Author: SM

Nurse and lomographer

Photokina 2018

Finally I find the time to sit down, armed with a cup of mint tea, and write about this year’s Photokina.

For those who don’t know, Photokina is the world’s most important and biggest photographic trade show, held in wonderful Köln (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany). Photokina has been taking place from the fifities, every two years, and has always featured the big names of photography (and also some smaller ones). Where the focus of the old editions was, of course, analogue photography, with the advent of digital photography most of the exhibition is dedicated to this thriving world, although a few surprises still lie here and there. Mainly, the Lomographic Society sand, which is also the main reason I went to Photokina.

Rumors are that starting from his year, the trade show will become annual.

I must admit that if you, like me, are new to this sort of things, the whole experience of a trade show can be a bit… overwhelming, to say the least. There are loads of people in every corner, everyone trying to catch a glimpse of the products from their favourite companies or play with some new cameras, lenses or accessories.

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The Leica M-A. Picture taken from Leica’s website. Be kind to me, I’m advertising a product I can’t even afford for free guys. Let me keep this picture posted.

First of all, let’s take a look to a big name. This year, Leica has introduced a new film rangefinder, the Leica M-A. It’s a full metal body camera, which comes in either silver or black finish. It has interchangeable lenses (M-Bayonet) and quite interesting technical features: 1s to 1/1000s (and bulb) speeds, support for film from ISO 6 to 6400, hotshoe and a bright wievfinder. The aperture is, of course, dependant on the lens you want to use with the camera. It weighs less than half a kilo, and it’s build quality is, of course, among the best (it’s Leica, after all). The base price is £3800, but the package includes a complimentary roll of Kodak Tri-X 400. Head over to Leica’s website to find out more and shop. Good for you if you can afford it, because I certainly can’t (I’m still a nurse, after all).

Let’s continue our journey through the show with Lomography. Their stand was full of cameras, trinkets, t-shirts, bags, leaflets and posters and postcards and happy lomographers. Three the major products they featured at the show (albeit nothing breakthrough).

  • LOMO’Instant Automat Glass Elbrus (baptised by yours truly LIAGE, because the name is quite long and I can’t keep typing it over and over). It’s a LOMO’Instant Automat with a brown leatherette and multi coated lenses. Being an Automat, it’s fully automatic. Aperture is either f/4.5 or f/22 (not that you can say your opinion on the matter). Shutter speed is standard 1/250 or bulb up to 30s. Film ejection is motorized and there is a built-in flash. Works on standard Fujifilm Instax Mini film. (leaflet)
  • LOMO’Instant Explorer (the design is new, the camera itself… not). It’s a LOMO’Instant with a new design, basically. (leaflet)
  • Sprocket Rocket SUPERPOP! Teal 2.0 (argh, another mouthful… cannot call it SRSPT either because that’s quite unpronounceable). Again, it’s a Sprocket Rocket. The SUPERPOP! version just adds a new colour and few extra aesthetic details. (leaflet)

All in all, Photokina has been an interesting event. My lack of actual interest in digital photography at the moment plus the not-so-steep price of the ticket and the amount of goodies I managed to get back home made me feel not guilty of leaving after a couple of hours of exploration. As much as I am interested in photography, I could not resist the calling of Köln waiting for me.

[QnD] ISSF’s Guides to film rolls

This post is the first one in a series I call QnD or Quick and Dirty, because of their unpolished presentation.

I want to talk briefly about the IStillShootFilm.org’s guides to commercially available film. They come in two flavours, colour and black and white. The guides are not free, unfortunately, they cost US$ 6.99 each or US$9.99 if you buy them both.

Films are divided by manufacturer and there is a description for each kind of film. All different formats are covered in quite detail. The reviews don’t stop to major brands like Fuji and Kodak but also cover some less famous and more eclectic ones.

Good guides, can be useful to discover new films and learn a couple things about the films you already know (for instance, the quality level of the Agfa Vista Color).

More information and online store on ISSF.org.

From Köln with Liebe

What am I doing in the German Bundesland of Nordrhein-Westfalen?

Hint: it has to do with this blog.

Okay, I’m here for the Photokina! Tomorrow I am going to visit the trade show held at the KoelnMesse, in this wonderful city.

In the meanwhile I am doing also some sightseeing, picture snapping and relaxing with a local beer (Kölsch) along the Rhine.

More to come in the following days!

Tschö!

How I started with a Mamiya C330s and some Ektar 100, then ended up with lomo pictures

Okay, so my intentions were good. Armed with my trusty Mamiya C330s and a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 film, I wanted to try and dome some realistic photography for once (realistic as in non-lomographic).

What I ended up with was… well, quite the opposite. You can find the pictures here on the project page.

