Oct 212013
 

The Lomography Experimental Lens Kit Review

by Dirk Essl – His website is HERE

Today I received an Experimental Lens Kit from Lomography and immediately took it on a test ride while having my lunch break. In case you don’t know it, it is a kit of 3 Plastic Lenses with plastic optics. and an integrated shutter, so you can take ‘real’ double or multi exposures just like in the analog days.

Packaging And Contents:

packaging

In the package there are the three lenses with front and rear cap, on the rear cap the focal length and name of the lens is written:

rear-caps

Also in the package is a tiny pouch with tiny little filters which can be inserted into a filter slot on the back of each lens:

filters

So we have yellow, blue, orange, green, violet and two different ND filters. The ND filters are helpful for doing Multi Exposures in bright daylight.

The Filters are mounted in a dedicated slot at the back of the Lens. Stacking Filters is also possible:

filterstogether

Also included is a big poster with Instructions in all different languages and sample pictures on the back. You can see it acting as a backdrop here where I mounted each lens on a camera for your enjoyment. From left to right: E-P2-IR with 12mm Wide-Angle Lens, E-M5 with 24mm Standard Lens, E-PM1 with 160° Fisheye Lens

TheThree

Although the look a bit different in size, they are not. just the Fisheye is a bit shorter, as it does not have the integrated hood.

Handling

As I said the lenses are plastic. Plastic mount, plastic lenses, plastic everything. Only the shutter level-knob and I guess the screws and a spring inside the lens for the shutter are made of metal. Mounting the Lenses on a camera is done as with every lens with a m4/3rds mount. Align the dots, twist. done.

The lenses shutter is closed in the original configuration, so to see a picture on the viewfinder, you need to open that up. Turn the triangle-shaped lever downwards until it snaps in and you can compose your shots. The integrated shutter is disabled in this position (T-Mode). Set your camera to A-mode and you are done. If the shutter speed is too low, raise your ISO. All three lenses are fixed at f8, just like the Olympus Bodycap Lens.

Multi-Exposure Mode

To make real multi-exposures, I find the easiest is to leave the camera in A-Mode. Compose your shot, close the shutter with the triangle lever, push the little metal-shutter knob, recompose (you will of course need to guess your composition from know on) and trigger the shutter again. As the meter will measure with the shutter closed, your shutter speed will be at about 4-5 seconds, which should be enough time to take a multi-exposure image. the manual says to use bulb mode, which of course works as well.

Optical Performance

I tested those lenses today at lunch time on an Olympus E-PM1 and on an IR converted E-P2 (720nm) The Visible images are all straight out of camera, with no adjustments beside resizing in Adobe Lightroom. The IR pictures only have some increased clarity, as they would look very flat-out of camera. White balance of the E-P2 was on green gras.

12mm Wide Angle Lens E-PM1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, optically all those lenses are only mediocre. Well less than mediocre to be honest. The 12mm is a contrasty, quirky colors, wide-angle lense with a nice vignette. The center is not as soft as the corners and it has very strong barrel distortion. Focus goes from 0.2m to infinity

Pros:

Wide angle of View (24mm FF equiv.)

lightweight

close focusing distance

cons:

plastic fantastic (should be a pro, through)

24mm Standard Lens E-PM1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As well nice colors, quite sharp in the center, typical lo-fi TV lens look in the corners. Not so much distortion as you would expect. I guess this is quite a fun lens at night with color filters and a flash. Red gel in the Lens, blue gel in a flash and you get crazy colors like never seen before. Focusing goes from 0.6m to infinity.

Pros:

nice ‘Standard’ FOV (48mm FF equiv)

good colors

focuses nearer then any Leica Lens

cons:

only f8 (might be tuneable)

160° Fisheye Lens E-PM1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Infrared performance

As there so many m4/3rds bodies now that can be bought (or sold) for very little money, many people decide to get their old body converted to different wavelengths. I have an E-P2 converted to 720nm (near Infrared). I mostly shoot it with the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye and can say it is a wonderful combo. Examples of false color and B&W pictures taken with this camera can be seen in this flickr set

12mm Wide Angle Lens in Infrared

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In IR, this is my favourite out of the three. You can take nice, contrasty IR images without worrying much about fstops, focus, sharpness and all that technical stuff. Shooting directly into the sun? No problem. Hotspots? non-existent.

One thing I found as speciality on all of the three lenses is that the T-Shutter can be closed only partially to create a strong vignette in the lover right corner. If you are a fan of heavy vignettes and don’t want to fiddle around with post processing, these are your lenses:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

24mm Standard Lens in Infrared

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The 24 is usable for IR as well, but just not my focal length for this type of shooting. Hotspots? Negative report!

160° Fisheye Lens in Infrared

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the only of the three that has not enough focus for infinity focus in IR. As in a converted camera the focal plane is different because a.) the different wavelength of IR and b.) because of the different thickness of the filter glass in front of the sensor. It might be hackable to achieve infinity focus, and I really hope so as I like the circular effect.

Focal length comparison:

Just for reference the same scene, taken with a E-PM1 in A-mode, ISO 200, center weighted metering.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Conclusion

I think it is a great addition to the m4/3rds family. It shows that the system has enough users for new companies to produce lenses for it. No need to mess around with quirky adapters to get these lo-fi shots. No messing around with post processing if you want to add a certain effect to your pictures. If you want to have a break from your usual photography style, take those lenses with you and enjoy an afternoon of worry free shooting.

You can visit Dirk at his very own blog HERE

Feb 172011
 

A mish-mosh of coolness

How cool is this?

Check this out! I recently found out that the little RICOH OVF (Optical View Funder), the GV-2, will work wonderfully on the E-P2 or E-Pl2 with the 14mm lens. The OVF is a 28mm VF so it is a perfect match and looks Sexy as can be! You can buy the little OVF at popflash.com and it runs under $170 so it is not exactly cheap but it is much smaller than the Oly EVF. The build and quality is superb. Amazon also sells it and Amazon ships it. They seem to charge a little more for it though.

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Here is a little press release from a new site by Jorge Torralba

RangeFinderImages.com goes live! I am pleased to announce that RangeFinderImages.com (RFI) has gone live. The original designer and creator of rangefinderforum has taken the concept to the next level by creating one of the most advanced galleries catering to rangefinder photographers. There are a million and one photography forums but there is only one RFI. The photos search capabilities of the site are unmatched by any other except for their sister sites. The many years of interacting with other photographers on the net in forums and galleries has resulted in a custom developed software package to meet the requirements of most enthusiasts out there. Feel free to give them a try and begin sharing your work. Did I mention that it’s 100% free?

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More Fuji X100 tests, but not by me…YET.

photo courtesy of quesabesde.com

Seems to be some testing going on in the Fuji X100 world. I’ve contacted Fuji and they told me I can’t get a hold of one until the final firmware so hopefully in the next 2-3 weeks. Until then, enjoy this little preview (although it is in Spanish).

X100 Preview with Samples!

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THERE IS STILL ONE MORE LEICA M9 SPECIAL EDITION/35 SUMMICRON SET LEFT!

Looks like lensrentals.com still has the M9 special edition set that comes with the chrome 35 Summicron ASPH. Brown Ostrich Leather covering, chrome body, ostrich leather strap, sapphire glass LCD screen and only 500 sets made WORLDWIDE. Gorgeous limited edition set that is actually a deal in the world of Leica special editions. I’d buy it if I had the cash. But I wouldn’t be afraid to use it. If you want it, act fast! The last time I linked to the ones at B&H they sold both within hours! Check out the one left at lensrentals.com HERE.

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Odd but interesting. A Telephoto for your Iphone?


Seems like photojojo has created a telephoto lens for your Iphone. Hmmm, seeems to me it would be hard to keep your phone in your pocket. I can see it now…”Is that an Iphone tele lens in your pocket or are you just happy to see me”? Check it out here!

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The Leica X1 Firmware…where is it?

One of the site sponsors, Dale Photo has a shiny new Black X1 in stock but where is the new firmware Leica promised us months ago? I was told 1st quarter of 2011 so I expect it anytime in the next 2-3 weeks. Leica is always so slow with the updates but let’s hope they did improve the AF like they said they did. From what I have heard, it will be much faster. I am guessing they are doing this to answer to the newer cameras like the Fuji X100. That is one cool thing about Leica. They only release new models every 3-3 1/2 years for their major cameras. I do not expect an X2 until late 2012. Same goes for an M10. I am excited to see what the new firmware update will bring.

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MORE CONTESTS AND GREAT PRIZES?

Was having a chat the other day with ~6, who kindly donated his M9 for the GREAT LEICA M9 CONTEST (winner announced March 1st 2011) and it appears we will be having more contests with some VERY cool prizes. Maybe not as cool as a signed M9 but I am talking some GREAT prizes. We are still talking about things so when I find out more I will announce it. We may have one starting right after the M9 winner is announced! Stay tuned!

Also, if you “like” my new facebook page for this website you are automatically entered to win one prize every month! Starting March 1st I will pick one facebook “fan” at random to win a small photo prize! The winner selection will be totally random and all you have to do is LIKE THIS PAGE to enter. You will be entered for every monthly give-away which will take place on the 1st of each month!

Be sure and LIKE the page by clicking here, then clicking LIKE if you want to enter :)

Jul 292010
 

I had a few more requests for some comparisons with the Sony NEX 5 at low ISO and high ISO. So, since I am against shooting charts and graphs I decided to shoot my favorite macaroni and cheese :) All images are straight out of camera JPEGS, starting with ISO 200 from the NEX-5, then Leica X1 and then the Olympus E-P2. Then after those three it will be going into an SO 3200 image from each. These are all JPEG only.

YOU MUST CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO SEE  THE FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA VERSIONS!

1st up, ISO 200 from the Sony NEX-5 – Kit Zoom lens at F4.5 – 24mm which is 36mm equivalent

Leica X1 – ISO 200 – F4 – 24mm which is 36mm equivilant

and now the Olympus E-P2 – ISO 200 – f4.3 – 20mm which is 40mm equivalent (14-150 zoom)

Now, ISO 3200 from each…

Sony NEX-5 – ISO 3200 – MUST CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE JPEG

LEICA X1 – F4 – ISO 3200

Olympus E-P2 – ISO 3200

Ok, now I am hungry so I am off  to go cook this up and have some lunch :)

Jul 162010
 

Was sitting in my hotel room in Florence, Italy and decided to do a quick test of these three cameras. The Sony NEX-5, Olympus E-P2 and Leica X1. I set each camera on the balcony and set each to their base ISO and F4. These are just JPEGS so we can see what comes out of the camera. Plus the Sony does not have much RAW support yet. Anyway, this will give you an idea on lens performance on the Sony (soft) but you have to click on the images to view them full size.

SONY NEX-5 – JPEG – ISO 200 – F4

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA JPEG

OLYMPUS E-P2 – ISO 200 (base ISO) – F4

CLICK IMAGE FOR OUT OF CAMERA JPEG

and finally the Leica X1 – ISO 100 (base ISO) at F4

CLICK FOR FULL SIZE

Ahhh, woke up to a beautiful HOT and muggy day. Decided to also shoot a daylight scene from the balcony, I mean, why not?!? These are direct from the  camera, all on AWB at F5.6.

First, the Sony NEX-5

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE

NOW THE OLYMPUS E-P2

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE

and THE LEICA X1

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE

So what are you thoughts? More updates either later today or tomorrow. Stay tuned…

Steve

Jul 152010
 

July 15th 2010 – Hey guys, on the bus headed for Florence, Italy and I was able to connect to WiFi for a bit so I uploaded some shots from last nights show in Croatia. This one was more of a challenge due to lighting, access, etc. but I still walked away with some cool stuff. I shot with the Pentax Kx, The Leica M9, The Leica X1 and the Sony NEX-5.

The Sony NEX-5 is a great little camera and I prefer it to the NEX-3 for ergonomics, but the lenses are the weak link IMO. The zoom has much more distortion than the 16mm prime lens, and is borderline un-usable at its widest setting of 18 if you are shooting any type of architecture. Also, I found while the LCD is fantastic, it is still a challenge to see it in bright light though all cameras have this issues. The one thing that the Sony does have going for it is speed. It’s AF is fast though sometimes gives a false focus lock. When I compared some shots with the X1, it was no contest…the X1 slaughtered the NEX for Image Quality but for speed, and features the NEX-5 wins. For $700, the 5 is a great camera, and makes for a great all-in-one-take-anywhere solution.

Before the show I was in my (very beautiful) hotel room and I had 2 hours to kill so I took a short walk around the village with the Sony NEX-5.

The stairs going down from my room. Sony NEX-5, 18-55. OOC JPEG.

again, the NEX-5 with kit zoom but I did some desaturation on this one as I thought the colors of the original were a but too punchy.

Converted this one to B&W using SIlver Efex Pro

At sound check, the sun was beating down and it was hot & humid. It felt hotter than it does in Phx, AZ due to the humidity.

Showtime, so I started the night shooting with the M9 and Noctilux combo again…

And 3/4 of the way through I grabbed the X1 and had a go with it. If you can get close, the X1 can do a great job, even with its slower AF.

Two more Noctilux shots in B&W (In camera B&W)

one from the Pentax Kx and 200 2.8

and Olympus E-P2 with 14-150

So far so good! Having a great time and all the guys in the band, as well as management are class acts. After just three days I already feel like part of the family. Three days to go before my long flight home but I am thrilled that I was able to come along for the ride for a week. Tomorrow I should have some shots from Florence, Italy and I will mainly be shooting the X1 and NEX-5 while there. As for the next show, I may be shooting it with a Canon 7D to try out an SLR for once :)

Thanks for looking!

This story continues HERE with day 4 & 5

Jul 092010
 

Hey guys! I am back today, a bit earlier than planned but I had a good day today at Slide Rock State Park which is near Sedona, AZ. I was not really in the mood to snap pics but once I got going I had a good time. Just wanted to chime in and say hey, and also I will be planing a cool cool trip with my son REALLY soon and blogging from the road (more details soon). For now, here are a few fun shots from yesterday. Nothing spectacular but may give you an idea of the look each camera can put out:

The Leica X1 at f2.8 – A quick grab shot of Brandon, Kyle and Mike before we headed out! Had to stock up on snacks and drinks. Me, I skipped them as I wasnt hungry. My appetite has been lousy these past few days. Family,  friends and fun. What more could one ask for?

I saw this old Ford and had to get a couple of shots. I had the X1 in hand.

