Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kelda 85mm f.8 at Night

As promised, I'm covering how the rather crude Kelda 85mm f1,8 manual only, Canon EF / EF-S Mount performs at night, wide open at f1.8. Getting right  to it, I had intended to try some street photography at our town's annual rock festival, but I ended up falling asleep in my chair, and woke up when it was all over. But I did grab my camera, with the Kelda already mounted, and managed a shot of the house across the street, along with a full moon. I processed the Raw files in a few different ways, and also used the camera's internal JPG engine for comparison:

EOS 5D, ISO3200, Photivo Software, Wavelet Denoising

EOS 5D, ISO3200, Photivo Software, Wavelet Denoising, G'Mic Ilford 3200

EOS 5D, ISO 3200, RawTherapee Ilford 3200++ No Denoising

EOS 5D, ISO3200 Jpeg Direct From Camera

EOS 5D, ISO3200, RawTherapee Kodak Porta 400
It is somewhat counter-intuitive to get good night shots when there are actual light sources present - I'm referring to how the house is illuminated by a LED Street Lamp which is out of the frame, and there's also the moon and the lights from the windows. In these cases, you need to under-expose by at least two stops, so that it actually looks like night-time. My camera is nearing it's 10th year and as such, it is missing the stratospheric ISO settings of the newest cameras - ISO 3200 is the maximum on the original EOS 5D. But, as I've boasted here many times, there's lot's of detail to be drawn out of this camera when increasing the exposure in Raw file processing. As you can see, the Jpg direct from camera applied so much noise reduction, the shot remains too dark, and you can't really "lift" detail out of a file that is already a Jpg.

As for the Kelda lens at night, it's hard to find fault with it. I was still able to find good focus very quickly with it's silky smooth focus ring, and in the camera's manual mode, I set the shutter speed for -3 EV, which happened to be 1/45. The "Photivo" processing, seen above in both colour and B&W are the best, I think, while the RawTherapee shots reveal a lot more detail, but at the expense of noise - nothing of which has anything to do with the lens. Everything about this lens, when used after dark wide open is reasonable, with good colour balance in spite of a very complex white balance situation, no distortion, fairly good detail in spite of aggressive exposure lifting, and finally, an obvious but tasteful amount of vignetting.

Further night shooting appears quite promising with this very cheap totally manual lens. It's not perfect, but certainly is adequate. More to come, I hope soon.

UPDATE: DxO To The Rescue!

EOS5D, ISO 3200, DxO Optics Pro, Prime Noise Reduction

EOS5D, ISO 3200, DxO Optics Pro B&W Dense

I should have just done it this way in the first place. DxO Optics Pro is still my favorite Raw File Processor, although it costs money and only runs under Windows or Mac. But it has the incredible "Prime" NR feature - best Noise Reduction ever imagined, and I put it to good use here. Photivo is great for many things, but it leaves a bit of noise on the table, and RawTherapee has no really effective NR (very simplistic and ineffective). I don't know anything about the DxO magic formula for NR, but it always works incredibly well. It cleans up noise and does not sacrifice important detail... Bravo! Anyway, the two shots above are processed with "Prime" NR, and this really opens up the detail which the Kelda 85 lens can kick out at you, even at night with a wide open f1.8. Lenses tend to go a bit soft when used wide open, especially below f2.8. More sharpness is certainly available here too, using a stopped down aperture, but it really does perform better than I expected wide open.