Saturday, April 27, 2024

Which audio production gear? (Robin Edition)

This article follows on my declaration of principles found in "Does your gear matter" located here. As a third-level teacher and trained audio engineer, I am often in a position to recommend audio gear to electronic music composers and producers. In this article I will set out a minimal threshold for professional audio production.

Friday, April 26, 2024

The best free audio plugins (Robin Edition)

It's been a while since I wrote an article in this series. Perhaps because I don't obsess over tools and am happy with what I have. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that I don't always obsess over tools... but when I do, I like to share with you!

Recently I've been asked what plugins I would recommend, assuming that you have no cash on hand. The problem is not finding plugins, as there are so many. The problem is finding tools worth using. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Cheap lens equals excellent lens?

St. Mary's interior
St. Mary's Church interior @ F4

Though sometimes I recommend lenses that might cost a few hundred clams, today I am evaluating a SMC Pentax-M 50mm F/1.7 that was €49 plus a tenner for shipping. If you are lucky enough to be in a populous country with boot sales or pawn shops, you might well find this model cheaper.

This lens was last manufactured 40 years ago, so I am somewhat late with this review!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Does your gear matter?

Does your gear matter? Simple answer: yes.

Those populists who say otherwise are perhaps simply currying favour. Or, to be generous, perhaps they are attempting to counteract the overwhelming commercialisation of the internet, where everywhere you turn someone is proclaiming the newest trinket to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

But both extremes are wrong. The newest tool won't make your practice better. But it's also true that ignoring the quality of your gear is foolish. This article will assert the review principles that I abide by, so as to place my articles here in the correct context.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

That elusive "3D pop" defined

"Chris" with the Pentax-FA 43mm Limited

Photographers have argued for decades about a certain appealing quality of an image called "3D pop". Some claim that it doesn't exist. Others concede that it does exist, but deny that lens design has anything to do with the effect. Those that promote 3D pop sometimes resort to hyperbolic claims about the characteristics of certain vintage lenses that (they claim) cannot be found in contemporary glass. The subject is so heated that a few years back it spawned a parody article which, in my opinion, did more harm than good.

Here's my take: 3D pop exists and can be well described. Certain lens designs encourage the production of this effect. While it's not necessarily true to say that older lenses are required for 3D pop, specific vintage lenses are desirable, for reasons that will be explored below.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Comparing fast vintage lenses (50mm F1.2)

I've been slowly going through my older lenses and seeing what works best with my Lumix S5. Historically, most of my photography has been on Pentax APS-C and Micro-Four-Thirds formats. A vintage lens made during the film era is more suitable for a full-frame sensor in terms of coverage, but any issues will show up more plainly. 

With that in mind, I decided to perform a quick comparison of three lenses I have on hand: Cosina 55mm 1:1.2 MC, SMC Pentax 50mm F1.2, and Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4.

50mm lenses front