Archive for March, 2017

The Leica Summaron 28mm F5.6 is old-fashioned fun

26 Mar

The Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 is a curious thing – a ‘new’ M-mount version of a pancake lens originally introduced in the mid 1950s. Manufactured in limited numbers between 1955-1963, the original Summaron would have been most commonly paired with Leica’s screw-mount and (via adapters) M3 and M2 film rangefinders of the day. 

So is the Summaron a collectors item best left inside its presentation box, or is this something you might actually want to shoot with?

Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6: Key specifications

  • Optical construction: 6 elements in 4 groups
  • Aperture range: F5.6-22 (full-stop detents)
  • Minimum focus: 3.3 feet (1m)
  • Filter thread: 34mm
  • Hood included
  • 6-bit coded
  • Eight aperture blades
  • Weight: 165 g (0.36 lb)

The answer to that question is a bit complicated, and I must admit that I changed my mind a couple of times during the course of shooting for this article.

Initially, I must say I was rather skeptical. Leica lent me the Summaron ahead of a trip to Japan at the end of February, and I opted not to take it, borrowing a more practical 28mm F2.8 Elmarit instead. I enjoy vignetting as much as the next person, but I didn’t like the idea of being limited to F5.6. The fact that the Summaron arrived in a satin-lined presentation box scared me a little, too. I’m painstakingly protective of loaner gear, but accidents do happen, and the thought of accidentally losing or scratching the tiny jewel-like lens worried me. So I took the Elmarit, and I don’t regret it.

Back home though, with a few days left on the M10 loan agreement and a strong desire to get away from rain-drenched Seattle, I headed to the coast to see what the little Summaron could do. 


There’s not much I can say about the Summaron’s handling, because there’s precious little lens to actually handle. As you can hopefully tell from the photographs in this article, it’s very small indeed, which means that focus and aperture rings are small, too. The focus ring features a traditional infinity lock, by way of a sprung peg that must be depressed to move the lens from its ? position.

Whether or not you get on with this depends partly on what you’re used to. Personally I find the infinity lock a bit annoying, more so on this lens than others I’ve used with a similar design, mostly because the whole thing is so tiny. With the hood attached and the camera to my eye, there is very little tactile differentiation between the infinity release peg and the hood tightening peg. A bigger issue is that when rotating the focus ring, the one tends to get in the way of the other.

The Summaron’s aperture ring is unusual by modern standards in that it has detents only at every full stop setting, not 1/2 or 1/3. You can of course live dangerously and set intermediate positions if you want to. The M10, at least, will recognize 1/2 steps in aperture-priority mode, but be warned – in its 1/2 stop positions, the 8-bladed aperture is far from rounded – in fact it’s literally star-shaped.

Like the focus ring, the aperture ring is slim, and a little hard to find by touch when the hood is attached.

Given that the hood also occludes a decent portion of the M10’s 0.72X viewfinder, I stopped using it pretty quickly, except when it was very obviously going to be necessary. Flare isn’t enough of a risk to require it most of the time, and ditching the hood makes the Summaron’s aperture and focus rings easier to manipulate. 

Of course this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that when the lens is used at a small aperture and its corresponding hyperfocal focusing distance, there is very little need to actually adjust anything.

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Modular Urbanism: Coin-Operated System of Portable Street Furniture

26 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

share stack system

Much like coin-based cart systems found in supermarkets and airports, these stackable stools (which double as table surfaces) can be borrowed, moved around and returned with ease. Unlike fixed-position urban benches and tables, this design by Thomas Bernstrand lets users control their own experience, setting up a solo seat or group of seats and surfaces in the sun or shade as desired.

share stool stack

While not foolproof, of course (anyone intent on stealing them or leaving them out could do so), the furnishings do demand a small deposit to encourage people to to put them back when they are done. Also, the dangling chain and branded mark could help deter their disappearance into people’s homes.

share system

In the United States, where the maximum value of an everyday-use coin is fairly small, the incentive would be correspondingly diminished. But in Euro countries where denominations are typically higher, the price of failing to return the items would be significantly higher.

shair chairs

The metal stools are made to be heavy and durable, keeping them from being knocked over in the wind and making them suitable to frequent outdoor use. They also stack neatly into columns, taking up less space on the streets (or in shopping centers or parks or squares) when not in use.

share series chairs

The designs are an extension of the Share Series, a set of seats and other objects with similar coin-operated functionality intended for public use.


Other pay-to-sit urban furniture projects include a chair series by Vincent Wittenberg, a bit more comfortable looking but they also take up more space on sidewalks.

Also: Fabian Brunsing, a Berlin-based artist and designer, took a different approach the problem (a bit more tongue-in-cheek). His bench uses coin deposits (but in this case non-refundable) that allow you to use a public bench. But when your time runs out: stand up fast to avoid the spikes.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

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Documenting a spontaneous cold-weather surfing trip to Maine

25 Mar

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It only took one message on a group chat to convince Ryan Struck, a New York-based photographer and keen surfer, to make a last-minute trip to Maine. Snow and waves were in the forecast, a combination that Struck couldn’t ignore.

Struck got the surfing and the photos he was looking for, but in a piece on Resource Travel he mentions another reason why the last minute trip was a no-brainer: community.

‘But, as much as I relish the visual trophies that I bring home from these spontaneous road trips, it’s the experiences and the friendships that come from these surf adventures that I will look back on and cherish forever. I am a surfer. I am a photographer. I am a surf photographer. And I am proud to be a part of this community.’

Head to Resource Travel for the full story and more photos. Are you spending some part of your weekend with your photography community? Let us know in the comments.

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Flying drones over the internet isn’t the future we wanted, but it’s the one we’ve got

25 Mar
You’re flying… kind of! Cape lets registered users fly drones in remote locations. Takeoff and landing are handled automatically by the drone.

We were promised jetpacks, but as many-a-scholar has noted, here we are knocking on 2020’s door and we are still jetpackless. We have, however, managed to put countless drones into the sky. While jetpacks are scarce, a drone can be had for as little as $ 15 and as much as, well a hell of a lot more than that. Anyone can fly a cheapo drone into their living room wall, but if you want to fly a bigger drone somewhere cool there are costs, logistics and federal guidelines to contend with. What’s an apartment-dweller with big drone flying ambitions to do?

Enter Cape: a service that lets you fly real drones in real outdoor locations, without leaving the comfort of your home or your web browser. No license, no learning curve, no expensive crashes. Flight locations are exclusively located in California at this point, and the service is in beta so its developers expect to work out some bugs and improve latency before launch. Deep into a stretch of grey Seattle weather, flying a drone around a sunny California desert sounded fantastic to me.

Just sitting at my desk in Seattle, flying over the Sacramento River. You know, no big deal.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the drone

Cape’s locations include desert and coastal sites including San Francisco Bay, the Salton Sea and Sacramento River. Each has its own hours and days of availability, but most are available weekdays until 5pm Pacific Time. Provided your internet connection is robust, all you need to do is select a site that’s available and hop to the controls of your very own DJI Inspire 1.

Your flight begins with a diagram of your keyboard control shortcuts overlaying the camera’s live feed. Getting started just requires pressing ‘enter’ to initiate autopilot take-off. And there you are – soaring above the California desert with the press of a button.

When your session starts, you’re met with this handy controls diagram.

Cape’s drones are as dummy-proof as you’d hope they would be. A map in the corner of the screen indicates where your aircraft is in the geo-fenced zone. You can’t go beyond the zone’s boundaries, can’t crash your drone into another drone, and can’t stray outside of minimum and maximum altitudes – autopilot will kick in and prevent you from doing any of these things.

You quite literally learn the controls on the fly, but they’re easy to master. There’s some lag, but it was honestly less than I expected. In no time, I was zooming across a little patch of California desert at a reasonable speed and legal altitude. There wasn’t much to see, since that’s how deserts are, aside from some distant brush and pixelated mountains on the horizon.

And on that topic: considering you’re flying a drone that could very well be a world away, the live feed resolution isn’t bad. At best it looks like a Google Street View image, but most of the time it’s a bit more pixelated than that as it catches up with your movements. This translates to a slightly less awe-inspiring experience than, say, actually being there to gaze on some distant desert mountains.

I’m trying to drown this drone and it’s having none of it.

It’s a small world after all

The zones feel small once you’ve flown from one edge to the other, and by necessity the controls are pared down to a minimum. If it’s a truly realistic piloting experience you’re hankering, I’m not sure it’ll scratch that itch. Playing tennis on a Nintendo Wii is convenient and fun in its own way, but it’s not the same experience as playing on a real court with a racquet in your hand. You don’t come away with the same satisfaction when so much is done for you.

