Awakening : First Image From 100 Year Old Ultra Vintage Kodak Lens

My first image from my Kodak lens . This image came through a nearly 100 year old lens sending light to my 60D. I”m not telling more until I can do a shoot with this thing. No disappointments I hope from that. Fair warning though that its been 14deg F in the sun here the last day or two so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to shoot.  The very first shot I took is up. its dark and moody. I think this is like watching a camera fire up for the first time and makes an image. The difference is, this thing hasn’t made a recorded image in 50 to maybe 80 years Can’t wait to get this into some sunlight

100 year old ultra vintage lens on 60D from Steve Oakley on Vimeo

100 year old ultra vintage lens on 60D from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.

Glass vs Resin Filters Review

Do Glass Filters Make A Difference For DSLR Shooting ?
A few months ago I bought a .9 ND filter on ebay. I asked the seller if this was a glass filter and was told yes. I bought it. You of course can guess what came was in fact whats called a resin filter which is a better word then plastic. The seller said they made a mistake, and gave me a partial refund to even the deal out and I was ok with that.
Lee ND filter resin plastic
Lee ND “Resin” filter
I was just happy to have some decently strong ND for my lenses when shooting outside. I shot a bit with this lens, and I certainly had some concern about if it was really having some effect on the images I was shooting. Plenty of knowledge says a filter like this won’t perform as well as a glass one. After all, who’d pay 3X-5X more for glass when plastic would do ? Well one quick difference is that plastic filters are much easier to scratch. What the real concern is, how does it perform and is it worth the extra money.
Here are actual images side by side of how it worked out. The lens was a Tamron 70-200 2.8 which a very sharp and excellent performing lens. The lens chart was actually one I printed on my laser printer and taped up on the wall. Yes I know technically not correct, but I’m not looking to measure lpm’s here in a scientific way. I just wanted a contrasty target to see what happens.
The two filters tested were the Lee .9 ND resin filter and Schneider ND.9 EF81. the images are 1:1 pixel crop of 5K stills
schneinder .9 ND optical glass filter
schneinder .9 ND optical glass filter
The results clearly show the plastic filter softening the image out quite a bit. I have 2 other shots which are softer, this is the sharpest of 3. With the glass filter you can actually see the dot pattern of the gray areas. The detail and sharpness of the Tamron is amazing, and the glass filter isn’t hurting it one bit.
In actual shot images this effect is visible, especially at longer focal lengths. Here are some shots from 1080p from the camera. These images have been scaled down, but you can click on them for the 1:1 crops.
The video shots are more interesting to say the least. Can you tell them apart ? They look pretty close actually at this size. Even at 1:1 they look pretty close. Now at this point I think I am going to redo this video test because I think the plastic filter looks every so slightly sharper. I have 2 guesses right now – motion blur / shutter speed blur. I shot one at 40/th and one at 50/th. While I feel certain I’d let the camera settle for a few seconds, maybe not. I was also using a Flo light on the chart. Last I did color correct these a bit to match exposure values. If I upped the contrast a little too much on the second one, it could account for making it seem a little sharper. So I think next week I’ll go redo this part. However, even if I get the expected results, they’ll still be pretty close I’ll bet.
Conclusion : I suppose after shooting this quick little test you’d figure I’d be tossing this resin filter out, but I’m not. For video purposes, you may get away with using some resin / plastic filters, especially if you need a softer look or want to try to tame some aliasing / moire.  While this may not be my prime ND filter to normally use, it may serve some special purposes. In a choice between sharpness and artifacts or softer and no artifacts, some subject will be ok being a little softer.

Vivitar 400mm 5.6 Lens Review & Video : UPDATED

Review of a Classic Lens, the Vivitar 400mm f5.6 With Video
vivitar 400mm 5.6 vintage prime lens OM EF Nikon
Once upon a time, only pro’s could afford long fast glass. Serious amateurs though craved for long lenses too, but could only afford a fraction of what serious pro’s would pay. Enter the slower speed long lenses. With 400 ASA film, you could certainly get great shots, with grain, while the pro’s got the same shots on 100 ASA film. These days reasonably priced longer f2.8 lenses are common due to advances in glass making and manufacturing. This has left a lot of these old and slower lenses collecting dust, or selling for very cheap.
Here are some shots from the lens:

