March 2007

I happened to be driving back home from work on Rte 27 when this magnificent sunset happened, and I just had to stop the car and watch as the glowing orb slowly sank beneath the wooded hillside.

I got out, snapped off a couple of quick pictures with the Ricoh 500G Rangefinder, and then hauled out the old OM-1 from the back seat, and took another couple of shots. This is a busy road, so I did not try to set up a tripod ( I carry a cheap Velbon in the trunk). My fellow commuters must have thought I was nuts.

Sunsets are tricky, so I played it safe and used the Sunny f/16 rule. I was using 200 ASA film on both cameras, so I had a safe handheld 1/250 second shutter speed at f/16. I used a polarizer on the Zuiko 50mm, so the exposure was a little trickier. I decided to open up only 1 stop instead of the customary 2 stops to compensate for the polarizer’s effect. As a result, the OM-1 pictures turned out slightly underexposed, which actually made the clouds stand out better.

Sunset #1 – Ricoh 500G (40mm f/2.8)
Sunset #2 – Ricoh 500G (40mm f/2.8)
Sunset #3 – OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4
Sunset #4 – OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4

Photographs #1, #2 made with Ricoh 500G rangefinder, 1/250 second at f/16. Photographs #3, #4 with Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 with Polarizing filter. 1/250 second at f11 to compensate for filter, slightly underexposed . Film was Fujicolor Super HQ 200

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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A while ago, I had discussed the advantages of mirror lenses as cheap long focus lenses, and more importantly, the fact that they could be used in hand held photography. In the same post, I had explored alternative lens configurations that were available at reasonable cost, which would enable an amateur photographer like myself the opportunity to experiment with super-telephoto lenses.

The choices I had that were available in Olympus mounts were considerably varied, and although all the lens and teleconverter combinations would provide a reasonably fast, cheap lens in the super telephoto range, none of them were suitable for hand-held photography. There are some other alternatives I had not really explored since they involved even older lenses, from the 60’s and early 70’s, specifically, universal thread T mount lenses.

These were the old days, before the development of modern multi-coated optical glass and computer aided design. The long focus lenses from back then are really something – they are solidly built, heavy, and have come fitted with a tripod ring so as not to damage the camera mountings. These lenses were made by Cambron, Tele-Astranar, Lentar, Spiratone, and of course more familiar companies such as Tamron, Vivitar etc. Some of them were sold with a particular manufacturer’s mounts, but since camera mounts changed a lot back then, many lenses were made with something called a “T mount”.

Tamron introduced the T mount back in the late 1950’s as a potential “Universal” lens mount. The reasoning was very simple… The T mount is a threaded screw mount, similar to the Pentax M42 screw mount, but with finer pitched threads. The Pentax screw mount is a 42mm diameter screw with a 1mm pitch (M42x1), while the T mount has a 42mm diameter 0.75mm pitch (M42x0.75). The lenses were threaded at the back to take an adapter for a specific camera mount – Nikon, Canon, Olympus, whatever – once a customer bought a lens, it would be fitted with the adapter of their choice and that was it. There was no need to stock many lenses with different mounts – the dealer only needed to stock up on different mounts. If a camera manufacturer introduced a new model with a different mount, a new adapter became available. In fact, some lenses were only released with a T mount – a good example is the famous Vivitar Series 1 600mm Solid Cat (Solid Catadiotropic Mirror lens – what a mouthful)

Theoretically, if you had the right adapter, a lens could be fitted to any camera. The T mount also became the standard for bellows, enlargers, telescope adapters, microscope adapters etc. This happy state of affairs existed for many years, until variations of the T mount started appearing that were incompatible with one or the other lens ie, T2, T4, TX and pretty soon, everyone went back to making their own proprietary mounts. But the story does not end here… Due to the huge number of lenses that were made for the T mount, and the easy availability of adapters for different makes of cameras, T mounts never went out of favor – they are still widely available cheaply on Ebay and elsewhere.

