Tag Archives: film cameras

The Analog Counter Revolution Continues

Digital information technology has changed the World in the last 50 years.  Much of this change is beneficial and here to stay.  I have embraced advances in digital for decades, but now when almost everyone predicted that photography, movies, music, newspapers, magazines, and books and much more would go digital there is an analog counter revolution happening as you read this post.

This week I realized that the analog counter revolution is here to stay and going to get bigger.  I got fed up with trying to read the news on digital and started getting the newspaper delivered again every day.  This is after a two year break of getting almost all of my news via TV & Internet.  I live in a big city and we have a good local paper.  When I stopped getting the paper newspaper two years ago I kept getting their digital version.  I finally realized that it is just not as enjoyable to get your news digitally compared to print.  Why, because it is organized, you don’t have a light box staring you in the face, and you just pick it up and read it without worrying about charging the batteries, anywhere.  Plus source shopping from 100,000 outlets is just a brain pain and your head spins after 12 youtube videos of people shouting at each other or complaining about Trump or Clinton or immigrants or 50 other current topics.

newspaper

The fact is that unless you are the President you don’t need to know about every news story in the World.  You only need to know about the news that affects you.  If there is some time left over you can look at some special interest news items.  That said digital news is very good for looking up special interest pieces or specialty news like dog news, or audio news, or news on the planet Pluto.  So for me the best thing is to mix analog and digital.  Does this mean that newspapers will get as big again and as powerful as 50 years ago, no.  But it likely means that a lot more people than I are not happy with digital only.

Lately I have started buying records again, vinyl records.  I bought a new phono cartridge and bought several LP’s from eBay.  As in getting the news, digital music is great, but I missed the other benefits of buying analog records.  Some of those benefits are, an album that is organized by someone other than me, usually beautiful covers, lots of times words to the songs on the inside envelope, I own it no monthly fees, oh and it sounds better.  If you have a good turntable and cartridge a vinyl record has more information in it than either on line or CD’s.  It helps to have good speakers too.  In speakers size matters.  Bigger ones are usually better.  Sure you have to clean the records and be careful with them, but many of my 40+ year old records sound better than CD’s of the same music or high quality on line.  For me, and I have older ears, it is very easy to tell the difference between vinyl, CD, and on line music.  The difference is hard to describe but easy to hear.  I am not alone in this opinion as vinyl record sales last year I believe totaled to more money than downloads.

o-vinyl-records-facebook

I have no intention of only listening to vinyl.  I like digital music if the quality is good and I don’t have to be bombarded with ads.  I have an Apple Music and Pandora subscription to listen to ad free music at home or in the car.  But when I want to sit down and enjoy some music I think I am going to mostly go vinyl.

I have never switched to reading books on digital except for things like wikipedia.  If I want to read something I just buy it.  When I finish I sell it on Amazon.

I have written a number of blog posts about analog vs digital photography.  To me these are two different art forms.  Of course they are close substitutes for each other so they get compared a lot.  But when you shoot film the structure of the image is just not the same as a digital image.  You can clearly see this if you enlarge the photos enough.  And of course with film you have to scan the image if you don’t print it.  That means you are once removed from the initial image and the result is it just looks different.  Most images in my opinion look better from film than digital.  However, photos of children, pets, friends, and action are just so much easier to do with digital that most people should stick with that method.  But for pictures of things and in many instances people (street photography) just comes out way better using film.  Kodak, Fuji, and other film makers have spent a lot of time getting the result to come out well.  Again last year my best photos mostly came from film shots.  And I took way more pictures digital than film.  On the other hand I have never taken super 8 movies, which are coming back.  I shoot most of my video on either my smart phone or DSLR.  I am not going to change that.

On the other hand I find movies shot with film and not digital to be much more pleasing to view.  I can easily tell the difference and I would expect that the movie business is going to go back to more film and less digital.  There are ways using software to make digital look more like film.  In some cases when this is not done I find the resulting product almost unwatchable.  Netflix original movies being a case in point.

The other really strong advantage of personal film photos is that there is so much really good gear still at great prices.  Good digital lenses for a DSLR can run over $1,000.  Many good lenses for film cameras can be bought for under $100.  I have both, and you cannot tell the difference most of the time.  Camera bodies for digital can easily run over $100.  Very good SLR camera bodies cost less than $100.  Improving your skills with new digital gear is very expensive when you start buying news lenses and bodies.  If you buy right older lenses can work on newer digital bodies.

So to sum up, the digital counter revolution is upon us and I suspect this will continue as people realize that not everything new is better than everything old.

Kodak UltraMax 400

A few months back I bought 10 rolls of fresh Kodak Gold 200 and Ultramax 400.  It took me a while to try the 400 as I thought it would be grainier than the Gold 200.  When I shot some on this summer’s long trip I was pleasantly surprised.  I don’t find that even on my largest most detailed monitor (An Apple Thunderbolt Display – finer than 2K and less than 4K) that the grain is greater than the Gold.  I have been shooting Ektar and Fuji Velvia 50 quite a lot and I have to tell you that the cheaper Ultramax looked very good.  I used it for landscape.

cleveland

corn palace

daylilie

I was very pleased with these results.  The middle shot of the Corn Palace in Iowa I also took with my Nikon D5500.  I shot this raw and converted with LightRoom.

