Secrets of Digital Photography

Cooler Fixer!          06 09 02



S U P E R    M O U N T
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Want to put a filter on your CP5K camera?

What do you mean, "Fat chance?"

Want to attach your WC-E68 that doesn't include the absolutely vital UR-E5 adapter?

What do you mean, "Slim chance?"

Houston, we have a problem:

Nikon makes the widest of all digital cameras and will sell us an even wider converter lens for it, but darned if the adapter--a barrel thingie that goes between camera and lens--can't be found for love or money. And for some mysterious reason, the adapter does NOT come with the lens.

And this has been the case since December 12, 2001: Six months. Half of a year. Many weeks.

...And counting.

Not only that, but there is no way to mount a filter of any kind on its telescoping lens without an adapter.

You can't attach any sort of optic to the camera without one of these barrel gizmos even though the camera works well with a large range of optical options.

What's an astronaut to do?

Bernie Heins to the rescue. He's a Canadian with vision and a Coolpix 5000. Put the two together and out has come the Coolfix adapter, a mount, adapter, flexible holder, protector and all-around vital accessory for the CP5K.

Nikon's UR-E5 is a barrel that mounts anything with a 46mm rear thread in a specific position in front of the extended camera lens. If you put a UV filter on it, the entire lens would be effectively sealed away from dust and fingers. The WC-E68 happens to have 46mm threads for mounting, so it fits the UR-E5 and becomes a solid part of the camera while being located at the (presumably) exact right spot for best optical performance. Hold that thought.

In its fullest form, the Coolfix is more than the simple barrel extension of the UR-E5 or UR-E6 adapters from Nikon. The front threads ride in an adjustable sleeve that sits right where it should to mimic a UR-E5 (or 6) but these threads are part of an interchangeable ring. Meaning? Yep, you can change the ring and mount just about any thread size imaginable.

It's a mount SYSTEM, not just a barrel with threads. You can buy it in a number of configurations and options. And it will allow you to do things with optical converters that the Nikon mount won't.

For instance: You can use the 28mm ring to adapt any legacy optics. When you do, you can collapse the Coolfix mount a few millimeters to bring the optics closer to the camera lens.

Well, why would you want to do that?

Let's look at the 28mm rear-threaded FC-E8 Fisheye lens. On a 990 or 995, the circle is about the height of the frame, providing the zoom lens is all the way wide. (Remember that the 990 has a special position for using the fisheye lens.)

On the CP5K, full wide is wider than on a 990/995. The fisheye image floats with a generous border top and bottom.

With the Coolfix, you can mount the Fisheye lens using the 28mm ring, then slide the mount back toward the camera lens, thus enlarging the circle of image.

And when you mount the TC-E3 telephoto converter with Nikon's own mount, you will vignette the edges of the frame unless you use the digital zoom to inflate the image. That is bound to lose sharpness. But it is what Nikon recommends you do.

With the Coolfix, you can slide the whole assembly back to the camera lens just enough to avoid the vignette and digital zoom.

In other words, the Coolfix makes legacy lens mounting work better.

But wait, there's more...

How do you polarize the WC-E68? The glass is so extreme (equivalent to a 19mm wide lens on a 35mm camera) that mounting a filter in front is as easy as finding a 82mm filter and mount. Or, in English--Bernie to the rescue. He makes a friction-fit, 82mm filter holder for just this lens. How much is that 82mm polarizer? Is there a better way?

With the Coolfix, you can mount a 46mm polarizer, then screw the WC-E68 on top of that--and have it all.

Of course, you will have to push the front of the Coolfix in towards the camera lens, just as you did with the Fisheye and TC-E3. Once again, the Coolfix beats the functionality of the Nikon-supplied (ha!) adapter.

Here's another tip. With the Coolfix in place, the WC-E68 wide converter shows the same slight corner chromatic aberration that is present when using the Nikon UR-E5 for mounting. But the Coolfix has three zones of screw thread that can help extend the wide adapter farther from the camera optic.

And why would you want to do that?

Remember the "held thought" from ten inches above? It turns out that the WC-E68 (at least the one I bought) cleans up some of that chromatic aberration simply by sitting a millimeter or two farther forward than the UR-E5 provides.

Doing this with the UR-E5 is possible, but you have to unscrew threaded mounts more than with the Coolfix. Bernie is in his lab right now solving some vexing optical issues that Nikon should have solved on their own.

So where do you get this miracle adapter system? Try here. Several models and cobos are available including ones that don't telescope in and out.

Conclusion: Highly recommended.

How does it work? Fine, thanks. Here's a shot made with the WC-E68 that I wouldn't have had unless I used the Coolfix (my UR-E5 has been on backorder since December 16 but who's counting?).

From the Digitalia collection.

CP5K + Coolfix mounted WC-E68 and tweaked for perfect linearity in Photoshop with the iNovaFX Photoshop Action Filter, iBC5KWE68.

Photo by Peter iNova, March 2002.


PS: UR-E5 and UR-E6 adapters are still spotty. Some stores received some, and others have never seen one. You would be wise to investigate the Coolfix solution.

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