Tag Archives: Camera

Living with the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 Lens

Over the past year, I’ve been using the Fuji 56 f/1.2 almost exclusively in my photography. It’s easily the best lens I’ve ever owned, bar none. The other night, during the lunar eclipse, my wife and I travelled to a remote spot away from the city lights. We were still close enough to the city to see the faint glow of some streetlights, signs, and stoplights. I dialed the 56 mm lens down to an apurture of f/1.2, pointed the lens in the direction of the glow, and tilted the camera’s LED panel so that my wife could see the display on the back of it. “It looks like it’s daylight! Wow!” was her response. She suspected that I really had some sort of night-vision camera I hadn’t told her I had purchased.

But no, the camera was the same old Fujifilm X-T2 I’d been toting around for a couple years. The 56mm Fuji lens could just gobble up the light. It worked pretty good for the moon, as well. The lens has some nagging little drawbacks, however, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve put it on a crop sensor camera (the X-T2) – and the effective focal length is a hefty 85 millimeters. It means I often have to back away from my subjects (what is sometimes called sneaker-zoom). But, that’s not the downside for me.

It’s the manual focus that’s the nagging point with the 56. It can hit the focus spot-on perfectly, with patience. It almost seems to have two different focus points, meaning that as you turn the ring, the focus gets to a point that is almost spot-on perfect, but if you turn it just a little bit further, it seems to go thru a less focused bit, and then is finally perfect. Sometimes I am tricked into stopping at the first “almost spot on” turn of the ring. Maybe the “less focused bit” is only in my imagination, because we’re really splitting hairs at that moment.  Maybe it’s my old eyes, my incorrect perception, or just a funky copy of the lens, but to me and my eyes it’s what it seems to be doing. 

Still, I want the best the lens can deliver, so I fuss with it until I have the perfect focus.  There is a lot of turn right at the point of focus, which means I tend to go back and forth, trying to get it absolutely perfect, instead of having a single turn position that is the best focus position.  It takes more time, but with patience you get there.

Maybe it’s backlash? It might be, because the issue seems to get better if you “come into” the focus from the opposite direction.  So, I have learned to turn past the focus point(s), and return slowly from the other direction. Anyway, with patience enough to continue to the perfect-focus spot from the “almost perfect” turn position of the focus ring, one can get spectacular results.

I make a big deal about the focus, but really – in spite of that nagging little detail – this is the best lens I’ve ever had.  Its IQ (image quality) and low light performance and color are outstanding enough to offset the focus taking more time.  It wouldn’t work (at least for me) for fast action wildlife in manual focus mode.

When, I slap my wide angle lens onto the camera, I get a serious degradation in quality (my wide angle IQ is far inferior to the 56). But, I am always happy to see the fast-focus to near-perfection, with no mirage in between, when I use the wide angle lens. It’s soooo much less tedious than the 56mm in this way.

I find myself using the 56 mostly for people shots.  It seems to be a focal length that works well for people shots, albeit I have to back away from them sometimes in order to not show quite as much detail.  The 56 mm Fuji lens is talented enough to make that a consideration!  All in all, it’s a keeper, even with the focus being such that it’s more time consuming to use it.  Maybe Fuji will come out with a slightly improved focus, or maybe I can trade mine for another copy.  It’s probably more trouble to do the latter than what is needed, based on the overall picture.  Either way, for the right purpose, ya can’t go wrong with this lens, IMO.

As Fuji 56 owners already know, this lens is built like a tank.  It makes many of my other lenses seem pretty wimpy in that regard.  One final thing I should add is that I take a majority of my shots with the aperture wide open or close to wide open, rarely above f/3.5, and that may be a factor in the focus situation.  I’m usually working with a shallow DOF.  Perhaps at higher apertures, the situation would change.



Depth of Field Ain’t so Tuff

Figure 1: The DoF (Depth of Field/Focus) equation.

Depth of Field ain’t so tuff.

Recently I needed to take some photographs of the antique glassware that my spouse collects.  This is easy with a point n’ shoot, since its depth of field is pretty good thanks to the short focal length that most point ‘n shoots have in their built-in lenses.  The point ‘n shoots usually have a wide angle (anywhere from 6 to 15 mm – but sometimes variable up to higher focal lenghs with fixed zoom offsets).

Read more about my DoF

I Suppose this VOIDS the Warranty …

Figure 1:  My Pentax K5 probably isn’t under warranty now. 

So … I guess my K5 has long been out of warranty anyway.  About a year ago the mirror-box went out of calibration. Anyway – I think that’s what happened, and I thought about sending it in for a re-cal. Subsequently the LED/Live-View screen went belly up, and finally the main board.  The cost trade-offs seemed to imply that fixing the K5 was no longer an option, so I decided I may as well take it apart and see what makes it tick.  After a dozen or so tiny little screw removals …

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K5 Quandry

Figure 1:  Should I go mirrorless?

When I first used my K5, I was enthralled.  It was easily the most solid feeling camera I’ve ever owned.  Most cameras give me the feeling that I have glass in my hand (smile) – and that I have to be careful.  The K5 made me feel like I had a hatchet in my hand and that tossing it into a spiraling arc that ended on a cleaved tree trunk would do it absolutely no harm.

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Vintage Lens Honeymoon

Is Over.

Well, I kick-started my photography hobby for a second time recently after a hiatus of about 37 years. I bought into the theory that I could populate my lens arsenal with vintage stuff and save a bundle.  In short order I had over a dozen lenses in my possession, none made after the date they want to check on driver’s licenses in order to purchase hard whiskey.   Some were made not only that many years ago – but multiples of that many years.

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Doing Interval Photography with a Sigma SD14

Figure 1: Homemade “DIY” power adapter for Sigma SD14

I really have come to appreciate the Sigma SD14 camera that I’ve been using for over a month or so, applying it for IR photography.  It really shines there, due to the Foveon class sensor that outdistances most competitors in terms of IR sensitivity.  I have captured time-lapse photos that I believe contain as low as 1.5 microns (high mid-infrared) wavelength light.  This is ordinarily not possible with the standard Bayer sensor in most camera brands, based on the info (veracity unknown) – that I’ve come across in my internet meanderings.

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That Sinking Feeling (Camera Post Processing)

Figure 1: The only shot that was big screen viewable, without cringe.

I know what it’s like to be a balloon.   I had that deflated feeling once again this weekend, after a trip to the local lake.  The scene was spectacular, and was easily the most beautiful nature scene I’d personally witnessed to date.  In glee for my fortuitous presence at the scene next to the lake, at just the right moment, I snapped over two hundred photos.

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Figure 1:  Three old film camera lenses – a Tokina is mounted.

Who shoots green mode anyway?  Sure, using old film lenses limits the number of modes you can use on the K5.  For the lenses shown, only Av (Aperture priority) and M (Manual) modes are available.  But Av is about as automatic as I want in most cases.  I like to have the diaphragm and the ISO completely under my control.

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