March 31, 2011

What's wrong with this picture - look at how he's holding the camera

I have no problem with the highly anticipated Fuji X100 camera. In fact, I lust after it (though I will write a piece soon about why I should be happy sticking with my Nikon D40).

And I have no problem with PhotoRadar.

However, the photograph accompanying the article is driving me nuts.

Digital cameras have ruined people.

That's not the way a person holds a viewfinder/af rangefinder camera. This is what happens when people are used to holding camera 18 inches from their face.

Please. always, cradle a camera, a la Bresson (right).

Even if you're camera is very small, it's always good to have part of your right hand underneath the baseplate AND to have both hands interlocked or touching each other for stability.

March 30, 2011

Intense lens camera combo of the week

As a Nikon D40 user, I find this lense and viewfinder combination on Tokyo Camera Style very flash!

I'm supposing the D40 needs to be in mirror lock up to accommodate the Voigtlander SL 15mm f4.5 (Sypal has incorrectly identified the lens as 12mm but, no matter, still love his stuff).

The lense has a huge back end.

My D40's mirror does go up in mirror lock up but the shutter stays open as well. The specs say the MLU is for sensor cleaning only.

Hmmmm. Mystery. I've read elsewhere about users placing a foam bumper on top of the rear element so the mirror hits this instead of the lens. The lens must come awfully close to the shutter!!!

My combo is less exotic but more safe plus I like using the Nikon E Series lens.

March 19, 2011

UPDATE: Pentax Espio Mini (I found the manual)

UPDATE:  I found the on-line manual!

There are a number of cameras on my always-buy list.

If I see a Konica Autoreflex T3 in black, I'll most likely buy it. A Hexanon 40mm f1.8, yup. The autocompact Konica Big Mini BM-301 (what do you expect, I'm a Konica guy), definitely.

A Color-Skopar or Tessar 35mm on a viewfinder hardbody is always a good idea. And a clean lens in f1.2 or f1.4, regardless of make, is always worth spending a few shekels.

And then there's the Pentax Espio Mini, aka Pentax UC-1.

While it only has a triplet lens it does very well. It fits in nicely with an Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic and a Nikon AF600 in a collection and equals them in performance. The Nikon AF600 is wider at 28mm but they came in around the same time and have the same generation of accurate auto-focusing, compact design and sharp lenses.

Similarly, the 1985 Nikon L35AF (a true legend of a camera) has a cousin in the Canon AF35M II. And the Olympus AF-1 came out a year later with a Zuiko lens lacking a no-flash option (admittedly, neither did the L35AF but the brothers and sisters of the L35 have learned how to work around it).

The thing about the Pentax, like the Nikon AF600, is they are harder to find than the Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic and the Konica Big Minis.

They have a nice body. They age better than the champagne coloured mju-IIs. And they just look nice. I like the sparkly finish.

The other nice thing about the Espio Minis is they do a great job of correcting parallax. The viewfinder darkens no longer part of the photograph as one focuses on closer subjects. A very fine feature.

The above is my second Pentax Espio Mini.

What lenses does Ron Galella use

Gear heads want to know sometimes.

I understand, I am one.

I know it doesn't make ones pictures better because you use the same specs as someone you admire but, well, I'm still a gearhead.

For example, it has been asked, what does Ron Galella (Brando, Jackie O, Stallone, and, of course, Warhol), paparazzo, use?

Well...recent photos of the photographer, during the promotion of his latest photo books, show him using (best guess by looking at some portraits of Galella by others) a Nikon Nikkor AF 24-85mm AF D zoom on a Nikon D100.

Interesting note: at this site one can find the exif info for his camera which has been turned on him for a promo shot.

The camera is indeed a D100 and the focal length does support the 24mm part of the zoom range. It is possible the lens could be a 24-70mm but that lens's barrel is very long.

The lens on Galella's camera behind a funny Brando shot is (only a best guess) a Nikkor-H  Auto with a Nippon Kogaku Japan tag but I can't tell what the focal length or maximum aperture is. The serial number might suggest it is a 5cm with an aperture of F2. To figure it out: check out the fairly hi-res image.

Then cruise around the Mir Nikon resource site!

UPDATE - Another possibility is a NIKKOR-N Auto 24 mm f/2.8. The letter after Nikkor is really hard to read!

Olympus Trip AF specifications

Olympus Trip AF, originally uploaded by *jj*.

I've posted this camera before.

I have yet to take pictures with it. It indeed uses AAA batteries. I prefer cameras that use AA. I really need to get AAA rechargers.

But I have found the Olympus Trip AF specificiations. I think this camera is too often maligned as a cheap exploitation of the great Trip brand name.

