“It’s stuck!!!”

When I get new camera equipment, whether it be a camera, a lens, or some film, I want to take it out and experiment with it.  I go to one of my photographic “honey hole” locations – somewhere in the North Country, somewhere in the Warehouse District, places where I feel that I can get the most bang for my buck.

Such was the case with a new lens acquisition, a MC MTO 1100mm Soviet mirror lens that promised to bring me super-sharp long-distance photos.  I needed this lens for a special photo project this winter; I’ve heard that in order to preserve the population of bald eagles in the Adirondacks, animal carcasses are left on the ice near the Conklingville Dam for the eagles to consume.  Man, I would love to get a winter shot of bald eagles in the Adirondacks, and this lens could be my ticket to that achievement.

And the MC MTO 1100mm lens should allow me to photograph the eagles from a conservative distance.  No need to make the eagles nervous.

Okay, let’s test this bad boy out.  I took the lens and my Nikon Df camera up to the North Country, over to the lower reservoir in Corinth.

I stood at one side of the lower reservoir and set up my camera gear.  First, a test shot to show you where I stood.  This was taken with a 28mm lens.

treeline

Then I swapped out the standard lens for this MT MCA 1100mm mirror lens.

How big is this lens?

It’s THIS big.

mirrorlensmount
That little thing on the back of the mirror lens? Yeah, that’s my camera.

Yes, that’s the lens.  Yes, it’s heavy.  At least eight pounds.   Eight very heavy pounds.  In fact, I have to attach a tripod mount to the lens itself.

So now that this mirror lens is attached… let’s see what it can do.

These next three shots were taken while I was on one side of the reservoir … and I’m shooting to the other side.

treelineplus

stump

branches

Sweet tapdancing Jesus, this thing works!  Oh man, I can’t wait to photograph those eagles in winter… yes, everything’s working out great.

Okay, I have to take care of other things today, so it’s time to disassemble my setup.  Just press the button on the Df to release the lens from the chassis, and …

And …

And …

Something’s wrong.  The lens isn’t separating from the camera.

Huh?

Wha?

I’m rotating and rotating the lens, but it’s simply spinning in the mount like a ball bearing.

Come on, you…

Come loose…

It’s not coming apart.

Ugh.

I carried the camera-and-lens combination – which was now too big to fit in any of the camera bags or lens cases, and had to be carried by hand back through the woods – back to my car.

Eventually I was able to remove the lens by disassembling its mount with a jeweler’s screwdriver.  It was only then that I realized that the adapter that connected the lens to the camera was a cheap Chinese connector.

I quickly checked the Df by attaching a trusted lens to the mount.

All worked well.

Whew.

So now I have to get this new mirror lens fixed.  It needs an adapter to convert it for Nikon use.  And apparently the adapter that came with this beast was a cheap knockoff of a knockoff.  Not acceptable.

But I have time.  It’s not winter yet.

I’ll take the lens to my camera teach, Allen at CameraWorks in Latham, and see what kind of magic he can perform on the mount.

Because if I can get those sharp pictures from the other side of a reservoir… with a faulty mount…

Imagine what I will achieve once that mount is secure and stable.

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4 thoughts on ““It’s stuck!!!””

  1. Most of these type of lenses are T-mount. Based on your description that you had to use a jeweler’s screwdriver, the problem might be with the set screws on the T-mount adapter. Before you search for a new adapter make sure you’re got those set screws in place.

    Anyway, these long lenses are fun. Is this a 550mm with a converter? I haven’t seen many true 1100mm lenses. I could never get used to the “donut bokeh” of the mirror lenses, though there was a photo on the wall of Albany Center Gallery at one point that used it to good effect on water.

    And to go with the “photos of unreasonably large lenses” theme: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bvcphoto/5711706790/

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    1. No, this lens is straight 1100mm. I am getting a new M42 to Nikon F mount anyway, because the inside of the mount (after removing it from the camera with the jeweler’s screwdriver) contained lots of metal shavings. Not good for the inside of a camera.

      And yes, one of my goals with this lens – if at all possible – is to get those feeding bald eagles on the ice near Conklingville Dam in the winter. That will be an amazing shot if I can pull it off.

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      1. Yikes. The lens is advertised as M42? It’s possible to crossthread an M39 lens on an M42 adapter (and vice versa) which would definitely get stuck and grind away the threads.

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        1. Right. Now you know what I’m up against. I’m almost tempted to get a working adapter and just bolt this thing to my Nikon EM film camera and leave it there.

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