A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘camera

A “New” Lens

with 4 comments

One of the reasons why I chose to get a Pentax DSLR is because you’re able to use older lenses on them. Many camera manufacturers have updated their lens mounts in the past couple decades, which really hinders one’s ability to use older lenses on newer cameras. It can be done with adapters, but it isn’t exactly convenient or easy to shoot that way. Pentax, however, has used the same “K mount” on their SLRs since about the 70’s, so the old lenses still mount directly and easily to their modern DSLRs. On top of that, Pentax has its image stabilization system built into the camera itself, not into the lenses. So, you still get vibration reduction even when using old lenses.

By keeping the new cameras compatible with the old lenses, it opens the doors for photographers to use a plethora of really good quality old glass. On top of that, they’re cheap! Well, cheap as far as lenses go. Since the lenses are all used at this point, and since many are all manual, they are much cheaper than their modern counterparts. But, they’re still good lenses; a ~40 year old state of the art lenses can still take REALLY good photos today.

I was going to go on from here, writing more about how the lenses work on the camera and what the positives and negatives are, but I assume not too many people are visiting my page to READ about pictures. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, but I’ll cut to the chase…

I just so happened to pick up a manual prime lens yesterday!

135mm lens s

It is a 1:3.5 135mm. This was never a state of the art lens, but it’s completely usable and is capable of producing good photos.  Here are some pictures I took with it this weekend. None are gallery quality, but for my first weekend running around with a new lens, I’m pleased with the results. Hopefully they’ll only get better…

Axs SophieWindowsillxs Flowersxs

Those were from Saturday. I went to a autocross today (just took pictures, didn’t race) and took a lot of pictures there with it too. Here are just two; after I go through them all I might do a separate post.


And this is my favorite, lucked into getting a shot of a hit cone in mid-air…


My Impressions: It’s adequately sharp stopped down and produces good images with pretty accurate colors and contrast. Not the best bokeh I’ve ever seen, but I do like it. It’s also made out of metal and seems very robust, I am not concerned with it getting damaged. It even has a built in hood! Another plus is the size: It’s the same size as the kit 18-55 lens that came with the camera, so doesn’t stand out, and you’re able to shoot from a bit of a distance without being obtrusive. The image quality isn’t perfect though, all of the above have some post-processing tweaks done to them. Truly not much though. I also wish it was faster. 3.5 isn’t great for indoor/low light shooting, but at least the images are still usable wide open and with iso adjustment and post-processing it’ll work.

The price? $10! I found it on craigslist. They typically sell for $20 or more on ebay, so I think I got a good deal. It’s missing the lens cap and has some external wear, but still works great. I don’t know how much use it’ll get, but it is a great addition to my camera bag and will be very useful in extending the range of the 18-55 kit lens.

I’m on the hunt for a “fast 50” too, so hopefully there will be another post announcing a new lens soon.


Written by Jim

June 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm

A New Camera!!

with 5 comments

With my point and shoot on the fritz, and with the approval of my amazing supportive wife, I finally got a DSLR! A Pentax K-r:

Not being able to get a good picture of my actual camera, I am linking to a stock photo found at this online review.

The K-r is an entry level DSLR, released in 2010 and I believe discontinued (as in, an updated model came out to replace it) in late 2011. I found mine used online. It has a low shutter count and is in good overall condition. With my budget, I simply had to get used, and from all the research I’ve done I believe this is the best camera out there for me for the money.

I got it on Saturday and shot about 200 photos this weekend. I’m in love. Most of those shots were of the same objects, getting to know the camera… take a shot, tweak the settings, take another shot, tweak the settings again, over and over. I definitely have a lot to learn, but I’m going to love the process and am very happy with the results I’m able to get already. Considering I’m just beginning, things can only improve. Well, I do have some experience from shooting with film SLRs for a few years already, but there are a lot more options with this camera compared to the old film cameras I’ve owned. So yeah, I have a lot to learn, but I’m very pleased so far.

