Dateline 16 January 2017

Jack Casement

Peter Flower

It is normal practice for me to inform people who give us talks that a report has been published in the Newsletter. In response I often receive their thanks and expression of appreciation for the comments made about their efforts. Following the report on Jack's talk I received the following message 'Congratulations on a very professional looking newsletter. It would put a lot of other publications to shame, and I was delighted how accurately you described my lecture, and the reproduction of my images did them justice.'

I then received this second email 'I thought you might be interested in this image which will show that I don't create images just for my lectures. This is the first draft of the front cover for my 2018 (yes that's right 2018) calendar, where I use a similar technique that you saw me using on my image of Venice. Thank you for your good wishes for my retirement at the end of this season.

Jack'

© Jack Casement

Comment

PF

The news that the Duchess of Cambridge has been given honorary lifetime membership of the prestigious Royal Photographic Society in recognition of her 'talent and enthusiasm' has not been received with universal approval. Whilst Kate is reported as being very pleased with the accolade the announcement has given rise to much adverse comment on social media. In comparison, considering that the illustrious career of Antony Armstrong-Jones (First Earl of Snowdon), who died recently, resulted in an Honorary Fellowship of the RPS there does seem a disparity.

What A Difference A Day Makes

PF

Browsing through the adverts and internet sales promotions over the holiday period it was interesting to see the extent of discounts and special cash-back deals available on camera equipment. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, many of these ceased immediately after the New Year. There were far too many to mention but I comment on some significant ones.

In Newsletter 64 (11 November 2014) I confirmed a previous prediction that a sub-£1000 full-frame DSLR or CSC camera (SLR-style) would make an appearance within the year. The Sony Alpha 7 with 24 megapixel sensor was already the cheapest SLR-style camera in this sector but a web site company called Panamoz listed the Sony A7 at a body only price of £835. The price complete with 28-70mm kit lens was £955. As will be seen from the following advertisement images of 30 December from the Park Cameras web site a subsequent model, the A7R just met this barrier at £999. Although this price remains valid at 3 January 2017 another model, the A7II (announced in November 2014) which had been £1249 has now gone back up to £1349.

Some bargain prices also applied to Canon DSLRs. Chosen at random are just a few examples, including the EOS 100D and EOS 700D. Of particular interest, apart from the low prices and cash-back deals, was the offer of 12 months interest free credit. The latter no longer applies. What is even more intriguing is that the addition of the Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens to the 100D in kit form only adds £70 whereas the lens alone on the same site lists at £189.

From a different source a Canon EOS 6D (full frame with an RRP of £1800) body was available for £995 but this offer has now expired.

Note: There is some variance in the RRPs from different sources. The ones shown in the Park Cameras images are higher than those shown in the current issue of EOS magazine which obtains its figures (RSP) from a recent Canon UK retail price list.

Canon EOS M5 – the competition

Techman

In Newsletter 85 I reported on the release of this new model, one of the few mirror-less models from Canon. Peter's comments on recent sales prices prompted me to look at the price of the EOS M5 and to compare it with the competition. It is difficult to make direct comparisons because there are few cameras that exactly match it in respect of format (SLR or mirror-less), sensor size, weight and overall size. However, the factors that aroused my interest were the prices of the Sony A7R (£999) and the EOS 6D (£1249), both of which are full-frame cameras compared with the APS-C sensor of the M5. Bearing in mind the current price of the M5 at £1049 this puts it into heavy competition. Interestingly, the Sony A7R at 465g and a size of 127x94x48mm compared with the M5's 427g and 116x89x61mm largely negates the advantage of the smaller sensor. The M5 faces even more competition from within the Canon range, with the 80D (APS-C sensor) being priced at £839 and the 760D (also APS-C) at an even lower price of £509.

Further competition comes from Fujifilm. Although the latest X-T2 comes in at a price of £1399 (507g, 133x92x49mm) its predecessor, the X-T1 which is also highly rated and still available, can be purchased at a bargain price of £670 (440g, 129x90x47).

