Samstag, 6. Mai 2017

Meyer-Görlitz Primotar E 50mm f/3.5 - this lens you must have

Meyer-Optik is the brand name of an optical company from Germany. Meyer-Optik was before the Second World War as well as later as VEB Feinoptisches Werk Görlitz and as a part of the Kombinat VEB Pentacon Dresden a major manufacturer of camera lenses.
The Meyer-Görlitz Primotar 50mm f / 3.5 (Primotar = Vierlinser, that is the arrangement of the lenses in four groups) was produced in the years 1948 to 1958. My specimen is silver (made of aluminum) was manufactured in the year 1957 in two versions: as a lens with M42 bayonet and with Exakta bayonet.
The lenses are single coated. It is not particularly bright with an initial aperture of 3.5.

Let us take as usual the statistical data :

Optical design: 5 elements in 4 groups
Aperture blades: 6  (not rounded)
Apertures: f/3,5 to f/16
Closest focusing distance: 45 cm (last marking on the focus ring is 0,5 m = 1,7 ft.)
Length: 43 mm (1,7")
Weight: 173 gr. (6,2 oz.)
Filter thread: unusual 40,5 mm

The lens is made of full metal like a tank and has a very nice feel.  Because of its age, many copies have some problems with the operation of the focus and aperture rings. Many copies are blackened by oxidation, the labels are abraded. Fortunately, my specimen is in excellent external condition. The operation of the lens is somewhat difficult because of the narrow front aperture ring. 
The aperture ring otherwise is running smoothly and silently without clack- good for filming.
Because of its age and the starting aperture of f/3.5, the lens is in these days available from 30 to 50 euros.
We come to the most important thing: the picture quality.  The lens provides very sharp images even when the aperture is fully open. Especially in the center of the image contrast and resolution are excellent. To the outside, sharp corners are only reached from aperture f/8.  For an objective of this age, this is an extraordinary result. Since the front lens is sunk very deeply in the lens tube, backlight does not create any major problems, a lens hood is rarely necessary in my opinion.
The bokeh is very soft and creamy. Although the lens is not so fast, the photographer can easy free objects and people against a blurred background.
From my site, I can recommend any photo enthusiasts to adapt this lens. Provided you get it at a good price.
Here are some photos that I have shot in the last week with this lens:

Dienstag, 25. April 2017

Exakta MC Macro 24mm f/2.8 - a cheap and excellent wide angle lens

"Exakta" was originally and for many years a registered trademark of the Ihagee-Kamerawerke Frankfurt/Main. After the bankruptcy of Ihagee-Kamerawerke AG, the brand name "Exakta" was sold to Japan. Cosina has mainly produced the optical calculations of old lenses under this name and sold them all over the world.  For a number of years, the photo-shop "Porst" has also offered lenses under the name "Exakta" on the German market.
Especially this lens was manufactured in the mid-80s by Cosina and sold under various brands, like Vivitar, Exakta and Carl-Zeiss Jena. It was produced according to my research with various bayonets: M42, Olympus OM, Minolta SR, Canon FD and Pentax PK.  In addition, it is the same as Cosina MC 24mm f/2.8.  More information can not be found on the Internet about this lens.

Let us first come to the statistical data:

Mount: various, like M42 or PentaxPK a.s.o.
Lens construction: unknown
Closest focus distance: 12 cm (in Macro-position), otherwise 19 cm
Macro magnification 1 : 4
Number of diaphragm blades: 5
Weight: 161 gramm / 5,7 oz.
Length: 43mm / 1,7 inch
Filter size: 52mm
Apertures: 2.8 to 22

The lens feels very valuable, it is made of metal and solid. Aperture and focus ring work smoothly and without mechanical problems. Without an adapter, the lens is compact and lightweight. On my Sony a6000 it works with the massive PK adapter already slightly topheavy.
You get this lens under different brands, but the same optical quality often buy on flea markets or on Ebay. The prices are very different and usually vary between 20 and 60 euros. This is very favorable for a wide angle. For use on different system cameras you can buy simple adapters on the Internet. I have been using adapters from China for many years. These are very cheap - about 10 to 20 euros - and of excellent quality.
With a focal length of 24mm you do not have to worry about the possibility of shaking. Even with exposure times around 1/30s the photos are sharp.  Provided the optics are good and perfectly calculated. This is exactly the case with the Exakta 24mm f/2.8. 
When the aperture is open, the sharpness in the center is already very good, even if the picture impression has a little contrast and milky. To the edges of the picture, the photo becomes quite blurred and uneasy. The image quality improves with a slight stopped down. The sharpness is outstanding from aperture 5.6.  The optical performance is above all doubt for this price.
Distortions are not too disturbing despite the wide angle and can easily be corrected in Photoshop or Lightroom.
Stopped down to f/11 can produce very nice star effects. Note the resolution and sharpness at this 100% crop.

One disadvantage is the Exakta 24mm however: it is extremely sensitive with backlight. I am not aware of whether the lens originally enclosed a lens hood. But it should not be difficult for the filter size 52mm to find a lens hood to screw in.

The Bokeh is very quiet and pleasant. Overall, a truly recommendable and inexpensive wide-angle lens that can be used as an excellent walk-around lens on an APS-C sensor.
Here are some pictures taken with the Exakta 24mm f / 2.8 in the last few weeks:

Donnerstag, 9. Februar 2017

Lost places: The old screw factory

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot in an old screw factory that had been empty for many years. A rather gloomy old factory building from several low halls. Fortunately, on this morning, the sun shone through the misty dusty windowpanes. But without my tripod I could not make the photos. I took more than two hours to look at every detail of the factory and capture it on my camera sensor. Sometimes I had the impression that the workers had just gone out for a little break. Everything lay around as if the work would continue. A wonderful morbid atmosphere! 
I will show you a selection of photos that have been created in this gloomy place. Actually you can probably photographed there for days and always discover new little things. Maybe I'll be back in the next few months and show you more pictures.  
I have photographed with a Nikon D610 and the lenses Nikon AF 24mm f/2.8 D, the Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8 and the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8.

Dienstag, 7. Februar 2017

Voigtländer Color-Skopar 21mm f/4.0 - a small dark gem

Yes, the lens is not particularly fast and 21 mm is a not really great on a full frame camera.   But this German masterpiece of optical technology is so small and cute (yes, yes I know the part is from Asia, but the name reminds so of the good old times). Even with adapters still more compact than all possible native lenses for E-mount. Okay, I think there are still a few pancakes. But optically and mechanically they can not keep up. Alone the touch feeling is fantastic, the lens feels heavy and yet very compact, everything moves smoothly, precisely and without any problems. The aperture ring has two tabs like the native Leica-objectives- it is a pleasure to set the right distance. 
Now I am already in the rave, we do not want to exaggerate. Sure, there is better, just because the Voigtländer does not have an autofocus. And even with the initial aperture 4.0 is not really bright.
With an APS-C camera, like the Sony a6x00, you get with the small Voigtländer 21mm a perfect combination for all daily requirements.
Converted to the format of a full frame camera, 21mm correspond to about 32mm. A perfect focal length for reports, street, and even portraits. The unpleasant part to the end: the lens is quite expensive. Not as expensive as modern lenses from Zeiss or Leica, but not really cheap. 
The manufacturer's suggested retail price is 499, - Euro, the street price for new goods is not much below. When used, you have to pay - depending on the condition - between 250 and 300 euros.  Is the purchase worthwhile if you get the more powerful Sigma 19mm f/2.8 ART for only 160, - Euro?  Or the Sony Pancake 20mm f/2.8 from 285,- Euro? Honestly, not really. What makes the small Voigtländer so unique and interesting? 

Sony NEX-5R with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/8.0, 10s, ISO 100

Well, with all his weaknesses, the photos have a distinctive character.  Just take a look at the pictures at the end of the review and decide for yourself if you like them.
I personally like not only the warm colors, the strong contrast also with open aperture, but also the brilliant sharpness of the lens. Not least also the magnificent light stars, which are already from aperture 5.6 on each picture with a light source to be found.

Let's start with the usual statistics:

Lens-type: prime lens with 21mm focal length
Smallest aperture: f/22
Optical design: 8 lenses in 6 groups, multicoated
Image angle: 91°
Number of shutter blades: 10
Minimum focus distance: 0,5 m (1,75 feet)
Maximum diameter: 55 mm
Overall length: 25,4 mm
Mount: Leica-M mount (older copies also have a M39 mount)
Weight: 136 gr. (4,7 oz.)
Filter size: 39 mm
Color: black
Type of lens hood: LH-1 (must be purchased separately)

The current version has been produced since 2007, the predecessor had a M39 mount and was only single coating.  Since 1999, Cosina has taken over the original German trade name "Voigtländer" and continues to develop lenses and cameras after the end of patent protection.
The name-suffix "Color-Skopar" is mostly used for lenses which are comparatively low in light, like Color Skopar 35mm f/2.5 (Leica-M mount) or Color Skopar 20mm f/3.5 (for Canon EF and Nikon F mount). 
Let's get to the picture quality.
The Voigtländer is excellent sharp in the center, even at f/4. It's a little bit less sharp in the corners, but not by much.  From aperture 5.6 upwards, the lens is razor-sharp to the corners. Due to the low focal length, you can also hold very long exposures by hand. I can easily get 1/8s without problems. The good thing is: at aperture 8 everything is from one meter distance to infinity sharp.
The picture contrast and the resolution are extraordinary, the colors very warm. If you shoot in Jpeg you have in the normal case in Photoshop only little after-work.

Sony NEX-5R with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/8.0, 1/250s, ISO 100

It is extremely difficult to achieve a bokeh with this lens. Especially because of the great minimum distance of 0.5 meters to the motif. Add to this the weak initial light intensity of f / 4.0. I've been experimenting for a long time until I've made a half-sensible bokeh with this photo. As you can see, it is not particularly creamy, but rather wary.

Sony a6000 with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/4.0, 1/8s, ISO 100 (100% crop)

With backlighting the Voigtländer has only little problems, the flares are hardly disturbing and rather a component of the picture composition. This can be seen quite well at this night scene.

Sony NEX-3N with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/8.0, 15s, ISO 100

Sony NEX-3N with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/11.0, 30s, ISO 100

An important thing I do not want to undercut: The lens shows on some cameras, especially on older Sony-NEX, magenta vignettes. Depending on the type of camera is quite violent. This is especially noticeable on my NEX-3N and my NEX-5R. On the full frame camera, like the Sony a7, these discolorations show only minimally, as one sees at these pictures.  The vignettes can be quickly removed with a click in Lightroom. Or you use apps, like Cornerfix, but only works with the DNG image format.

Sony a7 with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/4.0, 1/60s, ISO 100
Sony a7 with VL 21mm f/4.0 at f/4.0, 1/60s, ISO 100

Now what can be said to summarize this lens? It is too expensive, it has no autofocus and actually there are enough alternatives at cheaper prices. On the other hand, it is particularly wide-angled and extremely sharp in the city, especially in the countryside. Due to its compactness, it fits with every camera in every jacket pocket and can always be there. 

I think everyone should decide for himself whether he is willing to pay so much money.

Here are some pictures that have emerged in recent years: