Every year, I can’t think of anything I want for Christmas. So this year, I was pretty excited to come home and tell my wife, “I know exactly what I want for Christmas. A nice big piece of Iceland spar.” I even sent her a link to make it easy. (It’s certainly a comment on our times that I sent a text link across the room to my wife.)
We are seeking a full-time customer service representative for our Memphis, TN headquarters. Customer service is our #1 priority, and our customer service representatives ensure our customers have an outstanding experience every time they need to contact us. We are looking for someone who can remain calm and pleasant even under trying and stressful circumstances. Organizational skills and the ability to multitask are absolute musts!
Answer customer service emails/phone calls/chats in a fast-paced environment
Work through complex issues with customers and possibly third parties, such as shipping companies
Create shipping labels for customer orders
Work with customers regarding any billing issues
Follow up with customers who have not returned accessories from rentals
Strong customer service experience, preferably in a call center environment
Fast typing, with correct grammar and spelling
Calmness & the ability to handle a stressful office environment
Upbeat personality and demeanor
An interest in photography and videography
If this sounds like you, please send your resume to email@example.com - Phone calls will not be accepted!
Location: Memphis, TN
We are looking for a packer to join our team. As a member of our packing department, your work is the last step in the process of getting an order ready for our customers. As such, an attention to detail and an ability to work fast and under pressure are both extremely critical.
Extreme attention to detail
Ability to work under pressure and/or deadlines
Ability to do repetitive tasks without going insane
Ability to stand for long periods of time and lift up to 50 lbs
We are seeking a full-time digital media person for our Memphis, TN headquarters.
Supervising and assisting in writing and formatting copy for product pages
Ensuring products contain relevant and up-to-date information and images
Graphic design work as needed for other portions of the Lensrentals website.
Graphic design experience
Excellent grammar and spelling
Attention to detail
Interest in photography and/or videography
HTML experience preferred
Mac OS X experience preferred
Adobe Creative Suite familiarity
If this sounds like you, please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org - Phone calls will not be accepted!
Metabones, maker of the impressive Speedbooster adapters is back at it again. When the Speedbooster first came out, I wrote about it being like magic, increasing the aperture and field-of-view of Nikon and Canon full-frame lenses mounted to NEX and micro 4/3 cameras, while maintaining or even improving image quality. Now they’ve brought the Metabones magic to the Blackmagic cinema and pocket cinema cameras.
The original Metabones Speedboosters are available in several versions adapting various full-frame lenses to NEX, micro 4/3, and Fuji-X cameras. They offer a magnification factor of 0.71X; meaning the lens focal length changes by this factor and the aperture increases by one stop. For example, a 100mm f/2.8 full-frame lens becomes a 71mm f/2.0 lens when mounted on an NEX camera by a Speedbooster.
For people shooting video on micro 4/3 and APS-C size sensors, the Speedboosters give them an opportunity to shoot with full-frame lenses and reduce the ‘crop factor’ associated with shooting on the smaller sensor size. The also increase the aperture of the lens, letting in more light.
The New Speedboosters
Dr. J. Brian Caldwell (the Speedbooster’s designer) and the folks at Metabones got excited over the possibilities that Blackmagic cameras presented in two ways. First, because the Blackmagic cameras are less than 4/3 sensor size, people shooting with these cameras are always looking for lenses with a wider field-of-view and aperture, a perfect situation for a Speedbooster. Blackmagic shooters are already using m4/3 mount Speedboosters on their cameras regularly.
The other exciting possibility came about because Blackmagic cameras have a bit more wiggle room than micro 4/3 and NEX cameras; the sensor is a bit further back from the mounting flange. This meant they could design a larger Speedbooster with 6 elements and a bit more spacing, rather than the 4 elements in the original Speedbooster.
I was able to talk with Brian about the opportunities this provided and was given two prototypes to use for some preliminary testing here at Lensrentals.
I am the poster child for that old saying, “Be careful what you ask for. You might get it.” I thought it would be fun to have a little contest just for the Photo Geeks who read my blog posts. I thought maybe 10 or 15 people would enter and we’d be like the 8 year-old soccer team: Trophies and pizza for everyone at the end of the season!
Of course, there was the possibility that no one would enter. In that case, I figured, no one would notice and I’d get to keep the prizes. I’m always OK with keeping prizes.
