Tim's Photo Magazine

Timely editorials on the world of photography plus camera and equipment reviews from a "user" rather than "technical" viewpoint.

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Location: Bovey, Minnesota, United States

My interest in photography goes back to my first camera, a crummy plastic Diana that took 120 roll film and took horrid photos (who knew these bad photos would be considered "art" years later). Then I swiped my Mom's Instamatic when she wasn't looking. Dad was/is a photo buff which I'm sure had a big influence on me! I was the only student in my high school shooting for the yearbook, went on to shoot semi-professional since, doing it more as a hobby business than anything else. I've used thousands of different cameras, collect them today, and enjoy both film and digital. I still use and maintain my own black and white darkroom. I've got lots to say about cameras, the business, copyrights, and all this fancy digital stuff.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Digital Photography-Same As Film!

You'll discover soon enough that many of my posts will be rebuttals to articles I read in the popular photographic magazines, as so many of their articles and letters to the editors get me riled up. I've often wished I could have a monthly rebuttal comumn in many of those mags, but since that's not likely to happen, I started this blog.

A recent issue had an article about what photographers want in imaging software. The same magazine also had whining from some photographers that miss film, want to shoot without having to be tethered to a computer, and miss the art of "real" photography. Alright, hate to shock you guys, but DIGITAL is the same as FILM! Just the media for capturing the image in different. One big print quote in the magazine was "get us away from the computer and give us more time to shoot" (ok, so that's not an exact quote, but you get the idea).

Umm..you're not tethered to a computer. A computer is not required to use a digital camera. You can work just like it's a FILM camera. Go take pictures. Take the memory media to your favorite printer/processor and get your photos. There. That was easy. Ahh..but I hear you crying already "I can't do that..I don't know what I'm getting without the computer" OK, so...you're saying..when you were shooting with film you knew what you were getting before you got it processed? I don't think so! When you're shooting digital, do it as if you're shooting film! It's all in your mindset. Compose, expose, light, focus, just like you were shooting film! Turn off the LCD screen, use the viewfinder and pretend it's film! You get the same anticipation of the finished work. The camera is at least as capable as your film camera. Nothing says you have to tweak every shot in the computer! You want black and white? Set your camera to black and white and go shooting. That's the trouble with so many digital shooters these days. They get so used to shooting knowing they can fix it later..zoom in, crop, adjust the color balance, the contrast, remove the power lines from the edge of the landscape, whatever. Shoot like it's film. Go back to doing the art as you shoot instead of fixing it later. You'll enjoy the same thrill and satisfaction you did with film.

Of course, you can also reap the joys of both worlds. Shoot like you're shooting film, but still take advantage of the digital pluses. Delete the crummy shots. Check to see that you caught the moment. Adjust the camera color balance if you must. That's the beauty of digital. You CAN shoot like a film photographer, but not waste the film taking 8 shots of one scene to be sure you've got it! Shoot like it's film, knowing you can change from black and white to color, from a 50 iso to a 1000 iso if the situation warrants. Couldn't do that with film. If you really feel the need to torture yourself, get a few extra memory cards. Only shoot B&W on one, 100 iso on one, 400 iso on one..and change 'em as you feel the need. It will make you feel like you're switching cameras or bodies to the emulsion you want. Even if you're a regular digital user who loves sitting at the screen, go out and shoot like it's film and it will sharpen your skills and I bet it makes you create better photographs. And you'll spend less time dinking around with your photos in Photoshop!

I'm kinda sick of the free me from the computer crowd. Did you cats also scream "get me out of the darkroom so I can shoot"? I used to shoot all weekend, then live in the darkroom in the evenings during the week to create some wonderful black and white prints. I can tell you I spent a lot more time in that darkroom than I do in front of my eMac, and I used up a lot of perishable paper and chemicals. Wasting time AND expensive materials!

Find yourself a lab that will make you decent prints from your digital media. Go fill a memory card shooting like it's film. You'll see I'm right, and that it's great fun too! I find that prints from my digital media from my local K-Mart are amazing. I don't use their "in house" service..I have 'em send 'em out...I suspect they go to a Kodak service center. They're just amazing and a LOT sharper, crisper and prettier than my film shots. Also, I highly recommend Dale Labs (find 'em in Google) for outstanding prints too. Love those guys!

Free YOURSELVES from the computer!

Till next time....

Tim the Photographer

Monday, September 11, 2006

Camera Review: Olympus 35 RC

A wonderful little camera, easy to use, with a sharp lens and virtually silent shutter.

The Olympus 35 RC was the first really advanced camera I ever used. Back in Junior High in the early 70's my interest in photography was beginning to blossom and my Dad was more than happy to help, being a bit of a shutterbug himself. He had purchased the 35 RC for himself of course, but as I moved into High school and started getting involved with the yearbook staff it was clear that the little Olympus would fit the bill nicely.

At the time, I didn't know much about exposure, but this camera knew enough to help me along. Set the film speed, choose a shutter speed, and shoot. If there's either to much, or not enough light for the shutter speed you chose the camera won't fire. So I quickly learned about adjusting the shutter to get the camera to work and learned about the relationship between shutter and aperture settings. It has a sharp, bright easy to see rangefinder that made focusing easy and the lens setting and shutter speeds are clearly shown in the finder. I shot one heck of a lot of Tri-X, available light, in school that year, sometimes even shooting it at ASA 800 (we called it ASA not ISO back then) after I learned how to push the film a stop in the school darkroom.

Of it's many advantages a big one is the nearly silent shutter. When you're shooting candids in a classroom being undetected can be a real benefit. The camera has a very sharp f: 2.8 42mm lens, and shutter speeds from 1/15 to 1/500 and B. ASA settings from 25 to 800, so I was covered with Kodachrome or pushed Tri-X. Slides taken with this camera were simply amazing. Dad shot a lot of slides back then and I was always amazed at how incredibly sharp and colorful they were. The camera is small and light. Has a somewhat automatic flash exposure system too. You set the guide number of your flash on the camera and it adjusts the f: stop as you focus. 'Course back then I was using a slip in flash unit that took AG-1 flash bulbs! Once I finally got an electronic flash unit (A Kako Hi-Beam II, remember those?) i was pleased to learn that the shutter synched at all speeds with electronic flash! Also, should you find yourself with a dead battery, the camera still works just fine as a manual camera as power is not needed for anything but the meter. All settings are fully available to the shooter with no battery, unlike other cameras that have a coupled shutter/lens/meter system where the meter has to work for the camera to work. Has a hot shoe for the flash and a pc socket so you can use whichever you happen to have.

The quick, one stroke smooth operating film advance lever is a nice touch as is the built in self timer....the only part of the camera that has ever needed service. Somewhere along the way about 20 years ago the screw that holds the self timer lever on came off and the lever got lost. I wrote to Olympus and they sent me a replacement at no charge!

It does take the odd sized 43.5mm filters which can be tough to find. The meter cell is located adjacent to the lens itself and is covered when you add a filter so the exposure adjustment for filter use happens automatically.

I can only imagine how many thousands of rolls of film have been thru this camera. Just in high school I ran a couple rolls of black and white thru it nearly daily for four years, not to mention the thousands of miles it has logged on family vacations. And Dad has used it tons, after all it IS his camera...but somehow I've managed to hang on to it since about 1980.

Not a particularly valuable camera. Generally selling on the used market and ebay for around $40 - 50 dollars US. A great camera to have around if you're still shooting film. Quick to use, nearly silent, amazingly sharp lens, and feels like a real camera in your hands.

Next review coming up? The Kodak 828 Flash Bantam!