Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kodak is Fading

It's a sad day for photography! After over 130 years Kodak has filed for bankruptcy.

It's ridiculous really. I keep hearing how the company never adapted to digital photography, but that's nonsense. Kodak were at the forefront of digital photography. They invented the digital camera and developed the early models including the first DSLR's from Nikon. Today Kodak are a leading supplier of digital camera sensors, there's a Kodak sensor in the Leica M9.

The current CEO, Antonio Perez, joined Kodak in 2003, and was named CEO in 2005. Since Mr Perez has been in charge, Kodak has had just one profitable year, that was 2007. He's been the head honcho while the share price dropped from $25 to55 cents. He twiddled his thumbs as they shed tens of thousands of jobs around the world. And he bumbled along as the company sold most of its profitable divisions, patents and intelectual property. A truly remarkable long term performance, I'm amazed and in awe of the man. Mr Perez is still in charge.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

An Odd Choice of Camera - Canon 110ED 20

Penitente, Spain (Canon 110ED 20) - Tim Irving
Did I ever mention that I have a liking for 110 cameras? Well I do. Let me clarify that by saying only certain 110 cameras appeal, and that is the Canon 110ED 20, of which I have three, or is it four.

110 cameras were never popular with enthusiats becase the film size was too small at 13x17mm, about the size of a finger nail. With a negative so small the camera needs a high degree of precision to produce a reasonable image. Precision way to keep the the film flat, and precision optics to extract fine details. But because110 was intended for the masses, most 110 cameras are cheap and cheerful, far from precision instruments.

Canon 110ED 20 - Photograph by Tim Irving
Canon 110ED 20 - Tim Irving
A few manufacturers produced precision 110 cameras for the enthusiast. Pentax, Minolta, Minox and Canon all made beautiful examples, but Canon stands out as making the finest camera of its type, the 110ED 20.

The 110ED 20 has a 26mm f2.0 lens with a coupled rangefinder. Close-focusing to 2 feet. Electronic shutter with speeds of 8 seconds - 1/1000 plus a mechanical shutter at 1/125. Aperture-priority exposure control. Built-in hot shoe. Tripod and cable release sockets. However, the magic ingredient of the Canon is that it has a precision film guide and pressure plate to keep the film flat. No other 110 camera has this feature and it makes a huge difference to the quality of the image. Of all the 110 cameras, the Canon is the one I'd recommend. Not that I'm doing anyone any favours, these are cameras for eccentrics. But if you enjoy working around photographic problems, and you don't mind a grainy image, and if the sight of a Kodacolor 110 film box is soft porn to you, I suggest you track down a Canon 110ED.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fujifilm X-Lens Roadmap - Ridiculous Jargon

Ground breaking news.........

Fujifilm have officially revealed their X-Lens roadmap at a briefing at CES 2012. The plan is tricky as they may possibly launch five lenses this year (2012), and again possibly a further four lenses next year (2013), hence the need for a roadmap.

I am so pleased Fujifilm disseminated this information as a cutting edge PowerPoint presentation. Making it easy for us snappers to grasp what is a difficult concept.

What this means to us ordinary folk, is that by creating a roadmap, Fujifilm have testiculated the strategic planning within the designated timeframe. Please note the "(*) Subject to change".

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cameras to avoid - Number 2, Minox 35 GT

Minox 35 GT - Photograph by Tim Irving
Minox 35 GT, Tri-X - Tim Irving
I was looking through some old prints recently taken in 1982, with a Minox 35 GT camera. It's a camera I remember vividly but with mixed feelings. The camera was tiny, very expensive, yet made of plastic, which in the eighties was a contradiction, but Minox were known for precision sub miniature spy cameras, and the  company was (maybe it still is), a subsidiary of Leica, so the camera had an excellent pedigree.

My first experiences of the Minox 35 is one of joy. The photos from that camera have a certain look that is unique, the best of which are truly beautiful to my eyes. The Minox was my camera of choice and constant companion for around six months. Then one day, walking past a camera shop, my head was turned by a Nikon S3. I handed over the Minox plus a wedge of cash and started a new affair.

Move forward twenty years to 2002 and I start hankering after another Minox. By 2002 the prices of film cameras have fallen and I can pick up a mint condition, 35 GT for around 15% of what I originally paid. I looked around for a few days then bought a lightly used beauty. It seemed to be working OK, but as a precaution I bought a very expensive battery before putting a film in it.

The first roll of film I developed was blank. A quick examination and I discovered that when I fired the shutter it made the sound of firing, but didn't actually open. A check with other Minox users confirmed that the electro-magnetic shutter was prone to blanking. One user carried out a survey of Minox users and discovered that 50% had a shutter fault.

It's a shame that a camera with a fine lens and innovative design should end up in the back of a draw, but I'm afraid that's the natual home for this camera. I'm grateful that I experienced it and have the photos that it created.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Cafe Interior - Photograph by Tim Irving
Cafe Interior - Tim Irving

Menu - Photograph by Tim Irving
Spoilt for choice - Tim Irving
The bacon and egg sandwich was very good, the tea was perfect. But this cafe deserves an award for its signage. Absolutely splendid.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Tommy portrait - photograph by Tim Irving
Portrait of Tommy - Tim Irving
I had an interesting day in London yesterday to visit the National Portrait Gallery and see the Taylor Wessing portrait prize. I liked the exhibition so much I bought the catalogue. It was heartening to see so many photographs taken with film, including the winner Jooney Woodward, for her portrait, Harriet and Gentleman Jack.

Next to overcrowded galleries (there was no gallery rage yesterday), Art galleries can usually be relied upon to sell food I wouldn't normally eat. They also use tea pots that are designed to pour tea everywhere, exept the cup you're trying to pour it into. I was saved from the gallery food ordeal because within 100 yards of Trafalgar Square and the exhibition, I discovered a very good traditional cafe where I had a bacon and egg roll and a good cup of tea. Bliss.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Light Leaks

Hasselblad light leak. Photograph by Tim Irving
A Good Light Leak! - Tim Irving
Well, I received my first photographs of 2012 from the lab, and as you can see above, I've been cursed by a light leak. It's not the end of the world, I can take the photographs again, thankfully. Having said that, the dog was a handful and I would have been very happy with the image.

The cause of the problem is a Hasselblad film magazine. Hasselblad recommend that if you're shooting professionally, the light seal in the magazine, which is just a thin strips of foam and strip of rubber, should be changed at least once a year.  I own three magazines and use my Hasselblad to shoot two or three rolls of film each week, which I consider light use, this is the first light seal to fail in nine years, I can't complain. I've ordered new seals for all three backs off Ebay. The Hasselblad should be up and running again in a few days.


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