Corn Palace Nikon

As is I like the Ultramax shot better.  If I twiddled around with the Nikon photo above long enough I might be able to get it to look as good as the Kodak shot.  But only maybe and the Kodak picture had minimal editing.  Oh, and the Nikon picture is a far larger file.

I also shot quite a few people pictures with the Kodak.

jeff cathy jon betsy_

barb behind fox

me in amana

To me the skin tones are also quite good.  I also took a number of indoor pictures with natural light and these turned out quite good too.  These pictures we all taken with my Minolta 600s, which is a late 90’s higher end manual / auto SLR.  The lens depending on the shot is either a 50mm 2.8 Sigma or a 24mm 2.8 Sigma.  Great camera and two really great lenses.

So I give a double thumbs up on Kodak Ultramax 400.  Color saturation to me is very good.  Not quite as much as Ektar, but for a wide variety of shots I like the color rendering better on Ultramax.  Velvia 50 definitely has more color saturation, but is much more sensitive on exposure, and as with Ektar does not look the best with people shots.

The other 400 speed film I have shot recently is Fuji Superia 400.  In my opinion the Superia and Ultramax are very similar.  Both good.  I like the fact you can still get the Ultramax in 36 exposure rolls.

Buying And Selling Cameras On Ebay

I have bought and sold a number of cameras on eBay over the last 5-10 years.  Recently I sold two Olympus pocket film cameras I had owned since new.  I had used both of them in the last year and was just ready to try something new.  The one was an Olympus XA, which is a high quality rangefinder pocket camera that comes with a clamshell case.  Mine has worked perfectly for over 30 years and very likely will work for another 30.

My Olympus XA
My Olympus XA – Now being used by it’s new owner.

This camera has been highly rated by many.  It is a solid completely adjustable small rangefinder with a good Olympus lens.  I think most of the reason I sold it is I prefer a 50mm lens to a 35mm as on the XA.  Plus I just consistently got better pictures with my Olympus OM2n.  I was surprised by how much this camera sold for.  It was about half of what I paid for it new.

The second pocket Olympus I sold was an Infinity Stylus.  This was one of the first auto focus clamshell type cameras.  It was also reviewed well over the years.  This did not bring a lot of money, but the person who bought it is getting a very reliable camera that I have shot several thousand pictures with.  Again, most of the reason I sold it is I just like the 50mm view as opposed to the wider view with this camera.

Olympus Infinity Stylus
Olympus Infinity Stylus

The lens in this camera is not the higher end Zuiko found on the XA above.  And therefore the results from this camera were of lower quality than the Olympus XA with similar film.  This camera had worked reliably for about 30 years.

The key to any sale or purchase is knowing what the fair market value of an item is.  I like old cameras and look at them on the internet a fair amount.  So I knew about what each of the above cameras should sell for and listed them appropriately on eBay.  My favorite camera of all time so far is the Olympus OM2n.  I have had one since 1980 and these are great picture taking machines.  Recently I had been thinking I would like to have a second OM2n camera back so I could load people film in one and keep landscape film in the second.  I was not planning on buying right now until I came across a full Olympus OM2n camera setup with one back, 50mm, 28mm, & 135mm Zuiko lenses, plus a motor drive, flash, few filters, and a nice case.  In my opinion it was priced at way lower than fair market value.  And the seller was rated 100% by eBay.

So I put in a bid at their opening price.  I went back the next morning and was still the only bid, but upped my highest pay about 11 bucks over my opening.  So I crossed my fingers and won.  I ended up just 50 cents bellow my max bid.  I think I won because I put in a max bid a dollar over what I figured people would max bid at.

The camera and kit arrived a few days later and the condition is excellent.  The motor drive has a bit of wear/damage on the bottom, but nothing bad.  After checking the meter it is a stop under.  But the motor drive works, and if I don’t want to take the camera apart and adjust the meter I just set it to a stop over.  In my opinion looking at recent sales of similar items I could resell what I bought for twice what I paid.  But I am not planning to sell.

Sample picture of Olympus OM2n
Sample picture of Olympus OM2n – The one I bought looks just like this.

My comments would be these.  1.  Knowing the fair market value of an item is the most important piece of knowledge you need when buying or selling.  2.  Dealing with a reliable seller is very important also.  3.  Buying and selling film cameras on eBay is fun.

I was able to add the second OM2n for less than my two pocket cameras sold for.  The OM2n with the lenses, drive, filters, flash, and case may have sold for $1,500-2,000 new.  I paid $110.50.  When I get some pictures back I will write another post.  My first roll is about half used.  I loaded it with Portra 400.

