Friday, May 27, 2011

3 reasons why our photography doesn't improve

1.  We don't take our camera with us.
2.  We're going too fast.
3.  We're worried what others will think.
For a discussion of these reasons, click to dPS

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Leica Lists"

If you are interested in Leicas, you want to download the free PDF file, "Leica Lists".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

nature photography with a 50+ yr. old lens on a Leica M9

Recently a friend loaned me a couple of Leica lenses more than 50 yrs. old. Of course I had to try them out. After using them in bad indoor light with pretty good results, I decided to take one of them (135mm Hektor f/4.5) outdoors. Today we finally got a warmish, sunny day and I went to Springbrook Nature Center, in Fridley, where I've taken many bird photos with my Canon bodies & lenses. How would a 50+ year uncoated and slow 135mm lens compare to current 400mm telephotos? All of the photos were shot wide open at f/4.5 with the ISO at 200 and shutter speeds from 1/750 to 1/2000. The camera body was a Leica M9.
Click on any photo to enlarge.
First, the bad news.
This is a crop of less than 8% of full frame. Yes, it's a warbler -- but that's about all you can say for it. By the way, it is incredibly difficult to shoot fast-moving, restless warblers with a rangefinder, manual focusing camera. The old Hektor also has an extremely long focus travel, which does not help.

More bad news.
This is about a 5% crop of the full frame. The teal-colored branches are interesting and caused by severe chromatic aberration when shooting into a light source, such as the sky here. These old lenses were not coated. Not too many people worried about color fringing in 1950 -- most photos were black & white. What could I do with this severe crop and false color? I increased the saturation to the max hoping to get some kind of psychedelic effect. I think I failed.

Better news.
This, in my opinion, is passable. About 1/8 of full frame. Considering all factors, I am impressed by the sharpness and color of an uncoated Leitz lens after 50+ years.

Good news.

Now we are getting into pretty good territory. This is about 1/6 of full frame and very good, in my opinion. 

As we approach 1/2 frame or lesser crops, the old Hektor hitting Leica's full frame sensor shines.

Isn't it amazing what sharpness & color one can get out of a 50-year old lens? The trick is to get close enough to your subject so that you can utilize 1/2 of more of full frame. That's fine for ducks & geese, but for warblers and shy birds I'll have to hang on to my Canon gear.