My apologies, shitty queen Pentax 110, your lenses are great – in some cases

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Well well well, sometimes, dear audience, your blogger is a little too fast with her judgments.
You maybe have read my ode to “The queen of a shitty system”, the Pentax 110? If not, here is the chance to do so.

My conclusion was in a nutshell: I don’t get all the YouTubers and vintage lens nerds who are after the shardy remains of this weird DSLR 110 camera.
My apologies, I now understand. At least partial.
When I got my hands on the 18mm 2.8 lens, I just tried it at home and in the garden. Both with anticlimatic results after all of the hype.
So I decided to write the post and store them on my shelf for good.

Revisited Pentax 110 simply cause why not

So the camera and the subsequent lenses sat on said shelf. And bugging me big time. Not because of the money, they cost next to nothing.
But because of the simple fact, that I couldn’t believe that YouTubers like microfour nerd, which I really appreciate, were so wrong.
I mean, this system was discontinued in the early 80ies, the lenses are dirt cheap, so there is no influencer-alarm-bell ringing in my ears.
Could I’ve been wrong? Well, ehm, yes. I was.

Portrait time

I had the honor and pleasure to shoot some new profile pictures for a friend of mine – one of the very rare pandemic contacts. And what would be better than bringing some vintage goodies?
Somehow the Pentax lens found its way into my rucksack. And somehow onto the camera. With stunning results.
The colour rendering is a nightmare if you’re looking for crisp and clear pictures.
It’s not the sharpest tool in the quiver, by far not. This lens is harsh in a very interesting way.
Really harsh.
And that’s where the fun starts.

 

Going black & white

After these very promising results, I decided to take this tiny little something of a lens with me on my next trip to the outside.
You know, into this mystical land we used to live in before the virus.
In my case on Sunday afternoon in Munich’s borough Glockenbach.
Nice architecture, nice afternoon sun. Some people and some space to experiment.

harsh reflection

stray light

enjoying the sun

vintage beauty

 

So I changed my mind on these little lenses completely.
How do you see it?
Please leave your comments!

Stepping up the learning curve for good – professional purpose

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Oh, my dearest audience, your blogger faced quite an interesting week on the learning curve. Not only that my day job seems at least partially come back to life. But also I had to step up in video production quite a lot.
Let me explain: I love content creation and visual storytelling. Photography is nothing new to me, it’s my second nature to take pictures and work with them.
Videography is on a different page.
It seems ages ago that I got into all this blogging and vlogging – but yesterday I realized: I just got my capture card in the middle of March.
Since then I’m working on technic, recording, cutting, channel building, and most of all on developing an idea where to go with all of that. For the latter I got al clear idea now – but that is a story for another post.
I managed to keep up and running and halfway sane during this weird year, survived the first quarantine, and overcame pandemic-based unemployment at least in a first step with occupying myself with this site, photography, YouTube, and cyanotypes.
But now it’s time to move a step further.

From pro-bono to pro-bono with professional requirements

I supported happily some friends in their respective causes with a little bit of shooting and editing. They were happy also, deal done. Pro-bono of course. But the lingering relaunch of my former and future employer sets a different goal. We see our way in the recruiting and consulting business in open and authentic communication, so storytelling on social media is crucial for our brand building.
To realize that, I had to bring the skills I gained during the last months together. I guess it worked.

 

Good fun and brilliant teambuilding

Ok, it was not the first time I made some video clips for professional purposes. But the first time with proper gear. From location research to sound setup and from preparation to post-production. Some was already routine – but most was new territory for me. We had to figure out how to coordinate clips remotely (thank you, YouTube), realize stuff without a budget, bring ideas together, and well, finally, get creative like never before in this context.

And we really enjoyed it!

I really appreciate people dancing to salsa beats and enjoying public space, especially outside a museum for contemporary art. Except when I have to shoot a video.

Starting from scratch makes you proud of your results

My colleague and I did not have much experience with business videos, but we had a clear idea, where we want to go. Most business videos in HR represent what we did not want: fake and unnatural settings, artificial dialogues, awkward situations, and irrelevant content.
Our goal is to be as authentic and descriptive as possible without acting and posing like paid imposters.
So little did we know? And so much did we learn about the real obstacles of filming when I first packed my camera bag and we met up for shooting session #1.

