Looking Back

Peter Flower

The transition from film-based photography to digital was one which took several years, but brought about some very significant changes to the way in which we take and present our images. Film and photographic materials were costly, so for the average photographer it was necessary to think carefully about the expenditure involved. There was also the factor that, with the exception of Polaroid-style cameras, the success of your shots was in doubt until the slides or prints were viewed at a later time.

Colour slides would almost certainly have been processed via a professional photo lab. There was greater flexibility when it came to the processing of negative films, either colour or black and white. It is an interesting fact that, in competitions for prints, the society at one time had a specific class for 'Trade Processed' prints. The majority of colour prints would be produced from negative film, but a number of members did produce them with the process that involved the use of Ilford Cibachrome paper. This enabled the production of colour prints directly from colour slides.

At present we are used to ISO speeds on digital cameras where the minimum can be ISO 100, very workable images produced at ISO 3200, and extended settings go up to and beyond 409,600. It is a sobering thought that the original Kodachrome slide film had an ASA (=ISO) rating of just 10! Over the years this was increased to 25 ASA, then ASA 64 and finally to ASA 200, although the latter (like today's extended ISO speeds) would only be used where low light conditions made it essential. In the 1950s to 1960s era so-called 'slow' black and white negative films would typically be ASA 40 or 64 ASA. Medium-speed films would be in the range of 100-125 ASA and 'fast' films at 160 ASA and above. Of course, these were nominal speeds and it was quite usual to extend these upwards by use of special developers or lengthy development times. (So-called 'soups') I once developed an Ilford HP3 film, with a nominal rating of 160 ASA, after taking photographs with metering set at 3200. Needless to say, the grain was very evident!

It is interesting to see a resurgence of interest in photography using films. My wife, Jill, has witnessed this at Brighton University where students are able to take advantage of very comprehensive film development and darkroom facilities. It has to be said that those of us who have used a darkroom will never forget the smell of the chemicals or the magic of watching the printed image appear in the dim light as it develops.

On the topic of film cameras it is also interesting to note that, although camera dealers on the high street are few and far between these days, a small number of those dedicated to the sale of old cameras are still surviving. In Newsletter 93 I mentioned the huge store of Antonio Stasi in Bergen. Nearer to home we have Clock Tower Cameras in Brighton and High Street Radio & Photographic in Croydon. The latter is one that I have visited on occasions in the past and I was reminded about it in an email from Don Morley. The history of this store is an interesting one and I feature it in a later article.

On a different topic, in Newsletter 100 I mentioned 'Vision', the printed Newsletter of earlier years. On a recent trip to Dorking, visiting the Bourneside Gallery, I happened to meet Rob Walker (one half of the Walker twins who were members many years ago). He said that he read the Newsletters and that this particular article had reminded him of events at that time.

ISO and ASA – the technical stuff – I referred to the fact that ISO speeds = ASA. There have been a number of standards for rating film speeds, and then digital sensors.

ASA (American Standards Association) was widely used in the days of film, largely because American companies like Kodak dominated that market. In Europe it was more likely that DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) ratings were quoted. This was a logarithmic scale, expressed in degrees, where three degrees increase equated to a doubling of the ASA speed rating. So, ASA 100 = DIN 21° and ASA 200 = DIN 24°. Film containers typically showed speed as (e.g.) ISO 100/21°, including both arithmetic (100 ASA) and logarithmic (21 DIN) components. The second is often dropped, making (e.g.) "ISO 100" effectively equivalent to the older ASA speed. This simplification has also been adopted to indicate sensitivity of digital photography sensors.

Chatham Challenge Results and Christmas Social

Report by Peter Flower

This year's competition had been organised by Mick Higgs. The event had taken place at the South Park Estate. Mick, who works on the estate as a gamekeeper, had been able to obtain permission from the owner for members to gain access to the whole estate with the exception of the house interior. This gave competitors access to a a wide range of open land, gardens, farm buildings and the chapel. Thirteen members competed on the day and all submitted images for Mick to judge.

Mick said at the beginning that he had only awarded points in the range of eight and above, in the hope that he would be able to leave at the end of the evening without any altercations with an aggrieved competitor! The fact that the identities of entrants are disguised by codes leads to a great deal of speculation about the ultimate winner as the sub-totalled points are revealed as the competition progresses. This was further confused this time by the automatic allocation of identities by the entry system for images, usually meaning that even the individual entrant could not guess where they stood in the rankings. The limited range of marks awarded for each picture resulted in some very close markings for the ultimate winners.

The final scores revealed a dead heat between two competitors, as shown in the following image -

Competitor identities are as follows -

M01 – Jan Adcock, M3 - Jill Flower, M04 – Louise Barker, M11 – John Fisher, M13 – Peter Flower, M19 – Stephen Hewes, M20 – Carol Hicks, M21 – Lester Hicks, M24 – Colin Hodsdon, M35 - Paul Renaut, M41 – Peter Tucker, M44 – Mike Weeks, M45 – Pete Welch

Mick announced that in order to resolve the dead heat the winner had been decided on the maximum number of 10s scored. This resulted in the winner being announced as John Fisher. The following collages show the top-scoring images from John and Paul.

© John Fisher

© Paul Renaut

The third placing went to Louise Barker. Ironically, had she been awarded an extra half-point she would have also had top marks, and her score of no less than five 10s would have resulted in her being the overall winner! Her top-marked images are shown below -

© Louise Barker

A few more of the 10-point images, selected at random, are shown below -

Congratulations to John Fisher on winning this close-fought battle and the honour (?) of arranging next year's competition!

Saturday Natter – Denbies Vineyard – 6 January 2018

Report by Peter Flower

This first meeting of the new year was well attended, with 17 of us having to arrange several tables together to accommodate us as a group. The extent of this made it difficult to gather information on the various topics being discussed. However, one of the matters that involved all of us was the presentation of a series of options for the forthcoming Albany Cup competition. John Fisher brought along a series of postcard-sized prints on a couple of potential themes for our entry and asked for opinions from all of those who were there. I will not mention the subject matters specifically because we want to keep these under wraps prior to our meeting with the other clubs involved in the competition.

The following images – 1. from myself, 2 and 3. from Lester show the discussions taking place. I should add that there is no problem with Lester's camera lens – I deliberately blurred the images!

For the benefit of newer members the challenges of the Albany Cup annual competition and a description of the last time that we won it are described in a separate article below.

My initial discussions at the meeting, prior to the interruption to view the Albany Cup options, were spent with Mike Weekes who is considering purchase of a new camera. He is looking for one which will give him quality images but still be compact. This might involve a fixed lens rangefinder-style model with APS-C sensor, although I suggested that the possibility of something similar with a compact exchangeable lens could be considered. I also suggested that the D P Review web site should be looked at. This has excellent facilities for narrowing down the search for cameras with specific features and side-by-side comparison with similar models from the various manufacturers. Additionally, there are comprehensive reviews of chosen models. This is a site that I know as a go-to location both for other members as well as myself.

Whilst at this end of the table I had a brief opportunity to handle Don Morley's Leica CL camera, a model only just released. As might be expected this has the very solid and clean design for which Leica are renowned.

I then relocated to the other end of the table to chat to John Gall who had brought along his Fujifilm X-T2 camera. One of the features of the Saturday Natters is the opportunity to handle and compare other cameras and to talk about the owner's experience with them. John pointed out some of the features that he particularly liked. The following images illustrate some of these, including a comprehensive set of manual controls on the top (avoiding diving into menus), locking buttons to prevent accidental changing of settings, and the rear LCD screen which is adjustable in two planes.

John explained that the provision of the locking buttons on the rotary controls was a great asset. He had previously owned an X-A2 camera and found that a rotary control which extended just beyond the top edge of the camera could be knocked out of adjustment when put into a carrying bag. I am certain that other members will have experienced similar problems, whichever camera make they own. The safeguard on the newer model is an example of Fujifilm's renowned reputation for listening to user comments and implementing improvements as a result.

