Nikon N80 50mm f1.8D First Impressions

I wanted to get a modern AF film camera to try as an alternative to older manual film cameras and see what differences it would bring in everyday shooting situations. Being I started my new photographic journey with a Nikon D7000 which I sold several years ago, this camera was like coming back home. Nikon is the master of making amazing well designed ergonomic grips, and it cannot be under-stated how nicely the camera fits in hand. The weight is just about about perfect with the 50mm lens mounted, and it all seems very natural. Nikon has, what seems, just about everything a modern film photographer could wish for - in a modern auto focus camera - full manual, aperture and shutter priority modes, program mode, decent 5 point auto focus, very good modern 3D matrix metering, center weighted metering, spot metering, DX ISO setting with manual over ride, VERY quiet operation (actually, this one thing I was very impressed at), ability to rewind film more slowly, and some other goodies you can explore yourself (like bracketing). The camera is not weather sealed, and it may be a feel a little plasticky, but manages to feel fairly solid overall. This camera is AN AMAZING BARGAIN - I paid $20 for the body and $90 for the lens. If you just want to photograph, and are not as concerned about eye candy, this is the one!

Included sample photos were taken on a VERY GLOOMY day with little light, and all exposures were spot on. Kodak Tmax 400 developed in DD-X 1:5 (yes, I ran out of dev, so strange ratio!) at 9 minutes (should be 8 at 1:4). Scanned on Epson V800 and processed in Adobe PS.

Graflex Speed Graphic Large Format Camera Review

Well ….after over a year of ownership, and all kinds of “fun” I thought it was time to share my camera with the world. Hope you like it! Sample images included.

Contax IIa Rangefinder Camera Video Review

In this review, I take a look at the iconic Zeiss Ikon Contax IIa rangefinder made in Stuttgart, West Germany between 1950 and 1951. My copy was recently CLA’d and it comes with a nice Zeiss Opton 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar T as well as Zeiss-Opton Biogon 35mm f/2.8 lens. I have taken photographs with both, and the lenses render beautiful, old school, contrasty and sharp images (examples photographs below were taken with Rollei Retro 80S film, which I find provides ample sharpness and detail). I like the camera because it sits well in my hand, is fairly light to use (actually, the manual calls it “miniature”), it only contains the necessary elements for photography, and is a fun to use. Even though their prices are less than Leica, they are considered by many to have been “competitors” during that time, and the mechanical construction is superb. A good CLA of any of them should bring them to the point where they can continue to be used for decades to come. Some Sample images included below….

Olympus Pen EE-3 - Video Review & Samples

I recently acquired this little gem of a camera on eBay.  It arrived in good condition from a seller in Japan.  I took it out for a spin, and I thought to do a short video review with it here.  Instead of me rattling on about it, just watch the video and the review the samples ...I hope you enjoy!

$3.99+tax

Yes, I bought a camera ...for $3.99 plus tax.  Once upon a time, this plastic fantastic point and shoot camera (Minolta Freedom Zoom 140) - with a whopping f/9 lens at 140mm - may have cost a few bucks more (I think I saw somewhere it was $500 new in 1999).  Now, not so much.  Still - I was impressed with the automatic exposure and the photographs.  Passive AF system did not get it right every time ...but it did get it right ...most of the time.  Sometimes, flash went off when I did not mean it to ...but other times, it did!  "Panorama" mode (I say "" because it really only covers up the film to make it look like that on regular 35mm shot) worked ok. Closeup feature was also nice (see second fire-hydrant photo).  I had a blast with the camera (just around the house), and may take it for a real exercise on of these days.  Now ...why do I bother?  First off ...because its fun.  Second off ...maybe, just maybe, photography is not really about all that gear.  I still like my Hasselblad, and my Olympus OM-D E-M1.  Is that ok?  Film was fresh Fuji 200 from Walgreens.  Processing was done at home with C-41 kit from FPP.  V550 scanner.  :-)

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Focus Bracketing

Olympus likes to keep on giving to the users who already invested in their systems.  They have recently released version 4 firmware update to their system.  You can find the instructions on how to download this firmware to your Oly here.  Amongst other improvements is the new Focus Bracketing feature.  When Oly is used with one of its PRO series lenses (this is a requirement) like my excellent Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO and version 4 installed, Bracketing feature from the Menu now includes Focus stacking.  Focus stacking allows a user to choose to take upward of 99 RAW or JPEG files with a certain amount of "focus shift" from 1-10 steps so that each image captured brings into focus another part of the photograph.  This is very useful in macro or nature photography, where depth of field is often limited.  Once this Focus Bracketing feature is selected, one must also turn on the High Burst mode shooting, and switch it to "silent" - a feature also added with the release of firmware version 4 (funny how that works).  Then, you set your camera up on the tripod (handheld is possible with shorter brackets - like 3 or 4, but more difficult - experiment) - focus on the nearest part of the subject you are interested having in focus, and press the shutter button.  Watch the magic.  When done, download your images into Lightroom CC and process in Photoshop CC (at $10 per month for photogs, Adobe Creative Cloud is a no-brainer for me).  You can also try dedicated focus stacking software that often yields better results.  Photoshop works for me, most of the time.  Here is a super quick tutorial on how to do this in Photoshop CC (Note:  you can use this method for blending manually stacked images too - in case you own another camera that does not have this functionality):

  1. Upload images to Lightroom CC
  2. Select the series of images you are interested in stacking (5 in this example) - click on the first, hold shift, click on the last (range selection)
  3. Right Click and navigate to Edit in => Merge to Panorama in Photoshop
  4. Select "Collage" and uncheck "blend images together"
  5. Wait until Photoshop processes all files (they will be aligned one layer at the time)
  6. Select all of the created layers in Layers pane in Photoshop (there should be 5 in our example) - click on the first, hold shift, click on the last (range selection, just like in Lightroom - hint:  this works just about everywhere for multiple selections)
  7. Got to Photoshop menu, select Edit =>Auto-Blend Layers, select "Stack Images" and "Seamless Tones and Colors - click OK
  8. The 5 layers now have masks where Photoshop has selected only parts in focus to show creating a single image that should be all sharp
  9. If it is not fully sharp, you can mess with individual masks and make minor adjustments
  10. Select all of the layers (like in step 6), click "Flatten Image"
  11. Click to close the file and Photoshop will ask you if you want to save.  Say yes.  Saves file will show up in Lightroom

 

Here are the "before images" with only portions of each image in focus - CLICK on the image to have them rotate in the order they were taken 

Now, after some Photoshop magic, here is one fully in focus:

Canon AE-1 Program Camera Video Review

Quick Review of this very popular and often easy to find camera from early 80's.  If you are looking for a no-nonsense, straight shooter for some film fun - this is a keeper.  Should be able to get it for $50 in this configuration.  Watch our for stuck shutters or squeaky shutter ...both can be fixed...search the web for more.  I included  few shots done with this camera ...color is Velvia 50, rest are Kodak 400tx.

Yashica D Medium Format Camera Video Review

One of the first cameras I ever had the privilege of taking photographs with was my grandfathers Rolleiflex TLR. It was always an awesome experience, and I was always very fond of looking through the waist level view-finder ...because the images that appeared on ground glass seemed like magic to me. In some ways, they still do. Unfortunately, I no longer have that camera. Looking at the prices of what these go for now, I decided to purchase this great little Yashica D instead. It was for about 1/10th of the cost. Yashica TLR's were known as "poor mans Rolleiflexes". Still, the photos look just about as good. Here is a quick video review, if you are interested:

Olympus 35 RC Rangefinder Video Review

I purchased this camera on Ebay a few months back, as my first attempt to get back into film photography and enhance my overall photography experience. I read some great reviews about this fun little cam, and I thought to give it a shot. I have run a few rolls through it now, and it's a keeper! Love the compact size, ease of use, metering, and overall sharpness. Here is a little video to go along with the post: