Epson V600 revisited

Back to work on ol’ school scanner.  I had lots of problems last time, which I seem to have gotten around now, it just took a little brainpower.  It seems I’m only allowed to save a maximum of 1.5GB on a school computer, and after that things just don’t save.  It’s good I know that now, instead of taking things out on the equipment, I’m the one who’s to blame.  Well, actually the school is; their greedy ways kept me from scanning medium format images to TIFF.

Then again, I’d only use TIFF if I were planning to work on a picture in Photoshop, and it would be pretty annoying having to get one finished and either uploaded to Cloud or saved on a flash drive, then deleted from the hard drive before I could scan the next.  Anyway, I prefer to get all I need from the scan rather than endlessly alter things in Photoshop.

Standard scan – it looked more interesting on the road, I guess…Irvin001
Epson scan

One gripe about the Epson software: zooming in on any previewed image resets the scan settings!  If you have some settings that work well, but you want to fine-tune things, even where the edges of the image are, and all the settings reset.  I wrote down some standard settings on a piece of paper.

01AA014   Irvin007
Standard scan                                 Epson scan – my friend’s son

Having the power to do adjustments is somewhat annoying I’ve found, and depending on how particular one is about their images, can take a long time.  At least with slides, if I do my job right with the camera, everything looks the way it should automatically.  I used expired film this time, a roll of Fujicolor 200 that I picked up at a thrift store for 50c, overexposed 1 stop.  Perhaps it wasn’t enough, I’m not sure.  The scans from the camera store came out somewhat bland, I thought, and makes me wonder just how expired this film is.  I bumped up the saturation a bit when scanning in some cases, played around with the color shifts, but I’m no wizard with the scanner (yet).  It’s good to have the camera store scans as a baseline, to tell me when I’m losing too much information due to incompetence.

Standard scan – Katy playing at the Pike’s Peak or Bust RodeoIrvin002
Epson scan

One day I will master tone curves.

Probably not today.

I think I’ll have to search around for a good book on digital scanning.  I’m always ready to learn new things, now that I have some (free!) equipment with which to play around.

Standard scan – the dog hiding from the evil thunder.

Epson Scan

This is the only picture that came out looking like it should.  This is the Superia Look that was missing for most of the album.  Maybe it just got more light than the others, I’m not sure, but I tried to get it as close as possible to the first image.

You know, honestly, I’m not altogether happy with the results of the scans.  I had lots of trouble scanning some of the images without little annoying dots all over the picture, something to do with changing the colors too drastically, I believe.  It’s great for correcting colors when things don’t turn out the way you want them to, but if you’re using fresh film properly exposed, I think you’d be better off with just the standard scans.  Also, I thought that scanning at 4800 dpi would give me more detailed images.  Then I decided to see just how sharp those 4800 dpi images actually were:

Standard scan (at ~400%)Fullsize-Epson
Epson scan (at 100%)

What’s with that???  I certainly wasn’t expecting the camera store’s scanner to be so much sharper than the Epson!  This really negates the reason for scanning at such a high resolution in the first place.  I’m no expert on doing these kind of tests, maybe I got something wrong, but I mean, how do you argue with that?  I’d be more disappointed if it had cost me money, but believe me, I don’t think I’ll ever buy one.

The cost of shooting film

This is the kind of thing that comes out when you decide to prowl around the Japan Camera Hunter website at 3:30 in the morning.  I thought it had some merit, so I’m posting it here. 


Anyone who doesn’t shoot film because it’s “too expensive” isn’t going to be enticed by having cheaper film to shoot.  Even if it were $1.00 a roll they wouldn’t do it, not only because of the price of developing/scanning, but also because they’re constantly being reminded of the cost every time they want new pictures.  Never mind that there are people out there GIVING away film cameras (I know because I’ve had several given to me) and that the entry cost for film photography is so incredibly low, compared to spending thousands of dollars for a DSLR.  

These people forget how much they spent on digital equipment because they pay it all up front, so paying $10.00 to take 36 pictures doesn’t seem like a deal to them.  Never mind that they’d have to shoot maybe 200-300 rolls before it equals the cost of that digital camera they bought.  

By comparison, since I took up photography in 2009, I’ve shot around 60 rolls of film.  For about $12.00 per roll (say $4.00 for film and $8.00 for processing and scanning) that comes out to $720.00 in 5 years.  That’s an average of $144.00 per year, at the equivalent of a roll of film per month.  Now compare that to the cost of going to Starbucks…  Let’s say $5.00 per visit once per week (quite a conservative estimate, really; some people do that shit daily) for a year would be $260.00.

For the first 3 years I shot Fuji Superia (which I really love) or expired film wherever I could find it, to keep my costs as low as possible.  I bought a 4-pack of Superia 800 from Wal-Mart early this year for $12.00 and one could easily keep the costs as cheap on the b&w side with Kentmere and Arista.  

So shooting film is expensive?  Hardly.

The Epson V600: A monumental pain in the ass

When I started this post, I had been scanning my Tri-X 120 negatives for about 4 hours, though most of the time has been spent on attempting to scan my Tri-X 120 negatives.  For every time that it does actually work, there are too many where it tells me “Unable to write to disk.”  I’ve read suggestions from Epson’s site, and am trying to correct all the problems.  I’m actually on two computers, just to save all the computing power for the scanning machine. Of course, it might help if the school’s software was up to date, which I’m not sure it is.

Honestly, I’m done for the night.  Nothing I’ve done so far has had any effect, and some time after the 5th picture it just stopped working.  I’d been trying now for 10 times in a row with no success, so I called it a night and hopefully will be able to work more later.  I was able to scan 1 image as a TIFF file and 4 as JPGs, which seemed to be the way to go, so all contrast and level adjustments were done while scanning.  Here’s what I was able to get done:

Not as bad as they could have been, and the file sizes are tremendous, to the size where it’s taking my home desktop a while to load one up (I suppose a 3.2GHz processor might have something to do with that).  While I have been very happy with Mike’s Camera’s Noritsu scanner that digitized my slides, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the scans from that 120 Tri-X negative, so I’m glad I had the chance to go back and tweak slightly.  No doubt I could do a lot more if I knew the Epson software better, and hadn’t been so burned out.  I’ll try a different computer next time, and see if that makes a difference to me.

Independence Day with the Nikon N60 and Fujipet EE

In the small town of Woodland Park, there are few times that are better to go out shooting than Friday mornings at the Farmers’ Market, but the 4th of July is one that definitely surpasses that: more booths, more people, more space, more going on.  I thought I’d do something different this summer, I’d dig into my backlog of cameras and pick out two that I hadn’t used yet, and give them a go.

As this was the 4th of July, I thought I could at least be a bit more patriotic and use Kodak film this time.  Go America.  I had 5-6 rolls of Kodak Max and Gold 400 film that my aunt had given me when I was in Louisiana for a wedding (thanks, Judy), so I pulled out one of those.  Unfortunately, even being freezer-stored for the past 10 years wasn’t enough by itself to yield good results in the N60.  This camera has no way to override the DX encoding, and one can tell from the pictures that they are underexposed for the most part (the camera store’s scanner had problems with several of the negatives too, there are occasional streaks).  The guy with the guitar is the only shot in which the colors look right.  I think I have 4 or 5 rolls of this film left, I’ll make sure to shoot this film at 100, just to be safe.  I’ve already complained about the autofocus, so no need to do so again. One happy thing about the camera though, is that there was a big chunk taken out of the front element of the lens, big enough that I could see it in the finder, but thankfully this didn’t show up on the film at all, as either a flare or light streak.  I’d read that one can fill in dings with black nail polish or the like, but it really wasn’t necessary.  This N60 was given to me by a family at church who no longer uses it.  If what you want to do is take pictures, it’ll do it, but I’m not a huge fan of these modern-style cameras that make you go through hoops to make the camera useful.  Having to hold a button and spin the one wheel to switch aperture or shutter speed is too much hassle, and then there’s the autofocus.

The Fujipet EE was actually much more fun to use.  I picked this camera up at the city-wide garage sale in the fall of last year, for a whole $2.50.  Not bad.  The guy selling it said that it was the camera he had had growing up in the ’60s.  Just a guess, but I’m betting his dad was a GI stationed in Japan or Okinawa after the war (like my grandpa was).

When I got the Fujipet, I bought one roll of Tri-X 120 film that was put away in the freezer, and I pulled it out for that day.  I took the film to the same place that did my slides, and they did kind of a botched job.  The pictures are the wrong way around, and though they don’t look particularly bad (though not the way I’d want them to look), I wonder if they had the negative flipped toward the film base side instead of the emulsion, so I had to flip those around.  They actually forgot to scan my negatives, and it had to be sent back a second time.  I dropped them off the same day I dropped my 35mm color negative at the other camera store, but turnaround for this medium format black & white negative was about 2 1/2 weeks (and the 35mm was of course done the next day).  They had a special deal they call “Holga processing,” which is processing (color negative, positive, or black and white, you can cross-process, and push/pull is no extra charge), plus a scan for $15, which isn’t too bad.  Still, there’s another option available to me, as yet another camera store in Colorado Springs does regular business with Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas (of Kodachrome fame), and their prices seem to be a bit better.  I’ve loaded a roll of Ektar into the Fujipet, and I’m going to try sending this roll to Dwayne’s, and maybe I’ll be happier with them, but we’ll see.

Speaking of Ektar, which is an ASA100 film: according to this wonderful site (which admittedly is dedicated mostly to the original Fujipet, so I don’t know just how different the technical info would be), I’m guessing that this little camera is set up for 100 speed film, what with an aperture of f/8-16 and a single shutter speed between 1/50-1/60 second.  There is a sticker on the inside of the camera that recommends Fuji Neopan SS (which is ASA100), and the last user of the camera had the box top from a roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan (ASA125), so I bought this roll of Ektar, plus a 5-pack of Fuji Across 100.  Looking at the roll of Tri-X though, it doesn’t look particularly dense (certainly not like it was overexposed by 2 whole stops), so I wonder if I’m wrong about the film speed.  I guess it’s possible that the camera store knew enough with the Holga processing to know that the film needed to be pulled, and admittedly I don’t know enough to tell just by looking if that’s the case.  In fact, I haven’t looked closely at a negative since fall semester, so maybe this roll of Tri-X is overexposed.  I guess time will tell.

The Fujipet EE is extremely easy to use, but there are some quirks.  There’s no way to tell how far to wind the film (and no rewind), so the image spacing is interesting, to say the least.  I started off with a half-turn, then started a whole turn, then went to more (I read about it somewhere, but couldn’t find it again).  I think one complete turn of the winder is correct, though I’ll find out after my next roll I guess.  The lens is I think around a 70mm length, and combined with a speed of 1/50 can produce blur if not held steady, that’s something else to keep in mind.  Honestly, I was surprised at how good the images are considering it’s a super-basic plastic lens.

One last thing with the Fujipet: there’s an actual class on Lomography given at UCCS, called “The Plastic Camera,” and it’s the class that I’ll be taking this fall, in all likelihood.  I really wish I could have taken landscape photography instead, but it doesn’t work out for my schedule.  In any event, the Plastic Camera class is the only one (past Intro) that is completely film-based.  As I type this, I’m also busy trying to figure out the school’s standard scanner, an Epson V600 flatbed device.  So far, the results are promising, but the process is a major pain in the ass.  If all goes well, this could be what I end up using for my medium format work for next semester’s class, which means lots of black and white 6×6 images, and perhaps not much else…

Bargain hunting blues…

It’s always the ones that get away from you that hurt the most.  I went to an estate sale this morning, wasn’t expecting much, then I saw a table in a corner of one room piled with camera bags.  Yes, that’s bags, not cameras.  I checked my watch: about 9:30am; someone beat me to the good stuff by half an hour I guess.  What really kills me is that I could have been there a lot earlier if I had actually checked the address against mapquest, instead of trusting the google map on the craigslist ad.  Big mistake I guess.  

Anyway, there probably wasn’t much I’d have been interested in, the guy was a Nikon shooter primarily, but there was an Olympus IS camera and a Nikon N90 body with motor drive still there, both priced at $35.  Some lucky bastard probably got a whole pile of Nikkor lenses and at least a Nikon F3 and F4 is my guess, and at $35 a pop too.  I hope that guy actually uses them, but my guess is that if he’s that sharp and gets there right at 9:00, it’s probably some asshole that buys up everything and then marks it up on ebay, making the rest of us pay more.  

I hardly need yet another camera system so I’m not going to cry too much about it.  The deceased had a small bookshelf filled with photography books, but they were mostly the generic kind.  I was hoping for photo collections of the masters, something along the line of Robert Frank’s The Americans, Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment, or something equally valuable to me, but instead I saw a pile with titles not dissimilar to How to Shoot Nudes, and of course everyone’s favorite, The Joy of Photography (several copies).  There was however, a book on medium format cameras, which makes me wonder if there might have been some medium format gear there at 9:00.  One of the books had a note written to “Nick,” so I assume that was the guy’s name.  That’s the part that I think cuts the deepest, because what I’ve been really lusting after is a good medium format rangefinder camera.  Maybe next time…

As it is, I shouldn’t whine too loudly, I went back to that table, dug deeper, and came up with an Elicar digital spot meter (it says Elicar, looking on the internet it seems like the same one has been branded by Soligor and also Adorama) for $15, plus a set of Cokin graduated ND filters for $5 (the set I mentioned in this post).  All in all, that’s not a bad day by any means, and the less I think about the deals that get away, the happier I am.  Nick, I never knew you, but I will use your equipment with pride.  Off to brush up on the zone system now, happy hunting.

Curse you, autofocus!

Still, I suppose it's not completely without merit...

Still, I suppose it’s not completely without merit…

Technology’s getting me down today.  Here I am trying to upload pictures and it’s just not working.  I’ll have to go back and edit later (edit: I did).  How wonderful technology is when it actually works.  Which right now, it isn’t, for me.  And neither did the Nikon N60’s autofocus, at least not 100% of the time.  And of course, the time it didn’t work it kind of ruined one of the shots that I thought could have been one of my best on the roll.  There were times that I turned off the AF because it wasn’t focusing properly, but that forced me to miss shots as well.  Then I thought, oh, well I’m shooting at f/11 so it probably is getting close enough anyway (I was shooting on aperture priority), I’m just not used to the particular way it handles focusing zones, so I didn’t worry about it.  And then I got my pictures back.

I know the N60 is an old, obsolete design and newer ones would be better, but this has still put me off autofocus pretty much completely.  I don’t need machines doing my thinking for me.


Bishop Castle on AGFA Precisa CT 100

No great art to be found here, just a family outing, really.  My bro was in town, we went to Bishop Castle in southern Colorado which this guy has been building by hand for the last 40 years or so.  I used about half of my roll of AGFA Precisa CT 100 on this outing.  Honestly if I did it again I’d have to get a wider lens or use a different camera.  Most of the shots are using a 35mm lens and it just isn’t wide enough to get everything in that I want to, but that’s life.  I don’t think the pictures are too amazing, but this is the kind of stuff that I’ve been doing for the last 5 years now, just documenting things and life the way people used to do it: on film.

Again, I think AGFA Precisa is probably rebranded Fuji Provia 100F.  I think it looks great myself, and it cost me half of what a “real” roll would have.  I hope they make more, because right now people seem to be selling it for way too much.  Don’t buy it unless you can get it for cheap.