Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar Test Images

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“Sunday” 2017. Baby basking in the Sunday morning light with her YouTube nursery rhymes on her iPad. Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer.

Many of you who read these pages would probably know that I’ve always been a huge fan of Rollei and in particular the Rolleiflex TLR cameras. My favorite of course is the glorious Rolleiflex 2.8C with the Schneider Xenotar lens which I wrote about here.

Even though I’ve shot my many various Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords which were f/3.5 models, I admit I have a peculiar fondness for the 2.8 models.

It may even be some kind of unconscious snobbery, but I (as I’m sure many of you) have a thing for fast lenses and in the world of Rollei TLRs, f/2.8 is IT.

Now this is not something exclusive to the Rolleiflexes or TLRs, it’s everything! I mean, think of how many of you will perceive a 70-200mm f/3.5 zoom lens versus a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom? Of course, many will gravitate towards the f/2.8 version. That half stop means alot!! At least in the mind πŸ™‚

But the fondness for fast lenses is not just something we want for no reason. For me at least, I prefer shooting in natural or available light, sometimes in less than ideal conditions. A faster lens would allow me to choose a faster shutter speed, minimizing the chances of blurry images. When you’re shooting at f/2.8 and ISO 400 film in dim or available room light, believe me, you’re going to want all the light you can get. There is a method to our madness, a reason after all!

With that in mind, and being that I already have the 2.8C model, I’ve always kept the 3.5F Rolleiflexes out of my mind. The 3.5F just like the 2.8F is also a top-tier model. Both also offer the option of either the Planar or Xenotar lenses.

However the problem for me was that these cameras are also nearly as expensive as the 2.8 models and if I were going to pay that price, I’d just get the 2.8! Now I got the 2.8 fairly cheaply back in 2008. I wouldn’t be able to get one these days with my current finances 😦

So how did I come across the 3.5F? Maybe a little luck and like I said many times before, the cameras come to me! I was looking for something else entirely when I came across an ad for a Rolleiflex 3.5F in what was described as “user” condition. The party said he was selling for his uncle. I asked for detailed pictures and negotiated a price of $200 which was all I could afford at that time.

When I got the camera, I got the sinking feeling that this might be a piece of junk! It looked a little shabby, but I felt I could clean it up. The main thing that troubled me was the shutter didn’t have a reassuring sound. It seemed all the speeds sounded almost the same, and very weak at that. TLR’s generally have soft, quiet shutters anyway, but this one somehow felt different. On top of that the camera didn’t feel as robust as I’ve been used to from my other Rolleiflexes.

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“Brother Fro” 2017. Gotta love the hair on Brother Fro! Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer.

I came to the conclusion that the shutter speeds were not accurate, but I decided to pop some film in it and give it a try. Not expecting much, I just shot randomly around the house using my usual “kid test” that I’ve mentioned before. I didn’t think I’d have anything worthy of posting for you good peeps! I said might as well try some film in it before I put it on the shelf while saving up for a CLA.

When I developed the roll, I said…WOW! This lens is SHARP!! It may even be better than my beloved 2.8C.

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“Sunday” 100 percent crop of the top image. Unaltered, sorry for the dust! But note the detail on the baby’s shirt and the fabric. It’s probably better seen on a computer versus your smartphone.

It’s not all positive though. I believe I was right about the shutter speeds not being accurate. They all appear to be a little slower than their rated speed. How much I can’t determine. Many of the images that should’ve been good were underexposed.

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“Kodak” 2017. Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer. An example shot showing the typical underexposure I experienced testing this camera. Admittedly, this is a bit of a tough lighting scheme and I’m probably to blame for my “guesstimation” exposure. But note the studio light to the right and the spoon on the table to the left. They are sharp. Oh, as a result of my imperfect development, somehow the word “Kodak” from the film strip is etched into this image, and seemingly in the right place for it! πŸ™‚

But the ones that came out sharp, man they were sharp! And contrasty too. This lens made a better impression on me than the 2.8F Planar I tried back in 2004.

