Believe you can’t fly

(A scheduled rant because who knows what Wednesday will be like.)

This is precipitated by a blog I read wherein the writer postulated that film cameras will still be going after digital cameras have quit. Initially it looked like a claim that we’d all go back to film, but the actual point was that digital cameras individually are doomed to die within a few years whereas there are film cameras that are still functioning after more than a century.

Boy don’t I know it! I have several examples myself, from the handful of digital cameras that have passed on to the recycling bin to the 100+ year-old Brownie that I’ve taken pictures with – including using a digital camera as ‘film’ for it.

Of course everyone who reads my drivel knows my prejudice against smart phones. Can we add to the standard complaints the fact they are designed to land in the bin before they’ve even stopped working due to Planned Obsolescence on Steroids?

Let’s just look at film versus digital for a moment. Again.

What are the main drawbacks of film? It costs a fortune to use as supplies dwindle and the chemistry involved becomes ever-more expensive and scarce. Whereas digital uses cheap, reusable technology. Also film has that ‘wait’ factor where you have to shoot the whole roll and process it before you see what you got. Digital is nearly instant. Film is fixed in its results, digital is variable at several stages from changing the ISO frame by frame to post processing with the click of a button.

What are the main advantages of film? A good film camera need not be dependent on batteries and is unlikely to fail as a result. Indeed it can be “always on” and at the ready, with no lag between spotting the shrike in the bush and grabbing the shot. Some digital cameras are really slow to start up, or even capture after pushing the button. I’ve got a lot of pictures of where birds were a fraction of a second before the camera actually fired. True it can happen with film, but it’s less likely. And as mentioned at the start the film camera may still be functioning long after the digital one has given up. Most film cameras, even many of the cheap ones, are built like tanks. On the other hand digital cameras are generally built to be replaced in a couple of years (that ol’ obsolescence thing again).

I’m not going to discuss film image quality versus digital image quality as that really is a moot point and one that’s purely aesthetics.

Can you get a digital camera that will last? Sure. Got a few thousand dollars to spend? And then we still need to define “last” because a 150,000 shutter count can go by faster than you think, even when you are paying a small fortune per frame.

Is there any point to this post? No, not really. Certainly no conclusions. Just observation. But yes I would still use film if it were at all practical because I really like the way some of the old film cameras work (I often set my digital ones to imitate the functions, although not to the “simulation recipe” extreme). But I would use it alongside digital because both have advantages when it comes to getting the results you want.

B&W in colour

As best we can

“Brigadoon”

At this time I am jealous of Eric L. Woods. His adventures with the Foveon-sensored Sigma cameras are the kind of fun I’d like to have. I could have bought one of the early versions, but e-Bay killed me instead. That fun, like so many other types, has been denied me. C’est la vie.

I read also the many film simulation recipes created by Ritchie Roesch, even though I know I’ll never afford a Fuji X camera. The film-like experience on digital cameras intrigues me, and yes I have made my own ventures into that realm.

If it were up to me, some company would create a digital camera specifically for “film photographers”, and it might even have that Foveon X3 sensor in it. It might be mirror-less so it can adapt classic glass easily. But what it needs mostly is to be simple: inflicting the limitations of film on photographers is a good way for them to really learn photography.

What would it be like? For starters it would have a ‘film selection dial’ that would give you a choice of high, normal, low, and monochrome colour saturation. You don’t really need a thousand different recipes. There would be an ISO dial that could go down to 50 and no higher than 800 or 1600 depending on how large a sensor it has. Beyond those points you gain more noise than EV value so there’s not much point. Besides which, this is ‘film simulation’ and film never really went above those ‘speeds’. To that end colour temperature, I mean white balance, would either be fixed at “daylight” or offer a limited range (i.e. “tungsten” and “flourescent”). Along with the sensitivity there would be built-in gradients for contrast and grain, following the nature of film (higher ISO, greater contrast and grain).

