What's New at 120studio.com

(February 2015 archive;  click here for current)

2015 February 27
Friday eve.

I figured it's time for a review of that plastic camera I've been talking about lately...

Classic Review:  Smena 8M

2015 February 25

That expired Russian 120 film is not ready to scan yet, because I have to flatten it for a couple weeks under some books.  It's not going to be anything to write home about anyway;   as I mentioned earlier, that particular roll was unusable, and there's really only part of one image on it. 

Instead of expired Russian film, which seems to be way too expensive right now, I'd rather have one of these and shoot new film in it.

As for the curled film... negatives and unmounted slides have the potential to curl up if you don't store them properly.  This makes it more difficult to scan them.  

New articlestoring negatives and slides.

2015 February 24

Just a semi-random scan...

Working on the Minolta adapter for the Tamron SP 17mm f/3.5.   This was from a little while ago.

This photo was taken with a cheap lens:  a 28mm at f/2.8, using (I think) Superia 800.

Oh, and can someone tell me if that is a peregrine falcon?  It's that bird sitting in the tree, in the cheap lens article.  I really have no idea what kind of bird that is, but it's small, and it looks like a falcon.  And it sat there long enough to be photographed with a cheap yard sale 300mm zoom lens, which I had to set up with a tripod and everything.  (For such times, it would be good to have one of these field guides.)

Lately my favorite cheap camera is one of these;  worthy of a classic review, for sure.  (Going to have a review on here soon, hopefully.)  If you don't have this camera, you should.  I can almost guarantee you will like the camera too much to leave it in the glove compartment.

2015 February 21

New article... read it here.

2015 February 20

Film Developing

Developed a couple more rolls of night and indoor photography on 35mm.  More scans to follow.  

(Larger version.  No attempt at reducing grain, etc.) 

These ultra-dim scenes are the greatest challenge for both film and digital.  Neither one handles them especially well, but it's surprising how well good 'ol Tri-X can do.  And this is only 35mm.  120 would be a lot better.

Just to remind myself for later:  is this true 6400, or are we really developing at 3200 to 5000?  I have to do some side-by-side comparisons, shooting the same photos with a DSLR, just to make sure this process is really giving a 5-stop 4-stop push.  But I think it is.  I think the main thing that's happening is the light meter can't deal with these very dimly-lit scenes.  

Food-Nutrition Article

Thinking of calcification and Vitamin D... more in the upcoming article, but also check out this book.


Another night of temperatures well below zero, Fahrenheit. For now, I think I'll stay indoors and wonder how I might go about getting enough Vitamin D out there, without actually getting cold...

2015 February 17

Early Monday morning, I read that it was -31 Fahrenheit (-35°C) in one town in Michigan.  I think it said -32°F in Watertown, NY.  But if you were anywhere in the Northeastern region of the USA, I'm sure it was "cold enough for ya."

So, Monday evening I made a pizza.

Nice charring, delicious pizza... this was a big hit with the guests. 

(Quick photo taken before sitting down with everyone.)

New article:  One Of The Best Pizza-Making Tools.
This is just a quick one, but fun for us kitchen science nerds.

2015 February 16

Whoops, did that "2014" thing again on the previous entry.

Last evening, the sun had only just gone down behind the horizon, and already it was down to 0 F (about -18 C).   It was windy.

And there was a group of birds sitting on a branch, directly in the path of the wind.  With all the other places they could have perched, I thought it was unusual.

Lens: this one @ 300mm.   ISO 1600, 1/200th second, handheld.

2015 February 15
Sunday evening

Here's hoping you all had a great Valentine's Day.

Nighttime and into Monday morning, low temps in the Northeast are going to be well below zero (F) for many locations in the Northeastern US. 

And windy.

Looks like it won't be an evening for night photography, even with Tri-X at 6400.   Then again, the really cold nights are great for photographing the night sky.... if you can stand it.  (And if it's not windy).   The atmosphere is clearer when it's very cold. 

Speaking of night sky, I used to want one of these really bad.  It was a major 70's thing, if you were a nerdy kid.   My equivalent of "you'll shoot your eye out, kid" was to hear "don't look at the sun with a telescope, kid".   Actually, I had a cheap made-in-Hong Kong refractor set which included a solar filter, and I used to look at the sunspots through that filter.

Today there are much more serious telescopes for the enthusiast.  I always wanted a big reflector telescope, but I never got into it to the extent that many people do.  Today I would consider one of these, and if I wanted to take photos with a Canon DSLR I would get one of these and of course one of these.  

