Recent Items February 2017

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I know I work at a snail’s pace and maybe slower than a snail, and I apologize for that, but as you can see I’m certainly not in it for the glory. As I said many times, there is no glory to this blogging thing! Well, at least not for me anyway 🙂

As you can see from the photo above, I’ve managed to find another Nicca 5L / Tower 46 rangefinder. This time I have paired it up with a 5cm f/2 Leica Summtar that I’ve had for a long time. I have film in it now and the results from this combo will be interesting for me to see and hopefully the mystery camera will not be such a mystery any more.

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Flashback Friday: Baby Zay at two months old. Canon EOS 5D Classic, EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

The photo above was Baby Zay’s first sit down portrait attempt at two months old in 2015. In a couple of days, she will turn two years old. My friend, does the time fly or what? Allow me to post just a few more of her photos in the next few days in celebration.

I can totally understand if you have “Baby Burnout.” You see, before I became a father, I was never a fan of baby pictures. I thought they were cute but boring. After I had my children, I’ve found beauty in the photos from a father’s perspective, but I can certainly remember my pre-father days 🙂

I can also appreciate more now what it takes to get good shots of your infants, toddlers, and tweens. It requires timing, patience, and practice and coming from a street photography background I truly believe taking photos of the kids has honed my street skills.

At first they seem to have nothing to do with each other, kids and street photography, but in reality they complement each other well just as Country and classic Soul music seem a world apart, yet they are so similar in many, many ways.

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“Pool Sharks” 2016. Fuji Klasse W, 28mm f/2.8 Fujinon, Arista EDU 400 in D76.

Right now I’m looking at images from a Fuji Klasse W, which is the “wide” 28mm version of the Klasse film camera in preparation for some kind of review on this beautiful point and shoot. The above is a crop from a larger, wider image and the Fujinon lens is very sharp, retaining fine details.

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“UGG Enviable” 2016. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. Yes, I still use my original, from 2006, GRD. This was shot using the 21mm add on lens. Sure there’s some distortion. Still love it though!

Found a new “ugly” building off the West Side Highway in Manhattan. Why do they build these things?! Will we ever get new classics in the shape of the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building? I’m afraid this is the new face of NYC.

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“Happiness.” Nikon D700, 60mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor. Baby Zayda is all smiles as she approaches two years of age.

I recently procured another D700 which was had very cheaply because the camera had over 200K shots on it. In 2008, I had a D700 when they first came out which I later sold to fund a D3 which was also sold. Both cameras used the same 12mp sensor.

Though Nikon has released numerous full-frame models since that era, I’ve always loved the sensor in the D3/D300 cameras. The new models are better to be sure, but I’ve never felt the need for anything more from a DSLR than what I got from the D3/D700 sensors. It was a sweet spot for full frame I think.

The Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro has got to be one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used. Mine was had cheaply in “UG” condition from KEH, which means there’s some defect they found in it, but if there were any optical defects, I certainly didn’t see it. The above image looks like it was shot with flash, but it wasn’t. That was the beauty of the D700 sensor when mated with a good lens, it’s alive and vibrant just like Baby Zay here. Happiness is a Nikon D700!

With Nikon’s recent financial woes, I would say, go out there and buy some Nikon right now! Support Nikon. After losing Rollei, we cannot let another one of photography’s greatest names go down! And no, I get no kickbacks from Nikon though I wouldn’t mind if they did give me some, but I know they cannot afford superfluous spending at this time 🙂

Alright, I wish you all a great weekend!

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Photo Of The Day: “The Wacky Bunch”

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“The Wacky Bunch” 2016. Lomo’Instant Wide, 90mm f/8 lens.

This is a recent photo from the Lomography ‘Instant Wide camera. I reached out to Lomography to see if I could get a sample camera for review, but I never heard back from them. I didn’t expect to, but it would’ve been nice. Fortunately, when you love cameras you usually have friends who do too 🙂

Just some brief general impressions: the camera looks great, but feels less great than it looks. I’ll reserve judgement on its build and durability until I can have more time with it.

The camera relies on zone focusing which isn’t really my thing, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the shots I got. The lens is slowish at f/8 and you will be using the built-in flash a lot, but these factors also help to keep the shots sharp.

The lens cap which doubles as a self-timer/remote control is a brilliant touch! That’s what I used to take the shot above after placing the camera on a tripod.

Lomography Instant Wide Camera

The main thing about the Lomo’Instant Wide that appeals to many people (and to me) is that it takes the widely available and larger sized Fuji Instax Wide film, plus it offers a bit more manual control over the picture taking process than any Fuji Instax camera to date.

I have read some reviews on this camera on the net and read many comments about its image quality. I think I have a good idea now of what the lens quality is and I have some thoughts about the Lomo’s  overall image quality, but to be fair I’ll save them until I can take further test shots.

It’s one of the more interesting instant film cameras to have come out in recent years and I hope to get one for a longer period of time. Heck, I might even get one of my own! 🙂

Recent Items

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“A Weird Guy” Part I. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp. You know this is a weird brother! Ain’t no doubt about it. Somehow, this skinny guy has even managed to put on a little belly, don’t know how 🙂

I recently took a get away weekend to the Poconos. As a city guy, I’ve not always appreciated the suburbs or the country, but now as I’m older I’ve grown to appreciate a slower pace and a quieter lifestyle.

I did take a medium format film camera with me, but that roll has yet to finish. My digital cameras were my trusty Ricoh GR Digital, the original 8.1mp version, a Fuji XA-1 (cheapest Fuji X mirrorless), and my iPhone.

The old GRD holds a special place in my heart. As some of you might know, I’ve always been a fan of this camera since I got one in 2006 and I’ve highly touted its abilities on these pages.

Based on the stats on these pages, it appears the old Ricoh GRD version 1 is THE Camera Legend of this blog! If Ricoh were still making this camera, I could’ve easily asked for royalties 🙂

The XA-1 I got recently for a little over $100 used. So far, it seems to have the best out of camera jpegs of any Fuji I’ve tried even if it doesn’t have the much hyped X-Trans sensor. Only the lack of a viewfinder is what I consider a negative. But heck, I like cheap and I got it cheap!

Anyway, here are some recent pics from the getaway. Nothing special, just some shots. It’s always good to take shots without the need to impress anyone. This modern Instagram world relies of that “ooh ahh” factor nearly all the time, but 90 percent of “real” photography is boring everyday stuff. It sounds like I’m making excuses for bad pics, but no, I’m not. Hmmm, maybe I am? Ahh, whatever 🙂

Have a blessed Sunday good people!

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“Sunday Morning” 2016. Fuji XA-1, Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens. Last Sunday actually! In a cheap hotel in the Poconos, Pennsylvania.

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“The Shot” 2016. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. The Poconos, Pennsylvania.

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“Fat Cat” 2016. Fuji XA-1, Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens. A 12 year old cat named “Boots” who is 22 pounds and doesn’t move much 🙂

 

The Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

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The Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is an instant film camera introduced by Fujifilm in 2013. The Mini 90 Neo Classic uses Fuji’s Instax Mini film.

I first saw the Mini 90 or Neo Classic (whichever short name you want to use) at its introduction at the PhotoPlus Expo in the fall of 2013. After seeing it in the flesh and speaking with the nice Fuji representative, I knew I had to have one! What I didn’t think of was why? But we’ll get to that later on.

I got one as soon as they were released in 2013 and at Urban Outfitters of all places.

THE INSTAX MINI 90 CAMERA BODY

Upon first glance, you can see why Fuji named this camera “Neo Classic.” It really looks like an instant classic, literally and figuratively! It looks beautiful.

Upon first touch, your feelings may change a bit. Now here’s a camera that I would say looks better than it feels. It feels lighter and I don’t know how to say this nicely, but it feels “cheaper” than it looks. Maybe it’s better to say, it looks like a metal camera of yore, but feels like a plastic camera. It doesn’t feel like a cheap camera, but as I said, cheaper than it looks.

The Mini 90 has a very smooth power on. With the flick of the little switch, the lens protrudes very smoothly and quietly. I just love the way it works. The only negative might be that it’s very easy to hit the switch accidentally so be mindful of this if you have the camera in your bag of goodies.