Here are just a few of the hand held shots I took this weekend.  There was no post processing done to them, the images are as they were straight out of the camera, except for re-sized. I don’t remember the specific setting for each of them, but none were “auto” or default settings. There’s definitely room for improvement with these, but I think it’s a good start. Unfortunately it was a gloomy rainy weekend and conditions weren’t great for shooting so I didn’t get as many “keepers” as I wanted, but count on a lot more photo shooting this summer; I’m going to have a lot of fun with this!

IMGP6483s IMGP6601s IMGP6587s IMGP6608s

I goofed a little on the last one… I forgot to remove some settings from a previous shot and this turned out a little muted. Part of the learning process…


Written by Jim

May 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

SLR Pinhole Roll #2 – SUCCESS!!!!

with 2 comments

8 second exposure

15 second exposure

Both shot on Fujifim X-TRA 200 film.

I was right, the pinhole was too small.  I used my new homemade bigger pinhole and the results are better than I could have hoped for.  I’m really looking forward to shooting like this!

Hopefully my hiccup in the last post didn’t deter anyone from trying this on their own. It might just take some playing around with pinhole sizes until you get good results.

Written by Jim

May 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Shooting with a Pinhole Camera

with 2 comments

Following up from my last post, I thought it might be helpful to add some info about actually shooting with a pinhole camera in case anyone does want to try. Some of the below might be fairly obvious, but I figured I’d type it all out if it might help someone.

1) The camera needs to be very still when shooting. You’ll be using longer than usual exposure times, so if the camera (or subject) moves, even just a little, the pictures could be blurry. Use a tripod, or prop the camera against something solid and stable, like a piece of furniture, fence post, tree branch, try stabilize it against a wall, etc. It opens opportunities to be creative with movement though, too.

2) Your view finder is going to basically be rendered useless. (not having a DSLR, I’m not sure how digital would behave. my SLR’s view finder doesn’t show anything, unless pointed at something extremely bright, and even then it isn’t good enough to actually frame a shot.) I take a point and shoot digital with me and position it where I’ll have the pinhole, then take a test shot. It gives a decent enough rough idea of what your shot will be. Another alternative for framing shots, if you are using an SLR, is to frame the shot by looking through the view finder with a real lens, then swap to the pinhole for shooting. This can be quite time consuming. You can also just do your best by positioning the camera and sighting over it to judge the field of view.

3) To shoot like this, whether digital or film, you’ll need to manually adjust your shutter speed for each shot. (okay, modern digital cameras might be able to detect a proper shutter speed, but I’m skeptical. I’d still do it manually, or at least try for comparison) If you have a light meter, do some research online for some formulas or tips for choosing shutter speeds based off of your readings.

If you don’t have a light meter, never fear, it might just take more trial and error until you get consistent results. The kit I got came with some literature and an exposure guide. It’s been pretty trustworthy so far, so I’ll provide a break down here.

This is all assuming you are using 200 speed film (digital: iso 200) and your pinhole is very close to .2 mm.

– Outside and sunny: 1/4 sec
– Outside, mix of sun and clouds: 1/2 sec
– Outside, mostly cloudy: 1.5 sec
– Outside, overcast or dusk: 4 sec
– Inside, well lit: 1.5 min
– Inside, dim (candle lit): 3.5 min

These times should all be viewed as approximates, but it at least gives a starting point. You could also look around flickr for pinhole photos, or even my site here, and see what was entered as the exposure times. If you use a different pinhole size or a different iso setting/different speed film these times will vary as well. Keep in mind [as I found out later] the pinhole size needed will depend on the focal length of the camera, so if the size is much different than .2 mm, the shutter time will need changed as well.

4) KEEP A LOG. I carry a little note pad with me when I shoot pinhole shots and record my settings and the conditions for each. I record the weather, light conditions, how I held the camera, how long I kept the shutter open, etc. It helps when you’re looking back through your photos and comparing your notes. For example, if you see one shot from a cloudy day is a bit darker than you preferred, you can see how long you had the shutter open and will know to try for slightly more time when you’re in those conditions next. This is good practice for shooting in general. A digital SLR will of course track the shutter speed, but it won’t tell you anything about the lighting conditions or how you held the camera.

Hopefully this is at least somewhat helpful for any aspiring pinhole photographers. I am not a photography master, so please keep that in mind, but hopefully this could at least provide a starting point to work from.  Good luck!

Written by Jim

April 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

How to make a Pinhole Lens for a (D)SLR

with 2 comments

After making the Pinhole Camera Kit my sister gave me I’ve become really interested in pinhole photography. I’ve been thinking about getting or making another pinhole camera, but didn’t want to do another kit. I had heard of people making pinhole’s for their (D)SLRs, but wasn’t quite sure how it was done. My idea was to poke a hole through a camera body cap, put a pinhole in front of that, and voila – you’d be done! So, I did some searching online, and it turns out people do just that.

Doing various searches on Google one should be able to find different blogs and instructions on how to go about making a pinhole for an SLR. But, since there aren’t nearly enough blog posts about the same subject matter on the internets, I’m going to go over the steps again here.

This is really easy; pretty much everything can be done with household items and you don’t need to be especially mechanically inclined to do it.

Here’s a simple break down of the steps:
1) drill a hole in a camera body cap (the cap itself isn’t the pinhole; you attach a pinhole to it later)
2) make a pinhole in a piece of foil or aluminum
3) fasten the pinhole to the lens cap
4) put it on your camera


Okay,  on to the steps in detail:

First off, you need a body cap for your SLR. If you only have one I highly recommend getting an extra one (or two). You’ll be sanding it and drilling a hole in it, so it wouldn’t be wise to disfigure your only body cap. They’re cheap, I got one on eBay for $2.50 delivered.

Begin by sanding its front (the outside surface) down. This might not be necessary but is a good idea. Basically you want to make it smooth and it’ll thin the material which will make it easier to drill through and reduce the risk of shadows or light obstruction.

I put sand paper on a sanding block and simply rubbed the cap back and forth, rotating it as I went to make sure it worked down evenly. I used a mid-grain sand paper to start, then finished with a really fine grain piece. Afterwards I washed the cap and dried it thoroughly to make sure no dust was left on.

Next, you need to find the center of your cap.

I used a digital calipers and double checked with a tape measure. A ruler would work fine. Mark the center with your skull and crossbones pencil. (you can see in the pic that I have a couple of markings… it took me a couple tries to get it right.)

Before drilling, I think it’s smart to make an indentation for the drill bit to seat into. I used a small push-pin and made a small indent so the drill bit would sit right in the center with little chance of moving.

Next you drill a hole.

(you actually want to drill down at a straight 90 degree angle to the cap, not at an angle as pictured)

I used a 5/16″ bit, but something slightly smaller or bigger would work. If you don’t have a drill, don’t worry. After sanding the cap, mine was pretty thin and the material soft enough that I could have just pushed something through if I wanted to. You could probably use a screw and just screw it in then remove it, or push a bigger nail through. If not drilling, I think it would be wise to start with a small screw or nail, then use something slightly bigger, then something slightly bigger yet, till you have roughly a 1/4″ hole.

With the hole drilled, I took a small piece of sand paper, rolled it up, then cleaned out the inner edge of the hole. You don’t want any stray pieces of plastic hanging in there, potentially getting in your shot.

The cap can be set aside now, we’re done with it for a bit.  (and sorry, I missed taking a picture of it at this point. shouldn’t be hard to imagine though)

Next, you’ll need to make the actual pinhole. I used a left over one that came supplied in the kit I got. I’ve made others already though, so will retrace the steps.

You’ll want a thin piece of metal to do this. Aluminum foil works, but it’s rather flimsy. The best to use is probably a piece of aluminum from an empty soda can. Whatever you use, cut it to about one square inch. I’m using aluminum foil for the demonstration.

In the center (doesn’t have to be exact), very lightly press straight down with a sewing needle, and continually rotate the needle as you’re pressing down.

You do NOT want to just push the needle through. ONLY THE TIP should puncture. The hole will be so small that you’ll need to hold it right to your eye and look straight at a light to be able to see through it. We’re talking small, like .2 millimeters-ish.

That’s the hole in the center.

