Flickr user Nick Cool was shooting in Machu Picchu, Perú on a sunny day when he made a helpful discovery: his coffee cup’s sleeve doubled nicely as a makeshift lens hood. While it’s probably not the best thing to use on a regular basis, it’s a clever MacGyver-ish idea that got the job done. For less-ghetto sun shielding that’s just as portable, you can look into printing/making your own lens hood or a nifty new product called the Flex Lens Shade.
Photo enthusiast Chris Malcolm needed a better way to aim his 500mm lens at fast moving subjects (e.g. birds in flight), so he upgraded his lens with a DIY sighting aid by attaching a non-magnified red dot sight:
They’re designed to clamp onto a gun sight wedge mount, so some kind of adapter is required. I played with the hot shoe mount, but it was too flexible — the sight needed re-zeroing at every mount, and was easily knocked out of calibration. The degree of precision required to aim the central focus sensor at the target via the dot also made parallax error a problem on the hot shoe. So I decided to mount it directly on the lens. Least parallax error, plus the geometry of the lens barrel and the sight mount naturally lines it up with the lens. To protect the lens barrel I glued the sight clamp to a cardboard tube slightly too small, slit open to provide a sprung grab on the lens body. The slit also handily accommodates the focus hold button on the lens barrel.
Malcolm reports that the site “works amazingly well”, making it “trivially easy to aim the lens at anything very quickly”. Read more…
Have you ever wondered why newer Canon DSLR battery covers have a small rectangular hole punched into them? It’s more than just for style:
Take a look at the cover. Does it have a small cut-out a few millimetres in from one edge? This is not just decoration. It is designed so that you can tell at a glance which of your batteries are fully charged and which are not. The batteries that come with this cover have a blue stripe down one side of the back. When you remove a charged battery from the charger, you can attach the cover so that the blue is visible. When you remove a discharged battery from the camera, you can attach the cover so that the blue patch is not showing.
It’s a simple and useful tip that those of you who don’t read instruction manuals may have never learned.
Mark Rober — the guy behind the gaping-hole-in-torso costume — recently came up with a creative way of getting up close and personal with gorillas at his local zoo. It turns out that apes can’t resist looking at themselves in mirrors, so Rober drilled a hole in a mirror and pointed his iPhone’s camera through it. He was then able to snag some awesome footage that most visitors would never be able to capture. This trick may also work for other animals that are known to pass the mirror test of self-awareness, including dolphins, elephants, and certain birds.
Photography enthusiast Maciej Pietuszynski jumped into tilt-shift photography recently by building a do-it-yourself tilt-shift lens out of an old 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, a shower head, and a rubber glove. The process isn’t for the faint of heart — it involves disassembling the lens. You can see some of the resulting photographs in this Flickr set.
Heavier tripods are generally more stable than lighter ones — wind doesn’t affect them as much — but hauling them around can be a pain. Instructables user Andrew Axley came up with the brilliant idea of making his simple tripod more stable by adding his own weight hook. The tripod is light when not in use and when you need extra stability you simply hang your camera bag onto the hook. All you need to do is figure out a way to attach a hook securely at the center — Axley chose to drill a hole through the side of the center column and attach an S-hook using a bolt and nut.
A Swedish hacker and robotics student named Björn Mabrö is claiming that he has successfully developed a custom firmware for the Canon 5D Mark II that adds Apple’s Siri voice assistant to the DSLR. Mabrö claims that the hack allows the camera to respond to 124 different voice commands that control everything from the shutter to changing values in settings. Read more…
After damaging the pellicle mirror in his Sony A55 with cleaning fluid, a guy named Dario decided to look for a makeshift replacement while waiting for a real replacement mirror to arrive. He then discovered that food wrap (AKA Saran wrap) works nearly as well as a real pellicle mirror. The only downsides are occasionally degraded autofocus and a soft-focus effect when facing bright lights.
Nikon’s firmware got decrypted last month, and now an unofficial firmware for Nikon DSLRs has emerged. Rather than offer useful adjustments, the firmware is purely for geekiness: it gives Nikon D5100 DSLRs a Star Wars theme. Read more…