Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pinhole Only?

I was reading a post on the Analog Photography User Group (APUG) forum about pinhole cameras. The poster asked the queston "How often you shoot pinholes instead of lens cameras?"
Personally, I answered that I use my 4x5 pinhole camera about twice a month, but enjoy it immensely. I also mentioned that I had recently ordered a 6x17 pinhole, which I can't wait to receive. I wrote about that camera in my December 12 post.
(Click Here) to read the post on
I was interested to find that more than one person responded that they were tempted to switch to pinhole photography exclusively. That got me thinking. Uh, no. I don't think I could do that. At least not at this point.
That said, I do plan to continue my work with my 4x5 pinhole camera. And, I can't wait to see what those huge 6x17 pinhole panoramas will look like! My camera should arrive around Christmas time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nat Geo's Camera Wizard - Kenji Yamaguchi

Here's a rare look inside the genius behind some of the National Geographic images that make you think
"How in the world did they do that? How do you rig a camera to capture a bat flying over the water surface in complete darkness and achieve perfect focus?"
Sometimes it's purely a result of technique. Let's face it, those Nat Geo photographers know what they're doing. Other times, it's a matter of physically tweaking or even designing and building new equipment.
Kenji Yamaguchi was sent from Nikon Japan over 30 years ago to help Nat Geo customize and fabricate photographic tools to enable the amazing pictures the publication is famous for.
(Click Here) to read more about this camera wiz on Nat Geo's site, and watch the 3 minute video.
For a camera geek and photographer like me, this is right up my alley. Add in the fact that he's a Nikon guy, born and trained in Japan, and now I'm really interested. I'd love to meet Kenji and see his workshop in DC. Hmm. I wonder how I might pull that off?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grandpa's World War II Agfa Viking

I thought I had written about this a few years back, but it seems I forgot to post it.
Back in December of 2010, my Grandfather gave me his Agfa Viking camera. He picked it up during World War II, during which he was stationed in Japan and the Phillipines. He seems to remember trading a 35mm Japanese camera for it. Who knows what that may have been?
Anyway, once I got it, I saw that the shutter seemed to be working fine, and the lens turned to allow focusing (it's very common for the cell to get locked in place over so many years). Then I found the aspect that threatened to prevent me from using this old jewel - it is designed for 6216 film, which is no longer available.
Grandpa's Agfa Viking
Undaunted, I hand-fabricated a thin plastic mask that allows 120 film (not as wide as 616) to ride in the correct film plane in the camera. I then modified some 120 spools to fit into the Viking. It's not perfect, and sometimes the spools slip during film transport. I measured out which exposure numbers on the 120 film backing would indicate sufficient travel. I can now use the red window on the back to make sure I've wound the film on far enough to avoid overlapping images.
This configuration results in a panoramic aspect ratio. Here are two shots I made in Washington, DC with the Viking:
As I said, it's a little fiddly to use, and frankly I have enough medium format folders that were designed for 120 film that I haven't gone back and used the Viking since that maiden voyage. But, it was great fun challenging myself to be able to shoot it at all. Pretty impressive images, if you ask me.
That said, I hope that someday the Film Photography Project (FPP), or someone else, will reintroduce 616 film for us niche camera owners. Probably hoping against hope. I'm not sure how many cameras were sold that used this particular format film. But then again, who would have guessed that FPP would be marketing 620 film? They are!
(Click Here) to check out FPP.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Found Another Mamiya Universal User - and Review

A few months back, my medium format shooting capability was significantly expanded when my friend Dennis Gallus sold me his lovely Mamiya Universal Press (MUP) camera kit.
I've been searching for other users of the MUP online, and well, there aren't very many of us left. I recently found this review of using the MUP with instant film on one of my favorite new sites, Snap It | See It.
(Click Here) to read the review, which also remarks on using the MUP with flash, something I have yet to try.
I've been distracted from the MUP recently, with several other new-to-me cameras. I've simply got to get more hours in the week(end)s to shoot the MUP.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nikon Df With Lenses from all Nikon Ages - Many Great Example Images

As you may know, I've recently acquired a Nikon Df. I'm thoroughly enjoying shooting it with lots of different lenses, from old pre-AI to the latest models.
Nikon Df with Nikkor-P 105mm f2.5 (pre-AI) Lens
Image Source:
(Click Here) to see a post on a Japanese site with great sample images from a large selection of Nikkor lenses. The photo above is included there, and I think it's beautiful.
The funniest thing is how I found this site. There's a forum post on Rangefinder Forum referring to this page. One of the comments on the post says that these examples remind the writer of how soft the pre-AI 105mm lens was. Cracks me up. (Click Here) to read that comedy.
Just goes to show you that you must judge cameras and lenses for yourself. If something works for me, I couldn't care less whether the majority of people opining online agree with me.
I need more time to get out with my new Df! It's such a wonderful camera.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Leica Makes Good on M9 Sensor Problems - Mine Is Going Back

My Leica M9 was just serviced about a year ago at Leica USA.
Recently, a problem with the Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E camera sensors surfaced, related to corrosion of a coating on the IR filter. Leica is offering a "goodwill arrangement," under which they'll replace any affected sensors free of charge. They're also offering attractive upgrade options if owners are interested in upgrading to the M240 or MP (240).

I think I'll send my camera in and see what the options are.

(Click Here) to read the official announcement of the goodwill arrangement.
Having a problem like this is never good for camera owners. It can only hurt the resale value of used cameras. But, given that it happened, this seems like a generous response by Leica. I'll be sure to report what happens with mine.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Beautiful 6x17 Panoramic Pinhole Camera

Now here is a panoramic pinhole camera that I can get excited about. It's called the "Reality So Subtle 6x17" camera, and it's produced by a French company called Au Premier Plan. It has a curved film plane to maximize exposure consistency across the negative, two shutters to allow you to determine where the horizon will be in your image, and it uses standard 120 roll film to produce 6x17 cm images. Awesome.
You simply must (Click Here) to read more about it, and check out the amazing image samples. Really, really nice.
Again, I don't know anyone at this company, and have no business interest in them. I've never held one of their cameras. But, I may have to change that. At about US$240, it's not unreasonable. Maybe this will be my Christmas present from my wife.
(Click Here) to see some of my previous pinhole work. It's always a lot of fun.