bower 14mm f/2.8 super ultra wide for pentax

i bought a bower 14mm f/2.8 for pentax  DSLR. it was the cheapest fastest wide angle around. made in korea. which korea isnt specified.

it is a well made lens. all metal with rubberized focusing ring. very heavy. the good, lack of vignetting, has auto aperture setting (nikon and canon specific mounts are fully manual aperture). this specimen appears to be afocal. the manual focus ring goes from infinity to 0.28 meter.

the bad? it is very difficult to determine proper focus. a wall 7 feet away was in focus when the focus ring was set at 3 feet. the camera focus beep and red highlight seemed to trip at any focus setting.

i did a number of  standard tripod mounted snapshot series at different focus settings and aperture settings. when focused correctly this glass is a decent performer. i determined this by viewing at 300% magnification.

my tests showed that this specimen has infinity at the 2.5 meter setting. as i mentioned 7 feet is 3 feet. this is neither her or there.

for giggles and laffs i did a series of test shots with a sigma 28-200mm zoom at 28mm. sigma lenses are over rated and over priced. sigma lenses are a great bargain on the second hand market. if you can get them cheap they are a good value. i would never buy one brand new.

i found the bower 14mm f/2.8 to be as good as the sigma. it’s not a fair comparison. fixed vs zoom, ultra wide vs “normal” at 28mm. still, the bower was better wide open than the sigma. stopped down the sigma had the edge.

both lenses are high definition but low resolution. this on a 6 mega pixel d100.

the bower is cheap, below $300. after i calibrate the focusing ring in real life situations i expect to get some really good pix. the wide angle lens has lots of perspective distortion. any wide would. although the box sez fish eye, it is free of curved line distortion. it has minimal chromatic fringing.

the example i have has freedom of ghosting and flare. resolution is very even from center to edge. this is a trade off. no doubt, center is soft. 300% magnification reveals that. fine detail is muddled all over, no matter what i set the focusing ring at the center never sharpened up. but the corners were no worse! in that respect, coupled with lack of vignetting and high distortion correction, i say the lens is a winner.

i have an inexpensive (~ $300) 8mm f/3.5 fish eye. it is soft on the edges and exhibits slight vignetting and pronounced chromatic aberration. it has lots of distortion also. but that is “fun” with fish eye. the bower being a stop faster and rectilinear makes it a wide angle for serious landscaping and cityscaping.

right off the bat the bower isnt suited to cropping. maybe from 3:2 to full frame 4:3 or even 16:9. i could then see resizing to a smaller file for web posting. with reduction and unsharp masking the results are impressive.  who would use a wide angle to do zoom cropping?

i would have liked to spring for a 10mm fixed wide brand name with full auto focus and aperture control but the price would have doubled or more.

the test series i did on a tripod with aperture wide open to shut down varying shutter for exposure. when i did a few flash shots the lens seemed much sharper at the same f/stops. of course an external flash is necessary. the on camera flash is partially obstructed by the large barrel and lens shade which casts a shadow.

this example seems much sharper at close focusing distances than the infinity target. it has internal focusing which means the lens doesnt change exterior length from near to far. a wide angle of the focal length has lots of native depth of field. i would imagine with a f/22 or f/16 setting the lens would be parfocal and never having to adjust focus.



honeywell pentax sp 500

when i wuz a lad back in high skool i wanted to by a 35mm SLR. not having a job wuz a big problem becuz they were $200 or more. during the first half of the 1970’s that was like a month wages for some. as an example, my first job after high skool wuz making $5.50/hr and i thought that wuz a huge amount of money.

i could afford to buy photo magazines and read reviews and look at ads and daydream. all the photo mags were just a buck. i blew my allowance once a month on the latest mags, popular photography and modern photography.

i read a review about the honeywell pentax sp 500. it wuz a cheaper model of the popular (at the time) honeywell pentax. the only difference wuz that the sp 500 had a top shutter speed of 1/500 second compared to the usual 1/1000 second.

