Large format photographers using cameras with bellows have always had the luxury of being able to adjust the lens and/or sensor plane so they are not parallel. This technique is performed to alter the plane of focus. While a conventionally parallel set-up provides front to back sharpness from a focus point parallel to the sensor, the adjusted lens, swung or tilted, places the focus plane at a different angle. This is a very useful technique for landscape photography, allowing sharp focus from close range to infinity, even at wide open apertures. But it’s also incredibly useful for macro photography. With this in mind Photography Attic has taken a set of BPM camera bellows and modified them to create a versatile set of custom bellows with tilt, swing and also shift options.
The bellows lens and camera platforms are individually mounted on a pair of small ball & socket heads which can be attached to a straight bracket like the one you would use with a flash gun. You can then slide the ball and socket along the flash bracket to extend the bellows increase magnification. And then tilt the front or rear panel to create the new plane of focus.
Here’s an example of the tilted bellows in action. A small 25mm pocket watch has been photographed at an angle. Rather than head on and parallel to the camera lens. The lens was then tilted on the camera bellows set up and as a result the widest aperture of f/2.8 can be used with full front to back sharpness. As a comparison a second shot was taken with the lens set conventionally parallel to the film plane. Notice how the sharpness falls off to the rear.
Another option is to use the swing feature. Here the lens is angled in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction to provide sharer front to back focus on an upright subject.
You can also adjust to provide a combination of both tilt and swing when the subject is not horizontal or vertical.
This process is technically known as the Scheimpflug Principle. If you would like to lean more check out the wikipedia page here: Scheimpflug Principle
You can buy a set of modified bellows with tilt shift here:Custom Tilt Shift Bellows You will also need to buy a bracket to mount them on.
There’s a really interesting article about photographer John Duder going back and experimenting with filters he never got around to using in the 80s over on ePHOTOzine: Experimenting With Filters From the Eighties I Have Never Used – Come Check Out The Results
Also interesting that we’ve got many of the filters he used here on PhotographyAttic. check out our Cokin A-Series section and the Cokin P-Series
The Hoyarex filter system was really good: high quality filters.. Great variety of options in the range. Some glass filters. Solid holder. And a really useful rubber hood. But the Hoyarex System had a big flaw! And that has become evident over the years as more and more filters become scratched.
It’s not due to use either! These scratches occur when the filters are stored in their plastic case. The resin filter catches the edge of the case, which usually bends a bit in the middle. So after being jostled around in a camera bag the rubbing effect causes the resin to mark or scratch.
So here’s a tip to prevent further wear. Buy a packet of lens tissues and wrap one over the filter at the top end that sticks out of the case. Then the filter wont get rubbed. You can use toilet tissue, but a lens tissue is softer and has no fibres that will come off and cause dust problems.
View the entire range of Hoyarex filters here
The Hoyarex Skylight 1B filter – cat number 011 – is one of the most valuable filters in the Hoyarex range, yet is often overlooked, because its not a special effect filter.
But this underused filter will do two things to ensure your photography improves.
Firstly, and most importantly, the filter is a lens protector. The Hoyarex system is made so that when a filter is placed in the back slot it removes any possibility of dust reaching the lens. So if the holder is left on with a filter inserted the lens wont get dust falling on the surface or scratches. The skylight is the obvious choice as it has no special effect value. It’s also one of the few filters in the Hoyarex range that’s made from glass so optically very good.
But the filter has another use. A skylight filter has a very slight pink tint that has a warming effect when shooting in hazy days, so landscapes can be photographed with slightly more clarity.
Using the filter in the back slot near the lens means there still another slot free for a special effect filter when you want to add a graduated effect, sepia tone or spot for example. Photographyattic has the Hoyarex 011 Skylight 1B glass filter for sale here
Yes you can give your old Praktica a new lease of life for just one quid.
There’s a growing trend to replace the leather/plastic trims on vintage cameras with fancy new wood veneers, posh patterned leathers or exotic animal skins. All options cost a fair few quid and usually mean you sending off for a mail order deal.
Here’s a way to give your old camera a new look for just one pound. Those who remember Blue Peter will be familiar with sticky back plastic which was used for hundreds of DIY projects. Today high street Pound Stores are selling rolls of self adhesive patterned material for £1, and one option is this wood veneer.
All you need to do is remove the camera’s existing leather/plastic trim, use the trim as a template, cut out the new replacement from your roll, peel off the back and stick it in place. You can cover some books / furniture with the rest.
It won’t give the luxury feel of the leather products, so should not really be considered if you’re still using the camera regularly, but it does make an attractive cover if the camera is to become an ornament.
If you prefer a high quality leather version check out this great article on recovering a Praktica MTL3.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have chosen a camera with a tilting /hinged screen taking photos from ground level can be very uncomfortable or awkward. The titling screen feature on certain digital cameras allows you to view and compose from a height by looking down on the screen that is angled upwards.
This makes the camera easy to use when shooting flowers and fungi or other similar subjects from ground level.
Many of us don’t have such luxury feature, but there is an option available if your camera has a viewfinder with a slide in eye cup frame. The right angle finder slips over the viewfinder in place of the eye cup and provides an optical path set at 90 degrees. so you look down into the viewfinder. It still means you have to bend down to see, but at least it’s from a more convenient angle.
Many right angle finders also have built in diopter correction so they’re prefect for those of us with glasses. And some even have a built in magnifier going from standard 1x view to a cropped 2x or even 2.5x view. This is great focusing aid as you can be sure your subject is in perfect focus.
Finders are usually sold by the camera manufacturer, but there are also several available from accessory manufacturers. They’re not quite as popular as they used to be but there’s plenty around on eBay and we have several on PhotographyAttic – Right Angle Finders and Viewfinder attachments. You need to choose one that fits your camera’s viewfinder as each brand can be slightly different. Check before buying.
1 The main reason to use a lens hood is it reduces flare when shooting with the sun in front of the camera. Sun rays catch the lens and bounce around the inner elements causing streaks, loss of contrast and blobs on the photo. The hood provides a barrier and as a result your photos will display more contrast.
2 Another less obvious use is to shields the lens’ front element from rain and snow.
3 There’s less chance of damaging the lens as the hood will protect the front of lens from knocks. Rubber ones are the best for this as they absorb the bump.
4 A lens hood is ideal for shooting through glass as it means you can put the lens right up to the glass and blocks out reflections from behind.
5 The hood can also provide a suitable rest / support when shooting through glass without scratching the front of the lens
6 And for the egos among us…adding a hood increases length of the lens to make it look a bit more impressive…but as we like to say – it’s not the size that counts!
View all kinds of Lens hoods for sale
The best camera to use to photograph the moon is a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera. With this type of camera you usually have the most manual control, allowing you to fine tune focus and exposure to ensure a sharp and bright photo.
The moon photographed with an SLR and telephoto lens
An SLR usually has an interchangeable lens so you can attach a long lens (telephoto) to magnify the moon to make it much bigger in the photo. A standard zoom of 18-55mm that is normally provided with an SLR is not really long enough. You can use a lens like this but you will have to crop the picture dramatically to make it any decent size on your photo. The more you crop the less detail you will have in the moon.
The best thing to do if you want serious pictures is to buy or borrow a longer lens. A 300mm or above is good – Ideally a 1000mm or longer. You can do this using a 500mm with a 2x converter. The teleconverter sits between the camera and lens and doubles (or trebles with a 3x) the lens’ focal length / magnification. With modern digital SLRs the sensor is smaller than film and gives an effective magnification of 1.5x/1.6x too, so the 1000mm becomes 1500mm /1600mm. This is perfect for frame filling photos.
You will also need a tripod or other support for the camera to avoid camera shake if you are using a long lens, and a cable release / remote control to trigger the shutter. If you don’t have a remote release set the camera to the self timer mode and use that. The reason to use a delay or release mechanism is to prevent any hand contact with the camera that could cause vibration and the possibility of camera shake. This will be more apparent when using extreme magnification lenses.
Position you camera on the tripod or mount and set the lens to its longest setting.
Switch the camera to manual focus and adjust focus around the infinity setting so the moon appears sharp. If your camera has live view, switch to that and use the magnifier to help you focus.
You cannot use the camera’s auto exposure mode (P) because it will be fooled by the black surround of the moon which is really bright. A shot taken on auto will result in a bright blob of a moon with no detail. You need to switch to manual (M) or use exposure compensation.
Although it’s night time you don’t need long exposures the moon is as bright as daylight. Set the ISO to 100, and the aperture to f/11 and the shutter speed to 1/500sec and take a test shot.Â Have a look on the LCD preview screen and see how the photo looks. If it’s too bright either increase the shutter speed to 1/1000sec and/or the aperture to f/16. If it’s too dark, reduce the shutter speed to 1/250sec and/or the aperture to f/8. Then take another photo. Repeat this until you have a perfect exposure.
See article on the Blood Moon
Stepping rings are really useful additions to your filter collection. They are slim rings that have a male thread on one side and a female thread of a different size on the other. They are designed to allow a filter with one diameter be used on a lens with a different diameter.
Stepping rings come in a wide range of sizes
You may, for example, want to use a 55mm thread diameter filter on a lens that has a 52mm thread. A stepping ring is what you need.
Stepping rings are sold in two directions – up and down. The direction is always indicated from the lens. So a step up ring allows a bigger diameter filter to be used on the lens, while a step down ring allows a smaller diameter filter to be used on the lens.
Stepping up is rarely a problem, but stepping down can cause vignetting because the filter may starts to mask the optical path, especially if the stepping increment is steep or if the lens is a wide angle. It’s always safer to step up.
The advantage of using stepping rings is that you are often able to use just one size filter on a range of lenses. especially if you plan carefully.
Say, for example, you have the following three lenses:
A wide angle with a 58mm thread, standard zoom with a 52mm thread and a telephoto lens with a 62mm thread. You could buy a set of 58mm filters to fit straight on the wide angle along with a 52-58mm stepping ring for the standard zoom and a 62-58mm stepping ring for the telephoto.
PhotographyAttic has a range of rings covering threads from 30.5mm right up to 77mm: Lens Stepping Rings for sale