Architecture, Interiors, Technology

Architecture with the Zeiss 35mm PC-D

There are plenty of people who would suggest that you can’t shoot architecture with a 35mm and you need a 24mm or wider.  I used to be in that camp too some extent but I have found that with a shift lens on a full frame body you can do a lot with a 35mm lens. It helps that I’m beginning to ‘see’ in 35mm for the first time in years thanks to starting my Little Chef project with the Zeiss 35/2.8 on a Sony A7r – partly because it’s a retro sort of field of view, typical of the compacts available in the chain’s 1980s heyday, and partly because it’s still my favourite lens for the system in terms of overall ‘feel’.

As well as having this very special lens I’m also lucky enough to live in a vibrant city with some amazing architecture and architectural events. So, when this year’s serpentine pavilion coincided with the launch of the V&A Museum’s new entrance I decided to challenge myself to shoot them both exclusively with the Zeiss PC-Distagon on a relatively new-to-me Canon full frame body.

This session was also the first time I’ve really shot architecture with intent for some time and I enjoyed both the lens and the challenge, though it’s slightly flawed. Having a very short throw between ∞ and 3m is bonkers in a lens that will be primarily used for critical shooting of buildings. Other than that the lens certainly wasn’t a limitation, easily matching the 50 Megapixel sensor of the Eos 5Ds when it was properly focussed and held steady – the latter being key as resolution increases. In all honesty I would place the Zeiss ahead of the Canon 35/2 IS for sharpness but perhaps that is to be expected as the Zeiss lens is designed for critical sharpness and low distortion where the Canon is more of a street shooter. The other issue is that when the PC-Distagon flares it’s not the nicest flare I’ve ever seen – one image in the Serpentine set shows this very clearly.

Architecturally both buildings are superb, although I do think that there is a lack of seating space in this years Serpentine Pavilion as the structure itself doesn’t have the perching places that some of the others have, so it’s not as enjoyable on a busy, sunny day as some of the earlier ones.

First gallery is of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, by Amanda Levete Architects and the second Gallery is of the Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Diébédo Francis Kéré…

Gallery One – V&A Exhibition Road Quarter & Entrance.

Gallery Two – 2017 Serpentine Pavilion

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Gear, Photography, Review

Half frame fun!

A couple of years back I stumbled on a fun little camera at a car boot, a Konica Eye complete with it’s funky logo which i couldn’t resist. It turned out to be a half frame camera, which was something I’d never tried before so I thought, why not give it a shot. I put a couple of rolls through it but on the second one most of the exposures were ruined because I’d accidentally set the camera to ‘B’ and overexposed everything. This put me off the camera but the idea of getting pairs of images side by side and seeing what the contrasts are remained kind of seductive.

More recently while poking around on eBay I came across a £10 half frame SLR – A modified Yashica FX-3 Super 2000. These Yashicas were popular choices to be modified as ‘Mugshot Cameras’ for police use. I’ve read a bit about ‘mugshot’ cameras since buying it my FX-3 fits quite a bit of what is out there with the following mods;

  • Shutter Speed Fixed to 1/125
  • Mask in the film chamber – this appears to be glued in place and is quite thin, it has therefore bent a little in use.
  • The viewfinder is also masked.
  • The wind on has been re-geared to suit the half frame use.

So, the main down sides of the camera are the fixed shutter speed and the lack of metering, which would be understandable in a fixed studio situation. The positives are as below;

  • The lens is not fixed to the body, which is a huge relief.
  • Even better, the aperture on the mounted lens actuates so I have some exposure control.
  • The self timer mechanism is in place and working – not something I care about but a nice to have.
  • Everything works properly, though the wind on is a bit wobbly, and the cosmetic condition is decent.

The included ML 50/2 was in very good shape and free from fungus – dabbling in the Contax/Yashica system for a few years now I’ve tossed a couple of mouldy ones. All in all a worthwhile £10 . So what was it like in use?
I downloaded a Sunny 16 app to my iPhone and went out to try it. Everything worked well and the cheap Yashica 50/2 on the front proved a very decent performer. Check out the images below…

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Architecture

Darkitecture VI

Latest addition to the ongoing series on empty buildings in London. This, the first for this winter, is in the Hoxton area of London, a building which must be worth a fortune yet has been empty for ages.

Personally, I was drawn by the green fluorescent light in the building on the left and the way it contrasts with the red light on the right.

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