First time I managed to get all gear I needed into my backpack. Learning curve, you know …

The learning curve is steep but satisfying

We shot at the banks of Munich’s river Isar – a very popular place for leisure, even during Corona. And we learned a lot.
First lesson: always check your baggage twice.
Second lesson: recheck it.
It’s a great thing to have an external monitor – but it doesn’t do anything without the adapter plate for the battery. And the adapter plate doesn’t do anything without the battery. Also, a white balance card is a great thing to have, especially when resting on your desk while you’re out in the field.
Sound – oh boy, the sound.
I got a Rode boom mic when we started.
Now I got a boom mic, a lavalier mic, and a Rode Go Wireless – and I know why. Not to mention a crash course in Audition.
I’ll get into the details in another post to come – but for now, I can tell you, it was worth the effort and we had a really good time.

If you want to see the first results and the things to come:
www.asocio.de

As always, I’m looking forward to your comments and input.

Pentax 110: The queen of a shitty system

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My dear audience, your aging nerd is sometimes really baffled. Especially when it comes to totally unexpected results.
In this case, it’s the second smallest lens I own, a Pentax 110 lens. And by far the cheapest.
I just wanted to start a brutal but honest review of that thing, declaring it totally useless as it does not even work as a paperweight.
But then …

Let’s start from the beginning

As it seems to me, everybody is on the hunt today for old lenses. The prices even for mediocre consumer glass back from the 70ies is getting ridiculous. Lenses nobody with a little bit of change in the pocket would ever consider wasting valuable film too back then is hitting three digits now. To satisfy the desire for some new old shards on the high-end body, the way into obscure brands and makes seems to be the only way forward. Or, in this case, a weird model by a great brand.

Sometimes, someone, somewhere: why?

Sometimes in the late-seventies, someone at Asahi Pentax had the semi-brilliant idea to target a very underrated part of the entry-level and consumer market. Somewhere in between disposable film-with-lens crap and lowest end plastic boxes with a glass-covered hole in front of an ugly brick-like thing, there was the 110 film format. Roughly half the size of full-frame (and far away from the similar-sized micro-four thirds of today), this so-called pocket format promised nothing but kept even less. The films (I hardly remember if they were different ones available at all, and I owned one these audacities) came in a plastic cassette and were of terrible quality. So were the pictures. Blurry, weird colors, distorted, simply a waste of money and resources.
But they were small, cheap, very easy to handle. They fulfilled the job every mobile phone does today ten times better: a camera for the handbag or trouser pocket. In Germany, they were sold as a kind of predecessor of the dashcam in a box for the glove compartment to take some pictures as proof in case of a car accident.

Pentax 110: the goddess of a shitty format

seventies goddess of the 110 format

Ok, that was the state of the system. Until Pentax stepped in and presented the 110. Ladies and gentlemen, clap your hands for the second and last 110 SLR ever built – right after Minolta presented their even weirder 110 Zoom SLR without interchangeable lenses. It looked like an early Sony digital cam after been hitten by a truck. As I don’t own it and honestly not intend to do so,  back to the famous Pentax 110:
The thing came with 3 lenses and an electronic flash in a nice box. It’s tiny, unbelievable. tiny. It really got a mirror, a viewfinder, batteries, even a rudimentary exposure control with LEDs. A miniature version of the trusty Pentax K mount on top. It is by far the best 110 camera, ingenious, sturdy, a gem.

And well, it swallows those 110 films which are still produced. By Lomo, who else?

So Pentax shoved that fantastic looking tiny little camera in the market. And the market burped.
Every technical aspect of it couldn’t prevent it from doing what it did: it produced the same shitty photos as every other 110, simply because the films were bad, the negative size too small and the whole system a complete failure.
So was the 110 and it was discontinued during the eighties.

End of the story? Nope!

