Old Brass Lens Project - First Test on Mamiya

It’s not very pretty, but I have mounted the old brass lens on my Mamiya 645AFD (to view my introductory post on this project, click here). With a little luck I found a rubber pipe fitting that is just the right size to grab the back of the lens. I then cut a large hole in a body front cap and used a liberal amount of epoxy putty to fasten a piece of PVC pipe to the cap. The pipe fitting and lens can slide on the PVC pipe to allow a decent focus range. As you can see below, it’s not very pretty but it does get the job done…

Early tests are interesting. First, it is difficult to handle. I haven’t figured out its aperture yet, but the view through the camera’s eyepiece is quite dark and lacks contrast. The image never really appears to be in focus. I find it’s best to slide the lens to get as close a possible and then move slightly forward or back until I think I’ve got it. Technically I should be working on a tripod, but honestly I’m not using this lens to get technically perfect images — which brings me to the following point.

The way to get nice images from this lens is to push its flaws. Specifically, it will flare when presented with bright specular highlights - or better still, just let the sun shine straight in. The RAW file will be horribly washed out, but in the digital age, a flat image is an image with a lot of detail. Plenty there to work with to render the scene nicely.

I took the camera out in our mid-atlantic winter wonderland yesterday evening and early this morning and was able to capture some nice samples. Click any of the images below to open a larger version in a new window.