Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I'll make this brief. Lightroom kicks butt in workflow, but it sucks are not allowing me to do what I like to do in Photoshop. It's driving me bonkers trying to learn this program.

Only good came come of this, but when you're ripping your hair out, that's a hard one to believe.

Anyhow, I am slowly working on my next entry, however I'm coming up a bit short on the topic I want to talk about... we'll see how this works out. I set a goal of 10 entries, and i have 3 so far. (It's a 10 best list)

At least, for now, while i have a bit of writer's block, i can revisit my last post and fix the error that Storpotaten pointed out.

Stay Tuned

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cross-Platform... Adapting to old lenses...

In the digital age, one cannot resist the ability to do more with their camera. I know I can't.

Having said that, there are many individuals out there that have taken to adapting or using adapters for their own lenses. In some rare cases, the camera's have been adapted to take older lenses. The advantage of adapting is that you are able to re-purpose your old film lenses. The disadvantage is, not all lenses are adaptable - but there's two sides to that unfortunate coin.

One is that, the register distance is quite different. The other is, the image circle is different.

Now, there are some cases, where a smaller lens can be adapted to a larger mount, but the results aren't always inspiring. This is the rarer of the two cases unfortunately. The more common problem in cross-platforming is the register issue.

Now, many mechanical adapters are out there, ready to allow you to mount Lens A to Camera B. For the most part, the more successful cross-platform matings belong to Canon, Nikon, Leica, Olympus and Pentax. I don't really know much about the other brands, but from what I understand, Nikon's and Olympus's are generally the other favourites. Leica cameras are often hideously expensive, so anyone wanting to adapt something to that kind of camera, most likely has the money to do so. :P

As for Canon... Canon has a register distance of 44mm, which is pretty short by modern standards, however, it is still longer than older standards. This means that, if you want to mount an older lens on a Canon, you're going to lose infinity focus. Alternatively, if you use a lens that's native to a longer register, you end up winning in infinity focus, but probably lose in minimum focus. No one really talks about that, so I'm only speculating on that. (stands to reason, right?)

Additionally to the shorter register, is the fact/possibility that older lenses will extend into the body, thus introducing the possibility of damaging your mirror.
There are examples of adapters for those kinds of lenses that maintain infinity focus and prevent mirror damage, but there is a cost... Image Quality. These kinds of adapters introduce (diopter) glass that acts as a weak teleconverter. In quite a few cases, I've read that 2/3rds of a stop are lost - sometimes more. No matter how good that lens is, losing that much is generally considered not worth the investment. Plus, the quality of said glass may be poor, so it ends up being money flushed down the toilet.

Bob Atkins created a nice little table with the different types of lenses out there that can and cannot be adapted to EOS mount. However, I felt that it fell short given the wide range of available lenses out there. (please note: i didn't say a wide range of awesome lenses)

K-mount 45.46mm ADAPTABLE
M42 Screw 45.46mm ADAPTABLE
Olympus OM 46.0mm ADAPTABLE
Arriflex 52.0mm ADAPTABLE
Mamiya 645 63.3mm ADAPTABLE
Pentax 645 70.8mm ADAPTABLE
Kiev 60/Kiev Six 74.1mm ADAPTABLE
Nikon F 46.5mm ADAPTABLE
Hasselblad/Kiev88 82.1mm ADAPTABLE
Contax N 48.0mm UNKNOWN
Mamiya RZ 105mm UNKNOWN
Mamiya RB 112mm UNKNOWN



Please note: the availability of adapters isn't exactly solid across the range. Some may need hunting.

If you're a lucky soul that has an older lens that has amazing optics, but is one of those listed as not having the ability to be adapted, don't despair. There are talented individuals out there that can modify the mount of your lens so you can continue using the lens on your dSLR. The more commonly modified/updated lenses tend to be Canon FD's, because there were many amazing lenses made back in the day.

Now... the Cavaet!

Some lenses, while they can be used with an adapter, they cannot be used on Full Frame cameras. They can only be used on crop cameras (EF-S mount [rebel series and xxD]). Always check to make sure that the lens in question is compatible in this way.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

DIY Tilt-Shift

Okay, first off... this post is not about how to make yourself your own Tilt-Shift. For lack of better words, this a commentary on how to make a tilt-shit lens. Seriously... It amazes me how many people out there, with a wealth of photographic knowledge can't get this simple concept right. Many confuse Selective Focus for Perspective Control - which, really annoys me.

This... is NOT a tilt-shift lens. (i'll explain below why)
Apologies to where ever these images are originally from. Actually, in this case, I don't apologize... a plunger? seriously?

This people... are Tilt-Shift Lenses. (Canon's 24L and 17L)

Apologies to where ever these images are originally from.
As you can plainly see, they have dials on them. Those are for adjusting the tilt and shift of the lens.

Tilting is when you alter the lens plane, by swinging the lens' axis away from being center and perpendicular to the film plane. Think of it as an Elephant's trunk. If the Elephant was to hold out it's snout perfectly straight - that would be a normal lens. If the elephant bends his snout upwards or downwards, it would be tilting it. Unfortunately, because of limitations imposed by the mechanicals, tilting is only in the up/down axis. (These lenses do allow you to rotate however) With Tilt-Shift lenses, you are given the ability to adjust the
tilt by ±6.5°, as much or as little as you want, as well as as fine as you want. Each little tick mark is probably a quarter of a degree. Though, I must add, I'm unsure if this applies to all the TS-e's or just the 17mm.

Shifting is when you move the lens plane laterally to the film plane. Think of it as a sliding door on a Mini-van. When closed, the door is in it's normal alignment. But, if you open the door and slide it open, you are now shifting the door's placement on the Minivan. Since you have the door open on this proverbial minivan, you might as well look through the glass now... Hmmm... strange. Where was I? Oh yeah... Shifting. On Canon lenses, you can get up to ±12mm of shift. Once again, this figure may only apply to the 17mm TS-e.

Now, when you combine the tilting with the shifting, you are given an amazing amount of control over your shot. In Real Estate and Architectural Photography, this control is translated into making buildings look true to life. In other realms, they are used for miniaturization - which, IMHO, Keith Loutit is the king. If you haven't seen any of his videos yet, go watch them after reading my post. Links at the bottom

So, that's Tilt/Shift.

What's the deal with the plunger? The deal is, there are people out there that think taking a lens, gluing it to a plunger, then mounting the plunger to your camera is going to give you the ability to tilt-shift. They are wrong. At best, you get tilting. In reality, you get a really stupid looking lens modification. Worse still, You lose Infinity-focus, which is rather important for doing Tilt/Shift as you're dealing with Scheimpflug there.

In effect, the plunger-mod will get you results somewhat close to what this guy gets you:

What's that? It's a LENSBABY! (yaaaay!!).

What's a Lensbaby? I dunno, but it's EXTREMELY AWESOME. Lensbaby is made of Creativity, which make your photos grow, which is why you should buy one, because plungers are for Toilets and have you ever seen a picture come out of a toilet? It's got BENDING, super extra bending! and 5 KINDS OF BOKEH*! Which makes your pictures photolicious, unlike other cheap lenses, which are NOT photolicious. Taking pictures with it will make you wonder why you've never had photos that LOOK LIKE EXPLOSIONS!

Woah... I better lay off the Brawndo.

So, as i was trying to say. Lensbabies are an inventive (and properly manufactured) way of doing "Selective Focus". What's selective focus and how does it differ from how lenses normally focus. Selective Focus is when you choose a subject and have the photo so that they are the only thing in focus. How does it differ? Aside from the bending factor, not a whole lot. After all, Focusing is about being selective to begin with, right? So, yeah... I don't have an answer for that second question.

Now... Udi over at diyphotography has come up with an ingenious method of faking the tilt-shift effect. Once again, not really tilt-shift, but closer than the Plunger thing.

Now, my suggestion is, if you do his project, use a CPL filter instead of an old filter/stepping ring. Additionally, Udi suggested in his comment section that the lens be mounted off-center. Doing that, and attaching it to a CPL, will allow you to rotate it in whichever direction you want.

Now, combine that with the Plunger idea and you'll probably end up with the craziest DIY lens ever. I can't imagine what the effect will be with the two combined, but I do know that your ability to focus to infinity will be tossed out the window.

-- EDIT--

I have found a DIY T/S that yields closer results than other ideas. Still a plunger, but this one I'm not going to laugh at as much, because Captain Nod put more thought into it. Go Here to check it out. My belief on this one is that he took a few factors into consideration here (like the lack of shifting) and at the bottom, he says he's going to work on a method of controlling the shift as well. The Cavaet here is - his idea is better but it lacks the sharpness of a true T/S but it's still pretty sharp.

Once again, a glorified Lensbaby. ;)

Lifehacker/Make Magazine Plunger "T/S"
DIYPhotography's Projector Lamp Lens

Foundphotography's Retarded T/S Project

Nikon's PC-E Nikkor 24mm F3.5
Canon's Tilt-Shift Line-up
Lensbaby - Canadian site or If you're American (the website will redirect you depending on which country you're in)
Captain Nod's PlungerCam and in action.

Keith Loutit vids: Bathtub IV, Helpless, Bathtub III, Bathtub II and Beached

* I'm unsure of the Muse and others, but the Lensbaby 2.0 came with several drop in apertures. 2.2, 2.4, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0 and 2 blanks. The creative kit gives you a heart and star, and several more blanks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Working with Macro Tubes

Something that has come up recently on Fred Shooting Macro via... extension tubes.

While there are many "macro" (or Micro if you're a Nikon shooter) lenses out there, very few are actually Macro lenses. That is... Lenses capable of shooting at minimum focusing distances of less than a foot or so, and are able to produce images that are 1:1. What is 1:1?

1:1 is where the area you are shooting, equals the size of the image on the sensor or
meaning the image on the film is the same size as the object being photographed (wiki).

As far as I'm concerned, there's 2 ways to go about doing Macro. One is getting a macro lens. The other is getting a decent lens and attaching it to extension tubes.

Most of the big manufacturers make a 1:1 lens in some way or another. Canon has their 100mm 2.8 Macro. Sigma produces a 105mm 2.8 Macro. Tamron has a 90mm macro 2.8. Nikon has... something. I dunno. Don't really care. :P

Canon also has a 50mm Macro and a 60mm macro, but I don't know much about them except that the 50mm needs the life size converter to do 1:1, and the 60mm is in the EF-S mount, which I have vowed to stay away from in the future (except unless a 10-22 falls into my lap). There's also the MP-E 65mm, but that's a whole new bag of tricks, as it goes above and beyond 1:1 (it can do 5:1)

While I can't tell you much about those lenses more than I already have, I can tell you that Macro Tubes have their pros and cons. If you go for a true 1:1 lens, you can still use a macro tube and potentially gain better than 1:1.

1) Minimum Focusing Distance (MFD) can drop (heavily) in some lenses, it reduces it so much that you pretty much touch the subject

2) If you buy cheap-o tubes, you have no Aperture confirmation. You'll get 00 on your display. Auto-settings tend not to work well. However, if you go with Kenko or Canon's EF25, you do retain Aperture confirmation, as they have connectors to maintain the camera's ability to talk to the lens.

2a) If you have cheapie tubes that have no aperture confirmation you have to work with your lens while wide open or, you have to attempt enforcing stop-down through a bit of a physically complicated method:
Step 1 - Put your lens on the body
Step 2 - Choose the F stop you want (keep in mind, DOF is narrower with tubes)
Step 3 - Hold the DOF preview button and remove the lens.

Step 4 - Attach lens to macro tube and then lens+tube to Camera
As mentioned, Depth of Field (DOF) decreases as you add tubes, so if you're aiming to get a macro shot with a lot of detail, you need to drop the aperture (F/10-16 works for me). But if you want a small amount of detail to show through, go wide-open.

Sharpness sometimes isn't much of a problem with macro tubes if the lens you're using is already razor sharp to begin with. I wrote all of this info once before, and they were asking about using tubes in conjuction with either the 24-70 or 70-300 (both by Canon). As i stated then, it won't be much of a problem with the 24-70 because of how sharp it is, but the 70-300 (assuming it's not the DO or an L) will only yield okay-ish results - post processing will be needed on lower-end lenses.

3) Lighting is extremely important... if you're not out and about in full sun, get yourself a macro ring if you can, otherwise, you'll have to play with off-camera flashing, and that can be frustrating if you're learning macro at the same time. at least... it was for me. *shrugs*

An alternative to macro-ring flashing is off-camera flashing with a diffuser, or if you want to do Macro in a "studio" environment, then build (or buy) yourself a lightbox. I did, and one of these days I'll get around to sharing the method and materials required.

Now, there are two other options that Canon has made available. They are the 250D and 500D filters. They provides a little more magnification to your lens, but at a heavy cost and only come in a limited amount of filter sizes.

Now, understanding how to get true macro, we need to understand what's going on with a macro tube. First and foremost, I have never been able to achieve 1:1, at least, not to my knowledge. I may have incidently and not realized it but that's not the point here. What the point is, trying to understand where you stand with your macro tubes and current stock of lenses. Thanks to Pixel Perfect at, I have this nice little formula.

Magnification = extension length divided by lens length or
m' = e/L
So, if you have an extension of 25mm and a lens of 80mm, your magnification will be 0.3125x.
With 55mm or extension and a 70mm lens, you get 0.78x. Which I'm thinking equals to 1:1.24, meaning that i'm close, but not quite. Remember that MP-E lens i mentioned? It gets up to 5:1 (aka 5x magnification). Because I'm at 1.24, I am shooting stuff that is 1.24x smaller than the full frame. Confused yet? good... because so am I.

-edit- This next part is thanks to Kakomu

The easiest way to figure this out is to photograph a ruler so that you have a measurement of the width of your shot. Compare that to the size of your sensor: Voila, magnification ratio.

For instance. Let's say you have a 50mm lens on 30mm of extension tubes. You point it at a ruler and measure X mm from the left frame to the right. Then, you go to the manufacturer's website, and find that your sensor is Y mm wide. Your Macro ratio is, thus, 1 : (X/Y).

Example: the measurement on the picture is 40mm and the sensor size is 20mm. Thus, the ratio is 1 : (40/20) = 1:2. The object, therefore, is half as large, on the sensor, as it is in real life.

It's also important to note that where the lens is focused makes a big difference. I typically try to focus the lens at Infinity and just move back and forth. I hear all the time that lenses perform best when you focus to infinity compared to the MFD. Then again, the MFD of a lens on a macro tube doesn't seem to make a colossal difference, so I don't even worry about it.

Also, longer lenses on extension tubes can produce some excellent results too. You won't easily get 1:1 macro shots like you would with a 50mm lens or shorter, but you can take pictures of things up close and have greater subject isolation. Flowers and other small objects benefit greatly from this approach, in my opinion.