Oct 1 2012

Glutton for punishment

I have a mix of outdated APS film that must have been stored in the desert, the results are horrendous producing “thin” (see note) negatives that have horrible colour casts mostly a sickly green with red shadows. Oh well isn’t that what Instagram does? I’m embracing this and just shooting it anyway.

Speaking of Instagram this little roll of APS has an interesting social media life. The local camera shop where I have my film developed had an issue with their film developer so they sent this roll out to be processed at another store where they have custom work done. Now we’ll say the film was lost track of, not actually lost just a lack of certainly of where it was. It’s at this point that the person doing the developing takes an Instagram shot of the APS roll to show the old school 1990’s. If your still following me, the person at the first store sees this and asks if the name on the package is for Koopmans (that’s me) and it turns out it is. Film found, the moral of the story is that Instagram is good and APS is old school.

These images were shot with the Pentax Efina T which I will give another try because it really isn’t the cameras fault I loaded it with crappy film.

* A thin negative in this case is one with low amounts of silver halide forming the image resulting in a negative that has low density and contrast, not a lot of information captured. There really is no digital analogue but if you can imagine the histogram it would be a very narrow spike. (yes I just did that, using the noun analogue in reference to the adjective digital)

Dec 21 2011

Konica Big Mini Vs Super Big Mini

Something happened along the way to this blog post.  I had originally intended to show the difference in output from these two cameras using their respective film formats (35mm for the Big Mini and APS for the Super Big Mini) but the thing is that it really is indisputable that 35mm film is better so I decided to just throw all of the shots together and forget about it.  Several things are apparent however. The wide aspect of the APS film can be used to make an interesting difference in some compositions, it amounts to 16:9 when you use the entire frame and the other thing is that the Super Big Mini has quite a bit of vignetting with the larger 35mm film.

Big Mini and Super Big Mini (which is actually a double oxymoron)


Dec 19 2011

The revenge of APS

Back in olden times, when surfing the Internet was preceded by the squelch of a phone modem and required you to know the URL of the sight you wanted to go to, film manufacturers decided to make things more convenient.  Not for the Internet, they didn’t see that coming, but for handling film.  What they came up with was APS film and what it addressed was the loading and storage of the film.  The film stayed inside the cartridge completely until loaded by the camera and was stored inside the cartridge again after being developed.  People using APS film never actually saw the film itself.  In creating the cartridge though they did one other significant thing and that was reduce the film size as compared to 35mm film which was and is the film size that most people are familiar with.  The side effect of this reduced size is also a lowering of picture quality, especially evident when the images are enlarged beyond a certain size.  Because most of these pictures where never printed larger than 5″x7″ this largely goes unnoticed. 

Fast forward several years and we are now searching the Internet more effectively but not yet Googling.  At this point digital photography’s is skyrocketing and film use is plummeting.  APS film being the weaker of the film formats with a much smaller user base was the first to be left behind.  A lot is happening within digital photography at this time, point and shoot cameras actually suck and produce inferior images and cost large sums of money.  Digital SLR’s are only just becoming available and also cost large sums of money.  Most DSLR’s then as now came out with either a sensor the same size as 35mm film often referred to as “full frame” or the smaller APS-c or “cropped sensor”.  Why would manufacturers even bother with producing sensors the same size as the failed APS film you might ask.  The reasons are mostly down to the cost of manufacturing the sensors and as it turns out the full frame ones are a lot more costly relative to there size.  So in order to create a market for DSLR’s camera makers needed to bring the costs down to a point that enough people could afford them, how else could they sell lenses.  I remember it was a big deal when the first sub $1000 DSLR was released in around 2006. 

From day one it was clear that full frame sensors were better than APS-c ones as it had been between the two film sizes.  Manufactures helped to make this clear also by putting full frame sensors in their big rugged professional cameras and APS-c sensors in their consumer offerings.  And that is how it’s been for about ten years, but the thing is that sensors have been steadily improving with each new iteration and the gap in image quality between full frame and APS-c has narrowed.  This may be as much a result of companies putting resources to where they feel they will get the best return. After all they are not out to produce the best camera with no concern for cost they are competing hard to stay ahead of each other in the market place.  There are many more things going on in digital photography including other sensor sizes and camera forms but within the DSLR world it’s mostly about full frame and crop sensors.

So if full frame sensors result in better image quality in general then what if any advantage other than cost do crop sensors provide?  Well because of there smaller size they record a narrower field of view from the same focal length lens.  This is often referred to as the crop factor.  This “crop factor” is roughly 1.5 times for most APS-c sensors.  The result is that for example a 100mm lens on APS-c provides the same field of view as a 150mm lens on full frame.  This relationship is true for any focal length so that a 300mm lens becomes equivalent to a 450mm lens on full frame.  In this case it’s clearly an advantage for people wanting a long telephoto lens.  The opposite is true for wide angle where what was a wide 18mm becomes equivalent to a 28mm lens on a full frame camera.

So why did I title this post revenge of APS?  Well it’s been a long road but we are at a point where some of the most recent APS-c sensors can perform at the same level as full frame sensors.  This may not be a universally held belief but it’s pretty easy to argue that the difference isn’t nearly what it once was.  It’s true that “full frame” cameras provide a shallower depth of field, but may not be the be all end all of photography.  I find myself again on the side of the argument that ends with the question. If the viewer of an image has no idea how it was made does it matter how it was made?

In a future  post I will time travel back to 1996  and compare two otherwise similar cameras having the key difference that one took 35mm film and the other APS.


Nov 18 2011

Minolta Vectis S-1


What can one really say about a camera that was a dead end and used a dead end film.  Why even bother with this blip in the history of photographic equipment?  What possible relevance could this have to today?  Nope I can’t come up with a reason either but if I don’t who else is.  The Minolta Vectis S-1 is an SLR with interchangeable lenses that used APS film.  APS film was, yes I’m using past tense despite the fact that you can still buy it at this time, a smaller film than the more common 35mm.  APS film became available in 1996 but never stood a chance as we stood on the verge of the digital photography revolution that would eventually take over from most film formats.  It’s main claim was convenience and not quality as it had a film area that was only about 55% of a 35mm negative.  That smaller size does live on in the form of most consumer DSLR’s and is referred to as APS-C which was also one of the aspect ratio’s available with the film.

What the Minolta Vectis S-1 offered was a small SLR with all the controls you would expect plus weather sealing.  Despite it’s dead end status it does appear that some early DSLRs, such as the Olympus E-300, took design elements from it only a few years later.

You can see from this shot of the rear controls that the camera afforded such things as aperture and shutter priority as well as exposure compensation.  The ergonomics are very good on this camera and it’s size allows for easy carrying something I value today with smaller digital cameras as apposed to some current DSLR’s that seem to equate physical size to capability.  All this is irrelevant of course because it’s not really a camera you would want to use when so much better image quality is available so much cheaper through digital cameras.

All that said here are some images I shot using the Minolta Vectis S-1.