The Minolta 500mm f/8 Prelude (and subsequent “more or less” DIY projects)

I can finally start posting again after the first week back at work. It hasn’t been particularly hectic but it’s always weird to get back to work after a two-weeks vacation. I sometimes even forget my passwords when I get back to my desk, so there.

So I’ll start 2012 with some things that I’ve been able to work on during my stay in Corsica: the Minolta 500mm f/8 and some DIY projects that ensued from its use.

The first thing that I’ve done and that will need further testing is get a large lens hood. Everyone that owns this lens (or a mirror/reflex lens for that matter) claim that the lens’ contrast can dramatically be improved by adding a larger lens hood. I have to admit that the one you get with the lens is rather tiny compared to the lens’ size and diameter. So I decided to try it out. I will get my tripod out soon and see it for myself.

The next two projects came to me in an attempt to replace the void created by my tripod being left home (stupid airlines and their stupid rules about tripods being “blunt instruments”). We had to prioritize the stuff we put in the luggage and 3kg wouldn’t fit. So I left it home and decided to find a way to either use my environment or make myself a monopod. So, you know me, I did both.

The first thing that I thought of was some kind of protection to put on the lens so I could use whatever was around me as a support (I had branches, walls, and rocks in mind at that time). So I realized a protective “tube” that could be taken off at any moment would be the best solution. I first considered using those thick socks, but it would have been a pain to take them off or put them on especially if the big lens hood was already attached. So I needed something that would open right away.

So I came up with this: I bought a fleece scarf, cut twice the size I needed, folded it in half, sew the edges together, added some scratch bands, and voila! I used it on everything I talked about: walls, branches, rocks, other people’s shoulders, cars, so on so forth. And besides, it was really cold at times, that thing was amazing for freezing fingers prevention! Like those foam tubes on tripod’s legs if you don’t get the idea.

At some point, I didn’t want to get too high up in the ISO and wanted to use a monopod. You’ll get a look at what I used while “hunting” flamingos a little later in the posting process, but I decided to make my own monopod. I don’t have pictures of that because it wasn’t quite finished by the time I left Corsica, so it’s waiting for me over there. I used a hiking stick, a plastic bottle cut off in half for lens support and some scratch bands for holding the lens on that bottle support. I of course covered the whole thing with whatever was left of the fleece scarf so it almost looked professional. You’ll have a more detailed post on that when I’ll get back over there to finish it. Soon I hope.

I am in the process of “migrating” the 2k shots from one laptop to another, it will take a little time but I think I’ll be able to put up the first posts soon!

In the meantime, Razvan’s first guest post will come today and I’m extremely happy to announce that Photography Chronicles has got a brand new guest contributor: Warren Papas, professional photographer from Tasmania! So that’s exciting, his guest contributor presentation is ready, I just need a self-portrait to get things rolling!

It’s good to be back everyone! Bye for now 🙂


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