Thursday, December 26, 2013

Phase One 240LS with a Schneider 2x Extender

As many know thanks to Dave Gallagher and CaptureIntegration,  I've had the pleasure of testing the 240LS and 2x extender while in Jackson Hole WY.

The very first day of using this combination on my Phase One DF/IQ160 I was fortunate to capture a gallery print of a Buffalo in the snow.  We began with what we felt was small shooting Big Horn Sheep at distances as close as several yards out to several hundred feet.  Leaving the Big Horn Sheep we shot Buffalo, Moose and Elk with great results.

f/12 1/400 ISO 200 Full Frame

100% crop

As good as I thought this lens combination is, I wasn't prepared for what happened next.  The Snake River at Oxbow Bend is normally frozen this time of year.  This year however there's a small patch that's open.  We've driven past here several times and noticed Ducks in the water and never stopped until a couple days ago when we saw a couple large brown "things" laying by the waters edge.  Otters!  The first day we stopped was great watching this family of 7 fish and horse around; too bad the conditions weren't good for photography with blowing snow.  That all changed the next day with clear skies.
Sitting on the side of the road several hundred feet away we were able to capture some of the best small animal images we ever had to date.  Sandy with a Sony NEX7 and 200mm lens and I with the 240/2x extender sat for a couple hours watching, enjoying and photographing the Otters. 
f/16 1/400 ISO 200 Full Frame

100% crop
We will be sharing Sandy's images later however since I wanted to speak about the 240LS/2x extender only those captured with that combination are shown here. 
I think the images speak for themselves.  I've included added 8-images.  The images include the full frame as well as a 100% crop.  These are a very small sample of the keepers from that day.
f/16 1/400 ISO 200 Full Frame

100% crop

All images were captured using a window mount and/or a shutter release cable or my finger.  The weather was clear with no snow and little wind, however it was hovering around 10 degrees the entire time.  What I've quickly discovered is how simple and easy to focus using the larger focal ring.  Very nice with gloves on.
f/16 1/400 Full Frame
100% crop
I still have the lens for several more days and have already decided to buy it.  Please stay tuned for more samples.   
Thank you for allowing me to share.  Please remember to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions regarding this lens combination.  
Lastly, thank you Dave.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Testing the Schneider 2x extender with a Mamiya 150mm 2.8

I've been testing the 2x extender the past two-days attached to a Phase One 240LS 4.5 and have gotten excellent results.  Time to test it with another lens, my Mamiya 150 2.8.

Like the 240LS, the 150 lost autofocus and doubled the f/stop to 5.6.  Still a fast lens.  A couple big factors in using the 150 with the extender; less overall weight and a much faster lens.  The drawback?  I found I missed not having the extra reach of the 240/480mm.

Weather was better than yesterday with slightly warmer temperatures and no blowing snow which meant the air was much clearer today.  While the weather was better we had far less chances of shooting wildlife.  The Big Horn Sheep stayed on the very top of a hill which even with a longer lens it would have been a challenge.  The Moose were all laying down huddled in bunches keeping warm.  The Elk were out however the closest we saw them was around 600 yards, again no joy.  This left Buffalo.  We saw plenty of Buffalo however they were all too far away to make any sort of decent image.  The exception was a small heard near Kelly WY.  Close enough for a 300mm but would have worked perfectly had I had the 240 with me.  In the end I took a grand total of 8-frames and choose the 2-included here.  Each sample shows the full frame as well as a 100% crop.  Very little processing has been done.  These might not be the best samples of what the extender can do with the 150mm however I feel it shows the potential.  I didn't have my Mamiya 300 4.5 with me this morning however I fail to see how that lens would have performed any better.
f12 1/200 ISO 200

100% crop
At the end of the third day of testing here are my instant thoughts.  I've thought about buying a older Mamiya 500mm lens but feared it wouldn't resolve well with my IQ160 or IQ180 (okay I'm thinking ahead).   I began thinking of the 240/2x combination this past September while shooting Elk in Jackson Hole for a client.  The more I thought about it the more I wanted to try it out.  My thoughts included the fact I already have a 150 and 300 and the 150 would also fit on the 2x.  My other thoughts were that with the 240 and 2x I'd end up with 2-lenses and 4-focal lengths (I also thought I'd sell the 300 if everything works out). 
I've been using the 2x with the 240 and now the 150 for 3-days.  These past 3-days have been spent outside in zero degree temperatures up to a balmy 14 degrees. I've shot in varying conditions of sunny, heavy overcast, and snow. 
f/12 1/200 ISO 200

100% crop
Bottom line?  Anyone considering the Schneider 2x extender or might be on the fence due to the heavy price tag my recommendation is to try it.  It's well worth the money.  And to answer the unasked question - yes I plan on buying.
Okay the other portion of this test has been the Phase One 240LS.  This is a very heavy lens and is a 4.5.  If you get around the weight you have a stellar lens.  I never thought that I'd have a gallery print while testing the 240/2x however,  that's exactly what happened the very first day of testing.  Right conditions and a great lens helped.  Do I want it? Again, yes.
I've got the 240LS and 2x extender for a couple more weeks before I have to return them and since I'll be in Jackson Hole until after I return them I plan on using them.  A lot.
Stay tuned for more

Saturday, December 21, 2013

More testing of the Phase One 240LS and 2x extender

The second day of testing this combination in Jackson Hole WY began with warmer weather however we've had snow showers most of the morning.  Shooting through falling snow is a challenge in itself; no matter how you try you always wind up with a file that looks like it's dirty with tons of little white spots.

f/9 1/320 ISO 200


The Moose sample here was one of many files taken this morning sitting watching to see if he'd get on his feet.  After waiting for over an hour we gave up and left with images of him laying down.  Moose one photographer zero. 

There's two samples here - both the same file.  The first is the full frame capture while the second is a crop.  I cheated this morning staying in the truck the entire time with the camera attached to a window mount.  The one thing I wish I had was a remote shutter release which I left back in the apartment.  Any time I can stay away from touching the camera the better I feel it is. 
f/12 1/320 ISO 200

100% crop
The second set of samples are a small group of Bull Elk inside the National Elk Refuge.  The Elk were all located several hundred yards away from us and we simple couldn't get any closer.  As a matter of fact as soon as we stopped a couple of the bulls took immediate notice of us.  The second sample is a 100% crop of the file.  The camera was attached to my tripod which turned it into a rock solid base.   
After two days of testing the more I have this lens and extender the more I like it.  There's no getting around the fact that this is a heavy lens.  There's also no getting around the fact that with proper care, this lens combination offers sharp clear images. 
Stay tuned for more...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Testing the Phase One 240LS & Schneider 2x extender

f/9 1/250 ISO200 handheld
The 240LS and Schneider 2x extender arrived late yesterday.  I wanted to get comfortable with it before heading out this morning.  What I've noticed is that the lens and extender combined is very near the same length as the Mamiya 300 4.5.  The extender is just a little over 2" (5.1 cm) and the lens is almost 7" (17.8 cm).  The lens, extender and DF with my IQ160 combined weigh a ton!  This is one heavy lens.

f/9 1/250 ISO200 handheld

The one drawback to using the extender is you loose auto focus.  The other drawback is the change in aperture, doubling the 4.5 to f/9.  I figured I try a work around by raising the ISO from 50 to 100 and quickly found 200 worked better.
Crop from above
So, we have a very heavy lens/camera body combination; can it be used handheld? The short answer is yes.  The much longer answer is that you really need to be use to working with heavy equipment and be on your A-game.  To be totally truthful I ended up shooting 71 frames today and have what I expect 23 files that are workable.  Not bad for the first day out.  Some of the problems stemmed from focus problems and some from shake.
 f/12 1/320 ISO200 monopod
I began today on the back side of the National Elk Refuge in Jackson WY.  There's a saying of "aim small miss small" and this can be carried over to photography.  I ended up shooting 3-sizes of wildlife; Big Horn Sheep, Buffalo and Moose.  I also tried a little landscape.  All told, the first image was captured at 8:47 a.m. (and 4 degrees) with the last at 11:57 a.m. (and 16 degrees).  The Big Horn and Buffalo were shot handheld and I used a monopod with the Moose.
The 4-images included are just a sample of what was accomplished this morning.  The files were opened in Capture One before sending them to Photoshop CC.  Little post processing was performed other than using the new camera shake filter (which I use on most all images). 
Stay tuned for more.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Testing the Phase One LS240mm and Schneider 2x Teleconverter

Just got news, thanks to Dave Gallagher, CaptureIntegration, that I'll be getting a Phase One Leaf Shutter 240 mm f/4.5 and the Schneider 2x teleconverter which was announced by Phase One on September 4, 2013.

I'm currently in Jackson Hole WY shooting winter landscape and with the addition of the 240 and 2x I'll be testing that combo on the elk herd in the National Elk Refuge as well as the winter herds of buffalo, moose and rams.

Stay tuned.