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Site News Archive - 2017 June  (Click here for current)

2017 June 30

New Film Camera?
This an updated version of what I posted a couple days ago, because I was thinking about it some more.

I said "I want a new film camera".  Of course a "new to me" film camera is always a possibility, but what I'd really like to see is a newly-manufactured film camera.  It would be great to see a brand-new SLR that's either Canon FD, Pentax K, or Nikon F-mount.  (Minolta MD mount would be cool, too.)  The camera doesn't have to be Nikon F6 material.  In fact, at first I'd really prefer to see a camera in the style of a Pentax K-1000, a Nikon FM, or something like that.  Something comparable to a Minolta X700 would be even better.  (The X700 has aperture priority mode as well as manual.)

An updated Canon EOS 620-type camera would be stellar.

At first it sounds too remote, as if no one with any sense would make such a camera in a world where "everyone's going digital".  But they already went digital, and many people are really appreciating film now.  The same thing happened with digital music forms;  we tried them, they're sort of OK, but we like tangible media.  I know the clear, almost perfect sound of CD's and high-quality MP3's, but I still like to play an LP.  It is enjoyable.  And that's really what it's about.

And we know that film and vinyl preserve something that gets lost with digital.  With film, the difference tends to be glaringly obvious

Now, there are companies making turntables again, which have a lot more complexity than a plastic toy camera.  So I'd really like to see a newly-made 35mm SLR that's on par with the good cameras from 1979-'82.  Is it a niche market?  Sure it is, but so are a lot of digital cameras now.  We could argue that smartphones have rendered all other digital cameras a "niche market".  But film has become a sizeable "niche market", and the prices of good film cameras have climbed back up from where they were circa 2012.  We want film cameras.

So, a new camera...

The Vivitar V3800n had many good points, but it was no Olympus OM2.  Internally the 3800n was a good camera, but there was the "klunk factor", and it was also around at the wrong time.  It was too late for the original film era, and too early for the new film era. 

The 1970's and 80's SLR cameras were not dirt-cheap, but they weren't prohibitively expensive.  Lots of people had them.  And lots of people were fine with learning to use them, until the camera companies began to convince everyone that we needed stuff like Disc cameras and this.

Digital Upgrade?

Here's another one I updated, because I've been thinking some more about this one, too.

At times I get emails from people who think they want to "go digital".  This is not common anymore;  in fact it's rare.  In 2017 most people already have tried digital by now.  Quite a few are going the other direction (digital to film);  perhaps they're using both to fill out their creative visions.  But either way, there's no "vast reservoir" of would-be new customers for digital. 

But let's say you're one of those people who hasn't yet tried digital. 

I'm not going to say "Don't bother," because it is something you should try.  And obviously, there are many digital camera enthusiasts.  From time to time, I consider myself one of them. 

I would still give you this advice:  Keep the good film camera and shoot film.  I'm entirely serious here.  Having now had about two decades of experience with digital, I do not think I'd go out of my way to use digital as my primary.  In fact, if my only choice in film were 200 print film in 35mm, I'd still rather have the film.

But you're still probably going to want to try a digital camera, at least just to say you've shot digital for a while.

Now, the real question is:  is it better to go whole-hog and jump into a full-frame camera and lens assortment?  Or, should you start with an entry-level kit, just to try it out?

Here's what I'd do.  I'd keep the film camera and just get an entry-level digital kit.  This should cost less than if you sold the film camera and bought a full-frame rig. Honestly, there is not that much difference, if any, in the image quality between a Canon T6 / T6i / T6s and a full-frame camera.  It's there, but it's not tremendous.  And most of the time, I can't distinguish them.

Full-frame digital is not a substitute for medium-format film anyway.  You're not making an upgrade by going from a Mamiya RB67 to a Canon 5DS, Nikon D800, or whatever.  It's not even a lateral movement, really.  It's sort of a case of apples vs. oranges.

The other question is, will you like digital as much as you thought you would?  If you don't know for sure, it's a safer bet to go with APS-C, because it saves money.  And if you really want the best "bang for the buck", consider an inexpensive, used DSLR such as this.  Or, you can get one of these for even less money, usually.  With an APS-C sensor, 10 megapixels is plenty for most uses, really it is.  I have my 24-MP DSLR set to about 10 megapixels for almost everything I photograph, except for camera scans of film. 

If you want a more in-depth look at what I think of cheap DSLR's, read this review.  To this day, I still like the basic Canon T-series a lot. 

You do get more with a full-frame camera, but not so much in terms of image quality.  You do get shallower depth-of-field, and some extra features, but ask yourself what you're going to need the digital camera for?  If you haven't tried digital by 2017, I'm guessing you're not going to be working the professional wedding circuit. I'm not being sarcastic here, I'm serious.  You will not benefit much from the extra expense.  If you're serious enough to know you want a top-end DSLR kit, then you're serious enough to be still shooting film in 2017 anyway.  Then, the full-frame camera is your film scanner, with the right lens.

By the way, even a brand-new Canon T6 with lens is not that expensive, as DSLR's go.  If you can budget it, I'd say keep the Mamiya.  Use it when the pictures really matter to you.

Long live film!

2017 June 28

Bridge Cameras

My current bridge camera finally quit.  I wasn't that careful with it.  Slung over the shoulder, it would often knock into the door frame while getting into or out of the car.

For as much impact and carelessness as this camera withstood, it was pretty incredible.  In fact, one morning it even rained on it.  It's not weatherproof, but it still worked.

