March 31st, 2015

marcus 2013

Picspam - Lens tests and a windy day

I have a cheapish 500mm Opteka mirror lens that rarely get much use, in part because there simply isn't much use for a lens that long in my normal sort of photography, and in part because it's a pain to use - my Nikon D50 doesn't support metering or focus confirmation with non-electronic lenses, so I have to guesstimate every shot. Also, mirror lenses are never as sharp as the equivalent conventional lens, and can't be stopped down to improve depth of field.

I can do without it, since I have a good 28-300mm lens, but for occasional things (such as the next eclipse) it would be useful. So the main options are:

  1. Keep it and live with its limitations.
  2. Keep it but add a dandelion chip so that the camera electronics will work with it (about £20, and a setup procedure I'm not sure I fully understand and I'm not sure will work with the D50).
  3. Look for a better lens with built-in electronics, autofocusing, etc. (very expensive unless I get really lucky).
  4. Sell it and do without.

So since it was a bright day I took it out to the park and took a few photos - what I should have done, in hindsight, was compare it with the longest setting of the zoom, but I took out the wrong lens so ended up comparing pictures at 35mm zoom ("standard lens" for the D50) with the 500mm lens.

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Looking at these pictures, I'm not convinced that the results are good enough to make keeping it worthwhile; I've reduced the size of the photos to fit to the page and they're still not looking as sharp as I would like, mainly because they seem to be a little out of focus. Although I didn't use a tripod, I don't think that camera shake is the issue, most were taken at 1000th of a second or shorter exposures. Overall, I could probably get better results by using the long zoom at 300mm and cropping images.

What I think I'll do is keep it for now, try to use it a little more and see if the results improve with more practice, and at the same time watch out for an unlikely bargain in a conventional lens.

It was a windy day, and while I was in the park I passed the Round Pond, and was rather surprised to see this:

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I was seeing spray going up three or four feet occasionally, though I didn't get a good picture of that, and blowing 10ft or more across the path, which for an enclosed pond is pretty impressive - not exactly an Arctic storm, but a lot more than I usually see in London.

In other news - the first 1gb RAM for the iMac G4 arrived this morning and it's now a 1.5gb machine. The other will hopefully arrive in the next day or two. I've also paid rather too much for a pair of the original speakers, which hopefully will turn out to work when I get them. Should add to the value when I sell it if they're OK.

And while I was out I visited a charity shop and got three Dr. Who DVDs for a fiver - two of the Beeb's New Who releases, plus the complete War Games 3-disk set with Patrick Troughton. Rather pleased about that...