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More to love with a point-and-shoot!

So all you have is a point-and-shoot camera? Cry me a river.

The Abyss

Well aware of today’s inclement weather, I’ve headed out with a friend to traverse some streets and see what we can see – this time armed with only my Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd instead of a bloated dSLR. Lo-and-behold, the limitations present in the totally automatic FinePix made for a fun exercise in the visual senses.

I’m an advocate of the less-is-more adage and so always head out the door with only a single lens attached to my D300; carrying anything more gives me an excuse to be too playful when faced with a subject instead of honing my eye and forcing myself to be more creative when I’m locked-in with a single lens. This doesn’t ring any more true than with a point-and-shoot.

Say Hello to my Little Friend

I’m not claiming to be a good photographer by any stretch (“…just a man with a cam…”), but carrying a basic, no-frills camera lets you see more, period. I think this is why people are fascinated with LOMOs, Holgas and plastic toy cameras…not for what they offer, but for what they take away; you’re forced to be more creative to get an intriguing shot.

My Z5 is so limiting in fact, that I have no creative control over shutter speed, aperture or exposure, thereby really forcing out some creative juices :)  Oh, it’s only 5 megapixel and shoots only JPEGs, too, which means smaller pictures that are quicker to process. Woohoo!

Not that all these pics are fantastic, but they certainly present a different take on subjects that I would otherwise pass up when armed with my D300.

Please click each image to view larger.


Shrouded in Secrecy
The Long Ride Up


The Year Of...

No Drinks Allowed


Thanks for reading!

Who Would’ve Thought?

So anytime I find myself in a speeding car traversing an empty tunnel, I’m always willing to stick out the camera for a shot or two. I’ve done this before and no, I’m not the one behind the wheel ;)

Traffic Ticket

We were pulled over immediately after snapping the above and my friend driving the car, Youkie, was handed a nasty ticket. But for what?

a) Speeding.

b) Hanging my camera out the window.

c) Driving in the wrong lane.

d) Indecent exposure.

I had butterflies in my stomache fearing I’ve caused the ticket with my camera, but the correct answer is c. Apparently you can’t drive in the right-most lane (the “passing” lane) when passing through a tunnel in Japan. Who knew.


So I’ve just come back from Japan with a corrupt CF card containing hundreds of pictures of Mt. Fuji.

What happened?

After shooting for a day close to Mt. Fuji, I was eager to process and upload some shots to Flickr. I was too hasty and, not being able to locate a USB key to save the shot to in order to upload from an Internet-ready PC, I saved the shot back to the CF card while it was still in my D300 connected to my laptop. I was able to upload a single shot but was unable to access the card afterward.

The card was initially formatted in-camera, the shots were taken, and I saved the aforementioned picture back to it while in Adobe Lightroom, which I suspect is the problem. Reading the camera’s card on a computer is OK, but now I’ve learned never to copy files back to it. Corruption from writing “cross-platform” like this to a Nikon-formatted CF card is probably a rare occurrence though I certainly won’t make the same mistake again.

A friend hooked me up with some recovery software which I’ve yet to try. Keeping my fingers crossed :)

Tunnel vision anyone?

By now you should know that I like to tinker with lenses. I’ll experiment with existing glass, reversing lenses on one another, fiddling with all sorts of various combinations until something cool comes of it.

And when you least expect it, magic happens, your experimentation comes to fruition, and you achieve a photographic look that can only otherwise be obtained through the wave of a magic wand (or Photoshop, though we’ll forget about that for the sake of this discussion ;) ). The magic in play today comes in the form of a 37mm wide-angle camcorder lens.

The 37mm wide-angle camcorder lens

I purchased the lens from eBay to provide my Lensbaby a wider angle of view and expected the least from it. Meh, $15? If the quality’s no good then it’s not a big waste. Well, my expectations were right where they should’ve been; the build quality is nothing to write home about and nor is the image quality. But it serves well, and it does give my ‘Baby a nice, wide-angle view.

Geekery (is that a word?) took over, I soon became bored with it affixed to the Lensbaby, and it was thus the next victim to my experiments. I soon discovered that reversing it on a standard 50mm or 35mm lens results in a bizarre, distorted and heavily vignetted image and immediately fell in love with the look! The only problem was securing it to the other lens so it needn’t be held in place.

Some Googling around, and another $10-eBay-purchase later, I had an answer. Both my Nikon 50mm and 35mm lenses have 52mm filter threads, with the filter thread of the 37mm camcorder lens being 46mm. So I purchased a male 52mm-52mm macro reversing ring and a 46mm-52 mm step-up ring.

The only rings you need

With this combo I was able to screw the 37mm lens to the 46mm ring, attaching that to the 52mm reversing ring, providing a snug fit on my 35mm lens. I then hit the streets for some shooting with my new member of the family…

Attached to my Nikon 35mm

Lost in bokeh

Bokeh full of traffic!

Distorted sunset

Thanks for reading!

Links of interest:

  • jiakgong DIGITAL‘s eBay store – where I purchased the whole bunch. The 37mm lens, and two filter rings.

My Heligon Lens Conversion

In my last article I’ve talked about the various Rodenstock Heligon lenses, with our interest being in their record-breaking speeds. I’ve also mentioned their incompatibility with an SLR because they can’t be mounted, and that I was waiting on the arrival of cheap extension tubes to overcome that :)


Well, I’ve finally received the tubes and am ready to begin the process of fitting them to the lens so it may be mounted on an SLR.

So, what do you need?

A Rodenstock Heligon lens:

My Rodenstock Heligon lens

Note that you’ll need to pay close attention to its rear element and the dimensions surrounding it… more on this below.

Cheap extension tubes for your model of SLR:


Here’s where I bought my Nikon version. Just search for extension tubes, and you’ll notice the ones below $10 all seem to be identical save for the mount that will attach to your model of SLR.



I bought the LePage brand discussed below for $6 and it does the job (supposed to hold 350lbs of weight, matter of fact).

First, something important…

We’re going to adhere the tubes with the epoxy to the rear of the lens. Notice that you should determine the dimensions surrounding the rear element of the lens as the extension tubes need to be wider so they may wrap around it. As well, there needs to be some kind of base or plateau where the tubes can be adhered to. My 68mm Heligon is perfect for this as the tubes are the same circumference as the rear of the lens, and fit nice and snug. Check the image of me holding the lens above and you’ll notice its thinner, rear-end has a flat surface to which I’m able to adhere the tubes.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. The tubes come in a set of three individual rings that can be used in various combinations for macro shooting, as well as the ring that attaches to your camera and the one which accepts another lens. Remove the silver ring that attaches to another lens as it won’t be needed.

The Lord of the (tube) Rings

The Lord of the (tube) Rings

2. Place the series of rings over the rear of your Heligon lens to determine fit and see which rings are necessary for the best fit possible. The tubes are quite long as a set, and since the rear of the Heligon lens needs to be as close to your camera as possible, you may not need to use all the rings. For my 68mm Heligon I only need rings 1 and 2.

Rings 1 and 2, with the Nikon mount, ready to be epoxied!

Rings 1 and 2, with the Nikon mount, ready to be epoxied!

3. Now prepare your working surface, wipe clean the lens’ surface of where you intend to adhere the tubes, and whip out the epoxy. My choice of LePage epoxy requires me to mix resin and hardener before application.

4. Begin applying the epoxy to the lens’ surface from step 2 as well as the inner thread of the bottom-most tube that you intend to attach (don’t forget the mount-ring that comes with the tubes still needs to be screwed on to the other end!).

5. Let it sit for 8 hours and you’re done.



Gorgeous glass that needs cleaning

Gorgeous glass that needs cleaning

Some sample images from a walk through the park

Abstract 1

Abstract 2

Abstract 3

Abstract 4

Links of interest:

  • My introduction to the Heligon lenses.
  • Cheap extension tubes, sold by jiakgong DIGITAL which is where I bought mine. Search for macro extension tubes, and you will find plenty under $10 which suit our needs perfectly.

Thanks for reading!