What of the lenses? The big issue with older 3rd party lenses was that they were usually built cheaply, and that the lens elements would shake loose in their mountings after a while. Like everything else, not all 3rd party lenses were built the same, there are lots of solidly built ones as well, We just have to be choosy. There’s plenty of choices, and we don’t have to settle for one with a hazy element or fungus or even bad cosmetics. Back in the days when the T mount was common, everyone shot color slide film. Slide film is very finicky and not as forgiving as color print film (common negative film) and does not have as wide a range, so the lenses had to be good (at least fairly so), or they would never sell.

Even the cheapest lenses had a large sweet spot in the center of the lens, and when stopped down, they could provide excellent results. Now, I am not advocating that we compare it against a razor sharp professional Nikon OEM lens which probably costs 10 times as much. Rather, we should judge the lens on its own merits, and the low cost. Also, sometimes, razor sharp may not be necessary, especially if we are just planning on a small print, or just to post online – besides, when did film resolution ever match the resolutions possible with a lens? If we are not satisfied with the edge resolution, we can always crop it out. It should not be an issue at f/11 or smaller anyway.

T mount lenses are available in every focal length, but since this post is about super-telephoto lenses, I will discuss 2 famous representatives of cheap super-telephoto lenses from the T mount days – the widely available Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 and the Vivitar 300mm f/5.6. Both still easily available all over the place.

Spiratone was a camera dealership very much like Ponder & Best (Vivitar) and the brainchild of S.F (Fred) Spira. He ran a store in NYC, and they were famous for a wide range of affordable equipment. Fred Spira is also the author of the well regarded “The History of Photography: As seen through the Spira Collection.”

The Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 lens was most probably made for them by Tamron. There were several labels of this particular 400mm f6.3 lens, all identical, which implies they came from the same production line. They were branded as Spiratone, Tamron, Tele-Astranar, Cambron, Howard Sterling and probably a few others. I guess Tamron was trying to break into the US market back then, and didn’t mind having their brand diluted by all the other 3rd party names. This lens has an aperture range from f/6.3 to f/32, and is pretty sharp stopped down to f/11 or smaller. Of course, for smaller apertures, the exposure would make a sturdy tripod a necessity. On a bright sunny day, a hand held shot at 1/500 and f11 using 400 ASA or faster film is a distinct possibility.

There’s more pictures of the Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 along and the 60mm close-focusing extension tube here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Here are some examples with the 400mm Spiratone

Spiratone 400mm f/6.3
Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 – Preset Aperture setting rings
Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 – T mount threaded end
Spiratone 400mm f/6.3

The Vivitar 300mm f/5.6 is an early Vivitar 35mm lens. As we all know, Vivitar (Ponder & Best) used to contract out their lens manufacturing as well. Everyone is familiar with the famous Series 1 makers – Komine and Kino Precision, but Vivitar contracted out with Tokina (aka Asanuma) and others — including OLYMPUS – yes, Olympus Optical Co. The Vivitar 300mm f/5.6 was one of the lenses made by Olympus (at least, the ones with serial numbers 6xxxxxx.

We certainly can’t fault the lens in construction – The Vivitar 300mm f5.6 is built like a M1A1 battletank. The Spiratone is solid too, but not as heavily built as the Vivitar 300mm. Mark Robert’s website has a list of the other manufacturers and the serial number codes. Check under the heading Photography. He has a bunch of lens mods and Pentax information as well.

Ever since I came across this bit of manufacturing information, I had been on the lookout for a Olympus made Vivitar lens. Common sense dictated that any such lens would have to be pre-1972, before Olympus entered the interchangeable lens SLR market in earnest with their OM series cameras. Any T mount lens that they would have made as a Vivitar contractor would have to be between 1965-1972, BEFORE they introduced the OM bayonet mount. Additionally, it made sense, as it would have been good practice for Olympus in getting their Zuiko OEM manufacturing processes worked out. The lens shouts “quality” as soon as you pick it up. It’s very heavy for it’s size, and takes a 62mm filter. The pre-set aperture rings are surprisingly easy to use.