I’m going to try another roll in it. Maybe shoot some street with it. I think this lens would be great for that. Will keep you all posted. Till then, Happy Sunday! πŸ™‚

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Apple iPhone X

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The Nikon D850:The Ultimate Camera Gift

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The Fuji Instax Square $229.95

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Fuji GFX 50S

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Photo Of The Day: “Baby Fresh”

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For your Flashback Friday, here’s a shot from nine years in time, 2008. The gear used was a Pentax K10D and the awesome Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited prime lens.

At that time, I enjoyed greatly experimenting with flash and was using a portable softbox. Man, if you can see the detail on the original file you might be convinced 10 megapixels could be enough for anything! πŸ™‚

I may be weird, but more than just photographing a cute photo of my baby daughter, I wanted my lenses (especially the sharp ones) to reveal every pore, every detail and the 77mm f/1.8 certainly did! I think the glamour models would stay away from me πŸ™‚

This baby by the way is the same little girl two posts back that I shot with the Nikon D1, now nine years later. The Time Machine marches on!

The K10D is a great Pentax classic now and the prices have gotten super affordable. I did have some issues with it in low light or in high iso images, but this shot reminded me of why I loved it in the first place. And with today’s prices, heck it might be worthwhile seeking out another one! Happy Friday 😊

Photo Of The Day: “Don’t Worry Be Happy”

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I said to Baby Girl here…Hey, could you at least TRY to look happy for the photo? πŸ™‚

This photo was taken with the Nikon D1, 2.65mp DSLR from 1999. The lens was the even older 35-70mm f/2.8 AF-D Nikkor. I was out testing some new equipment, but the best shot I got that day was from this old school classic.

Looking on some of my own postings, I could see where some may think I lean more towards Canon, but in fact, I’ve always swayed equally between the two giants, Canon and Nikon.

I’ve loved the D1 since I first read about it in 1999. Since then, I must’ve had about five of these bodies! Nuts!

No, it’s not going to beat your 36mp or 42mp cameras, I’m not that crazy. All I’m saying is I have a soft spot for the D1. It is a true digital Camera Legend and I love it! Maybe one day I’ll do a write-up on it. Hope you enjoy the extra hour this weekend. Happy Sunday!

The Nikon D200 Revisited

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One question: What were you doing this time in 2005? Yes, I know that’s such a broad spectrum question that it’s almost impossible to answer. How about if I narrow it down for you by asking…as a camera freak, what were you doing this time in 2005?

If you’re a camera freak, a digital camera geek, chances are very likely that you were waiting with high anticipation for the release of the Nikon D200 digital SLR.

Today we will take a look back at the D200, but let me say this is not a Nikon D200 “review” in the traditional sense. Yes, we will talk about some technical and operational aspects of the camera, but everything you need to know technically about the D200 has probably already been written by many other review sites.

I want to take a look back in time, back in history, to the time before, during, and after the release of the Nikon D200.

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“Smile” 2017. Nikon D200, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. Straight out of camera jpeg in “Fine” setting. On my screen the skin tones run a little red but that’s easily fixed.

AS A CAMERA

The Nikon D200 is a 10.2 megapixel DSLR that was marketed as a highly specified semi-pro or “enthusiast” model. Indeed the build quality was, and is superb, even by today’s standards with its durable magnesium alloy body and confidence inspiring heft. Though it was the follow up to the D100 of 2002, the D200 was in a whole different league.

The 10.2 megapixel sensor was APS-C sized with a crop factor of 1.5X and 10 megapixels were big back in them days!Β The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/30 to 1/8000. Though you may never use it or need it, the 1/8000 or higher shutter speed is always a sign of a high end camera.

The D200 had an ISO range of 100-2500 and 3200 with boost. This was well before the era of ISO 100K plus.

The camera had a built-in flash (Speedlight as Nikon calls it) which comes in handy if you need flash in a pinch. However, back then, some criticized the move fearing it might compromise the structural integrity of the camera. As you know, in the years since, many high end cameras now include built in flash as a common feature and people don’t complain about it as much πŸ™‚

THE ANTICIPATION

Ah, I remember it so well. Yes, once I heard about the D200, once I saw the specs and the “leaked” photos, I knew I had to have it!