Note: Prices quoted are as listed on Park Cameras web site in early January.

New cameras and old technology

Techman

A spate of announcements were made early in January, some of them at the CES Show in Las Vegas. In addition to news of new digital cameras there were a couple which harked back to previous times. In the same way that vinyl is undergoing a resurgence of interest in the music scene there is renewed enthusiasm for film and the return of instant print cameras like Polaroids of the past.

Canon G9 X Mark II.

 


This successor to the tiny PowerShot G9 X retains the same basic look, feel and weight of the original, meaning it continues to be the smallest compact camera on the market with a relatively large 1"-type sensor. It carries over the existing 28-82mm (equivalent) f/2-4.9 lens. It comes with a new Digic VII processor, first seen in the larger G7 X Mark II. This processor enables RAW burst shooting at up to 8.2 fps for ~21 frames. Canon has added Dual Sensing Image Stabilization, meaning that information from the lens and sensor is combined to offer a claimed 3.5 stops of image stabilization. The G9 X Mark II is set to be available in February in a choice of black or silver

Panasonic Lumix GH5

This is the fifth in the company's premium range models that introduced the concept of combining excellent video and stills capabilities in one camera. With its 20 megapixel Four Thirds sensor and even more comprehensive set of video features it is set to continue the popularity of its GH4 predecessor which was a favourite with independent film makers. Principal features include the upgrade from a 16 megapixel sensor to the new 20 megapixel one, 5-axis in-body image stabilisation system, all 4K footage taken using the full width of sensor (many cameras crop the image size), dual UHS II card slots, 9 fps shooting with continuous autofocus, 1080 video at up to 180p, enabling 7.5x slow-motion, and various other features that will appeal to the video enthusiast whilst still providing excellent stills capability.

The GH4 will remain available as a lower-cost option for users who don't need the additional capability that the GH5 brings.

Panasonic Lumix GX800

I will preface this item with a complaint about Panasonic's confusing model identification system. I think that I have the right identity for the UK market. This particular camera is either the GX800, GX850 or GF9 depending upon the country where you purchase it.

This is one of the most compact M4/3 exchangeable lens models in the range, weighing 269g and measuring 107x65x33mm. (This compares very favourably with the LX10 fixed lens camera, with the smaller 1” sensor, at 310g and 106x60x42mm) The camera features a comprehensive list of features that will appeal to the 'selfie' enthusiasts. As an example, when the monitor is flipped up, the camera automatically activates Self Shot mode. Face Shutter and Buddy Shutter functions can be used to trigger the shutter release. They work when the face is once covered with a waving hand or when two faces come closer in a frame. 'Selfies' can additionally be shot in panorama pictures, which is ideal for groups or in front of a dynamically scenic background. 4K video is also available that allows for 8 megapixel still extraction from video while Post Focus and Focus Stacking allow users to select what area(s) they want in focus. Built-in Wi-Fi allows for easy transfer of images to other devices as well as remote shooting capabilities. The one compromise brought about by its small size is the use of micro SD cards for recording.

Polaroid Pop

 

 

Advance notice of this new model was announced at CES. The Polaroid Pop is a new instant camera that produces classic Polaroid-sized 3 x 4" prints. Like the Polaroid Snap and Snap Touch, the Pop combines a digital sensor with an integrated ZINK Zero Ink printer. But unlike the Snap, which produces 2 x 3 prints, the Pop prints to a 3.5 x 4.25 format, with the image itself occupying 3 x 4 inches giving the appearance of the Polaroid-style border that was familiar to SX-70 users. The Pop uses a 20 megapixel CMOS sensor and features a dual LED flash, 3.97" touch LCD screen and image stabilization. It can also shoot 1080p HD video and stores everything to a Micro SD card. When used in conjunction with the Polaroid print app and one's smart device, users can edit images before printing. Photos print in just under a minute.

Polaroid is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017 and the Pop's introduction at the CES show was intended to mark this special occasion. The new model will be available late this year.

X-Pro2 Graphite Edition kit and X-T2 Graphite Silver Edition

These special models, with premium external finish but unchanged in specification, were also announced at CES.

Film!

On 5 January Eastman Kodak Company announced plans to bring back one of its most iconic film stocks. Over the next 12 months, Kodak will be working to reformulate and manufacture KODAK EKTACHROME Film for both motion picture and still photography applications. Initial availability is expected in the fourth quarter of 2017. It will market and distribute the Super 8 motion picture film version of EKTACHROME Film directly. Kodak Alaris, an independent company since 2013, also plans to offer a still format KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME Film for photographers in 135-36x format. EKTACHROME generates a positive image that can be viewed or projected once it is exposed and processed. This makes it ideal for high-resolution projection or presentations. It is also well suited for scanning and printing onto a range of professional-grade photographic media.

Image courtesy of Petapixel

Perhaps even more exciting is the comment made by Kodak CMO Steven Overman during an interview at CES “We get asked all the time by film-makers and photographers alike, ‘are you gonna bring back some of these iconic film stocks like Kodachrome [and] Ektachrome.' I will say, we are investigating Kodachrome, looking at what it would take to bring that back ... Ektachrome is a lot easier and faster to bring back to market ... but people love Kodak’s heritage products and I feel, personally, that we have a responsibility to deliver on that love.”

Kodak Super 8 cine camera

The Super 8 format cine film was introduced in 1965. The advantage over conventional 8mm film (which was in fact 16mm film split in half) was that it came in easy-load cartridge form, thus eliminating the problems of threading film through the complex transport mechanism. Kodak has now brought the ability to use analogue film up to date. Though the camera uses 8mm film cartridges, it also has modern features to make shooting more enjoyable. There's an LCD display that flips out camcorder style to help frame your shots. On the back are inputs and outputs for audio as well as an mini-HDMI port for adding an external monitor. It also overcomes the major shortcoming of the earlier cameras in that there is an SD card slot, which the Super 8 uses to record audio, and a built-in battery that is said to last through 12-15 film cartridges (each cartridge of 50 feet can capture about 2-3 minutes of footage).

The process is designed to be as painless as possible from start to finish. Once you have exposed the film you send it back to Kodak, which will process it, scan it, and deliver it back to you as a digital copy and as an 8mm film that you can use in projectors.

Saturday Natter - Denbies Vineyard - 7 January 2017

Peter Flower

11 members gathered for this first monthly meeting of the New Year. A number of those present had brought along cameras and the discussions largely centred on photographic matters. However, the first topic of conversation between Jill and myself, plus Carol and Lester Hicks was about the traumas of travel with a group of U3A members to London to view the Radical Eye exhibition of Sir Elton John's extensive collection of photographic prints at the Tate Modern plus the Landscape Photographer of the Year at Waterloo Station. I won't bore readers with the details of extent to which our simple travel plans were thrown into unbelievable chaos by Southern Rail. I mention the outing purely to emphasise the excellence of the Radical Eye exhibition and to point out that several of our members are also in the U3A photography group which holds regular monthly events organised by our very own Steve Lawrenson.

As an aside, at the entrance to the Radical Eye exhibition there was a photo booth where the person inside peered out through a window which could have a number of filters drawn across. My photograph of Jill shows one of the effects that could be had.

© Peter Flower

Carol had brought along her newly-acquired Panasonic TZ100 camera. Colin has the same camera and so Carol sought his advice on its features and operation. My photo shows Don also having a look at this camera. The photograph was taken with another camera/lens combination which I was experimenting with. In the past I had used Canon EF lenses with an adapter fixed to my Panasonic GX8. Just before the meeting I managed to find a mislaid Canon FD adapter. (The FD range of lenses with manual focusing and metal 'prongs' to adjust aperture preceded the EF range which replaced them when the EOS cameras were introduced) I used an FD f/1.4 50mm lens (at least 50 years old) to take some photographs. With the M4/3 sensor the 50mm lens produces the equivalent of a 100mm on the Panasonic. At widest aperture and with manual focusing it required very careful adjustment to get crisp images. My image of Don Morley was spot on.

