Hand me a hammer - modifying lenses.

Roller Derby photography is an expensive business, especially if you want to get clear, crisp images. Bad light and fast action means there’s no escaping the need for a camera that shoots at a high frame rate and some decent optics.

Sitting track-side at the World Cup I estimated that there must have been at least $300,000 worth of personal equipment scattered around the track. Money poured in by those that love the sport and love the challenge of trying to capture it.

But how can one get good shots on a budget?

One answer is approaching the sport from a different angle and capturing unique images utilising old manual focus lenses that can picked up pretty cheap.

The tools you'll need to modify and old manual focus lens.

This image of the auditorium was captured using an old PK (Pentax fit) Zenitar fisheye lens that I had knocking around, unused. At f2.8 images its captures are pretty mushy. Stopped down to f5.6 it sharpens up nicely. And at f5.6, even hand held, it’s possible to get good images at 1/15th of a second.

The auditorium at the World Cup.

Modifying it to fit a full-frame DSLR was a pretty simple process.

The first thing to do was to unscrew the plastic bayonet mount and the aperture leaver (5 screws in total). Then attach a PK to Canon adaptor which cost me about £6 from Amazon. That was it. Simple. Well nearly. Fitting it to the camera and looking through the view finder one could see severe vignetting on two sides from the fins on the front of the lens that the lens cap attaches to.

This being a well-built Russian lens, these fins are made of metal so it was necessary to file them down until no vignetting could be seen through the viewfinder. And then it was finished. About an hour’s work.

Researching the venue, I saw an opportunity, and packed the lens to get this one shot. Well worth the effort for a lens that otherwise would have been left to go dusty on a shelf. 


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