This Old Camera: The Mamiya RZ67

Technically my first ever medium format was a Holga I bought a while back that Dennis at Southeastern Camera recommended. Love having it, but for varying reasons ( short attention span… easily distracted and forget I have it… ) I have yet to finish my first roll of film with it. So functionally my first medium format camera was the Hasselblad 501c.

So why did I pick up this Mamiya RZ67 Pro? Glad you asked. Look no further than Southeastern Camera once again. It showed up there under the glass cube and I became obsessed with it on sight. As predicted by Matthew when I first stared through the viewfinder (and may have uttered something unfit for print among polite company) I eventually purchased it though it took many visits to seal the deal. Came with the standard modular set up (waist level viewfinder, normal lens, and 120 film back), but also brought a portrait lens, shiny silver metal trunk, and a prism viewfinder magnifier (psst. Film folks look away. Think old school film focus version of mirrorless focus magnifier. And we’re back.). But did it come with a prism viewfinder to go between the camera and magnifier? Nope, waist level viewfinder only. But keh.com to the rescue once again with a great deal. There was special motivation for acquiring a viewfinder, but more on that below.

 

Continue reading “This Old Camera: The Mamiya RZ67”

This Old Camera: Medium Format Corner – Pentax 645

Having just received my first lens for this camera today so not one roll of film developed I may be putting the cart before the horse, but I am so impressed with this camera already I figured I would proceed…

For family reasons I wanted to obtain 3 medium format cameras. It relates to kids and is kind of mushy so I will leave that there. Having had one medium format film camera fall in my lap and another call to me from beneath a glass enclosure at the local camera shop the only question was “What to get?”. While I like to claim brand ambivalence…

 

it is hard to ignore the fact that I have Pentax leanings.

 

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Continue reading “This Old Camera: Medium Format Corner – Pentax 645”

3rd time a charm. Revisiting the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8

A lens so nice I bought it… thrice? Anyhoo…

I love a bargain. My father is the tech/geek inspiration, but my mother’s battle cry is “Never pay retail!”

Round 1:

A while back I had a Nikon D3300 that I really liked. Would still have it if the upgrade path were not so prohibitively (for me) expensive lens and body wise. My favorite lens for it was the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. More about that version here and below is a sample photo of a nightmare fuel mutant hummingbird lobster moth thing captured in my backyard with it.

Shots from the day.

Round 2: Continue reading “3rd time a charm. Revisiting the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8”

This Old Camera: Konica AiBORG

Updated with pics below.

Photography and good common sense have little to do with one another. Film photography especially so.

Case in point I love this Darth Vader’s helmet looking Konica AiBORG even though:

  • Have shot exactly 5 frames and have yet to complete one single roll so I do not even know if this thing works yet.
  • Came covered with inscrutable hieroglyphs and ridiculously tiny buttons of many colors laid out in a manner defying any manner of control scheme logic I have ever seen. One review acted as a high level instruction manual which helped and I even took to perusing the pictures in a Japanese manual.

Why do I love it? Welp before I bought it…

  • It is a film camera.
  • Winged logo marking (later learned it’s light marks when the middle focus point is activated along with the lights left and right of it. All wonderfully pointless.).

Continue reading “This Old Camera: Konica AiBORG”

Neewer Ringlight Flash Modifier Review

I won’t take long on this one because it counts high on my no-brainer list.

Wanted a ring light. Why? Wanted to play. Oh, and circular catch lights. What to do?

First up. The standard go to, the Diva Ring Light Nova. Cool, but more than I am willing to pay since this is likely a passing fancy if not a toy.

Second on deck. The knockoffs. In addition to a nice one at Southeastern Camera locally there are the ones here and here. Nice, but after looking at all of these I realized being tied to a light stand and a power chord was a bit of a buzzkill.

Third round flash modifiers. Looked at a couple of options, but having had luck with Neewer products in the past (TTL flash back when I was with the house of Nikon, and octagon and rectangular softboxes) I went with the <deep breath> Neewer Round Universal Collapsible Magnetic Ring Flash Diffuser Soft Box 45cm/18″ for Macro and Portrait Photography.

 

Huge success. Thoughts and some sample shots. Continue reading “Neewer Ringlight Flash Modifier Review”

A Mighty Mitakon: Return to Speedmaster (85mm f/1.2)

Full disclosure. I like:

  • Odd lenses.
  • Manual focus lenses.
  • Metal lenses built like handheld medieval weaponry.
  • Good value.

