Lucas Test Shots

Lucas shot with Nikon D800e and Voigtlander 90mm f/2.8 wide open.

Lucas serves as a test subject for many of my lens testing exercises. I have been playing around with my Nikon D800E and a Voigtländer 90mm f/2.8 APO Skopar. I want to see how the lens renders the subject and the out of focus areas. The 90mm does not focus very close, maybe about 2 feet plus (about 0.8 meters). It is quite sharp wide open and the backgrounds look lovely.

It is a very good lens and I need to take it out on walk.

Lucas shot with a Nikon D800E and a Voigtlander 50mm f/1.4 Nokton at f/2.8.

This frame was shot with a Voigtländer 58mm f/1.4 Nokton at f/2.8. It will focus quite a lot closer than the 90mm. It is also quite sharp wide open and has excellent out of focus character. Again, this lens will want to go with me on a walk.

One thing I like about the Voigtländer lenses is that they have a chip that provides data to the camera body. So exposure and distance information is available to the camera and stored in the image file. These lenses will also work on my Nikon film bodies.

Lucas Test Shot

This capture of Lucas the Spider (one of my favorite plushies) was done with the Nikon D800E and a Voigtlander 90mm f/2.8 Skopar at f/8. I did some light processing with DXO Photolab 7.

This little Lucas the Spider plushie is a favorite test subject for lenses. If I shoot at night, then I have some light sources in the background and I can get a sense for how the out of focus areas are represented by the lens.

I shot this with my Nikon D800E (ancient at this time) and a Voigtlander 90mm f/2.8 APO-Skopar lens I bought earlier this year. I really prefer legacy glass to modern glass for the older lenses’ character, including their flaws. They often render more interesting images in everything from color, to sharpness (or lack thereof), to background blur (bokeh in photo parlance). Their optical imperfections produce interesting effects that I often like.

The Voigtlander lenses are proving quite interesting and have a modern adaptation. They have a microchip interface to the digital cameras (my Nikons) that enables the camera’s CPU to read the lens settings and incorporate that data into exposure control and fill in the EXIF data in the image file.

I like the Voigtlander lenses enough that I think I will add to my collection of them. I suspect they will become commonly used on my Nikon film bodies.

Daily Image: Lichen and Stob 18 July 2024

A bit of lichen and the stob of a branch. Shot with Fufifilm X-T5 and Voigtlander 27mm f/2 at f/4.

I am enjoying the little Voigtlander 27mm f/2 Ultron for the Fuji X-Mount cameras quite a lot lately. I decided to take a break from the legacy glass and the Sony A7Sii and shoot my Fujifilm cameras a bit.

I like the Voigtlander 27mm for a number of reasons. It has a chip and so communicates its settings to the camera. That means that the EXIF data is populated and the camera can use the information to adjust exposure as needed. Yes, it adjusts exposure without these data, but with them the camera can do more.

Do not ask me how. It is magic.

That said, the Ultron optical formula does not produce the clinically (near) perfect images of computer designed glass. The images from the Voigtlander have some character to them. They are not always perfect at the edges and corners. They have interesting bokeh (out of focus areas). They produce good colors and are plenty sharp enough.

I have been playing with images of the lichen that grows on the Ponderosa Pines in the national forest. I should probably back off the exposure in the subject image just a bit as the stob seems almost blown out. But I like the image anyway and it was slightly adjusted in DXO PhotoLab 7.

The Girl and I enjoyed the hike yesterday. It was a good day. Life is good.

Daily Doggo: On the Hunt

I see this look a lot when we’re on walkies. She really loves to hunt the chipmunks that infest the national forest. Shot with the Sony A7Sii and the CZJ 135mm f/3.5 and exported straight out of camera.

The last few outings I carried the Sony A7Sii with a triplet of Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) lenses in m bag — the 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon, the 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar, and the 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar. These are all Zeiss designs copied by the East Germans after WWII.

The build quality of my samples is good, perhaps not up to West German Zeiss builds, but they all cost a fraction of the western glass. I find them very good optically and they produce lovely images with a quality much different than modern glass.

The Girl loves our walks in the national forest. If we do not get out early, I have to watch her carefully because she can overheat even at 7,000ft. The insolation heats her up even if the air temperature is about 80ºF. I always carry water and we take a break mid-hike so she can rest a couple of minutes and drink.

