Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nikon S2 the Holy Grail?

Quest for Camera (QFC) is over!
Okay, not really.
I think I may be close though.
All this time I've been shooting black and white film I've had an image in my mind about how some of my photos should look.
Where this image comes from I dunno; maybe it's a composite of all the black and white pictures I've seen or maybe it is from my imagination but I've been chasing it all this time.
That image I mean.
That look.
I may have found it here:

I've wanted this camera from the first time I saw it mostly because it looked cool.
The metal construction and deco lines appealed to the gear head in me.
The camera though was a stretch for me to acquire as it's something of a collectors item.
I don't mind spending the scratch on a something new, like a digital body, but going over five skins for a film camera?
You gotta be outta your mind!
Which I am.
I have detailed files.
First of all, this thing is old.
Like older than me, built in the fifties old.
Not exactly high tech, even when it was first sold.
That title goes I suppose to the 'L' word cameras: Leica
Still it is a Nikon and I am a sort of Nikon person.
I think.
Anyways, this camera is not without some quirks:

The shutter speed selection dial is two stepped, unfortunately right around the speeds that I shoot, 1/15 to 1/60 of a second.
It also isn't very easy or fast to do the selection since you must lift the dial to change speeds.
This was changed on the next model, the SP.
More on that later.
The aperture ring is also on the outer part of the lens:

Which is opposite the F series lenses which have the rings on the inner part.
The focusing mechanism is also in the camera body and there's an infinity lock meaning when you hit infinity, the lens locks up and you must toggle a thingy to release it.
The shutter button is also set back from the front of camera,  not very ergonomic.
These short comings I can live with because of this:

Basically a metal barrel with some glass in it, 1950's optical technology.
From what I've been reading the lens formula is far from perfect.
Stopped down it looks great:

Okay I said great, not exceptional.
A bit soft on the edges I think.
Wide open, at f1.4, it's another story:

Without getting into the details of the distortion called spherical aberration,  it creates a sort of soft look, with a loss of contrast, when you shoot the lens wide open.
Here's another more obvious example:

One man's flaw is another man's visualization and it's All About the Light Baby (AATLB).
This optical 'flaw' is almost exactly what I've been looking for.
With today's software you can add almost any effect to your pictures to get the look you desire.
Except I rarely do any post processing on my film images.
What you see is what I got.
Authenticity don't you know.
I don't even adjust for exposure value; if it's under exposed so be it if it's over exposed I usually don't post it up.
Okay, I do some cropping and straightening, but that's about it.
So have I found my Holy Grail of Noir et Blanc Photography (HGONEBP)?
I'm still learning the camera and figuring out how to make it do what I want it to do.
I think I'm close though and that's a good thing.
Except that if I decide it works for me I may have to get another one or an SP, which was the improved model and that camera is somewhat rarer than the S2.
Not a good thing.
For my wallet anyways.
I gotta tell you though that my lust for camera gear has gone down about two notches and that's a good thing!
I think.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Final

Back in to the concrete jungle I went.
After a nice long session of laziness drills.
Getting ready for the Laziness Olympics don't you know.
Anyways I got started late and although the sun was still shining it was too low to get any nice shots.
What I mean is the light was gone and I spent most of the time chasing it but I pretty much missed it.
The golden hour I mean.
So off I headed towards the yacht harbor in hopes of catching the sunset:

Trolleys getting in my way.
Seems like the run every five seconds or so.
It was a nice sunset so I just planted myself where I was and watched:

Then it was off to the boat place to see what I could find:

I was shooting mostly film, you know, to see what my new to me toys can do.
The negatives are hanging up now and I'll scan them tomorrow at work.
So I'm walking around minding my own business when what do I find?

That's right frozen treat fans!
French Vanilla and Kona Coffee thank you very much.
Six bucks for two scoops.
Sort of got robbed but then again it is Waikiki.
Then I got it in my head that I'm going to fool around with double exposures:

I've been trying to capture how I see Waikiki.
I haven't quite got the hang of the double and triple exposures, composition is tricky as is the exposure value.
I need to work on it a bit more.
Then I saw this humungous dog:

Look at the kid reaching for the tail.
Or foolish.
So anyways, I figured I'd seen enough and I headed on home.
Blowing through another roll of film along the way.
More on that, the film I mean, later.

Sunday Early Edition

So yesterday off we went in search of the sunset.
Other stuff too,  but I only got pictures of that.
The sunset I mean.
We got there a bit early:

If you, the reader, have been following along at home you know that last summer I chased the sun a bunch and learned a lot about shooting sunsets.
Under expose is the key.
Then you just wait and see what happens.
So far it looks like the sun might make an appearance under those clouds there.
Getting ready:

Make sure you got all your settings down.
Check and check and triple check!
We're not the only ones tracking the sun:


More waiting:

A crowd gathers:

Shooting around and in some cases, through folks:

It actually got a bit uh, competitive here with everyone trying to get a shot.
It was a 'cold' sunset, we weren't bathed in a golden light or anything like that.
Still it was a nice show:

Then just like that, the day was gone:

I got some stuff to do today, so just like that, I am gone.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Stuff!

Tax returns don't you know.
I've been holding off on some of this, trying to decide whether or not I really need it.
I mean I don't really any of this stuff, but I decided to create a need.
If you know what I mean.
Finally I got a new camera bag.
I mean yet another bag:

That's the old bag in back.
I'm still trying to travel as light as possible but the old bag was just wasn't cutting it anymore.
Besides, I needed the new bag to carry this:

Okay, it's just a lens, but it's a lens I'be been thinking about for some time.
At f1.2, it's only a tad faster than a 1.4 and to be honest I'm not sure it's worth it but I thought I'd give it a try.
So far so good:

Because of the fast design, the lens it supposed to have some qualities that make it different.
The depth of field is like razor thin and it's supposed to have a certain look.
To be honest I haven't seen it yet, but I really haven't taken it through the paces.
In my head I'm still visualizing what I want my pictures to look like and I think I'm getting closer.
While I appreciate sharpness and contrast, sometimes so much so that I forget about composition, I'm looking for a certain softness and glow.
Something like this:

Most of look I'm well, looking for depends a lot on the lighting, but that's pretty darn close.

At first glance the images may look a bit out of focus (OOF) but they really aren't.
The glow of the light combined with the lack of contrast creates this softness that I really like.
Those images came from this:

That's right triangulation fans!
The Nikon S2 with 50mm f1.4 lens!
Fifty year old rangefinder goodness!
Oh this puppy has been on the ole Flat Tire Radar (FTR) for a while and figured I might as well see what it's all about.
Before I even mutter the 'L' word.
More on the 'L' word later.
While I've only put a roll through the S2 I really like it.
It does have some quirks though but they are not deal breakers.
I'm really digging the images that it made.

In my mind, that's analog photography.
Okay, I'm off to test that puppy out with some slow speed film to see what it can really do.
Later today I'm taking a couple of students with me into the concrete jungle to take some street pictures.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lynx 14

I was going to name this entry Fast Glass, but I'll save that one for later.
The Yashica Lynx-14, in this case the Lynx-14E, does have some fast f1.4 glass.
For a 'compact' rangefinder I mean.
All my other cameras have f1.6 to f2.8 lenses which makes this the fastest of the lot.
Just what is a lynx anyways?
Maybe they should have called this camera the Cheetah!

I'm pretty sure a cheetah can out run a lynx.
As in fast?
The camera does have some quirks.
The advance throw is on the long side:

It causes me some problems as the throw on a Nikon F body is shorter.
I sometimes think I've short advanced the film, but so far I haven't had any half frames or anything.
It makes up for it with the nice shutter release.
Oh so soft!
Don't really need that red shutter thingy as it's smooth as a baby's you know what.
Makes my Konica S1.6's shutter button seem ridiculously difficult.
The shutter release is so nice I accidentally clicked off a frame while riding the Flat Tire Earth Machine (FTEM):

The heart of this camera though is the lens, which is larger than a Nikon 50mm.
I suppose it should be since it also houses the quiet, nice sounding shutter.
Being used to the sound of a mirror clacking, these rangefinder leaf shutters seem a bit wimpy when it comes to shutter sounds.
Sometimes it doesn't seem as if I've even taken a picture.
The Lynx shutter is reassuring without being intrusively loud.
Very pleasant.
Back to the glass:

Pictures from Honolulu Night Market on Saturday.
The only strange thing is that halo on the last pic.
It also occurs in pictures when the lens is pointed almost directly into the light; I'll have to see how it does at the beach and at sunsets.
I didn't have batteries for the camera when I took those pictures but I got in a bunch of A640PX batteries today.
The original batteries were 1.35 volts while these are 1.5 so you have to adjust the ISO a stop lower.
The switch for the meter is in front of the camera:

Which is a nice thing since with some of these old cameras the meter is on all the time.
There is a display in the viewfinder that tells you if you are over or under exposed:

Nice little feature though it was okay working without it.
Sunny 16 don't you know.
The rangefinder spot is bit weak on my camera:

You can barely see the yellow spot and all bets are off under low light conditions.
The frame lines are parallax corrected, meaning they move when focusing, but still somewhat sticky hence my framing is sometimes off center:

On the bottom image, you can see the lens curvature though I'm not too worried about it.
The camera takes some nice pictures but I'll run some slow film through it to see how it really does.
What this all means is that I'll be looking for another one, maybe two, you know, as back ups.
Don't bid against me!
I got my Lynx for less than a hunsky though I followed one auction to finish and it just touched a century.
Still a good deal for a camera that can do what an SLR does, mainly excel at low light.
Needless to say, I'm totally digging this camera!
So there ya go, the Yashica Cheetah-14E.
I mean Lynx.