Q. I would like to know how those marvelous summer heat pictures are taken, the ones of heat waves shimmering against the sunset. We're taking our vacation in Arizona next month, and I'd like to be able to do something like that. I have a single lens reflex camera with a 50mm lens and a 70-210mm zoom lens.
A. Those pictures of heat waves shimmering up from the ground are made with long telephoto lenses. This is because a long telephoto lens compresses your picture and seems to squash things together, from just in front of your lens to infinity. I have taken these shots over beaches, across roads and in the desert southwest, where you're heading. I had my best luck using lenses with focal lengths of from 500 to 1000mm.
In your case, you should certainly use your 70-210mm. Look into the purchase or rental of a 2x tele-extender. That would boost your lens to 420mm and you'd have a good chance to make the sort of shot you're looking for.
Remember, you need open spaces for this kind of shot. There should be little or nothing between your camera and the subject at infinity. Foregrounds and middle grounds will interfere. Don't try it in a forest or in the heart of the city. Flat valleys leading to mountains and a long road that seemingly stretches on forever are the best subjects.
HERE'S A REPORT on the new Pentax Super Zoom 105, a fully automatic, multi-mode camera with an extremely sharp 38-105mm zoom lens.
My tests covered a wide range of subjects: There were my usual snapshots of meetings at the Post, including several farewell and birthday parties. The camera was used to shoot everything from Fourth of July fireworks to super macro shots of flowers.
There were 42 rolls of film used in the test. Nine were black and white: three Kodak T-Max 100, two Fuji Neopan 400, two Ilford HP-5, and two Agfa 1000. Six rolls of slide film were used, including Fuji Velvia 50, Kodak Ektachrome 64 and Agfachrome 200. The rest was print film, including Kodak Ektar 125 and 1000, Fuji Reala 100 and HG400, and Agfacolor 200.
About one-third of the tests were made with various flash modes, and, surprisingly, there were only three isolated cases of red eye.
I think the most dramatic thing about this fifth-generation IQZoom is its macro feature. The standard macro setting is for close-ups 2.5 and 4.4 feet. The pictures, taken in the fully automatic mode, were crisp and clear. If you are outside the macro range, your green camera-ready light flashes. When you are in proper range, you get a steady green light to tell you auto-focus and auto-exposure are set.
For super macro work, a recessed button is pressed and the camera focuses at 18 inches. Since at this distance the auto-focus mode is inoperative, the neck strap is used to gauge the distance. My results were so sharp I was able to enlarge to 16 x 20 with remarkable resolution and sharpness -- this with film up to ISO 400.
I had a lot of fun with the 105 Super's multi-frame self-timer. You can select one to five frames in this mode and do some really great group shots. The multiple-exposure mode works also very well. I used slow film (ISO 100) and, after a little experimentation, had some fun shots of a person shaking hands with herself. I found this mode great for superimposing the American flag over cars, storefronts and the side of automobiles.
The interval timer mode can be set at any one of 32 predesignated intervals. You can program when the camera starts to shoot and how many frames will be taken.
There has been a vast improvement in the slow shutter speeds. There is a bulb-timer with speeds from one to 60 seconds, bulb sync (bulb with flash), and normal bulb activation. The latter worked well for fireworks. I'll bet the bulb sync will be good for Christmas tree shots.
The built-in zoom flash is activated automatically in low light conditions, and its flash angle is adjusted automatically for correct exposure no matter what the focal length of the lens. This also works in the macro settings. There are flash on (for daylight) and flash off settings. In addition to the wide range of slow speeds, the top speed is 150th of a second.
The LCD readout panel on top gives all the necessary information, and I really liked the way it can be lighted at night. The camera's new design is stylish and makes it easy to handle. I found the viewfinder very accurate: Like an SLR, what you see is what you get.
The rest of the expected automatic features -- auto-load, auto-wind, DX coding, etc. -- are all there. Perhaps most important, the IQZoom 105 Super has the same rugged construction as the first one -- a camera I still use. Suggested manufacturer's list price is $473, but shop around; they can be purchased for a great deal less.
Write Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.