Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's a Miranda!

A few weeks ago I purchased a really nice example of a Miranda Sensorex II SLR at the Kiwanis sale. At $25, how could I not do so?  Miranda has always been an outlier in my world of 35mm SLR cameras, and I have only seen a few in the flesh, but never have I shot with one until now.  The Sensorex II appeared in 1972, when I was 15.  I certainly would have gone onto becoming a star photographer, if I had that camera then (ha!).  It wasn't until a year later that I received an Exa IIa SLR, which of course, was primitive by comparison. I blame my lack of photographic ascendancy to that turn of events.

Once I got my new to me Miranda home, I checked it out more closely.  Besides the bayonet mount, the camera also has a 44mm thread for the early Miranda lenses.  The shutter button is on the front of the camera, and shutter speeds go from the usual B, and 1-1/1000 sec.  I won't go into the unusual   aperture coupling methodology, but it works.  The power for the meter was supposed to be a mercury cell, but I used a hearing aid (Zinc-air) battery, and the meter is spot on. Everything about the camera was clean and operational.  The next day i took it for a stroll to the N side of town.  Every frame of the roll of expired Fuji Provia 100 came out quite good.   You can find out more about these cameras here. 

In use, it took a little while to get used to the placement of the front-mounted shutter button, but once I did, using the camera was a breeze.  It handles very well, and the match needle and circle on a stick to gauge the exposure works nicely.  The all-metal body seems fairly robust, too.

Here are some examples from the camera on Provia 100 and on Arista 100 ultra b&w film.  I'll have to look for a few more lenses to turn it into a nice kit.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Some Cameras Don't Age Well

The beauty of film cameras is that there are thousands of models that have been made over the years.  If one were limited to 35mm SLRs, well, there are still many hundreds of models, and it's likely that a 50 year old SLR may work just fine, even if the meter does not.  Pop in a roll of film, and you can get high-resolution images without much effort.
Now, forward (or backward, if you prefer)  to 1999. Kodak introduced the DCS 315 Professional SLR. Based on a Nikon Pronea 6i APS body with Kodak digital guts, the camera shot 1.5 megapixel images on a sensor that was a 2.6 crop factor (similar in size to the Nikon 1 sensor!).  Why am I bringing up this camera? Well, we have an area at work where we are accumulating digital detritus to be taken away.  Today, I saw the DCS 315 with some accessories and manuals, so i thought I would give it a try and photograph it before it gets sent away.

I plugged in an AC adapter because the battery tray was missing.  It originally took 6 1.5 v AA batteries.  Sure enough, it powered up.  I attached a Tamron 28-80 AF lens, and shot a few images with it.  The images are stored on a full-sized PCMCIA card of 160 MB.  The other outlet is a firewire port.  Well, none of my computers have firewire, so that was out. My Dell Inspiron laptop runs Ubuntu Linux 14, and has a PCMCIA slot, so I inserted the card (many times the size of a CF card, by the way), and....nada.   So, I could not get any images off the camera.    End of experiment.

As I said, some cameras do not age well.  Just about any digital camera at the dawn of the digital photography explosion is pretty much useless now.  1.5 MP's are nothing to write home about, even then, but because it was DIGITAL, it was cool.  Guess what, it would have been better to shoot slides and scan them in than the images  those cameras produced.  I remember shooting with an Apple Quicktake 200, and regret using the damn thing now, as the 640x480 images are worthless.  Yes, things have progressed, and today, any current DSLR or high-end mirrorless camera will produce bigger images than most of us will ever have a use for.  I suspect the turning point on SLR sales was when 6 MP cameras became the entry-level for the consumers.  You can make a damn nice 8x12 prints from 6 MP (which I have done many times with my D70s, which I still have).  The DCS 315 didn't age well, and was surpassed by better cameras in a short time.  Like some of the other film/digital hybrids, it was too early, too clunky, and expensive.  Early adopters get screwed, don't they?

Meanwhile, the Nikon Pronea 6i used APS film, which of course, had its own set of problems, but good photos from the film was not a problem.  That was a pretty nice body for an APS SLR.  So, there was no feeling of loss as I put the DCS 315 back into the box of junk.  It served its purpose 16 years ago. Now, if that had been a Nikon F5...!

The PCMCIA card is huge, and it's next to an old CF card of only 16 MB!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

FINALLY! Ann Arbor Gets a Real Camera Store!

They are still stocking the store, but stop in, anyway.
A few months ago,  I had heard a rumor about someone opening a camera shop in Ann Arbor, but the details were somewhat vague.  Then a few weeks ago, I found out that a store with the name Camera Mall was going to open soon.  A week ago, I walked over to the store on East Washington, less than a block from N. State Street.  A few other fellow crappy camera club folks had already been there.  I walked in, and was greeted by the manager, Desmond Kolean-Burley, and it seemed a bit surreal to be standing in a store with lots of shiny new cameras and gear.  In Ann Arbor.  It has been a few years since we have had that opportunity. I had a great chat with Desmond, and he was busily getting the store stocked and ready for business.  Today, I went back down, and I wasn't the only other person in the store, and the stock was being shelved as quickly as they could do it.  You can bet I had a case of lens lust, seeing so many lovely new lenses in the glass case.  I bought some packs of film (and yes, they will be carrying Impossible Project film), and chatted for a while.  It's obvious that Desmond knows his stuff, and the location is great - close to campus, close to the heart of downtown, and parking is nearby.  I can only hope that folks go and buy their stuff their and support Camera Mall's effort!

Camera Mall is located at 518 East Washington Street, Ann Arbor.  You can reach the store at  734-997-5031.  Desmond indicated that the stock is still coming in, and I suspect that by the end of April everything will be in place.  However, you can certainly buy lenses, bodies, film, used film cameras, digital cameras, etc. right now.  I think the store will also be operating a photo lab.

To Desmond and the other Camera Mall folks (out of Muskegon, MI) -- Welcome to Ann Arbor, and thanks for taking a chance on us!