Tag Archives: cameras

Escaping GAS

No, I’m not talking about real gas, but rather G.A.S, or Gear Acquisition Syndrom. It’s a common problem among many hobbies, but for the most part, it affects photographers, that is photographers who use film based cameras. These days shooting film is pretty sweet, there’s a huge used market where many cameras once thought to be out of reach of even beginner photographers are now easily purchased. When I got my first Nikon, the F80, it was the F5 I wanted, and now I got one for under a thousand, and a Hasselblad for 500. But herein lies the problem, we often find ourselves surrounded by so many cameras it’s next to impossible to determine which camera to take out and shoot that day.

All in the (F)amily
The full line of Nikon professional SLRs, the F to the F5, today I only have the F2 and F5

I’ll admit, I suffered from GAS, at my peak, I had over 30 functioning cameras including the full line of Nikon professional SLRs not to mention a handful of other cameras from Nikon. Medium format, more 35mm equipment, and a couple of large format cameras. It was a collection on the verge of being unsustainable. And that’s something coming from one of the hosts of the Classic Camera Revival Podcast, where our motto is “If you don’t have gear acquisition syndrome now, you will after this show.” It was starting to be a serious problem. And then it happened, the cure, the way out. An Escape from GAS. I got engaged and was going to move in after the wedding with my wife into a condo that had 760 square feet to share with two people. Some cameras had to go, a lot of cameras had to go. And before you jump all over my amazing wife, she never said a word, she in fact fully supported my photographic hobby. The decision was entirely mine because I was tired of taking so long to chose a camera. I needed to cut down, badly.

The Collection - September 2012
Yep, I had a Leica, and you know it was a pain to shoot with, so yes, I sold it.

Step One Over the course of a couple months shoot as you normally would but if you don’t normally log your film photography, start doing so, all you need is a little notebook or if you want to get fancy and really dig deep into the data use a spreadsheet. Make sure you at least capture what cameras and what lenses you use. If you already do this, you can skip over this step and go right to step two.

Step Two Look over your camera logs, figure out the cameras you use the most. These are the cameras that you certainly have to keep since they’re your go-to, your old faithful. There’s no hard or fast rule on a total number of cameras. Any camera you haven’t used in a couple months or more move into the get rid of pile, but don’t worry you don’t have to ditch them all just yet.

Step Three Take a look at your ‘to get rid of’ pile, if you have a sentimental connection to the camera, by all means, keep it. Also look at cameras where you only have one lens for or similar cameras in the keep pile. These are ones that you should actively seek to donate and remove. Again, no hard and fast rule, go with your gut.

Step Four Start offering up cameras to fellow film photographers, you can sell them if you want, but price to sell, not to make a buck on. There are plenty of buy/sell groups on Facebook that you can offer them up on. Alternatively, you can visit local camera shops that has a used gear. My go-to is Burlington Camera, Joan is fair on her prices and knows her stuff. And finally, if you have no desire to sell anything, you can always do the donation route the Film Photography Project is always looking for working cameras to help fuel their School Donation Program!

Step Five The final step and the one that continues on well past the first four. You have to remain vigilant. Keep your kit to the final number, add a camera, drop another. Look to expand your lenses, buy more film instead of new camera bodies. If one breaks and it’s a workhorse, by all means, replace it with the camera or similar camera body.

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645
The Pentax 645 a long-time workhorse of my collection, replaced in favour of the Hasselblad 500c

So there you have it, the big secret to escaping GAS, you have to want to. You have to realize this on your own. And you don’t have to set a hard and fast number, and there isn’t a bad thing about GAS, but sometimes the gear becomes more important than the art. Besides, just think of it this way, rather than spend hundreds on a new camera, spend that money on film and get out and use your cameras! Today I’m happily sitting on ten cameras, little duplication, and all ones that I enjoy taking out and shooting with, choice of camera is simple, and I find myself shooting more and thinking about it less. Not to mention I now have the room to expand on my selection of lenses to ensure I have enough coverage, no matter what system I take out.

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 22 – Cream of the Crap

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Sometimes it just feels good to let it all out and that’s exactly what we’re doing! The gang clears the air and discusses the cameras they love to hate along with the film stocks they aren’t too pleased in as well!

Cameras Featured on Today’s Show…

Bonica SQ-Am – Now Alex already has a love/hate relationship with the Bronica SQ system, but the SQ-Am takes the cake for him. The camera is loud bulky and chews through batteries like they were ancient NiCad rechargeables. Who integrates a motor drive on a 6×6 SLR anyways!

The Dark Lord

The Dirt:

  • Make: Bronica
  • Model: SQ-Am
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium Format, 6×6
  • Lens: Interchangeable, Bronica Bayonet Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1983

Oakville - Febuary 2012
Zenza Bronica SQ-Am – Zenzanon-PS 65mm 1:4 – Kodak Ektachrome E100GX

Oakville - Febuary 2012
Zenza Bronica SQ-Am – Zenzanon-PS 65mm 1:4 – Kodak Ektachrome E100GX

Oakville - Febuary 2012
Zenza Bronica SQ-Am – Zenzanon-PS 65mm 1:4 – Kodak Ektachrome E100GX

Zenit 3m – Three swings and three misses for John with the Zenit 3m, he really only brought it to use the cult classic Helios 44m lens, but when shutter issues kept plaguing him he went the adapter route and threw it on a Canon EOS and hasn’t looked back. At least they’re cheap.

Zenith 3M & Industar 50mm F3.5
Photo Care of Clicks_1000

The Dirt:

  • Make: KMZ
  • Model: Zenit 3m
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135, 35x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangeable, M39 (non-LTM)
  • Year of Manufacture: 1962-1970

Naima

Shooting film

Naima on film

Halina 35x – A Hong Kong made copy that looks like a Leica but is far from it. Poor quality, heavy, terrible lens, it’s not even quirky enough to be a good toy camera.

Praktica RIAD03202013 - Frame 23

The Dirt:

  • Make: Haking
  • Model: Halina 35x
  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Format: 135, 35x24mm
  • Lens: Halina Anistigmat 1:3.5 f=45mm
  • Year of Manufacture: 1959

Diana – While many see this as a loveable plastic toy camera, Donna isn’t too impressed with it. A tendency to have serious light leaks and a poor performance on the lens, she would rather see people use the FPP Debonair!

Diana
Photo Care of Tony Kemplen

The Dirt:

  • Make: Great Wall Plastic Co
  • Model: Diana
  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Format: Medium Format, 4.5×6
  • Lens: Fixed, Single Element Meniscus
  • Year of Manufacture: 1960s

Film Featured on Today’s Show…

Ilford Delta 400 – No matter what Alex does he just can’t bring himself to love Delta 400, poor contrast and muddy grain especially in the 35mm format makes this film a looser in his books.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

Toronto - New Year's Day
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

Fomapan 200 – While John would expect Fomapan 200 to be a decent film after enjoying the Fomapan 100 emulsion he just can’t stand the look, it’s soft, grainy, and just bad. The FPP EDU 200 is based on Fomapan 200 but is much sharper as it’s the surveillance version of the film.

The Bridge
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 200 @ ASA-200 – Blazinal (1+25) 5:30 @ 20C

Levering Cabin
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 200 @ ASA-200 – Blazinal (1+25) 5:30 @ 20C

Shanghai GP3 – Mike’s biggest beef with this film is quality control. Sometimes you get a good roll, other times you get the frame numbers bleeding through. Or that the emulsion is peeling off, or the film you thought was 5×7, wasn’t really. But if you get a good roll (rarely these days), it’s not such a bad film.

Winding..
An example of the good…
Calumet CC400 4×5 Monorail – Kodak Ektar 127mm ƒ/4.7 – Shanghai GP3 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 8:00 @ 20C

M-119 - Tunnel of Trees
An example of the bad…
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Shanghai GP3 @ ASA-100 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 1+9 8:00 @ 20C

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, Film Plus, Belle Arte Camera and Camtech, if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario. In Guelph there’s Pond’s FotoSource For those further north you can visit Foto Art Camera in Owen Sound. On the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 20 – Our Top Twenty

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We recently posted a link to our Facebook page about the top twenty-two vintage cameras to buy and it generated a lot of discussion about the article. And while we agreed (mostly) on the cameras on the list we felt that there were some better choices for vintage gear that you should buy. So this month we’re giving you the Classic Camera Revival Top Twenty Vintage Cameras to buy!