Switchover (part 3): Polarr

Third part in this switchover series, today I want to talk about Polarr.

Polarr is a multiplatform web-based photo editor, loaded with features and with a very pleasant interface. It is technically a web-app, but done so well that you barely notice it. Actually, I had to read it online, otherwise I would have never discover that.

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Polarr on launch. It has a very clean interface (yes, I switched to standard Ubuntu and GNOME).

Polarr comes in two interfaces, User and Pro, the latter offering more options. I started straight away with the Pro interface having some experience with photo editing.

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There are several options for editing, masking, exporting, cropping, rotation…. the only thing it does not do is coffee.

The controls are superb, despite being unable to manually input numbers. These sliders show the effect that sliding in one or the other direction will have and they offer live preview, so you can see the effect as you slide (something that darktable still hasn’t and annoys me). The histogram is shown on the upper left corner, but it is possible to move it around the screen as preferred.

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Curves are included and are very neatly implemented in a non intrusive way. It is possible to work on the general curve or on the single colour components.

There are several adjustments available, which can be applied globally (on the entire picture) or locally (through the use of masking). Masking can be elliptical, gradient or set manually with a brush tool.

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There is a huge selection of filters available.

There are also filters, available, although they are more like “presets”. Once applied, their settings can be completely altered and it is also possible to save your own presets/filters. Very handy as starting points or for quick fixes.

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Exporting options. Not a vast selection, but functional.

All edits can be undoed and restored, they are saved separately from the picture itself. It is possible to save a copy of the edited pictures via the Export function which shows the window above. It is possible to set custom metadata, apply a custom watermark, single and batch exporting. Batch exporting also allows for batch renaming and filter application.

Polarr is free to use, and can be downloaded from the official website (or used straight from there, as a matter of fact). There is also a subscription  (less than £30/year) that offers some more features and works with all versions. It is available for Windows, Linux/ChromeOS and macOS. I highly recommend this software!

Holga, the hol-mighty!

Okay, so let’s ignore the bad pun that is the title of this post and focus on the main topic.

The Holga is a rite of passage, a must for every film photographer.

Like the Diana, the Holga is a plastic “toy camera”, with a meniscus lens. Unlike the Diana, there are several models of Holga according to what they have as features. Holgas were produced until not long ago by Universal Electronic, Ltd. of Hong Kong, under the guide of TM Lee, creator of the original Holga. Production switched hands in 2015, when another company got hold of the original Holga moulds and tools and kept producing this legendary icon of film photography.

The lens is a basic meniscus type lens, 60 mm, in plastic or glass (according to the model), with apertures of f/8 and f/11, switchable by the user. Focus is done by rotating the lens barrel, in a four-zone focus system: portrait, small group, large group and infinite. As with the Diana, the pictures show vignetting and other aberrations, including light leaks. Also, every Holga is slightly different, so that even in the same setting, two Holgas will never produce the same image.

This beauty has experience a rise in popularity thanks to the Lomography movement, who distributed the Holgas in their store (they stopped, at present). Holgas are still VERY easy to find on eBay, and there are several different models to choose from:

  • 120S: standard model, plastic lens, no frills, only one picture size. This has been discontinued for a long time but remains the favourite of many photographers.
  • 120SF: the standard model with a built-in flash.
  • 120G: called “Woca”, is a 120S with a glass lens
  • 120GF: a Woca with a built-in flash
  • 120N: the new standard model (I assume “N” stands for “New”), tripod mount, bulb mode and the possibility to change masks between 6×6 and 6×4.5. Models produced before 2009 (I believe) have a non-functioning aperture switch.
  • 120GN: a 120N with a glass lens (still named Holga)
  • 120FN: a 120N with a flash
  • 120GFN: mix the two above and you get a Holga with a glass lens and a built-in flash.
  • 120CFN: a 120FN with four built-in colour filters for the flash, selectable with a wheel
  • 120GCFN: Again, mix the two above and this is what you get. This is the model I own.

There are also some other models, including a TLR Holga, a pinhole, stereo pinhole, 110 film format Holga and so on and so forth.

There are also several accessories for the Holga, including a 35mm film adapter (which does not have an exposure count, so you have to advance the film manually and kind of guess when to stop), cable release and instant back.

Of course it’s not perfect, there are several issues with each model, mainly affecting the metal clips that both hold the back in place and allow you to attach your camera strap, the film advance mechanisms that tends to loosen the tension thus creating artifacts and light leaks. Most of these issues can be fixed with a roll of duct tape and patience.

I have to admit, I am happy of the results I got with the Holga, it’s a fun camera and has character. I feel I need to know it better so to more appreciate what makes it different from my Diana.

All the pictures above where shot with a Holga 120GCFN on a Lomography Color 400 ISO film.