Taking Pictures of the Sky Again

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

I don’t ever seem to get sick of looking up.

One more . . .

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

Quacko and the Elps, or Happy Hour at Tugboat Brewing

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

This place was so good that I had a beer, walked back to the hotel to collect Kate, and came straight back for another beer. Much better than some of those ‘We brew 24 different kinds of over hopped beers!’ resto-breweries. This place only had a couple of their own beers on tap, but all were excellent. Good humus too.

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

I like bars that have books; bars that have books on photography get double points.

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

What the hell is an Elp?

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

I told Kate she only got another cider if she finished a chapter. I like to promote reading.

You should all go there: Tugboat Brewing The Red Hopped Ale and the Summer Ale were both excellent.

Some Notes on Currently Available Digital Cameras

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Really, these are for my own benefit, so don’t take them too seriously. The nearest sizable camera store is 2.5 hours away in Chicago, so while we were in Portland, I stopped at a couple of camera stores just to check out what some of the newer digital cameras are like. My last digital camera was a Nikon D80, purchased almost three years ago now, and sold not that long after. It seems like things must have improved since then, and so they have.

Canon & Nikon

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The Canon and Nikon APS-C models seem like really pretty decent cameras now. I was primarily looking at the low end models as I don’t want anything as large as D300 or 50D. The D60, D5000 and Rebel models all sport totally usable viewfinders and highly evolved user interfaces both physical and on screen. The Nikon models seem to have slightly better viewfinders, but on all of them I could manually focus the fairly slow kit zooms with little problem, so good news there. Bad news, the grips on these things are all beyond pointless. I don’t understand the fascination people have with molded grips in general, but on a camera this small, those grips force you to hold the camera in such a way that your knuckles knock against the lens barrel.

I also played with the 5D II and the D700. Yep, those viewfinders are big, but not really all that bright compared to something like an OM-1 or an FM2. AF performance on both seemed snappy-ish but not really all that great, although both were mounted with fairly slow zooms. They were solid seeming cameras, but ridiculously big. You’d have to pay me a lot more than most pro-photographers make to carry one of these things, but I thought the same of the big, pro level Canon and Nikon film bodies of yore. Many pros must have felt the same then given how many used to carry FM2s or F3s.

One sentence review of the Canon G10; that interface is better thought out than any other digital camera out there.

Sony & Pentax

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No one seems to carry the full line for either of these manufacturers. One store had the A900, the other the A300. Neither seemed as highly evolved as the Canon and Nikon competition. No one had the Pentax K7, a camera that certainly sounds good in the online reviews. Wish that I could have seen it.

Olympus

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Nope, no one had an E-P1, but I wasn’t really looking for one of those anyway. It’s the E620 and E450 that I’ve been really curious about. No one had the E450, but the E420 seems like a nice little camera, and a lot smaller in practice than the Canon or Nikon APS-C bodies, particularly with a lens mounted. That pancake 25 is a tiny little thing. The viewfinder of the E420 was better than that of the A300, but not quite up to the current Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras.

The E620, while really only slightly smaller than the Canon and Nikon cameras, fit much more nicely in my hand. The abbreviated grip makes a lot of sense, and my hand just naturally fell into position. Other controls worked just as you expect them to by this point. The rotating screen seems like an interesting idea, but it’s hard to tell how it would out in practice. It does make the camera a bit fatter. The viewfinder, while larger than the E420, is still not quite as nice as those on the Canon and Nikon, but I was able to manually focus the slowish 12-60 F4 without any problems. That’s quite a lens, btw, and if I knew what to do with all those focal lengths, it would be the ticket.

And it’s on that question of lenses where Olympus still seems to be ahead of the curve. I like an angle of view equivalent to something between 35 and 50. Anywhere in there will do. Right now, the Olympus E series is the only thing offering a compact, moderately fast lens in that range. The Sigma 30 F1.4, while a fine performer, is a beast, as is the new Nikon 35 1.8. The Canon 28 1.8 is similarly sized. That Oly pancake 25 is tiny though, so small, in fact, that it makes the slightly larger E-620 a very appealing camera. If anyone at Olympus headquarter is listening, make a 20 F2.8. It can be a bit larger than the 25, but not too much. Come on, you know you want to hearken back to the 40 F2 for the OM line.

What I’m Buying

I’m not buying anything at the moment. My pennies are accumulating for a medium format camera, I think a Yashica-Mat 124G, which seem like a good entry point for me. Not sure how I’ll handle the world being reversed, but I don’t always know my left from my right anyway, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually. I’ll be keeping my eye on that E-620 though. I think I could have fun with one of those, and with a 25MM lens, extra battery, CF card etc, the whole kit would be less than I’ve paid for any of my three previous DSLR bodies alone, and that’s a real consideration at the moment.

Silk Shirt: Neopan 400, D76 and Fortuitous Mistakes

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These, and the photos in the preceding post, are from a couple of rolls of Neopan 400 developed in D76 1:1 for 6.75 minutes at 72F, which is a minute and 45 seconds less than the Fuji data sheet recommends. This wasn’t intentional. I misread the time/temp conversion chart. I seem to be doing this a lot lately, but in this case, it turned out fine, good enough, in fact, that I repeated the ‘mistake’ again this morning with two more rolls, although this time I went for 7 minutes – round numbers are easier to time.

Lately I’ve been biasing my exposures to the shadows more heavily than I have in the past, so between that and the under development, I’ve probably pulled the film a bit. Seems to be working for me. I’m also playing around with some new scanning techniques. More on that later.

For the record, these shots are actually Freestyle’s Legacy 400. Although the edge markings are slightly different, it seems to be Neopan 400. Mixed in with a roll of Neopan 400, the density came out identical to my eye.

Notes From Portland

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

Southwest

Southwest is still the only American carrier that doesn’t suck. Sure, you don’t get a meal, but airplane food is junk anyway. The unassigned seating does add a bit of excitement; will you get stuck between the fatman and the basketball player; you will if you are C 37. But the staff clearly don’t hate their jobs nearly as much as other airline staff seem to. And that 737-700 is a fine plane. Runs on rainbows now.

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

Portland

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

The Ace Hotel is fun, the beds are comfy, there’s real soap in the shower and real coffee in the lobby, but that damn clock radio is just too cool for school.

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

Portland, in general, continues to be one of my favorite, but least visited cities. We should go back more often. The public transport system works. You can buy food on the street. The art museum is decent. Coffee, beer and pizza are all plentiful. And when it rains, there’s always Powell’s World of Books. The recreational homeless are a bit annoying, but no more so than in other young cities.

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

M6TTL, CV 35 1.4 SC, Neopan 400, D76 1:1

Equipment

I ran a bit of an experiment on this trip. Instead of my standard, one lens, one type of film, I went crazy. Well, crazy for me. Three lenses; CV 35 1.4, 50 Hex, 90 Hex; and three types of film; Neopan 100ss, Neopan 400 and a couple of rolls of Neopan 1600. All this fit neatly into a Tamrac Expo 601 bag, with room to spare for batteries, notebook, lens cloth and a worthless Fodor’s guide book. The bag itself was great, lightweight and easy to get things in and out of. The grab handle is particularly nice when going through the airport. Actually using all the things in the bag wasn’t nearly as successful as the bag itself. I switched the 50 for the 35 while sitting in the bar of the Indianapolis airport. Apart from one other quick swap back to the 50 for a few shots in the hotel room, I ended up using the 35 the whole time. This proves to me a couple of things:

  1. I can indeed carry a bag full of gear if it is light enough. The little Tamrac was no problem to carry all day. It’s a great little bag, lighter, cheaper and more logical than most of the competition.
  2. I can’t actually seem to make myself use anything in the bag. Extra lenses just don’t get used. If the camera itself is in the bag, pictures don’t get taken.

This is good to know. Let’s see how long I can remember it.

More thoughts and pictures to follow. For the record, this is post 970, which means I need to start thinking about how this blog should celebrate 1000 posts.