“Leica Photography” Is Dead. Leica Killed It! Or did they?

I came across this post yesterday, and I thought it was so self contradictory, but maybe it was just designed as a trolling piece.

http://leicaphilia.com/?p=311 what do you think

Anyhow here’s my rebuttal

Seems to me this guy has it all backwards. He might have his facts right about early lens quality v Zeiss v nikkor. But he’s conclusions and assumptions are all wrong. Firstly his definition of “Leica Photography” seems to be stuck in the 1920′s, he actually doesn’t even define his definition of “Leica photography” but one can assume from his text, and the way he talks about HCB that he’s definition of “Leica photography” is closely tied to the pictorial movement and “the decisive moment”.

“Leica Photography” is a living organism it evolves,  “Leica Photography” of the 1920-30′s is very different to “Leica Photography”of the Korean/Viet Nam war era. During the pictorial movement photographers, tried to make art that was pictorial/painterly (which was why bromoil was popular at this time), this is why grain and soft focus was popular not because lenses were crap. “Leica Photography” has always been about creating art, fast forward to this decade and the Leica M is no different it’s not about shooting test charts and getting the highest DxO rating. It’s about creating art and if that means using silverFx to add grain to a razor sharp digital file then that’s good too.

Leica became marginalized during the rise of the SLR in the 70-80′s  and then to make things worse the dSLR revolution of the late 90′s and 2000′s pushed Leica further back. It has nothing to do with the Leitz family, quite the opposite, they let Leica slip on their watch they just kept phoning it in, allowing the company to become a dinosaur. Then the Millionaire guy bought Leica, he wasn’t just some soulless venture capitalist he IS a photography enthusiast (check out his interview on youtube). He loved his Leica camera and wanted to make Leica great again. He succeeded!

Not only is “Leica Photography” NOT dead, it’s more alive today than it has been in decades!

Actually come to think about it, the fact this guy has a blog dedicated to Leica photography, proved Leica Photography is not dead.

 

Prototype Rolleiflex for sale

WestLicht photo auctions in Vienna have some very interesting cameras coming up for sale on 22 March 2014 http://www.westlicht-auction.com/index.php?id=4&L=1

The very first Rolleiflex twin lens prototype ever made, built in 1925/26 with one focusing wheel for the viewing and taking lens (like all later Rolleiflex cameras), for 4.5x6cm plates as the 120 rollfilm wasn’t invented, in fully original condition with certificate by DHW and original patent letter no.519590

Expected to fetch 35,000 – 45,000 EUR

They also have the only Hassleblad to make it to the moon and back. There were a total of 14 cameras to be used on the moon the other 13 are still on the moon and free to anyone who wants them, “local pick up only”!

Expected to go for: 150,000 – 200,000 EUR

Added to the collection!

My most recent acquisition, this beautiful black Rollei 35

Rollei 35

Rollei 35

You may recall some time back my brother reviewed his lovely little Rollei 35 S. The higher end version with Rollei HFT Sonnar lens.

This little black Tessar version is cheaper but still a handy little performer. Don’t believe me? go to flickr and search for images shot with them. The little scale focus Rollei’s punch way above their weight class thats for sure.

I got this one for just over $20, it was marked as faulty, after being dropped by it’s previous owner. I found that it wasn’t much work to get the lens barrel unlocked and back into swift motion. Ebay can be a goldmine of opportunities if you know what you are looking for. I’ve saved lots of money over the years buying “seemingly” broken cameras that need very little to get going.

Anyway, this little beauty has a film loaded and is ready to shoot, being as it’s Xmas I’d say i’ll be burning through this roll quite quickly.

Have a safe and happy Christmas and a great start to the new year

Kodak sells it’s Personalised Imaging business to it’s UK retirees.

I’ve seen a few articles on this over the last few days and at first I wasn’t able to make much sense about it all. (hence no news here until now)

From what I’ve gathered KPP (Kodak Pension Plan) was owed quite a large sum by Kodak (for what we can only assume was some sort of loan during Kodaks financial troubles.) So Kodak has sold off it’s Personalised Imaging business to clear the debt with KPP.

In Australia we call a pension plan “Superannuation” so why would you want a managed pension plan to have control over the film business that we know is quite profitable? It initially doesn’t sound very good but the more you think about it it’s not so bad.

KPP will want to maximise profits from that division in order to get dividends that will pay back the money they lost with Kodak and an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article reads, and I quote;

“In the coming months, the U.K. retirees, about 15,000 total, plan to establish a governance structure and hire executives to try to generate cash flows that satisfy pension obligations, among other objectives, said Steven Ross, chairman of the U.K. Kodak Pension Plan. Down the road, KPP could sell the businesses, he added, but it would be at least 10 years off.”

So if you are pondering on the future of Kodak film, I think we may continue to see it being produced for some time yet, if there is a sell off of sorts we may see a new company take the reins and steer kodak film in a new direction.

Either way it goes, there are still plenty of options for us film shooters and I’ll been keeping an eye on the news about Kodak and KPP, updates here as they happen.

Epson V500 + Vuescan – Output comparison

It seems if you read around the web, everyone has their own way of doing things. Some people use the factory scanner software others use expensive professional apps and everything in between.

I’ve been using Vuescan 9 on Ubuntu Linux for sometime and getting quite acceptable results. Now I know that the V500 isn’t going to get ground breaking detail from a negative, at least not the way a dedicated scanner or drum scanner could but those options are out of my price range so lets not digress.

Even in the limited world of scanning with Vuescan everyone seems to have their own little method. I’ve been using the preview + exposure lock + film base colour lock. method, I turn off all the auto settings and let the scanner do a pass. I set the black and white points and make a white balance adjustment by selecting a white or grey area of the scan. I then save off the file as a jpg and massage it to my liking in the gIMP.

I’ve recently read some articles online about getting better scans out of Vuescan, some which suggest doing multiple passes, others suggest getting a RAW file out of Vuescan and using something like Adobe CameraRaw to convert and adjust the scan.

I decided to do my own little test, I pulled out the binder and flipped back to the year 2009 and picked out a negative I’ve never scanned before. I thought it best so I don’t already have an idea of how it should look “finished.”

Below I present the following:
1. Single pass jpg scan, edited in gimp for curves and colour. unsharpened.
One Pass JPEG

1a. 100% Crop from single pass scan
One Pass 100% crop of JPEG

2. Three pass jpg scan, editing in gimp for curves and colour. unsharpened
Three Pass JPEG

2a. 100% Crop from three pass scan
Three Pass 100% crop from JPEG

3. Three pass raw scan, converted in UFRaw converter with curves and colour adjustment and imported into gimp for a final colour touch up.
Raw scan converted JPEG

3a. 100% Crop from Raw Scan
Raw Scan 100% crop from JPEG

So looking back at the results, there is a slight improvement in grain by doing a three pass scan. while going to the extra trouble to scan in raw doesn’t seem to produce any results that would make it worth the work.

Given that I could have spent a little more time here and there I may have gotten slightly different results, also that the colour balance isn’t perfectly matched between the raw and jpgs.

This has certainly showed me that going RAW for my scans isn’t worth the extra work even if I was able to get even a slight increase in perceived quality. however for stuff that I care about I’ll be doing a three pass scan for sure, it shows noticeably finer grain in the shadows and it’s not much extra work to tick a box, although it does increase scan time.

If this has been useful or if you have any problems with my openly unscientific method give me a yell in the comments.

Cheers

More adventures in Bromoil Printing

So I’ve been busy working away with the Bromoil process, trying to master it’s technicalities and nuances. It’s a particularly demanding mistress to understand.

I’ve learned some things lately that have helped me to move forward with this printing process and I’m getting some decent results, one area that seems to still be holding me back is making/choosing the right negative.

I recently took a photo in the foyer of the old railway here in Townsville, The harsh midday light was streaming through two openings leaving a nice reflection on the floor, two mid sized potted plants sat outside in the middle of each opening making for a nice arrangement, the problem was the cars in the background carpark were distracting.

Old Train Station

I wondered if it would make a nice Bromoil print, seeing as you can ink in or out whatever you like with this process it seemed like a good idea. So I got cracking and made a Silver Gelatin print on Arista double weight matte fiber.

After making a matrix out of it I got busy inking in the details. I found that it was rather slow taking ink, sometimes I use warm water for the soak as this allows the gelatin to swell more and can help the print take on more ink. After several inking sessions it stopped accepting ink and I left it to dry.

I came back the next day to try again. Once a Bromoil has dryed the gelatin will often allow more ink after re-soaking. This time time I was getting much better contrast building up and the detail was coming out nicely. But wait, what about those cars? Blast I thought. I should have remembered to leave them out of the initial inking, so now I have a nice print with an annoying background element, what to do.

Not to worry, I’ve seen in tutorials that you can later remove ink from a dried print with a normal rubber eraser. So I again dried the print and found that the eraser works a treat, it doesn’t leave a mess and only affects the image slowly, so plenty of rubbing later, I had taken most of the detail out of the area affected and was almost finished.

The last thing I noticed was that there was very little detail in the leaves/branches of the trees, I assume because of the harsh backlight and the fact that all the detail got bleached out during the bleach/tanning step of making the Matrix. Ok what now, I started hunting around for a small stiff paintbrush, luckily my step-daughter has an assortment of painting supplies, I borrowed a brush and dabbed the tip in the ink and worked gently to ink in some tree-like detail to the tops of the potted plants.

It worked a treat and really tipped off the print giving it the balance it needed. Check out the final Bromoil print below.

Old Station Bromoil