Well, so much for my plans. The First Annual Photo Geek Geek Photo contest received over 400 entries from at least 20 countries. And they were really good. Many of the entries went to a level of geekiness that surpassed anything I’ve ever tried (and that’s saying something). Others were geekily created images that could well be entered in a straight photo contest. There were beautiful images, funny images, intimidating images, and images that we don’t have words to describe.
The contest pages have had well over 30,000 visits. We felt there were so many deserving entries that we increased the number prizes. Then we increased them again. The judges have exhausted themselves trying to pick out the very best among the best. The truth is, I think all of the judges felt inadequate to the task. There were so many outstanding images that we feel bad for the many excellent ones that weren’t awarded.
I’m going to put thumbnails of the various winners up below, but I do encourage you to go to the contest page to see them in their original size. Many, being geeky things, really lose something when downsized to fit on this page.
While not contest winners, all Honorable Mention photos made it to the final judging round. The prize for an honorable mention winner is a $25 Lensrentals gift certificate. Since we realize a lot of the winners live outside the U. S., we will let you transfer it to another person who can use it. (If you won a different prize, but would prefer a gift certificate instead, that can be arranged.)
Pink Stuff in a Lens by Christian Holt. Honorable mention in “Stuff Inside a Lens” and “Most Attachments” categories
Not the most dramatic stuff in a lens, but maybe the most dramatic picture of non-dramatic stuff in a lens. This entry was an honorable mention in both categories
You can go to the contest page to see what it looks like just looking into the lens.
Tamron SP Adaptall 2 35-80mm (“macro”-ish, 1:2.5) lens a Tamron SP Adaptall 2 2x teleconverter a Tamron Adaptall 2 to Canon FD mount adapter (I’ve literally never used this adapter before, haha!) to a cheap-o Fotokina Canon FD to EOS adapter with correction lens (1.4x-ish TC, and it’s actually a pretty decent little correction lens.. based on calculations below, it’s actually about a 1.25x TC) (I wanted to use my Edmika FD to EOS adapter, but it just didn’t give me the reach the TC did.. need more macro!) to a Kenko PRO 300 1.4x teleconverter (my first TC.. my first accessory, actually! This might or might not have started me down my path of gear-fun!) to a Tamron SP 2x teleconverter (painted camo – thanks cheap ebay win! – by some “serious” photography who I guess does uncomfortable things like hide in the woods to take pictures of nature, weird!) to a set of cheap-o screw-together extension tubes
Origami Test Char by Carlo Vaccari. Honorable mention in 3-D Rendering of a 2-D Test Chart
The shape it formed is a hyperbolic paraboloid: for those without the benefit of such an awesome lens you can make this shape manually based on the instructions at this link: http://erikdemaine.org/hypar/hypar_folding.pdf Roger’s note: Do check out the link if you want to appreciate the pure geekiness of this entry
Corrected Cat by Mark Banas. Honorable mention in Distortion Corrected in Software
OK, maybe it was the description more than the image. But it does have a cat, and what would a Geek contest be without a picture of a cat?
