Category Archives: Kodak

Newer Cameras Usually Take Better Pictures

The above shot I took yesterday with my Sony A7iii & adapted Sigma/Minolta 50mm f2.8 macro with no flash.  Two years ago we had significant rain this time of year and I took similar shots with my Minolta 600si and the same lens using Kodak Ektar film.

76900035
Film shot with a 4 times larger file than the digital shot above.  

In both cases I took the shots hand held.  I edited both with Lightroom Classic CC.  Even though it is the same lens and the film shot is four times the size of the digital I think the sharpness and color of the digital is better.  I spent very minimal time editing the digital shot.

_dsc1061
This is a Sony A7iii shot with same Sigma lens as above.  

This is a larger view of the same area.

76900031
And this is another film picture from two years ago.  This shot with a flash.

My point.  The Sony A7iii may not be the best handling easiest to operate camera I have ever owned, but it puts of great files.  Quickly and much easier than shooting film and then getting it developed and scanned.

The Sony is very versatile in being able to shoot landscape, people, and pretty much any lighting situation you throw at it.

Main Street Normal Heights
Shot with Sony A7iii and Sony FE 24mm – 105mm f4.  
_dsc1038
Shot with Sony A7iii and Sony /Zeiss 55mm f1.8 
last roses of the year-13
Shot with Sony A7iii and Sony/Minolta 50mm f2.8 macro

All three shots were taken in my usual raw only (compressed raw) and edited in Lightroom Classic CC.  Both the flower picture and my newest grand daughter were cropped.  The photo of my grand daughter was indoors in fairly dim light and no flash.  There was a tiny bit of noise after editing which I mostly removed with Lightroom.  The top shot was with a zoom lens and has everything from full shadow to sunny sky.  The Sony handled this with no problems.

Now that I have owned the Sony for just over 3 months it is becoming easier to use.  At least I can find near everything quickly.  I go back and forth from using checking and adjusting the settings either by pushing the fn button on the back which puts on the screen the basic settings.  You can then adjust those there.  Or at other times I push the buttons for the individual focus, drive, and other things you need.  I usually look at the back screen to make my adjustments.  If it is full sun I look in the viewfinder.  It all works pretty fast and easy.  Of course if Sony looked in it’s archives and pulled out the Minolta 600si (Sony owns Minolta) and used the set up system from that camera plus a touchscreen it would be much better, but they did not and the existing system with the Sony A7iii is fine.

The Sony on time from rest or turned off is relatively fast.  Not as fast as a DSLR, but fast enough.  You do have to make adjustments when going to the Sony A7iii with EVF from and optical viewfinder.  There is a slight lag for the EVF, but again, the A7iii works fine.  I have become used to seeing subjects in the EVF as opposed to OVF.  I do like being able to see light settings adjustments in the viewfinder or the back screen.  This saves a lot of fiddling and guessing to get the photo exposure right.

_dsc0890
Shot with Sony A7iii and 24-105 f4 in late afternoon.  

The Sony G 24-105 f4 which I added to my kit just before Christmas is excellent.  I would call this a mid size lens.  It is bigger than my Zeiss – Sony 55mm 1.8 prime, but not so big that I find it cumbersome to carry and use like I did the Nikon D750 24-120 f4.  I learned to live with the Nikon but it always felt too big.  The Sony does not.  The few oz’s you save on the body weight and body size and the couple of oz’s less and a bit smaller on the lens and it just fits better on my Peak Strap.  The Sony lens is rated a little better than the Nikon but I think they are both sharp stabilized lenses.  I definitely liked the price of the Nikon better.  Quality I can’t tell the difference.  The one annoyance on the Nikon you don ‘t have with the Sony lens is that the Sony does not clip the corners at 24mm like the Nikon did.  I cropped it out when editing the Nikon files, but you don’t have to do that on the Sony setup.  The bokeh is good on the Sony lens as you can see in the photo above.

Barbara with Abby

The Sony / Zeiss 55mm f1.8 is an exemplary lens.  Super sharp with great bokeh and the ability to set up the above photo so the newborn is in sharp focus, as is my wife’s face, and her left sleeve.  The rest of the photo defocuses and seems to go out of the photo.

dsc00202

Basically the same thing happens here with the restaurant on the pier in sharp focus and the background fading away.  This is one of the best lenses you can buy for the Sony A7 cameras and for sure the best lens that is also not big and heavy.  DXO Mark gives this lens very high marks and so do I.

Very likely a lot of people go through the adjustment to get used to the A7iii or other A7 Sony’s when they come from Nikon or Canon like I did.  I would say it is similar to when I switched from Windows to Mac about 5 1/2 years ago.  It took me a while to get so I was used to the Mac, same with Sony A cameras.

Conclusion.  The files don’t lie.  They are good out of this camera.  And once you get a feeling for what settings to use the camera seems to pump out good ones pretty easy.

What Is Your Photo Style – Van Eyck or Monet?

Digital cameras today can give you very sharp clear images like the paintings of Jan Van Eyck.  Of course you can use fast lenses to soften focus and give you some bokeh, but sometimes Claude Monet and his style of soft images might be a better choice.

86780017
Shot with Olympus OM2n 50mm f1.8 Kodak Ultramax film

Both the top photo and the above rose are similar subjects but the look is entirely different.  In my opinion it is easier to get the softer image of Monet using older lenses and film.

Christmas cookies-3
Shot with Sony A7iii and Zeiss 55mm f1.8
88800004
Shot with Olympus OM2n and 50mm f1.8 Olympus lens.  Film is Ektar

Which of these photos do you like best.  I like them both.  The Sony did an excellent job of balancing exposure and white balance and the film shot is the best one I have been able to get of this miniature Christmas tree with a lighted Christmas tree in the background.  I think in the case of these two shots the tools used were needed for this result.  I think to get the top shot with the Olympus camera you would need Portra 400 and the camera on a tripod.  Plus you would need a flash with a cap over it to diffuse the light, which I don’t have.  The Olympus does have TTL flash so that would be similar to the Sony.  The Oly does not have steady shot so to get this shot hand held might be hard.

I tried getting the bottom film photo with several digital cameras.  I was not able to get anything this good with the newer stuff.  My point here is that to get good photos you need a variety of tools and you need to keep shooting.  Keep trying and you will get some results you like.  I am not telling you to spray and pray.  What I am saying is to set up photos often and you will get some results you like.

Black and white adds a layer of mystery to draw you in.

IMG_0149
Enter a caption

Both of these shot with iPhone XS Max.  IMG_0150

Do you like the black and white or color best?  Of these two I prefer the black and white because it removes us more from reality than the color.  The color shot is more like a Xerox of the scene.  I like the black and white pulling us closer to the photo to see if the white spot is the moon or just a light.  And the black and white adds a bit of sidewalk and street to pull us in.  But I prefer color on the stained glass window.  And I like color on the yellow street sign.  Would these two pictures have been better with film.  No doubt in my mind that both the color and black and white would have been better with film.  Film adds a layer of distance between you and the objects.  There is the analog chemical film process to make the image, and then the film image is scanned to make it a digital of the film.  What is very nice is that the scanning is a Xerox of the image the film created.  So all of what the film renders of the scene comes out in the scan.  Using film and then doing a high quality scan is a great combination that adds the film’s rendering and then when you digitize it you can do some editing digitally instead of working in a darkroom.  The best of both Worlds.

If you want clear clean sharp renders of the scene then digital is the best way to do it.  But on the other hand if you want to create an impressionist version of the scene I suggest film and then scanning.  Old lenses also help to give the impressionist look.  Plus throw in some black and white.  Every time I shoot a roll of black and white I always think that I should shoot some more black and white.  I generally do not get that same feeling when shooting black and white digitally.

Keep It Simple When It Comes To Tech

I just spent 5-10 minutes trying to get my bluetooth speaker to attach to my iPhone so I could listen to some music.  Every time I turned the speaker on it was pulling music from some device somewhere in the house but not the one I wanted it to.  After a few failed attempts I gave up.  I did not feel like fishing out a wire and the dongle that adapts the iPhone to an old style phone plug so I could just use a wire.

Earlier today I wanted to scan a document to email to someone.  I loaded the HP printer scanner and then realized that my new MacBook Pro does not have the software for that scanner loaded into it.  And since that HP is about four years old there are no updated drivers that work with the latest Mac software.  So I had to go get one of my old Windows laptops that I knew had that software in it so I could run the scanner.

An hour later I tried to make a new folder on one of my external drives so I could store some data on it.  Guess what, the new MacBook does not have the software on it to get full use of the Seagate drive like the old MacBook does.  So I had to fire up the old MacBook to see what the name of the software is and go to the Seagate web page to get the driver.

DSC00317
Taken with Sony A7iii with old cheap (very cheap) Minolta 30-70 lens

Don’t get the idea I don’t like tech, I do, but I like stuff that is simple to get to work right and lasts a while.  Bluetooth usually works OK, but can be a PIA.  Wires are simple and always work.  Software drivers and getting software to work in the system you want it to work in can be easy, hard, or impossible.  That older HP combo printer scanner is likely not going to work as a network scanner unless wire it into the network or wire it directly to the computer I want to send the scan to.  It works fine and is not that old.

My point here is that if you take photos today that you want to enjoy a few years from now you had better be very careful how you save the files.  If you take high quality photos and want the quality to be the same in the future you have to be especially careful to make sure that no software changes your files.

  • To make sure your file exists and is readable in the future you need to save some copies.  This is what I do.  I put the files on a plug in drive.  I then back it up on a second drive locally.  (In the future I am only going to use drives formatted for Mac as I do not trust that the driver for the drive will be updated in future years.)  I keep copies in either Apple Photos or Adobe Lightroom CC or both.  Usually the raw in LR and the jpeg in Apple Photos.  I also have a third back up drive I update about once every six weeks that I store in my motorhome safe.  Then as a final measure I keep a copy in drop box.  Drop box is the only on line service I have found and used that does not screw around with the size of your files when you load and download them.  Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Flikr do.  Oh I almost forgot Flickr.  I have a lot of my files on Flikr and some on Google Photos.  And I sometimes make photo books or have prints made.
  • I have had significant problems in the past loosing large numbers of my photos.  I used to back everything up to one hard drive.  It failed.  I lost several years of full sized files and my only copies were on Apple Photos.  Just last month I went to update a file from 2017 in my main back up drive.  The whole year of 2017 was missing.  In this case I had a back up copy of the back up copy on another drive.  Some of the files did not want to be copied and I had to play with this for a couple hours.  So at this point in time I am hyper careful.
  • I have had several on line back up systems change dramatically for the worse.  I used iPhoto and Aperture on Mac.  I liked both of them.  But then Apple discontinued both and substituted Apple Photos.  Apple Photos is still not nearly as effective at editing files as the previous system except using on line.  Apple’s system of on line photos is pretty good now most of the time.  I used Google Picasa to edit thousands of work photos.  It was the best quick edit and file organizer you could get at any price and Picasa was free.  Then Google canceled it.  Adobe Lightroom on the other hand has improved.  I use both Lightroom CC Classic and Lightroom CC.  Both work well.  The on line CC system keeps adding features and you can use it fairly well in conjunction with the CC Classic.  Flickr used to be free.  Now you have to pay to use it.  All of these systems have at one time or another played with the size of the files except drop box and Adobe Lightroom CC Classic.
  • I would say my files are now very secure.  But I am tired of it taking so much effort. Plus I have no illusion that raw files will work ten years from now.  By then your raw files will be from an obsolete camera and you will be using a many generation newer OS.  The best you can hope for is jpegs will still work.  I think jpegs are mostly safe.
20830027
Taken on a 1980 Olympus OM2n with 28mm f2.8 and new Kodak Ektachrome

Here is how I did it 14 years ago.  I bought film or the people that developed it sent me free film.  I would send it off to Seattle Film Lab.  At the time I used my Olympus OM2n and a couple of Olympus pocket film cameras.  When I finished a couple of rolls or even just one roll, I would send it to Seattle Film Lab in a prepaid mailer.  They would develop it and send the negatives, prints, a CD of the scans, plus a free roll of film.  That would take about a week.  The thing is Seattle Film Lab would edit the photos before I got them. I rarely edited what I was sent back.  When I went on vacation I would use slide film so I could project the shots on a screen in full resolution.  I used Kodak Kodachrome in those days.  You couldn’t edit slides.  You either got them right or you did not.  I made photo albums.  I saved the negatives, CD in files in a file cabinet.  My prints from 2004 look just fine and have not faded.  The CD’s I got back then still work.  And if I had not sold my projector I could use slides.  The only thing that endangered your back up files was your house being destroyed.  So if needed today you save a copy of scans in a location not in your house.