Like most instant cameras, the Mini 90 has a slow 60mm f/12.7 lens making it hard to not use flash indoors or get any kind of bokeh unless you get really close. Fortunately, the camera has a built in macro mode which lets you get as close as around 11 inches from the subject.

The Mini 90 is probably the most full-featured of the current Instax camera line. In addition to the built in macro mode, it offers a stronger flash, the ability to turn off the flash (not available in some other Instax models), double exposure, bulb, brightness adjustment, kids mode (for moving subjects), party mode (brightens the background), and landscape mode.

For the most part, this is an automatic camera. You cannot control the aperture or shutter speed, except for bulb. Keep that in mind and feel good knowing that the camera generally produces good results without your help 🙂

IMAGE QUALITY

The image quality coming out of the Mini 90 and Fuji’s Instax Mini film is generally excellent. But here’s the pun…it is excellent for what it is.

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“Cheeri-O” 2016. Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. Macro mode used to get in closer for a more effective portrait. Baby Zay believes in the power of a good breakfast. She starts her day off with a healthy dose of Cheerios and works her way up from there 🙂

Remember when I wondered WHY I got one? Well, my main issue is with Instax Mini film in general. The 2.13″ x 3.4″ credit card sized prints are just a little too small for me to really enjoy.

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“Vanilla Fudge” 2016. If you’re a fan of that old vintage look, you can do it with the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. This was taken recently, but it looks almost like a print from the 70s!

That said, I think that’s kind of the whole point of it. It’s supposed to be small and fun, not some kind of “artistic” tool that we photographers always think we need. But sure, you can definitely put your artistic twist to the pics as with any camera. Me, I just use it as a point and shoot instant film camera for family fun snapshots. It is superb for that purpose.

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“Beauty & The Beast” Part II, 2013. One of my first shots from the Mini 90 Neo Classic. It wasn’t going to win me any awards, but I knew it was going to be a fun camera 🙂

All Instax Mini film at this time is ISO 800. There is also an Instax Wide format film which at 3.4″ x 4.25″ is more to my liking and closer to the size of packfilm. Unfortunately, Fuji does not make a camera currently in this format that is as sophisticated, spec wise, as the Mini 90 Neo Classic.

I find the Instax film to be very consistent, maybe clinical at times, but very consistent in color and stability. I cannot say the same for the Impossible film that I have used.

BOTTOM LINE

In the age of digital, analog photographers should be very happy with the success of the Instax Mini line of cameras. They are so popular that you can find them almost anywhere, from Target to Toys ‘R Us. I read somewhere that Fujifilm’s latest financial release apparently shows Instax sales growing, while digital sales have stalled or are declining. Don’t quote me on this, but do some research if you’re interested.

The funny thing is, while so many photographers (myself included) were raging over the discontinuation of Fuji’s FP-100C instant packfilm, there’s a general consensus that the Instax line is not as well loved by seasoned photographers.

Why? Well, camera selection is one thing to be sure. As I said, there aren’t many models, if any at all, designed for the photo enthusiast.

The second reason, and this is my own personal take, is that people just love retro and hard to find stuff man! The Instax cameras are not rare and they are widely available. People may cross it off their list for that reason alone.

As I said, people just love retro. In fact, it’s probably the Mini 90’s retro looks that caught my attention in the first place.

But yeah, people. You give them a high quality audio CD and they will find that the scratchy analog records sound better. You give them a modern car with all the amenities and they will say, “They don’t build ’em like they used to.” You give them 42 megs and the ease of digital, and they’ll want to shoot an old film camera and deal with the hassles of development and scanning dusty, scratchy negatives.

Sure, I’m being a little sarcastic, but not really because I am also one of those “nostalgic” folks 🙂

Anyway, again, I think all analog photography lovers should really be glad that Fuji is still even making instant cameras and instant film.

If you can live with the small sized prints, the Mini 90 Neo Classic is truly a wonderful instant camera that is full featured and fun to use. I do believe it will be a classic, and who knows, maybe one day a Camera Legend.