The attached photo toutcategories.jpg can compete (and prevail) in almost every category you have in your contest, with the possible exception that the camera used (Pentax K-5) has a movie mode, but I’m not sure how to turn it on. Probably sucks in any case… Sharpest Corner Dear great gravy boats, look at those whiskers! Not enough for you? Gaze on down to the fence (2D test chart) in the background, or sample that painstakingly weathered *real* (not simulated) woodgrain. Leafy sharpness up above fading into a gorgeous “bokehlicious” mess down below, which leads us to… Bokehliciousness Screw that f/0.95 Noktilux abstract blurry nonsense… this image is from a 10-17mm zoom fisheye @10mm and f/5.6, on an APS-C camera… and yet there *is* bokeh! Both fore and background bokeh: the 17kn climbing “quickdraw” ‘biner is lovingly OOF (and holds up a bird feeder, making that one smart cat), while the “busy” background is softened just a touch (enjoy that dreaminess of the trees in shadow against the sky). 3-D Rendering of a 2-D Test Chart It all practically pops out at you, threatening to scratch your eyes out. (Really, she’s a bitch of a cat sometimes!) You’ve got two different kinds of fences back there, and did I mention cat whiskers?? Largest Number of Accesories Between the Lens and the Camera Well now, this gets a bit murky. It’s basically the Pentax DA 10-17mm mounted directly to a K-5… oh, but wait! There’s more! This lens is my “workhorse” for spherical panoramic photography, so it has been permanently clamped (see lensgunk.jpg) to 10mm (not so zoom-zoom like a Mazda) with an Arca-compatible mounting plate under the lens. Thank you Nodal Ninja! Best Picture of Stuff Inside a Lens Did I mention “workhorse” of a lens? Try 14,113 images shot with it (14k.jpg) in the past two years alone! See the image lensgunk.jpg for: #1, the coating coming off from an acid splash (ah, industrial photo shoots); #2, some kind of sap or syrup on the glass and what passes for a filter thread. Finally, peruse the curious darkening of the sky above the cat’s shoulder. It’s also an unsealed zoom lens, so #3 is some kind of hair or floaty in there. I already have another 10-17 that I’m saving for the day this one gets dropped, crushed, or the post-processing is too much to bear. Most Distortion Corrected in Software This part is a walk in the park for a corner-to-corner 180° fisheye (which it manages at 10mm on APS-C). Take a look at horscorrection.jpg for a choke-fest. I’ve only partially corrected all the lovely fisheye distortion because otherwise it would just be a cat nose and a fraction of a whisker in the frame. Oh, but the CA from this lens is multi-pixel horrendous, and something I’ve learned to tame even before our Adobe overlords made automatic CA correction the norm. Vignetting? Ha! The only thing it’s missing is longitudinal CA, which I’m sure is there since this is no APO, but who would notice that in a fisheye? Dynamic Range Demonstration The lovely (and now ubiquitous) Sony 16MP sensor tweaked by Pentax in the K-5 can absorb the “white cat in full sun and shade” demonstration with 14-bit authority, and keep on going! ETTR is for pussies! Try pulling fully black shadows back up to accurate leafy greens with no trace of chroma noise. That’s Booyah DR!
Butterfly.gif by Anand Desai. Honorable Mention in No Movie Mode
You have to love an entry that makes a movie from a camera with no movie mode. Now that’s Geeky! But since our page won’t display the animation, you’ll have to see it here.
Isn’t Masked by Koolbreez. Honorable Mention in Dynamic Range.
When an image can reproduce from near white to near black, and still maintain detail in most areas, without clipping, the dynamic range is excellent.
Pick Yer Own by James Sinks. Honorable Mention in Hors Category
Best image or concept? Nah. But the persistence required to stack 1,400 images has got to be mentioned in a Geek contest.
This is a crop* from a focus stacked panorama from 1,413 separate images, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the largest composite image of a piece of fruit you’ll get in this contest. I shot all the way across the fruit and then cropped to my preferred 1:2.5 panoramic aspect ratio, and cropped to get rid of smooth edges from focus stacking and ragged edges from stitching. Do I get bonus points if I put sandbags on top of the camera to keep rail jitter to a minumum? I should probably also get bonus points for sending my macro rails in for repair due to jitter, only to be told that they were completely in spec, and it was my expectations that needed to be adjusted. I think I should get some more bonus points for pointless lensnerdy footnoting.
5D Projector by Alan Bryant. Honorable Mention in Hors Category
You have to admit it’s an awesomely geeky thing to do.
What you’re looking at here is the focus screen of a 5D mk 3, projected *out of the lens* onto a mat board, photographed by a 5D mk 1. The rig here is a macro lens, a Sigma 150mm f/2.8, focused on a mat board at nearly 1:1. The image of the focus screen projected out through this lens is so dim that even completely dark-adapted eyes can barely see it. However, an eight minute exposure with a 5D mk I, with an 85mm f/1.8, shot at f/5.6 to bring the other camera into something resembling focus, and ISO 400 to try to keep the noise under control, and with dark frame subtraction enabled (which I forgot I’d enabled – so that was a surprise), was able to bring it out. The most interesting feature is the six bright lights, three on each side, which mark the focus screen, resembling the whiskers of Hello Kitty. I wondered what their origin is. I’ve concluded there must be 6 LEDs providing the illumination, and there you’re seeing is them. If you look carefully through the viewfinder in a dark room, the marks are visible when selecting focus points.
DIY Softfocus Lens by Yu-Lin Chan. Honorable Mention in Hors Category.
Making your own lens is cool. Making it with a focusing helicoid and working aperture is very cool. Demonstrating just how much spherical aberration it is possible to have and still recognize objects in the image is coolest of all.
Every photo geek should have at least half dozen disassembled lenses in shoe boxes that, unfortunately, could never quite get re-assembled, despite best efforts, and numerous times you tell yourself that you are a geek, and it should be a piece of cake to put the lens back together. I have more than half a dozen lenses that I could not put back the same way they were made, so finding parts to make the lens was relatively easy. The lens consisted of only a single convex element from an unknown lens, that was taped to the front of the lens barrel, which was made up of different parts, including a focus helicoid. Everything was either screwed on, or taped together. It was fun to make it, but was a blast to shoot with. No need to shield the lens from strayed light. The lens has no contrast to speak of and every picture came out luminous and softy, just what a soft focus lens should be, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for that Canon 135mm f2.8 S.F, or the Nikon 135mm f2 DC, and it’s even cheaper than the machine washable and insanely fun and addictive Sima 100mm f2 plastic Soft Focus. Best of all, you won’t feel so bad now that you can at least make those disassembled lenses into good use.
Category Runner’s Up
The Category Runner Up receives an official Photo Greek trophy containing a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk II lens element. (For those who ask for an element from their brand of lenses, well, if your favorite company sold replacement parts instead of charging $600 to replace a front element, we’d put one of those in there. But they don’t. So we won’t.)
Not every category was given a runner-up award. To be blunt we gave them in those categories where at least one judge felt strongly the other judges were idiots and had picked the wrong winner. Or in categories where we went back-and-forth about 6 times over which was the best. So for us, runner-up doesn’t mean second place, it means nearly first place.
Most Accessories Runner-Up: MegaNikkor by Bruno Schroder
The set up is made of 50 rings between a reversed EL-Nikkor 150mm and a D90. The 50 rings are a wild mix of PN-11, P2, E2, M2, Kenko and Ebay extension tubes, BR2 and a fair number of K rings and K mounts of all sorts. I’m collecting them as they are the easiest accessories to do weird lens assemblies. The target is the Nikon writing on a Nikonos 28mm viewfinder.
Stuff Inside a Lens Runner Up: A1 and A2 by Jan Pancolart
This is my story http://forum.mflenses.com/the-lens-bug-not-a-lba-story-t62752.html
Sharpest Corner Runner Up: Splinters by Petr Nestratov
This one may, or may not, have the sharpest corners. But no question it has the most geeky effort taken to get sharp corners.
I don’t have any fancy super-sharp lenses, so I have to make my corners sharp by hand, in this case by replacing the corners with centers. In addition to that, I went ahead and focus-stacked each image, so that depth of field would not detract from any part of the image. There’s a couple of stitching errors and a spot where I guess I didn’t do a complete focus stack, but the result stands: an image that’s produced in a very geeky way, and with sharp corners all around. The attached how-to shows the process in more detail. The final stitched image is not resized. After all, the camera I use is only 6mp, so the output is only 27, which is not that much by today’s standards.
Dynamic Range Runner Up: S2 Dynamic Range by Rob
Shooting into a bright sky and capturing the subtle hues of the setting sun while also capturing all of the detail in backlit, black volcanic rocks in a single exposure is no easy achievement. The image was exposed soley for the brightest area of sky which left much of the image appearing black. I then lifted all of the shadows to reveal the clean details. Shot on the Leica S2 + Elmarit-S 30mm f/2.8. f/8 @ 1/45sec
No Movie Mode Runner Up: JFForiani Profile by Daniel Besson
Just read the description and feel insecure, my fellow geeks. Hand-made full-frame camera obscura indeed! We are unworthy to be in the same contest with one such as this.
Technical description of the attached picture named “Jeff” – Hand made Camera Oscura (full frame) – Negative Paper black and white, Ilford / 7 x 9,5 inches / 18 x 24 cm / ISO 100 – f = 11,2 inches / 280 mm – Exposure = 1sec – Macrofocus – Artificial light / Tungsten / 3600°K – Developer : Ilford PQ Universal / Dilute 1+9 / Temp. 68°F / 20°C – Fixer : Ilford Hypam / Dilute 1+9 / Temp. 68°F / 20°C – Washing : tape water (public water in Paris France) at 55°F / 13°C during thirty (30) minutes. A glass of wine for the photographer after that. – Subject : an old friend (he is not anymore after such a maltreatment).
Hors Category Runner Up: Zebars by Tony Arnerich
You won’t get it if you don’t look at the large size image here.
The Category Winners receive the prizes originally described in the Photo Geek Contest. If you live outside of the U. S. we’ll send it to any U. S. address that works for you. If there’s no U. S. address that works, we’ll try to figure something out with you.
Sharpest Corner Prize (A Lensbaby): T-Square by Samuel Goldstein
Shot with Nikon 105mm macro on a D90 (crop sensor). This is the older (pre-VR) version of the lens. The guy who sold me this lens on Craigslist told me it was razor sharp, but I have not had much success using it to shave. That being said, it’s a remarkable lens.
Best Picture from a Camera without a Movie Mode (A Lomography Konstructor): Sunbathers by Phil Davison
There were some really beautiful images in this ‘anti-geek’ category, but this ‘back to basics’ IR image won by the slimmest of margins.
Shot on a Canon 350D, ancient enough to have no video mode. A friend of mine had the camera converted to infra-red, but she never took a single photo with it – so I brought it from her, and have had lots of fun with it. the lens was a Samyang 14mm. The photo was shot in the Botanic Gardens, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Most Distortion Corrected in Software (A Holga Pinhole Lens): LED 2 by Ghedo
This image finished on the ‘finals’ list of every judge for this category. The correction of the grid while still keeping the distortion of the water droplets was truly geeky.
Dynamic Range Demonstration (A Pair of Collectible T-Shirts): Santa Monica Mountains by Colbert Davis
Another category that created a lot of, uhm, discussion, among the judges – who didn’t really agree on a definition of demonstrating dynamic range.
I was out on a hike with my roommate and he was trying to get a shot of a bird in flight. As the bird flew in front of the water he sort of yelped an pulled the camera from his eye – apparently staring into the sun with a 200 f/2.8 is a bad plan. Upon seeing his pain I thought “hey I could turn this into my entry for dynamic range” (I’m helpful that way). The camera is a D800 set in matrix meter mode with the exposure at -2 EV. Post processing is in Lightroom 4. I hit auto tone and then used the brush to pull the exposure around the sun back down. I also used a gradient to saturate the sky. In my opinion this sort of hides the highlight clipping and I thought the photo looked better that way.
Stuff Inside a Lens (We’ll Get the Stuff Out of the Lens For You): Bungus by George de Fockert
I noticed a small patch of fungus inside a minolta md 50/1.4. After disassembly I noticed the remains of a very small insect. This insect was probably the starting point of the fungus. The lens is already cleaned now, so no bonus picture.
3-D Rendering of a 2-D Test Chart (Edmund Optics Resolving Power Chart): TIE
This category was a tie. One would think with 5 judges there wouldn’t be a tie, but this was 2 to 2 with Roger as the tiebreaker and Roger decided he’d rather buy a second Edmund Resolving Power chart then make this tough call.
2-D of a 3-D Series by Tom Brown. I should have known one of our geeky readers would have a 3-D printer. I really should have. Go to the contest site and check out the whole series. The microwave images may be the best.
A Photo of a Blue/Red Flash Filter (because blue and red make everything 3D) of a 3D printing of an invented 2D test chart.
3-D Test Chart 1 by Aaron Bradley: Amazing effort for someone who doesn’t have a 3-D printer.
Bokehliciousness (An Early 1900s Baush and Lomb Tessar Lens): Daylilly by Sarah Fox
The Bokehliciousness category ended up being by far the most difficult to judge. We ended up with about 20 nominees out of the original 100 or so bokeh entries. Many were nominated for both best and worst bokeh. In the end we considered originality and geekiness to be just as important as prettiness and ugliness, since it is a Geek contest. Daylilly was a dead-heat winner for both best and worst bokeh, which is probably most appropriate.