It doesn’t take much force to push through foil, but if you do use an aluminum can, which I would recommend, it will take more effort. Just remember to keep twisting/rotating the needle as you push down. This is done to make a nice even circle with smooth edges for the light to pass through. With a can, you might need to start from one side, then flip it over and finish from the other. It can be hard to do, but makes for a nice durable piece with a smooth-edged pinhole, and that makes for nice uniform pictures.

Before attaching the pinhole to the cap, you want to “black off” the metal. This is done to reduce reflection that can mess up your shots. Some people use black paint or magic marker. I use black photography tape that came with the kit. It’s basically just black masking tape, so if you can find it anywhere, I’d recommend getting it.

I covered the back of my pinhole so that no exposed metal will show when it’s attached to the cap, then covered the entire front of it so there wouldn’t be any reflective surface showing and taped it to the cap.

Here’s a shot from the back with it taped to the cap:

You want it to be centered in the hole you made in the cap (which should itself be centered), so this might mean measuring the placement of the pinhole in the cap. I honestly just did it by eye. The risk is that if it isn’t centered, the images won’t center on the film or camera sensor, and the edges, top or bottom will get cut off.

Also worth noting: Some people even black out the middle with a black marker, but I haven’t tried that. The ink could actually get in the pinhole and obstruct light getting through. I’ve had fairly good results with just a hint of the metal showing in the center, so am leaving as is.

Lastly, just put the cap on the camera, and you’re done!

I am using a Canon A-1, which is a film SLR, so I will not have any sample photos until I finish a roll. I almost hesitated posting this because it would suck if none of the pictures turned out, but I’m pretty confident I’ve done everything correctly and what’s the fun in waiting. There is a lot of other info out there on the web, too, so please do your own research if you’re considering this. With a DSLR, obviously, you’ll be able to tell right away whether it works or not.

This really is easy to do, it only took me about a 1/2 hour, and I was stopping to take pictures along the way. If you’re at all interested in pinhole photography, I hope this helped somewhat; give it a shot!

Written by Jim

April 29, 2012 at 12:55 am

Pinhole Camera: 1st Roll of Film

with 2 comments

It didn’t take me long to fill the first roll of film with the Pinhole Camera I put together. I was very excited to shoot with it and to see the results so I didn’t waste any time. 

All of the following pictures were scanned in from that first roll of film. The film was Fujifilm ISO 200. Scanning the prints adds in extra noise, and dust spots and blemishes show up more, so the actual prints are a bit crisper and look better than these. 

1st shot taken with the camera:
Shutter was open for about 7 minutes

These next few were all taken in the countryside around where I work over a lunch break. Exposure time was about half a second for each.

(I realize this isn’t that great of a picture, I just like how it looks)

These last two were at a small cemetery in the town I live in.  Exposure time was about three seconds each.

Overall, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. I was preparing myself for none of them even turning out, or being awful at best, but the quality of these few is better than I could have hoped. I have a lot to learn yet but I think it’s a good start. For the record, I managed to get 18 shots out of a roll of 24 exposure film. Of those, the eight posted here are the best, and of the rest, four were unidentifiable and the rest just not that good. So like I said, I have a lot to learn.

I’m really excited to shoot more with this little camera and think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.

Written by Jim

December 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Pinhole Camera

with 8 comments

One of the gifts I received for Christmas this year was an awesome Pinhole Camera kit, given to me by my awesome sister.

I’ve heard of people making these on their own or for school before, but never had an opportunity to myself.  I didn’t even know they made kits like this.  I was really excited to receive it and put it together.  Following is a write-up with some pictures of the assembly process.

The camera is basically made of cardboard:

The pieces are punched out of these sheets and glued together.  There were very detailed instructions explaining the steps.  Everything needed was in the kit except for glue, binder clips to hold things together while glue dried, a piece of sand paper, a cutting instrument, and some rubber bands.  Oh, film isn’t included either.

The first step was putting together the internal divider. This will go inside the camera body to separate it into compartments.

Here it’s being held together with binder clips while the glue dries (note my wife’s taste in colorful office supplies).  I might as well point out here, that most of the time was spent waiting for glue to dry.  It took me two evenings to put everything together, but probably 75% of the time was waiting for glue to dry.  It could easily be done in an hour or two if glue drying wasn’t part of the equation.

