Monday, November 18, 2019

Mobile Photography, Serene Serenades

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Nokia Asha 300

Mobile Photography, Serene Serenades

'Five frames with the Nokia Asha 300, serene serenades on an early morning walk in the park'

I have to admit that using the camera on the Nokia Asha 300, a vintage candy-bar feature phone, is both equally as difficult and exasperating to use as well as it is as rewarding. When using the camera, exasperation comes in the form of a 2.4-inch resistive-touchscreen that is a complete washout in any form of bright external light, and images that take ages to record.

Out in the bright light, there is nothing that you can do or see with the screen that is almost blank. The only way to grab a few shots is to do it with the camera held at arm's length and shoot away. A bit of a hipster style, but with the camera held at eye level or slightly higher, guesstimate framing can yield you a few good images.

Rewards do, however, come from the quality of images captured by the 5MP rear-facing camera. These are almost of exceptional quality, albeit the pixel count, and comes with sharp and accurate colors, and accurate detail retention. The wide-angle fixed focus lens is also an advantage with just the right rake to take in the scenic shots and layering effect for a good depth of field.

A once over on the post-processing app, with maybe a little crop due to image tilt adjustment, and the images, though limited to only a 2560 x 1920 pixels original, and a far cry from today's camera phone standard, are worth more than the post.

The Nokia Asha 300, introduced in late 2011, the first phones to have Angry Birds pre-installed, is one of the slimmest feature phones around, measures 112.8 x 49.5 x 12.7 mm, weights 85 grams including battery. The phone has 140MB of internal storage which can store up to a maximum of 112 JPEG images. The camera does not come with a flash.


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Monday, November 11, 2019

The Perfect Normal, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2

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Minolta X-700, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2

The Perfect Normal, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2

'Street Photography - Five frames with the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2, the 'perfect' normal lens for a 35mm full-frame camera'

One of the accepted definitions of the 'perfect' normal lens for a 35mm full-frame camera, a lens that reproduces a field of view that appears natural to a human observer, is based on the diagonal of the film frame, which measures 43.3mm.

Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2
A lens unique to the interpretation of this definition is the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45m, F2.0, a very compact lens with a focal length that is very close to the measured distance.

Introduced in 1978, and only available as an MDII version, this lens is a rare case as Minolta will normally be replicated and made the lenses available over their camera version releases.

Not quite a true pancake, the lens is a blend of a plastic body and a 6-elements in 5-group glass. It measures 30.5 mm in length and weighs 125 grams, comes with 5 aperture blades, a minimum aperture of F16, and a minimum focusing distance of 0.6 meters.

With a large open aperture of F2, the lens is also a potentially good bokeh lens, and with its compact size, it makes the lens a worthwhile consideration for the street shooter, fashion or lifestyle photographer, simply as a lowlight lens or one to get good background separation with.

The 45mm focal length places the lens right smack in between a slightly wider 40mm and a slightly narrower 50mm. This could very well be the perfect fit for the do-it-all category, which are lenses recommended for family snapshots, travel photos, city and urbanscapes, and whatever have you.

Minolta X-700, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2

At most time unnoticed, and grossly underrated except by gig lens connoisseurs, the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 is more than the sum of its parts. Images are exceptionally sharp, with good mid-tone contrast and accurate color reproduction. It is a lightweight both on the wallet and in the camera bag, and to whether Minolta body it is found attached to, it is the go-to lens.


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Monday, November 4, 2019

Cropped Close-Ups II, Zuiko OM 24mm F2.8

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Olympus E-P5, Zuiko OM 24mm F2.8

Cropped Close-Ups II, Zuiko OM 24mm F2.8

'Close-Ups - Five frames with the Olympus Zuiko OM 24mm F2.8 wide-angle lens mounted on the 2x crop-sensor Olympus E-P5'

Compared to the ultra-wide Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5, the 24mm F2.8 has a 10° narrower angle of view and is considered as the widest of wide-angles. Lenses at these focal lengths tend to have a strong rendition of the perspective when used in the context of the surrounding. For cropped close-ups, however, this is not necessarily something you have to delve too deeply into.

Olympus E-P5, Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm F2.8
Mounted on the 2x crop-sensor MFT (Micro Four Thirds) digital camera, a 24mm lens will give you the 35mm full-frame equivalent focal length of 48mm, close enough to that of a 50mm focal length lens, which is considered as the standard for a 35mm full-frame camera.

The H.Zuiko 24mm F2.8, as used in this assignment, is the earlier version of the series, 8 elements in 7 groups construction with floating elements design, weighs 180 grams, and focuses down to 0.25 meters. The floating element design incorporates an automatic close focus correction mechanism that counters possible aberrations while keeping the excellent optical performance of the lens intact.