In no particular order…

Nikon F2 – This mechanical beauty won’t let you down whatever model you pickup!
Pentax 645 – Simple, Easy, Great way to get into Medium Format without breaking the bank
Nikon FM – Pure Photography at it’s best, all mechanical and has great lenses backing it up
Nikon F3 – One of the best, and most affordable semi-auto professional cameras out there
Crown Graphic – Great way to get into shoot-from-the-hip Large Format!
Olympus OM-2 – A Cult Classic and certainly won’t let you down
Voitlander Bessa R – Prices of Leica’s getting you down, get the same quality and have a meter to boot
Cambo Legend 8×10 – Go big or go home, probably the cheapest and simplest way to get into 8×10!
Bronica EC – The cousin to the Hasselblad, with Nikkor Glass, and a cheaper price
Canon T90 – FD Photography at it’s finest fast, functional, and a solid price point.
Contax 645 – Have some more money to spend and want a photographer’s dream then this camera is for you!
Contax AX – Autofocus with Carl Zeiss lenses, this pro camera is rare but a dream to use
Canon F-1 – Built like a tank and designed to last.
Exaka Verex 1000TC – Solid mechanical performance out of East Germany
Fed 2 – A better choice in M39 rangefinders from the 1950s easier to use and a better price point!
Nikon F90x/N90s – Fast Auto-Focus, Solid Metering and affordable!
Pentax Spotmatic – Doesn’t get better than the original, plus your lenses are radioactive!
Rolleiflex – The Ferrari of TLRs, but you don’t need a Zeiss one to get solid performance
Mamyia RB/RZ67 – If you ever wanted to shoot with a cinder-block this is your camera, but it takes beautiful images!
Olympus Pen F – Half-Frame SLR fun, this unique camera won’t disappoint!

Do you agree? What cameras would you put on your list, shoot us an email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, Film Plus, Belle Arte Camera and Camtech, if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

The Grudge Match – 1950s German Style

These days the two big camera names that see fanboys (and girls) in both camps is Cannon vs. Nikon. But that wasn’t always the case. In the 1950s Nikon and Canon were still fairly unknown in the pro-market, both were producing rangefinder cameras stamped with “Made in occupied Japan” the real competitors of the 1950s was Contax and Leica. Since I have both a Leica IIIc and a Contax IIIa I figured I should do a side by side comparison and have these two heavy-weights of the mid-century fight it out. Before you continue, I suggest reading by reviews of each camera, first the Contax IIIa then the Leica IIIc. So let’s begin! In one corner we have the Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa, a 35mm Rangefinder with a Contax RF lens mount, manufactured between 1940 and 1951 equipped with a selenium meter! In the other corner we have the Leica IIIa also a 35mm rangefinder with a M39 thread mount, manufactured between 1951 and 1962! For the purpose of this match we have both running a standard 50mm lens, the Contax has a Zeiss-Opton Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 while the Leica is running a Lietz Summitar 50mm f/2! Each has been loaded with Kodak Tmax 100 film, rated at ASA-32 developed in Xtol (1+1) for 8:45 at 20C. Both metered with a Gossen Lunasix F.

grudge-match

Film Loading
So I’m not going to lie, the method of loading the Leica IIIc is a pain in the butt, and usually takes me a couple tries before I get it right. I’ve actually seen a fellow photographer fail many times to load his M6, which has the handy back door to see if you got it, the IIIc doesn’t have that. I’m sure with practice and some pre-cut rolls of film you can easily load it on the fly, but honestly, it would still be one that you’d want two around your neck and your assistant nearby to load and unload as you shoot. The Contax IIIa is a little easier as you can remove the entire back, which also slows down reloading and you have to juggle a bit but you’d have an easier getting the film loaded right the first time. But I do see why Capa carried two into combat, you don’t want to be juggling three things with bullets flying.

