Monday, December 31, 2018

Noise, Speed and All, Nokia Asha 300

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Nokia Asha 300

Noise, Speed and All, Nokia Asha 300

'Mobile Photography - Taking a (circa 2011 vintage?) feature phone camera for a night shoot, will the images appeal to you?'


My previous post, the Evening Groove, got me excited at the possibility of using the Nokia Asha 300 again as the camera for my Mobile Photography posts. Images from the point-and-shoot 5MP rear-facing camera of the candy-bar feature phone are very much more than what I was getting on my current mobile. A totally unexpected exposure for me, with challenges and opportunities to look forward to.

Nokia Asha 300
The Nokia Asha 300, a 2011 vintage feature phone, comes with a 240x360 pixel 2.4-inch non-adjustable resistive touchscreen, just big enough to be used as a framing screen rather than for viewing composition details.

In bright external lighting condition, images on the screen are all but impossible to see.

Image resolution from the fixed focus F2.4 lens is 2592 x 1944 pixels, the phone has 140MB of internal storage which can store up to a maximum of 112 JPEG images, and the camera does not come with a flash.

Reviews of the phone and camera are, of course, a mixed lot. Most, however, concur that the camera is capable of taking decent pictures in bright daylight but is rather noisy in low-light situations. Grain, as they say, is to the film photographer while noise is not, to the digital photographer.

Admittedly, the night shoot session turned out rather well for me. With the noise, limited ISO and shutter speed capabilities of the camera, I was quite happy to see how images turned out. And again, with the aid of a few edits in post-processing, I couldn't ask for more.


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Monday, December 24, 2018

The Ride #II, Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

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Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

The Ride #II, Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

'Analog Diary - Another ride down the LRT (Light Rail Transport) from downtown central to my stop, this time with a Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20 and a roll of expired Kodakcolor 200'


Another roll of expired film, and another ride on the Light Rail Transport (LRT) from the downtown central station to my stop. This was the day I went down to do the street shoot of the Divali (Deepavali) Street Bazaar, which I posted about recently. The camera that I took along for the outing was the Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20.

Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20
By itself, the BM-20 is a stylish black (or red) box with rounded corners and has a rectangular patch for a lens housing that extends out of the body slightly when it is powered on.

It is small and light enough to fit in the palm of your hand or in your pants pocket, with a wide-angle 34mm F3.5 lens that should take in the vistas and perspectives probably better than most mobile camera lenses.

A 35mm focal length lens, if yours is a prime mounted on your SLR, will lend itself quite nicely to the hyperfocal distance and zone focusing technique for street photography, as the wider the lens the broader the depth of field it offers at any given aperture. Its no difference on the automatic AF BM-20 either, rolling landscapes and urbanscape vistas are poster perfect scenes.

Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

A small quirk for the BM-20 and a whole range of other make cameras that were produced during the time period is the auto flash that is persistent at even the slightest indication of underexposure. Against the very bright external ambiance as seen from the front carriage of these shots, however, the flash on the camera was rather well behaved.


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Monday, December 17, 2018

Digital Moments, Yashica ML 35mm F2.8

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Olympus E-P5, Yashica ML 35mm F2.8

Digital Moments, Yashica ML 35mm F2.8

'Image samples with the manual focus Yashica ML 35mm F2.8 legacy lens mounted on the Olympus E-P5'


The Yashica ML 35mm F2.8, which can be a rare find among the selection of Yashica ML lenses, a series of multicoated pro-line lenses developed and produced by Yashica (Kyocera). This series was designed to fill the gap between Yashica's own consumer-grade DSB lens line and the state-of-the-art Contax/Yashica Zeiss T*, all of which were built at their manufacturing facility in Japan.

Olympus E-P5, Yashica ML 35mm F2.8

The series is also acknowledged as excellent performers, even at wide open aperture when adapted to crop-sensor digital bodies. Looks like the ML 35mm F2.8 as well, as can be seen from these images posted here, is no exception.

To top off the accolades, this unit is sometimes referred to as the 'poor man's Zeiss', and in passing, is compared equally or even better than the Distagons.

From what is available on the Net, while there is not too much of it, the ML 35mm F2.8 was produced in two versions, an earlier version with 7-elements in 6-groups, identified by the diamond knobs on its rubber grip, and a later with 6-elements in 5-groups which comes with square knobs.

An anomaly I found is with the copy of the lens that I have. The lens has a fairly large pin protruding out of the back plate of the lens mount assembly.

This configuration will not let me mount the lens to either the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 or a Contax RTS II, both of which I have in my collection. The lens, however, can be mounted to the M4/3 FX/CY adapter without any problem.

Does this mean that this is another or an earlier version of the lens, and was it meant to be mounted on another camera model? Any help here is welcome folks. Thank you.