I see this look a lot. This particular fallen tree often harbors chipmunks and I think they tease her.

She is a happy dog. That makes me a happy man. I am grateful and life is good!

Daily Image: Penstemon with CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar

I have a thing for vintage glass, especially that glass that exhibits character. This sprig of Penstemon I found on walkies in the National Forest finally gave me a decent capture with the Sony A7Sii and a Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar wide open, SOOC.

Monday morning, The Girl and I were out fairly early for us. I made coffee and had some water, but I had a blood draw scheduled (late for me), so there was no food. Without the distraction of food and knowing that I had a hard stop of a return by 1030h, we headed out an hour earlier than normal. A new-to-me CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar had arrived a few days earlier and I had it out several times before. But Monday morning the Penstemon finally gave me a decent image with a darker background.

The CZJ Sonnar produces a nice background, particularly in the 135mm focal length and shot wide open. I find the Sony A7Sii very forgiving to a wide range of light with an electronic shutter that goes all the way down to 1/8000th of a second.

We kept moving because of my appointment, but paused now and again for me to make an image and to sip a bit of water. At the turn-around point in our loop, I get out the liter bottle and her bowl and gave her a good drink. After that short break, we were off again to return to the rig and get on with the day.

I have a number of vintage lenses that produce nice images. None of them produce perfect images; but all exhibit a quality that I find interesting. If I want a near perfect image, I have lots of Fujinon glass that con do it. But I find myself enjoying the less than perfect rendering of many of these vintage lenses more pleasing than the more clinical look of modern glass.

We made it home before 1030h. I had plenty of time for a shower, to make sure The Girl had enough water and that she cooled down, and a buffer to head off for my blood draw. Then I was able to go get some lunch and was plenty hungry.

I need to work more with this Sonnar, the 35mm f/2.8 Flektogon, and a couple of Tessar formula normal lenses in my collection.

It was a good day. We camped out in the house tolerating the heat, but the swampy kept the living room cool enough. I am grateful. Life is good.

Daily Image: CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Test

Test shot with CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar and the Sony A7Sii. SOOC shot wide open.

A new-to-me Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar medium telephoto lens arrived a couple of days ago. It was listed as excellent condition and CLA’d1. It sat on the table for a couple of days, but I decided to mount it on the Sony A7Sii and shoot it this morning. I might take it along on walkies as well.

The focus is a bit stiff and grabby, although not grinding as if the helicoid grease was hardened. It might just be the sample. It might be the age. Or it might need a little better cleaning.

The lens looks good, no obvious flaws. There is the usual minor internal dust and a few cleaning marks on the front element. Neither of these are of concern, although if I open it up to clean and relubricate the helicoid I will clean up the dust (of course).

I have a fondness for the Sonnar design. Lenses based on this old Zeiss optical formula generally produce very nice images, with out of focus areas smooth and a slight softening of the image toward the edge.

This is one of the things I prefer from legacy glass — the images do not have that clinical sharpness common to modern glass (and the computer designs), but have a certain character. There is nothing wrong with the former for the proper application. But for my images, which I shoot for art and fun, I like the character and quirky quality that some legacy lenses provide.

I think this is a keeper.

1CLA = Clean, Lubricate, Adjust.

Daily Image: Mountain Flower

Shot with Sony A7Sii and a Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon at f/4. Raw conversion in DX0 Photolab directly to JPG without modification.

I took The Girl up to our favorite place in the National Forest to walk this morning. It is too hot for her after 0900h, more from the direct sun on her body than the ambient temperature. So, rather than stress her out at Silver Saddle Ranch, we seek elevation and cooler temperatures as well as the shade from the pine trees.

I decided that I have to bring a camera with me. The iPhone makes acceptable images for a number of uses. But I prefer a purpose-built tool that has more control over the image and has better lenses. So I brought the Sony A7Sii with a Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon mounted to it. I brought only the one lens so as to avoid the what lens do I choose for this image loop I sometimes fall into.

So, I had a 35mm focal length lens. I had a lens that has character, something a lot of modern glass lacks. So I made images as we walked. Out of the lot, I picked this one as the one I liked the best. It is not perfect and I can do better. I will shoot another tomorrow and see if I can get a better composition.

Edit: I am told the flower is penstemon.

Daily Image: On the Trail 19 June 2024

The well-worn trail from the sand pit to Mexican Ditch at Silver Saddle Ranch. Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon 35mm f/2 at f/8. Raw image converted to Acros film simulation in-camera. Straight out of camera.

