Never enough light with Soligor zoom

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by joel.hunter, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    I have a Soligor 85-205mm f/3.8 macro that I'm mounting to my Olympus OM-1n. I've heard decent things about the lens and this one is in really good shape, but I can never get enough light to use it.
    On a bright sunny day, 400 speed film (fastest I can get under $20 a roll), maximum aperture, set at 85mm, with a full second of exposure - the light meter needle is sitting at rock bottom and photos will come out horrifically underexposed. The meter works great on my other lenses. Is this something I should expect from this lens or is something else weird going on with it?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Huh...sounds like the lens diaphragm might be malfunctioning. Can you peer through the front and see if thre iris is closed mostly? It sounds to me like the lens might be accidentally stuck with the iris closed down to f/22 or thereabouts. Something is VERY odd about this though: in bright sunlight, f/16 at ISO 400 film should give a good exposure at 1/400 second, according to the Sunny 16 Rule. The fact that a one-second exposure does not give a super-bright, over-exposed image is puzzling.

    You say the meter works with other lenses; but how do photos come out with other lenses? Is the shutter working properly? Does the camera take good photos with other lenses? Are the mirror and the shutter in proper synchronization? We need a few more details to cross-reference against, like how well the camera works. Is the lens clean and clear inside?
     
  3. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    I've never had luck with the sunny 16 rule, even on my 50mm f/1.8. Closing the aperture much beyond f/11 means shutters too slow for hand-held use. However, it still takes awesome pictures with both my other lenses (the 50/1.8 and 100/2.8). It's clean.
    The lens appears to function correctly - I can adjust the aperture and using the little aperture tab I can look down the lens and see it close to different diameters as it should. Lens is very clean and clear.
    It is quite a long lens and being a macro zoom I imagine it has a lot of elements, so I expected to have to bump the shutter speed down a couple stops, but nothing like this. How can I tell if the mirror and shutter are in sync? The camera produces good photos so I would assume they are.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  4. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  5. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    What I don't understand is I've been using a Vivitar 80-200 macro with 200 speed film just fine in cloudy conditions.
    And, even if I set the camera at 800, I'm still shooting at 1/4 or 1/8 with a wide open aperture just to get a decent exposure. That doesn't seem right to me.

    Edit: walked outside and tried with camera, changed aforementioned shutter speeds.

    Also, with customs, shipping, and exchange it comes out to $45 Canadian for one roll. For that much I can almost buy 10 rolls of UltraMax 400 36exp.
     
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  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    YES--something seems really WEIRD about this! I am at a loss. If the camera works well with other lenses, then one would assume the mirror and shutter are in good synch. If the camera works fine with the Vivitar 80-200mm macro zoom with 200 speed film, then something is really odd here. Bright sun, wide-open aperture, and 1/60 to 1/30 second makes no sense at all!
    ******

    I thought about this for a bit and re-read what you wrote in your OP. I am now wondering if the lens is actually connecting to the light metering system properly. A lens has to send the max-aperture signal to the camera, so the merter "knows" what f/stop is say, three clicks down from wide-open. Regardless: if the meter and lens are not communicating, that could affect the reading the meter thinks is proper.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  7. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    No clue. Maybe next time I am in Victoria, the nearest big city, I'll take the lens to a camera repair shop and have them look at it. I don't really get it. Oh well. It's almost like there is a neutral density filter inside the lens.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Is the lens clean and clear, or is it hazed up inside, or perhaps filled with fungus?
     
  9. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    Hmm. They communicate some, because the light meter will actually move. But, still, what the meter says seems to correlate with the produced image - I thought before that maybe the meter was lying to me, so I went out and took a bunch of photos with different settings and they're all underexposed to about the degree that the meter said they would be, so I'm not entirely sure about that. How could I tell for sure?
     
  10. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    It appears to be my clearest lens both on the front and rear elements, and looking through the camera.
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    My only thought is that the diapragm mechanism in the lens itself is not 100% properly functional, and that if you set the lens aperture ring to wide-oepn at f/3.8, that it is actually closing down to f/22 or so when the picture is taken. There could be a five and one-third or six and one-third differential between wide-open metering and the smallest aperture (depending on minaperture being f/22 or f/32). I am not sure how Oly works the diaphragm mechanism: perhaps the diaphragm actuation arm or pin or whatever is bent, OR the mechanism does not work?

    Do a test, and see for yourself if setting the lens to f/5.6 produces the same size aperture on multiple shots. Open the camera back, and shoot some blanks while holding the camera up to a window without film, and set the shutter to 1 second. Visually inspect to see that f/5.6 delivers the same-sized image for three frames, then close down to f/16, and see if it responds with a smaller hole.

    It's possible that the diaphragm mechanism in the lens is stopping down to a very small aperture, like f/16 or f/22, no matter what the "indicated" aperture is on the lens barrel. The fact that the meter itself seems to read "LOW" makes me think there's a problem with the lens, and how it is supposed to connect to the meter and possibly, also a diaphragm mechanism that is no longer working properly.
     
  12. joel.hunter

    joel.hunter TPF Noob!

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    There's a little arm on the back where the lens mounts that I assume the camera moves to operate the aperture. You can also move it by hand on the side of the lens. When I do that, the aperture seems to react properly, and the arm moves as it should. It does not look damaged. I'll try to do what you have described, if I understand correctly. I may also put the camera in bulb mode, look down the lens, and see what the aperture ring (referred to as the iris?) does. I can't see how the lens connects to the meter, I always thought that the meter simply sat in the body of the camera and reacted to the light that came through the lens, independent of it.
     

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