Ford up close – Fordomatic

The X1 is such a great little camera with the best quality I have seen in a compact

Kyle Taking A Jump! – Nex 5 and 18-55.

Jump #2 with the X1

The curious baby looking at the 14-150 on my E-P2

Quick Video shot with the E-P2 and 14-150

Jul 052010
 

The high ISO test between the Olympus E-P2, Leica X1 and Sony NEX-3. I’ll keep this one short and simple.

  • Same subject.
  • Same light. (which was LOW for the higher ISO shots 1600/3200)
  • All three cameras set to ISO 400, 1600 and then 3200 with their default evaluative metering and settings.
  • All images straight out of camera, so what you see below is what you get. The white balance you see is what each camera gave for AWB.
  • I let the cameras meter choose the shutter speed because I wanted to see which one gave the best/most accurate metering.
  • Sony 16mm lens at 2.8, Oly 17mm lens at 2.8 and the Leica with its built in 24 at 2.8.
  • This is just a quick test for noise, nothing more, nothing less.
  • You must click on each image to see the larger full size and/or crops.

I’ll let the samples do the talking, but keep in mind this is a high ISO test for noise/color and i used out of camera JPEGS due to the lack of RAW support for the sony.

First Up, ISO 400 – CLICK images for large size samples

MY OPINION – E-P2 looks great but with less DR than other two. X1 is also very good as expected and the Sony is also good at ISO 400. Other than the distortion with the Sony, it all looks good.

Next Up, 1600 and 3200 ISO

CLICK IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEW AND 100% CROP

ISO 1600 and then ISO 3200 – first up, the Olympus E-P2 – There was some light coming in but not much. I had low shutter speeds at ISO 1600 when wide open at 2.8.

SAMPLES FROM EACH AT 1600 AND 3200!

E-P2 – 1600

E-P2 3200

Now the Leica X1 at ISO 1600 and 3200

NEX-3 – ISO 1600 and then 3200

Click on the images for the full size OOC Jpegs

This one was messed up as my thumb hit the exposure wheel by accident on the NEX-3 and set a negative exposure comp – This happened twice with the NEX and I am starting to think this is a flaw in the design. I put it up here anyway.

I wish I had the Samsung NX10 on hand for t his as I have been seeing some really great things from that camera in regards to IQ, HIGH ISO and color. I may be able to get one soon to try out but until I can I am naming the Leica X1 the champ for high ISO and overall IQ. It’s also the most expensive. Seems the E-P2 comes in last for high ISO and IQ at high ISO and the Sony is held back due to its lens…maybe. More soon with Part 3 which will feature real photos shot with each and my final results.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE – A couple poeple have asked for me  to try out the “Handheld Twilight Mode” on the NEX-3 as this will provide great low light quality. You lose control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO and the camera takes over BUT it does indeed work well. Here is a shot of a low light area, handheld. The camera chose ISO 5000 and took a series of 5 shots to stack together. You lose detail, but also lose noise.

Also, a few of you have e-mailed me defending the Sony for some reason. First of all, I have not even reviewed the Sony yet, just made some remarks about things I noticed like the lens distortion, dial that is easily moved and therefore settings get changed (on the NEX-3) and the fact that you have to dig into a menu to change settings or search for a scene mode for low light. With these little nitpicks, its still a fine camera for $549 with lens. Twilight mode works as advertised and I will use this more more on the NEX-% that should arrive to me tomorrow.

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Mar 032010
 
lensp

This Noktor 50 0.95 lens review diary should be read from the bottom up. The conclusion is up top, early thoughts and samples at the bottom so if this is your first visit to this review diary, start there!

For another review of this lens which is a little more positive and geared towards video use,  you can check out Phillip Bloom


Entry #11 – March 08th 2010 – 6:27 PM –

The lens is being sent back to Noktor in the morning and I am done shooting with it. During my time with the lens I went from liking the lens, to hating the lens, to somewhat liking the lens. I mean, it’s an OK lens but I have to be 100% honest here.

I have to say that you can buy another 50mm lens that will perform better in almost every way for an extra $300 or so. I am talking about the Voigtlander 50 Nokton 1.1. It is a sharper lens, has better color, better contrast and is almost as fast with a 1.1 aperture. But, that lens is for Leica M mount and you will need an adapter to use it, so more expense. It’s also a fatter (larger) lens. But if 0.95 is what you want then the Noktor may be the lens you are looking for.

The NOKTOR 50 left me feeling a bit cold. Yes, it’s a superfast 0.95 aperture lens but it is really hit or miss when using it at that aperture. From its softness and low contrast to it being very hard to focus accurately when wide open I am not sure sure that it is worth the hassle. The fact is, this lens is sort of like what a Leica Noctilux F0.95 would vomit out if it were sick. It’s technically not a very good lens and many will consider it unusable until it is stopped down to F2, and at that aperture you have other choices in a 50mm lens for your m4/3 camera.

Does it allow M4/3 users to shoot in low light? Yep. Can it give good results doing so? Sometimes, but those results are very soft, and the color is very weak. The best way I can describe the color this lens puts out is that it is “dirty”. That is the term I use when a lens gives me blah color. I rarely see it these days in modern lenses but the Noktor obviously does not use any kind of exotic glass. Hell, my 1943 Leica Summitar beats the pants off of the Noktor for color and bokeh, but it’s an F2 lens so it is not quite the speed demon.

You may have seen some not so nice comments in this review/post by those who say this lens is garbage and that there are better and less expensive alternatives. Let me say that A: The lens is not garbage and it does have its uses but B: It is probably a bit pricey for what it gives you in performance and C: There is no other lens like this available new with warranty for M4/3, so maybe it is priced right. It all depends on your needs and expectations.

It may sound like I am being VERY hard on the lens but in all honesty I do like it for certain applications. For example, I think some of the wedding test shots came out nice and the bokeh in those shots is not bad at all, and in B&W they look “pleasant”. Someone here said the lens is a “Jeckyl & Hyde” and I agree. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I like it and 1 time out of 20 times I really like it. It does seem to do best in low light situations, and this my friends is what the lens is all about. It’s the 0.95 speed that potential buyers want and those shooters do not want 1.1 or 1.4. They want 0.95.

So, who would want this lens? Someone who wants the fastest lens they can buy new for their M4/3 camera and does not mind softness wide open, busy bokeh in certain scenarios, low contrast, and dull color out of the camera. If you want .95 then this is the only game in town for a new lens and with all of my complaining, keep in mind I am kind of spoiled by Leica glass. For what it is, the Noktor can (maybe) satisfy those night owls who want to go nocturnal with their M4/3 camera. Just do not expect perfection or Leica Noctilux performance because it’s not there. Yes, I was excited about the lens the first day and even considered buying one but after using it for the past week or so I decided NOT to buy one. It’s not for me, but I know some of you out there will enjoy it.

Bottom Line: The Noktor Hyperprime 50 f/0.95 does indeed do what the company advertises. It’s a super fast lens that will let you shoot at night with your M4/3 camera. They even tell you that you will get a dreamy and unique look. This is 100% fact. Noktor never tells you that the lens is sharp, or contrasty, or puts out a bright, colorful image. The lens delivers on what they claim and if the samples I have provided look good to you then you will probably be happy with the lens. Just be ready for some softness and missed focus. Also, the files will need some contrast and color boost in your favorite editing software to look their best. The main negatives? The bokeh, the softness, the contrast when wide open. The main positives? Build, from F2 down it is sharp, snappy and looks great.

