Friday, January 21, 2011

My First Serious Camera

My first serious camera was the Zeiss-Ikon Supercontaflex, a hand-me-down from my father.  I had an Agfa rangefinder before the Zeiss that I had to use a separate  light-meter and telemeter.  I can no longer remember what it looked like.

I had Super-Contaflex model, but same looks as the picture, though.  It was a consumer grade camera that competed very successfully against the very expensive Leica M2 and M3.

The Contaflex was a very interesting camera and I believe the first of its kind. It was an SLR, with a leaf shutter, and  without an up-and-down or rapid return  mirror. Therefore, only the front element could be interchanged. The advantages were a smaller and quieter SLR. The main disadvantage was that the lenses focal length ranged from 35mm - 115mm. 

The Zeiss Tessar 50mm f/2.8  was a very sharp lens.  I used to blow the slides up on a massive screen and they never lost resolution.  On the other hand, when I "upgraded" to the Canon A1 and AE1 system, in the mid 70's, the photos taken with the Canon 50mm f/1.4 , projected on the same screen, lost resolution, they were not as sharp, and the color rendition was not the same. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Purpose and Reason for My Blog

I really do not know why anyone but me is interested in reading my blog,  on a regular basis, because it is a very self-centered collection of ramblings.  I think of it as my "Electronic Diary." In addition, I do not believe that I'm qualified enough to present meaningful and objective reviews.  

The real purpose for my blog existence is twofold. Firstly, I use it as my home page.  I have all my links that I can access from my main computer, Netbook, or any other computer away from home. Lastly, it is the place I write articles or explanations of what I do and the reasons for it.  I always refer to my blog's articles when I participate in the different forums.  In this way, I only have to write it once and above all, I will not go off-topic in the other forums.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My New Printer

Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II
I finally broke down and got a serious printer to replace my Epson Dash 260. I really do not know why because I do not print and have no idea what to do  with the photos.  On the other hand, I have now an option that I did not have before.  This was the determining factor in selecting the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II.

The printers I selected from were the Epson Stylus R2880, Epson Stylus Pro 3880, the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II, and the Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II; they are all inkjet printers. I am very aware that Printer Manufactures sell ink and not printers.  Therefore, the cost of ink was my major criteria in selecting the printer. The one I thought was the best is the Epson Pro 3880, but I did not go for it for many reasons. 

Epson Stylus R2880: This was the printer I was really interested in because of the price and capabilities.  However, I could not get how many ml of ink in each refill cartridge. I called Epson and the rep was excellent and very helpful.  He did say that Epson does not give the information on how many ml of ink/cartridge.  He did give me an estimate of how many photos the different color cartridges are rated for.  To me that information is useless because we are talking about draft mode and photographs without much color in it. At the end of his presentation, the rep asked me if he was helpful.  I responded that he was more than helpful, because I decided not to get the printer.  My question was very simple to ascertain a fact in order to compare this printer with others. If Epson does not want to divulge something they should, it is because they are trying to hide something.  The R2880 was discarded form consideration.

Epson Pro 3880
Epson Stylus Pro 3880: This is probably the best printer of the four and the most expensive - $1,200.  Its biggest advantage is the content of ink in each cartridge - 80 ml.  Each cartridge costs $60.  Therefore, the cost of 1 ml is $.75, the cheapest.  However, what was its biggest advantage it became its biggest drawback.  I would have at least $600 invested in ink at all times.  Printers go bad - it is a fact.  With the 3880, I would not only lose a printer but also $600 worth of ink. In other word, Epson lowered the price of ink, but you have to buy in bulk.

There is another thing that I do not like about Epson.  Each printer has its unique ink cartridge.  If the printer is discontinued (sooner or later it will be) Epson will continue manufacturing the cartridge, as a legacy service, but at a higher price.  

Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark-II: This would have been my printer of choice after the two Epsons were not longer considered.  It is a pigment based ink that it is best for matte and art paper.  It also has 10 cartridges with  two extras black cartridges.  It is excellent for B&W photos.  However, I became a bit apprehensive with the users' review from many places like B&H, Adorama, Amazon, and others.  It got raving reviews except that every 10th  one or so, was extremely negative - "stuck with the printer, not sharp, and I got better results with my previous $90 photo printer." In addition, I have not printed in B&W and I do not know if I will ever go in that direction.

