Mostly about my amusement

Tag: photography (page 2 of 4)

Olympus Stylus Epic DLX

Okay, I like the new Olympus Stylus Epic DLX. The DLX portion has panorama and a quartz clock but aside from that it’s identical to the non-DLX version. I’m putting these into a set on my Flickr page, go take a look.

For this photo I left the flash on (I normally turn flash off) and I am really happy with the result. The camera is fully automatic, weather resistant, and with a little practice I think I’ll be able to take some good photos with it.

Read up on Rob Nunn’s post and video for some good information. I got mine on eBay and I consider it a good bargain.

The Stylus Epic is not as much fun as the Trip 35 but it’s small and takes really nice shots. And I’ve already taken it in the rain without any worry.

Waiting for my new toy

The film camera bug has hit me pretty hard. I’ve been using one of my Olympus Trip 35 cameras (see above taken last weekend) and have purchased an Olympus Stylus Epic DLX from someone on eBay. The new one is it’s way and should be here next week.

You can read up on the Olympus Stylus Epic here and for here is a copy of Popular Photograhy’s review here. The DLX version is the same but adds Quartz date and a panoramic mode. This model was introduced in 1997 and like many older cameras is available on eBay.

I’m getting this one because it’s compact, opens wide (f/2.8), and has a reputation for taking sharp photos. It’s also weather resistant (splash proof) and is fully automatic.

Unlike the Trip 35, it’s very electrical and has no manual features. It should be perfect for the kids to use and I’ll give it a try as a walk about camera for street photography.

Nikon GP-1

Sometimes you just like to know where you were when you took the photo. Luckily there are many options available for a DSLR and I went with the default Nikon solution.

Last week on a whim I ordered a Nikon GP-1 for my camera. This GPS receiver plugs into my D300s and when it has a lock onto enough GPS satellites (3 or more) it embeds the coordinates and UTC time for when and where you took the picture.

I like it a lot but it’s an imprecise technology. The receiver is only as accurate as the data sources it locks onto, meaning if it locks onto 4 or more satellites, it’s good for ~20 feet or so. My first photos didn’t have any GPS coordinates recorded. Later on I was getting a good signal and got better results.

The default camera settings is to enable Auto Meter off, which from the manual explains

Auto Meter Off

If Enable is selected for GPS > Auto meter off in the setup menu for D3, D700, D300, and D90 cameras, the exposure
meters will turn off automatically after the time specifi ed in the camera Custom Settings menu. This reduces the drain
on the battery but may prevent GPS data from being recorded if the exposure meters are not activated until immediately
before the picture is taken.

I had some problems keeping a lock on the GPS with that feature enabled. Once I disabled the feature, the GPS receiver took a couple of minutes to acquire the satellites. But once it found them, I had a solid green light and was floored as to how accurate the readings were.

If you look at the above map, you can see where the GP-1 did not quite get a lock onto my position. After I disabled Auto Meter Off, the GP-1 put me (correctly) onto 23rd Street. Even with 3 satellites it still puts me in the general vicinity and that’s good enough for my street photography.

After I uploaded the photos to Flickr, I Googled for a tool and found iMapFlickr. After providing a small amount of info I was able to generate the above map in no time. I’ll continue to play around with it but so far it works exactly as I thought it would.

More Film Photography


My playing with film cameras continues! But it’s not out of hand yet. I now have the following film camera equipment:

  1. Three Olympus Trip 35 (1 from TripMan)
  2. Olympus PS-200 flash
  3. Canon Canonet GIII QL17 coupled rangefinder
  4. Canon Canolite D flash

The kids and I shoot with the Olympus Trip 35s and its great fun. Except for the one from TripMan, it all came from sellers on eBay.

You develop film?

At this time I don’t have any urge to develop my own film myself. It’s just so easy to develop the film at Costco.

My routine is to shoot rolls during the week and then Lily takes them to Costco for development on the weekend. A roll of 24 exposures costs less than $5 with just the CD of the film scans. I also picked up an Epson Artisan 725 and print out what I want on glossy photo paper.

The film was purchased via an Amazon seller and I got 12 rolls of a mix of 200, 400, and 800 ISO speed Fuji Superia. The Costco scans are not bad and I generally don’t do any editing at all. I put a roll of 400 in one of the Trips and put it in my backpack. When the mood strikes me I take photos.

Here is a sample of what I’ve taken already, you can see more via my Flickr account.

Film is better than digital!

Okay, film is not better than digital. But it is different, and it’s tough for me to describe the difference.  On my digital cameras I shoot hundreds of photos. With film I’m conscious of the 24  limit and (generally) think before I shoot. When I get the photos back I do very little if any Photoshop work. I like the way the film comes out.

Could I get the same or better results using a DSLR? Absolutely. I’m proud of the digital photos I’ve already taken and will continue to use my Nikon. But film is less instant satisfaction and more planning. When I get back the CD of the roll I shot days ago, I rush to the computer, pick out what I like and upload to Flickr.

But why pick up a rangefinder?

I picked up the Canonet because rangefinders are cool and slick metal camera opens up to f/1.7 and I can shoot 800 film on it.

With the Canolite D flash, the rangefinder adjusts the aperture bases on focus distance. Nearer focus means stepping down to f/16; farther out mean opening the aperture to f/2.8. For a 1972 camera design that’s pretty cool! I ordered a Wein MRB625 replacement battery and I’m good to go. The light metering is good.

The Canonet is fun and cool but the Trip 35 is a better all around street shooter. You set the focus to infinity and just shoot. No battery to worry about, just keep it in your bag and go. I do use the Canonet but the Trip is my favorite and I take it with me everyday to work.

Try it!

My advice to anyone who has a digital camera is to try film. It’s really easy to do, just go onto eBay and bid for a Olympus Trip 35. Don’t bid more than $50 (that’s too much) because there are a lot of Olympus Trip 35s out there.

But do get your battery free camera, load up some 400 film and start shooting. You’ll have great fun with the results.

A short photo walk

I took my Olympus Trip 35 on a short stroll this morning and had the film developed near work. I like the results and shot another roll around lunch time.

It’s an easy camera to have on you and fits in my coat pocket pretty easily. It’s a little on the heavy side but not too much so. I’ll probably get a pouch for it so I can just toss it in my back pack.

These samples were from the CD I received when I developed the roll. All I did was re-size them but this gives a good idea of what this little camera can do.

More photos on the way; I develop the afternoon roll at Costco tomorrow. I still am trying to get the knack of zone focusing. The photos are good and look fantastic on glossy paper, but I want to work on getting sharper results for nearby subjects.

No Batteries Required


This started with my looking for a good compact digital camera with a viewfinder. As a result I bought a film compact camera that was manufactured in 1972.

I prefer cameras with a viewfinder because I take better photos when I hold the camera close to my face (my arms shake). There are several good digital candidates such as the Canon G11/G12 or even the Nikon P7000. But they’re also not inexpensive and I already have a fine DSLR that I take hundreds of photos with.

Why not go back to film? I hadn’t even owned a film camera since 1997. So I started looking on eBay and Flickr and was inspired by the cult following that the Olympus Trip 35 has created.

About the Olympus Trip 35

The Olympus Trip 35 was sold between 1968 and 1984. It’s been reported that ten million units were sold, but that’s questionable since that number may have included other Trip models. Serial numbers shared online never seem to reach 6 million.

Less than 6 million is a respectable number. But what I find amazing is that virtually the same model was sold for 16 years. Today that’s unheard of for a consumer product to be left alone with just minor internal production changes.

The Trip 35 has 4 zone focusing at 1 meter, 1.5 meters, 3 meters, and infinity and takes a 43.5mm filter size. You guess the approximate range and set the focus accordingly.

This camera does not use batteries. The light meter is a selenium cell that moves a needle. That movement determines the aperture size and shutter speed. You can read up on this at the top of this web page and see the light meter in action at this YouTube video.

It’s a solid camera made out of metal and has some weight. It’s not bulky and it feels comfortable to use.

So you bought one?

I ordered 3 and there is a method to my madness.

The first one I ordered was from Paul Lamb’s Trip Man website in the UK. This company obtains these cameras, refurbishes them, and puts on a replacement for the original leatherette. They have a selection of colors, textures, and accessories.

This is a good buy because the camera comes with a 6 month warranty. This is not a modern SLR that you can get serviced anywhere. While I am not mechanically clueless, I want to be able to enjoy the camera without replacing the light seals or un-sticking the aperture blades. Trip Man has earned a good reputation and many people recommend him. I had made a small mistake with my order and this was responded to very quickly and satisfactorily.

If you want to buy a Olympus Trip 35 that just works, then get one from Trip Man.

The second Trip 35 was from eBay and sold as-is. That one arrived first (pictured above) and I bought it with the intention making repairs, replacing the light seals and leatherette.

The purchase was inexpensive and came with a strap, original leather bag, and original lens cap. This camera was going to be my experiment in stripping the old leatherette and possibly take apart and clean the aperture blades. See this link for a great step-by-step with photos for taking apart one of these cameras.

A great plan except this second camera is apparently perfect! The camera is in wonderful condition and only needs replacement light seals for the film chamber and possibly a little cleaning of the view finder.

I shot a roll of Kodak ISO 400 and will get it developed tomorrow. If the exposures are mostly good then I’ll leave this one alone and just replace those seals. Stripping the leatherette would feel like tossing a rock though a window. I may do it sometime, but not this month.

And my third camera from eBay? I want one that works but has not been refurbished. Call this one my reference model, it’s a late version with a black button. A quick bid and I have another one on the way.

So, what next?

Now I take pictures. Lily and I use Costco which not only develops 35mm film but for about $3 more you can get a DVD with scans of your film. Near where I work are a couple of labs that a friend recommends. Film is not dead yet, it’s just hibernating.

At this time I’m not interested in developing my own film. That may change but I’m more interested in improving my photography.

This is a 1970’s era viewfinder camera. While the exposure and aperture are automatic, you have to think before take the photo. When I use the DSLR I intentionally shoot hundreds of photos and cherry pick the best ones. Those end up on Flickr.

I am hoping that by using this film camera that I’ll learn for compose my shots better. Not just point and click but plan my shots. I’ll still waste film, but the ones that I like will be posted online.

Roger Ebert still knows best

I saw this great video on Photography Bay. I’m constantly reminded that my negative opinion on filming with DSLRs is almost always demonstrated to be wrong.

Here is another fine example. The editing, the soundtrack, and the shots are amazing.

This video was captured with a Canon 7D. It’s not the technology that makes a great film sequence, it’s the people using the technology and Jamie Stuart sure knows what he’s doing.

Check out Roger Ebert’s great write up and comparison with another great short.

Going on a trip? Plan ahead for photos

Wednesday August 25th the family and I went to the Statue of Liberty.  The trip was planned weeks in advance and we took the Huntington Station line at 6:15 Am to get there nice and early before the crowds.

It was raining cats and dogs the whole time we were there.

I had expected to take lots of outdoor photos so I only packed my 18-200mm lens.  Since it was raining, we went into the museum. For museum photos, I consistently use my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens with a circular polarizer attached. When I do, I get photos like these.

You can see more from that set on my Flickr page.

With the 18-200mm the results are OK but not inspiring. Here’s a sample.

This was an OK picture but the ISO got bumped up to 3200 and the photos lacked a lot of sharpness. Also without the circular polarizing filter, reflections off the glass was a pain.

With the 30mm I get a nice prime lens that opens wide. With the circular polarizer I can dial out most of the reflections off of the display cases.

Next time I’ll plan better. We still had a good time, but I want to take better photos.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G samples

I’ve been playing with my new 50mm. If you liked the f/1.8D version, then you’ll have no complaints with this f/1.4.G new model.

Dim Sum cart

It’s a fun lens and as long as you can move around, you’ll get good shots. Here’s some samples I took today.

We ate at the Jade Asian Restaurant. There are probably some people who could get away with taking photos of strangers in a restaurant, but I’m not one of them. I took shots of my family and the dim sum carts.

I process most of my photos with DxO Optics Pro 6. Anyone who wants to do as little work doing color correction, noise, and distortion adjustments should order this software. With DxO I converted these from Nikon .NEF into Adobe .DNG format, but only because I like to play with the color temperature and blacks. Some quick cropping in PSE and I’m usually fine after that.

I’m a fan of DxO and eventually I’ll just go from RAW to straight JPEG. The software is very fire-and-forget.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

New 50mm

After using my brother’s Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens for a few weeks, I broke down and picked up a new AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens. From all the reviews I’ve read, it’s an improvement over the older f/1.4D version being more sharper while still having a good DOF.

Here are some samples of what I took with the older f/1.8D lens. I like 50mm on my camera because I can get good photos without being in people’s faces.

I’ve really enjoyed using the 50mm f/1.8D and have taken some good photos with it.  But it is on loan and I wanted my own. The new one is a better and more modern lens so getting that version should work out for me.

My initial test shots with the 50mm f/1.4G lens shows that the depth of field is really good.  The object I focused on is sharp but the background is nice and soft.

This weekend I’ll use it a lot and post some of the results.