My collection of lenses grows each month. I’ve recently accepted the fact that I didn’t buy a big enough cabinet to store them all. In an attempt to free up some room I decided to conduct a culling. In the process of getting exceptional lenses, sometimes I have to buy a batch in order to get the one I’m after. Recently, I bought such a box which had one lens I wanted and the rest were all “bonus” junk. One of these freebies was an old Minolta SR mount Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5. This lens is a one-touch, push-pull style zoom; slide the fat ring of the lens to adjust the focal length and to adjust focus you simply rotate the same ring. The lens’ ring is about as a tight as a 30 year old sock. With even the slightest tilt it sloppily slides forward or backward. There is a term for this condition which is called ‘lens creep’. Usually lens creep just means that the heavy front barrel of a zoom lens slowly drifts forward or backward, depending on which way it’s angled. Mmyeah… on this lens, the zoom ring itself “creeps” about as smooth and quiet as a bowling bowl thrown down a flight of stairs.
The winter sun was low to the horizon as I steadied myself upon a rather uncomfortable wooden perch. My back to the sun and downwind, target in clear sight, I drew in a deep breath then slowly exhaled as I prepared to take the shot. At the bottom of my breath I waited for that brief moment between heart beats as I took up the slack in my finger. Thump thump… Thump thump… squeeze. The sharp report from my mouse-click heralded the confirmation of success. “Congratulations, you won! OLYMPUS OM-SYSTEM S ZUIKO AUTO-ZOOM 28-48mm F/4 MF Lens W/HOOD (HAZE)”.
Modern cameras allow photographers to remove and change the lens fast, using only one hand. Unfortunately, it also makes it easier for thieves to steal the lenses directly off the camera. This is why photographer Rutger Geerling created Mark’s Lens Safe. It’s an accessory that protects the release button of your camera, making it impossible to remove the lens with one hand. He created it as an open source design for 3D printers, so everyone can download and print it for their camera.
In the past, the thought of making your own lens would probably seem like a fairly impossible mission. For most of us, it still seems pretty out of reach. Not for determined photographer and weird lens master, Mathieu Stern, though, who created his own 3D printed lens.
Making your own 135mm f/1.8 has to come with a pretty huge sense of accomplishment already. Upon first using it and seeing the results, though, you can’t really fail to be impressed. Obviously, the lens is manual focus, and doesn’t feature any fancy features like image stabilisation, but I think we can let that slide.
The Philosophy of Nikkor is a series of videos which Nikon started to release in April of last year. Every so often a new video is released containing insight into the creation of their Nikkor lenses. There are interviews with everybody from the designers and product managers right down to those making the individual components.
In the latest video, Volume 6 released recently, we hear from those who make the optical glass. As part of the Nikon Group, Hikari Glass produces the optical glass that will eventually go into the Nikkor lenses you mount to your camera. The current Hikari Glass plant was built in 1975 in Akita, Japan. It’s a fascinating look at how our lenses begin their life.
It’s been rumoured for while now that Canon would start introducing LCDs into their lenses. Last week, we even saw some suggestions as to what they might display, thanks to a couple of newly released patents. Well, now, all the guesswork is over. Canon have officially announced the EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM lens.
Like its predecessor, it is a full frame autofocus lens with image stabilisation. The lens is slightly larger than the one it replaces. It weights a little more and the filter thread size has been increased. So has the diaphragm blade count, creeping up from 8 to 9, which may provide slightly more circular “bokeh”. Then there’s the obvious change. It has an LCD screen.
Super fast primes are a handy thing to have. But they’re not cheap. Their price puts them out of reach for many photographers. Even if funds aren’t an issue it can still be difficult to justify spending that much on one prime lens. But what other options are there?
Well, if you’re Mathieu Stern, one option is to breath new life into a $20 Bell & Howell 50mm f/1.2 projector lens. In his latest video, Mathieu shows us just how simple it is to start using one of these with your DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Samyang have today announced two new lenses to start their Premium range. An 85mm f/1.2 and 14mm f/2.4. These new lenses, Samyang say, offer “unprecedented resolving power”, built for 50MP stills and up to 8K video productions. Also known as Rokinon, Samyang has become quite a formidable competitor lately.
Both of the new lenses are full frame manual focus lenses. This may disappoint some folks who were hoping for autofocus. Though, personally, I don’t see it as a problem. Lenses as wide as 14mm are typically manually focused anyway. When everything a few inches past your lens is in focus anyway, it’s not an issue. For the 85mm.. Well, given the notoriously slow AF on Canon’s 85mm f/1.2, you might as well manual focus anyway.
Long known throughout the world for quality, Zeiss are the first name many think of when it comes to luxury lenses. Today, Zeiss have announced three new lenses; 15mm f/2.8, 18mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/2 for both Nikon and Canon. These lenses are part of Zeiss’s Milvus line, designed to “fulfill the requirements of today’s powerful digital cameras and those of the future thanks to their high imaging performance”.
As with the other members of the Milvus family, the three new lenses contain what Zeiss calls “harmonious bokeh”. This is essentially a floating element design which compensates for errors at different distance settings. They also claim excellent flare and ghosting control thanks to the T* anti-reflective coatings.