Here is another gem from Samyang, maker of Rokinon brand. It is a manual lens. It is absolutely beautiful. Solid build, dignifying fit and finish, properly dampened focus ring, and it looks the part. The sharpness and the bokeh are absolutely amazing.
The Rokinon 35mm 1.4 work seamlessly on my Canon 40d as well. Using the Nikon-to-Canon adapter with a dandelion chip, the Canon will actually give you the focus confirmation beep which is nice but not as helpful as it sounds. I’ll explain that later. Ironically, when mounted on a Nikon body it doesn’t beep. It will, however, give you the focus confirm indicator light in the viewfinder, which also isn’t as helpful.
The reason why the built-in focus confirmation isn’t as useful is because my copy of the lens has a flaw. However, numerous reviews and testimonials about the Rokinon 35mm 1.4 confirms that these models are prone to mis-calibration which may affect its ability to accurately confirm focus especially towards the larger aperture ranges. But interestingly, many seem to love this lens and willing to forgive and accept it as is despite the seemingly critical flaw. And here is why. Photo hobbyists who are into manual focus lenses have always depended on their optical judgement for proper focus. Furthermore, with the advent of LCD live focus, manual focusing became significantly easier and far more precise. As it turns out, many people do not actually depend on built-in focus confirmation at all even if the lens came with one. Many prefer to use the LCD with magnification instead. I, too found the LCD method to be more convenient and way more precise. So, if you choose to focus totally manual anyway, the mis-calibration becomes a non-issue.
Rokinon 35mm 1.4 on Samsung NX mirrorless
If you’re a Nikon shooter and are into quick snaps and street photography, you may be better off with the Nikkor 35mm 1.8G which has proper auto focus and is about half the price of this Rokinon. But if you’re the type who choose to take more time imagining and framing between shots, you may find a manual focus 35mm such as this Rokinon very enjoyable. And who doesn’t like all the goodness that comes with f/1.4? The next level up in the Nikon 35mm chain is the Nikkor 35mm 1.4G which costs about $1,200 more than the Rokinon. But at that level, I seriously think it’s more like you are buying into the novelty of owning an expensive lens rather than on a basis of cost justifiable performance.
Can you mount a Nikon lens on a Canon body? Absolutely. The Nikon F-mount is one of the most versatile and flexible lens systems that can be easily adapted to different camera bodies. Why is this so? Because Nikon F-mount lenses have the longest Flange Focal Distance out of all mainstream lens systems. Flange Focal Distance is the distance from the back of the lens (mounting flange) to the focal plane (sensor or film). This distance varies from one camera system to another. Each brand’s lens system is designed to work with a specific Flange Focal Distance. It’s this precise calibration that allows the lens to achieve proper focus throughout all focal range.
Canon’s Flange Focal Distance vs. Nikon’s
This means Nikon lenses can be easily mounted on Canon bodies with use of an adapter. The adapter acts as a spacer between the lens and the camera body which, in effect, increases the Flange Focal Distance to match the value set for Nikon lenses. This allow for proper focus including focus to infinity.
So, while the Flange Focal Distance can be increased using the adapter, shortening of this distance isn’t physically possible. This is why it’s not so straight forward to use Canon lenses on a Nikon body. There are Canon-to-Nikon adapters. But they contain corrective optics in order to achieve focus to infinity. However, this is something usually frowned upon because anything placed between the lens and the camera can be a cause for degradation in image quality. And typically, those piece of glass tacked on by the adapter makers are of questionable quality. Therefore, the Canon-to-Nikon adaptation isn’t very popular.
Nikkor on Canon body
Nikkor on Canon body
Another thing that makes adapting Canon lens to other systems tricky is that Canon has more than one mounting system. Canon lenses produced from 1986 is called “EF-mount” system. EF lenses do not have physical aperture rings. All of the mechanical connections between the camera and the lens were replaced by electronic contacts making them unusable on any other camera bodies except on Canon EOS system bodies.
The newer Nikon “G” series lenses have also abandoned physical aperture rings, however, if you look at the back of these lenses, you’ll see series of electronic contacts along with a protruding mechanical lever. The Nikon G Series lenses still retain a mechanical connection that physically interacts with the camera mechanism to control the aperture. It’s this very feature that still allows even the newer Nikon “G” lenses to be used on other camera bodies because adapters can be made to move this lever, in turn, allowing you to control the aperture manually.
Aperture lever on Nikkor G Lens
Another reason for Nikon F-mount’s versatility is that the F-mount bayonet basically remains unchanged since 1959. This means every F-mount lens produced since 1959 (with few exceptions) can be used on every Nikon camera as well as on Canon bodies using the adapter.
This is the Samyang 85mm f/1.4. Throughout the years, Samyang lenses have been branded with various names among which are Rokinon and Bower. They are made by Samyang Optics from South Korea. The company have built affordable off-brand lenses since the 1970s. Samyang is one of the rare off-brand lens manufacturers that has consistently maintained above average build quality and performance. There are quite a few notable Samyang lenses that have performed well above expectations, not just in terms of for-the-price but in absolute terms of quality.
This is the Nikon F-mount AE model that enables electronic communication with Nikon cameras. It’s a manual focus lens but has focus confirmation chip that triggers the in-focus indicator in the viewfinder. This model is supposed to trigger an audible in-focus beep as well, but for some reason it never worked. I decided not to make fuss over it. The viewfinder indicator light seemed enough for me. The build quality is quite nice as well. The focus and aperture ring are well dampened and operate with sense of dignity. Fit and finish is satisfyingly solid with absolutely no rattles or unintended movement. Only complaint is the lens cap that is total crap. But that’s nitpicking. Because it is a lot of glass for the money.
This lens works nicely on the micro four thirds camera as a sort of long-ish telephoto. Since the M4/3 system has 2.0x crop sensor, 85mm becomes 170mm. The LCD zoom focus assist really becomes helpful when trying to focus at aperture of 1.4. My Lumix GF2 becomes quite front heavy with this lens attached and is actually somewhat awkward to operate. But it doesn’t matter because it’s actually as much fun as it is weird.
f/1.4, 1/125s, iso 1600
The Canon EOS 1D is the latest addition to my humble photo gear collection. 1D Mark II, that is. Sorry to disappoint but hell, I have no plans to spend $7k or so on the EOS 1DX. Having said that, the second iteration of the EOS 1D series from 8 or so years ago is still one hell of a camera. I was lucky in that I was able to find a mint example at a very reasonable price.
The EOS 1D series cameras are typically used by serious professionals such as sports shooters, fashion photographers or journalists who are in the field day in and day out. Therefore, it is relatively difficult to find a used example that is free of battle scars. And most have racked up high shutter count during its lifetime. Luckily though, mine seems to have come from a photo hobbyist who hardly ever took the camera out. The shutter count is only 4300 (according to Adobe Bridge EXIF data). And the camera feels and looks to support that number in every way. The camera has no signs of use whatsoever. There are no marks or tripod scars underneath. The shutter release feels fresh and springy. It is absolutely mint.
Now, I do admit that I don’t own an EF lens that’s worthy of this machine. But I can have plenty fun adapting my Nikkors and even with the Canon EF 40mm 2.8. But honestly, I don’t think I’ll take the EOS 1D out much. It’s fun to tinker with but I just can’t justify carrying all that bulk and weight when my Nikon D90 or Canon 20D will do just fine for type of photography that I enjoy. However, I now have come to understand what makes a pro-level camera a pro-level. When you hold the 1D it feels dignifying and menacing at the same time. It is heavy (twice the weight of my Canon 20D), but it doesn’t bother you because it feels good in your hands. All of the frequently needed controls are never more than one button away. And it really sounds like a machine gun in burst mode. After holding the EOS 1D even for a few minutes, going back to your typical DSLR makes you feel like your are holding a kid’s toy, seriously.
After playing with the 1D for few days, not only have I developed a deep respect for such class of machines but more importantly, I have realized that professional cameras are not for me. Yes, duh. These cameras are purpose built, highly customizable tools of the trade that help pay the bills. I’ll probably tinker with it for a short while. I must say the sound of the 8.5 fps shutter is addicting.
The Nikkor AF-S Micro 60mm 2.8 G is the latest addition to my Nikon side of gears. This is a macro lens (although Nikon calls it Micro) with fixed focal length. So you’d think it would have a constant aperture but it doesn’t. Depending on the focusing distance, it will push the f-stop to 4 or so. Not sure if that is typical of all macro lenses, however, I was little disappointed.
This is the “G” generation Nikkor lens which means it doesn’t have the physical aperture ring. The previous version of 60mm Micro, the “D” generation had the focus range limiter which prevents the lens from hunting for focus over the entire range. Nikon decided to ditch the limiter on the new AF-S G, so the lens hunts for focus quite a bit in some circumstances. But the new AF-S G has other features that was more important such as internal focusing (meaning the front of the lens stays fixed instead of moving in and out during focus), weather sealing, and internal focus motor (no more focus motor screw).
Other than the slow focus issue I am quite satisfied with the performance. The pictures are very sharp. It’s a decent performer when doing double duty as a medium tele portrait lens as well.
These are the remains of my old point-and-shoot Canon A80 from years ago. The part creative and part goofiness in me just couldn’t let these go to waste. I had to do something with them. I recently read about people attaching Holga lenses to their DSLRs to have some good ‘ol Holga fun. It got me wondering what would happen if I mount a compact zoom lens on APS-C sensor cameras. I just had to find out.
This is the result of some fiddling around with Nikon body cap, a glue gun, and left over pieces of the Canon compact. Now that this little lens officially became a Nikon f-mount I can mount it on my Nikon or my Canon Xti with the EOS-Nikon adapter. It even zooms in and out. How sweet is that?
Here is the result.
It’s not looking terribly handsome. And one has to wonder why anyone would want to do such a thing.
Here are the shots made with the silly frankenstein lens. The good news is that I can focus really close. I mean really close like 3/8 of an inch! It can almost serve as a cheap microscope. However, as you can see they aren’t terribly good looking. Also, at that focus distance you don’t get enough light between the subject and the front of the lens. So you’d need a tripod because you’ll be shooting really slow. Yes, the lens is crappy but fun. The same way go-carts are fun even if you drive a Bentley.
The screw head on these are 2mm in diameter.
The Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN is a budget-conscious auto-focus prime for the Micro Four Thirds camera system. Sigma lenses are generally known to be a hit or miss; therefore I wasn’t instantly drawn to it when they recently introduced line of lenses for the M4/3 system. But the reviews for this particular model were fairly positive. So I figured $150 or so was worth the risk.
My initial reaction was very positive. The build quality and fit is fairly decent. However, the Sigma 19mm 2.8 is quite bulky for a mirrorless prime. My Samsung NX 20mm 2.8 is less than half the size of the Sigma.
I read that this lens could take up to 3 or 4 seconds to index on some Micro Four Thirds cameras. But I didn’t experience any long indexing issue on my Lumix GF2. The lens and the camera was ready to use instantly upon powering up. The auto focus is surprisingly quick, produces pleasing bokeh, and the picture quality is actually quite good. The minimum focus distance is short (0.2m) which can be useful.
Normally, not much is expected from a lens at this price range. So you’d be pleasantly surprised once you discover how well this cheap Sigma performs. I’d say it’s well worth the price; it comfortably outperformed all of my expectations. Looks like this Sigma is a hit.
Some test shots taken with Sigma 19mm f/2.8
f/2.8, 1/15s, iso-800
f/2.8, 1/15s, iso-800
f/3.5, 1/8s, iso-400
Canon Xti repair part 2
At last, Canon Xti donor number two. So I ended up replacing the entire mirror box and shutter assembly along with few other stuff attached around it which is pretty much everything. And the auto focus works beautifully. I can finally attach my Canon EF lenses!
Here is the detailed look at both mounts; the Nikon F and the Konica AR. Bayonets on these are almost identical. Both have three tabs on the flange which are positioned almost exactly like the other. As a result, the AR-mount lens fits comfortably inside the Nikon F-mount. Once the flange sits nicely inside the camera mount, you need to turn the Konica AR lens in the opposite direction of how you’d normally mount a F-mount lens because of the way stoppers are situated.
The center top of the AR lens even ends up roughly in the center which is nice. You’re not going to hear the final ‘click’ as you mount. You somehow need to know instinctively when to stop turning. I stop as soon as I feel a hint of resistance. That’s when the top of the lens sits roughly in the center and the fit is firm enough to operate the lens and the camera. You DO NOT want to force rotate it more than you need to. You don’t want to find out what happens then.
And here it is on the Nikon D90. Of course, everything is manual and there is no focus to infinity. Also, unfortunately for the D90, there is no metering. But just look at that fit! And the Konica Hexanon is one darn good lens. Takes beautiful pictures and super crisp.
Example shot with Konica Hexanon 50mm monuted on Nikon D90
Another AR+F mount example: Vivitar MC 28mm Konica AR mount
*Please note: if you are attempting this fit, do it at your own risk. This particular combination has caused no damage to my Nikon but I’m not making any guarantees.
Samsung has made quite an impression with the NX100 Mirrorless System Camera last year. The competition in the Mirrorless Camera market is fierce. To combat the likes of Sony NEX-7, Samsung just introduced the NX200. The spec looks very promising.
Sensor: APS-C CMOS (15.7 x 23.5mm)
Resolution: 20.3MP (there’s a slight concern for noise at this level for sensor of this size)
Max. Shutter Speed: 1/4000
Continuous Shooting: 7 fps
Although Samsung claims autofocus speed of 0.1 second – which is quite fast even for dedicated DSLR – I doubt the NX200 will reliably perform at that speed in real world situations. But I don’t care. I want one.
The NX200 is quite possibly the most desirable Mirrorless System Camera on the market right now.
UPDATE (Sept. 21, 2011): Nikon introduces mirrorless!