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa
Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc

Optics
This is where both cameras stand out is the optics. While some might hold Leica glass over Zeiss glass. I really cannot tell the difference between the two. The only real difference is the aperture on the Summitar and the Sonnar that gives different effects with the out of focus area, but both produce a pleasing Bokeh. But when it comes to the optics I’ll give the edge to Leica, not for the glass but for the mount. Going with the M39 (aka Leica Thread Mount) was probably the part that wins out because there is a lot more glass available for it and it remains adaptable easily for compact digital system cameras. The bayonet mount on the Contax IIIa is a bit finicky and with the lack of a focusing helical on many of the lenses makes it difficult to use this wonderful glass on my a6000 (which is a big selling point for me).

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa
Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc

Usability
Both cameras are solid performers, easy to handle, not to heavy, not too light, great for carrying with you for a long time. The one draw back to the IIIc is the twin window rangefinder. And it’s really tiny so I’ve often found I’ve missed the focus mark. The Contax IIIa on the other hand has a single window view/rangefinder and it’s pretty bright so I’ve been able to focus with ease. Of course the Contax isn’t perfect, the way I hold the camera and use the focus dial (as opposed to the focus ring), I find that I block out the second rangefinder window at the front of the camera making it near impossible to nail the focus. This is where the Leica wins with the focusing handle on the bottom of the lens preventing this from happening. Similarly both cameras have an infinity lock, but the Leica’s is much easier to operate than the one on the Contax. When it comes to the shutter speed the Contax has a much nicer layout of the control dial with only a single dial to control all shutter speeds (and you can adjust without having the shutter cocked like the Leica), so if you are shooting at speeds under a 1/30″ you aren’t fiddling with a much smaller dial. The rest of the camera functions, shutter release, film advance are pretty similar is style and function and really aren’t worth mentioning overall. Both cameras are easily to use really with the functions easily accessed while holding and nothing really super out of place.

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa
Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc

Final Words
Like Cannon and Nikon these days I really cannot find anything that makes one camera better than the other beyond my own personal preference. I’m sure Contax and Leica fanboys of the time would be able to point out things that I failed to or didn’t want to notice. Like anything in photography these were the top dogs of their day, both operated in a similar manner, produced similar quality images, and both were handled and used by the greats of their day. Is one better than the other, no. Do I like one better than the other, yes. But as I said, the only major points that make the Contax stand out to me more than the Leica is the rangefinder window and the film loading. But that’s just my personal taste, as both are amazing cameras and worth looking at if you want a mid-twentieth century rangefinder with some class and style. So in my view the results of the match, is a tie.

52:320TXP – Week 43 – For the Love of Film

52:320TXP - Week 43 - For the Love of Film

Coming off the last bicentennial reenactment in Canada and a trip to Texas looming next week I figured I needed something quick and dirty for Week 43 so I decided to give a little bit of still life a try with two of jewels of my working collection. A 1950 Leica IIIc and a 1969 Rolleiflex 2.8F all nicely posed with some APX25 and Ilford Delta 400, the film actually is for my Texas trip, the cameras will be staying home (As I have my Pentax 645 and Nikon F4 packed up for the trip). But it was the first time for me working with my strobist gear and my 4×5, I’m pretty happy with the results.

Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznack Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak Tri-X Pan (320TXP)
Meter: Sektonic L-358
Strobist: 1 SB-910 M 1/2 with Bounce Umbrella
Trigger: Elinchrom Skyports
1/125″ – f/16 – ASA-200
Kodak HC-110 Dil. E 6:30 @ 20C

The Argus Museum

Located on a sleepy treelined street in Ann Arbor Michigan in an old building is a museum, while not large, holds a piece of Americana, the Argus Museum. I was inspired by Mark O’Brien who mentioned this museum on Episode 108 of the Film Photography Podcast and decided to take a trip to visit on my way home from Ohio on the August Long Weekend.

The Argus Museum

One of the neat features of the museum is where it’s located, not just Ann Arbor, but in the original buildings that the cameras were made in. That’s right, instead of demolishing or letting them fall apart (which would’ve been neat to explore) they redeveloped them, in fact the whole neighborhood if you look closely you’ll see all the traces of the Argus Camera Company.