Though the lens is actually a cheaper and lighter alternative to the acknowledged Zuiko 20mm F2.0, the F2.8 version is still as formidable as the former. The lens is equally capable of delivering high contrast images that are sharp with minimal flare even when used in slightly unfavorable conditions. As an added advantage, the lens one of the lightest and most compact in its class.

Olympus E-P5, Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm F2.8

Shooting with the lens wide open, i.e. at its widest aperture, is shooting with a very narrow DoF (depth of field). Getting the perfect focal point in the composition you are looking at, as in the case of these sample images, may take a bit more time and experience to master. And, of course, I am in need of the same.


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Monday, October 28, 2019

Street Wide, From the Hip, Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5

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Olympus OM-2 SP, Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5

Street Wide, From the Hip, Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5

'Street Photography - Five frames on a street walk with the Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5'

Street photography, the most accessible photography genre, is something you can do pretty much anywhere, anytime, and with whatever camera equipment you have. Though etiquettes may apply, there are no rules either, you are free to shoot whatever you visualize as a collective of event, emotion, or the reality of the space you are in.

Olympus OM-2 SP, Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm F3.5
The main part of the visual is, of course, the context of the image, where the background becomes the backdrop to the event, of activity of the figures you are incorporating into the image.

Removing either of the two from the context or the content of the image will just nullify the notion and render the genre ineffective.

One approach I challenged myself to recently is to shoot from the hip while doing the streetwalk, with the camera mounted with an ultra-wide-angle lens on hyperfocal zone setting. Framing of the images were purely guesstimates. The lens I had on was the Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5, mounted on an Olympus OM-2S.

The lens has a 92 degrees diagonal view and a minimum focusing distance of 20cm, and by setting the lens aperture to F8 and the hyperfocal distance to 3 meters, your images will be sharp from 1.5 meters to infinity. Verticals, with which you can get interesting parallax creatives (as in the first image above), are still best done as eye-level shots.

As horizontal alignments of hipster style images taken with the camera away from your eyes are just guesstimates, there is the notion that you might have to lose a bit of the image with tilt adjustment crops during post-processing. I looked at that as an advantage.


Olympus OM-2 SP, Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm F3.5

Physically the all-metal and glass Zuiko 21mm F3.5 is a lightweight and extremely compact lens, acknowledged for its optical quality and ability to capture sharp images with excellent contrast even at full aperture. The lens is a 7-elements in 7-groups construction, it is only 31mm in length and weighs 180/185 grams. A bit of a classic, a rarity, and worth the keep, the lens comes with its own band of dedicated followers.


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Monday, October 21, 2019

A Look Back, Olympus Trip 35

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A Look Back, Olympus Trip 35

'Street Photography - Five frames with the Olympus Trip 35, a look back at the most iconic and endearing 35mm compact camera of all times'

The Olympus Trip 35, a 35mm compact camera manufactured by Olympus, was introduced in 1967 and stayed in production until 1984.

Olympus Trip 35Targeted towards people who wanted a compact, functional camera for holidays or family snapshots, the camera was the subject of an advertising campaign featuring a popular British photographer David Bailey.

Over its production run, more than 10 million units of the camera were produced and sold.

The Olympus Trip 35 is fitted with a D.Zuiko 40mm F2.8 lens and it does not need a battery to operate. The camera is powered by a selenium light meter, comes with two shutter speeds, 1/40 and 1/200 second, and two exposure setting, 'A' for Program automatic, and a manual aperture opening selection for shots at the lower 1/40 second, the setting for flash photography.

In Program automatic mode, the camera will choose either a shutter speed of 1/40 or 1/200 second, matched to an aperture range from F2.8 to F16. The film ISO setting is from 25 to 400 for later models which come with a black shutter release button, and 25 to 200 for earlier models that have a chrome silver shutter release button.

Focusing is by a zone system with four distance icons set for portrait, shoulder shot, group, and landscape. The distance icon is visible through the viewfinder via a small sub-window located just below the image frame. Flash is used in manual mode with preset aperture opening.
Olympus Trip 35

The mainstay of the Trip 35 is, undoubtfully, its four-element in three-groups Tessar lens which is acknowledged as very impressive. The lens is capable of giving you sharp high-quality images with good mid-tone contrast and natural colors. Just as endearing is the use of the selenium photocell, which is even capable of getting a correct exposure under bright fluorescent light, without a flash.


