Posts Tagged ‘bokeh’

tam500 (1 of 4)

Hand-held 1/500th at f8.0 Canon 5D Mk II at 400 ISO uncropped

In the 1980s, reflex lenses became very popular among amateur photographers. Reflex is a bit of a slang term for catadioptric lenses that use a Cassegrain design originally invented for telescopes. First off, forgive some of my slightly soft images here. I hand-held some of the photos under overcast skies and a slight breeze. Reflex or “mirror” lenses are not known for extreme sharpness anyway. The idea behind the lens was to create a long focal length telephoto lens that was small and compact. In this regard the design is nothing short of brilliant. I still own my 1980s Tamron SP 500/8. Tamron made one of the best 35mm cat lenses. The Tamron lens is very small as you can see held in my hand in the photo. This is a 500mm lens!

tam500-hand (1 of 1)

Tamron SP 500mm f/8

Reflex lenses have some interesting characteristics that can be both derogatory and beneficial depending on your perspective. First the aforementioned lack of absolute resolution. I am a bit of a sharpness freak, but this Tamron lens is not “soft” by comparison to other cats in fact the opposite is true; it is soft by nature. It just won’t resolve as well as a traditional lens design. Another issue is that these types of lenses have no aperture diaphragm. The lens is always ‘wide open’. There is no stopping down for extra depth or sharpness. That said this 500mm lens is 1/4 the length and likely 1/2 the weight of a similar 500mm traditional lens.

tam500 (2 of 2)

Central Obstruction

The lens achieves this amazing feat using a Cassegrain style design originally created to make large astronomical telescopes more compact and sealed. There is a large central mirror that reflects light back towards a smaller central mirror and then back again to the rear of the lens, through a corrector and to the focal plane. Essentially the required 500mm of light travel is bounced around inside the smaller assembly rather than taking a straight path. The central secondary mirror creates an obstruction that shows itself as doughnut shaped out of focus highlights. Some find this strange bokeh disturbing, but it can be used effectively as well.

tam500 (2 of 4)

Out of focus highlights with some motion 1/250th at f/8

Most reflex lenses made by the major players were 500mm f/8 models. There have been others such as a 300mm f/6.3 or 1000mm f/11 but the 500mm was the clear favorite.

Since the photographer doesn’t have the ability to stop down the lens, either neutral density filters or shutter speed adjustments must be used to match exposure. A reflex lens used in aperture priority automatic can be effective for speedy use. It is important to pay attention to the shutter speed as these lenses are hard to hold steady.

tam500-pod (1 of 2)

Flower at 7 foot focus 1/250th @ f/8 Canon 5D Mk II at 400 ISO uncropped

The Tamron lens is particularly good at close focus. The lens will focus to less than 6 feet (1.8m). This may not seem “close” but remember this is a 500mm lens! That close focus delivers a 1:3 macro ratio! The purple flower shot was taken at a distance of about 7 feet (2.2m) that flower is smaller than an open rose.

The bokeh effect can be used as an effective tool for a unique look but it can in fact be a distraction as well. The purple flower shot shows the negative bokeh well on the out of focus leaf in the lower right corner.

Another issue with catadioptric lenses is that the photographic contrast is a bit soft. Modern software allows this to be easily corrected however so I find it less of an issue than it was in the ‘film days’ The picture below of my cat was not adjusted for contrast and you can see it is a bit flat. It is however reasonably sharp.

These mirror lenses are fun and since they can be found priced reasonably on ebay, at cool camera shops like Seawood, or at camera shows such as PhotoFair, why not get one today! I would recommend sticking to the better known brands. Many “knock-off lens makers built crappy versions of these lenses. Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, Zeiss, and camera maker lenses (Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, etc.) are good choices here. I think the Tamron is by far the best bang for the buck, it challenges or bests the camera maker’s version and typically can be had for much less money.

tam500-pod (2 of 2)

Focus at 6 feet, 1/250th at f/8 Canon 5d Mk II at 1600 ISO uncropped

tam500 (3 of 4)

1/500th at f/8 Canon 5D Mk II at 400 ISO uncropped

tam500 (4 of 4)

1/200th at f/8 hand-held Canon 5D Mk II at 1600 ISO slightly cropped

Read Full Post »

135mm-1I am a long time Canon die-hard and the most frustrating thing about that is probably the fact that the old FD lenses from the manual focus camera days cannot be adapted to work completely with the modern Canon EOS system bodies. The reason for the problem is the flange distance between the image plane and the lens mount. The old FD flange distance is 42mm and the new bodies are 44mm. Effectively any FD lens adapter to fit an EOS camera will become at the very least a 2mm extension tube. This minimum of 2mm will eliminate the ability to achieve focus at infinity. The maximum focus distance will vary depending on the focal length of the lens. Longer lenses are less effected by extension than shorter lenses.

There are some professional repair people out there that can permanently adapt a FD lens to mount on an EOS DSLR body with full infinity focus but it is an expensive conversion. There is an adapter that utilizes a glass element and effectively becomes a tele-converter but allows infinity focus. I think those are junk. Why do I want to give up a stop of speed and get a lousy 1.25x magification? There is likely some optical quality deficiencies as well; no thank you.

