Print out your photos. Please remind me to do this. It’s so fun to hold them in your hand and look at them. You really study them when they’re there and it’s not a queue of 200 images to get through.
Doesn’t need to be a fancy printer, or perfectly colour matched. Just print them out on whatever you have. Don’t have a printer? Get one of these for immediate fun! Although a little pricier than a regular printer per photo. Or take advantage of the numerous offers online to print a bunch of 4x6s.
These have been sat on my desk for a couple of days and the kids came in and all started looking at the pictures. We had fun talking about them and remembering the trip.
Film scanning with my digital camera
A few weeks ago I managed my first successful attempt at film development. Whilst I was very excited that it worked, the next thing was actually seeing the images. I did take a tiny picture of several frames using my phone and the filmdev app. That was fun just to see that there was something.
The next thing is making larger images. My two choices were scanning onto the computer or dark room printing. Unfortunately, I don’t have a darkroom (although I do want to somehow make one in the garage), so scanning it is. When I scanned my grandfather’s slides I used a dedicated 35mm/slide scanner. The Plustek 8200 or something, together with Silverfast AI. The scanner is slow, the software is very weird, but once you figured out the routine you could steadily work your way through them all. In my wisdom, I’d sold the Plustek after finishing the slides - actually made money on it, which when I then came to look at buying another realised that this is because the prices are going up, and still going up, for used models. Another option is a flatbed scanner, but those are quite expensive and sounded more annoying for 35mm.
The final option is using a digital camera. As I have a digital camera, this did seem the more sensible option. However, you do need quite a few other things to make it all work. Namely a tripod or stand, light source, macro lens, and something to hold the film/black out around it. Like all things you can spend a fortune on any one of these items. I tried not to but the macro lens was never going to be cheap. I went for the Fuji 60mm f/2.4 as I thought it would also be useful as a mid-range portrait lens. I’ve never used it for that but I still might. However, having used it for scanning I’m not sure I like it for that. I’ve found manual focus is more reliable and helps speed up the process once it’s dialled in and the 60mm’s focus by wire isn’t that great. Perhaps I’ll look to sell it and get a manual focus one - assuming it’s a net cost to me.
Back when I did my first development on 4x5, I tried a cheapo camera stand thing and a home made, black card mask. The mask was actually fine but the tripod stand thing was absolutely terrible. Wobbly and hard to adjust. It went straight back and I shelled out for a reasonable tripod. I had to find one that let me rotate the pole around so the camera can be mounted underneath. This is much more stable, secure and makes it easy to keep things parallel. For 35mm I think a home made mask might get tedious, so I went with an essential film holder. This gets lots of great reviews online, and as far as holders go it’s a cheap one - although still £75…
The fold out screen of the X-E4 is very handy for lining stuff up and changing settings. It flips the display when the screen moves past a certain angle which is ideal, it does mean the menu navigation is backwards but I can get used to that. I should make a preset for scanning so that I can get going quicker next time, as changing settings is a bit of a hassle as I then have to change them back later. I think I’ve messed up one of my presets so I’ll have to check that next time I’m using the camera. The macro lens isn’t quite long enough to get the film to completely fill the screen/sensor, extension tubes could fix that, or a longer lens. Maybe 80mm or 100mm? It’s not too big a deal as I just crop in post, which I’d do anyway. It also makes it quick to align as I’m not trying to hit it perfect straight away. Probably means my images are 12-14 megapixel vs. the cameras 26. Still plenty big enough.
I spent a lot of time faffing about with trying to do tethered photos with Lightroom on the computer. Eventually realised that my copy of lightroom needs a paid for add-on to do it with Fuji. I then tried Fuji’s X Acquire but I couldn’t get it to work. The instructions said to put the camera in a certain mode, but my settings didn’t have that option, only for a webcam, so I don’t know. I also tried using the remote app on my phone but it was too slow and awkward for focusing. I was concerned about camera shake, but I just ended up using the 2 second delay to take the photos. This worked well, except it makes a really loud beeping sound which annoyed my wife in the other room whilst she was watching TV!
Just to add to it all, my battery was very low and all the fiddling around I’d been doing meant it died after a few shots.
Once I got the first image in focus with peaking and zooming it, I could quite quickly move between frames and capture the whole roll in not much time at all. I think with a scanning preset setup on the camera, next time should be very quick.
I then spent ages fighting with Lightroom again until I realised my copy, again, was too old and didn’t support my camera’s raw files. So that was the end of Lightroom. When I went to bed that night I realised I could use another program to convert the RAFs to DNGs and use Lightroom.
I have a copy of Capture One Express for Fujifilm, so I thought I’d try that out, as all the negatives are, well, negative, I need to invert them and crop them at a minimum before I have useable images. C1ex seems a little buggy as it would crash when I’d try and customise the menu bars but I soon found my groove with it. Probably all photo editors can do it, but copying and pasting settings, and everything having a keyboard shortcut made editing (once I got the hang of it), very quick. I probably spent 20 minutes on the first two images, and then 10 on the other 26. (I seem to only have 28 from my 36 roll 😕)
There are loads of film conversion tools out there and it’s overwhelming. Either as standalone things or plugins to various programs - typically Lightroom, or Photoshop. Negative Lab Pro seems to be the most common/popular one, it’s for LrC, but given all my heartache with Lightroom, I’ve not tried it yet. I think these plugins are probably most useful for colour negatives. Black and white is fairly easy. The common method of “flipping the curve”, i.e. move the ends of the line to the opposite of where they start, does the job. I then cropped out the blank area, and film edges, hit auto, tweaked a few things like exposure and blacks/whites and the image is good to go! Then paste the settings to the rest and crop them.
I later found moving saturation all the way to zero ensured my images were black and white and didn’t have some blue tinge from the white balance setting. Usually auto was fine, but sometimes I had to use the white balance picker to find a suitable white part to get it right. I did scan all the images upside down, so next time I can fix that.
I’m pleased with the results, and it’s nice to have done the whole thing from exposing the photo, developing the film to scanning and processing it myself. Now that I’ve done it once, and know what I’m doing, and together with some pre-configuration of camera and setup, I think the next roll will be pretty quick to do. As long as I’ve charged the battery first!
Finding a camera for my dad
My dad likes photography, but he doesn’t really have a camera. He used to own one, think it was a praktica SLR. He’s told me the story of dropping it in the sand at a beach and also of setting up a darkroom space in his bathroom, but then never getting a chance to use it before moving. Having said he likes photography, I’m not really sure how many photos he’s taken. Not the exact number, but whether it’s been a consistent thing over time. He gave the SLR to my sister - not that I think she’s used it - and I’m not sure if he has any digital camera other than his phone.
This is the issue though, would he want something beyond his phone? He also doesn’t have a computer, just an iPad, and I feel like photography on an iPad, whilst doable, is not that enjoyable, particularly if you’re not up for “a routine” to make it all work.
So why am I looking for a camera for my dad? Mostly because I think he’d like it. He likes birds and gets a lot of wildlife in his garden. He also lives in the countryside with lots of good walks. There’s lots of scope for wildlife and landscapes, although I feel like he’d want to focus on birds.
The most obvious choice is a digital with super zoom. Maybe APS-C to get some reach, or even MFT as I see a lot of bird photos with them on reddit. I don’t really want to spend a huge amount - I had thought about asking my sisters if they want to split it with me for his Christmas, but that probably wouldn’t add that much. This then leads to used cameras, and maybe something like a Nikon D90, and a Tameron lens. However, something exactly like a D90 ends up being a lot more expensive than you think. I think as it’s well known and then it’s quite popular and that keeps the price high.
Whilst I don’t want to spend too much money, I also don’t want it to be a terrible camera and then be annoying to use.
I’m partially tempted to get a film SLR and a long lens, mostly as it’s quite straight forward to use, the film gets developed and then there’s no digital media to deal with. Not that he couldn’t deal with it but it would simplify stuff. However, maybe I’m just projecting my enjoyment of film on to others…
This wasn’t a very in-depth assessment at possible options, and writing it mostly made me wonder if he really would actually like a camera or not. I’m leaning towards no and so, whilst I do enjoy a good research project, it seems like a waste of time. He’s had cameras, they have digital cameras in the house that belong to my sisters that he could’ve easily borrowed. Maybe getting one as a present would change his mindset, but I feel like he is too busy to start another hobby.
Perhap the real outcome is asking him about it.
A new Fujifilm lens
This, the 35mm f/1.4, just arrived today from eBay. I fitted it to my X-E4 and took a selfie in front of the mirror. It’s night time so it’s dark and I decided just to focus on the camera not my tired eyes. I can’t believe how light this lens is, even with the hood on. It’s lighter than my 50mm f/2. It’s quite long, particularly with the hood but because of its lightness it balances nicely on the X-E4. Aesthetically, the 18mm looks better on the X-E4 - like a mini-Q2!
I’m listing my 50 f/2 this weekend, and so I’ve justified this new lens to myself as it’ll be a swap. The 50mm is nice but a little boring and whilst I try and take it out with me, I find it’s a little too long most of the time. The 35mm, or 50mm eq., is a much more useful focal length for me. Perhaps it’s a little excessive as now I have the 18, 23, 27, and 35 primes, and they’re all so close to each other. I still think they all have a specific purpose, driven by their physical size, aperture and focal length, so I don’t think I’d sell any of them just yet.
35mm on APS-C used to be my go to length for years. I had a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 for my D40/7000/7200. It was perfect and I enjoyed using it a lot. When I moved to Fuji and the X100F I was at 23mm. As that was my only camera, I didn’t have a choice but I have come to like 23mm (or 35mm eq.) focal length. When I moved to the X-T2, the 23mm f/1.4 was my second prime, right after the 35mm f/2. The first lens I bought for my M2 was the 35mm. I do have a 90mm for it but again, like the Fuji 50, it’s a little too long for every day usage.
Back to the Fuji, and even with the extra weight and size the 23mm was my go to lens. I later sold the 35mm f/2 as I found I didn’t use it. When I was first looking for a lens for my X-T2, I did consider the 35mm f/1.4 for a long time. I ended up not picking it as everyone said it was slow autofocusing and it was more expensive. It is the older style, original lenses from Fujifilm and it does have a slower and noisier autofocus, but it’s not that slow.
The internet talks a lot about this lens, and how it has special qualities and a unique look. I don’t know about that, but portraits at 1.4 do have a little edge over f/2. I’m looking forward to capturing everyone with it and seeing if I can see that special look. I’ll probably never see it, but if I make pleasing images with it then that’ll do me.
Plus when I get bored of it, and realise I have too many primes within 5mm of each other, I can just sell it and probably not lose much if anything.