Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nikon 1 V1 CX-format EVIL camera

Last year, Nikon introduced the Nikon 1 system.  I was skeptical of a camera offering yet another format, and trending away from larger sensors. The Nikon 1 J1 that I tried out in the store turned me off with only a rear LCD for composing. However, after my wife returned from her Florida vacation in February, she told me she wasn't happy using the Coolpix L100 I had loaned her, as it lacked an eye-level viewfinder.  Already aware of the fire sale going on with the first generation of Nikon 1 cameras, I ordered a 2 lens 1V1 kit from B&H for $399 with free shipping.  That included the 10-30mm lens, and the 30-110mm lens.  With a 2.7 crop factor, that meant 27-80mm and 80-300mm range for the two zooms.  Both are quite decent VR lenses, by the way.  Oh, so you really think I bought it for myself, right?  Well, not really.  It seemed like a perfect lightweight camera for her with an electronic eye-level viewfinder (which turns on as soon as you put your eye to it.), FAST AF, and the ability to use different lenses.   Unfortunately, my wife fell and broke her hip a month ago, so she has not had the opportunity to use the camera, and I figured that I should run it through its paces as much as I could.

1. The camera is very solid, and has a good feel in the hands -- an important thing to me.
2. The EVF is excellent, focusing is blazing fast and accurate.
3. Color rendition is very good, and exposures are excellent.
4. Battery life is excellent -- far better than my Olympus EPL-1.
5. Quiet operation
6. It does not look threatening.
7. It has a 40.5mm filter ring that I already have various adapters for, from using my Olympus EPL-1.
8. It takes a while getting to know the menu system and the many options, but whether I shot in full auto mode or in aperture-priority, it was easy to adjust exposures with the  exposure compensation adjustment.
9. I especially liked using in monochrome mode, and am happy with the image sharpness and contrast.
10. Like the other "amateur" Nikons, this one does not meter with non-electronically-coupled adapters.  For instance, I purchased a C-mount to Nikon 1 adapter, and had to use manual mode only, unlike the Olympus, which allows A and M mode for non-coupled lenses.  However, it worked very well with the same C-mount lenses that I had been using on my EPL-1, with no vignetting.  The 75mm 1.9 Kern-Palliard Switar looked like it belonged on the camera.
11. When you unlock the lens, the camera turns on -- excellent!
12. If you want to see what a real pro can do with this camera, look here!

1. Unlike some people who have bashed this camera from the get-go, I have no hate agenda going on here.  The fact is, the menu system does work and it takes a little getting used to -- Nikon aimed this camera for the crowd coming form a P&S, where menu choices proliferate.  Yes, us advanced photographers like wheels and buttons that are physical, and Nikon could have put the PSAM dial right on top of the camera top deck like it does with most of its other models. I understand that the Nikon 1V2 fixes that problem.

2. The lack of a regular flash shoe.  Really?  Is that so hard to include?  I suppose I'll have to buy an adapter to use my other flashes. No built-in flash in included in the 1V1, either.
That's basically it.  I would like to add the 10mm 2.8 lens or the 18.5mm 1.8 lens to the kit.  I think this is a very under-rated camera and it takes images that are better than my old Nikon D70.  It weighs a lot less than my D90, and realistically, would be a far better camera on a trip with a couple of lenses.  I have yet to mount the camera in a tripod for night shots, etc., but will do so soon.  It has been too cold at night for that stuff.  I may just have to find a used 1V1 for myself, unless my wife decides that she doesn't want it.  If so, I'll probably sell off my M4/3 gear and stick with the Nikon systems.   Oh, and my wife is recuperating well from her broken hip.  She'll want to use this camera soon, I suppose...

By the way, EVIL means -Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens camera.

March Madness
I used a +2 series 6 diopter on the 10-30 zoom for this one.
the old school house
Ingalls Mall

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Playing With Polypan F

In late 2012, I purchased a bulk roll of Polypan-F from a seller on ebay.  It was shipped from Germany, and  the film can has nearly 300 ft of film in it.  At the price I paid of about $25, it is quite inexpensive.  It is apparently a cine copy film, as it has no anti-halation layer, a polyester base, and rounded sprocket holes.  There's bee a lot of chatter about this film on APUG, Flickr, and the Film Photography Project site.  It doesn't matter to me who made the film, or what it's intended use was (as if that has stymied me before).  My question is pretty simple -- what do I get when I shoot this like any other b&w film at the box speed?  Forget the instances of getting a "glow" (like some of those Lucky films) in the highlights.  Is this film any good at recording what I am shooting?  How does it work with D-76?  If a film can't deal with D-76, then it better be TechPan or another high-contrast film.

I went into my darkroom and respooled about 90 feet pf the film from the large reel in the can to a smaller reel that will fit into my bulk loader.  I had heard that the film scratches easily, so I took great care to handle it as little as possible.  Once in the bulk loader, I filled a half-dozen 35mm cassettes, printed out cassette labels, and was ready to go.    The ISO was 50, and I developed the film in D-76 1:1 for 8 min at 68 deg. F.  The results speak for themselves.
Marc, in Dexter. Nikkormat FS.
My first roll was  shot in my Nikkormat FS, using sunny-16.  The film really surprised me.  In a full-sun shot to the left, the portrait of my buddy Marc has a real 3D look about it.The tonal range runs the entire gamut, and there is a bit of glow on the metal zipper pull.

In the snow and ice photo, I can see lots of detail, which is very good.  This was under cloudy-bright conditions, so the snow brightness isn't totally taking over the scene. There is lots of detail in the darker water areas of the image.
roll 1, shot at Hudson Mills with Nikkormat FS

The first roll convinced me that this was going to be a lot of fun to shoot with.  Rolls 2 and 3 were shot in Kansas with my Nikon EM.  As much a P&S SLR as can be.  I was quite happy with my results, and know that I'll continue shooting with this film until I use it up.

A couple things to remember:
1. This film has no anti-halation layer, and the polyester film is very good at "light piping."  Make sure that you load the film into your camera in subdued light.
2. If you don't want halos around bright objects, use a camera with a non-shiny pressure plate.
3. Shot at box speed it works great, though others have pushed it to 200 with good results.
4. The grain in D76 1:1 is quite good,   and I see no need to use another developer, though I will try caffenol-C sometime.
5. Supplies of it from Europe are sporadic, so if you see it, buy it.

a sidewalk in Lawrence, KS.

Flower basket

somewhere W of Chicago.
More images from the Polypan-F are on my Flickr site!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Riding the Rails Part II

A continuation from my last post on my trip to Kansas and back via Amtrak.  I did shoot several rolls of B&W and one roll of color film with the Nikon EM, and here are a few of them for your viewing.  I have been somewhat slow with the blog posts as of late, with good reason.My wife fell and broke her hip in late February, and of course, I have been doing all of the things that need to be done around the house, and helping her with her physical therapy.  By the time 10 pm rolls around, I am ready for bed.  We are both hopeful that she will be back to her typical self in a month.

From Kansas City, MO.  Lomo 400 color film.
From the Train

From the Train

LaPlata, MO.
From the Train

Union Station, Chicago.
Union Station No. 2

Union Station No. 4

trod upon

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Riding the Rails

Lawrence, KS about 6:15 am.
A week ago, I embarked on a trip to Lawrence, KS by train.  It had been quite a while since I had made a lengthy train trip -- 47 years, in fact.  I left Ann Arbor about 7:30 am and arrived in Chicago about 11 CST. I had a few hours to kill, so I met up with my friend Trish, and we had lunch and went to the Art Institute of Chicago afterwards.  It was a quick visit, but always fun seeing a fellow photographer, and Chicago has no lack of photographic subjects.  I barely made my train to Lawrence, but once I was on the Southwestern Chief heading west, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.  Returning, I left Lawrence KS on Thursday  about 6:45 am and made it home to Ann Arbor at about 11:45 pm.  The short layover in Chicago enabled me to have dinner at Union Station and walk around a bit shooting some photos of that beautiful place.
Union Station, Chicago

I took a few cameras along -- my Olympus EPL-1 M 4/3 camera with the 17mm lens, my pocket Sony Bloggie camera, my Nikon EM with the 50mm 1.8 E lens, and my Debonair toy camera.  The shots presented here are all digital shots, as I have yet to process my film, so that will have to wait for another blog post.

W  of Jackson
Train travel is very attractive to me -- I love watching the landscape roll by, and the various factories, small towns, train crossings, farms, urban centers, etc.  It really is a slice of America, and you see so much more riding in the train, and gain a better appreciation of distance than via plane.  You see the wildlife, too.  I saw many turkeys in the woods, whitetail deer, a red fox, hawks, owls, crows, and other birds.  Instead of seeing road-kill, I saw lots of wildlife.
great view
Railroads are still the unifying infrastructure across America.  You really get a feel for this when you travel by rail.  The rail yards with many, many tracks, passing freight trains, and industrial and agricultural centers with trains serving them.  You don't really get that impression from the highway unless you make a concerted effort to see those places.
rail yard

Michigan City, IN


Mendota, IL

I mostly enjoyed my Amtrak experience.  Two things would have made it better -- high speed rails and better rail beds.  Oh, and more service to smaller towns.  That didn't affect me, but I suspect it affects others that have to travel some distance to a train station, especially when trains used to serve their community.
I could see a lot from the train, and I look forward to seeing how my film shots came out later this week.
arriving in Chicago

Even if you don't have to take a long trip, I suggest a day trip via Amtrak.  Go early in the morning and return that same evening.  Bring your cameras, as you will see different scenes than you would by highway.   Go with a bunch of friends, and make it an even more memorable trip.