Lens Test: Tale of two pancakes

Pancake lenses. Not many people use it nowadays, preferring the do-all zoom lenses. Going back to the old days when photographers would carry one prime lens per camera, and still be able to take amazing photographers, there is nothing a prime cannot do in the hands of someone with the right photographic vision. In short, nothing wrong with a pancake lens. In fact I love pancakes because it keeps the camera side profile smaller, making it possible to squeeze a pro-body with built in grip into a small bag. And most of the time you can zoom with your feet anyway.
Profile Comparison. ULTRON on the right, AIS on the left.

A pancake lens is the name given to low profile lenses, normally around the 50mm focal length range. Up for this test are the two that I own. First up is a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AIS. Now there are many versions of this lens, and the 0.60m minimum focal length version is the one I have, which is noticeably shorter than the other models. The other lens I have been using quite a bit is a Voigtlander 40mm f2 SL ULTRON. Yes a mouthful, I’ll just call it AIS and ULTRON for the short version hereforth. They’re both manual lenses. And they only meter on Nikon’s semi pro bodies like the D300/D700 and up.

This is not meant to be a full on test, so I will not bother to perform an exhaustive test on it. On the question of bokeh, I have noticed that the ULTRON has this harsh donut shaped bokeh, perhaps because of the Aspherical element in the lens. But I’m not a bokeh freak so it is not an issue for me.

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Equipment for Japan trip

Thought now is the best time to document what I brought with me to Japan. This trip requires quite a number of trips in trains and local buses so I was hoping to travel with as little bulk as possible, although at the end of the day, I feel that my packs are a little too heavy.
For bags, I have a 35L backpack for clothes and chargers and items that does not require removal during transit. Even though temperature in Japan at this time of the year plunges below zero, becuase of the constant moving I will be doing, I packed only a fleece with Windstopper (Gore) material, and for waterproofing, a Mont-Bell packable Gore-Tex outer shell.  A Gitzo G1341T tripod with RRS BH25 is attached on the outside for the late evening photo shooting in dim light, and this tripod/ball-head combination is light enough to be brought along for the trip.

On my belt I have a Leatherman tool for emergency, and my Ricoh GR Digital point and shoot on the other side. They do get in the way especially when sitting down, but hey, better than nothing.

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