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Monday, December 10, 2018

Evening Groove, Nokia Asha 300

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Nokia Asha 300

Evening Groove, Nokia Asha 300

'Mobile Photography - Going vintage with the Nokia Asha 300 (2011), how do its images measure up against the current crop of high-tech mobiles'


Continuing where I left off with the On A Bright Sunny Day post, which was with images recorded way back with the Nokia Asha 300. The phone, out of the storage bin, powers up nice and steady with its camera working just as fine.

Nokia Asha 300
Using the camera on the phone is a delight, straight and simple. Being a pure point-and-shoot, all you have to do is to frame the image and press the shutter, there was nothing to set or adjust.

And for the acid test, it was just out on the front porch, on a most beautiful and lovely evening.

While the sun was already down, the ambiance of its red golden glow still lights up the sky, and coupled with the effect of domestic lighting and the street lights which was already turned on, the moments were truly a photographers delight.

The images, sharp and clear and with the cool contrast rendering, were quite beyond the expectation, and I was not disappointed.

Basic post-processing was done on Olympus Viewer 3 (OV3) with non-destructive cursory edits in Auto Tone Correction, Tone Curve, Brightness & Contrast edit, and Unsharp Mask. Final print sharpening was on Google NIK Sharpener Pro 3.


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Monday, December 3, 2018

Sea of Yellow and Red, Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

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Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

Sea of Yellow and Red, Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

'Analog Doary - At the Devali (Deepavali) Street Bazaar with the Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20 and  a roll of expired Kodakcolor 200 film'


I came across a roll of expired Kodakcolor 200 negative film in one of my camera shipment recently and wondered how the images will look like once the film has been exposed and developed. Just as well, I also have a Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20, a fully automatic AF film camera, in my collection, and decided to match the two for a street walk.

Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20
The Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20 is one of the models of the Konica Big Mini series, an iconic low-priced series of point-and-shoot fully automatic autofocus (AF) 35mm film cameras produced by Konica in the early 1990s.

The Big Mini models set itself apart from other makes of the same genre with a fantastic range of F3.5 Konica lenses that is renowned to be very sharp with excellent contrast rendering. The BM-20 has a 34mm F3.5 lens.

A 34mm lens (almost the 35mm that many street photographers talk about) is also the focal length for street photography. It is a nice compromise between a nifty-fifty which street photographers may find a bit tight, and the wideness of the 28mm which sometimes calls for a fair amount of cropping. Just as well, the lens is just about perfect for both a cramped narrow street shot or the landscaped vista.

Going by specs I found for other models, the BM-20 may include an automatic shutter speed range of 1/80 to 1/250 second, and lens aperture opening of F3.5 to F16 (not verified). My unit, however, came with a dead LCD panel which was located on the left of the top plate. I can only assume that the panel is for the film counter and whatever else it is supposed to have.

Konica Big Mini Jr. BM-20

The location of the shoot, as I mentioned in the sub-head, is the Divali (Deepavali) Street Bazaar down in Little India, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. It was early in the day when I was there, most of the stalls were just starting to operate and shoppers are still far and few in between, except for this flowers and carnation alley, which was already decked with seas of yellow and red garlands, and a string of shoppers crowding through.


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Monday, November 26, 2018

Digital Moments, Yashica ML 28mm F2.8

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Olympus E-P5, Yashica ML 28mm F2.8

Digital Moments, Yashica ML 28mm F2.8

'Image samples with the manual focus Yashica ML 28mm F2.8 legacy lens mounted on the Olympus E-P5'

An excellent lens by any standards, the Yashica ML 28mm F2.8 lens is part of the Yashica ML series, pro-line multicoated lenses developed and produced by Yashica (Kyocera) to bridge between their consumer grade DSB line and the state-of-the-art Zeiss T* within the Contax/Yashica system.

These lenses were made in Japan, at the same factory where the legendary Zeiss Contax T* lenses were made. Finished with a different coating, images rendition are slightly less contrasty, but colors and contrast are great. While not of Zeiss standards, these lenses do have their moments with acknowledgment of being of high quality.

Olympus E-P5, Yashica ML 28mm F2.8

The ML 28mm F2.8 is of 7 elements in 6 groups construction with 6 aperture blades and a minimum focusing distance of 0.3 meters, and as part of the ML series, these lenses share a common bayonet mount with the Contax RTS and Yashica FX-1 series cameras. Though not of all metal, the rings are plastic, the built quality of the lens is very good, with functions are all smooth and snappy.

A trait common to all these genres of manual focus legacy lenses is, of course, the cost factor which is definitely low priced when compared to equivalent lenses designed for current digital cameras. This cost is not much more even when you add a lens adapter to the total. The next best thing is that changing a camera body, all you need is to change the lens adapter to fit the lens to the new body, and you know perfectly well that this can be done for just a few dollars more.

On a 2x cropped-sensor digital camera body, for example, the E-P5 which is my normal digital camera, the lens is equivalent to a 56mm focal length lens, while on ASP-C sensor cameras with 1.5x crop-sensor, it will be a 42mm equivalent. The 40-55mm focal length range is the common standards for prime lenses of the 35mm film SLR cameras era.


