress [see what I mean about not being methodical?]


THE REAL UPGRADES I'VE BEEN MEANING TO TALK ABOUT


Flash/light modification is always key to a good photo. Something that my kit has been lacking is exactly that - light modification. I've been using my flashes as is all this time, with them either direct or bounced. Rarely, i slap on a snoot or grid, but more often than not, those don't work with the kind of shooting I do. On occasion, I have relied on bounce cards - which more often than not, have been playing cards or white cardboard, strapped on via elastic. I have recently moved over to scrap Chloroplast instead, as it is stronger and more durable.

Chloroplast by the way, is awesome for macro light tents.

So, I've decided that I need to get more out of my flash and to do that, I'm getting diffusers. I was only going to get one type, but I realized that I would still be limiting myself, so i went both with sto-fen and lambency types. The former, being a
cheapie from Hong Kong, costing me $1.60cdn, the latter, ten times more. The beauty is, I can use both of them at the same time, theoretically. The Lambency is a rubbery kind that slips over, and i'm assuming with enough give to go over the sto-fen. [For the record, I did not get a Gary Fong... i went with an unbranded knock-off]


Lambency Type Flash Diffuser Mounted to an older Canon Flash

Also being added to the kit is an optical slave. As you recall, the QF-30 flash is far from great, but I hope to expand it's abilities and use, within my kit, by adding an optical slave to it. It's my hope that I can get more into proper strobing with it on optical slave. The funny thing is, I had given thought to selling it on Craigslist. Maybe I will still, but not until after I give the optical thing a shot. At the very least, I might be able to use it in conjunction with the 430ex this way, and with the Rebel's on-camera pop-up flash.

Outside of that, I'm thinking about upgrading my knowledge too. I've been hemming and hawing over buying a few books off Amazon. If i do go through with them, I'll of course review them here. I should give reviews for the books i have already... there's an idea!
(right off the bat, I will highly recommend Michael Freeman's books, as they are a nice middle-of-the-road approach; using both inspirational and manual styles.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Rebranded"

Yesterday, Sept 13, was my birthday. Happy Birthday to me.

I spent the weekend partying with friends, some 3hours north of Toronto. A good time was had by all.

I decided to give the blog a slight revamping and rebranding, as screaming and static are not exactly photography things. Hopefully, I can get used to the idea of posting stuff more often. I've managed quite successfully to do so in the last short while.

So, welcome to "Bringing the Light"

Enjoy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cees De Groot's Yashica Faq

EDITOR'S NOTE
A quick update to this FAQ and an answer to some unfair and uneducated comments that have been made on one particular forum. 
1) The document was originally published in the Courier New font. The reason for my continued use of the courier new font is that it is a standardized monospaced font. This is important for text tables. Secondly, it is a serif font and so, the eyes are lead more easily by the font.
2) I chose a black background with white text because it is HIGHER contrast than black on white. Furthermore, a black background with white text makes a screen use less energy. 

Suffice to say, the comments posted have largely been complaints for complaints sake. Nevertheless, the one complaint that is true is the font is too small, so I increased it.

What bothers me most is that I had to go digging for these complaints and they weren't made using the comment form at the bottom of the post. I don't want to say it, but to post comments about a webpage on another site is rather gutless and not helpful for improvement. I do have a certain style, but if it's not working for the end-user, then it would help me to be notified. USE THE COMMENT SECTION FOLKS!

Thank you, and enjoy the font size revised version of the FAQ below.

Happy Shooting!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The following is Cees De Groot's Yashica SLR FAQ. I found it originally on his site, and it seems to have been archived elsewhere, but unfortunately it was all centered and hard to read. I cleaned it up slightly, so here it is!
Enjoy!


1. Introduction

1.1 Acknowledgements
1.2 Disclaimer, copyright

2. General information

2.1 What info about Yashica is available on the Web?
2.2 Should I buy Yashica?
2.3 The brand Yashica
2.4 Yashica and Contax

3. What Yashica 35mm SLR bodies are available?

3.1 FR series
3.1.1 FR-I
3.1.2 FR
3.1.3 FR-II
3.2 FX series
3.2.1 FX-D Quartz
3.2.2 FX-3, FX-3 Super, FX-3 Super 2000, FX-7
3.2.3 FX-1, FX-2
3.2.4 FX-103 Program
3.2.5 FX-D, FX-70
3.3 107MP, 108MP, 109MP
3.4 Dental Eye

4. What lenses are available?

4.1 What's the difference between Yashica DSB and Yashica ML lenses?
4.2 How about YUS lenses?
4.3 Known Yashica lenses.
4.4 Wide-angle
4.5 Normal
4.6 Moderate telephoto
4.7 Telephoto
4.8 Macro
4.9 Zoom

5. And what about accessories?




  1.  Introduction

Welcome to the Yashica SLR FAQ. This FAQ, a work in progress, is meant
to collect knowledge on the range of 35mm SLR cameras, lenses and
accessories made by Yashica. This is $Revision: 1.14 $ of the FAQ.

This FAQ is available on the World Wide Web, in several formats:

o  HTML format <http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/yashica/yashica-slr-
  faq.html>

o  SGML format <http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/yashica/yashica-slr-
  faq.sgml>
o  plain text <http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/yashica/yashica-slr-
  faq.txt>

o  PostScript <http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/yashica/yashica-slr-
  faq.ps>

  If you have any problems, suggestions, or questions, please contact
  the maintainer, Cees de Groot <mailto:cg@cdegroot.com>.


1.1.  Acknowledgements

The only thing I knew about Yashica was that I own two bodies and a
handful of lenses. So this FAQ couldn't have been written with the
help of a number of net.users out there (even when my writing style
made it look like I know it all - don't let that fool you!). My thanks
go especially to Gary Schloss <mailto:schloss@datadepot.com> for a lot
of information especially on bodies, and to Marcus Hanke
<mailto:Marcus.Hanke@sbg.ac.at>, who single-handedly put together the
lens overview and the FX series stuff.  Ezekiel Tan
<mailto:ztan@ihug.co.nz>, Berry de Bruijn
<mailto:berry.debruyn@mi.unimaas.nl> and Oliver Schmid
<mailto:Schmid@kwic.com> also provided me with very useful
information. David Foy <mailto:david.foy@shaw.wave.ca> gave me the
details on the Pentamatic, the first Yashica SLR (he's looking for
lenses and accessories).

