Thursday, October 17, 2013

The classic beauty of the OM-2

Much as I like the look of the recent OM-D E-M5, I still think the classic OM-2 (or OM-1) from the seventies beats it, with its classic, simple, gracious beauty. The slim body, the lowered, pointed mirror house...
(And for some reason, for me, it has to be silver. I'm not sure why.)

Below, the modern OM-D, obviously meant to invoke the feel of their classic successes. Worked on me.


John Krumm said...

Me too, but my EM1 gets here Monday,and it only sort of looks like my black OM4. Excited to use it though. Will have to sell the EM5, as nice as it is.

geoff belfer said...

The really great thing about the Om1/2 cameras apart from their size is the viewfinder; large and bright. I hate the small pokey finders in all the DSLRs I have tried. If you have the opportunity you must handle one of these cameras to see what a "proper" SLR should be.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yes. I couldn't afford them back in the day. But I bought one later, and I have an OM-2 now.

Yes, the finder is a great example of their superb engineering/design: it's larger and brighter than those of its time, and yet it's smaller and lower!

Kelly Trimble said...

I find your comments about the OM-2 very interesting. I started shooting a lot of film this summer, and have started collecting film cameras. I've been grabbing every cheap 35mm SLR I come across at estate sales and garage sales and have accumulated probably a couple dozen 35 mm cameras in addition to some large and medium format stuff. I'm having a lot of fun; I've started developing my own C-41 and E-6 transparencies, and rolling my own B&W film from bulk. I've probably shot 300 or more rolls of film and probably a hundred sheets of large format. For my day job, I religiously use a Nikon D300, and I used to just walk around downtown and take snapshots with it, but I've found that I have more fun shooting an OM-2 with slide film, at least when the light is good and I don't need a speedlight or sensitive ISO, and I find that I gravitate to it more than any other film camera I have outside of the large format stuff. I wondered if that was because I shot an OM-1 so much when I was in high school, but I've seen you rave about OM-1s and 2s here and seen other people rave about them too.

The only proviso to a conclusion that the OM-2 is the best of the film SLRs would be Nikon cameras. I've seem bloggers and others rave just as loudly about F4 F5 and F6 cameras as others rave about OM 1 & & 2s, but a useable F5 will ebay for several hundred dollars, and the lenses are expensive too. I would like to try the old Nikon F, like the rich kids and camera jocks all had back in high school when I was slumming with my OM-1, but they are collectable and worth a coffee can worth of cash as well, so I've not been able to do much with these Nikons.

I am also finding that I am having a lot of fun shooting 120 medium format. I've got a couple of Hasselblads with five or six lenses, macro tubes, etc etc etc, and I thought I would use it a lot, and I have shot it a lot, especially for something in the studio that can be planned, probably thirty or forty rolls so far, but I find myself walking around shooting a Rolleiflex TLR with one built in fixed focal length. I've probably done fifty rolls with it.

Another odd observation, some of the off-brand lenses that mount to OM series cameras seem to be very good quality. I got a lens made by 'Access', which I never heard of before, for $10 plus shipping, with a 'broken for parts or repair' OM-10 attached to it, that has turned out to be one of my favorite lenses. I've been pleasantly surprised.

Not that this mini-rant is going anywhere, but I'm discovering a lot of counterintuitive things about film photography that I never heard back in the day. I guess I was so confused with all of the hype the camera store salesman, the camera mags, and people at camera clubs were all saying to be able to think clearly, and it is making me wonder which of the various digital options available, including high dollar medium format stuff, the photo equipment salvage guys like me are going to discover to have been the thing to have when it all gets down to garage sale pricing and accessible. Right now I've been saving pennies to buy a D800, along with a set of lenses to go with it-totaling about the price of a decent three year old used car, but the only information I have to go on is camera mags, some blogs, and the store salesmen. I have yet to talk to somebody in the field who has used the D800, and the 5D-Mk3, and the D300/200/7000/7100 etc, and the Sony whatever, AND medium format such as a Phase one on whatever body/lens system is hot right now. I wish I knew now what I'm going to know about these options ten or twenty years from now.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I tried to look you up. But is expired, it seems.

Take a look at the smaller Nikon full-frame, D600 I think it's called. Much cheaper and lighter, and same high quality and low-light performance, unless you *need* the skyhigh 36MP resolution.
Oh, and do you have the lenses to feed a full frame camera? To get the advantage, you need big and expensive lenses. Especially for the D800.

BTW, I don't know that that the OM-2 was the BEST camera, though it certainly was very good. I'm just saying it is beautiful. And like usual, I'm very impressed with the compactness they achieved, years before anybody else had even considered that aspect.

Kelly Trimble said...

I'm at It is a server here in my office, and doesn't have much on the front page yet, but I hope to get a 'company propaganda' page up someday. (If kellytrimblephotography is expired, maybe I should grab it)

I actually do need the 36MP of the D800. I do a lot of aerial photography where you can't really stitch together several images to make a high resolution image. Whatever you do needs to be done in one click. What I am doing right now whenever something needs to be blown up to a wall size or larger is shoot with a 4x5 press camera using Fujichrome or Ektar and then scan the 20 square inch negative at 2000 to 2400 dpi to get a 80 to 120MP image, but I have constant problems with light leaks, color problems, can't chimp the photo so I don't know what I got for at least a couple of hours, and it is a hassle to deal with the chemicals when you get in a hurry, and post production is much harder, etc. Using 4x5 film is not very convenient and costs about five or six dollars per shutter click in color, but I'm into it for probably $250 plus a $ 650 scanner that I can use for other stuff. The 36 MP would be nice, and I've looked into medium format that would get to 80 MP, but a full setup, back, camera, lenses, peripherals, etc. can run $80,000 or more--completely off the financial richter scale for me.

The problem with the D800 is exactly as you point out. Almost the cheapest part would be the $3,000 for the camera. To make it work, you really need the newer lenses, each of which are almost as much as the camera. The full setup for what I do would still be over ten grand-still more than I can justify for the scale of what I'm doing right now, just to add one little capability.

As for the OM-2, the point I was making is that besides the raves I'm seeing from several bloggers, I actually have accumulated a choice of two or three dozen cameras, and when I am dashing out the door and think I'm going to shoot something, I find that 90 % of the time I grab a D300, an OM-2 or OM-1, and maybe the Rolleiflex, not the Hasselblad, not the high end Minoltas or Cannons, and I find that interesting.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yes, interesting.
Last time I dashed out, it was the middle of the night (a local fire), and the one I grabbed was the tiny Sony RX100! I knew it could handle it, and it saved me from having to choose between lenses and whatnot.

kellytrimblephotography was *not* yours?? What are the odds.
There seem to be *many* photographers these days. Not surprising, I guess. For my girlie site, I had trouble finding enough content in the late nineties, for prices I could pay. But after 6-megapixel cameras became affordable, I've gotten more submissions than I could possibly use.

I see your dilemma. Digital photograph in very good quality is very cheap now, but if you need 80MP quality, it's still crazy expensive. (Though I guess you can't say "still", because it's not long ago you couldn't get that resolution in digital, except for scanning cameras.)

Does the scanned 4x5 film really have that kind of sharpness when you blow it up that much?

Kelly Trimble said... is a lady in Texas that does weddings. I tried to email her about a year ago and never got a response. Photography is just a sideline for me, and most of what I do is for clients that already know me. I might put together a website someday, but I haven't yet.

As for 4x5, I am getting some interesting results. I've had to do a summer's worth of experimentation to figure out a lot of technical problems, but I've gotten some useable results that I know I otherwise could not have done with my D300. I might have gotten close with a D800, but I really don't have as much call for a really high resolution result as I thought I might.

The main thing I'm able to do is brag to other photographers about what I am doing, and I can see the look of fright in their faces as they contemplate maybe having to learn how to do film to keep up. Most of the photographers I know are under 30, and all but a couple are under 40, and most have never shot film, at least not professionally. I know that if they were to try film, they would be sending their stuff off to get processed, and then probably sending it off to get scanned.

