Thursday, February 26, 2015

Holga 35 Fisheye

Recently, the Lomography store had a sale on some things, so I decided to pick up the slip-on fisheye lens and fisheye viewfinder for the Holga 35.  I have had the Holga 35bc (bent corners)  camera for several years, and it's a fun, simple toy camera that uses 35mm film.  Like its big brother (or big sister), it has very minimal controls - sunny or cloudy, bulb or instant, the four focus zones, and a hotshoe.  In general, 400 ISO film works for most conditions with this camera.

The lens and viewfinder come in little attractive boxes, well-packaged. That's always been a hallmark of Lomography -- they pay attention to package design.  No plain cardboard boxes for them!  The instructions inside are easy to follow, and the lens comes with front and rear protective caps. The lens and viewfinder fit exactly as they are supposed to, as well.

Looking through the viewfinder gives you a circular fisheye view, which does not actually match what the camera is getting.  It's good for framing, and certainly better than the regular viewfinder.

Since the fisheye is such wide-angle, I wonder if the actual focus position makes any difference.  Nonetheless, I set the lens to infinity while shooting with it.

The Holga 35 is a great cold-weather camera in that there are literally no controls to fiddle with, so for mittened hands, it is great.

I finished up a roll of 400 ISO Kodak (somewhat expired) color film and sent the film to Blue Moon Camera and Machine, where they do a wonderful job with processing.

I'll post two images here to give you an idea of the fisheye effect from this lens.  It's not a circular fisheye such as the one you get with the Diana version. The negatives are cropped at the top and bottom,   The effect is pretty good, though,  and perhaps the cropped image looks better than the circular fisheye.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Back to Basics - The Ricoh KR-5 Super II

Back in December, I discussed several 35mm SLRs made by Ricoh in the 1970s and 1980s.  The Ricoh XR-7 is certainly a very good K-mount body,  with excellent features to enable a photographer to do just about anything. More recently, I acquired another Ricoh SLR for $5.99 + 7.00 shipping. So, for the price of a pizza, I purchased another camera.
The KR-5 Super II sounds pretty advanced, doesn't it?  If the KR-5 was good, and the KR-5 Super was better, then the Super II must be awesome!  Well, hold on, there.  This is not a better camera than the XR-7.  Technologically, it looks like a lot of the cameras that were pushed out of the factory that were made by Chinon.  The camera has about the same amount of plastic as the Vivitar SLRs, the Nikon FM10, etc., that were made in the mid 1990s.  The KR-5 Super II is lighter for sure than the KR-5.  The shutter speeds go from B to 1/2000 sec.  it has X-sync in the flash shoe, and it has a self-timer.  Pretty standard, bare-bones features for an SLR.  Red/green LEDs in the viewfinder indicate the "proper exposure" and the ISO/ASA dial is adjustable from 25 to 1600.  This is a manual camera, so there is no compensation dial.  So, yes, it is a basic camera that will do anything one might ask of a Pentax K1000.  The manual can be found online at the usual site of
A 35-70mm f/3.5 lens, carrying bag, cleaning kit, and manual came with the body that I purchased.  I have not yet had time to shoot a roll of film through it.  It definitely has more of a plastic lightweight feel to it, and I will update this page after I shoot a roll of film.  Ricoh sold a bunch of these, and they are plentiful online.  So, I imagine that if one is searching for a bare-bones K-mount SLR, this one should do the job, and with all the K-mount lenses available, you should be able to assemble a pretty decent kit for less than a good dinner. There nothing wrong with going back to the basics, either.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Catching Up With My Past

Gray treefrog, Nikkormat FT2, 2001
When I first got really, really serious about photography in 2000, I wanted to become more proficient at macro photography to be able to take photographs of insects and flowers, as well as other scenes from nature that appealed to me.  I had been using cameras since I was in high school, and while I learned a few things over the years, I never really delved into the mechanics, aesthetics, and possibilities of photography.  My first year, from 2000-2001, I immersed myself in reading all I could about nature  and macro photography, and nobody wrote better books about it than John Shaw.  His books and videos inspired me a great deal, and like many beginners, I also fell into the trap of trying to emulate what he was doing.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to doing macro work.  You must learn the techniques for best results.  However, in the days of shooting slide film, I shot a LOT of slides to get sort of where I needed to be.  I am glad that I did, though, because those slides are reminders that before the age of digital dominance, I could get quite a few good shots on a roll of 36 exposures of whatever slide film I was using.  They were not ALL good, however.  Lots of learning went into those, and I am glad that at that time, getting a roll processed was pretty cheap.  
Tent caterpillars, Nikon FE, 2002

So, the title of this post comes from me literally catching up with my past accumulation of 35mm slides.  Boxes and boxes of them.  laying them out on the light table and pitching the awful ones, the ones that have no real use, and keeping the good exposures, the ones that show a clear idea of subject, and of course, the ones that have photos of people and places.  Things that change over time, are frozen in time when you photograph them.  I am not the man now that I was in 1986 or 2001.  Some of the slides featured shots of volunteers that worked with my wife, and the ones she photographed in 1991 are all dead now.   Some of the slides are from the 1980s, when I was active in model rocketry.  Most of those will get pitched except for the ones with people I knew, and the ones that were shot at places where we did launches for the public.So, yes, I am catching up to my past by going through these slides -- some of them I have not looked at in 10 years or more.  When I am done, they will all be properly labeled as much as needed, and stored in archival slide pages in 3-ring binders or hanging files.  Want to see what's there?  Hold it up to the light.
Prickly ash, 2002. Nikon FE.

Imagine if these were all digital files... Nobody would see them.  They would just be file names on a disk somewhere (if it still existed).  The past could easily be erased, which is a sad thought.

me, 1986 near Rantoul, IL.

Bob Rau, with his thrust stand setup run via a Tandy Color
Computer. 1986
Adrienne and Jorie, near Carlsbad, NM 2003.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cheap Shots III - Call for Entries

This should be fun!
A call for entries for the A3C3’s   latest exhibition –
Cheap Shots III -- Blurred, Not Shaken
The idea for this show is to show the breadth of creativity using basic photographic tools that have minimal controls.  Pretty much about as far as you can get from digital.
Open to members of the A3C3* 
Images must be taken with a “toy” camera or pinhole camera
(Diana, Holga, Brownie box cameras, disposable cameras, etc.)
Please submit no more than 4 images at a resolution of no more than 1200 pixels at the longest dimension to  Please include: what type of camera took the image, the final process that produced the print, the title of the image and year it was taken. Your name, address, and phone number will also be needed.
Images must be received by April 1, 2015. 
You will be notified of which entries are accepted for the show by April 8.
The show opening is May 1. 
Final Image requirements: image may be a silver print, alt-process, chromogenic, or pigment print (ink-jet).  Final matted size should fit within an 11x14” mat.  Prints are not to be framed.
The exhibit will be hung at the Argus Museum, 525 West William St., Ann Arbor.

*If you have a paid membership anytime since last year, you are considered a member of the A3C3.  If you have not paid for a membership, then the entry fee for the show is $15, which will also get you a year’s membership into the A3C3.  Please make your check payable to the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More K-Mount Madness - The Pentax ZX-M

The other day, another package appeared with a K-mount camera, but this time it was actually a Pentax.  A ZX-M, to be precise, with a 50mm f/2 Pentax KA lens.  It was a Goodwill auction item, for $11.03 and with shipping, cost me about $25, which is less than what the lens goes for, which is why I bought it in the first place.   I have had other iterations of the plastic-bodied Pentax SLRS, but not this model.  I previously reviewed the Pentax ZX-5, which is an AF version, whereas the ZX-M is totally manual focus, but does have Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual modes. It must be the lightest SLR I have picked up thus far.  Unlike the comparable Nikon N65, the ZX-M meters with non-AF lenses, and should be thought of as a replacement for the venerable Pentax K1000.   It has exposure compensation settings of +/- 3 in half -stop increments, and an ISO range of 6 to 6400 if you set it manually.  There is an exposure lock button that lasts for 10 seconds after you push it.  Shutter speeds of B, and 2 sec to 1/2000 sec, and in aperture-priority mode you can get times exposures as long as 30 seconds.  The electronic shutter is stepless in A mode, so, shoot away!  The camera has single shot mode, continuous (2 fps) and self-timer.  There is also a depth of field preview button... something that is often missing on inexpensive cameras.

The camera is incredibly light, and with the 50mm lens, batteries (2 CR-2) and a roll of film, weighs just a bit over a pound. The penta-mirror keeps the weight down, and the relatively low-profile of the camera makes it easy to tuck into a bag.  I have a roll of the FPP 200 b&w film in it now, and will post my results later.

While many people give the advice to start with a 35mm SLR camera like the Pentax K1000,  Canon AE-1, or Nikon FM, there is no reason not to use a camera like the ZX-M.  The features are more advanced than the K1000, which is now getting on in years, and it's also a fraction of the price.   It's certainly cheaper than a 4-pack of Fuji Superia film at Walgreens.  It uses every K-mount lens, and can certainly be used to take wonderful photographs.