Month: March 2016

A Love for Film

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Bronica SQ-Ai image captured on Kodak Ektar 100 film and scanned on an Epson V700 scanner.
Bronica SQ-Ai image captured on Kodak Ektar 100 film and scanned on an Epson V700 scanner.

A few weeks back I did something that was a little out of character; I bought a large camera. It isn’t the largest camera but it’s a quite big and somewhat heavy. The camera in question is a Bronica SQ-Ai together with 4 lenses and a 2x converter. If you’re not familiar with these camera’s, they were quite popular in the 80’s and 90’s and shoot medium format roll film.

Now I don’t intend to use this camera on a regular basis, although it is lovely to use. My reason for buying it is that I really like the process of shooting and printing film. I like the slow pace as you need to check and then double check the camera settings. I like the difficulty in using a hand held light meter, not knowing if you have metered correctly. I like the lack of feedback – no histogram and no image preview to distract you. I like the focus markings on the lens and the need to use a focus screen and magnifier in order to focus correctly.

I can’t say that I’m too happy with the process of scanning and spotting the images but then this is more than made up for with the images themselves. There is a certain look to film images that I really like and just can’t recreate digitally. And, it’s not just me who seems to prefer film…

Recently I printed around 10 images. All were digital captures using either the Sony RX10 or Olympus EM5. The exception to this was one image that was shot on Kodak Ektar 100 film using a Hasselblad XPan 35mm camera. I showed these prints to a friend and he went straight to image shot on film. I had to agree with him that the printed image stood out as it looked so natural, as if you were standing in front of the scene. When I returned home I repeated this exercise with my wife. Again she immediately picked out the film print as being different and having a look that she liked far more than the digital prints.

Image captured on Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film. Shot on a Hasselblad XPan with 45mm lens.
Image captured on Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film. Shot on a Hasselblad XPan with 45mm lens.

So my objective in buying this old film camera is to help me enjoy my photography more. To move outside of the repetitive digital process and challenge myself. Having recently started a personal project (Views from the Moors) I’m finding that photography is more enjoyable and I hope this latest adventure adds a little something extra.

Processing the Wind Farm Image

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The other week I published an image similar to this.

Finished wind farm image
Finished wind farm image

Well for those who are interested (and quite a few people emailed me), here is the starting image.

Starting image of the wind farm prior to any adjustment
Starting image of the wind farm prior to any adjustment

If you want to know the processing steps I posted the tutorial on Lenscraft. Here’s the link.

https://lenscraft.co.uk/processing-wind-farm-photograph/

Friday Image No. 86

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Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/160" at f/5.6
Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/160″ at f/5.6

Have you ever tried to photograph a tree trunk with a full frame or even an APSC sensor camera? It’s very difficult and you often need to resort focus stacking because you can’t get the depth of field you need. This is one of the advantages of the smaller sensor cameras such as they can give greater depth of field.

I shot this particular image near to my house using the RX10 which has a 1” sensor. It’s sharp and crisp from corner to corner despite my zooming in to pick out a portion of the tree trunk. I also ran off a print at A3 and the quality is exceptional.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Google Releases Entire Nik Collection for FREE

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I can hardly believe it but it’s true. There’s no catch and they are even promising a refund for those of us who purchased the software. Here is the link

https://plus.google.com/+NikCollection/posts/AFGsG2Di7EK

If you haven’t downloaded the software do it immediately before they come to their senses.

Friday Image No. 85

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The view from Blackstone Edge. Sony RX10 3 shot stitch.
The view from Blackstone Edge. Sony RX10 3 shot stitch.

As regular visitors will know, I recently decided to pursue a personal project to document the moorland near to my home and share some of the views from the area. Today’s image is another from the series taken with the Sony RX10 which I am liking more and more these days. It’s right at the limit of the 200mm lens and I was struggling to hold the camera as steady as I would have liked. Despite this the image prints very nicely at A3 and is actually 15” x 37” as it’s a 3 shot stitch.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

My Current Camera Line-up

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.0, 1/200" handheld.
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.0, 1/200″ handheld.