Oh don’t go thinking this is “too limiting” and insisting there be overrides. You can have a jack to connect your smartphone to it to make changes with an app, okay? Wusses. I don’t want to see an LCD display on it at all. No gaze chimping here!

For exposure control we’ll have the PASM dial all right, but no need for anything like “scene selection” or any of that other AI takeover garbage. Learn to use the camera. In ‘M’ it should give you light meter readings not coupled to the control settings. Then we want a shutter speed dial and of course an aperture ring around the lens. EV compensation control would be okay too.

Autofocus? Well I can’t focus at all anymore so I’m inclined to want that, providing it’s good. That gets tricky as we have all seen AF fail either in accuracy or speed. Put a manual lens on and the issue disappears.

What we do not want to see is a lot of extra ‘features’, most of which are just there because they can be not because they enhance the photographic experience.

Ah well it doesn’t matter. Such a camera would be as commercially successful as the Edsel and no company would ever build it because they don’t seem to understand photography, just technology.

As for me … I don’t know. It’s evident my eyesight will not improve and doubtful I will acquire any more equipment or reduce the inventory I’ve got. At the moment any further pictures I may produce will be done with the equipment on hand.

“Filmulation”

It’s World Photography Day! What better day for an old fool who doesn’t know anything about anything (me) to palaver on about some of which he does not know?

Or something.

Anyway, today’s pictures are a result of using a digital camera as though it were a film camera. It’s easy with the right equipment. Now for some people the “right equipment” is a Fujifilm X camera which has some pre-set film simulations as well as a host of programming capacity to vary all sorts of settings. Lots of fun, for lots of money.

For me the fun comes from getting film-like results without spending a lot of money or experimenting endlessly with settings. Part of the charm of film is the slightly unpredictable results, and I have achieved that using some sub-par equipment and a little know-how. Or maybe no-how.

The camera is the always dirty Pentax K100D Super. It has the advantage of a CCD sensor which produces better colour tonal range than the CMOS sensors (in my opinion as well as that of several others). Plus the limited 6MP size is something of a bonus here as it is not crazy-sharp. The lens is the very sharp Pentax Super Takumar 35mm f2, whose glass is stained yellow due to the thorium content. This is an all-manual set-up too; no auto exposure or focus.

Settings are the same as with Mini Manual Manual, save the added adjustment of fixing the white balance at daylight. I think leaving off that step is one reason why so many film simulations don’t have that random variation that film gives us. Remember film has fixed sensitivity and colour temperature. On a digital camera these are two more variables. So we set it like film and shoot it like film: ISO 200 (lowest possible on this camera) and Daylight colour balance. Here’s what we get:

Marley on the beach. This looks exactly like a typical colour print from the 1960s.
The yellowing of the lens does show up in the images and needs to be compensated for in the final processing. But here we see the side effect of it enhancing cloud contrast just like a K2 filter would.
The cabin. Rich, saturated colour.
In the woods. My eyesight got me in trouble here on exposure, but not so much that I wasn’t able to ‘save’ it.
This could be the beach at Wakiki.
“You can’t control natural light.” Unless you learn how.

I was going to do some more shots in the same manner only using the T100 as the camera, but I haven’t got to it yet. It’s been a busy and tiring week, and that as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile my redesigned Master Plan continues to take shape and unfold. Slowly.

Frying Friday

I don’t even know if this will get published, but it’s a rant (a little tongue-in-cheek too) anyway so maybe it’s just as well.

Three blogs I read this week caused me to grumble. Let’s take the mildest one first.

It’s about film recipes. There’s this person that does them and does them well, except that they all kind of look alike when you get right down to it. Proudly promoted as “Kodacolor” or whatever, they’re all low-saturated, cool-toned, and bluish. I guess no one but me remembers Kodak’s standard of rich, warm colours meant to please the average consumer. Most of these digital recipes look like they should have the “Ekta-” prefix, not the “Koda-” one. If you don’t know the difference, that’s part of the problem. In later years Kodak literally toned down their colour experience because too many people couldn’t remember Uncle Bob spending so much time in the sun that he looked like he was part lobster. Whatever. Save it for post processing is my advice. The same with the cyan prints, which can easily be done that way. Oops! Did I just give something away?

