Published September 14th 2014

What I learned in week 37

Mail from Ukraine

I have an ongoing project where I put odd lenses and other contraptions in front of my SLRs, and in connection with that project I have long wanted to put my hands on some M42 lenses – lenses with a 42mm thread rather than a bayonet style lens mount. The M42 standard has its roots in eastern Europe, and was originally introduced by Contax in 1949, and was adapted by a lot of manufacturers like Praktica, Pentax, Ricoh, Zenit and many more.

Today it's not used any more, and according to my knowledge there are no lenses produced with 42mm thread these days.

They are widely available used, and I found a Russian Industar 50mm f/3.5, which was just what I was looking for for my project. The lens was in Ukraine, and considering the current state of that country, ordering it could seem a bit risky. But I have ordered stuff from Ukraine before, and at app. 30 US$ I thought it was worth trying.

The purchase was confirmed, and I even got a track&trace number for the package, which arrived a few days ago – from Mariupol of all places, right up against the conflict area in eastern Ukraine. I watched the news the same evening, and Mariupol was mentioned several times together with words like gunfire, shelling, granades and Russian troops.

But Mariupol obviously also has businesses running and a working post office, and I got my lens and am now fooling around with this crude, cold war, Russian piece of glass on my state of the art digital SLRs.

No rest for Vivian Maier

Renown Chicago nanny and photographer Vivian Maier – whose work I admire and whose images I love no matter what the photographic art establishment may say – isn't allowed to just be a fantastic photographer with a colossal and widely available catalog of fascinating street photos.

In yet another battle over her legacy, a former commercial photographer and lawyer, David C. Deal has filed a case where he has dug up an heir to the Maier belongings and is now “...investigating the potential misuse and infringement of copyrighted works whose rights are held by the estate...”.

The new heir, French Francis Baille, had no idea that he was in Maier's family and that he was entitled to any kind of heritage. Crazy, crazy, cray if you ask me! I really don't understand the mindset US lawyers and the laws that support these out of the blue copyright infringement cases...

John Maloof, who bought up Maier's negatives from 2005 and on, has been curating them since then and he has done a fantastic job of publishing her work in my opinion. Maloof and the people around him will probably never be left to do this job undisturbed, but will constantly have to battle critics, the art establishment, known and unknown heirs – and probably lawyers of all of the above.

Such a shame.

The 20mm f/1.8 lives

I'm not the only one who loves a bright wideangle, and with the newly introduced Nikon 20mm f/1.8 a lot of other people will fall in love with this great focal length. Put on an FF camera it's a really great wide lens with potentially excellent image qualities thanks to its wide aperture, and on a DX camera it becomes a 35mm, a focal length which I love equally much.

The new lens is expected to sell for around 800 US$ it's not an expensive lens, even though not cheap either. But a bright FF lens like this must be expected to cost a bit.

I have my Sigma 20mm f/1.8, and unless this lens shows itself to be an outstanding gem, I'll probably stick with the Sigma even though I know it's an inferior quality both mechanical and optical compared to the new Nikon.