12 film cameras to watch

Popphoto has an article about 12 film cameras worth buying right now.

The tragedy in Japan has made the current DSLR market a scary place, making this a perfect opportunity to get (back) into film.

Their list (in alphabetical order):

  • Bronica SQ/SQ-A
  • Canon EOS 1N
  • Canon AE-1
  • Fujifilm GA645
  • Hasselblad 500c/500cm
  • Leica R-series
  • Mamiya 645 Pro
  • Nikon FM10
  • Nikon N80
  • Pentax 67
  • Pentax K1000
  • Ricoh GR-1

It seems to cover all the bases from medium format, compact to reusing lenses from your DSLR. But the most awkward in the list is the FM10 as I think they should have recommended an older model instead, one solidly built. Also notably absent are TLR or 35mm rangefinders like a Bessa.

What is interesting to see is that Ricoh is still in the same line of products with their Ricoh GR-Digital: highly praised compact camera.

Aerial Photography

Luminous Landscape as a very quick writeup on aerial photography by Jason Hawkes:

I first took to the skies back in 1990. Having just finished three years studying photography in London I really wanted to become a studio photographer after finding a passion for shooting on 5×4 plate cameras.

I happened to go flying one weekend in a weight shift ultralight aircraft, and whilst the the flying part was pretty fun what I really fell in love with was the amazing patterns you could see from 700ft.

Two weeks later I naively handed in my notice to the studio I was assisting in and, with the help of a bank loan, brought a microlight of my very own.

If you have ever read Earth from Above by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, one of the most famous published work, you’ll understand what this means.

The success of strobist

From Slate:

David Hobby
A Baltimore Sun photographer who took a buyout, started a blog, and changed the photography business forever.

David Hobby is behind the famous Strobist that teach people how to use lighting in photography. The article explains how this transformed the industry by making stock photography more accessible. Whether it is good or bad is a different question…

Losses in Libya

Today, in Misrata, Libya, two photographers were killed and two other were wounded. This should remind us how these men and women put their life at risk to bring us images of what is happening around the world, to show us how people fight for their freedom or for other’s. They’ll be missed and may they not be forgotten.

From the Denver Post :

British-born Tim Hetherington, co-director of the documentary “Restrepo” about U.S. soldiers on an outpost in Afghanistan, was killed inside the only rebel-held city in western Libya, said his U.S.-based publicist, Johanna Ramos Boyer. The city has come under weeks of relentless shelling by government troops.

Hetherington tweeted Tuesday: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

Chris Hondros, a New York-based photographer for Getty Images, was seriously injured and was on a respirator at Hikma Hospital. Doctors told The Associated Press that his condition was critical.

The two other photographers – Guy Martin, a Briton working affiliated with the Panos photo agency, and Michael Christopher Brown – were treated for shrapnel wounds, doctors said.

and from the New York Times

BENGHAZI, Libya — Tim Hetherington, a conflict photographer who was a director and producer of the Afghan war documentary “Restrepo,” was killed in the besieged city of Misurata, Libya, on Wednesday, and three photographers working beside him were wounded, one fatally, when they came under fire at the city’s front lines.

Chris Hondros of the Getty Images photo agency died later of devastating brain trauma.

Is there a camera renouveau?

The world of digital cameras has been a bit boring lately. Not much innovation seen from the outside. Just a convergence of still and movie, and the mash-up of technologies, every increasing high ISO and image quality.

But is there a camera renouveau? Something that would reinvent the camera as we know it? Let’s see.

Convergence of still and movie is the added capability to shoot movies with a still camera. This feature has been around for a while on point and shoot cameras. Most of them have been shooting movies, low-res mostly, but increasing every now and then.

But the real break was when, after addressing the technical limitations, Nikon, then Canon, release DLSRs, the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5DMkII able to shoot video in HD. In 720p for the Nikon and 1080p for the Canon.

A lot of professional filmmakers got their hands on the 5DMkII, for good, as it represented an unprecedented image quality for a price point that was lower than dedicated video cameras. Second units, TV series, reporting were main consumers of this technology. Even after Canon released firmware updates to address most of the issues found the movie mode.

Nikon was first, Canon was best. This seem to have opened the gate for a flow of new DLSRs capable of video; now even the low end Canon Digital Rebel shoot at least 720p.

The mash-up of technologies came by way of the micro Four Third standard (m-43 for short). Not to be confused with Four-third. The 4/3 is IMHO doomed: a smaller sensor than the current line of DLSRs, marginally smaller camera size, as the low-end Canon Digital Rebel and Nikon have been getting getting smaller does not seem to make it a good alternative. Also it now seems to get less developments now from Olympus, and Panasonic seems to have stopped ; and this is probably because of its limited success. I’m purely speculating, but I do believe that 4/3 is gonna be phased out. I could be wrong.

On the other hand the m-43 seems to be taking speed. Take a point and shoot camera design, put a interchangeable lens mount, make it a standard, cook it with another manufacturer (or more) that will make lenses and body, and you have the micro Four Third standard. Olympus initiated it, as a spin-off of the 4/3, with the help of Panasonic. It represents a good trade-off between size and image quality: bigger sensor than in (almost every) point and shoot, interchangeable lens like a DSLR, it makes the almost perfect system in-between pocket cameras and DLSRs.

It even inspired Samsung with their own lens mount, and Sony with the NEX (featuring a bigger sensor, APS-C size and a slightly smaller body than Olympus or Panasonic) and the E-mount. Even more, Panasonic and Sony both have video cameras using their respective mounts ; same lenses as the still cameras but dedicated to video.

So what about the renouveau? I think it could be coming from a known player that, sometime, just come with very innovative products. And that would be FujiFilm, with the Fuji FinePix X100.

The Fuji FinePix X100 is a compact camera with a 23mm f/2 prime lens and an APS-C sensor. The photographyblog has a complete review with samples. You can also read Luminous Landscape review.

The originality for the X100 comes in the viewfinder. The trend in the recent years has been to remove the viewfinders, including on micro-4/3 cameras, to replace them with the back LCD. This has been bugging me personally and I still feel uncomfortable when using the back LCD. The alternative is the DSLR, which does not make for a pocket camera. That’s not the case of the X-100 that features a unique hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder. On paper it looks like the best innovation in viewfinders in recent times.

We’ll see if that’s the renouveau, the innovation that will invert the trend.

Goodbye Kodachrome

Kodachrome is dead, long live to Kodachrome.

Yesterday, December 30th 2010, was the last day to have Kodachrome processed at the last lab operating in the world, Dwayne’s Photo, in Parsons Kansas. Rolls had to reach them by noon that day to be processed, after 75 years.

Steve McCurry, the legendary photographer from the National Geographic got given by Kodak the last roll they produced in 2009. You can see shots from his last roll.

It is sad to see this happening, but ever falling sales of film made the enterprise even less viable. I just wish there was a company that was able to manufacture and process a Kodachrome-like film in the future, as it was the best color slide film, with unbelievable archival quality, unrivaled by the E-6 chemistry based slide films.

I just regret to not have shot enough of it, none of them in America.

Russia in Color (1910)

[Photo]

This time it is the Big Picture from the Boston Globe to present an exhibit about Russia in Color, with these autochromes from the Prokudin-Gorskii collection at the Library of Congress (USA).

General view of the [Nikolaevskii] cathedral from southwest. Mozhaisk – Prokudin-Gorskiĭ, Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich, 1863-1944, photographer – From Library of Congress

Also I recommend the Big Picture as a regular “reading” for the pictures.

Color from 1906

Dr. Michael R. Shaughnessy put up a gallery of scanned true color images from 1906 with geolocalisation added. This is pretty amazing to see various european locations in color.

1906 True Color Photos scanned from old prints. Part of CAPL project at Washington & Jefferson College http://capl.washjeff.edu/ by Dr. Michael R. Shaughnessy. Please cite if linked or embedded. I am not sure of the copyright holder at this point and hope to place them under CC licensing for non-commercial use. These photos were originally published by the Institute for Color Photography, Carl Weller, Berlin. Verlagsanstalt für Farbenfotographie, 1906. Send any info to capl@washjeff.edu

Here are a few samples – see above for the copyright notice:

Pisa, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Goethe's Gartenhaus, Weimar, Germany

Goethe’s Gartenhaus, Weimar, Germany

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Via Boing Boing.