Christmas/Birthday Scout Learning Photography

My brother-in-law (and others) are encouraging me to shoot more. Greg’s encouragement came in the form of a Lensbaby Scout with circular fisheye optic. I don’t have a full frame camera so the circular part of the fisheye is lost. But the distortion is there. It makes some photos that look like a vision out of your worst hangover ever.

But this lens has done something else for me. It’s made me reassess what I know about my cameras. You see, this lens is totally manual and featureless. There’s no CPU, no auto-focus, and no iris. It does have a set of aperture disks. They can be inserted behind the optics to change the f2.5 to fsomething-else. What that means is that I can’t change it on the fly. I’ve got to stop, unscrew the optics of the lens, take them out, insert the aperture disk, and put the lens back together. This kinda interrupts the photography flow.

Also, no variable aperture means that I lose adjustment of one of the legs of the photographic triad; aperture, shutter, and ISO. With film, you have a fixed ISO. With flash, you have a fixed shutter (mostly). The only place that I’ve seen a fixed aperture is with pin-hole cameras. I also lose the ability to use [P] and [S] since the camera can’t adjust the iris. That leaves me with the [A] or dreaded [M].

Aperture-preferred mode, [A], is where the lens manual wants you to start. So I did. Only, I couldn’t actually set the aperature. My Nikon D7000 sensed that the lens was an f2.5 and set that for me. So when I put in the aperture disk for f11 I started looking for a way to set the camera to f11. To save you time looking it up, there isn’t one. My Nikon D200 sensed the lens was f0. (Whatever that is). But it had a menu setting for Non-CPU lens. So I was able to get farther with the older camera. Alright. I’ve figure out how to set up either camera to an aperture.

The next thing I wanted to do, was to try dialing in some adjustment. You know. If you’re taking a picture of something black, you dial in +1.5. If you’re worried about blowing out the highlights in the sky, you dial in -2.0. It took me a little experimenting before I realized that those are aperture adjustments. And on my Nikon cameras, they are physical adjustments. Which this lens can’t do. Doh. How do you adjust the unadjustable?

That’s when I realized that it didn’t matter. The light meter in the camera still read the light through the lens. All I had to do was pay attention to it. If I wanted my shot darker or lighter, meter the shot that way. I know you’re asking, But don’t you always pay attention to the meter? Not so much. Like with focus on an auto-focus lens, I kinda let the camera do its thing and concentrate on the composition. The result here was that I found the camera menu adjustment for meter activation duration and set it to 12 seconds instead of 2.

Another thing, that means for this lens the difference between [A] and [M] is exactly nothing. The function of Aperture-preferred mode is so that if you change the aperture, the camera automatically adjusts the shutter to compensate. I can’t change the aperture without taking apart the camera lens, remember?

Lastly, I called into question the whole concept of adding the aperture disks. I mean, the D7000 is always going to read the lens as an f2.5. And while I can set the D200 to believe that the lens is a f11, it doesn’t make any difference to how the light meter works. In fact, nothing about adding a different aperture disk changes anything about how the camera functions. So why bother with the disks? What do smaller of larger apertures do anyway? Oh, yeah. Depth-of-field.

I knew that.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Wil C. Fry

    Interesting bit of gear, I guess. I am surprised to hear (read) another photographer call “M” mode “dreaded”. My personal experience has led me to push toward M whenever possible. (I do switch to Av when I’m feeling lazy in variable light situations.)

    I think 10 years ago, I would have really wanted a lens like that, if only because I was in a gear-acquisition phase of my life and anything that could give me a new/different effect was cool.

    Reply
  2. Richard R Barron

    The slide show is rendering the horizontals as cropped verticals and they don’t open when I click, so I can’t really see the images.

    Reply

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