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Monday, November 19, 2018

On A Bright Sunny Day, Nokia Asha 300

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Nokia Asha 300

On A Bright Sunny Day, Nokia Asha 300

'Mobile Photography - A look back at the past for archived images worth presenting'

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I was quite disappointed with the early images from the consumer-grade smartphone and I am quite reluctant to use the camera further, for a while at least. Having said that, and for the need of another camera to keep up with my Mobile Photography posts, I went for a dig back and managed to salvage a stack of images captured with the Nokia Asha 300 feature phone which I was using quite a while back.

Nokia Asha 300
I took the time to dig up the phone as well, dusted it off, hooked it up to the battery charger and all seems to work fine.

The stack of images includes this set of views taken on an outstation trip to a huge oil and gas fabrication facility. It was a very bright and sunny day and we were looking across the ground from the 7th-floor rooftop of the administration building.

The view across the sub-segmented fabrication yards from that elevation was breathtaking, and the images (after a few post-processing tweaks) are just as scintillating.

Later in the evening, the golden hour was another joyous moment as I enjoyed the sunset from the hotel balcony looking over to the cove and the island across the bay which becomes a perfect stage for the setting. Looks like the Nokia Asha 300 is just as capable in capturing the essence of the scene as well.

What is most interesting to me is the fixed focus F2.4 5MP camera on the Nokia Asha 300 is very capable of doing a very good job with images in bright daylight situations. For images otherwise, the cable connectivity of the phone is an easy path for connectivity and uploads to post-processing apps, an idea to look forward to.

Together with the interest in the analog and film cameras, and now a bit with the digital past (maybe only momentarily), it should be fun to see how things play out and add to the strength of this blog.


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Monday, November 12, 2018

Take Your Pick, Olympus XA4 Macro

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Olympus XA4 Macro

Take Your Pick, Olympus XA4 Macro

'Analog Diary - Last leg of a mini-series post with images from the Olympus XA4 at the Ramadan Bazaar'

I am on the last leg of a mini-series with images from the Olympus XA4 at the Ramadan Bazaar, a series which took off with Squaring the 28mm, All Set and ReadyThe Ladies Are All Smiles, and finally, this post. Though captured on a street-smart 28mm F3.5 lens of the Olympus XA4 on a single roll of negative film during a single outing, the images were squared off to the 1:1 aspect ratio from their original 3:2 via the desktop image post-processor.

Olympus XA4 Macro
The square format, or images in 1:1 aspect ratio, is a beautiful format to work with. It works well when you are trying to simplify the composition when eliminating superfluous elements or empty spaces. The composition itself can do away with the much-vaunted one-third rule, placing the subject in the center of a square frame, for example, or close to the edge, works just as well.

For a rather laid back novice street photographer like me, who is still timid to the idea of being right there, in the middle of it all, a 28mm focal length lens tends to draw in a lot more of the previously mentioned superfluous elements into the picture. Cropping the image to the 1:1 ratio means that you can cut away a third of the original, which can give you a better framing option.

As a street photographer's camera go by, the capsule style Olympus XA4 35mm film camera might be just the right choice for you. The camera is fitted with a 28mm F3.5 super sharp focal length lens and is highly recommended for landscapes, people at work, at play, or for when and where you can get in right into their midst.

Olympus XA4 Macro

The camera reverts the focus distance back to the optimum 3 meters when you close and re-opens the capsule cover, sets the AE system on automatically, and you are ready to shoot in the instant you slide back the capsule cover.


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Monday, November 5, 2018

Digital Moments, Canon FD 50mm F1.8

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Olympus E-P5, Canon FD 50mm F1.8

Digital Moments, Canon FD 50mm F1.8

'Image samples with the manual focus Canon FD 50mm F1.8 legacy lens mounted on the Olympus E-P5'

My first post on digital images captured with the Canon FD 50mm F1.8 was titled Digital Moments, Tagging On RawTherapee 5.4 as it was more about the RAW image processor rather than the lens itself. Let's hope that this post will give more justice to the lens itself.

The Canon FD 50mm F1.8, first introduced in 1971, the lens was the smallest, lightest, and cheapest of Canon's 50mm primes. The first version sports chrome filter threads and silver breech-lock ring. The model was replaced in 1983 by a version with black plastic filter threads. The 'New FD' range, where the breech lock mount was replaced with an internal locking device, was introduced in 1978, and this series is commonly recognized as the 'FDn' lenses.

Olympus E-P5, Canon FDn 50mm F1.8

The update saw the minimum aperture of the lens lowered from ƒ/16 to ƒ/22, reduction in the number of aperture blades from 6 to 5, and with more plastic components incorporated, a decrease in weight from 255g to 170g. Mounting the lens with the new lock mechanism is much easier, and can be done using only one hand.

Except for the 50mm F1.8, all other lenses in the 'FDn' series were given the S.S.C. (Super Spectra Coating) treatment. Image quality, as can be seen from these images, may not auger much if you are thinking about this lens as the top prime of your collection.


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