According to the Canon rep, the 9000 and 9500 are exactly the same printers.  The 9500 is better because of the Lucia, pigment base ink, and the 10 cartridges.  However, it is a 3 picoliter droplet as opposed to the 2 picoliter droplet with the 9000.  Therefore, the difference between the two canon printer is minimal, unless if I print with art paper or B&W.

Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark-II:  This is the printer I chose.  As I stated before, I have no idea how much I will use the photo printer.  If I use it a lot, then I would upgrade to the Epson 3880.  However, the 9000 costs $349 after the mail-in rebate.  It is better to make a $350 mistake than a $1,200 one.  So far, I'm really impressed with the Canon 9000 - very well built and very nice photos. In addition who is going to see the photos? My friends and me.  I do not think that the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, or any other institution will be knocking on my door.  In other words, it is much more that I will ever need. 

The ink cartridges contain 13.8 ml of ink; the cost is  ~$ .92 per ml.  In addition,  many Canon photo printers use the CLI-8 ink cartridges and not just one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Under the Weather

For the last week or so, I have been really "under the weather," sick with stomach problems+.  It was not enough to go to the hospital sick, but close enough.  I'm beginning to get better.  However, I have not been able to really test the new X1 or the Sigma 50mm Macro.  If there are any issues with them, Leica or Sigma will have to resolve them, but I do not think it is even a remote possibility. 

I am very happy with the direction I took with my equipment, but will explain better in the future.  Right now, back to bed :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits)

On, 16 September 2009, I visited the Page Museum located at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles. The Museum is one of the world’s most famous fossil localities, recognized for having the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. Visitors can learn about Los Angeles as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age, when animals such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin. Through windows at the Page Museum Laboratory, visitors can watch bones being cleaned and repaired. Outside the Museum, in Hancock Park, life-size replicas of several extinct mammals are featured.

I made the mistake of shooting most of the pictures at ISO 3200 when it was not needed. I never used an ISO setting this high (1600 was my previous high) and I wanted to try it out. I have Good news and bad news. The D700 performed flawlessly and very clean. However, ISO 3200 is so sensitive that many of highlights were blown because of the spot lighting reflecting on the subjects. The reflections were not that obvious. Now, I know.

Photos of the Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Norton Simon Museum

This past Sunday, 6 September 2009, I took my D700 and the Nikon 14-24 to the Norton Simon Museum. The Museum is very well known as one of the most remarkable private art collections. Over a thirty-year period industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed a collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th. century and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years.

Among the most celebrated works he collected are Branchini Madonna, 1427, by Giovanni dide Zurbarán; Portrait of a Boy, c. 1655-60, by Rembrandt van Rijn; Mulberry Tre, 1889, by Vincent van Gogh; Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1878-81, by Edgar Degas; and Woman with a Book, 1932, by Pablo Picasso. Highlights from the Asian collection include the bronze sculptures Buddha Shakyamuni, c. 550, India: Bihar, Gupta period, and Shiva as King of Dance, c. 1000, India: Tamil Nadu; and the gilt bronze Indra 13th century, Nepal.

I always take my lens cleaning kit with me, but not this time; I never use it. It never fails; I needed it. The 14-24 front element was very dirty with some substance. I guess that when I visited the Lomita Railroad Museum, the locomotive might have dispersed something in the air, when they were simulating it running. There is no way I could have dirty the lens the way I take care of them. If some of the photos seem to have like a film, they did - the lens did. I should have checked the lens before I left. ( Norton Simon Museum Photos. )

Update: I visited the Norton Simon Museum, the following Sunday, 13 September 2009, with the D700 + the Nikon Micro 105mm VR f/2.8G N. I have merged the two sets of photographs in the "Norton Simon Museum" gallery; the link to the gallery is above.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Rancho Palos Verdes Brush Fire

A brush fire that broke out at 7:55 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27 in the Portuguese Bend area of Rancho Palos Verdes, burned 230 acres. This is the city I live, so I went out with Nikon D700 and the Nikkor 70-200 VR f/2.8 lens to capture images of the fire.

My main problem was that I did not take the tripod. I had no idea how big the fire was and if I had to evacuate the area in a minute's notice. In retrospect, I should have taken it and placed in the trunk of my car, just in case I could have used it - next time there is a news event. It was very hard to shoot at very low speeds even with a VR lens.

The whole story of the fires is here. All the pictures of the fire that I kept, can be seen in my Photo Gallery or in the Slide Show Format.