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Monday, October 14, 2019

Pentax MV1, SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8

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Pentax MV1, SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8

'Analog Diary - Five frames with Pentax MV1 and SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8, on a quest for the perfect do-it-all SLR film camera kit'

A fun and easy to use 35mm SLR film camera kit that you want to look at, if you starting to look at film photography, is the combination of a Pentax MV1 SLR film camera, and the SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8 lens.

The camera/lens combination is very compact and equally a lightweight, with the 18mm thick lens weighing only 110 grams, and a camera body that weighs 425 grams without batteries.

In use, the camera kit is not only well suited to hiking or street shooting, but is equally suitable as a do-it-all general use lens for snapshots, family outings, travel photos, urbanscapes, and architectural images.

The 5-elements in 4-group SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8, produced from 1976 to 1984, was the smallest SLR lens that Pentax ever made. A seven-layer SMC coating process that Pentax started using to coat the lens element since 1971 produces images are sharp and clear and mid-tones contrast that are always pleasing to look at.

The lens has a focal length of 40mm, slightly narrower than a 35mm lens, which one seems to be always troubled by extraneous side elements cropping into the image frame. Just as well, the lens is wider than a 50mm, making it just right for that extra squeeze in a tight urban corner.

The Pentax MV1, an update to the Pentax MV which was launched a year earlier, is an aperture-priority 35mm SLR film camera, was a product from the 1980s. It has a shutter speed range from 1 to 1/1000 second, which is set automatically by the camera, and an  ISO speed range from 32 to 1600.

Pentax MV1, SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8

The camera is as good as any to start you off into film photography. It is a well-constructed camera, a smooth operator with a well-damped mirror flap action that produces little if any, camera body shake. The compact and lightweight body is easily available on the auction market, most at very affordable prices, and has been known to be reliable and worth the keep.


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Monday, October 7, 2019

Cropped Close-Ups I, Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5

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Olympus E-P5, Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5

Cropped Close-Ups I, Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5

'Close-Ups - Five frames with the Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5 cropped and resized close-ups of garden variety plants'

Cropping is a technique that you may want to apply, especially for close-ups, if you are faced with circumstances that make you unable to fill up your frame with the subject you are shooting.

Olympus E-P5, Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm F3.5
This may include having to step back from your subject to gain depth of field and sharpness, or to remove distracting background elements.

As in my case here, I was testing the ultra-wide-angle Olympus Zuiko OM 21mm F3.5 which I had mounted on the 2x crop-sensor E-P5, which effectively makes the lens a 42mm equivalent on full-frame cameras.

Even at the lens's closest focusing distance of 0.2 meters, subjects seen by the almost 'perfect normal' equivalent focal length lens is only as the eyes see it, no magnification.

Cropping, on the other hand, helps to fine-tune the composition, eliminate unused space from the image frame, remove distracting background, and help direct the viewer to the area of the image that is most important or interesting.

With cropping, you will also lose a portion of the original image size, and you might need to post-processes the cropped-image for color adjustment, after exposure adjustments, fine-tuning the contrast and image sharpening.

Olympus E-P5, Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm F3.5

Some of these elements are necessary as close-ups may tend to pick up and reflect the colors of their surroundings more than other images. Being a single subject matter, close-ups may tend to be monochromatic as well, and this is where it makes it pertinent to post-process for contrast adjustments.


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Monday, September 30, 2019

Kwai Chai Hong, Olympus AF-1


Kwai Chai Hong, Olympus AF-1

'Street Photography - Five frames with the Olympus AF-1 (Infinity), on the quest for an equivalent or alternative to the Olympus Mju II'

The Olympus AF-1 (Infinity in the US), 1985, the first of Olympus AF series cameras, was also the world’s first weatherproof fully automatic autofocus 35mm compact camera, a product of extensive research and development by the Japanese giant.

Due to its ability to be used in all weather conditions, the camera was nicknamed 'Nurepika' (wet flash) in Japan. Boxy, durable and all with a slightly offbeat option of an auto-on flash, the camera requires a quite hard to get CR-P2 Lithium to power its operation.

The AF-1 is fitted with a Zuiko 35mm F2.8 4-elements in 4-group lens with a minimum focusing distance of 0.75 meters, auto-exposure with an exposure range of 1/30 second at F2.8 to 1/750 second at F13.5, auto-flash with no flash override control, film autoload and rewind, and self-timer.

The autofocus system is supported by a 'focus lock' button which is a bit jiffy to use - press and hold the lock button with the left thumb, aim at the target with central box and press the shutter release button down, recompose the view, then release the lock button to release the shutter.


For the outing, which I took the AF-1 for a street walk down Kwai Chai Hong, and the newly opened Pandan Republic, I had the flash unit blocked with a piece of duct tape (see image above) as a test on how well the camera captures images in low shutter speed situation.


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