Next step was to put together the shutter.  It’s basically a piece of cardboard that you manually slide up and down.  Here it is drying; it’s actually upside down in this pic.  The open square doubles as the view finder and handle for operating it. You’ll see what I mean later when it’s installed on the camera.

This was the housing that it gets fitted into.

Around this point I suffered my first cut. It was just a small one and the only one I got through the whole process.  Pretty good for me!

Next the back half of the camera body was put together and glued.

Nifty exposure guide on the back.

Then the front half of the body was put together.

You can see the shutter assembly glued to the camera face in the image above. This was my first of three mistakes; it’s crooked.  Everything was flat and lined up when I glued it on, but you had to put something heavy on top to hold it in place while the glue dried.  I set a telephone book on it (knew there was still a use for that thing!) and I guess it moved the shutter housing a bit when I set it on.  I don’t think the camera will be less functional like this, it just looks shoddy.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the front, now folded and glued into shape.

Ari kept hopping up on the other chair and checking to see how I was doing. (he’s a hard guy to get a good shot of!)

Next the external corners of the body were taped to be sure no light could sneak in.

With everything dry and taped, the inside of the camera could be put together. The divider from step one gets glued into place.

Some more tape is added to inside edges to keep light in check.

Finally, here is a shot of the inside all put together.  On the bottom you can see a block of wood added – this has a nut in it that serves as the tripod mount.  The center now contains the pinhole as well.

I apologize, but somehow I completely missed taking pictures of the pinholes and how they were made.  The kit provided a couple of them, they’re thin squares of brass with a tiny hole already made in the center.  In the center section of the camera you can see a tiny spec, this is actually the pinhole, or to be correct, brass around the pinhole that isn’t quite covered by cardboard or tape.  There were two different pre-made sizes, and another blank for making your own.  It gets taped to another piece of cardboard that slides into the center section.  Sorry for missing shots of this.

And here’s a picture from the front.  You can see the pinhole in this picture too; it reveals my second mistake – it’s not centered in the square where it should be. I simply don’t know how this happened.  No matter how I re-positioned it I couldn’t get it to center.  It’s maybe half a millimeter high and to the right (as pictured) of where it should be.  I don’t know how much this will impact images, I won’t be surprised if the top of them is cut off come development.

All that’s left is to add winders and film!

The winders are made from little pieces of wood, notched on one end to fit inside of and turn the film canisters, and some cardboard wheels and labels.

And here’s a look at film being started.  The end of the roll is taped to a receiving spool that fits inside a canister (supplied in kit).

(I actually had to un-tape this and do it again, with the film sitting flat against the bottom of the spool.)

The spool then slides into the canister, the canister is closed, then it and the roll of film get fit into the front half of the camera body.

Oh, and just to note, the kit recommended starting using 200 speed film.  I usually shoot with it in my SLR, so it works for me!

And with that, the back can be slid on, the winders put in place, and you’re done!

The instructions also recommended adding rubber bands to hold it together tightly. The biggest fear is letting light in.

I really glossed over a lot, even though this is so long.  I should have done better at showing how some things were put together and how the camera works but I wasn’t overly concerned with documenting everything while I was making it.  I’ll also say that the camera pictured throughout the instruction booklet didn’t look perfect.  Mine definitely isn’t as nice, but there were noticeable flaws, the fitment wasn’t perfect, and you could just tell the one used for illustrations was put together by hand too and it’s probably close to impossible to have it looking pristine till it’s done.  So I don’t feel too bad about mine.

Overall it was very fun and not overly challenging to put this together.  The kit also contains a thick book showing different types of cameras, photos taken with them and instructions for operating, metering and judging how long to leave the shutter open.  I think there are even instructions for making other types of pinhole cameras.

I’ve taken just one shot with it so far.  Operating this little light camera will definitely take some getting used to, but I’m really looking forward to it and am hoping and praying that some of my shots turn out.  I forgot to cut off a little dab of hardened glue (mistake #3) on the inside that could potentially rub against the film; I hope it doesn’t damage anything.  I’ll post another blog whenever I get the roll shot and developed.

Written by Jim

December 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm