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

A broken finger and other changes

The dog that broke my finger. Sony A200 DSLR. Jessops Flashgun mounted on camera to bounce off ceiling. Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

It’s all change at Tight Fisted Studios.  First of all, I made the decision to learn about portrait photography with artificial light and a digital camera – I excavated my poor old neglected Sony A200 DSLR from a dark cupboard, and decided to revamp it a bit .  Then on the 35mm film side,I received another Pentax ME Super body – a gift from a friend.  Finally, I had to perform a rugby tackle on our lurcher doggy, in order to prevent him from behaving very badly with a staffy.  When I got back up, I found that I had a broken finger – on my shutter hand (right hand).

First of all, the studio bit.  I joke about Tight Fisted Studios but seriously, artificial lighting has always been a mystery to me, and I fancy a new learning curve.  It’ll also be a reason to start using that digital camera again.  The long term plan is to master speed lighting with the ease of digital, then extend that knowledge to medium format film photography.  I’ve always considered digital to be a good learning tool.

So, I did a bit of tight-fisted shopping on the Internet.  First, I bought two Jessops 360AFD flashguns for Sony.  I know, I know, they are a poor substitute for a Sony flashgun – but come on, the price is ridiculously low.  For a brand new Jessops Flashgun, that has TLL, Manual, Zoom, swivel / tilt head, a guide number of 36m/ISO100, diffuser element, and operates wireless in slave mode – £39.97 each.  I think that Jessops has reduced them from their original price considerably.  So, I bought two of them.

Got to have somewhere to mount them, right?  I’ve bought a cheap Chinese umbrella stand kit.  Two stands, with umbrella / hot shoe fittings.  One shoot-through white umbrella, and one reflective silver umbrella.  How much for this kit?  A ridiculously cheap £37.95.  with free postage.  I already had a round reflector.  I could do with a background backdrops later.

Only one problem…. I then discovered that Sony have their own hot-shoes.  I’ve now got to wait for a pair of cheap Chinese hot shoe adapters to arrive. Then the dog broke my finger…

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.