Stefano’s Stuffs

The next lens I need

The Nikon 135mm f/2 with defocus control is killing me…I NEED IT!!Creamy Bokeh-Creamy Bokeh- Creamy Bokeh!:-)

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February 6, 2010 Posted by | Photo | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camera Combos dreams…

Time to dream about some new cheap “combos” I could eventually buy in the future to enhanced my photo skills…Film developing in my city started to become really expensive and difficult in some situations (like 6×6 films…Not to mention cross processing or other cool stuffs) so the next step will probably related to digital gears (damn):

Scenario n. 1 – Updating of digital Nikon, with a used D200 and a used Nikon Ai-S 50mm F/1.2; this lens is one of my all time favourites and its “manual-only focus/absence of modern chips” is the winning reason against the newest 1.4D and 1.4G (especially the last one has a very fast AF, too easy IMHO;-)). A good total price could be near 600 Euros.

+ Always Nikon, always the same feeling and lens compatibility

+ Reasonable price

– This “old” manual lens with few technology on a digital camera could become tiring to use at night for casual shoots than a modern ultra fast AF 1.4

Scenario n.2 – Completely conversion to Canon. This would mean to sell every Nikon camera/stuffs/lenses to gain some money for buying used Canon. The original 5D is always in my mind with its FF at “nice” price but the reason for a conversion would be the unbeatable “USM” serie, especially the perfect 50mm F/1.2 . The total price is high, at least 1600 Euros.

+ The lens I need

+ The camera I need

– High price

– What can I do with only ONE lens???;-) At least I need also a wideangle one…

Scenario n.3 – Visit a new world. The new Micro 4/3 system produced little cameras with interchangeable lenses, but I don’t like those of Panasonic; instead one of the coolest combo of last years is the new Olympus Pen with Leica M adapter!Obviously I cannot buy Leica lenses, but there are other interesting choices (Cosina, for example) : one is the Nokton F/1.1, that on Ebay costs about 700-800 Euros.

+ Very cool combo for everday use

+ Some very good 3rd part lenses with M mount at reasonable price in some used markets

– Olympus Pen is a new camera and Nokton is a new lens so heavy price…

Scenario n.4 – Holgaroid 😉

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Photo | 2 Comments

Little HDR guide for beginners

Wow, another HDR guide?Yes, because a lot of people everyday start to enjoy HDR and because my friend Hector , a very talented digital photographer always ready to learn interesting things, asked to me in the past about it. The difference between this very little guide and the others on the Web is probably the software I used: Dynamic Photo HDR for Win or OSX, not the really famous Photomatix; I found the one from Mediachance really fantastic, please buy it if you want to create wonderful HDR (Photomatix is good too, but I think it’s more difficult to get good results at first time, I tried it after some practice).

First of all we need an image: IMHO not every image is good for HDR and the most important thing is to choose the right image to process. We need something with lights and shadows, maybe taken during the day (night HDR is really complicated and often useless) and with clouds. You have two possibilities: take various shots of the same thing at different exposures (at least 3: one with nice exp, one underexp and one overexp; a lot of people uses 5 images, with two different underexp and two different overexp) or take a single, hi-quality image (the best your camera can) and modify by using a photo editing software (you know, Photoshop/Photoshop Elements is the right choice if you can, but you can also use the lovely Gimp or others:-)) for create and save other files with different exposures (for example in Photoshop the command is “Image->Adjustments->Exposure”; at this point create 2 files from the original, one with -2 and one with +2 exp and save them in the same directory of your photo).

Open Dynamic Photo HDR and click on the menu to create a new HDRI:

createnew

In the next step, click on “Add images” in the window and select your 3 files; remember to choose the right exposure for each of them (-2, 0, +2 like before) , deselect “Align files in next step” and click “OK”.

addimages

After some seconds the HDR image is produced, but we need immediately to “Tone Map” it to obtain a good result.

tonemap

This is the funniest part and the creative one: in this menu you can choose some templates: the perfect one for the “wonderful HDR images you can see everywhere on Flickr” is “Ultra-Contrast”:-). Now start to play with settings, pump up “Natural/Saturated” and “Vivid Colours” and eventually increase/decrease the “Dramatic” ones (it depends by the image). Probably you need to turn off the “3D filter” and add “NR” (Noise Reduction) for a good job.

ultracontrast

After clicking “Process & Edit” you’ll see a window with your final image and some buttons for little editing: click on the upper left menu and select “Save as”; choose always the maximum quality.
Now you’ll have a nice image, but it’ll be probably full of horrible pixels, especially in the sky and in the most luminous parts.

skypixels

Let’s come back to your photo editor, open your HDR image and apply some “Blur” filter to those parts. For example in Photoshop select the affected zones with “Magic Wand” or some “Marquee Tool” (better, because with Magic Wand you often cannot select the 100% of pixels)and apply a “Gaussian Blur” filter with a 3,o/4,0 pixels radius. You can now try to increase/decrease saturation and other settings  inside your photo editor like a normal image and also apply a dark canvas to maximize dramatic effect. Voilà!