You can read more at NOKTOR.COM. It appears they closed the ordering and now have an email list for stock notification. My guess is they took as many orders as they can handle for now because the BUZZ WAS HIGH with this lens. The day I posted my first look there were 40,000 visitors to this site. That’s 3X more than a normal day :)

Anyway, thanks for coming along with me on this Noktor test! It was fun and I enjoyed shooting with it while I had it. Some of you will love this lens, some will hate it but at least you know what to expect :)

Entry #10 – March 07th 2010 – 10:50PM -

One more wide open with contrast and color tweaked in Aperture 3. I kind of like the look of this one…

Entry #9 – March 07th 2010 – 10:09 AM –

I decided yesterday to do some “REAL” real world testing of this lens so I brought my E-P2/Noktor combo with me to a wedding where I shot a few images. These have been converted to B&W to fit with the others I shot w/the M9. Most were wide open because I wanted to see what this lens could do in this area for something like this. I was not the main wedding shooter so I had no problem experimenting. But when looking at these think of them as “Noktor Test Shots” not “Wedding Images” :)

f0.95

F2

f0.95

f0.95

f 0.95

f0.95

So when actually shooting in challenging light the Noktor, while soft at 0.95 did come through and allowed me to shoot in low light where other lenses would have given up. Also, by F2 the lens is very sharp so I look at this lens as an F2 lens with the capabilities to go faster IF NEEDED. Once you go wider  than F2 you suffer some imperfections that may or may not be a big deal to you.

My wrap up to this review will be up tomorrow!

Entry #8 – March 06th 2010 – 8:42 AM –

I have had quite a few e-mails asking for this so here it goes. Below you will see an image shot at 0.95 followed by a 100% crop at every aperture. These were all shot on a tripod, self timer mode and focus was critically set using the magnified LCD on the back of the camera.

The Noktor is soft wide open and at 1.4 but then starts to sharpen up as it hits F2. The lens is at its sharpest from F5.6-F8. But at this aperture, the Kit zoom would be just as sharp if not sharper. The question you have to ask yourself is why you would want this lens. If it is for the 0.95 aperture, which is why most people are interested in this lens, then be aware the lens will be soft when wide open. The lens loses contrast, color and sharpness at .95-1.4. This may be the look you are after though :)

Entry #7 – March 05th 2010 – 12:06 PM –

Grabbed some quick shots this morning during the soft golden light hour. Lens did better in this light. So far I have had issues with the lens in bright light, at all apertures. In low light, the lens did good. In soft light like this the lens seems to do best. I also think a lens like this would do even better on a camera with a larger sensor and more dynamic range. But, the samples below look pretty good. They can be clicked on for a larger view. I am hoping to have a sharpness test up later with crops from each aperture so we can see how sharp the lens gets as it is stopped down.

All at F0.95 – straight from camera images. Minimum focus ditance on all three.

Entry #6 – March 04th 2010 – 9:34 PM –

Been shooting more tonight and became frustrated with this lens again. For some reason I was getting bad blown highlights even when trying to shoot a silly coke can under a table lamp. Not sure if this was the lens or the sensor so I tried it with the 20 1.7 as well. First the Noktor…

ISO 200, 1/125s. f0.95

and now the 20 1.7…

So it appears to be a sensor thing. The 20 1.7 gave me the same color and the same blown area though not as bad, but I was at 1.7 on the 20. Notice how smooth the 20 1.7 bokeh is :) These are right out of camera images BTW…

One thing I noticed today is that the out of camera Noktor files could really use some PP to liven them up. So here are a couple of shots that I did some processing to in CS4. I think they look much better than the samples from earlier which were right from camera samples…

Here is one I did not post earlier but it has had some PP..color boost, levels, contrast, dodge and vignette. Click for larger. This was wide open at 0.95.

Here is one I did post earlier and the out of camera image was a little bland, a little dull and a little boring. I livened this one up with some levels, contrast, color and some burning as well.

I will have this review wrapped up by the weekend for sure. Just have to do a few more tests and then post my final word. Check back soon :)

Entry #5 – March 04th 2010 – 12:53 PM -

Well, well, well! Finally. This update was planned for earlier but something just did not feel right. I felt like I needed more shooting time with this lens before I made any final judgements on it. My wife had the day off and we had some sunshine and nice weather so we took a drive to an old abandoned factory that I have been to before. This building will really test any camera or lens because the deeper you go in the darker it gets. I had the chance to shoot with diffused light, direct light, and almost no light. So the shots I took yesterday were scrapped because I had some that were out of focus (not sure if it was me or the lens here) and the light was not really  that great. I really wanted one more crack with this lens before I gave up on it.

Yes, I was about to give up on this lens. Why? Well, in most shooting situations and light this lens will have virtually no contrast when shot wide open. It also flares quite easily, and sharpness, well, it is just not a really sharp lens. I am the first to say that sharpness is not everything but the lens seemed like it was extra soft and the color was on the dull side. If the lighting is diffused and soft you can get some sharp results and by pumping up the contrast in photoshop you can come away with an attractive photo. It all just seemed like too much work but then again, there was still something drawing me to this lens. I think it may be the fact that it is a 0.95 aperture AND for micro 4/3. This is a lens that the m4/3 crowd needs and it does have its own character though with really ugly bokeh at times. Other times though, the Bokeh can be pleasant.

I am glad I took out the lens today because these are the best results I have gotten with it so far and also show what it can do in low light, wide open, and even a little stopped down. I also brought along my M9 with a 35 Summilux and while the M9 files are flat out GORGEOUS, the NOKTOR images have a totally different look and feel. Here are the images with many available in FULL size. These are straight from the E-P2. RAW conversion was in ACR 5.6 and this is the best I could do with this lens after 3 days, and I was taking my time to critically focus with the EVF and magnification ON.

First my wife at f0.95, ISO 200 – CLICK FOR FULL SIZE JPEG

SO here, the lens looks like it would make for a really nice portrait lens. It’s soft, it has some glow and in this scenario, the bokeh is not bad at all. Here is another wide open…again, click for full size JPEG

Now HERE is what impressed me. Stopeed down to 1.4 the lens gave me some contrast and some detail…click for full size JPEG

will provide samples at f2-F11 tomorrow!

The best way I can describe the performance of this lens is that it is like comparing HDTV to the old Analog TV’s. Don’t buy the Noktor for detail as it doesn’t really have any (WHEN WIDE OPEN). I have to be honest though, the company does not claim this lens has amazing resolution. Instead they talk about its low light abilities, so what about that? THIS IS indeed what an 0.95 aperture is made for. The only issue I have with this is that the M4/3 sensors are not really ideal for lowlight or high ISO. But, let’s go deeper into the factory and into Noct territory…

I bumped up the E-P2 to ISO 640 and set the lens to f 0.95 as this room was pretty dark. There was one streak of light coming in but this was 0.95, 1/30s and ISO 640…

Now this I like. I really think that this is where this lens shines. Low light, wide open. Using it in bright light is what seemed to bring in the flare, the duller color and the unpleasant bokeh. Here is another at ISO 640, 1/60s, 0.95 – click this one for a larger look

So in this dark room the lens did indeed suck in the light when it was set at 0.95. If you were in the room you would have seen how dark it actually was. So the lens did do as advertised and I feel it would make for a useful lens in any low light scenario. Here is one that surprised me with its sharpness and color wide open. I did add contrast in CS4 for this one…click it for the full size JPEG…

and a couple more low light shots wide open…

So after reviewing these samples in low light I was impressed. The fact that I had a $750 lens in my hand that opened up to a 0.95 aperture was a big deal. Again, this lens is not up to the Noctilux level of excellence but remember, you could buy almost 15 Noktors for the price of one Noctilux 0.95 :) For those with a m4/3 camera this lens is a welcome addition to the lens lineup.

