Thursday, March 3, 2011


What do you do on a typical sunny SoCal Saturday?  Play in the snow!  Or at least take some pictures of the "snow storm" in the Burbank Costco parking lot:
f3.5, 1/30
I happened to be out and about last Saturday, taking a few snapshots with a Vivitar Series-1 70-210 f/3.5.  I just wanted to get some quick shots to test it out.
While stopped at a stoplight, a couple of pigeons made a good target for the long end of the lens:
210mm, f3.5, 1/2500
And here is a crop of the birds:

It's a bit soft and there is some CA.  But also could have some focusing issues (quick shot leaning out the window at a stoplight, after all.)  Will be interesting to see how it does at f5.6 or f8...

Some other shots in Hollywood:
210mm, f3.5, 1/1000

70mm, f3.5, 1/800

210mm, f3.5, 1/1000
I love the Griffith Observatory.  I fooled around with another shot in PS:
This lens is really a blast to use.  On a crop camera the focal length is 112mm to 336mm, so it can put you pretty up close and personal at a relatively fast f3.5.  The zoom range is also nice to easily re-compose the shot if you want.

Supposedly the last time it snowed in Burbank was 1949.  Here are some white hills:
f3.5, 1/2500
We'll see how it does when taking more than quick snapshots.  Hopefully the softness will be cured by a better eye and stopping down a bit.  And it really needs a good video test.

One of the really cool things about this lens is the macro.  You can focus within a couple of inches of the front of the lens.  Or pull back and zoom till it's in focus.  So, there I was in the Costco parking lot, focussing on rain drops...
Macro f3.5, 1/100
And suddenly, strange white stuff starts falling from the sky...
f3.5, 1/25

Snow...  or graupel??

There appears to be some controversy whether this was actually snow, or some wacky thing called graupel.  I'm fine with calling it snow :)

Macro f3.5, 1/60
It looked more like a "snow storm" in person...  really...
So the lens is really fun and I can't wait to try it out some more.  Here's some after-snow snaps:

If I deciphered the serial number correctly, this lens was made in 1980 by Kiron, so it's "version 1" of the model.  (Apparently the first three versions are the best, but only the first two versions have good-for-video constant aperature.)  It's a big lens and pretty heavy.  It looks giant when attached to the little Rebel XT.  But it feels very solid, and both the focus and zoom are very smooth.  All in all, it is the funnest manual focus lens I've tried so far.  I think I'm going to get a lot of good use out of it.  I have a little movie project in mind that a long lens or two will help out with a lot...

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