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Alun J. Carr
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Back in the film days, I used my Olympus OM-1 with a 24-50-105 mm lens set, i.e., roughly doubling the focal length at each step. It would have been nice to add a 200 mm to the set. Now, in the digital era, my "best" camera is a Pentax K-5 with three Limited lenses: 15-35-70 mm (23-54-107 mm-e) approximating that same range. To that, I've added two secondhand Pentax-A manual-focus lenses: 135 and 200 mm (207 and 306 mm-e). I also have a Helios-44-K-4 58 mm (89 mm-e) and a just-acquired Jupiter-9 in M42 mount at 85 mm (130 mm-e) for the wonderful rendering that these Soviet/Zeiss lenses produce. My other two cameras have zooms: Sony RX10iii with a Sony/Zeiss 24-600 mm-e lens and a Panasonic with a Pana/Leica 25-250 mm-e lens.
Mike, To combine bawdy poetry and what is desirable in an object, I refer you to the great Robbie Burns, and his poem "Nine Inch Will Please a Lady": Alun
Toggle Commented May 15, 2019 on Open Mike: Apex Products at The Online Photographer
Save yourself a few thousand: don't go for a razor-sharp, state-of-the-art, probably characterless portrait lens. Instead, buy a Soviet Jupiter 9 (a 2/85 Zeiss Sonnar) either in M42 with preset apertures (for Zenit SLRs) or in M39 (LTM, Zorki) without presets (they would have been pointless on a rangefinder camera). Pretend that you're shooting portraits of 1940s film stars, and you'll get the soft, glowing appearance of such portraits from that era. 85 mm is first and foremost a portrait lens, and using a lens that reveals every pore, pimple, and hair on the subject's nose isn't flattering. See: [That's a really neat post. Thanks for the link. --Mike]
Toggle Commented May 8, 2019 on Canon 85mm f/1.2 RF at The Online Photographer
I agree with the previous commenters: revert to Fujica, like Even Leitz-Wetzlar started calling themselves Leica in recent years. Maybe Schneider-Kreuznach should change their name to "Schneida"?
Toggle Commented May 8, 2019 on FujiFILM? at The Online Photographer
Hmm. Veerry interestink, Mr Johnston. I zink zat eet meanz zat you vant to keel your Vater und sleep mit your Mutter. Ve analysts call it der “Oedipus Complex” after ein dead Greek guy. Und ve analysts are called zat because ve are anal. Zat vill be $200, please. Cash.
Toggle Commented Apr 17, 2019 on Three Strange Dogs at The Online Photographer
I'm pretty sure that I once did, but it would have been over 40 years ago. That's how I found out about the likes of Daguerre and Fox Talbot, which is why once, when on holiday with my parents in my mid-late teens, I dragged them to an exhibition of Fox Talbot's work, which was stunning. Sitting at my bedside I have a copy of Kingslake's A History of the Photographic Lens, which I've read cover-to-cover once, and now just dip into for fun. I've always been a lens nerd, which is why I take exception to Sony/Zeiss slapping the names "Tessar" or "Sonnar" on zoom lenses that don't remotely have the optical formulae that the names imply.
Panasonic ZS200/TZ200 ( A great alternative to the Sony RX100 VI ( same 1" sensor, much lower price, bigger zoom range, and both have EVFs. If you want to spend a lot more on the same camera in order to get a red dot on the front, buy the Leica C-LUX ( A real carry-everywhere camera. Add a filter ring using the kit from Lensmate ( and buy a decent 52 mm CPL filter and maybe an ND8 or vario-ND filter. I have a Hama 52 mm rubber lens hood that when retracted has no vignetting (on a ZS/TZ100), even at 25 mm-e, and when extended, no vignetting above 35 mm-e; I attach it to my belt-pack with a Nite Ize carabiner (}. Note: I only own its predecessor, the ZS100/TZ100. The Pana/Leica lens isn't as good (IMHO) as the Sony/Zeiss ones in the Sony RX10 ( which has to be one of the best bargains around) and RX10 III (, but noise, etc. is pretty much the same, as you'd expect (I'm happy to go up to ISO 3200, possibly higher if I'm processing the raw file in DxO PhotoLab 2 with its PRIME NR). Put either a ZS/TZ100 or ZS/TZ200 in a smallish belt pack like the National Geographic A1212 ( and you're ready for those sudden photo opportunities with more versatility and way better image quality than your smartphone.
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2018 on Camera of the Year? at The Online Photographer
And what about a do-it-all camera like the Sony RX10iv? Ever since I bought a second-hand RX10, then RX10iii, I've hardly touched my trusty old Pentax K-5. I know that the K-5 will, in theory, give me better results (especially with my Limited lenses), but the RX10iii is quite simply Good Enough. The Zeiss/Sony zoom is a miracle of optical engineering, and I suspect that if you compared an image captured on the Sony at ISO 1600, converted to B&W, with 35 mm Tri-X pushed to ISO 1600, the Sony would be considerably better.
How about: Quick-and-dirty conversion using the abandoned desktop version of Snapseed. Higher contrast, higher sharpness, green filter, touch of vignetting.
