Thursday, December 24, 2015
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
I was at the weekend Georgetown flea market a week or so ago with my friend Charlie. We were visiting with an acquaintance there, who always brings a nice selection of old cameras, when I spotted one of interest - a Canon Demi EE17 half-frame camera. Here's what the camera looks like.
Image Source: http://www.canon.com/c-museum/en/product/film64.html
What's a half-frame camera, you ask? Well, it shoots normal 35mm film, but in 24x18mm frames, allowing you to get 72 exposures from a normally 36 exposure roll. This fact also makes the frame orientation to shift from the normal landscape arrangement to portrait, when the camera is held normally.
Needless to say, the Demi went home with me. I have not even tried to put a battery in it, happy to use an external light meter and set shutter speed and f-stop manually. The lens is a Canon 30mm f1.7 (fast!) model. Focus is accomplished through a manual distance scale on the outside of the camera, or selecting one of three distances (portrait, group of people, or mountain). At 30mm depth of field is pretty big, so that works.
Here are some shots from my first test roll through the camera, an expired roll of Agfa APX400 from my friend Dennis, exposed at 200 speed, and developed in straight D76 for 7.5 minutes. I scanned all of them in pairs, as they appear here. I'm definitely planning to shoot a lot of diptychs (picture pairs) with this little jewel.
Many people think that 35mm (full frame) is small, and pushes the limits of negative size to give decent image quality. I agree, to an extent, but as long as I'm not trying to make big prints, the half-frame works fine. The Canon optics seem to be quite sharp, and the little camera is a blast to shoot.
And, getting 72 exposures on one roll is pretty cool, too.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
I have a beautiful old Polaroid 250 instant camera. This is a pack film camera, which uses FP3000B or FP100C pack film from Fuji. While the FP100C is still being produced (fingers crossed for the future!), FP3000B has been discontinued. That's really too bad. FP100C is 100 speed color instant film, while FP3000B is 3000 speed (!) black and white. Neither of these films can cover for the other.
Anyway, I'm not going to get down about the fact that no new FP3000B is being made. I have a few packs left, and plan to use them well.
Last night, I used two packs of FP3000B at my company's holiday party. Knowing that it would be pretty dark at the party, and understanding that Polaroid cameras have relatively slow lenses, it was clear that flash was going to be necessary. So, I put the Polaroid camera on a flash bracket, on which I mounted a modern Nikon SB600 flash. Using a cable that I cobbled together from an old Polaroid flash bulb mount and an accessory hot shoe, I got the whole contraption to work. Testing it out ahead of time, I found that full power manual flash from the SB600 works very well with FP3000B at about 5-10 feet distance. Perfect for the party.
Now, this is harsh, direct light. That's the look I decided to go for, since the theme of the party was "sock hop," reminiscent of the days when someone would have photographed it with instant film and a big, bright, direct flash bulb. I got exactly what I wanted. Here are the results.
I can't think of a better way to use up what's left of this awesome black and white instant film.
People loved posing for me, and especially seeing the results. My catch phrase was "by the time your eyesight recovers from the flash, the print will be ready."