Now, with that said let me go over some things so far that I like/dislike with the lens, so far:

LIKES SO FAR:

  • Build is solid.
  • Aperture ring is nice, smooth and “clickless” but can be locked down easily
  • The speed of course. The 0.95 Aperture allows you to take your m4/3 to places you have not taken it before (unless you already have one of these kinds of lenses)
  • In certain lighting like evening, diffused or warm the lens can give great results.
  • It has its own unique character. Different from the Noctilux, Nokton, etc. Some may like it, some may not. When the bokeh is not so ugly, I like it :)
  • Focuses closer than M lenses.

DISLIKES SO FAR:

  • Green ring on the front is a little gaudy.
  • Wide open, the lens is very soft, has low contrast, and in bright light seems to blow the highlights out if you are in bright light.
  • Color is not very good out of the camera. It’s dull but can be pumped up in post.

Remember, this is an ongoing review and I was going to end it today but I may continue for a few days as I found new motivation today with the factory images. No, this camera and lens will not get me the results that my M9 will but I am reviewing this for you guys, the ones who are really interested in this lens and shoot Micro 4/3. So what I am going to do is keep the lens for a little while longer and you guys can let me know what kind of tests you want to see. Remember, I can not always do side by sides with other lenses as I do not own a ton of lenses. Many ask about the Voigtlander Nokton 1.1 compared to this. All I can tell you is that yes, I have shot the Nokton 1.1 and it is sharper, has more contrast, more punchy color and the bokeh is smoother. It renders like a modern lens. The Noktor renders like an old lens with all of their faults. Many enjoy this and it can give you imteresting results. Again, this lens has a place for those who want to get creative :)

I may be able to update later today with more so keep an eye out here. I am hoping to shoot in some evening light with the lens today.

Yes, I went from hot to cold to very warm with this lens over the past 3 days so more real world use is in order. I also want to do some tripod stuff to eliminate any focus error. Stay tuned…

OH YEA! Some of you have requested some more examples from the M9 in the same situations…Here is one from the M9 and 35 Lux ASPH at 1.4…


Entry #4 – March 04th 2010, 8:26AM -

Stay tuned for more in a couple of hours. I will have some full size samples and some commentary about this lens which will actually wrap up this review. I have been shooting with it non stop (in good and bad light) and already reached a conclusion about it. Update soon….

Entry #3 – March 03rd 2010, 2:04PM –

Ok guys, one more update on this lens for today and then tomorrow I will have more. Here are two more shots I just grabbed and the 2nd one surprised me a bit. The dead ladybug was shot wide open using the LCD of the E-P2 (with the magnification of course) and focus was dead on.

1st, more bokeh…the same lights in the background, just farther away…

click images for larger view


Entry #2 – March 03rd 2010, 11:52AM –
It’s NOKTOR MANIA! Just some quick test shots on a tripod to show bokeh. These images are only to show the bokeh qualities of this lens from wide open through F8. They are not to judge sharpness. I will have full size samples this week for sharpness testing. I also included a shot from the same spot with the Panny 20 1.7 as well as a couple of Leica lenses on the M9, just for fun :) If I am posting too much, let me know. I’ll slow down :)

BTW, this lens seems to at times have nice bokeh and other times have horrendous bokeh. Shooting with any trees in the background when wide open will result in some pretty distracting eye numbing effects. The shots below are better than the ones I shot yesterday in regards to Bokeh but as someone already stated in one of the comments, this lens appears to be a Jeckyll & Hyde in regards to Bokeh (out of focus rendering). Tomorrow I will have more real images as well as some 100% shots to judge how sharp it is at all apertures.

Friday I plan on getting some portraits in nice light and to see if I can avoid the harsh bokeh effects, so more real world stuff coming.


Entry #1 – March 03rd 2010, 8:22 AM – Entries may be added 1-3X per day, or once a day depending on what I can do for that day. So check back to this page for updates over the next 1-2 weeks.

The Noktor 50 f/0.95 Hyperprime Lens Review Diary, Updated DAILY – OK guys! I have decided to do a “Review Diary” on this Noktor 50 because A: I want to try something new, B: This gives all of you something new to look at every day, and C: It will probably end up having more samples than my usual reviews due to daily shooting :) Oh yea, and also due to the mass amounts of e-mail asking me for more, more, more!

As most of you know I received this lens on Tuesday March 2nd 2010 and started shooting with it immediately. Over the next week or two I will be shooting images, posting medium samples, posting some full size samples, and yes, even posting some video shot with the lens on the Olympus E-P2. Why the Olympus E-P2? Well, because it is the only Micro 4/3 camera I have here and also the EVF is good enough for critical manual focus.

First of all, here is what I know about Noktor, the new USA based company that is responsible for releasing this ultra fast prime lens for the Micro 4/3 mount.

  • They are called NOKTOR. Seems like a play on the famous “Noctilux” name from Leica. Noct of course, meaning Nocturnal. Their official website is HERE.
  • They popped up put of the blue with their twitter account a few weeks back and announced this lens. No website at that time, just the twitter page.
  • On March 1st 2010 Noktor released their official website announcing an April 15th ship date of the 50 f/0.95 lens
  • A sample was shipped to me  for review. Now I can share my experience with all of you!

Now, some have e-mailed me asking me if I know these guys. No, I do not. My only communication with them has been through a couple of e-mails. They are also not paying me one cent to advertise or write a review. They just let me use the lens for a little while.

Enter the The Senko 50 f/0.95

It appears to me that this lens is a direct copy of the Senko 50mm f/0.95 C-mount CCTV lens. Either that or it is actually that lens. There is a green band on the front of the Noktor lens which could in fact be covering any names or info.

The Senko lens can be found online as a C-Mount lens but it sells for over $800. Sure, you could buy it and then buy an adapter but Noktor is selling this lens, or a direct copy of it for $750 with a 2 year warranty. So I am not 100% sure as to what the deal is with the lens just yet (as in, where it comes from) but it looks exactly like, and its specs are exactly like, the Senko. The only differences are the green band and the NOKTOR engraved text on the lens. In any case the lens looks and feels nice. I may have preferred the big “NOKTOR” to be smaller and placed at the rear of the lens though :)

For those who are not aware, or have stumbled on to this page and are just now hearing about this lens, the Noktor 50 f/0.95 is a super fast prime lens for the micro 4/3 mount. Basically, a lens you can shoot in low light AND obtain creative shallow depth of field effects with. It is MANUAL focus and you will choose your Aperture on the lens barrel, not in the camera. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode (A mode) on your camera will allow you to concentrate on focus and let the camera take care of the exposure.