A couple times it got dropped.  One time, it swung back into my knee or something as I was getting out, and I just knew the camera was done.  The LCD screen got cracked a long time ago, don't even know how.  Before it died, the flash wouldn't work, and the thing had difficulty focusing.  The only reason these things happened was that I treated this camera like an all-weather, extreme-terrain pro unit, when really it wasn't designed for that.

A "new-to-me" used FZ70 is about $200 to $250.  There's a guy on Ebay who repairs them for $140, maybe.  But for all I know, he'd look at this one and say $200 or more.

At least these things can be repaired;  I become clueless when working with molded plastic, plastic gears, and that sort of thing.  But some people love this.

Thing is, I'm not in a hurry;  it matters more that I get good pictures with the Velvia 50 in my film camera (without using "digital techniques" that use up too many pictures).

The New Camera Market

Now that my Nikon film SLR may be having some issues, I'd really like the opportunity to buy a good, new film camera.  (Hint, manufacturers.) 

There are so many choices now in a digital camera, and I don't even feel like I need one.  I'm not panning digital here.  I want to thank manufacturers like Canon and Panasonic for making digital cameras that are durable, and for not being total jerks like so many other companies that make insta-fail junk.  At least we're not dealing with planned obsolescence here, which means I would definitely buy a Panasonic or a Canon again.  They deserve to have customers, because they made an honest, righteous effort to bring us a good product.  So, that's a win.

But digital.  Well, as I said to a guy one day, "You know, it's digital.  I mean, it's there, and uh..."

Big grin.  He knew what I meant.

I want a new film camera.  Toy cameras are fun, but I want a fine-quality 35mm SLR that works with standard Nikon or Canon D/SLR lenses.  A new Canon EOS film camera would be awesome if they didn't make it too plasticky;  a new Nikon F-mount SLR would also be pretty swell.

2017 June 27

Tools, Random Fun

New:  A Little Wrench For Your Ice Maker.  Some fun with old railroad-shop tools. 

This is actually the first part in a series on one of mankind's most useful inventions, the wrench.  All because I set out to photograph some rusty stuff.  (That, and the ice maker was broken.)

2017 June 23, 25
Friday, Sunday

110 Film

OK, let's try this again.  Somehow, this had two broken links;  not sure how it even happened, because I test these things when I upload them.  This is almost as mysterious as the "Unlikely Twelve-Ton Press-Fit Episode", but at least that didn't wait until I wasn't looking.

Might be that I uploaded one that didn't work after I'd already tested it;  not sure, but they should work now.

A reader asks where to get film for a Rollei E110 camera.  I believe this takes the standard 110 cartridge introduced by Kodak.  Some cameras do take 16mm and smaller;  you have to cut down larger film to make this. 

This article talks about 110 cameras and film;  it's been updated with some newer links that should take you to various types of 110 film available on today's market.  See also the 110 Film Gallery.

2017 June 20


Free Pallets

Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 1600

Just a quick scan with lots more, when I get the chance.  Been working on a number of metal projects, including some brazing repairs, fixing up a track anvil, etc.  More soon, hopefully.

2017 June 15

Tech, Electricity, Weather

New Article:  Open Neutral on the Utility Side.  How to detect this very dangerous electrical problem before it does serious damage to your electronics, or you.

This problem can affect anyone at any time, so give this article a read.

2017 June 8

Fujichrome Velvia (35mm)
f/8 @ 1/2 or 1 second, I think

2017 June 7

Film, Metal & Shop

Here's a project and photo essay that combines Fujichrome Velvia with some metalworking fun. 

New:  1979 Taiwan Bench Vise Upgrade!    From an unwieldy pile of junk, to...  well, it works, and the swivel base even works now, sort of.

This photo was taken with Fujichrome Velvia original.  The vintage effect you see here is not a trick of Photoshop.  The only thing I did on the computer was bring it out a bit in the scan. 

So, how do you get this effect?  This one is going to have to keep its air of mystery until I get an article ready, but for now, enjoy this article & gallery.

2017 June 2

This was the entry I was going to post on Friday, but I'm putting it up here now (June 6) instead.

Photography Techniques

Often we remind ourselves to slow down and make better pictures.  This is good advice.  Yet again, though, digital has instilled in me a careless approach. 

When digital cameras weren't part of the mix, I'd usually take just one or two of any given subject, then move on to something else.  There are exceptions, but I was looking at some autumn foliage pictures from this past season and it got me thinking.  Five or six pictures of the same bunch of trees?  No different angles?  It's as though I was using a digital camera again.

In film photography, being selective is one of the most important skills.  Look through the viewfinder,  "see" deliberately, and skip the ones that you wouldn't want in an 8x10.  I used to pass up a lot of scenes this way. 

Is there any clutter near the edge of the frame?  Is there negative space that doesn't really do anything for the picture?  Did starlings, uh, "alter" the subject matter in some way that calls for a wire brush?  There are a lot of things to consider with even the most basic composition.  I know;  the idea is to make it be "second nature", so you don't even think about it.  But the reality is that we're always having to pay attention to what works and what doesn't.  Otherwise you can end up with "a hundred pictures of what you had for breakfast this morning".

Lens Filters
The other day a filter saved my AF Nikkor 50mm lens.  It must have clanked into one of the big rusty pieces of iron that I like to photograph.  I didn't even notice how it happened, but I'm sure glad that lens filter was on there.

And the reason it was on there is that it was a good filter.  Not a top-top-priced one, but a good one nevertheless. 

A cheap filter, with all its flare and ghosting, probably wouldn't have been on the lens.


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