Second complaint: someone said forget about getting a Pentax Spotmatic for a first film SLR. SERIOUSLY? Must be the STUPIDEST photographer on Earth! You want fantastic film photo results, get that Spotmatic with its incredible Takumar lenses – if you can. The idiot was recommending only newer, electronic film cameras. Yeah, right. Good luck finding one that still works or doesn’t break down two frames after you start snapping away. They weren’t dependable when new. You’ll learn more about photography with the manual camera, people. A lot more.

Complaint number three is rooted in someone once again declaring all cameras save pro DSLRs and smartphones are dead. Kind of misses the fact smartphones suck six ways to Sunday. Go ahead; change my mind. I’m waiting. I know lots of people who have and use them and think they’re fine. I should video their performances as they constantly swear at the things and repush touch-spots on the tiny screen trying to get the damn device to do what they want. Yeah I had that with the Lumix and it’s my #2 complaint about the camera. Frankly anyone managing to get a smartphone to do anything right is just plane lucky. The things are pure techno-trash. Undependable, unreliable, and unimpressive.

You can see I’m in a good mood. No, really I am. I’m actually having fun with my good cameras and have a few quite remarkable shots coming up to share. In the meantime here’s a “bleach-bypass” version of a picture taken with the cursed ZS60*:

P1000479B

Better times ahead!

*Footnote: the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 actually seems to work better in 3:2 ratio rather than 4:3. I don’t know why, and it’s not a major improvement.

The flowers that bloom in the Spring

Tra-la!

Not around here, of course; we’re still under 10″ of hard-packed snow with below freezing overnight and highs barely above.

The Spring in this case was 1978. The film was Kodachrome 64. The camera … I’ve no idea. Let’s see how many images I can correctly identify.

forgetme
Forget-me-not
forsythia
Forsythia
lovelies
Love-lies-bleeding
magnolia
Magnolia
periwink
Periwinkle
trillium
Trillium

That’s the last of these old photos. I have some others I haven’t work out how to scan yet, as they’re ‘special’. There may be some more lurking in the boxes around here, but there are so many boxes!

Film recipes and why I don’t use them

Warning: boring shed pictures again.

There are a number of people creating film-simulation ‘recipes’ for digital cameras, with good reasons and results. Especially note the fine efforts of Ritchie Roesch of Fuji X Weekly. Fujifilm cameras are particularly set-up for this sort of thing, but other ‘better’ cameras have similar settings adjustments in them. My Lumix ZS60 in fact has some specific film simulation settings, albeit buried deep in the touch-screen menu system. I’ve done some such setting changes with my Canon as well; it is in fact defaulted to a Kodacolor simulation with rich, warm tones and slightly elevated contrast – because that’s how I like to shoot.

Film has four basic characteristics: speed (ISO 100-800 as not many cameras can truly go above that level), colour type (including white balance [temperature] and saturation), contrast (one of the simplest variables), and grain. Only grain presents difficulty for digital simulations unless you have a camera (like certain Fujifilm models) that has a specific setting for that. Otherwise you’ll just be varying the resolution, which is the “digital equivalent” (“grain” introduces a fine noise effect).

Now here’s the thing. One of the advantages of digital over film is that you’re not stuck shooting 12/24/36 exposure on all the same ‘film’ type. You can easily change from shot to shot, as you see fit. The film recipes can allow you some preset choices to go with, providing your particular camera makes is easy to keep the simulations easily to hand. My old Kodak P850 has three “user defined” selections right on the main function dial, and all I had to do was remember what I had them set for. It’s somewhat more difficult with the other cameras, as the custom settings are notoriously menu-accessed and therefor not the easiest to get at – or remember.

