Canon has today announced a new ultra-high resolution CMOS image sensor that packs approximately 250 megapixels into an area smaller than a United States postage stamp.
Not that long ago, I used some old Minolta film cameras. These cameras used lenses with the Minolta MC/MD mounting system and I have several old lenses that can be used on micro four thirds cameras with an appropriate adapter.
Here’s my informal judgement as to work works well and what does not when using these old lenses on modern micro four thirds cameras. All of my tests were done on my Lumix GH-2, shooting JPEG images and evaluating the JPEGs as they came straight out of the camera. I did not do any tests in RAW mode.
Minolta 50mm prime f/1.4
- f/1.4 – At f/1.4, this lens is soft, almost fuzzy, and with low contrast. Not recommended at f/1.4
- f/2.0 – At f/2.0, this lens is clean with good contrast. I would rate this excellent for my own purposes at f/2.0 and above.
Minolta 50mm prime f/1.7
- f/1.7 – At f/1.7, this lens is also very soft.
- f/2.8 – I rate this aperture as “pleasant”. Its not really soft but its not quite a sharp either – but overall provides a pleasing, smooth quality to the image, yet with a very nice narrow depth of field.
- f/4 – At f/4.0 the lens becomes very sharp.
Sigma 28mm prime f/2.8
- This lens just does not work well at all until probably f/4, then its fine. The lens is useful, however, since it is a macro focus lens. The 28mm works like a 56 mm full frame equivalent lens on the micro four thirds format – but focuses down to about two inches (5 cm)!
Sigma 28-70mm UC Zoom f/2.8
- f/2.8 – At both the 28 and 70mm zoom settings (56 and 140mm FF equivalent on m43ds) the lens is noticeably soft, probably better at the 70mm end than the 28mm end.
- f/4 – At f/4 and above the images are excellent.
This Sigma 28-70mm lens is probably one of my favorite lenses on my Lumix GH2. Its great for shooting when I want a narrow depth of field, but provides excellent sharpness and contrast.
Another popular old lens is most any Canon FD glass. I have not tested these but the reviews I have read of Canon FD lenses similar to those above, also perform similarly – such as the Canon FD f/1.4 lens being soft at f/1.4 but nicely sharp by f/2. These can be found on eBay for $30 to $70, sometimes including the m43 adapter ring. Older Nikon lens are also excellent and popular and available used.
Keep in mind that to use an old lens you need to ensure your camera can operate with a “no electronics” lens. The Lumix GH-2, for example, has a menu setting to let the camera operate even if “no lens is attached”. I use this setting and then put the camera in “A” Aperture mode, and set the aperture and focus manually. My Nikon 1 camera only works in “M” mode when a non-Nikkor lens is attached – this works, but is not as convenient as using the “A” mode and letting the camera meter and choose a shutter speed for me.
Newer lens systems, like the Canon EF series can also be made to work but with limitations – these lenses do not have an aperture ring and the lens, by default, will also be in the wide open aperture setting. There is a trick to get around this but its cumbersome – mount the lens on an actual Canon camera, set the aperture using the camera settings, remove the lens and put it on the m43d camera and it retains the aperture setting. But why go to that trouble? Better off getting an original all manual lens like the Canon FD.
Both of these two photos were taken with the Lumix GH-2 and the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8 to create the narrow depth of field look. You can click on these images – twice, in fact – to zoom in to larger versions. Both are reduced in size and compression from the originals, however.
Consumer 3D cameras are not selling.
The Lumix 3D1 is still being sold but I picked up word that sales are slow and it might not be continued, perhaps later in 2013.
Fujifilm is no longer manufacturing the Fujifilm W3 (confirmed) but is continuing to sell from existing inventory. I was told by a Fujifilm staff member who knows the issues well, that sales have dropped off sharply on the W3 – if demand were to ramp up, they can immediately run another production run. However, reading between the lines, its not ramping up – to illustrate, B&H Photo and Walmart.com both listed the camera as discontinued. At least from their sales. But if two huge vendors discontinue selling the product, then sales volumes will not be ramping up.
Toshiba has no cameras on display at the show and no one had any information on the Toshiba Z100, which is pretty much half priced at Amazon and B&H right now.
The Sony Bloggie 3D is no longer being made, but they are showing the new Sony TD30 which updates the TD10 which updated the TD10 video cameras. These uniquely record two full 1920×1080 video streams, producing very high quality 3D video images. Sony is also showing their digital recording binoculars, which view and record in 3D. They were also showing a prototype of a new model that is smaller and lighter and which will be available this coming year – no info on time or price.
The big announcement though, is Samsung’s NX300 and the new integrated 2D/3D lens. The 3D images I saw looked very good. Here’s a view of the camera with the dual 2D/3D lens in place:
The camera can output a live 3D video over HDMI, and they were using that to show live pictures of convention goers. The Samsung reps I talked to felt that the other 3D cameras on the market were too low end (my thoughts too). The early adopters for 3D are not low end consumers, but the semi-serious amateurs who buy $500 to $2000 cameras and look for quality.
The NX300 is an APS-C sensor, a very high quality camera system, and the world’s first single lens 3D camera. The parallax is quite good based on what I could see (both naked eyes and using active shutter glasses on their monitor). Here is what the parallax looks like – click on the image for a bit bigger version (due to being on a cellphone link, I’m using smaller picture sizes than usual):
I am very impressed with the NX300 3D image quality. If a wider angle lens version of this became available, I could see using this as a primary 3D still and video camera.
GoPro is the other vendor that continues to have a 3D solution. They have a package that combines two GoPro Hero cameras and a sync cable between them, plus some 3D alignment capabilities in their Cineform Studio (free and pro versions).
Consequently, a mixed bag on 3D consumer cameras – sales are confirmed as not being great at the low end.
But Samsung might have figured it out, though. The 2D/3D lens is a darned good 2D lens and will likely be bought just for that. If sales are decent, Samsung will introduce more lenses featuring the 3D capability.
Everyone is showing 3D TVs, including 4K 3D TVs (I don’t know where you’ll get 4k content for a while yet – there will be a new Bluray spec for 4k but its not done yet.) I really liked the Samsung Ultra 3D TV (4K) – wonderful image quality. It seems that the extra resolution enables some very fine parallax to be used – something to think about. Such fine detail would be lost in lower resolution renderings.
3D is being shown, but its not all over hype at this point. It’s just 3D. Stream TV, an R&D firm from Europe was showing the best, hands down, glasses free 3D display. They also have a tablet glasses free 3D display.
The technology pieces are coming together. I don’t think the marketing has been where it needs to be yet, on consumer 3D image capture.
I cross posted parts of this to two 3D related photo groups on Yahoo.
Other items of interest
LG had the world’s largest 3D video wall. Their sample video made outstanding use of “theater space” projecting images 20 feet or more in front of the screen and at times, nearly over the viewer.
The Winbot is a great idea – it is a window cleaning robot. I think the price quote was $299.95. Considering the bother of cleaning windows, this is an amazingly well targeted product. Cleans an entire window like this in a few minutes.
Sony has a lot of software accessories now. Some, not all yet, are beginning to understand how software can add value and differentiate their products from competitors. Another example would be Nokia, who is adding a large number of software-based features, available only to owners of Lumia phones.
With digital cameras, many enthusiasts engage in “pixel peeping” contests to super enlarge and examine every image pixel for bragging rights over whose image is sharper or has less digital noise.
This leads to pointless debates over the effectiveness of different types of camera sensors that usually leave out so many details as to be, well pointless debates.
If you’d like to know more about sensors and other aspects of photography, read what a physicist writes on his personal blog:
When I hear people claiming that the Four Thirds format is incapable of providing resolutions above 10 MP, I just laugh. Then, hearing the same “experts” say that APS-C sensors can deliver such resolutions, just because they are bigger, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Stop worrying about pixels, start thinking about lenses. Or just start thinking.
His conclusion is similar to mine, outlined in my last sentence here.
- The Pros and Cons of Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds (brighthub.com)
- Learning to Read Detailed Digital Camera Specifications (brighthub.com)
- Difference Between Full Frame and Cropped Sensor Cameras (brighthub.com)
- The Four Thirds System – Bringing SLRs into the Digital Age (brighthub.com)
- Award-winning Micro Four Thirds Cameras (brighthub.com)