So if it doesn’t quite provide the same excitement as flying a drone in person, is it escapism that Cape can provide? Sure, getting a peek at the sun for the first time in days, even virtually, felt pretty nice. I can attest to how strong the desire is around Seattle to be somewhere sunny right now. I got a little bit of that escapism from Cape, but not so much that I’ll be racing back to fly somewhere else tomorrow.

But really, when you think about what Cape allows you to do, it’s kind of incredible. You’re controlling an aircraft hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away, in real time. Finding visually rich places where those drones can be operated safely and legally seems like a tricky balance. Cape’s website says the company is working on ‘unlocking new locations,’ and if one of those locations is in say, Norway or Iceland, then you’d definitely have my attention.

It’s not jetpacks, but maybe we’re getting closer.

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Lexar JumpDrive Tough is an ultra-rugged USB flash drive

25 Mar

Lexar has launched its new JumpDrive Tough, an ultra-durable version of its USB 3.1 flash drive product lineup. This model is designed to ‘withstand life’s challenges,’ according to Lexar, and to likewise protect data stored on the dongle via included EncryptStick security software with 256-bit AES encryption.

The Lexar JumpDrive Tough is resistant to temperatures ranging from -13°F to 300°F / -25°C to 149°C, water down to depths of 98 ft, and pressure/impacts up to 750psi. This durability is complemented with read speeds up to 150MB/s and write speeds up to 60MB/s. With those speeds, a 3GB video can be transferred in less than 1 minute. JumpDrive Tough is compatible with both Mac and PC, and is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 3.0.

The new flash drive is available to purchase from Lexar now in three capacities: 32GB ($ 19.99), 64GB ($ 34.99), and 128GB ($ 59.99).

Via: GlobalNewswire

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Cactus announces flash transceiver firmware upgrade to support wireless cross-brand TTL

25 Mar

Cactus has announced a series of brand-specific firmware updates for its V6 II and V6 IIs triggers that will add TTL functions alongside their cross-brand HSS support.

The triggers are already capable of high speed sync across systems, as well as remote control over flash power and zoom. The upcoming firmware updates will add the ability to support automatic TTL exposure across brands as well. The first firmware releases will support Sigma, Fujifilm and Sony, with support for Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax following one-by-one.

For more information on the Cactus V6 II triggers and compatible flashes check out the company’s website, and for more information on the upcoming firmware releases, see the press release below.

Press Release:

X-TTL TTL without Boundaries! Cactus launches FREE firmware upgrades on the V6 II and V6 IIs to support wireless cross-brand TTL.

Hong Kong, March 24, 24, 2017 – Just nine months since the release of the Cactus V6 II and Cactus V6 IIs, Cactus is now launching a series of brand-specific firmware upgrades to transform the cross-brand HSS flash triggers to one that also supports crosscross-brand wireless TTL. The new X-TTL firmware versions, apart from supporting cross-brand high-speed sync (HSS/FP), remote power and zoom control of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sigma flashes all at the same time1, NOW support automatic TTL exposure in the same cross-brand environment, both on-camera and off-camera.2

The first wave of firmware releases will be for Sigma Sony and Fujifilm. Other camera systems, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax, will follow one by one as we complete system integration on the V6 II. All these X-TTL firmware versions are free of charge for V6 II / V6 IIs users. The new firmware is system-specific so users simply choose the corresponding system when updating with the Cactus Firmware Updater. Once installed, the V6 II / V6 IIs is transformed into a cross-brand wireless TTL flash trigger.

This unique function gives photographers an unprecedented flexibility. The need for matching flashes with the same camera system for on and off-camera TTL flash photography is over – TTL without boundaries.

Cross-brand TTL

The X-TTL firmware allows users to have wireless TTL automatic exposure with camera and flash that runs on the same system, such as a Canon camera triggering a Canon flash, and one that runs on different systems, such as a Sigma camera triggering a Nikon system flash.

Similar to the cross-brand HSS firmware on the V6 II, the supported flash systems for wireless cross-brand TTL include Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and flash that runs on the same camera system.

Two unique Exposure Locks

Cactus is unveiling a brand new approach in using TTL metering. Over the past, professionals who love the convenience from TTL metering often have to suffer inconsistency in lighting outputs, making post processing a pain. In view of this Cactus devised two types of Exposure Locks.

1. Flash Compensate: Store a desired flash exposure that will automatically adjust according to changes in camera settings. Gone is the ever-changing flash exposures between each TTL metering.

2. Flash Power Lock: Lock flash power output after a desired TTL exposure is achieved. Perfect for consistency in repeat shooting. Wireless TTL functions

The X-TTL firmware will also support advanced TTL functions on the Cactus V6 II and V6 IIs, such as first and second (rear) curtain sync, on-camera TTL, group TTL metering and TTL lighting ratios3.

New support for Sigma

We are delighted to offer firmware support for Sigma cameras and flashes. This includes remote power control, remote zoom control, wireless High-speed Sync, and wireless TTL with Sigma’s SA-TTL flashes. The same cross-brand support is also available on the Sigma X-TTL firmware. Cactus expresses appreciation to SIGMA CORPORATION for their immense support in our development for Sigma system firmware.

Fujifilm TTL and HSS

With the introduction of Fujifilm new flash system launched on the EF-X500, Highspeed Sync (HSS/FP) is finally available. Besides adopting the new HSS platform, the upcoming Fujifilm X-TTL firmware also extends support for wireless TTL to Fujifilm flashes as well as Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic flashes. Fujifilm X-TTL Firmware release date will be announced on our website.

V6 IIs with Sony TTL

Existing Sony V6 IIs users already has a system-specific transceiver unit, and the upcoming Sony X-TTL firmware adds wireless TTL support for Sony flashes and other system flashes when paired with the Cactus V6 II. Sony X-TTL Firmware release date will be announced on our website.

Features at a glance

1. Cross-brand wireless manual power and zoom control with HSS/FP support of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony flashes;2

2. Cross-brand wireless TTL of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Sigma and Sony flashes;2

3. Cross-brand group TTL metering is extended to use in a cross-brand setup;3

4. TTL Ratios output adjustments can be done directly on the V6 II (TX);3

5. Two Exposure Locks offer consistency with the convenience of wireless TTL.

6. Works seamlessly with Cactus RF60X to support HSS, TTL, remote power and zoom control.

Price and Availability

System-specific X-TTL firmware versions are free of charge. Download the Cactus Firmware Updater4 and select the corresponding system firmware to install the X-TTL firmware on the Cactus V6 II and V6 IIs.

After launching the initial three systems, i.e., Sigma, Fujifilm and Sony, Cactus will continue to launch X-TTL firmware for the remaining camera systems. Stay up to date for the latest releases on X-TTL’s microsite:

1 With the exception of Pentax and Sony system flashes due to special timing requirements so they must be paired with a Pentax and Sony camera respectively in order to support HSS.

2 Only Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic system flashes support cross-brand TTL.

3 This function may not be supported on all the camera systems.

4 Cactus Firmware Updater version 3.01 or later will better facilitate firmware selection. To be released soon!

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Federal judge dismisses case against Kentucky ‘Drone Hunter’

25 Mar

A federal judge in Kentucky has dismissed a lawsuit against William Meredith, a self-proclaimed ‘Drone Hunter,’ who shot down a $ 1500 drone that was flying over his property.

The pilot, David Boggs, sued Meredith last year claiming that his drone was flying in legal airspace as determined by the FAA and therefore was not trespassing. A 1946 Supreme Court decision asserted that a property owner’s rights extend up to 83 feet in the air.

US District Judge Thomas Russell ruled that federal court is not the proper venue for the lawsuit, noting that the FAA has not enforced any regulations regarding aerial trespassing, nor was the agency a party in the suit. Instead, the Judge said that the lawsuit should be litigated in Kentucky State Court under existing trespassing laws.

Boggs’ attorneys have not said whether he will appeal to a higher court – in this case, the 6th US Circuit. In the meantime, drone pilots should probably steer clear of Meredith’s property.

Via: Ars Technica

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Mount your EOS lenses on the Fujifilm GFX with Cambo’s new adapters

25 Mar

Dutch accessory manufacturer Cambo has announced it is to produce an adapter to allow full-frame Canon EF lenses to work with the new Fujifilm GFX 50s medium-format camera. The CA-GFX sits between the camera body and the EOS lens and offers its own control dial for adjusting apertures. A small LCD displays the selected aperture but no EXIF data will be recorded by the camera.

Cambo says the adapter has been designed with the Canon T-SE tilt and shift lenses in mind as they have particularly wide covering circles which will fill the 43.8×32.9mm sensor of the GFX 50s. It isn’t clear whether other Canon lenses will cover the sensor to the same extent, but with some cropping of the edges of the frame most vignetting can be removed – with the loss of a certain number of pixels.

Earlier this month Cambo released a new ACTUS unit designed for the Fujifilm camera. The ACTUS-GFX is a bellows-and-non-rail unit that allows tilt, shift and swing movements in the front standards, as well as 27mm of vertical and 40mm of horizontal movement at the rear. The bellows unit accepts a range of medium and large format lenses via adapters. The ACTUS-GFX costs €2250 plus tax in Europe and $ 2795 in the US. No price has been released for the CA-GFX yet.

For more information see the Cambo website.

Press release

Cambo Lens Adapter for Fuji GFX50s

Cambo announces a new lens adapter to fit Canon lenses to the Fujifilm GFX50s.

The CA-GFX will be the third Canon lens adapter that Cambo have manufactured and marketed for camera movement. Having successfully adapted Canon lenses to the Cambo ACTUS (ACB-CA) and more recently the WIDE series camera (WRES-CA.) It was a natural transition to manufacture the adapter as it gives many photographers the option of using their existing lenses with the latest mirrorless, large sensor, Fujifilm GFX50s (CA-GFX.

Cambo CA-GFX Adapter
The CA-GFX adapter fits directly to the bayonet of the GFX camera body and the lens aperture is controlled electronically when dialling in the required f-stop. As there is no direct connection between lens and body, there is no data received; aperture, auto-focus or EXIF, from the lens.

Why make this lens adapter?
The Fujifilm GFX50s sensor measures 33x44mm and Canon lenses such as the 17mm T-SE and 24mm T-SE have very large image circles, they will cover the sensor size and will enable the photographer to apply movement.

Cambo CA-GFX Adapter
The CA-GFX (Product code: 99070301) is available from your local dealer.

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The Big Bend: U-Shaped ‘World’s Longest Skyscraper’ is Intentionally Absurd

24 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

the big bend

There’s lots of competition for the title of world’s tallest skyscraper, but does anyone care about the world’s longest – even when it extends vertically into an upside-down U shape? If you were to take ‘The Big Bend’ and straighten it out to stand on one end, it would extend impossibly high into the air, especially for how skinny it is. But architecture studio Oiio seems to be poking some fun at architectural norms and ‘luxury’ at the same time with this fictional structure.

the big bend 2

Designed to fit into New York City’s Billionaire’s Row, a controversial set of super tall, ultra-luxury residential skyscrapers that tend to block views and cast shadows into Central Park, The Big Bend wonders whether the prestige of an absurdly high structure still exists when it’s bent in half. It maintains roughly the same dimensions as a super tall structure, so does that mean the developers can charge as much for the apartments inside as they would if it extended all the way up into the clouds?

big bend gif

The tongue-in-cheek design repeatedly references the Monopoly-style, top-hatted caricature of a billionaire in its renderings, and the firm’s statements about their proposal reveal a frustration with the way buildings in this echelon are designed, regulated and priced.

the big bend 5 the big bend 4

“There is an undeniable obsession that resides in Manhattan,” says the firm. “It is undeniable because it is made to be seen. There are many different ways that can make a building stand out, but in order to do so the building has to literally stand out. We have become familiar with building height measurements. We usually learn about the tallest building and we are always impressed by its price per square foot. It seems that a property’s height operates as a license for it to be expensive. New York City’s zoning laws have created a peculiar set of tricks through which developers try to maximize their property’s height in order to infuse it with the prestige of a high rise structure.”

the big bend 3

“But what if we substituted height with length? What if our buildings were long instead of tall? If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules in New York, we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan. The longest building in the world. The Big Bend can become a modest architectural solution to the height limitations of Manhattan. We can now provide our structures with the measurements that will make them stand out without worrying about the limits of the sky.”

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Re-make/Re-model: Leica Summaron 28mm F5.6 Samples

24 Mar

Leica’s new Summaron 28mm F5.6 is an incredibly slim pancake lens, originally sold in the 1950s, and recently re-released in M-mount. Does it make sense in 2017?

Check out our gallery of sample images, and watch this space for a shooting report, coming in the next few days.

View our gallery of sample images

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