Vivitar 300mm f/5.6
Vivitar 300mm f/5.6
Vivitar 300mm f/5.6 – preset focusing rings
Vivitar 300mm f/5.6 – T mount ring for OM

Here are some compelling reasons to jump in acquire a cheap USED long focus lens or two to play with and experiment with super-telephoto effects:

# I own a beautiful Olympus Zuiko 300mm f/4.5, I would not risk it in the field ie., while hiking in rough areas etc. There’s a lot to be said for having a cheaper 300mm or 400mm that we can throw in the backpack without hesitation. A far as sharpness goes, these lenses a a little sharper than the common 500mm f/8 mirror lens, but the mirror can easily be hand-held, while these long lenses need Tripods.

# Both the lenses are sold for between $25 and $50 on eBay regularly, sometimes going cheaper if they have some cosmetic issues. These lenses were single coated for the most part. Multi-coating of lenses was still a few years away, and they usually came with a generously sized screw-on or built-in sliding lens hood. At that price, they are a real bargain, since a T mount adapter can be had for another $10- $15, and sometimes the seller will include one for your specific mount if available. Either way, its no biggie, they are freely available.

# We have excellent fast film available to us these days – 400 ASA and 800 ASA film allow us generous exposure latitude, permitting the use of filters and even a few mistakes. Hand-held is possible, but only if the light conditions permit speeds of 1/500 sec and above (WITH a polarizing filter, the light would have to be very bright, so it would have to be a very sunny day). I would recommend a tripod with these lenses any day. They are just too darn big. They come with their own tripod mounts, so why fight it? besides, it saves stress on the camera mounting ring as well.

# So what if the images are soft towards the edges of the lens? The sweet spot in the center will produce a sharp image when stopped down, to f/11 of f/16, and we can always use Picasa or Photoshop to crop the photo if needed. Due to the lack of multi- coating, the bokeh on these lenses is not as pleasing as their more recent (and more expensive) cousins.

# They can be mounted to a digital SLR with the proper adapter. On a Olympus E series DSLR, and a T-mount to Four Thirds adapter, the humble Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 becomes an enormous 800mm f/6.3 and the 300mm Vivitar f/5.6 becomes a respectable 600mm f/5.6. Can you imagine buying a 800mm DSLR lens for less than $50?

#Lastly, here are some excellent examples of what a Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 lens can do on an Olympus E-500 DSLR. I don’t think that anyone can complain about Christine’s beautiful animal photographs!

Spiratone 400mm setup
Vivitar 300mm setup

Here are the related Posts:
Cheap Super Telephoto Lenses Part II
Cheap Super Telephoto Lenses Part III
Learning to love your Mirror Lens

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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A couple of weeks ago, Jayaram and I took off intending to explore the white trail at Sugarloaf mountain. The white trail is one of several hiking trails, and its about 3 miles around the middle of the mountain, and takes one around the eastern slope where you can see some of the largest Tulip trees and oaks, and also some of the areas that have been hit with Gypsy moth induced oak decline. This has been a persistent problem in Eastern forests, and I sincerely hope researchers come up with a viable solution to stop further losses.

Anyway, we picked a nice afternoon for the hike, when the temperature was in the mid-fifties, and hardly any wind. Perfect weather. The trail at the upper levels still had lots of snow and ice, and there was plenty of slush and wet mud to navigate in some places. The trail is poorly marked in some spots, and we had to guess at a couple of places, but we eventually made it all round in about 2 hours. I’d rate this as a moderate trail, and a walking stick is a great help in some places, although it would be easier in summer.

I was traveling light, so I had just carried the Ricoh 500G rangefinder. Here are some of the pictures. I don’t trust the meter on the Ricoh, so I used the Sunny f16 rule on all the shots.

White Trail #1
White Trail #2 – Jayaram
White Trail #3 – AJ
White Trail #4

White Trail #5
White Trail #6
White Trail #7 – Oak Decline
White Trail #8
White Trail #9
White Trail #10 – Strong Offices
White Trail #11 – Duckpond
White Trail #12- Duckpond
White Trail #13 – Autostitched

Photographed with a Ricoh 500G rangefinder (40mm f/2.8, 1/250 second at f/11) on Fujicolor Super HQ 200 ASA.

More from the White Trail – these pictures were taken on another hike at Sugarloaf mountain that Sunayana and I had taken a couple of weeks earlier. This time the camera was an Olympus Trip 35. It was late in the afternoon, and the sun was low, which accounts for the yellowish light.

