For the past few days, I’ve been poring over eBay, hungrily staring at auction countdowns and bidding wars on a number of vintage camera finds.
The particular interest in itself is surprising of me, not least because:
- I generally walk past lomography specialists and Urban Outfitter storefronts rolling my eyes so far up into my head, it looks like I’m about to pass out from hate,
- I already own a Canon EOS 60D DSLR that I adore, and
- I haven’t even invested in accessories for my 60D lately.
And yet a whole series of unrelated, stream-of-consciousness-esque events led to my film camera mania. I think the end result, besides spending money I’d had no intention of spending 1 week ago, has erred on the side of positive, in that I became unprecedentedly well-informed about camera lenses. More importantly, I also developed a revived interest in the fixed focal length Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens I own but rarely use for my 60D.
I was inspired to give my 50mm some lovin’ when, after several days on eBay, I finally scored a ridiculously cheap Pentax K1000 (a classic film SLR) with two lenses and a flash, all for only $110, shipping included. (For reference, one of the lenses, the SMC Pentax-M 35-70mm f/2.8-3.5, usually goes for $100+ on eBay before shipping.)
To celebrate, I pulled my Canon 50mm out to celebrate. Mostly I wanted to fiddle around with it a little before the Pentax, for which I’d also ordered a 50mm 1:2 lens, arrived next week.
In a move I should probably have made a long, long time ago, I removed the kit EFS 18-135mm lens on my 60D. Then I installed the 50mm. And found myself pleasantly surprised/reminded why I’d bought it in the first place.
It may be cheap, but for the price, the little lens really pulls through with sharp focus and deep, detailed portraits.
In a way, using the 50mm is sort of… empowering. It’s probably an artificial feeling, since really the only thing I was doing differently was switching off auto focus (it couldn’t keep up with Kenji the Dog).
But working with MF is big for me. For one thing, you have to be way more aware, without zooms, of your relationship with your subjects as you photograph them, whether it’s trying to get the shot you want quickly without exhausting them or getting them to be comfortable with you getting so close to get the composition just right. For another, it was a big leap of faith in myself, as I’m always inconfident about getting sharp focus, quickly and accurately, without relying on AF.
It’s not an unfounded fear, as you can see in this shot:
…and definitely this one (although I think it came out kind of cool anyway):
Now that I’ve caught the fixed lens bug again though, I definitely want to keep practicing, especially ahead of the entirely manual-focusing Pentax, which I am so ridiculously excited for. That’s not least because I’ll have a whole new lens to try out (I’ve never so much as touched a 35-70mm before!). Hopefully I’ll be able to produce more shots like this:
It’s nice to feel like I’m actually putting my own “skillz” to use, rather than letting the DSLR and lucky timing pull the shooting weight for me.