Aggie Photography Hack!

Happy New Year!

Well, another Christmas has come and gone! I had a wonderful time spending time w/the fam’, as usual. We do all our traveling on Christmas Eve, which is my dad’s birthday & my wife’s family always opened presents on Christmas Eve, so we always go visit both them and my dad on that day. Christmas day is ours to spend together at our house! Santa Clause was good to me (or I should say I was good to myself & got a new DLSR camera (see prev. story: “Taking the Plunge“) and a new, larger computer monitor, so I gan use a font small enough to get enough text of a long program source on the screen without having to constantly put on and remove my reading glasses while working! Anyway, the new monitor’s in the 2nd pic. below (displaying a pic taken with my jury-rigged lens!)
Aggie Photography II I’ve been having fun with my new camera! One of several reasons I went with the Pentax is that it has the same lens mounts as my old ME-Super (Film), which I still occasionally use. Problem is that the one good zoom lens I had for it broke down years ago, so now I only have a 50mm fixed lens for it. The new Pentax came with both a wide angle and a telephoto lens, giving me a combined focal range of 18-300mm.

I tried out the 2 new lenses on my Super and, sure enough they mount and work except for not having aperture rings, so there’s no way to adjust the aperture when using with the old (mechanical) camera. Also, the lenses default to the highest (smallest) apertures, the light-meter quickly revealed this fact as did glancing into the lenses themselves. Hmmmmm – what to do? I took a closer look at them and realized that they have a tiny spring-loaded arm that pokes into the camera and that moving that arm with my finger adjusts (opens) the aperture. Looking closer, I concluded that maybe I could create a small shim that could be inserted into the groove the arm travels in to hold the lens open to a desired aperture. I assumed (wrongly) the light meter “sees” through the lens and, based on it’s aperture, calculates and displays the proper shutter speed. I found a large plastic washer that was exactly the right thickness for this task and cut it to the right size to hold the lenses wide open (lowest F-number) and gently attached the lens to the camera. The groove for the arm is approx 3.5mm deep and I was able to add another 3.5mm of protrusion including a groove for extracting the shim with one’s fingernail, and it still fit snugly & mounted perfectly with the camera!

I then pressed the shutter button half-way anticipating seeing the light-meter move up a few shutter-speeds, but it did not budge – What?! The aperture was now wide open! I then decided to take a closer look at the old, mechanical lens that works properly and discovered a tiny, additional moving part opposite the lens from the aperture arm down in a groove into which a tiny arm embedded in the camera extends into that moves as the aperture ring is turned, and which the camera apparently uses to control the light-meter – interesting! So, this meant that I would not be able to rely on the light-meter in auto (Av) mode to properly calculate the shutter-speed – BUGGER¡ But, was I gonna let that small detail stop me – Heck NO (I’m JimPossible, remember)! I decided to (waste) a roll of film trying different exposures and zooms to determine the number of clicks needed to compensate to the proper shutter-speed based on the apertures created by the three shims I had made! I took meticulous notes and told the processors to process ALL 25 exposures onto a CD so I could compare each frame with my notes. Suffice it to say that I was pleasantly suprised with the accuracy of my width measurements & WAGs for each of the 3 shims, as they seem to produce very good results at exactly 2 stops apart, so that now I can select a shim & increase the shutter-speed 2, 4 or 6 stops of offset from what the camera selects to get the proper exposure using the camera’s manual mode!

So, for a/b 2 hours labor, a small piece of orange plastic and the cost of a single roll of film and processing, I now have 2 additional lenses worth several hundred dollars for my film camera too – BOOYAH (w5)! Indeed that quote I quoted back in the previous blog entry regarding my new camera rings more true – “…Pentax is like Linux…!” (note: I run Linux & hack my computer (software) too lol! 😉 Another reason I bought the Pentax DSLR instead of a pricier Nikon or Cannon is that in addition to the extra features for the money, I always liked my 25+ year old Pentax SLR b/c of it’s light weight, simplicity, ruggedness, and the good pictures I’ve taken with it! I bought the DSLR more as a complement to it rather than as a replacement. It’s nice though – having a camera that one does not need to “turn on”! Now I guess I’m all set as far as photography goes for awhile!

Aggie Photography
Aggie’ish Snow tires for your Bicycle!

Since this is already such a hacky-whacky post, here comes another great one at you – this guy, though he is in Seattle, MUST be an Aggie too, lol! The title of the article is “Seattle Snowpocalypse“. Anyway, this seems like a cool hack, albeit a bit labor-intensive (to add and remove the fasteners)! Thanks go to my lovely wife for finding & sending this to me!

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2 Trackbacks

  1. […] camera, but I have not shot any film with it yet to confirm.  I can use my ol’ “shim trick” to open it up (since there’s no aperture ring) if I ever […]

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