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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Of Lions and Lenses

Lately I've been collecting old lenses for my camera (mostly because I can't afford new lenses but also because I'm still very much an experimental, neophyte photographer and don't really know what different kinds of lenses do). Anyway, I recently bought a multi-coated 105 mm f2.8 Takumar lens for $10 and, with an adapter, stuck it onto the front of my Sony DSLR. This is all manual now: focus first, then set the aperture using a ring on the lens case, then set the shutter speed. It sounds a bit much compared to today's fully automatic photography but I found that with just a little practice it's quite easy. The through the lens metering system still works and indicates when the shutter speed and aperture combination will provide the correct exposure. Well, I'm very pleased with this lens. Nice color and very sharp images. The photo above is also an example of learning from another photographer. I always liked Chuck Pefley's shot of this lion from his trip to Victoria last year. This is my attempt to emulate that shot. You can see the original version on Chuck's Seattle Daily Blog by clicking here. The lions (2) stand one on each side of the Gate of Harmonious Interest on Fisgard Street in Victoria's Chinatown.

IF you're interested in lenses, read on: The lens mentioned above is a prime lens, meaning that although it is telephoto, it does not zoom in. If want something in the frame to be bigger you must physically move closer. Nor does it zoom out - if you want something to be smaller you must move back. I have a couple of other prime lenses: a 135 mm f3.5 and yesterday I bought a 300 mm f5.5. If it wasn't a miserable rainy day today I'd be out trying the latter since I am very excited by the sharpness of the test shots I took with it. It probably sounds like I have money to burn but I paid less than $50 total for all three of these lenses because they're old, manual and don't fit on modern cameras without adapters. I found them in thrift stores. You can buy adapters on E-bay. All three of the lenses above are M42 screw mounts so I only needed one adapter ($7). Yesterday's flower photos (below) were also taken with the 105 mm lens.


Dean said...

gotta say, you are one excellent photographer. The simplified composition of the side of Gonzales Observatory is a fantastic abstract work.
Also, enjoy the flower close-ups as long as the light works; not too contrasting.
You might consider adapting bellows to your camera for some extreme macro. A whole 'nother world.

Chuck Pefley said...

Benjamin, your old 105 Takumar seems very sharp, judging by the blackbird. Nothing wrong with old glass, and many of the workhorse primes had legendary qualities. It is a different world today ... imagine having to focus a lens AND set the aperture ... my, how horribly inconvenient -:)

Also, happy to hear I inspired you. Thanks for the compliment!