If you go out and buy a film camera, get film off of the internet, mail it somewhere for processing and scanning, etc. it can be three or four days to maybe over a week between taking the shot and getting an image, and the image will be crap and cost several dollars. You really need to control the entire process. The only part you probably don't want to do yourself is the actual manufacturing of the film, and I usually rely on somebody else for prints, though I know photographers that do most of their own prints on their own machinery.

The only way this is timely is to do the processing yourself, and the only way to get a decent high resolution digital image is to do your own scan, unless you know somebody who has a high resolution drum scanner and you can afford twenty to a hundred bucks an image for the scans. There really are a lot of individually minor things to figure out in order to get a good quality image economically and in a timely fashion. Most other photographers won't be able to process their own color, and most don't understand the technical aspects enough to understand what they are doing in each step and will probably never get a decent result.

The toughest part is the scan of the negative. Although negative scanner makers advertise resolutions of over 10,000 dpi, it's hard to get more than maybe 2,500 dpi without spending serious money on a drum scanner. To get a really high resolution digital image, you need a great big giant negative to scan, and a 4x5 will comfortably get you 80 MP that the super high end digital stuff is doing. I find that I can comfortably scan 120 film shot with a Hasselblad to almost the same resolution and quality of what I've test shot with a D800 using some of the newfangled full frame lenses, and I suspect there is 100 MP of data on the 120 film that I can't get to without a drum scanner that I don't have. The best I'm getting with 35mm is around 9 or 10 MP, better than an old D100, but not quite as good as my D200 or D300. However, the color characteristics of the film, if exposed correctly, is better than the D100 and mostly on par with the D300, but there are serious differences, especially in very bright light and very low light. Film doesn't have noise, so there are some things I've been able to do with film in low light that I can't do with digital, and again there are several technical pitfalls that are not immediately obvious.

I don't mean to rant, but I think I am reporting something to you of more than passing interest, so I'm going to run long and do this in several parts . . . End of Part One

Kelly Trimble said...

Part Two:

The first problem you run into shooting film is re-learning how to get a proper exposure when you expose the film. Film has a better dynamic range than digital, but not as good as HDR digital, but you can bracket film exposures, and you can double scan a single negative at different exposures, and I’ve even experimented with shooting transparencies, color negative, and B&W at different exposures and combining in photomatix and photoshop, taking advantage of the range advantages and reciprocity characteristics of each, again there are many technical details to figure out, and I’m still experimenting and learning.

I've learned how to bracket film exposures, but there is a counter-intuitive pitfall, and then you have to scan the under exposed and over exposed negatives in a certain way, and you have to manually align them before running them through photomatix to get an HDRI. For aerials, the film has a much higher dynamic range than a single digital image, but it also has a wider dynamic range than the scanner. I'm giving away a trick, but it is possible to scan the same negative with different settings on the scanner to get under and over exposed digital images of the film which you then run through photomatix or whatever to get an HDRI that you can then tonemap. You then run into another problem when you try to tonemap them because the software assumes you are tonemapping 12MP or maybe 36MP images. When you tonemap a series of 120MP images, you need a multi core (like six or eight processors) and a shitload of memory (like 8 GB) especially if you are doing something creative with the film, and it still sometimes takes half an hour to tonemap. I've also experimented with shooting multiple exposures with transparencies, color negative, and B&W since each is better with highlights, shadows, blacks, etc., and I've got some interesting results, but I'm still experimenting. I haven’t completely figured it all out yet.

Through all of this, I’ve found that there are a few very narrow esoteric things you can still do with film that you can’t do yet with digital. For example, if you shoot 4x5, you can get a 100MP image on equipment costing 2 % of what digital would cost. But you have to use a big negative; 35mm is almost useless in this respect.

Another place film works better is in some low light conditions. Although some newer digital cameras are ‘better in low light’ with ISOs over 10,000, they still have noise problems which film doesn’t, so film can be better for timed exposures, although reciprocity failure becomes a problem, especially for color, but the technical problems people used to have with long color film shots can now be corrected in photoshop. If you shoot bracketed exposures, you can get some interesting HDR results that I am pretty sure you couldn’t get with digital.

However, the most interesting thing I am doing with film has to do with perspective correction, frame size, and focal length. Right now pro-photographers are all buying the latest and greatest stuff, and they are all getting ‘full frame’ 35mm digital SLRs, and having to get all new lenses to make it work. Many are able to notice a ‘better quality’ in the full frame image. They can’t explain it, and until somebody told them that it was the full frame instead of the crop frame that was making the difference, they could only notice a quality difference on some near-subconscious level.

End of Part Two Continued in Part Three . . .

Kelly Trimble said...

Part Three . . .

The difference they were experiencing was the use of a longer focal length lens to frame the same scene. Using short depth of field to emphasize subject seems to be the first compositional trick most photographers learn, and it is much easier to do using a longer lens, and gives a more pronounced and possibly more aesthetically pleasing bokeh than a wider lens on a cropped frame sensor. Portraits look better, chromatic abberations are less pronounced, and wider angle, or rather, wider frame shots look less distorted. They look at the result, they perceive a difference, and they think it is quality, but it is simply different optics. The difference is most pronounced when the various components of foreground, subject, background, and other objects have greater spacing in the field, such as in a portrait or candid shots of people, such as you do all day at a wedding.

Here is the neat part: I’m getting the same ‘full frame’ high quality looking image using a five dollar OM-10 and Ektar film as the wedding guy is getting with his five grand 5D Mk III, if not the same resolution.

Here is the really neat part: Some of the more artistic photographers, especially those that have been around long enough to have shot some film in a serious way long ago, are all saving their pennies to switch to medium format digital. They are saying it is because of the ‘difference in quality’ Again, while they are getting higher resolutions, it is not the quality, its the optics. My wife collects old Life magazines, particularly ones that have pictures of the Kennedys. I like the ones with photos of LBJ. I always though it was the type of film they were using, I assumed Ektachrome, but I always noticed that there was something in the color photos taken in the late 50s through the late-60s that made them very interesting. At some point early in the Nixon administration, they didn’t look as good, and as a Republican, I always assumed that the media just didn’t like Nixon, and so they didn’t make the same artistic effort in the photography. The NASA stuff shot of the Mercury astronauts made these guys look like heros; the NASA shots of various shuttle crews look comparatively boring. A lot of the B&W stuff shot in the 50s had a different look as well. I noticed that the B & W stuff printed in the late 70s and clear up to the 90s were often sharper images, but . . . ? I always thought that the celebrities being photographed were simply less exciting and less glamorous people than James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, or even Groucho Marx from the 50s.

When I started shooting film this summer, I figured out that was not the case. What was really happening was that with the quality of film that was available in the 50s and through the mid 60s, to get a decent image, you needed a fairly large negative, which meant you were shooting a 120 other medium format or one of the smaller large formats like 4x5. All of the Life Magazine-type color stuff shot of the Kennedys, LBJ, and movie stars were all 4x5 or at the very least medium format. By the early 70s, color technology had improved to the point that most journalistic stuff was being done on 35mm, even the color, and by the 80s, large format was all but gone, and medium format was used only in serious studio situations where a quality negative was needed. By the 90s, color film was good enough in 35mm to be blown up almost to poster sizes, and medium format was used only in portrait studios.

When film qualities improved, the entire industry moved to smaller format cameras that were so much easier to use, required less light, required smaller investments, and were more economical to shoot, but would still blow up to all but the very largest sizes of prints. But in so doing, the optics changed to where a standard frame focal length was 50mm instead of the 80mm to 100mm of medium format, the 135mm to 150mm of 4x5, and the 300mm of 8x10.

End of Part Three Continued in Part Four

Kelly Trimble said...

Part Four . . .

