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thomas hobbes
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definitely agree on thinking about lenses and their properties as a hobby separate from photography. a decent photographer can make due with any lens and get good results. i could be perfectly happy shooting with what is technically my worst lens (probably a jupiter-3, though there are other contenders), yet i like to explore all kinds of lenses for the fun of it. mostly i'm not interested in getting the best performance out of them though (the differences in best performance between most lenses aren't that great or interesting in my opinion). i'm more interested in stressing them to see what kind of interesting looks that produces. i have an rx1, which is technically amazing having almost no sweet spot and yet has a beautiful distinctive look to it. despite this i often choose to shoot instead with a leica m 35/1.4 lux pre-asph that has many flaws simply because i enjoy the way the optical flaws look too.
i've not used this particular macro, largely because i don't particularly care for macros for general use photography (they tend to be too slow for my available light shooting and too well corrected for my taste). anybody considering the lens for macro photography should be aware though that the lens is prone to sensor reflections at macro distances and small aperture: i've experienced this with my tamron 90/2.5 macro and they really can ruin images. luckily the issue doesn't seem to be visible for non macro shots with this sony lens or my tamron.
Toggle Commented Jul 18, 2014 on A Recent Favorite Lens at The Online Photographer
i picked up the a7 when it went on sale for $1260 at b&h. i have a few complaints about it, but love it because fits my shooting better than any digital camera ever has. image quality is fantastic and lets me use the full image circle of my favorite lenses. i shoot exclusively manual focus – i've never found a camera that makes me think AF is more of a help than a hindrance (yes, i've shot with canon and nikon pro dslrs). for a long time dslrs have been designed to make manual focus much harder than it used to be compared to my old minolta xd-11 or contax aria (or any film slr designed for manual focus really). the a7 evf makes manual focus a breeze and can fit all my favorite lenses both rangefinder and slr. i don't bother with peaking unless i'm shooting fast action or birding – the evf is good enough that i find that i can easily hit focus dead on at f/1.2 95% of the time without using peaking or magnification (i do have sharpness turned all the way up in jpeg settings to make seeing focus easier). i only shoot in manual mode and aperture priority and don't use any of the fancy features of the camera so i don't have any strong opinions about the menus. i really like all the customizable buttons that keep me from ever having to enter the menus at all other than to format the card. a couple buttons could be placed better, but i feel the same way about all cameras. the grip is a perfect fit for me. i very much like the existence and placement of the EC dial - easy to use looking down at the camera and looking through the viewfinder. i don't like the front dial placement, but i've never had occasion to need to use yet either. for my own personal preferences, i wish the camera came in the nex-7 form factor, but i know many others disagree. there are a few major cons with the camera in my opinion (but i have even more with all other cameras on the market) in order of importance to me: 1) the shutter is terribly imprecise and soggy feeling, my timing for key moments definitely suffers because of this. 2) there is no way to set one of the custom buttons to toggle between the evf and lcd (the eye sensor is too sensitive to allow waist level shooting with it set to automatic). 3) no way to set lower limit on shutter speed with auto iso. 4) magnification button takes 2 presses. 5) the shutter is quite loud, i notice a definite difference in response when taking environmental portraits with it compared to my rx1. 6) doesn't play well with some rangefinder lenses (still better than everything else except a leica though). link to images i've taken with the a7 on flickr:
i have no problem choosing a little less ergonomic camera if it means tiny but still excellent image quality. i went with the rx1 though. i really don't like most of the (color) images i've played with from the merrill. i can't make them look right. they have a kind of baked in local contrast and weird color that doesn't look real and i can't get rid of. i found the camera more annoying to use than ricoh gr, x100, or rx1 too, and i like the output from those cameras better. some people seem to love the foveon look though. i think i'd be less adverse to it as a b&w only camera. i don't feel compelled to try to make my b&w look real.
i've hated all the digital cameras i've ever shot with mostly because of the interface. i guess the nex-7 bothered my the least, but it was still super annoying. the rx1 is my favorite digital lens though.
looks like a very cool lens, but a little too well corrected for me probably. i like a healthy dose of spherical aberration to distribute dof around on my f/1.2 shots. for anyone interested in perusing (or posting) images of (mostly old school) superspeed lenses, i've had a thread for that going at fredmiranda for a few years:
that is a great shot and i have a similar general disinterest in fashion photography, but i think i like the third shot in this post even more: the presence of anne wintour and bill cunningham certainly helps the image too. i believe the photographer is vlad dusil.
looks a lot more like a contax aria than that monstrosity the Df. the grip shape and viewfinder hump are almost dead on. luckily the fuji has a more sensible placement of the shutter speed dial and strap lug than the contax. sadly the back of this camera looks less well designed ergonomically. it's great to finally see a tilt up lcd though.
