Well, apparently I haven’t gone completely insane OR lost the ability to meter a scene. It is the lens. J stopped by today to remove our superfluous ficus in the backyard so it can have a happier live feasting on spent grains and the remains of the hot liquor tank and providing him with ample shade in return. So of course I had to grab my camera. First exposure way WAY over exposed. I knew my exposure couldn’t have been that far off.
Other lenses are close at hand so I go back to my trusty old 50mm…same exposure…came out great. Took a closer look at the 28mm I had come to know and love. Pushed the iris lever fully open…and it stayed there. That’s not right, it should return back to it’s smallest opening (largest F stop.) Basically one I shot something at f2.8 the lens was staying at f2.8 until whatever was causing the iris to stick gave out. So my exposures were right – the camera just wasn’t giving me the exposure it thought it was.
I’ve had this happen before. On my original Minolta 7000 that my mom gave me. Just before I was due to head off to a week long Photojournalism workshop at Ball State. I had been saving up for the new 7xi but it wasn’t released yet. I ended up having to buy a 7000i because I needed something for the workshop while the 7000 was being repaired. That problem was actually in the camera, the actuator for the aperture lever was burned out – so the camera thought it was setting the iris to the proper size…but nothing was actually happening. My parents ended up helping me get a 7xi when they did come out. But by then I had become a huge fan of my 7000i, and unless I needed the wireless flash or higher shutter speed of the xi it usually stayed in my bag. The 7000i was a small light camera and a joy to hold and work with. The xi felt like a brick and had no form to it. Not nearly as pleasurable to hold and operate.
Finding the problem on the 7000 was much more difficult. For one thing I was less experienced so my initial suspicion was that I was making a mistake. There were also far more variables with me doing the development and printing as well. So it was a couple of weeks of lousy exposures before I finally decided to test the camera. Which itself took a couple rolls of film and extreme care in development to rule out any other possible problems. Even then it was had to tell what the problem was because it was intermittent and inconsistent – when it did work it didn’t do what it was supposed do and didn’t make the same error consistently either. But a roll of film all shot with the same settings on the camera but all different on the proof sheet was proof enough that something was very wrong.
This time thankfully the problem is just a lens that was recently given to me. So I’m not really out much more than a few photos. And the lens is still useful for times when I know I’ll only be shooting at f2.8 – as long as I treat it as a fixed aperture lens it will still be useful.