Goodbye, giant Polaroid

I’ve stockpiled FP-100C and FP-3000B/667, but not enough to last forever. And now news that a true titan is giving up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/arts/design/champion-of-a-polaroid-behemoth-yields-to-the-digital-world.html

St. Patrick’s Day 2016, Montauk, NY

Agfa Photo 100 CT Precisia (reversal), Yashica T4 Super

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CineStill 120 gets a second chance

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(copyright CineStill – I don’t think they’ll mind, and if they do, they’ll let me know)

http://igg.me/p/cinestill-120-medium-format-film/x/9329188

After an unsuccessful Kickstarter run, CineStill has gotten to their feet, brushed the dust off their knees, and partnered with IndieGoGo. They’ve actually done a huge amount of work toward getting this film made. Here’s an excerpt from their email to past supporters:

The main obstacles (other than funds) were the MOQs (minimum order quantity) and cost vs volume. With medium format film, we couldn’t start small and scale up, as was the approach with our previous 135 releases. It is either large scale production or not at all. Fortunately, you displayed the demand and scale of interest that is achievable. In order to produce the highest quality product, we needed to secure all the materials compatible with slitting and spooling 120, and engineer our process for that scale. This included securing special order materials, a custom built machine and a larger production space. Initially, this required over $300K in capital to produce and fulfill a crowdfunding campaign which would bring CineStill 120 to market. But hard work and dedication pays off.

We have since invested much towards this goal, negotiated lower minimum orders, created production efficiencies and more cost effective equipment design.

We now have a plan, and $120K is the minimum of additional funding needed to get our first MOQ production run off the ground, about the amount which was pledged by you. It actually has cost more than that and will cost more going forward, but that is the remaining of what we need to raise through pledges to justify a large scale production and begin sustained distribution.

There’s a lot to like in the premiums, including rolls of 120 film (natch), rolls of 135, t-shirts, and even 120 film cases designed by Japan Camera Hunter.

In the few minutes it took me to write this post, about $2500 has been pledged. Half of that is mine (I’m kidding). I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this film. I’ve made my order – make yours, too!

PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2015: The State of Film Photography

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  1. I know, I’m late.
  2. I finally came back to finish this post and I hadn’t saved the draft. I had to start over. So there may be errors.
  3. The headline is misleading. There’s obviously a lot of enthusiasm for film photography among us. This post is about one popular convention which couldn’t possibly define the state of film photography.
  4. I actually attended last year’s (2014) also and had drafted a post, but I abandoned it. Life gets in the way of blogging.

First off, this convention should have been called PDN DronePlus Expo. At times, it felt like half of the booths were selling drones or were showing off how their cameras work with drones. I predict that within the next several years, drones will be highly restricted in most places. They’re already illegal in public parks in NYC because they confuse the hell out of, and pose a danger to, the birds.

But let’s start at the beginning.

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It’s a long walk to the Javits Center from the subway, so might as well make it a photo walk.

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In the background is the James A. Farley Post Office Building, perhaps some day to be the new Penn Station. Back before we filed our income taxes electronically, this place would be very busy on the night of April 15 (when United States income tax is due) because they were open 24/7. You could squeeze in at the last minute by getting your envelope to the US Treasury postmarked on the correct day.

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B&H is the largest photography retailer in the US, I think. They run shuttle buses between the convention center and their store. They have a comprehensive film and darkroom department, and they carry all the contemporary film cameras and lenses, e.g. by Cosina-Voigtlander. I usually prefer to order from Freestyle Photo, but B&H is just a subway ride away.

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Jesus 2015, Leica M4, 35mm Summicron, Tri-X EI400, Rodinal 1:50 13 minutes

This guy’s in a plexiglass case to protect him from vandals. Apparently his hand has been in demand.

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Same guy, ca. 2006. Canon L1, 50mm collapsible Summicron, EI1200, Diafine

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First stop was Skylight Diner, which I only go to when attending PhotoPlus Expo. Nothing against the diner—the food’s quite good. It’s on the way to the convention center, and it’s full of people who are about to attend the convention. My photo of the diner was underexposed, so you get this photo instead.