Telescopes, like cameras, can be as pricey as you want, but the trick is always to get the most for your money.  Years ago, I used to have one of those 4.5-inch Meade telescopes, and the single biggest upgrade was to get a good eyepiece for it.   Most of these telescopes have 1.25" eyepiece tube, which means you can use microscope eyepieces.  The Meade 4.5" with a Nikon 10x widefield was pretty darned impressive.  With the stock eyepiece, not so much.

But if you are thinking of buying a semi-affordable telescope, I would get a larger reflector.  4.5-inch is 114mm;  instead, think in terms of 150mm or larger.   If you want the most for your money, and you don't care about being able to track objects across the sky, just get one of these.  That's an 8" reflector.  It gathers enough light to make it interesting for chasing those deep-sky objects.

After a while, you will get good at lining up objects without the aid of machines... hmm, kind of sounds like using a camera without the aid of fancy gadgets. 

So there we go.  Some idle musings as we prepare for an evening of windy, bitter, below-zero weather.  And I can't shoot a roll of Tri-X, but OK... maybe I can scan the roll I developed the other night.

Still in the works:  one of these days I'll get that new food & nutrition article up here;  and some other day, I've been planning to do a classic review on the Mamiya RB67 / RZ67. 

And in the future, maybe I'll review the Canon Rebel T6S, mainly because (A) it has some pro features, and (B) 24 megapixels is good for camera-scanning film.   Aside from that, I still have to do a couple reviews of turntables, and maybe some music.

Stay warm tonight and tomorrow.  

2015 February 13


Quick articleHow to prepare diluted fixer for the black & white developing process.

This is for people who don't want to mix up a whole gallon of fixer right now.  Learn how to avoid having your fixer deplete halfway through the process!

More soon;  I have another roll of Tri-X at 6400;  also working on a new article in the food section.

2015 February 10

More photos added to the Tri-X 400 at 6400 gallery.

2015 February 7

New:  mini gallery... Kodak Tri-X 400 at ISO 6400.   Right now there are just a couple photos from the roll.  I actually scanned a bunch, but many were shot at ISO 12800 or 25600, meaning they were grainy and uneven.  And that's a whole 'nother kind of artistic good, which I'm saving for another gallery page.

More Tri-X fun on the way.   There has been a roll of TMax 100 bouncing around in my camera bag for a long time, but it seems I always want to use black and white film when it's rainy, dreary, or night-time.  And so, about 90% of my black & white shooting is with 400 film, or some push-processed 400.  Don't limit yourself like that, though... use that 50 and 100 B&W film on those sunny days, and when some people see the photos, they might even think you were using 6x4.5 cm.  (It's been a while since I've shot Delta 100... that's a nice film for sunny days, too.)

I haven't used bulk loaded film for quite some time, but if I were back into that, I might get the 100 foot roll of Tri-X.... I don't know that it's a better deal than pre-loaded canisters anymore, but bulk loading used to be the way to save money.

I'm still planning to scan that partial photo from the highly-expired Russian 120 film, just for fun.

2015 February 5

Shot from a roll of Tri-X a couple three weeks ago, before I dropped my cheap scale-focus camera and the focus mechanism broke.  Square cropped from a 35mm frame.

Shot at box speed (400).  Developed with Ilfotec DD-X, which at 1+9 seems to provide extremely fine grain... almost to the point where you don't even know that it's Tri-X.   Well, OK, you can see grain if you look closely, but it's nowhere near as grainy as usual.

Sometimes I like ultra-grainy films, but sometimes not.  The developing makes a big difference, because you can work on getting finer-grained negatives that way.

There is actually quite a lot to the art of developing, that's for sure. 

I have some pushed Tri-X (@ 6400) to post as part of a little art project I've been working on.   Developer was HC-110, diluted.  More about that later.

I hope Kodak knows what a good thing they have with Ektar, Tri-X, and the others. 

And HC-110... such a great developer.

By the way, keep your eye on these guys.  They are working toward a newly-produced E-6 film (color slide)!

2015 February 4

Late January and into February:  the hard freeze.    There are always photo opportunities out there, but sometimes the very cold weather makes it tough.  One nice thing is that after it's been really cold for a while, a day of 25 degrees Fahrenheit seems warm. 

Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM on a 6D

Reminder to self:  At some point I want to scan the one semi-usable image I got from a roll of way, way expired Russian 120 film.  Actually, the whole roll would have been good, but it seems it must have sat in water for a while or something, because a wide swath of emulsion was gone all down the roll.  Only about 2/3 of the last image was preserved.

I don't usually mess with expired film, but it's fun once in a while.  Generally, I shoot new film whenever possible.

New article:   I've been asked about this for quite a while... my tutorial on How To Develop B&W Film

2015 February 2

New article in the food section:  Why it's a good idea to wash lettuce.

2015 January 31

Review:  Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 17mm f/3.5.  

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