La vallée des singes is a primate research centre in Romagne near Blanzay in France. When visiting the rule is the animals can come to you, but you can’t go to them. If they want to sit on you or take your camera that is fine. The larger ones live behind moats, the smaller ones are free to run up to you.Read More
Lensbaby have just released two new lenses, the Sol 22 and the Sol 45.
The Sol 45
Is a 45mm selective focus lens that creates a tack-sharp circular area of focus surrounded by smooth blur and bold bokeh. It gives you the freedom to get lost in the process of creating. Unveil your unique take on the world by tilting the lens to isolate your subject and capture intentional, personal and distinct images. (Quote from the Lensbaby page).
The Sol 22
Is a 22mm selective focus lens for Micro 4/3rds cameras only, that creates a tack-sharp circular area of focus surrounded by smooth blur and bold bokeh. It gives you the freedom to get lost in the process of creating. Unveil your unique take on the world by tilting the lens to isolate your subject and capture intentional, personal and distinct images. (Quote from the Lensbaby page).
I have just received my Sol 45 and here are my first impressions.
The lens is small and neat looking rather like one of the pancake lenses made by Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Voigtlander, Zeiss, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic and loads of other people which had the advantage of being small and helping the camera be less obtrusive.
There the similarities end, it is a tilt lens with a rather useful lock which returns the lens to centre, it is fixed aperture, f/3.5 and has two blades that are designed to modify the Bokeh.
On first impressions it is well made and easy to use, the sweet spot is easily moved around the frame and the lens is made so that it cannot leave the field of view of a full frame camera. The Composer series of lenses are made to take various optics in the Lensbaby Optic-Swap system and so the sweet spot or line can be moved outside the frame with some optics.
As usual, have a look at the attached photographs to get an idea of what is possible.
Pros and Cons
The Pros column
All pretty obvious, if you haven’t used a Lensbaby this is a good starting place. We have a Lensbaby course where you can come and have a play with many of their optics. Generally we have more Nikon than Canon but there are Canon Composers and hence lenses from the Optic-Swap system, including 12mm Fisheye, Sweet 35, Sweet 50, Edge 80, Creative Bokeh, Twist 60 single, double and plastic glass and pinhole available. If you are a Nikon user we also have the Scout, Spark, Velvet 56, Burnside 35 and Sol 45 and the Trio for Fuji X series users.
The Cons column
Lensbaby tend to have unusual arrangements for aperture setting, several of the optics have drop in apertures, the Creative Bokeh has drop in shaped apertures and the Trio and Sol have no aperture setting.
The ? column
Lensbaby lenses can have a learning curve, the Sol 45 is one of the easiest to get used to and is a good starting place, but, still the idea of tilting a lens to move the focus area around is unusual.
Things that I think are worth mentioning.
I have seen reports that this lens is not sharp, Here are two images:
One from my bathroom window in France and a 100% crop.
Both are available from my Facebook page. I’ll let you decide if it is sharp enough for you.
With the Composer you need to pay attention to where your lens is pointing and sometimes it is possible to get strange effects when it is not perfectly straight, and you focus as if it is. With the Sol it is easy to recentre the lens using the locking ring.
The lens is a fixed 45mm and that is not my favourite focal length, I tend to prefer about 35mm on a full frame camera.. In fact, the Lensbaby system has a series of focal lengths:
This has moved to talking a bit about the Lensbaby system as a whole, however, I do like their lenses in general and they certainly do promote a “Different way of seeing.” The Sol is a very neat way of trying out their approach for very little outlay and without the learning curve of something like the Composer.
All images were taken using a Nikon Df full frame 16MP camera.
This is a follow up to the Panoramas and Joiners entry. I am in the middle of moving to France from Sheffield so there hasn’t been a post for a whileRead More
A follow on image from Danny’s post on shooting panoramas.Read More
The Nikon Df is a camera that Nikon produced to attract a different sort of user. It is not cheap, at £2089 from Jessops Photographic for example. Nikon label it as a Pro camera on their UK website, along with the D5, D850, D500, D810, D810A, D750 and, surprisingly the F6.Read More
Panoramas are long thin images that show a lot of a landscape or townscape without getting the big empty sky and possibly boring foreground that are common with wide angle lenses. The images that follow are from Angles sur l' Anglin in France.
So we get
Great, we have a different format with possibly more interesting content but we have just thrown away a large amount, more than half in fact, of the data from our expensive sensor. Lower resolution and generally lower quality. In fact, for this reason, I rarely crop my images and try to frame them in the camera so they do not need cropping, although I am prepared to if an image really needs it.
Joiners are a way round. this instead of one image we take several and join them together. Giving a wide format but with more pixels, so more detail, better looking prints and an interesting, different format.
Take these three images, for example
When we join them together we use a program to choose the best bits and to match the three together. In this case we get a distorted image rather than a square one because the first of the three is closer to the camera than the other two, this looks like this
We can accept this and print it as is, or simply add a background making a, hopefully, interesting composition
Or crop this image giving a more conventional look
Joiners can be used to build large, high resolution images of landscapes or tall buildings or even to give little world projections or 360° images. It is possible to avoid the strange shape and to get a joiner with virtually no distortion by using a panoramic head and specialist software.
Post by Danny
OK, I am trying to do a blog a week to start with, once I get in the habit I might do more. The last blog was a set of images from our trip to France in May, these were shot with the Df and were intended to precede the short review of the Df. However, we are back in France, the sale on the house in Sheffield is just about sorted (fingers crossed) and as soon as that happens we will be here full time, until then half of my kit is here and half in the UK. In fact, wherever I am the kit I want is in the other place. When I went to review and publish the Df blog it wasn’t on the travelling hard disk, I had updated all the directories except, somehow, the writing directory.
So, an interim blog, I have always been interested in alternative light, Hazel and I converted a D100 by swapping the filter on the sensor for one that blocks all visible and UV light allowing only IR light to reach the sensor. DSLR sensors are sensitive from the near UV to IR and are limited to visible light by a filter that sits in front of the sensor. It is possible (though scary) to remove that and replace it with a filter with a different pass band, the new filter cost around £30. The D100 was my second DSLR, my first was a D70 that I no longer had, one of my D100s was swapped for my Fuji X-E2 as there was a £100 bonus on part exchange but I still had the one that I bought with the money I got selling my OM film kit. I wanted to keep that camera as it was in a direct line with the camera I bought with money that my Grandmother left me.
It is possible to take IR photographs by adding a filter to the lens, because the built-in filter allows some IR through, by filtering out visible and UV light and using a long exposure an image is obtained. The advantage of replacing the internal filter is that the camera behaves like a normal camera and exposure times are normal. With many lenses the focal plane is slightly different to that for visible light so shooting wide open is difficult unless the lens has an IR focus mark such as the R on the focus scale of this Sigma 15-30mm lens or a small red dot near the normal focus mark (if you are wondering why the Sigma is so battered, this was my everyday lens for several years on my D200, D300 and D600).
When the image is filtered for IR the colours are strange, vegetation is a very pale pink because it reflects IR light well. The sky is a dark red and the whole image has a red cast. However, using the Channel Mixer layer adjustment in Photoshop it is possible to swap the red and blue layers giving the commonly seen IR false colours.
Blanzay has several large Cedar trees that stand on and around the village green, this image, taken on a bright summer day, is of one of those trees as seen from our house.
In a future blog UV-induced visible fluorescence (UVIVF) which is my next experiment, for this you convert a flash gun not a camera and shoot in darkness. The UV light causes the target to fluoresce in visible light.
WEB LINKS of items mentioned:
Ebay seller of conversion filters https://goo.gl/qUuT69
Post by Danny