Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

50mm autofocus fail

321/365 by Tim Caynes

It has been a little while since I acquired my new Minolta 50mm lens for my Sony A300 and I’m steadfastly refusing to take any photos where the thing I was expecting to be in focus is in fact in focus. I’m am now quite adept at getting most of my nose quite sharp but since there is a significant surface area to work with there I’m not counting it as a result. The thing I’m really trying to grapple with is while I’m still locked in to my 365 project and consequently taking far too many photos of my own face every day just how do I get my new lens to focus on one of my eyes. Either one, I’m not bothered. Just focus, pin sharp, like I know you can. On that blue bit in the middle where I’m trying to look all angsty. Yes, there. No. That’s my nose again. Grrr.

I am probably making the proverbial rod for my own primordial back being firmly clamped at f1.7 until I get this right, but then, that’s not about focus is it, its just about depth of field. I could have a depth of field like f0.3 or something and still get one of my bloody (for they are, after about 10 hours of trying) eyes in focus notwithstanding the fact that at that aperture I’d probably get eyelash bokeh but that’s not the point. The point is, I haven’t mastered this lens yet. And I’m running out of time. Kind of. This year’s 365 project concludes neatly on December 31st, after which I shall probably treat myself to the flickr equivalent of a 3-week Norwegian cruise, that is to say, I might not post anything for a day or so. Without my 365 project, I’ll not nearly be so inclined to invest the hours it will apparently take to crack this self-portrait focus failure which would be troublesome as I rather like the lens. I guess I have 30 days to sort it out.

Life in 50mm

327/365 by Tim Caynes

Goodness knows why I haven’t got one until now, but I just got my hands on a new (to me) 50mm prime lens for my Sony A350. I’d been quite happy with the 18-70mm kits lens since I got with the camera, but then, I didn’t really have anything to compare it with. I was so taken with other examples of what you can do with a fast 50mm from other flickr users that I’d tried to force the 50mm off my old Minolta SLR onto the Sony body, but it just made a strange crunching noise and so I thought I’d better stop. Even then, it’s taken me about 6 months to even track anything in ebay to see what kind of prices we’re talking about.

In the end, I spent a good few weeks searching for a Minolta AF 50mm in good condition, as the Minolta lenses fit on the new Sony bodies without any other convertors or rings or whatever you stick in the middle. The 50mm comes in a couple of flavours, and depending which one you’re looking for, is either relatively easy to track down, or is like some fabled artefect from Narnia that enables you to control the destiny of humanity just by looking through it backwards. The common one is the f1.7. The Narniascope is the f1.4. Having determined that my budget was less than a pony and that the Narniascope would set me back around a couple of tons and a monkey or 2, I settled on tracking the perfect 1.7 variety. In the end, it was a case of getting lucky with the bidding across a number of similar-looking lenses, which I’d narrowed down based on the description and small things like whether the seller looked like an arse or not. 79 quid and about 1p later, I’d won myself my very own Minolta AF 50mm f1.7 (will fit Sony A200, A300, A350, A700, etc.), which was packaged up and dispatched to me very nicely from a very helpful ebay seller.

Its early days, and I haven’t posted anything to flickr using the lens, but I’ve taken a number of test shots and looked at them on my whacking great 24.1 inch monitor and the results are rather splendid. Its not the best camera in the world. Its not the best lens in the world. But its a half-decent camera and its a pretty good lens and all I know is I’m kicking myself hard, right now, under the table, for not getting it 11 months ago, when I started taking 12 months worth of self portraits. The thing is, of course, I now have to change lenses on my camera for different circumstances, and I hate changing lenses, dust freak that I am. I’m thinking I might just use the 50mm forever.

Actually, of course, since my camera is am APC sensor or whatever you call it, what I’ve actually bought is a lens that effectively has a focal length of about , erm, 72mm or something, so its way tighter than I was expecting. But its ok, because I’ve got long arms.