Magical Mystery Lens (test examples).

2020, Favourite, Inspiration, Nikon, Nikon Z7, Print, Q&A, Teaching point, Undisclosed Magical Mystery Lens, Within 200 feet of My House™

Here’s an example of what the MML performs like wide open:

And here’s the 100 % central crop:

↑Nikon Z7 + Undisclosed Magical Mystery Lens (100% central crop).

Here’s another example of the MML lens performance wide open (with some bonus bokeh):

And here’s the 100 % central crop:

↑Nikon Z7 + Undisclosed Magical Mystery Lens (100% central crop).

I’ll leave it to you to decide if you’d be happy with this level of central performance + bokeh.

I really like it.

A few of you have purchased the identity of Magical Mystery Lens from my site — thank you.  For those of you who are tempted to, I’ll let you know that until 11:59 PM tonight (Eastern Standard Time), this lens is on sale at one major retailer.

—Peter.

Nikon Firmware 3.0.

Inspiration, Nikon, Nikon Z7, Q&A, Teaching point

For those of you photographing with Nikon Z cameras, update your firmware to 3.0 if you haven’t already done so.  There are major autofocus improvements — with respect to both implementation (ease of choosing a subject) and efficacy (ability to “hold on” to a subject).

This update is making me question why I’m holding on to my Nikon D500 for sports… the improvements are that significant.

Well done Nikon!

—Peter.

Nikon 50mm 1.8 E vs. S.

2020, Favourite, Inspiration, Nikon 50mm f/1.8 series E AIS, Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8S, Q&A, Teaching point

Like the title says, I’m comparing the 40 year old Nikon 50/1.8 Series E AIS lens with the new Nikon 50mm 1.8S lens.

Wide open, there’s no contest: the 50/1.8S trounces the E (you’ll have to take my word for it).

At f/2.8, however, the differences are less obvious.

WARNINGThis is not a scientific comparison.  This is me sharing something with you for free that might be worth absolutely nothing to you.  Or it may change your life.  We can only say with certainty in retrospect.

Below you will find two similar but uninteresting images taken under horrible lighting.

Technical:

  • f/2.8
  • 1/125
  • ISO 1250
  • Camera used: Nikon Z7

Nikon 50mm 1.8E:

 

Nikon 50mm 1.8S:

And now the crops (click on each image to enlarge)…

Center:

Left Edge:

Upper Left:

Right Edge:

The 50/1.8S is technically the better lens, for 10x the price.  The 50/1.8E is easier to carry around.

Thanks for looking.

—Peter.

Some thoughts on Nikon’s Z7.

Inspiration, Nikon, Nikon Z7, Q&A, Teaching point

I’ve long avoided switching into mirrorless but I’m now photographing primarily with the Nikon Z7 (though I’ve kept the D500 for my baseball work).

The reluctance to go into mirrorless was consequent to a few things:

  1. EVFs.  I prefer optical viewfinders.
  2. Ergonomics (or lack thereof). The camera-as-computer feel of most of the mirrorless offerings seemed to get in the way of taking photos.
  3. Speed (also lacking).  Most of the early mirrorless cameras were very laggy in operation.

So what’s changed?

Well, I warmed up a little to EVFs after using the Fuji GFX earlier this year, and obviously mirrorless cameras have been progressively evolving with respect to both their ergonomics and speed.  Though what really won me over was Nikon entering the market with the Z6 and Z7.

For the first time, a mirrorless camera felt like I a real camera (to me).  Ergonomics — check.

And I don’t know the resolution or refresh rate of Nikon’s EVF, but in use it feels more natural than the others I’ve tried (including some of the “best in class”).  I still prefer the window of an optical rangefinder, but I have little to criticize in the Z7‘s EVF.

The Z mount has also been a positive and significant development.  It has freed up Nikon’s engineers to design truly outstanding lenses while balancing size and cost.  Win, win, win.

Lastly — and this has simply been a revelation to me — though the tracking ability of the AF has been much maligned (and is overblown), the precision and accuracy of focus on stationary subjects have been noticeably improved over DSLRs.  Whether using a single focus point or the “eye-tracking” function, critical focus on a person’s eyes at wide apertures is easily achieved.  Critical focus at wide apertures was one of the reasons I preferred rangefinders over DSLRs, but now mirrorless has improved upon even that.

Mirrorless? 

I’m in.

—Peter.

 

 

Epson V600 Scanner.

2019, Inspiration, Q&A, Scanner - Epson V600, Scanner - Plustek 120, Teaching point

I had someone ask me today how I like the Epson V600 scanner.  A few more of you have asked the same question since my last set of images were posted, so I thought I’d resurrect this previous discussion:

https://prosophos.com/2014/02/07/epson-v700-vs-plustek-120/

The same observations for the Epson V700 hold true for the V600, except that:

  1. The V600 film holder can handle 3 frames of a 6×7 negative, just like the Plustek 120.
  2. The V600 is smaller than the V700.
  3. The V600 costs much less than either scanner.

All in all, I am pleased with it and would recommend it to anyone scanning medium format film. For 35mm film, I use the Plustek 8200.  Both of these scanners can be purchased for less money than the Epson V800, which is the current equivalent to the now discontinued V700.

