Allow me to introduce you to my favorite lens. This Canon lens uses the old style fd mount so it needs an adapter. It is fully manual. It’s a fisheye lens so it does not get every day use but that does not take away from the fun factor.
What makes this oddball lens my favorite?
First, it’s old. What stories could this thing tell? What has it seen during its lifetime? OK, I’m anthropomorphizing. I’m a writer, I get to do that.
Second, it was my Grandfather’s which adds to the connection.
Third, it has internal color filters. How cool is that? Take a shot, spin a dial on the body and take a shot that looks totally different. There are five filters inside this little gem and colors are fun to play with.
Fourth, it is manual, which means you gotta have some knowledge of what aperture is. This means you have to be one of the cool kids to get the most out of it. The flip side of this is that if you are not one of the cool kids, you get way more hands on learning on the way to being a cool kid. Like I did when I started using it. This one lens has taught me more about aperture than all the articles and books I have ever read put together. It forces me to look at the little light meter in the view finder. I can see the difference with each tactile and audible click of the selector.
Fifth, did I mention the colors? I like colors.
Sixth, because fisheye. For me, the fisheye effect does cool things to straight lines, bending them and making them do things straight lines are not supposed to do. This effect also encourages me to change my angle when taking a shot. With this lens I tend to get much closer to stuff. I get closer to the ground, closer to the action, and I start looking for different ways to look at the same thing.
Seventh, optics. This lens was made back before good enough was good enough. Pictures taken with this lens are almost always tack sharp and crystal clear. It can easily make me look better than I truly am. You have to love it for that.
Eight, colors are really neat.
Ninth, the field of view is great. When I back off and use this lens for a landscape shot, it packs a lot of space into the frame.
Tenth, it makes a good prop. For my short story Aware, I had this vision of an electric eye a la HAL from 2001 looking out from a pile of debris. The idea being that in the story a space ship hits a meteor in space and a robot becomes self aware in the process of making repairs. So I used the handy man’s secret weapon to attach a small flashlight to the back of the lens, selected the red filter, and ever so carefully stack a pile of various broken and worn out motorcycle and car parts around it. Voila! A computerized mechanical eye looking out from a broken space ship.
There you have it; ten reasons why an old, fixed zoom, manually operated lens is my favorite. If I had to sum all this up in one sentence it would be this: It’s a fun lens to play with.
And that’s what it’s all about.