So failing memory and increasing laziness affects my own choices, and I resort to some pretty simple solutions. Namely not making the changes in the camera. I’m notorious for warning against shooting in B&W, and that’s not just because the shot might look better in colour. My experience with digital B&W is the out-of-camera results tend to be rubbish. Perhaps something like the Leica Monochrom can produce fantastic results (it had better for the price), but the average camera trying to assemble a black-and-white image from the RGB detection under a Bayer filter tends to come up short. More often than not I find the contrast lacking, and if I crank that up the dynamic range goes ‘poof!’ (or other humorous sound effect of your choice). Thus I shoot colour and desaturate if I think it will look better in B&W.

I have adopted a similar stance for other versions of film recipes. Basically, shoot what looks best to you as full colour coming out of the camera, and then adjust the individual picture on the computer if you think it will look better rendered a different way. Sounds weird coming from someone who also boasts about not doing a lot of post-processing, but for end results – which are all that matter – it’s a good way to avoid missing a shot that would look better under different settings. The other option is to shoot it over and over in all kinds of ways and then pick the best from a dozen images. Ergh. Who wants to do that? If you post-process you can also have pre-set film recipes and not fiddle around endlessly adjusting settings by tiny amounts and wondering if that’s ‘perfect’ or not. Film has latitude; let your digital images have it as well. Perfection is not required for art.

Examples time. Here is the infamous red shed shot with the Canon T100 set with my Kodacolor recipe:

shedA
“Kodacolor”

One picture, incorrectly exposed I admit, and now we will process it to look like different film types. First, how it would look with the settings “normal” for the camera. This is not a different picture, just different processing to look like the standard output from the camera.

shedF
“Normal”

This one is simply desaturated to black-and-white:

shedB
Monochrome

Now let’s look at some colour variations. Starting with the silvery-blue, low saturation appearance that some people like.

shedC
“Bleach bypass”

Or you can crank up the warm tones (red, yellow, and magenta):

shedD
“Warmed”

Or crank up the cool tones (blue, cyan, and green):

shedE
“Cooled”

Which changes you make and how extreme you make them is up to you. What the subject is will also determine what effect you use, of course.

I’m not saying this is the way everyone should do it or even the way you should do it all the time; it’s just presenting an option to trying to get the film simulation right in the camera. You may find it easier to do this way than to adjust camera settings, or you may not have the camera settings to adjust. Likewise what software you have can limit your post-shoot processing. I just use the very simple GIMP program, and my files are JPEGs not RAW. As such there are certain effects not available to me on the computer which are available in the camera (or with the camera in the case of using colour filters). But it works for my “professional snapshot” style of photographic art.

By the way, one of the most fun things I’ve done with my Canon T100 was simulate a Kodak Brownie 127 camera from the 1960s: Shooting with the Canon Brownie. That’s not just film simulation, but camera simulation and even photographer simulation!

Car spotting

I’m going through a few old slides, looking for anything worth saving. It seems slide film doesn’t keep even as well as prints as most of them are faded and contrast-y. Not to mention a tad dirty as well. Part of the charm I suppose.

Anyway I came across a half dozen old shot of cars taken back in the 1970s most likely. In some of them the backgrounds are pretty interesting too, showing then-new vehicles which now qualify for collector plates. Also you’ll see an old photo processing kiosk behind the Corvair. The picture of the Barracuda has someone delivering newspapers in it!

 

1974 Porsche 914 that belonged to my brother’s then girlfriend. I spent a lot of time driving that car – and fixing it. Notice how one image has stood up better than the other, despite being shot in sequence on the same roll of film.

IMG_0011
196? Chevrolet Corvair

With a Foto Express, Happy Motoring Exxon station, and a ‘recent’ Japanese import.

IMG_0012
1956 GMC

This old truck sat abandoned in town for a very long time before disappearing one day. I suspect it was one of those cases where the owner kept it ’til he died even though he couldn’t use it anymore.

