Rants and discussions

Put Your Upgrade in the Bin

Out of tune. Street busker in Cambridge. Pentax SP500 Spotmatic. Super Takumar 55mm f/2 lens. Firstcall (Agfa Gevaert) 400S b/w film. Developed in R09. Scanned film on Epson V500.

Yes I know, I shouldn’t care about what others do, but I’m suffering from browsing photography forums, and i need to get it off my chest.  Here are some of the questions that piss me off a bit.

1) My DSLR is only APS, 20 megapixel, doesn’t have full HD Video, and is “entry level”.  I need to upgrade to a new £1,000 latest model DSLR.

My answer:  You twat.  The above photoGRAPH was recently taken on a forty plus year old camera.  You’ve fallen for market brainwash.  Your 20 – even a 6 megapixel APS DSLR is fine.  Spend your money on photography travel, food, drink, etc.  Money wont buy nada in skill.  Shit, what do you need Video for?

2) I presently own 18mm – 120mm, 180mm – 300mm, 300mm – 500mm zoom lenses for my Canikon DSLR.  What should I buy next?  should I buy a 120mm – 180mm lens?

My answer:  FFS, don’t you have legs or wheels you prick?  I never even feel the need for a frigging zoom.  A couple of primes is fine.  I can move back or forward.  I know I’m fortunate to do so – do you share that fortune?

Thats better.


Another Dog Portrait

German shepherd dog pup, photographed in a Norwich City street with one of his owners. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford FP4 Plus 120 film. Home developed in R09. Digitally scanned film on Epson Perfection V500.

This one taken on a street in Norwich, last weekend.  A German Shepherd pup.  I’m very pleased with the Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens that I’ve been using as the primary (and prime) lens on my Bronica SQ-A.  It does deliver some very nice portraits onto the film.  For closer portraits, I can also fit the S-18 extension tube behind it.  It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally getting use to using a medium format SLR system camera.  Having a few lenses to choose from, and a variety of films in different film backs at hand, I’m appreciating the flexibility more, but without damaging so many exposures by either forgetting to insert a dark slide, or by forgetting to remove it before shooting.

Dogs are easy meat.  It’s much easier to ask a proud dog owner if you photograph their dog, than it is to ask a stranger to pose.


A Three quid wide angle lens

First Test. Nita and Flint in a stubble field this afternoon. Warm filter applied post process using Gimp 2.8 open source software. Pentax K110D D-SLR and Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8 lens.

No cameras worth buying at today’s local car boot sale.  A few leather cased viewfinders (an Agfa, and an Ilford), some overpriced old cine cameras, but nothing to really take my fancy.  However, every few weeks or so, something nice turns up.  This time it was a Pentax-M 28mm f/2.8 prime lens.  I’ve had one before from Ebay, but it had bloody fungus inside – the death of a lens.  This one was sweet, smooth aperture, clean glass, the original QC sticker, and Pentax lens cover.  I knocked the seller down from his price of £5 to my offer of three quid.

I’m a mean bastard.  Ebay buy-it-now prices range £40 to £90 for this classic lens.

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

Horror Box – the Coronet No2, and the Kodak Brownie Reflex 20. Car boot cameras

Morticia loves cheapskate photography, almost as much as she loves fresh human blood. The Coronet No.2 Portrait Box Camera. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens

Latest venture, is trying out the above box camera.  The Coronet No.2 Portrait Box Camera.  Built in England circa 1935, made largely of cardboard, with a roller shutter – one speed, one aperture.  Two zones of focus – 1) Three feet, or 2) Nine feet or over.  I’ve had this one a few months, but I only yesterday clicked that it took 120 roll film …. which I happen to have a batch of!  I’m not too sure if I’ve loaded it correctly, so it’s a test roll.  Looking forward to seeing the results, fingers crossed.  It also had an exposed film still in it, so I’ve sent it to the developer.

I was actually looking for 620 spools when I looked in the Coronet, and saw that it was 120.  I’ve read (and seen online guides) that 120 film can be rolled in a dark room onto 620 spools.  Pretty handy, as 620 film is pretty hard to find.  Why was I looking into 620 in the first place?  My latest car boot sale buy (see below), a pristine 1962 Kodak Brownie Reflex 20.

This Kodak Brownie is too cute and clever for words, so I’ll definitely be looking into 620 later.  Look below. A plastic body, a focusing lens, and a magnificant top viewer.  This must be the king of the brownies.  Absolutely clean – just need a 620 spool or two, and a developing bag.

Top viewer of the 1962 Kodak Brownie Reflex 20 camera. Isn’t that a beautiful viewer? Taken with as above Sony.

The Kodak Brownie Reflex 20 camera – with case. What a lovely Brownie!

Oh by the way, I forgot to mention how much I paid for the above cameras at car boot sales…  The Coronet No.2 Portrait box camera (1935), complete in a cloth bag with the name “Watson” inked on it,  I haggled down to three quid (GBP £3).  The Kodak Brownie Reflex 20, with Kodak camera bag I bought last weekend for a quid (GBP £1).

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.

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.

Cameras and equipment, Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM prime lens

A tight fisted photographer’s brew

A nice cup of tea for a tight fisted photographer. Sony A200 DSLR. Sony AF 35mm SAM F/1.8 lens.

I found a use for a Canikon macro zoom lens!  It makes a smashing vessel for my tea.  Seriously though, thank you Vanessa and Owen for this smashing Christmas gift.  A novelty drinking flask cunningly disguised as a Canon zoom lens.  Nice one.

EDIT: Today I learn’t how to clean an in situ focusing screen on an old Pentax ME Super without too much damage.  Yesterday I learn’t how to totally foul a focusing screen up while changing an SLR mirror pad.  It’s all about learning in this pastime.

Dogs and animals, Pentax K110D DSLR and SMC Pentax-M 50mm F/1.7 prime lens

Gone to the dogs

Poppy, a young border collie that we looked after for a few days. Shot with Pentax K110D DSLR and an old manual focus Pentax-M 50mm F1.7 prime lens. Gimp post processing.

Although I like to photograph people, I have also spent a lot of time photographing dogs.  A good venue is a dog show, but even in the street, it’s easier to ask someone if you can photograph their dog, than it is to photograph the owner.  Anyway, I’ve got a lot of time for dogs.  I like their company.  This dog was an eight month old border collie that we were helping to re-home.  I caught her here using my wonderful Pentax-M 50mm prime.  They were the stock lens of Pentax SLR 35mm film cameras some thirty years ago, and are still highly valued by Pentax photographers today.  A totally manual lens that provides not only a shallow depth of field, but beautifully so.  You can still pick them up for around £25.  I use them on both my Pentax D-SLR and on my Pentax 35mm film SLR.

I also treated this portrait on Gimp (the totally free open source image editing package) using a soft focus script.  I think it really works.

Models and themed photoshoots, Pentax K110D DSLR and SMC Pentax-M 50mm F/1.7 prime lens, Portrait

Old lens on a DSLR. Top quality DoF for £25

My lovely partner Nita, taken using a Pentax K110D D-SLR, fitted with an old manual focus Pentax-M 50mm F1.8 prime lens

I used my favourite lens here.  My trusty old Pentax-M 50mm F1.8.  It’s the old kit lens supplied with Pentax cameras thirty years ago.  I’m not a camera brand fanboy, but credit to Pentax for producing DSLR cameras that are so backwards compatible to old lens.  I paid £25 for this lens.  Takes beautiful shallow DoF.  Indeed, I use the same model lens on both my Pentax DSLR and my Pentax 35mm film SLR cameras.

A bit of post processing on this one courtesey of Gimp.