Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Agifold, English folding cameras (1,2 and 3)

I recently finnished a series of 3 articles in my new blog About Photography. The fact is that I wanted to try this iWeb thingy... it's quite nice, so I will surely use it to publish some more stuff. Anyway, Blogger is much more convenient and creates lighter and faster loading blogs.

However, the important thing is the series itself. I began to write it in order to "fix" my impressions about this little known vintage medium format cameras. So, the first chapter is based alone on my impressions. On the second and third I explain the use of the exotic low-cost exposure meter that the 8-speed Agifold Rangefinder incorporates.
And, nope, the numbers are not LEDs or something the like, just that I put a LED light behind them for the picture (and well, did a lame exposure, shame on my lazyness).

Well, I just invite you to check them out... don't tell me that these cameras aren't freakish as hell, ROFLMAO.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mamiya C220 1, maart 16, 2008

My new "Godzilla", the Mamiya C220.

I wanted to have another quality MF camera as a complement to the Kiev 88. This one, the C220 seemed quite appealing as it is relatively inexpensive (about 100€) and also relatively modern. It's fully mechanical (another plus) and unlike the Kiev-88 built to western standards of quality. Note that I have no complain so far about the K88, but I wouldn't blindly buy another one unless it where from one of the official stores in Ukraine or the USA. Something that you can do with all confidence with western models, specially non-classical gear.

Drawbacks of this camera compared to the K88 are the loading of the film. This can be just a minor inconvenience in studio situations, but a real headache in the street. I am able to change even 120mm film on almost any camera in ten seconds while walking, but changing one of those backs is really handy... not to speak about the possibility of having different film on them.

On the other side, the C220 is a bit lighter as the K88 and the handling is much more easy at waist level, with it's handy winder. Of course, none of both are so easy to use as a 35mm camera, but , hey, it's a pro-format!

So. Now I just look foreward to get the step-up trafo to get my Epson 4990 running with good ol' European 220v current...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I am a noisy photographer

Silver 02 16 maart 06, 2008
Originally uploaded by Enric Martinez
This is another preset, I called this Silver 02.
The effect tries to suggest (more than imitate) antique silver oxide tinted prints ("sepia"), but I'm not trying to make them pass for old photos. The omnipresent iso-noise gives it a dream-likes (or sometimes nightmare-like) atmosphere and the land and cityscapes are all obviously modern.
I am a very "noisy" photographer, I indeed search the iso-noise in the same way others search the grain in film. I use several tricks to increase noise, such as using high iso setting, shooting in poor light conditions or manipulating the grayscale mix in order to achieve the desired level of noise. Once again: I could use PS Elements or Gimp, but the result is on one side not the same and on the other side, I need to be able to apply it to dozens of photos on the fly.
I need to stress that I don't want or try to emulate film grain, I am experimenting with ISO-Noise because it is ISO-noise and behaves like ISO-noise; a feature that's different from grain: I have an good bunch of film cameras of both 35mm and medium format cameras, when I want film grain I can simply shoot film.
iso-noise is like the Great Shaitan of digital photography, where the word "crisp" is something like The Mecca... stir it up with a bit of flashy HDR and you will surely harvest dozens of prices, ohs, ahs and "good captures" in Flickr... soon you will think yourself that you are something more than a little cam-swinger with nothing to express except the topical kitsch clich├ęs for the dumb masses. ;)

Lightroom 1.3 sharpening and noise removal

I have been playing around a bit, testing how the noise reduction and sharpening functions in Lightroom 1.3. I specially wanted to know how the exported results look like.

On this I wanted to achieve a watercolor-like finish. What seems to have worked quite well.
I could have used PS Elements for something similar or even The Gimp, but I want to be able to apply a given setting to a full batch of pictures straight from the camera.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Unmounting the Moskva-5

Finally I have had time to work on the Moskva-5.
I was trying to figure out how the camera works, as I was unable to release the shutter, thus I thought that I was missing some point and was even going to write emails to all the Moskva-5 sites in my bookmarks.

But during the thorough cleaning of the camera (which included cleaning the bellows with the vacuum cleaner) I found out, that a lever, that I thought was ment as a lock for the lens, was indeed an auxiliary lever that was thought to push the actual shutter release lever on the lens body. The lever was out of it's place, and it did cost me around 15 minutes to figure out how to put it back again in place... until I found out that you can simply crease the bellows, work and revert it to it's original state with just a slight kick with the fingers from the inside.

I strongly suggest doing the same as me if you have got one of these cams from the former Soviet Union, as they can have lots of dirt, even dead bugs (I found a dead moth trapped in the bellows).

A good idea is to unmount the upper case that holds the viewfinder and the rangefinder mechanism. Opening it is very easy; there is only one screw that needs a screwdriver, that's the screw on the film advance wheel. Then simply unscrew the rangefinder windows and pull the release button. That's all. Pretty simple. Now you can clean the rangefinder and the viewfinder lens, remove the old grease and the dust.

Unmounting the lens is also pretty simple, but you will need an ultra-fine precision screwdriver. There are 4 micro-screws on the outer border of the focusing ring. Once removed, you can take the outer part of the lens out. I found out that there is plenty of dirty grease in this screw, I haven't removed all yet, tough.

Moskva-5 series 2-4-3

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Gear: Kiev 88

Kiev-88 -1
Originally uploaded by runlevel0
As I already commented, I am planning to jump to medium format. I have already the soviet cameras I bought: A Moskva-5 bellow camera for 6x9 format, a Lomo and the Kiev-88 a kind of Soviet copy of the Hasselblads.

I have read that the builds of this camera are not reliable and that the sometimes leaks light. I have anyway bought a seal repair kit from eBay with a good bunch different sealing foam stripes, some of them are meant to replace the mirror cushion. This would maybe be also a good idea, as It’s said, that the impact of the mirror is so strong that it moves the image., perhaps a bit of cushioning could help...

Anyway, it looks great and I have already seen nice shots in Flickr taken with this cam. It will surely require a bit of work to set it up properly, but the possibilities are huge.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On Style and setting targets

I have definitely to decide for a style.

U have already been touching most of the fields of photography, except portrait, which is something I still have to learn but for what I lack subjects.

I have a good hand with nature photography and I manage to get more or less appealing results with macro... But although nice, they seem to me to be all too mainstream, not in the sense that I don't like them or find the style "vulgar", but in the sense that they actually could have been shot by anybody

The fact is that I indeed have a style, the style shown in my earlier shot with low-tech cheap gear such as my Kodak C300 and my cam phone. I have recently been able to jump back and rescue this style that is the one I feel more natural with. I am talking about stuff like that I have in my
set in Flickr.

My most recent work within this style has been using the Minolta XG-1(m) and the Pentax SR7. Now my target is to translate the subject of dense, dark and somehow futuristic urban and industrial scenery to the medium format. I am really looking forward to see what I can do with the Moskva-5 and intrigued about the possibilities of the Lubitel 166, which seems less promising. I still haven't received the Kiev 88, but I think that in case I get it this will be the ideal gear for the kind of style I want to cultivate.

Another target I have set to myself is to jump from Flickr to I know I still lack professionalism, not that all the fellows at are super-pros or that there are no place for a semi-ignorant dilettante like me, but I want to begin my portfolio with pictures made with a good technique and in a similar style that defines what I want to express, at least until I get tired of it.

Iron Man_ Study on Hydraulic Machine -2

SR7 - A-Dam 05-2007 roll 3_-3

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New RMC Tokina 28-55mm 1:4 zoom and a wonderful day in A'Dam

It's 13:35, 1h to the end of my working day, temperature is 16C (or so) and I'm looking forward for a special day shooting in A'Dam

First of all: I have gotten myself a version of Lightroom 1.0 at, until the package arrives I will be using the 30 day trial version for Mac. I already explained why I decided to use this particular program instead of UFraw or it's closed source Apple counterparts.

Second, is that my eBay "plunders" are arriving. Being the first of them an RMC Tokina 28-85mm 1:4 zoom with Pentax D mounting. I already took some shots yesterday, finding out that this (very heavy) objective has really amazing capabilities such as a incredible DOF, just watch this picture at full scale:

20070411-Tokina-28-85_test-12.jpgTijger in my backyard

I have to be indeed very careful as I can ruin a whole picture if I don't pay attention and some interesting/important part gets out of focus.

To use this manual lens on my Pentax *ist DL2 I set the option "permit aperture ring" in the C menu and set the AF off.

I will be posting some of the results in the *ist DL group in Flickr.