The little red lens that travels

This is an interesting little project that happens via Facebook - a cheap Pentax lens (currently a small, red 18-55mm kit lens) is posted from photographer to photographer around the world, and the resulting images are shared.

The lens has visited more than 30 people so far - and counting! Although, I should be honest and say it's not the first lens. This little red lens that could is the fourth - the first was stolen, the second got dropped and the third disappeared into the world's postal systems and never reappeared.

I collected the lens from a bar in central London - a surreal experience - but a delight to meet another Pentax user.

The first set of images I took were from Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire. There was no particular theme, just a few shots as I explored the grounds and museum and got used to the lens.

Part of the adventure of the travelling lens is that it's a very cheap one - partly so that it doesn't matter if it goes missing or gets damaged, but also because there's creative opportunities to working within the restrictions of the tool.

For such an inexpensive lens, it performs admirably - focussing was sharp and fast, and whilst all cheap zooms (soft at the extremes of zoom and aperture) it was a perfectly good lens.

There are always compromises with optics, and whilst you can diminish these by spending money, it's often not practical to do so. Cheaper lenses might be softer, suffer from chromatic abberation (coloured fringing in areas of high contrast) or lack contrast, but they'll also likely have sweet spots where they perform really well. On the whole, this lens performs exactly as you'd expect a zoom lens in this price range to. Decently, but not excellently. But it's bright red, and that's got to count for something, right?

You can find out more, see photographs from other photographers, and indeed sign up to take part yourself on the Facebook group Pentaxians Sans Frontiers.

This is the first in a series of four posts following my adventures with the travelling lens. See more on the series page.