I’ve always loved shooting pictures of insects, spiders, close up things that we can’t see with the unaided eye. Revealing details that are hidden by the sheer diminutive size of the subjects. I’ve got close-up lenses, macro lenses, extension tubes, you name it. I chase bugs with a virtual arsenal of optics and accoutrements.
When you pursue images this way, you frequently get nothing usable. The depth-of-field is measured in millimeters, working distance in centimeters, and the slightest breeze can make shooting an image frustrating beyond all belief. Take this lady for example -
She was about 1/4” from toe-tip-to-toe-tip. She’d spun a web between a couple of the fronds on our shrubbery (no Monty Python comments). There was only the slightest breeze, but I shot fifteen or twenty images to get *this one image*. Notice that the very top of her abdomen is blurry? That’s because she’s thicker than the depth of field at this magnification (around 1:2).
Or a couple of days ago - I slipped out the back door at lunch time and went looking for this bug that I’d seen on the wife’s Hydrangeas a few days before. Bright orange abdomen, shiny black legs and body. Moved very, very slowly, but also very shy. Found one after about ten minutes of hunting:
Tried to coax him out from under the leaf, with little luck. Took twenty or so images to get this one with the ‘face’ intact. Turns out it was an assassin bug nymph, just as I’d suspected. Twenty shots to get one that seemed worthwhile. Look at that fang!
Some shots are easy, though. You point your camera at ‘em, and voila, you get an image you like:
This flower is maybe 1/4” across. I’m not sure what it goes to, but I thought it looked pretty cool all protruding from the green. It was standing in the middle of our yard.
Then, sometimes, you just get lucky. I’m selling off a bunch of lenses I don’t use, and one of them is an old Tamron 80-210 f4 that’s never been a stellar performer; just ok, and I’ve got much better glass now, so it goes on the chopping block. Anyway, I was testing it - stuck it on the K-5 and took it out in the back yard to make sure it worked before I sold it to some unsuspecting eekbay shopper - and while I’m shooting random items designed to illustrate the lens’ performance, I got lucky. Normally, I’d have my D-Xenon Macro lens, but this time, the butterfly appeared and posed for me, and all I had was a crappy old zoom:
Like I said… Sometimes, you get lucky. :D
So I read on a forum about the Russian Helios lenses and how they were copies of Zeiss designs - the 44 being a copy of the Zeiss Biotar. Being a recovering Zeiss junkie, I had to try it out… like optical methadone. Plus, in 35mm film, my favorite lens was the venerable 85mm f1.8; this 58mm f2 would be almost exactly 86mm on the APS-c “Crop Sensor” with 1.5 crop factor.
The Helios 44M is an m42 - Pentax screw mount - lens, which means it needs an adapter. After various adjustments and finickiness, I finally got it adapted properly.
This was one of the first images I got from it. Crisp, interesting bokeh… I like it. Then:
Another crisp, exceptionally sharp image. Its Zeiss heritage definitely shows. The coatings are vintage, so it’s prone to flare, but sharp, sharp… And interesting:
And the cost? $27.00, delivered. Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for. :D