Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just one shot to portrait a soccer star

Just one shot, I have to score!

Twenty minutes setting the lights, and you only have one chance to shoot, so it better be good.
I've always had the opinion that family photography is much more difficult and demanding than other types.

Fashion? Celebrities? They want/need to be in the picture, and they want to look good.
Kids? They just want to play, and their patience, well, they do not have that.

In any case, we were lucky. Two stripboxes at the sides, the gridded beauty dish lighting the face.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stormy weather

I love cloudy skies, if anything because they are not frequent in Madrid, not the least because they help to reduce the ambient light to manageable levels.

This picture of the best rider in the world with his fellow pony was taken in the afternoon, and the sky was really covered. Again, a gridded beauty dish, I love the focused and controlled beam of soft light that it produces.

Monday, February 15, 2010

More on converting the Leica 90mm to AIs

This is the 90mm without the bayonet, 

See the bayonet conversion here,

Digging into the F-mount specs, all we need is to hold and release the diaphragm, while indicating the aperture. Two options for the latter, either we chip the lens as indicated by Bjørn Rørslett, or we develop some ugly external meter coupling. We leave this for later.

The real improvement for us to forget about stop-down metering is to manage the diaphragm. To hold and release it, two problems are to keep us busy. First, the rotation sense is opposite to Nikon's (not the either way, it's them who turn to the opposite side), and second, the radius of the Leica diaphragm control mechanism is bigger than the one in the Nikon mechanism.

There is some space between the rear lens group and the bayonet, and it seems to be more space inside, I have not disassembled the lens further. Before that, I´de like to explore possible mechanic alternatives. If we can solve the control with a simple mechanism, it seems straightforward to design an epoxy resin piece to hold it, the cpu contacts block, and to fill the empty space to avoid internal dust.

Probably simple levers with some spring to make it fly will do. Ideas?

Follow the discussion here.

Leica 90 f/2 example

I took this picture yesterday with the 90mm.

To help in using a wide aperture, I used a polariser filter, which worked for f/2.8 with the flash at minimum setting. One gridded beauty dish to the left of the camera. Then I had to play with the shutter speed to find the proper balance of the ambient light with the flash, and ended up using 1/50, and a bit of luck.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect Portrait Lens

I'm seeking a perfect prime in the 85-105mm range. I want it for portraits (FF), both outdoors and studio.

I have ruled out the 105 and 135 DC primes, I do not like that complication. Some alternatives that I have explored:
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4, very nice on DX, but does not focus close enough in FF, and sharpness and purple fringing/CA wide open leaves lots of room for improvement.
  • Carl Zeiss ZF 85mm f/1.4. Much better that the Nikon, but neither focuses close enough.
  • Carl Zeiss ZF 100mm f/2. What a nice lens this is. Lovely in so many aspects. Two problems though. CA wide open is easily observable, and focusing is quite a challenge for medium distances. As a macro lens, it is optimized for close focus, and the focus scale has a lot of range for short distances. The focus throw needs however micro adjustments for medium-long focus distances, and it is not always easy to nail it.
  • Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AIs. I´m waiting for one to test, I´m expecting similarities with the Nikon 85mm, AF aside.
  • Leica R APO 90 f/2, converted to F-Mount using the bayonet. Sharpness can't be better wide open, colours and contrast are fantastic, and it really focuses very close (0.7m). The perfect lens? Yep, if it wasn't that the conversion turns it into a dumb lens. No diaphragm control means that you have to really close it and focus and meter stopped down. Nice for wide apertures, but useless for studio and where you may need f/8 or smaller, depending on the ambient light.
As of today, I´m using the CZ ZF 85mm for studio, where I need/want f/9 or f/11, and the Leica 90mm for outdoors wide open, or stopped down to f/4. It would be so nice if the Leica 90 could be fully converted to AI-s ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010