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Helios 44 M – Lens Review

Helios 44 M Lens Review (2 of 8)

[Today we have our first contribution from Emil Berth, a photo geek and all-around cool guy from Denmark, whose occasional contributing articles we hope you’ll all enjoy. Let’s welcome him. – James]

The recent surge in popularity of mirror-less cameras coupled with affordable lens adapters has effectively elevated a handful of mostly-forgotten legacy lenses to a new level of popularity that they’ve not enjoyed in decades. One such lens bears the name Helios, and the Helios 44 models in particular are regarded by many photo geeks as being among the greatest legacy lenses to come from the long-departed U.S.S.R.

But why does this lens enjoy such cult status these days? What makes it so desirable compared to its German and Japanese contemporaries? Is it especially lightweight? Does it produce exceptional sharpness?

We wanted to know, so I took the lens for a little walk around Copenhagen to see what it could do. Continue Reading

Why Everyone Should Shoot a Wide Angle Lens

At its very best, photography presents the viewer with something previously unseen. Some of the best photographs are the ones that show a far away place, a seemingly impossible event, or an unimaginable situation. These shots usually come from those annoyingly well-traveled and worldly photographers whose websites, blogs, and Instagram accounts we mere mortals enviously follow.

But fear not, for us plebeian scum it’s still possible to make compelling and inspired photos, even if our budget for travel and gear is a bit limited.

And one of the simplest ways to increase the dynamism and visual interest of our images is by using a wide-angle lens. By widening our angle of view, we’re able to capture shots of the world around us in a way that’s exquisitely uncommon and decidedly more compelling than when shooting with a standard lens.

But just how much, and in what ways can wide-angle lenses impact your photography? Let’s find out.

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Pentax – A SMC 35mm F/2.8 – Lens Review

Pentax A SMC 35mm 2.8 Lens Review

We’re back from a brief vacation and we’ve brought with us a treasure trove of material for our Photophile friends! First on the docket is a review of a pretty rare and rather wonderful legacy lens from Pentax. It’s the SMC Pentax-A 35mm F/2.8.

During our journey up and around Maine’s rocky coast, we shot this hard-to-find lens in a variety of stereotypically autumnal New England situations. We peeped leaves and hiked trails, we strolled through colonial fishing villages and sipped nutmeg-infused beverages, we basked in fleeting sunshine and we froze our asses off. And of course, we snapped photos.

We really wanted to put this lens through its paces to see how it performed on both vintage and digital cameras, so we not only shot it on a pair of classic film machines (the Pentax ME and the Ricoh XR-1), but later adapted it to the Sony A7 as well.

How did the SMC-A 35mm/2.8 comport itself? We’ve got the inside scoop on this uncommon assemblage of glass.

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What’s a Prime Lens and Why You Need One (or Five)

Nikkor 20mm 3.5 1

Prime lenses are amazing marvels of optical wonder. And even though they’ve been around for as long as photography itself, there are still people out there who don’t shoot them, and may not even know what they are. If this sounds like you, worry not! We’re here to tell you what prime lenses are all about and why you need to be shooting them.

Whether you’re a new photographer or a seasoned shooter, and whether you’re shooting a classic film machine or the most advanced digital camera, shooting prime lenses can help improve your technique and aid in the creation of exceptional images.

These single focal length lenses provide unmatched performance over their zoom counterparts. And while they ask a little more of the user, the benefits to shooting primes far outweigh the drawbacks. In fact, we’re hard pressed to think of any substantive drawbacks at all!

So, let’s get to it. Here are a few simple reasons you need to shoot primes.

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Minolta MD 50mm ƒ/1.4 – The Ultimate Standard Legacy Lens?

With the runaway success of today’s mirror-less digital cameras has come another photo gear boom. And while the products in question are neither new nor novel, they’re essential and seem almost tailor-made to the mirror-less machine. We’re talking about legacy lenses. With impressive performance and value, legacy lenses have become a real passion for more and more in-the-know shooters.

And it’s easy to see why. Cameras like Sony’s A7 and Fujifilm’s X-Series have never looked better than when fitted with a classic, manual-focus lens. These modern, mirror-less marvels provide a perfect platform for the stylish and technically masterful lenses of yesteryear.

But with so many brands and models stretching back more than fifty years, which is the lens to choose? Especially in the standard 50mm focal length, the sheer quantity of available glass can be pretty overwhelming.

So, today we’ll make a case for what may just be the very best standard, 50mm legacy lens. With an ideally balanced combination of performance, build quality, versatility, and price, this lens is the perfect complement to your new mirror-less camera or classic film SLR.

It’s Minolta’s MD 50mm ƒ/1.4, and if you’ve been looking for the best legacy fifty, you may have met your match.

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