The Argus Museum

Argus traces itself back to the International Radio Corporation, when the summer came, and people wouldn’t listen to the radio as much, instead of laying the entire force off, they decided to reinvent themselves and in 1936 released a camera, the Argus A. The A eventually gave way to the iconic Argus C line of cameras. If you’ve watched the Harry Potter series of films or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you will have seen one of these ‘bricks’.

The Argus cameras came at the time when Kodak was king, but the top of the line Kodak cameras were all of European manufacture, the Argus camera was truly an American Camera, and soon found it’s place as an inexpensive quality camera for the everyman. Sadly it wasn’t destined to last, and the company was bought out in the 1970s. Modern Argus cameras still exist but it’s not the same American company.

The Argus Museum

While the museum isn’t that big, you can probably spend maybe 30 minutes there, it’s certainly worth a visit for camera nuts or people just interested in a slice of Americana. The Museum is located at 525 W William St in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is open Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm.

The Argus Museum

Photos: Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 (400TX) @ ASA-800 – Kodak Xtol (1+1)

Mastering the Basics – The Lens

35mm

So now that you know what a camera let’s get down to business, the next most important part of the camera is the lens. This is what focuses the light into the camera body and onto the medium capturing that light. Lenses can be at the very top broken down into two categories, those are prime and zoom.

A Prime lens is one with a fixed focal length, such as 50mm, 105mm, 200mm.
A Zoom lens has a variable focal length, such as 18-55mm, 70-200mm, 17-35mm.

A lenses focal length is usually measured in milimeters (mm) but you will often find some marked in centimeters (cm), 1cm = 10mm, therefore if you have a 5cm lens, it’s just a different way of saying 50mm.

Another note before going into the different types of lenses, on focal lengthes. Depending on the size of the recording media, the focal length varies. On Digital cameras that us a crop sensor, (smaller than 35mm) there’s a crop factor. You will find crop sensors in SLRs, Point & Shoot, EVIL, and Rangefinder camera types. You can multiply the focal length by that number, so for example on Nikon’s sensor there’s a 1.5x factor, so your 50mm lens will give you the equivilant image of a 75mm lens. To get over this factor to some extent most camera and lens manfactures have released lenses designed for cropped sensors. Now you can use lenses designed for Full Frame (35mm) sensors on crop sensor bodies, but you will be unable to use crop sensor lenses on full frame cameras. (Well you can, but there will be…issues). The focal length also changes the larger the sensor gets, for here you divide the lens’ displayed focal length.

From here lenses can be broken down further into categories based on that focal length.

Ultra-Wide
An ultra-wide or just wide lens is anything with a focal length of less than but not including 35mm. But they keep the straight lines in the image straight (within reason, most ultra-wide lenses produce some level of distortion). This type of lens is great for capturing buildings, and landscapes. However I would avoid using them in portraits, unless you’re going for that look. You can find ultra-wide lenses in both zoom and prime types. Ultra-wides should not be confused with fish-eye lenses. Fish-eyes althougth they fall into the ultra-wide category by focal length, they often have a field of view of 180 degrees and have a very distorted look to them.

The Deck
Ultra-Wides are great for inside shots, making big spaces look even bigger and grander. This was captured on a 14-24mm lens

Normal
The Normal focal range covers 35mm to 70mm, however most people will call a 50mm lens normal as it shares the same field of view as your eyes do. These types of lenses often are great for a carry around fixed focus lens or a simple everyday zoom lens. Most dSLRs ship with a basic “kit” with covers a wide angle through normal usually. The trusty 18-55mm. On crop sensor cameras, a 50mm will turn into the equivilant of a short telephoto (75mm) so I often will use a 35mm lens to get the 50mm (52mm) focal length back. These lenses are great for capturing details and making a great portrait lens. You can get a 50mm f/1.8 (don’t worry, we’ll cover the f number later), for around one hundred dollars these days which make it useful for low light situations and a quick portrait lens. Normal lenses can be found in both zoom and prime, although I prefer them in prime form. Normal lenses especally the the 50mm makes a great portrait lens in a pinch.

DSC_2647-Edit
Normal lenses especally the the 50mm makes a great portrait lens in a pinch. This was captured on a 50mm lens.

Telephoto
A telephoto lens is any lens that is greater than 70mm in focal length. These often are big, heavy, noticable, and unweildly. Avalible in both zoom and prime types. They’re great for portrait work, and event photography, and more importantly sports and wildlife photography. When it comes to arcitecture they’re great for capturing details of a structure that are far away from you. Such as carved figures or other details on skyscrapers and churches. I primarly use telephotos for portrait work and some street photography.

_DSC1311-Edit
With a good telephoto you can easily isolate your subjects in the frame. Captured with a 70-200mm lens.

Specialty Lenses
These are lenses that may fit into the above categories but operate slightly differently from a traditional lens.

Selective Focus – These often will blur out the rest of the frame, allowing the person to isolate their exact subject in the frame. The Lensbaby series are famous for these types of lenses.

not so lonely chairs
The selective focus look is rather polarizing, some like it others hate it. Captured with a Lensbaby Composer.

Tilt-Shift (TS) or Perspective Control (PC) – very specalized lens, often used in arcticture shots because you can actually move the lens elements to make lines straight. So in a building where to capture it all you’d have to tilt you camera up, the building would have diaganol lines converging at the top. With a TS/PC lens you won’t have that issue, you just shift the lens up to frame it as you like.

_DSC8594-Edit
One of many buildings found in downtown Stratford, captured with a 35mm PC lens.

Macro – Macro lenses are special in the sense they have the ablity to focus really close on an object to show incredable detail. They’re usually in the normal to telephoto range of lenses.

More Macro
Close up details aren’t really my style, but I did play with it for a bit. Captured using a 18-50mm macro lens.

Mastering the Basics – The Camera

Darth Vader's Camera

The camera. A camera is a device that allows light to be captured on a sensitive media. All cameras operate on this same principle, from the first cameras in the 19th century to the one on your cellphone. Sure, the technology has changed since the first perminant photo was captured in 1829. So what is a camera, how does it all work….it’s actually pretty simple, light is reflected off an object, travels through a lens, and strikes a light senstive media. Yes, it’s that simple.

The complex part is all the different cameras that we have avalible today…

The Point & Shoot
A point and shoot camera is just that, you point it, shoot it, and the camera does all the work for you. Often these use simple viewfinders off set from the actual lens. In the case of digital and cellphone cameras. Most feature a fixed lens or basic zoom. Although not known for image quality, you can actually produce excellent photos from them in the right hands. You often will not have much in the way of control over settings on the low end of the spectrum of P&S cameras, but higher end models feature a full set of creative controls.

If you’re just looking for something simple to carry around, the point and shoot is for you!

New Toy!
The Canon G series cameras, are high end digital Point & Shoot cameras

E.V.I.L. Cameras
No, these cameras will not steal your soul, in fact they’re fairly new kids on the block. EVIL standing for Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangable Lenses, are based on the older Olympus PEN series of half-frame 35mm (film) cameras. These compact cameras often feature near full sized sensors and have a wide range of lenses, and full creative control over the camera settings. Olympus was the first to introduce these digital cameras with their E-P1 series, Panasonic, and Sony all have entries into this market.

A step up from the point and shoot, it gives you quality and a wide range of creative control.

The PEN is Mightier
The Olympus E-P1 is based around the Micro 4/3 sensor and was the first EVIL camera on the market.

Rangefinders
A classic design in cameras. The rangefinder at quick glance may be mistaken as a point and shoot, and EVIL cameras may be mistaken as a rangefinder. What makes a rangefinder different is how the focus works. In early rangefinder cameras, there was a second viewfinder, or in this case rangefinder, where the operator would align two images to ensure the image was in focus, then use a second finder to compose the shot. The viewers in rangefinders are almost exclusivly offset from the lens which makes them difficulty to compose a shot, but there are often aids in the viewfinder to help with composing the shot. Rangefinders can feature both a fixed lens (Minolta’s Hi-Matic series, and Fuji’s X-100 digital), or can have interchangeable lenses (Leica cameras, all the them).

Rangefinders are classic cameras, not for the faint of heart, or people on a budget. Great for low profile photography such as street, but packs a punch when you need it, especally with quality cameras and lenses on hand…but they will cost you.

I Leica You, You Leica Me
The Leica IIIc, a classic rangefinder from the 1950s. Hard to use by today’s standards but still puts out quality images.

Single Lens Reflex
When someone mentions a camera this is often what they mean, the single lens reflex, or SLR. SLR’s feature one lens, one viewfinder and a mirror and prisim that allows the operator to see exactly wha the lens sees, henses “Single Lens” the “Reflex” comes when the photo is taken, the mirror moves up allowing the light to hit the media. All SLR cameras feature interchangeable lenses. These days SLR cameras, despite their size and mystic are very easy to use and are avalible to people even on a budget. SLRs offer the best creative control over your photo, from focus, and exposure settings. You can find SLR cameras in digital, 35mm, 120, and even 110 formats.

If you’re looking for a way to expand your skill, knowlege, and understanding of photography, the SLR is for you. Just remember, just because you own one…doesn’t mean you’re automatically a professional. I own several, and I’m still learning.

The WorkHorse
The Nikon F4 is an example of a Professional level SLR from the late 1980s

Twin Lens Reflex
Twin Lens Reflex, or TLR, are cameras that aren’t much in the public eye these days. As the name sugguests these cameras feature two lenses. The top lens, or viewing lens is where the operator composes the shot and sets the focus, the bottom lens, or taking lens, is what actually exposes the media to light. These cameras cut a certain figure and are often rare these days. You can find them in both medium format and 35mm, however no digital TLRs are on the market. A majority of TLR cameras use a fixed lens, however Mamyia released a line of TLRs that have interchangeable lenses.

If you want to try your hand and something unique and new, pick up a TLR.

Rolleiflex 2.8F
A Rolleiflex is a top of the line TLR.

View Cameras
The view camera is a type of camera first developed in the era of the Daguerreotype and still in use today, though with many refinements. It comprises a flexible bellows which forms a light-tight seal between two adjustable standards, one of which holds a lens, and the other a viewfinder or a photographic film holder. The bellows is a flexible, accordion-pleated box, which encloses the space between the lens and film, and has the ability to flex to accommodate the movements of the standards. The front standard is a board at the front of the camera which holds the lens and, usually, a shutter. At the other end of the bellows, the rear standard is a frame which holds a ground glass, used for focusing and composing the image before exposure, which is replaced by a holder containing the light-sensitive film, plate, or image sensor for exposure. The front and rear standards can move in various ways relative to each other, unlike most other types of camera, giving control over focus, depth of field and perspective. The camera must have some means of support, usually provision for mounting it on a tripod.

View cameras are not for the faint of heart, they’re big, heavy, and required a very good understanding of photographic technique, not something you take on lightly. You should also have provisions to develop your own film as sheet film is expensive to develop in labs.

Sorry, no photo, as I don’t own a view camera….yet

Electric Photography…1932?

As I was reading through the latest PHSC news letter I came across a neat little article that I’m shamelessly re-publishing here.

George Dunbar found this piece of news in the Modern Mechanix magazine of June 1932. It showed the latest development of an electric camera that worked without film, before the digital age.

It is described as a revolutionary camera developed by Mr. K. Wilcke, a German scientist. Light enters the camera and strikes a glass plate, on which is a very fine coating of a metal-like platinum or gold. It is so fine that it will permit the passage of light. Backed up to this metal film is a layer of selenium, behind which is placed a piece paper soaked in a special electrolyte. The last member of hte group is another metal plate, which serves as a second electrode.

Through the process of electrolysis the image is impressed upon the selenium will be reproduced upon the paper, the most metal being deposited in the dark portion of the picture.

Now, this isn’t digital technology in the sense that we know it, and I’m sure the images weren’t that great, and it was probably a very complex thing to work with. But wow, trying to get away from film since 1932.