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Review Wide Angle Add-On EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD

  

A few weeks back a Singapore based firm that sells the EMOLUX series of filters, conversion lenses and accessories, contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing a review of a wide-angle add-on! I naturally said YES! 🙂 It has sort of become an interest of mine and a lot of my blog readers! I was allowed to pick from their quite extensive selection of lens add-ons. Being a Canon photographer myself and also being a blogger I naturally picked an add-on for the most common Canon lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens with 58mm filter thread! For those of you that are not so familiar with Canon products this is a lens for a APS-C size sensor Canon camera.

The company has NOT interfered with my review in any way and has let me write this review in my usual style and all the results and opinions are my own!

I picked the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD 58mm as I thought that was the one most people (well at least many Canon photographers 😉 ) would be interested in. I would hope, though, that this review also would interest photographers with other camera brands as well as this wide angle add-on or conversion lens comes in many other sizes for other cameras as well! I have seen prices on the web of around €80/£71/$95 for this (November 2017). As with my previous tests I wanted to compare the add-on and kit lens combo with my $480 Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. Well, let’s start from the beginning!

Unpacking

The EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD comes in a rather stylish black, green and silver box with the usual writings on the mostly black box. I will just mention a few: 0.45x magnification, Broadband Multi Layer Anti-reflection coating and it also states that Lens Compatibility is f=28mm. I will comment on these claims in the following text.

You get the add-on packed in one of those double boxed solutions. With a nice looking outer box and a sturdy brown carton inner box. The lens add-on is packed in a proper faux leather, slightly padded, lens pouch with a 86mm lens cap and a 58mm rear lens cover.

As can be seen from the picture the wide angle lens add-on is much wider then the Zeikos ZE-WA58B that I tested previously. The Emolux looks as if it could actually do the job – properly! It is weighing 312 gr on my scale – bare! And 375 gr with covers and lens pouch. Together with the kit lens the combo weighs 512 gr. That is very close to the same weight as that of the Sigma (508 gr) – albeit the Sigma is then including a lens hood!

Removing the large spring loaded plastic lens cap reveals the almost(?) flat front lens. It is obviously anti-reflex coated as one can see green, blue and purple slight reflections from the lenses inside the add-on. They call it “Broadband Multi Layer Anti-reflection” coating and I can not dispute that.

What puzzles me a little is that it states that Lens Compatability is f=28mm. It is very natural to assume that is means that it works well with a wide angle lens with equivalent focal length of 28mm! In my case it would have to mean f=18mm as that is the equivalent of f=28.8 – using the Canon crop factor of 1.6 – maybe even with 0.8 mm to spare! It does NOT say anything like that on the box so these (in my opinion very reasonable) assumptions are my own! As you will see from my following testing this seems to be correct!

The Add-On

The EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD is a rather impressive looking add-on. It widens in two separate steps from the 58 mm filter thread at the back. First it widens onto a rubber coated grip-friendly ring and then the second widening is to the full 88 mm outer brim – filter thread is slightly less at 86 mm. It is quite easy to hold it both on the rim and especially well on rubberized inner ring. It looks quite impressive screwed onto the rather anonymous 18-55mm lens. Want to impress someone? This add-on is the thing to get! 😉 All the lens surfaces are clean looking and looking through the lens is like looking trough crystal clear water! It is built as one single unit. Nothing that can be screwed apart – as with the other add-ons. The rear lens is opening a full 52.5 mm towards the original lens – boding good for the light transfer! We will soon see if this bears out in the testing!

Using the Add-On

These types of add-on lenses you screw onto the front of an ordinary lens using its filter thread. That said the add-on must naturally have the proper size to fit in your lens filter thread. In my case 58 mm. It will fit on all (most?) lenses with 58 mm filter thread. These types of wide angle add-ons makes most sense to use either on a fixed prime lens or on a zoom lens. It is also worth noting that as the reason for having a wide angle add-on is (naturally) to get a wider angle of view so the zoom lens should (naturally) be used in the wide angle end! There is no idea using the tele side of the zoom lens with this type of add-on! There exists instead teletype of add-ons for that particular purpose!

Screwing the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD onto my Canon EF-S 18-55 mm was quite easy. You want to be a litle careful as the Canon lens is made of plastic and the Emolux is made from metal! A trick is to place it against the thread and turn it slightly backwards till you feel a little “bump” – then carefully try to feel if it will catch the proper thread. Repeat until successful! Works best – I think – with the camera on the back with the lens pointing upwards!

This review would not be complete if I did not mention that this is a substantial piece of lens to put onto your original lens. It is quite an impressive chunk – it booth looks impressive and feels it too! (See the picture to the left!) It works surprisingly well with automatic focusing – you feel the focusing move a little clearer but it focuses almost as quickly as normal. The contrast focusing in live view seems to need just a little bit extra time. Manual focusing I think feels actually a little better than normal, because of the bigger diameter – especially the rubberized ring! As you can see i  the picture it is much bigger than the original focus ring!

How about the 0.45x?

Is the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD converting the 18mm of the kit lens to 0.45 x 18mm = 8.1 mm? Well, I have to say no! It is the same as other wide angle add-ons with the same statement.  They are not stating that it is actually converting the focal length that much – but it is sooo easy for us consumers to jump to that conclusion! As I have calculated earlier the focal length you get is around 11.8mm which gives you an additional 0.45x the area or 45% more area coverage. If you are interested the resulting focal length factor is around 0.65x. At the wide angle end of a zoom lens every mm matters a lot – even just 1.8mm difference to Sigmas 10mm! You can easily see in the comparison pictures that the Sigma has a wider angle at its 10 mm setting – which I think has proved this point!

Testing

Emolux 0.45x PRO HD at widest angle  1/30 sec f:8.0 ISO:500 Tripod used

First of all: How should you test two “lenses” like this? What is a fair comparison? How would you use a wide angle lens combo like this? Well, I would use it at its widest angle – naturally depending on the motif! 😉 What I mean is that I would not want to keep off using the widest angle – so it would have to be good enough! I have refrained from any detailed comparison of the Emolux and other add-ons I have tested because this is a real add-on conversion lens! It is much more relevant to compare the Emolux add-on to a proper wide angle lens like the Sigma!

Also to consider is how you intend to use the pictures! Is it smaller pictures shown on the web? Then you are lucky as you can pick as you please – because it will matter very little – sharpness wise. No one will see any direct fault with your pictures whichever alternative you pick! Do you intend to make large meter size prints? Well then only the best lens and the best aperture for that lens will do!

Emolux sample picture of the reddish leaves and the tree trunks. The slight hill is emphasized by the lens being pointed slightly downwards. Another sample taken straight up into the trees with their yellow leaves. (Click the sample pictures to see them full size!)

The first test spin I took the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD was on a lovely, sunny, but a little cold autumn day shortly after lunch. Here in Sweden we are just finishing autumn and will move into winter any day now! I naturally brought along my Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM for comparison.

Emolux 0.45x PRO HD at widest angle  1/160 sec f:3.5 ISO:100 Freehand

The local park with its colourful autumn leaves I thought would be a great place to try it out. I screwed the EMOLUX onto my Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens and, with the camera on a tripod, I took a number of comparison pictures with the help of a infrared remote control and I also took a number of free hand sample pictures. My main camera nowadays is Canon EOS 760D, an APS-C cropped sensor camera, and I naturally used that for this test. I got a number of pictures done!

The second test spin was a few days later and I thought that winter slowly had begun because of a thin layer of snow and a few degrees below frezzing. I was waiting for the light to improve and it was a little late in the afternoon before I could go out for the test. The light was fading so quickly that I decided to go out a third time.

I really had to wait for the third test spin to get a day with decent light! Finally it arrived and I brought along all my stuff outside once more. The list of all the settings and different combinations that I wanted to do, the tripod, all the lenses, camera, warm gloves and a nice knitted cap! Now all the previous (little) snow had disappeared and turned into water and mostly been sucked up by the grass and soil. The temperature a few degrees above freezing. A pale sun barely crept over the horizon.

At last I had all the comparison pictures of all the settings and with all the lenses in reasonable similar lighting conditions, that I wanted! I have compared the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HDCanon EF-S 18-55 mm (“the Combo”) with both the Canon EF-S 18-55 mm (“the Kit Lens”) and the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM.

According to my calculations with the “Combo” you will get a new wide angle zoom with the range 11.8-36.1 mm.

Full Screen Viewing

Full screen viewing is when the picture is shown on the display screen so that you can see the whole picture at the same time on the display! That also means that it is scaled down to the resolution of the display screen. All viewing was done on a 24″, 1920×1200 pixel, factory colour calibrated, DELL U2410 computer display. All comparison pictures are taken with “Av” mode (aperture value selection) and fully automatic exposure.

First of all, vignetting is practically zero – this really works as a wide angle add-on should work! Vignetting is the darkening of the corners and can be seen on the other wide angle add-on reviews I have made. I could use it at my widest angle of the 18-55 mm lens and no noticeable vignetting! This is clearly where the Emolux has its greatest advantage compared to some other smaller add-ons! Or, as I already have said, rather it works as one would expect a wide angel add-on to work – with no vignetting! It would also be really super on a video camera or any camera with a fixed lens – when this is the only way to get the wider angle! In the sample pictures above you can easily see that there is no vignetting! (Click the sample pictures above to see them full size!)

Lets start with the widest angle for the Combo 11.8 mm and compare that to the Sigma. At the largest aperture (shown in the TrippleCrop) I think that the Emolux Combo corner actually is a little sharper than the Sigma lens. Also, as you will see in the following comparison the Sigma generally gives a slightly darker exposure. ‘

As we stop down the lenses the difference gets so small that I would call them both as sharp or at least extremely difficult to differentiate from each other. The optimal aperture for all lenses is around f11.0 give or take 1 f-stop.

Continuing with widest angle that all three lenses have in common – the resulting focal length of 18 mm with full aperture. I have included that focal length here for completeness sake as you would probably not want to unscrew the Emolux every time you need something else than the widest angle! So it is interesting to see how it performs also at this focal length!

For the resulting focal length of 18 mm: ALL the pictures from ALL the lenses look perfect in the major centre part of the pictures when viewed full screen on a 24″, 1920×1200 pixel, factory calibrated, DELL U2410 screen. I will not bother to show cut outs for this as they all look very similar!

