Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Imperfections

It is only natural for any sane human photographer to yearn and lust for better gear, more capable and more "perfect" system in hope to take the photography into the next level. That better high ISO performance, faster and more accurate focusing and bigger megapixels. However, I have been reminded by a new friend I have met recently that the "grass is greener on the other side, only because it was fertilized with more bullshit". How true that statement is, and how applicable it is to myself and our general view on photography gear. Chasing perfection is not the solution.

Using the CCTV lens (C-Mount) 25mm F1.2 on my Olympus PEN E-PL1 was quite an interesting experience. The lens exhibits all kinds of technical flaws that all modern digital lenses tried very hard to eliminate. You get ugly barrel distortions, heavy chromatic abberations, soft corners, visible vignetting (more like corner chop-offs if you ask me, rather than light fall off) and very strong prone to flare and ghosting/haze. Worst of all, to use this lens, you need to painfully twist and turn the manual rings on the lens: the aperture ring, and the focusing ring, both together, to get the image right. Indeed, any modern lenses would have avoided such technical flaws, and have autofocus. In the CCTV's lens defense, it offers something rather interesting: the brightness of F1.2, rendering very interesting out of focus background (swirly effect) and at the same time, the center part of the frame, when focused accurately, can be very sharp. 

Why go through all the trouble? Well, photography is not about chasing perfection !! It is a lot more than that. There are many more elements that contribute in forming a good photograph. Not allowing myself to be burdened by the need to acquire technically perfect photographs all the time (which was the main goal in my insect macro shooting), I set aside my concentration to finding more interesting subject contents, and focus on the "photographer's vision". Surely there are many other things that contribute to better photographs, such as creative "artistic sense" and also composition. 

All images were taken with Olympus PEN E-PL1 and CCTV 25mm F1.2 lens

Fly



Hand

Stranger

Distorted

Small gap

Fallen

Innocent

Climb

Ideas

Future Greatness. Luke Chua


During my very quick photo walk earlier this evening, I bumped into Luke Chua. I decided to join him for a drink, and we chatted for a bit. He never failed to inspire me in his own ways, and further motivate me to push my photography boundaries. I think we all have something we want to accomplish in photography, that destiny or end-game. I have not exactly set any goals or targets but hey, I think one of the best part is discovering bits and pieces of the whole puzzle as I move along the journey. There is no need to rush into anything for my part, but it is reassuring to see so much passion and determination in another fellow photographer. 

19 comments:

  1. Thank you Robin. Because of you, I am a new C Mount lens addict ;-) I will link your post in our C Mount Community on Google +.

    I have the 25,, f/1.2 and I love it. Here are a couple of my favorite pics taken over the Christmas holiday:

    http://ohnostudio.com/2012/12/oh-holy-night/

    http://ohnostudio.com/2012/12/christmas-treats/

    I also have the 35mm f/1.7 and that is the favorite for general purposes so far. Less distortion, more normal view, pretty sharp.

    http://ohnostudio.com/2012/12/spotted-dick/

    Also have a 50 1.4 and that has a character all its own.

    You always help by putting the fun back in shooting ;-)

    Thanks! Libby

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    1. Thanks Libby !!
      Indeed the CCTV lens is such a great fun and joy to use. I have been thinking about the 35mm F1.7 as well. Seems logical to me, since I usually prefer slightly longer focal length for my street shooting.

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    2. Robin, the 35 1.7 is absolutely lovely. Here is a macro test. I have some 5mm extension rings for the C mounts. I thought I was going to get garbage, but it's not bad at all:

      http://ohnostudio.com/2012/12/first-macro-tests-with-35mm-cctv-lens/

      I have yet to do a lot of standard images with it, but from what I have done the images are very nice. The focus throw is a lot shorter than the 25mm 1.2 and for me it is easier to use. I like a long focus throw for video, but not for stills.

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    3. Thanks for sharing Libby. I am ok with the focus throw, I always prioritize accuracy over speed. and those coins look really sharp !

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  2. Indeed lens imperfections can give interesting and "artsy" results. The "fly", "hand", and "ideas" snaps are all special - even the portraits are quite interesting. And the lens is quite sharp where it counts. I like the rendering of these lenses - quite old school, but very pleasant. Hmmm. I have a few old 8mm cine cameras laying around, with what I think are a few C-mount lenses. They're tiny, well-made and quite fast. I shall have to do some digging... you're inspiring me!

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    1. cine lenses !!! Those can really be interesting !!
      Indeed, we do have to try out "lesser" gear, they can teach us a few lessons, and being humble as well. Having the best gear does not necessarily mean we will perform better. There are a lot more to photography than that.
      I find myself loving the CCTV lens' rendering, it just gets me shooting more and more with it !

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  3. G'day. You're getting amazing acutance with that lens. Robin Boleh.

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  4. G'day. You're getting amazing acutance with that lens. Robin Boleh.

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  5. The centre sharpness is amazing for this cheap lens. I like the 'ideas' and 'innocent' pic. The composition and centre sharpness combination is stunning and we should not forget that is a manual focus lens...

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    1. Thanks Johan ! To be honest, that CCTV lens on E-PL1 is sharper than the Sony prime lenses on A350 at the center resolution. No kidding, and that was quite impressive for a cheap lens.

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  6. There's some of the strongest street motives of yours in this post I have seen in a long time. You should take the E-PL1 out more often...

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    1. Thanks Tobias ! I sure will use the E-PL1 more !

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  7. Hi Robin,
    Where can I find and try out that CCTV lens locally? I seen a quite similar design in a local camera shop but they named it "Toy Lens" 26mm F1.4 Lens for M4/3, if you know about this lens, not sure if this is an imitation of your "CCTV" lens? It's characteristics fit exactly what you described above.

    Teoh YC.

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    1. There are many CCTV lenses available, I am not familiar with most of them, since they are not micro 4/3 lenses by default.
      Just make sure you have the right adapter, or the mount can be fitted on your micro 4/3 camera.

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  8. That lens fits to m4/3 directly w/o adapter. it could focused sharp in centre, but didn't buy it bcos i not used to fully MF yet and it's aperture blades not seemed to consistently round thro out.

    I like your above saying "grass is greener ..." ^^

    I love that Innocent look of that baby photo, how did you approach the subject, did you just take one shot ? I'm using e-pl3, any advice on how to focus fast and accurate using this camera ?

    Regards,
    Teoh YC

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    1. What i mean focus manually.

      Teoh YC.

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    2. For approaching street subjects, please read this
      http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2012/03/approaching-strangers.html

      Focusing? Just turn the manual focus ring until what you see is sharp in focus. I am not aware of any other methods.

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    3. Thanks Robin.
      Teoh YC.

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