Over the weekend, I got together with a few other photo enthusiast from work to play around with our cameras and take some photographs. We tried a few different types of shoots but ended up taking some portraits of one of the neighbors, a woman named Margaret, sitting in her car. These aren't the type of shots I would normally take but it was good to try something new and move outside of my comfort zone.


And here is a bonus behind the scenes shot.

Gallery Page Added

New Gallery Added I have added a new gallery to the web site. This gallery will showcase some favorites from my toy camera and low fidelity collection. You can access the gallery by clicking on the link in the Pages section at the bottom of the page.

Leica M2 First Impressions

Leica M2 Over the weekend I picked up a Leica M2 35mm rangefinder camera at the San Jose Photo Fair. I had been watching these cameras on eBay to see what the usual prices were and I was planning of buying one around Christmas time. But on Saturday, when I held this M2 in my hand I just had to have it right then and there.

Leica M2

When I was researching what M model to get I settled on the M2 over the M3 because of the 35mm frame lines in the M2. The widest M3 frame lines are for 50mm lens and my main lens these days is a 35mm. The camera didn't come with a lens so it is shown here with my Voigtländer Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4.

It looks like this camera may be from around 1960 or 1961.

Leica M2

The camera is in fairly decent condition. Cosmetically there is some vulcanite missing from the body below the lens and there are a few minor dings on the back but mechanically and optically everything seems to be in order. Based on some limited testing, the rangefinder appears to be spot on and the shutter speeds seem to be correct. The film transport is very smooth and the viewfinder is nice and bright with a very clear rangefinder patch.

The shutter sound of Leica cameras is famous for being quite and unobtrusive. It is definitely quieter than my Voigtländer Bessa R4A which has a loud clack sound but the Leica isn't as quite as the compact Olympus XA rangefinder.

Leica M2

The M2 differs from later more modern models (like the M7) in a few ways. First, the Leica M2 is a fully mechanical camera with no batteries so there is no light meter. I will be using an external light meter or the sunny 16 rule to expose correctly. The rewind knob has no lever so it takes a little longer to rewind the film but I found it easier to use than rewinding with the lever on my Bessa.

Loading the film is not as straight forward compared to regular 35mm cameras. Instead of flipping open the back, loading is done by removing a plate on the bottom of the camera. There is a take up spool that you have to remove and thread the film into before inserting the film and spool back into the camera.  It's easy enough to do when there is something to place the camera on while you hold the film in one hand and the spool in the other but I am not sure how I will load film on the go without finding somewhere upon which I can set down the camera. I will write a more detailed post on loading film sometime in the future.

Yesterday I ran a roll of Arista Premium 400 quickly through the camera to make sure it was working correctly. Everything looked pretty good. No leaks and I managed to expose everything fairly well. I have included a couple of the the photos from the test roll here.

Leica M2 Test Shot

Leica M2 Test Shot

If you have any tips on the M2, please leave them in the comments.

Sekonic L-VI Manual

Sekonic L-VI Inspired by the post The History of Camera Manuals - Part One on the Film Wasters forum, I decided to post some of the old manuals I have in my very small collection. There is something really cool about the design and style of old packaging and manuals and leafing through them from time to time can be quite entertaining.

First up is the user manual for a Sekonic L-VI Exposure Meter.

If you want to download the manual as a zip file check out my manuals page.

Sekonic L-VI

World Toy Camera Day Is This Weekend

Diana-F 162B camera If you follow the world of Toy Camera or Low Fidelity photography, you probably know that this weekend is World Toy Camera Day. In fact, this year WTCD is actually two days and spans October 9th and 10th. In anticipation of that, I dug out my old Diana-F 162B camera and got it ready for use.

It's been a long time since I used this camera. One of the reasons for this camera's temporary retirement is that there was a large triangular light leak on all the photos. This was interesting at first but after a while I got bored with it since the leak was on every photo. You can see the leak in this old photograph taken in 2005.