Just like many of you, I was probably on fredmiranda.com or photo.net every damn night reading all the speculations about a camera none of us had yet.

Many speculated that the D200 would be the mini D2X we desired at a much lower cost. But we all know if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The D200 most certainly was not the D2X, but take heart that in some ways it was better. I’ll explain later on in the article.

I checked many stores in the NYC area. All of them had long pre-order lines. I got my name on one of the local dealers and eventually got it from them. Here’s a shoutout to the local dealers! There are too precious few left. Please support your local camera dealers!

THE ARRIVAL

So one day in December of 2005, a few days before Christmas, I got that call from my local camera dealer telling me my D200 was in. Hot damn, I was so excited!

It’s kind of sad that I rarely get that kind of excitement these days from any camera I get. I guess it must be “camera saturation” as I call it. After all these years and many, many cameras later, it’s hard to get that excited.

Anyway, needless to say I quickly rushed off to the dealer and picked up that beautiful golden box that said “Nikon D200” πŸ™‚

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From 2005, this boy was sure happy when he received his D200! πŸ™‚

I think I paid around $1800 for the body, which seemed like a bargain at that time for such a highly specified camera.

THE TOUCH, THE FEEL, THE LOVE

After opening the box, going through all the accessories, I finally got to the baby! Upon first touch I knew I was in love. This was a big, beautiful hunk of steel and photographic sex appeal.

I snapped a few shots. The dampened sound of that instant return mirror was like music to my ears.

I could tell by all the features I found in the menu that this was an advanced camera. However, for me, that wasn’t as important as the fact that I was able to figure it out easily without the manual. I could appreciate all the advanced features, and I might eventually get to some of them, but first and foremost what I care about is how quickly I can access the controls, how quickly I could get a shot out of the camera. And after that, as long as it takes a good picture, I’m pretty happy. The D200, build quality and ergonomically speaking, was a Nikon through and through.

The first few shots revealed nice images with some really beautiful colors.

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“Lost In Love” 2005. Nikon D200, 105mm f/2 DC Nikkor, ISO 100. The D200 can produce excellent sharpness and pleasing skin tones.

AFTER THE HONEYMOON

Not long after getting my D200, I started having doubts about the camera. Main issue for me, and apparently most early D200 users were “soft images” and disappointing high iso performance.

Ok, I can hear it now. Someone out there is saying…”I get incredibly sharp images from my D200, this dweeb don’t know what he’s doing!” πŸ™‚

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“Christ Is King” 2006. Nikon D200, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S Nikkor, Lucban, Philippines.

Ok, I got ya, I hear ya!! But yes, I too have many many sharp images from the D200. Heck, I probably don’t know what I’m doing hah but for your sake, just look up “D200 soft images.” Take yourself back to 2005-2006 and see what I’m talking about.

In the years since the D200 was released till now, for many cameras that came after the D200 (and some before) you will see in camera reviews a lot of something like “jpegs are slightly soft, but sharpen up well.” Today, it wouldn’t bother me much, but in 2005 it did.

Keep in mind, back then I had used a Canon EOS 20D, 5D, Nikon D1X, D100, D2H and D70. All, with the exception of the D100, produced sharper images straight out of camera than the D200.

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“Mr. Bojangles” 2005. Nikon D200, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S Nikkor. Despite all I’ve said about the D200’s “soft” images, the camera is perfectly capable of producing very sharp images. Just as sharp as Mr. Bojangles πŸ™‚

So I’m not sure if it was just the jpeg processing. I think it’s been stated by various websites that the D200 had a fairly strong AA filter which funny enough has been done away with altogether in many cameras today. Back then, there was such concern over the possibility of moire from a lack of an AA filter. But today, it seems the trend or fad is to sell cameras without the AA filter as a selling point because it may produce “sharper” pictures without the filter. I’m good with that, but when or why did this still conservative industry decide that they were cool with it too?

