Today I tested a lens, from I think the 1980s, made by sigma. I am in Holland for my holiday’s and yesterday when I was in Leeuwarden I finally got lucky and found a store where they sold several vintage lenses. I bought 3 lenses with m42 mount and one of them was this sigma 70-150mm f3.5 lens. I immediately liked this lens because the way it looks. It has the little ring to put it in macro mode where it moves the lens forward. It has the typical lines on the barrel for the depth of field settings and a zoom and focus ring in one. The aperture is a constant 3.5 which is not bad and it feels good and solid in the hand. I couldn’t find much information online besides some bad reviews on the pentaxforums.
For me the image quality is not bad as long as you don’t look to close. It focuses easily and most of the pictures where sharp. If you go for ultimate image quality you shouldn’t go for these old lenses, you should buy a moderns lens that will cost you thousands of dollars. But for the 15,- USD I spend on this lens I have probably 90 per cent of the fun taking pictures compared to the modern lens for a fraction of the cost.
Today I took pictures of this agricultural machine I’ve been passing by for the last few weeks. I really like the Rikenon, compared to the Russian lenses I have this feels much better in the hand. It’s quit heavy and solid and gives the feeling it will last forever. The focus ring feels mechanically tight and smooth. They make great lenses these day’s to but not for a 150,- US Dollars. Optically there are probably things that modern lenses do much better but though I like the technical aspects of photography I never have been that interested in the optical qualities of a lens. I can differentiate between a good lens and a bad lens but that has more to do with the impression the picture gives me and not the lack of color fringing, distortion or what you have.
I like taking pictures with this lens because it forces me to take it slowly. I like the results to, even after some editing in Lightroom I can still see that the pictures where taken with this lens, maybe not so much with the B&W but definitely with the color pictures.
For consistency I used the B&W Flat preset in Lightroom with some sharpening. For the colored ones I left all the settings from the preset untouched I just put it on color.
Today it was rainy and windy outside so I decided to take some pictures inside with my new bellow. I took pictures of all kinds of objects and small plants and flowers so I could try out different setups. I noticed that it is much easier to move the subject around than the whole camera when you magnify it at almost 3 times. Moving it forwards or backwards to get it into focus goes great and moving it from side to side to compose the picture is easy to, now I have to find a way to adjust the height smoothly because that is not so easy.
I also wanted to do some photo stacking in Photoshop and for that I used a 2 way focus rails that I bought on E-bay. I bought it a couple of years ago to try it out, it costs around 10 US Dollars and with my macro lenses it worked OK. But now I see why this is cheap, when you magnify so much as I do now every little movement is enormous when you look through the view finder. When I use the little nob to adjust the rails it twist the glider a little bit, this happens because the tolerances are not that great. It’s not a big problem but when you want to stack the photo’s later it helps if they stayed lined up. If I want to get serious with this I have to invest in a better one and try to find a good one that goes 6 way’s to solve the problem of the height adjustment.
Today I got a new package with something in it that I wanted since I started taking pictures in the 80s, a bellow used for macro photography. It’s something about the mechanical nature of it, the wheels that move the lens and the idea that you can get really close. So as every child does I ripped it out of the package, mounted my new Industar 50mm lens on it and went outside to try it out. But I first had to slow myself down and find a solution to get enough light so far from the flash mount on the camera and close to the front of the lens. I choose to use the little flash (EF-X8) that came with the X-T1 and use it as a commander together with the Yongnuo flash in slave mode. For now I have nothing to mount it so I used it handheld and pointed the flash in the right direction when needed. There was almost no wind so I decided to use my tripod, I wanted to take pictures of little bugs and plans and not from some fixed objects. But as most of the time when hunting for little bugs the tripod is a nuisance and there was almost no wind but there was still some movement and when you get so close the bugs move from one side of the viewfinder to the other, a tripod is useless in these circumstances. So I shot handheld and with my left hand I also held the flash in such a way that it illuminated the subject. It is not an ideal situation but parts of the pictures are sharp so it’s more a matter of finding the right angels so that the (really shallow) depth of field is used as best as possible. I had the aperture set at f5.6 with the shutter at the flash sync speed of 180/s, the ISO was set at 400 and the flash strength between 1/4 and 1/16 but holding the flash at the right distance was more important than the flash strength.
Today I gave myself an assignment. As a hobby photographer you sometimes need some inspiration. I live in a nice place and there are probably places I haven’t been but the 35 kilometer scenery besides and in front of the road to my work is definitely been milked out, photography wise. I now every bent in the road and valley and only during a few weeks in the year the light is good in the morning or afternoon when I ride back home. I sometimes bring a telephoto lens with me for the occasional wildlife but there are not many places where you can safely stop the car on the side of the road so this is limited to and I have had little luck.
So whenever I am in a situation where I think I have seen it all I start giving myself assignments. Taking pictures of something with yellow in it, or garbage on the street or whatever I can come up with. Normally I also limit myself to one (focal length) lens to give it even more of a challenge. Today I cheated in this regard by taking the Fujinon 55-200mm with me. I wanted to take pictures of electricity poles that you see everywhere here. I did it while I drove to work so I didn’t have the time to walk to far to the best places but I still wanted to try to make interesting pictures.
Today I did a similar thing as yesterday only now I used my 18mm Fujinon lens together with my new and cheap E-bay extension tube of 10mm. Using extension tubes on this kind of wide angel lenses is not something you normally do. Even the slightest raising of the distance between the lens and the sensor will shorten the focus distance dramatically. There was a bright sun so I had to wiggle around with the camera as to not cast a shade over my subject with the lens onto the tiny flowers. I had to remove the lens hood because I kept on bumping into them.
The focusing distance between closest and furthest is around 2 to 3 cm, really short so you have no choice to get close. The downside of this that if you bring this small and lightweight extension tube with you for the occasional macro shot you better make sure it’s only small flowers or other objects.
I still like the result of the pictures, the lens combination gives an other feel to the pictures than my other lenses do in macro mode and that’s worth something to. This time I choose the aperture and let the camera do the rest. The two out of focus pictures are also taken with this lens setup but might as well be taken without the extension tube. The pictures are sharpened and lightly edited in lightroom.
Today i used my Fujinon 55-220mm lens in combination with two autofocus extension tubes. I have normal extension tubes for macro photography but they cannot pass through signals and power to the lens for autofocus, the electronic aperture ring and image stabilization. Some of the new lenses for the Fujifilm X-mount have no manual aperture ring, you can only use it electronically and as far as I know all the lenses have a motor build in to adjust the focus, the focus ring is not connected to any lens elements that works great ass long as you use the right macro extension tubes. This means that I need a “smart” extension tube, Fuji makes them and here in Norway they cost around 90 US Dollars for one ring so a 180 for both. That is not a bad price but I tried E-bay and there you can buy cheaper version for between 15 and 40 US Dollars for both. I don’t think there is much difference between the cheapest and the more expensive ones on E-bay, I bought them for 23 US Dollars. The reviews where mixed but it’s not the first time that I buy something from E-bay so took the gamble. They arrived today and I tried them with my Fujinon lenses and it all seems to work. They feel a little bit light so they are probably the same as the originals only made with cheaper and thinner materials. I will see how long they last, I will treat them with more care than I normally do .
I have to try them out more but with the 55-200mm I got much closer when I combined the two rings (10mm and 16mm). At 55mm I came closer that with 200mm, without the rings that is the other way around. As with most Fujinon lenses the image quality is very good. I shot all the pictures handheld with the image stabilizer on, I did not pay much attention the ISO and aperture setting the camera chose for me so that will be a surprise for me to. The weather was nice, no direct sun an lightly overcast. All the pictures are sharpened in Lightroom together with some basic editing, nothing fancy besides the two black and white pictures.
Today I took my new Industar 50mm with me to work. There was a big 3 master from Holland docked in the harbor, being raised there and working as a wooden boat builder I naturally wanted to meet the people on board. I was not a wooden boat, what I expected, but the wooden mast and rigging looked nice so I had something to admire. I had a nice talk with one of the guest and just before it left I took a few snapshots of the some details.
The lens works great, I really like it. It is sharp and easy to focus. I noticed today that there was a lot of glare in the viewfinder, the sun was bright and high in the sky. The glare prevented me from focusing so I have to buy a better eye cup and see if that helps. There came one with this camera when I bought it but I am used to have the camera hanging on my right shoulder and the larger eye cup was rubbing against my leg and got ripped of, I guess I have to find a solution for that. The sun had not so much affect on the lens itself. The front element is almost 5 cm recessed so it has more or less a build in hood.
I did some more editing in Lightroom so you wont see a clean picture to judge the lens by but in the color photo’s you can see the sharpness. All the pictures where shot at an aperture of f5.6 and an ISO of 200.