Details: The sensory biologist (and cat lover) in me was curious as to the optical properties of eyes with slit-shaped irises, leading me eventually to experiment with aperture shape. I made this photo of a daylily with a Nikkor 105/2.5 on a Canon 5D. I cut a cross-shaped Waterhouse stop out of Cinefoil and taped it to the rear of the front cell, just adjacent to Nikon’s boring, circular’ish aperture mechanism, which I of course left wide open*. This custom aperture wove the background into an elaborate tapestry of light and color! (There’s probably other stuff woven into the tapestry as well.) *No lenses were harmed in the creation of this image.
Largest Number of Accesories Between the Lens and the Camera (2 Pounds of Lens Elements): Zeiss + Pens by Josef Kuhn
While not actually the largest number of accessories, the most different accessories and actually took a bizarrely useable picture.
you need the following stuff Olympus pen 2 (mft) Novoflex adapter mft / Nikon F Novoflex adapter Nikon F / M39 (Leica) 4 M39 Extension tubes Leitz 14020 1 M39 Extension tube Leitz New York Novoflex adapter M39 / Nikon F Nikon bellows pb4 Nikon extension tube PK13 Nikon extension tube PK12 Nikon extension tube PK11 Nikon extension tube PN-11 Novoflex adapter Nikon Hasselblad Hasselblad extension tube 56 Hasselblad extension tube 16E Hasselblad extension tube 32E Novoflex bellows balpro Hasselblad Apo-Teleconverter XE 1,4 Hasselblad Sonnar 350/5,6 SA the result you can see in the second picture over a distance of 88 cm (about 3 ft) from the frontend of the lens until the copper-wire The copperwire has a diameter of 0,7 mm
Hors (Anything Goes) Category (Prize of Choice): Afraid of a Little Dust? by Tom Brown
This was an incredibly tough category to judge, but it’s hard to not go with this ultra-geeky and totally terrifying entry.
Well, I dropped my extra high quality version of the 50 f/1.8D, and I got a nice big dent on the filter ring thread. Peening it out wasn’t good enough, I actually needed to chase the thread. Not wanting to spend money on extra equipment to fix this expensive lens, and because I was also afraid of getting dust on the back element of this lens, AND because there aren’t any great ways to chuck a perfectly cylindrical object directly on a lathe: I grabbed my four-jaw, which everyone knows is more accurate than a three-jaw because you can dial it in manually rather than depend on the factory concentricity of the three-jaw. Then I clamped my D800 securely with the 50 f/1.8 on it (no worries here about scratches since it does have that tough magnesium chassis). Finally I set the thread pitch appropriately, drove in the compound slide, and set the RPM to 600, for a speed of about 63 in/sec with the 52mm thread. Well, needless to say, in about four passes, I managed to clean the threads right up. Now I can happily attach my UV filter to protect this glass from getting any debris or gunk that I would have to clean off directly.
Each Judge was allowed to give an individual award to an entry that, while not considered a category winner or runner up, was considered too great to not mention somewhere. Judges award winners get a “Photo Greek” trophy.
Andy Westlake judge’s award goes to to “Fachwerk” by Lui which he describes as too clever by half.
We took the picture with a self built lens and ran our correction over it (without knowing the optical aberration). Since the Image didn’t seem to have the right exposure we also used PS’s “Auto Contrast”.
Bryan Carnathan judge’s award goes to “Backlit” by Byron Chin, entered in both the best and worst bokeh categories. And, I should mention, an honorable mention in both. That’s not easy to do.
This was done on a real combination of assorted parts: the good old Minolta 500mm f/8 AF Reflex lens, mounted on an NEX-5R through an LA-EA2 adapter, with the FDA-EV1S EVF thrown on for good measure. It’s a fun combo to shoot with, particularly since the AF motor makes a ruckus and makes the dinky NEX-5R body jump with the torque. Usually this combo is great for consistently producing uniquely ugly bokeh in the shape of a half-eaten donut thanks to the central obstruction of the 500mm lens and the shape of the opening in the LA-EA2 adapter.
Rob Murrayjudge’s award goes to “Darwin was Right” by Darin McQuoid entered in the Dynamic Range category.
Aaron Closz judge’s award goes to “EMBL Pano”by Mark Banas partly because he liked the three-shot fisheye pano, but mostly (I think) because he thought the subject matter was uber-geeky.
