Thursday, December 20, 2012

Using my daddy's Leica lenses?

Well, if I am not going to buy the Ricoh GXR, and I refuse to sell my daddy's Leica lenses, how will I use my them?  I have a tentative plan: Wait for a good version of the Canon EOS-M camera to be created and buy that.

This plan has several advantages:

  1. I can use my daddy's Leica lenses (assuming that there will be an adapter for this)
  2. Since I am assuming that there will be a Leica M lens adapter, I'll also assume there will be a Canon FD adapter.  Thus, I'll be able to use all my old FD lenses, too! (I have three that would be interesting to use: 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4 and 200mm f/4)
  3. I can use all my EF lenses, and they will autofocus and auto-aperture!
  4. Putting the little 22mm f/2 EF-M lens on that camera means that it is very close to pocketable.  I'd carry it all the time.
  5. Maybe my wife would use it all the time, too.  She is not happy with the point-&-shoot camera(s) she has now.
But Canon needs to fix these problems
  1. It needs a viewfinder (rumor has it that this is coming in 2013)
  2. The speed of the autofocus has to improve,  The Sony NEX and (especially) the Olympus 4/3's cameras set the standard and Canon needs to get close to that.
  3. The price needs to come down (since I'd also buy the EF lens adapter, the get-started price is (B&H) $921 -yikes!).

Monday, December 10, 2012

My perspectives on the Ricoh GXR with Leica M mount

I rented the Ricoh GXR with the Leica M mount front from over Thanksgiving 2012.  I also rented the electronic viewfinder, which fits in the hot shoe.  I used my father’s two Leica lenses on this camera:  The 35mm f/1.4 Sumilux and the 90mm f/2.0 Sumicron.  Both of these lenses are, of course, completely manual: manual focus and manual aperture. These lenses have outstanding reputations, and I know that my daddy took lots of great pictures with his 35mm film Leica M2.  He especially liked the 35mm Sumilux.

Note that the GXR is an APS-C sensor, so these lenses translate to the equivalent view of 52mm and 135mm on a 35mm, full-frame camera.


The camera is a great size and it feels great in my hand.  The shutter has a very satisfying click to it.  It responds quickly—no shutter lag that I could perceive (but see below).

The focus-assist is very good.  There are two ways this comes into play:
  1. There is a slider bar along the bottom that turns green when the camera thinks you are in focus.
  2.  There is a glittery effect in the image on the contrasty spots that are in focus.  This is particularly effective on eyes and carpet patterns.  (You can see a range of sparkly carpet patterns, which moves back and forth as you focus.  Often, this was the most effective way for me to get my subject (mostly my granddaughter) in focus: move that sparkly band back and forth until it coincided with where she was sitting on the carpet.)
The electronic viewfinder is really, really nice.  It shows exactly the same stuff as would be shown on the back screen, including the short review of the image that you just took.

The images from these Leica lenses were very good.


Despite the nice focus-assist mechanisms offered by the GXR, it was hard for me to get a good percentage of shots that were in focus.

The image review in the viewfinder was disconcerting!  It looks exactly like the image you were seeing as you snapped the picture (of course), but the subject keeps moving and this image stays frozen.  This was weird.  (I suppose this could be turned off, but I did not have time to figure this out.)  But what was worse was that you could not snap another picture until that review finished!  This was bad!

The 35mm Sumilux has a minimum focus distance of 1 meter.  This was not close enough for the sort of pictures I wanted to take.

The manual aperture, with this camera and (I suppose) with any other modern camera, is not useful.  You pretty much have to focus at maximum aperture and then stop it down prior to snapping the picture.  I could never get the hang of this operation (find the focus knob; get it focused; find the aperture knob; stop it down; snap; find the aperture knob again; open it up; repeat).

I discovered the problem with the 90mm Sumicron.  I had previously used it on Daddy’s Leica M2: none of the pictures were in focus.  I determined with the GXR that this lens has shifted by a little bit: infinity on the lens has a subject at 20 meters in focus; everything else is shifted by the same amount (e.g., lens at 10 meters puts a subject at 7 meters in focus).  I may have to take the lens apart and put it back together—maybe the problem will be obvious.