I looked at photos taken in the 30s and even earlier and noticed a difference with photos taken of starlets over the past ten years. Most photos taken of, say, Brad Pitt, were shot with crop sensor DSLRs using 85mm or 105 mm prime lenses. Photos of stars shot in the 30s were grainy, overly contrasty, B&W shitty images, but were usually shot on an 8x10 camera, and they looked better. It was the large frame and longer optics that was the difference.

I have found shooting film that there are certain circumstances where the full frame makes a difference. And whenever I think I need to shoot ‘full frame 35mm’ I put film in a cheap film SLR and blast away. If I want a much better look, and this only works in certain situations, I can shoot 120 using the Hasselblad. It is a monumental hassle dealing with the film, but there is an optical difference that some people perceive as a quality difference.

So if you think your full frame DSLR shoots a higher quality than your old APS sensor camera, and if you think you like the look of photos shot with medium format digital (which, it turns out, is actually a ‘crop sensor’ relative to the old 120 film size, usually a 1.1 to 1.25 crop), then you are going to absolutely jizz in you pants when you shoot portraits in 4x5.

I’ve had professional photographers look at some of the stuff I’ve shot in medium or large format and they tell me it has a ‘retro’ look, and they all think it has something to do with the chemistry and color characteristics of the film. And for a long time I though it had something to do with the film. The first thing I did when I started shooting color was to go out and get Ektachrome film so I could shoot the same quality stuff I saw in Life Magazine of the Kennedys and the astronauts. But it wasn’t the film. It took a while for me to figure it out, but it was the optics of the larger format. So another area where film works better than digital, and digital will do it with expensive equipment, is if you need the optics of full frame or medium format or larger.

Another place I have found film to work better than digital is in any situation where I need to adjust lens positioning on the camera.

I do a lot of architectural work associated with my day job. Every once in a while I will shoot a building or an interior where I can’t get the perspective I want in the photo, so I will sometimes adjust the apparent perspective of the image in PaintShopPro or Photoshop or whatever by twisting, rotating, trapezoidal flaring, and so on so as to get all of the building lines parallel, but after that is done, it is hard to get a decent large print. For years I have wanted to get a tilt-shift lens to put on my old 35mm film camera, and later on my various DSLRs, but they are always crazy expensive. The shitty off-brands are a grand or more, and only one focal length.

I have found that if I use a 4x5 view camera, or even a 4x5 press camera, I can move and tilt the front standard around to do everything a tilt-shift lens will do, and moving the rear standard will allow for even more amazing effects. The downside is that instead of carrying around an extra lens that I would only rarely use, I have to carry around a whole camera, lenses, film, and light meter, and then have to process and scan the film. An then I loose consistency between all of the digital I shot of a building, and the handful of tilted and shifted shots done on film, requiring tricky and time consuming post production. Also, each click on the 4x5 using color costs about four to six dollars. Electrons are free. And I still have to scan the film into electrons. One of my next purchases is going to be a medium format press camera with a freely moving front standard so that the cost per shot can be brought down to just over a dollar.

FIN ??

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Kelly, for all that data. Very interesting.

Right behind my monitor as I sit here in my home office, is a big framed print of a nude taken by my friend Laurie Jeffery, back when he was doing a Nudes in Landscape series on a large format camera. And there is indeed a different quality, at least the low DoF.

I wonder though if you can or can't get the same quality with just a very fast lens on smaller formats.
I once bought a nude series for my site, and it had that super shallow DoF. I loved it and asked about the gear. Fortunately they were open with info, it was a FF Canon with the 85mm 1.2 lens. That's why I have that lens now.

It's true that DoF is the one thing that is definitely changing as digital is getting better and smaller format viable. But then it's really just the continuation of the same trend in the film era, as you said. And often with large formats, the DoF is a problem, as in landscapes if you want everything sharp.

By the way, I think it was Dave from Imaging Resource who commented to me that with the highest rez cams (Nikon D800), Depth of Field is subjectively smaller, seeming very shallow even at medium apertures. It must be because the higher the resolution, the earlier you notice the unsharpness.
So I wonder if higher resolution can go a ways towards That Quality.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Why would a freely moving front standard make it cheaper? Fewer misses?

It'll be interesting to see if film even survives. The thing being that according to an expert, a film factory is very big and complex, and very very expensive to run. So if film use fall below a certain point...

Kelly Trmble said...

It's not just depth of field, but the focal length necessary to frame a particular image. On a 4x5, I can shoot a portrait of a person from about three or four feet away, or around a meter, with a 150mm lens, but the same framing using a full frame 35mm camera at the same distance would require a 50mm lens, and probably a 35mm or 40 mm on an APS sensor camera, with a perceptible difference in how the subject looks because of the different optics. It's not just sharpness and focus. And it's something that I probably can't explain without pictures. The concept is something that you simply can't really get your head around until you've worked with it a bit.

As I understand it, the shorter DoF on the D800 is due to the fact that its full frame sensor is actually larger than other full frame sensors, allowing you to use a slightly longer focal length, but forcing you into a shorter depth of field, essentially the same effect that I've been talking about. There are also some things that Nikon is doing with the higher end full frame lenses that has an effect, but I haven't studied the subject yet.

Kelly Trimble said...

The front standard:

Using a view camera or a press camera with a fully movable front standard allows me to do everything on film on a $200 camera that would otherwise require three or four different terribly expensive tilt-shift lenses of different focal lengths without spending several grand on lenses, but requiring me to pay for every shot.

The movable front standard on a view camera or a press camera allows you to tilt or shift the lens relative to the film or sensor plane just like, or better than, a tilt shift lens. Shifting the lens allows you to distort the image so that it appears to change the perspective of the image. Tilting the lens relative to the film plane has the effect of rotating the focus field relative to the camera, allowing you to severely shorten the depth of field if you want, but also allowing you to shoot a wide subject at an angle and have the entire subject in focus. For example, if you shoot the front of a building at a 45 degree angle, or even if you are on the ground and shooting the front of a multi-story building, you can tilt the lens so that the field of focus is rotated parallel with the plane of the building, allowing you to focus the entire front of the building, with the lawn in front and maybe the side being out of focus, and then shift the lens to correct for the keystone perspective, making it look more like you shot the building at less of an angle.

You can also tilt and shift the rear standard, or the plane of the film or sensor, on a view camera, but not on a press camera. Shifting the film standard, if the lens will cover the entire shift, allows you to expose the film in different positions of a much larger image frame. You can shoot one with the rear standard shifted all the way left and up, then right and up, left and down, right and down, and then stitch them together to get a much larger image. Back in the day, they used to put them together optically in the lab, and each print was insanely expensive (and I don't really know how they did it), but today it is much easier to scan all four negatives and stitch them together digitally. With a 4x5, it's easy to get over 200 MP even with the crappy scanner I have, but you have to take several minutes to shoot four negatives, do it on a heavy tripod so the lens position doesn't move, etc etc. If you do it in color it gets expensive really fast, and you can't do a shot with people in it (or an aerial) because you need a static scene. Today there is a digital camera called an Alpa XY that does the same thing, allowing you to move a sensor, such as a PhaseOne medium format sensor, up down and left and right, allowing you to stitch a larger image than a single shot camera would otherwise be capable of. Where that is important is if you need to shoot a particularly wide shot without wide angle lens distortion, such as shooting the inside of a stadium or a ballroom. For example, you can use a 135mm lens to shoot a scene with a view angle the same as a 40 mm lens, but the resulting image is still optically a 135mm image with no wide angle distortion, but gets the entire statium. Getting the same result with a 35mm camera would require using a 16mm lens, or shorter, and would start to have a fisheye look.

Tilting the rear standard, or the film plane, also does something interesting, but I don't remember what.

This summer I've started doing some of my architectural work this way, and it works as long as I'm willing to spend several dollars on each image when I need it, but I don't have to spend a bunch on tilt-shift lenses or high end digital cameras.

Kelly Trimble said...

Film manufacturing:

Your friend is right about how film is manufactured.

Kodak had a machine that was four stories tall that manufactured the plastic base and other machinery that very consistently applied all of the various chemical coatings. Back in the fifties and sixties, they ran around the clock for months at a time on one film type. Now they run in batches. The coated plastic is then cut into all different film sizes.

Film isn't going completely away yet, but I've found that color film is getting to be harder to buy. The choices are getting more restrictive. They seem to be reducing the types of film as time goes on. Kodak used to sell several different speeds of Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Kodacolor, Porta, Ektar, Ultra, Elite, and I don't remember what else, and several B & W films such as Tri-X, Plus-X, Panatomic-X, Royal-X, and so on. Today, they sell one speed of Ektar, a couple speeds of Porta, and no other color film. They sell Tri-X which really isn't the same Tri-X as in the past, and two speeds of T-Max, which is a new technology that is supposed to get a high quality B&W using a fraction of the silver of the older version of Tri-X that everybody used to love. I don't think Kodak is producing transparency film anymore.

I think film will still be around for a while because, as I described, there are a few very narrow areas where film still works better than digital, though digital is still improving, and those uses may go away. For example, all of the really serious big-time landscape photographers I know are all still shooting large format film, and these guys aren't even shooting 4x5-they're shooting 5x7 or 8x10.

I suspect, however, that film costs may go up sharply, and it may become the purview of technology nerds like me, but as time goes on anybody shooting film is going to have to internalize more of the process. For example, I'm not in a big city and I can't afford or accept the slow turn time of professional color labs, so I've learned to process my own color and transparencies. A lot of the B&W chemicals aren't available anymore, such as Microdol-X or HC-100, and you have to use ID-11/D-76, but there are some guys out there mixing their own B&W chemistry from the raw chemicals to get some of the effects they need. There are a few people mixing their own color chemistry, and I've looked into it. There are also a few people out there manufacturing their own film from base chemistry, but so far those people are doing it to get a crappy image that looks like genuine 1800s era stuff. I've looked into mixing my own B & W chemicals and maybe playing with emulsion chemistry, not because I need to, but because I would like to brag that I've done it, just like I used to mix my own black powder, nitroglycerin, RDX cherry bombs, aceteline baloons, and trinitroiodine rocks back in high school before it became so seriously illegal. I also sense that I need to build the skills in case I need to develop my own color chemistry.

So far, part of what is keeping color film in production is the continued use of film in the movie industry. Apparently they shoot a color negative that they then either scan to get HDR effects or edit and then copy with another negative film to get a positive. Apparently it is nearly the same as generic color negative film for cameras. But as the movie industry moves farther away from film (and there is a huge debate going on right now about film vs digital), the economies of scale may also go away, and color film will probably become hugely expensive.

(Sorry for being long winded again)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

It's OK that you are being long-winded (or: "long-window'ed"). I enjoy it, and I'm sure 11% of my readers do too, which should be about 6.000 people. :-)

"Tilting the rear standard, or the film plane, also does something interesting, but I don't remember what."

I can only think of stopping buildings from "falling backwards". But I guess you can do that with the front standard too.

Making your own color chemicals sound crazy. I kept away from color because I heard it required precision of 1/10th degree temperature, and then you anyway had very limited options for manipulations and correction.

The debate in the movie industry has been going on for many years. Personally I can't see why anybody would be masochistic enough to shoot on film. The cost alone...
But I guess the more money is involved, the more there is resistance to change.
But that resistance will wither as the cost and time involved will show a bigger and bigger gulf.

The Danish group Dogma 95 used digital video cameras, NOT EVEN HD!, to make several films, a couple of them very good, which became known internationally (like "The Party").

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

It's OK that you are being long-winded (or: "long-window'ed"). I enjoy it, and I'm sure 11% of my readers do too, which should be about 6.000 people. :-)

"Tilting the rear standard, or the film plane, also does something interesting, but I don't remember what."

I can only think of stopping buildings from "falling backwards". But I guess you can do that with the front standard too.

Making your own color chemicals sound crazy. I kept away from color because I heard it required precision of 1/10th degree temperature, and then you anyway had very limited options for manipulations and correction.

