A tale of two images: film vs digital

So here it is, a tale of two images: film vs. digital. Well not really, but it is a representation of two images, same scene, very similar composition, same lens and two very different mediums. 35mm film vs. 35mm digital, both shot with a canon back (5dmkii and 7ne) and the canon 24-105L. Obviously the film image was digitized for representation here but the characteristic of the film vs. digital is very apparent. Film choice was expired Kodak Pro Image 100, not my film of choice but what was loaded and I tend to like it for the most part though Portra and Ektar are much better choices. This isn’t a “film is better” or “digital is better” post but rather to show the differences in visual representation of a natural scene in color (c41 film vs. digital). No medium is best, IMHO, because neither “sees” the way our eyes do. It is all a representation. It is not about detail, sharpness, saturation, contrast, etc, etc, but rather all of those together and none of those. It is how pleasing the image is to YOU, how pleasing it is to ME, the experience of taking the image, vision of the artist/photographer, and preference. So first I will start of with the digital image.

Kabetogama Lake at sunset, July 2019, Voyageurs NP

So I was really pleased with the above image. This was a very intentional shot as I knew based on cloud coverage the sunset would be very nice. I had shot from this location earlier in the week, trying out numerous compositions and really liked this. I wanted the image to represent the grandeur that I experienced, accurately represent (to the best of my ability) what I saw, and I also wanted an image that would appeal to the most people which in today’s world apparently is a hyper saturated image. Luckily the natural scene was hyper saturated. But wait a second! This isn’t a single image but 3 combined. The range of EV was too much for my sensor to read as digital sensors are linear. Even the newest sensors could not put out the above image without extensive post processing on a single image. I knew this and planned for this. I bracketed my images, stacked them in post and went to work on both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for finishing. The result was what I wanted but the experience was not as enjoyable to me as I knew I would have to spend time with digital manipulation to achieve final result. This was a very deliberate capture and presentation. Now on to image #2.

Lake Kabetogama, July 2019, Voyageurs NP captured on Kodak Pro Image 100, 35mm film.

At first glance, the image lacks shadow detail, not quite as saturated nor as detailed. However, I keep going back to this image. I am not sure why. Maybe because it is not real but a representation. Maybe because I grew up with film images, maybe because it is as real as a memory (not exact), maybe because the image seems more mysterious, maybe…..I am not sure why. Any who, the experience was completely different. Exposure was guessed by overexposing 2 stops. Color film negatives roll off the highlights so I was fairly certain my highlights would be fine. Not possible with digital. I handheld this and used the lens stabilization to my benefit. It was a grab shot. I didn’t know what I had until I processed and scanned this. And then that was about it, just some light touch ups in Lightroom. This is it.

So which do I prefer. Well, I like both for different reasons but for myself, I prefer the film capture. This is personal preference and one of the reasons I shoot so much film. I would love to hear your preference though so chime in on the comments if you care to.

Ilford’s Delta 400

So I have been at a loss as of what to write on this blog for quite sometime, spending my time elsewhere on other projects as well blogging on another site which has little to no similarities to this blog. For the time being, I am going to try to keep this photo related but who knows, I may change that down the road and add differing content.

Recently, I picked up a couple rolls of Ilford’s Delta 400. This is a film I shot relatively little of and none in at least 5 years. In fact, I have shot very little T or Delta grain film in 400 speed, usually reserving that for Delta 100 or to a lesser degree, TMX/Tmax 100. In 400 speed black and white, I have always liked the traditional grained films with a lot of HP5+, TriX and Kentmere 400. I love the smoothness of TriX and the bite (if that makes any sense) of Hp5+. Kentmere is a fine budget film.

