Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's All About The Lens.

While I have long been a mostly Nikon shooter, I realize that there are other lenses out there that are really amazing, and that they don't mount on a Nikon.  Since I am shooting film here, I am not going out to buy a Sony Alpha or some other mirrorless digital camera to mount different lenses on.  No way.  This boy is shooting film as much as possible (and yes, I do own two Nikon DSLRs).  For instance, Konica has always had a reputation for manufacturing some excellent glass.  I was given a Konica Autoreflex TC by my mother-in-law last year.  The camera body wasn't working, but the 40mm 1.8 lens was perfect, so I bought a Konica Autoreflex T body on ebay for about $15.  Then, I saw the 57mm f/1.4 at Huron Camera -- an amazing lens I have read about elsewhere. I bought it, and it is one of those lenses that quickly becomes a favorite.  Wide-open it has a bokeh that will make some of those bokeholics pee their pants.   My Autoreflex T's meter is a bit off, so I usually use sunny-16 or a hand-held meter for my exposures.  What I have REALLY come to love is shooting the expired Panatomic-X (that I bought back in March at the estate sale) with this lens.  I am getting some images that I have really been liking.  Shooting late in the day with soft light at wide-open aperture or close to it is giving me some results that I am quite pleased with.

There are many other lenses out there that justify owning a body that they fit just to shoot with them.  It's all in the glass... the body is just there to keep the film in.    What's your favorite lens?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bag of Surprises

Last weekend I stopped by the Ann Arbor Recycle Reuse thrift store to see what I might find in the way of cameras, etc.  I found a few photographic books that I decided to pickup, and I was looking through a jumble of things in one corner towards the back, when I spied one of those Kodak Film cooler bags.  It was ratty-looing with mildew on it, but I looked inside, anyway.  Much to my surprise there were two decent Polaroid pack film cameras and a bunch of accessories.  The cashier was somebody new, and I offered $5, as the bag was unpriced.  He looked inside, and thought that "some of the small parts were probably worth more than the cameras" and came back with $7.50.  Sold.  I was going to offer $10, but Adrienne (who obviously is a shrewder person than I) thought that was too high to start with.  So, I saved at least $2.50.

Once I got the bag home, I immediately started looking through it.  It has sat around in someone's basement for a long time, I think.  However, the two cameras, a Polaroid 450 and a 340 were in pretty good shape.  There was a cardboard box of exactly the right size inserted into the bag for rigidity, and tucked between the box and the bag were a bunch of papers, including  a few old b&w Polaroids, some more recent-looking b&w prints, instructions for the Polaroid cameras and accessories, as well as the manual and papers for a Canon Canonet-28. A Polaroid self-timer, close-up kit, UV filter, M3 bulbs, 2 flashbulb holders, a screwdriver, and a Kalimar telephoto lens for the Polaroid completed the kit.  Oh, and there were 4 of the small tubes that hold the coater strips for the old b&w prints.

All of the items work, and I think I will keep at least the Polaroid 340.  It has a real rangefinder (as does the 450) and takes a single battery.  The close-up kit and self-timer are also keepers.  The 450 has a nicer Zeiss Rangefinder, but I'll need to check out the battery situation before I decide to keep it.  Polaroid made a plethora of models of the folding land cameras, and some are obviously better than others. The 340 lacks a tripod mount, but that is not a deal-breaker.
I was very interested in the photographs.  The Polaroids look they are from the mid to late 1980s, and the photos of the bartender and the waitress look like they are newer, perhaps 1990 or so. I wonder where they were taken?
 It's fun finding bags like this.  I cleaned everything up before I photographed it.  I have seen the Kodak cooler before, but this is a first time owning one. In the first photo, you can see a young man in one of those Papasan chairs and the Kodak bag is behind his shoulder.
The last two photos are at a different location, and are printed from 35 mm negatives. Perhaps from the Canonet 28?

A nice little find, and worth every penny!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's All in the Bag

Sometimes I over think about packing camera gear for a trip, and sometimes I don't think enough about what I should bring.  My wife and I were going for a 5 day trip to Marquette, meaning 2 of those days would be mostly traveling from Ann Arbor to Marquette and back - a minimum of 8 hours each way, and we would be visiting our daughter and her partner.  So, I packed fairly light - two film camera bags + my Nikon 1 in a small bag.  For film cameras, I chose my Nikon FE and added a Nikon EM as a backup + various lenses in one bag.  In the other, my leica M2 with the 35mm 1.4 lens and my Yashica A TLR.  At the last minute I threw on a small Yashica microtec 70 P&S.   Yes, I used all the cameras except for the backup Nikon.  I mostly shot b&w, and hope to develop the film this week.
 The lenses I chose for the Nikon reflect my typical interest -- landscapes, architecture and nature. So, I chose a 24mm 2.8, 55 mm Micro-Nikkor, 50mm 1.4, 105mm 2.5, and 35-135 Tokina zoom that I recently purchased. A selection of filters - Red, Yellow, Orange, ND4, Polarizer,  split  graduated ND filter, and one close-up diopter were all that I needed. I mostly used the Polarizer and the Orange filter.  A small flash, cable release, lens brush, extra batteries, and business cards pretty much fill the Tamrac bag.
In the second bag, The Yashica A and the Leica M2, my new Sekonic light meter, film, cable release are pretty much it.
I later added the Yashica Microtec to finish up the roll of film that was in it.

In all, I shot about 10 rolls over the course of the 5 days -- and did a lot more shooting with the Leica than I expected I would.  The Nikon 1 got a fair amount of use, as well -- and it has proven to be a reliable and quality travel camera.  What I didn't bring is just as noteworthy.  I didn't bring the Mamiya C330, nor my DSLR bag, nor the Pentax 6x7 or the F100, etc.  I kept things pretty simple, and it pays off in working better with a small amount of gear.
I'll close with a cliche sunset shot from Preque Isle, one of my favorite places to shoot in Marquette. It was taken with my Nikon 1J1 on a carbon-fiber tripod, .5 sec at f/16, ISO 100 -.3 compensation, with the 10-30mm zoom at 30mm.