An outing with the Biotar

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by f/otographer, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    One of my favorite lenses, and the first Zeiss lens I ever owned, is an 1959 aluminum bodies Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58/2. It is a lovely old hunk of metal and glass produced in Soviet controlled Germany many years after the war. I have been wanting to try it out on the a7 so I loaded them up this week and went to a local rock garden. Its a pretty small place, more of a sideshow to the zoo, playland and golf course that surround it. Probably only 50 yards by 50 yards square. But when you shoot macro a small place like this can provide countless photo opportunities.

    All of these shots are on the Biotar, some by itself and some with tubes and some with my little Minolta Close Up lens No.2. It is a very nice lens that often has a nice painterly quality to the bokeh. As you can see from some of these photos I am fond of using this quality in my Meatyard style no focus shots.

    Hope you enjoy.









    • Like Like x 11
  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    That's some serious swirl.
  3. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    Funky bokeh:) I like the flower shots and last one the best...
  4. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Always a pleasure seeing your work!!! :thumbup:

    I think you make great photos with any lens/camera you have, lol :D
  5. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    That first shot is special. :)
  6. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Dave- Thank you, as ever, for an in depth and learned comment.

    serhan- True the bokeh this lens is capable of, while not unique, can definitely be referred to as funky. I like to try and paint a unique picture with it, but it can be challenging. :)

    Nick- Those are very kind words, thank you. :)

    Bimjo- I agree completely. As soon as I saw it on the monitor I knew it was one of a kind. I did minimal work to it in the RAW converter, maybe just three ticks on the brightness slider bar and one on sharpening. Other then that is is straight out of the camera.
  7. markoneswift

    markoneswift TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 17, 2012
    Completely bokeh-licious :) Great shots
  8. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Haha, bokeh-licious. That describes the Biotar perfectly. :)
  9. DigitalD

    DigitalD TalkEmount Veteran

    Mar 2, 2014
    David K Fonseca
    Is that bee shot for real!? It looks surreal. Good stuff.
  10. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Hey, sometimes I got alot to say, other times, not so much.

    Still some nice shots.
  11. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Yes, its very real. :)

    The bee was very upset that I was in his area and was flitting around very quickly. I spent a while trying to anticipate his flight path while shooting him in single shot mode. I missed on all but two shots, of which this is the better one. It is cropped a little bit to put more emphasis on the bee and I added the blue toning in post.

    Im glad you like it. It is probably my favorite shot from this outing and is a good example of the photography that I strive for...a surreal and dreamlike interpretation of a normal scene. The Biotar is definitely a lens that helps with that.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Zanner

    Zanner TalkEmount Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 19, 2013
    Wisconsin, USA
    I love these! I think the bokeh effect it takes is wonderful! Very artistic.
  13. Fundadores

    Fundadores TalkEmount Regular

    Oct 14, 2013
    Cool. The first one is very artistic.
  14. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    All are great, but I Love number 1. Very artistic bokeh!

    Sent from my XT1053 using Tapatalk
  15. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    STEVSH, Fundadores, West0kid- Thank you for the comments and the compliments. Im truly glad you enjoyed the photos.

    Its odd though. I find the bokeh produced by the Biotar to be very pleasing. And so, apparently, do many of you. But the bokeh from the Biotar is actually representative of bad or broken bokeh, known as Nisen bokeh.

    Nisen bokeh is what occurs when the lens renders the out of focus effects in a poor way. Instead of bluring out lines it can sometimes make an extra line appear. Here is an example from the same outing with the Biotar. You can clearly see the bouble bokeh lines on the tip of the plant.


    One of the strengths of photography (and life really) is to know the limitations and characteristics of the tools you use. Then learn how to exploit them in ways that others might not think of. Turn a negative to a positive so to speak.

    Is the Biotar flawed by nisen bokeh? Yes. But I wouldnt trade it for the world.

    By the way, here is a very in depth explanation of what can make bad bokeh happen.
    • Like Like x 4
  16. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Thanks for the link. Very useful. I actually knew the bokeh was technically flawed, which is why I said it was artistic. I just liked the way you made it work. It goes to show how much photography is about the people behind the equipment.

    Sent from my XT1053 using Tapatalk
  17. demiro

    demiro TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    Great stuff. You've done surreal very well, which is nice to see. I see a lot of shots that are maybe half way there, but you have not backed down from the task.
  18. f/otographer

    f/otographer TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 20, 2013
    Thanks WestOkid. Artistic is a very good word to describe the Biotars bokeh. And you are so right about it being the photographer and not the gear. I post to several forums and I see many people who will discuss and debate and dicker over equipment specs all day long but wont once talk about the works of a master photographer. Or post one single photo worth the shutter click that took it. But I suppose that must be true in many hobbies I suppose. Photography is just especially hard hit since our art is SO dependent on gear and technology.

    Demiro, thanks for your compliment as well. For me photography really has become the search for the next surreal image, using only the equipment in my hand. Photoshop and computers make it way to easy to just play around with an image until it is nowhere near reality. I find it much more rewarding to capture an image that already sits on the cusp of strange, needing only a viewers interpretation to push it over the edge.
    • Like Like x 1
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