Canon T50, expired film and negative density

I’ve put off writing this post for a while now, partly because I’m not partial to this camera and partly because the scans were a bit flawed.  This camera was gifted to me by a friend along with a whole lot of Canon FD lenses, most of which were off-brand zooms, but also a pretty nice 35mm f/2.8 wide angle that has gotten a lot of use in the last year, as well as two (!) 50mm f/1.8 lenses (bringing my total up to three).  So, that equipment along with the Canon AE-1 body, 100mm lens and now more zooms than you can shake a browncoat at, I’d say my Canon system is actually pretty far towards completion.

I’m not a fan of the T50 because there isn’t a whole lot of control a photographer can have over it.  It only works in Program mode, which I’m not a huge fan of.  In fact, its one saving grace is that it doesn’t read DX encoding, meaning I have some control over the exposure using the ASA setting (as long as you’re not going outside of ASA25-1600).  In that at least, it has an edge over the Nikon N60.  Using a roll of expired Fujicolor 200 of unknown age that I picked up at a thrift store for 50 cents, I knew I wanted the colors to come out as warm as possible (or at least have the film exposed properly) so I shot this entire roll at ASA25-50.  Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not as much.  (OK, it has more than just Program mode, if you take your lenses off “A” it gives you 1/60, but I didn’t try that too much, as a lot of the roll was taken with the 100mm lens)

One big problem I’m learning with shooting expired film is that even when exposing several stops over box speed, the negative density might be a bit on the thin side.  Talking to my camera store, it seems that’s a pretty big contributing factor in causing scanning lines.  Without my own scanner and a more personalized scan and attention to detail, I think it’s just going to be something I’ll have to live with.  This day, my mom asked me if I wanted to go take pictures of fall leaves with all her peeper friends so I came along, but I made her take her Minolta XG-A and a roll of Ektar.  That roll was pretty fresh and didn’t suffer from any scanning lines.

With all the complaining out of the way, I’ll say that those Canon FD lenses are quite wonderful, nice-looking and very sharp.  The only reason that I don’t use them more often is because I prefer the character of the Pentax Takumar lenses, even with the eccentricities of using the screw-mount system (Canon lenses look much more neutral to me).  I knew I’d end up getting some pretty nice images, and scanning lines aside, I did.  I’ll rescan this roll myself once I have that capability, but for now, I was stuck in Photoshop using the Healing Brush whenever I had the time and got pretty tired of trying to fix the problems.  Here are a few that I’ve got done and I think turned out pretty nicely.

Here’s an example before Photoshop:

I don’t think I talk enough about how nice and how sharp those FD lenses are, but I’d say they do very well indeed.  One of these days I’d like to run a roll or two of Cinestill 50D through my AE-1 and see how that looks, but the T50 I got tired of dealing with and to use up the roll fast I took pictures of several of my other cameras.  Strangely enough, there are no scanning lines on those shots.  Hmmm…

A new edition to the family, and DIY repairs

The more I shoot indoors the more I feel the need for a 1.4 normal lens.  So when looking around the auction sites for either a Mamiya/Sekor or SMC Takumar, of course I stumbled on this beauty instead:

01AA022(I’ve decided I don’t want to do digital shots of my cameras, so I’m reserving a frame or two per roll for the purpose of posting pics)

A Pentax ESII with an S-M-C 50mm f/4 macro lens?  Yes, please.  The starting bid was pretty fair, assuming you wanted both items and not just one, but I can’t imagine many people wanting to pay more.  I don’t always agree with everything Ken Rockwell says, but when it comes to bidding on Ebay, we’re practically on the same paragraph of the same page, though my SOP is modified somewhat.  If it’s something that I’d like but either I can’t be there for the end of the auction or am a little bit on the fence still, I put in a low bid, say exactly what the starting price is.  If someone else wants it, then it wasn’t meant to be and my bid won’t drive up the price by more than $0.50, and if no one else bids, then it must have been fated to be mine.

Well, the camera wasn’t quite as functional as the descriptions led me to believe.  It’s taken a couple bad hits it appears: the lens has a few dents on the filter ring (to be fair, I saw these from the photos and it shouldn’t be too hard to fix though I haven’t tried yet), the mirror stuck in the Up position every time you advance film, the automatic functions didn’t work, and the film door didn’t close properly.  The film door wasn’t too big of a problem, it took some hammering and seems better now; I suppose shooting a roll through it will tell for sure.  The mirror and auto exposure problems though, I wasn’t too happy about those and would need to get them fixed.

I certainly wanted both the lens and the body, and hate the idea of paying return shipping, so I wrangled a deal with the seller getting half my money back, figuring I’d be putting that money toward a full CLA from my local camera store (God knows how much it would cost though, with the mirror and AE problems; they couldn’t give me an estimate over the phone).  Still, I hate spending money I don’t have to, so I started looking around the internet for a more cost-effective alternative and was able to find the information I needed.  I’m hardly a techie, not very electronics-savvy, it’s always frightened me to do anything more than very basic repairs; my crowning achievement was being able to change out the pinch roller on my cassette portastudio.  Compared to that, this was a breeze.  It’s really not that hard.  You can do it, I promise.

Anyone with a Spotmatic problem where the mirror sticks in the Up position, check out this helpful tutorial.  If anyone is interested, I used trumpet valve oil (Al Cass is my brand of choice) administered with a Qtip and toothpick.

The AE problem was even simpler: pushing the shutter is supposed to trigger the light meter, but it wasn’t making contact and because of this, I wasn’t getting but one shutter speed in Automatic mode.  It’s actually the same problem mentioned here, but I only found this later.  Epoxy is a very nice solution!  I just used tweezers to bend the contacts until they were back in proper alignment and wrapped the thing in electrical tape.

With that though, I now have a fully-functioning Pentax ESII to add to my ever-growing M42 collection.  It took all of half an hour to fix.

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.