Tag Archives: dslr

Don’t Forget About Those Old M42 Lenses For Your Modern dSLR…

[tweetmeme]This is a guest post by Rob, from robnunnphoto.com.

If, like me, you’re a photographer on a very tight budget, one of the hardest things to come to terms with is how expensive lenses are for your dSLR. Apart from the “Nifty Fifties”, which for most manufacturers can be had for around $100, new lenses are hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Fear not though – there is another way, where you can buy lenses for a few dollars, rather than a few hundred – M42 Lenses. M42 refers to the type of screw mount these old lenses use, and it was a standard for companies like Zenit, Praktica, and Pentax for many years. There are also lots of other lens manufacturers who produced M42 lenses from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, when Auto-Exposure, and a little later, Auto-Focus, rendered a screw type mount impractical.

To fit these lenses you’ll need an M42 adapter (available on eBay), which is normally just a piece of machined and finished metal, with a bayonet fitting on one side and a screw mount on the other. Having no electrical connection, you then have to focus, change the aperture, and meter manually, but this is a good learning experience and gets easier with practice. If you’re using Canon you can set your command wheel to Aperture Priority, and your camera will adjust the shutter speed automatically as light levels change or you change the lenses aperture.

Some M42 Lens Mount Adapters include an optic, and it’s always best to check compatibility of your camera body with a particular lens. Some old lenses protrude into the body of the camera, and this can cause problems with hitting the mirror.

I get my M42 lenses from car-boot sales, second hand shops, thrift stores and charity shops. There’s a thriving market on eBay, but the most popular and highest quality can demand steep prices. I normally just look for old 35mm Film Cameras that are clean, I make sure the lens works, then pay a couple of quid at a car-boot sale.

Most M42 lenses are fixed-focal length prime lenses – zooms just weren’t made for M42 in great quantities, and their optical qualities weren’t as good. Using a prime teaches you to zoom “with your feet”, a good skill to develop for everyone anyway!

The most common focal length of lenses you’ll find are 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 135mm. Wider lenses are very rare, but you may come across the odd ultra-long telephoto prime – and normally at prices that are unbelievably cheap.

LENS CHECK LIST

Before you hand over the cash for a M42 lens, you want to check a few things:

  1. Is it really an M42 Thread? Make sure you bring your lens-mount adapter (I actually use an extension tube) along to test it is what you think it is. There are other screw-mounts that aren’t compatible.
  2. Is the glass clean? You’re looking for mould, fungus or big scratches. Any lens that looks a bit cloudy or has things growing in it should be passed over. Expect to see surface scratches on most old lenses – don’t worry, it won’t affect your photographs.
  3. Does the focus turn smoothly? We don’t want any grinding or stiffness.
  4. Do the aperture blades work? A real important one this. If a lens has been sitting in an attic for 40 years, chances are any lubricants inside will have dried out, so those blades could be stuck. Look for a pin sticking out of the back of the lens. Press it in, then look through the lens while turning the aperture ring. You should see the aperture blades opeing and closing. Ask yourself if the lens is opening up all the way to its biggest aperture (biggest hole, smallest f number), and closing up to its smallest aperture (smallest hole, biggest f number). You’ll often find lenses where the blades only open up so far. Put the lens down and move on.
  5. Is it a decent piece of glass? A tricky question this – unless you’ve got a really good memory, chances are you won’t be able to remember which are the lenses, brands and models you should be looking for. My rule of thumb is to look at the maximum aperture. Lens manufacturers don’t tend to make poor fast glass. So if the lens is a 50mm, I’m looking for at least an f/1.8 aperture. For 28mm to 135mm I’m looking for f/2.8. With longer glass the bigger the aperture the better, and be aware that Zoom Technology wasn’t at it’s best in the M42 era, so don’t expect great results from non-primes. (Although M42 Zooms, combined with extension tubes, are great for macro work.)

ACCESSORIES

That brings me nicely onto the accessories that you want to be looking for as you’re on your hunt for M42 lenses. First up we want a selection of extension tubes. These are simple hollow tubes of various lengths, that allow you to take incredible macro shots.

