Out enjoying an early spot of Summer weather while savoring the odd magic of a 28mm lens. And an ancient camera body.

For some reason I'm lately captivated with getting wider. Well, not me personally but my appreciation for wider angle lenses than the normal focal length (50mm)  and longer lenses that have always been a more comfortable part of my routine. The 28mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss Y/C lens in particular has me working to better understand composition with that angle of view. I've come to like these older, film era lenses for several reasons. First, they didn't have in-camera distortion correction when this lens was made back in the 1980s so Zeiss had to make it as geometrically correct as possible. Now, that doesn't mean it's necessarily sharper in the corners but it does mean that there is no interpolation black magic happening which sometimes ends up looking as through an image has been unnaturally stretched. The interpolations to correct for inherent lens distortions also means that the stretched corners have made up pixels which can sometimes be...unconvincing. It doesn't need "fake" corrections since it's already well corrected. 

I used the lens with an inexpensive C/y to L-mount adapter which allowed me to put it on a Lumix S1 for today's casual photography. After an hour or so I was reminded that although the S1 is not the most expensive or extravagantly spec'd of the three four Lumix S1 series cameras it is, nonetheless a very good image making machine and using it just a day after spending time with a Leica SL2 I was surprised how close the performance, viewfinder image, and file integrity is. In fact, it's a highly competitive camera body for the L-mount systems. I'm beginning to wonder just how well it might perform with the Leica 35mm f2.0 SL lens might work with it. If I find some more change in between the couch cushions I may just find out...

But camera bodies aside, I am surprised and impressed by how good this particular lens, which was used and purchased for little more than a song, is when it comes to rendering highly defined detail and rich colors. I imagined that newer lenses would be leaps and bounds better but I'm constantly revising my opinions about optical progress. I'm almost ready to believe that many earlier lenses were designed and built to very high standards but that cameras of their time didn't allow photographers to fine focus reliably and accurately the way current cameras with 5.7 megapixel EVFs can when used with 16X image magnification when manual focusing. I noticed the same uncanny improvement when it came to shooting with the 135mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss lens from the same period. My memory of the lens when used in the film days was that it was good but not "great." Now it seems much, much better. But I guess I'm not taking into consideration that I'm comparing relatively low res Tri-X film performance, sans image stabilization, with super accurate focusing, much higher imaging resolution, total control over contrast and quite good image stabilization. Those factors elevate nearly every lens. At least I think so. 

The beauty of photographing with a good, manual focusing 28mm lens is that one can operate in either of two modes. You can use a smaller aperture, like f8.0, and zone focus when you are out shooting scenes that require deeper focus and quick reflexes, or you can take a bit more time to use your EVF, punch in on the point you'd like to target for the plane of sharpest focus, and then shoot. Either way you'll be able to get lots of stuff sharply focused and I'm thinking that a well focused image makes every lens look like it's been improved. 

I like having a smart watch. I got the newest generation Apple Watch for my birthday last October. I used it for many things today but the most fun was using it to measure the distance of two different walks today. The first was up and down the hills in our neighborhood. I walked with Belinda and we did a leisurely 2.5 miles with about 800 feet of changing elevation. I walked this afternoon with the camera and logged in about 3.75 miles. Mostly on flat, urban terrain. It's nice to quantify a walk and see just how much movement you are getting. No wonder the soles of my Merril hiking shoes are wearing down through all the tread... I guess I knew they would not last forever.

I am always amazed at this "green space" at the Seaholm development. 
People love to bring their kids here to play on the green Astroturf. 
There's no mud to worry about and the kiddos live the flat uniformity of
the space. But dog owners and their dogs also love the space
and the cute little pooches love to relieve themselves on the fake grass.
While I'm sure the whole surface gets power washed each morning...
I'm not sure I would feel comfortable laying out on the 
ground cover to work on my tan. Just conjecture...

 After all the excitement of getting the Leica SL2 it was a comfort to walk around with a more familiar camera and a vintage lens. There is a familiarity that makes the camera seem so well sorted and well integrated into a walk. It's like strolling with a friend. 

It was a balmy 72° this afternoon and blue sky everywhere. I cleaned both bathrooms this morning and felt like I really deserved some quality time with my camera and lens. I am amazed at how nice a day it was. 

We're going to get cold later in the week but we like to "make hay when the sun shines." Or photographs.

So far, on a personal level, the year is off to a good start. No big drama and no big changes. And that's good since I fear change. Everyone does. Don't write a comment about how you never fear change. We'll have you well pegged as either delusional or a liar. 


Fred said...

I find your interest in wide lenses interesting. Back in the days when the lens that came with your new camera body was a 50 and not a zoom I would get rid of the 50 and use a 35 as my normal lens. Recently I have been interested in longer normal lenses like your Sigma 65 or older ones 55 and longer. Might it be something in the water for both of us?

Ronman said...

Interesting to read your experiences with adapted lenses. I occasionally play around with some very old Takumars, a 50/1.4, 55/1.8 and 135/2.5, and even an old Soviet Helios 58/2.0, which produces some crazy swirly bokeh at large apertures. And like you, adapt these to an S1 and S5 which, as you say, have some great and very intuitive manual focus assist features for nailing the chosen focal plane. I sometimes use these when out and about just for the sheer pleasure of focusing on something, anything, "documentary style", knowing I don't have a clue how they did it on assignment back in the day. I've never shot with film, and I can only imagine the skill-set required in the days of manual focusing without the assist features we take for granted on current cameras. And I'm reading with interest your comments on ergonomics, and think you're spot on. I have large hands, and my favorite cameras to handle have been the Nikon D750, my current S5 with a Smallrig l-bracket, and a very close third is my current S1 - the latter two also having a fantastic user interface. You're so correct regarding a comfortable camera with intuitive controls making it more pleasurable to just get out and shoot. I'm looking forward to reading your experiences with the SL2. Never even held one, but I'd enjoy pulling one up to my eye and seeing what it's all about. Beautiful cameras!

crsantin said...

10 degrees F here in Canada and not much warmer when the sun is out. My walks are shorter, about an hour and I'm ready to head into a warmer environment. When I was younger I didn't care about cold weather and I'd be outside all day but now I find I prefer to be comfy and warm. A fire and a book is more my speed these days. Batteries do not like this weather. Mine went from fully charged to 35% within 20 minutes of having the camera out of my warm jacket. I like the 28mm view. With longer lenses, we are usually focussing on a single subject. With the wider fov we must take into account multiple subjects and make them work together. It's a challenging task to do on the fly and I rather enjoy it. Portraits can be interesting at 28mm as we must include other subject matter.

Edward Richards said...

There was always a high rez cult in the film days, usually based on souping Pan-X in Acufine or the like. Focus was an issue, but it is always easier on a tripod with a magnifier, even in the film days. Some of those old lenses were both corrected and diffraction limited. The Nikon Micro/Macro 55mm f2.8 is one with an 80s design that is still state of the art that I use.

Bill Langford said...

Not telling you how to blog, but selfishly - Enough already about the C/Y Zeiss lens ! My collection is incomplete and your helping to drive up the price ! They are like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies - - "Oh these are terrible, you don't want any of these".
I have the 85 1.4, the 180 2.8, and currently shopping for the 135. I like the images I get from them more than modern glass.

Bill Langford