Alright, it has been a while since the last camera geek out post. Here goes!
Build your own flash snoot to concentrate your flash light into a tiny spot. Bottom-left shows the flash zoomed to 85mm; bottom-right shows the flash with snoot.
The cardboard was packed too tightly and it was too long. It made too small a flash spot for my liking.
Albert Cheah of Cheah Camera Repair, Mutiara Complex, Jalan Ipoh. Friendly and knowledgeable guy, who does a heck of a great job defungusing lenses. He also has an array of rangefinders for sale in a glass case.
His workspace is open for all to see, which assures you that he is the expert tinkerer.
I’ve sent two cameras to Desmond of YL Camera, Pudu Plaza, but they could not completely be fixed and had some residue kinks. (My Olympus OM-2000 can shoot frames even with the film winder locked, and my Pentax P30t often swallows frames… so I have to wind the film again although I have not shot.) To be fair, I don’t know if it’s the cameras that were beyond repair.
Clockwise from top-left: Tarquin’s Canon EF 100mm F2.8 life-size macro lens next to WKCheang‘s Nikkor 105mm F2.8 VR life-size macro lens; Tarquin rolling a 120 black-and-white film; a Canon 7 rangefinder with a 50mm F0.95 lens; WKCheang’s Nikon D200 with the cute Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens.
At YL Camera, I tried the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 lens for Minolta/Sony A-mount. It is easy to see why this sells well; people love bright, reasonably-priced lenses. It wasn’t soft wide-open, and decently sharp (I only shot at F2.8 though.) This was at 50mm.
The classic Tamron/Minolta 28-75mm F2.8 lens would be given due consideration, too. I could pop a 0.7x wide-angle converter to get the 18mm feel on digital SLR crop.
However, the temptation to get wider is strong, and skip the in-between focal lengths. The Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 lens, with 1.5x digital crop, would give a 15mm view on my Sony A100. It accepts 77mm filters, which is a bonus for polarizers and infrared filters. However, the Tamron/Sony 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 is quite viable, having a 77mm filter thread and the ability to be used on a Minolta film SLR or the upcoming Sony full-frame digital SLR with no vignetting at 15mm. The Tokina 12-24mm F4 is lacking in this department; its vignetting is gone only at 16mm, and there is a huge difference between 10, 11 and 12mm.
For truly wide rectilinear shots, a film SLR with the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 full-frame lens is superb. However, the lack of a filter thread means I can’t put it on digital and shoot infrared. 🙁
I got myself a 55-77mm step-up ring for RM25 and a Sakar 77mm circular polarizer for RM55. (Two CPLs side-by-side reflect different colors when rotated.) These things are amazingly cheap at Digicolor, Mutiara Complex! You can see my Canon Powershot A520 with lens adapter, 52-55mm step up ring, 55-77mm step-up ring and 77mm CPL; the other setup has a 55-58mm step-up ring and 58mm Pro Tama 0.7x wide-angle converter for 24.5mm feel. There’s also the Sony A100 with Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 lens, 55-77mm step-up ring and 77mm CPL, and a wide variant with 55-58mm step-up ring and 58mm Pro Tama 0.7x wide-angle converter for 18mm feel.
Have you seen one of these pop-up books? Awesome. This one was very educational, with all sorts of gimmicks to teach photography principles.
Tarquin’s Yashica-Mat with 80mm F3.5 lens and 80mm F3.2 viewing lens!
The Yashica MG-1 rangefinder with 45mm F2.8 lens.
My Pentax P30t with K-mount to M49 adapter, and the Olympus Zuiko 50mm F1.8 OM lens reversed on it. This is not my recommended method of shooting life-size macro though. I’d rather you reverse this lens on another lens as it is safer and gives you more flexibility.
Similiar setup, but with my Fujifilm Q1 with homemade Olympus OM adapter stuck to it. Yes, the Q1 can actually see something.
The great Minolta 7000 wearing my Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan lens! It was the first properly-implemented auto-focus SLR. For its time, it was the fastest; I still find it pretty alright, though the motor sounds like a Tamiya motor, and when it advances the film it sounds like it’s ripping it apart.
I could actually walk around with this, since I had with my Sony A100 and Minolta 50mm F1.4 (giving a 75mm equivalent, which isn’t as wide.)
Left: The Minolta 7000 came with a Minolta 28-85mm F3.5-4.5 lens with macro switch. Interestingly, the macro switch allows you to zoom out to get macro, instead of zooming in to get macro like every other lens. 1:4 magnification is possible, though working distance is small at 28mm. On the plus side, it’s F3.5 and there will be less shake. I did not buy this; I’m holding back for a less noisy Minolta AF film body. Within minutes I could figure out the 7000’s controls. Very user-friendly!
Right: The famous Pentax SMC-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited pancake lens. Tiny, bright, and very desirable. Very very sharp wide-open, with a 3D pop to images. Also has a velvet inlay. Sweet.
The Minolta 7000 could use my Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 lens at 24mm without vignetting, which was cool.
Man spotted next to Pudu Jail. I have no idea what he was collecting.
