Tuesday, June 18, 2013

old lenses gain new life

If you happen to still have in a drawer somewhere some old lenses for film cameras, especially any old macro lenses of good quality, I have a suggestion how to recycle them into the new digital age. Macro lenses being the cat's meow when doing archaeological photography such as glass beads and in my case recently, gar fish scales.
Now it's true that various cameras can use these old lenses. but recently something a little better.  I have been using an adapter on my Sony NEX F3 camera to mount old manual focus Contax/Yashica mout lenses. It has a feature that is remarkably useful, helpful and quite elegant. 
Once you frame your shot, you can press a button to temporarily zoom in to your image to fine tune your manual focusing, there are in fact two levels of peaking zoom. Once you continue depressing the shutter, your full image returns and you can take the shot. This feature is outstanding. Adds just a moment to the taking of a shot and the results are perfect.
The camera uses aperture priority and you get a perfectly exposed shot. 
One slightly sneaky detail.  You need to change one of the camera's default settings to make this magic occur.  You look under menu/setup and change "release shutter without lens" to enabled.  Oddly worded but it is the setting you need to change for success.
My adapter came thru amazon.ca and cost just $29. There is a large number of adapters for the various lenses from various manufacturers.
I imagine all the NEX cameras have this feature. The F3 is entry level and can be purchased for $400-450. Shop around. I got mine thru a special sale item from Staples.
It is very satisfying to be able to use effectively those fine old, high quality optics from film photography days.

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