IMG_0013
1972 Plymouth Barracuda

Not a hemi! As I recall it had a 440 & six-pack. Used to visit a neighbour on our street from time to time.

IMG_0014
1968/9 Rambler American

These were very nice cars. My brother had one. He hated it because he had to buy it for transportation and it was very dull – and it refused to give up functioning.

IMG_0015
Porsche 356

Not sure of the year on this as they didn’t change much or often. Around 1960. It belonged to friends of our across-the-street neighbours and used to park in front of our house often. We certainly didn’t mind.

I have more slides to go through, but not more of cars.

 

 

Film Finis

In one of the unusual circumstances that are so usual in my life, I came across the prints of the last roll of film I ever shot. I know it must be the last because the images start at the old house, ‘visit’ the cabin, and finish at the ‘new’ home, meaning they were taken in the time period of 2009-2010. Yes, the film sat in the camera for almost a year. No doubt something to do with someone having an automobile accident and breaking her back, resulting in a lot of confusion and changes to our lives.

Anyway, I scanned the images such as they were and worked them a bit because the prints had faded in the ensuing 10 years despite being kept in the dark. Possibly not the best photo finishing service either; the prints are a bit grainy. But the camera they were taken with was the Pentax Spotmatic and its Super Takumar lenses shine out.

last1
Our Friend Peter

Taken at the old house, the kind of picture I don’t usually take: a people shot. He doesn’t look amused, but really he had a great sense of humour. You can see the usual chaos of my over-active life all around him. The vehicle to the left is the gray ’98 4Runner that would end up on its roof in October with Brenda trapped inside.

last4
The Stony Shore

Here we are at the lake, then. The terror of the future yet to be revealed. This is not the sharpest picture I’ve ever taken of that lake. It might have been hazy that day or … well who knows. No sense speculating about it, really, as it’s past.

last3
Denim Pine

The pine bark beetle epidemic was in full swing then. This shows the end of a pine log cut, with the characteristic blueish staining cause by the tree trying to defend itself against the beetles. This would have been cabin fire wood, as we didn’t heat our main residence with wood until we bought the ‘new’ place.

last7
Daisy Bug

Even then I liked to take pictures of bugs on flowers. The newer cameras have better macro ability, I must say. Even so, not a bad effort.

last10
Sun on the Water

A decidedly artistic shot. The vignetting is on purpose, the rampant chroma is not. Therein lies one of the faults with film: you don’t really know what you’ve got until the prints are done. With digital, I could look at this in a second and try a different approach – or even afford to take the shot several different ways right off the bat.

last12
The Clearing

This is one side of the property of the ‘new’ place as it appeared in the Spring after we bought it. The stumps everywhere were infected pine trees that had been cut down and sliced up for firewood. Yes, the house came with the first two years’ heating free, so to speak. I would reproduce the shot as it appears now, only I’d have to trudge through 10″ of hard packed snow and I don’t fancy breaking an ankle.

As I glance over these I wonder about the thousands of images I have taken which have simply disappeared to who-knows-where, never to be seen again. I also wonder about how well digital images might be preserved in their magnetic form. I know I’ve already lost a few to hard drive failure, and since have taken extra measures to back up anything I feel is really worthwhile.

Even so, I will stick with digital. It’s certainly cheaper than film these days, and easier to manipulate. Plus there is the added advantage of not being ‘stuck with one type of film for a whole roll’. If you load your camera with Kodachrome 64, you must shoot the whole roll before changing film types – or spring for numerous cameras to handle different films. With digital, you can alter ISO, colour intensity, even ratio and resolution from one shot to the next if you so desire. Personally I try to go for a “base universal setting” which not only produces the kind of results I like right out of the camera most of the time, but also allows me a lot of latitude to post-process into different forms if I feel a particular shot needs the change.

Failure but fun

film

I recently completed my brief experiment in shooting film. Here are the results:

 

Oh, you don’t see anything? Neither do I, because there is nothing to see. The film was very old and not stored properly, and I didn’t exactly have the right (or fresh) chemicals and equipment to process it with. In short there were too many variables working against me. The results were null.

But it doesn’t matter. I could have gotten the same results after buying a lot of expensive equipment – again (I’ve had it all and done it all in the past). Today it costs the better part of $20 (Ilford FP4 @ $17 +tax is the cheapest I’ve found, most other offers are much worse) just to get a roll of B&W film here, and I don’t miss the chemical experience much. In fact I found I don’t miss it at all. There was the familiar taint of the acrid aroma in the air that brought back memories, as did the time mixing powders and standing around in a pitch black room (because I don’t have a tank to develop in). Nostalgic to be sure, but not what I’d call “fun”. Not any more.

What was fun was using the ol’ Pentax Spotmatic again. Oh I hear people cry out against the weight of modern cameras these days, and I laugh. They would sag under the weight of this machine, never mind something that is really heavy – like a 4×5 Speed Graphic. I found comfort in the sensation of so much mass in my hands. It was just like old times.

Equivalent_Focal_Length_by_Kaleidopsyche

This SLR is solid in a way the digital-only photographer will never know. Everything about its controls says so. There’s nothing small or flimsy or delicate about it; it was a masterpiece of form in its day. Cranking the wind lever, flipping the meter switch on, adjusting sensible (and straightforward) controls, pushing that mechanical release, and hearing the “thwap” of the mirror flipping up, the curtain zipping across the film plane, and the mirror returning. People should experience that: then they’d know what the bad design aspect of even the most expensive of DSLRs is; they don’t have the right ‘feel’.

It made me long for simpler digital devices. My mind reeled with ideas about taking out much of the technology the companies are so proud of having put in. If I were a youngster I’d probably gamble on a start-up to build low-tech digital cameras whose functions more closely resemble a film camera’s operation. Oh they wouldn’t sell in any quantity, but there would be a few artistic photographers who would appreciate the limited designs. Is not Lomography a thing now? They know what it’s about.

So I fantasized about The Black Box Camera Company, producing oddball artisan digital cameras with minimal functions. A small waste-level viewfinder unit with sun hood and a flip-up magnifier. A simple DSLR that isn’t full of options you never use. Even a video camera that was dedicated to video and not some sort of ‘duck trying to be an elephant’ – or vice-versa.

You see, sometimes trying to be all things to all people is the formula for failing to be anything to anyone. As it is now we have people trying to be photographers by adapting themselves to devices which have an overwhelming range of options, most of which never get used. How many times have you read a blog about setting arbitrary limitations on your shooting to force yourself to understand better how it should be? You’ve probably even done it yourself: “I will shoot only in B&W”, “I will use only this fixed focal length lens”, “I will not change the ISO”. Even selecting aperture or shutter preferred automation is a form of this. When there are too many choices, we can’t make any choice. The master control gets set to “Program” (or worse, “Scene”) and the camera makes all the choices for us. What do you learn from that? Where is the artistry in merely pointing and pressing the button? It might have been fine for the original Kodak, but you won’t advance in the fields of photography or art by it.

It doesn’t end there either. The inverse problem is availing yourself of too many choices: some people shoot RAW, bringing on the burden of mandatory post-shoot processing. Some people voluntarily submit themselves to this form of masochistic torture even with their JPEGS. Then they sit in the digital darkroom and fiddle numbers 1 digit at a time seeking unrealistic photographic perfection until their family and friends begin to wonder whatever became of them. (Helpful Household Hint: when adjusting digital parameters, don’t twiddle the controls one number at a time; be bold and do it by major steps, reducing or increasing the effect in ever declining size increments until you get what you’re after.)

Well I’m an old film-trained fool whom no one has to listen to. But I did enjoy working the Pentax again, even if it gave zero pictures in return. I now happily go back to my digital image making, even if I will sometimes be using the old Takumar lenses on the Canon DSLR with the control set on “Manual” and an exposure of “my best guess”. Maybe I’m some kind of hybrid photographer; using modern digital equipment in an ancient analog way.

Or maybe I’m just having fun.

Looking back, looking ahead

(A Post For No Particular Reason while it’s snowing.)

DSCN2056
The snow today

Looking back on 2019 there were a lot of things that I could have done without. A certain mess-up by people in another country which necessitated my wife being away longer than intended, for example. A certain mess-up by people in this country which resulted in the sale of our rental house not going through would be another example. In both instances some of the people doing the messing-up were lawyers.

Still, by the end of the year I could have been cheered up by any number of unexpected pleasantries which might have occurred. None of them did, however, so I go into 2020 feeling a bit down. It doesn’t help that one of the first things scheduled for the year is re-doing the rental house sale, and that to be followed immediately by (or perhaps simultaneously with – don’t ask) my wife going back to England to deal with things again. It all sounds too familiar.

Sometimes I dwell on the “shoulda dones” even though there’s no point. Why, for example, did I not ship back my Exakta V in 2018? Well there were a number of reasons including the mind-boggling cost of shipping between countries, the fact I did not have a DSLR to put old lenses on at the time (thinking I’d never play with film again skewed my rationalization of what cameras to keep), and the fact I was way pressed for time to get it all done. Never mind, water under the bridge, can’t do anything about it now. Maybe someday I’ll even stop complaining about it. But don’t hold your breath waiting.

Still, some good in 2019. Took an amazingly large number of pictures, for example. Bought Jojo the Highlander. Watched a lot of good movies. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy. In fact the less going on the happier I am.

So what of 2020 beyond the scheduled events which I already dread? Well there’s continuing work on the cabin to be done so maybe, just maybe we’ll get to spend some time there this Summer? Nah, something will screw that up. Don’t get your hopes up or they’re bound to be dashed on the sharp, jagged rocks of reality.

Obviously there’s more pictures to be taken. It really has become quite the solace for me as it requires little exertion or expense and is simple happiness in images. I even like looking over the same pictures again and again, and not just my own; the various blogs I’ve been reading are enjoyable too and don’t require substantial effort to do so.

I was thinking, if I were to add any equipment this year what would it be? Two items have come to light: one is a 35mm Canon lens for the T100, which at $440+ is still expensive but less than the nearly $800 they want new. (Edit: the lens has already sold. I guess it was a good deal.) Another is the one kind of camera that would add something to my repertoire, a full-frame Canon 5D for $620. Still a lot of money and probably not worth it, but less than those beautiful Fujifilm rangefinder replicas which wouldn’t really be all that different in shooting from what I already have. Timing is everything here, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

And say, when it comes to surprises could they be pleasant ones this year? The novelty of unpleasant ones has worn off and I’m really sick of them.

Now for utterly crazy ideas I’ve come up with the notion of convincing some company to build “digital film”. It sounds absurd at first: a unit the same size and shape as a 35mm film cartridge with a ‘tongue’ sticking out that is the sensor for the film plane. This could be put in any 35mm film camera and produce digital results. Ah but how would you work it? Magic of Blue Tooth and an Android App. We already have wifi connections from the camera for moving pictures to other devices, why not make good use of it? The sensor would have to pick up on the exposure to register a new image, and the adjustments in the App would be only a matter of “film type” settings as focus, aperture, and shutter speed would be camera-dependent. Not for amateurs and probably most pros would not use it as their go-to unit, but the serious artistic photographer would not be likely to leave it on the shelf. Imagine being able to use all those wonderful 35mm film cameras so easily.

Unfortunately my engineering expertise is in the wrong field, not to mention seriously out of date, but if anyone out there wants to take this on – well I’d buy it just to use the Pentax Spotmatic again. Probably the most difficult issue would be protecting the sensor yet keeping the ‘tongue’ thin enough to be practical.

Yeah, I get crazy ideas sometimes.

I also have more experimental photography ideas coming up, and more blog entries to write.

Have fun. I try to.