At their largest aperture you can see a slight softening or blurring at the very corners for the kit lens and then naturally also a little more for the Emolux – while the Sigma, that at 18 mm not is used at its widest angle, is nice and sharp. The Sigma though shows similar slight blurring at 10 mm – when viewed at full screen. The TrippleCrops shown above were all taken at the largest aperture opening of each lens (from left 3.5, 4.0, and 5.6). (Click TrippleCrop above to see it pixel for pixel on your screen!)

Less blurring is visible at the top and bottom sides.

For 18 mm corner softness improves a lot by stopping down the lenses. At each lens’s optimal aperture there is practically no difference at all in full screen viewing for any part of the picture! That goes for all other focal lengths as well. There is slightly more corner blurring at the widest angles 11.8 mm and 10 mm – both for Emolux and Sigma. Nothing to get worked up about and at lesser picture sizes not noticeable! And this is also probably the way that most people will use the pictures! BUT if you need pin sharpness then stopping down might be good enough for you or else you will have to shift lenses!

At the maximum tele setting for the Combo 36.1 mm the sharpness at full aperture is respectable with the Emolux but it is better with the kit lens. Even if sharpness gets better for both lenses as you stop down the kit lens is slightly sharper. The TrippleCrop illustrates this well – a difference but not that big.

Summary full screen viewing:

Very similar sharpness for all three lenses for the major centre part for all apertures and all focal lengths! Slight blurring of corners for the wider angles for kit and slightly more for Emolux at larger apertures – but diminishing at smaller apertures. All in all very similar sharpness.

 

“Pixel Peeping” or “Microscope View”

If you intend to do large scale prints – maybe meter (several feet) size – then you should chose your photo equipment accordingly! You should probably go for a full size sensor and very expensive lenses. You would also need to use the best aperture for your lens and naturally also a sturdy tripod – this is not for everybody!

“Pixel Peeping” is when the picture is shown on the display screen so that you can see each pixel of the picture on the display! That also means that you can only see part of the picture and will have to scroll around the display screen. All viewing was done on a 24″, 1920×1200 pixel, factory colour calibrated, DELL U2410 computer display. All comparison pictures are taken with “Av” mode (aperture value selection) and fully automatic exposure.

A typical 24″ full HD screen is 20.5″ wide with a horisontal resolution of 1920 pixels. The pictures from my Canon EOS 760D has a resolution of 6000×4000 pixels. Looking at such a picture on a pixel for pixel basis would result in looking at a picture with a total size of over 3 times the width of my screen. It would actually be over 64″ /5 feet/162 cm wide! We should always keep that in mind when we now look at the following TrippleCrops and comparison pictures on the pixel level! Here any difference will be seen!

At the widest setting – 11.8mm

Looking att the pixel level the corners of these pictures does not look very sharp at fully open aperture. The shock is that “the Combo” is actually better than the expensive Sigma – the aperture for the Emolux is f4.0 and for the Sigma at this focal length it is f4.5. Here you can also see that there is some chromatic aberration – cyan (bluish) for the Emolux and magenta (reddish) for the Sigma. Also the difference in exposure is quite big!

Stopping down aperture to f11.0 improves the sharpness quite a bit! Also the chomatic aberration is less and now both are in the purple range. But still I think that the Emolux is sharper than the Sigma – and that goes for the entire f-stop range!

The centre sharpness is very good through the whole f-stop range! Fantastic that the low price Combo is actually as good as the Sigma all over the f-stop range! Here the exposure difference is small.

 

Comparison and Sample Pictures

Click them to see the full size pictures!

Emolux 11.8 mm f11

Sigma 10 mm f11.0

Above: Sample pictures with the Emolux and the Sigma lens at their widest 11.8 mm and 10 mm at f11.0. Not directly comparable but you can easily see the difference in wide angles! The Sigma is slightly wider.

 

Emolux 11.8 mm f11

Sigma 11.6 mm f11

Above: Full size comparison picture from Emolux and Sigma at optimum f-stop.

 

Emolux 11.8mm f8.0

Emolux 11.8 mm f6.3

Emolux 11.8 mm f3.5

Review Summary of the EMOLUX 0.45X PRO HD

This is altogether something completely different from the cheap wide angle add-ons that I have tested previously. (Read those reviews here!)

Here the Emolux is tested on the popular Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens.

First of all, I can see NO vignetting – this really works as a wide angle add-on should work! I could use it at my widest angle of the 18-55 mm lens and – and no noticeable vignetting! This is clearly where the Emolux has its greatest advantage! Or, as I already have said, rather it works as one would expect a wide angel add-on to work! It would also be really super on a video camera or any camera with a fixed lens – when this is the only way to get the wider angle!

With the huge front lens gathering a lot of light I saw no change of exposure times compared to using only the kit lens – even if that was not in my testing scope. That is always good! As I took natural pictures in a naturally varying environment this could also be due to natural variations between lens swaps. It could go either way!

The centre sharpness is very good through the whole f-stop range! Practically as good as the Sigma and almost as good as the kit lens.

