Monochrome, Rants and discussions, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Always Learning

Light on a Tuesday Afternoon. Sony A200 DSLR. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. B&W conversion in UFRaw.

I’m bloody broke again.  Not so much tight fisted photographer, as the penniless photographer.  Still, I’ve got digital cameras, some film, and developing chems, so I can use photography in my leisure time until pay day comes around next.  Woke up this afternoon from night shift.  Time to start experimenting with what I’ve been learning recently.  I’ve not really been too happy with my photography lately.  Maybe too much mucking about with different technologies and formats.  So in order to improve things, I’ve 1). been heavy browsing Flickr and adding to my favourites – seeing what I like, and what other’s produce.  I’m particularly impressed by the works of some Russians and East Europeans using medium format film for portraiture.  2) reading on portrait photography and light, from old photography books.  3). Reading up on the same using modern websites.

I can see some of my weaknesses.  I need to get in much closer.  I need to think more about background.  I need to think intelligently about light – not just exposure value.  So, rising out of bed this afternoon, with a few hours to spare before another shift for the Man, I thought I’d use a DSLR for some experimenting.  Now here is where I’m going to praise digital technology for once.

A DSLR is a fine learning tool, if only beginners were to read the damned manuals, and avoid all of those crappy automatic exposure programs.  A DSLR not only offers (for those that bother looking for them) full manual exposure and focusing controls, it offers fast results to gauge progress from.  Ok, with some of my film cameras, I get the reward of having to set up and judge everything – as I said in my last post, that gives my film photography more value; but, a digital camera with accessible full manual controls provides a good way of learning photography.  You can quickly evaluate your success and mistakes then move forward.  You can read the exif data of your images – a complete record of your technique.

My usual recommendation for beginners that want to get into photography these days is to buy a DSLR – a CHEAP DSLR though.  Not to worry about it’s bloody brand, or what DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER magazine says about it’s lack of HD video or GPS.  Just buy a DSLR – used, pass down, last years stock, entry level, or whatever.  Don’t get sucked into the Nikon V Canon bullshit.  Any brand as long as you can still buy one or two decent lenses for it.  Use it as an educational tool, train with it, learn about light, exposure, composition, lines, subject, focus, dof, etc.  Just don’t use it as a point and shoot in an auto exposure program, with a kit lens fitted.  After a few years of learning technique, you can upgrade if you really feel the need to do so.

Getting back to today.  So I still have lots to learn, my photography has lots of room for improvement.  No time for digital, I grabbed my Sony DSLR, decided the 50mm prime lens was ok for my close up portraits.  Then I grabbed Nita, removed some of her clothes, and plonked her near the window light as I farted around with my one gold/silver reflector, aperture, exposure speed, ISO, and angle.  “Move this way, look that way”.  I can see that reflectors can be used, and I appreciate now how important it is to align the light with the subject.  Later on, I loaded the images into UFRAW.  Now, UFRaw may not be the software tool of everyone’s choice, but I am a fan of Open Source, and I’ve used it for years – originally on Linux operating systems.  Not only did I use it to correct some of my sloppy exposures, but I used Channel Mixer to generate monochrome .jpegs.  My favourite method of making digital b&w images.

So, there we go… Cheapskate digital b&w photography.

Tuesday Afternoon. As above.

Models and themed photoshoots, Portrait, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens, The East English Fens of East Anglia

Fields of Barley

Children of the Corn. Portrait of a girl in a barley field. Sony A200 DSLR camera. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

In the Barley Field with Mum. Sony DSLR, as above photo.

The barley was so beautiful near to ours, that it had to be used for a piece of photography yesterday evening.


Jessop Macro kit, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Something New from the Car Boot Sale

Jessop macro kit – 2 x tele-converter and three extension tubes with Sony DSLR mount. Taken with the Sony DSLR-A200 and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

Well, not as ancient as my usual purchases at the car boot sale.  I bought something for one of my digital cameras at yesterday’s sale!  What are the chances of bumping into something with a modern Sony DSLR mount at a local car boot sale?  Pretty slim I’d say.  I don’t see much modern gear for Canon or Nikon at the local sale, never mind for Sony / Minolta.  My usual purchases are classic film cameras.  But yesterday, I did just that.  A Jessops macro-kit, consisting of a Jessop MC 2x Mx/AF tele-converter, and three Jessop M-Xi extension tubes – 31mm, 21mm, and 13mm.  All with a Sony / Minolta Alpha-mount!

The seller explained that he had bought them for his Canon, not understanding the difference in mount.  He said that he had seen similar sold on Ebay for £60.  Well, I’ve checked them out, and I’d guess Ebay price for the kit might go £40 – £80.  The Tele-converter is still listed new on the Jessop website at £80.  How much did I pay?  I knocked him down to £23 (well, £25 with two movie DVDs in the price) for the whole kit.  A wee bit more than I’d spend on vintage camera equipment, but a nice buy still I feel.

Using them behind the Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens?  Focus has to be manual – even with just the tele-converter (although it gives me the option now to use the 50mm prime as a 100mm MF prime when I need it.).  The auto focus just doesn’t find it’s target with the tele-converter behind the nifty fifty, despite claims to be AF.

With the extension tubes added, it turns the 50mm into a macro lens.  I’ve not had time yet, to experiment with different extensions or the tele-converter, nor using them with my 35mm prime lens.  D0F is incredibly shallow at macro with all tubes and tele-converter, making hard to focus anything but a flat surface (see the 20p coin below).  I’ll try for better results when I have better light and more interesting subjects, but for now I achieved the below results.

Test One. The Feather. Jessops 2x tele-converter plus all three extension tubes behind a Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM prime lens

The 20p UK coin. As above, tele-converter, three extension tubes, 50mm prime lens on the A200.

The Pencil tip. As above. 2x tele-converter, three extension tubes, 50mm prime lens.

I’ll play more when I get time.  As I stated above, the tele-converter alone can double the focal lengths of my prime lenses should I need that.  I want to try the kit with my 35mm prime, and to experiment with and without the tele converter and various tubes to see if I can improve that DoF with less magnification.  I also need good light!

I don’t think that macro photography is going to be me, it’s done far better by others with better gear, but it’s worth £23 to play with that option.

Models and themed photoshoots, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Cosplayers at MCM London Comic Con – 5 and final digital (film to follow)

MCM London Comic Con. Homestruck Troll. Sony DSLR-A200 camera. Sony AF DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

Clicking on the images will take you to the Flickr set for my photos from the MCM London Comic Con Expo event.  IDs are welcome, both of characters and cosplayers should they wish.  I can tag them on FB.   I hope that someone enjoys this collection.  All shot on the digital SLR Sony A200.  I do have many frames to develop on both 35mm and Ilford medium format films, to be added to the gallery later.

MCM London Comic Con. Deadpool. As above.

Dogs and animals, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Parrot Fashion

Baloo – a parrot’s perspective. Sony DSLR A200 camera. Sony AF DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

Photo of the Day I guess.  Our pet Senegal Parrot tends to get left out of the picture so to speak, while his Nemesis – the dreaded dog, gets into the lime light.  It’s really not fair, as Baloo is clearly the dominant and intellectually superior pet in the tight fisted household.  Indeed, if unleashed onto the dog, it’s like death from above.  A little Parrot with a BIG EGO.

Other news – it’s dying down now that Flickr Explore has moved onto a fresh Day, but the Poundland photo “Run like a Dog” 42 hours after posting onto my Flickr photostream, has clocked over 4,300 views, 300 faves, and nearly 60 comments.  I have said that your own opinion should count more than Internet popularism, but it is nice to have a photo with that ‘success’ occasionally.

BAD NEWS: This is a shocker, it’s going to hurt my pocket.  Poundland (the UK Discount store chain) have replaced their AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 rolls of 36 exposure film (35mm) for…. the same in 24 exposure lengths!  On being told, I rushed around my two nearest Poundland stores and found a total of seven remaining 36 exposure films, but then that’s it.  It’ll cost me 12.5p per exposure (including development), instead of the 8p value that I recieved from the 36 exposure films!  Ouch!

Portrait, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Mirror mirror, in the orchard.

Mirror Self in the Orchard. Sony A200 DSLR camera. Sony AF DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

The idea was to cart this old mirror up to a local disused orchard, in order to create some images for clone reflections – I fancied using Gimp software to give myself a wolf reflection, using a portrait I took of a zoo wolf a few years ago.  But I like this one as it is!  Self portrait using a mirror, in an orchard, in the evening light today.

Dogs and animals, Monochrome, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

The Lurcher at eleven months.

Fen Tiger. Sony DSLR A200. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Gimp 2.8 post process software.

He’s growing well isn’t he?  Such a tiny little thing when we picked him up – fitted in Nita’s hat.  I took this image digitally with the new Sony 50mm prime.  Conversion and enhancement using the open source Gimp 2.8 software package.

Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Sony AF DT 50mm F/1.8 SAM prime lens test review – tight fisted style.

Close to the Heart. Sony DSLR A200 camera. Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 SAM prime lens. Post process Gimp 2.8 (including Orton Effect plugin).

Been out all day but had so little time to try out my stinking new Sony nifty fifty (the Sony AF DT 50mm F/1.8 SAM prime).  Still, managed to squeeze in a few, as to speak.  Exhibit one, Nita’s cleavage in the car.  Is that a fair test?  I have fiddled with these (I mean this photo), in Gimp 2.8 open source software, including using the Orton Effect plugin.  Works though I think?  This is my kind of equipment review.  Better than those boring photos in other review test shots, eh?

The Dog’s Teddy Bear. Sony DSLR A200 camera. Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 SAM prime lens. Post process Gimp 2.8.

Test exhibit 2:  The dog’s toy teddy bear.  Poor thing has no future, it’s destined for defluffication (or is that defluffification?) in the near future.  Here it lays on the living room floor, awaiting it’s gory fate.  Poor bear.

Testing the Sony 50mm lens on the lurcher. Sony DSLR A200 camera. Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 SAM prime lens. Post process Gimp 2.8

And here’s the maestro himself, caught not in the best light for ISO 100.  Flint the young lurcher dog.  Poor bear.

Cameras and equipment, Pentax K110D DSLR and SMC Pentax-M 50mm F/1.7 prime lens

Old Glass

Edward. Pentax K110D DSLR. SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7 lens.

This photo of my son Edward, was one the first that I took using the SMC Pentax-M F/1.7 lens on the Pentax DSLR camera.  The Pentax-M 50mm F/1.7, was the original kit lens usually supplied as the standard lens for the M series of Pentax 35mm film SLRs some thirty odd years ago.  However, modern Pentax D-SLRs are extraordinarily backward compatible with their lens mounts, and by simply making a change in camera settings, these old lens can be used on a  21st Century Digital SLR.  Why bother though?  Because the quality of speed of these manual focus lens are a hundred times better than a modern kit lens, and can be picked up for a fraction of the price of a modern 50mm F1.7 prime lens.

This lens became a permanent fixture to my K110D.  It’s a bokeh machine.  When I want a sharp narrow depth in quality, it still beats the more modern Sony A200 fitted with it’s modern Sony AF DT 35mm F/1.8 prime lens for sheer quality.

Another early photo below, too sharp and narrow for his long face really, but displays the quality so nicely.  There you go, you can pick one up for around £25, much less if you get lucky.  Top notch glass.  Just make sure that it has no lens fungus  and that the diaphrams are nice and free moving.

Wolfy. As above photo.