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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reunited With Old Technology

While standing on a chair in my basement storage room to make tweaks to my Shelf Of Technology, I was distracted by an aluminium case that I'd been carrying from abode to abode for about fifteen years without opening it as far as I could recall. Nestled snugly inside the blue foam padding within was my first proper camera, a Pentax ME Super.

It's been a while since I've handled it, and it felt heavy, solid, and just a delight to hold. After fifteen years, did it still work?

Away to a local store for a pair of LR44 batteries and the smallest roll of film available. Straightaway more memories came back. The batteries go in "+" side down, and they always try and flip themselves over. The little white button that has to be pressed to change the shutter action is fiddly. Little LEDs in the view finder tell you the shutter speed it will choose on the Auto setting. And it still feels heavy, especially after a few years with my Sony Cybershot digital.

The first roll of file flew by. It was really too dark for an ISO100 so I had to find kids at their most stationary, which any parent can tell you means that they were just sitting mostly still but vibrating slightly with surplus energy -- on average, they were not moving. The light was artificial so it had a warm cast to it that the flash on the digital camera would have obscured.

So here's the results so far.

The photo CD does not give great resolution and the 35mm aspect ratio is a little different, but so far it's encouraging enough for an investment in three rolls of faster black and white film. Some of the reviews I've read of this model mention its strength with black and white in particular, so now I need a chance to get up into the mountains to try it out so my creative urges have outlets other than endless images of the cat, the kids and the strata of detritus on my desk.


At 2:02 AM, Blogger DaPi said...

heavy, solid, and just a delight to hold

I can identify with that.

I'm experimenting for the first time with a digital - finding it just that bit too small and light for comfort.

At 2:03 AM, Blogger DaPi said...

BTW - #2 is a gem!

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous dave said...

looks like a rather big house as well

At 6:56 AM, Blogger David Aldridge said...

If I could have just one camera it'd be the digital, as it's so convenient -- auto everything and takes movies, a the 1Gb card is enough for a couple of weeks of vacation snaps.

I'm excited by the black and white thing, but it'll probably lead me down the path of temptation into a set of lenses etc -- that's just a risk I'll have to take, I suppose.

And ref #2, they're prtty stoic considering they're waiting for a cake mix bowl, eh?

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

I love the "Are we done yet?" look.

my word: hvkkqfbi - "Hello, this is hvkkqfbi from Oracle Training. I see that..."

At 11:34 AM, Blogger David Aldridge said...

I added another, of them finally getting at the bowl. Thought it would ease the dramatic tension of the series ;)

If you click on that last one you can see it at originla photo cd resolution.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger Noons said...

An MESuper!!!! Yes, DO spend the time looking up good lenses for it! They go for a song at epay.

Then get an Epson 4990 or Canon 9950F and scan those films into glorious 12megapixel-equivalent digital files.

At a very small fraction of what it'd cost you to re-tool for equivalent digital slrs.

(says he who just invested in yet more lenses for his rb67 and 35mm nikon slrs...)

You know the next step is 4x5 view cameras, don't you?

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Pete_S said...

Sometimes I miss my old Canon - we kept the wife's Pentax and I changed to a pocket Nikon 35mm and a tiny Olympus 4mega pixel digital.

Nice pictures, David!

At 11:57 AM, Blogger David Aldridge said...

>> Then get an Epson 4990 or Canon 9950F and scan those films into glorious 12megapixel-equivalent digital files. <<

Oooo, interesting!

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Noons said...

It is: those two scanners are the nearest thing to dedicated (and very expensive!) film scanners. Flatbed, so you can scan docs as well if needed. They do film to amazing quality straight out of the box. Be warned: large jpgs or tiff files are disk space eaters! I've had to upgrade twice since...

For the price, I find these two scanners tremendous value. Given that I can continue to use gear I know and love, even more so. And that MESuper fills me with envy: one of the best 35mm cameras ever.

At 7:26 PM, Blogger David Aldridge said...

Hmmm, so will these scanners read in negatives at those high resolutions? That seems pretty cool considering how tiddly they are.

I just "audited" the disks in my desktop -- I seem to have 860Gb of disk and only 250Gb available -- time for another of those 400Gb Hitachis maybe!

I had a browse through ebay today and saw some lovely lenses -- I think I'd need one of them wide-angle pancake lenses so I can just slip the camera in a jacket pocket. You know, this is the way people find themselves mysteriously bankrupt.

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Noons said...

Absolutely! In fact, the Epson 4990 does a better job of colour negative film than just about every commercial service I've ever used. I'm told the Canon is as good.

I run 35mm negatives regularly at 2400dpi rez and transparency film at 4800dpi and it comes out with every single pixel singing! With 16bit colour, that's nearly 160MB of image file: a heck of a lot of info. Much larger of course with larger formats. But I rarely if ever need to go over 1200dpi for 6X7 or 600dpi for 4X5.

Word of caution: these scanners won't put into a colour negative what isn't there. If you plan on getting glorious 16-bit colours out of a 30 year old negative with hardly any colour left in it, it won't happen.

But what's there will come out as good as or better than any positive print anyone can make of it.

And they are very, very good with colour slides as well. All I got to do now is convince the boss to let me invest in an A3-sized photo printer and I'm set for the next few years.

Yes, it's a slippery slope and there are no handles to hold on to: someone should make it illegal to buy photo gear in epay. :(

Have a great Xmas and a Happy New Year!

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> way to a local store for a pair
> of LR44 batteries

Be aware that if you want it to perform as it did out of the box, you may have to do some research and order some batteries from Germany. Button batteries from the 1970s used mercury and were 1.55 volts (if memory serves); modern button batteries do not use mercury and are 1.45 volts. Doesn't matter for most things but it DOES matter for exposure control. There are two solutions out there: German no-mercury batteries specifically designed for 1.55 volts, and a very thin voltage regulator that slips in under the battery but (naturally) chews up the 1.45V ones faster.

As I said I don't remember the specifics but there are several web sites devoted to the topic.


At 10:20 AM, Blogger David Aldridge said...

Thanks for the tip: I see that there's a Renata 357 silver oxide available, rated at 1.55v. I'll give those a go.


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