In 2009 I managed to go to a conference in Florence. Since then I have managed to lose the Panasonic Lumix I had with me… but it did manage to get a fair number of photos. These are tombs and an altar inside one of the churches.

As you can see, I had problems with exposure and ambient light… Joys of being a tourist, and not being in the room early ehough, with a fast enough lens.

I want fast lenses, not Zooms.

Let’s start with photos I took on Friday. 7 am. It was dawn… but using the standard lenses on a D3000 the shots were not that good.

Part of the problem may be me. I was using an 18-55mm DX zoom. which is a good lens in other circumstances. The other two photos were taken in natural light, same lens, but not pushing it. Now, if I was using a manual camera, I would have opened the aperture fully and stepped down to 1/60. Then looked at the scan, and corrected the light — as I had to here. But you cannot correct overmuch for underexposure.

TO give you an idea, this is another shot that I have not corrected — just translated from NEF to JPG.

Which is why I am thinking of fast lenses and low light. For rangefinders this is fairly easy. Buy the Nokton 1.1 The Leica 50 mm 0.95 is probably better — but it is 10K US, rather than 1K. and the if one compares the classic noctilux with the Nokton they are pretty darn close. Add a wide angle, and I’m a happy camper with a rangefinder — the bessa has the 35 mm lens on it 90% of the time and I don’t think I would want longer than 50 mm for a rangefinder. I need too much help focusing at higher magnifications.

Of course, this lens does not come in screw in form. But bodies are cheap. Lenses cost.

Unless we are talking Nikon. Now… if I had on me a f1.4 50 mm… I would not have to be in darktable fixing something that ended up being shot at digital ISO 4000. (Oh, and get the unstable branch if you run Ubuntu or Debian. It is much faster and works better. The irony is that, although leica and voightlander make the fastest and optically best lenses at present for rangefinders, the Nikon fixed lenses are really cheap. If you import them… or find them on trademe. But in low light, they leave the kit camera lenses for dead — simply because you can manually crank the aperture wide open and then tell the camera to adjust.

Self portrait

As usual, when wearing glasses, i am left eye dominant. When I wear contacts, I’m right eye dominant… go figure. Nikon D3000, ambient light.

After the last snowfall.

This was taken just after dawn in early November 2011, through a window, of the sun striking the trees on my boundary. Modified in Darktable, then cropped. Olympus E300 ISO 100 F4.9 1/60 sec. hand held.

Railway memorial, Middlemarch.

Worker's memorial, rail trail.

Darktable is in the process of moving to version 1.1. There is a very good tutorial on how to use this product online… including to use the controls not just play with the histograms.Anyway, the photo is with the Olympus evolt E300, F/6.3, 1/250th second. The main tweaking is getting the light balance correct — it was too cold.

Testing the kids camera.

Son two is going to camp next week and is taking his canon powershot A1000. This is a couple of casual shots of a very wet back yard… Autumn has come before February has finished.

Shot through window: there is some chosting and internal reflections from this… but the colours at least are accurate. But this reminds me why I don’t like point and shoots. I like more control…

Gear lust costings…

For this, I am using Adorama.

Some principles.

1. Big sensors are good.
2. Film is as good as a big sensor…
3. Fixed lenses are good.

I’m comparing the two cameras I’m thinking of getting in the next year or so — I don’t NEED them. I need a Nikon battery charger (I lose these things all the time) but I’ve been shooting Black and white film in a Voighlander Bessa R with an old Summicron F3.5 35mm today… so this at present is just an exercise.

Now the best DSLR at the present is probably the Nikon D800. Using manual lenses you get something like this…

Nikon D800 Digital SLR Camera Body, $2,999.95
Nikon 85 F2 Ais Lens *52 USED $299.00
Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 $449.00

Subtotal: $3,747.95

If you want a rangefinder with interchangeable lenses you will have to go for film. An M9 body is $6,995 @ Adorama (where I am doing my costings from). A M7 is $4,995, and an M4-P is the same price. A Zeiss Z-I however, is affordable. Again, looking at two lenses — there is no point getting a zoom, but an normal lens and a reasonable wide angle…

ZIess Ikon body 35 mm Rangefinder body $1,618.00
Ziess T-Planar 50mm lens $ 781.00
Ziess Ikon with 50mm f/2.0 planar lens $2,300.99
Voightlander 15 mm F/4.5 Hellar M mount $599.00
Voightlannder 15 mm viewfinder 209.00

Subtotal $ 3108

In short, you can get a moderate rangefinder kit for around the same price as a top line Nikon Kit. If I added the 28-300mm VR zoom (if you need zooms, getting a body with less pixelisation would make more sense) you need to add about a thouosand dollars, but on the other hand, the F/0.9 Nokton is a thousand and the faster and better Leica lenses start around that price and go up. Way up.

Now… I have a functional, cheap, screw lens Rangefinder system. Upgrading the SLR would be useful for scenery, action and potraits: but continuing with a cheap voightlander when travelling and taking street shots makes sense. I’m only carrying a few hundred, not a few thousand, dollars worth of kit.

Cellphone photos

All these photos were taken with an HTC android phone. It is what I was carrying at the time.

The chidlren were busking at the farmer’s market, the tower and storm is behind Dunedin Fire Station, and the tree is in North Dunedin.