Apr 15 2018

Canon Elan 7ne (The one that knows where your looking)


The Canon Elan 7ne has a very interesting feature.  It can select from its seven focus points by determining where the photographer is looking.  If your thinking in terms of modern facial recognition through processing stop right there.  It uses a more intrusive system of shining an infrared beam into your eye and using the resulting reflection to compare it to a sort of look up map you create during calibration of the system.  That’s why it works best if you make sure to delete any previous calibrations before trying to use it.  If you do calibrate the system it works quite well but feels awkward to look at the focus point you want.  I think that may be  because normally you try to take in the entire scene in the viewfinder not concentrate on one tiny spot.  The procedure for calibrating is a little involved so I will leave that to the manual, though it can be turned on and off easily with a switch on the top of the camera.  eyecontrol CanonElan7ne-1712

The focus points are all near the center so for a lot of instances they will all cover the main subject which defeats the purpose of being able to select a focus point by looking at it.


The Elan 7ne was released in 2000 around the same time as the Canon 1D dslr780_b a 4mpixel digital SLR and although they continued to release some Small plastic ‘Rebel’ SLR’s for a few years this was pretty much the end of the line for film camera innovation as their attention turned fully to digital.




Mar 24 2018

HD Pentax DA 1:4 15mm ED AL Limited


While Ive owned the DA12-24 f4 lens for some time and have often used it when travelling it tends to feel too large at times, so when the opportunity came up to purchase an excellent used copy of the HD Pentax DA 1:4 15mm ED AL Limited locally from another Pentax photographer, I jumped at the chance. The name may be long but the size and weight savings are 189grams vs 430grams and a length of 39.5mm vs 87.5mm. After taking it on several trips I feel I have a pretty good sense of its strengths and weaknesses. I will start of with what is its weakest point and that is chromatic aberrations. Despite having an Extra-low dispersion and a hybrid aspherical lens element it does suffer from chromatic aberrations away from the center of the image. img-hdpentax-da-15_03_en

Fortunately they can be greatly mitigated in software such as Adobe Lightroom which I use extensively.


The same can not be said however for the coma distortion in the extreme corners. If you can imaging a comet with its tail this is what is happening to the image in the corners which tends to look ‘smeary’ across the effected area.
When compared to the DA12-24 or the DA*16-50 at 15mm or 16mm respectively its a very similar result for the CA but slightly worse for the coma so there is a marginal trade off of image quality for size.

These distortion issues away from the center aside the lens renders a sharp image and a nice smooth background when focused on something close. This is enhanced by the use of rounded aperture blades that are the most useful and effective around f5.6. IMGP3640

Like the other Limited series lenses from Pentax this is a wonderfully constructed lens made from high grade aluminum without a hint of play anywhere while still being silky smooth to manually focus.

As for its image circle it is definitively a lens for use with APSc cameras as you can see from this test shot on 35mm film.


In summary the HD Pentax DA 1:4 15mm ED AL Limited is a good lens optically and a great choice as a wide angle when small size is paramount.

Mar 18 2018

Mamiya Ruby with Kodak 400


The Mamiya Ruby is a nice looking rangefinder but it does not have a particularly well specified lens .  It is a 48mm f2.8 Mamiya-Sekor comprised of 3 elements which is pretty much the minimum to offer any kind of correction but despite that it performs better than what the numbers suggest.  The focus is incredibly smooth without a hint of play with a nice bright circular focus patch. The full range of focus is achieved through just under 180 degrees of turn at the front of the lens.  All these characteristics together make a great focusing camera.  The film advance is also a nice smooth motion with little resistance, just an agreeable continuous ratcheting sound that ends with a click.  While it does have an uncoupled selenium light meter on the top plate I find its use unnecessary because the camera is  completely manual and mechanical, you just select the shutter speed and aperture you want.  I tend to take general measurements with a digital camera and use them as the basis for setting any manual film camera.  Why not you really cant beat what is effectively a light meter with thousands of sampled points presented in a histogram.  You should however take into account the difference between film and digital. With film it isn’t so necessary to protect highlights as it can be with digital. so a little over exposure is okay in fact underexposed colour negative film results in a ‘thin’ negative lacking in detail.  Thin in this case refers to that characteristic of a negative looking transparent without an easy to see or use capture not its physical thickness.  Back to the camera, Its fortunate that the front element of the lens is set quite deep because being from 1959 whatever lens coating it may have does little to help when unwanted light reaches the lens.  If light from the side does hit the lens it flares like a rainbow or negatively effects the contrast or both.  There is another updated version of this camera that has an f1.9 lens with 6 elements which I haven’t had a chance to try but does sound like a better match for the quality of the Ruby.

The film I used was an out of date roll of Kodak BW400CN which has been discontinued as of  August 2014.  The nice thing about this film was that you developed it in C41 colour chemistry. A person could always convert their colour scans to B&W after the fact if they felt they must but just couldn’t be bothered to actually shoot black and white film.


Mar 11 2018

Minolta AF-E


The Minolta AF-E was fitted with a 35mm f3.5 lens constructed with 4 elements.  The lens looks ridiculously tiny in comparison to the rest of the camera which appears to have expanded in width from previous models to accommodated the flash and the automatic film winder.  The Minolta AF-C is a similar camera and a better choice with its faster lens and smaller size Minolta AF-c.  But for simplicity of use this camera is great and the fact that it is powered by inexpensive AA batteries is a real plus.  With the auto focus, auto exposure and auto flash you need to be in the mindset of just pointing and shooting when using this camera but if that works for you then this is an inexpensive option.

Mar 4 2018

Disposible Kodak 800


I imagine that disposable film cameras will eventually disappear from the market but for now they are available new and…well you cant really say used, but found at thrift stores with unexposed film.  Kodak was very proud of its camera recycling program claiming that 76-100% of the camera components were reused or recycled. KodakRecycling  I’m not sure where that stands now with the bankruptcy and restructuring and the comparative collapse of the film market.  I can’t see that the volume of disposable cameras still being used warrant a full separate recycling program.

You could say that as a photography tool a disposable camera is limiting but maybe that’s the appeal.  You can let go about worrying about the camera or any false notion that your going to produce some technically superior image and just enjoy the act of photography.  A disposable camera gives you permission to have fun.

Feb 25 2018

Nikon FG with Portra 400


The Nikon FG might not be the professional model of Nikon from the mid 1980′s, in fact it isn’t even the top consumer model from that time that would be the FM2. It is a great little camera though and looks pretty good all the while too. It offers full program mode, aperture priority as well as metered manual exposure.  When in manual mode one LED will blink showing the suggested shutter speed while a steady one will light showing the selected shutter speed.  This makes it easy to see how far you are deviating from what the camera is metering. In addition it offers +-2 EV  compensations in half steps  as well as a backlight button.  Its also much lighter and smaller than something like the Nikon F3 shedding over 200g and a pile of $.  It is missing mirror lock up and depth of field preview but for general shooting, particularly when your on the move, those are unnecessary luxuries.

I used Kodak Portra 400 a film that uses Kodak’s T-Grain technology (Tabular Grain) which allows for a finer grain and greater sharpness for a given speed of film.  This emulsion technology first appeared around the same time as the Nikon FG and revolutionized both colour and B&W film.


Detail from the picture of ‘Holly’

Feb 18 2018

Canon Luna


The Autoboy Luna sports a 28-70mm f5.6-7.8 lens comprised of 8 elements in 7 groups.  Like many Canon point and shoots of the time it used their 3 point ‘Smart Autofocus’ system which I’ve found to be very reliable.

It offers shutter speeds of 2 seconds to 1/590 second and a minimum aperture of f32 and a max aperture of 5.6 at 28mm which allows it to cover a range of EV4 – 20 not too shabby for a point and shoot.

Its a nice little camera and mine obviously made its way from Japan after its purchase as it has Japanese markings as well as the date function. AutoboyLuna-1678CanonLuna_Agfa200_Feb2017_036

This camera also goes by the name ‘Sure Shot Z70W’  however I prefer the similar but newer Canon Z90W for its greater focal length at the telephoto end and faster aperture at the wide end but this is a nice little camera from the mid 1990′s

One thing about one camera:  The name Luna comes from the Moon shaped lens cover.



Feb 11 2018

Cinestill 800T and Seattle at night


I loaded my trusty Pentax MZ6 with some Cinestill 800t film which I really like the look of particularly for the way it creates halos around bright lights against dark backgrounds.  You can see my discussion around why that occurs here “Niagara at night“  Coupling the fast film with some equally fast lenses such as the Vivitar 28mm f2.0 Close Focus allows me to forgo a tripod even when walking around at night.

Feb 3 2018

Fujica Flash Date


The Fujica Flash Date is one of those mid to late 1970′s cameras that had incorporated auto exposure but was yet to see auto focus.  Later similar models did have autofocus but this one uses simple zone focusing.  The 38mm f2.8 lens is quite free of distortion especially when the exposure system stops the aperture down a little, but even wide open there is only a small amount of softness in the extreme corners of the image.

There is a sliding switch on the back of the camera with Japanese writing which I can no translate but its purpose appears to be to over-ride the slow shutter speed lock out so that you can trip the shutter even when its chosen a speed that is too slow to handhold.


Setting the date is done using three dials on the top plate of the camera (Day/Month/Year)  When turned on the date is also briefly made visible in the viewfinder at the time of exposure.


(40 years of accumulated ‘stuff’ from the bottom of a camera bag is not very appealing to look at, I think I will give this camera a clean) 

The results are often a slightly askew glowing numerals.


Some sample images from the Fujica Flash Date using expired Fujicolor 200

Jan 21 2018

Canon Jr with Kodak Advantix 400 B&W process c41


Somewhere along the line I acquired a roll of Kodak Advantix 400 B&W film.  This film is not truly a black and white film but is processed in C41 colour chemistry.  That’s perfect because that’s what I do.  The film was likely long out of date and the result was quite thin negatives but I was able to tease enough out of them to make the whole endeavor worth while.

Discover your artistic capabilities. The elegant appeal of black-and-white photography continues to grow. Black-and-white film lends itself to helping you learn the graphic elements of an image—the form, texture, and contrast of a scene. This may take some practice. learning to “see” things in shades of gray. But once you do, you can capture a stunning palette of different moods, emotions, and possibilities. -Kodak

The camera I chose to use for this film was the Canon Elph Jr. with its 26mm four element f2.8 lens.  Its hard to believe how small this camera is until you hold it, (weighing a paltry 125g) which is of course what the intention of APS film was despite its brief existence.  The Elph Jr. also had a useful shutter range of 2 sec. to 1/800 sec.