I headed to Keat Camera to get myself the rare Tamron-F 1.4x Auto-Focus 5-pin teleconverter for Minolta AF mount. It would multiply the lens’ focal length by 1.4x and decrease its maximum aperture by 1 stop.
It is a screw-mount teleconverter, which means it will transfer the focus screw turns to the lens. It will not work with Minolta/Sony G lenses which have focus motors in the lens itself; for that, the Minolta/Sony teleconverter should be used instead.
This picture shows my softie combo; the Minolta 50mm F1.4 has the teleconverter on its back and a wide-angle converter in front (which cancels each other out but exaggerates spherical aberration.)
Sadly, AF would only work completely on the Minolta 50mm F1.4 (which now was an effective 75mm F2.0 according to the EXIF data). AF on the Minolta 70-210mm F4 would work at 210mm and infinity, but when I tried to focus and it turned towards close focus, or when I tried to zoom out, it would ‘disconnect‘ the lens and be unable to send the aperture to the Sony A100.
It would read the aperture as “–” and be manual-focus only. I would not recommend stopping down due to exposure errors, and because whatever lens you’re putting on is going to be darker.
However, the beercan on the teleconverter worked fine with the Minolta 7000, as the teleconverter manual promised.
Now you may ask, why does the teleconverter report 75mm instead of 50mm x 1.4 = 70mm?
I tried my Sony 18-70mm F3.5-5.6 and zoomed it to 70mm, focused on infinity (to prevent focus from changing focal length), shot a frame, then popped the 50mm with 1.4x teleconverter, focused on infinity, and found the 50mm combo to be more zoomed in. Thus, the 1.4x teleconverter really had a 1.5x focal length multiplier.
Still, it does not rob from the beercan’s sharpness; it becomes a usable 300mm F5.6 lens (as reported by camera EXIF). I was pleasantly surprised to see how sharp it was. The teleconverter had 4 elements, and did not add to the reputedly bad chromatic aberration of the beercan. It also did not add spherical aberration, unlike what it did to the Minolta 50mm F1.4!
Another 300mm F5.6 shot.
Excited, I headed over to Sony, KLCC to try my teleconverter. I tried the Sony 500mm F8 Auto-focus Reflex lens, which became a 750mm F11 (sadly, no aperture reading, so it was manual-focus only).
The shot in the bottom-right corner, however, was with the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA lens. (Also no aperture reading, due to old teleconverter being mostly incompatible with digital bodies.)
CZ 135mm F1.8 with teleconverter. The Carl Zeiss is so sharp, the teleconverter’s effect is minimal. It is still razor-shave sharp (or rather, it makes it obvious you haven’t shaved.)
The math says it becomes a 200mm F2.5. Yes, 200mm F2.5! Not just some 200mm F2.8.
Without the teleconverter. Pardon the focusing point difference.
If I could get a newer teleconverter that was guaranteed to work on the screw-mount lenses on a Sony A100, this would be a very practical option.
Would I get a 70-200mm F2.8? Not likely. The 70-210mm F4 beercan, 1.4x teleconverter and CZ 135mm F1.8 make the best, light tag team. Any 70-200mm F2.8 will weigh at least 1.3kg and cause photographers to whine of sprained arms. The 135mm F1.8 however, is the brightest and longest prime (by dividing 135/1.8 = 75mm). It is beaten only by the 300mm F2.8.
It also looks stumpy and short without the lens hood, and a lot less suspicious than the 70-200mm F2.8.
Why not a more practical 85mm F1.4 then?
I already have a 50mm F1.4, with 1.4x teleconverter to make a 75mm F2.0. It would be a bit redundant, plus I find myself zooming in, using the end nearer to 210mm on my beercan.
Jenhan is surprised to see how crispy the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 lens is.
I am practically sold on this chunk of solid metal. It feels like a sawed-off shotgun. A black cannon.
The 135mm F1.8 also renders near-focus areas differently; it is sharper and makes the depth-of-field seem deeper than my 50mm F1.4. The Sony 70-200mm F2.8 is no doubt creamy, with good subject isolation, but I already have the lightweight beercan for that.
I don’t tire of holding the beercan; it weighs under 700 grams, and I can switch to portrait orientation without feeling the strain.
If you had a Canon SLR, I would whole-heartedly recommend the Canon 70-200mm F4L IS USM with Canon 135mm F2L USM combo. (You could whine about not having F2.8 but you guys got clean CMOS sensors so pump up your ISO!)
I don’t even know where to start labelling; there’s a Pentax P30t SLR, Olympus IS-1000 zoom lens reflex, Ricoh 500G rangefinder, Olympus OM-2000 SLR, Canon EOS 650 SLR, Seagull SA84 twin lens reflex, Canon Powershot A520 digital camera, Ricoh XR-10 SLR and a Fujifilm Digital Q1 amongst various lenses. Missing is an Olympus mju, a Panasonic FZ-30, and my Sony Alpha 100 used to shoot this.
With my collection of cameras of different mounts and brands, a worrying thought came:
If I ever get stinking rich, I might possibly practice polygamy. Legally, of course.