I've become a compulsive experimenter: Homemade (DIY) lenses in particular, but also infrared photography, astrophotography, very long exposure, tilt-shift, pinhole, in-camera textures, light painting, camera movement, physiograms, Photoshop effects, and even some lensless photography. There's just not enough time.

Your feedback on my images is very important to me. Please tell me what you think works, and just as importantly, please tell me what you think does not work. Please tell me if you think I'm doing something interesting. Or don't be afraid to say, "This is the same old thing. It's time to move on, John."

But it's not all about my work. If you're doing something out of the ordinary, lead me to it.

Although it's definitely not about the gear, I suppose this is the place to list the inventory:

Large Format
Kodak Master View Camera (4 x 5)
Homemade 8 x 10 / 4 x 5

Bodies (medium format)
Graflex Pacemaker 23 Speed Graphic (6 x 9 on 120 film)
Pentacon six (6 x 6 on 120 film)

Bodies (35mm)
Nikon F3
Nikon F
Nikon FE2 (it just never fails me)

Bodies (digital -- crop-sensor)
Nikon D80 (got it off Craiglist from an ad for a broken camera. Fixed it.)
Nikon D90 (converted it to full-specrum)
Nikon D100 (purchased for infrared photography)
Canon EOS digital rebel XT (used for testing my Canon-mount tilt lenses)

Bodies (digital -- mirrorless)
Sony Nex-6 (super short flange-to-focal-plane distance)

Bodies (digital -- full-frame)
Nikon D600 (finally! full-frame digital)

Lenses -- crop-sensor
Nikkor 18-55 mm f/ 3.5-5.6G VR (very rarely used.)
Nikkor 18-105 mm f/ 3.5-5.6G ED (got it broken. Fixed it.)

Lenses -- full-frame
Nikkor 24-85 mm f/ 3.5-4.5G ED
Vivitar 17-28 mm f/ 4.0-4.5 (wide, full-frame, manual focus zoom.)
Vivitar 19 mm f/ 3.8 (not super sharp, but decent. Also, it will focus to about 6 inches.)
Nikkor 24 mm f/ 2.8 AI (if I was allowed to have only one of my lenses, this would be it.)
Nikkor 28 mm f/ 3.5 (H) (Hack-job AI conversion. I haven't used it much yet.)
Nikkor 35 mm f/ 2 AI
Nikkor 50 mm f/ 1.4 AI (not as sharp as I would like, but when I need f/ 1.4, this is it.)
Nikkor 50 mm f/ 1.8 AIS (small, light, convenient)
Nikkor 50 mm f/ 2 AI (great lens)
Nikkor 55 mm f/ 2.8 micro (the macro lens)
Nikkor 85 mm f/ 2 AIS (soft wide open, sharp at f/ 4)
Elicar 90 mm f/ 2.5 AIS macro (the other macro lens. will do 1:1 without added extension)
Nikkor 105 mm f/ 2.5 AIS (I love this lens. 2nd favorite right behind the 24.)
Nikkor 135 mm f/ 2.8 (another excellent lens)
Quantaray 300 mm f/ 5.6 mirror lens (convenient for taking bird photos while hiking.)
Sigma 600 mm f/ 8 mirror lens (when I need 600 mm which isn't very often.)
Celestron C5 1250 mm f/ 10 mirror lens (technically a telescope.)
Celestron C6 1500 mm f/ 10 mirror lens (also a telescope.)

Optical accessories
Nikkor Tc-200 2x converter
JC Penny 2x converter (yup, that's right, JC Penny!)
Sears 2x converter (I'm not kidding!)
Digital Visions .5x (very poor optics, but occasionally it has its uses)


178 mm f/ 2.5 Aero Ektar (Makes a monster of a tilt lens on a DSLR)

Aero Ektar: Reporting for Duty by johnnyoptic

65 mm f/ 2.8 hacked from a Sigma 28-70 (The Rocker) sold to dhowsley
I've completed a replacement, made from an identical Vivitar lens
Ready to Rock n Roll, uh... Twist n Shout, er... Tilt n Shift by johnnyoptic

42 mm f/ 4 hacked from a Tokina 28-70 (The Odd Duck)
An Odd Duck: homemade 42mm tilt-shift lens by johnnyoptic

33 mm f/ 4 hacked from a 28-50 (The Batlens)
na na na na na na na na ... BATLENS! by johnnyoptic

28 mm f/ 2.8 hacked from a Tokina 28 (The Li'l Rubber Ducky)
sold it -- see replacement below
Li'l Rubber Ducky by johnnyoptic

55 mm f/ 1.8 made from a Fujinon m42 mount lens (Gonzales, as in Speedy)
24 mm f/ 4 made from a Vivitar 17 - 28 (the Magic Eye)
new tilters by johnnyoptic

2x 28/2.8 (pure joy, times two)
Joy! (x2) by johnnyoptic

Homemade lenses
Far too many to list. Here are a few...
The BFL9000:  optics or plumbing? by johnnyoptic

Lens of Steel by johnnyoptic

soft focus lens and aperture disks by johnnyoptic

Stay out of my way by johnnyoptic

homemade 191 mm lens by johnnyoptic

Johnnyopticon prototype by johnnyoptic

Would you believe "Nikkor-T 1:2 f=45mm?" by johnnyoptic

I generally piece together my lenses from elements mounted in filter rings. This gives me the ability to quickly put together a combination, use it for a while, and then recycle the parts for another project. See my DIY camera lens tutorials for more details.

Nikon SB-10
Vivitar 285
Vivitar 285HV
Sunpack auto30DX
Sunpack auto422D
Chinon S-250

3 sets of bellows
2 sets of extension rings
ML-L3 remote
MC-DC1 remote
3 tripods, a monopod, and a mini tripod

one very understanding wife.

Photos of johnnyoptic (26)

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Testimonials (3)

  • view profile

    jamelikat says:

    "I would not call myself a very well-travelled photographer within Flickr, but of the flickrites that i have followed this past 2-3 years, johnnyOptic is waay waaay up there in his hands-on get your screwdriver and masking tape out attitude and approach to photography. During times when many are seeking for higher megapixel, latest lens etc gadget-addiction fixes, johnnyO is fighting back,and leading from the front by example, and is thus to me, a photoHero. Some of the most terrific photo results you'll see. Do yourself a favour and look through his sets and equally importantly, read the blurb. It's almost always good blurb of a particular vintage and like some of his homemade lenses, coming from a particular tilt. He's even got a link to a DIY lens making tutorial he put together. For all this, I write this testimonial with resounding applause. Thanks johnnyO."

    April 29th, 2011

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    mccullin4 says:

    "John Swierzbin seems to be pretty unique on flickr as far as I can see. His work and experimentation have greatly inspired me to try many different techniques. Whilst my results have not always been the best I have learnt a lot about a camera's potential if you start to think outwith the usual "box". I dont think John gets the recognition he deserves but then I think flickr is so huge it swamps the minority of the truly creative."

    September 22nd, 2011

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    mckenziemedia says:

    "When photography is your passion, you start to push the boundaries and think "outside the box". Johnnyoptic is one of those people. You will enjoy his photostream and might walk away with a few ideas of your own as a result!"

    August 29th, 2010

John Swierzbin
October 2008
Sacramento, CA
I am:
Male and Taken