31 May 2009

Grape Life

Shot this still life with the K20D and Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro using available light. Obviously this was a quick shoot because the sweet grapes disappeared pretty fast!

09 May 2009

Vivitar 200mm f/3.5 first impressions

Today I tried out a old lens that had intrigued me for quite awhile, the Vivitar 200mm f/3.5. This K-mount lens is fairly uncommon and it also comes in a Pentax M42 screw mount version. Got it from a friend in the US who likes collecting legacy lenses so it was interesting to find out the kind of images it could produce.

I went out to shoot some tall grass to see how the lens fares wide open and to check out the out of focus rendering and I have to say it is actually quite nice. Like many old lenses, there isn't the snappy high contrast typical of made for digital lenses today, which is probably a result of the lens coatings used then but it does exhibit good sharpness. Shooting at f/3.5 does have some corner softness but quickly improves when stopped down to a smaller aperture. Light fall off at the corners is not excessive and I kinda like the colour rendition.

This lens is probably overlooked in Pentax mount because Pentax also has the popular M 200mm f/4 telephoto that is more widely available on eBay. However some tests done on the internet pitting the two lenses head to head appear to give the Vivitar the edge optically. The lens looks pretty ordinary in appearance (I think the M 200mm looks a lot nicer) but build quality is solid but not heavy.

About the only criticism of this lens is the dinky built-in lens hood which when slid out is simply too short to be really effective. Like all legacy lenses without the benefit of an auto aperture setting, the only practical exposure mode to use is Manual, which can be a hit or miss affair as exposure readings will vary when shooting at different apertures. So plenty of use of the Green button to determine the camera's preferred exposure is needed.

If you like to try using old manual focus lenses for fun, this is a good telephoto to look out for. And it definitely won't cost too much to give it a try..

05 May 2009

Hexagon Bokeh

A shot of reflections off the sea with the K20D and DA 50-200mm with a Hoya colour polarizing filter. The specular highlights from the waves plus six sided aperture blades combine to create an interplay of interesting patterns.