Well, following my recent despairing musings, I’ve taken words of advice to heart, and decided that the best way to gain some redress from my creative slump is to BUY CAMERAS! Yay! So, rather than embark on some dull as ditchwater Photo-A-Day endeavour like everybody else, I’m going to be totally original and buy and rave about a new camera every week! Nobody has ever thought of that! (er, are you quite sure about that ? - author’s alter ego). By the time I’ve worked out what button to press to active Sweet Puppy Darling Cheesecake Party Light Selfie Mode (no, really, Panasonic *do* have that, I saw it on DPReview), I’ll be using the video mode (whatever the hell that is) to show the unboxing of the next one! And my blog will instantly become as cool as 35MMC! (author’s little voice - in your dreams, and after some extreme outsourced graphic design makeover, matey)
So, drum rolls and whatever, here’s the first in a long, long series (promise), a brand new (almost), totally up to date FULL FRAME DSLR (Dented-SLR): the truly stunning Olympus OM4Ti.
I’ve wanted one of these since, like, forever (I’ve seen cool people use “like, forever” on Facebook, so whatever). But it used to cost about $2000, which was a little on the ascendant side, given that it doesn’t even have Exposure Priority. Or indeed video. Then again since I only ever use Aperture Priority, that’s not a problem. And it cost CHF 89.-, which is slightly more US$ than this time last week (and let’s not even mention €), but still rather a lot less than $2K.
And OMG is it gorgeous. I can’t stop fondling it. The view through the finder makes me babble incoherently (nothing new there), and feathers would kill for its lightness of touch. It makes my Digital Wonderbox E-P5 look a little tragic, really. The handling is just perfect, the multispot mode that I remember Canon copying on the T90, and which I used a lot until it gave me a hernia, is excellent, although overkill for negative film, and the Hilight / Shadow buttons are fantastic for when you can’t remember how exposure compensation works. So, I ran two rolls of slightly expired Ektar 100 through it - I hate Ektar 100, actually, but it’s all I had to hand - and rushed off to the only 1-Hour photo lab left this side of the Alps… and it was bloody closed. So no slightly delayed chimping for me.
…two days later…
Well, getting two rolls of Ektar processed and scanned automatically to CD on a Fuji Frontier 1000 cost me about half the cost of the camera, which gives one pause for thought, but the results are promising. Apart from the shots where I forgot that image stabilisation was invented about 20 years later, and allowing that it is, after all, Ektar, they look pretty good to me. When I get time I’ll do my own scans. I have two Zuiko lenses, a rather crotchety 50mm f/1.4, and a very smooth 85mm f/2.0. Both work far better on the OM4Ti than on digital bodies.
So, these are all basic vanilla lab scans, no tweaking.
Film’s not dead. It’s just resting.
Right, that’s enough of that camera. Bored. Attention span exceeded. Next, please!
Continuing the report on my trials with Kodak Provia 400 in Sardinia, I’ve now got the heavyweight stuff processed, i.e the rolls that went through the XPan. Interestingly, without really planning it, I have two shots taken a few minutes apart of the same scene, one on the last frame of a roll of E100G that was in the camera, and one on Portra 400. Both were taken handheld, so the framing is a little different. And the light changed slightly, it was a little sunnier for the top image.
Both were scanned on the Opticfilm 120, using Silverfast. For the Portra, I used the 400NC Negafix profile. Both images are straight scans, no further processing. Can you tell which is which? (Try just looking at the colour, there are a few other giveaways for the more astute viewer…)
Many, many years ago I owned a little camera called a Minox ML. At some point it developed some kind of defect. I went to a shop in London to buy a replacement, new, rather than secondhand, to take on a trip to Venezuela. The shop manager persuaded me instead to buy a new-fangled camera called a Ricoh GR, which had just come on the market. I did so, and that Ricoh - the first camera I ever bought new - pretty much introduced me to high quality photography. I must still have had some regard for the Minox though, because at some I did get it fixed. But then it sort of got forgotten. In fact when I tried to find it a few months ago, with no luck, I assumed I must have discarded it or given it away at some point. Until two weeks ago when I found it quietly nestled up in a corner of a cupboard.
Of course the 6V battery was dead, and the battery type is very hard to find. I managed to cobble together a battery using 4 1.5V cells, which seems to work fine. I’ve also now found a couple of PX28 batteries, from the wonderful Foto Moderna in Siena, one of the last real camera shops I know of anywhere in the world.
And the camera works fine. I loaded it up with a test roll of Kodak BW400CN, and soon got into the swing of things. It’s interesting comparing it with the Olympus XA I acquired a few months ago. Both have very good f/2.8 35mm lenses, both have built-in exposure meters, but the XA has a rangefinder while the Minox just has distance scale focussing. Actually, I don’t find that the XA’s rangefinder is that much use, and the Minox’s focus ring is much more practical than the XA’s lever. Same goes for the aperture ring versus the XA’s slider. As for image quality, well I’d need to use the same film in both, but my feeling is they are either pretty much equal, or the Minox is a little sharper. Either way it’s a bit late for a side-by-side test! But I find the Minox more fun. It really is unbelievably compact, and robust … and, hey, “full frame”!
Here’s a couple of shots. You’d never get the dynamic range in the second one on any digital camera I own.
Fooling around with old cameras isn’t going to make my photography any better, but, well, it’s a lot cheaper than fooling around with new cameras!