This explains my collection of old-timey film lenses…

 

…and my appreciation of Mitakons. First up was the Mitakon Speedmaster “Dark Knight” which was great on the Sony A7 I once had…

  • Random Neural Firing Afterthought Sidebar: I really, I mean really liked the “Dark Knight”. It was great fun and while I wish they made more mount variations I surmised from the short flange to internal lens bits (technical, I know) distance that it was never intended to accommodate a DSLR’s mirror box so this 85mm Mitakon was likely going to be my only option. Interestingly Mitakon makes this 85mm in more mounts than they usually seem to do (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony FE full frame). While not f/0.95, f/1.2 is nothing to sneeze at and while 50mm is my favorite practical focal length, 85mm is my favorite if I have room to back up. Actually bought this lens before I had originally intended since it seemed that the last to be released Pentax variants were drying up at retail sites with only Adorama having any available when I purchased this one. But as of this writing they are now backordered on all, but the Nikon mount. All mounts seem available at their own site, but at a higher cost. Amazon does not even list a Pentax version.  B&H charges the full price and also does not list a Pentax variant. Just now noticed that they call this lens ‘The Dream’? Preferred Dark Knight, as a Batman head, but OK. And we are back in 3, 2, 1…

…and then the twice bought Mitakon Creator 85mm f/2.0 which I still have. Continue reading “A Mighty Mitakon: Return to Speedmaster (85mm f/1.2)”

Trading down to upgrade. A tale of 2 Sigma lenses.

After a positive Sigma 3 lens run, outlined by the 3 previous posts in this blog. I reached high for a 4th lens and then stepped back.

Reaching high.

The much ballyhooed Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. Definite ‘yay’, followed by an ‘ah’ experience.

The ‘yay’:

  • A world first f/1.8 zoom.
  • Nothing short of remarkable sharpness, even wide open, across the frame.
  • No vignetting that I could find.
  • Colors, colors, the wonderful amazing colors.
  • Built like a tank and finished as good as some of the highest grade lenses made.
  • Focus good news. Up close through viewfinder bang on. Any distance using live view bang on.
  • When focus was on this lens was the equal of my favorite prime lenses. It was like turning your wrist to go from a wide to standard field of view high quality prime without reaching in to your camera bag, possibly missing a shot, or exposing the mirror to the elements.

 

The ‘ah’:

  • Personal preference, but 35mm did not meet my intended goal of a full frame equivalent 24-70mm field of view to compliment my full frame/70-200mm combo. Knew this going in. Isolated this is not a big deal, but factored in with the next bullet it did not help.
  • Focus bad news. Given the reviews I had braced myself for some inconsistent focusing, but through viewfinder past 3 or 4 feet it missed focus every single time. Every. Single. Time.

Compounding matters was the fact that it focused just close enough so the picture often looked fine on the back screen unzoomed. So you would think you got a good shot only to realize that the focus missed during post processing. I.e. way too late to do anything about it.

The real nail in the coffin came about when trying multiple times to take a sharp picture of my son at a distance greater than 3 or 4 feet in a well lit space.

A lens that cannot focus through the viewfinder on a DSLR? Having to remember, with just one lens, to shoot a DSLR at arms length using the back screen all the time for focusing only? No.

Still clinging to the sharpness in denial I tried every setting one could imagine. No change. No improvement. In camera focus adjustment past 3 or 4 feet would not improve things since that would ruin close viewfinder and live view focusing. Focus distance from object not focal length was the issue so Sigma’s focal length fine tuning puck add on would not have helped.

The Sigma 50mm EX f/1.4 I have also had issues reported, but that seemed to depend on whether you got a good copy or not and I lucked up with a good one. But after more research (Page 11 of Pentax Forums review specifically) it would seem that this was a fairly consistent problem with the Pentax variant.

Even with that information the in focus shots were so good that I literally had to summon a support group to shove me towards what I already knew. It had to go back.

Sigh.

KEH was great about it and set me up with a return right away.

What to do?

Stepping back.

Adorama and Sigma to the rescue. As I have mentioned before I stalk check the used section of my favorite retailers regularly for new arrivals. Right on time a previously designated back up lens came in at a price I could not refuse. Over $300 less than the 18-35mm f/1.8 used and $120 off the new price I jumped on a newly listed Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. Great reviews and it was an easy choice. Findings so far:

  • Although not as sharp at f/2.8 as the f/1.8 wide open (no other zoom that sharp and none that wide) it is close enough for me, and it focuses swiftly, and more importantly accurately, whether I use live view or the viewfinder. What good is sharpness without focus?
  • HSM that focuses quickly and silently like the 18-35mm. I love my Tamron 28-75mm on full frame, but in quiet, close quarters the old tech screw drive can make quite the racket.
  • Surprisingly competent in low light.
  • Reaching 50mm it meets the full frame field of view I was seeking at an equivalent of 25.5-75mm for the 2 body shooting compliment with the full frame/70-200mm.

 

I plan on letting it live on my K-70 for a while so I expect this gallery will be growing. Until then here are some sample shots I took over the weekend.