I’m guessing that, one, the industry saw that a large majority of the people were wanting low pass filter-less cameras, preferring sharpness over the rare possibility of moire. Second, by not including the AA filter, they must be saving money on it.

Anyway, I know I’m drifting off topic, but the D200 images did not have that “pop” I was getting with my other cameras, at least not without some post processing work. All the images here from 2005-2006 were post processed and resized as I was posting to online photo sites at that time. Unfortunately, I do not have the original files any longer. So much for digital files lasting forever, although you can blame me for this πŸ™‚

The high iso performance was also disappointing to me at that time. Anything over 1000 or 1600 seemed noisy. I had a 5D at the time and it set a new standard for high iso performance. Sure, you may say today that the 5D is not great either at high ISO’s but you’re saying it from today’s perspective. In 2005, it was considered great! And for me, it is still better than a lot of other cameras, but that’s another topic.

In hindsight, it was unfair to compare the D200 to the 5D as the 5D was using a full-frame sensor which in itself is usually an advantage for high iso capabilities and also in hindsight, the D200 wasn’t all that bad at high ISO’s.

The AF was fast, but slightly slower than I had been used to from the D1X and D2H, but I could’ve lived with it.

Today, with the power of hindsight, I guess I was expecting 2017 performance from the D200 back in 2005! πŸ™‚

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“Atlas” 2005. Nikon D200, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S Nikkor, ISO 1000. The D200 was much better at ISO’s higher than ISO 800 than I thought twelve years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t have the original files to post here.

THE D200 REVISTED

Well, I should say revisited again. And again. Let me explain.

In 2007, I got that itch and thought that maybe I was a bit too hard on the D200. I decided to get another one.

After using it for a while, and trying hard to like it, I came to the conclusion that no, I just don’t like the images I get from it. Not really sure why. Maybe because my first impressions of the camera in 2005 weren’t so good? Maybe because in 2007, it was still rather expensive? Maybe my perceived “soft” images? Perhaps I pixel-peeped too much back then?

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“Smile” in B&W. Processed the image for a filmic look. The slight softness in the original image actually helps when you want to emulate the look of film.

Again, don’t be mad for me constantly mentioning the D200’s supposed “soft images.” It’s not that they didn’t sharpen up well, they did. The images just seemed to lack bite. Even when using it with top glass such as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, the images lacked the “snap” I’d gotten from my other cameras.

I’m sure some of you are asking “Did you try shooting RAW brother?” Sure I did! I spent many nights using Nikon Capture to open those big, slow NEF (Nikon RAW) files. Anything to convince myself to keep the camera! Unfortunately for me, that didn’t help much. Yes, it was better but the time it took my slow computer to process the files were just too much to handle.

I sold the camera and never looked back. Until last month! I got a used one for around $85 shipped. Wow, a huge difference from the $1800 I paid for a new D200 in 2005. Such is digital right? This is a great time to buy these old digital classics!

I look at the D200 images I’ve taken recently and even back to the ones from 2005-2006 and even though I had to process those images to where I wanted them to be, I think now that I may have been too hard on the poor D200. Considering it’s a camera from 2005, it’s a stellar performer!

Remember I said the D200 was not the D2X but in some ways better? Well, first it’s not the D2X because the AF is not nearly as fast, at least from my experience. I used a D2X from around 2008-2010. The AF on the D200 is accurate, but the D2X is very slightly better but don’t let that scare you. On the whole, D200 will deliver in autofocus.

Where the D200 betters the D2X is in the sensor. But “better” is relative though. I mean, if you want higher resolution, the 12.4mp D2X has it. The 2mp difference is not really a big deal, but the D2X just takes sharper looking photos in my opinion. But the D200 I feel has a more flexible and forgiving sensor.

The D2X has a very particular sensor that can produce superb results but does not do very well once you go past ISO 400. Yes, I’ve gotten great pics from the D2X at ISO’s higher than 400, but if you’ve shot with a D2X you know what I mean. It’s almost like slide film but more extreme, there’s little room for negotiation with your exposures. The D200 has a gentler transition as you move up the ISO scale and has more headroom to work with.

