Tanjong Pagar Railway Station – Photowalk

Slated to close on 1st July 2011, the 88-year-old Tanjong Pagar Railway station is a place lost in time, and space.

The entire compound felt rustic and rather laid-back; almost as if I’ve stepped into a portal to Malaysia. Even the food vendors speak Malay almost exclusively.. just that payment is in Singapore dollars!

Fence

Framing the Orient Express

E&O in a Circle

Changing roles

Beyond the station

The rope

Metal tool things

Jelly lights

Life on the line

STOP

There are two coffee shops in the station (or Stesen), a bookshop that sells anything but books and some kampung hut in the center of all the business. I felt one momentary breeze of cool air in the hot weather – it came from the VIP Lounge for the Eastern & Oriental Express.
After walking to the end of the platform, there is a path which leads to some abandoned buildings, an outdoor restaurant (of sorts) and the train depot which is rather empty and weathered. Many opportunities to take photos of yourself standing/planking on some railway tracks here! Of course, do not wander to the actual working tracks!

The LEICA SUMMICRON-C 40mm Short Review / Thoughts about the Leica lens
For this photo trip, I used a LEICA SUMMICRON-C 40mm f/2 made 38 years ago. Most close-up and shallow DoF shots are taken at f/2.

After months of using the Carl Zeiss Planar lenses on my NEX, I have chanced upon some articles about Leica’s most underrated offering. The price seemed affordable (Leica-wise) and reviews just kept praising this tiny German-made lens – which was often overshadowed by its SUMMICRON-M brothers but yet appears to offer almost similar optical performance for the lenses within the same era. This means of course, no comparison with Aspherical lenses please – just not sensible. I then spoke to Desmond, who is very knowledgeable in this field – but also a very dangerous person to speak to when it comes to photography and audio equipment! Then yes, the DECISIVE MOMENT arrived.

Fine lines

I am enjoying the film-like colours and look of the Leica. The Summicron is sharp wide open, yet produces a pleasantly soft effect at the same time. The colour signature (out of camera) is quite similar to what I have to process for the high-contrast, vibrant images from Carl Zeiss lenses. I guess I am not the type of person who loves vividly loud colours. I prefer smooth, subtle and subdued (Triple-S? ha!) tones and surprisingly, this 38-year wonder just does it for me. There is just something about this lens. It brings out the very fine subtleties in colour tone.

Of course, even though it’s a Leica, it is not miracle glass. Understandably, the lens was made decades ago, so it does not have the best lens coating to suppress flare. I am using it with a camera it was not designed to pair with. Being a Leica rangefinder lens, the minimum focus is at a shocking 0.8m (0.1m more than the Nokton lenses and 0.3m more than the Contax G Zeiss lenses!). It does bring a lot of challenges in real-world use and I am being brought back into the tedious (and rewarding) experience of using M lenses again. I will probably write an entry soon about all the lenses I have used so far with the NEX – Both to document the experience and also help fellow “Mirrorless Cameras” enthusiasts in making acquisition decisions.

NEX-5 right now

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4 Responses to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station – Photowalk

  1. John July 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I found your write up on the 40mm C-Summicron most helpful. I am thinking about purchasing this lens?

    Could you kindly expand on your comment “It does bring a lot of challenges in real-world use and I am being brought back into the tedious (and rewarding) experience of using M lenses again”?

    Thanks,

    John

    • Dejiki July 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

      Hi John,

      On a camera like the NEX, M-mount lenses can sometimes be difficult to use due to its minimum working distance (for this Summicron-C 40mm, it’s about 75cm) and the lack of a proper viewfinder. Whether it becomes an issue or not depends on the camera you want to mount it on and the subject you usually want to shoot.

      I have gotten used to the lens’ design and brought it along during my vacation at Hong Kong. I brought another lens, just in case, but found no need to swap. I realized that I have always left it on my NEX ever since I obtained it!

      Although not marketed as a Leica M lens, this Summicron-C performs very well like its highly revered brothers from the same era. Some Leica aficionados have compared its image quality to the famous Pre-ASPH version of the Summicron-M 35mm. If 40mm is the right focal length (it is just, a tad closer than a 35mm) for you, hurry and get one, the prices keeps rising.

  2. Hansen March 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    I read that this lens could be purchased for about $250-$400 USD, how much did you manage to bargain it for?
    And could you mind telling me the store that you bought it from? I am interested in trying out manual lenses on my NEX-5n and want to invest in this particular lens.
    It will help me out a lot. Thanks!

    • Dejiki March 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      Hi Hansen,

      Try your luck on eBay. Like all Leica glass, the price has been rising steadily, but from time to time there is a copy up for sale at a cheaper price. A very close alternative would be the Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f/2. There are multiple versions and the optical coating varies, but usually the Minolta version goes for slightly less.

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