Someone recently ask what my current camera line up was so here goes:

Canon G7X – A nice, small carry anywhere pocket camera that’s a reasonable all round performer. It produces nice images from the 20Mpixel 1” sensor and seems very good at handling noise for a camera of this size. The RAW files are quite flexible and the image quality is good in the centre of the lens. I like the 24mm wide angle but find the corners are soft when you move in close to objects. The lens sharpness is OK but not exceptional. The worst thing about the camera is the lack of filter attachment. I have bought a Lensmate adapter but believe these have now been discontinued.

Olympus EM5 – I have two of these, one having been converted to Infrared. They are excellent cameras, especially with some of the lenses that are now available. If you have one of these cameras and find the results are not as good as you had hoped for, try changing your lenses. Image quality is excellent although I sometimes wish there were a few more pixels on the sensor. The image stabilization is nothing short of amazing, allowing you to hand hold at silly speeds. Noise is well handled and the colours are excellent. I find this camera is the perfect travel outfit and excels at Landscape work due to the depth of field that can be achieve from the Micro 43 sensor.

Sony A7r + Canon L Series lenses – I love this camera for Landscape work. The 36Mpixel sensor captures superb quality images, even when you push the ISO up. The images are large and exceptionally sharp. It is though more difficult to achieve a great shot than with the EM5. The EM5 copes with poor weather conditions very well but Sony tends to get blown around quite easily. Also being a larger camera it can be more difficult to keep dry in the wet. But, if I want outstanding image quality and colours, this is the outfit I turn to. The downside is that its full frame and sometimes it can be difficult to achieve the desired depth of field.

Sony RX10 – The lens on this camera is very nice as is the sensor. For a 20MPixel 1” sensor it performs exceptionally well, capturing the finest details. The 24-200 f/2.8 lens is great to use and very flexible. So as to avoid changing lenses, I tend to take this camera on day hikes with me. A single batter tends to last me all day. Where it struggles a little is that I don’t feel that it handles high contrast conditions well and the dynamic range isn’t as good as I would like. Noise is well handled despite the small sensor but the image stabilization is only just OK. Image quality is very good, especially in the central area of the lens but can soften in the corners and edges. With more distant fine detail, you can spot where the lens stops resolving the detail, possibly because it’s so sharp in other areas. Despite the short comings, it’s a very enjoyable camera to use but when travelling I opt for the EM5 rather than the RX10.

Hasselblad XPan + 30mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses – Yes it’s a film camera but it’s fantastic. The image quality and feel come down to your film choice as well as your abilities with a scanner. The camera is very solidly built and allows me to switch between regular 35mm and panoramic format images with a switch. The lenses are amazingly sharp and with the right film and scanning can produce exceptional quality. It’s a great camera to use and you can’t beat it for panoramic images where there is some movement in the frame e.g. waves on a beach.

Bronica SQ-Ai – Yes, this is a Medium Format film camera from a few years back. It’s also my most recent purchase. I have yet to try it out on a shoot but I will feedback when I do.

Olympus XA – 35mm film pocket camera. Small and fun to play with but the image quality is only OK.

Holga 120 – Medium Format film camera with dreadful build and image quality but the images produces and wonderfully artistic. What do you expect for £30.

That completes the line-up which I am really quite happy with.

Friday Image No. 84

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/400".
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/6.3, 1/400″.

Last weekend we had snow and a reasonable amount at that. So I did what I usually like to do in the snow and went for a long walk in the hills. With my new found project of moorland views I headed up onto the moors to join the Pennine Way.

Now to reach the Pennine Way from my house you have to cross the moors where there is a reasonable trail unless its covered by a foot of snow or possibly more. Well I can vouch for the fact that we were the first people to walk that trail since it had snowed the previous day because there were no footprints anywhere. And despite knowing the route very well having walked it many times, it does get pretty tricky when it starts snowing and visibility is down to around 20m. And if that wasn’t bad enough I was wearing new glasses that turned that dark I could barely see my feet.

In the end a 22Km walk took 6 hours but I did get some rather nice shots to add to my project, including this one. I hope you like it and have a great weekend.