I have two Canon FD lenses in my personal set. They are the 50mm Macro which I wrote about in an earlier post, here. And the Canon FD 135mm f 2.0. The FD 135mm 2.0 was not an “L” series lens back in the day like it is in the modern EOS series. It was however a pretty sharp piece of glass. I used to own that lens back in my FD days and I loved it, so I found another one to buy. You can find these lenses from $200-$500 depending on condition. I bought a rough one with great glass but a fair amount of cosmetic wear in the low 200s.

I am able to use this lens on my EOS-M mirrorless camera with an adapter and full focus range. Most mirroless bodies should be able to take this lens and suffer no focus issues with the proper adapter. Since the EOS-M uses an APS-C crop sensor the effective focal length is 216mm, Who doesn’t like the idea of a 216mm f 2.0 lens 😀  On my EOS 5D Mk II however the flange distance problem erupts.

135mm-2I bought two metal FD to EOS adapter rings, The first is a very simple ring adapter that appears to have no extension whatsoever. This ring is effectively a 2mm extension due to the aforementioned flange distance difference. This was pretty cheap although it was shipped from China and took awhile to arrive. I think I paid less than $12 delivered. With the 135mm 2.0 lens I can focus to about 18 feet. The extra “extension” yields a few extra inches of close focus ability so I can get real tight shots up close. The problem with this ring is that it fails to engage the FD aperture control lever 135mm-5so you are stuck shooting wide open all the time. For bokeh-licious images that’s OK 😉 The second adapter I got is a little thicker and has a complete FD aperture coupling so I can stop the lens down. The thickness is such that it limits the maximum focus distance to less than 8 feet 😦 Tight head shots only! I use the thicker adapter on my 50mm Macro lens and it just lets me focus that much closer. Both of these adapters are available on EBAY or even better at camera shows such as PhotoFair. If you bring your camera and lens, some of the show dealers will let you try it out at the table.135mm-4

The 135mm 2.0 lens is a hefty piece of glass. This is a 72mm filter thread lens and the front element fills out the space right to edge. There is something inherently cool about a short, fat lens.

I decided to go out in the back yard and do a little winter reverie with the 135mm 2.0 and my EOS 5D Mk II. I used the skinny ring and thus had to shoot all the images wide open. We are having a fairly balmy winter here in Vancouver, USA. It has been warm and wet instead of cold and wet. Temps have been in the 50s (10s centigrade) you gotta love it. Anyway as for the images, pardon the crudity of the composition, I was rather quick about it this time.

135mm-5-2West of the Cascades in Washington state we get a fair amount of rain, and with that moss and lichen will thrive. The Canon 135mm 2.0 wide open gives a creamy bokeh that is quite soft and ever so dreamy. See what I did there? Maybe the poetry thing isn’t for me 😉 The dreary winter sky leaves the light gloomy and soft which contrasts nicely with the rich green highlights. This 135mm lens isn’t quite as tack sharp as I remember it in my film days but it is still pretty good considering the enormity of the aperture opening.

I love using old tech and new tech together; it is delightfully fun 😀 Here are the rest of the images I made with the Canon FD 135mm f2.0.







Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Urban Living in the 'Couv'

America's Vancouver is Rising

Liberty or Death

An Intellectual Conservative View


Latest facts, news and predictions for every Super Marvel movie nerd. Are you nerd enough? Click the Menu tab at the side for more!

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.


This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

The Tech Column

One guys opinion on the tech that's all around us.

SW Washington Land

Opportunities in residential, recreational, and commercial land

'Couv' Commercial Properties

Retail, Industrial and Office properties in Vancouver, USA

New Homes

Clark County Washington: Rod Sager, Realtor® Vancouver, USA

PhotoFair Camera Shows

Modern and Vintage Cameras and Photo Gear

Heidy's Online Wonderland

MMORPGs, Entertainment, Random Musings and Stuff

Comics A-Go-Go! Comics, Movies, Music, News & More!

Irresponsible blogging at its best


Purveyor of pop culture...burdened with glorious purpose...


"Fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise."

Bob Mayer

Write on the River

After Dark Gaming

the red eye gamer

The One-Man Trekker

And our trek has only just begun...

Funk's House of Geekery

Movies, Comics, Books, Games and Other Things Geeks Love


A photographic journey through the Southern California car culture

Star Trek Online

Beaming in from The 'Couv'

The Scorpion and the Frog

Fiction - Poetry - Photos

Journey Into Awesome

A critical look at comics and culture

The Evergreen Times

More than twenty years of commentary and it just keeps coming

The 'Couv' Life

Musings of life in Vancouver, Washington U.S.A.


Just another WordPress.com site

Custom Skins by Jodi Tripp

Don't let your phone go Naked!

Portland Flooring Blog

Your flooring source for carpet, hardwood, tile and green surfaces in Portland Oregon

Broachs's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Donna's Ink Well

The source of expressed thought

Voice of the People

We, the People seem to agree on most everything...

The Lipstick Liberal

the liberal who still enjoys bein' lady-like.


A fine WordPress.com site


A topnotch WordPress.com site

Washington State Short Sales

A fine WordPress.com site

Clark County Real Estate Guide

An Insider's Guide To Real Estate, Mortgages and The Heartbeat Of Clark County, WA


Just another WordPress.com site


A topnotch WordPress.com site


SW Washington real estate talk

Kay Hunt 4 Homes

Kay's Food 4 Thought

Clark County Weather Blog

cameras, lenses, and photography

'Couv' Camera

cameras, lenses, and photography

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: