More scanning fun

Made a trip to K&S to grab some supplies. Their prices are quite a bit higher than B&H, but at least I don't have to wait. The negatives are piling up, and if I don't get them organized as I scan them, they'll just end up in a big mess.

I bought some film cleaner, a Giottos Rocket clone, 100 35mm sleeves, 25 120mm sleeves, a microfiber cloth and some lens cleaning fluid, all for $80 (ouch). The same list of items would have cost me about $68 after shipping at B&H, but they won't ship the film cleaner. I'd have to wait for the items to arrive though, so it's a small price to pay for instant gratification.

In the meanwhile, I've found even more negatives to scan. Some of the photos I've never seen before, and some are a pleasant surprise to find in negative form. Sadly, most of the color negs have gone wonky, and resist my efforts to correct the colors (mostly too green/yellow). They make good b&w pix though.

The range of negatives is causing a problem. It's easy to scan 35mm. The 126mm film fits in the 35mm holder, but about 3mm gets cut off the top. I tried looking for extra 35mm holders online (I can use a Dremel to trim the top), but no luck; my scanner (an Epson 2450) is so old that no one carries parts anymore, not even ebay. I could buy another scanner, but that'll be a last resort. Some of the negs from the early 60's are larger than 35mm, but smaller than 120mm. No holder for those either. I'll probably just have to trap them under a piece of glass. Probably the same solution for the 110mm negatives.

And I actually found a photo of my first camera, a Diana F. It was a gift from my godmother when I was around 6 years old. Now if I can find some photos taken with the camera, that would be sweet.

Stuck together

While searching for old photos (thank facebook for making me hunt), I ran across more than a few negatives that had stuck together. I (rather stupidly) tried pulling two apart, only to see the negatives delaminate and end up with two useless negatives.

Off to the web to find a solution. Turns out that a soak in cold water should do the trick, with a touch of Photoflo (where is my nearest photo supply store?), followed by drying in a clean place.

Let's see if that actually works.

The search for those Kodak moments turned up some small prints b&w from circa 1940. Roughly a square inch, the prints scan nicely and hold up to enlargement. Much better than the results I got out of a bunch of color prints from the 70's that had very little sharpness to them. There's something to be said about old technology.

Update 1: It's been over eight hours of soaking, and the negs are still stuck together.

Update 2: Success! 24hrs later and I can peel the negatives apart, and they don't look the worse for wear. Unfortunately, they now have water spots. Off to Calumet or Keeble & Schuchat this weekend to look for some archival sleeves and other fun stuff.

Waking up early helps

Success! After five years of trying, I was finally able to wake up early enough to make it to the Haight, find parking (tons on Haight itself), and catch the elite runners at the Bay to Breakers. I made it early enough that I had to wait almost an hour before I took my first photo (need to adjust that wake up time). And I found out that the women actually run ahead of the men, but the men catch up and pass them at the end.

Being that early in the morning, I'll blame my shots on my lack of sleep. And it's tough to watch the runner's feet to time the photo just right.

Women's winner Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya on her way to breaker her record:

Will Ferrell impersonator crosses behind the lead male runners:

Race winner Sammy Kitwara (#21) and runner-up Peter Kirui (#24), both from Kenya:

Events beyond your control

It really bites when your timing is spot on, and something just gets in the way of that perfect shot. That's what happened to me a few times today while shooting Muay Thai at the Asian Heritage street fair in San Francisco earlier this afternoon. The referee was just doing his job of course, and didn't really worry that he blocked several good photos. The fighters didn't help by moving around the ring so much. And why do they have to put all those ropes around the ring...

There's something to be said about having a press pass.

I did manage to take some good photos this year, out of 1,971 taken. At last year's event, I was too far from the ring, and two years ago I found out too late about the fights. This year I got ringside seats by dint of waiting for a few hours before the bouts started. The Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5~4.5 managed to keep up with the action, although it did mis-focus on a few shots. I would have liked just a little more FOV (maybe 24mm?), but until Nikon releases an updated 24-120mm, I'll use what i have in my bag. The 28-70mm AF-S would have focused faster, although it's a little on the short side. I didn't use the 70-200VR that I brought since I was close to the action.

Metering was off my hand, shutter speed, aperture and ISO set manually to match and adjusted as the lighting conditions changed. Fill flash? Always a good idea when you have bright sunlight in the background and a covered tent for the foreground, but flash wouldn't have been able to keep up with the action. And I don't think the fighters would appreciate an SB-800 blasting in their faces at 8fps. So I have a blown background, but that's fine with me.

I started out in machine gun mode, and managed to hit the buffer limit a few times. As my timing improved, I throttled down to shorter bursts and single shots towards the end of the event.

Batteries are charging for tomorrow. Need to get up early to reach my oft-missed goal of photographing the lead runner of the Bay 2 Breakers.

Olympus E-P1 + 14-42mm kit lens initial impressions

I bought the kit through Costco, and received two $50 refunds within two weeks of purchasing the camera. And I have 90 days to be satisfied, or it goes back, no questions asked. Gotta love Costco.

A new camera is always a fun thing, from unpacking the box, charging the battery, and finally being able to use it to take photos. The Olympus E-P1 fits nicely in my hands, and feels solid enough. The mode dial turns smoothly, with strong detents as befits a mode selector. The vertical dial also turns with a quality feel to it.

The kit lens is another story, from the flimsy focusing ring, to the loose front barrel. I guess that's why it doesn't cost that much more to buy the camera with the lens than without. And what was Olympus thinking when they picked the filter size (40.5mm!)? There is no hood available for this lens, another design flub.

IQ is acceptable. It's definitely better than my current pocket camera, a Fuji F45, with cleaner, more detailed output. I have seen some puzzling skin tones though, and bad white balance in the shade. It pales in comparison to the images I get out of the D3, but then that's not a fair comparison. I've been trying to get the JPEG output close to what I get from the D3, but still haven't gotten there.

The video quality is good, better than I expected. The sound quality is excellent, but the microphones pick up every little breeze, and every little nearby sound. It's too bad the body doesn't have an external mic port. The mic also pics up AF and zoom sounds, along with the shutter button. Editing all the video I've shot is going to be another story. I'll have to learn to tell a story instead of just letting my images stand for themselves.

So, will I keep the camera? I haven't decided yet. I have ordered a Nikon adapter, to see how well my Nikon-mount lenses work (Video at 500mm! I wish I had the adapter when I was at the North Shore earlier this month). The Sony Nex-series is also very tempting, but the initial images show poor lens quality and very few controls on the body.

Come back in a month or two for the final result. In the meanwhile, here are some photos from the E-P1.

Kahala resort

Small beach, but the view is very pretty. The dolphin pool is great for the kids. I didn't bring the polarizer, but the sky was blue enough in this shot.

The Diamondhead gazebo is tiny, but perfect for a small wedding. The staff was very helpful, and even comped the parking. The ceremony was sweet and short, a bonus in the hot afternoon sun. The strong breeze caused a problem for the E-P1's microphone, but without an external mic port, you live with what you get.