I do not plan to go back to just using film.  But anyone that tells you getting great photos is easier or cheaper today is contradicting what I have learned.  iPhones or good Androids take great photos and video and are easy to use.  They give better results than old pocket film cameras.  But big digital cameras with big lenses and big files are very expensive, need careful care, go out of date in about 3 years, and storing the files is complicated.  If you don’t already try both higher end digital and film and use what you like the best.  I waver back and forth.

Kodak Ektachrome – Is Back – And Here Are Some Image Samples

After waiting a year and a half for the new Kodak Ektachrome I finally got some.  These samples are from the first roll of Ektachrome e100.  The featured image at the top of the page was taken last weekend and is totally unedited.  It did not need any editing and this is exactly as I got it back developed and scanned by North County Photographic in Carlsbad CA.  When I saw this shot on my computer this afternoon I just went “wow” look at those colors.  My second thought was, “I can’t improve this image and am going to leave it alone.

20830014
Kodak Ektachrome e100 shot on Olympus OM2n with 28mm 2.8 – UV filter only 

The above picture just POPS with that pink animal costume for halloween.  The Olympus OM2n is a very good film camera.  It was the very first SLR that metered the exposure right off the film.  That was handy for this shot as I trimmed off a bunch of overexposed but not blown out image to the right.  Most positive film (slide film like Ektachrome) does not have the dynamic range of print film or digital.  My impression from shooting one roll of the new Ektachrome is that this film has more stops of range than most slide film.

20830008
Ektachrome shot with Olympus OM2n & 50mm f1.4 & tungsten blue filter

And when I saw this people shot (of my wife) using a bounce flash, a lot of tungsten lighting, and using a tungsten filter it made my very happy.  It means that this Ektachrome gives good skin tones.  That puts this slide film ahead of Velvia 50 or 100 that I use for landscape but not people shots.  Both give what I consider unflattering skin color.

20830010
Same as the last one but with me in the picture

I have to say I really like these skin tones.  I usually have to do some color tone editing with most films and on these two people shots I only cropped the photos and made minor exposure adjustment.

20830019
Ektachrome with 28mm and UV filter

On the other hand this Ektachrome does not like it when I bring up the shadows in Lightroom.  When I used the auto setting on Lightroom Classic this photo got much too grainy.  So I went back to the original and increased the black table cloth just a little.

20830017
same as the last one

I really like the colors of Ektachrome e100.  But this is my first roll and I have 7 more in the fridge to get some more experience.  You can see from the above photo that when you go from full shade to full sun that it holds up pretty well.  If I had been using a separate light meter I would have likely added a stop to the exposure and that shade of this shot would not have blocked so much and the full sun would have been just slightly overexposed.

20830033

The above is a mixed sun – shade – and a tiny bit of skin.  When you look at this blown up you can see sharp bricks to the right.  And sharp photo overall until you get to full sun.  Very likely something like Portra 160 or 400 would have held on to the highlights a few stops longer but I do not think the orange in the T-shirt would have been nearly as bright.  Ektar would have worked but the skin would have had more of a red hue.  And the Ektar would have had a different overall cast to it.  But I think Ektar or Portra would have been almost as good with the details.  That said, with just my gut reaction I think for this shot I like the color rendition of the Ektachrome the best of all three of these.  I am sort of smitten with this film after one go at it.

20830021

Look at this nice color and clarity.

20830027

Good mixture of shadow and highlights.  The Ektachrome handles it all really well.

20830036

These colors are just fabulous.  Bright, saturated, but not overdone like Velvia can get.  The above shot I only cropped I did not adjust the color at all.

20830034

Very lifelike colors.  I did not post process this photo expect for crop.  The colors look exactly like what I saw in the field.

20830032

I used a little dehaze on this to cut down the glare from reflections, but other than that this is right from the developer.

20830016

I shot one roll of 36 and got back 36 images.  None were junk, but some were better than others.  My overall comment after this one roll is to say that my long wait for this film was worth it.  Kodak has a stunning winner on it’s hands.  The price is a little steep, $12.95 per 36 ex, but that is the same price as fresh Velvia or Provia.  If you are into film buy some and see what you think for yourself.  If you are not into film, give it a shot.  After just buying a Sony A7iii and a Zeiss lens I can tell you film is not more money than digital.  Get yourself a good quality SLR with a 50mm & 28 or 35mm and go enjoy.

Camerageddon = 2018 – Might Be The Biggest Year Of Change Ever In The Photo – Video Industry

This year has had one significant introduction after another in new camera bodies, systems, and film.  Sony has introduced the A7riii and A7iii.  Both mostly great and maybe the greatest full frame mirrorless cameras of today.  Nikon has put forward the A7 & A6 full frame mirrorless designs with new lenses.  So far to me this looks like the biggest contender of the Sony’s.  Canon EOSR.  A great camera, except, no ibis and big crop on video at 4K.  Both Nikon and Canon have only one data card slot.  This is a big omission.  Fuji XT3.  Another great camera, but crop sensor and no ibis.  Fuji again with the R version of their medium format camera.  This looks like a great landscape camera but lacks features that are in the full frames.  Panasonic now is talking about their S line for full frame mirrorless, but full specs are not available.  And then Zeiss and their ZX1.  Complete specs are not available and neither is the price.  As I said in my previous post I love this ZX1 concept.  I want one.  But I want one based on specs that I imagine but are not confirmed yet along with the price.

summer trip 2018-1064
Nikon D5500 – Using Lightroom to get B&W

I would like to buy a new full frame mirrorless camera.  I currently have a Nikon D750 DSLR and would like something smaller and lighter plus has an electronic viewfinder.  Of the ones above that we actually know the specs and price of I would say the Sony’s and the Nikon’s are the closest to what I want.  But here is the thing, I am not sure I like either enough more than the Nikon D750 to switch.  I like have tried the A7riii and did not like the way it felt in my hand and thought the menu-control system to be difficult.  I do like the dual SD cards.  The Nikon Z7’s are just now getting shipped to their buyers.  So far I have heard good feedback.  But I don’t really want to switch to XQD cards.  My three computers all have SD card readers but not XQD.  So dongle time would be the case with the Nikons.  And I like the dual card slots I have on the D750.  I don’t like the fact that Nikon is charging a lot more for a 50mm f1.8 than and F mount 50mm f1.4.  Actually I don’t like that a lot.

000005330020
Kodak Tmax 100 with Minolta 600si and 50mm f1.4

Or for that mater Nikon charging 50% more for the Z mount 35mm f1.8 than the F mount f1.8.  Even the 24-70 f4 is more than I recently paid for the F mount 24-120 f4.

And neither the Sony’s or the Nikon’s have settings adjustments for the all important aperture, shutter speed, and ISO dials.  Ones I can see at a glance like Zeiss and Fuji.  The Sony and Nikon do have quick change on aperture and and shutter speed but not in the elegant way Zeiss and Fuji do.

And then the Fuji XT3.  What a great camera with dedicated settings for aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation.  And it is a beautiful camera, far more so than the Sonys.  And a bit prettier than the Nikons.  Plus it is cheaper than any of the full frames.  But no 35mm sensor.  What were they thinking???  The whole World is going back to the best image size ever invented full frame 35mm and they stick with crop size? And no ibis to top it off.  But I have to say the simplicity of the Fuji and quality of materials, and the smaller size have great appeal.

IMG_1026
Shot with iPhone X and it’s wide lens

I have no experience with Canon cameras except that several of my friends and relatives have and like them.  Most prominently my professional TV and Movie cameraman son who is about ready to go back to a Canon DSLR after having a Sony A7S for two years.  His reason, “Canon has better colors”.  And this is a person who uses $100,000 camera rigs in his work.  So maybe when the Canon R is in the stores I will take a closer look.  Right now I don’t like the one card slot of the Canon or the no ibis.  Plus it is big unlike the Fuji.  But Canon has an extremely good reputation so maybe more on it later.

summer trip 2018-1001
Shot with Nikon D750 and converted to B&W with Lightroom

Like Canon I have no experience with Panasonic.  Their two full frame bodies look quite good, but no final specs or prices yet.  So more to come on these two later.