Taken in 2005 with a Canon EOS 300D and Sigma 8mm fisheye, in just three shots with the camera and lens tilted 30° off of vertical to allow for enough overlap to cover a full spherical image. Stitched by hand-picking matched details (this was 2005, you know) and blended with an experimental “multi-band” software through a command-line “interface.” The geeky subject room is a “hutch” on the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility particle accelerator ring in Grenoble, France. Of note to camera geeks is the large, grey MAR Research MX-225 CCD detector array (9 CCDs with tiled fiber optic taper elements) to capture the photon diffraction pattern when a portion of the beam is directed at a frozen crystal of purified protein. A very big sensor!
Roger Cicala judge’s award goes to “Gaussian Approximation” by Shea Hadstrom because it’s such an incredibly geeky thing to do, and I’d never thought of doing it.
I don’t have a great Bokehlicious lens, but I can turn a normal lens into one! The Olympus OM 50mm f/3.5 Macro lens has a 6-bladed aperture with non-rounded blades, giving a relatively uniform bokeh shape. However, a Gaussian is often considered the ideal bokeh shape. To make a more Gaussian blur, I used an exposure time of 30 seconds and closed down the aperture slowly from f/3.5 to 22 during the exposure. This has the effect of exposing the inner area of the bokeh longer than the outer areas, making it brighter in the center. The lens itself has aperture click-stops at f/3.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22. I used values from Pascal’s triangle to determine the exposure time at each click stop, which respectively were 0.03, 0.3, 1.6, 4.8, 9.7, and 13.5 seconds. The first two steps I just did as quickly as possible. The approximately Gaussian bokeh is clearly much smoother than when using the constant aperture, and in my opinion quite beautiful.
Best In Show
Rather amazingly all the judges had one entry as first or second for Best of Show, making this one of the easier selections in the contest. It has it all: total geekiness in the setup, totally geeky images taken with the setup, and lots of geeky information gained from all that effort. Best of Show goes to the MacroSetUp Series by Rishi Sanyal.
The setup consists of: Sony NEX-6::EOS-NEX adapter::Canon 1.4x II teleconverter::Bellows::Set of Kenko extension tubes::Canon 1-5X MP-E 65mm lens. The setup image shows a live feed of a frame of 645 film; I was able to image the extinction resolution (MTF < 10%) of Velvia 50 using the ISO 12233 shot pictured.
CMYK Pigment Dots (Epson 9900): I thought it’d be fun to image the CMYK pigment dots in a print (particularly, the moon in a print of this cityscape shot of mine:http://cl.ly/SUIF) from the highly-regarded Epson 9900 printer (supposedly capable of 2880x1440dpi). I estimate the dots to be roughly 35µm across, based on my measurements from the ‘Ruler’ shot above. Retina Macbook Pro (MBP) pixel-peeping: I’ve imaged the individual R, G, and B pixels of the high-density Retina MBP IPS (in-plane switching) display. You’ll note some sub-pixel features: it seems 5-8 ‘strips’ per color pixel. For ease of visualization, I’ve desaturated some of the blue pixels & enlarged one such desaturated blue pixel in the inset – here you can easily count 8 such strips. My measurements (based on the 340nm/pixel measurement from the ‘Ruler’ shot) indicate that each color MBP pixel is approx. 30µm across; that would make each of the 8 sub-pixel strips 30/8 = 3.75µm across. Hence, it would seem that we’ve resolved ~4µm features here. Sanity check: Retina MBP panels have a pixel density of 220ppi. That equates to 1 pixel per 115µm; however, since each pixel consists of R, G, B pixels, each color pixel should be at most 115/3 = 38µm across. 38µm is consistent with my measurement of ~30µm based on the magnification I achieved (determined by the ‘Ruler’ shot above) – so that was a satisfying reality check!
For this year’s winners:
Please email me to arrange receiving your prizes. If you’d rather have a Lensrentals $25 gift certificate than the prize you won that’s no problem. If you live outside the U. S. we can ship the prize to a friend with a U. S. mailing address to be forwarded on to you.
For Next Year:
Will we be having a Second Annual PhotoGeek Geek Photo Contest? Absolutely. Given the amount of interest we’ll definitely be upgrading our hosting site and will probably make it at least partially a public voting contest. Rather than waiting a full year, we’ll probably try to do the Second Annual in early Spring, since we geeks tend to do our best work in the dark of winter.
