Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vivitar V3800N is a Good Shooter

Here’s a picture of my son Ian I took using my new Christmas present. Of course the lenses are the same ones I have been using but the Vivitar V3800N body offers some features my other bodies don’t have, like depth of field preview, multiple exposures, and a PC connection allowing a flash to be triggered without using the hot shoe.

This one was shot with Portra 400, using the 135mm lens at f4 and 1/500.

My only complaint about this used camera so far is that the light meter stays on all the time. The switch in the shutter button must be broken so that unless I loosen the battery retainer screw enough to break electrical contact when I’m not using the camera the batteries will drain completely in just a few days.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kodak Portra 400: Latitude, Grain, And “Scanability” Combined | Shutterbug

Kodak Portra 400: Latitude, Grain, And “Scanability” Combined | Shutterbug

This link is for an excellent article I thought I would share. I like it of course because it is about film and there are very few of those around these days but it also confirms my admittedly limited experiences with Kodak's latest entry to the film market.

The author also claims that the quality of a 35mm negative is roughly equivalent to that of a 10 megapixel digital camera. I'm not sure how he arrived at that conclusion but it agrees with my subjective observations comparing images from my film cameras with those from an assortment of digital cameras.

This of course completely side steps the issue of "wet processing" versus digital & film scanning that I have been struggling with (although he does mention it in passing in the article) but highlights that fact that with the current consumer level of digital photographic technology there would seem to be little reason to favor film over digital other than perhaps personal preference.

Once you move into the realm of medium format photography, generally populated only by professional and serious amateurs, this is not the case. Here not only is film generally still providing better quality images than digital but doing so at an overall lower cost. Of course, since technology continues to improve and usually at exponential rates there's not much doubt that digital will soon overtake film there too and most pros are already using digital because of the many advantages it offers, not the least of which is instant images.

Still, some of us just like film better. It's nice to know that someone is still improving film technology for those of us that use it and Kodak definitely has a winner here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Quest for Knowledge Resumes

Some of us enjoy the holidays more than others. Here’s Granddaughter Mary who celebrates her birthday on Christmas day kicking back among the presents & wrappings and perhaps thinking everything is just perfect.

Well, the holidays are finally over and the family birthdays are taking a break for a couple months. LSU lost the big one and the Saints are out of the playoffs. I finally went to the doctor and got a shot and some meds to knock out whatever was plaguing me so I now that all the infections and distractions of the end of the year are over I can now get back to the task at hand.

Back before Christmas (December 20 to be exact) I posted my concerns about being able to tell the difference between analog photography and digital photography. At that time I noted that the pictures I take with film cameras are delivered and viewed as digital images because after the lab develops the film it is immediately scanned and the pictures uploaded to a web site and sent to me on a CD.

I went on to say that once I realized this dilemma the solution became obvious – get and compare prints instead of the digital images.  This however, is not as simple as it seems though because as it turns out most labs no longer make true analog prints directly from film. They scan the film and use the digital images to make the prints.

So while I do believe that analog photography can result in superior pictures what I have been doing (and most everyone else who doesn’t have their own dark room) is not really analog photography. It’s sort of an analog/digital hybrid and totally dependent on the resolution of the film scans used in converting the pictures from analog to digital.

Now as much as I love film photography it is certainly more trouble than digital and more expensive too. So if the results are no better than digital photography it begs the question – why do it? Before I consider that question in any depth I think I owe it to myself and all film photographers to at least try take an objective look at a real comparison of analog versus digital photography.

Towards that end I have started a search and sent out a couple emails to try to locate a lab that does real analog processing and printing. My goal is the have prints made the old fashion optical enlargement way directly from the negatives and compare them with prints made from digital scans of film and digital picture files and see if I can detect any noticeable differences in the quality of the various images. Ideally I would like to compare images of the same picture or at least the same subject and composition.

That’s the goal. First step – find an old fashioned lab. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions

Here’s a couple cool pictures of our New Year’s fireworks taken with the P-300 using the “Fireworks Mode.” This is one of the hardest things to do manually so I was really happy to see that mode on the camera and surprised to see how well it works. Unfortunately it took me a few tries to get the hang of it (of course I never, never, never read the manual first. I just wing it) so I missed the best of the fireworks.

I would like to make some grand and glorious promise to take more pictures or put up more blog posts or lose 50 pounds in 2012 but the truth is I hate New Year’s resolutions. If you or I really wanted to do something we would have done it already or we will do it as soon as time, money or opportunity permits. To arbitrarily say that just because it’s the start of a new year something should now be done that has been left undone thus far is foolish.

The truth is at this time of year the weather is just too crappy to want to get out and do much of anything. On top of that I have been a bit under the weather lately so even indoor activities (like writing blog posts) are being neglected. I will however resolve this year like last year, to post relevant information from time to time and continue my exploration of both film and digital photography and share my experiences with you.

Here are a couple specific areas I want to explore this year.

First, I do want to complete the pin hole camera kit I started and take a few pictures with it just to see how they turn out. I am skeptical as to whether this will be a long term fascination with me but I have always wondered about pin hole camera photography and now have a chance to check it out.

Second, although I am not generally a fan of double or multiple exposure photography I have some ideas about how to use that technique for exploring a couple really creative photographic ideas. My new Vivitar body and the Holga both are ideally suited for experimenting in this area so I will try a few and see what happens.

Third, I have gotten comfortable shooting ISO 400 film both in color and B&W because of the excellent exposure latitude in low light situations (and I hate flashes) but in spite of remarkable advances in the quality of modern film I readily admit that the best pictures are still produced by slower films. Therefore I plan to get back to shooting some film in the ISO 100-200 range. 

Fourth, I really want to do a more in depth comparison between analog and digital photography. To accomplish this I have to find a lab that still produces true analog images (see my Dec 20, 2011 blog post about why what I have been getting from my film lab is not true analog images), and for the most accurate results I have to use slower film as noted above. Assuming I am successful in this area it will be difficult to actually display the results since everything on the blog must of necessity be in digital format. For this reason you will to a certain extent have to just take my word for it unless you want to duplicate my “experiments” for yourself.

…and finally, I don’t believe I have even scraped the surface on the Nikon P-300’s capabilities. In this little gem I have finally found a digital camera that I don’t mind using and a complete discourse on the in’s & out’s of film photography would not be relevant without comparative consideration of digital’s capabilities.

So there it is – my non-binding, non-resolution New Year’s resolution to keep doing what I have been doing and would keep doing whether it was a new year or not – unless of course, I think of something I would rather do instead.

By the way, feel free to comment on the blog and let me know if you have any questions or would like me to explore any particular area of photography in fact (by actually doing something) or fantasy (by merely speculating and telling you what I think about it).