digital Tag

I am afraid I have this picture in my mind of a Japanese monk raking a stone garden. The garden has one small altar and a very carefully placed bamboo plant. The monk's face is peaceful and composed and he is evidently deeply engrossed in the careful movement of the rake. He is wearing a GoPro Hero 9 camera on a helmet mount...

  Some years ago I was delighted when my friend Warren visited the shop and bought a small camera bag. As much for the social contact as the sale - it got pretty fraught on Friday when the point of sale computer program refused to cooperate and no help was offered. I was glad he had cash as I could not have faced another EFTPOS incident. As a passing comment he mentioned that he wished the manufacturers of little digital cameras would make some that resembled older film cameras - the bellows types or box cameras. Warren is a re-enactor and part of his role involves capturing images while in character. An "old camera " new camera would be perfect for what he does. Come to think of it, it would be perfect for what I do as well. I could eschew housing Fujifilm X-series cameras in wooden boxes and haul them out in the vintage world openly. It raised the question in my mind why the Japanese or Chinese firms have not jumped on this little bandwagon straight away. After all, we have seen no end of weird...

The advantage of an X-Pan/TX-1 film camera back in the day was the compact nature of the rig vs the large alternatives that Linhof, Fujifilm, and other specialist makers cobbled up for pano work. These behemoths were wonderful, taking very large negatives on roll or sheet film, but they were monsters to haul out to remote places. Every venture to take panoramas for commercial purposes was a complete campaign. The X-Pan/ TX-1, on the other hand was a hand camera using 35mm film - and no larger than a regular rangefinder. It had automatic film advance and sophisticated exposure measuring. It was very nearly as automated as a digital camera - albeit one that threw an image some 23mm x 65 mm on the transparency or negative. Well I propose to throw an image some 23.6 x 7.8 mm on the sensor and trust that modern pixellage will be good enough to cope with it. But I want the historical ease of use. Two choices present themselves for this - the X-Pro1 and the X-E2. I own each of these bodies and they,...

For years I read about the Hasselblad X-Pan camera and the Fujifilm TX-1 - in reality the same camera from the Fujifilm stable but wiht different body treatments - and did not crave one. I owned a Hasselblad and a studio and combined the 6 x 6 format with indoor shots. There was very little call on my part for any sort of panorama work. Indeed, I had decided that I could not see panoramas anyway - I have been wearing glasses for 64 years and they formed the tunnel of my vision. Yet I have a book of Kodak Colorama panos from Grand Central Station and they are some of the most charming advertising shots I've seen...

I've gone through a number of photo eras here and in North America and can look back to compare and contrast them. So, very likely, have you. If you've not experienced them so far, here's hoping you'll get a chance to in the future. The great thing is if you could keep your eyes and ears open to what is being shown and said - you'll find this changes as new tech appears. And it also changes as new advertising agencies get hold of the trade. Way, way back ( dinosaurs, Elvis ) it was the era of the film SLR . They started small and got bigger, rising in price and bloating in size as new features like TTL metering were added. They got bulkier and blockier - I recommend you to some of the Topcon bodies if you fancy yourself something of a weight lifter. Then the size war turned to another front and the compact SLR came in - see the Pentax MX as prime example of small thinking - the Olympus OM series as well. Then the automatic...

Not the band - the real midnight oil that we burn to keep out photography going. There was a day when it was just that - safelights and enlargers with lamp wicks inside and very long exposure time. In later times it changed to electricity, but we still burned the midnight developer and fixer. And many of us went into the early AM with the thing, as it was easier to get a decent darkroom light-tight when there wasn't all that much light outside. If you are a modern digital worker who has never had to develop film on the road in a motel bathroom* I urge you to talk to an old-timer who did. There was a fine art to sealing a door with towels and getting a large developing tank under a very small faucet that is lost nowadays. Also getting the smell of fixer out of the room before you checked out...

If you have always sighed to own a Leica camera but quailed at the price of the new ones, there is an opportunity for you now in the secondhand shelves of Camera Electronic. Ignore the gold-washed Leicavich 35mm camera - that's just an ex-Soviet Fed faked up for the sucker market. Buy it for a talking point, if you fancy, but know what it is. Look more closely, however, at the Digilux 2  sitting behind it. The camera with the silver finish and leather strap. It's not new - and it's not ex-Wetzlar - but it is a genuine Leica made in collaboration with Panasonic of Japan and it has a genuine Summicron lens ( probably made in Yamagata ). All this is good. The camera will not have the screen or the resolution of a new Leica Cl or M10. You cannot expect that. It has nowhere NEAR the number of numbers in its price tag as those modern cameras, however - and there is your advantage. The rest of it is made to very high standards indeed and can serve very well. And,...

That's a question that leads off onto a number of roads; are we talking about what social imperative drove you? Or what muse inspired you? Or what fee was offered to you? Or are we asking for more pedestrian info: what camera did you use? A lot of artists in other disciplines would deal with the first three questions and find the fourth one puzzling or irrelevant. A successful writer might not know the name of the typewriter or word processor that they used to bang out their Pulitzer winner. A novelist might not know whether they wrote with a ball-point or fountain pen. They'd have remembered a Texta on the back of a chip packet, but...

The one with the Olympus Voice Recorder in it, please. I want to remember your every word. To be honest, I want to remember every word I've spoken as well, and I can't. This makes it very awkward later in front of the partner, kids, and in-laws. They cross-check my stories and you only have to get it wrong once to never hear the end...

I met a professional photographer in the shop one week doing a very sensible thing - renting a piece of equipment that was needed for a paying shoot. He didn't own it and would have no need of it the rest of the year - but this one occasion it would let him exercise his considerable lighting and shooting skills. And he didn't need to whack out a bundle to get it and then look at it on the shelf for another year - he could return it to CE and pocket the savings. Wise. Well, we chewed the rag a while and I asked him to explain something I had seen some years ago associated with his studio. I had come across a startling sight - wheelie garbage bins full of negatives and transparencies that were apparently from his studio. Wheelie as in ready for the council to take them away...