It’s time for our 4th Annual Black Friday Sale. This year, we are getting the party started early, 10 AM CT on Wednesday. You can get 25% off any rental placed at Lensrentals.com during the sale.
At our sister site, LensAuthority.com, we’ll be giving you 10% off all used equipment. We also have some great doorbusters. And this year, we listened to you, and will be offering at least 6 copies of each doorbuster for sale, increasing your chances of being able to snag one.
Picture - A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome in three. Ambrose Bierce
I’m a fan of the satirical and cynical definitions of Ambrose Bierce, first written as a daily newspaper column and later collected in The Devil’s Dictionary. (It was originally called the Cynic’s Word Book, but so many politicians of the day called Bierce a Devil that he felt the new title more appropriate.)
I’m probably setting myself up for a replay of the Exo Tria Arxidia scene, but my friend Bernhard introduced me to the German term scharfthe other day. It can mean both sharp and hot (as in spicy, or as in, you know, hot). After testing our first copies of the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens I felt the term scharf was just perfect to describe this lens.
As you know, I usually like to have a half-dozen or more copies of a lens before testing, but in this case getting a half-dozen copies all at once doesn’t seem likely. We received two of the 20 something Tyler ordered and don’t know when more will show up. Both of these appeared well-centered, as expected, and Zeiss primes usually have small sample variation, so I thought testing the two before the went out for their first rentals was still worthwhile.
I always enjoy reading online where people trash a pre-release lens even though they’ve never held it. In this case, 7,364 people had told me how huge this lens was and that they wouldn’t have one as a gift because of it’s gigantic size. It is definitely bigger than most standard-range primes, as you can see in the comparison below with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro Planar and a Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G, neither of which is considered a small lens.
Left to right: Nikon 58mm f/1.4 G, Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus, Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro Planar
I’m going to open a can of worms today. I’ve been getting more and more emails from people telling me the same story that goes like this:
I’ve got this lens. It’s awful. I’ve sent it in for adjustment and the service center tells me it’s ‘in spec’ and nothing is wrong with it. Am I crazy?
Second only to the dreaded ‘impact damage – warranty void‘ statement, the ‘lens is in spec’ statement seems to be some factory service center’s answer to far too many complaints. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there is impact damage and the warranty should be void. But I can’t think of any reason why this seems to happen only to certain brands and never to others. Similarly, lenses a customer thinks are bad can be ‘in spec’. The problem is, since the factory service center doesn’t have to tell us what ‘in spec’ means, it’s open to a lot of abuse. Continue reading →
We have a routine when a new lens comes out at Lensrentals: the first new copies get sent to me for optical testing. I have about 4 or 5 hours with them because they’ll have to be packed up and shipped out to the customers that have been waiting for them and expect them tomorrow. So when Kenny brought me the first half-dozen Nikkor 58mm f/1.4 lenses he said the most unexpected thing. “We only have 1 preorder, you can keep 5 of them.”
We got another shipment the next day. Most of them are still on the shelf, too. For whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of mouth-watering excitement about this lens.
Let me be fair. Nikon has said, very clearly and very plainly, that this lens is not about the numbers. It was designed to have a very smooth look, have excellent bokeh, minimize sagittal flare and coma for shooting lights at night, have limited vignetting, and be evenly sharp across the field of view. Those are great goals and in real photography are often more important than how well a lens resolves.
But they are largely things that will require field photographic evaluation, not lab evaluation, to determine. Which means you’ll have to wait for the real photography reviewers to tell you about that. I’m not one of those; I do optical lab testing.
But, I had some lenses, and I had some machines, testing lenses in the lab is what I do, so I tested them. Just take it for what it’s worth: a lab evaluation of a lens that isn’t designed for lab evaluation.
All of that being said, if I was deciding if I needed to buy the Nikkor 58mm f/1.4 or something else, the logical something else would be the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4. (The 58mm f/1.2 would be the other logical comparison, but I had to go one way or the other, so I went with dueling autofocus lenses.) So that’s what I’ll compare today.
Way back when, I wrote about the dust problems we were seeing in Nikon D600 cameras. There was enough of a furor about it that when the Nikon D610 was released I assumed that the dust problem would be fixed. But I’m rather the paranoid type, and I never like assumptions, so as soon as the first D610s were delivered I thought it worthwhile to just double check that assumption. Continue reading →