Urban & Architecture Photography


Posts tagged Lightroom
Break free from the tyranny of perfect sharpness and learn to love vintage lenses: the Auto Chinon 35mm 2.8

I am starting to really enjoy trying out these vintage lenses on the Fujifilm X-T2.  The ability to easily pick up a lot of vintage lenses very cheaply means I can experiment with various focal lengths without forking out a fortune each time I want a new lens.  I managed to pick up the Auto Chinon 35mm 2.8 for about £20, so even if I tried the lens and hated it I could easily sell it on again with minimal loss.  Hopefully.

Abstract photography Science Centre Glasgow.jpg

I actually bought the lens on eBay a few months but just never got round to using it until recently.  It is a pretty decent copy with no obvious marks on the lens elements.  As expected the Chinon is a wee bit heavier than my modern Fujifilm primes but no real issue.  The aperture ring is nice and clicky so it was simple to select whatever aperture I needed.  The focus ring is also very smooth and worked well.

What I love about using vintage lenses is that they free me from the tyranny of perfect sharpness – certainly with cheaper lenses like this I will not achieve that anyway – but I find this means I am more willing to experiment with composition, textures, blur and abstraction.  I have also found myself shooting far more black and white photography (as I am sure you will be able to tell from the sample photos).

Textures on gravestone at Necropolis.jpg

I have only taken this lens out to use on two occasions but what struck me immediately was how awkward it felt using the 35mm focal length.  Most of my photography is taken at 23mm or below so 35mm just felt a bit off.  It took me at least 30 minutes before I felt I was ‘seeing’ properly with the lens.  This another reason I like trying out these lens as I can take myself out of my comfort zone by using focal lengths that I do not normally use.

The Auto Chinon is a nice lens.  For me, it worked especially well as a black and white lens.  The tonal range seemed pretty good to my eyes although it did lack contrast.  It also seemed to work very well in conjunction with Acros film simulations on the X-T2.  Colours were not particularly vibrant, although to be perfectly honest on both occasions the weather was dull and overcast meaning there was a dearth of colour available anyway.  At a price of around £20 the Auto Chinon 35mm 2.8 is a lens that is definitely worth seeking out.

Glasgow Science Centre exterior.jpg

If you any questions or comments regarding this lens please comment below.

For more information about the Auto Chinon 35mm 2.8 click here.

Testing out vintage camera lenses on the Fujifilm X-T2: shooting with Helios 44-2

Photography with classic lenses was never something I have previously considered.  However, since starting to shoot with Fuji mirrorless I have read a lot about using adaptors in order to use these older lenses, how cheap old lenses (generally) are, and how the results can be interesting / inspiring / infuriating / something a bit different… so I decided to give it a go.

Luckily, I actually already had a Helios 44-2, 56mm, f2 lens at home on an old Zenit film camera I bought a few years back, purely as an ornament.  So in order to use the lens, all I had to do was buy an M42 to Fuji X adaptor ring. These are easy to find and reasonably cheap on eBay.

There was a definite blue hue in this shot. Fuji Velvia simulation applied

There was a definite blue hue in this shot. Fuji Velvia simulation applied

Before the adaptor arrived I did a bit of reading online and discovered that the Helios was a very widely produced Russian lens and is probably one of the most popular choices among people starting out with adapted lenses.  It can be bought for around £20 to £30 depending on condition.  My copy is fairly battered, and the lens has a fair bit of surface scratches as well as having dust inside.  It is definitely far from mint condition but there seems to be no effect on the images rendered.

I have to admit I really enjoyed using this lens.  All classic lenses like this must be used in manual focus, so for some people this can take a bit a time to get used too.  However, by turning on focus peaking in your camera you make life so much easier for yourself.  The only awkwardness I experienced was due to lens design: the aperture ring sits too close to the focus ring so it is too easy to move wrong ring.  Also the aperture is fluid so unless I was shooting at f2 or f16 I basically had to rough guess at an aperture setting.

Back and white has a real vintage look here. Really nice aged tones. Fuji Acros applied

Back and white has a real vintage look here. Really nice aged tones. Fuji Acros applied

Despite these minor issues it was great fun to use and the Helios rendered some rather lovely looking images.  The lens is actually fairly sharp considering its age - definitely not as sharp as modern lenses, but sharp enough.  There is something lovely about the images its renders.  Colours are slightly askew (very blue at times) to what I am used to but look very filmic so I can live with that.  For me though, the black and white images are what make the lens worth having.  These images looked very tonal and flat which resulted in a fantastic starting point for post processing in Lightroom.  The Acros film simulation worked really well here.

