Who wants prints?

I’m taking Advanced Photography again.  I took it before, three years ago, all those pictures can be found here, as well as a few related projects that bled over into the following years.  I suppose I wanted to take the class again primarily because I wanted to get back into the darkroom.

What this will allow me to do is make a lot of fine art optical prints, something I’ve really missed doing, and I’d like to offer this to you, my loyal readers.  Traditional black & white optical prints get the best out of analog photochemical imaging and are the most archival process, I’ve read they can last for 1000 years if properly processed and stored.  I will be printing 8×10 on Oriental glossy fiber paper, one of the best available today.  As I only have access to the darkroom while I am taking the class, this will be a limited-time offer and all orders must be received by May 1, 2019.
x1 print: $40
x5 prints: $150 ($30 each)
All prices in USD; prices include shipping in Continental USA, international shipping additional and will vary but contact me and we’ll work something out.
contact: joseph.irvin.photography@gmail.com

These will be black & white prints of course; most of what I’ve shot is Kodak Tri-X, T-Max 400, and Eastman Double-X and the links should make it easy to browse the majority of my black & white back catalog, just send me a link to the picture in the email.  If you absolutely have to have a color image I can make a digital print using an Epson large-format printer, email me and I’ll see what I can do; there is less of a time constraint on these.


Super 8 camera: Canon 1014XL-S

This Canon 1014XL-S is the first super 8 camera I used, on which I shot my first experimental documentary, Overwhelming Majority.  My friend/classmate/colleague bought it at a garage sale in California, had it sitting around his apartment for a year or two, and let me borrow it indefinitely.  I eventually gave him money to ensure that it is officially mine.  For the last two years I’ve been shooting a documentary on the Colorado Springs tourism industry using this camera, and it has served me well.

Many say that the 814/1014XL-S models are the best super 8 cameras ever made.  That’s not true, because there are features offered by other cameras that I’d like to have, but what this camera does give the filmmaker is versatility.  It has a great range of framerates, an intervalometer, a zoom lens covering 6.5-65mm, accepts all the necessary film speeds, takes only AA batteries, has exposure compensation as well as manual aperture control, and the option of two shutter angles of 150 degrees for outdoors or 220 degrees for indoors.  Plus lots more.

I also find it do be pretty ergonomic, with a handle that easily flips up or down, the filming “trigger” (for lack of a better term) can be set so that it films with or without the button constantly held down.  Most controls are on one side of the camera, which is where I like them.

My copy has seen much love over the years: plenty of scuffs, ancient masking tape on parts, a previous owner’s contact information carved into the bottom plate, the side plate came off, a UV filter that is jammed on so tight it can’t be removed, and the eyecup was lost.  I call that character.  What matters most is that it works.  And it works after having taken a considerable beating, and I’m a bit to blame for that myself I’ll admit.  It’s been thrown around my Jeeps for two summers in a row with nary a complaint.  It’s about 90% working.

The downsides?  The first thing that comes to mind is the price.  It has a reputation for better or worse, and it’s crazy what one of these go for now.  There are plenty of other cameras out there with nearly the same features, in the $100-200 price range, so I wouldn’t recommend buying one of these Canons unless it were working and cost $150-250.  I’m hearing from a lot of people that the lens has its limitations past f/4, though considering it’s super 8 film, I don’t know just how sharp one would expect the footage to be.  And evidently a lot of people think it’s way too heavy.  If you need a CLA it can be done but expect to pay a lot. There are cameras out there that are just as good that can be serviced for much less.  Personally I can think of better ways to spend the money.  I paid $200 for mine and it looks like this:


More ZC1000 pics

I also have acquired another lens for the Fujica ZC1000, the 5.5mm EBC Fujinon-SW.  It’s not perfect, there are a few spots on the lens which I’m told will make the thing flare…gotta get a lens hood!  I took a few more pictures too:

I guess that so far, my plan to shoot single-8 film hasn’t worked out too well, though I hope I’ll get around to it at some point.  The problems mostly arise from not having many choices for single-8 film stock, or double super 8 film which is slit down and loaded into cartridges by hand, of course requiring a lot more hardware and room than I currently have.  So it’s all been super 8 for 3 years now.  When the time is right though, I will of course be ready, having acquired 30 reloadable Fuji single-8 cartridges, plus having a very fine camera with zoom, normal and wide angle lenses.  Or, when the Kodak super 8 camera is finally released, I’ll have plenty of c-mount lens options for that.