Vivitar ( Tokina ) 400mm f5.6 Lens Test from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.
f5.6 would hardly get most people’s interest these days. However, if you take a look at the really long glass from Canon and Nikon, like say their 600mm lens, its a 5.6 to at a hefty $6k price. Now I’m not going to pretend here, those lenses are ultra sharp, use LD glass, and the best focus motors around. They are for serious still shooters. Video however doesn’t require the same level of ultra sharp thats shooting stills does. In fact a somewhat softer lens can help reduce or eliminate moire and stair stepping seen  dslr video. Autofocus is a non issue as well for video.
Taking into consideration that the APS-C sensor has a 1.6X crop factor, that really turns a 400mm lens into 640mm, still at a now very respectable f5.6. The APS-C sensor also is using the sweet spot of the lens in the center. Any CA or vingeting in the corners of a full frame sensor are generally not an issue with APS-C.
With those thoughts in mind, lets check this one out. There are  plenty of odd brand lenses out there, but I’ve found most older vivitar glass to be good. While I’d be a little cautious about real off brand glass if you couldn’t try it out first, this one seemed interesting.
Its serial number indicated that Tokina actually made it. That was one big plus for starters. Next it was multicoated. Any lens that isn’t is going to have flare and lose contrast. Unless you are really going for a retro look, make sure its multicoated.
The lens I got looks like it came out of the factory box practically. Its not uncommon to find super clean glass like this when its one thats off most people’s radar. After all, who’d want a big heavy made of metal 180deg focus turn manual lens thats on the slow side ?
WHile this lens is made in several different mounts, I got this one with an OM mount. A cheap adapter for OM->EOS and I was off and running.
First, the iris ring is different. Its marked and operates in both direction. The center is 5.6 and you can turn it left OR right to stop it down. I suspect that one way was for stopped down shooting, the other was auto iris mode where the camera closed the iris down when it shot a frame off. My lens may of had a minor mod so it stops the lens down in both directions. It doesn’t bother me since it only goes to f22.
This thing is heavy. Forget any idea of hanging this on the body without support. If you are shooting bare bones, use the built in tripod collar. If you are on rods, you need to have a lens support for sure. I’d highly recommend that your lens support have a strap on it that loops over the lens to lock it into place or the weight of the lens could very easily twist things sideways during handling. This lens demands respect for good handling.
The focus ring is slightly stiff, or perhaps what I would call firm. That’s a perfectly good feel for a long lens where its easy to knock it out of focus. Its got a nice long 180 deg focus rotation. A minor downside is that it only focuses to 13ft / 4m. If you need to get closer, consider an extension tube or two. The focus is also in the normal direction for video / film glass.
Shooting
At first f5.6 might seem to be a problem limiting this lens to sunny day work only. We’ll talk about that shortly.  Consider how with a long lens like this DoF is  very shallow to start with. I’m often at F8 or F11 when I can. Here are some quick numbers on DoF so you can see what I mean.
400mm F8 @ 13ft, DoF 1″
400mm F8 @ 20ft, DOF 3″
400mm F8 @ 40ft, DoF 1′ 2″
13 ft will let you fill 50-70% of the frame with a cat’s head.
20 ft is a head and shoulders shot, a very tight one.
40ft, you are shooting a waist up shot of some one or a bit less. 1′ is just enough to hold focus on them so that their body is sharp. Your background will drop out quite nicely.
100ft 400mm F8  7′ 8″
This will get you a full body shot, with just a little bit of play room. You’ll still have shallow enough DoF even in bright sunlight, but with some safety margin here.
So that F5.6 really isn’t the limitation it seems to be. Considering that you can go to ISO 1250 on the 60D / 7D / 1D / 5D you can start to approach some lower light situations that would of not been possible 25 years ago with ISO 400 speed film, even pushed one stop to 800. This isn’t a shoot under  dim streets lights lens ( unless you can live with ISO 2400 ) but it can work in bright city areas, or places where you ‘d be lighting to F5.6 or F8 anyway.
Also know you need a real tripod and head to work with a long lens like this. My Vinten 6 works ok, but a manfrotto 500 series head will never be smooth enough. With a long lens like this, even small movements translate to big image changes, so pan and tilts need to be slow and controlled. Fast pans will bring rolling shutter effects into maximum effect, for better or worse. WInd will also be something to deal with as well.
Of course I’m saving the best part for last, the price. You can pick these lenses up for around $100 or sometimes less because no one wants them. That, for now makes them a steal.
Next, I want to find a good 1.4X converter to add in for 560mm ( 900mm APS-C to full frame equivalent ) at a modest F8. Sounds like fun !

Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens Test Vs Tamrom 70-200 2.8

My lens test of the canon 100mm 2.8 Macro lens. I also put in my Tamron 70-200 2.8 almost macro lens as a comparison. Surprising results here. The canon lens is a solid performer to say the least, but its limited by its really super short focus rotation. Its super tricky to keep the lens focused on things that move around, at 2 feet or less, more or less wide open, with DoF of under 1 inch

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Canon 100 2.8 Macro Lens Test VS Tamron 70-200 2.8 using 550D from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.

Canon 100 2.8 Macro Lens Test VS Tamron 70-200 2.8 using 550D from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.

Stillwater to Minneapolis Lens & FIlter Shoot

A few weeks ago [ in 2010 ! ] I got to spend some time in Stillwater MN on a shoot. I also spent a nite in Minneapolis. This was a chance to try out some vintage glass and filters again along with some modern glass. Many of the shots where taken with a Tiffen Black Softnet 3B filter. Placed in front of my Vivitar 28 1.9, it made for some interesting effects. With my tamron 70-200 2.8, I got some really great organic starbursts around car lights completely with some funky CA.
Right in the middle of this video is a shot illuminated by the full moon. Thats right, F1.9, ISO 1600, and there was an image there ! its truly amazing what these cameras can do. If I get the chance, I’ll put up a version with the lens / filter info on each shot.
Stillwater to Minneapolis from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.