White Trail – Olympus Trip 35
White Trail – Olympus Trip 35
White Trail – Olympus Trip 35
White Trail – Olympus Trip 35
White Trail – Olympus Trip 35
White Trail – Olympus Trip 35

Photographed with an Olympus Trip 35 (40mm f/2.8, Zone focusing) Fujicolor Super HQ 200 ASA. Zone setting 3 meters and at landscape.

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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This beautiful old house and barn are now part of the Montgomery County park system, and they are beautifully preserved. The family apparently originally made it’s fortune from running a general store on Ridge Road (now MD Rte 27), and later expanded into farming.

I drive past Cedar Grove every day on my way to work, but Rte 27 is very busy in the mornings during the week. The lighting is much better in the mornings, though, so I returned to Cedar Grove one Saturday morning, and parked a few hundred yards away at the ancient Cedar Grove gas station that is probably the site of the original store and walked down.

I had just restored the light seals on the OM-1n so I decided to use it with the Winder 2. I had not replaced the light meter cell, and since it was such a bright day, I used the Sunny f/16 exposure settings for all the shots. The lens was the Kino made Vivitar 28-85mm stovepipe.

Cedar Grove #1
Cedar Grove #2
Cedar Grove #3
Cedar Grove #4
Cedar Grove #5

Photographed with an Olympus OM-1n and Vivitar 28-85mm lens on Fujicolor Super HQ 200 ASA film. Exposure was at 1/250 second at f/11 to compensate for the Circular Polarizer. I had also carried the Ricoh 500G rangefinder as a backup, and will post additional pictures when I have the film developed.

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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Hyperfocal distance focusing (also known as Universal Focus) is that distance setting which maximizes the depth of field for a selected aperture. To understand what this means, we should define some terminology first – critical focus and circles of confusion. Bear with me here… although we can jump to setting and really using the hyperfocal distance setting, it would be good to understand the basic principles.

When a normal helicoid design lens is focused, there are no abrupt steps – rather, it is a continuum where the subject image being focused starts off blurred, and as the focus ring is rotated, the image slowly becomes clearer and clearer until it reaches the point of maximum clarity, and then, if the photographer continues to rotate the focus ring, the clarity begins diminishing slowly until the it becomes blurry and unfocused again.

In this continuum, the point of maximum clarity is the point of “critical focus”. On either side of this point of critical focus there is a region of “acceptable clarity” where the image appears reasonably sharp to the eye. This portion of the focus continuum where the image is acceptably sharp is the “Depth of Focus” for that lens.

If we imagine the continuum as a series of circles that reduce in size, at the point of critical focus, the circle is smallest and the image is sharp and clearly defined, as we move away from the critical focus, the circles slowly become larger, until the subject becomes blurry and then totally undefined. At that point, the circle is the largest. The correct name for these circles is “circles of confusion”. Years ago, manufacturers provided the minimum circle of confusion data for their lenses – for example 0.03mm etc.

Normally when we focus, we point the camera lens at a subject and rotate the lens focusing ring until the object is in critical focus. We are now guaranteed that the subject is now clearly defined, but what of the surroundings? Depending on the aperture setting, have differing depths of field. When we wish to focus at an object at a distance, we rotate the lens to the ∞ setting. Again, our depth of field is determined by the aperture setting.

If we choose a small aperture – f/16 or f/22, we are assured that we have a large depth of field, but a lot of the depth of field may be used inefficiently. We need to remember that the DOF is distributed unequally. 1/3 of the DOF is in FRONT of the subject, and 2/3 of the DOF is BEHIND the subject. If we are focusing on a subject at infinity – only 1/3 of the depth of field is really utilized, since everything behind the subject is already in focus by virtue of the ∞ setting.

What we can do to optimize depth of field is to set the critical focus at a point in FRONT of the subject, such that the subject is close to the far end of the depth of field. In short, we position the subject such that the maximum depth of field occurs in front of the subject, and a small portion occurs behind the subject. If we ensure that the infinity setting occurs just behind the subject, then every thing beyond that will ALSO be in focus.