Toggle Commented Nov 18, 2018 on Editing Headaches at The Online Photographer
You missed two books (both set in the Austro-Hungarian forces): * The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek: * Radetzky March by Joseph Roth: The first parodies the chaos of the system, and unfortunately the author drank himself to death before completing it. The second chronicles the death of Empire and its social hierarchy, at least to a degree. Listen to Mahler while reading them.
Toggle Commented Nov 12, 2018 on The 'Great' War at The Online Photographer
I have a (relatively rare) Soviet Helios-44 2/58 in Pentax K-mount, and despite it being manual focus, and needing the green button for stopped-down metering on my old Pentax K-5, it produces some of the most perfect B&W portraits, with a character you don’t find from modern lenses.
Oh, for Pete’s sake: it’s a Soviet Zenit-E, with for some reason the rewind knob fully extended. Since this might have been the most-produced 35 mm SLR, and its standard 2/58 Helios 44 lens (a Zeiss Biotar) the most-produced standard lens, photographers who don’t recognise it need to go on a course about the history of the SLR. Alun
Toggle Commented May 20, 2018 on Old Camera Mystery at The Online Photographer
Mike, Get yourself a secondhand Sony RX10 (Mk I) for a low few hundred of dollars, or an RX10iii new for maybe $1000 (price has dropped since the introduction of the RX10iv). These are do-it-all cameras with state-of-the-art Sony 1" sensors. The Zeiss optics are superb, and I defy you to find photographic situations that cannot be addressed by the RX10 Mk I, II with their f/2.8 24-200 mm-e lenses or the RX10 Mk III, IV with their f/2.4-f/4 24-600 mm-e. I'd normally go out of my way to avoid mentioning Ken Rockwell, but you might find his review of the RX10iii informative: I know that it may seem painful to you not being able to change lenses, but Sony are able to position the optical elements of the fixed zoom with an order of magnitude's more accuracy than an interchangeable zoom in E-mount. The question to ask yourself is what Cartier Bresson or Ansel Adams would have said if given one of the RX10 models? Adams would have operated off a tripod, with the ISO set to a minimum, with image quality comparable not only to larger sensors, but also his sheet film. And they include a cut-down version of Capture One for free, and the full version for a little bit more. Think about it. Best regards, Alun
Oh, for heaven's sake! I have a Pentax K-5 and a bunch of lenses (including three Limited primes), and a couple of years ago I bought a secondhand Sony RX10 (mk I); the Pentax (a beautiful camera) hasn't seen any use since. The purchase was under the malign influence of reading Kirk Tuck's blog: Recently, I sold the RX10 to a friend and bought an RX10iii at a substantial discount (due to the launch of the RX10iv), and it's pretty much a universal camera. Raw files at ISO 3200 render perfectly in Capture One Pro (not the Sony version). In the days of B&W film, 3200 ASA was pretty much impossible (I could push Tri-X and HP4 to 1250 ASA, with grain like golfballs). My friend is disposing of his Nikon DSLR gear and is delighted with the RX10: superb optics, great image stabilization, the 1" sensor will cope with any lighting condition he's yet to experience, and no dust blobs on the sensor from when you've changed a lens. So, Mike, perhaps you should just go and buy an RX10ii (that model because of the constant-aperture zoom).
Toggle Commented Dec 7, 2017 on Dammit (GAS Again) at The Online Photographer
First, I want to confess that I never used LR: I was an Aperture user, though I also had DxO Optics Pro and (please don't scream) SilkyPix, plus of course Photoshop CS3 (and then CS5). DxO Optics Pro was too limited as a photo editor (although it was an excellent raw developer), so when Apple stopped updating Aperture (but some time before they announced that they were sending it to the land of bit-rot), I bought Capture One Pro. Once you're used to its workflow (which makes perfect sense when you understand it), it produces absolutely superb results. It's limited in various ways (like having very few lens profiles for Pentaxes, for example), and there's no plugin mechanism like Photoshop (so no hope of the Nik plugins ever working with it). If Phase One, rather than DxO, had bought NiK from Google, Capture One could have become the ultimate image editor with the addition of the U-Point technology. I've bought DxO PhotoLab, and the way that U-Point etc. are implemented is crap. Basically, it's the DxO Optics Pro raw developer with a half-hearted photo editor bolted on top. As for SilkyPix, it's rescued raw files taken in a witches' brew of lighting types, with the common-or-garden editors struggling and then producing garbage. SilkyPix is actually a superb raw developer, handicapped by a UI designed by a photographer-hating programmer in the throes of an acid flashback (at least it seems that way).
Just get yourself a Sony RX10ii, or if you want to play with extreme telephotos, the RX10iii (at the expense of bokeh at portrait focal lengths). Enjoy it. My 'big rig' is a Pentax K-5 with a K10D as backup, and I have a variety of lenses, including some DA* and Limited models, plus some manual-focus Pentax-A lenses, but since buying a mk I Sony RX10 secondhand on eBay for about $600, I haven't really touched the Pentax system, even though I know that in theory it will provide superior image quality. The Sony fits in a Billingham L2 bag with ample space for filters, batteries, etc., and the populated L2 fits in my carry-on backpack for air travel leaving over 50% of the volume free. Images from the RX10 at ISO 3200 in B&W conversion are perfect, with no visible grain (at least in Capture One); what's not to like? Perhaps you should do as I did and buy a secondhand RX10 before springing for a mk II or III at full price?
