Thursday, August 8, 2013

Revival of Vinyl Records and the Survival of Film

I was listening to this podcast talking about the revival of vinyl record sales and I had the feeling that for some parts of the show they could have changed the word vinyl to film.  Especially when they were talking about a return to vinyl recordings being a reaction to the perfection and sterility of digital recordings.  Overall they made the point that some felt that vinyl records seemed like a more involved, and more human way to listen to music. It was interesting to me that Vinyl records have been increasing in sales since 2007.  They were up 30% last year.  Now it doesn't look like they will ever reach the level where they once were, however it does appear that vinyl has a stable niche.

I think film is in a similar place.  I would guess that many of you are like me in being tired of hearing people say that film is obsolete. Still like the vinyl crowd I think there is a segment of people who find something missing in digital images. I think the challenge for the film making industry will be to adjust to that smaller market.  Film like vinyl likely will never recapture the mass market.  Still I do believe that there is enough of a market for film to keep a film producer in business if they go out there and cultivate that market. While I know that many have problems with companies like Lomography, however I do believe that they are a good thing in that they are about the only people cultivating a market for film. And while it is likely that the Lomography thing may just be a fad for some, fads do have a way of helping to discover what may become a lasting preference. Hopefully, the message that film is not dead will start to be heard more.

 Taken with Fed 2 with Industar 61 on Legacy Pro 100.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Polariod Spectra System

Until I started seeking out cameras at garage sales, thrift shops etc. I had never heard of the Polaroid Spectra System.  I was aware of the 600, and SX70 cameras, but couldn't remember ever seeing a Spectra camera back in the old days. I still don't see that many of them, however when I do they are usually cheap.  So that got me into checking to see if there is still a way to take pictures with one.  What I found is that new film can be had from the Impossible Project .  Also there is still some expired Polaroid film out there, however it is usually expensive and getting way past its expiration date.

So after finding that the Spectra System camera can still be used I wondered if there is any demand for them.  What I found is that while some people are using the Spectra cameras they appear to be much less popular than the 600 and SX70 type cameras.  In a way that seems like a shame since the Spectra cameras seem like a better camera.  Especially better than the consumer type 600 cameras.  On the other hand the 600 cameras do seem to have more personality, whereas the Spectra cameras appear to be designed not to draw attention.

The reviews I read of the Spectra System cameras were all favorable.  The auto focus is said to be very accurate.  There is a reading telling you how far the focus is set.  The exposure system is also said to be very good.  One guy claims that he has never had an image be over or underexposed.  Considering how expensive film for these cameras is that is a good selling point. The lens and the build quality of these cameras is also supposed to be pretty good.  I can not from experience say anything about the lens, however I can say that these do seem to be a much more solid camera than most of the 600 types.

So if you are just into giving yourself the best odds of getting the image you are aiming for than the Spectra System is worth some thought.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Time Promotional Camera

It is possible the the Time Camera is both the most reviled and the most imitated camera in the history of photography. The Time camera was introduced in 1985 as part of a magazine sales promotion by Time magazine. At a time when many photographers were complaining about the increased use of plastic in cameras, Time decided to add metal in the form of lead weights to their otherwise plastic camera.  With this innovation the Time camera had the extra heft that many at the time felt was the hallmark of a well-made camera.

Apparently the Time promotion was a success and set off a wave of offering a free camera as a promotional item.  Most of these cameras were either a clone of the original Time camera with a different name, or were a minor variation on the Time camera theme.  Maybe there were a few people who thought that they were getting a high quality camera, however it appears that most people didn't value these cameras much.  Today this type of camera is a staple of the thrift shops and garage sales.  Many are found still in their original packaging.

Back when I was more into toy cameras than I am today I used many of the Time type cameras.  However I had never had used the father of the family until I recently bought one at our local Salvation Army Thrift Store.  The Time Camera offers the choice of four apertures, f/6,f/8,f/11 and f/16.  The shutter speed is 1/125. The pictures that this camera took are better than I expected.

Of course I took most of the photos on a sunny day while visiting some antique shops in Danville, IL.  Such conditions are likely to bring out the best in a camera with the capabilities of the Time Camera. Nonetheless I was pleased with the pictures it made which I can't say is true with every camera.

If you are anywhere near central Illinois, Danville is a worthwhile place to visit if you like antique and thrift shops.  The town also has a nice mix of old buildings to take photos of.

So now I have used a Time Camera and was not traumatized by the results. My biggest complaint about this camera is that it seems that what I saw in the viewfinder was only about half of what would end up in the photo.  Its maybe the most useless viewfinder that I have experienced.  Still if I had to I could probably make do with the Time Camera.