Also sitting close to me were Modesto Vega, Jan Adcock and her sister Jenny Roffey. Not surprisingly the conversation got round to the topic of the pros and cons of mirrorless versus conventional DSLR cameras. Although Modesto's Nikon D600 is a full-frame model the disparity in bulk and weight between this and John's X-T2 or my Panasonic GX8 was very obvious. I explained to Jenny the differences that the elimination of a mirror-box made and the resulting ability to slim the camera body. I also showed the advantages that came with electronic viewfinders (seeing the image as captured) and the fully articulating rear screen. I demonstrated this with the following shot, hand-held well above my head.

Photograph - Peter Flower

I also explained the difference that sensor sizes made, from full frame down to finger-nail sized ones in compact cameras and smartphones, not only on image quality but also on depth of field. Using a zoom lens on my GX8 (micro 4/3) to compare with the extensive zoom range on the Samsung Galaxy camera (1/2.3” sensor) I was able to show the differences.

Finally, Modesto and I indulged in a mutual shooting session. Not exactly the Shoot-out at the OK Coral but just a bit of fun.

Photographs by Peter Flower and Modesto Vega

Albany Cup competition

Peter Flower

This is an inter-club competition hosted by Guildford Photographic Society. A limited number of other clubs are given an invitation to compete, usually resulting in a total of eight taking part. Our society is one that has taken part over a long period of time. The competition format requires the submission of four prints, and that these should be the work of at least three different members. The prints are initially judged individually, with a maximum score of 10 points each. Then the four prints are mounted as a panel on a board and judged as such, with a possible score of up to 40 points. On this basis the maximum total score for any entry would be 80 points. The panels are judged on coherence both visually (such as colour, matching images and presentation) and their success in presenting a common theme according to the panel title. Needless to say, balancing the individual image quality with adherence to a coherent panel theme is not easy. In this lies the challenge.

Our society has won the competition on three occasions. We won it in two consecutive years, 1993 and 1994, but then went for a long time before winning the competition in 2012. Jill Flower presented some ideas about potential entries at a meeting earlier in the year. Various themes had been explored,with most of them centred on ideas such as bronzes, statues or mannequins. For those involved in the preparation of the competition entry (Jill, Gerry Stone and myself) the concept of bronze statues was favoured, and this was endorsed by the general membership. The thought had originated with Jill's recollection of May Savage's memorable 'Bus Stop, Canary Wharf' which would form an excellent starting point for a set of pictures on the chosen theme. Ironically, this was a 'silver' print, and the original negative could not be located. This meant that it had to remain as it was and the other three digital images had to be made a close match. By skilful work on the other chosen images, two of which were originally in colour, we compiled four 'punchy' black and white images to match May's original. As individual prints they did not receive the highest marks, but the panel had praise heaped upon it by the judge who said it was 'memorable' and, in his opinion, 'best in class'. Accordingly he awarded it the maximum 40 points.

The panel is shown below.

Panel details – clockwise from top left

Chinese Chequers (Gerry Stone), Brotherhood (Peter Flower), Silent Witness (Jill Flower), Bus Stop, Canary Wharf (May Savage)

Review of 2017 camera announcements

Techman

This was a year when smartphones made further inroads into the territory previously owned by compact cameras. Not only did they introduce the concept of twin lenses which enabled clever algorithms to produce images with improved definition, but also to provide apparent differential focus, a feature not previously possible with the small sensors and very short focal length lenses.

In the following notes the previous reports are indicated by numbers in brackets which indicate the Newsletter containing the detail.

This was a year of mixed fortunes for Nikon. The company virtually dropped out of the compact market. Their only introduction was the Nikon Coolpix W300 all-weather model in 31 May 2017. In the range aimed at the more serious photographer the One series (three models only) which have been on the market for many years continue to be listed. It should be noted that these models have exchangeable lenses. The company then announced plans for a similar series (three models), with each one having a different fixed lens. The DL series introduction was delayed after the initial announcement. In April 2016 delays were announced (80) and they were finally dropped from their plans in February 2017 (91). There were also factory closures, blamed on competition from smartphones. On a brighter note, Nikon celebrated its 100 years anniversary on 25 July and issued a number of special editions. (95) At the same time it formally announced that plans were in place for the development of larger mirrorless cameras.