If I forgot someone please yell.


1.2.  Disclaimer, copyright

I've done everything in my power and limited time to make sure that
the information in this FAQ is correct. However, neither I nor any
contributors can be held responsible for the results of acting on this
information or for any damages resulting from using the information in
this document in any way.

Copyright (C)1997 by Cees A. de Groot. This document may be
distributed and reproduced without permission provided that it stays
intact, including this copyright notice.





  2.  General information


2.1.  What info about Yashica is available on the Web?

Probably more than I'm aware of. Here's a list:

o  I'm maintaining a mailing list, the Yashica/Contax SLR list. You
  can subscribe to the list by sending a mail to

 majordomo@evrl.xs4all.nl with in the body the line:

  subscribe yashicacontax-slr

o  I've also dedicated a part of my homepage
  <http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/yashica> to the topic. Information
  on the mailing list and the FAQ is over there and more might be
  added in the future.

o  On the Usenet, these newsgroups are relevant:

o   rec.photo.equipment.35mm, about 35mm equipment in general. Lots of
  this is of course about the big brands, but you'll find something
  about Yashica as well, occasionally.

o   rec.photo.marketplace, where buyers and sellers meet. Yashica stuff
  is regularly offered over here.

o  Information about the current line of Yashica SLR products can be
  found on Yashica's corporate Website <http://www.yashica.com>.

o  An awful lot of information on photography in general is available
  from the mother of all photo FAQs, Guide to rec.photo

 <http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/j/jnweg/html/faq.html>. It is
  especially important to consult this listing of pointers for
  information on buying and selling via the newsgroups and by mail-
  order before plunging into uncertain deals.


2.2.  Should I buy Yashica?

As usual, it depends. I started with Yashica because I lend my fathers
camera and I didn't want to spend a whole lot on new equipment.
Actually, I did spend a whole lot on a Nikon camera a year ago, but I
found that autofocus didn't really work with me and that I couldn't
afford the Nikon glass I wanted anyway. So I sold that and bought a
lot of Yashica stuff for the money.

The great thing about Yashica is that it is completely underrated. The
market is so small and demand is so low, that prices are way below
what you pay for other brands, with comparable quality. Most people
are quite positive about the quality Yashica delivers (both mechanical
and optical).

The bad thing about Yashica is that the market is so small and supply
is so low, that it can be quite hard to find something you need. More
often than not, you are stuck with the option of forgoing a particular
accessory or buying something with Contax on it, which is a quite
expensive brand.

Mentioning Contax, that's the second great thing. The upgrade path is
unique. You start with a Yashica body and Yashica glass, then upgrade
to Carl Zeiss T* lenses, and finally upgrade to Contax bodies. In the
meantime, you have your old Yashica stuff as a backup system,
everything is completely interchangable.


2.3.  The brand Yashica

Yashica has been around since 1957, and some old camera's, especially
the twin-reflex camera's for the medium format, are still quite
popular. In the seventies, Yashica licensed the Contax brand from Carl
Zeiss and started producing high-end camera bodies under that brand.

Since the early eighties, Yashica is a part of Kyocera, and fills in
the low half of the photo market for this corporation; Contax fills in
the upper half. Contax bodies are made probably by the Yashica
production facilities, Contax lenses are made by Carl Zeiss. For a
nice history of Carl Zeiss and the Contax brand see History Of
Contax/Carl Zeiss <http://www.contaxcameras.com/home/history.html>.

Yashica has been making 35mm cameras for a long time; the current line
started with the introduction in the 70's of the Yashica/Contax mount
(which we'll call the Y/C mount from now on) that is still in use.
Before switching to the Y/C bayonet mount, Yashica made a fairly
extensive line of screw-mount SLRs (TL Electro) with a full complement
of Yashinon interchangeable lenses. The screw-mounts were preceded by
the Yashica Pentamatic, which came out in the very early 60's and was
the first SLR by Yashica. It had a bayonet mount and was offered with
an Auto Yashinon 55/1.8 lens, plus 35mm, 100mm and tele lenses.

Furthermore, from early 60's and untill mid-80's Yashica designed and
manufactured an extensive and highly successful line of 35mm full-
frame (and half-frame?) rangefinders.



2.4.  Yashica and Contax

Contax is, from a marketing point of view, an entirely different
brand.  Manufacturing quality is better, too. However, rumours are
that lots of engineering is in fact shared between Contax and Yashica,
and lots of people combine the best value from both brands.  I have a
page on Contax equipment as well, at

http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/contax.





  3.  What Yashica 35mm SLR bodies are available?

Most Yashica bodies are manual focus, except for the 200AF and 230AF
which come with a small range of lenses (and as they don't appear on
the Yashica corporate Website anymore, I take it they discontinued
it).


3.1.  FR series


3.1.1.  FR-I

I own an FR-I, so I'll start with that one first (it is also the most
versatile of the FR series, another reason to start with it). It's a
body with an electronic shutter and TTL metering put onto the market
together with the Contax RTS, with which it can share most accesories
(so go shopping and put a 5fps Professional Motor Drive and a 250
exposure back on it - can't do that with a Nikon N90x ;-)).

The FR-I is a very nice classic body, with an aperture-priority mode
and manual modes with shutter speeds from 1/1000th to 1 second and
bulb.  Exposure compensation is possible +2 to -2 in full stops, film
sensitivity can be set from 12 to 3200 ASA. The front of the body
sports an X-sync socket, the self-timer and a depth-of-field preview
button. The rear has a button to activate the meter, which can be
locked by the film winding lever. Next to the meter is the socket for
the remote control cord. The 92% viewfinder shows diafragm, metered
shutter speed and a manual mode indicator. You can attach an FR (or
RTS) winder to the bottom and replace the back with a databack (or any
RTS back). At its time, it competed with classics like the Nikon EM,
Minolta XG-1 and Canon AV-1, and it compares very favourably with them
(more features, less money).


3.1.2.  FR

The FR is basically the same box, but without the automatic (aperture
priority mode). It was introduced around '76 as the first of the FR
series and, apart from the fully manual operation it mainly differed
by the fact that it had a CdS-based metering system with LED
indicators.


3.1.3.  FR-II

The FR-II is fully automatic, with auto, flash and bulb settings and
shutter speeds ranging from 4 to 1/1000th. The viewfinder only shows
time information (no aperture) and the X-sync socket is missing, too.
The FR-II is only available in chrome.


3.2.  FX series

The FX series (at least the FX-D) was an offspring of the Contax 139
and was designated to replace the FR series.


3.2.1.  FX-D Quartz

The FX-D Quartz is a scaled-down version of the Contax 139 with
reduced compatibility (though it can use the Contax 139 winder which
gives 2 fps). Compared to the FR-I, several advances were made:
exposure time measuring with quartz oscillator, a flash-ready function
and 1/100th flash sync, a larger time range in automatic mode (11 to
1/1000th), a vertical metal shutter, and auto-exposure lock. Apart
from this, it wasn't a lot better than the FR-I, on the contrary: the
material quality was inferior, and a lot of small features were
missing. The viewfinder didn't give aperture information, the x-sync
socket was gone, as was depth-of-field preview button. You couldn't
change backs, and exposure compensation was done by changing the ASA
setting (on the FR-I, the ASA setting is locked). The ASA range was
smaller, too: 25-1600 vs. 12-3200 on the FR).

In the beginning, Yashica didn't offer a special winder for the FX-D,
so you had to buy the expensive Contax 139 winder. Later on, Yashica
made this up with a dedicated FX winder which misses the vertical
release button featured on the Contax version. The body was available
in black, but a FX-D SE (special edition) was in chrome and sold as a
set with a zoom lens.


3.2.2.  FX-3, FX-3 Super, FX-3 Super 2000, FX-7

A fully mechanical body with a simple metering system. I have never
seen a more basic body: you can set shutter time and film speed, there
is a button to switch on the TTL LED meter (which shows a plus, a
minus or a zero in the viewfinder to indicate its opinion of the
current settings), a film wind lever, the shutter release, a timer
lever, and a lens unlock button. That's all there is. Nice points:
it's very compact and light-weight, you have mirror lock-up with the
timer, and it doesn't need batteries to operate. And it does have all
the necessities of life: split-image focusing, hot shoe, a vertical
metallic shutter (so flash sync is at 1/125th), etcetera. I like this
box a lot.

The FX-3 Super is mostly the same as the FX-3, but activating the
meter is not via a separate button, but by pressing the shutter
release button lightly. That's generally a sound ergonomic
improvement, but especially left-eyed shooters will benefit from this.

The FX-3 Super 2000 has an added shutter speed of 1/2000th. Full specs
on the FX-3 Super 2000 are on Yashica's website under

http://www.yashica.com/yashica/slr/fx3super2000/fx3super2000.html.
Other differences: flash ready display in viewfinder and a built-in
hand grip.

Later, a version of the FX-3 called FX-7 was marketed. It is a chrome
body which was sold in a set with two DSB lenses and a hardbag.

3.2.3.  FX-1, FX-2

Predecessors to the FX-3 were the FX-1 and the FX-2, which had an all-
metal construction. The FX-3 is mostly plastic.

The FX-2 has a fully mechanical shutter, needle-match metering,
horizontal cloth shutter (flash sync at 1/60), and DOF preview button
(missing from FX-3!). I'm not sure about split-image focusing. The
FX-1 is like FX-2, but it has an electronic shutter, so there is an
aperture priority AE mode in addition to manual. I've heard about a
battery problem with the FX-1 that would influence metering, but no
confirmations yet (with fresh batteries or after prolongued off-time,
the battery output voltage was reported to be too high).


3.2.4.  FX-103 Program

The FX-103 Program was an addition to the FX series after the Contax
159MM had been released. More or less identical to the FX-D, it
featured TTL flash control and two program modes (a standard mode and
a high speed mode). Contrary to the 159MM, though, it did not made
special use of the MM lenses, which have special light aperture blades
made to be controlled by camera electronics. The Yashica Program
bodies (up to the current 109MP) are all the same in this respect and
therefore can use all Yashica and Zeiss lenses in program mode.


3.2.5.  FX-D, FX-70

Some other bodies that were mentioned, more information on them is
welcome.



3.3.  107MP, 108MP, 109MP

The 109MP is a body with a built-in motorwinder. As full details can
be found on Yashica's website under
http://www.yashica.com/yashica/slr/109multi/109multi.html, I won't
repeat them here (as long as above link stays intact).

The next paragraphs are verbatim copies of mails I received on these
bodies. I'll edit them when I have time...

Marcus Hanke: Unfortunately the next Yashica SLR I have more detailed
informations about is the 109 Multi Program: Its aperture-priority
mode ranges from 16-1/2000 sec., flash sync 1/90, manual 1-1/2000
(strange, isn't it: the 1/1000 sec- FX-D had a flash sync faster than
the 1/2000-109!); again standard and HP-program mode (see FX-103); DX-
coding (no manual override possible); no real exposure compensation
(only a +1.5-button), AE-lock; viewfinder information: Only four LED-
symbols for over/under and correct exposure, flash; integrated winder
(1.3fps) with motorized film rewinding (the previous F-108 had manual
rewind), back interchangeable for databack.

Andrew: I now know something of that Yashica TR-7000 I mentioned to
you before...   In desperation I called Yashica in New Jersey and
asked.  The Camera is in fact the European version of the FX-107, and
it is very similiar to the Yashica FX-109MP.  Based upon my
conversation with Yashica about the only difference I could determine
is that it has a NON-metered Manual mode in addition to the Program
mode. The lack of a manual light meter is in fact probably the reason
for it's early demise and subsequent replacement by the FX-109MP.
When you get around to upgrading the FAQ you may want to include some
of this info in it.  I will also send off a slightly edited version
this E-mail to your Digest so others can read it.
Bob: I have a Yashica TR7000 and as far as I can tell, it's the same
camera as the MP107, and I may want to sell it (new condition) as I
don't use it.  Mine came with a 50mm f2.0 lens.