Teleconverters look like extension tubes, but have a small glass optic inside. These handy gadgets multipy the focal length of your lens, usually by 1.6 or 2 times. Inspect them for scratches and fungus. Using a teleconverter does cut down the amount of light coming into your camera, and they do degrade the image, but they are fun to play around with.

Filters. With all your new lenses you’ll need filters. Don’t bother with UV protection filters, these lenses are cheap anyway, so why put another piece of cheap glass in the way? Look for CIrcular Polarizers (C-PL) to reduce glare and increase colour saturation. You may find Linear Polarizers. These have the same effect, but could affect the metering of your camera. If you’re shooting fully manual, this doesn’t matter one bit. Look out for special effects filters – soft-focus, star-bursts, grads and neutral density. Coloured filters aren’t that useful if you shoot in colour and convert to b&w in post, but they can add a fun look to your images. Keep an eye out for Cokin Filters, holders, and adapters – a whole world to explore!

Lens Hoods. Very, very, important. The coatings on modern lenses that keep our photographs contrasty and flare-free are probably missing from these old M42 lenses, so the best practice is to always use a lens hood.

MY EXPERIENCES

I particularly like my Pentacon 29mm f/2.8, and my Helios 135mm f/2.8. I use my Soligor 90-230mm with extension tubes for macro work, and I’m currently playing around with a Hanimex 200mm f/3.3. There’s no way I could afford to buy the equivalent Canon EF primes of these focal lengths, and half the fun of using these lenses is paying a couple of pounds for them at car-boot sales, then seeing the wonderful images they produce.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

Go on eBay and buy a lens-mount adapter for your digital body. Just search for “M42 Lens adapter Canon” or whatever model of camera you’ve got. Do a little research on the ‘net as to what lenses you could be looking for, then get out at those garage sales, thrift stores and flea-markets to hunt out those bargains. Have fun and marvel at the prices you’ll pay for lenses that are perfectly good enough for the majority of photographers.

Thanks for reading! Rob.

You can read more about Rob and his photography at robnunnphoto.com.

(All photos in this article were taken with a Canon 350d dSLR and M42 Lenses).

FURTHER READING

M42 Lenses On Wikipedia.

M42 Lens Mount Adapters On Ebay.com.

Compatibility list of M42 and manual lenses on Canon EOS 5D. (And Other Makes)

M42 and dSLR’s Flickr Group.

HAVE YOUR SAY!

Have you used M42 lenses, on a dSLR or perhaps on the original Film Body? What have your experiences been? What are your favourite lenses, and what has been your best buy? Please add your comments below!

Must-Bring Cameras for Wedding Photography

[tweetmeme]Guest post from Nick Smith, author of Digital Wedding Secrets – a guide solely focused on the wedding photography and its business. If wedding photography is your passion too then Sign Up to its RSS or the FREE Digital wedding newsletter to receive wedding photography tips in your email.

For many, Wedding Photography is the “pays the bills” aspect of photography, and therefore it might get short shrift on the respect meter because of the seemingly lack of “excitement”, but as my friend in the movie business says, “if you take the job, you do the job” and that means no griping. And honestly, there is a compelling aspect to wedding photography, let’s take a look, shall we?

The truly interesting thing about Wedding Photography is that it has an editorial aspect to it as well as a photo-journalistic aspect to it (or at least you should position yourself as a photographer who offers a blend of both). This dual nature enables you to provide a premium product… with a premium price.