it wuz an interesting feature dat the shutter selection dial had a click at where the 1/1000 would be on a normal camera. all the reviews sed that you could select that position and the camera would work. the manufacturer sed dat they do not guarantee any reliable shutter speed at the selection. so the reviews panned the camera in dat respect but sed it wuz a bargain none the less for folks who wanted to save $50. you must understand dat $50 represented a week’s pay for lots of folks so it wuz sort of a big deal.

this review i read in the early 70’s. some time later after i had a decent job in the  early 90’s i saw a used one for sale in a camera store. that wuz a specialty store that catered to photography enthusiasts. i paid $100 for it which wuz $50 off the original price. it looked brand new and wuz fully functional and camera wiff the standard 50mm f/2 lens. i tried to bargain with the clerk becuz the previous owner etched hiz name the top metal covering to the right of the eyepiece, “bob & lois r—-o”. no dice, wouldnt negotiate. this camera is all metal. it is heavy.

well, i still got it, it bean 2015. i tuk it out today, middle of feb, during an extreme low temperature event. single digits have a way of freezing consumer grade electronic cameras. the battery may lose power or the memory card may fail to function. i didnt want to take my $500 DSLR out and subject it to 50 mph wind driven snow or the extreme cold.

the sp 500 cranked for the first 20 exposures but then the mirror locked up and would not return on about 5 exposures. i had to re cock the camera (advance the film) and take another photo. then it worked every time. i used 200 ISO color negative film and f/16 @ 1/500. the sp-500 is fully mechanical. it has a match needle exposure system. a needle is deflected by turning the aperture ring and or the shutter dial until it ends up in the middle of a notch.

i didnt bother becuz it wuz sunny and bright. i also had a sears 28mm f/2.8 why dangle lens on it (all metal with a rubberized focus ring). i picked dat up real cheap at another camera store. you dont see many local camera store any more. big cities like NYC have  some super store mail order outfits which i aint goan to name right now. back in the day film photography wuz such a big deal dat even sears offered it’s own after market lenses for popular cameras.

the sp-500 wuz last of the pentax screw mount lenses. during this time frame other manufacturers started offering bayonet type mounts which are quick on/off changing. pentax eventually came out with their “k” mount bayonet. except for pentax branded lenses i noticed the after markets never ended up with the index marks aperture and focus at top. usually ended up too much to left or right. another big ambiguity was how much to tighten the screw mount. ape it on? just slightly more than snug? mebbe jest till it ever so slightly reaches end of travel?

lots and lots of cheap used lenses were to be had in the screw mount. i have a couple for a complete system.

of course the disadvantage of film is dat one haz to bring it to a processor to get it developed and printed. many drugstore chains still 1 hour film developing. then one haz to scan the film to get a digital file for use on computer and internet. times such as when the mirror locks up leaves one to determine the functionality of the camera until after developing. it was between 8 and 12 degrees F. later after it warms up i’ll burn the the rest of the roll to see it it will lock up at room temps. not too shabby for a device dat id 45 yeers old.


i shot the rest of the film and ran through a number of cycles with the camera empty and the back door open at room temps. it worked 100% and the shutter ran at different speeds depending on the dial settings. that is to say it looked slower at 1/30 than it did at 1/500. it could have been the lens. it has a pin on it that closes the iris. that could have hung the camera up, although it worked at room temp. suffice it to say, i think the extreme cold effected the mechanism. perhaps i should have run through a few cycles with the camera empty before i went out to lube it up. the problem is that i seldom use it and it had film in it. this time i left it empty. before i load it up i’ll just run a few cycles on it.

a pal of mine gave me another pentax screw mount camera before i got this one. it wuz a black pro model. it had the stuck mirror problem. the black plating wuz worn and it look like it tuk a beating. mebbe it had many cycles on it and it could have been dropped. i trashed it. it’s come to that. no one shoots film any more. you cant sell these cameras, no market. they end up bean given away. if yur lucky they work.

of course i tuk it apart. it is full of gears just like the “The Antikythera Mechanism” except smaller. i guess dat if the chassis that all the gear pins line up on gets warped the gears dont mesh proper. dirt or moisture at low temps can freeze up the gear train. the manufacturer must have had special tooling and fixtures to assemble and repair these babies. it is a testimonial to the design and engineering dat they can still function after all these yeers. i suspect dat the model i bought wuz used lightly if not at all. this  happen becuz even back then the price of film and developing wuz a large part of the expense. plus all the dials and focusing required some knowledge and skill to use. cheap cameras with a fixed lens and shutter were used more often. fully automatics which were available just a little later shunted these more complex cameras to closets.



life hack feb 15

where i live, the grape state of new jerky, pigsack county, white milf, we iz getting clobbered wiff tons of snow and bitter cold. single digits, zero or minus for a week or so. it haz happened before and most likely happen again. still it aint “normal” what ever dat may be.

regular cold weather gloves are often inadequate. mebbe becuz one doesnt purchase special gloves for use on the world’s highest peak or at the south pole. a simple trick to help protect yur handz is just to put on disposable gloves first then regular gloves over that. i use the blue gloves but white latex will work just as well. make sure you get the right size. snug not sloppy or tight to be on comfortable.

the disposable glove is a vapor barrier. it blocks the effects of wind chill. it provieds extrs insulation effect of the type afforded by the scuba outfit. an added benefit is that the over gloves can be removed to fiddle with keys or some other device such as a camera and yur handz dont get frost bite.

today it wuz about 8 degrees up to 13 and now 8 degrees (F). i shoveled snow and then tuk an hour walk around my section of town to take some photos.

i had no discomfort or numbing of fingers or thumbs. however when i went inside and removed the disposable gloves my handz were soaked. i didnt notice this when out and about. the blue gloves seem some what sturdy compared to plain latex and i used the same pair twice and plan to use them again.

iffen you dont bleev me jest try it yurself. i’ll warrant you’ll use dis life hack every time.

i do not own or have investments in disposable glove sales or manufacturing.

the get backers


jap anime. yesh. forget hollow wood. the newest meme is “the get backers”. it reminds me of “cowboy bebop”. excellent character development and story line. it does get darker and edgier as the episodes go on. has fantasy super powers. not as kinky as some jap fair. i highly recommend it.


i bought a canon powershot g15. i waited for the g16 to come out. identical except the g15 DOES NOT have wifi. it wus discounted being discontinued.

g15 haz 5x f/1.8-f/2.8 zoom lens. 12 megapixels. full manual mode. aluminum body. it takes great photos. the photos are better than any other point and shoot i own. of course DSLRs i own do much better but they have bigger chips and when i got the DSLRs new they cost almost double what the g15 did.

the g15 is small but not too small. it would fit in a coat pocket. it is light weight. the only disadvanage it has is the short zoom. i have point and shoots with longer zooms, smaller, lighter and well, crappier.

i bought the g15 because of it’s fast lens. canon makes a tele converter for the g15. it is the TC-DC58E. it discounts these days for a little under $180. an earlier powershot, the g12 has a tele converter the TD-DC58D. it discounts for under $100.

i did some research. on line retailers show both models. the look exactly the same except for the designation.

i bought the conversion lens adapter barrel, that was cheap, about 35 bucks. i bought it from one retailer and the tele converter from another.

the “D” tele converter works on the g15 without a hitch. i saved myself 80 bucks. pretty slick, huh?

this add on is of the highest optical quality. it makes the 5x a 7x. of course when you zoom out you get the stove pipe effect. it is ideal for concerts and zoos and other public events when getting close is not practical. it is all plastic housing for light weight. it doesnt add much to the g15 and handles well.

other after market tele converters of higher magnification are available for about the same price to much more. reviews are spotty on them. i am glad i bought the TC-DC58D.