Tag Archives: scanning

The results are in

As I blogged before, I wanted to play with the antique large format cameras Best Beloved had acquired some time ago, and we had three rolls of 120 film sitting around waiting to be exposed.

I got the large format negs back from the lab yesterday. It was a very quick turnaround. I had posted them from Medway, first class, to the lab in Burnley, Lancs. I had an email to confirm my order had been processed and despatched back to me around midday the next day, and they arrived in the post Friday. Barely 48 hours turnaround. I was impressed.

If you’re interested, the lab in question is called Fuji Digital Imaging Service. I recommend them.

I was, frankly, more than a little excited about the results I might see. The instant gratification one gets with digital photography isn’t quite the same as waiting to see if that brilliant shot actually came out or not!

Once I’d opened the package, though, I was actually a little deflated.

You see, the images I thought would come out best had been taken on the Zeiss-Ikon, and I expected the iffy ones to be from the Soho Reflex. Ironically the best images came from the cumbersome Soho, which had the broken shutter. The Zeiss images were uniformly out of focus. Not just a bit blurry, but consistently out of focus, regardless of aperture and shutter speed. More on this later.

One film had multiple overlapped frames, which wasn’t that surprising. It was the first film I ran through the Zeiss, and I hadn’t got my head round how many turns on the cassette were needed to avoid the overlaps. The second film through the Zeiss was better. 

As you can see from the scanned images, the quality is quite good. Despite the cumbersome nature of using the Soho (taking the cassette blanking plate in and out, having to uncover the lens to make exposures manually and so on) the results are pretty good. Okay, the subject matter isn’t terribly inspiring, being random shots around our back yard, but you can at least make things out.

Now, the Zeiss. I was particularly disappointed by the focus failure here, because I preferred using this camera. It’s smaller, lighter, has an operating shutter, and made for a generally more interesting experience. The fact all the images are blurred came as something of a shock. I thought I was at fault, and some discussion took place between Best Beloved and myself over why I hadn’t faffed about swapping the ground glass focussing screen in and out with the film cassette back.

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However, when you look at one image, taken with the camera sat on our front door step, you can see there is a plane of the image that is in focus. I interpret this to mean the camera has a fault where the lens is not seated properly—in fact, I remember the lens would rotate when I tried to adjust the various settings on the front of the camera. After the final roll had been exposed, I did indeed fit the focussing screen to the Zeiss, and played with it to see what the actual minimum focus depth could be, so I am pretty certain the focussing does work. Perhaps there’s a mismatch between the actual focal plane and the film back, although that would surely mean nothing at all would be focussed, where the section of front step is pin sharp in that one image.

All of which isn’t to say the blurred images don’t have a certain charm to them. You can sort of make out what the photograph is about. That doesn’t mean I am not disappointed with the results, though.

I am a little flummoxed. I don’t think I shall bother getting the Zeiss repaired, and as for the Soho, well, it was fun, but not something I’d like to do often. We have discussed dismantling the Soho to see if the shutter can be repaired easily. However, I have been bitten by the analogue large format bug. I have been spotted lurking on used camera gear web sites, eyeing up used Bronica and lens sets. I fear a proper 120-sized film camera is in my future…

Avro Vulcan

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I’ve been doing to some scanning.

I’ve had a scanner that could perform transparency and negative scans for a while, but it had been a bit limited (35mm uncut strips only, no slides, etc). Doing any quantity of scans was always a bit of a chore, frankly.

About a year ago I purchased a better scanner, with pro level features. It was loaned to a small company I was involved in, and when they sadly went bust I got the machine back. Just recently a friend upgraded their Mac and I was essentially given their old G4 Mac mini. Ideal for a scanner station, where all it has to do is drive the scanner and run the software.

So I’ve been doing some scanning.

To familiarise myself with the kit and software I have begun the task of scanning a whole bunch of negatives I had selected a while ago. There’s stuff in there from a model railway show where I was “official” photographer, random stuff shot on black and white negative film, and some colour slides from the other half, dating back over four decades. All good stuff to learn how the scanner works, as I intend to try and drum up some business for it.

Anyway, the Vulcan is one of my favourite images—and aircraft. Shot on the old Olympus OM10 on Ilford HP5 ISO400 neg film, the plane was displaying at a Duxford air show in the Autumn of 1988. There’s another shot in the Flickr stream where the plane is almost directly overhead, silhouetted against some patchy clouds. I had forgotten I even took that shot.

Anyway, I guess I should plug the business. Please visit the Imagic Design web site and find out what I can do in the way of design and stuff.

Drift

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Another week passes in which I haven’t taken a photo, or even taken my camera gear out of the bag. If I am as keen a photographer as I make out, this is a worry to me. Why would I neglect a creative interest so? What could possibly be a reason for not getting out making pictures?

First, the excuses. I don’t have time (the most feeble excuse known to man). The days are too short and dark. The weather has been inclement. There are no interesting things to photograph within walking distance (with the price of fuel these days, I keep unnecessary car journeys to an absolute minimum). The house is so cluttered I can’t find room for a small indoor studio.

They are just excuses. I am smart enough that I should be able to go out for a walk and get some images, no matter what the weather or lighting conditions. It’s part of the fun of photography, after all, this need to learn new stuff, to push the boundaries of my knowledge. 

While I ponder such matters concerning digital photography, and whether I may as well sell my gear if I am not going to actually use it, I’ve been finding some time to digitise images from my past photographic life. I have been making pictures on and off for nearly 30 years now, and I have drawers and boxes stuffed with film negatives and prints just crying out to be seen again. A request from an old acquaintance for images I might have from a model railway thing I was involved with some years ago gave me cause to actually pull negs out of their dark hideaways to find suitable shots.

Of course, I discovered loads of other images I had forgotten about. I set the strips of negatives to one side, and made myself a promise I would at least try to get the more interesting stuff scanned fairly quickly. I have been doing just that these past few days — though this first pass of scans is more to see what’s there than to truly archive the images. A few things have to slot into place before I can get the proper grown-up scanner in place to make proper archive versions.

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In a way, I hope being able to review stuff I took when I was much younger and greener will encourage me to get the modern gear out and keep at it. I need something to really fire my enthusiasm again. As I type, I realise it’s been nearly four months since I last handled the DSLR. This is not good. Not good at all.