The most powerful camera and lens system is the one that works. Period. When I was working for one of the local camera shops, my job was to know all the lenses and how they worked with each system. My absolute favorite combos came from using a Sony Alpha series body and "xxxxx" lens through the use of an adapter. Time after time, I placed expensive pieces of glass in front of the mirrorless powerhouse that is the A7Rii. My goal was always to see if the lens (aka glass) could render the resolution that the A7Rii was so famous for. Least to say, I was disappointed by many manufactures lenses and what they called "professional". However, the one brand that shone through was Canon and their aging 50+ year old FD/FL mount line of lenses. Currently, cost vs performance wise, Canon FD and Nikon F mount lenses can deliver just the same level of quality as some professional lenses. Today, we will cover one of my more recent purchases, a Vivitar 28mm F/2.5 Auto Wide.
Those flares doe. Dude is Michael Chee. “Why though, Joe??”
We’ll let me explain why I bought this lens. Back in the day (1960’s), Vivitar made a line of third party lenses that had a variety of mount options. They had three relative aperture options; standard, mid-grade, and fast prime. When my father was into photography, one of the lenses he bought was Vivitar’s 35mm F/1.9 Auto Wide and he passed it down to me. That lens has become my absolute favorite 35mm lens for my Sony setup. When it’s pointed in the direction of the flare, the lack of anti-flare coatings makes the frame come alive like JJ Abrams directing Star Trek. Sharpness and contrast are retained rather nicely and it somewhat resolves the sensor. One unique thing about it, when pointed toward the sun during the golden hour, the frame comes alive with an amazing warm glow that I would have trouble reproducing in Photoshop. I fell in love with it. Hard. It’s my 35mm baby of sorts.
Now, the 28mm F/2.5 is the mid-grade option, unlike the 35mm I already owned which is definitely a fast prime. The construction and feel are very similar between the two, while the 28mm has a larger objective element and filter thread making it slightly front heavy. The version I bought was made by Kiron in Japan and features a part matte black / silver finish, although there are other versions that were made with completely matte black finish. It’s built like a tank but let’s get to the juicy bits about this lens.
Just like the 35mm, its incredibly unique. Lens flares appear brilliantly through the frame when pointed toward the light source. Due to its 6 blade iris, most of the flares at maximum aperture are hexagons and even when stopped down, the tiny and sharp flares are brilliant. Sharpness is not as great compared to the Canon 28mm F/3.5 but not exactly smearing vasoline on the lens. Distortion is well managed and CA is not too bad, both being easily correctable in post. Vignette is very apparent but once again, correctable in post. Now how about that F2.5 bokeh?! If soap bubbles are your thing, you're in luck, because this lens is full of it. The great thing is, it's not terrible.
At higher apertures, things look a lot better. Sharpness is better, CA practically gone, while vignette is still an issue. Overall, cost vs performance is in a very nice place as I only paid $35 for this lens. The closest modern equivalent is the Sony 28mm F/2.0 which is $400! The only benefit of the Sony version is better resolving power but even then, unless you're needing the detail or autofocus, there is no reason to pay the extra money.
I like reviewing these lenses and getting a hands on feel for the technology of yesterday. I would like to hear about your favorite Canon FD lenses and what your thoughts are on them. Just post your comments down below to get the discussion started! Lastly, here is another image I shot with this lens below. Have a great start to the week, ya'll.
As most of you know, Hurricane Harvey produced its most significant rains only a little over a week ago. The statistics are 100,000 homes flooded with some 500,000 vehicles totaled. 15 trillion gallons of water fell on the region from landfall till it moved off east. The storm may have left, but the watersheds to the west are still holding incredible amounts of water and are still releasing into the bayous. Continuous flooding along Buffalo Bayou The graphic below from the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) shows the Lake Houston watershed peak flow totals from my area. These numbers are unprecedented and represents a 1000 year flood (0.1% chance of happening). Kingwood and Humble both received in the neighborhood of 30"-40" of rain. The devastation is unreal.
What you see in these images below are what remains of the Union Pacific Railroad bridge over the San Jacinto river in Humble, TX that is about 2 miles from my house. At peak flow during the storm, this river was carrying 130,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water through its channel. It crested at 69' (feet) in height. Least to say that this bridge and the surrounding banks did very well to handle the water with only this level of damage. Highway 69/59 which runs parallel to this bridge had feet of water on top of the roadway.
Tuesday, a Union Pacific SD70ACe passed my house on its way to fill up ballast cars for replacement roadbed. Thursday, a massive crane was assembling a portable work barge to float equipment out toward the missing bridge pieces. Most debris has been cleared from around the bridge pylons and repairs look to be happening very soon.
This was a tremendous storm and so many people were displaced and lost so many things. My family was fortunate to make it out relatively unscathed. We have donated our time and money to helping our friends clean up and rebuild. Were not just Americans or Texans or even a certain political party. We are human and when the cards are down, we help each other.
(looking north from the southern bank)
(long lens shot of the washed out portion)
(looking north along the line)
(looking south along the line, majorly washed out sections)
(washed out section of roadway, southern bank)
(long lens shot of initial repair work)
This past weekend in the Houston area was a scorcher, as usual, for this time in July. Feeling the creative energy flowing, the lovely woman who I share my life with, threw herself in front of my camera on a Saturday evening. One of the awesome things about living in a mid-rise apartment complex is having open access to the six floor garage, which allows for 30+ mile views in any direction you look. As the sun was setting and some high altitude clouds were drifting past, we leashed up our husky, Luca, and took the time to knock out a quick set. With the setting sun as my main light source, my 30" Westcott 6 in 1 reflector was going to be the only other tool I would need. The idea behind these is harsh edges with a soft look by shooting at a low depth of field. Prime lenses have been a go to for most of my creation lately and in this shoot I used three different ones on my Sony A7R II. The first was the Zeiss Loxia 35mm F/2 Biogen. I absolutely love this particular lens just because it delivers such an astounding look. To me, its iconic and draws me in from sharpness to bokah. The second lens was another Zeiss, this time the Loxia 50mm F/2 Planer. Yes, I know this is a Zeiss weighted shoot. I chose these lenses because I love the look they deliver. The 50mm is no exception with its wonderful fall off and just how tack sharp it is at F/2. The third lens is more unique to this line up and is a personal choice. The Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 SSC with a metabones adapter combines optics from a by gone era with a look that can not be found on any other lens. While its 45-50 years old at this point its still razor sharp but also extremely soft when combined with the high megapixel sensor on my Sony. This lens and I are on a quest to achieve perfect focus at F/1.4 (note: I do realize with a lens of this age that there is probably some back focus/focus issues even for a full manual focus lens). But I babble on about lenses. Truth be told, the setting sun always holds a unique feeling that I always love to see in images. I guess I have an attraction to warm light or is it possible that I am just a matron of a lost sun worshiping religion? Who knows. I'll let the images do the talking. (FYI you can click the images for a larger view)
Till next time. Keep shooting.
Rheanna against wallSony A7R II w/ Zeiss Loxia 50mm F/2 @ 1/800s, f/2, ISO 80 Rheanna standing w/ LucaSony A7R II w/ Zeiss Loxia 35mm F/2 @ 1/2000s, f/2.5, ISO 80 Rheanna with sunSony A7R II w/ Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 @ 1/640s, f/1.4, ISO 125