Fun With Old Lenses

Posted in Photography Tricks on March 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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Since I am  a technology pack-rat, it’s not surprising that I have a copious supply of old lenses laying around. Today, I wondered if I could beat the macro setting on my Canon G9 by supplementing the magnification with an old lens.

Here is an old movie projector lens. It is the one that gave the best results:

An old movie projector lens and a flower - Fun?
This is the first shot that I took. It’s not very impressive:
The flower through the old lens - MAGNIFICATION!I haven’t fiddled with any of these shots with Photoshop. The sharpness is just what came out of the camera.

Here is a little gallery of other things I tried.

Need I say that if you try this, you should be very careful not to allow anything to contact the surface of your camera lens.

The technique is simple. First set up your subject so that you can comfortably hold your camera in one hand while holding the old lens in the other. Line up the lens on your camera and the old lens on the subject. You will probably have to fiddle with distances between the subject and the old lens (usually very close) and the distance between the lens of your camera and the old lens (probably as close as possible without touching).

You will find that the distances are very critical. You can also play with your zoom to see if you can get more magnification.

Since these lenses are not made to work together, some won’t work at all. Another problem is that the usual depth-of-field is greatly reduced; you can only get a very small plane of the image in focus.

Still, I did manage to get some amazing magnification.