My boys have started getting into photography, but often have trouble keeping the camera still enough for really clear shots.
The ratio between the focal length and the aperture (diameter) of a lens is called the f/number. The smaller the f/number, the more light is let in. Fast lenses start around f/2.0, and the light let in goes as the inverse square. Compared to f/2.0, f /1.4 lets in twice as much light, f/1.0 four times, and f/0.71 eight times. The fastest camera lenses designed for DSLRs and widely available are between f/1.4 and f/1.2, but lenses as fast as f/0.75 have been made in quantity for special applications, and some of those are available quite cheaply via scrap yards, surplus stores, or eBay.
These ultra-fast lenses usually are branded either Kowa or Rodenstock and were designed for use in medical or semiconductor industry equipment, etc. They are not well-suited for use on DSLR cameras, and are no substitute for an f/1.4 or f/1.2 lens that was designed for your camera. However, they easily can produce very distinctive images. Here’s how to use one on a DSLR.
This is one of the most intense do-it-yourself videos I’ve seen, showing how to hack a Canon 18-55mm kit lens into a super macro lens for extreme closeup shots. It involves sawing, disassembling the lens, using wires from a floppy drive cable, and all sorts of advanced awesomeness. Unless you’re extremely good with your hands, you probably won’t be trying this, but it’s very interesting to watch nonetheless.
Self-described creative technologist Thiago Avancini hacked this Atari 2600 joystick into a shutter release cable — complete with an autofocus control for his Canon T2i. The controller is considerably larger than the average cable release or remote control, but it’s a pretty nifty. Avancini has more photos of the contraption on his site, but so far, no DIY instructions.
If you’re itching to save a buck and make like MacGyver, Instructables has a handy how-to for a Canon cable release — though it doesn’t look nearly as geek-chic as Avancini’s mod.
Ken Rockwell posted some links to photos of a Canon AE-1 Program Digital a couple days ago, and photo-enthusiasts around the web have been discussing whether or not it’s a real camera.
From the photos and videos showing the camera, it’s pretty clear that it’s fake, and that someone with a lot of time on their hands hollowed out a Canon AE-1 Program camera and lens, put in a PowerShot SD 870 IS, and got the thing working.
It’s pretty amazing that the AE-1 was modified so that all of the controls on the PowerShot are still accessible. Here’s a video posted to YouTube showing that the camera actually works:
Anyone know how they were able to get an “AE-1 Program Digital” logo on the point-and-shoot?
(via Canon Rumors)
If you have multiple lenses and not enough space in your camera bag, carrying an extra lens might require you to stack a lens on top of another in a single lens compartment. The problem is that the bottom of one lens might rub against and scratch the lens below.
Derrick Story over at The Digital Story has a simple do-it-yourself solution to this problem: a Rear Lens Cap Pad. Cutting out a piece of adhesive, padded material and attaching it to the rear lens cap allowed him to rest his 50mm lens on top of a 70-200mm lying horizontally below.
If you’re working with smaller primes, another tip is to attach the rear lens caps of two lenses together, allowing you to securely transport two lenses together. The downside of this method is that your lenses won’t be able to travel separately.
Do you have your own tips or tricks for saving space when hauling your glass around?
Image credit: Photograph by Derrick Story
If you can’t shoot right-handed, or need to shoot left-handed for some reason (i.e. demonstrating something in a photo with your right hand), you can simply flip your camera over and use your pinky finger to press the shutter. Problem is, this ergonomically unfriendly grip is hard to do, and puts your camera at risk of slipping out of your hand. Instructables member bertus52x11, the same guy behind the PVC pipe camera support, has clever hack that solves this problem.
His solution is to attach a bent aluminum strip to the tripod mount that allows your thumb to grip the camera more firmly. So, if you break your arm like bertus52x11 did, this is a clever way to keep on shooting!
Hong Kong photographer Lok Cheung found that manual focusing his Olympus E-P1 Micro Four Thirds camera was a pain because it lacked an electronic viewfinder (EVF). He then discovered that attaching a Rollei TLR viewfinder to the camera provided a makeshift EVF:
The result is really good. Although the LCD on E-P1 is not in very high resolution and you can see every single pixels with the Rollei viewfinder, manual focus is almost as fast as you can get on a true manual camera, and the viewfinder is almost directly behind the lens which even closer to SLRs and rangefinder.
LCD viewfinder attachments already exist for DSLR systems, and help make focusing easier and more precise by magnifying the LCD screen and blocking out sunlight. Using a film viewfinder to do this for an Olympus E-P1 is pretty clever.
Image credits: Photographs by lok cheung
When Instructables member bertus52x11 had his cast removed after breaking his arm, he found that his arm was too weak to handle his DSLR camera. Realizing that those less fortunate might have similar problems with handling heavy equipment, he created a do-it-yourself camera support using PVC pipe that transfers the weight of your camera to your chest.
In addition to allowing people to more easily handle heavy cameras, the chest support also acts as a stabilizer, reducing camera shake in situations where you don’t have a tripod. He writes,
This device can help people with a weak arm or hand, but it can be helpful to people with Parkinson to stabilise the camera. Naturally it can be used for stabilising pocket cameras as well. You can then slim down the design by using smaller (copper) tubing. Once you have chosen for copper, a Steampunk design is never far away. I would like to see that!
If you’re interested in creating such a support for yourself or someone you know, check out the easy-to-follow tutorial on Instructables:
When I’ve needed to take quick self portraits with my DSLR, one of the tricks I’ve discovered is to focus the camera using the reflection in the UV filter. As long as my eye is directly over the center of the lens in the reflection, then I know the center autofocus point is focused on my eye.
With smaller point-and-shoot cameras, it can be much harder to frame the shot (though focusing correctly is probably easier). Cameras are now coming out with an extra LCD screen on the front of the camera just for this kind of shot. noahw has a cheap, do-it-yourself solution – attach a small mirror to the front of your camera!
This project is dead simple: Digital Camera Sticky backed Velcro Small 1″ – 2″ mirror (convex is best, flat is ok, concave w/magnification is no good) Small mirrors are everywhere. Check out mirrors from compacts and make up. The one I liked best was from an “Inspection Mirror” made by “General Tools” bought for 2 bucks from a hardware store.
To get started you can watch the following video, or head on over to Instructables for a step-by-step tutorial.