Photo of the Week

Started scanning some of my backlogged black and white film from last year.  I still have several rolls to develop, but I’ve scanned most of the developed stuff now.  I tried Tri-X, the film that everyone seems to praise.  Not sure if I like it, lots of dark negs it seems, might have to adjust my developing on the rest of the rolls.

 

This week’s photo taken with my voigtlander Bessa R and the 15mm Heliar.  Gives some great wide angles but also makes all the posts in the picture crooked…  Taken with Kodak Tri-X, developed in D76.  We had gone to Gare de l’Est for a day trip out of Paris, but due to some striking workers, we ended up heading to the local park instead.

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Nikon D300 vs. Panasonic GF1

To start off, for those of you looking for a comparison between the two, you’ve come to the wrong place as I only own one of these fine cameras… The following are merely some musings of mine regarding my photographic future so to speak…

 

I love taking pictures, but I don’t love lugging around heavy cameras.  My most used camera is an Agfa Optima because it’s tiny, and doesn’t weigh much.  I mean it helps that it takes great pictures, but it certainly isn’t the only criteria.  While I do love film cameras, I still have a digital slr that honestly takes wonderful pictures.  Where it fails me is in the weight department.  I often get great pictures with my Agfa not because it has some wonderful secret touch to it, but because it’s always in my shoulder bag or in my pocket, ready to be whipped out and used, whereas the Nikon is usually sitting on the shelf collecting dust with a big honking lens attached.  When I do take the Nikon D300 with me, I thoroughly enjoy using it, it’s auto focus (of which none of my film cameras are), and the immediate feedback is a refreshing change.  The problem is it gets used very, very rarely these days.

 

This has got me thinking whether I should switch to a smaller system?  I’ve always liked the size and design of the Panasonic GF1, it’s very rangefinder-esque and with the small pancake lens would certainly be very portable.  I realize it’s got a smaller size sensor which isn’t going to be able to touch the quality of the D300, but I so rarely blow up my digital photos, maybe it just doesn’t matter?  I could easily pay for the GF1 by selling my Nikon kit (and have a fair bit of cash to spare), but then I also worry wether this would then replace my Voigtlander rangefinder?  I’d have two cameras with similar focal lengths, similar sizes, but one has auto focus, auto exposure, instant feedback, whereas the other has none of these things…

 

With the recent GF2 announcement, I suspect the GF1 will drop in price before it is sold out, so maybe a deal could be had and I could keep both, cause I really need more cameras at this point…

Photo of the Week

I’ve taken so many pictures over the last 5 months, and they get developed in batches, so that some good ones often fall through the cracks.  I’ve been visiting rail stations lately, and looking back to some older photos I saw this shot I took of Gare du Nord.  We were waiting for a train and I went for a little wander as I often do, camera in hand.  Used my Voigtlander Bessa R with the 15mm lens.

Freitag Dexter Messenger Bag – 1 month of use

About a month ago, I bought a Freitag Dexter Messenger bag to serve as a daddy diaper bag/camera bag.  I have to admit that I bought it mainly because I thought it looked cool, and less for it’s functionality.

Now that I’ve had the chance to use it for awhile, I have grown to appreciate it’s usefulness even more than it’s cool factor.  I did complain before that a vinyl messenger bag got awfully hot on your back while biking, but truth be told, I don’t use it for biking, I’d rather a backpack in that situation.  The vinyl is of course waterproof, which when you’ve got your dslr and your favourite film camera of the day, is mighty useful with Paris’ rainy spring days.

As you can see above, it holds my copy of Reponses Photo, my D300, my Bessa R, and my copy of Le Monde with room to spare (the diapers still could fit in there too!).  The one drawback I have noticed is the lack of padding.  I generally put something between the two cameras to keep them from bumping each other (diapers), but if you put the bag on too quickly, a D300 in the back doesn’t feel too nice…

DIY Digital Leica

While on my favourite Camera Forum I came across a post about a guy in Japan who had taken an old Zorki FSU Rangefinder (basically an old Leica II copy) and had turned it into a digital camera!  He did this by gutting it and filling it with a Sony digital point and shoot.  Quite the operation, but some excellent results!  The translations don’t really work (although some are hilarious to read), but what a great project.  Link

I’ve always wanted a digital rangefinder, something like my Bessa R, but digital would be a great fit.   I’ve been very tempted lately by an M4/3 camera, especially with their compatibility with just about any lens ever created, but it’s hard to justify the expense right now.

