You’ve probably read me say a bunch of times that the DSLR is dead. It truly is such a case. Using a DSLR in 2022 is like using a fax machine in 2009 when you could instead just send an email. It can do the job, but there is better technology that can do the job more efficiently. Mirrorless cameras and even your phone and incredibly capable these days. But just in case, here’s how you can give your DSLR new life this year.
Convert it to Infrared
This is an obvious choice for many photographers. Convert the camera to an infrared sensor option of some sort. The folks over at Kolari Vision can do this pretty easily for you. It doesn’t make much sense to bring along a big, heavy camera unless it has a specific purpose. So give your DSLR new life by making it shoot in a completely different way. This way, your mirrorless camera can specialize in shooting in a more conventional and normalized way. But when you want to get more creative and fun, you can bring this one out and just enjoy the process.
These days, there are lots of different infrared options. Some are designed to look a bit like Kodak Aerochrome. You’ll still need to do a bit of processing, but you’ll enjoy the overall experience.
Change the Focusing Screen to Support Manual Focus Lenses
This was a personal project that for years, I wanted to do but never ended up doing. Give your DSLR new life with a new focusing screen. DSLRs have interchangeable focusing screens a lot of the time. If the viewfinder is offering 100% coverage, then it’s a bit more difficult. But if it’s something like 97%, then changing the focusing screen above the prism is easier. Zeiss and other brands used to make things like split screens and more. Grab an old Canon DSLR, change the focusing screen, and then go grab some old Zeiss glass on eBay. Forget all about autofocus. Turn this camera into the manual focus dream that you’ve wanted for a while. You’ll see just how different the experience becomes. It’s never going to be as nice as looking through a Pentax Spotmatic film SLR and it will be nowhere as wonderful as a Pentax 67 II. But it’s still going to be really nice overall.
Can you use these with your autofocus lenses? Yes, but the experience won’t be the same as it will for manual focus lenses. It starts with the old-school shutter slapping sound and goes from there. Lots of mirrorless cameras lack the audible romance of DSLRs; even though they gain a whole lot in return.
Give it an Angle Finder and Shoot in a Different Way
I truly wish that more DSLRs had removable viewfinders, but they don’t. So instead, you can give your DSLR new life by modifing the viewfinder to shoot in a completely different way. It’s nowhere as cool as using a medium format camera and having a big hood finder. But it’s still a totally different way of shooting. By looking down at the screen like this, you’re giving yourself a different experience. Of course, you could do this with a rotating LCD screen if it has one. But it’s still not the same experience at all.
Angle Finder photo by sachinese on Flickr.