Note however the camera sports the Zuiko lens tag. Even the Infinity Stylus - MJU's don't have Zuiko lenses. One advantage over the original Trip is it has an on-board flash. The body is smaller. Also, I don't enjoy walking around with my Trip 35 with the fear my selenium meter running out for good. One has to make the awkward choice between using a lens cap at all times or letting the selenium drain.

The Olympus Trip AF skirts around all this. Hmmm, I've nearly convinced myself to load it with some film:

If you want to check out the original Olympus Trip 35 specifications (click to make it bigger):

And of course, David Bailey shilling the Original:

And here he is again selling the AF-10 or Infinity Jr.

March 16, 2011

Earthquake images from the US Pacific Fleet in Japan

110315-N-5503T-756, originally uploaded by U.S. Pacific Fleet.

This image is taken in WAKUYA, Japan on March 15, 2011.

Check out their photoblog on Flickr.

March 14, 2011

More Andy Warhol camera poses including the Konica C35-EF 2

The cataloging and identifying of Andy Warhol cameras continues!

If you're wondering,the camera in Warhol's left hand is a Konica C35 EF 2.

You can tell because it has the self-timer lever. The first, ground-breaking, flash-toting , Konica C35 EF Pikkari, didn't have the timer (see below).

Also the later model had three speeds - I can't recall what they are. The original (below) had two shutter speeds: 1/60 and 1/125. One Flickr discussion says 1/250 is the third speed on the second version.

Konica C35 EF

Here is the second C35 EF as advertised:

Here are my previous notes on the camera:

Film range: 25 to 400 ASA.
Lens: Hexanon 38mm, f2.8, 4 elements in 3 groups
Filter ring: 46mm
Focus range: 3.5 feet to infinity
Zone/Scale focus
Shutter: 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 shutter speeds. (also 1/30 AND 1/650???, see comments below)

Use 2 x AA batteries to power the flash and 1 X 1.3 volt button cell (mercury PX675 or EXP675) for the CDS light meter. Apparently, using modern 1.5v batteries won't negatively effect C41 or black and white films. Correct voltage may be needed for slide film.

With flash off, the camera will select the correct aperture. The CDS above the lens controls which f stop is used.

I believe the shutter speed is determined by the ISO setting in non-flash mode.

As this is the NEW EF - the original had no timer - there is a third shutter speed of 1/250. The old EF had 1/60 and 1/125.

Note the camera shoots without any batteries. It may default to either 1/60 or 1/125 depending on the ISO. I believe it shoots at its widest aperture, f2.8.

Konica C35 EF aka C35 New EF aka Pikkari
In flash mode the camera default to an aperture determined by the ISO. The camera may default to a shutter speed of 1/60 1/125.

The window beside the viewfinder has a light meter attached to the flash. This may govern how much light the flash emits.

On this camera, after some cleaning, everything seems to be in good working order.

Figuring out the focus point of a fixed focus and contradictory Olympus XA1

The above is the official corporate portrait of the odd sheep of the XA family of compact cameras by Olympus.

What makes it odd it is a fixed focus camera.

It has the classic Zuiko lens tag. It sports the 35mm lens, like the rangefinder Olympus XA. It even has the excellent clamshell design.

Did I mention it has a fixed focus lens. In other words you can't focus it.

The manual says you the camera will capture subjects between 5 feet and infinity in focus, but this is, at the camera's widest aperture, a ridiculous concept.

For those who may not know, the wider the aperture the more shallow the depth of field, that is the range at which a subject will appear in focus. It can be deep or it can be shallow. Whatever is in the field or range will appear in focus.

There are three ways to increase your depth of focus.

The further away one focuses on something, the wider the depth of field becomes. More will be in focus if it is far from the camera.

Another way to increase depth of field is to decrease the aperture. The smaller the aperture the wider the range where subjects will appear sharp.

Another way to increase the depth of field is to decrease the focal length of a lens. Wider angled lenses have deeper fields of focus. Telephoto or zoomed lenses have shallower ranges of focus ...phew...

Unfortunately the only variable that applies to the XA1 is the aperture. The lens  length (not the physical length but you know what I mean) and focus point are fixed on the rascally camera.

It's complicated but for the Olympus XA1 to have an object in focus at 5 feet at an aperture of f4, the fixed lens would have to be focus at something 6 feet. However, at f4 the furthest something would be focused would be 7.28 feet.

How do I know this? Well I used the Online Depth of Field Calculator!

Plugging a set of numbers based on the focal length and possible apertures for the XA1, one soon discovers there is no focus point at f4 that will cover 5 feet to infinity as specified in the XA1 manual.

However, I am beginning to suspect the XA1 focal range was calculated at the classic street shooting aperture of f16, good for a sunny day. One can get away with a fixed 35mm lens at f16 if the lens is focused at the correct point.