© Peter Flower       Don Morley with Carol's camera “Where's the Red Dot?”

I also chatted to Jan Adcock who had brought along her Christmas present – a set of extenders for close-up photography – together with her Canon camera. We were able to experiment to see the effect and I discussed with her the principle of 'equivalent' focal lengths for cameras which were dependent on sensor sizes.

Rosemary Calliman was also present, the triumphant winner of the latest monthly competition, as announced by Stephen.

Stephen Hewes announcement – Christmas Carol theme competition -

Hearty congratulations to Rosemary, the winner of our Christmas carol theme with her Partridge in a Pear Tree. Carol and Les were joint runners up with Five Gold rings and the Time magazine cover respectively.

© Rosemary Calliman – A partridge in a pear tree, Carol Hicks – Five gold rings, Les Dyson – Tidings of comfort and joy

Rosemary has suggested a theme for this next round of PATTERNS.

I’m conscious we are quite late getting started this month – however patterns are everywhere. I suggest I take a rain check at the end of the month to see if participants need a little extra time. Good luck and happy shooting

Hasselblad speculation

Peter Flower

An internet article by Kevin Raber of Luminous Landscape on 4 January 2017 states that

Chinese drone maker DJI “the minority shareholder becomes the majority shareholder. DJI now owns the majority share of Hasselblad. You heard me right. This information has come from numerous, reliable sources. Hasselblad, the iconic Swedish camera company, is now owned by the Chinese drone maker DJI. Sooner or later, this will all become public." So far no confirmation has been received from either company, but it is obvious that Kevin Raber is confident of his information. He speculates in a detailed article on the subject that unexpectedly high demand for the X1D (which first featured in our Newsletter 82 Stop Press item of 22 June 2016) forced Hasselblad to look for funding to produce the camera. It will be recalled that Hasselblad and DJI had combined forces to create a fully integrated and optimised aerial solution with the A5D-50c Aerial camera and the Matrice 600 flying platform. (Featured in Newsletter 84 of 16 August 2016)

Kevin Raber's article details the financial problems and changes that occurred in recent times. He also mentions some of the crazy ideas that were made to spread the interest of the brand. We featured one of these, the Stellar model, (not so 'stellar' in performance for its price!) in a number of our Newsletters. Readers who are interested can see our reports in Newsletters 65 (2 December 2014) and 70 (21 April 2015). From these articles it will be seen that the Stellar was a rebadged Sony RX100 with some added 'bling'. The following image from that time shows the pretentious attitude surrounding its announcement.

Kevin Raber's article on the Luminous Landscape web site can be found at this link.

https://luminous-landscape.com/hasselblad-acquired-dji/

This is not the first time that Hasselblad had co-operated with a Japanese manufacturer to produce a model other than the medium format SLRs for which it was renowned. The XPan was an interchangeable lens 35mm rangefinder camera designed to take wide-format pictures, but with the unique ability to switch between wide images and normal 36x24mm ones on the same roll of film. This was introduced at Photokina in September 1998. The rugged titanium body was made by Fuji in Japan and sold there as the TX-1, but sold everywhere else in the world as a Hasselblad. This was at least a camera worthy of Hasselblad's reputation as a manufacturer of quality cameras, which included those adapted for use on NASA missions.

On this subject, did you know that 12 Hasselblad cameras that shot those iconic images of the moon’s surface between 1969 and 1972 were left there to allow for the 25kg of lunar rock samples that were brought back instead? Only the film magazines were brought back.

