old glass

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring…

It has been raining a lot lately. In fact at times I guess it has been raining enough to be considered pouring. And I guess I’m an old man now. And I have been doing a lot of snoring lately (I think). Something about the rainy weather makes me really sleepy. At times I think I’m solar powered. I can seriously hike or bike all day when the sun’s out, but on rainy, cloudy days I seem to have no energy at all, and all I want to do is lie in my warm bed and sleep. Or maybe I’m like part bear, getting ready to hibernate for the winter. That makes sense cause for some reason even though I haven’t been all that active, I have been hungry.

So anyways, yea. I’ve been lazy this week. I haven’t gone out much. There hasn’t been many opportunities to take pictures. Well actually that’s not true. I did go out a couple of times, but forgot to bring a camera. And in truth, my SLR camera handles rainy weather pretty well, with its weather sealed body and the weather sealed lenses I have for it. So I don’t really have much excuse for not taking pictures, except for the fact that I’ve been a lazy hibernating bear.

So anyways, instead of going out and taking pictures, I stayed in and played with some old lenses.

I recently bought an adapter for my Olympus camera, so that I can mount my Pentax glass on it. I played around with this old 50mm lens that I have. It’s actually the oldest lens that I own– it was passed down to me from my dad. It’s pretty much the main reason why I shoot Pentax instead of one of the more popular brands like Nikon or Canon. This lens is very well traveled. My dad used to be an engineer on a large freight vessel, he traveled around the world as a sailor and took a lot of pictures with this lens.

Here’s a shot from the lens mounted on my Olympus mirrorless camera (ironically of another Olympus camera– I obviously have way too many cameras). It seems like it’s still decently sharp, and I like the bokeh. Mounted on my mirrorless camera it becomes the equivalent of a 100mm lens, so I might try this setup for street photography. The downside is that it’s manual focus, which I find kind of hard to do on my Olympus.

I recently bought another old lens on eBay, an old 100mm macro lens. I’ve been wanting to try macro photography for a while, but didn’t really want to spend a ton of money on such a specialized lens. The good thing about Pentax is there’s a lot of old cheap glass on eBay that’s still of decent quality. I picked up this lens for about $60 and so far I’ve been happy with it.

Here is the lens mounted to my SLR. It’s pretty unwieldy at full extension. It’s even worse when I stick it on the mirrorless, it’s pretty much impossible to use without a tripod.

It seems like it’s decently sharp, at least when I can get it in focus. The depth of field is so incredibly shallow on this lens when wide open.

Here’s a shot that better illustrates how shallow the depth of field is. The print in this bible is pretty small, and even then I can only get one line in focus at f/4. The depth of field is literally just millimeters thin.

Of course there’s much bigger depth of field when the lens is stopped down, but then I have to crank up the ISO to compensate. This was at ISO 800, even with a bright light shining on it from a foot away it’s still slightly underexposed.

There’s a couple of ways that macro photography aficionados handle this. One way is by focus stacking, by taking multiple shots with shallow depth of field, and then combining the images into one image with a bigger depth of field. That would require a stationary target and a tripod and macro rails. That’s way too much trouble for me.

Another way is to throw a lot of light at the problem– there are some crazy lighting setups for macro photography, with various brackets and multiple flashes, or specialized ring flashes made for macro. If I end up liking macro photography I might try this. I would look like a total dork, stopping down low to take a picture of an insect with a long macro lens and a crazy lighting setup attached to it, but it sounds like fun.

One of the reasons why I like photography is that it’s a constant learning experience. There’s so many different techniques and all sorts of funky equipment that you can use. It can also be a never ending money pit, but thankfully you can sometimes buy old glass and have some fun for much less cost.

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