Kodak Ektrachrome is finally shipping.  After the unexpected Zeiss ZX1 this Kodak announcement was the most exciting of the German show.  I like shooting with film.  I like the look of the results I get from my old SLR cameras (4 of them with lots of lenses) and one very nice Voightlander rangefinder with a set of 3 lenses.  On our summer trip this year I did not shoot as much film as I had planned as I bought the D750 just before the trip and was still experimenting with it.  But one of the rolls I shot was Kodak Tmax 100.  I used my Minolta 600si for this film and all of the shots turned out.  I was being lazy and did not use any filters for the whole roll, which was a mistake.  I should have used a yellow, orange, or red for daylight shots.

000005330003

flagged film photos-000005330034

Both of these above shots were from this roll of Tmax.  The second shot was a lean out the moving train shot with 100 speed film and an unstabilized lens.  The camera was set to auto focus and worked perfectly.  It has 3 auto focus points and not 500 like modern cameras.

flagged film photos-000005320013

flagged film photos-000005320020

flagged film photos-000005320021

The above 3 shots are from Portra 400 film that was about a year expired.  All were shot on a 40 year old Olympus OM2n and 50mm f1.8.  One of the best film SLRs ever made.

flagged film photos-000005320029flagged film photos-000005320030flagged film photos-000005320032

And the above three were from inexpensive Kodak Gold 200 that was expired two years. I used my second Olympus OM2n to shoot these.  The Kodak Gold really did it’s job, but if I had it to do over again would have shot with fresh film.  Keep in mind these were shot with a very simple old meter in the Oly and then put through medium priced developing and only mid range scanning (3000 x 2000).

So I am thrilled to be able to get Kodak Ektachrome fresh again.  I fully expect that Kodak’s new formulation will be better than the old Kodak Ektachrome.  This film is being made in the United States in Rochester New York and is shipping from the factory now.  The new Ektachrome is the “natural” formulation and not the old “vivid” formulation as per an interview I watched yesterday from a Kodak spokesperson.  Why am I thrilled?  Slide film has punch you cannot get from negative film.  And you can project slide film on a screen without electronics.  One downside is reduced dynamic range.  As you can see from the three color photos above, the Kodak Gold has tremendous dynamic range.  I have already called one of the local camera shops to get an estimate as to when they are getting the film.  Guess is second week in Oct.

Waiting For Good Light

If you cannot see the back LCD on your DSLR maybe it is not a good time to take pictures or video?  Or you should stick to film that has huge room for bright highlights in full sun?  95% of my best digital outside photos or video are taken when it is not bright overhead sun.  So instead of a new camera with EVF or reading the zebras to make sure your highlights are not blown you should just take your shots or video when the light is good?  Even if you turn down the exposure on digital so you don’t blow your highlights in full sun you have to pull your shadows up so much that you get a lot of noise.  The best digital cameras like a Nikon D850 only have about +2 stops of highlights before the pictures are unusable.  The best film like Portra have about +4 stops.  Many times when the photo is overexposed a stop when you try to improve it in post you just don’t get a good result even using raw.

The flower below was taken with a digital camera about an hour before sunset and mostly in the shade.

DSC_0448
Nikon D750 taken late afternoon

The shot below is what happens to many digital photos when taken at mid day.

DSC_1239
Same camera as the above shot a D750 but full sun in North Dakota this summer.  This was taken raw but there is no way to get this into a good photo.  At least it is beyond my ability.

On the other hand here is some film shot at mid day with full sun.

87410034
Inexpensive Fuji film and the lowest priced scan
80610001
Fuji 200 (cheap) but a medium quality scan both of these taken at mid day
DSC_1394
D850 late afternoon in shade
80600018
Fuji 200 mid day shot.  Medium scan.
000005330012
Black and white film works fine mid day but a filter either red or yellow would have improved the sky.  Kodak TriX 400
000005330033
This is Tmax 100 with no filters.  Again I should have added a yellow or orange or red filter.