If all this isn’t enough to digest, we also have to remember that distance to infinity (∞) for each lens varies – for a wide angle lens, ∞ setting could be just beyond 6 feet, and for a long focus lens, infinity settings could occur hundreds of feet away.

So much for theory. So how is this useful? Where can we use this?

As an example, let us assume that for a particular lens, the ∞ setting is around 30 feet, and we are focusing at a subject at just 30 feet away. If the lens is rotated to the infinity setting, the subject is clearly in focus, and we go ahead and take the shot without a second thought. Let us also assume that the possible DOF for this lens is 24 feet. From the previous discussion, we know that 1/3 of the DOF (8 feet) is in front of the subject. The 2/3 remaining DOF (16 feet) is unused, since everything beyond 30 feet is in focus anyway.

In the above shot, everything from 22 feet onwards will be in focus, but everything else between the photographer and 22 feet will be blurred. If we had set the lens at it’s hyperfocal distance instead of at ∞, the depth of field would have been fully utilized, with everything from 6 feet in front of the photographer to infinity being clearly in focus. What a difference!

In the above example, suppose we had been photographing a street scene. Or perhaps we were out trying to photograph a bunch of kids playing a pick-up neighborhood basketball game. Trying to critically focus on a particular subject would end up wasting a lot of time, and lots of blurry photographs. Street photography has to be quick, and opportunistic, and thus is a perfect application of hyperfocal distance setting.

Combine this with the Sunny f/16 rule, and we could just concentrate on the action, without worrying about metering, lighting, foregrounds, backgrounds, or what’s in focus and what isn’t. Every shot will be clear and in focus.

Despite all the mind-numbing theory we just covered, in actual practice, using hyperfocal distance couldn’t be easier. We just have to remember a couple of things — It’s best when used with a moderate wide-angle or normal lens (28mm, 35mm, 50mm etc). 24mm lenses have a very short ∞ setting anyway. Be sure to pick a lens that has a depth of field scale marked on it. Most of the older lenses have them. Modern AF lenses don’t generally have DOF markings, but there are calculation tables available. They’re cumbersome and not intuitive, but hey, it’s better than nothing. Here is a link.

The following steps assume that we are using a manual focus SLR like an Olympus OM-1, a Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens and 200 ASA film. It’s a sunny day, and we are out photographing a noisy and colorful summer street festival. Since it’s bright and sunny, let’s go one step further and use the Sunny f/16 rule as well.

Step #1 — Since it’s a sunny day, and we are using 200 ASA film, we will set the aperture on the Zuiko at f/16 and the shutter speed at 1/250 (sunny f/16 rule for a bright day with clearly defined shadows).
Step #2 — Once we have selected the aperture, everything falls into place. The same steps will be followed if we were selecting f/22 or f/11 or whatever.
Step #3 — Rotate the focus ring until the infinity ∞ mark is at the f/16 mark on the DOF scale. The distance indicated at the red index mark (5 meters about 15 feet) is the hyperfocal distance at this aperture.
Step #4 — Look at the distance indicated at the f/16 mark on the other side of the DOF scale – this is half the hyperfocal distance ( 2.5 meters or about 8 feet). At this setting, everything between the distances indicated between the f/16 index marks on the DOF scale will be in focus ie, between 8 feet and ∞.

The photographs will clarify the above….

Lens focused at ∞
Lens focused at 3m
Lens at hyperfocal distance 5m (DOF ranges from 2.5m
to ∞ and thus encompasses both 3m and ∞ in
previous examples)

Thus we can be assured that everything on the street from 8 feet onwards (about ½ a parking space length) will be in focus, and we can be free to enjoy the action without fiddling around with the focus ring. Remember that filters will require additional aperture compensation when using the Sunny f/16 rule. If we are using a polarizer, the setting should be f/8 or set the shutter speed to 1/125 sec.

As far as lenses go, I have written this with the Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 prime lens as an example, but the best part is, any decently built normal or moderate wide angle will work as well as a hyperfocal distance lens – Zuiko, Vivitar, Kiron, Quantaray, Panagor, Sigma, Soligor, Albinar, whatever… just as long as it has a depth of field scale and can be stopped down to at least f/16. A short zoom can be used as well, if it has a depth of field scale. You’ll find it’s far easier with a prime lens.