Talking about corner and edge sharpness gives a more mixed result. I can not say that the corner sharpness is good! But this has to be considered in comparison of what to expect! The sharpness can naturally not be any better than the lens on which it is attached! The corner sharpness is naturally the toughest to master as this is the widest of angle of the picture.

Comparing the Emolux to the Sigma shows that surprisingly the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD has actually better corner sharpness than the $480 Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM lens for just 1/5th of the cost! Remember that the Sigma gives you a little wider angle at its 10 mm setting. Even if the Emolux beat the Sigma neither is really as super sharp as I want my dream wide angle to be! But I wonder at what cost…? 😦

The EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD is definitely a quite usable alternative to a wide angle lens with quite good quality. For this low price though you have to accept some compromises concerning corner sharpness.

Conclusion

So is the EMOLUX 0.45x PRO HD worth having? I would say yes – if you want a wider angle of decent to good quality at a reasonable price! Most especially if your camera can not swap lenses – then this is a very good solution! For this price though you have to accept some compromises concerning corner sharpness.! Also remember that this combo is bulkier, but need not be heavier, than a single lens solution.

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Review Wide Angle 0.67x Phone Clip-on

0.67x180degrkit

Once again I return to testing a Wide Angle Add-on but this time it is actually a Wide Angle and Fish Eye Clip-on and it is for a mobile (cell) phone camera. Again it was very cheap! Ebay £1.20/$1.80 – so I was not expecting much! The question is naturally if you are entitled to expect a lot? For that low price! Well that is an open discussion without much of chance of a single correct answer! So … I will mostly be checking out if the kit is usable at all and show you a few sample pictures so you can see yourself what to expect!

I have used my iPhone 6 for all the sample pictures! But you should get the same results with any decent camera. It will fit any mobile (cell) phone camera as long as the camera is surrounded by a, mostly, flat area. You might have to slant the clip-on to one side so that you will have something for the clip-on to clip on! See the picture above or on the side – in which you can see that the bottom part of the clip-on is actually shorter than the top part!

Be sure to check out my review of a 0.45x Wide Angle Add-On for ordinary cameras!

What I got was 7 parts; clip-on holder, 0.67x wide angle + macro combo, 180° fish eye, two plastic lens covers and a small pouch to keep it all in. That is if you do not count the two small plastic bags that contained the lenses. You could get it in several different colours – I got a rather nice shade of blue!

067xmacroLooking at the lenses mechanically they are very well built! Made from anodized aluminium and have threads that work very well. Here you can see the two-part wide angle clip-on as separate pieces.  This is not a very advanced optical construction – just two lenses. But they are at least made of glass! As far as I can see there is no anti reflex coating on the lenses. You screw them together to use the 0.67x wide (as you can see on the first picture, above) and unscrew the “front lens” and use only the part marked “MACRO” when you want to take macro pictures. 😉 You only get two lens covers – for the front of the lenses but no back covers! So the plastic bags are kind of necessary to keep the rear lens elements clean! The clip-on is (naturally) made from plastic and is spring loaded and also padded to keep it attached to the phone without leaving any marks! It will fit on almost any mobile phone camera – as long as there is at least some flat area around the lens! It does not matter if the lens protrudes a bit as long as it is less than 3 millimetres – just over 1/10th of an inch and the diameter of the protrusion is less than 9 mm! It is OK attached tho the phone but it will fall off if you are a rubbing it a little bit too much and too hard against other items.

 

Macro Lens

CloseUp1WithoutCloseUp2Looking at the lenses optically the story is a bit more varied! Starting with just the macro lens. First of all – it gets you very close to your subject! Its depth of field is very narrow – just a few millimetres or 1/10 th of an inch! It does give reasonable sharpness in the centre of the picture so pictures like the sample picture on the side works surprisingly well! But note that this type of motif is ideal for this lens as that there is nothing along the edges of the picture so except for the middle of the picture everything else is in a … rather nice soft blur! You can also see the difference in close up limit without the macro lens. The two first sample pictures illustrate how close as you can get with and without the macro lens. By taking into account the shallow depth of field and moving the camera you can get more of the flower in focus as the third picture (of another flower!)  illustrates. Just click on the pictures to see them full size!

SkittlesCloseUpSkittlesFullI have added two more sample pictures that I think shows very well the sharpness that is obtainable with the macro lens. Skittles – I love ’em! 🙂 Note also the difference in the depth of field between the both photos! The second one – without macro lens – is practically sharp all over the (too) small bag of Skittles! Check out the full size macro picture and see how sharp the printed dots are! I also think that the colours comes out as they should – with no changes at all! The iPhone was set for fully automatic and I used the standard Apple camera app! That software can naturally have compensated for any change in colour temperature – but I do not know if it has! These are the results you will get also!

CloseUp3Without2Using the macro lens with a flat motif, the shortcomings of this lens is very obvious! It will not give a sharp picture over the whole area! Feels a little like you have twisted the zoom during exposure! Is this really useful? As always it depends on what you want to use the pictures for! It is rather cool to be able to get as close as this and the pictures do have a sort of novelty feel for macro pictures with a mobile camera – at least for the flower pictures above! The two pictures to the left also illustrate how close as you can get with and without the macro lens. The macro picture is taken at the very centre of the other picture.

Conclusion is that this macro lens is OK for “natural” non-flat motifs but is not very suitable if you want to document your stamp collection!