The button near the shutter release is the self timer switch.  The
camera has three program modes (normal, slow, and high speed) as well
as manual mode.  In the manual mode, there is no metering.  The button
on the side of the lens mount is for back light compensation.  The
lens mount is metal while a lot of the body is plastic.

It's very similar to the MP109, but the film rewind is manual instead
of motorized.  A manual is available from John Craig.

Andrew: Copied and Edited From the Yashica 1996 Catalogue

108 Multi-Program, Motor-Driven SLR, Multi-mode LED display - DX film
setting (ISO 25-3200) Normal program mode, high speed program mode,
aperture priority AE mode, manual exposure mode, manual flash mode CPU
controlled timing precision with a maximum 1/2000 sec. shutter speed.
Built-in auto-winding with auto load/automatic film advancing to the
first frame.  Exposure compensation for back-fit subjects.

109 Multi-Program, Motor-Driven SLR, Multi-mode LED display - DX film
setting (ISO 25-3200) Normal program mode, high speed program mode,
aperture priority AE mode, manual exposure mode, manual flash mode
Automatic film rewind CPU controlled timing precision with a maximum
1/2000 sec. shutter speed.  Built-in auto- winding with auto
load/automatic film advancing to the first frame Exposure compensation
for back-lit subjects.

Lenses Currently Available (As of 1996)

MC      75- 200mm Macro
MC      28-80mm
MC      35-70mm
ML       50mm 1.9 Lens
FX Series Case
Case for 108 & 107
Case for 109
CS-15 Electronic Flash,
CS-140 Flash
CS-220 Auto Flash



Neal Zondlo: I have a Yashica 108MP, and can tell you that there is
really only 1 difference as far as I can tell between the 108MP I have
and the description of the 109MP on the Yashica website. Whereas the
109MP has motorized film rewind, the 108MP has a crank for manual film
rewind. Everything else (1/90 flash sync, manual 1 - 1/2000 s
exposure, +1.5 EV backlight compensation, auto 16s - 1/2000 s
exposure, bulb, 1/90, aperture-priority, program and high-speed
program exposure modes, motorized film advance, hot shoe, electronic
cable release attachment, auto DX sensing ISO 25-3200 in full stop
increments, 10s self-timer, TTL metering light display) seems
identical between their description of the MP109 and the reality of my
MP108.


3.4.  Dental Eye

For some reason, Yashica has a system consisting of what looks like a
modified 109MP body, a macro lens and a ring flash especially for
medical use. It's horrendously expensive, like everything made for
dentists. The current version is documented on Yashica's website under

http://www.yashica.com/yashica/dental.





  4.  What lenses are available?

Yashica shares its mount with Contax, which means that you can use
Contax Zeiss T* lenses, which are rated most of the time somewhere
between Nikon and Leica (or above Leica). Furthermore, most
aftermarket brands support the Y/C mount so you can add Tamron,
Tokina, Vivitar and Sigma lenses to your system. I've seen lots of
lenses by Sun, a now-gone aftermarket producer; my Sun 135/2.5MC seems
to perform well. The Big Four aftermarket brands are in various states
of ending their MF offerings, inform for yourself.

This FAQ will only discuss Yashica lenses.


4.1.  What's the difference between Yashica DSB and Yashica ML lenses?

Yashica DSB lenses are single coated, ML lenses are multi coated (ML
stands for Multi Layer). As usual, a marketing department messed
things thoroughly up by introducing another designator, MC for Multi
Coated, for later multi coated lenses. Contrary to the quality jump
from DSB to ML, there is no distinguishable quality difference between
ML and MC lenses. For quite some time, Yashica offered both DSB and ML
lenses; later on, DSB lenses were sold in package deals with bodies
(like the FX-D Quartz SE and the FX-7).


4.2.  How about YUS lenses?

YUS stands for Yashica US. This "brand" is now gone, and from
comparisons it seems that they were the same as the DSB lenses sold
elsewhere.


4.3.  Known Yashica lenses.

The following is a list of lenses we know off. If I have performance
data, I'll give them a note, ranging from 1 (``this really is a Sigma
lens in disguise'') to 3 (``average Yashica stuff'') to 5 (``why
didn't they stamp Carl Zeiss T* on this one?''). Completely
subjective, of course, give feedback if you disagree and give notes
where I didn't do it. Don't forget that this notes are not necessarily
my own opinion - a lot of it is based on hearsay (especially when I
don't own the lenses myself :-)).

In order to save space, I skimped on the table headers. Here is an
explanation:

  Desc
     Description: focal length/largest aperture/coating.

  L-G
     Lenses/groups.

  Amin
     Smallest aperture.

  Dmin
     Shortest focusing distance (m).

  Filt
     Filter thread diameter (mm).

  Size
     Phyiscal size: diameter x length.


  Wght
     Weight (g).

  Q  Subjective quality assessment.

  Cmt
     Comments, numbers refer to list below table.

Note that Yashica designates their stuff as ``ML 2,0/50'', whereas I
use ``50/2,0ML''. I think this makes it easier to quickly find a lens
you are looking for.



4.4.  Wide-angle


Desc          L-G      Amin     Dmin     Filt     Size          Wght     Q     Cmt
15/2.8ML      10/7       16      0.3        -     75x70.5        445     4     1
21/3.5ML      12/8       16      0.3       72     75x54          370     4     2
24/2.8ML      9/8        16      0.3       62     65x48.5        285     4
28/2.8DSB     6/6        16      0.3       52     61x42.5        240     2
28/2.8YUS     ?          22     0.35       55     63.5x44        260
28/2.8ML      7/6        16      0.3       52     61.5x41.5      250           3
35/2.8ML      6/5        16      0.3       52     61.5x41.5      230




1. Fisheye lens with 170 degrees angle of view. Built-in filters
  (skylight, yellow, orange). Good quality.

2. Renowned for its quality.

3. Still available.


4.5.  Normal


Desc          L-G     Amin     Dmin     Filt     Size        Wght     Q     Cmt
50/1.9DSB     6/4       16      0.5       52     62x40        215
50/2.0ML      6/4       16      0.5       52     61x32        140     3     1
50/1.9ML      6/5       16      0.5       52     61x32        145           4
50/1.7ML      6/5       16      0.5       52     61.5x40      240     4     2
50/1.4ML      7/6       16      0.5       52     61.5x42      295     ?     3
55/2.0DSB     6/4       16      0.5       52     63x39.5      200
55/1.2ML      7/6       16      0.5       55     66.5x50      410




1. I have one to go with my FX-3, which makes up for a very nice and
  lightweight system. I use it near swimming pools, on the beach, and
  other places where I don't want to lug around (and put at risk) my
  ``real'' gear.