I used Lightroom again though I want to use the other programs, but with Lightroom I don’t have to think and when I use Dark table, Capture one or After shot 3 I have to constantly look
Today I took pictures with an other lens from Russia the MC Industar 61 LZ 50mm f2.8. I bought this lens on E-bay for 65 US dollars from a Russian seller. It’s a nice little lens, I bought it because you can focus relatively close, around 25 cm. According to Camerapedia this lens ” is possibly the most highly regarded lens for Ukrainian Leica copies apart from the 35mm Jupiter-12. In an L/D or L/Z version of this lens, the L indicates that the lens has Lanthanum – which is not radioactive – in it, and D indicates M39 mount while Z indicates M42 mount. Most examples are multi-coated and are marked as such with MC. Some Industar 61 L/Z bear the logo of LZOS, probably having been made by that company.” . You can read more on Camerapedia and Pentax forum
I took it out today for a walk through my garden and greenhouse and so far I like the results. There was a lot of sun but it was also windy so most of the pictures are shot with ISO 400, the aperture ring has no “clicks”, so the aperture values are estimates. In the greenhouse there was no wind but it was a little darker and I forgot to adjust the ISO accordingly so the shutter times are a little low for handheld shots. Most of the pictures are shot at the minimum focusing distance. The pictures are edited in Lightroom, I used the auto setting for all the pictures and did some sharpening.
Today I took some random picture during my break at work. I used The Mir 37mm again. The four colorful pictures are edited more in a stile I like, colorful, punchy and no blue in the sky. I like these results and I don’t think I would be more satisfied if I had taken them with one of my modern lenses. There are of course all kinds of (technical) things wrong with it if you look closer, or even if you don’t but I had fun making them, manual focusing, making sure the aperture ring was set and finely editing them. I will remember the time and place of when I took these pictures when I see them again in the future and relive the moment in a small amount, what more do you want. I would use this lens for a paid assignment, they hire me for my style and not for my technical skills. The other picture of the museum I work for is almost straight out of the camera and it captures perfectly the mood of the day, misty, grey and silent. I had to put some contrast in it because that’s something this lens misses.
On E-bay you will find different version of this lens for around 60,- US Dollars. I bought mine here in Norway where I live now for a similar price. The quality of my particulate lens is not that great, there is some movement in the focus and aperture rings and is used quit a lot. Optically I looks fine but I have no other MIR-1 to compare it with, I don’t see fungus or dust inside the lens.
Today I used the Mir-1b with a 12mm extension tube to see how it goes as a macro lens. The first thing I have to say is that even with my smallest extension tube you get really close with this lens. This is no problem if you want to take pictures of small flowers, they can not be bigger than 5 or 6 cm if you want to fill the frame but taking pictures of insect is more of a challenge because you have to get so close. The quality of the pictures is not bad but it is not as sharp as my dedicated macro lenses. I like the flower pictures, but even with f11 there is not mush in focus, as expected.
I bought a cheap reflector for my large flash on E-bay. It focuses the light straight forward or down if you want to. There are three reflective surfaces to choose from, i choose the gold one. It was sunny and with the shutter on 180/s and the lens closed down to f8.0 or f11 I didn’t need a flash but It provided some subtle light. I have to use it more but for 6 dollar you can’t go wrong.
The pictures are edited in Dark table, I did some extra sharpening and some levels but not much more.
Today I used for the first time a mirror lens. I always wanted to try out this kind of lens, specially because of the rings in the bokeh or background blur. The one I bought is a Rubinar 500mm f5.6, it was around a hundred dollars and that’s a good price compared to the prices at E-bay. Its Russian made, probably in the 1990s, its heavy and larger than I expected. The quality looks OK the only thing I noticed is that the numbers looked to be engraved by hand, not important, gives it kind of a charm.
The quality of the pictures is not that great if sharpness is important to you. If you focus further away the sharpness is not that bad but the closer you get to the minimum distance of two meters the softer the pictures get. I used a tripod for most of the pictures so I could use the focus assist on the X-t1 whereby you see a zoomed in center of the frame. If you try to do this handheld with this 500mm on a cropped sensor (750mm) you have to much shake. On the tripod the pictures stays nice and stable and you can clearly see that the pictures is not sharp though the focusing ring is nice and heavy and in principal good enough to get a good focus.
For now I am not unsatisfied, for me sharpness is not a necessity for creating an interesting image.
It was a nice and sunny day, I used relatively high ISO values so to get a decent shutter
time. The aperture is fixed at f5.6 as is normal with a mirror lens. I used Lightroom to see if I could some extra sharpens out of the RAW files. The colors and contrast of the pictures was not bad but I pumped them up in some of the pictures because that can sometimes help with the (perceived) sharpness.