Archive for the '35mm' Category

Build A Tilt-Shift Lens for Your SLR for Cheap

Saturday, February 16th, 2008


I haven’t posted a good camera modification in a while, so it feels good to present you with this new tutorial on how to build your own tilt-shift lens. Have you seen those photos where only a small part of the picture is in focus and the rest of the image gets dramatically blurred? If you ever wondered how this effect is created, chances are the picture was taken with a tilt-shift lens. Most lenses are fixed exactly parallel to your lens because that is the position that will distribute the light evenly and keep focus at a fixed distance. A tilt-shift lens is different because it allows you pivot the lens. By “tilting” and “shifting” the lens you can throw things out of focus in unconventional ways. Using a tilt-shift lens is a fun way to inject your photos with drama and controlled distortion. Here is a link to a good Flickr gallery full of examples of tilt-shift to give you an idea of what is possible with a tilt-shift lens.

If I have convinced you that a tilt-shift lens would be a nice addition to your photography arsenal, I have some bad news for you. Tilt-shift lenses are expensive. A quick Ebay search reveals that you will be lucky to secure a lens for under $500 with some lenses well over $1000. Yikes! A slightly less expensive option is something called a Lensbaby, which will run you between $100 to $400. Despite hearing good things about the lensbabies, I just can’t justify dropping a couple hundred dollars on a lens that’s main purpose is to degrade and distort my pictures. Luckily there is a third option. Here are some ideas that will help you create your own tilt-shift lens for next to nothing.


Pentax K1000

Sunday, February 10th, 2008


I finally got the camera I have always wanted. No, it wasn’t a Hasselblad or a Mamiya or a Leica. The camera that has been on my wish list longer than any other is the Pentax K1000. Sure, I could pick one up on Ebay for under $100 but I just figured that someday the classic camera would just find its way into my collection. That is pretty much what happened. I love having a story to go along with a camera and now I have one that I will probably be telling quite a few times in the future. Here is how the classic tank of a camera came into my collection…


Yashica Electro35

Saturday, July 7th, 2007


A recent addition to my camera collection that is quickly becoming a favorite is the Yashica Electro35. It is an old rangefinder with a fast lens, a quite shutter, and accurate auto exposure. If you are like me and can only dream about owning a Leica, this camera might be just what you are looking for. They are a bargain on Ebay going for $25 or less.


Canon AE1 Program

Monday, March 19th, 2007


The newest addition to my camera collection is the Canon AE1 Program. This is the automatic version of the AE1 which I reviewed a few months ago. It is just a coincidence that I got this camera at the same time as my Pentax Super Program becuase these cameras had to be competing against each other around 1984. I had to chuckle at the lens cap because it had “Official 35mm Camera of the 1984 Olympics” on it.



Pentax Super Program

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007


I recently came into possession of a Pentax Super Program, a 35mm SLR made in the early Eighties. I have always wanted the completely manaul Pentax K1000, and since I already own the fantasticly automatic Pentax ZX5n, I wasn’t sure what I would think of the Super Program

While researching the Super Program I was impressed by the loyal following that this camera has earned over the years. People praise its reliability, exposure accuracy, small size, and sharp lenses.


Canon AE1

Friday, December 29th, 2006


The biggest hole in my camera collection (besides a hasselblad or some other really nice camera) is a fully manual 35mm SLR. I have wanted a Pentax k1000 ever since I used one in high school, but one has never presented itself to me. My Pentax ZX5n is a great camera, but it is too easy to rely on the automatic settings and let the camera do all the work. Sometimes you just want a wonderful old machine. The cranking to advance the film. The needle light meter. The manual focus. The physical motion to set the aperture and shutter speed. And don’t forget the glorious sound when the shutter releases. If there is a more wonderful sound in the universe, I would like to hear it.

Well, you can imagine my delight when a friend of my Betsy’s learned of my camera collection and donated a Canon AE1 to my cause. What a great little machine! It was well cared for, and once I replaced the battery this thing was ready to go. I won’t bore you with the technical specs but rather close with a recommendation that you pick up an old manual SLR. As digital continues to make these old beasts “obsolete” the price is a steal. If you are like me and you learned to take pictures with these cameras, reconnecting with the past might just reinvigorate your love for photography.

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for Canon AE1 cameras that you might be interested in:

Updated 35mm Lego Camera Design

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006


Inspired by George Bristol’s variation on the film advance mechanism of my Lego camera, I have reworked the design of my 35mm Lego camera. The new camera has several things going for it. Overall it is slightly smaller. It now has an internal shutter mechanism which replaces the clumsy swinging door of the earlier model. Most importantly, I came up with a simple way to rewind the film so now the camera no longer needs to be unloaded in the dark. I have tested a couple of rolls of film with it and the improvements make this a very fun little toy! I am seriously starting to consider selling these, perhaps on Ebay. Would anybody be interested? What do you think it would be worth?

Here are some photos and explanations of the new and improved 35mm Lego camera…


Lego Panoramic Camera

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005



Soon after I built my 35mm Lego pinhole camera, it struck me that there wasn’t any reason why I couldn’t just make the camera longer and create a panoramic version of the Lego camera. While I prefer a more square format, I couldn’t help but build this camera. The result was a camera that produced a 78mm x 24mm negative. Since the Lego pinhole camera doesn’t have a mask, the entire negative is esposed including the sprocket holes, which looks something like this:


If you are interested in pinhole photography, Ebay might be a good place to find a starter pinhole camera. Here are the pinhole camera auctions going on right now:

35mm Lego Camera

Saturday, November 5th, 2005


Last night I tackled the project of a 35mm version of my medium format pinhole Lego camera. It turned out to be easier than I expected. I should probably have spent the time making better instructions for the medium format version, but rest assured, those are in the works. Anyway, here are a couple highlights of this camera’s design that are different from the medium format version…


Hole-On Ex

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005


My friend Bennett gave me the perfect gift last weekend. He found a pinhole camera kit at a bookstore and past the treasure on to me. It is called a Hole-On Ex (don’t ask me why) and it is pretty easy to put together. The instructions say it only takes 2 hours, but that seems a little unrealistic. I used Elmer’s glue, so maybe you could save some time with a faster drying glue!

In my haste to test it out, I forgot to reinforce some of the walls with the included black paper. After wasting a roll of 35mm film, I used my aluminum tape to be extra sure there weren’t any leaks. The Hole-On Ex is a welcome addition to my ever growing camera collecion.

Ebay is my favorite place to find deals on great old cameras. Here are the pinhole cameras on Ebay right now: