Send As SMS

Batteries Not Included

A blog focused on cameras with no batteries - and the photos they take

Note: This blog is optimized for use with Mozilla Firefox - the best, free internet browser there is

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Republic

"--Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. -- "
Plato's The Republic

Leica M3, Summicron 50/2, Tri-X 400

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Scenes - and people taking photos of them

If you ever find yourself at a very scenic location - but you've been there a number of times already and feel that you've exhausted all possible angles and light situations - you may want to try turning your camera on the people gathered there and see if you can create something interesting.

The scene itself (not that unique or exciting)

The same scene - but now with an unknown photographer taking a photo of it

Now, if that makes the photo 'worse' or 'better' depends on your own personal taste - but if you feel you've 'done' all you can at a place it's always fun to try something new.

(Both photos taken with a Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar lens and Tri-X 400 - and no, it's not the stealthiest camera for candid snaps..that mirror is loud).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

FIRHE joined by FIRMY

I happened to stumble upon yet another 19mm screw-in filter for my Elmar 50/3.5 LTM lens (more information about these filters here). The ones I already have are the somewhat easier to find FIRHE filters (#1 yellow) - this is the more elusive FIRMY filter (#2 yellow).

I've been using the FIRHE filter a lot and am happy to now have the option of a darker yellow filter for when I need it.
From a collection perspective - that's two down and seven more to go...

Hasselblad "P&S"

These are surely not award winning photos - but sometimes it's fun to use the Hasselblad as a hand-held camera and snap some trait subjects :)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dogs In Pond, 1933

Well, the photo wasn't taken in 1933 - but the equpment used is from around that time: Leica III (F) and Elmar 50/3.5
I'm often impressed by what this 70+ year old equipment can produce but I am also aware of that this uncoated lens is no match for most any lens produced in the last 50 years or so.

Would the photo had been 'better' had I used a brand new Summicron 50/2 or some other high-end modern glass?
'Better' is a very subjective word - it would most likely had been sharper and more contrasty and I may not had gotten the slight flaring I see on the left side of the photo. So yes, maybe it would had been 'better' in those regards but there is something about using this kit that keeps me coming back to it.

It could just be because it is so much fun to use. :)

Leica III (F) and Elmar 50/3.5 lens (1933)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New Look

As you can see (if you've visited this site before) I have made some changes the appearance of this blog.
Hope you like them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Kodak BW400CN - The 'other' black&white film

If I were to guess I'd say 90%+ of all photos I take are captured on some sort of black and white film.
Not developing and printing myself it is sometimes a bit of a pain having to go to one of the labs in the city (San Francisco) that processes black and white film, pick them up a day or two later, look over the contact sheets and decide if there is anything that is worthy for scanning and/or printing. Living in a major city this is still not a problem as there are a number of labs available and it is still possible to get a few rolls turned around (including conctact sheets) during the same business day - but had I lived in a smaller city where my options were more limited (or if I was short on time) this could turn into more of an issue.

Enter Kodak's BW400CN. This is not a new film - actually it's been around since March, 2004 when it replaced Kodak's Portra 400BW (as well as Kodak's T400CN). What it is though is a pretty decent and fairly inexpensive black and white C-41 film that seems to scan well.

I picked up a roll of it this past weekend and was pleased with the results as well as the benefits that using a C-41 film brings with it. It felt so luxuriously lazy to be able to buy a roll (one roll approx $6, a four-pack approx $13. Hint: Buy the fourpack!), walk around and take some photos, drop the roll off and 60 minutes later pick up the negatives, print and CD. Now that's convenience!

Convenience is of course only one factor - how about quality?
I'm torn here. The prints I received all had either a faint purple or green tone and many of them were printed too dark and hid a lot of details that a scan of the negatives easily revealed. I didn't get a CD with scans for this roll but for samples of over-the-counter Wahlgreen's scan see the post below about the Olympus 35SPn - I'd say the quality is good enough for smaller web-postings but not much more than that.
What was really positive was how well these negatives seems to scan. The Kodak BW400CN film uses T-Grain technology and I have to say that the grain in the scans were hardly noticable - especially when comparing to C-41 colour 400 speed films.

So will I give up using Tri-X, Acros and Neopan?
Heck no - but it is nice to know that there are some options out there for when one need a quick black and white fix and need a C-41 film with fine grain and accepteable tonal range.

See below for some examples from the roll (scanned using an Epson 3200 flatbed scanner).

Olympus 35SPn Camera, Kodak BW400CN film

Olympus 35SPn Camera, Kodak BW400CN film

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Shooting with the Olympus 35SPn

It felt like a very 'alternative' photo day for me today....fixed-lens rangefinder camera and Wahlgreen colour film (as well as their development and scanning) - but it turned out to be one of the more fun photography days I've had for quite some time.

This Sunday I took a 'break' from Leicas, Contax and Hasselblad and took a long neglected camera out with me - the Olympus 35SPn. The Olympus is a great, compact camera that was produced only for two years (1973-1974).
It's part of a long line of very solid, compact Olympus cameras and is more or less identical to the Olympus 35SP and 35UC. Two of the most impressive features of the cameras is the six-degree spotmeter - and an absolutely brilliant seven-element 42/1.7 G.Zuiko lens.

It's sometimes liberating to bring a fixed-lens camera as you have fewer options to consider and can focus on putting what you do have to best use. Also, bringing the 35SPn with me reminded me how fun it is to use and that it really has a very good, bright viewfinder with a rangefinder patch that easily snaps into focus.

Less positive was the reminder about how loud the shutter is on these cameras. As I was taking a photo at an intersection (with the normal amount of mid-day San Francisco traffic) people did notice the sound as the shutter went off as they turned around and looked. Sort of ruined the 'candid' or 'stealth' approach.
Knowing how much more quiet my Leica M3 is I am fairly sure that no one would had noticed me due to shutter sound atleast. Having said that it was so much fun shooting with the SPn (potentially due to the novelty for me) that I took more photos than I normally would had done with the M3 - so in a way it all nets out.

Some photo samples from today:

Footnote: The Olympus 35SPn is a great, compact camera with an excellent lens - but it's not the one I would bring with me for candid street photograpy a lot due to the shutter sound.

Friday, September 08, 2006

FIRHE - Good things come in small packages

Those of you that own, and use, the Elmar 50/3.5 LTM lens know that changing the aperture on this lens is a royal pain in the butt.
The little tab that allow you to change the aperture settings is small, flat, located very close to the lens glass and - to make it even more fun - it's located inside of where the regular clamp-on filters would go - making it impossible to change the aperture without first removing the filter. An equal amount of frustration can be encountered when using a hood on this lens (unless you use a VALOO (see entry further down) or a FISON-VOOLA combination).

Here's a possible solution though:
The 50/3.5 LTM lens has a small screw-thread and it will accept 19mm screw-in filters.

Leitz produced a number of these filters in the 30's and 40's and each colour got its own Leica product code;
FIXTA: Yellow #0
FIRHE: Yellow #1
FIRMY: Yellow #2
FINUS: Yellow #3
FIXIO: Green
FCZOO: Light Red
FIBOB: Medium Red
FDOOH: Dark Red

So..I searched high and low for a couple of months ( I logged a search on eBay, that's about it) until I finally found a couple of 19mm screw-in filters (both FIRHE's). I just received them in the mail a few days ago and they do fit nicely on the lens.

Note: There are other 19mm filters out there as well that may be easier to obtain than the original Leitz ones. Waltz produced a full set of b&w filters in 19mm screwmounts (and the Argus C-3 used the same filterthread as well). If anyone has more information about what other 19mm filter brands there are, please do let me know.

Edit: Jerevan added this piece of information:
"As you may already know, my filters are Kenko filters, designated "21,5" (which is the outside diameter). They work very well within the constraints of the Elmar and its design. They seem to be a bit younger than yours, guesstimated at late '40s or early '50s. "

I'm looking forward to trying out this setup this coming weekend and until there are photos taken with it - here are some photos of it:

Filter with a mounted VALOO hood

Filter without a hood

Close-up of the filter mounted on an Elmar 50/3.5 lens