While it goes without saying bringing two cameras to a wedding is the minimum ideal way to go. However, the true question is what two cameras to bring? I’m going to suggest a dSLR and a Rangefinder.

dSLR

A wedding
Creative Commons License photo credit: yaili

Canon and Nikon make some extraordinary dSLRs and the higher end Prosumer models can easily handle nearly every situation conceivable for wedding photography. Obviously Pentax and Olympus make quality product, too, but Canon and Nikon are the two heavy weights. dSLRs provide you with so much versatility in lens choice and other accessories. But there are few specifications that you might want to consider (either when renting a second or third camera, or buying a second camera, and possibly trading in one of the cameras that you do have) to ensure that you don’t miss a shot. The camera’s recycle time and burst fps are important factors to weigh, as well as what type of flash units the camera can accommodate (i.e., a High Sync Flash unit). It’s important to use a full-frame dSLR, this is pure an aesthetic bias on my part, but you want to be able to use as many lenses as are available in your camera manufacturer of choice’s line. Sure you could miss out of the fully computer-controlled lenses, but you might have a favorite lens that was for a film camera.

Most people will do well with two dSLRs, one fitted with a wide angle zoom (perhaps a 17mm-35mm), and the other with a telephoto zoom (probably a 85mm-200mm). This combination will enable you to quickly jump back-n-forth for group shots and tighter more intimate shots… without having to swap lenses, and perhaps miss a crucial shot.

A Rangefinder

Leica addict
Creative Commons License photo credit: c-reel.com

Why a rangefinder?, you ask. Simple, these most innocuous of cameras allow you to get extraordinarily candid and intimate shots that you might not otherwise be able to get with a dSLR. The level of intrusion that an dSLR causes can ruin the spontaneity of precious moments; not to mention that some people act a fool when they see a camera in active position.

Now I wouldn’t say that these cameras really fallen out of favor, more like they have become the ultimate niche photographic item. And the granddaddy of them is the Leica M7 or its digital cousin the M9 (Leica’s newest, most state-of-the-art digital camera). The unparalleled image quality that these cameras provide are worth taking the time to learn the unorthodox focusing method.

Leica’s new M9 is an AWESOME digital camera with a full-frame (24mm x 36mm) image sensor and captures images in a high-density RAW format. And because of the full-frame image sensor,you can effectively use any of the Leica lenses from the past 30 years… and those are perhaps the lenses on the planet. Known for their sharpness, incredibly speed, and lack of chromatic aberration, you’ll be awe-struck at the quality of the photos.

Bride
Creative Commons License photo credit: zamario

I had mentioned earlier the photo-journalistic aspect of Wedding Photography, well with a Leica (or any rangefinder for that matter) you can take on the role of photo-essayist. Rangefinders, and the Leica in particular, have supremely quiet shutter releases, so hardly anyone will know that you’ve actually taken the photo. Plus you can focus and fire from the hip so easily that you’ll have an unprecedented ability to grab photos with practically no one noticing. This gives you a lot of creative power as a photography, because you can concentrate on getting the Wedding Party and the guests to behave as naturally as possible.

You might think the Leica is overkill (due to its price), but the images will be well-worth it (and if you rent it, the actual expense is minimal).

So the camera configuration of two dSLRs and a rangefinder can yield you a wider variety of more compelling photographs with different feelings and emotions captured. That’s what the clients ultimately want, images that define the moment, that will spark memories in the future and will stand-out from the standard wedding photography fare (not that you won’t offer those as well, but it’s always about offering more than the standard these days).

About The Author: Nick Smith is author of Digital Wedding Secrets – a guide solely focused on the wedding photography and its business. If wedding photography is your passion too then Sign Up to its RSS or the FREE Digital wedding newsletter to receive wedding photography tips in your email.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Camera

I think this is all of them
Creative Commons License photo credit: xdjio

This article has been submitted by Neil Austin, a digital photography enthusiast who writes on digital photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. He mainly writes about wedding photography. If you are a wedding photographer looking for you first camera then make sure you read this article on how to choose a wedding photography camera.

If you are into serious photography, then you have to take into consideration many things when selecting the type of equipment and gadgets to purchase. It does not matter whether you are going into photography as a hobby or as a profession. There are important things that you have to include in the general equation for the determination of the type of photography equipment and gadgets that you will have to invest in.

P&S VS DSLR

PS vs DSLR

When you are going for your foundation equipment, you have to decide if you are going for a Point and Shoot (P&S) or the more expensive Digital-Single Lens Reflex cameras. Your final choice will be based on your budget as well as your requirements and needs. Digital-Single Lens Reflex (dSLR) cameras are the better choice for those who have higher demands from their advanced photography. These are the type of modern cameras which are generally have wider functionality and are versatile in terms of the shooting conditions and controls. It comes with a wide range of features and provides the base equipment for future upgrades in the form of add-ons and accessories.

The dSLR is the camera of choice when it comes to action shots, nature and wildlife photography. It is also the appropriate type of camera when doing portraiture and people photography. On the other hand, Point and Shoot (P&S) cameras are the direct opposite of dSLRs. The main advantage of this type of camera is that they are extremely light and compact making them the better choice for those who put premium on convenience and ease of handling. They also come with the basic features that are normally required for day-to-day photography work as well as other photography requirements on the personal level. The major limitation of this type of cameras is that you will not be able to make any lens changes and their built-in flashes are limited in their range of capabilities.

CONSIDERATIONS ON RESOLUTION

Resolution

There is a wide range of resolution that is provided by dSLR from a low 3.4 megapixels to as high as 16.7 megapixels. There are even some high-end dSLRs whose over resolutions are higher than 16.7 megapixels. It is important to note that not all dSLR produce the same results for the same level of resolution. There are some dSLR cameras that can deliver better shots even with lower resolutions mainly because of the presence of a high-performance and more advanced sensor. The bottom-line is to assess the maximum level of megapixels that you will require in your photography work and settle for the type or model that meets this specification. Higher resolution dSLR does always mean better dSLR cameras especially if you are able to get the shots you like with a lower resolution dSLRs.

DSLR

UPGRADING YOUR DSLR

With the fast paced development and advancement in the field of technology, you will have to keep pace with the emergence of newer and more modern gadgets and add-ons for your dSLRs. The digital format is admittedly the platform on which all upgrades will be based. If you are serious about keeping pace with the advances in the digital photography technology, then you may have to replace your dSLR camera with a newer model every 18 months! However, it is worse in the case of Point and Shoot types of cameras as you may be forced to buy a new unit every six months.

ADDING DSLR ACCESSORIES

Accessories

Most dSLRs are bit heavy and unwieldy compared to the Point and Shoot cameras and you have to seriously take this into consideration when you are choosing the right dSLRs which would suit your needs and preference. You might need models that have a fairly large battery packs and all other add-ons, this will make things really heavier on the side. Don’t forget to consider the size of the lenses that you will need in your photo shoots using a dSLR camera. Once you include all these items, then you really have to consider buying a really large camera bag.

If you have an old camera with lenses and accessories, you may consider purchasing a newer model that can accommodate the lenses and accessories. The compatibility of existing lenses and other accessories can serve as a major motivation in picking out a specific model of dSLR camera.

ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF A DSLR CAMERA

DSLR Features

After you have considered the basic features of your digital camera, you can now assess all the other features which you might consider in your ideal digital camera. Though these might not be an immediate necessity in your present circumstances, you may have to look beyond the present and identify the functionalities which you would like your dSLR to have in the future.

  • Burst-Mode Functionality – This is the feature that you must have to consider when you are looking at action or motion shots. This gives you the capability of shooting a series of frames from an unfolding action.
  • Vibra-Proof Feature – This is a feature that you would like to have to give you fairly good shots while you are in motion. Though this may be an optional feature that spells the comparative advantage of one model from the rest of the units of dSLR, some would find this feature as a basic requirement especially when you are making shots while in motion.
  • ISO Rating Range – You also have to consider the ISO rating of your camera especially when you are looking at high speed shots and close portrait and people photography.
  • Digital Connectivity – With the convergence of digital based gadgets and equipments, you also must have to consider the connectivity of your dSLR camera with your computer and other photo-enhancing equipment. This would provide you with more functionality in creating high quality photo shoots with a wide range of use.
  • Review Mode and Review Features – You also have to decide on the size of the LCD panel of your dSLR. You need to assess the functionality that you will require for an on-spot review and assessment of shots. If you require detailed assessment of shots, then you have to consider larger LCD panel with brighter and sharper images.
  • Shutter Speed Range – This is another feature that you have to assess especially when you are into the more advanced photography. This has direct bearing on the kind of lenses and the ISO settings that you want in your dSLR.

About The Author

Neil Austin likes to write on topic of digital wedding photography. His focus is mainly on providing tips and articles for beginner photographers who are just entering into this amazing field of digital weddings. You can read more of his work and articles at digital wedding guide.

Book Review: Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide

Typically, the manual that comes with your new camera is less than satisfactory. Sure they tell you how to push all the buttons, but that’s about it. Third party camera manuals or field guides can be a great resource for specific camera model owners.

Tom Bonner recently published a Digital Field Guide for the Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350. Since the two cameras are nearly identical, Tom wrapped up both cameras in a single book. Myself being a Sony Alpha user, Tom thought I might like to check it out.

The book is a combination of extended camera manual, general photography guide, and hands-on assignments. The flow is very logical and easy to follow. This is one book that A300/A350 owners will certainly benefit from.

The Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide (ISBN 978-0470386279) can be purchased directly from Wiley or through Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide, by Tom Bonner, is 272 pages with a soft cover. The book is small enough to fit in your camera bag, but large enough to fit in your hands. It’s broken up into three parts and seven chapters, plus two very handy appendices.

Part 1 focuses on the two cameras and their various controls and menus. The A300 and A350 are so similar in construction that Tom covers both cameras simultaneously while pointing out the differences. This section of the book by itself could potentially replace the user manual that comes with the camera.

Part 2 starts with the basics of photography, including camera control, exposure, and composition. Then it goes into the specifics of lenses and other accessories, including various types of lenses available for the Alpha cameras. This section ends with a chapter on lighting — theory, application, and equipment.

Part 3 is more general in nature, covering subjects, types of photography, and digital workflow. Though this section is applicable to any camera, Tom constantly gives specific examples and tips for the Alpha photographer. I liked this section the best because it gives a lot of great examples and the content is structured in an academic manner with miniature assignments designed to explore and learn the A300 and A350.

The appendices are a good resource for Sony shooters. The first appendix is a listing of businesses and websites dedicated to Sony cameras. The second appendix is a troubleshooting guide specific to these cameras.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Bonner is a 30-year Minolta/Sony camera enthusiast and photographer (my kind of guy!). He’s spent many years as a freelance photographer and writer. Some of his photographic experience includes automotive and motorsports subjects.

I’ve been following Tom for many months because of his blog, Alphatracks — a website dedicated to the fledgling Sony Alpha DSLR line. Being a Sony/Minolta user myself, the subject of his blog caught my attention. But Tom’s ability to write and teach is what keeps me going back for more.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a great resource book for the Sony A300 and A350 photographer. It covers just about everything you can find in your user manual, plus a whole lot of practical stuff. New users will benefit the most from this book, as the assignments in Part 3 will familiarize them with the camera in-use.

For those who aren’t A300/A350 users, it’s probably not a book you’d buy. The entire book is sprinkled with Alpha details and it would be frustrating trying to translate the features and functions. But, I’m sure that Tom wasn’t targeting Canon or Nikon photographers when he wrote it.

But regardless of which brand you use, I’d still go check out Tom’s blog. A lot of the stuff he publishes isn’t completely specific to Sony or Minolta.

The Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide (ISBN 978-0470386279) can be purchased directly from Wiley or through Amazon.com.

Sony Steps It Up With the A900

Sony DSLR-A900

Big news today for all the Minolta/Sony fans in the crowd. They’ve announced their “Flagship” dSLR model, the A900. Similar in appearance to their semi-pro model, the A700, the A900 sports some fancy upgrades. The big hype has been around the 24MP full frame sensor, but the new model also has dual processors, improvements on the viewfinder, autofocus, user controls, and some shiny new lenses to go with that full-frame sensor.

Geared to compete with Canon’s 5D and Nikon’s D700, the price is also set in the same arena at $3000 for the camera body. I’m a Sony user, but I won’t personally be upgrading from the A700 to the A900 anytime soon. If I were a professional who relied on my equipment to make a living, I certainly would.

What do you guys think of this new camera from Sony? What did they get right? What did they miss?

SONY UNVEILS FIRST FULL-FRAME ALPHA DSLR MODEL
NEW PREMIUM LENSES SUPPORT FULL-FRAME ALPHA DSLR CAMERA

Preview at Digital Photography Review
Preview at Photography Bay
Preview at Imaging Resource
Preview at CNET

Link Roundup 07-19-2008

Links from around the web…

So Many Cameras – So Little Time

Cameras, Cameras, everywhere. Sometimes I feel like we get so caught up in “the now” with the digital age and the boom of the dSLR, that many of us probably forget about all the other cameras out there. I’ve been doing a lot of wandering around on eBay lately (which has already caused me to buy four new cameras) and it’s quite apparent that there are a ton of cameras out there that don’t fall into the dSLR classification.

So this is just kind of a fun little post that takes a look at each of the main types of cameras still in use today. Enjoy!

SINGLE LENS REFLEX

The SLR camera is a fairly common sight these days, with digital versions covering every price range from affordable to outrageous. These cameras derive their name from how they’re made and how they work. Single Lens indicates that the camera uses one lens for viewing and recording photos. A series of mirrors and/or prisms direct the light from the camera lens to the viewfinder. The first mirror in the set is called the Reflex mirror, which sits in front of the recording media (film or sensor) and flips up when the shutter is released. Single Lens Reflex cameras typically have removable lenses and offer an array of features and controls — But this doesn’t always have to be the case. SLRs can be found in digital and analog (film) versions.

TWIN LENS REFLEX

TLR cameras are mainly a thing of the past, especially with the introduction of the SLR. These cameras have a distinct look due to their Twin Lens system. One lens is used for viewing while the other is used for recording the image to the media. The image from the upper lens is reflected onto a viewing/focusing screen with the Reflex mirror. Twin Lens Reflex Cameras (despite their clunky and old fashioned appearance) actually hold several advantages over the SLR. Simpler construction, fewer moving parts, more responsive shutter mechanisms, and sturdy build are just a few things these cameras are known for. Of course, bulkiness, sometimes awkward operation, and the tendency to have fixed lenses are a few things that the standard SLR took care of. Oh yeah, and they’re film cameras (and usually medium format)… at least, I’ve never seen a true digital TLR.

POINT & SHOOT

The Point & Shoot, or compact camera, is another type of camera that has flourished in the digital age. These little packages are easy to carry around and equally easy to operate. Though the features and controls are limited on many models, the intended use for this camera is not professional work. Most P&S cameras are autofocus and auto meter, allowing the user to focus on the subject. Point & Shoot cameras can be found in both film and digital versions. Most of the old film versions are of the viewfinder type, while many digital compact cameras don’t even have a viewfinder (instead they rely on their LCD screen).

RANGEFINDER

While the rangefinder camera has similar characteristics to both SLR cameras and compact cameras, it’s a different beast altogether. These cameras derive their name from the mechanism found in the viewfinder: the rangefinder. A rangefinder is a tool that allows you to judge distance and focus without actually looking through the lens. The major benefit of these cameras lies in their simplicity. They’re small, lightweight, and they contain fewer moving parts than the SLR. UPDATE: As Janne pointed out in the comments, this isn’t entirely true. The actual rangefinder mechanism is much more complex than an SLR camera. Thanks Janne! Rangefinders are famous for street photography, and you’ll find that many famous street photographers use (or did use) rangefinders. These cameras can be found in both film and digital versions, but watch out for those price tags! Some of these cameras (even the film cameras) cost more than professional level digital SLRs — but there are plenty of cheaper options out there… Just don’t start daydreaming about a Leica.

VIEWFINDER

Viewfinder cameras are very similar to rangefinder cameras, but they’re missing one important element: the actual rangefinder mechanism. The viewfinder on these cameras only presents the photographer with a view of the approximate framing in order to allow for composition. Focusing is either something you guess at, or something that doesn’t happen (fixed focus). Light metering is typically non existent also, but I have seen some cameras with meters external to the viewfinder, and others with a meter that attaches to the camera. These cameras are incredibly simple, and one of the most well known viewfinders is the Holga, but there are plenty of other cameras out there that are made of metal. Viewfinders can be found in both film and digital versions, but film is more common than digital. The reason being, is that any viewfinder with an autofocus mechanism is actually considered to be a point & shoot.

BOX CAMERA

Box cameras are old, and you see even fewer of them than TLRs. The camera gets its name from the fact that it’s actually a box with a lens. The lens is typically a miniscus lens with just a single element. They’re usually fixed focus, fixed lens, non-metered, fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed, fixed everything. Like I said, it’s a simple camera — it’s basically a souped up pinhole camera. These old film cameras could be fun to toy around with, but don’t expect to shoot a professional gig with one. The most famous of these cameras is the Kodak Brownie.

FOLDING CAMERA

Another blast from the past is the folding camera. These cameras look like something of a cross between the view camera and a rangefinder. The camera actually folds up since it uses a bellows to extend the lens, and everything folds into a nice rugged little case. A majority of these cameras use medium format film, but there are a few 35mm versions out there. These cameras were popular during the early 1900′s, and were probably phased out due to the introduction of high quality viewfinders and rangefinders.

SUBMINIATURE

Subminiature cameras are somewhat of a gray area, but basically anything that creates images smaller than the standard 135 format (24mm x 36mm) could be considered subminiature. These cameras take film formats such as Minox, 16mm, Super 16, 110 format, and a few others. While the cameras are still floating around out there, the films are getting harder to find (as I just found out since I bought a 110 format camera).

VIEW CAMERA

The granddaddy of all cameras… the view camera. While not the oldest type of camera, it is one of the oldest types that’s still used today. A bellows separates the lens and the film plane, and the distance and angles between the two can be adjusted. Large format cameras use the view camera setup, and many modern versions are still used today for professional needs. If you think digital photography is an expensive hobby, just do some research on these puppies and the film that goes inside them.

PINHOLE

OK, so this really is the simplest of all cameras. The pinhole camera can be nothing more than a bunch of folded up cardboard and a piece of film. No lens, no shutter, no aperture, no need to focus, no nothing. This is something I’d like to try out eventually, but I get the impression that it’s a hobby for the patient soul (ie, don’t expect to go shoot some action photography with one of these). Although native to film, pinholes have made their way into the digital realm with things such as pinhole lens caps. And if you insist that your images must be tack sharp, don’t even think about trying pinhole.

AND MORE

I’m sure there are lots of odd little cameras out there from past and present — we’ve really just covered the basic cameras still in use today. I’d encourage you all to try out different types of cameras if given the chance. Heck, maybe even buy some of your own. But no matter what kind of camera you’re using, just remember that you’re still a photographer and you’re still creating a photo — the camera is just a tool.

Link Roundup 05-10-2008

  • 15 Fun Fabulous Fisheye Photos
    digital Photography School
    If you’ve ever been interested in fisheye photography, check out this article packed with great examples and explanations by Neil Creek.
  • 11 Things To Do With Your Cameraphone While You Wait
    Beyond Phototips
    We have our cameraphones with us more than our real cameras, so why not use them to explore the world around us and shoot it up?
  • DSLR Viewfinder Size / Coverage Comparison
    Photolectic
    Here’s a neat little chart that shows crop factors, coverage areas, magnification, and effective sizes for the viewfinders on just about all dSLRs.
  • 5 ways to deal with negative photo-critiques
    Photocritic
    Dealing with criticism is a difficult thing to do as a photographer — we have a strong connection with those photos. But critiques will happen, so here are five ways to deal with them.
  • 13 of the best flickr silhouette pictures
    All Day I Dream About Photography
    A very nice collection of silhouette photos from the creative minds at Flickr.
  • How to frak your next digital camera purchase
    1001 Noisy Cameras
    Wanna screw up your next camera purchase? Here are some tips to help you accomplish that.
  • Do you know what Hyperfocal Distance is?
    PhotoWalkPro
    Do you like to photograph landscapes? Do you know what hyperfocal distance refers to? Check out this great technical explanation, complete with some fun charts.
  • 70 Free Photoshop Actions
    Reyns Wim Photography
    Wow, a very nicely done package of Photoshop actions. The download page also has a preview functionality so you can see what all the actions do. Most of them are for “normal” editing techniques, but there are a few “artistic” ones in there too.
  • Color Junkies
    The Online Photographer
    “The Online Photographer” takes a stance against color photos. Somewhat humorous, but he makse some very good points for b&w and how to evaluate if a color photo is really worth pursuing in color.
  • If You Put That Picture On The Internet I’ll Call My Lawyer
    Jeremy Brooks
    Jeremy Brooks runs into a crazy guy on the street and writes about his confrontation. Here’s a good example of when to stand up for your rights against people who think they can bully photographers.
  • And here’s a neat photojournalism video/slideshow from Richard Wong.

Carry a Tabletop Tripod Just In Case

Sometimes it’s not convenient to carry a tripod with you — especially the big bulky sturdy pieces of equipment that some of us like to use. But not every occasion requires a heavy duty tripod, and something much smaller will suffice.

A while back, I picked up one of these tabletop tripods (well… my Mom got me the Sunpak Mini-PRO Plus for Christmas). It’s really nice to have since I rarely want to carry my Slik Pro 700DX equipped with the Slik AF2100 Pistol Grip Ballhead because it looks like a rocket launcher and weighs as much as a tank. My tabletop tripod, however, fits in a lens compartment in my camera bag and I can use it in a pinch. Of course, if I want to do some serious landscape or sunset work I’ll break out the big guns.

Most tripods in this category are about the same size and price — approximately 7 inches folded down, about 12″ fully extended, as big around as a typical lens, and under $30. One thing to look out for when researching one of these tripods: make sure it can hold the weight of your camera — some are intended for compact cameras while others are capable of supporting a dSLR.

So if you’ve ever found yourself without a tripod in a time of need, check out some of these tabletop versions shown here (especially the one at the top of the post… it’s new and it looks awesome for dSLR users).

Shoot Like You’re Using Film

Digital cameras are great: you can take a bunch of shots, view them as you go, and even delete the bad ones (though it’s not advised). But does this make us less attentive to what we’re really doing? With film, you have a set number of exposures you can take — no previews, no do-overs. Obviously, you can carry more than one roll of film, but then it becomes a matter of expense and your ability to carry the film with you.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to shoot film for my first time. We had a little family get-together and my cousin brought her film camera so I could try it out. The camera itself wasn’t much different from a typical dSLR, it’s just missing the big LCD on the back. It was actually a Minolta Maxxum SLR, so the camera was very comfortable to me. I had a good time shooting with it, but I have no idea how I did until we get the film processed.

From the moment I had the camera in my hand, my mindset was completely different than usual. All of the sudden I was limited on my shots and I really began to evaluate what I was doing with the camera. I took extra time to find the right composition, and from the right angle. I gave special attention to making sure the camera settings were just right to give the correct exposure and DOF. I also wasn’t taking multiple shots of the same thing with slightly different settings — no room on the film to do that.

So here’s my suggestion: whether you’ve shot film before or not, set some time aside to “pretend” you’re shooting with film (not all the time, just as an exercise). Limit your number of shots to 36, no previews, no erasing images. Go out somewhere with your digital camera and take your 36 shots before heading back to see what you get. You might just be amazed at what you can teach yourself while you’re out shooting — plus you’ll probably be very pleased with how many good shots you can get when you force that limitation.