2. I had to take it apart in order to clean the aperture blades (the
  blades stuck because some grease had gotten onto them).  This
  inside look left me with a good impression of the lens innards - I
  couldn't discover any significant parts in plastic, everything was
  metal and looked well-built. I can't complain about its sharpness,
  I think it is a very fine lens.

3. Some say tests shown much worse performance than the Zeiss 50/1.4,
  others say it was almost as good. In any case, this is quite an
  expensive piece of glass, almost as expensive as the Zeiss version
  - I'd opt for the latter if I was going to spend a lot of money on
  a 50mm...

4. Still available.


4.6.  Moderate telephoto

A warning about telephotos: Yashica came with better designs for the
135, 200 and 300 lenses (less weight, more compact, better optical
quality) relatively quick after the introduction of the original
lenses. As long as both variants were available, the newer ones were
marked with a C (for compact). However, as soon as the old lenses were
sold out, they dropped the C. Therefore, when buying a telephoto
without the C, you either have a very old one or a recent one (and you
really want the latter). The best advise is to use this list and check
the measurements when buying second-hand telephotos.


Desc          L-G     Amin     Dmin     Filt     Size          Wght     Q     Cmt
135/2.8DSB    5/4       22      1.8       55     64x72          420     2
135/2.8ML     5/4       22      1.5       55     65.5x92.5      540           1
135/2.8MLC    5/4       22      1.5       52     63x75          420           2




1. Old version.

2. New compact version.


4.7.  Telephoto

See the warning about design enhancements in the previous section.


Desc          L-G     Amin     Dmin     Filt     Size         Wght     Q     Cmt
200/4.0ML     5/4       22      2.5       55     62x150        615           1
200/4.0MLC    5/4       22      2.5       58     64x113.5      535     4     2,3
300/5.6ML     5/4       22      4.5        ?     65x210        880           1,4
300/5.6MLC    6/3       22      4.5       58     66x148        645     4     2,5
500/8.0       6/5        -        4        -     88x120.5      865           1,4,6,7,8
500/8.0ML     8/6        -      2.5        -     78x87.5       470           2,5,6,7,9
1000/11.0     6/5        -        8        -     118x220      2330           4,6,8,10




1. Old version.

2. New compact version.

3. A nice piece of glass. It's not very big, it feels rugged, and I
  think the lens is quite sharp. I've made great hand-held shots
  wide-open, which look tack sharp on Delta100 and 8x10 prints and
  show a very pleasing ``bokeh'' (bokeh is how the out-of-focus stuff
  looks like, in short). As usual, it is dead cheap. I love it.

4. Tripod collar.

5. Lacks tripod collar.

6. Mirror reflex.

7. Slide-in filters.

8. Single coated.

9. Still available.

10.
  Filters built-in in revolver grip.


4.8.  Macro


Desc          L-G     Amin     Dmin     Filt     Size          Wght     Q     Cmt
55/4.0ML      4/3       22     0.25       52     61.5x55        305           1
55/2.8ML      6/4       22     0.25       52     61.5x56.5      305     4     1,2
100/3.5ML     6/4       22     0.44       55     67x77          430     4     3
100/4.0ML     5/3       22     0.147    35.5     94.5x155.5    1000           4
100/4.0MLB    5/3       32        ?       52     60x32          190           4




1. Ratio 1:2, with 27mm extension tube 1:1.

2. Better correction for infinity than the f/4.0 version.

3. Ratio 1:2, with 27+20mm extension tube 1:1. Hard-to-find, very good
  quality lens.

4. This is the ``Medical'' macro (now called ``Dental Eye''). In
  current versions, it has been permanently integrated with the body
  but older versions had a standard Y/C coupling. It has a built-in
  ringflash (GN 5.6m) and a composing lamp. Maximal focusing distance
  1.5m. Flash and aperture are coupled to the repro ratio which is
  1:1 with 2:1 with an extra add-on lens. A number of options are
  available, like a foot switch, a mains adapter and a reflector set.

5. ``Bellows''. Can only used with bellows, ratio 1.4:1.


4.9.  Zoom


Desc                 L-G      Amin     Dmin     Filt     Size          Wght     Q     Cmt
28-80/3.9-4.9MC      13/9       22      0.5       58     75x87.5        550           1,6,7
28-50/3.5ML          10/8       22        1       72     75x74.5        475           2
35-70/3.5ML          8/8        22        1       62     69x79          475           1
35-70/4.0ML          7/7        22      0.6       55     67x71          390           2
35-70/3.5-4.5MC      11/8       22      0.5       58     69.5x63.5      330           1,5
35-105/3.5-4.5ML     15/11      22      1.5       55     65x84.5        470           1
35-105/3.8-4.8DSB    15/14      22      1.4       55     64.5x82.5      460           9
38-90/3.5DSB         12/11      22      1.5       67     70x110.5       685           1,3
42-75/3.5-4.5ML      7/7        22      1.2       55     61x57          315     2     1,4
70-210/4.0DSB        14/10      22      2.5       58     65x165         690           2
75-150/4.0ML         12/9       22      1.5       52     63.5x115.5     485           1
70-210/4.5ML         12/9       22      1.5       55     65x128.5       525     4     5
75-200/4.5MC         13/9       22      1.2       55     73x79          420           1,6,7
80-200/4.0ML         12/9       22      1.9       55     65x133         610     4     1
100-300/5.6ML        13/10      32      1.5       58     68.5x192.5     850     4     1




1. 1-ring zoom.

2. 2-ring zoom.

3. Ratio 1:4 in macro setting with a minimal focusing distance of
  0.3m.

4. Mostly sold as a set (FX-D Zoom, FX-7 Zoom).

5. Successor of the 80-200/4.0 zoom. According to Fotomagazin almost
  as good as the Zeiss 70-210/3.5. A very compact zoom with macro
  setting.  Ratio 1:4 in macro setting with a minimal focusing
  distance of 1.1m.

6. Currently available.

7. Ratio 1:4 in macro setting

8. Ratio 1:4.7 in macro setting.

9. Minimum distance 0.7 in macro setting.





  5.  And what about accessories?

To be setup. Could probably mention the components of the Yashica
Dental system, remote control cords, flashes, teleconverters,
extension rings, etcetera. Any information is welcome.


  Macro extension rings
     I recently acquired a set of macro extension rings, 13mm, 20mm
     and 27mm for around US$55. Still have to see how my normal
     primes perform with them.  They look well-built and that's all
     there is to say about extension rings.

  FR Winder
     Winder that fits all FR bodies. Does 2 frames per second, has a
     couple of connectors (one looks like an external power connector
     and one like a remote control connector), and eats 6 AA
     batteries.  A big disadvantage is that your tripod screw
     location moves way left (as usual with these battery packs). If
     2fps is too slow for you, go shop for the Contax RTS motordrive.

     With the winder, your FR-I will weigh 1090g (1340g with a
     50/1.7) and gets a serious, professional look (people with Nikon
     F50's and an aftermarket zoom will feel very uneasy with you in
     the neighbourhood ;-)). It saved me from abandoning the FR-I
     because I'm a left-eye photographer and thus can't operate the
     film wind lever and keep composing at the same time.  I still
     should train myself to switch to the right eye, though.




--
Cees de Groot                             http://www.cdegroot.com         <cg@cdegroot.com>
Yashica/Contax SLR List: http://www.cdegroot.com/photo/yashica
GnuPG 1024D/E0989E8B 0016 F679 F38D 5946 4ECD  1986 F303 937F E098 9E8B

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:

cg@evrl.xs4all.nl (Cees de Groot)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In Soviet Russia...

In Soviet Russia, Bokeh renders you!


Now, I have to stop right here and put out the cavaet...
I HAVE NOT USED THIS LENS, SO MY EXPERIENCE WITH IT IS NON-EXISTENT. I AM ONLY RELAYING RESEARCH AND OPINION ON THE QUALITY OF THIS LENS AND THIS IS IN NO WAY AN ENDORSEMENT FOR EVERYONE TO GO OUT AND BUY THIS LENS ASAP, BECAUSE THIS LENS IS A COLD-WAR-ERA SOVIET-DESIGNED MANUAL FOCUS AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND ACQUIRING THIS LENS IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH ALTERNATIVE GLASS AND LENS MOUNT CONVERSION - YOU TAKE THIS KNOWLEDGE AWAY AT YOUR OWN RISK - USING CAMERA LENSES NOT DESIGNED FOR YOUR SYSTEM OF CHOICE POSSIBLY AND MORE LIKELY, CAN DAMAGE YOUR CAMERA AND IT'S MIRROR BOX ASSEMBLY - AND POSSIBLY D WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY.

In all seriousness, the above lens is the Helios 44-2. At least, I think it's the 44-2. For the sake of arguement, I'm going to say it is and leave it at that. The reason for this is, there are several versions of the Helios 44, which for some reason is actually a 58mm lens, not a 44mm as the name would lead you to believe. Further to this, the 2 refers to two different things - one, being that it is the 2nd version, and the other being that it's to designate it's max F/stop (2.0) - I don't know which to believe, given that it makes more sense that it should be 44-2.0, I dunno... It's russian, they do things backwards and round off numbers. That's why everyone knows Gagarin and not the poor guy that died in the rocket launched before him...

What I do know for sure is that this lens is a fairly old design and that it's actually a copy of the Carl Zeiss Biotar design and that it was heavily mass produced, to the point that they are quite possibly the cheapest lens available on the 2nd hand market (aka FLEabay). This is significant as the Biotar, which is a much more expensive lens, incorporates a doubled gaussian optic lens combination. The two lenses, at the heart of the design, are what make the Biotar and Helios lenses so special. While Gaussian optics are not exactly revolutionary now, but I'm sure that they once were. If anything, their results are legendary as it allows a lens to render very smooth background blurring, aka Bokeh. And for what it's worth, Canon's 50mm 1.8 uses a very similar lens formulae, incorporating Gaussian optics - that's why the nifty-fifty is such a great lens in it's own right.

Now, out there in the wilds of the interwebs, there are a few pages that talk about the 44-2. I'm going to do my best to cut through the crap and give you the straight goods. First up... Specs!

Lens Construction = 6 elements in 4 groups (w/ 1 gaussian doublet)
Focal Length = 58mm
Filter D = 49mm [although younger copies are 52mm]
Max F/stop = 2.0
Min F/stop = 16.0
Angle of view = 40°
Minimum focus = 0.5m (~18cm)
Diaphragm = Manual/Preset
Field of View = ~93mm [on 35mm]*

Other info
Most copies are single coated and the unit weighs in at a rather svelte 220g.
In the right hands, this lens renders awesomeness in either Av or M.

Most copies, provided that they are in good working order, are quite sharp at all apertures - some opinions are that it is adequate to fair at 2.0, and best at 5.6 or 8.0. In the same vein, CA is prominent in the 2.0-2.8 range, edging towards green/turquoise - though, once again, this is what has been discussed in opinion and may not affect all copies.


Examples of the amaziness of this lens:
Manual Focus Forums
Fred Miranda Alt Glass forum

Why does this all concern me? Well, for starters - the 44-2 is a great MF lens, that is much cheaper than anything else really. 50mm-range lenses are good starting points for most photographers and when it comes to learning how to shoot, it's the 50mm that should be in every kit. Because of its creaminess, it is given to fantastic shots at most apertures. The only downside is the loss of a 1/3stop of light, when compared to Canon's 1.8 plastic fantastic.

Suffice to say, if I didn't already have the Canon or the 58mm Rokkor, I'd be all over this guy like a papparazzi on a starlet's case.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Testing of new interface...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blog title

For a while now, I have had this feeling that my blog isn't well-named given my tendency to talk about cameras and photography more than say... music.

