Monday, May 26, 2014

The Sigma SA-7 - A cleanly designed 35mm SLR

I saw one of these cameras recently, and it piqued my interest.  What's a camera guy do?  Head over to eBay and see what is there.  I bought a clean, like-new SA-7 with the two kit lenses (28-80, 70-300mm) for $60. The camera arrived quickly, and it didn't take me long to figure out the controls.   Like a lot of photographers, I questioned why anyone would buy a camera with a lens mount that was restricted to Sigma lenses.   However, I can see where this camera would appeal to someone that wanted an SLR with a good feature set at a reasonable price. Some people can go a long way with just two AF zoom lenses.  One thing I found while doing a little online searching is that there are M42-SA mount adapters, making the SA-7 easily capable of using my M42 lenses and metering with them.  So, I have one of those ordered for the price of $10.
 About the camera body - The SA-7 is a lightweight 35mm SLR with easily accessed controls, and has PSAM modes, and in manual, the shutter speeds range from B - 4sec - 1/2000 sec. and X is 1/90 sec.  It will use DX codes to set the film speed (25-5000), or the ISO setting can be dialed in manually for a range of 6-6400.   It features a typical TTL phase detection system for the AF, and an AF working range of EV-1 to EV+18.  The camera takes two CR-2 batteries.
The pentamirror gives a 92% field of view, and there is a diopter adjustment on the eyepiece. Metering is TTL 8-segment, average metering, and center area metering. +/- exposure compensation is 3 stops in 1/2 stop increments.  Auto bracketing in 1/2 stop increments; AE lock, Self-timer in 2 or 10 sec delays, built-in flash, mirror-lockup, multiple exposure, and remote control (IR remote) functions.  In short, this camera has mas more features than say, a Nikon N80.  Mirror-lockup and DOF preview is a nice feature, too.

So, I have to wonder -- what if this camera had a Nikon F-mount or a Canon EF mount? I suspect there are licensing issues, but it probably would have sold well.  The camera body is no more plasticky than an EOS Rebel or a Nikon N80, and is has a nice feel to it.  The only downside is that it requires SA-mount lenses for AF.  Some people may be perfectly content with the lens selection, and I should add that since Sigma has been making DSLRs, many of those lenses will fit the SA-7 (and SA-9).
Huron Camera in Dexter has several new in box SA-7 kits, and of course, one can go the ebay route and pick these up quite cheaply.  If you are looking for something that is AF, shoots film, and is full-featured and are not committed to a camera brand, the SA-7 might just be the right fit for you.
All the images that follow were shot on Fujicolor 400 film.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Night Shooting With The Argus C3

On the weekend of May 16-18, I was in Findlay Ohio for the Film Photography Project's Walking Workshop II.  Mike Raso, Leslie Lazenby, and the rest of the the FPP crew were on hand to welcome nearly 80 participants in the FPPWWII event.  I'll write more on that another time, but I should point out that it was a great weekend.
On the first night, Tim Wrobel (another A3C3 member) and his friend Susan and I met downtown to do some night photography.  My camera of choice that night was my Argus C3 with a 35mm f/4.5 Sandmar lens.  I loaded it with an expired roll of Ektachrome 160T.  Tungsten film is perfect for night shoots in urban areas, and my plan was to also have it developed in C-41 for some cross-processed funkiness.  Truth is, the Tungsten films xpro really well, and at night the colors are off anyways.    I used a cable release, set the shutter on B, and carried the camera around on my Manfrotto tripod.  I guesstimated the exposures, which ranged from 10-25 seconds. Overall, I was pleased with the results.  The beauty of using the Argus is that it is so simple to use for long exposures.  Second, as you can see in the photo of the camera, I have an accessory viewfinder for framing.  Almost everything was shot at infinity at f/8 to f/16.
This was the first time I had used this particular C3 with the 35mm lens, and while there is some flare in some of the photos, it worked well and I think that I will try it again with some Ektachrome 64T, which I seem to have a lot of sitting in the film fridge.

If you have put off shooting night scenes with film, give it a try.  You don't need to use Tungsten E-6 film, as any color C-41 film will also do fine.  Bracket your shots, and err on the side of overexposure.  Use a tripod and remote release, and any camera with a B setting will do.  Set your aperture to f/16, focus on infinity and have fun.  You can use a meter, but it's going to be tricky at night.  However, here is a good reference source for exposures.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

KODAK ROYAL GOLD 25 -- 18 years expired.

Kodak produced a number of interesting film stocks in the late 1980s to early 90s, and among them was the Ektar line of color films (C-41).  Kodak replaced Ektar 25 with Royal Gold 25 in 1996.  I am not sure how popular ISO 25 color film was then, but here is the product information from Kodak on the Royal Gold 25:
KODAK ROYAL GOLD 25 Film has the same technically advanced characteristics as the film it replaces—KODAK EKTAR 25 Film. Like all ROYAL GOLD Films, it is designed and produced to meet the needs of knowledgeable and discriminating photographers who want more from
photographs than general-purpose films can provide.
ROYAL GOLD 25 Film offers micro-fine grain, extremely high sharpness, and the capability for an extremely high degree of enlargement. The film is designed for exposure with daylight or electronic flash.
Use ROYAL GOLD 25 Film in cameras that allow you to set the film speed manually, or in cameras that will correctly set the film speed automatically from the DX code on the magazine. (Some automatic 35 mm cameras do not read the DX code for ISO 25/15° film and will underexpose it.) This film requires more precise exposure control than general purpose films.
Other features include—
• Extremely high sharpness
• Enlargements of superb clarity
• Incorporates KODAK T-GRAIN™ Emulsions
• Micro-fine grain
• Designed for processing in KODAK FLEXICOLOR Chemicals for Process C-41
• Can be processed with other ROYAL GOLD Films, KODAK GOLD, EKTAR, and EKTACOLOR Films, KODAK Pro Films, and KODAK VERICOLOR and EKTAPRESS
Professional Films
• Built-in dye-masking color couplers
• Provides quality color reproduction without supplementary masking

Basically, it is supposed to be a fine-grained  slow emulsion that allows big enlargements. Note the label actually indicated that it was for "SLR cameras."  Apparently, it was not aimed at point and shoots of the time.

The thing about using expired films is that in most instances one has little information on how the film was stored over the years.  It could have been in a glove box of a car or in the freezer, and everywhere in between.  Of course, expired film/distressed film crazies LOVE it when the film's expiredness (is that a word?) shows.  While I do appreciate the unexpected results from expired film, I would never use it without testing for shots that I could not duplicate (having learned THAT lesson long ago!) Here is a good thread on about Ektar 25

I had some hope for this film, as it was in a lot of expired film at my local camera store.  However, it may have come in with someone's bag of camera gear.  There were 2 rolls, one in the box, and one in the plastic film can.  I chose to use the one without the box.  Generally, (at least in the b&w world), slower films retain their speed far longer than faster films.  While the rule of thumb that has floated around is to lower the working ISO rating by 1 stop for each decade (i.e., 20 year old 400 speed film = 100 ISO now), slower films usually are less sensitive to the ravages of time. 

I shot the roll of RG 25 at the box speed, and took it to Huron Camera in Dexter for processing.  When I got the film back, I was a bit surprised as the color shifting was quite intense.  In fact, it seemed that it lacked quite a bit of sensitivity, as the negatives are decidedly blue-ish.   Reading the thread given above, I found this nugget:  There is a .2 decrease in yellow dye density between 18 and 28 years. Magenta and cyan don't even exhibit a .1 decrease at 100 years. This means the negative appears more blue and the resulting print will be yellow.

So, with regards to this particular film, I would say that it should be shot at ISO 6.  I have one box of the Royal Gold 25 left -- contact me if you want it and I'll mail it to you.  I also have several rolls of Ektar 25 in 120 in my fridge that came from the fridge of another photographer that kept his film well all the years that he had it.  I will give the Ektar 25 a try, but i am not expecting a miracle here. The suggestion from 2005 was to shoot the Ektar 25 at ISO 12.  I will use that as a starting point.

Here are the images that follow -- grainy, and due to trying to make the scans look better, there has been a lot of attempted color correction.  The negatives of course, were also quite thin.  You can see the obvious blue shift that has taken place.

Friday, May 09, 2014

The 2014 FPP Findlay Walking Workshop

Last year, I went to Findlay, OH for the Film Photography Project's Walking Workshop.  This year, the FPP WWII is going to be even better, with more attendees, more events, and hopefully, better weather!
There will be a few folks from the Ann Arbor Crappy Camera Club in attendance, too.  The FPP WWII is a great opportunity to get together with other film-shooters, and it doesn't matter if you are a complete novice coming from the digital world, a long-time film shooter, or one of those hybrid types that will use any sort of camera depending on the situation.  Findlay (called America's Flag City) is situated in NW Central Ohio, and while not a large city, it offers a lot of photographic opportunities within walking distance of downtown.  Additionally, the University of Findlay and other nearby colleges have photographic programs which have made the area a local hotbed of film-based photography.  While the FPP head honchos are from New Jersey, it seems appropriate the the FPP WW is taking place in Findlay, where  60 people with film cameras will stand out much more than the urban East Coast.

I keep wondering what cameras I'll take to such events, and it seems that i always pack more than I use.  This time, I am bringing my Mamiya C330, a couple of Nikon bodies and lenses, and a couple of toy cameras...and a Polaroid or two.  That should do it. Oh, and a Nikon 1 digital for snapshots.

Some folks probably wonder what they will get out of a meetup such as this.  Undoubtedly, the best thing is meeting other folks sharing similar interests, and it is a pretty darn nice group of people at the FPP.  I always learn something new, and I may not come away with a lot of great images, but that's not the point.  It's a social and educational event that may well get your creative juices flowing again.

 and now for a chuckle.