Good new. Great second hand. Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

One of the lenses that Sony has released in the last year that interested me was this lens. (The other being the instant favorite 85mm f/1.8.) Why? It is 50mm. And I am a sucker for a 50mm sub f/2.0 prime lens.

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And now Sony was offering one at an unusually affordable price… for Sony. $249. Not quite the bargain that the $599 85mm f/1.8 is, but I beat that price by finding one used for $156. Even better. So I heard a few murmurs about this lens online so let’s address those first.

Continue reading “Good new. Great second hand. Sony FE 50mm f/1.8”

This Old Camera: Olympus OM-10 Sample Photos Added

Sample photos added.

Eric L. Woods

Sample photos added to the gallery at the bottom.

Soon there will be an Olympus OM-10 This Old Camera Post. A few things.

How? Felt led to visit SE Camera as I wanted another 35mm camera.

Why? Always in the market for another film camera, especially pedestrian 35mm ones as they are often in excellent condition and quite affordable.

What happened? While talking with Alex I noticed an Olympus OM-10 with my all time favorite 50mm focal lens (f/1.8 will do nicely) sitting on the counter. A few minutes later I had purchased it and a roll of Rollei RPX 400.

What now? Below are some photos of the camera and once I work through the first roll I will update with samples of what it can produce. If it produces images anywhere near as good looking as the camera itself it will be a win.

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This Old Camera: Olympus OM-10 Sample Photos Added

Sample photos added to the gallery at the bottom.

Soon there will be an Olympus OM-10 This Old Camera Post. A few things.

How? Felt led to visit SE Camera as I wanted another 35mm camera.

Why? Always in the market for another film camera, especially pedestrian 35mm ones as they are often in excellent condition and quite affordable.

Continue reading “This Old Camera: Olympus OM-10 Sample Photos Added”

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.).

_img8277 Continue reading “This Old Camera: Konica AiBORG”

A tale of 3 Sigmas. Part 3: Best for last. EX 50mm f/1.4

Full disclosure: I LOVE 50mm (or near 50mm) prime lenses.

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If I could only have one lens that is what it would be. What is not to love? Smaller than a zoom. Not wide enough to distort. Not tele enough to require backing up much if the subject is close. Usually even the most thrifty variants are sharp enough (even if a bit of stopping down is required) to capture a distant subject and crop later. Usually bright enough to offer very nice bokeh and low light capabilities… Ok. I’ll stop. Personal preference of course. Some would go with a different way, but if you are in the market for another lens this is a good choice. Plus even a bad 50mm is usually still a pretty good 50mm. Everyone makes them. The go to lens on all of my 35mm film cameras.

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While brand agnostic I have always had Pentax leanings…

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and since 50mm lenses are so affordable I have a hard time turning away a 50mm or near 50mm prime. With adding M42 screw mount lenses this number increased further. Up until recently my go to lenses were the Pentax film era AF 50mm f/1.7 for convenience…

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and the Takumar M42 screw mount 50mm f/1.4..

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when sharpness and low light took precedence over AF. (The newer, still produced AF Pentax 50mm f/1.4 is nice also, if a bit soft at f/1.4.) All was well until I recently went to a local low light gallery event to hear the talented Zun Lee speak at WSSU’s Digg’s Gallery. I went for the Takumar f/1.4 for low light and the fact that the screw drive f/1.7 can be a bit noisy in quiet environments. But usually easy manual focusing was a bit tricky in such low light. Worked, but I saw where a proper AF lens would have made things easier.

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What to do? After some research I settled on the Sigma DG EX 50mm f/1.4. Discontinued and oddly difficult to find in a Pentax mount however. There was the one concern of getting a bad copy of this lens where accurate focus would be an issue, but since:

  • Pentax does not currently offer a silent focus full frame 5omm prime.
  • Sigma did not see fit to make a K mount 50mm Art lens to replace the EX. Exceptional reviews, but if I am honest even if they did make a K mount version that lens is:
    • …a bit large for my liking.
    • …about 3 times what I wanted to pay for such a lens.
  • the 50mm EX had love/hate reviews depending on whether the lens received focused properly or not which kept prices in check.
  • the one lens I was able to find was from B&H with a top notch rating so I had some expectation that they would not bother to sell a ‘bad’ copy of this lens at such a high rating.

I decided on this lens. Received the lens in like new condition with box, padded case, and all original documentation and after some quick testing I found that it was indeed a good copy.

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Before I go on about how much I love this lens I must state one caveat.

Disclaimer: If you do order this lens, regardless of mount, brace yourself in advance for the possibility that you will not get a good one and you may need to return it. It is discontinued so any example purchased will be second hand so buy from those you trust. For that reason I personally avoided ebay (no intended slight on the company itself) for concern that some would try to unload a bad copy on me. I stayed to the big boys, KEH.com, Adorama.com , and BHPhotoVideo.com . From the looks of it non-Pentax mount versions are readily available on one or more of the three.

Now that I got that out of the way HOLY MACKEREL THIS LENS IS AWESOME!… <ahem>…

Where to start?

Look and feel:

  • I understand the front element is so large because Sigma really does not like vignetting, but the side result is the beginning of an impressive looking lens.
  • Walking around the lens reveals impressive fit, finish, and feel. Very business like.
  • Front element movement during focus range is confined within the lenses dimension unlike my f/1.7.
  • This is a big lens with dimensions one would expect for an 85mm rather than a 50mm. Not a plus or minus. Just is.

Operation:

  • Only one switch so this will not take long. Since Pentax puts an AF switch on the camera one would think one is not required on the lens. But Pentax offers a catch in focus feature for manual focus lenses that is active when lens AF is off, but camera AF is on. This proves very handy.

Focus speed:

  • Will set no records, but has proven more than accurate with minimal to no hunting in my experience so far.

Value:

Image quality:

  • Acceptably sharp at f/1.4. Very sharp f/2.0 on.
  • I love the way this lens renders colors. Far better than any of my other 50mms with the only possible match being the M42 Takumat 50mm f/1.4.
  • The bokeh is just beautiful and the transition between in and out of focus bits is great.
  • Owing to that monstrous front element (requiring a 77mm filter) vignetting is no issue at all.

End result? This lens stays on my camera most of the time.

Day 1 I took a chance and tested this lens at a St. Baldrick’s event I was asked to photograph at my job. A bit of a gamble, but given my testing the evening before I had some confidence that it would hold it’s own. Instead this lens performed far and above my expectations. Samples from that event and other photos below and a gallery with updated images here.

-ELW

 

A tale of 3 Sigmas. Part 2: Wiiiiide Sigma 8-16mm Lens

In part 1 of this series I dealt with the long end of my lens family, the 600mm mirror lens. With that done let’s look at the wide end.

Classic ‘did not know I wanted this lens until I found out it existed’. On my way out of Southeastern Camera after picking up (or dropping off) some film I asked if they had any interesting K Mount lenses. Dennis pointed me to the Pentax selection. Initially I thought it better that I leave without looking, lest I put myself on the hook for another lens, and then at the door my legs took a left and I was rummaging. Read the numbers 8-16mm on the side in disbelief honestly. Even with it being a crop APS-C DC lens that still worked out to an effective 12-24mm FF field of view, or way wider than my widest at the time. A legacy 35mm film Vivitar 17-28mm lens. If 17mm is good 12mm must be great. Further research revealing great reviews and sample photos sealed the deal. I could only identify one down side.

  • Slowish variable aperture range at f/4.5 to f/5.6.

That is about it for downsides. Now for upshots.

  • Firstly the relatively narrow aperture range turns out not to be that much of a hindrance.
    1. With a lens this wide half the fun is capturing as much as possible deep as wide.
    2. In body IS does a lot to offset a narrow aperture.
  • This lens is fun. It makes near anything look interesting.
  • Has nothing to do with image quality but it is built like a tank, has a quality feel and is quite an attractive lens.
  • Sharp. Sharp. Sharp. Alarmingly, wonderfully sharp.
  • Silent AF. While AF is not strictly needed for a lens so wide since infinity focus happens after a few feet it is great to have. And silent HSM focus is yet another bonus added in top.
  • It defies filters, but look at the business end of this thing. Purely an aesthetic of the lens itself rather than the images it can produce, but an admittedly superficial  plus in my book nonetheless.

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  • Relatively affordable given how wide it goes. No lens VR may be an issue from some (non Pentax versions), but even still this is great value in my opinion.
  • Amazingly nowhere near as distorted as one would think given it’s almost fisheye focal length.

Note: Neither good or bad and true of all wide lenses be careful tilting this lens up or down as it will distort verticals. Great if this is the look you are looking for, but if you are not Lightroom does a decent job at straightening things up with one click.

If you have an APS-C camera and need a little wide angle action this lens is a great option. Enough talk. Here are some sample images and an ongoing gallery.

-ELW