WHERE TO BUY

The great thing about Fuji’s Instax Mini cameras is that they are very easy on the wallet. Even the Mini 90 Neo Classic runs close to $150 new and around $90-100 used. For the small difference, I’d say just save your pennies and buy new unless you can get one for $50.

For a good selection, you may try HERE and HERE. Thanks for supporting CameraLegend.com!

***DEAL ALERT***

For you Canonites, we have a really nice deal on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III bundle from our friends at ADORAMA. Here’s what you get:

Bundle includes:

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash, USA,
Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR Camera Body with EF 24-105mm f/4 Lens
Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer
Canon SG-201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, 13×19″, 50 Sheets
Lowepro Nova Sport 17L AW Shoulder Bag, Slate Gray
Sandisk Extreme 32GB microSDHC Class 10 UHS-I Memory Card -BULK IN JEWEL CASE

Damn, that looks like a killer package! If you were wanting to get into the professional photography business, ie, portraits, weddings, etc, or you just want the complete package and you have the cash to spend, this is it!

The Fuji FP-100C Discontinued: The End Of Pack Film

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“Peace” 2012. Polaroid 110B converted for pack film, 127mm f/4.7 Ysarex, Fuji FP-100C.

Periodically, I go through periods where I need a mental break from it all. I’m sure there’s more than a few of you who feel the same if you’ve been blogging or posting photos on the internet for some time. “C-B-R” I call it. Crash. Burn. Rise (or try to rise) again 🙂

As mentioned before, putting up a blog with any kind of quality content takes effort and I would rather not post unless I could put up something interesting for you.

Anyway, almost two weeks ago it was announced that Fujifilm would be discontinuing the FP-100C, the last commercially produced 3.25×4.25″ peel-apart pack film. The announcement caused a bit of an uproar in the film community.

The discontinuation of this film has more implications than it first seems. It goes without saying that those who truly enjoy pack film and use it regularly will be most affected. But they are not the only ones affected. With no more pack film, here are just some of the after effects:

  1. People who ever wanted to try a “Polaroid Back” with their film camera will be affected when there is no more pack film because virtually all Polaroid backs, especially for medium format systems, take the 3.25×4.25″ peel apart films. And for the Polaroid backs that do not take this film, such as the 545 backs, film is virtually non-existent, except for really old batches sold on eBay or the cool, but expensive New55 films.
  2. The announcement rendered all Polaroid Land cameras and any other camera that takes this film useless. Well, not really useless right now, but living on borrowed time.
  3. People who make a living selling pack film photos on the streets or at fairs, events, etc, will be affected. Admittedly, there are more people these days shooting with a digital camera and a portable digital printer than there are those using pack film, but I do know a couple of really cool photographers whose unique work was directly a result of shooting with vintage cameras and instant pack film, and some who even make a living from this.
  4. Folks who, over the years, have resurrected vintage Polaroid cameras and have made a living restoring and modifying old Polaroid cameras to take pack film. There was a good market for this, just check eBay. They will definitely be affected by this. Some of these people have started converting cameras to use Instax film, but they’re just beginning. I hope they will continue and wish them success with this.

The surprising thing about Fuji’s discontinuation? Well, from all accounts Fuji’s own line of Instax instant cameras and film are booming! These instant cameras are incredibly popular and according to some accounts, making a better profit over Fuji’s own line of renowned digital cameras.

I’ve read people saying maybe Fuji did not want the pack film market to compete or hinder the sales of Instax cameras so they discontinued the FP-100C. This however doesn’t make sense because Fuji had no competition. There was no other company left that was making pack film.

So why not just shoot Instax? Because at this time, there are no Instax cameras that offer decent manual/advanced user capabilities. Actually, there is the Lomo Instant Wide which takes Instax Wide film and offers more manual controls than what Fuji is offering, but reports on this camera are mixed. I hope to get one for review in the near future. However, so far none of these Instax cameras have anything like the great Tominon lenses on the Polaroid 180/195 Land cameras or the Ysarex lens on the Polaroid 110A and 110B.

MY EXPERIENCES WITH PACK FILM

Personally, as an available light and night shooter, I much preferred the Fuji FP-3000B, the amazing ISO 3000 black and white version. It was amazingly sharp with beautiful tones. Sadly, this film was discontinued in 2013, but can still be found albeit at ridiculous prices.