If we choose not to use the Sunny f/16 rule, it’s even easier, since the camera’s TTL meter will compensate for the filters and indicate the correct shutter speed. Just set the aperture at f/16, and then follow steps #3 and #4. We simply adjust the shutter speed to what the meter advises, stand back to ½ the indicated hyperfocal distance point (8 feet) and shoot.

The same thing applies if we are using an OM-2. OM-PC or other camera that has an Auto setting. Set the aperture at f/16 or f/11. Rotate the focus ring as described in step #3 and let the camera set the correct shutter speed, stand back, and shoot. The hyperfocal distance will change for the larger apertures (f/11 and f/8) so we may not have as great a depth of field as at f/16. If you have to use filters, then shift to a 35mm or 28mm lens, for the greatest depth of field at the wider apertures needed.

Let the Summer street festivals begin!

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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The original Olympus Trip 35 was one of the most popular cameras ever made, and it is a beautiful piece of engineering. It is a fixed focus automatic camera that permits the use of film of only up to 400 ASA, and has a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 second. Manual aperture settings are possible, but only when using a Flash.

As one gets more familiar with the Olympus Trip, the few limitations it has seem trivial. In fact, it seems to possess all the qualities that make for an ideal street camera, especially since it was designed as a ‘visual notebook’ that could be carried anywhere, it is particularly suited for street photography.

Against the few limitations, consider these great features:

# It has a superb, professional quality Zuiko 40mm f/2.8 lens.
# It’s a moderate wide angle – so it can focus close, and has a great depth of field. The 40mm is a good compromise between 35mm and 50mm, and has no distortion.
# It is Automatic in function for daylight photography
# It does not need batteries, so no need to worry about the camera dying in the middle of the action
# It has a rugged all metal body, and can withstand rough use, like being tossed in a backpack
# It has a thumbwheel instead of the traditional cocking lever – its easy to operate with one hand, since the thumb can cock the shutter after every shot, even when carrying something in the other hand.
# thumb wheel allows the Shutter to be re-cocked without moving the camera from the eye. This allows the photographer to focus on the action instead on the mechanics of the camera film transport mechanism.
# It’s size and weight make it easy to hold, and it feels solid and steady.
# It is nearly silent, except for a soft click when the shutter is released, and a soft whirring when the thumbwheel is operated while cocking the shutter for the next shot.
# The camera back is cut away at the bottom so that the film cassette can be just dropped in instead of having to angle it in. This makes for quick and unobtrusive loading.
# It has a threaded lens ring, so it can take a screw on 43.5mm filter, since the CdS cells are located around the lens, any filter is compensated for. (I like using a yellow filter – ideal for Black & White photography)
# It can be mounted on a tripod, but a lightweight monopod is even better – its small, so the monopod is easy to hold, and it does not take up additional space. The monopod also makes a fine walking stick.
# Best of all, it is unobtrusive – no big glass lenses to stick into peoples faces. The camera can be easily concealed until needed against the body or in a jacket pocket.

And that’s not all — there is one other aspect of the Olympus Trip 35 that convinced me that it was DESIGNED for street photography.

I am referring to the Trip’s focusing mechanism. The Olympus Trip 35 belongs to the class of cameras that used a paradigm called Zone Focusing (or “guess focusing”) as their primary focus setting mechanism. The Trip 35 is automatic, so the shutter speed is set by the camera depending on the light conditions sensed by the bubble glass light meter surrounding the lens and the film speed. If the light is insufficient, a red flag will show up in the viewfinder, and the shutter button will not fire. (see photo below)

Zone focusing is a pretty simple concept – for daylight photography, the photographer sets the camera shutter ring to A (auto), and rotate the zone focusing ring to the desired distance setting. The Trip 35 has 4 zones – these are identified by little icons that represent subject distances. The icons are a head & shoulders, person and child, group, and mountains, which indicate 1m, 1.5m, 3m and ∞. The numeric equivalents for the icons are etched on the opposite side of the zone focusing ring.

