Aug 25 2018

The Minolta Talker


The Minolta Talker has a limited vocabulary but just enough to be annoying.  I’m sure that in 1984 it was quite the novelty just like the Chrysler K car being able to tell you that your door was ajar or did it actually think your door was a jar?


So what does it have to say?  I’m glad you asked.  It has three different things it says: Load FilmToo dark use flashCheck Distance all in its annoying you don’t know what your doing “voice” thankfully you can turn it off.

What about the Minolta Talker itself, well it has a lens cover that clips on the front of the camera something that could be easily lost.  The lens is a 35mm f2.8 4 element lens which shouldnt be judged from these images shot on expired Fuji Xtra 400.   The lens is actually as good as its ability to speak is ridiculous.

One thing about one camera:  The Minolta Talker (Minolta AF-Sv) has a maximum shutter speed of 1/625 of a second which was faster than any other similar camera from the time.

Aug 19 2018

The Inevitability of Piss Shark in the Brain of Somebody

The Inevitability of Piss Shark in the Brain of Somebody-2

‘The Inevitability of Piss Shark in the Brain of Somebody’  – After Andres Serrano, Damien Hirst

I don’t recall exactly when the idea of marrying these two iconic works of art developed in my mind.

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – Damien Hirst 1991

Immersion (Piss Christ) – Andres Serrano – 1987

I think it was somewhere around the time I read about Damien Hirst’s ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ becoming murky and requiring a fresh shark.  Both works were and remain controversial, Hirst’s primarily is questioned as to whether it truly is art and Serrano’s for its perceived blasphemy.  The Hirst work exists as a three dimensional object in the world while the Serrano work is a two dimensional photograph but both spring from conceptual art.

So what is this image that I created then? Maybe a little blasphemy of contemporary art or satire of the actual works and how we perceive them? Ether way I found the idea amusing which is usually good enough for me.

On a technical note, I recorded the image using 35mm Kodak Portra 400 film which I then scanned and then had printed.  I created a small print 4″x6″ to fit the requirements for a miniature print show called ‘Compartments’ curated by Latent Image Magazine and held at the Gam Gallery. Compartments

And don’t worry I don’t need to see a urologist that’s not urine but its deceptively difficult to create a reasonable facsimile of what was used for ‘Piss Christ’

The two other images I created for Compartments.

Compartments_010 Compartments_005


Aug 12 2018

Yashica Samurai with Agfa Ultra 100


The Yashica Samurai is a half frame camera which is great because it allows you to get twice the number of images from a roll of film.  And that matters when the outdated film is rare like this roll of Agfa Ultra 100 a friend Duncan kindly gave me to shoot.  Agfa Ultra was described as a saturated film with punchy contrast but after being outdated for a few years it seems to have mellowed out to a pastel pallet and much lower contrast. The sort of contrast like that between a large shrimp and a prawn they look the same to me and are both delicious.  Introduced in 2003 (the same year digital cameras first out sold film cameras)  It had a brief existence.


The above spectral graph is an indication of how Ultra compares to Kodak Eltar 100 a film it is often compared to.  One interesting thing you can see is that the green sensitive layers of the Agfa Ultra are relatively insensitive to blue light compared to many other films including Ektar. (Its the green line bellow 500nm that I’m talking about). Intuitively this would suggest that it would reproduce clean deep blue skies better.  Agfa claimed that the colour sensitivity of Ultra and Vista more closely matched human colour perception and referred to it as ‘EYE VISION technology”  This is a good time to remember that film is really a 3 dimensional capture medium, while it may be very thin it is comprised of somewhere around 7 layers on top of the substrate that light must pass through and be filtered and absorbed by.  Film is amazing stuff!

One thing about one film: Agfa claimed an exposure latitude of -2 to +3EV for Ultra 

Get ready for a wack of images because I squeezed 70 shots on the roll because of the Samurai being half frame. (Best viewed in full screen)



Aug 5 2018

Pentax MZ6 Portra 400


Not so much a post about the camera and the film as just some images to share.  I choose the Pentax MZ6 often because its light weight and shares many lenses with my digital camera and I choose Portra 400 because its a lovely reliable film with fine grain and isn’t the normal random out of date stuff that I accumulate and shoot.

Jul 29 2018

Fuji Provia 400f Cross Processed in C41

Provia400F_001 WesterAutorol-1664

I acquired this roll of expired Provia 400f from Beau photo and its been in my fridge waiting its turn.  I finally loaded it into the Wester Autorol which is a nice folding 120 rangefinder.  More about this camera can be seen in these posts Wester Autorol  .  But primarily I wanted to talk about the Provia 400f developed in C41 (Colour Negative) chemistry.  In the following two comparison images on the left is digital capture that closely represents the scene and on the right is how it looks on the Provia 400f

Provia400colourshift1 Provia400colourshift2

A loose description of what is occurring is that the yellows and oranges are being shifted in hue towards green and the blues are shifting towards cyan.  Then there is purple and its nearly complete absence from the cross processed Provia 400F.  I wish I had more of this film to try but Fuji has replaced it with Provia 400X although they do still produce Provia 100F. Bellow is the structure of the film and its different layers when developed as intended in E6 colour reversal chemistry.


I look forward to giving that a try of course doing it with cross processing again with its unique look.

One thing about one film: Provia 400f came out in 2001 and was described as the finest grain 400 slide film available.  

Jul 21 2018

The Agfa Optima 1035 Sensor


The Agfa Optima 1035 is a small box of a camera that based on its looks could easily be dismissed as one of those cheap plastic fixed focus cameras that should just be recycled as soon as possible so they can become something useful like a cat litter box.  Looks are deceiving though and the Optima 1035 has some interesting features.  Lets start our tour though with the battery compartment which is hidden away under the film door. OptimaInside It takes three 625 batteries which can be quite expensive so while not ideal I have just used some LR44′s which can be found almost anywhere and dirt cheap.  While we are inside the back of the camera there is the film loading mechanism which is completely hidden away under a thin plastic guide/cover.  It seems to work without any issues and makes for very simple film loading much like motorized film advancing of later cameras.  When you have the back open you will also notice that the bottom spindle for holding the film canister in place pops down to facilitate the loading of the film another nice touch.  Closing the back and moving on to the top plate the defining feature is the large reddish/orange shutter button. OptimaShutter A light press of this button lights an LED on the front of the camera whos sole purpose seems to be to warn whoever the camera is pointed at that they are about to have their picture taken.  Without this the Optima 1035 might be considered a good street photography camera so I think a little black tape might fix that.  Also on the top plate is a small button that when pressed down and turned allows the film to be rewound.  Rather than using a separate rewind lever with this button set to R the film advance lever becomes the rewind lever.  The same winding action now winds the film back into the canister.  A neat little feat of engineering that allows the camera to be as compact as it is.  The last thing of note on the top is the flash hot shoe.  It has a small tab that allows the camera to ignore the flash related aperture setting on the lens until there is actually a flash mounted.  Moving back to the rings around the lens you can also find the focus ring which unfortunately is zone focusing with only two detent settings of 15/5ft between the ends of infinity and 3ft. OptimaZonefocus Although you can set it at any value in-between if you choose the  indicator needle in the viewfinder wont be pointing directly at one of the pictograms.OptimaViewfinder  And now having arrived at the viewfinder its time to mention just how big and bright it appears.  The viewfinder has a magnification of 0.78 which is well suited to the lens 40mm focal length.  The viewfinder as well as being visually large is also bright and clear with only a hint of barrel distortion and no visible colour aberrations (I can clearly read this text I am writing through it).  Finally the  tour ends with the lens and shutter.  The lens is a 40mm f2.8 Solitar with 4 elements in 3 groups and the shutter is  Agfa’s electronic Paratronic shutter with a wide range going from 15 seconds to 1/1000 second.

The images bellow from the camera were shot on Adox Color implosion film which is known for its purposeful graininess and odd colour shifts.

Jul 15 2018

Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2


The Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 is a medium format 6×9 folding camera from around 1951.  After all these years the simple Vario shutter still provides its 1/200, 1/75, 1/25 and bulb shutter speeds reliably.  The lens is a 105mm f 6.3 Novar Anastigmat which provides good image quality in the center of the frame and decent quality around that when the aperture is stopped down to around f11.  Wide open the lens creates a particular look that tends toward an old large format appearance or at least as close as you can approximate with a medium format camera.  The 6cm x 9cm negative is roughly 6.5 times as large as a 35mm film negative.  With a maximum shutter speed of 1/200sec though care needs to be taken not to intruduce camera shake.  Also the shutter is out there at the end of the bellows with no double exposure prevention making it a good camera for doing multiple exposures.


Jul 7 2018

Pentax IQzoom 200


The Pentax IQZoom 200 thankfully marks the upper limits of the super zoom point and shoots and possibly the depths of how bad a lens can be.  Everything else about the camera is run of the mill for the time but the lens is a 48-200mm f5.1 – f13 abomination with 11 elements.  Coupled with a shutter only capable of a 1/400 of a second minimum shutter speed your almost guaranteed to have blurry images.  Thankfully that might hide some of the chromatic aberration which look like a 3D anaglyph they’re  so bad.  Even in good light with 400 ISO film at f13 it might only select a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second which is far too slow for hand holding such a light 200mm lens without a lot of care.  Its just an ill conceived idea and little wonder by the time digital cameras became mainstream people were ready for an alternative.  And 48mm isn’t very wide which leaves the usefulness of the entire camera in question.  Sure if your at the beach on a bright day and you want to take a fuzzy picture of a sandcastle in the distance this might be the camera for you.  Having now run a roll of film through it the question is now what do I do with the camera.  It does provide a couple nice features like multi exposure which you can see in the flag picture and spot focus.  Even taking that into consideration I cant think of a situation where I’m going to think ‘Hey I should really grab that IQzoom 200 monstrosity’.

One thing about one camera:  The Pentax IQ Zoom 200 cost $349 US in 1999 which was enough money to get you an entry level SLR with a kit lens.  At the same time saving you from the embarrassment of owning this camera. 

Jul 1 2018

The Shitty camera challenge

I took part in a Twitter “contest”  (I use the term contest loosely)  its more a group of people seeing what they can get from some really crappy film cameras and posting the images on Twitter with the hashtag #shittycamerachallenge

I chose to use a camera whos sole purpose seems to be to annoy people.  Its garishly coloured and makes sounds like a cheap electronic game.  But taking pictures with it was fun and seeing what other people produced was great.

Here are the images from my roll of Kodak 400 Max taken with the Happy Smile including one that is an action shot of the camera coming out of the camera bag.

Jun 23 2018

Minolta AL with expired film


If you have read more than a few of my blog posts you may be aware that when it comes to film I will shoot just about anything I can get my hands on.  This can produce some interesting and unpredictable results but it also allows me the chance to test out cameras without a huge investment.  No one wants to waste a roll of some fantastic and now rare slide film only to find out the shutter on the camera didn’t work.  Fortunately the AL worked.    The AL has a matched needle exposure system which means that as you adjust the shutter speed and aperture for a given film it changes a small arm in the top window where there is also a small needle that varies depending on the light hitting the photcell on the front of the camera.  The cell is meant to be used as a reflective meter so you need to get close to the object that you are measuring.  When the arm and the needle align  that indicates that the settings match the reading.  Me I just ignore old meters and adjust the shutter and aperture based on more accurate readings from a digital camera or general exposure settings based on experience.   The lens of the AL is a relatively fast F2 45mm but suffers from  chromatic aberration and low contrast.  Well as best as I can tell from this expired film anyway.  The shutter though does go to 1/1000 of a second which is nice.  I’ve seen it posted several times online that it is similar to the Minolta A5 but I think that other than both being Minolta rangefinders that is erroneous.  The A5 has a slower F2.8 lens and slower maximum shutter speed of 1/500 second as well as no meter, these are great enough differences in my mind to disqualify it from comparison.  Minolta A5   getting  back to the AL its a nice solid camera that has that 1960′s aesthetic (not surprising since its from the 60′s)  If you want the 1970′s feel and a slightly better camera have a look at a Minolta 7s  either way Minolta made some great rangefinders over the years and they all can be enjoyed today.