Footnote

The following notes, taken from a report that I did in Newsletter 59, (no longer available to view) give fuller details about the Xpan model.

The Hasselblad XPan was the world's only dual format camera that could shoot both normal 35mm images (24x36mm) and panoramic images (24x65mm). It delivered panoramic images of the highest quality on 35mm film. The XPan system was the result of a cooperation between Swedish Hasselblad and Japanese Fuji. Two models were available: the original XPan was introduced in 1998 and succeeded by the XPan II in 2003. Sadly, production of the latter came to a halt in 2005. The new EU environmental directive would have it made necessary to re-develop major elements of the camera, which was no longer economical at a time when film-based cameras were in decline. The corresponding Fuji models are the TX-1 and TX-2, only available in Japan. All cameras, lenses and accessories are manufactured by Fuji in Japan. The Xpan was available with three interchangeable lenses – 45mm f/4.0, 30mm f/5.6 aspherical and 90mm f/4.0.

I rented an Xpan 1 for three days soon after its introduction, fitted with the widest 30mm lens. It was used in a project for a talk that I gave on wide-angle and panoramic photography. I have rephotographed from some old prints to produce the images that follow. The quality is not brilliant but they serve to show the performance available from this camera. Because of the unusual panoramic format it was not easy to obtain regular prints. I had my film processed by Mark Hughes of Redhill (no longer there) and the prints were done on 12” x 8” paper, with a lot of waste space top and bottom. The following photographs give an indication of the lens performance -

The panorama shows the interior of Covent Garden. Towards the bottom right of the picture an arrow points towards a price ticket on one of the stalls. The second shot shows an enlargement of that ticket which, despite the limitations of having been rephotographed from a print, is still readable. Bearing in mind the fact that this part of the original image is at the outer edge where definition might be expected to deteriorate this is impressive.

In another photograph that I took from gardens adjacent to St Thomas' Hospital (south of the Thames) it is possible to read the time on the Big Ben tower, almost a quarter of a mile away!

An Evening Of Contrasts – Rosemary Wilman Hon FRPS AFAIP BPE5* - 9 January 2017.

Report by Peter Flower

Rosemary's profile, paraphrased, from her web site more than adequately sums up just what we might expect as the content of a talk by her - “interests are diverse and include travel, landscape, natural history and 'whatever takes my eye'. Most creative aspects of my work are in camera with the computer used to control image quality. In 2011 I completed two years as President of The Royal Photographic Society and now enjoy more time for my own photography. I am currently one of the Chairs of the Society's Licentiate Distinction Panel. A member of both Epsom Camera Club and Molesey Photographic Club I also enter exhibitions, lecture and judge.”

As the title and description of her talk suggested, we were to be treated to a variety of images from very different locations. During the evening we were taken to four different countries, but it is important to stress that these were not a series of travelogues. This became very obvious when Rosemary started with a series of images taken on a trip to Santorini in May 2015. I suspect that even those who have not personally visited this delightful island in the Aegean sea will picture images of the white buildings with blue roofs, doors and gates, often cascading down to an azure blue sea. Rather than emulating these picture postcard images Rosemary's photographs concentrated more on the details of houses, churches, windmills, steps and doorways. Her expertise in careful framing and accurate exposure are evident in the first photograph of the gate and steps, whilst the second, with its glowering sky as a backdrop, shows that the skies are not always blue.

© Rosemary Wilman - Images of Santorini

Rosemary was asked if she used filters, in particular polarising ones to enhance blue skies. She replied that she preferred not to, limiting the use of a polariser to eliminating reflections in water and, for example, on autumn leaves. Regarding her use of camera equipment she said that she had now added Olympus equipment, much lighter, to the Canon DSLR kit that she had used for some time.

The second visit was in direct contrast, and nearer to home, travelling north to the Isle of Harris. The rugged landscape, extensive beaches and changeable weather conditions provided ample opportunities to take very atmospheric images. Rosemary was intrigued by the way that run-off from rivers provided contrasting colours in the off-shore water. Two examples of the coastal scenes are shown below.

