What's New at 120studio.com

Site News Archive - 2017 February  (Click here for current.)

2018 February 26

New:  Grundig G5 Radio.  The electronics section needs more radio reviews, so I decided to start with the G5.  Made 2006 to about 2012, the G5 has AM/FM/SW bands and SSB tuning capability.

2018 February 22

New:  How To Test Transistors With a Multimeter.  The companion to the "diodes" article.

2018 February 21

It's Back!

They're making the Holga again!  Yes, this now-classic cheap-plastic camera is being manufactured once again. I actually only just noticed this; the one shown above is my well-used, dusty, glass-lensed Holga, complete with the strap lugs (well, they're not heavy enough to call them "lugs".)

Note the Optical Lens.  Probably the lens mount is not DSLR-compatible.  But there's a workaround.

From what I can see, the new Holga 120's are identical to the originals, down to the same lens cap and camera strap.  And right now, they're including a roll of Ilford HP5+ 120 film with it, too.  Such fun!  Try one, as long as you understand "the Holga is not like other cameras". 

Yes, the camera looks and works like an oversized cheap plastic toy from a gumball machine in 1976.  Classic Holga; this is what we expect and want from this camera. What's odd, and completely non-intuitive, is that this camera has a certain durability to it.  There are no fragile wire traces to a bunch of microelectronics; no glass screens with capacitance sensors.  It's a basic film camera, and you can throw it in your...

....hey, know what?  This could be the mythical Glove Compartment Camera that I've been wanting all along. A camera which you can throw in your glove compartment, leave it in there all year long, and it still works when you want it to.

They also have different varieties such as this one.

Fujichrome Velvia 100 (120)
Holga 120GN

2018 February 19
Presidents' Day
Monday evening

New:  How To Test Diodes With a Multimeter.  My article addresses a couple important things about this topic that you might not find elsewhere. Besides, I wanted to expand the Electronics section with some new articles.

2018 February 14
Valentine's Day


When Machinery Didn't Brick

Kodak Tri-X 400 (35mm)
Dev:  either HC-110 Dilution B or Ilfotec DD-X 1+9;  I'll have to check.

A reader asked a very good question regarding film, digital, and the progression of technology.  Do better digital cameras mean that anything has changed, or that there's less reason to shoot film?  Short answer:  Nope!  Not even close.

Longer answer:  Even today's almost "hyper-real" digital is orthogonal to film, both to the "film look" and to the process that's associated with it.  Especially the process, but definitely not that alone.  Even a cheap Canon Sure-Shot (non-digital) offers something of that.  And one of these definitely has it, even though it (too) is largely a cheap plastic camera. 

Actually, the improved resolution of digital simply makes it a better film scanner...

2018 February 10-11
New:  E200 Scan Comparison With 100% Crops. The FZ1000 version and the 6D / macro lens version, with some explanatory notes.  Figured I'd put this on a page of its own, just for convenient reference.

2018 February 9


This time I scanned that Ektachrome picture with a DSLR and a macro lens.  Here's the 1200-pixel image so you can compare them.  At this downsampled resolution, they look almost the same;  I know what the differences are immediately, but that's only because I spent ten minutes comparing them already.  After you compare them, you might notice too. 

At higher res, the differences become more noticeable (soon will post either full-res or 100% crop comparison.)  Still, it's amazing how good the offhanded one looks at 1200 pixels on a computer screen.

The Canon DSLR provides more faithful color, especially the dark green paint on that old engine.  And if you look closely on your screen, you can see the DSLR version has more detail even in the 1200-pixel versions. 

Not that we care too much about pixel-counting;  but it can be instructive.  Film scanning with bridge cameras and phones is a good thing because it gets people into film, it's fun, and the equipment costs are lower.  You can always upgrade your scan hardware later, but at least you've got the film as a base.


A couple more electronics-repair articles are on the way.  I finished the "LED clock" repair, and so far it's working well.  At this point I'm just testing to see if the time drifts; so far it seems to be accurate. 

Next up is a clock radio with a couple components that were visibly in need of replacement.  It was working great for 24 hours, but then it developed a slight buzzing sound.  Then the clock reset itself to "12:00" and stayed there.  More later, when the article is ready.

2018 February 8



Kodak Ektachrome E200 (35mm)

Scanned with Panasonic FZ1000, ISO 400, f/5.6 @ 60th, Zoom equivalent (35mm) = 25mm.  Freehand!

Yes, with the FZ1000!!  Had to try this.  Images from cameras with sensors smaller than, let's say, 1" can look great when downsampled, but you can see the loss of detail at full resolution.  I wouldn't say the FZ1000 is a 6D or even a 70D, but the pictures look really good when they use the whole sensor area.  However, this scan had to use "digital zoom" to get the desired macro ratio.  That means it really only used a fraction of the sensor size, maybe about the same area covered by an iPhone sensor.  But it looks good overall.  Somehow it still makes a 20-megapixel file, but it doesn't render 20 megapixels worth of detail from the original film (because digital zoom.)

I'm not going to nitpick; it's a usable film scan, and at Web resolutions it looks as good as a flatbed scan, actually better.

We as photographers can appreciate something that produces "a picture", is fun to use, and has decent color rendition.  But if I want to scan this for a serious go at making a print from the digitized file, I wouldn't use a method that included digital zoom.  It may be possible to select a zoom setting that doesn't use the digital zoom on the FZ1000; will update if I figure this out.

Ektachrome, love this film.  E200 was not my favorite version in terms of color, but ISO 200 slide film is good to have.  I tried to make this look as close to the original slide as possible.

2018 February 6

Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 Gallery.  Planning to put some more photos in here;  a few of these are also in the review.

2018 February 3-4


Panasonic DMC-FZ1000
Auto ISO 500
f/4.5 @ 1/80 sec
Zoom @ 112mm equivalent

New:  Why Is This Electric Clock So Inaccurate?  We look at repairing a vintage LED clock, or at least figuring out why it's running so fast. 

AC-powered electric clocks are already not the most accurate in the world, but there's something that commonly happens to make them less accurate.

2018 February 1
Thursday evening

Blue Supermoon, 31 January 2018

Panasonic DMC-FZ1000
Auto ISO 2000
f/5.6 @ 1/8 sec.
Zoom @ 400mm equivalent

This was another test photo for my Panasonic DMC-FZ1000 review.  A great camera that's still available now.

I had forgotten that today was supposed to be a rare lunar event:  a supermoon, blue moon, and total lunar eclipse... all in one.  It was only when I stepped outside last night to take a test photo of the moon that I realized Jan. 31 was the day. 

Had I known how to read the moon phase indicator on the weather station, I might not have assumed the full moon was past already.  Two days ago it was showing a waxing full moon, not a waning one as I had assumed.

You could never get an offhanded moon picture like this with a small-sensor bridge camera;  they are technically better for moon shots because of the longer zoom, but you need a tripod and a clear sky.  (The clouds are dimly-lit, so it takes a larger sensor to avoid noise and blotching.)

This is pretty much as-photographed, except for the resize.  Sky was cloudy, but the clouds were fast-moving.  The camera allows very fast follow-up shots;  you can just take a bunch and delete the blurry ones.  And finally, the camera has a number of adjustments-- such as contrast, sharpening, "iDynamic", etc-- that could allow you to get a better moon picture than this. 

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