Most fairytales of industrial misconceptions end here or a step further in some dump. But not the story of the Pentax 110. Somehow lots of it managed to avoid becoming a vital part of the recycling process. They survived in wardrobes, basements, boxes with old photos, and circled in a sad spiral around thrift shops, flea markets, and eBay.
They would have done that maybe until the end of time – but a few years ago, mirrorless cameras started to grow up and got ready to give the DSLRs the final blow. This leads us to the beginning of my little ranty review of the – ah, I didn’t even mention it before, did I – Pentax 110 1:2.8 18mm. It seems that for a while, every YouTuber who reviews vintage lenses fell in love with these tiny little things. So of course I needed to get my hands on some, simply to understand the hype. And I was gobsmacked as I saw the biddings on eBay. Honestly, people. 50 to 100 Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling for something like that? Not to mention that an adapter for an m4/3 is around 30 Euro, at least on Amazon. Mine came from Shanghai for a fraction by the way. After I got the first 110 lense.

eBay wonderland

Sometimes, but really only sometimes, one can get lucky on eBay. So did I. I got a box full of old 49mm filters (most likely for a Pentax 50mm) and some Pentax lens hoods which I was after, for 3 Euro plus some change for shipping. I opened the box and the first thing I saw was an empty 110 lense box. These were made from transparent plastic, more or less like a cheese bell. And in midst of the chunk, there it was: the 18mm lens in all its fixed aperture greatness. With a flexible lens hood. I assume the seller simply thought it’s another weird filter and dropped into my order.
So I got the lense. A quick research led me to an adapter from Shanghai for under a tenner.
Some weeks later, here I am. With an adapter, another 110 lense and the camera itself. For 9 Euro, but that’s a story for another day.

Hyper, hyper, Pentax 110?

So I screwed adapter and lens on my old Olympus epl7 which I always use for tests.
The first impression: OMG, it looks hilarious.
The second impression; WTF?!?
The focus is a nightmare, infinity is somewhere in the middle of the scale.
The results? Well, if you’re into street photography and manage to sell your shots as “inspired by french expressionists” or a massive fan of lomo-looks, you will be happy.
If you look for something decent – look elsewhere. The colour rendering is very soft, the sharpness is a joke and black and white is more or less a symphony in undefined greys.

Ok, I’m sounding harsh. but honestly: I don’t understand the cult. Don’t get me wrong: the results are not exceptionally bad, there are worse. And these tiny little glasses make a small mirrorless look gorgeous. But that’s it.

So I thought.

Film changes everything or at least a lot.

This afternoon when I just was to start this blog, I played around with some balance settings on my Lumix G7 which I use for my “home studio”. Somehow, I don’t know why I mounted this tiny abomination on my G7 and tried it.
I was very positively surprised. Really, I was.
My standard lens for my shots on my desk is a Panasonic 14-45. Nothing special, I know, but it does the job. I record with OBS in 1080, the light is balanced, YouTube compresses it even further… so no real big deal. The setup may be questionable but it’s mine and I like it.
Anyhow: the Pentax mini lens was a big surprise. It’s suddenly crisp and clear, the colour rendering works a treat for Cinelike D with reduced contrast.

A match made in heaven?
Maybe. Not sure yet, it will need some further tests.
But for now, it saves the Pentax 110 from being boxed again.
It deserves a closer look, that’s for sure.

A lovely summer sunrise in Munich

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Sunday morning, oh mystical morning, the day you finally can stay in bed …
Or get up at 4:45, force down a cup of coffee, and get your gear ready.
Any option is great – but only one gets you those fantastic shots in the golden morning light, nice memories, and fresh bread rolls on the way home.
That’s sunrise in Munich to me.

Driving towards the sunrise in Munich

Munich is roughly divided by its river, the Isar. The river slices through city centre quite exactly from north to south. As I live in the south next to the river and the Isar has dug their bed over the centuries, it’s not too easy to get the first glimpse of the sun coming out everywhere. It would be quite over the top to call Isar’s bed a canyon, but the fact is: until the sun reaches the water it has already moved several degrees over the horizon. So the way to get the first sun rays nearly parallel is going north.

