I'm still fascinated by the Meike 25mm T2.2 Cinema lens. That means, by extension, that I'm re-fascinated with micro four thirds. Especially the G9.

I guess this is a continuing review of the Meike 25mm Cinema lens that I wrote about two weeks ago. At least it feels that way. Yesterday I wrote about the importance, for me, of having friction in the photographic process if I was to both enjoy it and also feel as though I guided the picture taking process rather than being led by the nose through the routine by a smarty pants camera. I was thinking of this lens while I was writing about the 90mm Elmarit R because more than most lenses the Meike Cinema series is an unalloyed ode to total manual control. 

When used on a micro four thirds camera like the Lumix G9 the 25mm lens has the equivalent field of view of a 50mm lens on a 35mm sensor camera. It's a nice focal length for me because I can never figure out what to do with the rest of the stuff on the edges of images made with wider angle lenses. 

Because of a more restricted schedule at our pool I can only sign up and swim four days a week. As a consequence I'm at loose ends now on Saturdays and I figured that after my neighborhood walk with Belinda I'd have some extra time this morning to grab the camera and head downtown for a brisker walk and spells of dalliance with the camera gear. It didn't hurt that we've broken the oppressive heat wave, at least for today. Our high temperature is predicted to be only 97° and the humidity is mercifully lower too. It was a perfect morning to stroll with the G9 and the 25mm. 

I set the camera to manual exposure, ISO 100, daylight/sun WB, standard profile, with a starting shutter speed of 1/640th of a second which led me to an aperture range of t 5.6-8.0 in full sun and t 2.2 - 2.8 in open shade. Just right for my appraisal of my most used settings. We had nice, bright sun diffused by high, thin and only occasional cloud cover. It worked well both for my comfort and the camera's performance. 

With the G9 set to M/F you can get full time focus peaking even with non-communicative lenses. It makes manual focus fast and accurate. I have found that either my vision is improving or camera finders are getting better because it seems easier and easier to focus most lenses on the G9, even without the focus peaking. No glasses required. 

I could write a bunch of stuff about my impressions of this lens but I think the photographs will speak for themselves. I will say that there is some small amount of barrel distortion that's easily corrected in Lightroom but there is no vignetting that I can see in the photos. I'm also not seeing chromatic aberrations anywhere. The colors are nicely accurate and the lens has a transparent quality to it that's unique. It makes photographs that seem clearer and cleaner than many other lenses. 

One more note: I'd forgotten how much I liked the feel and sound of the G9 shutter mechanism. I'm also pleased with the incredibly long battery life of that camera. It may be the current best, all around photo tool on the market. And the I.S.  Even with non- I.S. lenses the stability of the system is so good I'm sure other camera makers are green with envy....

This is my morning view from the dining room table. 
Today I made coffee and sourdough bread toast.
Thick slices that I slathered with peanut butter and 
blueberry preserves. A wonderful treat. 

Early light. 

I keep trying to get this mural right.....

 I thought this frame would be a good test image on which to try Adobe 
Lightroom's "Detail Enhancer" feature. The image above is the full frame 
while the two images below are, first 100%, followed by 200% crops. 

The G9 raw files, aided by the Meike lens performance, resolve plenty of detail.

See the distortion at the roof line? 
Of course it could be quick and shoddy building construction instead...

I looked up during a quiet coffee break to see the steam stacks from a different perspective.

Another perfect cappuccino from Intelligentsia.

I'm always curious to see how sharp and detailed a lens is. 
I expect them to be sharp in the center and I'm happy to see them sharp at the edges.
For the Meike test I used the lens at f5.6 and a half and focused on the 
machine in the center of the frame.  See below for crops at 100% and 200%.
Remember, you can click on the frame to see it full screen...

I think the detail in the grass is quite nice.

At the end of my walk I headed back home to toss the files into Lightroom and check them out. I was happy with the color and the overall quality of the files. The G9 is one of my all time favorite cameras and I think the combination of that camera with the Meike lens is superb. Really superb.

OT: Today is the first day since late February that Belinda and I got hamburgers and french fries from out favorite Austin burger chain: P. Terry's Hamburgers. Of course we ordered our favorites online and I dropped by to pick them up. I'd forgotten just how tasty the fries are. They don't use nasty, industrial oils to fry them; they use canola oil. All the produce is locally sourced and the beef is organic, grass fed. For an inexpensive lunch they just can't be beat.

It was a lovely break from our usual, healthy homemade fare. You don't miss your water till your well runs dry! Into every life a little junk food must fall. The happy familiarity of a good burger is not just delicious it also produces happy endorphins. Mustn't discount those!