The debate in the movie industry has been going on for many years. Personally I can't see why anybody would be masochistic enough to shoot on film. The cost alone...
But I guess the more money is involved, the more there is resistance to change.
But that resistance will wither as the cost and time involved will show a bigger and bigger gulf.

The Danish group Dogma 95 used digital video cameras, NOT EVEN HD!, to make several films, a couple of them very good, which became known internationally (like "The Party").

Kelly Trimble said...

I'm not sure, but I think the front and rear tilts and swings on a view camera are reversed from each other and basically let you correct the scene geometry by tilting one while changing the plane of focus by tilting the other, or something like that. I'm still learning.

As for mixing my own color chemistry, so far I've impressed myself by simply processing C-41 and E-6 from kit chemicals, bypassing the color lab, but I sometimes like doing geek-ish things, so I may someday try it.

As for the processing, I was the same as you before trying it. Back in the day, I always heard that color processing was something that you just shouldn't do. You had to be super-anal about temperatures and times and printing was difficult, and it was supposedly expensive, and your results always turned out like crap. Turns out it really isn't that bad, but it is still pretty bad. You realistically need to stay within about a degree on C-41 and within about a half a degree on E-6, and you have to be careful how and when you push process or the colors get whacky beyond the ability to correct when printing. However, I don't print photographically-I scan the negatives and then edit the image in, photoshop, paintshop, or whatever, almost all of which are capable of significant color corrections at no cost for test paper, allowing you to be sloppier developing the negatives. Also, once you have developed the skills and gotten used to a few habits, the temperature control is not as difficult as it sounds. But it is still a significant hassle. The bigger hassle is getting exposures right when you take the picture. The cheap automatic 35mm SLRs take beautiful mostly perfectly correct exposures, but everything with the Hasselblad or the view cameras has to be done with a light meter, and then a bunch of calculations have to be made for every change you make from pure normal. B&W is simple-as long as you are reasonably close, you get an image. But transparencies/E-6 is less forgiving. You have to be within about a stop and a half or you get an almost black or completely clear result.

The debate in the movie industry is still raging, even though every movie theater I do work for has converted to digital except the IMAX. It is the same as still photography-digital gets almost the same results as film except you don't have to fuck with all of the film, and the areas where film really is still better are very narrow, and otherwise are almost not noticeable. However, I've read that Quintin Tarantino and Speilburg have said that they would rather quit making films that use digital.

I suspect that as a result of digital the movie industry may undergo a transformation very similar to the photography industry. Soon, anybody that can afford a D800 and two or three lenses, a computer and some software can be in the movie business. The result may be a mixture of a large volume of crap made by non-professionals that drowns out the really good by seasoned professionals and a lot of innovation as new people previously frozen out by the high costs of filmmaking start doing new art nobody has tried before.

I wonder if Tarantino and others that favor film really see some artistic difference between film and digital or if they are simply trying to impede a lot of crap pictures that will drown out their art or if they are concerned about the flood of new people entering the industry now that the financial constraints of film costs are removed and that some of these people may actually produce much better art

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"However, I've read that Quintin Tarantino and Speilburg have said that they would rather quit making films that use digital."

Hah. Spielberg surprises me a bit. But maybe he's just "an old dog".
QT I can believe, in that he is a stubborn and obnoxious a-hole, it seems. Still, he shouldn't be that conservative, he should be excited by real time editing and whatnot.

"The result may be a mixture of a large volume of crap made by non-professionals that drowns out the really good by seasoned professionals and a lot of innovation as new people previously frozen out by the high costs of filmmaking start doing new art nobody has tried before."

Yes, classic half-full or half-empty situation! I've always been "half-full" minded. Nobody forces you to watch all the crap, it's just a matter of a selection and review network, and as everybody likes to give their opinion...

Ebooks and self publishing has multiplied the number of books published yearly, it's nearly 2M now, only in the US!
But it has allowed good work like Wool. And also super-hits/crap like 50 Shades. But note that the traditional publishers don't mind publishing that crap once it has proven to sell!