Pentax 110: The queen of a shitty system


My dear audience, your aging nerd is sometimes really baffled. Especially when it comes to totally unexpected results.
In this case, it’s the second smallest lens I own, a Pentax 110 lens. And by far the cheapest.
I just wanted to start a brutal but honest review of that thing, declaring it totally useless as it does not even work as a paperweight.
But then …

Let’s start from the beginning

As it seems to me, everybody is on the hunt today for old lenses. The prices even for mediocre consumer glass back from the 70ies is getting ridiculous. Lenses nobody with a little bit of change in the pocket would ever consider wasting valuable film too back then is hitting three digits now. To satisfy the desire for some new old shards on the high-end body, the way into obscure brands and makes seems to be the only way forward. Or, in this case, a weird model by a great brand.

Sometimes, someone, somewhere: why?

Sometimes in the late-seventies, someone at Asahi Pentax had the semi-brilliant idea to target a very underrated part of the entry-level and consumer market. Somewhere in between disposable film-with-lens crap and lowest end plastic boxes with a glass-covered hole in front of an ugly brick-like thing, there was the 110 film format. Roughly half the size of full-frame (and far away from the similar-sized micro-four thirds of today), this so-called pocket format promised nothing but kept even less. The films (I hardly remember if they were different ones available at all, and I owned one these audacities) came in a plastic cassette and were of terrible quality. So were the pictures. Blurry, weird colors, distorted, simply a waste of money and resources.
But they were small, cheap, very easy to handle. They fulfilled the job every mobile phone does today ten times better: a camera for the handbag or trouser pocket. In Germany, they were sold as a kind of predecessor of the dashcam in a box for the glove compartment to take some pictures as proof in case of a car accident.

Pentax 110: the goddess of a shitty format

seventies goddess of the 110 format

Ok, that was the state of the system. Until Pentax stepped in and presented the 110. Ladies and gentlemen, clap your hands for the second and last 110 SLR ever built – right after Minolta presented their even weirder 110 Zoom SLR without interchangeable lenses. It looked like an early Sony digital cam after been hitten by a truck. As I don’t own it and honestly not intend to do so,  back to the famous Pentax 110:
The thing came with 3 lenses and an electronic flash in a nice box. It’s tiny, unbelievable. tiny. It really got a mirror, a viewfinder, batteries, even a rudimentary exposure control with LEDs. A miniature version of the trusty Pentax K mount on top. It is by far the best 110 camera, ingenious, sturdy, a gem.

And well, it swallows those 110 films which are still produced. By Lomo, who else?

So Pentax shoved that fantastic looking tiny little camera in the market. And the market burped.
Every technical aspect of it couldn’t prevent it from doing what it did: it produced the same shitty photos as every other 110, simply because the films were bad, the negative size too small and the whole system a complete failure.
So was the 110 and it was discontinued during the eighties.

End of the story? Nope!

Most fairytales of industrial misconceptions end here or a step further in some dump. But not the story of the Pentax 110. Somehow lots of it managed to avoid becoming a vital part of the recycling process. They survived in wardrobes, basements, boxes with old photos, and circled in a sad spiral around thrift shops, flea markets, and eBay.
They would have done that maybe until the end of time – but a few years ago, mirrorless cameras started to grow up and got ready to give the DSLRs the final blow. This leads us to the beginning of my little ranty review of the – ah, I didn’t even mention it before, did I – Pentax 110 1:2.8 18mm. It seems that for a while, every YouTuber who reviews vintage lenses fell in love with these tiny little things. So of course I needed to get my hands on some, simply to understand the hype. And I was gobsmacked as I saw the biddings on eBay. Honestly, people. 50 to 100 Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling for something like that? Not to mention that an adapter for an m4/3 is around 30 Euro, at least on Amazon. Mine came from Shanghai for a fraction by the way. After I got the first 110 lense.

eBay wonderland

Sometimes, but really only sometimes, one can get lucky on eBay. So did I. I got a box full of old 49mm filters (most likely for a Pentax 50mm) and some Pentax lens hoods which I was after, for 3 Euro plus some change for shipping. I opened the box and the first thing I saw was an empty 110 lense box. These were made from transparent plastic, more or less like a cheese bell. And in midst of the chunk, there it was: the 18mm lens in all its fixed aperture greatness. With a flexible lens hood. I assume the seller simply thought it’s another weird filter and dropped into my order.
So I got the lense. A quick research led me to an adapter from Shanghai for under a tenner.
Some weeks later, here I am. With an adapter, another 110 lense and the camera itself. For 9 Euro, but that’s a story for another day.