I have better lenses but they're not as much fun to use. I have faster cameras but they're not as interesting.

this is a combination that repudiates "easy." 
The Lumix S1R camera is not a "fast" shooter. You won't be
using it to shoot 20 frames per second. It's big and heavy. 
The battery life isn't "class leading." 

the lens is an old Leica 90mm R Elmarit lens that opens up to 
f2.8 and has to be focused manually. The aperture has to be manually
set on the lens. With a fully "dumb" lens on the Lumix you
only get "A" and "M" exposure modes. 

so, when I'm just hanging out shooting for fun, why is it that 
I prefer this rig to ones that are easier and more 
automatic to use?

Why indeed.

things have gotten so easy. You point a current S.O.T.A. camera at something, zoom the lens to match the composition that looks best, do a half press on the shutter button and the camera leaps into action, setting the focus and the exposure and you smile as you press the shutter button all the way down and the camera makes the shot. You don't have to think. You can just respond. If you are unsure you can just hold down the shutter button and the camera will continually readjust focus and fire away at 10 or 15 or 20 frames per second. Surely one of the frames from among hundreds will work for you...As simple to operate as it is to change channels with your TV's remote control.

Not sure how to get the best dynamic range? Just put the camera into the auto-HDR mode and let it do all the work. You can totally automate your videos as well. 

But, after a while, doesn't all that easy photo living get a bit.....boring? It does for me... Modern cameras are to immersion in photography as golf carts are to authentic golf.  If you didn't walk the course and carry your own clubs did you really play? 

And I guess that's why I'm drawn to cameras (and lenses) that have the potential to deliver great images but at the same time require more effort from the operator. I love cameras and lenses that make me work for the prize. I hate the ones that make it too easy. Too easy is how people must feel when everyone gets a trophy. Not a sensation you'll encounter when using something as eccentric as a Sigma fp. Or even your hyper automatic model, when switched over to manual control.

I like cameras that require the owner to invest in at least some of the operation; some of the creative and subjective selections. The need to make decisions tied to the actual operation of the camera keeps reminding me that this is still, when all is distilled down to its essence, a craft that depends on my choices more than on just buying the most convenient-to-operate tools. When the operational requirements are so facile and so automated I think the process, subconsciously, is devalued by the person practicing it. I know I invest progressively less in a photograph the more simple and automated the process becomes. 

I like the hands-on action of manually focusing a lens. All the better if I have to magnify the view and decide exactly where the point of sharpest focus is supposed to go. And then get it there. I like shooting in a manual exposure mode because there's less inertia to making exposure settings that "disagree" with the automatic settings. Because it's okay to prefer exposures that are lighter or darker than the automatically selected ones.  No matter how compartmentalized your thought processes are I can't believe that a camera providing an exposure set point doesn't in some small way reduce your incentive to take control and make adjustments. 

The weight of a camera isn't a detraction from the process if your intention was to go out and take photographs. It's a reminder of the seriousness with which you take your process. Carrying around the extra weight and taking over control of all the camera settings is akin to making a hopeful sacrifice to the photo gods. It's the friction that makes the process of taking a great photograph more unique, more difficult and by extension more fun and rewarding. 

If Panasonic made a camera body with no autofocus, no auto exposure and no extraneous modes or features, but one which required your complete attention to making images, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. It would be a constant reminder to me that I am integral to the process. That the success of an image depends more on my seeing it and capturing it correctly than letting a camera implement a cookie cutter approach to capture.

There's no real style without creative friction of some kind. For me it's the mastery of the camera and all the controls, for someone else it's the search for the perfect location or the perfect post processing recipe. But I can only see the process through my approach. And for me the friction with my tools is important. 

I find composing and focusing to be intertwined and I like it best when I control it all. But I'm guessing people's ways of working are all different. I can only think that cameras like a manual Leica M, though digital, are popular precisely because they require the integration of the human brain and fingers with the mechanisms of the camera.

When you learned on a Canonet QL17 you learned a way of shooting that doesn't leave you. Knowing how to make all the changes is the core advantage. Excessive automation is the enemy. 

The Leica Elmarit f2.8 is a classic. It's a simple optical formula that's enhanced by the build quality. Superior glass in metal barrels, precision machined parts that are made to be used for decades. A smooth focusing ring, the use of which is its own reward. The knowledge that if you get everything just right you'll get a photograph that you bargained for. I love the process of selectively focusing that lens. It keeps me involved right in the center of the whole enterprise.

If, on a  walk for instance, the camera/photography is secondary and you've only brought your camera alongs in case something catches your eye, then I understand the desire not to be burdened by weight or size or complexity. Bring a compact camera. Bring a good phone/camera. But if it's your intention to make photographs I think the added complexity and required work of a more controlled approach between human and manual camera operation adds a welcome  friction that generates the needed heat of creativity.