Exciting new toy: a Russian lens!

Or more accurately: A Soviet lens!

Built in 1959 in Kiev, a Jupiter-9 85mm f/2. Bought from the Ukraine (oh the irony, I suppose). With a nice blue day-glo that I sincerely hope is not caused by radioactive glass (haha – only part kidding :|).

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The Blue-eyed Monster @_o!

But I didn’t buy it as a nightlight. I bought it to look good on my camera! Well that, and to take nice portrait and other close-up pictures. It’s got 15 aperture blades so it’s meant to have really nice bokeh and highlights.

Does it? And is it anywhere near sharp? So I got on with some uninspired test-like shots and… it’s not half bad.

The first thing of note is that photos come out around a stop underexposed. Good to keep in mind but as it’s all-manual, nothing that bothers me.

The second thing is that is does seem to have this “Instagram” colour cast, depending on the situation. This is just a sea view to see how sharp the boat would come out at the edge of the frame (answer: not too bad), but it also came out decidedly… characteristic.

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I quite like this look (as long as it is limited to these types of shots!)

Sharpness – not too bad. I think this was at aperture 8 (all manual, no record of the f-stop!), after some sharpening in Photoshop:

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100% crop:

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I think sharpness is (probably quite far) from my 90mm f/2.8 Tamron SP Macro [hoping to do some side by side tests soon], but then again I did not buy it to compete with that on sharpness :). Also contrast is quite good. These pics have been through some Photoshop, but it’s also present straight OOC.

Resistance to flare, ghosting and suchlike is as I expected: pretty minimal. That just wasn’t paid attention to in the olden days. Also note that I don’t need Instagram with this lens to get that faded blue/green look =):

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Still there is plenty of detail in the shadows. The EXIF says ISO 100 at 1/2500 so likely to be f/2 – which would explain the (longitudinal) CA in the highlights in the reflections along Hove Lawns.

Also from the top of my head this is f/4 (ISO 200, 1/3200s), again with a very signature colour cast, quite charming:

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Although this is not perfectly straight-on, distortion seems pretty minimal as you’d expect from an 85mm.

And finally, the bokeh (or rather, highlights – didn’t have time to set up proper bokeh test shots). Let’s see what these 15 blades of aperture can do:

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Both at f/2 and this is really nice – fully circular and very even. Shutter speed limited me to f/2 (I got blur at f/4, these pics are already borderline at 1/25s and 1/13s) but changing the aperture while looking through the viewfinder, the highlights remain perfectly circular all the way up.

All in all, not bad for a 55-year old.

Jupiter, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship :)

Two remarks about flight MH370

I don’t understand two things about flight MH370:
- If I buy a 150 quid smart phone, it can track me anywhere and everywhere on the planet, all the time, via GPS. And a several-hundred-million dollar commercial airliner does not have a multiple-redundant GPS device? With its own little power supply? What’s the point of all the black boxes if something simple like GPS is not included? (and did none of the passengers accidentally leave their phone on with GPS enabled?)
- The NSA and GCHQ spend billions of tax payer dollars and pounds on watching the porn we download, browsing our texts about where to go for dinner tonight, and listening to us talk about football with our friends over the phone. But they don’t, post 9/11, actually track airliners to, perhaps, see if they are headed towards a skyscraper? Do we need even more damning proof of how useless their programs are?

Photos from the archives: Atomium, Brussels

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Atomium distorted

Atomium distorted

Apart from a macro lens, I think everybody with an interchangable lens camera (this used to be simply DSLRs but now of course there’s a load of mirrorless out there as well) should have an ultra-wide angle lens (UWA). They’re just so much fun! One of the things I like doing is sticking the lens right up close to geometric architecture and watch the curvature of time and space… well kind-of. But do look at those egg-shaped atoms!

The weather here really helped to put a shine on the Atomium.

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Photos from the archives: Essential Holland

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Windmill at Keukenhof. About at clichéd as one can get. Still a nice photo :p.

Windmill at Keukenhof. About at clichéd as one can get. Still a nice photo :p.

Not much to say about this one – it is what it is. The crop isn’t great, due to the fact I had to take this from down low with my A700, which didn’t have a tilt/flip screen. But, you can’t knock the essence of Holland!

As with the cathedral, there will probably be a few more pictures like this coming up later…

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Photos from the archives: Galway cathedral

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Galway Cathedral - dome and crossing

Galway Cathedral – dome and crossing

There should be plenty more churches coming – for a nonreligious person I have a strange interest in them! Galway cathedral is an odd one out, being so new – my main interests are with gothic and baroque, but it’s clearly inspired by the past.

I also take plenty of this type of upward shot of church ceilings, although again mostly more ‘regularly’, that is, from the centre of the nave or even the crossing for geometric effect. With the very wide angle this tilt adds dynamic though.

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To smile or not to smile

You sometimes hear good advice of the type “people should smile more; it will make the world a better place”.

Call me a grump, but I disagree – I think it’s putting the cart before the horse.

How about this advice instead: “the world should be a better place; it will make people smile more”.

So if I don’t smile very often, it is because this world still needs a lot of work.