Sunday, April 7, 2013

From the Why Bother Department...

Believe it or not, I don't have any truly expensive manual focus lenses. The Kinoptik 210mm f2.8 Speciale cine, which while expensive, is not truly expensive. The reason is that I buy lenses to satisfy my own curiosity of how each lens renders pictures, but unfortunately, I don't have a lot of disposable income, so expensive lenses are out of the question. In a sense, I am not really a photographer, but rather, a camera/lens user. What excites me, or, if you like, what has driven me near the edge of insanity, is finding new ways to make pictures. Besides the garden variety normal lenses, I also use projection lenses, enlarging lenses, copy lenses, printing lenses, ground glass magnifier, or, just the front element of the a dismantled lens, to take photographs. Sometimes I would spend days, even weeks, trying to find a way to mount some odd ball glass to the camera so that I could use it to take pictures, just want to see how the pictures are rendered, from lenses not made for this purpose. Now, you tell me. Does a normal person do this? Most would spend the time on how to take better pictures, no?

Anyway. Few years ago I bought some Kodak printing lenses from a camera show. These lenses have odd focal lengths like 63mm and 93mm, etc. and they all have a fixed aperture. Like enlarging lenses, the front and rear elements can be unscrewed easily and if needed, a different aperture disc can be inserted to change the native aperture value. They came with brass tubes which are then mounted inside commercial printing machines. Yesterday, I finally found a way to mount the 63mm f4.5 Printing Ektar lens to the helicoid, and today I had a chance to take some pictures with it. The lens captures an amazing amount of detail. Just like the Schneider Componon 80mm f5.6 enlarging lens, this one also has limited use, but it feels great to be able to capture images with it, and with very good quality.

Kodak Printing Ektar 63mm f4.5 with helicoid - Picture taken with 5D II & Tamron AF 90mm f2.8

Lens holding Brass Tubes - Picture taken with 5D II & Tamron AF 90mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Out of action derailleur - Sony NEX-6 & Kodak Printing Ektar 63mm f4.5. Click for larger.

Details - Sony NEX-6 & Kodak Printing Ektar 63mm f4.5

100% crop from picture above. Some softness with jpeg compression.


  1. When I see youngsters in the park trying endlessly to perform various maneuvers with their skateboards I ask myself the same question. Well, only they know. What you know, and I also know, is that experimenting with camera gear is a lot of fun and a creative pastime. Yes, there are people who criticize us tinkerers arguing that this is just playing, it is not photography. No-one said it was, but that doesn't invalidate it. We should not have to excuse ourselves for not trying to create an artistic masterpiece every time we click the button.

    I am new to your blog, but on first impression it's a wonderful source of information, so I'll keep digging through the archives. :-)

    Rather than clogging up your blog with many other thoughts / questions that come to my mind, I wouldn't mind getting into contact via email. As a way of introduction please visit my website at
    My email address is at the bottom.


    1. Welcome to my blog!

      Well, I think it's all about having fun and fun is whatever that makes you happy :) I am certainly having a lot of fun with odd ball lenses.