Hyper, hyper, Pentax 110?

So I screwed adapter and lens on my old Olympus epl7 which I always use for tests.
The first impression: OMG, it looks hilarious.
The second impression; WTF?!?
The focus is a nightmare, infinity is somewhere in the middle of the scale.
The results? Well, if you’re into street photography and manage to sell your shots as “inspired by french expressionists” or a massive fan of lomo-looks, you will be happy.
If you look for something decent – look elsewhere. The colour rendering is very soft, the sharpness is a joke and black and white is more or less a symphony in undefined greys.

Ok, I’m sounding harsh. but honestly: I don’t understand the cult. Don’t get me wrong: the results are not exceptionally bad, there are worse. And these tiny little glasses make a small mirrorless look gorgeous. But that’s it.

So I thought.

Film changes everything or at least a lot.

This afternoon when I just was to start this blog, I played around with some balance settings on my Lumix G7 which I use for my “home studio”. Somehow, I don’t know why I mounted this tiny abomination on my G7 and tried it.
I was very positively surprised. Really, I was.
My standard lens for my shots on my desk is a Panasonic 14-45. Nothing special, I know, but it does the job. I record with OBS in 1080, the light is balanced, YouTube compresses it even further… so no real big deal. The setup may be questionable but it’s mine and I like it.
Anyhow: the Pentax mini lens was a big surprise. It’s suddenly crisp and clear, the colour rendering works a treat for Cinelike D with reduced contrast.

A match made in heaven?
Maybe. Not sure yet, it will need some further tests.
But for now, it saves the Pentax 110 from being boxed again.
It deserves a closer look, that’s for sure.

Thoughtful revelations of an aging nerd


When I started my YouTube channel at the beginning of the lockdown, I had no idea where it will go. It was a platform for me to try out things – and ultimately find out if I want to create content again. After so many years without focused creativity, it was something I had to check. The urge got stronger and stronger over the last two or so years – but the virus was a starter. It forced me to take the time and it forced me to rethink some aspects of my life.
Or at least to finally get up and do something.

Here I am, five months later

I started into my lockdown aka self-isolation early in March after the first case of potential COVID occurred in such a fashion that it could have been a chain of contacts straight up to me. Working for a small company, I didn’t want to risk anything for my colleagues and so I left office on Monday morning “for a few days” until the test results of the person are clear.
Oh, so little did I know. Still working at home nearly half a later, everything has changed.

Overcoming the depression

I guess we all have to cope with several circumstances from inconvenient to frightening. Weird situations like the short supply of toilet paper at the beginning and absurd discussions about masks now. One thing for sure: it’s time to face that there will be no “back to normal”. Either there will be a cure, a vaccine, or not – this virus changed the world already. The lifestyle we considered to be “normal” over the last decades was changing anyhow. Now we are on fast forward. Sure, many of the changes are severe and far away from desirable. The economic impact is devastating. The idea, that a night out in club maybe just gone forever makes me shiver. The distance between people, especially to risk group members, the elderly, parents, and so on is saddening. Time is flying by, the time we could have spent together.
All of that made me depressed. The Corona-blues got real.
But I got over it.

Back to creativity

For me, creativity was always the way out of the blues. Creating gives me the feeling of having at least some control. And it helps to keep my shit together, as simple as that.
So I started to experiment as I did 40 years ago when I got my first camera and used black & white enlarger. As I wanted to get into photography and especially video again before, I had some relicts of manic Amazon shopping tours ready to be used.

Creativity always comes with cut fingers

With thirty years of experience in media production – what could possibly go wrong?
Well, what not? A long phase of trial and error followed several cuts in my fingers, lots of slurs I do not want to repeat to you, my esteemed audience.
Watching a YouTube tutorial “how to put up the perfect YouTube desk” is one thing.
Doing it is something completely different.
Every room is different, everybody got a different approach.
And different resources. Mine is limited, so that’s where creativity starts to get crucial.

I don’t want to bore you out of your mind with my several attempts to get the camera configuration, the light, and all the rest to match with the realities of available space and money. All I can advise you if you want to go down that path is to buy a big bag of camera and tripod screws before you buy anything else. You’ll need them.

There is no way to get around a proper setup, at least not for me

As desk building is not especially my fetish, I did of course lots of things in between. Went out shooting, made videos. Without any clear red line but with a very steep learning curve instead.
That was good fun. But it lacked something: structure.
I realized that I need structure and a motto for my channel, a bracket to keep things together.
Simply to build an audience. Which will ever subscribe to a channel without any concept?
Well, I would certainly not.
So with the iteration of my desk, I have now – it won’t be the last, be assured of that – of a sudden, I also got the inspiration for the motto and the purpose of my channel. Maybe it was the peace of mind, I don’t know.
The “why” is not important – the “how” is.

Pictures are forming on their own

Yesterday I sat down at my desk after several hours of fumbling, huffing, and puffing, searching for items to fix stuff and build a usable camera and light stand.

It was the first time I was really happy with cable management, the position of everything, the light, the sound. But I had no backdrop. Just a white wall, and as everybody – ok everybody on the YouTube guru channels – say, that that’s a bummer for every channel … well, I needed a backdrop. An eyecatcher. Something to give meaning and depth.
After considering the backs of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Goethe I decided to for something a bit more “me”. But who am I?
Well, a nerd over 50 with some weird aspects of her taste. Like 50ies and 60ies b-movie posters, the aesthetics of pulp covers and early science fiction magazines.
So, I asked Uncle Google for inspiration and Uncle delivered.
I played around, Illustrator here and Photoshop there.
The picture of what I want to deliver to the masses started to form in my mind as the graphic on the screen started to form and clarified more and more.

My motto: Revelations of an aging nerd

Yes, I am over 50. And the fact that I got a rough idea of why people age doesn’t prevent me from doing so. Some may say, I’m generation X. Well, whatever. I still know how to spin a cassette tape with a pencil to save batteries for the Walkman. And I’m full of disgust for people who make memes from that, pretending they’re somehow superior over kids how never had to do it. Honestly, it was a pain in the ass. I would have given happily my left leg for an MP3 player in 1980.
I’m still curious, maybe even more than ever. I praise every day for the marvels of the level of communication and availability of knowledge we have today.
Even with Facebook. And Telegram.

I assume that there are many people like me out there. Having grown up with Tron and Cyberpunk. Tanned in the cathode rays of CRT-monitors. Formed by endless attempts to log into AOL and CompuServe. We have seen the birth of the yuppies from the side, the rise of the Palms, the coming and going of so many technologies and gadgets. But we are still here, we outlived Blackberry and Nokia and even survived the compact disk.
And now we’re going back to the moon, we shot a photo of a black hole, we watched the icy planes of Pluto and we will have a drone flying on Mars.
Elon Musk manages to build a factory in Germany in a year. Somebody who can do that – for my non-German readers: that’s a real big thing! – will colonize Mars, Europa, or the belt.

So I guess I’m not alone with my life somewhere between Corona, aging, and my childish enthusiasm for all these things to come.
And that is what I want to share with you, my esteemed audience: the fun of getting older in times like these. Ok, and the downsides. But forget about them, it’s, after all, a great time to live in. Just say Paracetamol

Have a great time, stay safe – and consider visiting me on YouTube. It is work in progress, I know, but so is everything else on this planet.

A lovely summer sunrise in Munich


Sunday morning, oh mystical morning, the day you finally can stay in bed …
Or get up at 4:45, force down a cup of coffee, and get your gear ready.
Any option is great – but only one gets you those fantastic shots in the golden morning light, nice memories, and fresh bread rolls on the way home.
That’s sunrise in Munich to me.

