04 May 2016

Backpacking with light photo equipment

On a recent 3 day off-track backpacking trip I decided to go lighter than usual: skip the tent and take just a tarp, take just the minimal food and leave the "gourmet" at home, and lighten my camera equipment.
I committed to have with me a set of 3 diminutive lenses from the Pentax-110 SLR system adapted to Micro Four Thirds: the set is lighter than one single vintage lens that I carried in the past.
There is however a challenge with those lenses: apart from being manual focus only, there is no iris in the lens to control the aperture but a simple wide-open value of f2.8.
On the longer lenses of 50mm and 70mm in particular I had to be very careful with focusing to get my subjects sharp. The payback was a lighter pack, more angles of view to choose from (from multiple lenses) and ultimately that look that my zoom modern lenses can't give me.

Melt and Gill_1_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/1600sec

 My friends Melt and Gill, also keen photographers, had more conventional lenses with them.

Spider paparazzi_c
Pentax-110 70mm f2.8  1/200sec

And this is what they were photographing

Spider in the rain_2_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/2000sec

I came across this empty nest, so beautifully crafted.

Empty nest
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/320sec

I also used the 50mm lens paired with an extension ring of 10mm to get some close ups

Snail shell_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8 + 10mm macro ring  1/500sec

and the 24mm with the extension ring to give me an extreme close up of lichen:

Coral bleeching_not
Pentax-110 24mm f2.8 + 10mm extension ring  1/6400sec

Running along on the side, some distance away,  while my friends were hiking, proved more difficult to get a sharp image: I had to magnify my scene in the electronic viewfinder to nail the thin depth of field.

Melt and Gill_3_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8  1/4000sec

Melt and Gill_5_c
Pentax-110 50mm f2.8

While rather versatile these lenses are not as universal as my modern auto-focus zooms. The difference that I find is in the look that I get from these lenses that were designed in the 70's for a film camera that was truly miniature. The 110 film however never really did give credit to their sharpness and re-purposing and adapting them to digital cameras unleashes the real full potential.

PS the display of this website however, by interpolating and compressing the original files, also dwarfs the sharpness of the Pentax-110 lenses; full size files are muuuuch sharper..

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