Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Gonzo Cameras

I currently have in my possession a 40+ year old Pentax Spotmatic (it’s my Dad’s). I live near enough Manchester and I know a camera shop there in which such a device is positively youthful (why I have it). I shall not carry my Sony DSLT near the shop for the resident f/stop philosophers will reach for pitchforks and such. HD video, 10fps continuous autofocus, 12800ISO, 8Gb SDHC cards – unclean, unclean! Thing is I am to get a battery for the old Pentax. Further thing is it set me thinking. The Sony Alpha SLT-A55V is of course digital but has a standard Minolta lens fitting. So… could I fit it with some cheap second hand lens for frolics? I mean I appreciate that it will probs play havoc with the light metering and focus and such but I know enough to busk it.

The thing is just round the corner is a shop that sells Dianas. Now for 140 quid you can get a Diana (they are based upon some Commie thing from way back) and a huge number of lenses and stuff chucked in. As I have an MSc in Astrophysics I do know a thing or two about optics and stuff so I appreciate from a technical viewpoint they are junk but lomography looks fun and with a digital camera costs nothing really.

Any of you guys done any gonzo photography? Mated a grands worth of Nikon to a junk-store lens, even played with a Diana (using 120mm roll film !!! – yeah and my band’s next single will not trouble the download charts for it is only available on wax cylinder – so send a postal order for 4 shillings and sixpence now to avoid disappointment!)? Having a “proper” camera with interchangeable lenses (I suspect like a lot of folks I went SLR>digital compact>DSL(R/T)) that does like everything has if anything made me want to go back to basics and really play. Seriously. Honestly I can say most of the 4000+ images recorded in the last few months have been on fully manual. I do though keep “face detection” on for a larf. It spooked (quite literally) the bejesus out of me in the Hagia Sofia. I was photoing a fresco of Christ and it clocked His visage. I didn’t know whether to be more awed by those Byzantines or the cunning chaps at Sony.

I dunno. I mean it’s like taking acceptable “snap-shots” is just too easy. It narks me. It does. You go anywhere fun and you see all these twats doing the “zombie” with an effing Christmas Cracker Samsung (also available in pink*) without a viewfinder (hence the “zombie”. It annoys me in places of worship in particular. Even with my old Kodak Z7590 I can take pictures without flash. Up the ISO, use the 2 second timer, secure it against shake. Wankers will be wankers though.

Anyway, rant off. Can I use junk-store lenses? It could be fun.

*That was a TESCO ad from last Crimble. A camera on a Christmas shopping list was specified as “Samsung” and “pink”. Nothing about zoom or megapixels, just “pink”. Cameras are black, silver or a combo or they are owned by Hello Kitty. The later is utterly theatrical gayness.


  1. Bill Sticker says:

    Junk store lenses? I suppose you can mate them to a digital SLR chassis if it’s a standard camera bayonet / camera thread style fitting. All you can do is take a measuring tape and thread gauge with you to check.

  2. Lynne says:

    If you can get a suitable adapter then yes, you can use old lenses. While focus and metering will be manual (absolutely nothing wrong with that), you’ll find that vintage lenses are far more robust than their modern equivalents.

    Go for it!

  3. Chuckles says:

    Owned a Spotmatic for many years, and loved it. I was heartbroken when some scrote nicked it while we were moving house.

    I’ve used very old Nikon prime lenses on Nikon D1 and D2 digital SLRs, and they all worked fine.
    Obviously lost all the automatic stuff that was lens based, but it went click, and produced a picture. This included a very bizarre document copy lens that was manual everything.
    Many of the second hand lenses I’ve seen floating around for a song, are actually very good lenses, it’s just that nobody wants them.

  4. gud says:

    I recently purchased a Lumix GH DSLR, which, when mated with an appropriate 3rd party adapter, allows allsorts of old SLR film-camera lenses to be utilised.
    Means i can at last, use my vintage Canon FD lenses which have sat redundant for near 25yrs (ever since Canon switched to their EOS system in 1987.)
    I have been waiting for this moment all my life!.. (well, not really. Just since they started producing DSLRs in the early 2000s)
    Bought loads of cheapo C-mount screw movie-camera/CCTV lenses too, some of which have ridiculously fast apertures… f/1.0 FFS!

  5. Roue le Jour says:

    Gonzo photography? Well, who hasn’t bodged a door viewer on to their camera body for ultra wide angle, eh? I know I have.

  6. NickM says:

    Some nameless cunt stole my Pentax Super-A. If I ever catch up with him there will follow a quite unusual article in a learned journal upon proctological matters. Although quite how one would remove part of the tripod from a 3.5″ Newtonian reflector from an arsehole is beyond my ken. And not just any Newtonian. This is a Sov-era Tal-Mizar. A heavy metal ‘scope. It came in a bloody big wooden box with stencilled burnt on Cyrillic. My Housemates (I was away when it was delivered) didn’t dare touch it. They thought I was building a small nuclear device out of the collapse of the Sov Empire. But then they were chemistry and med students so what did those poor blighters know?

    That’s the spirit! And that is something I love about digi-cams. Costs nowt to enfool oneself. That fundamentally is my prob with the Diana. Cheap as chips (£140 for the whole nine yards) but it needs processing. And that costs.

  7. Eddie Willers says:

    Like Chuckles, I have a Nikon DSLR and regularly mate it with Nikon AI (or other F mount lenses). I sometimes wonder about the strength of the body mount when it’s burdened with a Mir-Arsenal 8mm Fisheye (great, bulbous thing that it is) lens but it’s kind of fun.

    Last week, the DSLR was mated to a 2xTeleconverter and a Nikon Series E 150mm lens for some long distance work – all on full manual, naturally – at least one can bracket sufficiently to get good shots without having to worry about unit cost of each exposure and the image quality is 1000 times better using glass optics than digital zoom.

  8. NickM says:

    You do appreciate that everything you wrote could be read as utter filth to someone ignorant of cameras.

  9. Talwin says:

    NickM @ 11.39pm re Eddie’s comment.

    I am one such who is ignorant of cameras so can I just confirm what you said. Seems to me that to complete the picture Eddie need only have introduced the word ‘knob’ somewhere. For surely cameras still have them.

  10. NickM says:

    I am not aware of camera “knobs” though they do have “apertures”.

  11. Noel C says:

    My camera not only has a “knob” but a “mounting flange”. As for the original question, get yourself something like this

    and the wonderful world of M42 screw mount lenses will be usable. I had a massive 500 mm f8 russian telephoto mounted to my (then) modern Canon EOS. Was great fun, not only for the long distance shots you could get but also for the looks you got carrying it around, people kept thinking there was someone famous about and I was a paperazzi. It only cost me £30. Often wish I got the matching “rifle mount” setup, only I didn’t want to get shot by the police while walking through london with it….

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: