1969 Was a Good Year For Lenses

The Minolta 58mm PF f1.4. Fantastic personality with a real retro look and feel. Wide open it is not the sharpest at the edges but it has a great look to it. It renders really nice smooth skin tones. Like most lenses of this era it really doesn’t like direct light and tends to flare badly but if you know its quirks you can use them to your advantage.

I am beginning to think that lens selection rather than focal length is becoming more and more important as there are so many options out there.

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Medium Format Black & White

I love black and white and I love medium format. These pics were shot digitally on the H5D-40 and covered to Tri-X flavour using VSCO. Its not the same but it comes close, is close enough? Probably not but until I can get another film ‘Blad it will have to do (not a bad situation to be in, so don’t get me wrong- not complaining).

The pics look like medium format, the files were shot at 400 iso, the large sensors seem to handle up to 1600 iso very well and people really don’t take any notice of me even though the camera is pretty big. My theory is that unless you are pointing a big white lens stuck on a brick DSLR people don’t really care. Strange but true. Exposure latitude is amazing, under and over exposure recovery is I think up to four stops either way.

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Photographing A Photographer

Had the privilege of meeting Glen today, a personality and a half plus a photographer! I love shooting  interesting people and Glen was that. He came assisted by a very able make-up artist- Raquel.

If you are interested in a great makeup artist –

Or a great photographer ( when I am not available) Glen-

Decided to underlight Glen and add a bit of dynamic directional lighting Trusty Octolight at work. I have committed to a year of the Portrait Project so drop me an email here

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Getting In The Groove

I am tailoring my lighting to my subject, as you probably realise by now I like a directional light. This shoot involved the ever present Octolight and a two meter shoot through scrim. I decided to upload a sequence of shots so you can see the flow of a shoot.

My favourite is of course the black and white below although its not exactly flattering-


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Medium Format Vs 35mm Zeiss Smackdown

Are you ready to rumble? Maybe not but here is a screen shot of a frame from the A7 and a frame from the Hasselblad H4-50 CCD back. Have a close look. The Sony uses the 50mm Loxia which when placed in the same side by side with both the Nikon and Canon is much better. When I did the comparison with the medium format I was astounded- it made my beloved Loxia look like an 18-55 kit lens.

Again, don’t take my word for it book a demo and test it yourself. Both images are at 1:1 in Lightroom. It will be interesting to do this with the Canon- if anyone is getting one and wants to compare lets meet up. The door in question is in Marrickville just near Mackey Park.

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JPEGS from the two files are included below. The settings are-

JPEG 100% Quality

72 DPI

Apart from that they are full size and untouched.

Image shot with the Hasselblad H4-50 50mp CCD back
Image shot with the Hasselblad H4-50 50mp CCD back
Image shot with Sony A7 and 50mm Loxia
Image shot with Sony A7 and 50mm Loxia

The Zeiss Loxia Lenses

Zeiss have always held a special place in my heart after i first used the 85mm Sony Zeiss some years ago. Since then I have shot a lot of great Zeiss glass on film, Leica and Sony cameras- all of it quality stuff. This weekend I briefly had the new 50mm and 35mm Loxia lenses come into my possession and was able to bung off a few frames. Now remember: I work for the company that imports these things so test them yourself. Having said that, I will also say: I wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t believe in.

First of all I think its worthwhile commenting on the build quality of these- all metal with silky smooth focus. Primo quality product that lives up to the Zeiss legacy of quality lenses. There is no plastic here only finely machines metal. Anyone who has shot with their M mount lenses will be familiar with the feel.

Secondly is the ball tearing, mind blowing image quality. The way Zeiss looks, and its a distinctive German look, leaves their big brand cousins dead in the water. Like the Leica  Summicron range these two f2 lenses are so sharp, and thats compared to lenses two to three times their price. I am not sure what the deal with this is, Sigma is also being disruptive in this area with its Art series but Nikon and Canon need to take a good look at themselves- perhaps near enough is not good enough?

In the end, if you shoot any E Mount body these lenses are a must have. The perfect kit of A7 plus the two Loxias and you can shoot just about anything.

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Back To Where It All Began

Spent some time in the photography faculty at Sydney TAFE in Ultimo today. Good to see they are using the latest in studio flash plus some Hasselblad digitals as well. Just about everything is now digital but they still have a cracking darkroom. I went through there in the late 80’s early 90’s and spent two years learning how to correct verticals on 5 x 4 before even being allowed to look at medium format, now its literally state of the art stuff- well done to the new breed of teachers.

So  here is the wish list, inspired by my visits with all technical and fine arts teachers I have visited with over the last two weeks-

  • Shoot some 5×4
  • Buy a printer
  • Do some scanning
  • Develop some film myself
  • Print some black and white

Photography in all its forms seems to be on the rise and I think there is hope for us all that our industry is getting on with it and moving forward, its up to us older lot to make what we sell and teach relevant to the new breed. For the young photographer of today the DSLR and its lenses are commodities to be purchased from the cheapest supplier, and so it should be- they are by and large the same. Where the local supplier and specialty store comes in is to value add their purchase with accessories and grow with their skills. I believe that there is still a place for studio flash and medium format cameras and I am backed up by the students who are learning on this very equipment. Its funny how they value the difference where a vast majority of the film to digital crew were willing to run with 35mm and smaller and forget the lessons of the film days. Imagine turning up to a shoot with an APS-C film camera.

Apologies for the ramble and rant.

As usual this is really only an excuse to shoot the ‘Blad-

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