Lens modding/ murdering

Discussion in 'Photography chatter' started by moroseduck, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Years ago, when Google Plus was a thing that anyone cared about (yup, that five minute window), I got vaguely acquainted with a Russian photog who makes art I really like. I've kept up with him on and off since then on Flickr, and after looking through a recent batch of his photo's it inspired me to try and pursue a similar look.

    Thing is, I remember that part of his approach involved modding a lens by removing an element. I think. That's the sum total of the information I remember, it was a long time ago.

    So begins the carnage. It started with an FX (old Fuji bayonet) mount lens that I had previously pulled the mount off with the idea of using it for free lensing. With free lensing, if say you use a Canon DSLR and want to use the 50mm 1.8, it works best if you remove the lense mount so that you can get it closer to the sensor, hence doing it with this scuzzy 50mm a while back. In a little while, I'll detail why that was a waste of time.

    Anyway, I wanted to remove the inner rear element, but it turns out it's hard to do that when you lack basic knowledge, and any suitable tools, so I settled for inner front element. By the time I was done, the lens was way more slimline than when I started. Pocket size you might say.

    Testing this lens out quickly taught me a couple of things. First, lenses designed for old cameras need to be further away from the sensor than lenses built for said camera. Second, small is great, but light tends to pour in on all sides when you're holding it an inch or two away from the camera body. I used an inverted rubber camera hood behind to act as a sort of portable bellows, but it was way too short to be much help.

    In short, awkward to use, and hard to get decent results. Ok for a quick muck around but not much more.
    [​IMG]_DSF9716 by Graeme Jago, on Flickr

    So, the next morning when I should have been going to work I instead turned my attention to another old 50mm lens, this time a Yashica f1.8 on an M42 mount. As before, my aim was to remove the inner rear element, but also as before this proved to be beyond me, despite trying everything up to, but not quite including hitting it with a hammer. Different this time from last I avoided utterly stripping the lens, and instead ended up with it minus its inner front element, but otherwise intact, with the added bonus of being able to easily unscrew the two rear elements and remove them both together.


    If you're still with me so far, this is where you need to concentrate to keep from getting lost. Removing the inner front element has a couple of noticeable effects. It unsurprisingly softens the image at maximum aperture and makes highlights tend to glow. Closing down the aperture a stop or two will still sharpen considerably. It also completely alters the focus range, from the previous 0.5m to infinity when mounted, to with the rear elements in, a slightly more limited 10-20cm. Tadaa, macro. To focus further than this you need to remove it from the mount and freehold it closer, I again used the rubber lens mount as a buffer for this.

    Removing the rear elements changed the focus range to an epic 60cm-about 120cm, but also change the focal length to what felt more like 90mm.

    This weird pick'n'mix actually isn't too bad, you can just about get headshots with it still mounted (minus the rear set), and it's much easier to handle free as well. It's not the ideal, what I really want is the visual changes without the focal alterations, but it's a step in an ongoing exploration.

    This should have, and might one day be a blog post, I'll add some pictures then I'm going the **** to bed.

    [​IMG]_DSF9788 by Graeme Jago, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_DSF9791 by Graeme Jago, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_DSF9798 by Graeme Jago, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_DSF9813 by Graeme Jago, on Flickr
    Davis likes this.
  2. Love it.
    Props to your devil may care attitude, it's paid off beautifully.
    Some of the shots remind me of the few Holga shots I've seen, and bonus macro is a real treat.
    But saying all that, please don't do this to my Zeiss Planar 80mm T*!
  3. Oooh...awkward. You really should have told me when you lent it to me that you didn't want it disassembled.

    This is actually an important piece of the pie that I want to talk about, but owing to the length of the previous post, and the fact it was 2am I left out.

    It should go without saying, having read the above, that the results you can expect will vary hugely. Furthermore, once you open up a lens there is alway a risk that you will funk it right up. Lose a screw here, throw something out of alignment there, de-couple the aperture blades somewhere else. There are a lot of ways to do it. Therefore, I only recommend doing this to lenses that you are prepared to consign to the bin if things go bad.

    The first Fujica lens was crap, scratched and had mould when I started stripping it last year, also I had replaced it with a far nicer 50mm f1.6. It was never going to get used, it would have spent it's remaining life in a cardboard box, until common sense prevailed and I just threw it away. Even though the end result from my hacking it aren't the best, it will still get used, which is more than could have been said before.

    The Yashica was a perfectly good and clean lens, but I have 5 other 50mm lenses on an m42 mount, including my Super Takumar 1.4, the Pentacon which has a lovely look to it, and a nice old Helios. The Yashica was never going to get a look in - I spent an evening last year testing and comparing all of them and whilst there is nothing wrong with it, there was also nothing that made it special. That said, I am glad that I went more carefully with it and retained more usability and a nicer appearance!

    There are a lot of crap 50mm lenses around, pick one up for a few quid and have a play, there is no cheaper way to get a new shooting experience. With m42 mounts in particular, It seems that the rear two elements can be simply unscrewed as a single piece. Might need to pick up a lens tool on ebay (or attack it with inappropriate tools like me) to get it loose, but this is the lowest possible impact way to have a mess around, and is completely reversible.
  4. Here's one of the super close ups taken, not true macro, but you can get in real tight, and as it's only 50mm you can get away with a lower shutter speed. I'm pretty sure I'd stopped the lens down a step or two for this.

    [​IMG][/IMG] [​IMG]
  5. Interesting project and some slightly crazy results! Sadly I don't have a collection of lenses I don't use so I wouldn't be able to do this

    Also, I now have a new mental image of you...

    Miroslav Tichý

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