We hiked out at Silver Saddle Ranch the last few days. It is closer to the house and the weather has been cooler, so Sera does not get too hot. I am on the watch for snakes and keep her close in. There is also the chance of encountering another canine and she can be reactive (depending on the other dog).

On this particular hike, I carried the Fuji X-T1 (my first Fujifilm camera) with the little Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens. It is from Fuji’s compact lens series, which remind me of the old film rangefinder camera lenses. The rangefinder cameras and their lenses tended to be compact (and good). There was also less of a range of focal lengths for those cameras because of the limitations of the rangefinder focusing system.

But, I digress. I do like to talk about equipment.

I struggled to keep my attention focused on my space. My mind wandered in every direction, that barking dog or chattering monkey figuratively trailing me on the trail. It took effort to reign in my wandery mind and focus on my Girl and our hike. The camera I brought to help me with that did not help. I struggled to find a subject to capture or a place to pose The Girl so I could make an image.

I elected to carry the old X-T1 because it is small and the 35mm lens offers a different look at things than the 23mm of the X100V. I thought about tossing another lens into the bag before we left the house, but elected to keep the kit small. A recent goal is to keep things as simple as practical because of my propensity for making things overly complicated.

Aside: As I write this early Wednesday morning, Sera just wandered in to my workroom to check on me. She looked at me, made eye contact, and asked if I am OK. She knows I am up early, even for me, and decided to check on me. After some interaction, a few pets, a doggie smile, she headed back to bed. I will return there and sleep a bit more before I really start my day.

For most of the last year, I have been shooting mostly JPG images with the Fuji X Weekly film simulations. The Fuji cameras are particularly good at reproducing certain film looks and I want that film look. (That means I need to shoot more film, I think.)

But, over the last week or so, I decided to revert back to shooting in RAW and then post-processing the RAW files to a processed (in-camera or at the computer) JPG after the fact. I generally have an idea whether I am looking at a subject that will present better in black and white or color.

So, for the trail image above, I knew that I would produce a black and white image. I also knew I wanted to use one of the embedded film simulations in the X-T1. The ACROS seems like the one to use.

Today and tomorrow I will finish up my preparations for a Field Day 2024 expedition. I will camp with friends out south from Smith Valley, Nevada. We will have a good time of radio play and fellowship.

When I come home Monday, I will have to do a quick reprovision of the camper because I have field work the remainder of next week. Then I expect to be home for a bit as I have a number of personal projects to work on before the summer ends.

Camping is good. The fellowship of friends is also good. Life is good. I am grateful.

Daily Image: Sera Posing 17 June 2024

Sera posed for me this afternoon. She is such a hoot. Shot with Sony A7Sii and a vintage Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f/2.4 wide open. Post processing with Nik Tools 6 Silver Efex to produce a Tri-X look.

I am still adjusting my new workspace. I did a bit of work on it this morning, while working through my coffee and getting started on my day. I am struggling to wait to work on the PC side because I need to get ready for Field Day and field work (next week).

Nonetheless, a new-to-me Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon arrived in the morning mail. I retrieved it from the mailbox on the way out to hike, but did not open it until we returned, I finished the day’s activities, and rested after my hike. I decided to shoot a few images of Sera to see how it performs.

It will take more repetitions with the lens to get it. That is OK. The process is good for me. I have not worked with my post-processing tools enough and I have a lot of glass that will keep me busy for weeks, if not months.

Change of subject: It is so good to have my MBP back in the workroom and connected to my speakers. I listened to a few old favorites this morning while having coffee. Some of them are so poignant and take me back to when Wife and I so enjoyed exploring new music together.

In particular, I have To The Bride playing as I write. It was compiled in the mid-70s when Barry McGuire, The Second Chapter of Acts, and A Band Called David toured together. It was a time at the beginning of what came to be called contemporary Christian music and much of it sounds like worship music that is now common in the church.

Wife and I saw McGuire not long after this record was produced. He came through Kansas City while we lived there. I so loved hearing him sing and play and tell his stories. He was a true minister of God and I learned much from him.

I so loved Wife at the time and sharing those experiences was so good that I do not have words for it. My heart swells as I think on it and a tear comes to my eye. She is still truly, deeply missed.

But, life goes on. It is different, but still good. I am grateful for all the years we had together. I am grateful.