Go North, it’s bright up there

Munich is not exactly a massive metropolitan area, and the inner city is even less. But 7 kilometers in the chill morning air were quite helpful to wake up. Even more, as I made a lovely discovery on the way: Munich’s Department for Arts and Culture sponsored the installation “Bridge Sprout” by the Japanese architecture office Bow-Wow. A half-bridge over the Isar, opening new and previous unseen perspectives. I really enjoyed the view – and especially the smell of fresh wood!
More info on that

Installation “Bridge Sprout” by Japanese architectural office Bow-Wow at Isar

 

View south up river from the installation “Bridge Sprout”

Passing Deutsches Museum, the parliament of Bavaria and Friedensengel, I finally arrived at the famous Englischer Garten. Not only well known as one of the world’s largest inner-city garden structures, but it’s also a stunning beautiful air refresher for the permanently traffic-jammed city. Granted it’s not really loud so early on a Sunday morning, but as soon as one leaves the street, calm is the main feeling.

Litter in paradise

The Englischer Garten is in these early hours of the day a wonderland. Soft mist over the meadows, ducks having breakfast, only a few joggers on the paths. The brooks still in the deep shadow of the willows, a place of peace.
Only a few hours before there must have been a totally different kind of punters. Lots of bottles, tetra packs, plastic bags, and other litter are clear proof of the nightly parties going on here. Gardeners are shifting like ghosts through the mist, clearing a load of filth left. Sad to see, I guess it is completely unnecessary. No problem with partying, but people, just take your waste with you.

The silent witnesses of a hard night: litter all over the place

The beauty of the Garden

I guess there’s not much to say – enjoy as I did.

 

 

 

Lake in the morning glow

Another highlight is the “Kleinhesseloher See” located in the middle of the garden. During the day mostly populated by rowing boats, during the early hours, it’s all birds.
These family of ducks is taking breakfast. Only the baby of the family seems still a bit afraid of water.

A duck family in their nest in the lake

 

So after all: a fantastic morning, worth every second of getting up so early.
I hope you enjoyed it, please leave your comments and visit my YouTube channel.

Munich flood after the 2020 summer rain in a beautiful vintage lens

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A few days of heavy rain often have some severe effect on Munich’s river Isar: high levels and flood.
Munich is situated at the end of a large bed of gravel which results from glacier movements during the last ice age.
Massive rain in the bavarian alps always leads to a swelling of the main river which transports the waters down – the Isar.
After the Sylvenstein barrier was completed in the 1950ies, the danger of the real Munich flood was banned.
Nevertheless, the sudden swelling of the Isar is still an impressive sight.

Munich flood in August

After some heavy showers and thunderstorms, Munich’s officials decided to block some of the benches of the Isar around the 5th of August 2020.
The local press decided to exaggerate the story slightly. As it happens, I live very close to the river – but didn’t notice anything.
Reading online that Munich had turned into some kind of dystopian nightmare, I decided to have a closer look.
Of course, I took my camera with me – and my Helios 44. This Russian vintage 58mm prime lens is known for its bokeh.

But that was not what I was after. I wanted to test its available light capabilities and video looks. So I went on my e-scooter down to the river.
And guess what I found? Water. Lots of it, but the scene was far from wastelands. Or was it?

Shocking only the absence of any social distancing

Crowds everywhere, people enjoying the evening sun, party feeling. Which would be perfectly ok, if we wouldn’t face rising infection rates again.
But what should I do? Taking it as it is I decided to keep my personal safety space and do what I came for.
So enjoy the pictures and the video of the “Munich flood”.
Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Thanks and stay safe.

Garden meditation on a rainy summer evening

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
Dolly Parton

A garden in the rain

Well, right she is. The meteorologists claim that we’re facing more and more droughts. I don’t doubt that – but at least this year, Munich is far away from turning into a desert. Rain is a constant companion these days, thunderstorms alike.
As a person who defines outdoors as “out of the door” much more than “putting on the hiking boots and go where no human has ever been before” I’m neither in the possession of heavy rain-proof equipment nor willing to spend serious money on something which would fit a mountain goat but not me. On the other hand: there’s gear lingering on my desk that wants to be tested. And the urge to shoot is always given.
So I chose during a thunderstorm the golden middle in between staying at home and developing amphibia assets: my garden. Outside enough to get some beautiful pictures, inside enough for my comfort. As ist was the golden middle, the session turned more or less into a meditation on dripping rain an wet leaves.
Enjoy the silence.