Going back to my first post on this camera, I wanted to make more film pictures of all my small-format motion picture cameras.  I even broke out the tripod and my 4/50 S-M-C Macro-Takumar, but then made the total n00b mistake of not resetting my ASA so I shot this entire roll of Fujicolor 200 between 500 and 800 instead of at ASA100 as I’d planned.  Live and learn I suppose, and thankfully the shots were all usable.  I’ll do more someday.

Lomokino digital workflow

I like Lomography, follow them on Facebook, and enjoy seeing what their community is making.  I love what the movement stands for and think that, even if one doesn’t necessarily like the whole aesthetic, it’s done a lot to keep film photography going.  I can’t say that I’ve been impressed with a lot of their cameras, except the Lomokino.  It’s a concept I’d never have thought of, and I’m not sure anyone else had either; it’s a pretty unique idea and brings filmmaking to a much lower budget, though admittedly it’s at a Lomography level of quality.  I still find it to be their most intriguing camera.  When I originally wrote this I feared the camera had been discontinued but it looks like they’re back in stock now.  One would hope that if the camera is eventually discontinued it is because they have a new and improved version; it has its quirks and there are few features I wish it had:
-a more robust winding mechanism
-an M42 lens mount coupled with a focusing screen

Last fall I bought a Lomokino to finish up a super 8 project I started during my Experimental Cinema class Spring 2017.  Shot two rolls of Tri-X over Thanksgiving 2017 but then just sat on the footage for almost a year.  The super 8 footage has been cropped to 1.66:1 so to keep the proper aspect ratio for the Lomokino 2.66:1 footage I had to get some pretty large scans.  I opted to send the film to North Coast Photo Services in California (if you’ve browsed Ken Rockwell’s site you’re probably familiar with them; I’ll admit that it’s where I heard of them) because of their 5035×3390 scans.  It turns out that they’d never had anyone send them Lomokino footage before and had a pretty tough time with it.  I got 4 frames per scan (which I expected, the Lomokino is 2-perf and regular 35mm cameras are 8-perf) and the top frame of each picture was slightly cut off so it wasn’t ideal, but better than scanning it myself I think.  I also asked for flat scans but it seems that they either can’t do those or forgot; oh well (though they did email me the scans right away for approval, at no extra cost, so I have to give that to them).  Total cost with shipping there and back: ~$60.  Then all the frames have to be cut out and stitched together digitally.

The best way I found was to not crop the individual frames out, just take the scans and turn them vertically and import them into Final Cut (thankfully my school has Final Cut Pro X on all the Macs on campus).  Drag each picture into the timeline and make them 5 frames long (a length I had to decide beforehand), then duplicate them 3 times.  Then, working in a custom 3390×1234 framed project, I cropped each frame one by one working down each picture.  It took about an hour and a half per roll and the footage is a bit jumpy, but it worked.  Labor intensive, yes, but how was I to know that only a couple weeks later the Film Photography Project would announce their scanning service for Lomokino films?

I already mentioned they’re scanning super 8 (and 16mm and 35mm as well).  There really are no cheap (and acceptable quality) routes for scanning movie film so it’s usually a question of whom you send your film to, for developing and also scanning.  Get the film developed by your local lab (or develop yourself), send it to FPP for $20 per roll of film (and they even mention volume discounts for super 8), with no headache of having to deal with cropped images, jumping frames, and it’s not going to cost much more either.  Something tells me this is going to be a pretty damn popular service; I certainly will be using FPP the next time I shoot the Lomokino, and probably for super 8 as well!

I emailed Michael Raso who is the grand poobah over there, here’s the info he gave me:
-they have a Lasergraphics Scanstation
-no LOG (flat) scans, but it is HDR so you’re not losing any information.
-the price for a roll of Lomokino 135 film or 50ft roll of super 8 film is a flat $20, whether you scan in HD, 2K, or 4K.
-options for cropped scan or overscan
-volume discounts are based on how much film you’re sending in (6+ rolls), email Michael@FilmPhotographyProject.com

Photographs courtesy of Michael Raso at the Film Photography Project.

Super 8 camera: Yashica Electro 8 LD-6

I bought the Yashica Electro 8 LD-6 because I wanted something that I wouldn’t worry about loaning out to budding would-be filmmakers.  Yashica super 8 cameras are not as well-known but supposedly their lenses are great–I’ll put that to the test myself in the next month or two.

The camera might look a little basic at first glance, but as far as I can tell it has all the essential features, which means that even though I’m not necessarily a beginner anymore this camera will see use with me.  Cameras of this sort have one glaring weakness, though: the filter key!  1965-2008 the vast majority of small format film was tungsten-balanced, and camera manufacturers assumed that the unwashed masses using super 8 would not know to use a Wratten 85B filter when shooting outdoors, even though they were installed inside every super 8 camera.  So, in an attempt to make the consumer-grade cameras as idiot-proof as possible, they made the 85 filter automatically engage unless one was using a movie light or had a filter key to insert into the slot on top of the camera.  Such a small detachable part is easily lost and when buying a camera online one should take care to get one with this filter key.  If not you might be in a pickle as I was…until I found references to the coin trick.

If you insert a dime or quarter into the filter key slot, it will disengage the 85 filter!  What they don’t tell you and that I had to learn for myself is that you don’t insert the coin, you slam it in, push hard!  There’s a lot of resistance, and I was afraid that I would break something, but it just needed that extra bit of elbow grease.  Also the dime is finicky, and takes some wiggling around sometimes to get the correct position, though it is more compact (also harder to get out).

What better use for a Canadian quarter? Queen Elizabeth can oversee my filmmaking endeavors. 

The camera has its downsides too.  No exposure information like f/stop is projected through the viewfinder, so what benefit can be gained from the exposure compensation dial is dubious.  While it has a single frame option, there’s no intervalometer.  The lens’ widest angle is 8mm; the top-of-the-line LD-8 widens that out to 7.5mm, but there are plenty cameras that go much wider.  The handle doesn’t fold up so it’s not as compact as it could be, also its metal construction makes it heavy to hold in the hand.  You can see I’m nitpicking now, right?  It’s a robust camera, has a great set of features, and can on occasion be found pretty cheap.  I paid $15 shipped for mine, not gonna complain about that.

Super 8 camera: Bauer S609XL (completely refurbished)

Say hello to the Bauer S609XL, my new super 8 camera.

Since Kodak’s super 8 camera has been continuously pushed back, and every time we hear something the price goes up, I thought it was time to future-proof my ability to shoot super 8 film with a high-quality used camera, made in the early ’80s (which means it isn’t going to cost me $2000).  The Bauer Neovaron 6-51mm f/1.2 has a reputation as an extremely sharp lens.  Of course there’s no such thing as a best super 8 camera, every one has its drawbacks.  With the Bauers, the most glaring issue is its limited accepted film speeds of ASA40 and 160.  I found the solution to this problem thanks to my super 8 compadres Marc Marti and Ignacio Benedeti, who discovered a camera tech in France named Andre Egido who fixes only Bauer and Nizo cameras.  I don’t know the full details of how it works, but there must be some potentiometer used for the fine-tuning of the light meter, Mr. Egido drills a hole in the casing and adds a knob with correct markings so that one is able to manipulate the auto exposure at will and set either 40 or 160 to a lot more film speeds.  This means that I can correctly expose the new Ektachrome 100, Kodak 500T, and whatever else comes along in the future.  The S200-700 models can be modified to read any ASA25-400, some of the others are a bit limited, only ASA40-200, but still a heck of a lot better than nothing at all.

And it didn’t cost too much either, thankfully, between buying the camera and having it shipped to France, then the modification, parts, and shipping to me in Colorado.  Altogether I spent less than $300.

Speaking neither German nor French, I owe an incredible debt to Google Translate.  Modern technology can sometimes be wonderful.  I bought the camera off ebay from a camera store in Austria, requested it be shipped to Mr. Egido in Paris, being in contact with Mr. Egido previously so that he would know to expect the camera and it worked out…with a few snags.  Either Osterreichische Post is very rough with packages or the camera store didn’t wrap it very well, either way there was damage to the filter ring and battery door, requiring that I pay extra for replacement parts (but thank God they’re available).  I did ask for pictures of the damage but never got them, so much for trying to claim insurance.  I knew it was a gamble, and even with the extra parts it was much cheaper than shipping from Austria to America to France.  The downside of course being that one cannot verify the condition beforehand.

All fixed up!

I mentioned that the Bauers’ most glaring issue is its limited film speed reading?  The other big downside (for the XL/existing light models) is its fixed shutter angle of 220 degrees, about 1/40 second, a bit blurry for fast motion and camera movements.  Some have a shutter angle of 150 degrees which is about 1/60 second, and the results are reported to be much sharper because of this, and makes the Canon 1014XLS with its dual shutter angles more versatile (the Canon’s main drawbacks being its weight and a lens that gets quite soft at wider apertures).  I’ll see for myself just how blurry that extra 2/3 stop is soon, but it’s my hope that it won’t be too glaring of an issue.

I’m pretty satisfied with the work done and the price, having a camera that should be reliable for years to come is a necessity I’ve come to understand in the last few years.  If you have one of the later Bauer models, you have a good camera that at the very least can shoot Tri-X, Vision3 50D and 200T.  If you send it off for a CLA and ASA modification, and you will have an incredibly versatile camera that should last you a good long time.

Andre Egido’s website is http://cine-super8.net/ and he has Bauer and Nizo cameras for sale on there, along with film, camera parts, and lots more.  To get in touch with him directly, email contact@cine-super8.net.  I sent him emails in French using Google Translate, though he does understand Spanish and some English, I think it’s nicer if you use his language, plus I’m told he’s quicker to respond if you use French.

Ignacio Benedeti’s article on his Egido-modified S409XL

Super 8 cameras for beginners

The Super 8mm group on Facebook had a discussion going on about what the best cameras were for beginners, and I put in my 2c.

My cameras–a super 8 family portrait

If you are brand new to shooting super 8 or film in general, get a Pentax K-1000 or other manual 35mm still camera. If someone is such a beginner that they don’t know the fundamentals of light and dealing with different shutter speeds and f/-stops, then they should spend a while taking pictures first, take an intro to photography class that shoots on film, something like that. Now once they have some photographic experience, see below:

A beginner shouldn’t be spending a whole lot of money (nor would they want to anyway) so thrift stores/garage sales are the way to go. The most important thing will be if the camera transport works (BTW I’ve heard that running the camera at speeds over 24fps can burn out the motor if there is no film inside), the battery compartment has no acid corrosion, and then whatever mechanical/optical features in which the buyer is interested. If the buyer doesn’t know enough about this to test these functions, than see above.

So forget listing particular cameras. Not only is it taking the easy way out, there will be plenty of cameras left off and it drives the prices up for that model, while others are relatively undiscovered.  Also one shouldn’t get hung up on any one camera, there are so many great models out there that I’m still hearing of for the first time, and I’ve been researching this off/on for the last few years.  Never mind the brand, so I’ll list features one should look for instead, in order of importance:

1. Price and condition. Absolutely most important aspects
2. Uses easy-to-find batteries like AA.  It’s great to have the Wein Cell but annoying having to keep an extra stash of batteries around for the light meter (and makes it verify that everything works)
3. 24fps framerate
4. All other framerates 9-36fps or greater (for slow motion), timelapse, etc.
5. Ability to read all (or at least most) film speeds ASA25-400 (I’d make this #2 but it takes a lot of research; Tri-X, 50D and 200T should be plenty of choice for the beginner)
6. exposure compensation of some sort, even just a backlight button but +/- a stop or two would be nice (1/3 stop increments would be even better, but I don’t know that many super 8 camera had that)

Now, the further down the list one gets, the longer one will actually use that particular camera I think, but what I’m personally looking for in a super 8 camera and the list I’ve given for beginners aren’t necessarily in the same order. That said, there are plenty of cameras out there that have all 6 of these things and more; it’s possible that the “beginner” camera is enough to last the filmmaker a lifetime.

I’m not ever giving up mine!

Another piece of advice: don’t leave your batteries in the camera for an extended period of time!  They can leak acid and corrode a lot of the insides, killing the camera stone dead.  Even if you’re buying it so that can be repaired by a tech, know that most techs won’t touch a camera with battery acid corrosion, or if they do it’ll become much more expensive to fix.  So remember that when you’re looking at a camera, because that will tell you a lot about its condition!  If you’re buying online, this is the most important aspect, and most sellers don’t even bother to look.  In fact, most will say “I don’t know how to test it” (half the time they’re lying and it’s broken), but if they’re willing to verify that the battery compartment is clean and the price is good, then it might be worth the chance.

If you’re willing to put in the effort and do the research to find a camera with the features you personally want, you’ll be rewarded and will end up paying a lot less than someone that just has to have “the best.”  And I’ll tell you something else: there’s no such thing as the best.  I’ll give you the resources that have helped me the most, and good luck.
The Super 8mm Facebook Community
The Super 8 Wiki
Filmkorn’s Super 8 Database