On 12 April it introduced the D7500 model (93) but the July announcement of the D850 had to be the highlight the company's year. (95) This camera gets top ratings in all the reviews and is currently reported to be in short supply in some markets.

Sony had a very successful year with the introduction of two more models in the alpha full-frame mirrorless range. In April the a9 was released (93), designed for high-speed sports and action shooting, which targeted the professional full-frame models from Canon and Nikon. The other highlight was the Mark 3 model of the a7R in October. (99) The latter has been particularly highly rated in reviews. In September the company also released the latest version of its well-regarded bridge cameras, the Sony RX10 Mk.4. (98)

Canon had a fairly busy year. In March it celebrated the 30th anniversary of the EOS system, originating with the film-based EOS 650 in March 1987. In addition to DSLR updates, the EOS 77D and 800D in February (91), and the EOS 6D Mk.2 and 200D in June (94) there were further models in the mirrorless category. These included the G9 X Mk.2 in January (89), the M6 in February (91), the Powershot SX730 HS in April (93), the M100 in August (98) and the PowerShot G1 X Mk.3 in October (99). A feature of many models has been the Dual Pixel AF system on the sensor which speeds up focusing in live mode.

Panasonic consolidated its range of MFT cameras. The GH5, introduced in January, is the latest in the series which is largely aimed at videographers. (89) At the same time the mid-range GX800 model was announced. The FZ82 small sensor bridge camera with its 60x zoom lens was also added. (90) In April the latest model in the compact travel camera range, the TZ90, with its 30x zoom was announced. (93) In November the G9 model was announced (100) which, although containing excellent video features, became the top model in the range aimed at serious photographers with a wish to down-size from bulky DSLRs.

Olympus had a quiet year with just one updated model in its MFT range. This was the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk.3. (98) The company also announced the rugged Tough TG-5 in May, which is regarded as one of the best compact cameras to combine reasonable image quality whilst being waterproof, shock, crush, and dust-proof.

In contrast, Leica introduced no less than three new models – the Leica M10 in January (90), the TL2 in July (94) and the CL in November (100). The latter has received rave reviews (not only from Leica enthusiasts!) and one has already been purchased by Don Morley. Also of significance was this company's co-development with Chinese phone maker Huawei of the Mate 10 Pro. Leica contributed a two-camera module that produces the final image. The dual-cam set-up combines a 12MP RGB sensor with a 20MP monochrome chip. Like on previous high-end Huaweis, the latter allows for a native black-and-white mode, and Huawei claims that the combination of captured image data from both sensors leads to improved dynamic range and lower noise levels. Both of the dual-cam lenses feature a fast F1.6 aperture and optical image stabilization as well. The camera app can be switched to record mono only, giving the sort of tonality that is available on the Leica M Monochrom camera.

Fujifilm consolidated its X range of models. First were the X100F and X-T20, announced in January (90). Later in the year, in September, came the X-E3 (98).

Pentax had just one new model, the KP, announced in January (90).

Although not strictly a camera announcement, the introduction of the Phase One monochrome medium format camera back, XF IQ3, with 101 megapixels in May (94) aroused a great deal of interest.

Summing up, the models competing for camera of the year had to be the Nikon D850 and the Sony a7R III. Both received universal praise in any review that I have read. It is noticeable that these are both full-frame models and it is almost certain that Nikon, Canon and Sony will concentrate efforts on future development in this segment of the market. Moving down into the APS-C range, whilst DSLR models continue in popularity the main excitement is focused on the Sony alpha series, from the a6000 up through the more recent a6300 and a6500, and the various models in the Fujifilm X series. As regards to the MFT segment, Olympus and Panasonic continue to provide excellent features and performance in compact form.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if the current leaders, Canon and Nikon, finally think seriously about introducing mirrorless models in their mid-range and professional cameras. When the likes of Leica adopt this approach and Hasselblad has shown how compact a medium format camera can be, such as the Hasselblad X1D, it should be a wake-up call.

African wildlife – 15 January 2018 – Nick Rogers

Report by Peter Flower

Due to yet another speaker calling off at short notice Paul Renaut had to rearrange the schedule of talks. It was due to this that Nick was asked to present this evening's talk. In the event this was not a disappointment. Nick's talk and series of images from safaris to different parts of South Africa provided us with an excellent evening's entertainment.

The safaris had been to Chobe River in Botswana, the Masai Mara in Kenya, Etosha National Park in Namibia and the Serengeti, Tanzania. He mentioned the company, CNP Safaris, that specialises in trips for photographers, and provides photographic equipment for the tour. This not only means that the most suitable kit is available, but also avoids the problems of excess baggage on flights. The planning of the trips is professional, with expert local knowledge, but also geared to the requirements of enthusiasts in photography. The majority of photography takes place from specially adapted vehicles or boats, as shown in the following images.

Many of the early photographs were examples of those taken on the Chobe River from a boat. This is an ideal platform, unlikely to disturb the animals that congregate in the river or come to it to drink. Typical scenes, such as animals drinking or cooling off in the river, are relatively easy to capture.

© Nick Rogers

A river can also be an ideal location for the capture of bird images. A variety of birds can be seen catching fish, perched along the banks or nearby.

© Nick Rogers

There were so many excellent images that it is difficult to select ones that cover all aspects of the safaris. However, we were reminded that in addition to those tranquil moments when delightful images of cubs can be captured there are times of savagery and terror.

© Nick Rogers

Other images showed the dramatic scenery, such as the impressive dunes in the Namib desert, and some of the local people. The lower right image portrays some playful action, showing that not only are the animals used to the attention of the tourists, but also the annoyance to the serious photographer of hoards of other vehicles following in their trail.

© Nick Rogers

The final image is one that Nick did not show at the end – he should learn from the travelogue films that were so popular at one time. There would be a typical cliché ending 'And as the sun sinks slowly in the West we say farewell to the wild life and glorious scenery of South Africa' !

© Nick Rogers

At the beginning of his talk Nick explained the equipment that he used, including the heavy 500mm and 600mm lenses provided by the tour company, and the techniques that he had learnt in order to capture the photographs being shown. He admitted that there had been a steep learning curve since his original ownership of a Nikon D810 camera. In the early days he said that he thought that the 'A' setting on the control dial meant 'Automatic' ! He has obviously moved on from that stage and the quality of the photographs from his tours is a testament to that progress. The outcome was very successful.

Third PDI Competition

Peter Flower

We do not normally report on competition events, but an incident at this one merits comment. During the course of the images being displayed the following example appeared on the screen.

© Jill Flower - Exhibition

This was taken in a gallery where the girl was photographing with her phone, taking advantage of the reflective exhibit on the wall. The judge, Graham Johnston, said 'I will stick my neck out and predict that this image was taken by one of your female members. I have found that they tend to take this type of artistic image.'

Purely by chance, the very next image displayed was this one.

© John Gall

To a roar of laughter from the audience his immediate response was ' And this one was taken by one of the men!'

Panasonic GH5S camera

Techman

The general trend in sensors is to introduce ones with ever higher pixel counts as new camera models are introduced. There are exceptions to this, as witnessed by the Sony A7S and A7S II with their 12 megapixels sensors. These compare with the up to 42 megapixel sensors of other models in the range. The advantage of the sensors with lower megapixel counts is that the pixels are larger and enable much higher ISO speeds to be achieved.

On 9 January 2018 Panasonic announced the latest model in its range of cameras that are biased towards video enthusiasts. As such it is unlikely to appeal to the majority of our members but it is worthy of mention to highlight one of its most important features.

