31.10.20

The Real Story of the Leica CL “Mount Everest” Set



We’re not talking about the digital Leica CL, but the original that was made with Minolta.


There are tons of stories of how Leica cameras have survived crazy encounters. Just recently, Photojournalist Gabriele Micalizzi was severely injured in Syria and was saved by his Leica Cameras. But what we’ve found today are affectionately called the Leica CL Mount Everest Set. Going for just under $10,000, these cameras saw an enjoyable part of history. In the 1970s, going to Mount Everest wasn’t anything like it is today. These days, you’ve got access to Wifi, toilets, and a whole lot more. But back then, it was all about pure endurance. And you needed gear that could keep up with you. The Leica CL itself has a fascinating history and was sadly discontinued for one of the worst reasons I’ve ever heard.

The Leica CL was a collaboration between Minolta and Leica. They worked together to design the smallest Leica M mount camera possible. It had a light meter and a few other quirks. They’re the only Leica cameras with a 40mm frame line. They also have the shutter on the front instead of on top of the camera. The way the light meter works is also unconventional. It resembles a needle moving from one point to another. There were a few variants, including the Minolta CLE and the Leitz Minolta CL. Today, they’re still the most affordable Leica M cameras. And like most of the others, they’ll work just fine without a battery in it.


We’ve used the Leica CL in the rain before. Ours continued to keep working with no faults. And we’d expect nothing else since these two went to Mount Everest. According to the eBay listing:


“These 2 CL’s with serialnumbers 1301703 and 1307836 and their lenses, a Elmar-C 1:4/90mm with serialnumber 26408309 and summicron 1:2/40 mm with serialnumber 2554245 have been used during a British Army expedition to the Mount Everest in 1975/76. The CL was just introduced at that time and the managing director of Leitz UK asked both these adventurours to take these camera sets with them on that journey. Included are a letter confirming that these cameras were used for that purpose and also the book which has been published with the pictures taken as well (as an original slide from the trip to the Mount Everest). With camera bag, user manual, camera strap, front and rear caps. “

Even more interesting, they come with a letter from John Muston of the Army Mountaineering Association. He confirms that these two cameras are the ones he used when he went to Everest. He admits to not going to the summit with them. But they still went very high up there.

The set comes with two Leica CL cameras. One has the very excellent 40mm f2 and the other sports the 90mm f4. The 40mm f2 is still said to be one of the sharpest lenses that Leica ever made. And if you put it on a digital camera, you’ll see that. Alternatively, load a camera up with Kodak T-Max 400 or Fujifilm Acros 100. And you’ll see how stunning the lens is even today. The set also comes with some paperwork detailing the original sale of the items and verification. The papers are fundamental for the authenticity of the pieces.

Now would you use these? I don’t know. Personally, I think they’re way too valuable pieces of history to be used again.

30.10.20

S6 - the new Nisi filter holder for ultra wide angle lenses



The Nisi S6 system is designed for landscape photographers who would like to have a filter system for ultra-wide-angle lenses. Specifically for those without a regular filter thread. The system comes with a rotating CPL (circular polarizer), and it allows the use of two more filters. The S6 is a new iteration of a (similarly named) S5, and it features a few improvements.

Let’s first have a look at the improvements and then discuss the handling and use of the S6 system. We will also have a look at a few sample images.

IMPROVEMENTS

The front holder now has an octagonal design which makes it easier to insert and remove filters. The S5 had a more curvey design.




To avoid ghosting, the S6 system uses a flocking material in the main adaptor. Between the bulging lens and the filter width, large amounts of light enter the optical path. The bulb head can produce ghosting, hence the flocking material.


The ring which locks the filter holder to the lens now comes in oxidized silver.




The front filter holder has a locking system to keep it from rotating. Nisi re-designed the system to incorporate an integrated wheel.


The S6 kit also includes a waterproof filter pouch and a lens cap.


All the technical details aside, how is the system to use out in the field?

HANDLING

A 150mm filter system is much larger and heavier than a regular 100mm system. It looks like you are “only” adding 5 centimeters on each side, but the resulting filter is 2.25 times heavier. This isn’t a system you would like to carry on long and strenuous treks.