 

The other two lenses

First of all I have to really stress that these clip-ons does NOT give sharp pictures!

But as always there are different levels to sharpness and also the position of sharpness! Another important factor to get maximum sharpness with this clip-on is how well centred it is over the camera lens!

There are two clip-on lenses to compare; a 0.67x wide angle and a fish-eye.

180SelfieAll lenses can be attached to both the ordinary front facing camera and to the “selfie” camera. It is actually a little easier to attach the lens to the side where the “selfie” camera is, because it is located further from the edges of the phone. I expect that the close-up lens will not be of any real use for the “selfie” camera! There is soft plastic area on both clamps of the clip-on that press against the phone so as to not scratch it.

You need to be very careful about centring the clip-on exactly in the middle over the camera lens! Look through the clip-on lens when you do this – you will then see the camera lens very clearly! Make sure you get the camera lens exactly in the middle. Also, when you switch on the camera you will see the dark vignetting in the outer edges/corners. If it looks as if the picture not is centred then move the lens a bitt to get it centred! Be careful once you have it in position as the whole clip-on – lens combo is quite easy to knock off the camera or move it away from the centre position.

 

 

Wide Angle Lens 0.67x

iphone6_originaliphone6_wideangleI will start with the wide angle clip-on. First picture is original iPhone lens with no clip-on. Second picture is with wide-angle clip-on. Click on pictures to see full size pictures! The wide angle does give very powerful vingetting, that is: dark corners! It also gives a big drop in sharpness, especially along the edges and the corners. Or I should maybe rephrase that and say that it is only reasonably sharp in the centre of the picture sharpness drops significantly as you move away from the centre part! But even in the centre there is not as good sharpness as without the clip-on! The picture  also has most other forms of distortion!

The difference to the original camera lens is striking! So picture quality in just one word: BAD!

 

Fish-Eye Lens

iphone6_originaliphone6_fisheyeAs above the first picture is the original iPhone6 picture and the second picture is with the clip-on. The fish-eye clip-on gives almost a circular picture with black sides and corners! Notice the very unsharp branches on the left! Not much good to say about the picture quality at all!

As for the wide angle clip-on: the quality in just one word: BAD!

 

Conclusion

Well, this is very cheap product and the wide angle and fish eye lenses are almost useless due to their low picture quality! Still, the close-up lens is quite fun – but only when you have the motifs just in the centre! The clip-on is also quite large and is easy to knock off.

As the close-up lens does give ok sharpness (at least in the middle of the picture) I still think it is a fun thing to have for less than $2! But you might as well loose the other two lenses!

You can buy the same lenses – for a few dollars more – with magnetic attachment instead of clip-on. Probably even easier to knock off – but if you are just using the slim close-up lens it might be a more handy and compact solution!

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Review Wide Angle 0.45x Add-On – Part 2

WideAngleAdd-OnS

In my previous review of a Zeikos ZE-WA58B 0.45x wide angle add-on one aspect that I forgot to write about is how sharpness is affected by aperture. As this is one of my most popular articles I wanted to rectify this shortcoming! I talked to one of the readers of this blog, Somu Padma, and he kindly offered to do the test and has sent in the resulting pictures he took with a similar wide angled add-on, the Power Pak. Thank you! It seems very much like my own wide angle add-on – except for the name!

Especially interesting is the ones he took with his AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1.8G DX – a very good prime lens. This is a good use for an add-on like this – to widen a lens with a “normal” focal length. Somu had a real challenge to take pictures with all apertures – on that sunny day! So much that the pictures that I selected start at 2.8 – a little stopped down. This is also good in that the lens in itself will not affect the sharpness of the pictures too much. The Nikkor lens is especially good if you stop down to f2.8.

A recommendation is to unscrew any filters (UV or similar) before screwing on the wide angle add-on to get the add-on as close as possible to the front of the lens. This minimizes the vignette if you use it with a wider angle lens to start with! Remember from my first article on the subject that the vignette is very pronounced up till around 22 mm focal length (with APS-C sensor). Read about that and also what “0.45x” really means here!

Pictures have all been taken with the camera, a Nikon D5200, on a tripod. Automatic setting on both exposure (A for aperture selection) and focus.

f2.8

f2.8

f8.0

f8.0

f16

f16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These three pictures I think illustrates very well the effect aperture has on the picture sharpness. Here we can see that the smaller apertures give a much better sharpness.

The f2.8 picture is very very soft along the edges – too much to be ignored really! Can maybe be used for an “old-time soft” effect though … Please see the full resolution picture to really appreciate the amount of softness and the linked loss of contrast!

At f8.0 it is acceptably sharp (for the price!) – especially if you intend to use it only scaled down for web publication or similar. Centre sharpness is naturally best and optimum seems to be around f8.0. Edge sharpness and contrast have picked up very well but there is still some softness left.

At f16 it is still acceptably sharp and stays with similar sharpness also at f22. It is difficult to say exactly but centre sharpness seem to have gone down very slightly and edge sharpness have improved still a little bit!

Just click on the pictures to see them at full resolution.