I think I might just rebrand myself here. After all, my domain has nothing to do with the blog name.

Further to this is my total lack of info on myself. Not that any of you really cares. The quick details. I'm a 30year old amateur photographer, that has been doing the dSLR thing for 3 years now, and digital photography thing for close to ten years. In those ten years, a lot of crappy point and shoots passed through my hands. And quite a few of which have taught me that name-brand doesn't me shite. (Agfa, Sony, Kodak, Panasonic, Samsung, etc...) but I digress. I'm from Canada, residing in Toronto, Ontario. Originally I am from Montreal, Quebec - however that was so long ago that, all i can say is that I was born there and that the Habs are the best team in the NHL.

I grew up in the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but spent many summers in what is perhaps the most picturesque part of Ontario - Georgian Bay (Midland and the 30,000 islands specifically). Ironically, having grown up, surrounded by gorgeous panoramas that were the basis of the Group of Seven's work, Landscape photography has appeal for me.

I can go on, but i won't. Because the truth is... I came here to talk about the Canon 430EX. I will be acquiring one, so, as a result, I'll be doing a quick write-up about it now, and a more detailed summary later.

First things first - why the 430? because I was able to score one in amazing shape for a decent price. Sure, I could've spent a few more $ and got an EXII version, but to be honest, this will be the first good flash I will be able to work with. Not to say that the others I've used suck... it's just that anything good that was strapped on to my camera was only on temporarily, and the rest have been iffy at best... or restricted to RF triggering.

Okay... Secondly. What's special about the 430EX? well... I'm not sure. Except that it does have High Speed Sync (HSS) hence my interest in it, as that's an area of strobing that I want to get into eventually.

Now... the downsides to the 430 (version 1). What's the difference between the v1 and v2? Visually/physically, virtually none.

However, the guts are what matter, right? Well, the EXII has a better IBGT system, which allows for quicker power recycling* and it is silent. Thus making the EX1 slower and noisy, apparently. The EX1 has the standard lock-ring that pretty much all flashes have [except the 430EXII and 580EXii] and unfortunately, it has a plastic foot. While both have slave modes, the first version has a switch for it, and other features can be controlled either on flash or through the in-camera menu (this will be fun to play with). Lastly, there are supposedly some custom features in both versions. I've only read that there's only 6 of them in the v1, but no word on the v2. I'd like to know what the difference between them is, but being a newcomer to a Canon-made dedicated flash with brains.




* - the recycling time of the V2 over the V1 is said to be 20% faster. Yet, the V1 is said to be 40% faster than it's predecessor, the 420EX - so, i really take that sort of crap with a grain of salt. The reality is, with standard (alkaline) AA's, the 430 should recycle in less than 4 seconds. But as all good photographers know - you don't use Alkalines, you use NiMHs! Recycling with those is reported at 2s, after full-power flash, and since most users rarely use full-power, that 2sec recycle is immaterial.
That should give you something to think about.



For a more fleshed out run-down and completely objective review, please visit this site: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-430EX-Speedlite-Flash-Review.aspx



Monday, May 24, 2010

NEW(ish) LENS REVIEW.

Hello once again, you awesomely random readers. Okay, so I lied... twice. It hasn't been a month and a half and this is not a new lens review. it's actually a used lens review, and technically speaking, vintage lens review. However, these lenses are not new to me, as i have had them for 2-3 months now. So, new post, new topic... sort of. But first, a little bit of a foreword.

This post was originally composed about a week ago, but I never got around to finalizing and publishing it. Suffice to say, we are here now, ready to post. So, the following paragraphs will seem out of place after reading this and the previous paragraph. Confused? yes? well... shake it off an read on.

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Now, topics aren't exactly difficult to come by when it comes to writing up stuff about photography, especially when it comes to non-review, stream-of-conscious type stuff. I'll be honest in saying that I do have this pretty cool write-up that i've been pecking at for a while now. It's one of those type deals that probably should end up on a bigger website. I won't give away the details right yet, but it's more or less a list of what one can learn from. I'm keeping that vague as possible, so as to ensure my creative originality here. ;)

Suffice to say, I did mention that I have a few items that I haven't talked about just yet. They are:
1) Minolta Rokkor 58mm F1.4 - Jim Buchanan EOS-converted
2) SMC Takumar 150/4 (Pentax m42 mount)

First off - the Rokkor.
I grew up occasionally using my dad's Minolta (now mine) and one thing that's for sure, one of the best lenses my dad had was a Prime Rokkor. I'm unsure of what he did with that lens, however he did have a Rokkor Zoom lens before he stopped shooting film. That lens, is okay, i guess. But, having experienced the beauty of a Rokkor prime in days gone by, and seeing examples across the web in recent times; I know I had to get one for myself.


Luck would have it that I ended up finding a EOS-converted example on eBay. It didn't cost me a whole lot, but then again, the 1.4 doesn't fetch much these days. It's bigger brother, the 1.2 still commands a hefty price tag of $200+. (the 1.4 can be had for anywhere between $50 and 150, depending on condition and vehicle of sale).


MC Rokkor-PF F/Length max aperture Element Formulae Weight min focus Original Mount
58mm F/1.4 58mm F/1.4 6 in 5 groups 280 2ft (.6m) Minolta SR


Filter min aperture Angle of view Size Bokeh Current Mount


55mm f/16.0 41° 42L x 63w Creamy EOS










PROS great contrast
CONS prone to flare



great color

mirror-clearance issues on 5D



as sharp as Rokkor 58/1.2
not close-focusing

I haven't much bad to say about this lens, except that it cannot be fully used on the 5D without a little mirror-shaving. I am loathe to do such a thing to my baby, but it does work so long as i keep the focus close, and the aperture wide. On a Rebel body, this lens kicks a lot of ass. I mean it. I suppose that's thanks to the more forgiving mirror clearance and rebel crop factor.



While I stated that the lens is prone to flare, it's actually not bad. It renders flare pretty much the same as bokeh: nice and creamy. Additionally, it's not overly difficult to control the flare with this lens either. I find it rather nice and predictable.