What about the “measely” 10.2 megapixels? Come on friend, you should know by now 10 megapixels is just enough to be good for nearly anything right? πŸ™‚

Ok yes, it’s not 36 ot 42 or even 50 megapixels but seriously do you need that much? If you’re not printing for huge billboards I would safely say you really don’t. Ok, I will speak only for myself…I don’t! πŸ™‚

Yes, I still believe there is a certain “softness” in the images compared to a lot of other cameras, but they do sharpen up very well. The D200 taught me a lot about post processing. And a slightly softer image is almost always better for portraits, especially for female portraits.

In some ways, that softness helps when trying to create that mythical and oversold “film-like” image. Despite what many film afficianados might want to believe, a film image, or shall I say a 35mm film scan usually comes out softer than what you’d get from a typical digital camera but that’s where the beauty of film comes in. The rolloff from sharp to soft is usually a bit smoother and not as harsh in the film images and so too it is with the D200.

In 2005, digital photography was just coming into its own. Now in 2017, I can tell you that there are many cameras I wouldn’t have given a chance then, that I would today. Many cameras that produce images that look horrible pixel-peeped at 100 percent, but look great when printed. The D200 did NOT look horrible when pixel peeping at 100 percent and prints up beautifully. Therefore, I’d say now that it’s a winner!

Also, I stated it once but probably not enough in this article, the D200 produces beautiful colors. Yes, skin tones can still lean towards the typical Nikon warm, but for the most part images are wonderfully saturated and balanced.

THE BOTTOM LINE & THE FUTURE

The future? What future you might say! What future for a 12 year old obsolete digital camera?

Well, I look forward to using the D200 a lot more and with the power of hindsight and experience, I can appreciate this camera much more than I did back in 2005 or 2007.

The Nikon D200 is a Camera Legend that upped the game for cameras in the semi-pro/enthusiast category. It was loved by many as well as criticized (rather unfairly) by many others (myself included).

So let me make a public apology to the D200…D200, my friend, I was too harsh on you. I’m sorry if I wronged you. Third time is the charm and I’ll make it up to you! πŸ™‚

In hindsight, the D200 is a very complete package that is capable of shooting almost anything you might want it to. And in today’s world, it’s a bargain of a powerhouse camera for what you pay for it.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The D200 fortunately is plentiful on the used market and prices have been trending from around $90-150 with an average of around $120.

Please buy from our affiliates through our links and support Camera Legend so we can continue bringing you more of your favorite superstar as well as forgotten Camera Legend cameras! Thank you.

***NEW CAMERA ALERT***

So you say you’re not interested in oldies like the D200? You want the latest and greatest? Well, the Sony a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera BodyΒ is here!! This 42.4mp monster has it all…10fps, 5 axis optical stabilization, ultra high resolution 4K video? Heck man this will probably take over the Nikon D850 as the hottest camera out right now! It’s probably going to be sold out, but if you want the chance to be one of the first on the streets with one, please click on the link above to pre-order this Sony mega-monster camera!

Photo Of The Day: “The Girls Of Summer”

So today is the last official day of summer here in the states. The year is two thirds over. Sometimes I wish I were in fifth grade again when summer seemed a lot longer. Then again though, the school year back then seemed torturously long, so I’m not sure I would want to go back to fifth grade! Anyway, I’m lucky to have summer all year round with these two 😘

The above photo was taken with a Sigma SD Quattro mirrorless and 30mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens. The photo was cropped, but still full sized and you can see that by double clicking the image. Check the baby’s eyelashes to see how the camera does on resolution. 

I have to admit the SD Quattro was not on my shopping list this year and even if it was I’d go for the SD Quattro H which is the larger sensor APS-H version.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, the cameras always seem to come to me! I spotted the camera while searching for something else. The product was in like new condition and the price was more than half off brand new. Couldn’t resist!

The 30mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens I already have. I’ve  had this lens in different mounts over the years and it’s one of my favorites. On the SD Quattro with its APS-C sized sensor, it’s more like a 50mm normal lens and I’ve always been a fan of the good old “boring” 50mm perspective.

I’ll have more to say about the camera in future postings. Let’s just say if you’re familiar with Sigma cameras at all, then this is pure Sigma. That is, great IQ but with a few operational warts. At full price, I’d have to think about it, but at the price I got it for…deal! πŸ™‚

I don’t get cameras sent to me for review and I don’t get any kickbacks so the only way I can get these cameras is to buy, use, and sell. Most of the time, I have to sell. So far it’s too early for me to tell if the Sigma is a keeper. In a way, that last statement says a lot about how far we’ve come. I mean, ten years ago, a Sigma like this would be a keeper for sure. Today though with the choices we have, the choice is not so easy now is it?

Hope you all had a great summer and see you in the fall (which is like today haha).

Take care, Sam. 

Note: I’m ashamed to admit I’m having trouble with my computer again! Time to upgrade I guess. As such I’ve been posting from my phone and wouldn’t you know it, out of the computer problems there is a side benefit. From my phone, I’m able to now post larger pics to enhance your viewing experience. Thank you the readers for your visits, thank WordPress for the platform, and thank the iPhone for the liberation! πŸ™‚

Photo Of The Day: “Palm Beach”

Ok yes I know it’s been a long time since I had a decent camera review for you and I’m sorry it’s going to be a little longer cause just as I did my edits for my next review the computer crashes! Don’t you just hate that?!

Anyway, it’s almost 6am EST so there’s no way I’m going back to it now.

So just to let you know I’m still around, here’s a shot using a Leica M5 and vintage Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens.” The film I believe was Fuji Superia 400. If you wish to see a larger version, you may now do so by clicking on the photo. I hope to include larger photos on future postings, now that I’ve found a decent work around to WordPress limitations on this.

My workflow is usually this…I start out testing the cameras and lenses on my kids, if they’re cooperative. Once I get decent shots of them, I move on to other subjects like the streets, buildings or anything else that strikes my fancy because once the gear passes the “kid test” I already know it’s going to do ok with anything else! 😊

The Canon 50mm f/0.95 is one of my favorite lenses of all time and I’ve been using it for many years. It’s a specialized tool, no doubt, so I use it sparingly. To paraphrase that now retired handsome old man in the commercial…”I don’t use the lens often, but when I do, it’s the most interesting lens in the world.”

The lens has that unique soft/sharp thing going on. It’s not the sharpest lens in the world, it’s softer than it is sharp, but it certainly has its own character.

I hope to post a collection of Canon Dream Lens images from a variety of different bodies in the near future.

Have a great week and see you soon!

Happy Father’s Day 2017

Happy Father’s Day to all you great fathers out there! While Father’s Day is generally a celebration of you, Daddy, any photographer/dad out there knows the best aspect of being a father is to be able to take photos of your greatest accomplishment life which are your kids. They are what makes you a Father in the first place πŸ™‚

In celebration of this, here’s some photos of my beloved. While I have tried to shift to other subjects in recent postings in order to not “bore” folks who may not like kiddie photos, it’s the photos of my babies that inspire me most so please allow me today to indulge a little. In fact, it’s my tribute to these hard working kids because they are the ones who allow me to create reviews for you by being the main subjects for my camera testing πŸ™‚

Thank you and once again, Happy Father’s Day to all you happy Papas out there and I hope you get some nice cameras and/or lenses today!!

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Any Father’s Day tribute should start with Dad! This is a shot of my late Dad with Baby Zoe from 2008. Pentax K10D, Pentax Β SMCP-FA 35mm f/2 AL lens.

 

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“Munchkin In The Tree” 2015. Canon EOS-1D Mark III, EF 135mm f/2L.

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“Spring Fashion” 2013. Contax IIIa, 50mm f/2 Sonnar, Kodak Tri-X 400 deveoped in D76.

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“Cheeri-O” 2016. Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic.

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“Ho Hum Day” 2011. Nikon F100, Kodak Tri-X, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX…yes, the APS-C digital lens!

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“Sunday Girls” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 in D76.

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“Nine Degrees Of Separation” πŸ™‚ 2016. Iphone 6s Plus.