May 24 2020

Ektachrome 100VS in the XA

Now long expired I loaded a roll of Ektachrome 100VS in my Olympus XA. The XA is known for its decent exposure system so shooting slides isn’t an issue but I didn’t know how the film would behave or even how it had been stored over the years. I turned out that the slides were thin and looked over exposed. Seeing as I’m not projecting them I took a little license during scanning to improve their appearance.

More posts about the XA can be found by searching my blog Olympus XA

May 17 2020

Samsung ECX-1

I couldn’t resist picking up this oddity. The Samsung ECX-1 designed by Porsche Design and winner of the 1995 ‘iF’ Product design award is shall we say unique looking. It is jammed with features for a point and shoot camera with notable modes such as “Fuzzy Zoom” Which you might think isn’t a good thing but in this case it refers to the buzzword of the day back in the 1990’s “Fuzzy Logic” A fancy way of saying it used an algorithm to adjust zoom and shutter speed so that you had a better chance of not taking a fuzzy picture. There are more permutations of settings than I care to describe but I do like that it also provides manual focus and multi exposure.

As first received the camera had an issue with a stuck button from a botched repair so I rectified that but should have considered why someone had had it apart in the first place. As it turns out it had issues. It appeared to function properly but inside it was conspiring against me. Images were not merely out of focus it looks like the internal lens elements were out of place and it wasn’t consistent, a few images were in focus which may have depended on focal length settings. The rest took on a painterly look both in softness and colour.

By the time I post this I will have already recycled the camera so that no one else wastes a roll of film but at least for a moment it was nice to have one of the most unique cameras from the 1990’s

May 9 2020

Yashica T4 with Fuji Superia 400

Even back in 1996 when the Yashica T4 super was new it was considered the poor mans Contax T2. The thing is they are both made by Yashica or more precisely Kyocera despite the massive price gap. Granted the Contax is made of titanium while the T4 is made of plastic but they both have Carl Zeiss T* branded lenses. The T4’s lens is a four element Tessar a design found in many cameras with many names but most famous under the Zeiss brand.

The super scope waste level finder of the T4 is one of those features that you might not always need but is sure nice when you do.

I think that a lot of cameras of this time are pretty good so does the T4 really deserve the “cult” status that it achieved? Maybe as a photographic tool as it is pretty good but it doesn’t justify a large price premium. That being said if you really want a Zeiss T* lens but don’t want to pay Contax prices then this is a good middle ground.

May 2 2020

Smooth Transition Focus Minolta 7 and Pentax K-3

I had the pleasure of borrowing a Minolta Dynax 7  and ran a few rolls of film through it.  One of the unique features of this camera is its ability to simulate an STF lens under certain conditions.  An STF lens uses a special optical formula that includes a special internal filter to create smooth out of focus areas.  The simulation however achieves this by taking 7 exposures on a single frame of film each with a different aperture setting.  The blended image has a soft blurry out of focus area while retaining the same degree of sharpness in the areas that were in focus.  The aperture is determined by the maximum speed of the lens itself so with a lens with a maximum opening of f1.7 the seven 1/3 stop increments takes you to f2.8 if the lens however has a maximum opening of  around f3.5 then it would start at f6.7 and work its way down in 1/3 stops to f3.5.

While I don’t believe there is any other camera that has ever automated this SFT function before I thought it would be fun to see what I could do using my Pentax K-3.  Pentax has many unique features in their cameras and the K-3 has an extensive set of multiple exposure settings.  I settled on using Multi-exposure with 7 shots set to Average mode for the compositing primarily because that is the number of images the Minolta uses.   I then put the camera in aperture priority mode allowing the camera to meter the scene and select the shutter speed but using positive exposure compensation because of the massive amount of backlighting I used during testing of the idea.   Then I selected a starting aperture and exposed the first frame.  I then increased the aperture by 1/3 stop and took the second frame and so on until all 7 images were composited.  And it worked.  The total amount of light gathered for all 7 images was approximately the same as a single frame exposed at that aperture but now the out of focus areas were averaged out while the in focus areas remained the same.  I should also mention I used a very heavy studio tripod that was weighted down, any movement during or between any of the exposures and the whole thing is for naught.  Maybe I should recap because that’s a lot of information.

1.  Secure the camera well there can be no movement

2.  Set the camera’s drive mode to Multiple-exposure

3.  Set the number of exposures your going to use (this is the number of 1/3 aperture steps you will make)

4.  Set the compositing mode to average

5.  Select your starting aperture (you can either go up or down but the idea will be to either start or end with the lens wide open)

6.  Take your first exposure

7.  Alter your aperture by 1/3 stop with the control wheel (Allow the camera to change the shutter speed to maintain the exposure)

8. Repeat step 7 until all the frames have been taken.

9.  Your done enjoy

Here are two images for comparison the first is a single exposure at f5.6 and the second is 15 exposures from f5.6 to f1.2

_K3_8850 _K3_8851

While the in focus areas are roughly the same the background has been averaged out more by using the multiple exposures.  You can actually see the steps of each exposure in the overexposed backlight area.  This was as extreme of an example as I could create and not something you would likely be taking pictures of.  The mirror ball represents a more realistic real world result.  You could just take a number of images with varying apertures and combine them after the fact on a computer but I wanted to see how close I could come to recreating the Minolta method in camera.  Everything is already there Pentax could just  automate the process.

Here are two more examples with a light transmission of f8.0  The first one is a single exposure and the second one is 7 separate ones from f8.0 to f3.5

_K3_8854 _K3_8857

And just for good measure here is the Pentax 50 1.2 shot wide open because I can.



Here are a few real world examples comparing shooting with single apertures vs multiple exposures.


f5.6 vs STF vs f2.8