More tests…

I have shot this lens a little bit more this morning as I was curious how it would do when stopped down a bit, say to F4. I basically stepped out of my back door and shot this bird feeder. The first shot is wide open at f/0.95 and the second is at F4. You can see that by F4 the bokeh cleans up a bit and the lens gets rather sharp. These were converted from RAW and have only had slight contrast adjust from with the RAW converter.

The Noktor at F/0.95 – wide open. See the glow? It’s also a bit soft when at 0.95 but seriously, you can not expect Leica performance in a $750 lens on a M 4/3 camera. IMO, for the money, this is pretty good for F 0.95. Here, the bokeh is not as crazy as when you have trees in the background :) You can click the image for a 2000 pixel wide version.

and now the same scene at F4. The lens gets pretty sharp by F4 and the bokeh gets a bit smoother.

If you are reading this I am sure you have seen my other two “first look” posts. I have found some interesting comments within those posts. A couple of guys have said that you can buy this lens for $20. Ok, if I can by THIS lens, or the Senko version, meaning the 50 0.95, let me know where because I will buy 20 of them. Everything I have seen about THIS lens is that it sells for $800+ in the C-Mount. I have seen others say that Noktor is taking a $250 lens, putting an M4/3 mount on it and selling it for $750. I can say a few things about that but again, where can I buy this lens for $250? Is this for a NEW lens?

Noktor is a business. A goal of any business is to make money. Even if they pay $250 for this lens they have to install the m4/3 mount, have the NOKTOR name embedded on each lens, pay for packaging, and also pay for all of the other costs associated with running their business. They also include a 2 year warranty. I am assuming they want to grow their business not go out of business.

More on the price…as I have stated above, $750 is not really a bad price for what you get here. If you want an f0.95 lens for your m4/3 camera WITH an m4/3 mount and you want this lens to be new with a warranty then there is no other option. I found this lens (senko version) online for over $800 in C mount new so $750 is right in the ballpark of where it should be and I expect they will sell quite a few.

My Impressions So Far…

OK, my impressions so far? This lens is a bit soft wide open, and focusing at this wide of an aperture can be a challenge. The depth of field is RAZOR thin. The contrast is low, but fixable in your RAW conversion or in your image editing software if you need more. The lens also has a dreamy glow when wide open and I am expecting to get MUCH nicer color as soon as I have some sunshine! C’mon SUN! As for the bokeh…ummm, well…sometimes it seems nice and other times it seems ugly. I will be doing some Bokeh tests showing bokeh at all apertures. I am setting up a “Bokeh Test Scene” so that should be posted in the next few days.

The lens build is nice, solid, and it focuses smooth. The aperture ring does not click but it can be locked down at your aperture of choice. I feel this is the most creative lens for the m4/3 mount to date. This is NOT a lens to buy if you want crisp, sharp and smooth. It is a lens to consider if you like that soft glow, lower contrast, crazy bokeh and need a fast lens for low light :) Basically, this is a great lens for “creative” uses.

Is it comparable to the legendary Leica Noctilux F1? No. Is it comparable to the Leica Noctilux F 0.95 Double NO. Those lenses are brilliant and I love the old classic Noctilux. Its rendering is like nothing else out there really and this Noktor is not a challenger to those lenses. With that said, this could be the new “Poor Mans Noctilux” as it will get you the speed but at the expense of busy bokeh and some softness wide open. Yes, M4/3 is shaping up to be a nice little system for those who like fast lenses.

Check back every day over the next week or so for more. I will add to THIS page, so bookmark it. Updates will be AT THE TOP of the page. Who knows, if the sun shines today I may add more this evening :) Thanks for reading!


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Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you!

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Mar 032010
 

Just thought I would post these as they were shot at the same time as the other examples I posted yesterday. In other words, these were also shot in that first hour with the lens. Out of 20 images taken, only 2 or 3 were OOF. Not bad for a 0.95 lens! Again, these were shot on the Olympus E-P2 using the EVF (see my E-P2 review here). I found the EVF worked perfectly for manual focus. Olympus also just released the E-PL1 but these do not have the EVF. They are also nearly half the price of the E-P2 at $599 so for those whose budget does not extend to the E-P2, the E-PL1 seems to be a nice choice. Also, we can’t forget about the killer Panasonic GF1 which this lens will also mount to.

These will be the last samples I post until my full review, so enjoy! All samples below are at 0.95…

NOTE: Yes, I find the bokeh in 2, 3 and 4 to be pretty awful. More bokeh tests on the way…

Feb 072010
 

“BOKEH – subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of an image projected by a camera lens”

Ok guys! I had a few e-mail requests to whip up  a test showing the bokeh from a lens on the Leica M9 and then the same lens on the Olympus E-P2 with adapter. This will not only show you how the E-P2 crop factor effects the lens but also will show you the bokeh (out of focus qualities) with each lens on each camera.

Bokeh and Depth of Field on m4/3

There is a bunch of info on the net about the m4/3 format and how it is tough to get shallow depth of field due to the small sensor. Well, this is somewhat true. For example, if you mount a 50mm F2 lens on a Leica M9, you are effectively shooting with a 50mm F2 so you will get the shallow depth of field associated with a 50mm f2. If you slap a 25mm F2 lens on a m4/3 camera it will be like shooting with a 50mm in regards to focal length, but your depth of field will be that of a 25mm lens at F2, not a 50mm lens at F2. This means that your out of focus backgrounds when shooting with a wide aperture, say F2, will be much less shallow (on the m4/3) due to the lens you are shooting with still being a 25mm lens. The wider the lens, the more depth of field you will have. Therefore, you will have the depth of field of a 25mm, not a 50mm. The sensor size turns the lens into a 50mm focal length but you are still shooting with a 25mm lens and therefore will have 25mm f2 depth of field, not 40 f2 depth of field. The other way some look at it, which is exactly the same, is that 25 F2 on an E-P2 would be acting more like that 50 on the M9 but at F4. Either way you look at it is fine.

To get the bokeh qualities (not depth of field) of a 50mm f2 lens on a m4/3 camera you need to use an actual 50mm lens on said camera. Only problem there is it will no longer behave like a 50mm because it becomes a 100mm focal length with 50mm quality bokeh. Confused yet? The bottom line is that it is not possible to get the bokeh qualities  of a 50 or 75mm lens on a m4/3 camera unless you shoot with a 50 or 75mm lens. A 25 or 35mm lens is not going to do it.

Bokeh on full frame

On a full frame camera the entire lens surface is being used so you will see more of the image. A 50mm image will utilize the full lens surface so you basically do not get a different quality of bokeh, just more of it because the edges your image are not cropped out. Below is an example on what you would see with a 35mm lens on a full frame camera vs that same 35mm lens on a m4/3 camera (approx). On both the “bokeh” will be the same as will the depth of field. The difference will be that the m4/3 version will basically be a cropped version of the full frame image.

The tests…

I set up my tripod and locked it down. I shot each of the following lenses on the M9: The Leica 35 Summarit, 50 summicron, 75 summicron, 90 elmarit, Zeiss 35 Biogon, and 85 Sonnar F2. I then shot the same lenses on the E-P2 from the same tripod position. This way you can see how each lens reacts on each camera.

I also made all of these 1500 px wide images available in a zip file that you can download HERE. It’s about 8MB and includes all of the images below.

You can click on any image below to open them up in a larger 1500 pixel wide window. I hope some of you find this useful!