TrippleCrop_PowerPakWideAngleAdd-On_Edge

TrippleCrop_PowerPakWideAngleAdd-On_Centre

I have also included two “Tripple Crops” where you can see small 100% pixel for pixel sections from the original full resolution pictures at centre and edge. Click it to see them at 100% size!

Conclusion:

It is a very cheap way of getting a wider angle lens – but remember that it is at a quality loss! Might be the only alternative for cameras with a fixed lens! For moving motifs it is hard to beat the price for this type of wide angle add-on! There exists more expensive products – that might give higher quality!

If you are photographing stationary motifs I would certainly recommend you to take a panoramic shot instead! Either just two or more pictures side by side to get a wider panoramic picture or take a matrix of pictures to get the normal wide angle height as well and join them together with Microsoft ICE – read my article about how to do it here! This way you get top quality with higher sharpness and more pixels for an even lower price – free! 🙂

Once again, thank you Somu for your help with the pictures for this article!

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Arduino Battery Capacity Tester

Ar2uinoBatteryIllustrationS  NOTE! This Arduino Battery Capacity Tester has been updated!
See the new, improved and simplified version of the
New Battery Capacity Tester!

 

Arduino Battery Capacity Tester CircuitTo automate the testing of (camera)batteries and to make the tests repeatable I came up with a small circuit controlled by a Arduino microcontroller  – you can see the UPDATED battery capacity tester circuit on the left. (If anyone is interested I can put up the Arduino program that controls it.) I have used this on my tests of camera batteries – check them out!

Someone was! 🙂  (Interested in the Arduino program!) Link at the bottom of this post! The program outputs measurements to the serial monitor.  I just copy it from there to Excel and do the calculations and graphics in Excel.

After some consideration about the measurement process I decided to try to approximate the real world picture-taking – but I also wanted a repeatable and reasonable easy and quick way of comparing different batteries. The circuit I decided on can handle the three most common batteries: 1.2 V NiMh, 3.7  and 7.4 V Li-ion by changing the load resistor. I wanted the load to mimic the actual taking of pictures by applying the load for a number of shorter times – like taking pictures.

For the 3.7 V Li-ion batteries on test here I decided that, as the battery according to Canon should give about 300 pictures, I would apply the load in around 300 short intervals. That ideally translated to a 5.2 ohm resistor giving around 500 mA load for 16 seconds each. Settled for a more standard resistor of 5.6 ohm. The load in this case is around 2.5 watts so use an appropriate resistor – with higher rating unless you want it to get very hot! 🙂  I also decided to let the battery “catch its breath”  for 16 seconds between each “picture” – again mimicking (very oversimplified) the real world behaviour while keeping the time down. Initially I wanted to follow a “real” standard like the CIPA one – but it was much to complicated for me and would involve far too much manual work. More to read about battery measurement in the CIPA document – but be warned it is very technical!

PEPs This 16 second 5.6 ohm load followed by a 16 second rest period just had to have a name so I called it Photoman Equivalent Picture samples (PEPs) – cool eh? 😉 NOTE that this is not real pictures taken but gives a good enough approximation – especially for comparing batteries! . The circuit takes into account the resistance of the MOSFET transistor used – just below 0.4 ohm – but it lowers the load a little bit. Running through the whole test takes about 3 hours per battery. Cut off voltage is 3.0 V for Li-ion batteries so that is where I stopped the tests. (This goes well with my Canon S95 that signals empty battery at that voltage.)

mAh My testing method also gives the capacity in mAh under the above “simulated real world picture-taking” conditions. Note that under other (“laboratory”) conditions these batteries can give other mAh capacities – but as I do it the same way in all my tests you can compare the results between the batteries that I test.

Here is a link to the Arduino program: BatteryCapacityTester

NOTE: Right click on the link and select “Save target as…” Due to limitations with WordPress this Arduino source code file has been given the extension “.doc”. After saving this to your disk rename the extension to “.ino”.

As usual if anything goes wrong or gets broken by using this information I am sorry – but all the decisions are yours!

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Canon NB-6L Compatible Battery Capacity

I have previously tested some of the electrical aspects of Canon NB-6L original and compatible batteries for my Canon PowerShot S95. These tests were sprung from a wish to minimise the risk of using a compatible battery. By comparing the electrical aspects I hoped to see if they were similar enough that I dared to use them in my camera! I am glad to say they were! I refer you to my previous post on NB-6L compatible batteries to read about the tests in more detail. (That test has now been updated to include the new Broadbattery battery mentioned below!) Maybe you will dare to try it as well? But remember that the risk is yours!

I was recommended a really low price and high-capacity (1600 mAh!) NB-6L compatible battery by one of my readers – thanks Francois! He found it on eBay at a shop called Broadbattery. Depending on where you live and how lucky you are in the bidding it can cost as little as $ 0.90 including shipping! (Which is a really super price!) I got mine for $2 + $2 shipping. It has just been delivered and I have now started the tests of this new battery – will update this article as soon as I have finished the tests – in a day or two!

As the selling point here was the high capacity I decided that just to measure the batteries under load was not enough – I needed a way to do battery capacity testing. Below you can see the results for all three batteries. Testing was done in a way as to simulate a real world picture taking.