Bench(mark) test:




Now, where this lens becomes a lot of fun is when it's put on extension tubes, and use it as an almost-macro lens. This incidently enough, allows me to get around the mirror-clearance issue on the 5D. In this example, you can see how the bokeh renders extremely gradually, yet sharpness is still there in nice amounts. (editor's note: I don't have the steadiest of hands, so there is some motion blur)



Another bokeh example:


While I haven't used the lens in a while, I do love it and wish to use it more. With the flowers in bloom, I think I will. ;)


So... final conclusion: All the reports are true - this is a great lens. It's not exactly underrated, but it's abilities are definitely downplayed for sure.

For more info on Rokkors... go here


SMC TAKUMAR 150/4 (M42)

I picked up this lens on eBay as well, only because 1) it's a SMC Takumar and 2) It fits nicely within my existing zoom ranges, thus allowing me to have a small amount of redundancy between my Rebel and 5D. I say this, with respect to crop factor and such. If i put the SMC Takumar on the rebel, and use the Contax Zeiss on the 5D, I effectively have 2 cameras with the same field of view. (editor's note: crop factor does NOT modify focal length, only field width).


SMC Takumar F/Length max aperture Element Formulae Weight min focus Original Mount
150mm F/4.0 150mm F/4.0 5 in 5groups 325g 6ft (2m) M42


Filter min aperture Angle of view Size Bokeh Current Mount


49mm f/22.0 17° 95L x 65w chunky/creamy m42-EOS adapter


















PROS excellent contrast
CONS SLOW!!



good color

aperture ring is narrow



m42 mount

strange light fall-off



hood included




I probably should assume that because of the lenses structure and size, a faster aperture would be impossible as the mechanics would be impossible. Suffice to say, if I was ever to come across a 150mm with an aperture wider that F/4.0, I would jump all over it like a fat kid on a Smartie. (no offence to fat kids... or Smarties). This is not because I find the lens to be deplorably slow, but rather that if faster were possible, I'd take faster, but keep this focal length. It's a great focal length, as a walk-around prime telephoto.

It was with this lens that I was able to capture one of my more particular favourite "wildlife" shots.

I've wanted to shoot swans in the past, but never been able to get close enough to one for a good shot. I lucked out a few weeks ago, as one was swimming underneath a bridge I crossed over.

This isn't the best example of what this lens can do, but it's a fair example. Notice the colour on the Swan's head. See it?

Well, how about the sky in this picture?


Yeah, yeah... big deal. YES, IT IS A BIG DEAL! Why? because I for the life of me, cannot shoot pictures with blue sky without the sky rendering into some bizarre off-white colour. This is no real thanks to AWB, which I rely on probably too much. I hate setting white balance and well... this lens does away with the need to do so very nicely.

Which brings me to color rendition - If anything is true, it's this. No one can ever say anything bad about the colour rendition of a SMC Takumar. I don't know what these lens were in terms of cost when they were new and original, but dollar for dollar in the second hand lens market, Takumar's are the best out there in terms of value. And as far as the 150mm goes... it's no slouch and adheres well to the high praise that all Takumar's get.



Verdict: I love this lens for what it is; A cheap, well-constructed, miniature workhorse. It renders beautifully all sorts of colours and it's got that awesome vintage factor. You know... that factor where lenses had knurled metallic focusing grips? Yeah... that. The Rokkor has it too, but because this badboy is a 150mm, it has a significantly longer body, which provides and equally lengthy metal grip.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Terrible...

I am terrible at updating this space. Despite advice from Andrew at Acts of Minor Treason (which he follows brilliantly)

Now, I like to post photographic-related stuff here, and having none to report... other than having picked up a Rokkor 58 1.4 and SMC Takumar 150/4 for myself (both are awesome btw, I feel that I should at least share SOMETHING.

Here goes...

HENRY'S SPRING 2010 PHOTO SHOW



Dates and Times

The 2010 Photographic, Video & Digital Imaging Show opens on Friday, May 14th, 2010 and runs until Sunday, May 16th, 2010 at the International Centre in Mississauga. For directions click here.
Hours

Friday, May 14: 10am - 7pm
Saturday, May 15: 10am - 7pm
Sunday, May 16: 11am - 5pm

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tickets

Tickets for admission to the 2010 Spring Photographic, Video & Digital Imaging Show can be purchased at the door at the time of entry.

Admission prices are as follows:

Adults: $15.00
Children under 12: Free!

One time admission is valid for entry to the Show all weekend!
Bring your camera along for the fun!

Please note you will be asked to register your equipment before entering the Show.


This first part makes me laugh.
By TTC? really?

Small Tip: take a cab.
I've had to make the trip to the airport area before by Transit and it's NOT fun. Actually, I'll be blunt and say it flat-out. IT SUCKS.



Travel Directions
By Public Transit

Copies of the TTC, GO Train and Mississauga Transit schedules can be found in the Information Display Case located in the Hall 1 Main Lobby, next to the Security Desk. For additional information, please click on the above links or visit the Directions & Parking section of this website.

Directions by Car

Travelling East on Highway 401

* Take Hwy. 401 or QEW to Hwy. 427 North.
* Follow Hwy. 427 North and exit at Dixon Road.
* Turn left at the traffic lights at Dixon Road.
* Follow Dixon Road (which becomes Airport Road) for approximately 4 kilometres.
* The International Centre will be located on your right.

Highway 407

* Take Hwy. 407 and exit at Airport Road.
* Turn south at the traffic lights at Airport Road.
* Follow Airport Road for approximately 5 kilometres.
* The International Centre will be located on your left.

Parking Lot

All main entrances have a designated number of signed parking spaces in close proximity to the entrance area(s). Ramp curb cuts are available at all main entrances for your convenience.
Entrances with Wheelchair Accessibility

All main entrances are equipped with power-operated doors. All lobby entrances have either a flat surface and/or a wheelchair ramp for your convenience.



Having given this information, i am now going to go into bloghiding once again. See you in... another month and a half.

Thanks for reading!

editor's note: should i post sooner than that, then... i was lying the whole time. :P
Seriously, I need to write more. Maybe I should make a habbit of encorporating photo-walks into journal entries. Hmmm...
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