The images…

First up, the Leica 35 Summarit F2.5 lens on each camera. As you can see, the 35 becomes a 70mm on the E-P2 but the Bokeh and Depth of Field remains the same. You just have a cropped version with the E-P2.

LEICA M9 – 35 SUMMARIT – F2.5

OLYMPUS E-P2 – 35 SUMMARIT – F2.5

The Leica 50 summicron which will become a 100mm summicron on the E-P2 or any m4/3 camera and will give you the qualities of a 50 F2 in regards to bokeh and depth of field, not a 100. You still have a 100 F2 lens in regards to light gathering ability but you will be getting the depth of field of a 50.

LEICA M9 – 50 SUMMICRON – F2

OLYMPUS E-P2 – 50 SUMMICRON – F2

Let’s jump to a 75mm lens. On full frame this 75 Summicron is absolutely gorgeous with silky bokeh and super color. On the m4/3 it is now the equivalent of a  150mm focal length at F2. A great low light portrait lens. Again though, you will not have the depth of field and bokeh qualities of a 150 F2 but rather of a 75 F2, or as some would say a 150 F4.

LEICA M9 – 75 SUMMICRON – F2

OLYMPUS E-P2 – 75 SUMMICRON – F2

I hope this explained a few thing to those who were a little confused about the 2X crop of the m4/3 cameras and the effect it has on your images, the bokeh, and focal length equivalents! As stated earlier, I have a zip file here with these images and many more including the same test shots with a Zeiss 35 biogon and some M9 with the Zeiss 85 and Leica 90 Elmarit. I also have a couple of 100% crops in there so if you want to see them you can download the ZIP HERE! I will only leave this up for a few days due to bandwidth so if you want it, grab it now. Also, for the images in this comparison I used the Novoflex M to m4/3 adapter which can be found at B&H Photo HERE.

Thanks for looking!

Steve

UPDATE -

One final comparison to show the bokeh of a 75MM lens on a full frame M9 against a 35mm lens on the E-P2, using the above images. The E-P2 with a 35 will be a 70mm equivilant:

M9 with a 75mm at F2

E-P2 with a 35 (70 Equiv) at F2.5 (yes, its 2.5 but close enough to get the idea)

You can see the much more shallow depth of field with the 75 on the full frame M9 and shows what people mean when they complain about not getting enough shallow depth of field on a m4/3 camera.

UPDATE Feb 8th 2010 - Some of you wanted a comparison with something like a 35 F2 on the E-P2 and a 75 F4 on the M9. This is a quick shot I grabbed outside just now but  this kind of testing brings in all kinds of new problems. For example, the m4/3 lens is shot at F2 so its likely it will be softer than the M9 at F4 right? The 4/3 crowd says to “fairly” test these things I needed to do this to make everything even steven, so here you go. I also shot the M9 at F2 to keep it even as far as lens aperture.

These are straight out of camera untouched files. Converted from RAW with ACR and yes, the color sucks because the light today sucks. Its winter and the light is grey. Also, this post was originally to show the DOF and “Bokeh” from a ff camera compared to a m4/3 camera. These examples will show you that the 35 at F2 does pretty much equal the 75 at F4 as far as DOF is concerned. It will also show you the sensor of the M9 is a little better :) Here you go…

First, the E-P2 with Zeiss 35 Biogon at F2 which everyone says will give you a 70mm with F4 DOF (not light gathering or lens sharpness which is still F2, but this post is about DOF, not detail) in 4/3 land. This was precisely manually focused with the E-P2…but looks soft to me. I do not see 75 F4 DOF, I see 35 F2 DOF as the lens is technically still a 35. :)

The focus was on the van door handles, not the house. I did this for DOF reasons.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL SIZE OOC IMAGE

Now, the M9 with the 75 Summicron at F4 which is a “real” 75 F4, so pretty close to the above combo right? I admit the 75 cron is a much better lens than the 35 Biogon but you cannot dismiss the results. Again, focus was on van door handle.

CLICK HERE FOR OOC ORIGINAL

Here is the 75 cron/M9 shot but this time at F2 to see how the lens does wide open compared to the 35 at F2 for sharpness.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL SIZE OOC ORIGINAL

Enjoy!


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Jan 262010
 

OK guys, I have been messing around with my Leica M to m4/3 adapter and I have to be honest. I’m not 100% in love with shooting M glass on the Olympus E-P2. Can it give good results? Sure. Can it give better results than a Panasonic lens on the E-P2? Well, in some cases it can but not always. The main improvements I see with shooting Leica or Zeiss M glass on the E-P2 (via the adapter) is in the color and bokeh. As far as sharpness goes, the Panasonic lenses do a great job with that already and let us not forget that we are limited by the m4/3 sensor. It can only do so much, so in reality the only things you will see improve with this expensive M glass is color and quality of the bokeh.

I have shot with the Zeiss 35 Biogon,  Zeiss 85 Sonnar, the Leica 35 Summarit, 50 summicron, 75 summicron and 90 Elmarit. The only Leica lenses that I really enjoyed using on the E-P2 were the 50 and 75 Summicron. Really, those seemed to be the nicest in regards to quality and feel. The 35’s were OK but I felt I was able to get better results with the Panasonic 20 1.7. The 75 cron is gorgeous and on the M9 it’s simply incredible.

I have not done any “real” side by sides yet as it has been too cold outside, but I have shot some frames with these lenses and decided to show what I have so far. Nothing serious, just a bunch of randomness :) In the coming days I will try to get out with a tripod and do a real bonafide side by side with the panasonic 20 1.7 and the Leica 35. But,  I think that it will be a draw.

Being a Leica M owner I do not think I would choose to take the E-P2 with a Leica lens over taking my M9. As a matter of fact, I know I wouldn’t. If I want to shoot an M lens, it will be with the M9. So that leads to the question of “is it worth it to buy Leica or Zeiss glass if  you only own a m4/3 camera?” Well, I would say no. I think the Panasonic glass is the best choice for m4/3 right now. The 7-14, 20 1.7, 45 macro and 14-140 are fantastic lenses and work well with the m4/3 bodies. Still, if you already own some M mount lenses it may be worth getting an adapter to give it a shot. As for me, the jury is still out. While I like the results I just feel that the sensor in the m4/3 cams can not take full advantage of these beautiful lenses. It’s quite a bit of fun though :)

So, on to some samples. The following examples can be clicked on for the larger version and you will see which lens took the shot. They were all converted from RAW in ACR 5.6 and have had the exposure, color and contrast tweaked in most cases.


Jan 212010
 

The Novoflex M to m4/3 adapter just arrived! Yep, I shelled out $240 (damn, that seems crazy) for this Novoflex adapter that will allow me to use my Leica M lenses on the Olympus E-P2. I used to own the Voigtlander adapter when I had an E-P1, but this time I decided to go for it and buy the Novoflex. If you read this site then you know that I believe Leica makes the best lenses in the world for 35mm photography. Period. When these little m4/3 cameras came out, one of the coolest features was the fact that you could buy adapters for almost ANY lens mount and use those lenses on your m4/3 camera!