I have a couple rolls of Kodak TMY2 sitting around and I figured I would compare it to Ilford’s Delta 400 to see how I liked it. I have a bulk roll of TriX waiting to get used but after that, I was contemplating moving towards either Delta 400 or TMY2. So this led me to pick up a couple rolls of Delta 400 to compare with TMY2. I have yet to shoot Kodak’s t-grain 400 speed film recently (in the past) but plan on using those 2 rolls on next week’s National Park trip. I recently developed the delta 400 in my soup of choice, d76, and was pleasantly surprised. So much so I decided to write about it and post some images.

Initially, my impression is that the film has great range and tones. Very desirable and easily can be a substitute for traditional 100 speed film in 35mm format regarding grain size when needing a faster film. I have always found TriX grain very minimal, but the resolution suffers compared to 100 speed film. Ilfords Delta 400 seems comparable to any of the traditional grain 100 speed films, albeit with less contrast making it a better choice in contrasty natural light.

Camera and lenses on these two rolls are as follows: roll 1 was shot on a Minolta srt 102 with a rokkor 50/1.7 with and without an orange filter. Roll 2 was shot through a Nikon n90s with either a nikon 20/2.8 w/ orange filter and a nikon 28-80 zoom with yellow filter. I will post some results, first 3 images with the first roll and 2nd group of images with the 2nd roll. You be the judge.

Roll 2

So I will let the images and your eyes be the judge. Next up, in a couple weeks, will be the TMY2 images. Stay tuned…

Film vs Digital – the truth

There is an ongoing debate at Rangefinders Forum that has been running for years titled Film vs Digital. There are countless “experts” (I am not one of them) claiming one way or the other as to which is better, film or digital. With the ever increasing sensor megapixel counts of the recent years, the debate of which has a higher resolution (digital?) would appear to have been put to bed. Appearances aren’t always everything.

I ran across an interesting thread on Photrio, the old APUG page. Instead of pontificators and pseudo experts, a real expert whom does scientific testing of films for major film manufactures chimed in. His name is Henning Serger. I found his posts original, credible and delightfully insightful. So I am doing something different, I am cutting and pasting his comments regarding film resolution (in 35mm no doubt!) to share with you here, to expand the audience as well as preserve his comments for future reference without having to sift through the entire thread. Understand, this is not me, this is Henning Serger’s comments, to be found at https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/rollei-rpx-25-grain-and-resolution.115244/

Dear Karl-Gustaf,

thanks for mentioning my test report about the Adox CHS 100 II and Rollei RPX in the edition III.2014 of “PhotoKlassik”.
And also thanks to all the others here for their positive comments about PhotoKlassik.

I’ve just discovered this thread incidentally. Due to lots of work my presence here is quite rare.

To answer the questions of the OP concerning resolution and grain of the RPX 25:
Well, as I am running a little test lab for lenses, film, developers, sensors I can give you test results of this film compared to all other films in this group of very fine grained, high resolution films.
Here we go:

First, some information about my test method: I am using several test patterns, and a resolution chart with an object contrast of 1:4 (two stops). That is an object contrast you can find in lots of details in your daily, normal photography.
With higher object contrast details you will get higher resolution values, and with lower object contrast you will get lower values.

Test camera is my F6, with MLU on, MC-30 cable release, 1/250s shutter speed, focus bracketing, Berlebach 3032 tripod.
Test lens: Zeiss Makro-Planar 2/50 ZF at f 5,6.
So the following resolution values give you the system resolution of the film and this lens in combination. With better lenses, you get higher values. And with worse lenses, you get lower values.
The first, lower value represent clearly separated linepairs per millimetre, the second, higher number is the resolution limit at which a contrast difference is still visible.
My standard test developer for the resolution tests is Spur HRX, because it gives very good sharpness combined with very fine grain, resulting in very good resolution.