The filter holder is easy to mount onto the lens. A small locking screw keeps it from falling.

I had no problems inserting filters into the filter holder. They ran smoothly and easily into place. It was even possible to insert a 6 or 10 stop filter closest to the lens after I had inserted a filter in the outer slot. The 6 and 10 stop filters have to be closest to the lens in order to avoid light leaks.

Let us have a look at a few example images. I only adjusted shadows, highlights and exposure in lightroom, so the images are more or less straight out of the camera.



No filters on the left, S6 + CPL + Nisi Medium on the right




No filters on the left, S6 + CPL + Nisi Medium + Nisi 10 stop on the right (120 seconds exposure)

I had set the CPL so that it enhanced contrast in the sky and enhanced the reflections. Notice how the CPL enhances the colors. It was fun to again shoot a few long exposures while testing the S6 system. When I started out with photography I completely fell in love with long exposures and barely did anything else. I had no issues with light leaks when running long exposures on the S6 system. I am fascinated by the fact that it is possible to rotate the CPL after the filters have been inserted into their respective slots. It’s a similar mechanism to the S5 – I loved it then and I love it now.

At last, let us have a look at three river images. I had no idea that a river with a rain forest quality existed only a half-hour drive away until I visited it this July.




No filters on the left, S6 + CPL on the right



No filters on the left, S6 + cpl + Nisi 6 stop on the right

Nisi says they will design several versions of the S6 system so that it will be available for the most popular ultra wide-angle lenses with no standard filter thread.


Ole Henrik Skjelstad

29.10.20

Canon EOS 5D used to shoot scenes for The Mandalorian!



Scenes for The Mandalorian were shot on a Canon EOS 5D, using a Nikon lens, by the inventor of Photoshop!

Blockbuster Disney+ series The Mandalorian made headlines for its use of bleeding edge technologies like virtual sets. However, a number of scenes in the Star Wars spinoff were actually shot using a DSLR – the Canon EOS 5D. 

Indeed, not only were these scenes captured using a Canon EOS 5D, they were shot on a 28mm Nikon lens – and they were filmed by none other than John Knoll, one of the co-creators of Photoshop! 

A fascinating behind the scenes video from Industrial Light & Magic – the Hollywood effects house established by George Lucas to create models for the original Star Wars in 1975 – reveals how the team went old school to create these shots.

While most of the space scenes in The Mandalorian were created using ILM's computer-generated wizardry, series creator Jon Favreau was interested in creating and shooting a physical model of the the Razor Crest (the Mandalorian's ship) – partly as reference for the computer graphics artists, and partly as homage to the way the original Star Wars features were made.

This saw ILM's veteran model maker, John Goodson, creating a ship using a 3D printer and tinfoil, while Knoll (ILM's chief creative officer) devised a custom 50-foot motion control rig with a Canon EOS 5D at its heart. 

While you would assume that this would be the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, it is very possible that it's actually the Mark III or even Mark II. Which may sound peculiar, given that none of these cameras have strong video specs by 2020 standards. 

However, these cameras are fantastic for the creation of stop-motion effects, whereby bursts of still images are used to capture the equivalent frames of film (the 5D Mark II is still favored by many production houses to produce stop-motion features and series). 

Of course, series two of The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+ this Friday, 30 October. And if you love Mando and Baby Yoda as much as we do, check out The Mandalorian Polaroid Now camera ! 

https://ascmag.com/articles/the-mandalorian

James Artaius

25.10.20

Yongnuo has announced the new 35mm f/2.0 FE autofocus lens



Yongnuo just announced this new 35mm f/2.0 FE autofocus lens. The lens will be available soon through their official Amazon US store.

Equipped with Fn function key

Equipped with Fn custom function buttons , reasonable allocation of <Fn> buttons can quickly call up a function menu or perform a shortcut operation, which improves the efficiency of creation.
Small and light

The maximum diameter and length of the lens is about 67 × 72mm , and the net weight is only about 295g . The lightweight design is convenient for daily carrying and long-term handheld shooting and video recording.

Equipped with quiet CNC stepper motor

Compared with traditional DC motors, digitally controlled stepping motors ( DSM ) have quick start-stop response, high focusing accuracy, and quieter focusing action, which is suitable for photo shooting and video recording.

F2 large aperture

Flexible use of F2 large aperture, easy to obtain soft blur effect, can also use low sensitivity and higher shutter to shoot in low light environment.
9 optical lenses in 8 groups, nano multilayer coating

It adopts 8 groups and 9 -element optical structure design, and the lens nano-multilayer coating process, which effectively improves the light transmittance and suppresses the ghost image and glare of backlight .

Aspheric lens

Mounted . 1 aspherical glass lenses, various aberrations effective compensation.
Low dispersion lens

Using 1 Mei low-dispersion glass lenses, to better suppress the wide dispersion problems arising.
7 circular aperture blades

The design of 7 circular aperture blades can produce circular diffuse spots, and the aperture can be reduced appropriately to produce 14 starburst effects.

USB firmware upgrade

Equipped with a USB Type C interface, you can download the latest firmware to upgrade the lens to keep the lens at its best performance.

Metal bayonet, gold-plated contacts

The use of high-precision metal bayonet and gold-plated contacts effectively improves signal conductivity and corrosion resistance, and is durable. At the same time, it allows the camera and lens to maintain reliable communication, and realizes functions such as autofocus, aperture control, and EXIF information transmission.







Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 FE autofocus lens is in Stock for the first time at Amazon US, Amazon DE, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon IT, Amazon ES.

24.10.20

Lomography's new 35mm camera has a lens you can fill with liquid


It looks like a fun way to manually add vintage aesthetics to panoramic shots.

Lomography's latest panoramic 35mm camera has a trick up its sleeve. You can pour liquid into the lens of the HydroChrome Sutton’s Panoramic Belair Camera (yep, that’s the full name) to add some colorful effects to your panoramic shots. Lomo suggests that you’ll be able to capture photos with “vintage aesthetics, washed-out tones and radiant blur” simply by adding clear water to the lens.

It issued a Liquid Guide to give you some ideas on what to inject — ideally particle-free, water-soluble substances like watercolor paint or food coloring. You might use tea or coffee as well, but alcohol, glue, oily solutions and corrosive substances will probably damage the lens.


Lomography

This isn’t the first Lomography camera with a liquid-filled lens, as Peta Pixel points out. Lomo introduced the idea in the cardboard LomoMod No.1 camera it brought out last year. That camera used 120 film instead of 35mm. Effectively, the HydroChrome brings the lens from that model to the sturdier body of a Belair.

The HydroChrome has a fixed-focus lens with a built-in f/11 aperture, though you can swap in f/16, f/22, f/32 and f/168 pinhole aperture plates. It looks like a fun way to manually bring Instagram-esque filters to your analog 35mm shots. 

Pre-orders for the $79 HydroChrome are now open.

Kris Holt

21.10.20

If You’re a Landscape Photographer, You Should Seriously Consider Shooting Cheaper, Vintage, Manual Film Lenses


So you say that you’re a landscape photographer and the appeal of new gear affects you like every other photographer? I’ve got just the suggestion for you. 


Back in the day, prior to the ubiquity of digital photography, film cameras and film camera gear took up more shelf space at camera stores than digital cameras. 

Even then, let’s say the 1990s and early 2000s, the film cameras that were primarily offered new were auto focus cameras (think F100 and the like). Prior to those, film cameras were all manual focus and even some did not offer internal metering. Back then, the bar for 35mm was set a bit lower – grain and a general lack of sharpness were accepted as part of the film way. Even now days, those qualities are much of why a lot of photographers choose to shoot film. For many people, these qualities which some photographers apply to the lenses used on these cameras. 



In this day and age, fast auto focus lenses are getting bigger and bigger and heavier and heavier. For landscape photographers who hike to get the views they want to photograph, the heavy weight of lenses can add up and can make hiking less pleasurable. So, what then is a landscape photographer to do? The first thing to counter the heavy weight would be to consider using manual lenses as opposed to auto focus lenses. And while they do make modern, manual focus lenses, the prices are still pretty high. Manual lenses which were originally intended for film cameras may be considerably less expensive and offer many, if not all, of the same benefits of a modern lens. Indeed, you may well find that the build quality of a vintage lens is in fact better than that of a modern, new manual focus lens (sans weather sealing). 

There are several considerations to make when you’re looking into older lenses. It’s true that in many cases their optics are not inferior. The coatings on the other hand are sometimes not on par with the best of modern lenses. With that said, there are pros and cons to every lens and I would be willing to bet that in many cases, a lesser expensive, vintage lens would be the best valued option. Below, I will attempt to go through some of the considerations to make when looking into manual, vintage lenses. 





Strengths 

The biggest benefit would have to be the lower cost. Compared with modern manual lenses, vintage lenses are often a fraction of the cost. Take for example, a new high-end Nikon lens is $1,300 compared to less than $200 for an older Nikon lens of the equivalent focal length and maximum aperture. 
While that is just one example, this relationship is pretty consistent with only a few exceptions. In addition, the average vintage Nikon, Mamiya, and many Canon and Pentax lenses are very well built often with metal barrels that have held up well over the decades. 

Aside from the obvious price benefit of vintage lenses, the issue that many people care about is sharpness. For many lenses, the vintage primes often offer similar sharpness but not always. In some (somewhat rare) instances, however, vintage lenses may even have better sharpness than their more modern counterparts. 
For those vintage lenses which are somewhat less sharp than their modern counterparts, the primary difference comes when they’re shot wide open which, let’s be honest, is rarely done in landscape photography. 
Moreover, in those instances where the vintage lens remains ever so slightly less sharp even when stopped down, the real question is whether or not the difference would ever be noticed when you’re not doing a side by side comparison. Finally, even if you’re doing a side by side comparison and you notice a slight less sharp image, ask yourself if the price difference between the two lens makes up for it.
 




Weaknesses 

The weaknesses, while several in number, are not much of a big deal to me. I tend to avoid the lenses which are susceptible to have the greatest degree of shortcomings and focus on the hundreds if not thousands of different options which are available. 
The lenses which generally have the most issues are zoom lenses. It’s true, there are some decent zoom lenses but I don’t own any as the ones that I have had experience with would tend to be very soft, particularly at the widest and longest focal lengths. In addition, vintage zoom lenses often suffer from bad mustache and/or pincushion distortion. Along with vintage zoom lenses, vintage wide angle lenses are generally much slower and not quite as sharp as their modern counterparts. While floating lens elements are not a modern development, they were not particularly common. Further, many decent to nice vintage wide angle lenses can be considerably more expensive than more standard or longer focal lengths. 

Aside from personally avoiding the above two types of lenses (with the exception of the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S which I absolutely love and is actually still sold new), I should also circle back around to the point that vintage lenses may have lower quality coatings than nice modern lenses. 
The real question is whether or not those lower quality coatings actually equate lower image quality. True, if you’re shooting a back lit scene, you may well see a big difference but for many cases even then, the difference may be negligible. Another weakness that may matter to you but has yet to really make a difference in my life is the lack of modern weather coatings. 
If you’re someone who typically ventures out into awful weather conditions, perhaps the weather sealing is a must for you but for general purpose landscape photography it isn’t much of a big deal in my opinion. 




Suggestions

My first suggestions would be to use lenses you already own (assuming you already have some film gear). If you don’t already have any film gear, I would suggest looking into Nikon lenses. 
At one point, I had a couple copies of 50mm f/1.4 lenses and I didn’t care for them so I gave them both to friends. I’ve since picked up a 50mm f/2 and while it isn’t quite as fast, wide open the performance is much better but stopped down they’re pretty similar. 
Some of my favorite glass to use on my Sony is my Mamiya 645 glass which, because it’s medium format, the focal lengths are pretty long and terrific for my style of landscape photography.

James Madison