 

In the bubbly air tonight

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When I started with photography back in the stone ages there was a natural brake to experiments, at least for me: the cost of the film. As a teenager, I simply couldn’t afford to shoot dozens and dozens of pictures to get one right. But that would’ve been my only way into night photography. So I clung to the somehow limited range my Pentax MX offered for exposure measurement. And kept my finger away from the magical BULB setting, even if it twitched like hell.
Times were changing, digital cameras came creeping in (believe me, my first digital, a Kodak, was creeping and creepy at best). Suddenly, the cost of the film vanished. Not so noisy. I’ll never forget the first results of long-time exposure with these toys. But to be fair, my first real good digital, a Nikon D100, was not better in this discipline. Pure noise, colors washed out, simply unusable, even by the standards of the early zeros.

But now, oh goddess of light, I got my new Lumix G9. Weather was nice, lockdown over, things don’t feel as spooky as a few weeks ago. So I went out at night, avoiding gatherings – and shot for the first time with a capable camera long-time exposures. I don’t want to exaggerate, but it felt like my first black and white prints in a bowl with the developer. Simply amazing, down to the waiting for the camera to finish the de-noising process. I love it! Suddenly there is no instant gratification – but results worth the wait.

So, shoulder your tripods, get out into the dark, use the available light, and enjoy the bokeh unfolding.

Munich by e-scooter – a fun ride at night 2020

Some things are priceless: summer, a mild and clear night – and of course proper gear in the camera bag. So I went to one of Munich’s most iconic landmarks: the Friedensengel. Next to the Isar, Munich’s river, it provides not only scenic views but also a very well known spot for instantaneous partying.
After some low light shots, I decided to give my DJI Osmo Pocket a hard ride on one of these rental e-scooters. All along the Isar homewards.

E-Scooter and filming – does that work?

Holding the camera in my left hand was at first a real funny feeling. An e-scooter is obviously not meant for single-handed operation. 
But photography comes always first, so I wrenched my fist and kept the Osmo as stable as possible. Which worked exactly until the first pothole came along. 
Ok, holding the camera just in my hand was not the best idea ever, but it was spontaneous. And furthermore, a real hard test for the gimbal abilities of the Osmo Pocket. 
I guess next time I’ll use a harness or something similar to decouple the camera from the e-scooter. But for now, it was a proof of concept – and good fun to edit the video!
So get yourself an impression of the results and feel free to leave some comments. 
More about Tier e-scooter: https://www.tier.app/

Enjoy the ride!

https://youtu.be/3on8tFEkQ0U

Pentax colour wizardry: the 50mm f1.7

Some lenses come with the delivery service from Amazon.
And some come with a story.
So does my nifty-fifty 50mm Pentax M 1:1.7. That’s the lens that got me seriously addicted to photography. Mounted as a kit lens on the very first SLR in my life – a Pentax MX – I fell in love with it. Ok, I had no option, it was THE lense. The ONLY lense. Nevertheless, this little mighty manual focus glass showed me for the first time the world through the finder. It stayed with me and on my Pentax until it got nicked. Straight from my checked baggage somewhere between Bangkok and Moscow. That was during the nineties, everybody was into APS, digital was a promise for a bright future, so I didn’t care too much.
Until I got back to vintage lenses. And found my childhood love again on the world’s largest dating platform for camera nerds: eBay.

Sure it’s priceless – but you can get this beauty for around 30 € as she’s not as popular as her radioactive 1.4 sister.

If you’re interested in the inner values: there are plenty of descriptions out there. I’m much more interested in the results, that’s what I’m shooting for.
A perfect fit with an PK adapter on Micro Four Thirds.
It feels so good in the hands. Solid metal, smooth rings, a certain weight.
So let’s go for a walk down to the river and let’s see what it can do in 2020.