May 23 2022

Kodak Advantix Preview

Have you ever thought to yourself do I ever wish I had a camera with a really crappy film format and an even worse digital camera that I cant save the pictures from all in one? Well are you in luck because somehow this abomination made its way into the world. Backing up for a minute let me explain what the Kodak Advantix Preview is. At its heart it is an APS film camera with a 25-65mm f4.3-10.4 lens but to augment that Kodak provided what amounts to a second digital camera with the sole purpose to show you what you just shot on a low resolution rear LCD.


Seeing this image on the LCD you are then given the opportunity to tag the image for the number of prints you might want from it. Once you take the next image that one is gone and so on. That is a lot of extra electronics and presumably expense just to be able to see a facsimile of what you may have captured as a latent image on the film. Keep in mind this is all at a time when digital point and shoot cameras are providing 3-5mpixel images. Maybe Kodak was hoping to sell a bunch of film to people that thought they were buying a digital camera, either way APS film makes a poor memory card.

Breaking news apparently this was so successful that Kodak followed it up with the Advantix Easy Share. Which stored all of the images from a roll in its internal memory rather than just the last one taken. An interesting sidebar is that the image is stored in some sort of non volatile RAM so that even when the camera is powered down that last image is still retained.

As far as APS cameras go it is well featured with things like spot focus and the ability to control the flash. As a digital camera with the sole purpose of chimping the last shot its pretty bad.

And if you want to know where it focused on the last shot with the precision of 3 distances you can look at the screen for these helpful icons.

Feb 19 2022

Fujica Compact S

This was one of four cameras I made share one roll of expired Ilford HP5 film. I figured that none of them deserved their own roll and while mostly true of the others the Fujica Compact S was a bit of a surprise. The camera itself is stamped out of some thin material that is easily dented. The other components and details are equally cheap looking. But the lens was surprisingly sharp in the center of the image. The corners not so much as they suffer from some pretty sever distortion. That distortion does lend the images a vintage look which might make it worth while shooting a roll of colour film in the camera. Or at least part of a roll.

If your curious how I only managed to shoot 6 frames on a roll of 36. For each camera that I used I would keep track of where on the roll I had ended and then advance the next camera just past that place (or hopefully so) while covering the lens so the previous frames did not get re-exposed.

Some details about the camera. It has a 38mm lens with a maximum aperture of f2.5 The exposure is controlled automatically with light measurement being taken by a selenium cell. This means that no batteries are required. It does have a rangefinder for focusing which is nice and seems like a luxury for a camera of a quality that otherwise seems like it would only have zone focus. The shutter covers the range of 1/30 to 1/250 of a second and the aperture stops down to f22. One additional limitation of the camera is that it only has an ISO range of 12-200.

Unnecessary update: Since I originally wrote this I have given the camera away to a good home.

Nov 7 2021

Ricoh R1 with Agfa Vista 200

Back in the old days before the pandemic I took a trip into the Kootenay region of British Columbia. Among the cameras I brought was the Ricoh R1 which is essentially the poor mans version of the Ricoh GR1. The GR1 having a 28mm f2.8 seven element lens while the R1 has a 30mm f3.5 lens with four elements. The R1 does have the added ability to swing another two elements internally to give a 24mm f8 lens but this only works in tandem with the panoramic mask unless you disable it which would void your warranty if there still was one. The R1 is one of the thinnest 35mm film cameras at 25mm deep. Compare that to another small camera the Olympus Stylus Epic at 37mm thick and you can see why the R1 and its descendants are considered pocketable.

As for the film once my few remaining rolls of Agfa Vista are gone I will likely need to shoot Fuji Superia in its place but I really don’t think there is a direct replacement for its colour palette.

Oct 10 2021

Olympus View Zoom 120

Its easy to forget just how bad some viewfinders have been over the years so coming across the Olympus View Zoom 120 was a bit of a revelation. For a point and shoot camera it really does have a nice large viewfinder. That includes a +-2 diopter correction. Its also marketed as being smart. What smart is in this context is that it has bright projections in the viewfinder the most notable being a red cross hair at the center.

It also flashes a green shutter symbol at the moment of exposure in case you were not sure it had fired. These notifications are rounded out by the flash symbol when its use is suggested. Olympus had this to say about the viewfinder in 2000

The View Zoom 120 features a large, real-image viewfinder that uses three large prisms to deliver a viewfinder image that is approximately twice as large as the image seen in a conventional viewfinder. As a result, framing the subject is very easy. In addition, LED indicators for autofocus, shutter release, and flash readiness are superimposed on the field of view to make it easy to confirm shooting status.

It seems though that the entire R&D budget was spent on the viewfinder because the lens is a pedestrian 38-120mm f3.7-10.8 with 7 elements the front one appearing to forego any coatings. And even with all those elements (some of them aspherical) it still gives results that look like they came from a disposable camera. But who am I to say look how happy these people are with it.

Sep 12 2021

Ricoh Auto half I like it twice as much.

I wanted to shoot with my Ricoh Auto half a second time to make sure everything was working perfectly before I planned to take it on a trip. The trip never happened because well 2020. But just as with the first time around I was impressed. I mean if you look at that tiny little lens its hard to believe it can give you much of a result, but looks can be deceiving. Okay maybe I’ve set the image quality bar a little low for this camera. But what I like about it is as much about it being half frame and getting twice as many images out of a roll as it is the decent image quality itself. Actually on second thought this camera isn’t about the quality its more about the ease of use and the low barrier to the image making process. It makes taking film images seem less precious and opens up the choice in subjects.

The previous post about this camera can be found here Ricoh Auto Half

Jul 3 2021

The Taco method

No I am not referring to how to eat a taco without getting it on your shirt. The ‘Taco Method’ is how to process 4×5 negatives in a Paterson daylight tank without a film holder.


  • 4×5 negatives
  • Paterson System 4 multi-unit tank
  • chemistry to season to taste (aesthetic taste not taste taste)
  • Elastics or hair bands to hold the taco shape
  • A dark room or film changing bag

The idea is that as you take your film out of the holder in the dark you curl the film along its long axis with the emulsion side in. You can ensure that the emulsion side is in by holding the film with the notches at the top right hand side and then doing the curl towards you. Once you have the film in that position you slip a rubber band over the film to hold it that way. Its important that the edges of the film don’t meet or the chemicals wont reach the emulsion evenly or enough. Next pop that taco into the Paterson tank and do another. The tank will hold four films this way around the center column. Remember despite it being annoyingly in the way, and flopping around, the center column is what makes the tank light tight. Once you have your film loaded and the lid on its time to come out into the light.

I have been soaking the film initially for 3-4 minutes to ensure the film is nice and ready to accept the chemicals. Once you pour that water out its time for the developer (I’m assuming your doing B&W at room temperature). I’ve been using 500ml of solution which isn’t enough to completely submerge the film in the tank so its important to immediately do a series of inversions to cover all the film with developer. After that I roll the sealed tank in random patterns on the bottom of a bathtub. Its actually quite a soothing thing to do and 10 minutes can seem to go by quite quickly.

This is pretty much the procedure for all the chemicals. Get them in fast do a number of inversions and then roll them around for the prescribed time. When your all done you can take the lid off for the wash. And that’s it the taco method.

Jun 6 2021

Pentax 120mi with Ilford HP5

The Pentax 120 Mi is a little reminiscent of the Pentax Efina T only without the titanium shell and of course it uses 35mm film instead of the defunct APS film used by the latter. While there are numerous point and shoots from this time this one is above average do to its build quality and small size. Despite that small size it manages a 38-120 lens that while slow (f5 – 12.5) is at least a decent performer. So within the category of zoom point and shoot film cameras, which is full of crappy cameras, the Espio 120 mi manages to be average.

The images in the gallery were captured on Ilford HP5+ film

May 15 2021

Olympus Pen FT

For a few years now I’ve had an affinity for all things half frame. From the quirky Lomo Tim to the 1980’s esthetic of the Yashica Samurai and of course the fun little Ricoh Auto half but it wasn’t until I decided to part with my Nishika N8000 quad lens camera that one of the Olympus Pen F series SLR’s came my way. I ended up trading one for the other. I do want to start with the weak spots for the Pen FT before I get to effusive about the things that I do like. The view in the viewfinder is quite small and dim some of this might be due to age and the need for internal cleaning but even at its best it would leave much to be desired. However the camera is an SLR so you do get a very good sense of what your composition will look like despite its dimness. The second issue is the exposure meter, its strange and not like most others. It works on a scale of 0 to 7 on the bottom of the lens. If you set the shutter speed first say to 1/30 and the meter lands on the number 4 then you set the lens to the number 4 which corresponds to an aperture of F8….okay why not just have the meter show f8 you ask and I say “I don’t know” What if we set the aperture to f5.6 what shutter speed do we choose? Well then we would look in the viewfinder and see what number the needle points to if it isn’t 3 which is what correlates to the f5.6 aperture then we alter the shutter speed until the needle does point to 3, and there you have it. Simple right? No me either that is why I ignore the meter and just select the aperture and shutter speed manually. Although its probably good for your brain to figure all that other stuff out in the same way as doing Soduko and eating healthy is. Some of the things that I love about this camera without caveats though are the portrait orientation of the image, due to the half frame nature and just the overall look and esthetic of the camera. It is a classic and it looks cool. As with other half frames I posses I’ve made efforts to make some image pairs that go together.

Apr 24 2021

Pentax K3 III first impressions

The Pentax K3 III has been a long time coming.  The original K3 was released back in November of 2013 and then there was what could be considered a minor update with the K3 II in May of 2015.  A lot has happened in the world of digital cameras in that time.  The fixed lens camera market has practically collapsed replaced by cell phones and most of the major camera makers have been developing mirrorless camera systems and working to convince everyone to buy them and an all new set of lenses to go with.  The thing is though every new camera development just expands the envelope of photography marginally.  Used to its best nearly every camera of the last 7 years will produce good results. Back in the heyday of the film SLR a camera being relevant for 10 years wouldn’t be out of the norm with maybe some small change to keep the marketing going.  The point I’m getting to is with a camera design that is already very good it’s going to be difficult to make giant leaps forward.  Mirrorless cameras seem like that giant leap but does the end result prove that out or are the images indistinguishable between different cameras and from cameras that came before?  

With all that said and nearly eight years between the original K3 and the K3 III how has Pentax been able to expand that envelope of image making.  On the ergonomics and viewfinder side Ricoh (they own the Pentax brand)  have taken great pains to explain how they made small adjustments to virtually every element from the placement of controls to the choice of the shutter button switch.  But more than any other element of the new camera Ricoh has touted the new optical viewfinder with its 1.05X magnification which they  claim  gives it the same viewing experience as a camera with a larger sensor like the “full frame” Pentax K1. All these little touches, and there are many more,  make using the camera better but does that result in better images?  That’s unlikely unless being pleased makes you a better photographer.

Before going on I want to briefly bring up how quick the Pentax KIII mirror return is.  When I took my first photo I was startled by how short the blackout was.  I pressed the shutter and snap it was done.  Ricoh says they have completely redesigned the mirror drive mechanism to achieve this with additional benefits of a faster frame rate and more time for continuous exposure and autofocus measurements

So then in what areas are there changes that could result in better images and an expanded envelope of photography?  Starting with low light the K3 III has a stated Upper ISO limit of 1,600,000 a number so large it lacks context.  So let’s put that into perspective.  A fast but grainy film would likely be 1600 ASA (ISO = ASA for our purposes)  so let’s say your taking a night scene at f4 and 1/30 of a second with that film what would the upper limit potential of the K3III be in the same situation.  The progression of sensitivity speed would go up from there like this: 3200, 6400, 12800, 25.6k, 51.2k, 102.4k, 204.8k, 409.6k, 819.2k, 1.64Million.  That’s 10 orders of magnitude greater than the 1600 we started with.  If you kept the aperture at f4 and only increased the shutter speed as you increased the ISO you would hit 1/8000 of a second before you reached 1.6million ISO.   So really it’s not a particularly useful setting beyond a demonstration of the claimed improvements over previous cameras and that may mean that some of those still high but reasonable ISO settings are expanding what can be captured in dim light.  There is going to be a limit to how useful some of these high ISO are and I’m not sure why they included the top few at all.

Test scene

I ran a little comparison of the original Pentax K3 against the Pentax K3 III at various ISO’s using a scene I set up and natural light. For both cameras I used aperture priority with an f stop of f7.1 and the Pentax D-FA 100mm f2.8 WR macro. I let the camera increase the shutter speed as I upped the ISO settings. All the images were shot in RAW and then imported into ACDsee with no further editing being done just a side by side view of each pair. The cameras were placed at the same exact location so at times you can see the slight difference in image size between the 6016×4000 pixel sensor in the K3 and the 6192×4128 pixel back side illuminated one of the K3 III

ISO 100 Pentax K3 vs K3 III

As you would expect at the starting point of 100 ISO both cameras provide clean detailed images to the point where I decided to save time and jump up to 800 ISO as the starting point.

ISO 800 Pentax K3 vs K3 III

Even at a setting of 800 ISO its hard to see much difference between them but the K3 III image is a little flatter which is fine for a RAW file waiting for the photographer to make it look as they choose.

ISO 1600 Pentax K3 vs K3 III

Here at ISO 1600 is where we start to see some differences between the two cameras performance. Continuing on with ISO 3200 we can see the gap widen.

ISO 3200 Pentax K3 vs K3 III

ISO 6400 Pentax K3 vs K3 III
ISO 6400 Pentax K3 vs K3 III

Now at ISO 6400 we’ve reached what may be considered the upper useful limit for the original K3 and not really for all situations requiring full size images with detail. The new camera though in my opinion is still producing good images that with a little noise reduction could be used similarly to any images taken with a lower ISO.

ISO 12K Pentax K3 vs K3 III
ISO 25K Pentax K3 vs K3 III
ISO 51K Pentax K3 vs K3 III

Arriving at ISO 51,200 not only is this the upper limit that we can set with the original K3 but that the images are far noisier than the K3 III

Pentax K3 ISO 3200 vs Pentax K3 III ISO 12800

Backing up a little above is a comparison of the K3 at ISO 3200 and the K3 III at ISO 12800 settings which seem to give a similar level of noise performance pointing to an increase of about 2 stops.

Pentax K3 III upper ISO’s

There is not much point going higher with the ISO settings as the usability of the images becomes questionable. I will show the difference between the unedited RAW and an out of camera Jpeg taken at ISO 51200

Pentax K3 III RAW vs out of camera Jpeg at ISO 51K
Normal vs Pixel shift 200%

And finally on the image quality front above is the subtle difference between a non pixel shift image and a pixel shift.

The image stabilization is said to be greatly improved but frankly to test that empirically  and not just subjectively which is what is needed It would require more effort than I am willing at this point to put into that.  Perhaps at a later time but it is certainly good as I was able to take numerous hand held macro shots during a walk around.

Another area that is claimed to be improved is the autofocus.  The autofocus  coverage of the image area has expanded as has the number of autofocus points.  Additionally and what has been one of the major marketing pushes of mirrorless cameras the K3 III has the ability to detect a subjects eyes and focus on them.  To do this in combination with the standard autofocus sensor they employ the metering sensors pixel array to do subject recognition. 

How well this works is one of the primary questions that people interested in this camera have.

Without much effort I was able to test the eye tracking feature as I was taking photos and could see when a person was in view and the autofocus set to auto the camera would select a point at the persons eye and track it.  In this case it did so through the mesh of a screen door. 

Eye tracked photo

Sticking with autofocus another burning question would be how well does it track in continuous autofocus.  I have to confess that is not a mode I use often for starters most of my cameras don’t even have autofocus (I primarily shoot with older film cameras) but Im writing this as much for the broader world as I am testing the cameras abilities for myself. With the limited activities and travel at the moment it’s necessary to be a little creative with what I’m photographing to test this capability.

My initial testing was just playing with the camera pointing it at birds to try to figure out what worked best. I found that using a limited number of selected points while allowing tracking gave me the best results for small birds as I could point the camera to what I wanted it to focus on and then it could track that. If you use all the available focus points in the auto mode of focusing the camera will decide what the main subject is. The results were pretty good but my ability to photograph birds was not. A Heron took flight when I first arrived and had the camera set to all available focus points and only single shot drive. I did fire off a few shots and the camera tracked the bird as it left me behind. Birds in flight are not my forte.

Connectivity.. .  The original K3 had the ability to provide some remote functionality through a specific Wi-Fi card in the second card slot.  The ill named Flucard was activated as a Wi-Fi hotspot and then using a device connected to that hotspot you could see a live image from the camera, adjust settings and trip the shutter. You can then transfer JPG images to the device if you choose  It is all quite cumbersome.  So what improvement is there in this area with the K3III?  The fact that Ricoh provides  a separate guide to wireless connectivity is a good sign.  Not only is there Wi-Fi but Bluetooth has been added as well as the ability to use the GPS on the device for geotagging images.  I was also able to set the time more precisely on the camera through the connection to my cell phone.

Going back to my initial statement around ergonomics a lot of discussion occurred prior to the release of the K3III and also now that it’s out in the wild about it not having a tilting or articulated rear LCD panel.  There is no denying the usefulness of being able to alter the angle of the screen in difficult situations.  Such as shooting low to the ground or over your head among others.  So is the Wi-Fi control a worthy substitute?  I’m going to start from the position of no it can’t be and see if I can be convinced otherwise.  

After setting up the Bluetooth link I was able to additionally connect via Wi-Fi without any further effort. All that was required was a tap of a button on the app and the two devices set it up between them. I now have what amounts to a detached screen that I can use in place of the fixed one on the camera.  The live view using my phone is responsive enough for composing landscape images so for tripod work it is fine.  It lacks the convenience though of tilting the screen handheld as you now have a phone in one hand and a camera in the other.  So its a bit of a wash, pro that it is effectively a detachable screen that you can use anywhere around the camera and con that its not attached to the camera.

The five user modes are a good place to store settings for specific shooting instances.  I plan to use a couple of the slots for night time and low light settings and after playing around I now have one called ‘birds’.

A new feature on the K3iii is depth of field and motion bracketing these are in addition to the more familiar exposure bracketing.  The former ones retain the same exposure between the three shots altering either the shutter speed or the aperture.  An interesting use of depth of field bracketing would be to simulate a smooth transition focus lens.  By capturing three images with slightly different apertures but the same point of focus and then combining them together in post processing you can create smoother out of focus areas. This is a technique built into the Minolta Dynax 7 SLR although the Minolta does it in camera on the film with multiple exposures.  Personally I would like to see this implemented in the K3III everything required to do it is already built into the camera it would take very little effort to do.

Each of these new bracketing modes is only available within their respective exposure mode.  Shutter priority or Aperture Priority so don’t go looking for them when set to Program mode or similar. I absolutely did not panic thinking that it wasn’t included until I figured that out.

Another area where changes have been made is In the handling of older lenses without the A setting.  The improvement is that with previous models it was necessary to use the green button in manual mode to stop the lens down to take a meter reading.  Now the K3 III can perform this stop down just an instant before taking the image allowing for aperture priority mode.  In conjunction with that  you can set the recorded aperture for the image EXIF but it’s up to the photographer to make sure it matches what the lens is set to.

K3 III with manual aperture lens

I tested this out with an old Vivitar 28mm f2.0 lens without an A setting and each time I varied the aperture the camera was able to keep the same overall exposure by varying the shutter speed. This is a major improvement in the operability of using old glass.

One of the small touches to improve operation is the ability to set an exposure time for bulb mode.  Available on the Pentax KP but missing from the original K3 and K3II it required some way of locking down the shutter such as a remote cable release. Now you can select from 1 second to 20 minutes. This is something I will definitely put to use.

There are many improvements small and large so I cant cover them all in this one post but the K3 III is an impressive camera. This concludes my initial first look at the Pentax K3III as I want to get out there and shoot some more with it.

Apr 10 2021

Pentax ME super & Fuji Superia 400 pushed to 800

I took the images and wrote this post pre-pandemic

Does loading Fuji Superia into a Pentax ME super make for super duper images? Not likely but film in a camera is a recipe for fun in my book.

Knowing that I was going to be taking pictures in some lower light situations I chose some faster lenses such as the Vivitar 28 f2.0 in the above image as well as a 50mm f1.7 and a Vivitar 70-150 f3.8 which may not be the brightest lens but gives a bit of telephoto while still being compact. (I believe there were restrictions on the size of lens you could bring into the stadium seen in some of the images so I did not want to draw attention to my ‘state of the art’ kit.)

Additionally I set the camera to ISO 800 and pushed the film 1 stop during development. Using a Unicolor C41 kit this is achieved by increasing the development time by 1.25X for the one stop. So the normal developer time of 3.5 minutes is extended to 4min 24 Seconds (4 1/2 minutes unless your super fussy and think it would make a difference) I was happy with the results this gave me. The amount of grain is slightly increased but then it is as well if you were using natively 800 iso film.