Driving towards the sunrise in Munich

Munich is roughly divided by its river, the Isar. The river slices through city centre quite exactly from north to south. As I live in the south next to the river and the Isar has dug their bed over the centuries, it’s not too easy to get the first glimpse of the sun coming out everywhere. It would be quite over the top to call Isar’s bed a canyon, but the fact is: until the sun reaches the water it has already moved several degrees over the horizon. So the way to get the first sun rays nearly parallel is going north.

Go North, it’s bright up there

Munich is not exactly a massive metropolitan area, and the inner city is even less. But 7 kilometers in the chill morning air were quite helpful to wake up. Even more, as I made a lovely discovery on the way: Munich’s Department for Arts and Culture sponsored the installation “Bridge Sprout” by the Japanese architecture office Bow-Wow. A half-bridge over the Isar, opening new and previous unseen perspectives. I really enjoyed the view – and especially the smell of fresh wood!
More info on that

Installation “Bridge Sprout” by Japanese architectural office Bow-Wow at Isar


View south up river from the installation “Bridge Sprout”

Passing Deutsches Museum, the parliament of Bavaria and Friedensengel, I finally arrived at the famous Englischer Garten. Not only well known as one of the world’s largest inner-city garden structures, but it’s also a stunning beautiful air refresher for the permanently traffic-jammed city. Granted it’s not really loud so early on a Sunday morning, but as soon as one leaves the street, calm is the main feeling.

Litter in paradise

The Englischer Garten is in these early hours of the day a wonderland. Soft mist over the meadows, ducks having breakfast, only a few joggers on the paths. The brooks still in the deep shadow of the willows, a place of peace.
Only a few hours before there must have been a totally different kind of punters. Lots of bottles, tetra packs, plastic bags, and other litter are clear proof of the nightly parties going on here. Gardeners are shifting like ghosts through the mist, clearing a load of filth left. Sad to see, I guess it is completely unnecessary. No problem with partying, but people, just take your waste with you.

The silent witnesses of a hard night: litter all over the place

The beauty of the Garden

I guess there’s not much to say – enjoy as I did.




Lake in the morning glow

Another highlight is the “Kleinhesseloher See” located in the middle of the garden. During the day mostly populated by rowing boats, during the early hours, it’s all birds.
These family of ducks is taking breakfast. Only the baby of the family seems still a bit afraid of water.

A duck family in their nest in the lake


So after all: a fantastic morning, worth every second of getting up so early.
I hope you enjoyed it, please leave your comments and visit my YouTube channel.

Munich flood after the 2020 summer rain in a beautiful vintage lens


A few days of heavy rain often have some severe effect on Munich’s river Isar: high levels and flood.
Munich is situated at the end of a large bed of gravel which results from glacier movements during the last ice age.
Massive rain in the bavarian alps always leads to a swelling of the main river which transports the waters down – the Isar.
After the Sylvenstein barrier was completed in the 1950ies, the danger of the real Munich flood was banned.
Nevertheless, the sudden swelling of the Isar is still an impressive sight.

Munich flood in August

After some heavy showers and thunderstorms, Munich’s officials decided to block some of the benches of the Isar around the 5th of August 2020.
The local press decided to exaggerate the story slightly. As it happens, I live very close to the river – but didn’t notice anything.
Reading online that Munich had turned into some kind of dystopian nightmare, I decided to have a closer look.
Of course, I took my camera with me – and my Helios 44. This Russian vintage 58mm prime lens is known for its bokeh.

But that was not what I was after. I wanted to test its available light capabilities and video looks. So I went on my e-scooter down to the river.
And guess what I found? Water. Lots of it, but the scene was far from wastelands. Or was it?

Shocking only the absence of any social distancing

Crowds everywhere, people enjoying the evening sun, party feeling. Which would be perfectly ok, if we wouldn’t face rising infection rates again.
But what should I do? Taking it as it is I decided to keep my personal safety space and do what I came for.
So enjoy the pictures and the video of the “Munich flood”.
Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Thanks and stay safe.