The Plustek 120 is also no longer available, but a next generation model is anticipated.

—Peter. 

 

The Graduates.

2019, Favourite, Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR, Fujifilm GFX 50R, Inspiration, Nikon 105mm f/1.4 E, Nikon D850, Portrait, Q&A, Teaching point

I decided to create this composite image using photos I’ve taken over the past year.

As you can see, the first (from last year) was created with the Nikon D850 + 105mm f/1.4.  The other two (from this year) were created with the Fuji GFX 50R + 110mm f/2.

I share the above information purely for your interest and not for the purpose of making comparisons, as there are simply too many variables in effect in each image (for example, subject’s natural skin tone, time of day, natural vs. artificial vs. mixed lighting, etc.).

Suffice it to say, both systems produce wonderful image quality, though I would give the edge to Fuji  (you cannot, however, discern that from the small-sized images I’ve posted).

With respect to weight, the Fuji also has a slight advantage:

  • Nikon D850 (1, 055 g) + 105/1.4 (985 g) = 2, 040 g.
  • Fuji GFX 50R (775 g) + 110/2 (1010 g) = 1, 785 g.

However, the Nikon is without a doubt the more versatile system.

—Peter.

The Konica Hexanon 60mm 1.2.

Inspiration, Q&A, Teaching point

A couple of years ago, I updated my review of the Konica Hexanon 60mm 1.2 by deleting the entire discussion and replacing it with the statement:

“I no longer recommend this lens.”

Do you know why I did that?  Because:

“I no longer recommend this lens.”

Since then, I’ve had a handful of people (including one in the comments section of what remains of the “review”) write to ask me whether I did this to drop the price of the 60/1.2, so that I could buy it again.

Well… no.  That would be unethical.

Part of the reason for the downgrade was the price-to-performance ratio had become too great, and part of it had to do with a change in my preferences.  Simply put, I am no longer interested in lenses that impart too much of a specific “look” to a photograph.

So for those individuals who paid an insane amount of money to own one, I’m sorry that its price has dropped, though I really don’t think I had anything to do with it.

—Peter.

[Guest Post] Aaron C Greenman and the Mamiya 6.

Film, Guest Post, Inspiration, Mamiya 6, Q&A, Street, Teaching point

Aaron writes:

“Peter, as you know I have been a Leica M shooter for most of the past 15 years….. until the past three years, when I have been wrestling with the (as of now somewhat false) promise of portable mirrorless digital (the Hasselblad X1D). Back and forth, it has been a struggle to decide between the wonderful image quality and color fidelity of the Hasselblad with the obvious handling, fluidity and OVF advantages of the Leica
Anyway, I have neither now, as I await an X2D equivalent, and I’ve found and am using what I pray every night for exactly in digital – the Mamiya 6, along with its 75mm and 50mm lenses (approx. 50mm and 28mm equivalent).
For any Leica M enthusiast, the Mamiya 6 (or 7, if you want to shoot 6×7), is a wonderfully familiar experience: a big nice optical coupled rangefinder, compact design for its 6×6 image size, a collapsible lens mount, and quality, lightweight lenses with sharp and characterful rendering. I have also always wanted to shoot square natively, and it is a simple joy in a square, uncluttered viewfinder – never having to turn the camera takes one more variable out of the composition equation. 
The accompanying photo was taken with the 6, the 50mm and Ektar 100 on a recent trip in United Arab Emirates, and shows the Mamiya excels in the most key area – an instantaneous shutter that allows its owner to precisely capture the moment. 
All in all, it is an experience of pure photographic bliss…… just be mindful of the limits of 12 shots per roll! 😉”
Aaron, thank you for your thoughts, which I’m sure will be helpful to photographers out there contemplating getting the Mamiya 6.  As an aside, I never thought I’d see you shooting film, and it’s nice to see you indulge in some colour photography!  Keep up the great work.
For my part, I have really wanted to get back to film (and almost did so recently) but the constant announcements of film stock discontinuations and ever-tightening shipping restrictions on chemicals for developing have made me hesitate to (re-)commit.  It’s images like this, however, and what I see over at Mark’s site that keep the idea of film photography alive for me.
Lastly, regarding your comment…
“…it has been a struggle to decide between the wonderful image quality and color fidelity of the Hasselblad with the obvious handling, fluidity and OVF advantages of the Leica.”
…much like you, my ideal camera would be designed like a Leica M with a proper (OVF) rangefinder, but would contain a medium format sensor, in a body no larger than a Mamiya 6 (or Hasselblad X1D).
Leica, if you’re interested, we can help you do it!
(one can hope…)
—Peter.

The Panasonic S1.

Inspiration, Q&A, Teaching point

I just got around to reading Steve Huff’s review of the Panasonic S1, and I must say that two things really, really impressed me:

  1. The colour reproduction at high ISO.
  2. The dynamic range.

Generally speaking, the sample images have a special look – I can immediately tell that there is something different (in a good way) going on there.

I am not interested in the camera per se (because I prefer rangefinders), but I am interested in working with sensors like this.

—Peter.