Right now you have a ton of people switching to buy mirrorless cameras from DSLRs to get an EVF.  That way you can control your exposure better when you can’t see the back screen.  My suggestion is that if you cannot see your back screen maybe your camera is telling you it is not a good time to be taking pictures.

Now if you are switching to mirrorless because you want to take more videos with your camera then I think that is a good reason.  But if you are going to take mostly or all photos and not video there is no reason to ditch your DSLR or not buy a new one.  Both Nikon and Canon offer very good DSLRs at modest prices.  I have a several year old Nikon D5500 that takes sharp clear detailed photos and is half the price of a comparable mirrorless.

Using Film and old Cameras can Be very Enjoyable.

As I said in the last post I was headed out to use a film camera (Minolta 600si + 24mm f2.8) to take shots of a western styled old town.  I really had a good time and very much enjoy the fact that I got some really great photos.  Of course I have not seen any of them yet except in my mind’s eye as they were film.  Why was this really enjoyable?

  • I am now writing this post instead of editing my pictures.
  • The camera is absolutely a great high quality and easy to use film SLR.
  • I am currently have no regrets about what settings I did not get right for the pictures I shot.
  • I am confident that likely all film shots will give images and that some will be great.
DSC_1247
I shot this with a Nikon 750 and 24-120 zoom lens.  This was the day we got here and was lucky enough to have just a little break in the haze that has been around the last three days.  

A while back Ken Rockwell mentioned in his excellent extensive web site that a big advantage of film was that you did not spend your evenings after shooting during the day in front of a computer editing your shots.  Boy was he right.  After I go out and shoot for a day using a digital camera I edit them later in the day.  This can be a short time if I used my iPhone.  Or a long time if I shot raw and need to go through every one of them getting them to look their best.

Most 35mm film SLRs are really simple to use.  Even my fully automatic Minoltas have no menus.  All functions are operated with simple visual switches and buttons.  Plus it is very easy to go full manual or semi manual if you want.  Easy peasy no confusing crap like figuring out which of the choices I want to pick from either of my Nikon DSLRs.  I do think about what film I should use for the shoot though.  Today I mostly shot using Kodak TriX and then some with Kodak Ektar.  I thought the subject would match those two films characteristics best.  And I only took one lens, a 24mm f2.8.  I took that because it lets you get close and still get a lot in the shot.  Plus if people are around you don’t have to point right at them to include them in the shots.  And at 24mm almost everything is in focus.

DSC_1280
This is shot with a Nikon D750 and 24-120 f4.  Taken in Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  

I have no regrets from my settings as I have not seen any of the results yet.  In general I only change the meeter settings on the Minolta from spot to matrix or center weighted.  And I usually go back and forth between A and P on the mode dial.  The Minolta’s auto focus works so well with only 3 spots I almost never manual focus.  But if I did want to manual focus the Minolta viewfinder is bright and better than either of my Nikon cameras viewfinders.  Of course with a film camera the big setting you change is what film you use.  But that comes from learning which you like for what subject.

When I shoot film, which is frequently, almost all the shots provide an image.  If I use a good processor the quality of the images I get back improves a lot.  Usually when I shoot 36 exposures I get back 36 usable shots.  Mostly they need little editing or no editing unless the subject was in bad lighting.

WHY TRI-X AND EKTAR?

I like black and white film when I want to show shapes and and not be distracted by colors.  And the subject was a western themed town and black and white suites that.  I like Tri-X for it’s contrast and starkness.  Tri-X will likely help this subject as it is mostly newer buildings made to look like the 1880’s.  I think they will look more authentic with Tri-X.  I shot a few photos with Ektar 100.  This is my favorite outdoor color film when not shooting people.  Ektar is OK with people but puts some red into their complexion unlike Portra which adds white.  To me Ektar just makes most landscapes better.  The colors pop.  It is very fine grain.  It loves the outdoor shots in the western USA.  It is the king of red rock photography.  Portra would have worked OK for this subject too.  The slightly faded look would have added to the “old” theme of the town.  Plus Portra is almost impossible to expose poorly.  And several of the Fuji slide films would have worked well too.