Rollei Pan 25: 80 – 90 Lp/mm

Rollei RPX 25: 120 – 130 Lp/mm

Rollei Retro 80S; ISO 25/15°: 135 – 145 Lp/mm

Adox CHS 50: 90 – 100 Lp/mm

Ilford PAN F+: 110 – 130 Lp/mm

Adox CHS 100: 80 – 90 Lp/mm

Adox CHS 100 II : 100 – 110 Lp/mm

Adox Silvermax: 105 – 115 Lp/mm

Fomapan 100 : 75 – 90 Lp/mm

Ilford FP4+: 75 – 90 Lp/mm

Ilford Delta 100: 130 – 140 Lp/mm

Kodak Plus-X: 80 – 100 Lp/mm

Kodak T-Max 100: 135 – 150 Lp/mm

Fuji Acros 100: 115 – 130 Lp/mm

If you want even significantly higher resolution and better sharpness, grain, then go for:

Agfa Copex Rapid; ISO 25/15° – 32/16°; Spur Modular UR New developer: 165 – 180 Lp/mm

Adox CMS 20 II, Spur Modular UR New or Adotech II developer: 240 – 260 Lp/mm.

Grain:
Finest grain of all by a huge margin has Adox CMS 20 II.
Then Retro 80S follows.
A little bit behind the 80S on a similar level Rollei RPX 25, TMX, Acros, Pan F+, Agfa Copex Rapid are following. The differences between these 5 films are very small and not really field relevant. And the ranking can be a little bit different when different developers are used.
Then the discontinued Pan 25 and Delta 100 follow.
After that Adox Silvermax, which is the finest grained of the traditional ISO 100 films with classic cubic crystals.

And just for comparison:
Under identical test conditions, same test chart, same lens and aperture, the
Nikon D800 delivers 80 – 85 Lp/mm,
and the D800E delivers 90 – 95 Lp/mm.

And 
Provia 100F: 120 – 135 Lp/mm
Velvia 100: 125 – 140 Lp/mm
Ektar 100: 90 – 105 Lp/mm (Provia and Velvia also have a bit finer grain than Ektar).

I hope these test results are helpful for you.

Have a nice weekend,
best regards,
Henning

Further reading….

I think we have to be precise here: Sharpness (edge sharpness / contour sharpness) ist not a problem with modern digital cameras. With a bit PP you can get brutally sharp results. Personally I don’t like it, because it looks very unnatural. Our eyes work different, create a different sharpness character.
And film in its sharpness characteristics is much more similar to our eyes, it looks more natural.

What I have quantified in my tests is resolution, at a precisely defined object contrast (1:4). And at this object contrast lots of films have a significantly higher resolving power than a D800 and D800E.
At higher object contrasts the advantage of film is even higher. Zeiss for example did quite a lot of resolution tests with object contrasts in the 1:32 to 1:64 range.
They got:
160 Lp/mm with Velvia 50
170 Lp/mm with Velvia 100
180 Lp/mm with TMX
160 Lp/mm with Acros 100
200 Lp/mm with Agfa APX 25
250 Lp/mm with Agfa Ortho 25
400 Lp/mm with Spur Orthopan UR (Agfa HDP microfilm; almost identical to Adox CMS 20 II).

Digital sensors don’t benefit in resolution from such higher object contrast, because their resolution is limited by the Nyquist freqency. It’s impossible to get higher resolution as the Nyquist frequency.
But the D800 and 800E have a very good resolution at low object contrasts (in the 1:1,3 to 1:2 range). In this range they perform better than most films.

Therefore a lot depends on
– which detail is accurately in focus (only in the focus plane you have the full resolution)
– what object contrast have the detail(s) you have focussed on.
Indeed the resolution levels differ quite a lot from detail to detail just in one single shot, one subject.

Best regards,
Henning

Yes.
Concerning image detail, resolution and grain, scanning is the worst thing you can do with film.
You get much better results concerning these parameters with
– optical printing, especially with the excellent APO enlarging lenses
– slide projection with excellent projection lenses.

We’ve done lots of tests about this topic “imaging chain” during the last years.
We’ve tested the best amatuer scanners like the Nikon Coolscan 5000, and the best drumscanners like the Haselblad / Imacon X5 and the real drum scanner ICG 370 HS.
Result:
Even the best drum scanners cannot resolve all the details on the film. You have a significant loss.

But the good news is:
With optical enlarging with APO enlarging lenses and excellent projection lenses like the Leica Super-Colorplan, Zeiss P-Sonnar, Kindermann 2,4/90 MC-B (Docter-Optics), Rollei AV-Apogon 2,8/120, Schneider AV-Xenotar 2,8/150; the Braun Ultralit, Rollei AV-Apogon 90 etc.
you only have a minimal, not significant loss and you can resolve almost all details on film.
So you can transfer these details on the film
– onto paper
– onto the projection screen.

One example:
The 130 Lp/mm of Delta 100 in our test result in a 120 Lp/mm figure on paper, enlarged with the APO-Rodagon 2,8/50 N.
With the Coolscan 5000 it is only about half of that (55-60) at an object contrast of 1:4.

Similar with Provia 100F in projection: 120 Lp/mm on the projection screen, but only about 60 Lp/mm with the Coolscan 5000.

Another example: Adox CMS 20 II:
240 – 260 Lp/mm on the film in our test with the Makro-Planar at object contrast of 1:4.
Scanned with the drum scanners we’ve got only 130-140 Lp/mm of it.
But with classic optical enlargement with the APO-Rodagon more than 200 Lp/mm (!),
and in projection with the Super-Colorplan and the Kindermann MC-B 230 Lp/mm on the scren (!!).
230 Lp/mm: You would need a 183 MP sensor in your camera, and a digital projector with also 183 MP to get that digitally.
We will never see that in digital.
Slide projection delivers an absolutely unsurpassed performance in detail rendition with big enlargements.
It is the gold standard.

Our classic enlargement techniques, optical enlargement and projection, are still the best ways to completely exploit, completely use the full potential of film.

Best regards,
Henning

There was more exchanges during the thread and I invite you to fully read the full thread linked above. However, what I have copied and pasted from Henning’s posts are far more impressive than anything I have read to date about REAL film resolution. What we are seeing is that even traditional B&W films and color films have FAR more resolving power than anything digital is putting out. This is from the tiny 35mm format, no telling what medium format, 4×5 and 8×10 film potential is for resolution. We also see that your high resolving films, especially Adox cmsII, far out resolves anything ANY digital sensor at any size is currently or in the near future can come close to. This is astonishing! For so long, the experts have said “maybe” 6mp resolution from film, other saying the finest grain film “maybe” 20mp. Nope, try 200+megapixels.

However, this does not come easily. In fact, to get to almost these resolution numbers, one has to optically print or project the film. The problem is digitizing film. The problem has always been there. Now with the best scanners, drum or otherwise, one CAN get to higher resolutions that may match or even exceed 35mm digital, but just barely. So in essence, film in constricted to best results in the full analog process – printing or projecting. For those interested in film resolution with scanning involved, there was a popular post here, https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2014/12/36-megapixels-vs-6×7-velvia/

Film vs Digital – the truth…Time for me to get my darkroom running again and do some printing.

Immersed in the Moment

I had one of those creative days on Sunday. The day that was most needed. The day when I was completely in the moment, focused on seeing and being…being a part of the landscape, immersing myself in it. I knew before I developed the images I would be pleased. Sometimes, often times, these Zen moments do not happen. Other times, it is unavoidable.

I had one of those creative days on Sunday. The day that was most needed. The day when I was completely in the moment, focused on seeing and being…being a part of the landscape, immersing myself in it. I knew before I developed the images I would be pleased. Sometimes, often times, these Zen moments do not happen. Other times, it is unavoidable. Completely, effortlessly, immersed in the moment.  

There are differing ways I go about shooting, creating images.  Sometimes, I pre-see the image I want.  I visualize the end result before I even leave the house.  Prior planning is usually relentless, thought about the subject matter has been ongoing, and my shooting is very intentional.  I view this as work.  I am after the finished product.  It is a very rewarding experience at the conclusion however, it is not always fulfilling in the moment.  Often, I want enjoyment.  I want creative energy to flow. I want to leave work and home life behind.  I want to forget the stresses of tomorrow and yesterday.  I want to be in the moment, immersed in the moment.