ThankYouThankYouThankYou!!! At last, a reference to Bill Brandt! I urge people to seek out his images. If you can afford it, even buy a secondhand copy of Shadow of Light (the first edition contains his experiments with colour film, because he considered the colours to be so unnatural; these photos were removed in the second edition).
A slightly cheaper option is to use a Leica tabletop tripod and large (tall) ballhead as a chestpod: It really is quite remarkable how much shake reduction you get. If you don't want to spring for new Leica items, you can find secondhand tripods and ball heads on eBay, usually old enough to be branded as Leitz.
If you're using micro-4/3 (MFT) cameras, and want the true King of Bokeh for portraits (with a wonderful glow to the highlights), buy a used Soviet Jupiter-3 1.5/50 lens in LTM plus an adaptor to MFT. The Jupiter-3 is a Soviet-manufactured 1940s Zeiss Sonnar (they dismantled the equipment in Germany and shipped it, together with press-ganged technicians, to the USSR), with its characteristic rendering wide open (stop it down, and it becomes very-sharp). On MFT, it becomes 100 mm-e and in terms of theoretical DOF, f/3. That makes it a near-perfect portrait lens, wide open. The focus-shift problem with stopping down classic Sonnars isn't an issue with manual focusing at taking aperture in MFT. Of course, Zeiss make a modern version of the lens in Leica M-mount (C Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM), and with the T* coating will undoubtedly have superior contrast to the Jupiter-3, but the Jupiter-3 is a cheap way to experiment with the Sonnar design. NOTE: don't buy one in Kiev/Contax bayonet mount. Also, Lomography have started producing the Soviet version again, but at a price that will have you running for the genuine, modern, Zeiss item. To see what the Jupiter-3 can do have a look at: Alun
Try Phase One's CaptureOne Pro software (free trial available, I think): it has adjustments for Moiré. In fact, you may find that it replaces all of your other software. As a raw developer, I find that it's a toss-up between CaptureOne and DxO Optics Pro at getting the best from your files, leaving everything else lying bleeding in the gutter.
Although snooker is played on it, it's actually a billiard table: the 'proper' game is billiards (which in the hands of gifted professionals makes watching paint dry seem like a Six Nations rugby match [Note to Mike: the contest starts on 6 Feb: ; note that local time means just that: Britain and Ireland are an hour out of sync with the rest of Western Europe]); snooker is regarded as déclassé, at least by those who think that Downton Abbey is reality TV.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2015 on Open Mike: Snooker! (OT) at The Online Photographer
I know that I periodically mention the great Bill Brandt when I post comments here, but he took contrast to another level (I read somewhere, many moons ago, that he printed on the near-mythical Agfa Brovira grade 6 paper, also that he switched to ultra-high contrast when the proofs of the 1st edn of Shadow of Light were over-inked and he liked the effect). And Ansel Adams had the highest regard for him, although stylistically they were very different (zone system be damned!). Look at: (A damned sight cheaper than Cindy Sherman, and a damned sight better, in my opinion.) Alun
Toggle Commented Dec 10, 2014 on In Praise of Low Contrast at The Online Photographer
What about Bill Brandt's portrait of Magritte? I can't understand why Brandt is so ignored on the western side of the pond these days, when Ansel Adams thought incredibly highly of him.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2014 on Electric Pumpkin at The Online Photographer
Mike, Wasn't the son's photo in your recent father-and-son print sale taken using an iPhone and processed with Snapseed on the phone? If an iPhone is good enough for a print sale image, surely it's good enough for you? Get yourself a holster for your iPhone that fits on your belt (you can get decent, cheap ones on eBay, but make sure that the belt clip also has a leather strip that comes up behind it and fixes with a press-stud, so that no-one can swipe it off your belt): that way your iPhone is always ready for single-handed photography, and is incredibly well protected unless you have a tendency to blunder against sharp, hard objects at hip-height. My old iPhone 3GS was pristine after four years of use, apart from a couple of light scratches on the glass, and my one-year-old iPhone 5s has yet to show any signs of wear and tear. It must be said that I rarely use my iPhone for photos these days, because I also have a Canon PowerShot S110 in a pouch on my belt (which also contains a spare battery, spare SD card, and magnetically-attached polarising filter). Best regards, Alun
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2014 on Open Mike: Hidebound at The Online Photographer
Mike, Have you considered cropping off about the top sixth of the image, just about the point the clouds shade off into an average level of grey? Suddenly, the buildings assume more importance, and the composition feels more balanced (in my opinion, which is probably garbage). Of course, I'm doing this cropping on-screen on an iPad Mini, sliding a piece of card down over the photo, so I'm probably oblivious to detail, and can only see overall impact. Best regards, Alun