Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back in a Macro Mode

If you have been following my flickr post you will know I have been buying manual lens. All the fancies you find in the latest and greatest from Nikon are nice to have but there is the $$$ problem.

If you don't mind twisting a ring to focus the old fashion way, you can find excellent lenses for very few $. For example I'm quite fond of my Osawa (never heard of that brand? Read on.) 300mm prime. With that one I paid more for shipping than I paid for the lens. Still when I go out with the D7000 after nature shots, it will find a place in my camera bag. To see why, an example is below.

Another lens I'm fond of is my Nikkor 55mm f3.5 macro. That one cost more, $50, but it came with the busted Kiron made 28mm f2.0 that I fixed and blogged about previously, a heavy but sturdy tripod and a film camera I'm unlikely to ever use.

Unlike Canon who obsoleted all their manual lens when they went autofocus Nikon stuck with the F mount. Which is good. But that doesn't mean there aren't different flavors of F mounts, non aI, Ai, Ais, camera motor autofocus, and lens motor auto focus.

With the D60 it didn't much matter. They all mounted on the camera and worked with limitations.

The D7000 is different. Non Ai lens don't mount. If you force them on, they can damage the camera. Unfortunately the 55mm macro I've come to love is non Ai. Even worse so are all the other low $ macro stuff I've collected. Bummer.

There are several solutions to this problem:

1--Get out of the prehistoric manual world and spend the $$$ to buy the "right" glass. Advice a newbie will get whenever they ask newbie questions about lenses. "Right" glass being the lens the poster is bragging about owning.

2--Keep the D60 as a back-up camera and use it for macro work. After all I have taken decent macros with that camera.

3--Have the 55mm converted over to an AI mount. Nikon stop selling the DIY AIs kits back in the 20th century but there are still a few lens repair shops with a milling machine in the back room that will make the necessary mods. That would destroy the antique value of a pristine lens and cost more than I paid for the camera outfit but it could be done.

4--Put on my thinking cap and come up with my own DIY solution. Which I did. Even if, as I must confess up front, my thinking cap went on cocked and backwards.

The 55mm macro needs a M2 extender tube to take macros from 2-1 to 1-1. I happened to have a more or less useless 3 element, AIs mount, 2x tele extender in the junk lens box that's the right length. All I had to do was remove the lens parts and I would be home free.

Which would have happened if the thinking cap was on straight and if after studying the converter and D7000 I grabbed a vice grip out of the tool box and unscrewed the lens elements.

But the cap was cocked. I took off the mount plate, removed the unneeded metering tab, reassembled, mounted the lens and discovered it would not mount on the camera. Had I messed up my reassembly? Another disassemble. If the iris tab was to work, I had assembled correctly. And the teleconverter went on fine. But when I put it and the lens together it wouldn't....What in the hell was going on here. So I---

To make a long blog shorter, when I set the lens's iris between f3.5 and f16 everything mounted. At f22 and f32 the outer AI ring jammed up with the mating tab on the D7000. While things now worked sort of, the camera was overexposing every shot by 2 stops.


The now extension tube started life as a 2X teleconverter. This cost the lens combination two stops of light. To compensate Vivitar shifted the position of the outer AI ring. As machined it would never work.

The fix--Mount the coupling mechanism with one screw and (I hope) enough double back sticky tape to hold everything in place in the field.

The perfect fix? No. On the D7000 the 55mm can take hand held macro but not closeup or normal images. But it will let me play around and measure just how good the lens camera combination is. With the D60 I resolved detail in the 7-10 micron range. With the D7000-- watch for the blog post.

I expect my ultimate solution will be #2. Keep the D60 as a back up and macro camera. So if you see me out on the trail with two DSLRs around my neck--how professional does that look?

Note--Osawa went into and then out of the 35mm business in the 1970's. A case of good optics coupled with bad cameras. They survived their bankruptcy and other fiscal problems and now make lens for medium format cameras.

1 comment:

  1. Keep the D60 for use with the micro nikkor. that makes sense..u dont need high iso to shoot macros !