At f16, punching the numbers into Online Depth of Field Calculator by the DOFMaster, we do get a corresponding depth of 5 feet to infinity...(4.96 feet but close enough)...

IF the lens is set for 12 feet!

Now here's the rub. When one shoots the XA1 with a flash, the aperture gets locked at f4.

(UPDATE April 21, 2011 - I am incorrect regarding the fixed aperture in flash mode. The selenium meter is in control of the aperture even in flash mode, which means, the aperture will stop down in bright conditions. Good news.)

The flash, the A9M that often comes with it, can only illuminate up to 14.8 feet with 400 ASA film (again complicated).

Back to the calculator...that would mean only objects between 8.86 feet and 18.6 feet would be in focus at f4. But only items between 8.86-14.8 feet would be properly illuminated by the flash.

Not the best product design by Olympus.

But there's something about this camera. I just want to shoot with it. I suppose it's odd gives it some charm.

Raw specifications for the camera:

Absolute worst photo-essay related to Japan's disaster and current nuclear crisis

CBS News's photo editor has lost his or her mind!

Informing people about the dangers of radiation sickness, good.

Using inappropriate photographs to illustrate point, stupid.

Tokyo Camera Survival Style

I thought of John Sypal when news of the earthquake came.

He was off-line for several days. There were a few immediate aftershock images but then nothing. Until this morning.

On Sypal's personal blog images are beginning to emerge of food hoarding in Chiba.

Also he includes a fascinating view into his camera bag, a Domke F3, now loaded for aftershocks and nuclear meltdowns. Like a purse, it gives insight into the state of mind of people in Tokyo.

My good friend, Tiffany Chong, in Kunitachi has confirmed to nearly every news agency in Canada that milk, water and non-perishable food items are cleared off the shelves.

Good luck to both and their friends and families.

March 13, 2011

How to avoid red flags on the Olympus XA1 at f4

Ever wish you could use higher speed film in your Olympus XA1?

Yes, that camera with the selenium meter, fixed focus (who knows exactly where it's focused - it may be at 12 feet? - universal focus, indeed) two speeds and only two ISO settings - 100 and 400 ASA... yes, that XA1 with all its gloriously odd specifications.

You can set the camera to shoot always at 1/30 at f4 by using a pin to push the locking pin up, as shown on the right.

Then flip the flash lever under the lens to the "flash" setting. This will circumvent the red flag that prevents exposure under low light.

The camera will stay on this setting even if you close the clamshell.

Now you can try 800, 1600, or 3200 speed films with all the Zuiko goodness at a fixed focus at an aperture of f4. NOTE:  The aperture will adjust based on the selenium meter even in flash mode!

If only we new at what distance the lens is focused on!

I would bet the sweet spot is somewhere between 7 feet and 14 feet.

March 11, 2011

Is it possible to remove the filter/lens protector housing on a Konica Big Mini?

Hi, JJ: 
Do you have the Konica Big Mini BM-201? Is there a small clear piece in front of the lens (e.g., front filter)? If so, is it possible to remove the protruding (in the case of the 201) square mechanism to clean dust from the actual lens? Do you think the clear piece noticeably takes away from image "quality," or would you say it adds to (at least what I consider to be) the lush dreamy grainy images this lens tends to produce? Thanks! 
PS: I saw this blog post and it got me thinking. -bm-201.html

Though it's difficult to infer given it's written in another language, what do you reckon is going on in the photos? Why do you think the glass is pinkish? Is this a modification Hiromix and Robert Frank may have done? I apologize if this is overload, I just get really excited about the little point and shoots from this era.

Good question. I have a broken Big Mini BM-201. I'll see if one can remove the plate from the front without hurting the auto-focus. Stand by...

Okay, it may be possible. But be very careful and make sure you have a screwdriver that fits.

This is only a best guess, so please, proceed at your own risk. This is to remove the front housing without opening up the whole camera. You don't want to do that.

  1. Turn on the camera.
  2. Make it focus on something very close so it goes into macro. The lens barrel should project all the way out.
  3. Hold the focus.
  4. Take out the battery. The barrel is hopefully still projecting out. You will notice on the sides two screws.
  5. Remove the screws, I believe the filter/protector will come out. Be careful as the light sensor is housed in the "box". It should not be attached to it.

PS: I don't think any mods would have been done on the camera by either photographer.

Regarding the dreamy lushness - the Konica lenses are known for their sharpness and simultaneously nice bokeh in the out-of-focus areas when the aperture is wide open.

What is going on with your camera?

PPS Don't clean the lens unless you absolutely have to.

Thanks for your great questions!