Mittwoch, 30. April 2014

The Legend: the Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-T 135mm f/3.5

The experts on the net say about the OM 135mm lens, it is sharp even at full aperture and a further stopping down only increases the depth of field. It is often compared to the 135mm f/2.8 Leica R Tele-Elmarit  and supposedly it should be just as good as this outstanding lens from Germany. But what is to this legend true?

It is amazing that it can often buy under 50, - Euros. I actually bought my copy for knock-out price of 40 Euro. The handling is typical of Zuiko-lenses: built comparatively delicate but very solid, extremely grippy rubber focus ring, pleasant resistance to focus the camera, only the aperture ring snaps a little rickety and noisy one. The focuser is short, just over 180 ° but this is fully sufficient to provide sharp precise and quick .
Let's look first of all at the statistics of the lens: The lens has an overall length of 73mm and a filter size of 49mm. The five lenses are arranged in four groups. The shortest minimum focus is 1.5 meters. The lens weighs 290 grams. A retractable hood is installed.
First some photos from and with the wonder-lens on my Sony-Nex:

Here are a few shots at open aperture. It looks very good, the picture quality is excellent except for some chromatic aberrations. The contrast is excellent even at full aperture. The bokeh is smooth and even. The resolving power of the glass used is exceptionally good. For backlit subject, the lens is only slightly susceptible. The lens hood is indeed always there. In summary, I can say: best recommendation for this lens.

Sony Nex-3N, f/3.5, 1/4000s, ISO 200

Sony Nex-3N, f/3.5, 1/1000s, ISO 200

Sony Nex-3N, f/3.5, 1/2000s, ISO 200

Finally, a few shots from days gone by with the OM Zuiko 135mm. A truly faithful and compact companion for all my cameras (Sony Nex and Sony a7).

Sony Nex-3N, f/3.5, 1/2500s, ISO 200

Sony ILCE-7 (a7), f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 100

Sony ILCE-7 (a7), f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 160

Montag, 28. April 2014

Cheap, cheaper, Makinon: the Makinon Auto 135mm f/2.8 MC in review

A focal length of 135mm is something very special. You can take portraits on a full frame sensor. With an APS-C sensor this focal length is a lightweight telephoto lens. The 135 mm focal length competes directly with lenses of 85mm, 105mm, or the typical 70-200mm zoom lenses. I want to introduce an occasional series of some lenses that have a focal length of 135mm. These will include: the Makinon Auto 135mm f/2.8 MC, the excellent and well known Olympus Zuiko 135mm f/3.5  and last the Canon 135mm f/3.5 LTM with Leica screw mount (M39). Maybe then just adds one or the other lens, if I can muster it.

Today we start with the cheap Makinon 135mm, which after all has a bright aperture of 2.8. I got my copy for just 30 €. More should also pay for it in no way. Well, it is built very solid. You can use it to hammer a nail into the wall. But: the optics are not exactly inspiring. But we'll get to later. Now once some statistics and data.
The Makinon lenses were made by Makina Optical Co. Ltd. in Japan. Starting in 1974 they began selling lenses under their own brand names, primarily Makinon but they also registered the Makinar trademark. (note that Makina, Makinon and Makinar were also brand names used by German company Plaubel prior to the 1970s). Makina manufactured lenses for OEM branding by other companies such as Vivitar and Hanimex. Like many small Japanese lens manufacturers, Makina Optical went out of business in the 1980s as consumers switched from manual focus to auto focus camera systems.
Makinon made lense in a variety of mounts – Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Konica, M42 and so on.

The Makinon 135mm lens was made between 1976 to 1985. It has a length of 68.5 mm and a weight of 350 grams. The filter size is 55mm. The lens has seven aperture blades. The shortest focus distance is 1.5 meters. The Makinon has a special feature: There are macro shots possible with a magnification of up to 1:4.5. No sensation, but quite nice.
Here are a few pictures of the lens with an adapter on my Sony Nex:

What can now afford this cheap lens?
First the bad news: In open aperture it is not really usable. Here is a shot at f/2.8: As you can see even without magnification, the image is dull and full of chromatic aberrations around all contrast edges.

A 100% detail cut from the original image. Open aperture.
Only when you stop down to f/5.6 will change the quality of pictures. The sharpness is reasonably acceptable in the center of the image. Really good but it is only from aperture 8 to 11. The bokeh is really pleasant soft. The lens has, in my experience no problems with backlight. I have read on the net that in the lens a lens hood is integrated. This I can not confirm. My copy with a bayonet for Contax / Yashica has no retractable lense hood.

Open aperture with Macro 1:4.5.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/60 s with fill flash.

SONY NEX-3N, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/320 s.
In summary, I can say: the Makinon Auto 135mm lens in general are not very good and tend to be very soft wide open. When stopped down it usable but no recommendation. 
In the next posts we will see how good or bad are the other lenses.

Freitag, 25. April 2014

A short visit and a lot of new photos from Jena

Jena is a relatively small university town with a few natives but countless students.
A few days I am with my alumni went there to see a lecture in the planetarium. Until our train back down, I have the time used to shoot some photos.

To save weight in my camera bag, I had taken only a prime lens on the Leica. My zeiss Biogon 35mm  I have coded as 28mm Elmarit, which has the advantage that there are no bad vignetting even with more open aperture. But now enough with gobbledegook. Better we now look at the pictures.

Sonntag, 20. April 2014

Dancing under the lime tree

This is not a new kind of national sport. There is an old tradition in Germany. Hundreds of years old linden trees were surrounded with scaffolding, on which was danced in a few days a year. In other words, people danced in the treetops.

Such dance lime trees have become very rare in Germany. Therefore we try to revive this old tradition. In Rudolstadt-a small town on the river Saale-it is an open air museum. There, a new dance lime tree was inaugurated last weekend. A lot of people have met and celebrated the event there and - of course-dancing around the lime tree. I'm sneaking around with my Leica and have photographed the people there.
The tree is still small and inconspicuous. But over the years it will grow and get bigger. So let's see in a few years after him.