For the FP-100C, I find my best results outdoors with plenty of sunlight. The FP-100C needs lots of light. If you have a studio setup, it’s cool, but I’m an available light shooter. I could and have done portraits with flash, but for those Polaroid “party” shots with flash, I’d just prefer to shoot with a One Step.

The great thing with Fuji’s peel apart instant film is that you get two images for the price: an instant print and a negative which you can reclaim through scanning or a bleaching process.

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“Friend” 2009. Polaroid 600SE, 127mm f/4.7 lens, FP-3000B scanned negative side.

Not all is rosy with pack film though. I’ve had issues with broken tabs, film jamming and losing the first couple of shots and sometimes, the whole pack which makes you feel really lousy because these films have become really expensive.

At its best, it’s an awesome feeling because there’s nothing like seeing an instant print develop before your eyes. And with the right camera/lens combo, you can get really excellent pics that can’t quite be duplicated digitally, even with the best “film” filters. At its worst, the film jamming, the underexposed shots, the expense, the gunk, it sometimes makes me say, why bother?

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

As soon as Fuji announced FP-100C’s discontinuation, the price gouging began. The film was selling for around $10 earlier, all of a sudden it went up to $14.99, then $18.99, now $24 and even over $30 in some places.

This is nuts and capitalism at its best, or worst. Strange thing is that the film was never out of stock whenever I looked, before the announcement. Now, it’s out of stock in most places. I know what you’re saying, supply and demand.

People are panicking. But I look at it this way. The Fuji FP-3000C was discontinued in 2013, but you can still find it even today on B&H, albeit at about three times the price before it was discontinued. Surely, once the entire stock is gone, it’s gone. But apparently Fuji had enough stock that, three years later, is still being sold.

Hopefully, Fuji made enough stock of FP-100C to last us a few more years.

THE BITTER END

In Fuji’s press release, they cited declining sales as the reason for discontinuing the film. This is the only thing that makes sense. Fujifilm is a business after all and just like all businesses they’re here to make money, not to appease a niche market of enthusiasts. Perhaps it cost more to produce the film and maintain the equipment that makes the film than they saw worthy.

Ironically, it is this niche market of old film cameras that Fuji borrowed the analog styling for its very successful line of retro styled digital cameras.

There are online petitions to save the Fuji FP-100C with thousands signed. The same was done when the FP-3000B was discontinued in 2013, it yielded no results. I expect the same here.

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“Mini Me” 2016. Pentax 6×7, 105mm f/2.4 Takumar, Fuji FP-3000B.

Some have wondered in the Impossible Project may take up this opportunity and buy out Fuji’s equipment to continue making pack film. I certainly hope they could. They really did do the impossible with Polaroid 600 and SX-70 film and I applaud their efforts. However, I personally feel that they won’t because they are probably already stretched thin as it is, although if any company can do the “impossible” they can!

Fujifilm has always been a different breed and have always made cameras, films, and decisions that were different and often unique. This time, sadly, they did what any corporate business would do and I think all analog photographers have lost something special because of it.

 

Photo Of The Day: “Lost”

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“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see” -John Newton. I’m not particularly religious, but I do think Amazing Grace is an amazing song. Shot with a Zenza Bronica S2A, 75mm f/2.8 Nikkor-P, Fuji Neopan 400 developed in T-Max developer.

“Hen House Takeover”

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“Hen House Takeover” 2011. Fuji X100. The original Fuji X100 is a very good imager, despite its quirks. I think this image has a bit of that film-like grit. Please click on the photo for larger and better view.

As mentioned in the last posting, my main working computer is down. As such all I can do while I wait to have it looked at is to throw up some pics that I have on this Chromebook, which again, is neither fast nor fun to use for editing photos 🙂

Here’s one from 2011. At that time I had just gotten my Fuji X100 and was still having my doubts about the camera. But looking over hundreds of shots from the last few years, the camera is a much better imager than I initially thought. I guess I was just having doubts from buyer’s remorse. It might be a quirky performer, but it does produce generally wonderful image quality, even by today’s standards.