Open Wide…

Since getting back into photography late last year after much too long an absence I’ve longed for a proper wide angle lens. A few weeks ago I bought a Tokina 11-16mm (16.5 – 24mm in 35mm format). Wide angle lenses are not about getting more into the image but bringing in the viewer.

This shot was taken in an 18mm (27mm) lens and I wish I had something wider at the time. I must get around to a few cathedrals soon and attempt to capture it’s beauty.

Edinburgh Church_B&W_small

Gone back to a DSLR

Recently I sold my Nikon D200 in order to buy a Fuji X-E1. The Nikon was quite an old camera but I loved it as it felt so solid. It felt like a real camera each time I picked it up. I had quite a hard time selling it as compared to most other cameras it was very dated, even had a CCD and not a CMOS like nearly every camera these days.

So, it went for just €250 and I asked my brother to buy a used Fuji X-E1 in Japan where he’s been living for nearly ten years. He was going to be over for a visit so he could bring it with him. I got it for quite a good price, €600 including the 18-55mm kit lens. I planned on  buying the 10-24 mm lens when it got released though it was going to cost more than what I had already spent, about €900. It was going to be a treat for myself.

First impressions of the Fuji were good, it was small and light and I was happy with the results I was getting, see here and here. My biggest worry was just how cheap and frail it felt in my hands. Having used the heavier Nikon for years the Fuji just never sat right with me. Worst of all it isn’t weather sealed in any way, most reports on the internet advise against getting even a few spits of rain on it. Living in Ireland where it does nothing but rain this was not going to be good. I knew it wasn’t the camera for me and it too had to go.

Up on a local classified site it went it I sold it for what I bought it for, I could have got a bit more if I’d have waited but I was keen to get something else, another Nikon DSLR. I already owned the 18-200 VR lens so after doing some proper research this time the D7000 looked like an excellent used bargain. For €650 I managed to find myself a D7000 and Tokina 11-16 F2.8 both in mint condition on ebay. Now I don’t need to spend a fortune on the 10-24mm Fuji lens either. The Tokina is superb.

I headed out early on Saturday morning with the new gear. First impressions were it felt very solid and responsive, the Fuji was painfully slow to process images after taking them, long exposures of over 120 seconds often too 10 minutes to process by the camera. The Nikon was doing that in seconds. Not only that but I had it out in pretty showery conditions and didn’t need to worry.

I don’t see me changing from a Nikon DSLR any time soon. Sure the Fuji looks cool and retro but in the real world it’s not as god a tool for the job as a DSLR. With the wealth of lenses available for Nikon cameras already there are so many bargains out there too. This image won’t win any prizes but on a the Fuji system it would have cost over double than the Nikon.

Stones B&W_1_small

A Walk In The Woods, Second Attempt

I headed back to Glengarra woods again to re-shoot some shots I took in a previous post. This time I brought with me a Fuji X-E1 and 18-55mm lens as I sold my Nikon D200 a couple of weeks ago. I was sad to see it go but it was quite an old camera and I liked the idea of the Fuji. For one thing it’s a lot smaller. The only problem I have is the 18-55 mm lens, while very sharp, is the widest Fuji XF zoom lens. There’s a 10-24mm out soon which I will be buying as soon as it does.

Anyway, back to the pics. Each one hasn’t had any post processing except for a little cropping. I think the little Fuji did a nice job with the jpegs, better than the Nikon D200 anyway.




Putting down the camera bag, can a phone compete?

This could be interesting to follow

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson will be leaving his camera bag behind as he goes off on a photographic tour of Scotland using an iPhone 5s. As a seasoned photographer for the distinguished NG I’m sure Jim isn’t short on talent and experience but none the less I think the challenge he’s setting for himself will be daunting.


I for one would be very interested in the results. With the never ending battle to produce cameras with more pixels, better ISO range, larger chips etc and the thousands these camera’s cost it’ll be great to see what results can be obtained from a phone. Okay, a pretty advanced phone but a phone none the less.

I’ve no doubt that this expedition is in some way being paid for by Apple in a marketing ploy but as long as they are honest with the results it’ll be an interesting exercise non the less.

The problem is, I’ll have no excuse not to take more snaps now with my phone. No more camera excuses.

Replicating B&W film types using channel mixer in Photoshop

Many people, just like myself, started off with photography before digital was wide spread. I used to work in a camera shop and remember selling the first digital camera the shop ever sold. It had 1 MP and cost about £500. The 128MB memory card cost almost £100. These days it would only hold about 10 RAW images, 30 jpegs at a push. Back then it was the height of technology, people didn’t seem to care the quality was far worse than if using film, it went on like that for a long time.

Behind the counter were hundreds of rolls of film, Ilford FP4, kodak TRI-X, the super fine grain Agfa Pan 25, Fuji Velvia, etc etc. Those were the days when big decisions had to be made long before the shots would be taken. You couldn’t shoot in RAW like we can these days and change the colour balance to suit, any mistakes in the set-up were permanent.

I shot on Afga Pan 100 or 25, not because I thought it was any better than the others but I was able to get it in large rolls roughly 100 foot in length. I had to go into a pitch black room and manually fill refillable film canisters. I learned first by doing it with my eyes closed on already exposed film. I then had the odd habit of always closing my eyes when doing it for real in the blackened room. For the record I preferred to use Kodak Tri-X for general shooting and Agfa Pan 25 for very fine grained images.

I used a Nikon FE-2 and 50mm F1.8 type E lens. I loved that camera but regrettably sold it when I bought a Fuji S2Pro. I wish I knew where it was now but I’m delighted to see a trend by camera makers for more traditional style camera bodies. Some of the new Fujis are stunning.

As I’ve said before in this site I trained only in Black & White, everything had to be hand printed in a dark room using various red filters to increase contrast. Dark rooms are a lot darker than you see in the movies by the way, though we don’t see many these days. Film had to be hand developed which is an art in my opinion. Timings need to be perfect, unless you’re going for different affects such as pushing the grain.

After a bit of searching I’ve found these settings to best match what results film would have produced. In Adobe Photoshop select channel mixer, set to monochrome and enter the settings as be below. The results are okay and great for getting a starting point for your B&W conversions. If I come across any more I’ll update this list

Film Make / Type Channel Mixer Settings (R/G/B)
Agfa 200X: 18,41,41
Agfapan 25: 25,39,36
Agfapan 100: 21,40,39
Agfapan 400: 20,41,39
Ilford Delta 100: 21,42,37
Ilford Delta 400: 22,42,36
Ilford Delta 400 Pro: 31,36,33
Ilford FP4: 28,41,31
Ilford HP5: 23,37,40
Ilford Pan F: 33,36,31
Ilford SFX: 36,31,33
Ilford XP2 Super: 21,42,37
Kodak Tmax 100: 24,37,39
Kodak Tmax 400: 27,36,37
Kodak Tri-X: 25,35,40