Monday, August 14, 2017

The gem I don't deserve - Nikon 50mm f/1.2 ais

This is the fastest current production Nikon lens in the market and has been around for decades. When I first hold it, I was amaze by its build quality which makes me wonder, why lens nowadays are not like that. My desire to own this lens starts after I got my hands on my Nikon F3, which I do not own any lens that can be use with it. Yes, there are a lot cheaper options, but I want the widest possible aperture to allow me to shoot in low light situation, since the common film speed is around iso400 equivalent. 
9 bladed bokeh monster.
The large front element is rather good looking with its 9 bladed aperture. I stare at it the whole night after I bought it used online. My copy of the lens have smooth focus ring, the aperture clicks firmly and the optics are relatively clean.
I use it to shoot some landscape as well
Besides using the lens on my F3, the lens can be used for my Nikon D600 as well. However, you need to do a setup on non-cpu lens. This is because the lens does not have any electrical contact to transmit lens information such as focal length and maximum aperture to the body. To learn how to setup non-cpu lens on Nikon body, click here to see video from Matt Granger. However, you still need to dial your desired aperture on the lens manually.
Does it keep you going?
Oh, did I tell you this is a manual focus lens ONLY? Who the hell still use manual focus nowadays? At f/1.2, this lens is incredibly hard to focus. At least for me, my successful rate for stationary subject is around 10%, not even considering the amount of time taken. From the camera view finder, it’s very hard to judge if your subject is perfectly in focus. There are possibility the camera body have slightly inaccurate focus confirmation that you normally get away with the smaller aperture lens. Perhaps I have bad eyes.
At 1.2, the contrast is not that good. The bokeh however, is rather creamy.
The sharpness for this lens at 1.2 however is rather poor, the contrast is low, and in combination with the thin depth of field, most of the scene seems not in focus at all. At f/2, I would say it’s sharp enough to my liking. Further down will only increase the sharpness and contrast until eventually the diffraction kicks in.
When is the better time to get it?
The only benefit I could see in this lens is also related to its weakness. With f/1.2, you can get very shallow depth of field with this lens. Since the contrast is low, it may be suitable to create dreamy look portrait shot where you don’t need too much sharpness to emphasize the subject skin complexion. 
My best photo from this lens ever, at f/2 with Nikon F3
The bokeh or quality of blur is smooth, not outline/or edgy to its cheaper counterpart. As a result, the look of the photo can be very pleasant.
The beetle just melted into a pool of bokehness...

I always stop down for better sharpness and hit rate.

Stop down again for sharpness

Shot wide open, the focus off

Another wide open shot, the focus off to the right edge of the glass
This lens is very prone to flare, unless stop down
This is a very good lens if you can justify the cost and know the sweet spot to get great result. Of course, you only have manual focus with this beast. However, I don’t shoot film often and I use my 24-70 on my DSLR most of the time. It just stays in my drybox most of the time. After few months owning it, I have decided to sell it to fund my wide angle. My replacement for it would be a 50mm e-series pancake lens which is significantly cheaper and smaller than this legend. Beside the focal length, they are totally different. That’s all my review with Nikon 50mm 1.2 ais – The gem I don’t deserved.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Shoot to pleased yourself

It’s been a while since I updated my blog. Not that anyone care, but I’m thinking that’s a good start. Making photograph has never been easier, so does making good photograph. You have tons of reference online. So, there is really no excuse for you to make a bad photograph.
A big credit to Ming Yao, who took the photos of my Yashica TLR with his trusty Nikon D750 + nifty fifty. 
All the photos were direct output made with the Fuji X100s. It is smart enough to think about the exposure, how to get the retain highlight while maintaining its contrast level while I’m just responsible to tell it when to do it.
The dilemma to shoot in B&W or color. Color it is.
Why am I doing this?
Often I ask myself, why I spend the effort wandering around the streets, while others just watching dramas or playing online games. There is no good and bad. There are millions way how you can spend or rather utilize the finite moments of your life. 
I have no idea telephone booth still working
It just makes me feel better. In a way it’s sort of training for me, judging the exposure, visualize the composition and executing ideas. Every time I learn something from a walk. It can be technical related such as what settings to leave in, pre-focusing, or what gears are useful for which condition. 
It would be great if I can go up the stairs for another shot.
However, in my walk, I see tourist, beggar, shop owner, deliveryman, or just an aunty buying the famous fried oysters for her family, many thoughts gone through my mind. Should I go for a vacation? What will I be when I’m at their age?  How fortunate I am compare to someone, or how I wish I can be as rich as how they appeared. This is the time I enjoy the most where I don’t have to respond to an email, I don’t have to talk to anyone, or having to do something that anyone expect me to do. FREEDOM.
The famous building in Melacca where people end their life.

I just like texture.

more and more windows...

then there will be a door frame

just simply shoot.

Soon Cheong House

Front view of the "9 Storey" flat.

The famous longkang siham. The owner thought we are media and welcome us to shoot as much as we like.

dunno why thinking to play mahjong after watching this


what is filem?

adding motion to still picture

The 3 gentlemen.

Ming Yao told me this is a famous bridge in the past.

an umbrella for a no parking sign.

More and more rotten memories.

Ming Yao says he have the same photograph but I'm taking it anyway.

I like contrasty scene.

more old building

pawn paw?

there is nothing more classic than a b&w photo of a black bicycle.

It’s too early for me to talk about LIFE. That’s what a retired old man sitting in his coffee couch do. What if I never had a chance to make it that far? While I still can, never stop making photograph.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My 28mm Journey of Munich 2016

January 2016. Due to work reason I have a chance to travel to Europe for the first time in my life. Destination: Munich. This 14 days journey allows me to experience my first snow, sat on Airbus A380, meeting new colleagues and friends and many more.

 View of Munich city from St. Peter Church clock tower.
I only bring my Fuji, along side with the SJCAM for this journey. In addition, my LG G4 is barely 1 months old. The images and video you see is made with these equipments.

The winter is unusual this year. The snow fall is later and lesser than before. So happen I get to experience the snow during my visit. I arrived at noon, which is my bed time back in home. While I'm excited to explore around the city, my body resist. My colleague who travel with me (my boss to be), who is a regular here brought me for my first dinner, in Munich, in Europe. The food is nice, but we couldn't finish it. The portion is too much, I almost fall as sleep while chewing. At 8pm local time, I sleep. For the next 1 week, I will go to bed around 9pm and wake up around 3am. So called, jet-lag.

Having my lunch while watching movies. There are too much temptations to keep you awake.

This is my room for the next 14 days

Hauptbahnhof, the main train station in Munich.

The old and the new
Isator, in German means gate by the Isa river
 On weekdays, I go to work using their subway (s-bahn). The subway system is based on "honesty system", which means you don't see barricade at the entrance. There will be officer checking for tickets randomly but I never encounter one. I can claim the ticket anyway.
At one of the U-Bahn station
Climbing up the St. Peter Church clock tower, cost you 2 Euro, but cost more energy to get up there!
During one of the weekday, a colleague of mine in Munich offer me a tour at the city after work. The sky gets dark around 4pm so we move earlier. We climb the St. Peter Church tower to for a magnificent view on the city. I climb like an old man, but once I reach the top, it was worth it! I use gorilla pod and my Fuji built in 3 stop ND filter to make few seconds exposure for more dramatic scene. From here you can see Rathaus  (their town hall), Frauenkirche church, Viktulienmarkt and Olympic tower on the far side.
The Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) is the famous landmark in this Bavarian city.

Viktualienmarkt is a market place for fresh fruits, vegetables as well as meats.
I have made lots of my adventure after work, which the sun have long gone. Therefore, lots of the place is only lid by streets light and moon light. I have take train to Frottmaning, where the Allianz stadium is located. Due to no match on that day, I'm the only one there. Taking picture there is kind of spooky, not to mentioned the weather is -3 degree Celsius.
Deutsches Museum
This is the road to Allianz Stadium from U-Bahn station

The home of Bayern Munich
The next few days I just explore around my hotel after my quick dinner, which is usually doner (turkish kebab).
I don't know what is this, but the building look nice by the river.
Night photography on the cold street is really unforgettable! 
The weekend is here. My colleague offer me a tour around the lake Starnberg. I was told to meet at a station Planegg. I remember the station because it spell like egg plant. I arrived at the station early because I don't like people waiting for me. I found out that behind the station there is a forest / park. The branches were covered in snow and the scene is really beautiful.
The forest behind the station

It's so hard to see blue sky during this season.

The trail lead to a church, perhaps a small residential area. 
The playground is all covered in snow
Having a hot cappuccino while waiting for my colleague. 
Meet Hilmar, my colleague, a friend, a photo enthusiast as well! We have reached lake Starnberg but weather turns bad on us. It started to snow heavily but I'm still taking pictures as if my Fuji is weather sealed. I couldn't care that much. I not sure if I have chance to come here again anyway.
Hilmar walk steadily with his Nikon expose to the falling snow, while I'm constantly blowing the snow flakes away from my camera!

You can't see the snow, but its there.
The pier where you can take a boat tour to the south tip of the lake (Seeshaupt). Not in winter!
My shoes were sinking ... and it started to get wet, inside!
Lake Starnberg
We then went to few more places around the lake including Seeshaupt, before departing to Wolfratshausen (another town nearby). We talk alot along the journey and I am really grateful that he spent time bringing me around. Here are some scene around the lake and Wolfratshausen.
Wooden cabin
We went to one of the restaurant for hot coffee.
The bench for sunset view
Seeshaupt. The southern tip of lake Starnberg.

selfie with my Fuji.
The road to heaven
Back to the town, there is nothing much to do on Sunday. Shops were closed, and most attraction closed early as well. Therefore, this is all I can get on Sunday. I been to BMW museum but I did not buy the entrance to go into the museum because I'm not really a fan of cars. I wanted to go up the olympic tower for more photos opportunity but the weather is bad therefore the open deck observation is closed. Due to time constraint, I have yet to visit Nymphenburg Palace, Deutsches Museum and also the legendary Neuschwanstein Palace.
Rathaus and the rare blue sky
On Sunday, beside restaurant, all shops were closed.
wandering around on a quiet street
I was waiting for him to pass by to snap this photo but I did not expect he look right at me.
Private moment
The lake nearby Olympic park
The Welt, BMW
BMW Museum
The Olympic Tower

Inside the museum

Posted by Kian Ann Puen on Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Two weeks time ends and it is time to go back. While the journey ends, the memory on the trip still echoing in my mind... thirsting for the next adventure to begin....