Shooting with old glass

If you’ve read much of these blogs you’ll know how fond I am of the old Super Takumar lenses. They were one of the driving forces behind selecting the Canon T100; it could, via an adapter, use those lenses in manual mode. The experience has not been disappointing.

Having owned and used literally hundreds of cameras there are things about the old film machines that I’m quite fond of. It’s why I look longingly at the terrific retro styling of the Fujifilm X100; it looks like an old rangefinder 35mm. Looks alone, however, can not justify my spending $1,500 +/- on one. Way out of my budget.

Unfortunately for me I was forced to unload my massive collection of photographica last year, including numerable classic lenses. Had I to do it over again … but that never happens. The few items I was able to keep are not exactly in keeping with adapting to digital photography. Unless you’re crazy. Well, no problem there!

Here are the results:

They are all close-ups due to the nature of the shoot: these were done with the T100, lens off, and the ancient original Kodak Brownie used as the glass. Since this moves the ‘film plane’ about 50mm back from where it should be (hand holding the open back Brownie in front of the lens-less T100) it put the equivalent of a significant amount of extension tube into the formula. Thus, close-ups. The little candlestick and the figurine are about 38mm high.

I did not have sufficient light on this day to do this properly, so the exposure is rather stretched (ISO 400, 1/60 @ whatever f stop the Kodak is). It really needed more light, so I did a little post-processing to bring things up. The first image is a segment of a vase, and the last one the front of a toy Isetta car.

The downside to the experiment is that the Canon took pictures with no lens on and … now I have to clean the sensor. That has put me off the idea of mirrorless cameras, as every time you change a lens you are risking such a fate. With a mirror in front the sensor is safer from dust.

Still this has encouraged me to try this some more, possibly with a less rare ‘front’ camera (the Brownie is basically priceless as there are only 7 of them known now). I’ve got a folder or two which might prove interesting, as the bellows slide on tracks which could compensate for the focus limitations.

Those who know me know I’m an engineer and are probably now thinking “he’s up to something”. Well, you’re right. Following the Zen, if the right circumstances fall into place I am up to something.