Which leads me to my preferred method of shooting (there are others, I may go into details at a later time, a later post).  Sometimes, I gather my camera, a roll or two of black and white film, a prime lens and my tripod.  I don’t over-complicate it with gear.  I keep it very simple to limit the possibilities, which unleash the potential possibilities.  A paradox, yes, but one of countless in life.  You have to let go of options to fully appreciate the options available, creatively speaking.  I have a set place to go, but no set place to shoot.  I wander.  Very slowly, deliberately looking, seeing, immersing myself into the scene. I see, visualize the possibilities.  Focus on the limitations of the equipment I have and adapt it to the setting at hand.  I slow down and become aware.  And then it just happens.  The creative energy is flowing, I am energized with creativity and my most personally rewarding work is done.  This is when the beginnings of a new monograph begin.  The focus on projects not yet realized.  Potential is recognized.  I am part of my craft.

And then it is over, but not the anti-climax.  Lasting, still able to be in the moment but also to reflect upon this experience that has unfolded.  Knowing that what is captured on the film, waiting to be unleashed at a later time with development will be something memorable and very important personally for the experience that coincided with the image capturing.  My creative juices have been re-invigorated.  I am ready to begin earnest work.  I remember why I am a photographer.

These images are all from the same roll, camera and lens.  A Nikon FM2n, nikkor 20/2.8ais, Ilford FP4+ film developed in d76 1:1 and scanned on my Kodak Pakon F135+.  Only slight work in the digital darkroom (except one pano-merge and cropped from 2 images).  Just basic burning, sharpening, contrast.  Nothing that would not be done in a traditional dark room setting.

High Shoals Falls and what I have been up to

So, in a long delay from my last post, I will share a recent trip with my wife to High Shoals Falls and what I have been up to as of late.

I will start with what I have been up to. This fall has been busy and this winter, well, it has been dreary. This fall had Tammy (my wife) and myself making a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for week. This was fantastic, a true dream trip come true. I hope to post some images and thoughts on the parks in the not so distant future. In addition, I was printing heavily and matting these prints in preparation for an art gallery showing. This was a monograph of the South Cumberland State Park, a project I have been working on for 10 years of which finally came to fruition. I feel it was a success and I may post some media about it in the future as well. With all of that said and done, this winter has been dark and gloomy, especially the last month…non stop rain. January was frigid and I was able to get out and capture some frozen waterfalls. Lately, I have been taking advantage of the gloomy weather and shooting a lot of B&W. I have found my new high speed film/developer combo that I love, Kentmere 400 @ 800 in diafine. I have also been shooting a bunch of delta 100 and working on fp4+. Additionally, I have been focusing on a tublr blog of another monograph of the forgotten backroads of middle TN. Please check it out as I am adding content constantly. Abstaining From Forgetfullness . This is a project that is finally finding it’s voice and I am unleashing my 5-6 years of archives to this. I may talk about this in more depth in a day or so. Now on to my next paragraph.

High Shoals Falls…my wife sent my a link on FB about some waterfalls she wanted us to visit in north Georgia. Being that she has started a new job and works weekends, our trips together have been sorely neglected. However, she did ask off for a weekend and we went exploring. High Shoals Falls which is near Brasstown Bald (highest point in GA) is located in north GA. A lovely hike, not to long descended into a picturesque setting. I knew the sun would be in and out so I wanted a film that would give me great resolution but was not overly contrasty in nature. I chose Ilford FP4+ and I believe it was the right choice. Developed in d-76 1:1 and scanned on my Kodak Pakon f135+, the images I believe came out well. Enjoy!

High Shoals Falls 1

High Shoals Falls 2

Blue Hole
High Shoals Falls 3

and my wife, doing what she loves, being out in nature
High Shoals Falls 4

K&F Concept TM2324 Tripod Review

A few weeks back I received a K&F Concept TM2324 Tripod. This will be a review (initial followed up with a long term review at a later date) of this tripod as well as a comparison to my old standby, the Manfrotto 3205LC with Manfrotto 496RC2 ball head. The K&F Tripod was purchased from Amazon, here, Amazon and would be considered comparable to the Manfrotto.

I have had 2 weekends out shooting with this tripod, both weekends out with my canon AE-1 shooting black and white film. But first, I want to tell you why I am using this tripod now.

For years, I have wanted a lighter weight, more compact tripod. The logical solution would be a carbon fiber tripod. The problem is price. A quality carbon fiber tripod will run $3-500 easily. I am not about to pay that. Secondly, I do a lot of hiking to remote places off the beaten path and the Manfrotto 3205LC, though sturdy and rugged, is just damn heavy! My arm hurts carrying it. I don’t usually carry my backpack or camera bag with gear as I go minimalist. One camera, one lens, one tripod is how I roll. It’s the camera over the shoulder, fanny pack with water and food, tripod in hand. Sometimes I wanted to strap the tripod to my fanny pack (mountain smith cairn II, for those who want to know) but it is too big and heavy. The few lightweight tripods I have looked at were jokes, too flimsy and doubtful that it would hold a DSLR or even a film SLR steady. So I mustered on with the beast (manfrotto).

Well a friend and fellow photog turned me onto this tripod. It intrigued me. When I received it I was more intrigued, and impressed. First, It came in a nice carrying case (didn’t get one with the manfrotto which was purchased at Dury’s in Nashville). Inside the case was shoulder strap if needed. The case is a nice synthetic type canvas, ruggedly built. The K&F Concept TM2324 tripod was really impressive. A good third the size of the Manfrotto folded up and MUCH lighter,mMaybe 3lbs. The K&F is barely over 2lbs with the head! That is light! I quickly noticed the quick release tabs for the leg extensions. This was a pleasant relief as my current tripod has the old fashioned screw tab deals that make things SLOW! Plus, I will be setting up for a shoot, and the legs begin to shrink. Oh yeah, didn’t tighten the leg down enough, doh! Not an issue with the quick release locking tabs. Compact, light and affordable! Just what I wanted! Could it be any better? Why yes, yes it can.

The K&F Concept TM 2324 has much more flexibility in movements. The legs can be inverted so the head can be lowered virtually to the ground with the legs extended. This makes shooting with a super wide angle for a lower perspective/angle and/or macro photography that much easier. There is a built in bubble leveler on the head. Nice! But what about the head? Manfrotto style quick release plates is a gold standard with reliable components. Well, I think I like this one on the K&F better. Though the plate is not quick release, I believe it is better. And here is why. The quick release mechanism of the manfrotto, while quick, never instilled confidence in me. I always had to recheck to make sure the camera would not fall out and when leaning the camera or tripod over, I was always scared it would snap out. On the T&F, you place the camera with plate attached, in the slot on top of the head. Attached is a sturdy bolt type screw that screws the head into the plate (hard to describe but very natural) and leaves me filling confident that the camera is planted and will stay on the head. Also, the ball head movements are silky smooth! Much more so than my manfrotto, even when new. Additionally, there are degree guide numbers around the ball head for precision in panoramic instances where you will be merging multiple images for a panorama. Just an overall much more refined product. The manfrotto may be your Jeep Wrangler, the K&F your Jeep Cherokee (utilitarian rugged vs. refined ruggedness).

So what else to say? I am super thrilled with this tripod. It suits my needs and may suit yours as well if you are looking for an affordable, compact, lightweight tripod for your landscape (or studio) needs. I plan on using this extensively this winter and see if it holds up to the rigors of the backwoods and will report back my findings. So far so good with K&M Concept TM2324 Tripod! Here are a few reference photos, one comparison in size next to the manfrotto.

comparison

Obviously smaller, more compact for storage, travel, hiking, etc.