Now, the reality of this is that the m4/3 sensors are not really quite up to the level of some of these lenses, especially the Leica glass. Sure, you can get some of that Leica look but on a m4/3 camera a 35mm F2 becomes a 70mm F2. If you want a fast 35mm equivalent then you need to find an 18. Sadly, a fast 18 is no where to be found. So while it may not be the best solution it sure can be fun. In any case, I wanted to test Leica glass on the E-P2 now that I have an EVF with high enough resolution to focus accurately without having to blow up my LCD to the 7X view. So yep, I ordered the Novoflex from B&H photo.

It arrived and my 1st impression was “Holy cow! This thing is light” – It feels lighter than the Voigtlander adapter. Hmmm. I attached it to the little E-P2 and it slid on with a sold twist and click. I attached some lenses and grabbed some shots of them mounted on the camera to show you what they look like. One thing is for sure…the camera feels AWESOME with an M lens attached! It’s solid and actually pretty M like! But what about performance? I’ll have some image results soon.

For today, here are some images for you so you can get an idea of how it all comes together! The E-P2 is now looking pretty sweet!

The little 35 Summarit with its hood attached on the E-P2. This would be like shooting a 70mm F2.5 lens with a minimum focus distance of 0.9m.

The 50 Summicron will give you the equivalent of a 100mm F2 lens. Not too shabby huh?

The 90 Elmarit looks like a monster on the E-P2! With this lens you have a 180mm F2.8!

This adapter is pretty nice. Solid and light. You can buy the Novoflex at B&H Photo HERE or save $60 or so and buy the Voigtlander HERE. In all of my new Leica lens reviews I will be not only testing the lenses on the M9, but also on the E-P2 so be on the lookout for those! As I get some samples I will be sure to post them and also include some “crazy comparisons” with the M9. I say “crazy” because who compares a $1000 camera with a $7000 camera? Well, I do!

Here is one shot with the Zeiss 85 Sonnar F2 from today. I have to say that this lens did not do so well on the E-P2 overall. Lots of CA, and for some weird reason NOISE even at ISO 200 in 3/4 of the shots. Here is one that I liked that had no issues. I did some PP to it but mainly contrast, brightness and desaturation.

I will be doing much more with this adapter and will be posting my results as I go. Thanks for looking!

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Jan 212010
 

Yes I know these crazy comparisons are kind of silly but they are a way to pass the time on nasty wet winter days and besides, my M9 was MIA last time :) This time I have four cameras, two of which are midline DSLR’s. I then have a $7000 camera with a $2000 lens and a m4/3 $1100 camera/lens combo. The DSLR’s, the M4/3 and Leica M are all different types of cameras right? But which one will give you the best picture quality with each lens set to F5.6? I did this quick test in my living room using a tripod to avoid any hand shake.

The Canon 7D used the kit 28-135 zoom, the Nikon D300s used the 18-200 kit zoom , the E-P2 used its 14-42 kit zoom and the Leica used a 50 Summicron which used to be the kit lens with the M7.

So lets see how it went shall we? Again, let me stress! I do these things for fun. I had some positive e-mails about these comparisons so I decided to keep doing them even though they can be off the wall. I was surprised to see that the worst of the bunch here was the Canon 7D and its kit zoom. The best was the Leica M9, followed by the little E-P2. Here is the image and then crops with links to download the full size files. These were all shot RAW and converted in ACR 5.6 using defaults.

Here is the scene. My dusty fireplace mantle.

download the full size imagesM97DD300sE-P2

and now the crops:

That 7D kit lens is a dog, I am sorry but its true. Let me add that I took each shot three times and all ended up with the same result. If you download the full size originals you will see the Leica M9 is WAY ahead (as it should be for the $$) and what was surprising was the little E-P2 with its cheap-o kit zoom! In my opinion, it beat out those big DSLR’s in this one. You really can’t blame the lenses as the Oly Kit Zoom is a $200 lens and the Nikon 18-200 is about $800 with Canons 28-135 Zoom coming in at under $500. I have to wonder why Canon would release such a sweet DSLR and pack it with such a mediocre zoom? Why even offer a kit if the kit lens is going t o make the camera look bad?

I have shot with the Canon 7D for a while now and find the kit zoom lackluster in so many ways. The cheap $99 50 1.8 gave me much better results with this camera. I suggest if you buy a 7D, skip the one with the kit zoom and go for a body only with a better lens. The Nikon 18-200 Zoom is pretty good except at 18mm where it has some barrel distortion and vignetting. Other  than that I like the 18-200 and find its a great lens to put in to a kit with the D300s. The little Olympus continues to surprise me. Even with its kit zoom that many moan and groan about, it performed well here. The Leica 50 Cron is a Mandler designed legend and I have fallen for this lens in a big big way. I love it and I have shot with EVERY Leica 50mm currently available. I will have a review of the 50 Summicron soon!


Jan 172010
 

What do the Canon 7D, Nikon D300s and Olympus E-P2 have in common? They are all sitting in front of me begging for a crazy comparison! I was bored last night and stuck in the house. Pretty sad for a Saturday night huh? While everyone else in the world was out having a great time I was sitting in my bedroom taking pictures of a lamp and humidifier. Ha ha.

In any case, I am working on a few reviews right now and decided I would throw this up in the meantime. I would have thrown my M9 in to the mix but I will not have it back until Monday. Anyway, here are three shots, three crops, and three links to full size images. Each camera was on a tripod and set to the same exposure, same ISO and AWB. These were processed from RAW with ACR 5.6 using default settings. In other words, pretty much straight from camera. Here we go…

First up the feature packed Canon 7D. This camera feels so much better in my hand than previous Canon DSLR’s. It feels nice, solid and NOT cheap like the 5D kind of does. The camera had the Canon 50 1.8 attached set to F5.6, ISO 200, 2 seconds.

You can click the image for a 1400 pixel wide version OR click HERE for the full size 14MB  file – I believe the lens back focused here (took the shot 3X, same result. Focus was on the “Air-O-Swiss” text)

Continue reading »

Jan 142010
 

Olympus E-P2 Art Filter Video Samples – Another day another full SD card! Since posting my E-P2 review I have had some questions flowing into my inbox about the video mixed with ART filters. Many of you wanted to know what the video looked like when shot with the grainy B&W filter or the cross process. I decided to have some fun and shoot a few things around the house in each mode. I did skip a couple of these filters that I really do not care for like “pale light” and “diorama”. My favorite art filters on the E-P2 for images and video are the Grainy B&W and Cross Process. I have used both of these quite a bit and they cam be fun, even with video!

Some filters cause the video to be choppy and play with low frame rates. One in particular that I find pretty much unusable with video is the “Pinhole” and even “Soft Focus” filters. Just too choppy for my tastes. I admit, when video started popping up on DSLR’s I was against it. I was in the “keep it simple” camp and said if I wanted video I would buy a dedicated video camera. But with todays digital still cameras you can far surpass the quality of a say a $1500 video camera with an E-P2! Its pretty amazing really.

Something like a Canon 5DII or 7D can provide better video than some cameras costing $5,000. It’s all due to the sensor and the E-P2 has a much larger sensor than your typical video camera. With its in body IS you can use any lens and get stable shots. I hear that a GREAT lens for video on the m4/3 cameras is the Panasonic/Leica  14-150. Its big but provides a 28-300 zoom range with superior quality and the XSM motor for silent internal focusing. I would LOVE to buy this lens for video but its $1500. Maybe one day :)

The sample below was all shot for fun to show the ART filter effects with video. The only lens used was the Panasonic 20 1.7. Enjoy! Continue reading »

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