All posts in Mods

31 Dec

Light Paint Brushes

In Gear,Mods by Greg / December 31, 2011 / 0 Comments

I’ve always wanted to learn lightpainting ever since I first saw photos in my various Google searches for photographic related techniques. It just seemed so cool, but its an art very different from your ordinary photography. It really is more like painting than photography, except that you are painting in the dark, facing the camera, guessing at how it will turn out. You cant see the result of your work until the picture is finished, and even then its hard to see the result until you put it in a photo program where you can flip the image horizontally so it has the same orientation as you originally drew it. Don’t bump your head or stub your toes fumbling around in the dark, and definitely try not to knock your camera over, tripod and all! Not that I did any of those things, just some deep thoughts I thought I would share for those inclined to clumsiness of which I would normally be categorized, but I did pretty well on that account for this project.

So anyhow, my great plan to make Christmas cards was to rely heavily on photos created by lightpainting. I started brainstorming different ways to get good colored light, particularly cheap ways. I realized I had the perfect cheap solution, small LED flash lights modded to hold colored LED’s. I already had a couple strands of LED Xmas lights I didn’t need so all I really had to buy were a pack of flashlights, and those I found in an 8-pack for just twelve dollars! I did end up buying a few extra Xmas light strands because they were on sale, but I didn’t need them.

I ended up coming up with a few different designs for my light brushes. I made some that were long wands with some very directional LED’s. I realized these were a bit difficult to use because you really need to hold the stick near the light end, like a pencil, but the on/off switch is on the back. I might re-wire them use in the future, with a pushbutton switch near the front. I also realized it wasn’t really necessary to make them so long. I just used pieces of PVC to make the wand extensions. If I had to do it again, I would make them much shorter.

I cam up with another design which used flexible arms which I scavenged from a pair of those clip on LED reading lights. This allows me to spread the lights around to different positions for different kinds of effects. They also have sockets so I can put different kinds of LED’s in them.

This is probably a good time to note differences in the Christmas light LED’s I was using – if you are running them off 3.6V (aka 3 rechargeable batteries) then red and yellow LED’s need 100 ohm resister, but blue and green ones do not. You can use a resistor in series with any of them to lessen the amount of light they create, since when working in the darkness they can be quite bright actually but you may want that effect.

Also if you need another color besides what you can find in LED’s, you can either use white LED’s and cover them with gelatin filters. You could also recolor the painted images in Photoshop, since the colors are pretty consistent should be quite an easy adjustment.

Here are a couple shots of my lightbrushes (the next post will feature the greetings I created with these lightbrushes):

Wand style

Light Brushes

25 Dec

Lefty Camera Grip with Shutter Release

In Mods by Greg / December 25, 2011 / 0 Comments

Recently, I needed to be able to shoot easily while supporting the camera entirely in my left hand. Most often for me I like doing simple shots with my right hand in the picture, like a product shot for example. Plus this also allows me to dual wield camera (although generally not practical) which can be fun. I am also left handed (well, technically semi-ambidextrous) but the camera makers seem to ignore us! Nikon thought about making some left handed bodies at one time, but then decided it wasn’t important. In general it really doesn’t matter if you are left or right handed when it comes to shooting a camera, so I don’t get too terribly upset that the camera makers show no love for lefty’s…

Anyhow, this grip was very simple to make from about $25 worth of parts. First I took a dual camera rail I got off eBay for %10, attached an Opteka pistol grip to the rail’s 1/4″ thread and then used gaffers tape to attach a YonNuo camera trigger to the grip. It works surprisingly well and I positioned the trigger so it was just in the right spot for my index finger. I have some ideas for how I might rig up another one that would be a little bit better, but this works quite well for the time being:

Lefty grip

23 Nov

Modding the Samyang 7.5mm for NEX

In Mods by Greg / November 23, 2011 / 1 Comment


The Samyang 7.5mm is a remarkably good fisheye lens which is perfect for the NEX, except that it has the wrong mount on the back of it. Since the NEX has the shortest flange distance of any current interchangeable lens camera, almost any lens can be adapted to it. This is especially true since the Samyang is an all manual lens, where other Micro Four Thirds mount lenses are not, having electronic apertures controls which makes them all but useless when adapted to the NEX. The combo of the Samyang fisheye and NEX camera makes one of the smallest 360VR camera setups I have found so far.

The first thing I recommend doing is removing the mounting ring so that you can calibrate the focus. To do so there are just 3 small screws that you must remove (be really careful not to strip them):

sam rear

Once you get the ring removed, you will find 3 metal spacers that you can remove. This will get the lens to where it will almost focus perfectly to infinity. You may even want to try putting it back together and testing it on your MFT to NEX adapter to see if you can perfectly focus before doing further adjustments. If it does not see the next step below.

sam spacers1

If you determine that a further adjustment is needed, you can unscrew the rear lens element just slightly to get the rest of the adjustment you need. After doing this on my lens, I used a small strip of gaffers tape to hold the element in place since it was no longer tightened all the way down:


Once you get the focus adjusted properly, now you can deal with trimming the hood. You will find that the hood is actually attached by 3 black screws which are hidden underneath the circular name plate around the objective lens. This plate can be pried up very carefully with a small screw driver (its just sticky taped on, if you are careful enough you can reattach it without using new adhesive):

hood screws

Once you get the hood removed you can trim the petals. You need to shave the smaller petals off entirely. The larger petals should not be completely trimmed off, only about 2-3mm is needed. If you go to far you will not be able to attach the factory lens cap any longer, so remove a little at a time then test it on your camera to see if any of the petal is visible in the image.

hood removed

Once you get it all done you can now enjoy some awesome fisheye shots (360VR anyone?) with your NEX-5.

NOTE – You are following the above steps at your own risk, if you damage your lens I will not be held responsible.

02 Sep

Pete Ganzel Rokkor 58mm Conversion

In DIY,Mods,Technical by Greg / September 2, 2011 / 0 Comments

In March this year I purchased Pete Ganzel’s Rokkor 58mm A-mount conversion kit. Pete was extremely helpful in providing information on how to swap out the ring and properly adjust the lens so that it will focus perfectly and all the distance scale lines up correctly. The lens was amazing on the NEX with an adapter, and it is even more amazing on my a55 and a700. I highly recommend this conversion if you have a Rokkor 58mm f/1.2. Also, Pete makes this conversion for other mounts as well, including m42 which he recommends. It is also possible to get a chip to install in the lens mount so that it will be recognized by the camera for focus confirmation.

For more information on Pete’s conversion see here: Pete Ganzel’s Rokkor 58mm Page

And here is what it looks like on my a55:

a55 and Rokkor 58

27 Aug

Focus adjusting adapters for infrared

In Infrared,Mods,Technical by Greg / August 27, 2011 / 0 Comments

The issue with some lenses and infrared is that they will not properly focus at some or all focal lengths in infrared, because the focuser just doesnt go far enough. This is because infrared light always focuses slightly behind visible light (ie if you focus for visible light, the IR light will be focused behind the camera sensor). Most lenses still have enough room in their focus range to allow proper focusing in IR, but others do not. I noticed this was an issue first with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye so I started looking for ways to address it.

I borrowed the idea from Pete Ganzel who makes a conversion kit to convert Rokkor mount 58/1.2 lenses to A-mount. In the conversion kit from Pete are a small assortment of spacers which you will need to test to find the proper spacing of the replacement a-mount ring so you can properly focus. Well I applied the same principle to an aftermarket a-mount to e-mount adapter (this probably would not be a good idea to try with the LA-EA1 because of the electrical contacts, and not wanting to destroy a much more expensive adapter, of course).

So here is what I did:

First I removed the A-mount ring from this adapter, and then added some spacers where the screws mount to the ring. These are just test spacers which will get replaced with complete rings once I have time to make them, it was just easier to cut small strips for testing. There is no set rule to how much space youll need to add, try adding one spacers, put the assembly back together and test the lens you are having trouble with. If you really want to get it perfect you can keep trying until the distance markings on the focus ring line up perfectly when focused in IR.

adding spacers

The other thing to keep in mind is that the manual aperture lever in the adapter (if it has one) still works, since adding spacers may prevent it from reaching the lenses aperture lever. Also, you will want to check that the lens locking pin will still lock, I added a small screw to act as a spacer behind the spring which provides pressure to the lock pin to hold it in place when the lens is mounted. You will have to do trial an error to get these things right, and not all third party adapters will lens themselves well to this adjustment process.

Here is what mine ended up looking like with the test spacers in place:
spacers added

And here is what the adapter looks look on my IR converted NEX-5, with Minolta 28-135 mounted:
lens mounted

Lastly, the result? I can now properly focus the Minolta 28-135 and Rokinon 8mm in infrared, this shot below is with the Minolta at 28mm:
ir test shot

03 Jan

Wireless Radio Flash Trigger for NEX

In DIY,Mods by Greg / January 3, 2011 / 4 Comments

I originally posted this on DPReview here, but thought I would repost it here for my website readers, with some minor edits –

I have been trying to find a reliable way to trigger external flashes with the NEX, particularly so I can use my infrared converted NEX with flash. This way seems to work quite well, I am able to reliably trigger 3 flashes that I use for shooting in my small lightbox. I have tested shutter speeds from 1/5 – 1/160 with good results.

Here you see a wireless radio flash trigger taped to the NEX on-board flash and attached to a cheap optical slave flash trigger. I then cover this assembly with my Lensbaby pouch (just happens to be the right size) so it does not leak any light:

NEX-5 with Radio Trigger setup

Just to show the NEX triggering its own flash for this shot – the flashes from above and the side were triggered by the NEX’s onboard flash, not by my trusty a700 which took the picture:

NEX Triggering its own flashes

Here is a quick test shot with the NEX-5 triggering 3 flashes – 1 above in a softbox (Canon 430EZ), 1 on the right through an umbrella (Minolta 5600HS) and 1 on the left through umbrella (Minolta 5400HS). Just to prove its possible to trigger flashes with the NEX (I had been having trouble getting it to trigger an optical slave, but with the radio popper trick it works much better).

Test Shot - NEX triggered external flashes

Here is the radio trigger I used:…XZW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286043360&sr=8-1

And here is the optical trigger:

I am still hoping for Sony to offer real options for controlling flashes on the NEX, but this will do the trick for now.