For the technically curious

Arduino Battery Capacity Tester CircuitTo automate the test and to make it repeatable I came up with a small circuit controlled by a Arduino microcontroller  – you can see the UPDATED battery capacity tester circuit on the left. (If anyone is interested I can put up the Arduino program that controls it.)

Someone was! 🙂  (Interested in the Arduino program!) It outputs measurements to the serial monitor.  I just copy it from there to Excel and do the calculations and graphics in Excel.
See a separate post on this!

After some consideration about the measurement process I decided to try to approximate the real world picture-taking – but I also wanted a repeatable and reasonable easy and quick way of comparing different batteries. The circuit I decided on can handle the three most common batteries: 1.2 V NiMh, 3.7  and 7.4 V Li-ion by changing the load resistor. I wanted the load to mimic the actual taking of pictures by applying the load for a number of shorter times – like taking pictures.

For the 3.7 V Li-ion batteries on test here I decided that, as the battery according to Canon should give about 300 pictures, I would apply the load in around 300 short intervals. That ideally translated to a 5.2 ohm resistor giving around 500 mA load for 16 seconds each. Settled for a more standard resistor of 5.6 ohm. I also decided to let the battery “catch its breath”  for 16 seconds between each “picture” – again mimicking (very oversimplified) the real world behaviour while keeping the time down. Initially I wanted to follow a “real” standard like the CIPA one – but it was much to complicated for me and would involve far too much manual work. More to read about battery measurement in the CIPA document – but be warned it is very technical!

PEPs
This 16 second 5.6 ohm load followed by a 16 second rest period just had to have a name so I called it Photoman Equivalent Picture samples (PEPs) – cool eh? 😉 NOTE that this is not real pictures taken but gives a good enough approximation – especially for comparing batteries! . The circuit takes into account the resistance of the MOSFET transistor used – just below 0.4 ohm – but it lowers the load a little bit. Running through the whole test takes about 3 hours per battery. Cut off voltage is 3.0 V for Li-ion batteries so that is where I stopped the tests. (This goes well with my Canon S95 that signals empty battery at that voltage.)

mAh
My testing method also gives the capacity in mAh under the above “simulated real world picture-taking” conditions. Note that under other (“laboratory”) conditions these batteries can give other mAh capacities – but as I do it the same way in all my tests you can compare the results between the batteries that I test.

NOTE: As usual if anything goes wrong or gets broken by using this information I am sorry – but the all decisions are yours!

NOTE! New and improved Battery Tester at my Ar2uino Blog!

Capacity Test Results

To not get your (and my) hopes up too high I include an excerpt from a comment I made a few weeks back: After testing a few different batteries I am sorry to say that I strongly doubt that the capacity ratings given on these (and on most other cheap batteries) are much to go by – expect them instead to most often be around or slightly below the original battery. Most manufacturers seem to use the same (probably most cost effective) production – making them very similar in capacity”

That’s enough tech talk … now over to the result of the tests. I charged all batteries before the test and allowed them to rest for 10 min before starting the tests. This is what I got:

Rather typical Li-ion discharge curves – first a slowly sinking voltage and then an abrupt plunge! But the batteries looks quite different! Up to about 180 PEPs the curves keep very well together. A quick look at the discharge curves shows that the best performer is the Canon original battery.

Canon original
The curve shows an unusual stamina after about 280 PEPs working hard att keeping the voltage up. It is quite clear that the Canon original battery gave quite a lot more PEPs on one charge. Canon gave 352 PEPs and a capacity close to its claimed 1000 mAh by reaching 950 mAh(It also says “min 940 mAh” on the battery.)

Broadbattery – Unbranded
The curve starts out high – actually a little higher even than the original but when it reaches its limit then it plunges very quickly! Broadbattery came second with a very small margin (more like shared second place) with 288 PEPs and 780 mAh. This was after all a “small” disappointment as it promised 1600 mAh! Would have been nice with a really high capacity battery for the Canon S95. The battery should really be marked with “800 mAh” or something … (I have been in contact with the pleasant people at Broadbattery to see if it just is my sample – but I would not guess so… if so I will of course update this info!)

Deal Extreme – GodP
The curve is like a standard typical LI-ion curve from a textbook. The Deal Extreme battery gave 284 PEPsvery close to the Broadbattery. The Deal Extreme battery is marked with 850 mAh but did not quite reach that with 770 mAh

Conclusion 

It is definitely a difference between the three batteries – but is it worth the extra price and the risk..? That is something you have to decide for yourself… (Tip: I have bought a few compatibles…) I can still not say that I have a corresponding real world capacity figure – I seem to forget all the time and just change the batteries as they run flat. What seems quite clear is that you get a little less capacity for a lot less price!

An extra comment on the battery from Broadbattery is that apart from that they claim a much too high capacity – the battery seems to be very similar to the Deal Extreme one – so if you live somewhere to where they do free shipping and if you are a bit lucky at bidding  – this might still be a real bargain!

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Tamrac Camera Case

Having used an old camera case for some time for my Canon PowerShot S95 I decided to get a more suitable one. My requirements were: would allow easy access, would fit the camera snuggly, would have room for a spare battery and would attach to my belt securely. After googling and binging the web I settled for the Tamrac 5686 Ultra-Compact Digital Camera Pouch from Amazon for the reasonable price of  85 SEK/9 €. This is a review of it and what I thought.

First thing to notice was that it did not look as the illustration at either Amazon or at Tamrac. I actually liked the design I got better! Lucky me! 🙂

Yes, the camera fits snuggly – so snuggly it actually sticks out about 5-8 mm on top which I think is quite ok. I certainly prefer that to a bigger case! Width and depth is perfect for the S95. The shape of the case – ever so slightly arc-shaped in the front – fits the slightly protruding barrel of the S95 like it was constructed for it! It just slides into the case without a hinge! The “lid” closes perfectly over the top and the velcro is wide enough to grip very tightly.I do prefer the velcro type of lid to the zip when it comes to easy access! On the positive – or negative – side it does make a noise when you lift the lid!

There is a pocket in the front – about 5 x 7 cm – with an internal velcro about 1 cm down to keep things from sliding out – making the pocket about 5 x 5 cm – if you use the velcro. As you can see in the picture (above right) you might even let a flat object stick out of the pocket if you want to – making the usable size about 5 x 9 cm. The lid closes over the pocket. This pocket is ideal for the camera battery or an extra memory card or any other relatively flat object!

At the back of the case there is a sturdy strap to attach the camera case to your belt.  It is equipped with double velcro!  Both on the inside – like most camera cases I have had – but the Tamrac has an extra velcro on the outside of the strap with a security flap the you fold bach up over it – making the risk of losing the camera seem highly unlikely! This is something I appreciate a lot – having in the past thought of extra security solutions with sewn on carbide hooks and other complications to minimize the risk of dropping/losing the case – and my camera!

The velcro used in the case seems to be of good very sturdy and tightly gripping quality! Time will tell how well it lasts from repeated openings… The fabric also seems well-chosen for its use. Both soft and a little silky and sturdy at the same time. The case is also padded slightly to protect the camera.

The only hang up I have is the very thick plastic badge sewn onto the lid …

Conclusion

The Tamrac 5686 is a really good case that breathes quality and good thinking! I do recommend it for the Canon S95 or similarly sized cameras! (Like Canon S90, Ixus 750, Ixus 860IS, Samsung WB2000…)

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DIY Light Box

Having started this Photoman Camera Reviews blog I realized that I had a need for a small light box to get a decent neutral and soft light to photograph the cameras and other small gadgets to illustrate what I write about – “A picture is worth a thousand words!”. I started by googling the web and found a number of products ranging from 140 SEK/€16/$20 and upwards – not incl shipping! They do not cost that much to send for but wanting one very quickly I dashed out to the big IKEA store and had a look for something suitable and found the IKEA SKUBB box that is available in two sizes  – one larger  and one smaller. They come in sets – the smaller one is three for 139 SEK/€15/$20 and the bigger is two for 159 SEK/€17/$22 – share the cost with a friend or two! They can be folded away when not in use – you might even use them as boxes and put stuff in them! 😉

But as I explained to my girlfriend what I wanted the boxes for she remembered something similar in a wardrobe at home – so we bought some other stuff and went home. Yes, she was right! We had a number of different size simple white boxes made from waffle-like non-woven fabric and stabilized by thin wooden sticks. I picked the largest that we had – 30 cm/1 foot each side! Big enough for the small objects I intend to photograph. 🙂

This is how the non-woven fabric looks like close up. It is a little stiff but not very thick. It lets through light reasonably well. The bottom (or the back part as I have turned the box in the picture) is stiffened up with a sewn in cardboard so that lets through no light. It is also the bottom part that makes the box keep its shape reasonably well – it is not sturdy and it does not have to be either.

I use an ordinary printer paper to make an infinity backdrop.  For small objects – I use an A4/Letter or Legal size paper in the desired colour – like in the picture above. For bigger objects – I use A3/Ledger or Tabloid papers that fills up the entire box sideways. Either just place the object on the paper and push it up along the back wall as far up as you want it (the weight of the object usually keeps the paper in place) – or tape it in position!

I wanted a very easy and quick way of taking the photos – with a repeatable result. I experimented with ordinary office desk lamps – with a long arm that you can adjust. It gave me good control over where I wanted the light – but I had to adjust the white balance to suit the (low energy) flourescent lamps I was using. Also it was a little too much to set up – connecting the three lamps – screwing them onto the table – every time I want to use it – as I could not have it  just standing there – waiting for me to need it!

After some tests I have found a good alternative that works well for me – very easy and with a minimum of fuzz! I put my flash – Nissin Speedlight Di466 on my Canon EOS 550D the flash head turned straight up! This works remarkably well in a small light/white room – giving a very soft light with very little shadow. The flash is strong enough to allow me to use ISO 100 and still get a nicely exposed image. The key is to use it in a small light/white room! That way you get the help of the whole room in softening the light but the room being small and light/white room also helps to keep the light level up! The details come out very clearly with a minimum of sharp reflexes! The automatic exposure TTL II works perfectly this way! No corrections necessary! See the Christmas tree decoration. Notice how little shadow and how softly lit it is. Wanting more shadow/harder light – I just turn the flash directly towards the motif – but I prefer this soft light.

If someone tries out the IKEA SKUBB box let me know! I might want to give it a go – if I need to get a bigger light box!

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