So what do you think?  Would you use a classic lens like this or stick to the latest in lenses available.  Can you recommend a lens to try out?  Feel free to comment below.

Checking out Fujifilm's film simulations: sample RAW images from the x-t2

Well it has been a long time coming but I am finally making the move from Nikon to Fujifilm.  Honestly, I have become so sick of lugging around a heavy dslr and lenses around the city that it was really starting to grind me down so moving to a lighter system was something I had been considering for a long time.  For me, the move to mirroless was almost entirely based on the smaller weight and size of the body size and lenses.

That being said I thought I might blog about any issues, ideas or tips I have as I begin dipping my toes in the Fujifilm mirrorless world.

First up, I thought it may be useful to view samples of Fujifilm's renowned film simulations.

Just so you know.  All of these images were shot on a Fujifilm x-t2 in RAW.  I imported images in to Lightroom, applied White Balance and the Fujifilm profile - no other editing was applied, no sharpening, noise reduction, nothing.

Click on images to see a larger version.

Fujifilm VELVIA

Fujifilm PROVIA

Fujifilm ASTIA

Fujifilm PRO NEG STD



Fujifilm ACROS



Fujifilm PRO NEG HI





... And there you have it.  What do you think?  Are Fujifilm’s simulations all they are cracked up to be?  Do you have a particlar favourite?  Feel free to comment below.

How to make this light trails photograph in 12 simple steps

I dont often do this type of photography, It's not really the sort of thing I go for but it is winter and so the early evenings make it a good time to do some night or blue hour photography.  I spotted this location a few months back and thought it was a great location for a light trails shot.  Here are my 12 tips for a successful light trails shoot...

  1. Scout a great location - light trails can look great by themselves by combine it with the right location and you are on to a winner. I visited this spot a few months back and what grabbed my attention was the curve leading from the bottom left and through the image to the office blocks. I keep a folder in Lightroom for future ideas and stored the image here as I knew I would return here when the nights were shorter and I could do some shots in the ‘blue hour’.

  2. Arrive early – I arrived about an hour before sunset. This gave me time set up the shot, find the composition I wanted.

  3. Use a tripod - obvious really. The camera needs to be as steady as possible for an extended period of time so a tripod is a must.

  4. And a shutter release – helps to minimise camera movement meaning no unwanted shake. I have tried using my cameras self-timer in the past but to be honest it is far too fiddly, and shutter release cables are available pretty cheap.

  5. Stay warm - bring along a hat, gloves and warm clothes - I was shooting in late November in Scotland so I knew it would be cold but no matter where you are when the sun goes down it gets cooler so plan for it.

  6. Take test shots - another reason for my early arrival is that it was easy for me to set focus point and check test shots. Once I knew my focus was sorted I then switch to Manual focus to lock the focus in. Many cameras struggle to focus in low light (my own included) so it is worth spending a few minutes setting this up beforehand.

  7. Set your shutter speed - this varies for each and every image but if you are shooting in blue hour around 10 seconds is a good starting point. That said nothing is set in stone so feel free to experiment

  8. Aperture - again this can vary. The shot I took is set at f16 but again depending on what you want your shot to look like will affect all of your settings

  9. ISO - as low as possible. Creating images in low light can mean unwanted noise in an image and one way minimise that is to set your ISO to the minimum.

  10. Take more images than you think you need - I took around eighty images and used maybe twelve or so. It is jut the nature of the beast and there is a bit of luck involved. You will probably spend a fair bit of time working your way through images, deciding which ones you like and are useable in your final composition.

  11. Edit in Lightroom and Photoshop (or whatever you use) - I use Lightroom and Photoshop, despite the fact that Lightroom drives me insane due to its sluggish performance and crashing. If you are not using Photoshop you will definitely need an image editor that allows you to use layers and masking. The chances are you will be combining a lot of images into one composite.

  12. Here is a fantastic step-by-step Lightroom and Photoshop editing guide.

So what do you think?  Are light trails something that you may consider shooting?  Or do you have any other tips you like to share?  Please comment below.

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