K&F Concept TM2324 Tripod 1

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod 2

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod 4

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod 5

K&F Concept TM2324 tripod 6

A Tale of Two Seasons – Revisiting a Scene

Well, today this posting is titled “A Tale of Two Seasons – Revisiting a Scene.” A different posting from my usual but one I feel inspired this dreary fall morning to write about. Coffee helps as well.

I was perusing through some images on my website and came across 2 almost identical scenes. So similar at first glance I wondered why I uploaded the image twice. So I investigated. The scene was the same, but different. Obviously taken separately. Further investigation by looking at the meta data shows they were taken in 2013 and 2014, both in the fall. The 2013 in the evening (I can tell by the lighting) and the 2014 in the morning. Both are fall scenes from Greens View in Sewanee overlooking the valley below. Both show early fall colors. Both are beautiful. Both are different in their own right.

This brought to mind something I do often…revisiting a scene. I often, year after year, season after season, shoot the same scene as in reality, they are not the same. The light is different, never the same. Scenes change subtely, trees fall, new growth begins, camera angle different, focal length different, differing vision in my eye and how I process, among others. So with these thoughts running through my mind, I post this blog on Revisiting a Scene and show you these 2 images. The first is the P.M. shot from 2013 and the 2nd is the A.M. shot in 2014. Enjoy!

Greens View 2013

Greens View 2014

Olympus XA4 – the best travel camera ever

Is the Olympus XA4 the best travel camera ever? Well, we shall take a look!

There are all sorts of cameras to take when traveling. This decision making process plagues me every time my wife and I go on vacation. The problem is I am a camera collector and aficionado of using old cameras. I also love to shoot film, both color and traditional B&W but also shoot digital. So the question boils down to systems and what I am planning on doing. Usually I will take a Leica or 2 with lenses and a film Canon EOS so as to change lenses with my digital EOS Canon 5dmkii. At least that is what I am currently doing. But…what about when I don’t want a camera to lug around but want one for snapshots? Camera phone???? I could and sometimes do but will explain why not preferably. Lets explore this issue.

The DSLR: Big, heavy and not something I want to lug around as a snap-shooter. If I have something planned, maybe so and will equally be carrying a tripod and usually additional lenses. Not ideal for the idea of “travel” due to the fact that unless intentional shooting opportunity affords itself, I will intentionally leave the gear in the car/hotel/tent. Not so practical (for me).

The SLR (film): Now we are getting somewhere. Film SLR’s, especially pre digital automation (to digital capture) and pre auto-focus were sometimes quite small. Particularly bodies of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Add a couple small primes in a small should bag (or not), put on your favorite prime lens (50,35,28) and you had a nice light weight package. Problem though, I don’t always want a camera hanging around my neck and if I do, I want even smaller. Enter the…

Leica Rangefinder: My ideal, smaller than an SLR with lens (my leica iiif and collapsible summitar is almost pocket-able) and due to being a rangefinder, much better to grab shots, aka, snap shooting. Problem here is, my M5 has a meter so ideal, but, about the size of a small slr. My IIIf is much smaller, but no meter. Great when I shoot c-41 (I can guess exposure) but with B&W, I prefer to have a meter. Plus, if I want to bring a wider than 50mm lens, I need an external finder making it a bit bulkier. Still, for long day hikes, the IIIf with attached 28mm lens and finder is my preferred tool of trade. But still, I want smaller…

Olympus XA4: My quest originally had me land on the Olympus XA. A super small legitimately pocket-able rangefinder with a pretty good 35/2.8 lens. However, I am not necessarily a 35mm focal length fan (quickly changing though) and prefer/red either a 28, 40 (great compromise) or 50. The XA rangefinder patch is dim and focusing is slow but you can scale focus to speed things up. But…yet again, I was not fully satisfied. Enter the rather rare Olympus XA4. This XA model has a very nice 28/3.5 lens (sharper than the 35/2.8 on the XA, IMO) and is scale focus. It also scale focuses down to 12 inches! Pseudo macro mode. The XA4, with a wider, better lens and simpler focusing mechanism combined with a very small clam shell package that you can slide into your front pocket (or put around your neck on simple strap and stuff in front pocket) make this the carry all and every where. It is so small, you can always have it with you.

Now you may be thinking, “well I always have my android/iphone with me, why not use this?” To each their own but here are my reasons. Cell phone you have to unlock, click on the app, make sure the setting is correct (do I have it on the front facing camera from the last selfie? do I need to turn the flash off? HDR mode? Too slow…I want something quicker, and, more importantly, I prefer film for snap shooting any day. The Olympus XA4 is fast. Slide open the camera, point, shoot. It starts out at the 10′ range on the slider for focusing. One click up infinity focuses. Click down for closer. It becomes very intuitive. Fast, fast, fast and little to think about.

But how are the images? Well, I took some snapshots on our last vacation. I found my self grabbing this camera more than any other, regardless of whether I used it…it was with me. Here are a few shots, all shot on Kodak TriX film, developed in hc110.

Madison River

Madison River 1

Tetons

Blacktail Plateau

Madison River 2

Near Grand Prismatic Spring

and the beauty itself
Olympus XA4

Olympus XA4 – best travel camera? Maybe…

Kara and Trevor Wedding

Weddings are such a special time, a once in a lifetime event for a couple and proper documentation of this event is crucial. Photographing weddings can be hectic but I have been blessed with the most kind and cooperative couples whom I equally want to put at ease. In this post, I want to highlight the Kara and Trevor wedding shot this spring.

Growing up in a suburb of Birmingham, Al was a far sight removed from rural Middle TN. However, I would not give up the “country” life for anything as I have fallen in love with the rural landscape and slowed down pace of everything. The weddings locally often have this timeless feel, incorporating the atmosphere of the surrounding into the event. Though I have shot weddings in downtown Atlanta and downtown New Orleans which were elegant and extravagant, the most memorable have been around here. From farm weddings to cave weddings, the uniqueness of each is memorable. The wedding of Kara and Trevor had a feel of rural surroundings, complete with the improvised dance in the barn due to the heavy spring rains that came post ceremony. Interestingly, I learned from the wedding party that it is good luck if it rains on your wedding. Great news for the new couple!

Below, I will give a sampling from the Kara and Trevor wedding as I walk you pictorially through the events of the day. Enjoy!

wedding

wedding

wedding

wedding

wedding

wedding

wedding

wedding

The rest of the album can be viewed HERE

Ilford SFX 200 – A pictorial review of IR possibilities

Wow! Long overdue blog posting that is much needed. I keep neglecting this site but need to add some fresh content. My plan was to do a series on my trip out to Guadaulupe Mtns NP and Carlsbad Caverns NP but that was waaaaaaay back in April and August in nigh upon us. I also want to do some wedding posting from some recent shoots but all of this takes time…which I like to spend photographing…or riding my dual sport through the dirt. So, here is an easy posting for me to add. It is from a roll of Ilford SFX 200. SFX 200 is a black and white film with extended red sensitivity into the infrared range. So with an IR72 filter (IR72 filter cuts out all visible light below 720nm, only infrared will be captured) attached to my Nikon FM and lowly Nikon series e 35/2.5 lens, I went a shooting. Some interesting results were had of which were intended which was to get the often desired “wood” effect. I developed this film in d-76 and scanned it with my Kodak Pakon F135+ scanner, slight editing in Lightroom 5. This is a brief pictorial review from a single roll, my only roll shot of this film. So, here are some images of Ilford SFX 200.
Ilford SFX 200 - Greens View

Ilford SFX 200 - TN River

Ilford SFX 200 - TN River 2

Ilford SFX 200 - TN River pano crop