Toggle Commented Jan 29, 2014 on The New Fuji X-T1 at The Online Photographer
can't disagree with anything you've said. i would give the olympus the win here as well. on the other hand i'm going to buy the a7 (maybe r, must test them both out a bit) and not the olympus. none of the µ4/3 lenses excite me much optically (plus most are AF, which i hate) while i already have all the lenses i need (and love) for the sony. maybe when i have time to start birding more regularly i'll consider the olympus again.
i would definitely choose the sony, but can't i mix and match the lens camera combo? i'd get the a7r with leica 50mm summicron AA. i hate AF lenses, but i hate looking through a rangefinder even more. i'd love to have that cron (the lux asph even more – the cron looks a bit too perfect for my taste), but i have no desire to shoot an m camera.
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2013 on Christmas Present for You at The Online Photographer
delightful pictures with a wonderfully small package! with regards to using rangefinder lenses on sony's new FF mirrorless, it seems results are starting to come in on how different lenses work with various people taking their lenses to sony events. in general it seems most lenses wider than 35mm will have issues with color casts (correctible in post) and corner smear (not correctible in post) to variable degrees. most lenses longer than 35mm seem to perform well while 35mm lenses can go either way. i'm particularly happy to note that the tiny leica 40/2 c-summicron and contax g 45/2 both perform as they did on film when used on the A7r (can't say about the A7). the A7 seems to induce less color cast towards the corners than the A7r with rangefinder lenses, but it is yet to be determined whether the same is true for corner smearing (different aspects of the sensor cause each issue).
for any readers in the bay area interested in seeing/photographing owls, there are at least two pairs of great-horned owls that nest in golden gate park regularly: in early spring it's easy to find them because whatever tree they nest in is surrounded by people with binoculars and big white lenses. ;) i always forget to go when the owlets look like little puff balls, but i did run into them once soon after they fledged:
Toggle Commented Nov 11, 2013 on Owls at The Online Photographer
Paul Bass – thanks! it was an incredibly lucky shot. i was driving home from marin headlands in the SF bay area after shooting some of the old bunkers there at dusk (seen in the background of the owl). i saw the owl land on the power line and pulled to the side of the road immediately. i had two cameras on the seat next to me, stuck my head out the window and a took a couple shots with each hoping my hand would be steady enough for a decent shot. i started digging out my telephoto and tripod, but when i looked up the owl was gone.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2013 on Owls at The Online Photographer
i think this is the best i've got in the "barely visible in the darkness" kind a shot: think i went a bit overboard with vignetting in post, haven't printed yet. it was darker in reality than in the picture, which is hard to capture while maintaining visibility at web sizes. sadly, in all my daylight pictures of owls they just look sleepy.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2013 on Owls at The Online Photographer
doh! instead of replacing the oversized picture of the lenses in my original post you replaced the link to my example picture with 16/2.8 for any curious about how good or bad the lens is: now there is one large and one small version of my silly gear pic. here's one more silly gear pic just for added confusion: my landscape trio prior to getting the rx1. from left to right it's a contax g 45/2 (modified for proper manual focus), contax g 28/2.8 (also modified for proper manual focus), and a sigma 19/2.8 (sadly, not modified for proper manual focus).
chimps are apes, great apes in fact, and our closest living relative.
Toggle Commented Oct 26, 2013 on Addendum to Yesterday at The Online Photographer
looks like 800px is much too big. you might want to revise the note on how to post an image. [Sorry about that--my fault. I have revised the post. --Mike]
why on earth would the same man who wrote this on the uses of 18mm lenses: "Ultra-wide rectilinears wider than 19mm: Occasional interiors. Also used to stump gearheads trying to find stuff to photograph with the things" be so drawn to 18mm equiv lens like the zeiss touit? :) [Because I occasionally do interiors. --Mike] it's a giant lens too. if you rarely shoot wide, you should probably just get the 16mm. it's nothing special, but it's good enough to do it's job stopped down. here is a reasonably large uncropped image taken with it at f/11 if you're interested: save the money for a lens or camera you will actually use. btw, i'll sell you my copy of the 16mm for half the price of a new one. :) i'm perfectly happy to never shoot wider than 28mm. i only have the lens because it came with the NEX-3 i bought from steve huff. as far as supertraditional lens kits go, i currently shoot with just an rx1 and a rokkor 58/1.2 on a NEX-5N for 35mm + 85mm kit (which covers 99% of my shooting). don't have a picture of that, but here is a picture of my old, extended traditionalist kit stacked up to be the size of a nikon D4: that's the previously mentioned sony 16/2.8, rokkor 24/2.8, leica m 40/2 c-summicron, jupiter-3 50/1.5, and tamron 90/2.5 macro with the NEX-7 (RIP) i used them on.
i have to say that in my experience with the NEX-7 both of these issues are not really field relevant. my best manual focus lenses from 20-50 years ago consistently outperform the native glass i try out (the same was true when i shot 4/3 before somebody starts disparaging NEX lenses). the astigmatism caused by refraction through cover glass is really only a problem for wide angle symmetric rangefinder lenses and it's just as much a problem for leica as it is for sony. the best solution (other than using one of leica's newer more retrofocal designs) is to minimize the refraction of the cover glass as much as possible by choosing the appropriate materials and throwing out the ones you don't really need (like AA filters), and there's a chance sony may have actually put some thought into that for the a7r. software correction of raw files can be applied to the sony as well (including PSF deconvolution). though no profiles exist yet you can bet somebody will start working on them if there is enough demand. using an adapter doubles the error you can get due to asymmetry versus what you can get from a non adapted native lens (asymmetry of native lenses is also measurable and is one of the sources of sample variation btw). it's pretty easy to test your adapter though and tighten it (screws and springs) if necessary to make sure it performs well. there will still be some offset that is measurable on an optical bench, but it won't effect what you see from the lens on todays sensors. here's the most difficult example i can find of my own: it's a rather heavy lens (rokkor 58/1.2, ignore the rest they aren't that good in the corners on film either) shot wide open (and all the other apertures too) at infinity on a $20 adapter. if we were going to notice any detriment in in optical performance in the corners due to adapter offset it would be here, but every corner is just as sharp as the example one. i've seen many examples from other people as well of adapted lenses outperforming native glass on both FF canon and nikon cameras and high pixel density aps-c cameras. for example the leica m 24/3.8 super-elmar soundly beating the sony zeiss 24/1.8 (particularly in the corners where a bad adapter should lead to more problems for the leica). anyway, while these issues are certainly real i doubt they'll be any more of a serious detriment to achieving excellent performance on the a7r than they are on the m240 and in many cases i suspect the performance will be better on the sony. the experience of using the lenses will certainly be much more enjoyable to me too since i'll actually be able to frame properly and see actual dof when i shoot (i hate rangefinders).
Toggle Commented Oct 17, 2013 on Two Reasons... at The Online Photographer
sweet! finally something that will allow me to fully enjoy all my favorite lenses. i wish it was prettier, but at least it's reasonably small and if the layout and ergonomics are in the same vein as the rx1 (as it appears) i'm sure handling will be fine by me.
meh, all my digital wundercameras are simple cameras because i shoot simply. just ignore the buttons/features you don't need. note: i'm not saying modern cameras are well designed, just that lack of simplicity isn't the problem. those extra features don't cost anything for the most part and neither does ignoring them. the problem with leaving things out it is that everybody has a different idea of which items are necessary. i feel confident from your earlier writing on the topic that i would find a "simple" camera designed by you to be infuriating to use and that you would feel the same way about a "simple" camera designed by me due to lack of features. having non-simple cameras designed by somebody with a cohesive idea of how the whole thing should go together sounds like a novel idea to me. current offerings give the strong impression that different features and aspects of design were created by different groups that never interacted with each other. on a side note, i've never felt any need to open the manual for a digital camera. you know what camera i had to break out the manual for? a friggin rolleicord! after i fixed the stuck shutter on my father's old rolleicord i had to look in the manual to make sure i was operating the camera correctly.
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2013 on Update: The Simple Camera at The Online Photographer
shooting b&w is no excuse not to shoot a sunset. some of the most beautiful sunset shots i've ever seen were b&w. in fact i think that would make a great theme for another contest: b&w sunsets – sky must be visible in the shot. :) a sunset pic on tri-x for you (sadly i could've used a tripod here):
interesting, it appears they are only measuring mtfs at 20 cycles/mm (at least that's all i see printed next to each lens). my understanding is that contrast at 20 cycles/mm indicates less about raw resolution and more about what you would perceive as fine details viewing a print at normal distance (if i'm wrong about this i'd love to hear from someone who knows more). typically zeiss measures their lenses at 10, 20, and 40 cycles/mm, and if you look at their data sheets you'll see there are striking differences in many lenses between the mtf 20 and mtf 40 measure. i wonder if they would have gotten the same winners had they measured these at 40 cycles/mm?
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2013 on The Ten Sharpest Lenses at The Online Photographer
hmm, i shoot exclusively vintage lenses but on digital cameras (ok, i have a few film cameras that i use for fun a bit, but film is too expensive). there's two big reasons for this: 1) i hate autofocus with a passion. it sucks all the joy out of photography and makes me change the way i compose. also, it sucks for taking pictures of kids. i know lots of people say they need AF to get their kiddy pics but i think they just don't know how to manual focus. even with a big pro camera and the latest 24-70/2.8 i get way more keepers if i just turn AF off. no fiddling with focus points or trusting the camera to choose them for you just focus while to track the kid and take the picture. anyway, enough of that rant – vintage lenses are better built for manual focus than modern ones (even the current zeiss manual focus lenses). 2) 30-50 year old (or beyond) lenses just have more character. modern lenses are mostly sharp everywhere (assuming you can get them to focus) and well corrected for most aberrations (seriously most people i see complaining about unsharp lenses on the internet just have AF problems... ok now i'm really done with the AF rant). back in the old days lens designers had to decide which imperfections they could leave and which they would correct since there was only so much they could do (before computers made calculations easier). i suspect this made them think about the type of "look" they wanted to a greater extent when they decided on the lens design. i have a bunch of lenses that produce amazing looking flawed images and i would never choose a modern perfect lens to replace them. my favs are the rokkors 58/1.2, 28/2, and 24/2.8, the c/y 35/1.4 and 85/1.4, leica m 35/1.4 pre-asph, 40/2 c-summicron, 75/1.4 lux. also the contax g 28/2.8, but that is an AF lens that i had to remove the optics from and stick in a manual focus helicoid to make it fully usable for myself. with regard to vintage audio, i have an old pioneer 727 receiver and an old marantz 6200 turntable. i like vinyl for the experience not the sound quality (digital is just better quality just like with cameras :) ), so there was no point spending more than $50 on a turntable for me. the receiver was inherited but turned out to be a much better pre-amp for the TT than cheap modern ones or the one in my HK 7300. despite doing a lot of elecronics testing and modification/repair for work, i've never bothered to do more than superficial maintenance on the pioneer receiver. i compared it to the HK 7300 and a cheap 7.1 channel kenwood receiver. the old pioneer is obviously warmer sounding than both and way more powerful than the the kenwood despite being rated at 40 watts per channel versus 100 watts per channel (i believe the method for rating amplifiers has changed). in blind tests of my friends most people prefer the old pioneer over either of the more modern ones, though choice of the pioneer versus the HK seemed less definite (none of my friends are audiofiles though).
Mike, not really sure what you're wishing me good luck with? trying to produce moire? i certainly agree that moire with the d800e will be a non-issue for most photographers (however your test does nothing to show this). moreover, the ones for whom it will be an issue will already know how to deal with it. what i don't understand is what you are trying to show with your test? none of your examples say anything about the importance of an AA filter or lack there of. what they do address is the importance of using proper downsizing methods to avoid aliasing (moire is a type of aliasing incidently). that doesn't really have anything to do with the d800e any more than any other modern digital camera though. if you wanted to show that moire isn't really an issue with the d800e a more useful thing to do would be to take a picture that actually had some sensor aliasing in it (instead of shots that had no chance of producing it) and downsized them to show at what print size the aliasing would be unnoticeable. in your addendum that you added after my original comment you said: "You're just not going to see sensor aliasing with a camera with this much resolution unless you're a nut about it—you'd have to work very smart and very hard to bring it out in a print (which is the only place it can matter, because when do you need to show an image at an exact resolution online, at a size that greatly exceeds the size of any monitor?)." as an inhabitant of some of the geekiest corners o' the tubes, i feel compelled to remind you that this statement is not really true. the most obvious type of sensor aliasing is color moire, which can produce large swaths of color where there was none in the original scene. this false color can easily remain quite visible in small prints and web sized images. such false color can often be produced in a typical cityscape, so it doesn't take much skill or thought to produce.
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2012 on D800E Day 6: Moiré at The Online Photographer