Flashback Friday: โ€œGimme Your Best!โ€ ๐Ÿ˜€

This photo was shot about two, almost three years ago in 2016. I said to Zay, give me your best smile and this is what she gave me! Ah the baby’s already a natural in my biased opinion ๐Ÿ™‚

Sure yes I know it’s not a real “flashback” but hey when you’re a 3 year old toddler, yeah it’s a flashback! ๐Ÿ˜€

I wonder though, could anyone figure out the camera setup being used in the picture? Hint, it’s not something I ever alluded to on these pages before lol but perhaps this is the year for it! This is the year we go BIG…or is it not? Haha

Happy February good camera loving peeps! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜

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The Worst Cameras Of All Time #2: The Kodak Disc Camera

Ah man, I hate doing this! I hate doing this so much that it’s been almost three years since the last time I wrote one of these “worst camera” articles. Most of you regular readers know that I am proud and fond of saying I love all cameras right?

Well, I do, I really do! That said, we can’t always have winners, not even in the camera world! So today we have another candidate for worst camera of all time, and again, as a prerequisite for me, it is another camera I have used.

Our first recipient of this distinction was the Nikon N70 film camera with its “FAN” shaped thingy! The reason I feel bad writing this today is that when I first wrote the article on the N70 in 2016, I never expected that the article would still show up on Google’s front page whenever someone types in “Worst cameras of all time.”

How could I have known that nearly three years later it would still be there?! It makes me feel bad. It makes me feel like I have “wronged” the Nikon N70 in some way!

It’s not the worst camera ever, but it might just be the worst designed Nikon and so I stand by my writings.

Today, we will take a look at a camera that I think most camera nuts and historians would agree should certainly be on this “distinguished” list and that camera is the Kodak Disc Camera.

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INTRODUCTION

The Kodak Disc Camera system was introduced by Kodak in 1982. There were several different models, of which the best known was probably the Disc 4000, the cheapest model. Other models included the 4100, the 6000, the 8000, and even a telephoto model called the Tele Disc.

If you want specifics on any on these models, please do a search on them. It is not my intention to review each model here.

MY RECOLLECTION & EXPERIENCES WITH THE KODAK DISC CAMERA

The year was 1983. My Mom, perhaps noticing my budding interest in photography got me a Kodak Disc 4000.

Now I’m not sure if I was pestering her for it or she did it herself, but somehow she brought home a Kodak Disc 4000 camera one day.ย As Mom had no photographic inclination, I would imagine me and my brother nagging her about it!

I remember well, Kodak had a big television and print advertising campaign on this camera! They even used celebrities if I recall correctly. It was indeed their next big thing…or so they wanted us to believe.

Using the camera was the simplest thing in the world. You drop the film in and the camera did the rest! You press the shutter and the camera winds, rewinds, decides whether or not to use flash, etc. It’s a straight up point and shoot in the best sense of the word!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer watching videos, here’s our video on the Kodak Disc Camera. The only thing missing in this article that’s on the video is me explaining how I feel about Kodak in an era where a rap star “Kodak Black” is more well known than Kodak the film company! That’s nuts! ๐Ÿ™‚

THE KODAK DISC FILM

I don’t want to jack some picture off the internet so please do a search if you’re interested. I’ve always told people that the Kodak Disc film reminded me a lot of those circular slides they used in the children’s ViewMaster toys. You know, that classic red binocular looking toy that would illuminate slides of animals and such for children.

The disc/film itself was quite solid and thick. It didn’t bend like a 35mm negative would. It felt like a plastic disc. Apparently the thickness of the Kodak Disc film was comparable to 4×5 sheet film though it felt more solid to me, if I recall correctly.

The negatives were about 10mm x 8mm and you got 15 shots per disc. To get the best out of this film the labs had to utilize special Kodak lenses for printing, but apparently a lot of places did not use these special purpose Kodak lenses which may or may not account for lowered quality in the final print.

THE PICS

Here are just a few shots I took using the Kodak Disc 4000 circa 1983-1984. A lot of these images are like a 1980s time capsule! They are not artistic masterpieces. However, if you look at the photos you will see quite a few legends of the era in there! Plus I also think this camera helped me learn how to capture “the moment” so to speak.

Ed Koch, NYC Mayor, 1983. Kodak Disc Camera. I shouted “how am I doing?” to mimic Ed Koch’s famous slogan and he repeated it back to me! Haha!

You got to remember this was like a 13 or 14 year old kid with his first camera living in a time, pre iPhone, pre digital camera. I could not take a thousand photos and edit them to find the ones I liked best.

“Daddy Boombox” 1983. Kodak Disc 4000. Just like Archie Bunker, Dad sits on “his” couch and plays around with the new Panasonic Boombox he just bought us. The 1980s were an awesome time for electronics!

I was shooting not to post online because there was NO online! I was learning photography and shooting the moments in life, the “Kodak Moment” and I loved it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Science Fiction Legend Isaac Asimov, 1983. Kodak Disc Camera. I shot this at a little known event in Manhattan called the “Comic Convention.” Today I believe this has grown into a huge mega-event called “Comic-Con.”

“Roddy Piper vs Jimmy Snuka” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. The Pro Wrestling boom started in the 1980s and here Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka is about to unleash on “Rowdy” Roddy Piper!

“JC & Hoss Funk” 1983. Kodak Disc Camera. Ah I miss the 1980s. Fun and friends, that’s what it’s all about!

“Brothers” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. Do you know any of these guys? ๐Ÿ™‚

“Mom In D.C.” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. The soft grainy image works well for this photo of Mom in Washington, D.C., I think.

WHY IS THE KODAK DISC CAMERA ONE OF THE ALL TIME WORST CAMERAS?

I loved the photos I got from the camera, I really did! But on a technical level, yes, I’d have to say the Kodak Disc Camera was one of the worst!

And it’s not so much the cameras themselves. The cameras were thin, sleek, automated. In many ways they were a precursor to today’s digital point and shoots.

Just like the APS Camera System, the main drawback of the Kodak Disc Camera system was the film. The 10x8mm was much smaller than 35mm film. You only got 15 shots as opposed to 24 or 36 shots with 35mm. Plus development costs were high, certainly no cheaper than 35mm.

All these factors added up to another thoughtfully designed but ill executed product. The images were soft and full of BIG GRAIN. They did not enlarge well.

And so most of the Disc cameras were off the market by 1990, though Kodak continued to produce the film until 1999. Personally, I cannot recall anyone past 1988 or so using one!

IN HINDSIGHT

The power of hindsight is a great thing. As horrible and grainy as those images were, I loved the shots I got out of the Kodak Disc Camera!

It may be part nostaligia; yes Mom gave me the camera. Yes, it was kind of like my first “official” camera that I used regularly.

But at the same time, living now in a world of beautiful, noiseless, grainless, homogenized digital images, I can appreciate the Kodak Disc Camera images more.

I would even say that if someone made this camera today, it would be a hit with a certain niche market. Lomography, lo-fi, Polaroid enthusiasts, etc. You know the crowd!

I like that stuff too but not all the time. But yes, I can appreciate it!

PRICE. AVAILABILITY.ย 

If seeking one of these Kodak Disc Cameras, they are plentiful on auction sites and elsewhere for very low prices. The prices are trending anywhere from $3-25 and the films are averaging $8-10.

I wouldn’t pay any more than $10 for either. This is not a product that’s likely to increase in price or regain any appreciation, which is good for us camera geeks!

CAN YOU STILL USE IT? WHERE TO DEVELOP?

Assuming you find a camera in working condition and you’re inclined to take a chance with film that’s been expired for over 20 years, chances are good that you can still get pictures out of this thing!

The development part is a little harder but apparently a few places will still develop Disc film! The one I know off hand is Dwayne’s in Kansas. The shop that famously developed the last official roll of Kodakchrome.

I’ve heard of others developing the discs themselves. I’m not sure if I’ll ever shoot Kodak Disc film again, but if I do, I’d probably try that route.

BOTTOM LINE

The Kodak Disc Camera system was an enthusiastic attempt by Camera Legend Kodak to introduce a new film format along with new cameras to take this film.

It offered conveniences such as autoload, autoexposure, and autorewind, all packaged in (then) new and slick looking cameras that explored the wonders of the electronics boom of the 1980s.

It was ultimately let down by poor image quality and high cost per shot. It gave people convenience over quality.

It was yet another example of a big company making a calculated move, assuming they knew what people are willing to accept and in the end they were dead wrong.

People want convenience, but they want quality too. The Kodak Disc Camera did not deliver the latter and eventually became one of Kodak’s biggest photographic flops and earning it a distinction as one of the Worst Cameras Of All Time!

COUNTERPOINT. COMMENTS?

How do you feel about it? Were we too hard on the Kodak Disc Camera?

Did Kodak try their best to deliver a product that offered a good compromise between convenience and quality?

Or was it yet another example of Kodak’s lack of vision and big company greed? Did they not learn from their attempts to sell and capitalize on the proprietary films (and cameras for them) they developed such as the 126mm or 828mm films?

What do you think? I’d love to know! And please don’t be mad at me for bashing Kodak. I did say that on a personal level, I LOVED the Kodak Disc Camera!

 

PhotoPlus 2018 Quick Observations

I attended the annual PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention center in New York City last week.

Just to get it out of the way so you’re not disappointed, I am NOT doing a full throttle report on everything I saw.

It may be bad for some but it’s good for me because I simply was not all that excited by the latest and greatest gear!

Ok, I’ll admit, I enjoyed trying out the new. Nikon Z and Canon R series full frame mirrorless cameras. But unlike in 2013 when I saw the Sony A7R for the first time, I did not feel the need to want to have them. Wow, am I free? ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok again, lenses such as the HUGE 58mm f/0.95 Noct Nikkor (above) for the new Z Mirrorless system was exciting to see but now I say…Samster, even if you could afford it (which you can’t!) would you ever carry that thing out in the real world ๐Ÿ˜Š

I thought mirrorless was about making things smaller and more compact. Perhaps it’s not possible to make a full frame lens that fast and make it smaller but I just think the big two Camera Legends Canon and Nikon are still obsessed with BIG as ever.

Anyway back to everything. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I loved it all, but now I feel it’s all for YOU to try. Not me. I think I, and perhaps some of you too, I’m at the point of gear exhaustion.

And I’m thinking realistically. What, really, is the Nikon Z or Canon R going to do for me that I couldn’t do with my “old” A7R?

By far, my favorite moment was catching up with my good man, the great Louis Mendes. If you don’t know, Lou is famous for shooting and selling portraits in the streets of NYC with a Speed Graphic large format camera.

In the past he used packfilm such as the discontinued Fuji FP series, but as a sign of the times (and because you know I’m interested in this stuff!) I found out that Mr. Mendes is now shooting with Instax Wide!! I can now say packfilm is officially DEAD if Lou stopped shooting it!

No he hasn’t given up his Speed Graphic for one of those horrible Instax monsters. He had his modified to take the Instax Wide film. It appears to me to be one of those hard to find, discontinued Belair Instax Wide backs.

It also seems he had a couple of acolytes with him learning the craft from the master.

The last shot is for all of you to see what you missed out on! Everybody loves a beautiful model! Is it ok if I call her “Sweet Sexy?” If not I’ll take it back ๐Ÿ˜Š

Anyway that’s it for today. If any of you were there I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment!

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Photo Of The Day: โ€œThe Apple Treeโ€ Lomo โ€˜Instant Wide Camera And “Film Is Cheap”

Well it’s that time of the year. You’ve probably seen a bit of this recently but here’s one more.

It’s apple picking time! And if you haven’t picked your apples yet, maybe it’s time to go before the season is over.

They say the apple is a perfect fruit in many ways. Nutrients, fiber, etc. However, I’ve always thought…isn’t this the fruit that God tried to forbid Adam & Eve from eating? If so, is there something God knows about it that us mere mortals don’t? Is there magic in it? Is it a sin today to eat apples? Don’t mind me, just food for thought!

I used a Lomography ‘Instant Wide with the standard 90mm f/8 and Fuji Instax Wide for this shot.

Here’s more food for thought. It may be a “sin” for me to say this, but even though I love instant photography, especially for its organic nature, it has always been a “supplemental” form of photography for me.

The images usually don’t deliver the same technical quality as 35mm, medium format or heck even modern digital. And that’s part of the charm I guess, but does it have to be this way?

And don’t get me started on the cost of Instant film! Back in the day I always heard people say something like “Keep shooting. Film is cheap!”

And my answer always was (and still is)…Film’s cheap but it ain’t THAT cheap! ๐Ÿ˜€

When you factor in the cost of development, the time required to process the images, the possibility of having to do reshoots…No, it ain’t that cheap!

However, as many of you will agree results from film is usually most satisfying in a way that’s hard to duplicate digitally.

As for that old “Film is cheap” slogan, I know they were mostly referring to standard 35mm or 120 film and not really instant film. As you know, Instant Film is NOT a financially cheap form of photography!

That said, I don’t always find instant prints all that satisfying. Even when sharp, the details are not all that apparent unless you’re using a loupe to look for them. A lot has to do with the cameras and lenses themselves I guess. Many are cheap, plastic cameras with cheap, plastic lenses.

Many instant cameras such as the Lomo I used here rely on guesstimating focus and that’s part of the reason why the lenses are so slow like f/8 it f/12, so that the majority of the time images could be decently sharp. The slow lenses also help keep costs down but also forces you to use flash or a tripod in low lighting conditions.

I’m still waiting for someone to come out with a high quality Instax Wide Camera with a decently fast lens for $500 or under. I’m thinking I’ll probably wait an eternity for that one! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Even worse, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fuji discontinues Instax Wide film before that happens.

Mind you I know about the high quality Instant Cameras of yore such as the Polaroid 600se or the Polaroid 180 that I reviewed here a couple of years ago. As you might know, I loved those Camera Legends but with the end of packfilm they’re just living on borrowed time. What I’d like to see is someone come out with a great Instant Wide Camera with a great lens for the masses.

It may be a hard sell, but I’d bet if someone could make ten of them and sell them for $500 each, they’d all sell out.

I like the concept of Mint’s TL70, the TLR that takes Instax Mini film but I’m just not a big fan of those tiny card sized prints. I want BIG baby, BIG prints!!

Ah well, I’ll just keep dreaming cause I know it’s not going to happen any time soon. I know it won’t! PS: Sometimes I like tempting fate by saying this stuff so I can be proven wrong and get my dream instant camera sooner ๐Ÿ™‚

If someone comes out with that killer Instax Wide Camera I’m all for it. I just realized I didn’t say enough about the Lomo used in this article! It’s a decent enough camera at a good price point, I’ll probably review it someday. It’s just not the instant camera I’ve been dreaming of. Ah anyway, sorry for my rambling today I thank you all for reading one man’s random thoughts ๐Ÿ˜Š

Photo Of The Day: โ€œApplesโ€ Nikon D700

The image above was shot with a Nikon D700 and 85mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor. This is not a gear posting however. It’s what I call a “Life” posting ๐Ÿ˜Š

Friend, it’s that time of the year again! Time to pick them apples ๐ŸŽ

This is the time when the “empire” state and the “Big Apple” really live up to their names ๐Ÿ˜Š

The kids enjoyed picking them apples and so did I but I wondered, considering the “fill as you can” bag cost us more than what I could get at the local store, it may be a little fresher but is it really any better? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Not sure but I did enjoy the apples! If you have an apple farm near you, time to go before it’s to late guys! Happy Sunday!

Trends: Canon AE-1 & Fuji FP-100C

Just sharing with you guys a couple of postings I made to the YouTube channel but did not post them here till now.

These are segments I called “Tuesday Trends” where I look at topics that I feel are “trending” in the camera and photography world and even though they might not be mainstream news, I feel are interesting enough to put a spotlight on.

First up is the legendary Canon AE-1 from 1976, one of the most popular cameras of all time.

Just for you guys, I’ve cut to the chase in the above video. I came to the conclusion that the Canon AE-1 prices have been rising is because…YOU GUYS ARE BUYING THEM UP! ๐Ÿ™‚

Not you my camera savvy readers, most of you guys probably have or have had the AE-1 at some point in your lives, but hipsters (you know who you are!), newbies, and anyone just getting into film photography. Part of the problem is because the AE-1 was, and is still so very popular, it almost always shows up during a search for film cameras.

Now first off, let me say I love the AE-1 for what it is. It’s a great camera that introduced millions of people to the wonderful world of photography. Yet, especially today, its specs are hardly earth shattering. Keep in mind, I’m just talking about the AE-1 original, not the latter AE-1 Program though when it comes to rising prices we can count that camera in too.

Shutter priority, manual mode, and relies on batteries. If you’ve read my pages here, you could probably read between the lines. Especially that last part about the batteries.

Now I’ve never been an anti-battery camera person. On the contrary, I have always found most modern cameras that uses batteries to be reliable enough not to worry,

That said, if you have a choice, especially the choices we have in today’s used market then I would say I would much rather buy a purely manual camera that doesn’t need batteries to operate, other than the meter of course.

I was quite disturbed to find the AE-1’s prices rising, after not checking for a long time. I used to periodically buy this camera to give away to friends or kids who wanted to learn photography. They never cost any more than $25-50 for a whole package of body, lens, filters, etc. Not any more. Now prices for a body alone averages $70.

This is not right! This should be a CHEAP CAMERA in terms of used prices! Anyway, my reasoning is all in the video, please check it out if you’re interested. I repeat myself a lot in this video but the point is clear…The AE-1 should be a CHEAP CAMERA and the prices should still be CHEAP ๐Ÿ™‚

Second up is the Fuji FP-100C, the packfilm classic that Fujifilm discontinued in 2016.

I posted somewhere on social media a couple of weeks back that I was facing REALITY and giving up on packfilm. In fact, I already have a buyer for my Polaroid Land Cameras once I deplete my last few packs of FP-100C.

Even the honorable fellows at CATLABS of JP who declared two years ago: “WE WILL MAKE PACKFILM” have given up on the process as announced this week.

As I had made my decision and prepared this video before their announcement I thought it was very timely! That’s what I mean by trends!

Basically, to cut to the chase, and if you DON’T want or have time to watch the video, I’m stating that if you ever wanted to try this film this might be the time because after a period of relative stability last year, the prices for the FP-100C are rising back up which may or may not indicate that the remaining stocks are close to depletion.

A sign that it is nearly gone is that B&H and Adorama no longer show this film in stock. Even a couple of months ago, it was.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful to somebody out there. Oh please forgive me when I get into “character” lol. As I said, you kinda need “personality” when you’re doing this YouTube thing ๐Ÿ™‚

Catch you guys next time!

Sam

Flashback Friday: Olympus OM-D EM5 Images

The Olympus OM-D EM5 (right) next to the Olympus M-1 (original OM-1).

The original 16mp Olympus OM-D EM5 was introduced by Olympus in 2012 and quickly became a favorite of mirrorless camera fans.

Its retro styling brought back memories of the classic Olympus OM cameras of yore such as the OM-1 film camera.

When I first saw it in the flesh, I knew I had to have one. So in late 2012 or early 2013, I did something I don’t normally do. I bought the camera new!

Right away I was impressed with the OM-D’s performance and image quality. It was the first mirrorless camera that I felt gave me images as good as what I was getting from my full frame DSLR cameras. And I’d used many of the highly rated mirrorless cameras before it, ie, Olympus E-P1, E-P2, Panasonic GF1, GH1, GH2 and a few others.

“Twins” 2013. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital lens. The EM5 captured these “twins” with beautiful color and depth of tones.

I loved the fast touch shutter, it was great for quick and rapid street work.

Indeed, the Olympus OM-D EM5 became one of my favorite cameras to use and you know that’s not easy considering all the cameras I’ve tried ๐Ÿ˜Š

I had originally planned to do a review on this camera but it was not to be. Why?

Because last year the shutter started to conk out on me. It started taking blank images. Checking further it seems the shutter curtain is no longer opening.

A little research on the internet shows that many other people have the same issue with this first generation of the OM-D.

This is indeed disappointing as I bought the camera new, it has probably less than 5k on the shutter, and never been dropped or abused.

It’s out of warranty and I hear Olympus will charge around $175 to fix it. To me, that’s pretty unacceptable for a camera with such low shutter count. I have a Nikon D700 bought USED with over 200k that still takes great pictures!

Of course you can say that the D700 is a more pro oriented body. But 200k and still shooting vs 5k and dead? Come on now Olympus!

So Olympus, if you come across this and you want to do right please contact me! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. I’m seriously disappointed as I loved the camera. I know cameras can give out at any time but I think there must be more to these EM5 shutter issues. Just do a search.

Anyway sorry for my rant, here’s a few OM-D EM5 images during better days. Have a great weekend folks!

“The Mean Lady” 2013. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital lens. Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand. The kids called this lady “the mean lady” but to me she was always nice! The EM5 performed admirably on black and white images too.

“The Human Touch” 2013. Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Samut Prakan, Thailand. As Rick Springfield once said, we all need the “human touch” ๐Ÿ™‚

“Smoker” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Samut Prakan, Thailand. A charming fellow who enjoyed his smokes ๐Ÿ™‚

“Thai Miyagi” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Samut Prakan, Thailand. Maybe I’m nuts, but this man reminded me a lot of “Miyagi-San” Pat Morita.

“Asiatique” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Bangkok, Thailand. The EM5 was superb at capturing night and low light images.

“Gator Riders” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Pattaya, Thailand.

“Big Hair” 2015.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Did Baby Zay have big hair or what?! ๐Ÿ™‚

“Blue Pool” 2016.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Manila, Philippines. Kids in a portable “baby” pool. It works! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I hope to get a look at these hot new cameras at the PhotoPlus show this year, but you might be able to get yourself one first!

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