That time I shot with a...

That time I shot freelensing with a Camedia D-435 and an Olympus OM 50mm – by Charles Higham

July 5, 2019

At the bottom of John Scott’s fun gaffa tape pinhole lens post is Hamish’s invitation for contributors to a new series entitled “That time I shot with a…”. Essentially, any sort of unusual photographic experiment, failed or not, is considered. Well, it did remind me I had tried some crude freelensing last year using a basic Olympus 5.1 megapixel point-and-shoot camera from 2005, and a standard Olympus OM 50mm manual lens.

I won’t go into tedious detail, but this required me to remove the Camedia’s zoom lens. I pulled it out exposing the tiny first fixed element, in the process damaging the lens cover (probably unavoidable) and somehow this also affected the power on/off system. The upshot was I could only switch the camera off by removing the batteries.

What I had to do was to try and hold the Olympus lens the appropriate distance from the front of the camera so that a meaningful image was visible on the small LCD screen: two or three inches was in the ball park with this set-up. The camera hadn’t liked what I’d done to it and the screen kept defaulting to some sort of menu problem alert, and I had to reset it for each shot, which it wasn’t always happy to do.

I had read that a 50mm lens is best for this. You’d think a wide angle would make things easier but it doesn’t, I tried it. And a telephoto is pretty much out of the question. 50mm is about the best focal length for job. I can assure you that holding the lens steady at the right distance is not easy. Naturally, with the slightest movement of the lens the focus plane goes all over the place and at best you can get some weird tilt-shift effects. To an observer I’m sure I looked pretty weird myself. I probably looked like someone who had broken the lens off his camera and was trying to work out how to put it back together again. The main challenge was just getting any kind of in-focus image at all. Anyway, here are a few of the barely useable shots produced. I can’t tell you how many were beyond out of focus. I probably won’t try it again.

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  • Reply
    July 6, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks for the story, Charles. While I can identify with your closing sentiment (“I probably won’t try it again” is actually a pretty honorable epitaph for an experiment, all things considered) I am glad that you took the effort! And more, that you wrote it up. I can’t say I would try to duplicate your work, but you gave me some things to consider and there are several of your photographs that are quite haunting. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Charles Higham
      July 6, 2019 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks very much Andrew. It’s the sort of experiment that you can do that might just come up with an unusual and attractive image. But it’s quite a lot of trouble to go to and I can think of better ways of spending my time! Thanks again.

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