Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Imitating Film Cameras in Photoshop

I can well understand how the idea of using Photoshop to try to make a digital image look like one from a film camera could be a horror to many. However I have to admit that on occasion I like to play around with such effects. Still I do believe that these effects, like with most imitations, while they may be interesting and entertaining they aren't a replacement for the real thing. 

The newest version of Topaz Adjust has some film effects. There are some presets or you can make your own settings.

This is another one done with Topaz Adjust.  Topaz makes several plugins that are useful for digital photos.  And they are generally more affordable than other plugins for Photoshop.

This is one of the many sets of effects in the Filter Forge plugin.  It is called Memeroid and is supposed to imitate a Polaroid photo.

Another Memeroid.  While not of the same proportions as this type of Polaroid I think it adds some interest to the image.  The Filter Forge plugin is sorta expensive, however it does let you make your own filters.  And you can download a large number of useful filters made by Filter Forge users. 

This is a filter from Filter Forge called Analogue.  Some of the effects in Filter Forge can take a while to render.  I had a cup of coffee and went outside and took some pictures while this one was processing. Normally my computer handles Photoshop stuff quickly.  Some Filter Forge effects are the exception.

I think this effect fits the character of the buildings.  This one is from Topaz Adjust.

Here is one from Filter Forge call Toycam 82.  The buildings on this page are in Danville IL.  An interesting town to take pictures in although they have a tendency to tear down their most interesting buildings.

Lastly, one from Alien Skin Exposure.  This is supposed to be an imitation of one of my favorite 70's slide films, GAF 500.  When looking at a much larger version I thought it did a pretty good job. At this size I am not sure if the looks so good. Generally I don't find the Photoshop versions of films to be very satisfying.

So here you have some of the results of my playing around with these filters. If you are like me and enjoy this kind of look than you may find that these effects can liven up some otherwise dull digital photos.  Still as someone who has experienced both I think you can more easily get more satisfying and interesting results using real film cameras.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sort of like HDR

Having an in-camera HDR mode is not a new thing.  My Sony DSC-TX7 has something called Backlight Correction HDR.  And that camera has been around for two or three years.  Backlight Correction HDR works by taking two images with different exposures and merging these together in the camera.  Of course this doesn't give anything close to the dynamic range of a traditional HDR, however in some circumstances it is a nice feature.

Here I think it helped the improve the lighting on the corn.

Fairly extreme back-lighting in this image.

Probably without Backlight Correction HDR either the highlights would have been blown out on one side, or the shadows would have been too great on the other side.

The effect of Backlight Correction HDR is more subtle than real HDR usually is.  I think it does a pretty good job of giving a bright background and darker foreground a natural looking balance.  I don't keep up with trends in digital cameras the way I once did, however I would guess that some kinda in-camera HDR is or will become a common option. And for the most part it appears to be a useful one.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Garage Sale Finds

Twindar Star, Suprema Mini GTG, and Vivitar T200

Pickings have been slim around here camera-wise.  I went to the Champaign County Humane Society garage sale and the cameras above were the best I could do.  And this is from one of the largest community garage sales of the year.  This haul did only cost $2.  I also got four rolls of expired Kodak Gold Max 400 for a dollar and five rolls of expired Kodak Gold 200 for the same price.  The Twindar did have a manual that says it is f/9 with 1/100 for the shutter speed.  The other two don't give those details although I would guess they have similar specifications.  The Suprema has a 28mm lens.  The other two look like 35mm. 

So I have nothing to add to a museum of fine photographic equipment.  Still I am looking forward to putting a roll of the expired film through each one and seeing what happens.  I am getting quite a collection of these cheap plastic cameras.  Some I have gotten some pleasing results from.  And at least they don't cost much.  Still I hope that I run across some more sophisticated cameras this summer.

If you need to purge your eyes after looking at these lowly cameras this link may be helpful to you.  It is to a bunch of articles on historic and classic cameras at Shutterbug Magazine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eastman Kodak Company

Over the past few months I have read a lot of posts about the troubles Kodak is having.  Some have long lists of the mistakes that Kodak made and how they might have kept going strong as a company.  Myself I think people are asking the wrong question.  Instead of wondering what happened to Kodak it might be good to look at why they did so well for so long.

Most companies only stay in business a short time.  Only a very small percentage of those ever come to dominate their field.  Kodak not only has lasted a long time it had dominated its field for over a hundred years.  To me that success is the extraordinary thing while Kodak's current problems are more ordinary since eventual failure is the norm for a business.

It seems fairly obvious that the initial reason for the success of Kodak was they were the first to make photography fairly easy for people.  And this helped Kodak to sell a lot of film.  Kodak then continued to innovate with film while also making a product of reliable quality.  While other companies made film Kodak was the company that the average person trusted the most.  Kodak did make other products, however these were often made with the idea of selling more film.

All this worked well as decade after decade Kodak remained the leader in photography.  It even allowed the company to absorb failures like disc cameras and their attempt at instant film.  Then of course digital came along.  Many have said they should have seen it coming.  And many have said that Kodak made major mistakes in not capitalizing on digital even though they did some pioneering work in that area. 

Still Kodak mainly was a film producing company.  That is what they knew how to do and they did it extremely well for a long time.  I am not sure how much they can be faulted for a failure to develop products in a new area with which they would experience a similar level of success.  If they had in some ways that would have been extraordinary.  Instead they faltered as most every other company in history as done when faced with a severe decline in demand for their most important product. 

Like any company that produces a successful product Kodak's strength also was its greatest vulnerability.  Generally demand for a product does not last forever. The mass demand for film did last longer than the demand for most products.  And I think Kodak should be praised for doing so well for so long at supplying that demand instead of being criticized for not developing the hypothetical products that may have kept them out of trouble.

Hopefully, Kodak will at least continue to survive to make a reduced amount of film.  Still it is doubtful that we ever will see Kodak being the presence with the masses that it once was. I imagine there already is a strong dividing line age-wise between those who still fairly quickly think of Kodak when they think of photography and those who may not be aware of Kodak at all. 

Ad from 1956.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What are the Vintage Displays Missing?

I imagine that if you like to buy old cameras that you like me have spent some time looking in antique shops.  I have noticed that some shops have taken to putting items together by eras in such a way that would be suggestive to a decorator.  This makes sense since it seems that younger people are interested in using vintage items for decorating more than for collecting. I saw one shop, Just Vintage, in Tuscola, Illinois that is wholly given over to this approach. I remember walking in there and feeling a little like I had gone back to a house in my 1960's childhood.  I would guess this is a trend that will increase as shops try to attract the younger buyers.  And while I have nothing against this approach I do as someone who actually lived through those times find one thing missing. 

I know I have my bias in this area, however I can't help but wonder where the cameras are.  My memory of the 60's and 70's and I imagine it is true also of the 50's is that a still or movie camera was present at every event.  Birthdays, holidays, and trips were all documented on film. At least I know this was true of my family and the other families that I grew up around.  And I am pretty sure it was a wide-spread trend at the time. Along with taking the images getting together to see the pictures was a social event.  Probably few people who lived at the time escaped a long evening of viewing someones vacation slides or movies. So I wonder why something that was such a part of those eras seldom is part of these vintage displays?  I suppose that is a question I should ask the next time I see someone who is responsible for one of these displays.

In writing this I got to thinking of how we view images has changed.  I don't think that many of us get together these days to view images the way we did when someone pulled out the movie or slide projector.  While we still share images, maybe even more than we once did, most of the viewing is done individually on some kind of screen.  Everybody in a wide group may see an image, however not at the same time and in the same room.  Although probably most of us don't miss the sometimes endless slideshows or movie nights they did at least teach that there is value in good editing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A few images from the Konica MiniPop.

Not sure if this building has a name.  It has a coin shop and a tea shop on the bottom, and some office space on top.  The film was Kodak UltraMax 400.

Have a few pictures from downtown Champaign IL that I took testing out the Konica MiniPop.  Not much to that camera.  It is small and fixed focus. 

Don't know who made this, however I am glad it was there for me to take a picture of.

I am curious about what this organ dedicates itself to. The Virginia also got a new marquee this year.

Champaign's City Building was built in the 30's. Fortunately, the city has taken good care of the building and it appears to be still going strong.

Anyway I thought the MiniPop turned out some nice pictures.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Argus HFM II revisited

I first posted about the Argus HFM II back in January. Since my lastest batch of film included some new photos from that camera I am added these to the original gallery.

I used Kodak UltraMax 400 this time. Although the camera's manual suggests 200 ISO film I think in most cases that 400 IS0 may be the better choice.

This is some bank building in downtown Champaign IL. It was built in the early 70's and is the first building I can remember seeing around here with reflective glass.  The building is less of an offense to the eye than most modern bank buildings. 

I believe this statue is called "A Prayer for Rain".  I imagine it might be more authentic if it was called something like "A Prayer for the Europeans to leave". 

The full Argus HFM II Gallery.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Got some film back last week

I sent some rolls of film to Sharp Photo last week. I mailed the film on a Thursday and had it back by Monday. So while it wasn't immediate gratification, it was pretty quick.

This is from the Detrola Model E using Kodak Portra.  The camera seemed to do much better with this film than it did with the Efke films. 

I also got some decent results from the Yashica 44 LM.  Although some of the shots were ruined by light leaks.  I think these were the result of problems with putting the bulk Kodak Portra on a new backing paper.

Lastly I continue to like the results I get from the Vivitar PS 55s .  I added some new images to its gallery.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Content Aware Fill Solves a Problem

I haven't used Content Aware Fill in Photoshop for a while, however it came in handy for an image I was working on the other evening.  I saw these furrows in a field curving toward a interesting looking cloud.  The problem was it was difficult to get the shot I wanted without having my shadow in it.  I thought I was close until I loaded the images.

I saw that I would like to have a little more on the cloud side.

This is where Content Aware Fill came in handy.

I expanded the canvas on the image.

Then I selected the white area and ran content aware fill.

This is the result I got after a little work with the clone brush. 

If you don't have PhotoShop CS5 the Gimp has a plugin called Resynthesizer
which can do the job.  I remember having used it in Gimp several years ago and found the results to be quite good.  And of course the Gimp is a free program. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yashica Auto Focus Motor

Type: 35 mm programmed shutter EE camera with built in flash unit.
Lens: Yashica Lens 38 mm f/2.8: 4-element, three-lens group composition.
Shutter: Programmed electronic shutter. 1/8 to 1/500/.

I'd never heard of this camera until recently.  Having been introduced in 1980 it is from the same era as the better known Minolta AF, Canon AF35M, and the Nikon L35AF.  And like those cameras it seems to be a quality picture taker.  Pretty much if you are familiar with the other early auto focus point & shoots than the Yashica Auto Focus Motor will hold no surprises.  Its most unique feature is the yellow focus lock button on the front of the camera.  To use the focus lock you place the focus frame over your subject and then press the focus lock button.  You can then re-compose your image and your subject will still come out in focus.

Kirby Firestone in Urbana, Illinois.  I have taken quite a few pictures of this sign over the last few years.

Like most cameras of this sort it seems to do best with 400 ISO films. I used Fuji 400 for the color images in the gallery.  The black & white are with Arista.Edu Premium 400. I can't think of a lot more to say about this camera other then I am impressed enough with it that it will get some regular use as a walking around camera.
Yashica Auto Focus Motor Gallery

Monday, May 7, 2012

Canon T50

Canon T50 next to the last in the T series the Canon T90

I would guess that of all the SLR cameras that Canon has made that The T50 may be the one that gets the least respect.  I think that is because exposure-wise this is, with one exception, an auto only camera.  The exception is that you can set the camera on flash mode and that allows you to select your aperture.  However in that mode your shutter speed is limited to 1/60.  So definitely if you are looking to have any creative control over your camera settings the Canon T50 would not be the camera for you. 

On the other hand if you look at the T50 as a very advanced point & shoot than I think it fares better.  In my experience the auto exposure on the T50 is excellent.  There also is the advantage of the large bright through the lens viewfinder.  Certainly much better that you'd find in most point & shoots.  Then there also is the fact that this camera can use dozens of excellent fd series lenses. Of course since there is no auto focus in this camera it is not purely a point & shoot as we see such cameras today.  Still the focusing is pretty easy with this camera. Price-wise the point & shoot comparison holds up.  You could buy the T50 with a standard 50 f/1.8 lens for around $150.  If you already had a lens then the body sold for around $100. That's in line with what the Canon Sure Shots of the time were selling for.  And I can say from personal experience that you are likely to get much better results from the T50 than you would from the Sure Shots. 

Of course this isn't the 1980's anymore.  Today a T50 body rarely sells for more than $20.  I got mine from KEH for $6.  So its the kind of camera that you won't be out much if you end up not liking it.  For myself I appreciate the quality results that it is capable of and I think it is good value for the money.  Still I do have to admit that most of the time I want more control over the settings I am using. 

The Canon T50 does have some historical interest.  It was the first Canon SLR with a molded plastic body.  Canon had used a lot of plastic with cameras like the AE-1, however these cameras still had metal frames.  The metal frames required some machine finishing that added expense.  The molded plastic did not need the finishing.  The plastic look of the T50 was off-putting to many, however it seems to be a reasonably durable camera.  The main killer is that eventually the LED will give out.  Still for what the T50 costs it is not a big risk to give it a chance.

I mentioned earlier that I got this camera at KEH.  If you haven't heard of them I would recommend checking them out. They have reasonable prices and the quality is much better than you generally find on the auction site.

Here are some specifications for the T50.

My Canon T50 Gallery.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Canon EOS 650

The specifications for the EOS 650 are available at the Canon Camera Museum. Canon does a great job with providing historical information about the cameras they have made.

Introduced in 1987 the Canon EOS 650 was Canon's first auto-focus SLR.  It also introduced the EF lens mount.  Unfortunately the EF mount was not compatible with Canon's earlier lens systems.  That made a lot of people unhappy at the time.  Today it makes excellent older Canon lenses much less expensive than they would be if they could be used on current Canons.  If you want to read about all the firsts for the EOS 650 the topic is covered well here.

I got this camera because I wanted to try an auto-focus slr. From what I read the EOS 650 was a camera that had the features I wanted without being cluttered with a lot of other stuff.  Also over time they seem to have proven to be fairly durable so the odds of getting one the worked well were good.  Lastly the bodies are very cheap.  It is pretty easy to find one for less than $20.  So they are a good deal if you already have some full frame EF lenses that you have been using with your digital cameras.

I have had the EOS 650 for about a year and so far it has performed flawlessly.  If you have used any of the Canon digital SLRs than its operation should be familiar to you since this camera pioneered many of the features that are still used in the cameras of today.  I suppose the best thing I can say about this camera is it is one of the film cameras that I pick up and use fairly often.  I think the EOS 650 would be a particularly good choice if up to now you have only been using digital Canons and would like to expand your creativity into film.

Canon EOS 650 Gallery

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Konica Autoreflex TC

Produced: 1976-1982
Lens: Konica bayonet mount Hexanon AR 40mm f1.8 (6 elements in 5 groups) 
Shutter speeds: B, 1/8-1/1000
Viewfinder: Split image and microprism 
Exposure meter: Center-weighted battery-operated TTL dual CdS metering with aperture indicator needle

 The Konica TC was one of the lighter SLRs that you could get back in the 70's. It was one of the first to replace some metal parts with plastic although it still had a metal frame.  The one here was made in 1979 or later.  I know that because it has the 40mm f/1.8 "pancake" lens instead of the 50 f/1.7 lens that was the standard lens before 1979.  Both lens are have a good reputation for sharpness.  The 40mm f/1.8 is just a faction over 1 inch in length.  When combined with the lightweight TC body it makes for a fairly discreet looking SLR.

I don't know much about how the meter or the auto exposure works on the TC.  This feature used mercury batteries which are no longer made and so far I haven't made the effort to find a replacement.  I find it works okay for me just to use a handheld meter with these battery challenged cameras. Fortunately the rest of the TC works fine without a battery. The viewfinder in the TC is bright and easy to focus.  Now that my eyesight isn't what it once was I find the split-image rangefinder very helpful.

The Konica Autoreflex TC sold in good numbers and there are a lot available today for very little money.  The camera has proved to be durable so it is likely that you can find one that works well. While the functions of the TC are very basic the camera is probably worth a look just for its lenses.  The 50mm f/1.7 and the 40mm f/1.8 are regarded as two of the best lenses ever made for 35mm.

When I was bidding on this camera I noticed that also for sale were some 40mm f/1.8 lenses without a camera.  Strangely, to me at least, I noticed that people were bidding more for the lens by itself then for the lens with a camera.  And not just a little more but sometimes twice as much. I am not sure what accounts for this, however I have noticed the same thing for some other lenses. 

More info on the Konica Autoreflex TC:
From Matt's Classic Cameras

My Konica Autoreflex TC Gallery