© Rosemary Wilman - Images of the Isle of Harris

The next visit was to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where she spent two days. The Golden Temple is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race can seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment without any hindrance. The ornate buildings of the temple are built around a central rectangular tank (artificial lake). Rosemary concentrated more on the people who were there rather than the magnificent buildings. She had very little trouble taking portraits of individuals, indeed the youngsters would often ask her to take their picture.

© Rosemary Wilman – Golden Temple, Amritsar

The final visit was to Iceland. Yet another contrast. Also another country that has become increasingly popular for brief visits in recent times, resulting in numerous images of, for example, Reykjavik, grand waterfalls, such as Gullfoss, many geysirs, the rugged terrain and Blue Lagoon. Once again Rosemary's images presented a different view of the features of this island. Going by four wheel drive vehicle into some of the remoter parts of the island she was able to capture scenes such as the following. Particularly interesting were the long-exposure shots that she took of small ice floes amongst the incoming waves.

© Rosemary Wilman - Iceland

As might be expected from such an experienced photographer we were treated to a wealth of superb images from the various locations, providing us with an excellent evening's viewing.

More of Rosemary's images can be viewed on her web site at

http://www.wilmanphoto.co.uk/

Footnote

For readers who would like to see more of the Golden Temple at Amritsar an interactive tour of the site is available at the following link -

http://www.goldentempleamritsar.org/360-degree-view-of-golden-temple-amritsar.php

Nikon 100 Years

Peter Flower

The company (originally named Nippon Kogaku K.K) will be celebrating its centennial anniversary on 25 July 2017. However, it is already building up publicity for this event, some of which can be viewed on the company's web site. A part of this is a video with special accompanying music. This can be viewed at -

http://www.nikon.com/100th/anniversarymovie

Although the company produces a wide variety of products the cameras will be of most interest to our readers. They had produced quality lenses in earlier years, including those for the famous Hansa Canon (!) of 1936 and all Canon lenses up to 1947. By 1946 they had completed the design of what was to be their first camera, deciding upon the name Nikon, derived from Nippon Kogaku. The new camera, the Nikon 1, based largely on the best features of the Contax and Leica was introduced in 1948. As a matter of interest, the third production model (the earliest known with Serial No. 60924) was sold at auction in Vienna for 384,000 euros.

 

 Hansa Canon with the Nikkor lens                                  Nikon 1 camera, Serial No. 60924

Photo Optix

PF

It is a sad fact that many local photographic shops ceased to trade due to the commercial pressures of the internet in particular. Many will remember Laurensons in Bell Street. Another group that had local stores was Photo Optix. I was reminded of this recently when clearing out a drawer in which I found a small plastic bag that originally contained boxes of film that I had purchased from the Dorking or Redhill store. Out of curiosity I 'googled' the name and was reminded that the stores at Ealing, Glasgow (where there are two), Bracknell, Dorking, Guildford, Redhill, Windsor and Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex faced permanent closure on 16 June 2008.

And finally . . . . . . .

Obviously a superior calibre!

 

STOP PRESS - 20 January 2017

Following the publication of this Newsletter I received nice comments from Rosemary Wilman regarding my report on her talk and the quality of Newsletter in general. However, she also added a comment about the item on the RPS award to the Duchess of Cambridge, as follows - As an observation on your comments on the Duchess of Cambridge’s  Honorary membership of The RPS I think you have misunderstood the 2 forms of membership that you mention. An Honorary Fellowship, as awarded to Lord Snowdon, is awarded to ‘distinguished persons having, from their position or attainments, an intimate connection with the science or fine art of photography or the application thereof’ and also carries a life honorary membership. Hence an Honorary Fellowship is the very much higher accolade and must be related to the photographers attainments.

I am happy to set the record straight.