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:

Sonntag, 5. Februar 2017

Minolta MC W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 - a carefree package for daily use

I've been looking for a thoroughly worry-free package for my APS-C camera Sony a6000. Something about the 35mm and not too big is supposed to be such a lens. As bright as possible. Actually, this would be converted to full format 24mm and at least a aperture of 2.8. First of all, I had my Voigtländer Color-Skopar 21mm f / 4.0 in view. But this is unfortunately not as bright as desired.
With the Leica M-Mount and the small adapter, however, it is very compact and light.  In one of my next reviews, I will deal extensively with the little Voigtländer.
I then got by chance offered this specimen of an old Minolta Rokkor in a camera-forum. The part is already quite worn and no longer crisp. But the lenses of this objective are without any blemish.
The first thing I noticed after unpacking the lens was the high weight. The lens is built like a tank, made entirely of metal and incredibly heavy. Together with the adapter, the combination is not really compact and light. On the other hand, optical performance is astonishing. But one after another.
Let us first come to the statistical data, as always.

Mount: Minolta SR
Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups
Closest focus distance: 30 cm
Number of diaphragm blades: 6
Weight: 395 gramm
Diameter and length: 65 x 50mm
Filter size: 55mm
Apertures: 2.8 to 16

The operation of the lens works without problems, the apertures rest perfect and well audible. The focus setting is smooth and precise. With this focal range, there are no problems with the focus of motifs. Even exposure times of less than 1/30 seconds can be easily photographed by hand. 
The sharpness in the middle of the photo is very good from the beginning, also with the aperture open. However, the corners look quite muddy at f/2.8. It is only from aperture 5.6 that the entire image is sharp and contrast-rich from one corner to the other.

The lens is ideally suited for landscape photography. For higher apertures from f / 8 to f / 11, the results are simply amazing. Above all, the resolution in the center of the image suggests other 24mm lenses, like my Tokina RMC 24 / 2.8. Only my Olympus OM 24 / 2.8 is not to beat. The old OM Zuikos are really Leica lenses for the poor.
Purple color fringes appear clearly when the aperture is open at the edges of the picture and when the color contrasts are high. Stopped down to aperture 4.0 is sufficient to prevent color fringing. In Lightroom you can remove the fringing colors with one click. In the case of backlight, the Rokkor is very good-natured and there are only few disturbing flares. An additional lens hood may help the image quality even better.

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/8.0, 1/60s, ISO 125

The distortions are very narrow. Here in the following uncorrected photo you can see a slight barrel distortion in the upper part of the picture. This is surprisingly good for such a wide-angled lens.

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/4.0, 1/2000s, ISO 100

The bokeh is extremely soft and pleasant. This was not to be expected with only six blades. In this photo you can see the round lights with open aperture. Amazing for this lens construction.

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 200

Summed up, one can say that this lens is worth its money. Even heavily used it is barely under 50 euros to get. The high prices are typical of older wide-angle lenses. For an MC Rokkor 24mm one must normally - depending on the condition - between 50 and 100 euros. On Ebay some copies go also for 200, - Euro and more to the clientele. Wide-angle lenses like this Rokkor can be perfectly adapted to all possible system cameras, such as Sony, Panasonic, Fuji and Olympus and have an excellent picture quality. Differences exist depending on age, wear and quality of lens coating.

From my site, there is a recommendation for this lens. Those who get it cheap should take it and adapt to its camera. If I have the opportunity in the near future, I will try to test the Rokkor on a Sony-full-frame camera and complete this review.

Here are some photos from the last weeks I shot with the Minolta MC Rokkor:

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/4.0, 1/320s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/4.0, 1/160s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/4.0, 1/1250s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO 800

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/5.6, 1/1600s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/8.0, 1/2000s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/4.0, 1/4000s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/5.6, 1/2500s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/4.0, 1/160s, ISO 100

Sony a6000 with Minolta W.Rokkor-SI 24mm f/2.8 at f/3.5, 1/100s, ISO 100