Wednesday, April 13, 2016

30 to 85mm lens comparison ~ with and without Zhongyi Lens Turbo II

After returning from Lisbon I found I've not be inspired by much.  So, I hauled out another page of newsprint, taped it a wall and compared another bunch of lenses.

The setup -
  • Sony A6000, 100ISO, AWR converted in Sony's software
  • Big Beefy Manfrotto tripod
  • Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN E as the control optic - it's sharp sharp sharp
  • Old Nikon manual focus lenses
    • 35mm f/2 Ai
    • 50mm f/1.8 E-series
    • 50mm f/1.4 pre-Ai (Ai adapted)
    • 55mm Micro-Nikkor f/3.5
    • 85mm f/1.8 K Ai (multi-coated)
    • 85mm f/1.8 H pre-Ai (Ai adapted)
    • 85mm f/2 Ai
  • Zhongyi Lens Turbo II focal reducer
The goal is to see under normal contrast conditions what effect the Lens Turbo II had on optical performance.  I'd shot a comparison along similar lines about a year ago, but that was in a low contrast situation and I was at that time really just looking at the rendition of out of focus areas.

Look at the following at 100 percent to see the differences in performance.  The rows surrounded by red fuzzy bands are the lenses shot without the Zhongyi Lens Turbo II (even though the wording next to these rows says Zhongyi) - the Zhongyi row is the one above the red fuzzy outlined row.  The distance to the target was adjusted by 1.5x to keep the image size equal to those shot with the focal reducer.

Zhongyi LensTurbo II compared to native optics
Observations -
The Zhongyi Lens Turbo II neither improves nor degrades the optical performance of the Nikkor lenses I compared.  If a lens suffers from spherical aberrations when shot wide open, then images made with and without the focal reducer appear equally soft.  Similarly, once an image becomes sharp, both images are equally sharp.

There's one thing that is underscored by performing this comparison and that is that by f/4 every lens performs equally well.  Said another way, my super sharp Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN E is really no better than any of the old, and in some cases very old, Nikon manual focus lenses after f/4.

Friday, April 01, 2016

... so... you spend a month in Lisbon...

I take photography perhaps a little too seriously.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

It's a non-paying gig. I have no Big Name "clients."  I'm not all over YouTube promoting the latest equipment review.  No journal lists me on their masthead.  By all accepted measures of "success", I must be an abject failure.

Or so it would seem.

But this begs the obvious answer, which is I take this craft and art very seriously because it gives me pleasure.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

So it is from this perspective and this perspective only that I look back at the month my wife and I spent in Lisbon.

I would like to share a few observations.

Prior to heading south to escape the typically cold, gray, wet winters of Paris for a bit of sun and warmth in Portugal I added Phase One's Capture One to my toolkit.  The Sony only version of the application was cheap enough that I bought it to see what could be done.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

Two things came with the addition of the new software.  The First was the instant realization that the Capture One RAW engine is visibly superior to Sony's and anyone else's.  The workflow allows me to crunch a vast number of files while using the exact same recipe settings.  Gone are the days of subtle file to file variations in cases where I'm looking for more consistency.

The second is the disappointing application instability in versions 9.0.3 and 9.1.  These versions of Capture One suffers from serious memory leaks.  I worked with their support staff to gain a modicum of stability where I can process perhaps 20 or 30 files before the system runs out of memory or crashes CP1.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

While we were in Lisbon CP1 released an update to their software.  The signature text size no longer changes, but the memory leaks persist.  My love/hate experiences with paid-for software is renewed.  I came to hate Microsoft for their bug-ridden OS and avoid Apple products at all cost because they're trendy and now world dominating with no clear advantage to me, a lone simple consumer.

Artistically, our time away from Paris allowed me to generate and share 1103 images from our Lisbon experience.  No, not all of this would be considered "art."  Yes, I've started sharing more of the "experience."

Yet in terms of "pure art" I was able to realize and share three complete mini-projects.  The first two projects are devoted to what I saw and felt about the Prazeres Cemetery.

Here is my Prazeres project number one.

Here is my Prazeres project number two.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena

The third project is, for me, something completely new.  After stumbling on the work of Cyril Berthault-Jacquier I was moved to create another work, this one titled "Fractured Spaces - Organized N x 3 - Where N= [1,2,3]"  Cyril's influence on me should be obvious, but already I can see where I've made this approach my own.  Just as importantly to me, I can see where the style can lead and I'm very excited to see what I can do over the next couple months.

Looked at from a short distant this is a massive amount of work generated in just 31 days.  To what end?  For what purpose?  Fame?  Fortune?  What???

The effort came simply from the inspiration I found by unexpectedly living a series of experiences in a warm sunny place.  It gives me true deep contentment to create and share these images.  Every single one of them.  For me there is no other goal than to recreate this feeling.

That's it.

All of it.

Sintra ~ Palácio Nacional da Pena