I never did get around to troubleshooting the leak but my theory is that it is coming from one of the two holes at the top of the camera where the flash would normally go.

Diana-F with flash holes on the right.

Well, that is the theory so today I taped up the holes and I guess we'll see if my theory is correct when I get my film back in a few weeks.

Taping up light leak on Diana-F camera

This year I have decided to load the camera with color film and have a few rolls of Kodak Portra 160NC available that got thrown in with my Mamiya 645 eBay purchase a while back. The film expired in 2004 but I don't think that will cause any problems.

Here is the camera with the film wound on ready to go.

I also plan to bring my trusty Harrow camera (which is a Diana clone) and that one is currently loaded with some Foma black and white film.  And I may bring a Holga : forty year old cameras are not all that reliable so bringing a backup or two is always a good idea.

Stay tuned for some WTCD 2010 photos in a few weeks and if you have taken some, post a link a comments.

I Love Prints

Prints on a table I have been looking at these photos from my street photography collection for a while now but only ever viewed them on my computer screen. Last week I decided to upload a bunch of photos to and make some prints.

Presented here is a small sample of the 4x6s I got in the mail today (photo taken with my iPhone).

Even though these prints are small, there is definitely something special about holding a real photograph.

If you are interested in taking a closer look, you can see some of these photos on

What Will Happen To Your Digital Photographs When You Die?

Taken at Yosemite in 1932 My wife's grandmother died a couple of years ago and at the time we spent a few days going through boxes and boxes of old photos including photos from Yosemite vacations in the 1930's (shown here) and the shipyards of Oakland where she worked during world war II.

As we shifted through decades upon decades of memories, it got me thinking about all of the photographs been taken today all around the world. In this digital age a lot of the photographs only exist as photographs as long as the power is on. When the power is turned off, those photos don't exist as photographs anymore. There are just bits of data on a disk indistinguishable from brown bread recipes written in Notepad and Excel spreadsheet shopping lists.

So what will happen when you pass on and the power is switched off forever?

Yosemite 1932

Well, One of the first things that will happen is that your credit cards will be cancelled. What this means for your photographs is that eventually your hosting provider won't be paid and they will start to shut down your blog and website accounts. Also, eventually your domain names will go unrenewed and will start to point to landing pages at Go Daddy or whoever your domain registrar is.

In addition to this, because you have stopped paying, your Flickr account will lose its "pro" status leaving only the last 200 uploads on view.

At home, your computer will eventually be turned off. Since it is probably already obsolete, it may be moved to garage, thrown in the trash or recycling or possibly donated to charity.

Those spare hard drives or boxes of DVDs you diligently backed up to probably won't mean anything to anyone else so they may be tossed or recycled. It is probably unlikely anyone is going to go through them all to find anything of value beyond your financial data and tax documents.

So basically, it is very possible your photos will be lost forever.

Yosemite Falls 1932

So what can you do?

Personally, I don't care if my "art" photographs are lost or forgotten. But what I don't want lost are my "memories". By that I mean my vacation snapshots with my wife. The photos of New Years Eve with my friends. The photographs that document who I was, who I knew and what I did.

So a few years ago I started to make prints. After every vacation or event, I'd pick 30 or so photos to make 4x6 inch prints on I then put them into small photo albums picked up at Target. Yes, it's all very old school but there is something special about holding a print. Some people say a photograph doesn't exist until you can hold it in your hand and I am inclined to agree. Even now I enjoy going back through the albums and looking at photos from a trip to Spain in 2003 or my honeymoon in Maui.

So what is going to happen to your digital photos when you die?

Voigtlander Bessa R4A and Canon 40D Shutter Sounds

One of the nice things about a Leica rangefinder is that the shutter is quiet. This can help when taking photographs on the street since it can minimize the disruption to the scene. I do not have a Leica camera but I do have a Voigtländer Bessa R4A rangefinder. However, the Bessa does not share the same stealthiness as the Leica and the shutter is actually quite loud compared to the Leica.

To demonstrate, here is a short mp3 of the Bessa shutter sound. Since I don't have a Leica, I can't show a direct comparison but the first sound in the clip is the Bessa R4A and it is followed immediately by a Canon 40D so you can hear how it compares to a DSLR. Both cameras were set at 1/125 sec. This isn't exactly a scientific test (I used my iPhone voice memo app to record the sounds) but you can get the overall idea that there isn't a whole lot of difference between the Voigtländer and the Canon.

Voigtlander_Bessa_R4A_Canon_40D_shutter_sounds (mp3).

To hear a Leica shutter, you can find some videos on You Tube.

Photographing The Golden Gate Bridge

This morning I headed up to San Francisco to take some photographs of the Golden Gate bridge.  As you can see from these iPhone snapshots, I was using my Mamiya 645 1000s which I had loaded with Kodak Ektar 100. Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge

The first place I visited was the Marin Headlands for the classic tourist shot with San Francisco in the background.

Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge

I then tried to head higher up into the Headlands but the road was closed for construction. I did take a few photos at the visitor center before heading back over the bridge to Fort Point.

Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge

If you have never been to Fort Point, it is highly recommended. It is great for taking the bridge from a viewpoint  that's a little different from most tourist shots.

Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge

The fort itself is also quite interesting inside with exhibitions on the history of the fort and life back when it was in use. And you can climb up to the roof where you can stand right under the bridge.

Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge

It will be a while before I get my Mamiya shots developed but when I do I will post some here (if they are any good)

Photo Shoot Practice - Olympus 35 RC

Photograph of an Olympus 35 RC 35mm rangefinder camera Today I decided to take some shots of my Olympus 35 RC, a compact fixed lens rangefinder from the 1970s.

To take these shots, I was using a very basic "Strobist" set up with a Canon Speedlite 430 EX flash mounted on a stand firing through an umbrella camera left. I also used some white foam core on the right to reflect back some fill. The flash was fired remotely using an Elinchrom EL Skyport Universal radio trigger.

The camera I used was my trusty Canon 40D with a 24 to 70mm L f/2.8 lens. I metered using a Sekonic L-308s Flashmate meter.

Photographing an Olympus 35 RC 35 rangefinder camera

I am still learning flash photography so came upon a few problems. One of those can be seen in this following shot.

A photograph of an Olympus 35 RC Rangefinder 35mm camera

Reflected in the lens is the clear outline of the umbrella. I would have preferred for this to not be so obvious. I tried playing with angles and also with the set up you see below but I wasn't happy with the results. In this set up I am firing the flash through the diffuser part of a Photoflex multi-disk but the reflection was still too noticeable.  Still a lot for me to learn for sure.

Trying to solve a reflection problem

Olympus 35 RC 35mm rangefinder camera

For all of the shots I set the camera on manual mode with the shutter speed set at 1/60.  There was daylight coming in from an open door camera right and also through a window behind the subject so I wanted to use some of the ambient light.

Most of the shots were shot using an aperture of either f/8 or f/11 except the photograph above which was shot at f/5.6. I found with apertures less than that the depth of field wasn't as pleasing to me.  The flash was used in manual mode and the power was set from 1/2 to 1/8 depending on what aperture I was using or the distance of the flash from the subject.

The gear used during my Olympus 35 RC photo shoot

The photograph above shows most of the gear I used today. At the top is an Interfit light stand and Wescott shoot through umbrella. On the next row is a Manfrotto 498RC2 ball head. Next to that is my Canon Speedlite 430 EX flash with a hot shoe to PC adapter connected to the Elinchrom El-Skyport receiver below. Next to the flash is the Canon 40D with the 24 to 70mm L f/2.8 lens and next to that is the flash meter, a Sekonic L-308s.

Below the 40D, is the matching Elinchom trasmitter and some no-name light stand adapter. At the bottom is a Manfrotto 190XPROB Pro Aluminum Tripod.

As I said I am still learning this type of photography so there is a long way to go before I will be truly happy with my images. But it is always a good idea to shoot as often as possible and learn from the experience each time.

Below are the rest of the "keepers" from today.

Close up of the top of an Olympus 35 RC

Close up of the top of an Olympus 35 RC

Olympus 35 RC detail shot

Olympus XA Review

A photograph of an Olympus XA 35mm Camera One of my favorite 35mm cameras is my Olympus XA. Introduced in 1979, this camera is part of a series of cameras (along with the XA1, XA2, XA3 and XA4) but it is the only one of the series to use a rangefinder focus.

The Lens is a Zuiko 35mm f:2.8 lens and is completely covered by the clamshell when closed which makes this camera easy to slip into a pocket. Also, when the clamshell is closed, the camera is powered off which means the batteries last for a very long time.

A photograph of an Olympus XA 35mm Camera with clamshell open

With the clamshell open, you gain access to the focus lever which sits below the lens. Focusing is easy and fast since the lever has a very short throw and the rangefinder patch is still quite bright in my camera. Above the focus lever is the film speed setting with a range from 25ASA to 800ASA.

The camera uses aperture priority with the apertures being set by a lever beside the lens. Shutter speeds are rated from 1 second to 1/500 and the current shutter speed is shown using a needle that is visible in the viewfinder. (Note: I have seen other websites that quote 10 seconds as the max shutter speed but I have not tested this on my camera - the viewfinder scale only goes to 1 second).

A close up photograph of an Olympus XA 35mm Camera aperture lever

The shutter is extremely sensitive requiring barely a touch to trigger. This means hand held slow shutter speeds are quite possible. Also, the shutter is practically silent lending itself well to being discrete in situations that warrant it.

These days you can pick up an XA for around $40 to $60 on eBay. If that is too expensive the zone focus XA2 is worth checking out.  A lot of times the XA2 cameras go for less than $30.

To find out more about the XA and other cameras in the XA family, visit the best XA resource on the web,

Example photograph taken with an Olympus XA 35mm Camera

An example shot from an Olympus XA 35mm camera.

To see more of my XA shots, check out my Flickr stream with the tag Olympus XA.

Polaroid Automatic 230 Overview

Over the past few days I have been posting some Polaroid photos taken with a Polaroid Automatic 230 Land Camera. For those of you not familiar with older Polaroid cameras, I thought I'd explain exactly what this camera is.

The Polaroid Automatic 230 Land Camera is a folding pack camera in the  "200 series" available from 1967 to 1969. It has a plastic body with a 114mm f/8.8 glass lens. The camera use 100 series peel apart pack film which is 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" in size. The actual image size is 2 7/8" x 3 3/4" centered on the frame.

The shutter is electronic with speeds from 10 seconds - 1/1200. There is a dial on the lens for exposure compensation of -1 stop to +2 stops.

Focusing is achieved by using a rangefinder that is separate from the viewfinder. The viewfinder assembly is on a hinge that allows for it to be folded down when storing the camera inside its case.

To focus, a lever attached to the bellows is moved left or right and there is a pictogram indicating which way to move for closer focus (a man) or infinity (a man standing in front of a mountain).

Film speed is chosen using a dial under the lens. The available speeds are 75, 150, 300 and 3000. So if a film such as 672 (ISO 400)  is used, some exposure compensation is required. The yellow button under the lens assembly is the "scene selector" which adjusts the aperture.

Recommendations for which scene to use are listed on the top of the lens assembly for each of the film speeds and a yellow square shows the currently selected scene.

Numbered buttons indicate the sequence for taking a shot. Step 1 is focus and step 2 is press the shutter.

Step 3 is reset the shutter for the next shot. In reality, this is done before step 1 of course.

Finally step 4 is remove the film from the camera by pulling on the paper tab.

Examples Shots

Links The Land List Option8 Polaroid FAQ

Polaroid Film

The Impossible Project are holding a press event in New York on March 22nd and hopefully they will announce some new integral film to feed our SX-70s. Unfortunately, they won't be releasing any pack film but I still have a small stash of various films left.

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