I doubt that this is the proper way for my photography gear to evolve.  This setup is too limited (for me)—Daddy’s Leica lenses are great and all, but the focusing is too hard, and the rapid-fire mode is pretty much non-existent.  If I took a lot of posed pictures (especially of things that don’t move), it might be useful.  But I don’t do that.

The image quality did not blow me away.  I was expecting stupendous IQ, what with no anti-aliasing filter and Leica lenses.  But I did not get a single picture that actually had blow-it-up-to-billboard-size IQ.

If this cost something like $400, it would be a tough decision.  But at close to $1000 ($930 with the discounts I usually see), I conclude that this is a bad way to spend my gear fund.

The question remains: How do I use my daddy’s Leica lenses?  If I don’t use them, I should probably sell them (but I just can’t bring myself to do that).  I am holding out hope that I will win a Sony NEX in a contest.

Update: 12/20/12
I got one of the pix with this camera posted in Fermi Today.  Here is a link to the issue, and here is the image:

Leica 35mm Sumilux at f/1.4, 1/800 sec at ISO 271 (The Ricoh chooses crazy ISO values like this all the time!) 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sarah 8A Exum Oil Card

Black Line 5x7 folded card
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Sarah garden3

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Photo Assignments

I like having photography assignments, so here I will accumulate some ideas for self-assignment.

  • The "ancient elements"
    • earth (I would interpret this as "dirt" or "soil")
    • wind
    • water
    • fire
  • Moonlit landscapes
  • Unusual perspectives on a baby's body (close ups of Emmy, of course)
  • etc...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Google Chrome is clairvoyant

I needed to find out what this little device does:

So I started typing into the Chrome address bar, "mini circuits" and this is what I saw:

(Click on the image to see clearly what happened.)  It somehow KNEW I was going to type 15542 next!  I haven't EVER looked up ANYTHING for "Mini Circuits".  The last time I looked up something like this was in a paper catalog in the 1990's.


(Answer: It takes the RF signals in 1 and 2 and sums them to the S port, or it takes an RF signal in the S port and splits it evenly into the 1 and the 2 ports.  The latter is how it is used in the circuit I am looking at.)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

DIY Engineering Manual

From years of experience, here is most of what you need to know to be an engineer.  Or, shall I say, to fake being an engineer and fix almost anything

  1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  2. If it is broke:
    1. Turn it off and turn it back on.
    2. If that does not fix it, unplug it and plug it back in.
    3. If that does not fix it, take it apart and put it back together.
    4. If it is still broken, don't mess with it any more.

For a more complex view of the world, see this image on the use of WD40 and Duct Tape.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Millions, Trillions, Billions, ...

When I was a kid (40 years ago), the NYSE traded 13 million shares per day; the US budget deficit was measured in billions of dollars and the budget debt was hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now, we have multiplied these quantities by 100; they are measured in billions, hundreds of billions and 10+ trillion.

Will we be talking about quadrillions in 2060?  What about the 24th century (in the Star Trek era)?  I suppose if "things" increase by a factor of 100 every 40 (actually, let's say 50) years, then in 2363, we'll be talking about ...

1E13 (2012) --> 1E15 (2062) --> 1E17 (2112) --> 1E19 (2162) --> 1E21 (2212) --> 1E23 (2262) --> 1E25 (2312) --> 1E27 (2362)!

1E27 is

^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^ Million
^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^ Billion
^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^ Trillion
^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^ Quadrillion
^   ^   ^   ^   ^ Quintillion
^   ^   ^   ^ Sextillion
^   ^   ^ Septillion
^   ^ Octillion
^ Nonillion


I predict the US National Debt will cross 1 nonillion dollars in 2362.  Prove me wrong!  Go ahead! 

Neutrinos are not faster than light (whew!)

As is well known now, the OPERA results on the faster-than-light neutrinos has been retracted.  It seems that there was a loose cable that threw off the results by just about the right amount.  


Here is a link to an excellent blog post from the famous physicist, Lawrence Krauss, on this topic:  I couldn't have said it better myself.