Recording the eclipse – Vivitar ‘legacy’ zoom on Olympus Pen E-PL3

I wasn’t prepared at all for the solar eclipse today, I had no no solar filters, but I decided to have a go at photographing phases of it for Menston where I live (53.8912° N, 1.7344° W) if the the weather allowed. In fact, I must be one of the few who was not complaining about the cloud cover: when there were breaks enough to see the sun/moon, the cloud layer provided enough of a ‘filter’ to allow photography except right at the end, when I had to abandon it. Not having a solar filter I did try a Wratten 88A IR filter but that was too dark to see what I was doing. All the pix are handheld with ISO set at maximum (12,800 ASA), lens set at f/32 and infinity of course, shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. A lot of noise at the maximum ISO but the aim of recording various phases achieved. During the final phase the cloud cover became too light so I abandoned as I didn’t want to damage either camera or my eyes.

I dug out a Vivitar zoom with a maximum focal length of 300mm (Contax/Yashica mount), added a Yashica 2x converter, giving me up to 600mm, so 1,200mm equivalent on the 4/3 Olympus Pen E-Pl3. I began with this, which filled the frame, but found it difficult to hold the camera steady enough to keep the sun/moon in the frame so reduced the zoom to about 250mm, giving me 1,000mm equivalent.

Vivitar 100mm - 300mm, f/5.6 - 6.7 zoom on Olympus Pen E-PL3. Lens set at about 250mm (500mm equivalent on 4/3 Olympus) for most shots, aperture at f/32.

Vivitar 100mm – 300mm, f/5.6 – 6.7 zoom on Olympus Pen E-PL3. Lens set at about 250mm (500mm equivalent on 4/3 Olympus – 1,000mm with 2x converter) for most shots, aperture at f/32. Photo on my ‘notebook’: Contax SL300R T*

With more time to prepare I could probably have done better but I’m happy that I managed to record the phases.

Much as I prefer photography on film, this little project illustrates the advantages of digital: I shot over 360 images to end up with the 14 shown here.

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