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Celebrating the art, process, and gear of the film photography community!

18 Jun '15

Keep 35 Alive Embroidered Patch Now In Stock

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, film, Patches

Check it out! Shipping to every corner of planet Earth, and just in time for summer, let's help keep 35 alive with this custom embroidered patch!

These make a great addition to your  camera bag, jacket, or hat. They have an iron-on heat seal backing.

Get one for yourself or get one as a gift for the film photographer you love!

14 Jun '15

Gear Review: Konica C35 AF2 35mm Autofocus Film Camera

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, Cameras, gear, Gear Reviews, konica, reviews

The Konica C35 AF2 is the successor to the original C35 AF, history's first production autofocus camera. It uses the "Visitronic" passive autofocus system invented by Honeywell, which detects contrast inside the autofocus frame to achieve optimum focus--to put it simply. There's a lot of other science-y talk about it all over the internet so you can find that stuff elsewhere if you're interested.

The main difference between the original AF and the AF2 are said to be only cosmetic, and in use that seems to be largely true. The lens is a 38mm f/2.8, with a programed leaf shutter using three speeds: 1/60, 1/125, and 1/250. Exposure is fully automatic, and ISO sensitivities range from ISO 25 to 400. ISO speeds are set by turning a ring on the front assembly of the lens, and the set ISO speed will show in a small window at the bottom of the lens. The nice thing about being able to set ISO manually is that you can manually rate films differently from their DX codings.

Other more modern cameras will rate film automatically based on their DX codes--the silver/black patterns on the film cassettes. This can be useful if you're shooting with expired film, as I did in this test. I shot a roll of Kodak Max 400 expired in 2004--11 years beyond it's expiration date. The general rule is to overexpose one extra stop over the film's box speed to compensate for loss of sensitivity for every 10 years past its expiration date. So even though the film is rated at 400, I manually rated it at 200, and the results came out great. The negatives are a bit more grainy than fresh film, but this is to be expected with expired film.

The viewfinder has brightlines, and features an underexposure warning light (a red light visible in the upper right hand corner of the frame), parallax correction lines to correct for subjects that are closer than 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) It has a flash that is activated by a switch that pops up the the flash unit. Turning off the flash is as easy as popping the flash back down into place. The Guide Number of the flash is 14.

For some reason there is a warning inside the battery compartment warning against use of rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries, although when I tested the camera, I used rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries which seemed to work fine. I guess use Alkalines to be safe, and Alkalines will recycle the flash faster anyway. There is a self timer. It's about 14 seconds long. Not much more to say about that. So the exposure is automatic, the focus is automatic, and the two things keeping this from being a fully automated camera are the manually-set ISO speeds (discussed above) and the film advance and rewind mechanisms. The film is advanced by the classic lever that sits in the top corner of the camera that you ratchet with you right hand thumb. I personally love the tactile feel of manually advancing film. The lever is metal and feels sturdy, not like it's going to snap off when you ratchet it. The film chamber door is opened by a switch on the door with an indicator arrow of the direction to push the switch--simple.

Cosmetically unique in this camera is the film rewind lever--it doesn't have the protruding "wheel" dial as seen on many cameras with a manual rewind--the lever is recessed into the body and flips out to be turned when you're finished with the roll. It makes the top profile of the camera look fairly sleek, as far as late 70's design goes. The flash exposure works quite well, and I shot a few flash pictures that exposed nicely. Despite being new technology in it's day, the autofocus works quickly and accurately.

My one main nitpick about the camera is that there is no focus lock feature--you can't grab focus on something then recompose the frame. Focus will always been on what is inside the center autofocus frame. I show a picture in the test gallery that shows the background is in critical focus--but my daughter in the foreground, who is not centered in the frame, is slightly out of focus. It was daylight and the camera used a fairly small aperture, so most of the shot was in fair focus, but you can still tell where the camera chose to focus right in the center of the frame. The camera I found came with a full leatherette fitted two-piece case and was in great condition, overall a very nice thrift store find. It's fun to use and for folks interested in the history of what is, these days, technology that we take for granted like autofocus, it's a nice piece to have in the collection.

07 Jun '15

In The Frame: Laidric Stevenson

Posted by Mike Padua in Books, Film, In The Frame, Interviews, Photography

Print your pictures. That's the thing that is missing in a lot of photographer's workflows: the final print. In an analog process like film photography, a finished print is the thing that can keep the "tangibility" of shooting with film a tangible, living thing.

Especially important is collecting your work in cohesive volumes and collections, such as books. Today, we're talking to another film shooter who has created two books, with more on the way. Volume 1 is  a book with images created across the country using only a Holga, and I Spent a Sunday in Miami was a project born out of spontaneity where the photographer hopped on a plane to Miami specifically to create the book, using medium format film. Let's get to talking to Laidric:

1) Tell us a bit about yourself, and what type of subjects you typically like to shoot the most. Hello, I'm Laidric Stevenson, residing in the city of Dallas, located in the Great State of Texas!  Not a native however, just got down here as quickly as I could!   I'm what happened to that high school newspaper / yearbook photogeek that you would see at basketball and football games, roaming the halls with a camera, or flashing you in the face during prom...  I guess you can say that my formal training was photojournalism?  Although, I never worked for a daily paper or weekly magazine, I still approach subjects with that sort of mindset.  Get the wide establishing shot, then move in to the details to tell the story.  I don't know if there's a subject that I like to shoot the most, my photos are my reactions to situations and objects that I come across in the wild.  I will say that I am drawn alot to text and image, especially when the meaning can change when you take it out of the context of being an advertisment, or whatever the original intent was.

2) You have two books that are in print: Tell us about what inspired you to take those particular series of photos and put them in printed volumes. Volume 1 is a collection of images from my America Untitled series, which grew originally out of having to use a Holga camera for an assignment in my Intermediate Photo class back in 2005.  I was a rigid purist up to that point, black and white film only, manual focus, manual exposure, etc.  Using this camera that had gave me little to no control, that allowed me to shoot in a free-flowing stream of consciousness, and gave these dreamy, hazy, and techincally poor images, was a rebirth for me photographically.  I started shooting any and everything I came across.  As I started going through the negatives, certain themes kept reappearing; class & income inequality, patriotism, religion.  After I had to leave school that year due to other obligations, I set everything aside for a few years.  After my wife and I purchased our first home in 2011, I started shooting again, as well as travelling for the first time to photograph; New Orleans, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Antonio.  I picked areas / cities at random, there really wasn't any rhyme or reason to it.  I knew that the photos would eventualy end up in a book format, because I felt that the overall statement that I was making came from the images playing off of each other.  The book is called Vol 1, because the intent was to release the series in a serial format, every couple of years make a book, and get it out into the world. I Spent a Sunday in Miami was actually the first book that I made, and I made it because I was inspired by all of the small photobooks / zines that I had been buying off of other photographers.  I would just see someone's book on Instagram, or come across someone's tumblr and I would just buy it.  After a while, I thought "I should be doing one of these", but I didn't know what to do one on.  While on Facebook one night, I came across something about Urban Beach Weekend on South Beach (I think from a friend of a friend liking something and it showing up on my news feed), and I instantly thought, "I'm going to Miami for that".  I jumped on a plane, and spent the Sunday before Memorial Day walking up and down Collins St and Ocean St on South Beach.  I shot 6 rolls of 6x7 image on 220 film, which is 120 photographs, then I came home scanned and edited, put the book together and sent it to a few friends.

3) It seems that you seem quite comfortable with interacting people and taking photos of them quite closely. How do you interact with these people? I wouldn't say that I'm comfortable interacting with people, I'm actually a shy person by nature (as alot of photographers are), I'm also a bit introverted and I tend to disappear into crowds of people, which makes for some good street shootin' (no g, it sounds dirtier that way...).  I don't consider myself to be a street photographer by any definition, but I think that I do have those traits that allow me to blend into the environment.  I think it also helps when you photograph in places where people are naturally comfortable and unaware in their surroundings.  For example, in Miami, there were so many people with video cameras (trying to videotape the girls in bikinis) and photographers (searching for "models"), that people weren't apprehensive, like "What's that guy doing with that camera, what are you taking pictures for?!" The only opposition was the photo in the book with the woman that has a snake draped on her shoulders, and there's another woman with her hand up in a "No Pictures" gesture towards me.  She actually said 'no pictures', but I had already made the shot, so what are you going to do?  That was actually one of my favorite photos from that trip, and I actually walked past them at first! I don't generally interact with people when I'm out shooting, unless they are the ones initiating the interaction, these are generally the "What are you taking pictures for?" people.  Which I get, to a point.  The public at large generally views the usage of photography as a tool of record; recording some event like a graduation or wedding or a concert.  Even as photography is viewed these days as a major tool of communication, it's mostly "We were here, look at this".  It's just replacing or accompanying words / text that would normally be used, a visual shorthand as I've heard it referred to.  And it's difficult for them to understand why someone would making photographs that aren't going to be used in that fashion, or maybe they think that there's some more ominous intentions at work.  Which of course with the way that photos are taken and spread these days (like in internet memes), or how corporations will take and use images without permission without a second thought, I get that as well. After we get past the "What are you taking pictures for?", if we do get past that that is, as some people are just opposed to cameras and photography in public.  I've been meaning to start carrying around some materials, not for marketing purposes, just a 'this is me, who I am, what I do'.  I've been looking at a couple of print on demand companies that offer small (3.5 x 2.5) inch books, something to fit in a coat or pants pocket.  A conversation difuser / starter so to say.

Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved. Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved.

4) What inspired you to use film for these projects? I only have one digital camera currently, a Fuji Xpro-1, and I mostly use that for family snapshots and such, when I'm out to do what I consider my serious work, I'm always grabbing a film camera.  I just have so many more options with my film cameras, do I want the grainess and portability of 35mm, or do I want the resolution and tonal richness of medium format?  Or do I want the holga?  And when I get my hands on a 4x5, that will give me another option.  I think personally for me, that's what keeps me using film, that choice in tools, choosing a different tool, changes my approach and mindset on making the work.  That and the whole process of film photography, editing raw files in Lightroom, I can't stand that for more than 15-20 seconds, it just bores me to no end...but I can sit there and spot a film scan for minutes on end.  I just seem to have more patience with film.

5) What kind of cameras/film did you use for these projects? The Volume 1 book was a combination of Tri-X / HP5 (which ever one I found cheaper or more available) with various Holga cameras. I Spent a Sunday in Miami is Fuji 160s and Portra 400 with a Mamiya 7 + 80mm

Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved. Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved.

6) What are you working on next? What new projects can we expect from you? Right now, I'm juggling being a new father (with a soon to be 6 month old) with a bunch of scattershot ideas.  I've actually changed to carrying all small compact 35mm cameras, Olympus XA, Stylus Epic, Nikon Lite Touch, etc and that is strongly influencing my current approach to making new work.  One of my biggest photographic influences / favorite photographers is Lee Friedlander, and I've found myself making images inspired by his America by Car series, it's only a few months old at this point, and I'm not sure where I'm going to go with it at this point, but I've gotten to a stage in my photography where if I have an idea and I feel strongly enough to work on it, I want it to naturally run it's course to where I can feel like "Okay, that's done" I started a series about Miami that's on hold.  Not just Miami, Florida, there are 11 states that have a city named Miami (maybe not pronounced the same, but spelled the same); Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia.  I want to do a compare / contrast of the differences (and similarities) of these places with the same name but spread out throughout the country.  Due to the amount of travel that something of this scope pertains, it will take me some time before I feel I have enough work to show. I keep coming back to America as a theme and subject, so I have another series called GBA or God Bless America (that's a working title), this project I feel is an extension of America Untitled, but taking me down what I feel is a different pathway. Then of course, I just have random images that don't really fit any particular project or theme, I just see something, and I shoot it. And of course, more books on the horizon!

*******

Please make sure to check out more of Laidric's work, and buy his books at the links below:

Website: http://laidricstevenson.format.com

Buy the books: http://www.magcloud.com/user/stevensow

Instagram: https://instagram.com/18percentphotographer/

Tumblr (shared project): http://meetingnewpeoplezine.tumblr.com/

30 May '15

Gear Review: Yashica FX-3 35mm Film SLR

Posted by Mike Padua in Cameras, gear, Gear Reviews, reviews, yashica

The Yashica FX-3 35mm Film SLR is the first film SLR I've ever owned. I've had a bunch of point and shoots before and since, but this model was the first all-manual, all mechanical film SLR that has ever come into my posession, and it was very special because it was given to me by my sister, who used it in her photography classes in high school in the 1980s.

I had been shooting digitally for many years, shooting exclusively digital since getting my first digital point and shoot in 2002, graduating to a Digital SLR in 2004, and never looking back. Knowing that I was doing photography and spending more time on it, and even making some money at it, she decided to give me her old Yashica.

Though with digital, I knew how to expose a frame completely manually and had been doing so for years, the Yashica felt somewhat alien to me in it's all-manual workings, but at the same time I felt connected to a heritage and history of photography, to a time and craft that came many years before. I was instantly drawn to it and intrigued by it, and after fiddling with the knobs and levers for only a few minutes, I had a solid understanding of how it worked--which was not difficult, because this is a dead simple camera model that was sold and marketed to students!

The body is quite a common model seen in the 80s, as it was actually designed and manufactured by Cosina, and branded and marketed by Yashica, using the Zeiss-designed Contax-Yashica Mount, also know as the "C/Y" mount. The Yashica FX-3 is essentially the least expensive way one can get into using the highly desirable Zeiss T* optics that were created in the C/Y mount, although Yashica and many other third-party manufacturers created lenses in this mount as well. Other companies such as Vivitar also marketed the same body manufactured by Cosina in other mounts, such as the Pentax PK mount, as a way to attract beginners, students, and photographers on a budget into the camera market as a less expensive alternative than buying the "bigger" manufacturer's bodies.

The FX-3 is known to be very durable and dependable camera, owing a lot of that to it's dead-simple, all mechanical design. While it has a light meter that requires batteries to operate, the camera can still expose a frame without batteries, since the shutter is mechanical and requires no power source to fire. It has a metal chassis with a plastic top, and while it feels nice and solid, and fairly heavy, it is quite small and I certainly wouldn't have too much confidence in it holding together if I were to drop it, especially onto its plastic top portion.

Yashica FX-3 - Top

Yashica FX-3 - Top

The film advance lever is plastic and does feel like given enough force, it might snap off, but I've used mine plenty with no issues. Making the top and advance lever metal certainly would have added to the cost of this model, so it's only natural that some corners are cut in construction to keep it as a budget model, but I've never had any real issues with those things in practical use when shooting with this camera.

The camera does have some widely known weak points. The leatherette covering was known to flake off after some years; when my sister gave me this camera in 2010 the leatherette covering could be brushed right off, leaving behind some gooey adhesive that has broken down over the years. It's best that this stuff get removed and replaced. I bought a great, easy-to-apply kit from Aki Asahi. Also, like virtually any camera of this age or older, the light seals got gummy and and left an oily, black residue that is potentially damaging to the internal chamber of the camera were it to fall off and get in the shutter curtain--not to mention possible light leaks with poor seals.

It's advisable to replace the light seals right away, either by doing it yourself (here's a great guide to do that) or by having a camera repair shop could do it. It can be a laborious task but can be considerable savings over having a repair shop do it; at the time, I didn't have the confidence to replace the seals myself, so I had a repair shop do it at a cost of $60. Doing it yourself can cost you an hour or two of your time (most of that time spent removing the old light seals) and about $9 to $12 for a replacement kit from Ebay.

My final nitpick would be that the meter is a + or - LED readout in the viewfinder, not the more helpful match needle type found in other manual SLRs.

The Yashica FX-3 is a spectacular camera considering it's budget/student model origins and a fun, simple camera to use. The fact that it fires completely mechanically without the need for a battery, and the fact that it has a built in light meter makes it a great all-around package for someone looking for something cheap and reliable. Any FX-3 you buy on Ebay or wherever will very likely need a little bit of TLC in the way of a replacement covering and light seals, but once you take care of those using better materials than originally used in manufacturing, you'll likely never need to do it again. Because the shutter is a metal-bladed curtain, it is a little loud and can introduce some camera shake a lower shutter speeds. It doesn't have mirror lock-up but again, that's not what this camera is for. Oh, and it's small. It's not Olympus OM-system small, but it's tiny compared to the Canons, Nikons, and Minoltas of the same era. Many of these can be found with it's commonly paired "kit" lens, the 50mm f/2, and while it's doesn't have the sexy-fast f/1.4 aperture, it's still plenty fast and very sharp, even wide open.

Find one, shoot one, you won't regret it--and keep it around to pass on to your kids.

21 May '15

Now shipping worldwide!

Posted by Mike Padua in Film, Patches, shipping, Stickers
Big news for everybody across the globe who has been asking: I'm now shipping everywhere in the world! So those of you that ask if i ship internationally--the answer is YES! I also have some big announcements coming up in the next week (cough...new designs...cough), and more gear reviews and SO many interviews with film shooters lined up. Check out the catalog and grab your wares!