20 January 2010

Goodbye to the trusty FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro

I finally made a tough decision to let go of this workhorse of a lens. A lens that has given me a lot of great images with its characteristic punchy colors has a tough act to follow in the footsteps of the new kid on the block, the DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR.

There's a lot to like the FA version optically but the new DFA scores well in the usability area. The overall lighter weight makes extended shooting easier and the seamless transition from AF to manual focusing with Quick Shift is well worth the money. The new lens's circular aperture blades looks set for even smoother bokeh at wider apertures but it's premature to say how much of a difference until a test is done.

18 January 2010

Orchard Road walkabout

2 Jan 2010, a public holiday. What better way to usher in the New Year than an informal mini Pentax user gathering along Orchard Road. Orchard Road has undergone a transformation with new buildings cropping up or existing buildings getting a upgrade to the exterior facade. I've not really ventured much along the Orchard strip for quite a while as it is pretty hard to find time to stroll and window shop nowadays, so it really felt like I was a tourist revisiting after a long hiatus. Somehow there was a sense of familiarity but at the same time everything seemed fresh and new. The turnout for the outing was pretty good and the opportunity to meet fellow photo enthusiasts over the New Year made it a particularly rewarding experience. Shot with the K-7 with either the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro or the FA 135mm f/2.8.

Ready for customers...

Shoe addict mantra...

The faces of Pentax...


The bond of laughter...

Mobile worldview

12 January 2010

Soft, Softer, Softest: the Sears 135mm f/2.8

It's 2010 and I got hold of a cheap manual focus lens recently, the Sears 135mm f/2.8 (Mod No. 202). On first impressions, the lens looks no different from the many manual focus 135mm lenses that were commonplace during the reign of 35mm film. However a closer inspection reveals something different, the presence of a secondary macro ring at the front of the lens in addition to the usual manual focusing ring.

There are 3 click stop settings on the macro ring that introduces varying degrees of softness, much like using a soft focus filter. The soft effect gets more pronounced at wider apertures, the result of uncorrected spherical aberration being introduced. The overall effect is much like the images taken with the discontinued and rare Pentax F/FA Soft 85mm. My Sears was made for Ricoh's K- mount but modded to be an A lens, so shooting using auto exposure is a breeze. What a unique lens because it offers that romantic soft-focus imagery that is occasionally needed.

Normal operation with the macro ring not used.

Turn the macro ring and things start going soft. A glowing halo surrounds the subject.

At the fullest setting, the image might seem like a Gaussian blur adjustment layer was added, but the bananas still retain sharp focus.