Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 lens in Leica M-mount.
As a keen 35mm rangefinder camera user, adding the Leica M8 to my kit left me without a sufficiently wide angle lens to fill the role of my Summicron-M 35mm lens on the Leica M7. So, the search was on for a suitable 28mm lens capable of a wide aperture enabling subject isolation. It also has to meet the quality standards of the rest of the Leica kit.
Recently I was asked by my photography club to put together my thoughts about how it could improve its monthly member competition judging. It seems many members had been commenting about what they thought was an inconsistent process. Judges would look at a wall of prints and comment on each. After judging each grade (which could have more than 30 images), the judge would issue “commended” and “highly commended” awards.
The problem was that the issuing of commendation awards seemed at odds with some comments made while judging the images! Some lauded images did not receive any award, while other criticised images did! Of course that was an unsatisfactory situation.
So the following was the paper I wrote, which lead to the new recommended process being introduced – successfully too. Since then a new club in Canada asked if I’d provide the same paper for it to use as a guide while setting up its competition process.
The purpose of my paper’s format was to ensure that the issues were clearly identified and that the club’s committee and members would have a clear meeting of minds about the process change and why.
In this digital era where photographic equipment has become something of a "disposable consumer electronic device" many keen amateur photographers have begun to explore medium format photography and ask: "Why medium format?" And then when its benefits are explained, often another question arises: "What impact has medium format photography had on your photographic pursuits and skills?".
There is no question that the manufacturers of medium format equipment have suffered financially since digital photography began to mature a few years ago. A number of factors have caused that. But, what is important is the slow revival of medium format photography in both media - film as well as digital.
While the medium format photography market is mostly driven by professional photographers, keen amateurs have become increasingly interested in it. While digital imaging in medium format is prohibitively expensive for all but the most wealthy amateurs, recently film media has seen some revived interest from amateurs as well as professional medium format photographers.
"Life is a learning experience"; a well proven statement and even more so for keen photographers. In this story about my recent trip to New South Wales' wonderful Hunter Valley to stay at the Eaglereach Wilderness Resort, I discuss some of the lessons I learnt - tips and suggestions that may help amateur photographers who have taken up, or are considering medium format photography.
Here I provide short reviews of specific lenses I use and why I recommend them.
This article will continue to build over time as I add more lens reviews.
Possibly the most often request I hear for help - even from quite experienced photographers. But, I am often horrified when I see camera store staff (who should know much better) resort to down-right stupid cleaning techniques. Added to that, I am appalled by some of the rip-off so called lens cleaning kits store staff push new camera buyers into buying. So, my first tip is: never buy lens cleaning kits - just buy the 3 cheap items I detail in this article. Read on to learn how to safely and effectively clean your lenses (and pentaprism mirrors and focus screens).
So often this question is asked – should I or shouldn’t I add UV (or similar clear type filters) filters to help protect my lenses and improve image quality. Many also ask: "Should I bother buying and unsing a lens hood?" In the case of filters, the answers lie in the tips and traps! It depends / maybe not / sometimes! In the case of lend hoods, the answer is a simpler: "Yes, always".
But, it’s also important to note that what you expect the filter to do may be meaningless and may also degrade your image quality as well.
I shoot 35mm, medium format, XPan panoramic and large format with a variety of lenses from as long ago as the 1930s to a current as 2005 – non-coated, single coated and very high-tech multi-coated optics.
The most important consideration when planning to add a UV (sky or haze filter) is to understand how that may or may not affect the image you plan to take – why you are even considering adding a filter.
Many years ago, especially before the "standard" zoom lens became popular (and was of a competent optical standard by around the late 1980s), nearly every 35mm SLR camera sold was bundled with a "standard" lens - a 50mm f2 or faster (f1.8, f1.4) or sometimes slower (f2.8) just depending upon what camera you bought. It was hardly an option either, since the cameras often came packaged with these lenses ex-factory – hence the term “standard”. This focal length was also said to be "normal" because it was said to approximate one's eyesight and the diagonal of a 135 format frame.
So, from there the terms "standard" lens or "normal" lens seems to have become interchangeable and ultimately commoditised the focal length – making it nothing special. All of this has meant we neglect a wonderful optical achievement and creative tool.
To new users and even experienced users of rangefinder cameras, how to use a polarising filter seems an agonising question. I can't count how many times I have been asked the question... and I have a simple and 100% effective solution.
This essay is aimed at any medium format system user as well as being specific to Hasselblad users - new or experienced. The principles it gives rise to generally apply to all photographic formats too.
So often I am asked about how good I think a specific Hasselblad / Carl Zeiss lens is; asked how well one lens compares to another; asked if an attribute is a deal breaker! All of which questions really show a failure to understand basic optical performance and how optical design and engineering is not an exact science but moreover a balancing act of optimising a mix of natural performance aberrations.
Again in this topic like so many others in photography, such questions are a matter of "different horses for different courses"! I hope to convey a better understanding of how one should consider commentaries about various lenses' performance and how technical measures are not a total guide to buying decisions.
The Hasselblad XPan II is one of the most compelling creative experiences I have had despite the fact that when The XPan I was first released, I dismissed it - I failed to understand what it really was.