The most notable difference between the GH5S and the GH5 is in their Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensors. The GH5S’ sensor is 10.2 megapixel, almost half that of the 20.3 in the GH5. And although that’s a fairly considerable drop in resolution it’s for good reason. The GH5S megapixels are much larger than those within the GH5 (1.96x larger). Bigger megapixels take in more light, and more light means less gain is needed to bump up exposure. The result is that the GH5S is 2.38 times more sensitive than its GH5 counterpart. Additional benefits include 25% less noise and a signal to noise ratio that’s improved by 1.5 stops. This enables it to achieve beautiful footage with suppressed noise in low-lit situations.

This and other features of the GH5S are illustrated in a brief video. As such this may not be of great interest, but the video does include brief glimpses of Brighton. At just 1 minute 46 seconds long it might just brighten up a coffee break. The link is -

https://www.panasonic.com/uk/consumer/cameras-camcorders/lumix-g-compact-system-cameras/dc-gh5s.html

Hasselblad H6D-400c MS camera

Techman

In previous Newsletters I have mentioned features on different makes of camera that allow very high definition pictures to be taken, utilising the shift mechanism of the sensor. On 16 January 2018 Swedish medium format manufacturer Hasselblad introduced its next-generation multi-shot body that can output 400 megapixel images. Following in the footsteps of the company's H6D-100c, the H6D-400c MS uses sensor-shift technology to combine up to six exposures into a single huge image measuring 23200 x 17400 pixels. The final image from the 6-shot process is a 16-bit TIFF.

The H6D-400c MS gathers colour information by shifting the sensor by a pixel at a time in a four-by-four grid, and recording four images with the red, green and blue filters over-lapping to produce RGBG at every pixel. The sensor is then returned to the normal position before being shifted half a pixel horizontally and then half a pixel vertically to record extra resolution via these two extra images. The mechanism is illustrated below -

The system is similar to that used by companies like Olympus and Panasonic, except that these manufacturers use their ‘floating’ 5-axis sensor image stabilization technology to manipulate the sensor into position. Hasselblad’s system uses a machined metal block with a track milled into it that the sensor is shifted along. This creates a system that’s more rigid, to ensure the sensor movements are absolutely parallel and precise every single time. When not used in multi-shot mode the camera acts normally like a H6D-100c. The camera will start shipping in March, but pre-orders are being accepted. If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it! But you will be able to rent it by the day.

Fujifilm X-A5 camera

Techman

On 31 January Fujifilm announced this budget-friendly mirrorless camera, successor to the X-A3. It has a 24 megapixel sensor, with traditional Bayer colour filter, rather than their X-Trans one. The X-A5 appears to address the weak spots of its predecessor, namely sluggish performance and slowish autofocus system. The updated processor on the X-A5 is 1.5x times faster, according to Fujifilm, and its phase-detect AF system should do a better job with subject tracking. Fujifilm boasts of better scene recognition and colour/skin tone reproduction, and battery life has increased to an impressive 450 shots per charge. The X-A5 also has Bluetooth for easy pairing and image transfer A jack for an external microphone has also been added. The X-A5 will be bundled with the new XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS Power Zoom lens, the smallest and lightest (135g) zoom lens for their X series cameras. Body colour choices include silver & black, silver & brown and silver & pink. The camera is priced at £549.

Second 100 Days Challenge

Jill Flower

At the December Saturday Natter Rosemary and I decided it would be good to start another 100 day challenge. I set up a flickr group and sent out a message to you all and we opted to start on the first of January. We have about 10 members contributing and we are up to Day 32 at the time of writing. This is a fun activity that really encourages everyone to take pictures and experiment with their photography, not that Les needs much encouragement!

There are a few themes developing and a little friendly banter. We also seem to attract viewers from elsewhere on flickr who 'fave' our pictures or leave notes. This is a very enjoyable activity, if a bit frustrating at times! The link below is to the group site where anyone can see what we are doing and if you are a flickr member you can leave comments or fave our pictures.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/4434977@N23/pool/with/39333815514/

Leica – High Street Radio & Photographic, Croydon

Peter Flower

Don Morley recently sent me a brief message about an event that had taken place at this store. It had been the subject of an ITV London News feature. Don sent me photographs taken at the time, with the suggestion for a caption of 'Big Leica Fans'.

It should be explained that Don has a particular interest in this store, it having been at one time a Leica dealership, although now it only sells second-hand models as well as any other old camera equipment. I have also visited the store on an occasional basis over many years when visiting Croydon. As I explained in my 'Looking Back' article, it is gratifying to see that shops with this sort of character are surviving, satisfying the interests of people who continue with film photography or those who wish to sample the 'retro' delights of film cameras for the first time.

The photographs feature 86-year-old Reg Roach, who has been behind the counter since 1959, and his son, Paul. In the early days Reg concentrated on radio products, securing dealerships such as Roberts, Sony, Philips and Grundig. In the late sixties the Bang and Olufsen company was looking for outlets in the UK. Always up for a challenge, Reg applied and became one of the country’s first B&O dealers. Unfortunately, the recession in the early nineties and policy changes at Bang and Olufsen meant Reg and Paul had to relinquish the B&O concession.

The early seventies witnessed the boom in sales of colour televisions, much less reliable than they are today. Reg set up an additional shop, calling it High Street TV Services Ltd. This was dedicated service centre, employing a chief technician and 4 engineers. As a result of higher rents and the recession in the late seventies the two businesses were amalgamated at the current address.

In the early eighties Reg incorporated photography into the business and became a Leica Specialist Dealer. High Street Radio and Photographic was born. Over the years Reg’s detailed and expert knowledge has become legendary, earning him well deserved respect in this field. Unfortunately, like so many high street dealerships, the pressures of internet selling meant they had to adapt and revise the products they sold. Policies and demands of being a Leica dealer were also too much for them and so Reg lost his beloved Leica dealership. Reg and Paul now concentrated on selling pre-owned Leica and other classic second hand film equipment along with new Roberts Radios.

The shop now specialises in pre-owned and classic photographic equipment, particularly by Leica, Canon and Nikon. Visiting it is like entering a time warp, a bit like Ronnie Barker’s shop in 'Open All Hours'. Reg is very knowledgeable, always very personable and always happy to talk to people about their cameras. His charm certainly worked on the following customer!

 

© Peter Flower

Masks and layers in Lightroom® and Photoshop® - Wayne Grundy BSc MD (RCA) ARPS – 22nd January 2018

Report by Lester Hicks

Wayne’s presentation covered advanced digital editing techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop. His implicit assumption was that his audience was familiar with the basics of one or both applications.

Starting with Lightroom, he demonstrated how masks could be used for selective editing around an image to deal with brightness, colours, sharpness, and removing or inserting elements. He preferred this for basic rapid editing, the bulk of his work. For more sophisticated manipulation he moved into Photoshop, which in contrast also provides layers, useful for example to deal with motion blur and selective sharpening. He stressed his preference for a separate layer for each step of his work on an image. This enabled him to follow every stage in a sometimes-lengthy process and, return if necessary to a particular effect without disturbing anything else.

The impact of Wayne’s undoubted skill and expertise was perhaps limited by delivering his talk at what at times seemed his usual desktop speed. That made it hard for some to keep up with the movement of the cursor and sliders on a succession of projected screen-shots, especially towards the back of the room, where it was also not always easy to hear what his was saying as he encouraged his computer and its applications through some of the more complex processes.

Fortunately, those wishing to revisit the essentials at leisure can access Wayne’s lecture at the blog/lectures section of his website at -

www.waynegrundy.com.

Towards the end of the evening, Wayne also gave a quick preview of the capabilities of Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro 2, which he suggested might suit those looking for a simpler, easier way to access their digital images for editing. Having previously stressed the importance of always using RAW files for serious photo-editing (never jpegs!), he also mentioned the online availability of Serif's Affinity® photo editor and Iridient X-Transformer which he said was excellent at converting the output from the Fujifilm X-Tans sensor to Adobe's DNG standard RAW format.

RAW files – the technical stuff

Peter Flower adds

Although RAW files purportedly retain all of the information from the camera's sensor (unlike jpegs that condense, lose some of the detail and apply different algorithms to edit this before recording) the way in which it is recorded varies from one manufacturer to another. If you look at the file suffix identifier this is generally different. Canon even has two different ones – CRW and CR2. Nikon has NEF, Panasonic has RW2 and Olympus – ORF. The photo editing software has to be able to interpret each of these. In response to all this confusion Adobe attempted to introduce a standard RAW format, called DNG. This has been adopted by a number of makers, including Pentax, Ricoh, Casio, Leica and Samsung. (Please note: This may not apply to all models)

So far, so relatively simple. The common factor to all of these cameras is that they have a Bayer pattern sensor. Some models of Fujifilm share this standard, but the more expensive models have the so-called X-Trans sensor. The pattern of colour filters over the pixels is unlike the regular one of the Bayer sensor, so the interpretation of the signals is very different. Fujifilm has its own software, called Silkypix, that provides editing features, but many prefer to stick with a familiar product. This is where conversion options such as X-Transformer might be considered as part of the workflow before utilising the editor of choice.

Fujifilm FinePix XP130

Techman

On 24 January 2018 the company introduced this new model, its latest inexpensive rugged camera. The XP130 is largely the same as the XP120 that came before it. The major changes are the addition of Bluetooth, Eye AF and an electronic level. The XP130 has a 16 megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor, 28-140mm equivalent f/3.9-4.9 stabilised lens, 3" LCD and 1080/60p video capture. Bluetooth makes pairing camera and smartphone easier and also allows for instant photo transfer. The XP130 has 96 megabytes of built-in memory plus an SD card slot and a battery that will last for around 240 shots. There are five colours to choose from - black, blue, green, yellow and white. It is due for availability in March, with a pre-order price of £199.

New Projector

After extensive research the committee has decided to purchase a new Canon XEED WUX500 projector. The previous projector is now very old and there have been repeated comments about the quality of images projected. Despite numerous attempts to profile this, to provide more accurate colour rendition, it has become an increasingly difficult task.

The Photographers' Gallery

Peter Flower

On a recent visit to the Photographers' Gallery in London I saw the Lomo’Instant Square camera on sale. I originally wrote about this in Newsletter 98 when it was the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Lomo announced that, thanks to the support from the Kickstarter community it was introducing the Lomo'Instant Square Instant Mini Back to transform the Lomo’Instant Square into a multi-format master. This allows the use of both Fujifilm square format film as well as the smaller Instax mini film. This feature will be seen from the image above, as will the compact foldable design that uses bellows, paying tribute to some of the popular cameras that were used in the history of photography.

The shop also had on sale a full range of other instant cameras from Fujifilm, Leica, Polaroid, MiNT (InstantFlex and modified Polaroid cameras) and Impossible as well as Lomo. Films for these were also available. I noted that they also stocked a small range of one-time use throw-away cameras.

And finally . . . . .

Peter Flower

In much the same theme as that of Newsletter 100, we end with another rather special wedding photograph. This was sourced from the DPReview site of 1 February 2018.

Photojournalist Jack Kurtz was in the Philippines covering the eruption of the Mayon volcano for ZUMA Press in the past month. In a break from this assignment he went to a church in the late afternoon from where he intended to try to make a sunset photo of the volcano erupting. He set up a small table top tripod on a flat rock and took a couple of test pictures with his Pen F and iPhone controlling the camera. While he was sitting there a couple who had just been married in the church came out to a restaurant to make their wedding photos. Just as they got to the overlook the volcano started its eruption. He grabbed his gear and ran over to the restaurant to photograph them. Having asked for and got approval from the official photographer and the wedded couple, he took this amazing shot.

Acknowledgement to Jack Kurtz/ZUMA Press and to D L Cade of DP Review for the source material