I have a feeling that this will be a project I’ll try to replicate this fall, but what camera to use?  I feel that I’d want to use one with as few buttons as possible, this would reduce the number of holes I’d need to cut.  Ideally it would have the same lens barrel diameter as an old M39 format rangefinder, if not it would be difficult to cut the lens hole.

Some people may say why would you do this?  It’s no more functional than the original camera, but what great style it has!

The Roll that wasn’t

I picked up a used voigtlander 75mm lens for my Bessa R shortly before a business trip to Europe.  What a great chance to test it out I thought. I loaded up a roll of my favourite film (Neopan 400) and started snapping.  I took pictures in the various airports, then more in a some quaint little villages in the french alps.  I was enjoying the focal length immensely.

I continued to take shots, even switched lenses a few times for my 35mm and even the 15mm (which is hard to get used to after shooting with a 75mm!).  Then it happened… I took shot number 36 on the roll and started to rewind. To my horror the film rewound with about two turns of the crank.  The film hadn’t caught on to the spool and non of my shots had been recorded.  It was pretty tragic, loosing all those potential “incredible” shots. Although judging by past performance, I usually only get 5-10 “great” shots on a roll, so add to this a new lens and that number could have been significantly lower.  But that’s all beside the point, I enjoy taking pictures, and while I’m sad to have lost those shots on that roll, I enjoyed taking every single one of those pictures, regardless of them working or not.  For me photography is about the process, and while I do enjoy my shots turning out really well, I’ve come to expect this not to happen for many of them, and so I have learnt to enjoy taking the pictures as much as seeing the results.

I realized afterwards that my many months of Xpan usage led me to be lazy with my film loading. The Xpan loads automatically, and I forgot the voigtlander wouldn’t (it is a manual camera).  On a happier note, I found a great camera store in Southern Germany that had a great selection of film with good prices. Picked up some Agfa APX400 which I’m looking forward to try.

Failure and Redemption – DIY film processing trials and tribulations

I very much enjoy processing my own BW flim, especially when it is my ultimate favourite, Fuji Neopan.  Although when I first started I was developing 1-2 rolls/week, however lately I’ve dropped to closer to 1 roll/month.  This gets dangerous as you get out of practice and start making little mistakes.  I’ve been very fortunate to have never had a major screw-up, all my rolls have always worked out, even the first one.  This has always worried me as I was sure this streak could not last.

Then about a month ago I went to a friends wedding.  I was NOT told that they needed a photographer, and so for fun I thought I would try something new (and this is where it all started to go wrong). I bought some Ilford Delta 3200, put it in my Bessa R, and headed off to the wedding.  Got there and it seemed like everyone had a camera and was snapping away.  I took a few shots, not really sure if the meter was reading accurately in the very dark restaurant.  I got home and decided to process the film.  I really didn’t have enough time to do it properly, and so I rushed.  Took me 3 tries to get it on the reels, didn’t quite seal the door correctly, etc. etc.  When I checked the film, most of the shots were underexposed and the light leakage from the door had wrecked about half the film.  I wasn’t too choked until the bride called me up in a panic because all of the other pictures people had taken were terrible, and no one had got a good one of her and her husband, THE WHOLE NIGHT! After much work scanning and in photoshop, I managed to save one photo, it was the shot of them cutting the cake.  I didn’t think it was all that great as it had tons of grain, but they were thrilled.

Fast forward a month and I am developing a roll of 120 Neopan 400. Things were going smoothly but I couldn’t help but notice the developer was awfully dark. Then each time the chemicals came out of the tank, the colours seemed off.  When I pulled the film out at the end of the developing, I was staring at a completely blank film. My developer had expired.

Two in a row was a bit much for me to handle, and I had a roll from a recent trip to Norway which I absolutely could not screw up!  Bought some new developer (Ilford Microphen DD-X), and set to work.  Was I ever relieved when it worked out perfectly, well except that I used enough chemicals for 120 when it was a roll of 35mm, but I am definitely back on the horse….  The lesson to be learned here is take your time, and take A LOT MORE PICTURES!!!!!