Mystery Camera Revealed!

Pentax K100D Super!

Yes that’s the camera I’ve been using to make all those fuzzy, spotty pictures with. At long last I’ve got an adapter to put the old Super Takumar lenses (specifically the 35mm which is a ‘normal’ FL on this camera) on it in place of the truly awful 18-55mm Pentax DA that came with it. Of course it can only be used on manual with the old lenses, but the auto exposure is usually wrong and the autofocus doesn’t work anyway so …

A raven, of course.
Rich colours. Finding camera settings that worked well took some experimentation.
Fallen ice.
Snow gnome’s hat.
Bleak tree.
Testing with the Vivitar 135mm.

There are still a few spots on the sensor:

Most noticeable spots.

Some of these images have been post-processed a bit beyond size adjusting, including sharpening, white balance, exposure correction, and cropping. This was about getting the best out of it, as the worst it can do is easy to achieve: out of 400+ images I’ve taken with this since the start, about 20 are any good at all. It’s been getting better as I managed to get a lot of the dirt off the sensor and switch to a lens that isn’t fuzzier than a bear, but still not a good record (we’re talking image quality only here, not composition issues).

I’m not sure if I’ll try another cleaning or not. The camera has some good aspects, but it has a lot of flaws as well. These are mostly due to age and misuse although some are design issues. On the whole I prefer slightly more MP resolution even though a shrink shots way down all the time. Plus it seems a shame to have automatic features and not be able to use them. Overall the Olympus E-410 was a better buy.

I am now holding out for a full-frame Canon as that is a camera which will actually add to my repertoire (low-light and landscape images).

Mystery Camera, Part II

Oh dear oh dear oh dear! This is proving to be quite a project, trying to get consistent photos from the Mystery Camera. On the up side it didn’t cost a lot of money. On the down side its inconsistency is frustrating.

Here is a close-up taken at the widest angle. Other than having to correct significant underexposure (about 3 stops – a problem that is also erratic) it is pretty good:

Wild rose lens test.

On the other end of the zoom results are not so pleasing:

Bird on a wire.

Someone may want that cartoon-like appearance, but not I. Note the chromatic aberration. Another bird shot shows there are significant problems at maximum telephoto:

You can just tell it’s an eagle.

Yet if we go back to wide we get this:

Results are sometimes good.

I have worked with it (mostly cleaning contacts and resetting settings) to get the autofocus to sometimes work, but it is still inconsistent. I’m not sure if it’s the AF switch or the ‘halfway’ connection on the shutter release, but much of the time the motor doesn’t even try to adjust the lens. When it does activate, it’s abysmally slow. That is probably a function of the design, not of the failure.

Here is a picture in which I managed to bring out the underlying cause of the imaging problems:

Ravens and blots.

A couple of ravens, the top of the trees, and a whole lot of dirt on the sensor! In fact this camera came to me very dirty, and smelling horribly of some chemical which implies someone tried to clean it without knowing how. I scrubbed the lens three times and it still appears a bit hazy on the front. The exposure went from consistently -3 EV to sometimes getting it right because of contact cleaning (which includes repeatedly working controls to get any corrosion rubbed off internal parts if possible). As mentioned I’ve managed to get the autofocus to engage sometimes. None of the operations are consistent, and may never be. At this point it’s definitely not a camera you’d want to count on for anything.

What is it? Still not going to tell you. I’m going to have another go at cleaning (once I get some sensor wands) and try it again in sunshine (if we ever get any of that again) and just see if it’s possible this camera may be salvaged. Oh there’s dirt and a loss of mirror silvering in the viewfinder as well. Not sure I’ll be tackling that.

It does not shoot in B&W, but sometimes things look better that way.

When I’m convinced it can not be improved further I’ll make a final evaluation. At this point it appears to have limited value of any sort.

Experimenting with the Mystery Camera!

This was a nightmare of trying to get things working. To start with, there’s nothing but overcast skies here – and high winds. Then try to use a camera which not only am I unfamiliar with, but clearly some aspects of it don’t work! Like the autofocus, which I am dependent on. Its automatic settings aren’t very good either, and half of these pictures got quite a bit of rework to make them presentable. Half I left as-is. Oh and just to make things more confusing, it was set on ‘RAW’ to begin with which cost a few frames as well. I really hate having to process from RAW!

At this point I won’t tell you what the camera is.

Widest angle.
Maximum telephoto.
Marley the Model.
It was a dark and stormy morning …
Everything about this picture is wrong – except the moodiness.
This one it got right all on its own.

I need better weather and more experimentation before I discuss this device any further. So far it is not terribly impressive.