August 8, 2009 Posted by | computer, Photo | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Xiao

immagine2

A new, interesting product from Takara Tomy : Xiao, a digital camera that print photos!!!It has 5 mpx, 2,5″ lcd, sd slot,  fixed focus, a 1/2-1/2000 exposure and can print 5×7,6 cm colour photos with its ZINK (means Zero Ink) printer in less than a minute. It’s a very nice object but not really cheaper: near 35.000 yen (plus the price of the paper for prints)

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Japan, Photo | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wide

I love wide lenses. The new one from Tamron (date of launch: 2008/09/27 in Japan) seems to be excellent:

It’s a fantastic SP AF10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 for Nikon and Canon DX only…Its incredible focal length range is really interesting and hope I can compare it soon to the other lens I’m looking now: the Tokina 12-24 F/4.

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Photo | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to spend (some) money…

I definitively need a cheap DSLR back for my 5-6 Nikon lenses. I’m thinking about this hardware from about two months and the word “cheap” means that I’ve really FEW choices…;-)

The first possibility is the D50. I saw it on E-Bay and its price is good (especially in UK); it uses SD memory and it support near all the lenses, even the old ones (so you know why I cannot buy a D40 or a D60); using film for years, I have not “DX-only” lenses). Price is 200-280 €; at Mapcamera in Tokyo they sell it used at near 34.000 yen or 210 €.

The second possibility is the D70/D70s. The price is near the same (a little more expensive in Japan than the D50, don’t know why) , it uses CF cards, it has near the same resolution of the D50.

The cons about Nikon cameras: I absolutely need to use my hi-quality M42 lenses on my dslr (first of all the Zenitar Fisheye, some Revuenons and some CZJ…Crop factor, I hate you!:-)) and all the adapters have a cheap glass lens inside for reaching the infinite focus, and this lens seems to have really poor quality…On Internet I read some interesting stories.

The last possibility is a Canon 350d. It’s cheap as a Nikon and its various adapters are more compatible with different lenses; in this situation I’ll need a Nikon-F adapter with chip and a M42-Canon adapter (the glass lens is not necessary because of Canon manufacture, increasing photo quality).

The cons about this possibility: adapters are always adapters and even with the one with chip you’ll lose the AF of the Nikon lenses and you can obtain only the Canon “beep” when the focus is ok…

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Photo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horizon

The “new” Horizon is an interesting film camera (also the oldest one, but it’s a little difficult to find in good conditions) and after two years of use I can recommend it to everyone like to shoot panoramas.
The best choice is obiouvsly the “Perfekt” edition (more similiar to the old Horizon) without fixed aperture (it has a f/2,8 max and it has a tripod hole!),against the more cheaper (especially on Ebay) “Kompakt” (a fixed f/8 with a maximum 1/2 second exposure is not ideal for night…I’ve obtained good results only with 1600 iso film). A second hand Kompakt could be instead a right choice for beginners. With these cameras you can use every type of 135 films, with a 36 poses one you can take near 20 shot (measuring 24x58mm instead of 24×36…and yes you can do double exposures!). The develop should not be a problem also in a normal shop/one hour minilab (ask not to cut film after the develop may help a lot if the clerk watch you in a strange way after told him “This is made with a panoramic camera”…) but the print could be a problem in a lot of shops (even in Tokyo I’ve learned to ask “develop/genzou only” or “directly to the pro-lab”; in Italy I’ve found a shop in my little city (only 1 on a total of 15) that does the right things in a week. Ask to your shop before buy because this problem could be really stressful and Lomo knows it well.

Japan II - Far away you can see the end of the World

An example on my Flickr’s photostream taken with a Kompakt + FujiFilm Natura 1600 at 1/60 sec.

PS=Pay attention when you load film into your Horizon: during the whole operation you must extract really FEW film, as less as possible, so it can perfectly fit into the camera; especially the last roller of the Horizon (the one with the shots counter) must turn really well and softly after loading the film. This camera will give you great satisfactions!

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Photo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New (old) lenses

Chinon CS4

(image courtesy of www.butkus.org)

During 2008 I bought a wonderful, 28 years old, Revueflex SD1 (also called Chinon CS4), a very affordable manual camera with a wonderful M42 mount; this means that on Ebay there are a lot of possibilities to find some VERY good lenses at very good price. I immediately bought a 20 years old beautiful-perfect condition-great bokeh-cheap Revuenon f/2,8 135mm, ideal for portrait. I’m looking hard, also with the precious help of some webisites devoted to this camera mount, for the right lenses to buy and the results are incredible. Here my top3 (obiouvsly “cheap edition”!) updated:

3 – The always interesting and cheap Zenitar Fisheye f/2,8 16mm; it is produced with various mount and adapters (Canon, Nikon, Sigma…even M39!)but the original one is made for M42 cameras. This cheap fisheye takes excellent shots, it’s fully manual and it’s “not-so-circular” like some others “pushed” fisheye.

2 – The very useful Tomioka f/1,4 55mm. Some f/1,4 Super Takumars are better and cheaper but for example mine is damn yellow and a little radioactive (the rear element was treated with Thorium) so I must find a good alternative, always at f/1,4:-). The best idea is the “Tomi-lux”, the Tomioka f/1,2 but it’s not really cheap…

(image courtesy of www.mflenses.com)

1 – The really interesting Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon f/4 20mm (ok, there’s also the f/2,8 but it’s always the same problem…:-)), I saw some wonderful shots taken with this lens and the DDR “Zebra” edition is SO cool…;-)

(image courtesy of www.nadir.it)

The “not-so-cheap” list includes a lot of other lenses…

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Photo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment