Category Archives: equipment

Tamron SP 28-80mm f/3.5~4.2 (27A)

Tamron SP 28-80mm f/3.5-4.2 (27A) Adaptall 2 zoom

I had high hopes with this Tamron.  Being an SP version, I was expecting spectacular images. Thinking that f/8 would show what a SP lens is all about, I proceeded to shoot some flowers but they ended up looking pretty ordinary. They won’t any better than my other non-SP lenses. I was quite puzzled by this. Is it just marketing hype? 

Best at f/11

A couple of days later, I decided to do another shoot, but this time at f/11. When I reviewed the images, I was dumbfounded. The details are astonishing. The last image is a 100% crop of my Snapdragon. No sharpness applied. No retouching. Quite amazing for a 30 year old lens.

Believe it or not, I bought this lens for $25 + Free Shipping on eBay. It even came with an Adaptall-2 mount. All in pristine condition.

The images below were shot with my Sony Nex-3N at f/11, 1/250 sec at ISO 400.

Snapdragon by Michael Chua. Actual image at 40% crop. Tamron SP 28-80mm f/3.5-4.2 (27A) zoom

July 12, 2017 – Snapdragon
Actual image at 40% crop  |  no post processing

Snapdragon by Michael Chua. Actual image at 100% crop. Tamron SP 28-80mm f/3.5-4.2 (27A) zoom

at 100% crop  |  no post processing



Tamron Adaptall 70-150mm f/3.5 (QZ-150M)

Tamron Adaptall 70-150mm f/3.5 (QZ-150M)

Got this gem on eBay for $15 + shipping. Arrived in perfect working condition. Crystal clear glass. No haze, separation, scratches etc. Mechanical movements are still silky smooth. They just don’t make lenses like this anymore.

Vintage Tamron

This Tamron is close to forty years old. It was released in 1978 and production ended in 1980. The one I have is the second version where a macro mode was added.

How well does a forty  year old lens perform in the digital age? Judge for yourself.

The images below were shot with my Sony Nex-3N at f/11, 1/320 sec at ISO 200. Frankly, I can’t tell whether it’s from my Canon FD 100mm Macro lens or this vintage Tamron. Which goes to show, you don’t have to spend big bucks to take good pictures.

Are there any weaknesses? Yes, of course.

Chromatic aberration is visible when the aperture is fully opened. This is one of the reasons why images have that “softness”. If you desire sharpness, stop the lens down to f/8 ~ f/11. Your images will be as sharp as professional lenses.

Asiatic Lily by Michael Chua. Actual image at 40% crop. Tamron adaptall 70-150mm f/3.5

July 5, 2017 – Asiatic Lily
Actual image at 40% crop  |  no post processing

Asiatic Lily by Michael Chua. Actual image at 100% crop. Tamron adaptall 70-150mm f/3.5

at 100% crop  |  no post processing



Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro lens

Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro Prime Lens

The Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro is one of my all time favorites. During the film days in the 80s, I used this lens extensively for all sorts of assignments.

Believe it or not, I bought this 55mm f/3.5 Micro AI lens on eBay for a paltry $35 + shipping. The lens was in full working condition. Glass was flawless and no bad scratches on the body. Focusing was smooth all the way out to 1:2 magnification.

Copy Lens

It should be noted that lenses such as this Nikon 55mm Micro and the Canon FD 100mm f/4 were designed for professionals. As such, they are of a much higher quality than consumer lenses. This difference in performance is most obvious when viewed at 100% crop. Chromatic aberration is virtually non-existent.

The Dianthus below were shot wide open at f/3.5, 1/2500 sec, ISO 200. The 100% crop image reveals the stunning quality of this Nikon micro lens.  No post processing applied.

Dianthus by Michael Chua. Actual image at 40% crop

June 29, 2017 – Dianthus
Actual image at 40% crop  |  no post processing

Dianthus by Michael Chua. Actual image at 100% crop

at 100% crop  |  no post processing



Canon FD 100mm f/4 Macro Lens

Canon FD 100mm f/4 Macro Prime Lens

This is an incredible lens. Even at f/4, the resolution is frightening. Absolutely no softness. At the widest aperture, it is as sharp as when stopped down to f/8. The only difference is a greater depth of field.

I was lucky enough to acquire this beauty for $53+shipping on eBay. In pristine condition at that. Clean glass, no scratches on the body and focuses smoothly throughout. Even though this is an f/4 lens, I had no problem focusing manually with my Sony NEX-3N.

Outstanding Resolution

One of the characteristics of this Canon 100mm Macro is the images seem to have a 3-D effect. Perhaps it has to do with it’s amazing edge resolution. I have not come across any other lenses that can do this. And as a professional, I’ve owned a lot of lenses over the years.

The images below are of my beloved Princess, keeping a watchful eye while I tend to my garden. Shot at f/4, 1/4000 sec, ISO 800. The 100% crop image clearly shows the quality of this macro lens. No post processing applied.

Canon FD 100mm f/4 macro. Actual image at 40% crop by Michael Chua

June 19, 2017
Actual image at 40% crop  |  no post processing

Canon FD 100mm f/4 macro. Actual image at 100% crop by Michael Chua

at 100% crop  |  no post processing


Makinon 80-200mm f/4.5

Makinon 80-200mm f/4.5 zoom

I bought this lens out of curiosity. I’ve never heard of this brand before but for $2.75+shipping, temptation got the better of me.

Surprisingly, this Makinon is not too bad. It’s built quality reminds me of the early Soligor lenses. Feels very solid, especially when mounted onto a Canon FTb camera. Focusing and zoom are smooth, though slightly on the “heavy” side.

What I really like about this lens is a natural soft focus effect when it’s aperture is at f/4.5. Some may view this as a weakness but why pay for a soft focus filter when one is built into the lens. The following pictures were shot at f/4.5, f8 and f/11. You can see clearly that at f/4.5, there’s a certain softness in the shot. It clears up completely one stop down. By f/11, it’s sharp as a tack. This would be a good lens for female portraits or glamour.

Here’s a bit of history on Makinon lenses.

Chives shot with Makinon 80-200mm lens at f/4.5 by Michael Chua

June 27, 2017 – Chives
at f/4.5, 1/3200sec, ISO 800  |  no post processing

Chives shot with Makinon 80-200mm lens at f/8 by Michael Chua

June 27, 2017
at f/8, 1/1600sec, ISO 800  |  no post processing

Chives shot with Makinon 80-200mm lens at f/11 by Michael Chua

June 27, 2017
at f/11, 1/1000sec, ISO 800  |  no post processing



Tamron Adaptall 2 80-210mm

Tamron Adaptall 2 80-210mm f/3.8~4 (103A) zoom

A delightful lens to use. Handles extremely well with my Sony Nex-3N. Not too heavy, just the right feel in the zoom and focus movements.

Performance is quite remarkable, considering Tamron made this lens for consumers. At the widest apertures, contrast and resolution are good enough for most shots, even at macro setting.

If you are planning to buy a tele-zoom, I highly recommend this lens. I bought mine on eBay for $19+shipping (without adapter). Condition was excellent. Perfect optics and not a single scratch on the body. As good as new.

The images below were shot at f/8, 1/1250 sec at ISO 800.

Hybrid Tea Rose (Moonlight Magic). Actual image at 40% crop by Michael Chua

June 18, 2017 – Hybrid Tea Rose (Moonlight Magic)
Actual image at 40% crop  |  no post processing

Hybrid Tea Rose (Moonlight Magic). Actual image at 100% crop by Michael Chua

at 100% crop  |  no post processing



Digital Cameras Legacy Lenses

Digital Cameras Legacy Lenses

Mirrorless cameras, an invention in the digital age, have opened up an exciting avenue for photographers. With the right adapter, almost any brand of lenses can be attached to the camera. Best of all, manual lenses from the film era are plentiful on eBay. With patience and careful selection, some can be acquired at very low prices.

To see whether these legacy lenses are up to the mark, I decided to test some using my mirrorless Sony Nex 3N camera. Most of the shots were at the widest aperture as the resolving power would be at their poorest. All images are presented full size, at 40% crop, no sharpening applied and no post processing. What you see is what the camera recorded.

Tamron Adaptall 2 80-210mm f/3.8-4 (103A) zoom lens  |  Paid $19 on eBay  |  Lens Review

Makinon 80-200mm f/4.5 zoom lens   |  Paid $2.75 on eBay  |  Lens Review

Canon FD 100mm f/4 Macro prime lens  |  Paid $53 on eBay  |  Lens Review

Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro prime lens  |  Paid $35 on eBay  |  Lens Review

Tamron Adaptall 70-150mm f/3.5 zoom lens (QZ-150M)  |  Paid $15 on eBay  |  Lens Review

Tamron SP Adaptall 2 28-80mm f/3.5-4.2 zoom lens (27A)  |  Paid $25 on eBay  |  Lens Review



Photography Equipment

Photography Equipment

Lenses

Never before has photography been so easy and affordable. Digital technology has finally placed the camera in the hands of the public. For many, taking pictures has become a way of life. The explosion of photographs in social media shows the impact of this technology in our society today. In the midst of these rapid changes, we can easily forget about the past.

Before Digital

This chapter is about the pre-digital age, where lenses were all manual focus and film was the recording medium. It highlights how some equipment can still be relevant, like using manual focus lenses with digital cameras, how to improve your photographs with post processing and many others.

Legacy Lenses

Canon FD 100mm f/4 Macro
Makinon 80-200mm f/4.5
Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro
Tamron Adaptall 70-150mm f/3.5 (QZ-150M)
Tamron Adaptall 2 80-210mm f/3.8-4 (103A)
Tamron SP Adaptall 2 28-80mm f/3.5-4.2 (27A)