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New York City, and especially Manhattan and Brooklyn, is undergoing a massive building boom. You can’t look in any direction without seeing sidewalk sheds (scaffolding over sidewalks) and cranes. The McDonald’s in the bottom center of the frame is my desperate breakfast spot if I’m in a hurry on the way to the convention center. My job has had me at the Javits Center many times over the years.

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Here’s another “photo walk,” but for this one they brought strobes. This is actually a workshop offered by the PhotoPlus Expo to learn a particularly complex and equipment-heavy form of street photography. Not in view: a shivering model.

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This is a typical photo in the half-mile radius around the Javits Center during PhotoPlus Expo. This gentleman is taking a photo of a bench. After this shot, he will check the LCD on the back of the camera. This is known as “chimping.” I “chimp” hours, days, weeks, and months (sometimes years) later.

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Holy cow. Here we are. It’s a mob scene. People cannot wait to see the drones.

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Showing off big glass (compensating?) at the Canon booth.

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Chrome Leica M-A

The Leica M-A is pretty much the original Leica MP, as far as I can tell. It has the M3 rewind knob and no meter. It costs a lot of money. It feels really nice, like an M3, M4, or MP. Just a note that the people at the Leica booth are very nice and will let you handle, shoot/play with anything. This isn’t a boutique—they are there to sell.

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Leica was showcasing their new cinema lenses, which have huge lettering on them. SUMMICRON!

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Domke. Made in Long Island, NY, USA. Absolutely wonderful bags. This year (by which I mean 2016), is Domke’s 30th anniversary, and they will be issuing some special bags for the occasion. Given that I already have a dozen of their bags (slight, but only slight, exaggeration), I don’t know if I’ll hop on that, but good to know for those of us who know how amazing, and affordable, these bags are.

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Apparently this booth pays cash for your used gear, but maybe they also barter for this young woman’s knitting and other cute stuff? Note the tutu-wearing panda on the left. Off the (crochet) hook.

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PrintFile are the standard for storage. I’m always happy to see them, even when they’re somewhat underexposed.

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What do we call this phase of “aw, I miss film, so I’m going to do it kind of like film?” In years past, we had the fake Polaroid frame and the print-digital-to-instant-film. Today (and yesterday—to be fair, this isn’t new) we have services to make your digital file into a film negative and then print to fiber paper, optically. I guess it makes sense. Kind of like putting your digital music through a tube amp.

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I’m not endorsing anything here, but I did note the M3 drawing as a backdrop. Good luck finding an M3 shooter using Skynook to publish his/her photos.

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This is a great idea: Bokehfire is basically Netflix for lenses. You pay a monthly fee, and you get a lens. When you’re done with the lens, you can get a different lens. If they don’t have the lens you want, they will go out and buy it. When I talked to them, they just had the major DSLR lenses (i.e. not Leica M-mount), but if you shoot late-model Canon or Nikon film bodies, this is an affordable way to shoot some great glass, but only if you shoot with that body a lot.

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Drone cameras. Seriously. They are all for drones.

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Shooting large format-style with a small digital body.

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Shen Hao is for the deep-pocketed film nut. If they don’t have the crazy 120 panoramic back you’re looking for, they will build it for you.

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I need to make more time for large format photography. It’s very satisfying.

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More drones.

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Oh yeah. These were everywhere. Drone “cages.” So we didn’t get messed up by drones while wind0w-shopping.

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I liked this wooden camera/lens dummy so much, I bought one of their tripods. Just kidding. I didn’t buy the tripod because of the dummy. I bought it because they sold it to me for a great price. Exhibitors don’t want to haul everything back to wherever they came from, because that can be expensive. For example, these folks are based in Germany, so they were motivated to make a good cash deal on their excellent wood-legged tripod.

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Zeiss was there, of course. They make lenses that fit on various film cameras. (Do you sense my desperation at finding stuff that’s film-related?)

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This is a terrible photograph, but in it you can see a model who’s being posed to demonstrate some Sigma equipment. PhotoPlus Expo is FULL of this—heavily made-up female models posing to demonstrate lighting equipment or lenses or workflow software, etc. And there are tons of men (rarely women) crowded around the models to shoot them as well. I could say a lot more about this topic, but not today.

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Rob Corddry: “Wait, what? When did they drop the EOS 1V?”

You can’t see it because I’m not a very good event photographer, but the guy on the left has a Leica slung over his shoulder. If I recall correctly, it was an M7 or M6.

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Canon’s new lenses for 2015 all fit on my EOS 1V. And I will likely not purchase any of them. Did I ever tell you the story of my 50mm 1.0 and how a friend of mine dropped and broke it?

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Here’s some cool Linhof stuff. It’s all being showcased with digital backs. No film. But it’s gorgeous.

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Another drone.

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FINALLY. Some FILM!

Of course it’s the Fujifilm booth.

I think Fujifilm gets the retro/cultish/cool thing about film. About instant film, that is.

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They built a set featuring the F train (6th Avenue local subway). Note all the other ideas for using your instant photos, on the right: make a clock, a potted tree, etc.

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A potted tree, flowering with Instax prints

I think it’s a wonderful transition for people  wrapped up in the immediate digital social-networking mode. You have to point, shoot, and wait. Maybe it’s a gateway drug to point, shoot, develop. And further to point, meter, focus, shoot, develop, contact print, print. Probably not for most people.

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There was a line to get your Instax taken by this well-manicured gentleman.

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Mr. Davidshootsfilm AKA Mr. Newyorkcamerastyle

He does good work.

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And what’s this little egg the Fujifilm fairies have given to me?

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Adorbs! It’s an Instax camera fob! Hang it off your phone, or, hell, off your Instax! You can be cool and meta at the same time!

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Kodak’s just a brand at this point. Who’s going to buy that Pixpro? Totally undifferentiated. Again, it’s just a brand. None of this is coming from the Rochester of olden times.

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Think Tank makes awesome bags. If you’re packing a top-level DSLR and being sent overseas for an assignment, you may want to consider these. They’re obviously designed by working photographers and easy to customize. I’m a Domke guy, but I have a Think Tank backpack for traveling with my Canon EOS kit.

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Hey, sexy beast. I’m talking to you, Polaroid Automatic 100. But, seriously, Mick Jagger’s still belting out his classics, and every Polaroid 100 Land Camera that wasn’t thrown in the trash still totally works OVER 50 YEARS LATER. Just like Mick. We expect this of Leicas and Canons and other brass-bodied beauties, but these Polaroids have electronics and bellows and hinges lots of other stuff that could go bad. But they (usually) don’t, because they were built to last.

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This fellow is hawking his “film toaster” which is a box that allows you to insert your film negative and then take a photo of it with your DSLR so you can have a digital copy. It’s an interesting idea if 1) you only have a few strips of film to deal with or 2) you’ve never heard of a scanner. Scratch reason 1—it’s far too expensive if you only have a few strips of film.

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This entire industry revolves around two things: taking photographs of women, and drones.

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WANDRD was a Kickstarter project to make a bad-ass camera bag that also acts as a sort of table that you can hang off your shoulders to change lenses and other two-handed operations. If I were younger and wandering the globe taking photos, I would strongly consider getting one of these. In fact, I was entirely convinced at the show that I had to have this. Then I remembered that I take 90% of my photos with a Leica M and 35mm lens and I have no need for this whatsoever. But if you have more than one lens and a larger SLR, you should totally check this out. I’m not kidding—it’s really nice.

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Lomography was showing off their Kickstarter-funded Instax cameras, among others. I keep trying to like the Lomo stuff, and I keep being disappointed. The Bel-Air 6×12 was crap, and the Lomo’Instant was a mixed bag. The film’s just too expensive to have to worry about whether it will come out—much like the early Impossible Project film. That said, I hope to post soon about the Lomo’Instant. What it does provide is more flexibility than the Fujifilm cameras via more manual control.

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For the working professional like an event or wedding photographer, this show is probably a great resource. Even with a free expo floor pass, there are myriad lectures, workshops, and walkthroughs to help you be successful using the manufacturer’s tools and learn about their latest innovations. Trade show 101.

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Speaking of innovations, Javits Center now offers wine glasses WITH LIDS. No more spilling your adult grape juice on that Canon Super Telephoto EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM.

So that was the show. Kodak Alaris was absent (no free film) and you never see Ilford or anyone else at this show. If you’re shooting film, you’re not missing anything crucial if you skip the show. But the expo floor pass is free and it can be fun. If you like drones. And wine.

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Finally – I found Ilford! PhotoVillage moved to a space across 34th from B&H several years ago. Above a pizzeria. Didn’t this used to be Chrysler Camera Repair?

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Farther down the street, the B&H parking lot is full of Red Bull. Gotta keep that energy up for the expo!

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And a block later, you get back to normal New York, where everyone’s like “PhotoWhat?”

Buy film. Shoot it. Develop it. Print it. Enjoy yourself.

 

Happy New Year! Protopan + Professional 400 in Diafine

2016-0001 Happy New Year Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400

2016-0001 Happy New Year Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400 Diafine

A resolution for the new year: write about film once in a while.

January 1, we hit the sidewalk just before 8AM to bring our puppy to the park. I had loaded my neglected Bessa L with Protopan + 400 and mounted the Cosina-Voigtlander 25mm Snapshot-Skopar. It’s a scale-focus lens, not rangefinder coupled (the current version is in M-mount and is rangefinder-coupled).

2016-0001 Happy New Year Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400

2016-0001 The ShootsFilm Fam Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400 Diafine

A while back, I tracked down a used Bessa L in excellent condition, specifically to shoot the fine CV screwmount wide lenses (15, 21, and 25). I usually just grab the M4 and 35mm Summicron IV when I head out, but what’s the fun of leaving everything else on the shelf all the time?

2016-0001 Happy New Year Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400

2016-0001 Meadowport Arch Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400 Diafine

I found a data sheet online for Protopan here which specified shooting at 800 and souping in Diafine for 4+4 at 20C. I don’t know if they’re playing my trick of “it’s too cold so I’ll soup it longer” or if they have a reason more grounded in science, but I shot at 400 and did 5+5 because it’s really cold here and it’s difficult to keep my chemicals consistently above 68 degrees Fahrenheit/20C. Anyway, Diafine’s bottom temperature limit is supposed to be 70F (21C) so what’s that all about?

2016-0001 Happy New Year Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400

2016-0001 Prospect Park Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400 Diafine (and cranked contrast)

I’ve profiled this film before, and I will again. I’ve not found it’s sweet spot, yet. The contrast was very low. I really bludgeoned the shot above with the contrast slider in Lightroom, post-scan. I’ve since learned to scan with Vuescan a little better so the ends of the spectrum aren’t clipped and I can get the full range of tones. It took me at least a couple of dozen rolls to figure it out. I finally ditched NikonScan late last year because I couldn’t justify maintaining an entire environment (Mac OS X 10.6.8) just to keep it alive. I miss it, and VueScan has a definite learning curve, but it’s not as dense as SilverFast, which I also auditioned.

2016-0001 Happy New Year Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400

2016-0001 JFK at Grand Army Plaza Bessa L 25mm Snapshot Skopar Protopan+ EI400

Ideally I’d have darkroom and do contact sheets on a regular basis, but I’m not counting on that happening in the near future. This hybrid processing-in-the-sink-then-scanning process has done me well for over ten years now.

See you next roll.

Book excerpt: A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid and the Kodak Patent War

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Spectra. Wesley shoots.

We can excuse Business Insider the poor editing. This excerpt covers the transition between Polaroid’s partnership with Kodak and subsequent competition once integral film (non peel-apart) was introduced with the SX-70.

http://www.businessinsider.com/kodaks-response-to-the-polaroid-camera-2015-2

Buy the book on Amazon here, or better, get it from your local bookstore!

Here are a few of my personal favorites from my own archive:

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Spectra. Kristen & Chihiro.

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Type 669. Arlo & Milo.

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SX-70 / Time Zero film. Serendipitous street framing.

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Spectra. NC grill.

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Spectra Grid Film. Arlo quartet.

“Virtually unseen” Cartier-Bresson photos to be shown in London

Cosmonauts, Leningrad Avenue, Moscow, 1972 [Photo credit: Henri Cartier-Bresson] original at URL below

They include photos of the 1968 students uprising in Paris, the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and celebrity portraiture. They come from a private collection. Let’s hope there’s an exhibition catalog or other book soon for those of us who can’t make it to London!

http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/latest/photo-news/leica-44246

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