More Film Vs Digital Photos

We just got back from a two month trip in our motorhome that included an Alaskan cruise.  I got some very good pictures along with some great memories.  This summers trip seemed to revolve around water.  We camped on lakes, oceans, and rivers.  That seemed to make for very good places to stay.

On this trip I used both digital and film cameras.  I took 1.  Nikon DSLR with 3 lenses.  2.  My cell phone camera.  3.  My 1953 Voightlander Prominent 35mm with one lens, a 50mm 1.5.  4.  My Olympus XA compact 35mm film camera.  I used all of them.  Here are some bullets of stand out features of those cameras that I found helpful this summer.  the lighthouse picture

  1.  Vibration reduction on modern digital cameras is very useful when using a long lens.  The above picture is a mid range telephoto and this was an easy shot due to VR.
  2. Quick acting DSLRs are needed when the picture is an action shot and you want to use digital.  When we were in Glacier Bay the glacier calved.  I had a split second to get the action and the Nikon was up to the task.  Auto advance is another important feature in this situation.
  3. Modern film like Ektar 100 is almost impossible to expose incorrectly.  I shot an entire roll of 36 at a wedding with a 60 year old rangefinder camera and mostly guessed on exposure.  All 36 shots came out fine.  Of the 4 rolls of Ektar all of the pictures came out exposed well.
  4. Cell phone cameras are nearly totally useless shooting action.  I tried to get pictures of dogs on the beach in Oregon.  I would push the button and the dogs were way moved on before the shot would take.  By far the Olympus XA was more useful.  The Olympus is a simple camera, but when you push the button the picture is taken right now.
  5. Full frame cameras give you a shallow depth of field.  This is very useful when you want to isolate a subject and have beautiful bokea for background.  I much prefer the size of my Olympus OM2n with full frame than Cannon or Nikon full frame digital.
  6. I far prefer simple manual adjustments of the older cameras.  My Nikon is the 3200 and it is far more difficult to do manual adjustments of f stop and speed than on any of my semi automatic or manual cameras.
This was taken with a telephoto.  Vibration reduction helped me get a good shot of this.
This was taken with a telephoto. Vibration reduction helped me get a good shot of this.
This is an Ektar shot with a 60 year old rangefinder.  People love this picture.  I have had more comments and likes on this than any other picture I have ever taken and posted.  Who says Ektar 100 does not work on flesh tones.
This is an Ektar shot with a 60 year old rangefinder. People love this picture. I have had more comments and likes on this than any other picture I have ever taken and posted. Who says Ektar 100 does not work on flesh tones.
I tried repeatedly to get a dogs on beach picture with my cell phone.  Forget about it.  They had moved on before the picture shot.  This is not a great shot but at least I got all three dogs and froze their action.  This is the Olympus XA with Ektar.
I tried repeatedly to get a dogs on beach picture with my cell phone. Forget about it. They had moved on before the picture shot. This is not a great pictue but at least I got all three dogs and froze their action. This is the Olympus XA with Ektar.

So what is my point.  Just like you need many tools in your garage to fix things around the house, no one photo tool (One camera) does everything “best”.  Mixing film and digital in my case is the best way to go.  I got shots that I loved with both digital and film.  I have to tell you though that I like the film process of taking pictures better.

Photography Film vs Digital #1

I have loved taking pictures for a long time.  I think I inherited the habit of recording family events and places we have been from my father.  Adding an “art” quality to my pictures is something I am now trying to do but still in the learning stages.

But this post is about film vs digital.  Film was dead and now it seems to be making a comeback with amateur picture takers.  My guess is that professional photographers in many cases never stopped using film.  I was an early adopter of digital cameras.  Back in the late 1990’s I bought several Sony digitals and used them mostly for work.  I have been in the printing and publishing machine business and we use a lot of digital pictures in emails and our web site.  About 3 years ago I was having trouble getting my compact Sony to snap a shot quick enough to catch action.  Usually my running dog and active grandchild.

DSC_0007

I started to research getting a DSLR (digital single lens reflex).  To say that you can get overwhelmed by the choices is an understatement.  After months of research I had bought nothing.  But I did start to test out my old film cameras again to see how they compared to digital.  All this was a huge learning process.  I had only used digital for years and so I had to relearn using film.

Film lesson number 1 – different films give remarkably different results.  So first off you need to use a film that will work well with your subject.  Basically, people shots and scenery shots require different film.  If you try to hit a happy medium in my opinion your results will be less than optimum.

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The top photo is with a Nikon 3200 DSLR set to scenery shots.  I shot this picture mid day.  In my opinion the ability of the Nikon to get good scenery shots like this in mid day sun is a very desirable feature.  The second shot is with a 1980 Olympus OM2n and a 50mm f1.8 lens.  The film in this case was Fuji Velvia 50.  The shot came out with good color rendition and very good detail.  I had this film developed and scanned by The Darkroom in San Clemente CA.

So my point for my comments here is that film is far from dead and that the type of film you use is important.  Key being that people picture films and scenery films tend to be different.