Bruce's Photo Blog
Bruce Foreman | September 2013

The most recent lens purchase

One lens I've “lusted” after in the Micro Four Thirds lineup has been the Olympus Zuiko 12mm f2.0.   Now that is a 35mm full frame equivalent of 24mm, about as wide as you can go without beginning to encounter fairly serious wide angle distortion.   Couple that wide field of view with a maximum aperture of f2.0 and you have a very serious wide angle low light “king”.

But the price put me off.  I was looking at $799.

But now I've just spent $900 for a lens and am looking at the same for a second ... for my eyes.

My opthamologist spotted a “wrinkled” layer of tissue over the retina in the left eye several years ago and referred me to a retina specialist.  There being none of those in San Angelo I got referred to a clinic that had one come in from Austin about once a week.  When he decided to quit travelling he referred me to another one who comes in from Abilene. 

Both the opthamologist and the retina specialist noted the beginnings of cataracts but as they didn't seem to be affecting my vision much we all just “watched” them.  Until now when I began seeing the beginnings of vision problems, so last month I got an appointment with my opthamologist for an evaluation concerning cataract surgery.

My insurance would pay for the surgery removing the cataract impacted lens and the implantation of a “standard” lens that would correct for distance vision but nothing else.  Being a photographer, the doctor felt I would very much benefit from an astigmatism correcting lens implant.  My insurance considers that “cosmetic” and won't pay for anything but the surgery as the standard lens would still require me to wear eyeglasses for correction of astigmatism and the astigmatism correcting implant would likely allow me to go without eyeglasses for most everything except reading, computer work, and other closeup tasks.

The additional cost for that “premium” lens implant and the extra care associated?   The $900 each (eye).

The left eye has been done and the right eye is scheduled for later this month.  With the cataracts gone and out of the way, the retina specialist is willing to evaluate me for what he calls a “retina peel” in the left eye to get rid of that wrinkled layer.  The effect of that layer on my vision is somewhat similar to what some portrait photographers used get when they used a layer of fine black “net” in front of the camera lens for diffusion. 

I've never used that method but I'm evaluating a Tiffen Black Diffusion #3 filter for somewhat the same kind of softening.

Look up “retina peel” on the internet if you're curious what I'm in for if I go through with that.   Cataract surgery as it's done now had no significant discomfort for me.  I'm looking forward to getting that other eye done.

$900 each for two “lenses”...

...I think I'll consider it worth it...


Update (August 27th):

Right eye was done one week ago and the eye seems to be healing well.  Vision is much better than I ever remember with eyeglasses.  The brain is adjusting well in it's interpretation of what the two eyes see and in combining the two images into one. 

I've picked up the same protective eyewear the troops in Afghanistan use, one pair “smoke” sunglasses and one pair clear, both excellent “wraparound” design for good protection from windborne grit and particles.  I've got to keep that stuff out of the eyes while they heal fully.  And it will be a good idea to continue their protection in most outdoor activities.

Something you folks might consider.  We each have one pair of eyes to last us our lifetime, they cannot be replaced if lost to accident.  A few years ago I was shooting with a friend who was trying out a new revolver, standing to the left of him I felt something sting the top of the cheek just barely below the bottom of the right eye socket.  His revolver cylinder was a bit out of alignment and was “spitting” bullet jacket fragments out the left side.  Had the impact point been just a few millimeters higher it would have hit the right side of the eyeball, the eyeglass lens was a bit forward of the fragment path and offered no protection (standard eyeglasses).  I started wearing safety glasses over my prescription eyeglasses after that.

Gotta protect the eyes.  They're precious.


Well, the REALLY most recent lens purchase

Ever since I saw the test photos done with the Olympus Zuiko 75mm (150mm equivalent) F1.8 by Robin Wong in Kuala Lumpur, I've wanted one of those.  But the price of $899 (there's that $900 lens price again!) put me off. 

Then a couple of weeks ago (about the time they were doing my second eye) I spotted an ad for and a user's review of the Rokinon 85mm F1.4 fully manual lens.  Pictures from it looked very good so I started looking into it.  Focusing is fully manual with a ring on the lens and aperture is set with an aperture ring on the lens barrel also.

So how do we use something like this on our digital cameras with several automated exposure modes?  Well if you've been using manual exposure and manual focusing, you're already there.  The only difference is the aperture will not show in the viewfinder because there is no real communication between camera body and this lens.  So you “set” desired aperture by placing what you want next to an index mark on the lens barrel, and you turn the focusing ring until the subject is clear and sharp (just like in the old days for us “geezers”, right?).

If you want automation (exposure) you can easily use Aperture Priority mode.  Set the desired aperture on the aperture ring on the lens and the camera will read the light coming in and set the needed shutter speed.  ISO can be left on AUTO or set to the value you prefer “locked in”.

The ad I saw was for one in Olympus Four Thirds mount, if I went for that I'd have to buy/order a 4/3 to Micro 4/3 adapter and that would limit what I could use it with since I don't plan on buying a 4/3 body.  So I started looking for one in Nikon mount, I already have a Nikon F to Micro 4/3 adapter, if I ever get a Nikon body it would mount direct, and should I come back to Canon the Nikon F to EOS mount adapter is under $20. 

This Rokinon lens comes in a variety of mounts including Canon EOS, Nikon F and Nikon with focus confirm chip and several others, prices are around $249 to $299 depending on mount but on a hunch I checked B&H's Used Dept, and found the Cine version of that same lens in Nikon F mount for $289!   The “Cine” version is the same lens but with a few differences.  The focus ring has “gear teeth” around it, this is for “meshing” with the geared drive on a “follow focus” unit which is usually attached to rig with support rails.  When it's all put together you focus by turning a largish knob on the left side and it turns the focus ring smoothly.  Without the follow focus unit you can't miss the focus ring when you reach for it.

And that's the way I'd use it, I don't want to mess with a heavy shoulder rig you keep “adding to” so I'd appreciate the “can't miss it” feel of the geared ring.

Another difference is you have the same setup on the aperture ring, just a smaller “gear”, and the aperture ring is “declicked”.  The old motion picture guys liked to use the aperture for fades in and out and wanted a smooth “turn” to it.  And one difference that bothered me at first.  When mounted on the camera the aperture scale is on the left side of the lens barrel instead of being on top.  At first I thought this was sloppy design until I found out that when you have to concentrate on following, framing, and composing with a camera or subject in motion, there was a second person on the left of the camera “pulling focus” and adjusting the aperture as necessary.  That person could not position themselves to “look down” to the top of the barrel so the aperture scale is on the left side. 

I could do without the “declicked” aperture, I do any fades in the editing software so I tend to set the aperture and leave it alone.  But the aperture scale has the familiar numbers but on most Cine lenses reflect actual transmission values instead of Fstops.  The max aperture of the non cine version is F1.4 while the max aperture of this lens is marked T1.5, the scale is all Tstops.  What's the difference?  F numbers represent the result of dividing the used diameter of the lens (opening) into the lens focal length.  An aperture of 25mm diameter divided into a 50mm lens focal length is 2 or marked as F2, a 12.5mm diameter aperture on that same lens is 4 or F4 which lets through half the light of F2.  Tstops are measured by the actual transmission of light.

The lens is large and heavy compared to the size and light weight of my Micro 4/3 lenses and I'd really rather have the Olympus 75mm...

...But it's $289 vs. $899.   I'll deal with it.

Yup, I ordered it.  Looks brand new (for used) and initial tests look good.  It makes one heckuva “portrait” lens.