Zone Focusing – Note the red icon (3m)
Distance scale (opposite side of focus ring)

The photographer simply guesses the approximate distance of the subject using the representative icons, and sets the particular zone icon desired. The Zone system is pretty forgiving, and it doesn’t matter if the guess isn’t very accurate. If a Flash unit is used, the Zones are set as usual, but the Aperture ring is moved off of A to the desired aperture setting depending on the Flash Unit used and the Subject distance.

Flash Aperture settings on Trip 35
Red Flag (insufficient light alert)

Here’s the kicker. The 3 meter icon (Group) is actually marked in RED. I did not understand why for a long time, but one day it hit me. For the 40mm Zuiko lens, 3 meters represents the distance at which a group of people can be photographed full-length, with their surroundings – as in street photography!

I’ve been asking around, and apparently other Zone Focusing cameras had the same type of marking. It seems apparent to me now that for street photography, all one needs to do is load up with some 200 or 400 ASA film. rotate the Zone focus ring to the Red icon, and shoot. The depth of field afforded by the wide angle lens will ensure that everything from 3 meters (approx 10 feet) to infinity will be in focus… so it’s “set and shoot”. Literally.

Note: I am suggesting faster film speed since this will prevent the insufficient light flag from preventing a shot in shadowed areas..

Check out another 40mm f/2.8 camera with similar features, but full Manual capability – the Ricoh 500G Rangefinder
Here’s more information on the Olympus Trip 35

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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If you’ve ever tried photographing a person standing in the cool-green leafy shade of a tree in summer, then you would have noticed that the picture has a definite greenish tinge from the light filtering through the canopy, or reflected off of the surrounding greenery. It’s ghastly. There’s no other way to describe it. It doesnt matter what complexion we’re dealing with here — fair or dark, the green tinge makes your subject look like a zombie that has contracted jaundice. Summer will soon be here, and with it, the lush greenery… and adventures in the great outdoors.

All right, so aren’t going to hike the Gold Mine trail at Great Falls or hike around Cunningham State Park where the high canopy cuts off ALL direct light. Perhaps we’re just shooting in our backyards. It’s usually so warm that friends and family tend to congregate in any spot that affords shelter from the fierce Maryland summer sun, which is usually a big old oak tree. If you’re like me and only carried a UV, 1A or polarizer on your lens, be prepared for the “ghastly green” and all the complaints from friends and relatives that you made them look terrible. I got so sick of this that on a couple of occasions I shot family gatherings in black & white – which led to another kind of complaint – that I am so retro. Big deal. Family is very hard to please.

Late last summer, I finally figured out the right kind of filter. Its was something that I’d never used before, and I wouldn’t even have thought of it. A Magenta filter. More specifically, a CC10M, CC20M or CC30M magenta filter. These filters hold back green, kind of like a FLD filter under fluorescent lights. The CC20M and CC30M filter can also be used for photography under mixed fluorescent lighting to cut the yellow green tinge, but their effect isn’t as pronounced as a dedicated FLD filter The CC10M or CC20M is ideal for woodland photography – complexions are restored to healthy looking colors and yellows are Yellow. Did I mention that yellows turn blue-green in the shade of green trees? What I don’t like — magenta filters tend to be expensive, so look for a decent used one.

I first got a used 72mm sized Vivitar CC30M filter, and I planned to use step down adapters for all my other lenses. Then some kind soul included a 62mm CC20M filter along with a camera outfit I bought, since they had no use for it anymore. I did the research, and apparently the FLD filter for fluorescent lighting is a fairly recent innovation. Old timey photographers back in the 70’s and early 80’s apparently used Magenta filters all the time. Anyway, I am looking forward to better woodland photography this Summer. I hike all through the year, and my pictures thus far are a wash. Maybe I’ll have better luck in 2007.

See what I mean? Ghastly green!

green tinge #1
green tinge #2
green tinge #3
green tinge #4 – the Tshirt didn’t help

Photographed with an Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens 1/250 second at f/11 on Fuji 200 film (#1 and #2) Kodak 200 film (#3 and #4)

text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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